The next morning after breakfast, Denise and the two Valeries joined Astrid and Océane at the Maxxim home. They all put on their swimsuits and hung out by the pool. Though they spent a little while swimming and diving, except for Robot Valerie who wasn’t able to go in the water, they mostly just sat out soaking up the sun. Even Astrid, who didn’t really believe in tanning, wanted a little color after more than a month with very little sunlight whatsoever.
“It’s been so boring around here without you,” Denise told her. “Nobody even tried to kill me.”
“I knew you’d miss me when I was gone,” said Astrid.
“Who says I missed you? I happen to like boring.”
“Don’t listen to her,” said Robot Valerie. “She complained the whole time you were gone.”
“And she didn’t have anyone to text to,” added Regular Valerie, “because Mama makes us turn off our phones at night.”
“That isn’t true,” said Denise. “Alicia Noble and I spent many hundreds of hours texting back and forth about whether or not she should buy a new dress and what color it should be. I eventually convinced her to get the bright pink dress in the window at the Main Street Dress Emporium.”
“You don’t mean that very frilly, gauzy thing that they displayed for the senior prom, do you?” wondered Astrid. “I didn’t think that was very attractive.”
“I know,” smiled Denise. “It’s hideous.”
“Why would you do that to Alicia? She’s always been pretty nice.”
“She’s jealous,” said Robot Valerie. “She’s still mad because Christopher took Alicia to the Junior Prom.”
“I’m not jealous,” said Denise, but her face broke out into an evil grin.
“I’m glad I’m not your enemy,” said Astrid. “Or a, you know, casual acquaintance.”
“Astrid,” called her father from the back door. “Come in here please.”
Astrid followed him into the family room and the other girls came along too. The television was on but paused. When Astrid was in the room, her father picked up the remote and pressed play. A news story continued about the robot arm that Astrid had developed. So many scientific and technological developments came out of Maxxim City that all of the major news networks had reporters stationed there. That they had found something out about her project wasn’t a surprise, but that they had fairly extensive background information about Captain Bonnefoy and video of him and his family at Joyland the day before was.
“Is this all accurate?” asked Dr. Maxxim.
“Pretty much, I guess.”
“I say this all the time, but I’ll say it again Astrid. I’m impressed. You have a knack for seeing the possibilities in your inventions. This is pretty incredible— incredible in a good way.”
“There’s a bad incredible?” wondered Denise.
“Your mother might be upset about not controlling the story or having a proper announcement,” continued Astrid’s father, “but this is a truly wonderful invention.”