Tesla’s Stepdaughters – Chapter 11 Excerpt

The next morning Andrews got up and disentangled himself from Penny’s arms and legs.  The bed was really just large enough for one of them.  He had slept well through the night, but now he had several pains in his neck and shoulders and he was unsure whether to attribute them to his workout the day before or to not having enough room in bed. He slipped back into his workout clothes and put on his wristwatch, checking the time.  It was not quite seven.  Stepping quietly out the door, he walked the length of the ship to the dining room and found an early continental breakfast.  He grabbed a pair of Danish, two bananas, and two cups of coffee; and balancing them, carried them back to the cabin.  He found Penny awake and putting on his robe.

“I brought you some breakfast.”

“Thanks, I’m starving.”

“Thank you for the card,” he gestured toward the greeting card still standing on the desk.

“Not from me.”

He opened it and looked again.

“Must be Piff,” said Penny.

“What are you planning to do today?” asked Andrews as they ate.

“I’m going to try and write.  I’ve got a few songs, or at least pieces of songs, that have been rattling around in my head since New York.”

“I’d like to see that.”

“No you wouldn’t.  It would be incredibly boring.  I’m just going to pluck a few strings and jot down notes. It’ll be the most uninteresting thing you can imagine.  Besides, it’s Piffy’s day to spend with you.”

“When do I get a copy of this schedule?” He sounded peevish even in his own ears.

“Ask her.”

Andrews did plan to ask her just as soon as he could, but when he finally saw her again, the question fell out of his brain and crawled away to some dark corner.  When Ep!phanee saw him, she ran and leapt into his arms.  She wrapped her arms around his neck, her legs around his waist, and her lips around his mouth.  He couldn’t have gotten free if he wanted to, and he didn’t want to.  They kissed for several minutes, and then at last, he set her down.

“Did you send me the card?” he asked.

“Of course.  You didn’t recognize my P?”

“Well, you know… Penny?”

“Oh yeah.  Well, she’s not likely to send you a card though, is she?”

“Maybe you could sign it with an F for Fanny?”

“You’re bad.”

“Or you could draw a little clownfish…”

“You’re very bad.”

“In any case, thank you.”

“You’re welcome.  It’s because I missed you.  That’s why it said ‘miss you’ on it.”

“Very clever.  So what are your plans for today?”

“We can do anything you want to do. What were you planning?”

“I’d like to work out again in the weight room.  And Penny gave me a book that I haven’t had enough time with yet.”

“What is it—Edgar Rice Burroughs?”

“H. Rider Haggard.”

Piffy rolled her eyes.  “No wonder people think she’s a dyke.  I’ll work out with you.”

Andrews changed back into his shorts and tee shirt and met her in the weight room.  Piffy was waiting, wearing a pair of shorts that were so small they almost deserved some different and as yet uninvented name, and a tube top. Both articles of clothing were made of some shiny black material that he had never seen before.  Even in a world where just about everything seemed to exude sex appeal, it had not occurred to Andrews until that exact moment that gym clothes could be sexy.  They worked out for over an hour, and Andrews didn’t know if it was the weights which caused his heart to pump so forcefully in his chest, or if it was the sight of Ep!phanee’s remarkably toned body.

“You must work out quite a bit.”

“Yes, I have a fully stocked gym in my home at Thatch Cay.  What is that?”

Spreading out below them was a great tan blanket moving across the landscape.  It moved and undulated in swirling patterns.  The dirigible was passing over one of the legendary caribou migrations.  Tens of thousands of individual animals moved across the ground like a kaleidoscope of reindeer.  Andrews set down his barbells and moved to stand next to the large window.  Piffy followed him.

“Caribou,” he said.  “The great plains of the United States used to be covered with buffalo like this.  Now they’re extinct.  I think women have done a better job of running the world than men did.”

“Say that when you’re flying through the black haze above New York, or when you’re outside your dome in Ohio and the acid rain is coming down.”

They spent the rest of the day together, comparing their lives up until that point, talking about their interests, and eventually getting around to the possibility of their shared future together.

“I was quite ready to find that you wouldn’t live up to my expectations when I met you,” he said, “not that I expected anything more than a professional relationship.  But I like you.  I like all of you.  And the sex… well I really, really like it.  It’s much better than I imagined it would be.  But I don’t really see how our lifestyles are going to mesh.  I don’t know if I can handle all the complications.”

“What do you want to do for the next ten years, John?”

“I want to continue with the Science Police.  It’s exciting and I’m good at it.”

“And what is your concern about it… about your job and being married?”

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