Crazy Week

It’s been wild around my house lately.  For one thing, we’ve had power issues.  For another, I’ve had a hard time connecting to Word Press so that I could write this blog.  Finally, we are getting ready to put new carpet in our house.  We are moving everything out as we wait for the carpet to arrive.  Soon I’ll have to move my workstation, so I may be posting just as sporadically the next couple of weeks as I have been this past week.

Still, work progresses.  I should announce the next Senta book in a few days.  The Dragon’s Choice is going through final proofreading now. Watch this space for more information.   I kind of thought I would have time to work on some other things, but time is getting away from me, so as soon as I’m set back up again, I’ll probably jump right into writing His Robot Wife: Patience Under Fire.

 

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His Robot Wife: A Great Deal of Patience – Now Available as an Ebook Everywhere

Mike Smith and his robot wife Patience have overcome a great many obstacles in their life together. No obstacle is quite as great as a world war. As the United States, China, Europe and India mobilize against the shadowy Anarchists, who have carved vast swaths across Africa, the Middle East, and Russia, Mike and Patience deal with the fallout at home, and the public’s changing perceptions of robots. Meanwhile, Mike’s son Lucas finds himself in the heart of the conflict as he takes command of robot soldiers leading America’s war effort. A Great Deal of Patience is the first book of a new trilogy that ties together the previous books: His Robot Girlfriend, His Robot Wife, His Robot Wife: Patience is a Virtue, and His Robot Girlfriend: Charity.

His Robot Wife: A Great Deal of Patience is available for $2.99 wherever fine ebooks are sold.

His Robot Wife: A Great Deal of Patience – Chapter 9 Excerpt

Lucas realized he was awake as he slid his hand down Haruka’s naked body. She was on top of him, her legs straddling his hips, her head on his chest. They had fallen asleep in that position. She was so light, he could hardly tell she was there. He lifted his head and turned it to see the clock.

Don’t move. I’m comfortable,” she said.

“Didn’t you say you wanted to speak English at home?”

“Don’t move. I’m comfortable.”

“Well, I’m not. You’ve made a mess all over me.”

“It’s mostly your mess,” she said.

He rolled to his side and gently pushed her away. She flopped onto her back, her arms above her head, her small breasts pointing toward the ceiling. He smiled at the bright orange koi tattooed over her right hipbone. He gently ran his finger over it.

“Stop! You’re tickling me!” She squirmed, but made no move to protect her stomach from his assault.

“I don’t know how you ever got this, being so ticklish.”

“I was very drunk at the time.” She sat up. “I’m going to get your name tattooed right across my chest.”

“In English or in Japanese?”

“Maybe both. I could have your name in English across one boob, and in Katakana across the other.” She ran her hands below her breasts, on her ribs. “Or maybe here, curving along like this.”

“What would your parents say about that?”

“They won’t say anything, because I’m not going to tell them. I didn’t tell them about the koi fish.”

“I think I like your chest the way it is now.” He climbed to his feet.

Walking through the living area, he stepped into the close confines of the bathroom. The room was really three closet-sized compartments. The closest had a tub, about a meter square and not quite a meter deep, with a seat in the corner. Next to it was the room with the toilet. It was so small that Lucas had to leave the door open when he sat. Beyond that, a third compartment contained a small sink. He turned on spigot in the bathtub first, and then stepped around to turn on the cold spigot and then the hot at the small sink. He wet a wash towel and soaped himself up and then used another to wipe himself off. The tub was about half full by that time, so he turned off the sink faucets and he climbed into the tub. The water was hot and steam began to rise, coating the enclosure’s walls with condensation. He closed his eyes and leaned back. When he had first arrived in Japan, it had seemed strange to wash before getting into the tub, but it was considered impolite to get into the bathtub while still dirty. Since they had no shower to use first, he and Haruka had to make do with the sink.

Just as the water was reaching the middle of his chest, Lucas heard the faucet being turned off. He opened one eye to see Haruka, still naked, sitting on the edge of the tub with a razor and a can of shaving cream in one hand.

“I’m going to shave you,” she said.

She sprayed lather onto her fingers and then spread it onto his face.

“I don’t know if I trust you enough,” he said.

“I’m going to be your wife. You have to trust me.”

“Where is that written?” he wondered.

Pulling the safety cover off the razor, Haruka ran it over his cheek.

“Bottom to top on my neck,” he said, tilting his head back.

She took a swipe upward, below his left ear.

“This reminds me of sledding in the snow,” she said. “We used to have snow here in the winter sometimes.”

“I’ll take you skiing in Colorado.”

“Do they still have snow there?”

“It’s America. If God doesn’t supply it, we make it ourselves.”

“Like Disneyland,” she said.

“Um, sure. Ouch.” He touched where she had just shaved and examined the spot of blood on his finger. “So much for trust.”

“That is only a little blood. You have lots more.” She frowned in concentration and took another swipe at his throat.

“You should do this for a living.”

“I think I had better stick to translation,” she said, eyeing his neck. “Turn your head so I can get the rest. Then you can wash the blood off.”

His Robot Wife: A Great Deal of Patience – Chapter 8 Excerpt

Patience stepped out the front door and walked to the mailbox, a twice-weekly activity, since that’s how often the mail was delivered. It had been months since Mike had received a letter. Electronic mail had almost completely replaced the traditional variety years earlier, only to be replaced itself by text messaging. It was extremely uncommon for human beings to produce writing lengthier than a paragraph as form of direct communication. It would be unheard of for a robot to write a letter. Packages of goods bought online were dropped at the doorstep by a variety of parcel companies, leaving the mailbox an empty relic of the past. It was therefore quite a surprise for Patience to find a letter addressed to her. She pulled it out and examined it. It had neither a stamp nor a postmark.

Carrying the letter with her, she crossed back to the front door, stopping for just a moment to ensure the yardbot was doing its job. Once inside, she hurried back to the kitchen to finish Mike’s breakfast. She slipped the unopened envelope behind the cereal boxes above the fridge.

“Anything in the mail?” Mike asked, stepping into the room and taking his spot at the table.

“Is there ever?” Patience set a plate containing with a fried egg, two pieces of sausage, and a buttered piece of whole-grain toast, in front of him.

“Sausage? What’s the occasion?”

“Everything in moderation.”

“I have to eat fast if I’m going to make it.”

“You have plenty of time,” replied Patience. “Don’t give yourself indigestion.”

She set a glass of Diet Pepsi next to his plate.

In fourteen minutes, four seconds, Mike finished his meal and started toward the back door. Patience had already placed his single piece of luggage right next to the exit.

“You packed my razor?”

“Yes.”

“How about my texTee?”

“I packed everything you need and nothing that you don’t.”

“I don’t know if I should go. I don’t trust these hyperloops. People shouldn’t travel around in tubes. That’s for toothpaste.”

“Just think of it as a train.”

She followed him out into the garage and watched as he climbed into the car and set the programming. As the garage door opened and the vehicle backed out, she waved goodbye. He blew her a kiss, which she returned. She watched him until the garage door completed closing. She could hear his car accelerating away.

Stepping back inside, Patience retrieved the envelope she had hidden and opened it. Inside was a single sheet of twenty-pound paper, folded into thirds. Written between the two folds in a precise Lucinda twelve point font was the following.

 

Patience,

37.0320 -117.3414 9-22-38 12:08:30

S.

 

It was the very concise directions for a meeting. The latitude and longitude indicated a spot in Death Valley, and the time, eight minutes and thirty seconds after noon on Wednesday, the following day. There was only the initial as a signature, but it was no great stretch of logic to realize that it must have been Silence who had sent the missive. Her predictive logic subroutine told Patience that if she weren’t at the precise spot at the precise time, she would lose any chance of meeting the other Daffodil.

Patience left home at seven on the indicated morning. She predicted that with traffic, the trip would take her four hours and seven minutes. Once she reached Death Valley, there was no traffic. Taking manual control of the vehicle, she parked just outside the chain link fence that surrounded the ruins of Scotty’s Castle.

It would have been oppressively hot for a human being, but Patience wasn’t bothered as she looked for an easy way through the barrier. The fence was not in good repair, and a hundred feet from the car, she found a section that had fallen flat on the ground. She briskly walked the pothole-filled road until she reached the burnt skeleton of the once proud desert dwelling.

Scotty’s Castle, the two-story villa, neither owned by Death Valley Scotty, nor an actual castle, had nevertheless been a marvel of the 1920s when constructed in the middle of the wilderness. It remained a popular tourist attraction for over a century, until an untended cigarette had ignited century old upholstery.

Next to an empty swimming pool in front of the ruins, Patience found the other Daffodil. Silence looked enough like Patience to have been her sister—the same large eyes and the same button nose. She had a larger frame though with an hourglass figure. She was wearing a simple white pleated skirt and a white business jacket with a blue tie. Her face was smudged and her hair was tangled and matted.

His Robot Wife: A Great Deal of Patience – Chapter 7 Excerpt

“Mike, you’re out of your blood pressure medicine.”

“I don’t take blood pressure medicine anymore. Ever since you got me in shape and running, I’ve been able to drop my old prescriptions. You know that. Why don’t you know that? Is there something wrong with you?”

“You’ve asked me if something is wrong with me twenty-two times in the past week,” said Patience, setting his muffin and smoothie in front of him. “I’m beginning to feel insulted.”

“Well, you keep doing this—asking me things you should already know about.”

“What I know is that when I arrived, you were taking seven prescriptions: two blood-thinners, two cholesterol reducing drugs, a medicine for gastric distress, and two blood pressure medicines. Thanks to the excellent care that you receive from me, we have been able to eliminate six of the seven—all except for the one blood pressure medicine.”

“But I haven’t been taking it.”

“You have been. I just put it in your food.”

“What do you do, roll it up in a piece of cheese, like I was the family schnauzer?” Mike growled.

“Don’t be silly. I crush it up and put it in your salad dressing.”

Mike took a sip of his smoothie and frowned.

“You’re out, you see,” said Patience.

“Well, call in a refill. You seem to do everything else without asking me. Do that.”

“Dr. Mercer wants to see you before he’ll refill your prescription.”

“What? Why?”

Patience shrugged.

 

* * * * *

 

“Mr. Smith, you can come on back,” said the robot receptionist.

She held the door open for him and he walked past her into the large room beyond. Here he met a woman with short brown hair and glasses, dressed in blue scrubs. She gave him a thin smile and pointed to the scale. He stepped on and watched the digital readout run through numbers to stop on 163 lbs.

“My goodness. You’ve lost sixteen pounds since the last time you were here.”

“Well, I’ve taken up running, and it’s been a while since I was here.”

“That’s good,” she said. “You know, rapid weight-loss can be of concern in someone of your advanced age. Now turn around and I’ll scan you.”

She ran a handheld electronic device about the size of Mike’s phone over his body.

“No temperature. Your blood pressure is up a bit.”

“It wasn’t when I got here,” said Mike. “I thought all the nurses were robots now.”

“I’m not a nurse,” the woman said indignantly. “I’m a PA.”

“What is that?”

“I’m a physician’s assistant.”

“Don’t nurses by definition assist physicians?”

“It’s not the same thing. I can prescribe medication.”

“Well good,” said Mike. “All I need is a renewal for my blood pressure medicine. Write that up and I can get out of here.”

“Dr. Mercer wants to see you first.”

“So you can’t prescribe my medication?”

“Come wait in exam room three,” she said.

“Whatever you say, nurse.”

His Robot Wife: A Great Deal of Patience

“Welcome, Lieutenant. Glad to have you with us.”

“Thank you, sir,” Lucas Smith replied, shaking General Balt’s hand.

“We’ve been shorthanded lately, especially in First Regiment. You’ll be working with Captain Sumley, under Colonel Vance Barsters. He’s a real asset—good man—knows what he’s about. I think you’ll do well with them.

“Yes, sir.”

“Very good.” The general turned and pressed a button on his desk. “Specialist Drei, come in here please.”

Seconds later, the office door opened and a uniformed robot entered. She was the spitting image of Lucas’s former assistant, Specialist Ochodiez.

“Take the Lieutenant to Captain Sumley.”

“Yes, sir.”

She led him out of the office and down a hallway that was so long it actually disappeared into a dot in the distance.

“Congratulations on your promotion,” she said, over her shoulder.

“Thank you. How many Elizas are here on base.”

“Fourteen.” She smiled. “I’m afraid you won’t see much of me in your new position.”

They must have walked at least a mile, when Eliza stopped in front of a door labeled Asian Theater Command and Control. Turning the knob, she pulled the door open and held it for Lucas. Once he had passed through, she followed, closing it behind her.

The room was huge, at least as large as a football field. There were no dividers or cubicles, just row upon row of desks. On each desk was a large video screen and sitting at each desk was an army officer. Eliza led Lucas through the aisles until she came to a seated captain. Stopping, she issued a snappy salute. Lucas saluted as well.

“Regards from General Balt,” she said. “This is Lieutenant Smith.”

“Excellent,” said the captain, returning their salutes and then standing up to shake hands with the lieutenant. “Come with me. That will be all, Specialist.”

“Welcome to Easy Company. You’ll be taking over Platoon Four.” He led Lucas on a zig-zag trail through the desks, as Eliza turned and headed back the way she had come. “Lieutenant Armijo, my second-in-command, is filling in.”

They stopped beside a small woman with close-cropped black hair.

“Leslie, this is Lucas Smith. He’ll be taking over the Fourth.”

“Great,” she said, shutting the screen off with a tap and standing up. She waved toward her seat. “It’s all yours.”

“Get to know your men,” said Sumley. “We’re patrolling a sector just west of Pokrovsk. We’re going to be there for another forty-eight hours. Keep the peace. Render aid. That kind of thing. Day after tomorrow, we’ll be moving toward Nyurba.”

“Sounds easy enough.”

“It is. It’s entirely supervisory. You’re soldiers know what they’re doing. Just keep an eye on things. You’ll do fine. The head is off in that direction. Staff Sergeant Berry will relieve you at 22:00 hours.”

With a slap on Lucas’s shoulder, Captain Sumley left, followed by Lieutenant Armijo.”

Lucas took his seat. On the desk in front of him were a keyboard and a small headset. He put the headset on and typed in his password. The screen lit up. It was large, as big as his dad’s vueTee, but with an even higher resolution. On either side were two columns of ten windows, each the view from one of the soldiers in the platoon. Embossed over each was a symbol indicating that soldier’s rank and weapons load. He reached up and touched an image. Sliding his fingers left or right, up or down, rotated the image in any direction he wanted to see. The image in the top right hand corner was marked with three stripes. He dragged the picture with his fingertip and dropped it in the center of the screen. The image expanded to fill the space.

“Sergeant?”

“Sergeant 021146 reporting.”

“This is Lieutenant Lucas Smith, the new platoon commander.”

“I see you, sir.”

For the first time, Lucas noticed the small green light at the top of the screen indicating that there was a camera facing him.

“Status?”

“We are guarding a crossroads. I have squads one and two checking traffic. Squad three, with our sniper and heavy weapons, are stationed on the rooftop of the refueling station on the northeast corner. Squad four is currently waiting in reserve.”

“Have all the nearby buildings been secured?”

“Yes, sir.”

“It sounds like you have everything under control. Do you have a name?”

“Joe, sir.”

“Are you all named Joe?”

“That is correct, sir.”

“That’s going to make it hard to refer to anyone and I don’t relish calling out six digit numbers in an emergency.”

“Might I suggest using rank and the last two digits of their identification codes?”

“The men won’t be offended?” asked Lucas.

“No, sir. They are dedicated soldiers.”

His Robot Wife: A Great Deal of Patience – Chapter 5 Excerpt

Patience found Mike in the bathroom, staring at his reflection in the mirror.

“Vanity?” she asked.

“Huh?”

“You’re staring at yourself in the mirror. I just wondered if you were thinking about how handsome you are.”

“No.” He pursed his lips and raised an eyebrow. “I was just wondering how my bald spot got so big.”

“You don’t really have a bald spot, and anyway, how can you see it?”

He lifted up a hand mirror and waved it around. “So, I don’t have a bald spot and I can’t really see it anyway?”

“Exactly,” said Patience.

“Are you sure there’s nothing wrong with your logic subroutines?”

“They’re perfect.” She put her hands on his shoulders and leaned around to kiss him on the cheek, then continued into the room to pick up the towel that had fallen on the floor. “I wrote them myself.”

“I remember my grandfather had a bald spot on top of his head and now I’ve got one too. If anything, he had better hair overall.”

“Are you worried that you’re going to be bald?”

“No, not really. I figure I’ll have some hair when I die. I’m just lamenting the beautiful hair that I used to have. I guess it mostly fell out when Tiffany and Aggie died.”

Patience watched as his face went dark. It was as though the light suddenly left it. She pushed herself between him and the sink and, wrapping her arms around him, pulled him tightly to her.

“You know, she would be a grown woman now—old enough to vote.”

“I know.”

Mike’s third child, Agnes, had been killed in the same auto accident that killed his first wife Tiffany. It had happened many years before Patience was manufactured, but she knew every detail.

“Why don’t you get dressed and come down to the kitchen,” she said, pausing to kiss his lips. “I’m going to make you something special for breakfast.”

“I’m not really hungry.”

“Not even for pancakes?”

“You’re kidding.”

“Everything in moderation.”

Patience hurried downstairs and put away the healthy breakfast that she had originally prepared and began retrieving flour and baking powder from the cabinet and eggs and milk from the refridgeerator. Mike entered and, pulling a large tumbler from the cabinet, poured a glass of milk.

“Leave enough for the pancakes.”

“I did.” He slipped back into the living room.

“Do you want pancakes, hotcakes, or flap jacks this morning, Mike?”

“I think… flap jacks.”

“Do you want syrup, honey, or black strap molasses?”

“I want syrup, but only if you pronounce it right—sur-uhp.”

“Of course, dear.”

Patience slipped the griddle cover over the burners and oiled it, before whipping together the pancake ingredients. As she ladled the mixture out onto the hot metal, she called to her husband.

“You have a phone call coming through.”

“I left my phone upstairs.”

“I’ll route it to the vueTee.”

Patience listened as Mike answered the call to hear a woman’s voice.

“Is this Mike Smith?”

“Yes, it is.”

“Please stand by for the governor.”

“Shit,” said Mike, under his breath.

“Hello, Mike.”

“Governor. How are you?”

“I’m fine. How are things in Springdale, and how is your lovely wife?”

“Good and good.”

“Listen, Mike. I’m going to be down in your area tomorrow and I wondered if we could get together and have a little chat.”

“Governor, if you’re going to fire me, I’d rather you go ahead an do it over the phone if it’s all the same to you.”