Tesla’s Stepdaughters – Chapter 16 Excerpt

Tesla's Stepdaughters“I was surprised that you played Memories of Dust and the two new songs too, for that matter.”

“The songs about you, do you mean?” asked Penny.

“Yes. Memories of Dust is a solo work.”

“Piffy said it was your favorite,” said Ruth.

“You did it just for me?”

They both nodded.

“That reminds me of a question I had. How come all the solo albums?”

“We write a lot of songs,” said Penny.

“I know. I understand Memories of Dust and Recompense. Both of those were recorded after you broke up, but what about the ones before 1970?”

“He really is a fan,” laughed Ruth.

“We all had too many songs to put just on Ladybugs albums, so we made our own too.”

“Yes, but why not just make them all Ladybugs albums?”

“You can’t put out six or seven Ladybugs albums a year.”

“Why not?”

Penny stared at him for a minute. “Well, um… it’s… it’s all very complicated music industry stuff that you wouldn’t understand.”


“What are your plans after the show?” Penny quickly asked.

“Well, I know you like to eat afterwards, so I thought we could go for a steak. What do you think?”

“Shit yeah. Do you mind if we invite Ruth and Steffie?”

“No, of course not. What about Piffy?”

“She’s got business this evening… business business. I don’t know what exactly. They’re probably going to make an Ep!phanee doll. When you pull the string, it looks at itself in the mirror.”

“Not in front of the man,” admonished Ruth.

“Okay, okay.”

“What do you mean, not in front of the man?”

“We don’t make disparaging remarks about each other in front of you,” she explained.

“Are these rules written down somewhere?”

“Yes, but you’re not allowed to see them.”

“That’s one of the rules too,” said Penny, arching one eyebrow. Andrews couldn’t tell if they were being serious or not.

Tesla’s Stepdaughters – Chapter 15 Excerpt

Tesla's StepdaughtersAndrews ordered an airflivver which he met in the hotel parking lot, then went winging south toward San Diego. Less than an hour later, he was landing on the roof of the San Diego Airborne Law Enforcement Station. He was met by Officer Eliza Lewis, an attractive redhead who served as the liaison to the international government, and who then drove him to the downtown police station where Kerrigan was being held.

“She was picked up at the airport,” said Lewis. “She was carrying a concealed weapon without a permit and when her name came up on the wanted list, we held her. She also had two hunting rifles with her, though they were properly checked in.”

Pearl Kerrigan was a plain looking woman, though not unattractive. Her dull brown hair was pulled back into a pony tail and her already thin lips were pressed together. When Andrews entered the interrogation room to find her waiting, she didn’t move. She didn’t look up. She simply stared at the top of the table.

“Miss Kerrigan,” said Andrews.

She startled in her seat and slowly raised her eyes to look at him. Then just as slowly, she lowered them back to the table.

“Miss Kerrigan, I’d like to ask you some questions.”

There was no response.

“Why did you come to San Diego? Why did you leave your house in Oxford? What can you tell me about the Ladybugs?”

Kerrigan didn’t move. It was as if she was mesmerized. He continued to ask questions but they all remained as unanswered as the first. Finally he tried a different track.

“I’ve been to your house. I’ve been in your celler.”

She looked up at him. “Have you read the book?”

“What book?”

“Ask them.”

He stepped out of the interrogation room to find Officer Lewis observing from behind the two way mirror.

“Do you have any idea what she’s talking about?”

“No, but I can see if she had a book with her when she was arrested.”

Kerrigan had indeed had a book in her handbag when she had been arrested. It was an eight by ten hard bound volume of blank pages which she had filled with tightly written cursive. In the center of most pages were the lyrics of Ladybugs songs and around them were annotations and bizarre sketches. Andrews took the book with him back into the interrogation room.

“Is this the book you were talking about?”

“That is the book.”

He opened the cover and flipped through a few random pages. “What about it?”

“You have to read it.”

“Can’t you just tell me what it says?”

“Read it. Then come back tomorrow.”

Leaving the room with the book, Andrews sat down at a vacant desk and picked up the phone. When the long distance operator came on, he gave her his contact number for Agent Wright in Hollywood. He had to wait about a minute for the connection and for Wright to answer.

“How’s it going?”

“Kerrigan’s a wacko and I don’t think I’ll be able to get anything out of her until tomorrow. I’m going to have to stay over.”

Tesla’s Stepdaughters – Now on Amazon Paperback

There is a new paperback version of Tesla’s Stepdaughters available at Amazon for just $4.99 with free Prime shipping.

In an alternate 1975, where men are almost extinct due to germ warfare, someone is trying to kill history’s greatest rock & roll band. It falls to Science Police Agent John Andrews, only recently arrived from the distant male enclaves, to protect them. As the band continues their comeback tour across North America, Andrews must negotiate a complicated relationship with Ep!phanee, the band’s lead singer; drummer Ruth De Molay, bassist Steffie Sin, and the redheaded clone lead guitarist Penny Dreadful, as he protects them and tries to discover who wants to kill the Ladybugs.

The paperback edition of Astrid Maxxim and the Electric Racecar Challenge has been lowered in price by a dollar and is now just $4.99 too.

And dont’ forget: Princess of Amathar is available in paperback at Amazon for just $7.99, also with Prime shipping.

Tesla’s Stepdaughters – Chapter 14 Excerpt

The next day was an idyllic one for Steffie, and a relaxing one for Andrews. It was, he reflected, the first really relaxing day since he had joined the Ladybugs in New York. They ate breakfast as a group and then Steffie spent most of the morning playing with her son. Andrews talked with Jane Stanley and Monica Sin, and spent the remainder of his time finishing his book. After a light lunch, they played a game of football on the vast lawn behind the house, males against females. They enjoyed a dinner of chilidogs and sat together in the parlor as Lars watched Adventure Island on radio-vid. That night Steffie reprised her submissive role and added to it.

Lars, his aunt, and Agent Stanley were delivered to the train station the next morning, where they boarded a train that would take them to San Francisco, from which they would board their dirigible for the flight back to Switzerland. After a tearful farewell, Andrews and his Ladybug drove back to the house and their waiting airflivver, which took off for Los Angeles.

It was an almost eight hour flight to LA, necessitating a stop along the way both for fuel and to give the passengers and pilot a chance to stretch their legs. The pilot, a blonde in her thirties named Henrietta Palmer, set the vehicle down at the Sacramento airport. Sacramento was on a small outcropping of land that jutted into the San Joaquin Channel, the fourteen-mile wide strip of seawater that separated the island of California from the rest of North America. The San Joaquin Channel, which before the Science War had been known as the San Joaquin Valley was, like the almost twenty years of constant rain in the Oregon area, a result of that conflict.

Andrews inquired at the information counter and found that there was one of the many new fondue restaurants popular in the north only a short distance from the airport. Though he invited Miss Palmer to join them, she demurred and so he and Steffie took a cab to the dining establishment. Attractively dressed, Steffie was not wearing anything that would have marked her as a rock star. She had on a simple blue miniskirt with a matching short-sleeved top and a pair of platform sandals. She had worn her hair down ever since Andrews had indicated that he liked it that way. Nevertheless, everyone seemed to recognize her, and if they weren’t actively pointing, they were at least staring.

“I don’t know how you can live like this,” said Andrews as he held the chair for her to sit down.

“How do you mean?”

“With all these people staring at you all the time.”

“Maybe it’s not me they’re looking at. Maybe it’s you.”

Andrews smiled. “No. For all they know, I’m just another faux man escorting a famous woman to dinner.”

“That could be,” agreed Steffie. “Most women have been away from men so long they have forgotten what they are like. Women expect them to be big and brutish, and you John are very pretty. On the other hand I expect that our interview has been seen by about a billion people by now, so most people know we have a boyfriend.”

Andrews looked around sure enough; at least half of the looks in their direction seemed more focused on him than his dinner partner. Their food arrived just about the same time that the first women approached for autographs, and while he wasn’t asked to sign his name, more than one was suddenly struck by their reaction to him. He and Steffie ate, dipping bits of meat and vegetables into the small pot of boiling oil, and talked about how pleasant the previous days had been.

“That was really one of the nicest things that anyone has ever done for me,” said Steffie.

“I knew you wanted to see him and I knew you didn’t want him near the concerts, so this seemed like the perfect alternative. Fortunately I arranged for it before my superiors heard about the interview. I don’t know if I could get them to go along with anything I suggested now.”

“Are you sure that Lars will be safe on the way home?”

“Jane… that’s Agent Stanley, would lay down her life to protect either Lars or your sister. I would trust her with everything I have.”

“You and she were in the Science Police academy together?”

“Yes. We became best friends there.”

“Just friends? You never got together?”

“Oh, I would have in a second. I had quite the crush on her. But she wasn’t interested. She finds the idea of sex between people… what’s the word she used? Icky. She feels the same way about having a baby growing inside her. She’s planning on a vat baby.”

“And do you want to have children?”

“It’s expected.”

“But do you want them?”

“Yes, I think so. I don’t know what kind of father I’d make.”

“You’d make a great father. I’d like to have more kids. I hated being pregnant when I was, but now I seem to only remember the good parts. Must be nature’s way.”

They finished dinner and had a chocolate fruit fondue for desert before taking another cab back to the airport. Miss Palmer the pilot was waiting for them and within minutes of climbing in the airflivver, it was buzzing south toward Los Angeles, crossing the San Joaquin Channel. They could see a large group of grey whales swimming south through the relatively narrow waterway. Once they landed, Andrews and Steffie were spirited away by private car to the Hollywood Bowl just in time to prepare for the show.

Steffie said goodbye to Andrews with a kiss and headed to the backstage area, while he made his way to the security headquarters. In addition to a dozen police and Agent Wright, there was another agent as well. She was a tall, thin woman with long blonde hair, and just as Agent Stanley had, she had chosen to wear a skirt with her black blazer.

“Welcome back,” said Wright. “This is Agent Patricia Ryan.”


Tesla’s Stepdaughters – Chapter 13 Excerpt

“Brussels doesn’t know what to do,” said Wright. “They want you off the detail, but not necessarily off the team.”

“What does that mean exactly?”

“It means they’ve got another agent on the way to take your place. Once she gets here, you’re going to be off checking those few remaining people in our threat files.”

“I thought we had eliminated pretty much all the credible threats.”

“We have. This way they can say you’re still on the case, but you’re not engaged in any high profile sexcapades.”


“I feel for you partner. It’s not like I haven’t found my way into some nice warm beds in the past two weeks. Mine just aren’t so famous.”

“What do I do in the meantime?”

“Same thing you have been doing. Stay close to the Ladybugs. Keep them out of danger. We’ll decide what you’re doing next after your replacement gets here tomorrow.”

Andrews was halfway back to his room before he realized that his jaw was clamped shut. He stepped into an alcove and closed his eyes. He took three deep breaths and then held the last one as he rolled his head around. He pictured his dorm room in the enclaves as he took several more slow deep breaths. All he had ever wanted when he was there was to leave, and now that he was gone, it was the safe place he visualized in times of stress—the bare cement block walls, the simple white dresser and desk, the well-worn rugby ball sitting on his tightly made bed.

When he opened the door to his room, he was expecting to find Ruth there, or perhaps Ep!phanee. Instead Steffie was there. She was wearing a floral print cropped tie top with widely flaring sleeves and a pair of hip hugging bellbottoms in the same design. Her mass of platinum hair hung loosely about her shoulders, making her thin face look less predatory. Andrews thought she looked pretty, and he told her so.

“Before you say anything else, I want to apologize,” she said.

“For the interview?”

“No, for the other night at the club. I was completely toasted.”

“Yes, I remember. And now you’re here… because this is your day?”

“That’s right. Here. Ruth made this calendar for you.” She handed him a monthly calendar with a name written in each square.

“Steffie, Steffie, Penny, Penny, Ruth, Ruth, Steffie… Looks like you hit the jackpot.”

“Are you mad at me?” She had a hurt look on her face that gave him a sort of choking feeling.

“No, I’m not mad at you. I’m just upset. They’re going to send me away. They’re going to take me off the detail.”

“They can’t do that! We won’t let them.”

“No choice, I’m afraid.” He walked to the couch and sat down. “Probably all for the best. I’m sure this is playing right into the hands of those women in the Science Police who think men have no business in the agency. We can’t focus on anything but our penises.”

“That’s just stupid. Obviously they don’t know any men.”

“Maybe. Or maybe they know us too well.”

“You need to not think about it. Why don’t we have breakfast? Have you eaten?”

“I’m not hungry.”

“Then let’s just sit and talk.”

“I don’t really feel like talking either.”

“You remember when you first interviewed me?”


“We took turns asking questions.”

Andrews smiled despite himself. “That’s right.”

“Let’s do it again.”

“Okay, but you go first.”

“What’s your favorite sport? Is it that rugsby?”

“Rugby. Yes. Your’s?”

“I liked baseball when I lived in California, but since I’ve been living in Europe, I mostly watch football. Did you play rugby growing up?”

“Yes. All the boys did. It got pretty brutal. I busted my chin open and had to have six stitches right here.” He lifted his chin and pointed to a thin scar. “It was mostly just an excuse for the bigger boys to beat the crap out of the smaller boys, but it was a lot of fun.”

“Okay, your turn.”

“I’ve been meaning to ask you about your nose ring.”


“Piffy and Ruth have the side of their nostrils pierced, and so do other women I’ve seen with nose rings, but you have it right in the middle. Why?”

“Do you think it makes me look like a cow?”

“No. But I can see how people might make that connection.”

“I wear it for two reasons really. One: it kind of touches on this submissive streak that I feel inside, but don’t otherwise let show. And two: it just pisses a lot of women off for some reason, and that’s always fun.” They both laughed. “Okay, my turn. What’s your favorite food?”

“A month ago, I would have said tacos, but now I have to go with hot dogs.”

“Have you had a chilidog yet?”

“No. Hey, you snuck an extra question in there.”

“Oh no,” she said, her eyes large with mock surprise. “Maybe you’ll have to punish me.”


“Ask me two questions then.”

“Why are you interested in me?”

Tesla’s Stepdaughters – Chapter 12 Excerpt

The local police had removed the robber’s hoods. They were all women in their early twenties. Andrews stood looking at them for a long time. When he found Ep!phanee standing next to him, he realized that he had almost forgotten she was there.

“Are you all right?” he asked.

“Yes. I don’t think they even shot in our direction, did they?”


The police took both their statements and then released them. They climbed back in the car and the driver took them to the Royal Continental. Neither of them had much to say along the way. Once at the hotel, Andrews met briefly with Wright to fill her in and then he went to his room to begin filling out the inevitable paperwork.

When the Science Police officer opened the door to his assigned room, he decided that a major mistake had been made. Instead of the simple room that he had been assigned in the other hotels, and which had suited him just fine, he found a spacious suite. He stood at the entrance of a large central room with features of both a living room and dining room. A roaring fire was already burning in the gas fireplace next to a fully stocked bar. He realized for the first time that he was shivering, having been out in the pouring rain for most of the evening and not having had the chance to dry off.

He walked to the fireplace and held out his hands to warm them. He stayed in that position until the front of his legs became unbearably hot, and then he turned around and warmed his back. Just as his back was becoming too warm and his front was feeling once again cold, Ep!phanee walked in from the bedroom. She wore nothing but a gauzy nightie through which her tattoos were clearly visible.

“I don’t think I’m really in the mood,” he said.

“In the mood for what? Don’t worry. I know just what you need and I’m going to take care of you.”

“I didn’t realize that you were the ‘taking care’ type.”

“Of course I am. Look how well I take care of myself. First you need to take off those wet clothes. Portland isn’t like the Caribbean. If you get a little rain on you there, it dries off in minutes. Here, you’ll catch pneumonia.”

“It does kind of sink right into your bones,” he replied as he began peeling off his still damp clothing.

“You need to get into the hot shower,” she said, stepping behind the bar and filling two shot glasses from a whiskey bottle. “First have one of these.”

When Andrews came out of the bathroom, wrapped in a very fluffy complimentary robe, he found Piffy seated at the table with a pot of hot coffee. She had already poured him a cup. When he sipped it, he found that she had laced it with more whiskey.

“I think you need to get right to bed,” she said.

“I have paperwork to take care of.” He went to his luggage, which was sitting just inside the door and found his portfolio, bringing it back to the table. Halfway there he stopped and looked back at his luggage. “What am I doing in a room like this anyway?”

“I had you upgraded. If you’re going to be with us, you’re going to go first class all the way. It’s one of the perks.”

Andrews sat back down at the table and began filling out the seven forms necessary when an agent discharged his weapon, all of which required long written statements and all of which were sandwiched with carbon paper and other sheets so that they were produced in triplicate. When he finished the second, he stopped to warm up his coffee and noticed for the first time that Piffy was no longer in the room. He found her, once he was completely done, sprawled across one side of the bed, her bare, very white bottom staring at him from below her nightgown hem. The California king was large enough though that once he stripped off his robe and climbed in, he didn’t notice her presence the entire night. When he woke up, she was gone.

“Good morning.” Ruth walked into the bedroom carrying a tray. “Come on, sit up. I’ve bought you breakfast.”

“I could just get up.”

“No. You need breakfast in bed after the day you had yesterday. You need to be pampered a bit.” The tray contained two eggs, two strips of bacon, hash browns, a waffle with blueberries, milk, and a cup of coffee.

“I don’t know if I can eat all this.”

“Just eat what you want.” She pulled a chair away from the wall and sat down to watch him eat.

She was already dressed for the day, wearing hip-hugger bellbottoms and a halter-top, both of which resembled the Union Jack, white platform shoes, and a red headband holding back her dreadlocks.

“I’ve missed you.”

“I’ve missed you too,” he replied

“I’ve hardly seen you in three days.”

“Well, we’re together now. Do I get to spend the day with you?”

“Actually, we’re supposed to meet later this morning and work out the schedule, but Piffy thought you needed somebody to pamper you this morning.”

“And you thought you would be the one to do it?”

“I jumped at the chance.”

“I can take care of myself. I’m a big boy.”

“You’re telling me,” she said with a sly look. “Now don’t dawdle. Eat your breakfast.”

Andrews finished, though he had only a bite of his waffle, before even thinking to look at the clock.

“Good grief, it’s after nine.”

“Don’t be in a rush. The other girls won’t be up for at least another hour and our radio-vid interview isn’t until one.”

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?”

Tesla’s Stepdaughters – Chapter 10 Excerpt

Andrews spent the morning with Ruth. They ate breakfast and then they took a long walk around the Doric House grounds. Just after noon, he and Wright left and flew to Bloomington, Minnesota to go over the security at the Metropolitan Stadium. That evening’s concert went off, like the one two nights before in Atlanta, without any major problems. Afterwards the band returned to Doric House for one more night.

Having been, for the most part, too busy for dinner, Andrews was just beginning to think about ordering a snack from the kitchen when there was a knock at the door. He opened it, half expecting Ruth with another hot fudge sundae. Instead he found Ep!phanee, still in her costume from the concert.

“Hey lover, what’s up?”

“Good evening. I was just thinking of ordering something from the kitchen. Are you hungry?”

“I could eat.”

Picking up the house phone and asking for a connection, he ordered sandwiches and hot chocolate.

“I’ve been looking forward to seeing you,” Piffy said, wrapping her arms around his neck and pressing her body against his.

“Really? You didn’t look particularly anxious.”

“I had to let Ruth have a chance to get to know you. And she did… finally.”

“Now you’re back with me?”

“Only for today. Tomorrow, you spend with Penny.”

“I’ve already been with Penny.”

“Yes, I know she snuck into your room for a quickie, but you need to spend some time getting to know her. Relationships aren’t just about sex, you know.”

“Really? So far, that has not been my experience.”

“You sound a little testy about it,” she said, leaning back and looking him in the face. “Most guys would give anything to be in the position you’re in.”

“Maybe. I think it’s one of those ‘be careful what you wish for’ situations. I just get to know you. I like you. I want to spend more time with you, but I can’t because I have to be with Ruth. Now I want to spend more time with her and I can’t. I suspected that this type of relationship would be too much for me and I’m finding out that I’m right.”

“It will get easier once you know all of us and we can work out a schedule.”

“This just isn’t natural. I think men are wired so that they are in love with one woman at a time.”

“Well, of course it’s not natural. It’s not natural that men are almost extinct either. But that’s the way it is. We have to make due the best we can with what we have.”


They spent the remainder of the evening talking about less weighty matters—what life was like in the Virgin Islands, favorite places to visit in Europe, and what the weather was going to be like on the west coast. They spent the night together, and for the first time in his life, Andrews shared a bed with a woman without having sex.

The next morning Andrews left Piffy sleeping in his bed while he shaved and showered, but she was gone when he came out of the bathroom. He met briefly with Wright but there was little to discuss. The entire group was treated to a champagne breakfast. Then it was off to the airport again. The dirigible was fueled and supplied and waiting to go. It lifted off as soon as everyone was aboard, flying directly north.

Andrews made a quick inspection of the ship after seeing that his few personal possessions had been carefully stowed back in his cabin. He then went to the bridge and watched the crew at work until he was called away to answer a telephone call. It was from Evan Larkin, the man he had met in Bolingbrook. Larkin wanted nothing more than to talk for a few minutes. Andrews let him ramble on for a while and then confirmed that he had heard the news regarding the arrest of his former fiancé.

“Yes, the poor girl. Elke and Inga are going to see if we can’t get her accepted into a mental health facility.”

“That would probably be for the best. Well, goodbye Larkin.”

“If you’re ever in the Chicago area, give me a call. We could have dinner.”

“Thank you, I will. Goodbye.”

He started back toward his cabin, but was intercepted along the way by Penny.

“Hello beautiful,” she said.

“Hi. How are you?”

“I’m feeling fine. We’d like you to come back to the port side lounge for a minute. The band has something they want to run by you.”

She led him to the lounge where the other three Ladybugs were seated, as well as Alexa Rothman. When he stepped in the room, they all looked up and smiled. He sat down on one of the overstuffed couches, as Penny took the spot beside him, tucking her legs up under her.

“We have something we wanted to share with you,” said Piffy, “before anyone else knows.”


“We have the Asia tour coming up in two months,” explained Alexa. “It should really be called the Asia-Australia tour, since after Singapore; we’re going south to hit Melbourne and then Sydney.”

“But then we’re going to the enclaves,” Steffie spouted.

“That’s right,” said Ruth. “After Sydney, we’re going to Tasmania, South Island, and then Cape Horn.”

“We were going to wait until the South American tour to do the Cape Horn enclave,” continued Alexa, “but we might as well do it at the same time as the others.”

“That’s very exciting.”

Tesla’s Stepdaughters – Chapter 9 Excerpt

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.”

Andrews laughed.

“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?”

Tesla’s Stepdaughters – Chapter 7 Excerpt

Tesla's Stepdaughters“So, Piffy told me your name is John,” she said, while they were waiting for their food. “May I call you John?”

“Of course. What else did she tell you?”

“Oh, everything. Women tell each other everything. We talk all the time, the four of us even more so.”

“Really? I was not aware of that.” He rubbed his chin. “I really don’t know about this. I mean about today. You seem very nice and all. I had this connection with Piffy and I was looking forward to finding out where it led. I wasn’t planning to sex my way through the entire tour company.”

“Of course you weren’t. And maybe we won’t even like each other. But maybe we will and maybe you’ll like Penny and Steffie too. We’re all really close, closer than we were back when we were starting out. Maybe we needed a few years apart to mature. I know Penny’s already planning on moving back to Thatch Cay, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Steffie brought her boy to live with her there too at least part of the year.”

“That’s great, but it really doesn’t have anything to do with me.”

“Sure it does. Since we’re all so close, it would be much easier to have the four of us as wives rather than trying to make it work with strangers.”

“Wives? I don’t want wives. I’m not sure I want even one wife.”

“You told Steffie that she could be a poster child for mothering a boy. Well, for better or worse, multi-marriage is going to be the type of marriage that most women have for the foreseeable future.”

“Polygamy. You think most women will approve of that?”

“With one man on Earth for every two hundred fifty women? I would imagine so.”

“Well that’s fine for women everywhere, but I don’t know that it’s for me.”

They stopped talking while the waitress set their food on the table, then continued between bites.

“You seem like you’re all ready to get married and aren’t too picky about to whom.”

“I’m thirty-one next month,” said Ruth. “So I can’t afford to wait too long unless I want a vat baby, and none of us can afford to be too picky. But you are a very pretty man. And I remember how happy my parents were.”

After breakfast, Andrews ordered a