Lying on the bed, Andrews watched as Penny got up and walked naked across the small cabin. In the confined space, she looked truly larger than life. She was tall. She could not be called a small woman in any sense of the word, but there was not a pound that was not exactly where it should have been. She had the kind of hourglass figure that he had read about in novels. Wide eyes and a patrician nose gave her a face that while beautiful, would never be described as cute or even pretty. She was Junoesque, an image that was enhanced when the moonlight streaming into the window turned her pale skin the color of plaster. While her body had not a single tropical fish or other tattoo, it was adorned. Everywhere Piffy had a piercing, save her bellybutton, a bodily feature that her band mate did not share, Penny had two or more.
“This was a surprise to say the least,” said Andrews.
“A good one?”
“Yes. I didn’t know if you were interested?”
“Hopefully that question has been adequately answered. Just because I sing about women loving each other doesn’t mean I’m not interested in men… a man anyway.”
“You don’t prefer women?”
“Most women today have female lovers. They just pretend they don’t. That was the point of my song. But I’m reaching that age where family life starts to have more appeal. Besides, sex is like buying an automobile. If you want something really sporty, you have to be able to handle a stick.”
“Did you enjoy yourself?” she asked.
“Very much. You are a talented lover.”
“I know I am. I’m always satisfied.”
She stepped back to the cot and gave him a deep kiss. He allowed his hands to run down the length of her soft, smooth body.
“Good night,” she said, starting for the door.
“Where are your clothes?”
“Didn’t bring any,” she smiled. Then she stepped naked into the brightly lit hall beyond and closed the door after her.
Andrews fell back asleep and when he woke, light was streaming in from outside. He got up and looked out the window to see that they were on the tarmac at Minneapolis-St. Paul. Three hundred yards away was another massive dirigible sporting the blue Pan Am globe. Shaving and showering in the small but functional bathroom, he got dressed and reported to the portside lounge for his morning meeting with Wright.
“Good morning,” he said.
In reply, Wright held up a newspaper. “Ladybugs Triumph!” was plastered across the top in two-inch type and the entire front page was filled with stories of the tour. Down near the bottom right hand corner though was a picture of him. He stepped over and took the paper from his partner’s hand and read the caption.
“The Ladybugs’ valiant protector, Science Agent John Andrews. Shit.”
“Could be worse. Could be ‘lover,’ ‘boy-toy,’ ‘backdoor man’.”
“I’m glad you’re enjoying this. Brussels is going to want to pull me off the case now.”
“Probably, but they can’t. They’re not going to tarnish the reputation of their only male Special Agent. Besides, I’m telling them in my report that it will be an advantage for us.”
“How will it be an advantage?”
“It gives our would-be assassin another target.”
Breakfast was served aboard the Rosalie Morton, though only the band, crew, and the Science Police agents took part, the airship crew having much work to do maintaining and resupplying the great craft. It was a breakfast buffet—a long table covered with warming trays full of scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages, cottage fries, French toast, pancakes, and cheese blintzes. As Andrews gathered his choice of morning foods together, he found himself with Penny on one side and Steffie on the other. The former was wearing a tee shirt and bell bottom jeans, her platform sandals making her taller than Andrews, while the latter wore a red and white striped halter top, matching hot pants, and red knee-high boots. Steffie leaned over to look at Penny’s plate just as she was adding a second scoop of fried potatoes.
“You sure you need that much?”
“There’s not that much food on my plate,” replied Penny.
“There’s a lot of ass in those jeans though.”
“Bitch, don’t even…”
“Ladies, ladies,” said Andrews. “Please don’t fight.”
“You’ll get yours later, you boney-assed bitch,” said Penny, turning on her heel and walking to the table.
“You’re not her protector now, just because she gave you a little face.”
“I’m just trying to enjoy my breakfast.” Andrews added two slices of bacon to his plate and then put two on Steffie’s. “Here, you need to keep up your strength.”
Returning to his seat, Andrews directed most of his attention at his food. Did everyone have to know exactly what went on in his room at night? He supposed that was what life was like for Evan Larkin. Even now, he had the peculiar feeling that people were watching him, but whenever he looked at someone else at the table, they weren’t. They were talking about the concert the previous night or the upcoming concert in Bloomington. They weren’t even looking at him. The more he thought about it though, the more he decided they weren’t looking at him on purpose. He finished his food and left the dining room, taking the stairs down to the lowest level of the ship and then exiting though the boarding ramp to the tarmac.
The massive golden dirigible was at the end of a long row of similar craft; the Pan Am was the closest. The local police had set up a perimeter around the Rosalie Morton, but to Andrews’ mind, it should have been larger in diameter.
“Are we safe?”