Astrid Maxxim and her Undersea Dome – 99 cents at Apple Books

Astrid Maxxim 2Girl inventor Astrid Maxxim and her friends are back. This time Astrid is building an observation dome beneath the sea. Will she complete her amazing construction project, or will she be sidetracked by underwater monsters, the evil organization known as the Black Hand, or her snotty cousin Gloria?

Astrid Maxxim and her Undersea Dome at Apple Books

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Astrid Maxxim and her Undersea Dome – Chapter 7 Excerpt

Astrid Maxxim 2“Don’t you think racing is a waste of time?” asked Robot Valerie. “These hoverbikes are all new and have the same internal workings. Won’t the winner just be the person who is lightest?”

“Yay, I win,” said Denise.

“Racing isn’t just about top speed,” said Austin. “It’s about skill and strategy and knowing when to accelerate and how to move into a turn. Didn’t you guys ever watch Cars? Besides, it’ll be fun.”

“Where do you want to race?” asked Christopher.

“Let’s race around that island,” replied Austin.

Two hundred yards from shore was a small island, little more than a bit of rock sticking up just above the surface, to which clung a bit of soil and a few weeds, along with a single yucca plant. It was so small that a single individual would have been hard-pressed to find a spot to sit down.

“You want to race over the water?” asked Denise.

“Sure, it’s better than racing around this desert,” he replied. “If we fall, we get wet. If we fell anywhere else, we’d be covered in cactus needles.”

“Valerie can’t race over the water,” said Denise. “What if she fell in?”

“She’d get wet,” said Austin.

“I mean Robot Valerie. She’s made of metal. She might rust.”

“I’m mostly plastic,” said Robot Valerie, defensively. “I still can’t race over the water though.”

“No you can’t,” said Astrid. “I’m surprised at you, Austin. That’s like asking you to fly over a pit of lava.”

The boy stuck out his lip and frowned. “I didn’t… I don’t want her to get hurt. It’s only I wanted to race.”

“Why don’t you three boys race,” said Astrid.

Christopher rolled his eyes, but then nodded and he and Toby walked to their hoverbikes and put on their helmets. Austin, anxious to get started before anyone had a chance to change his mind, was at the shoreline waiting for them. The four girls walked down to the lake’s edge to watch.

“All right,” said Toby. “Once around the island and back to this point. First one to cross the edge of the shore wins. Put your helmet on, Austin.”

The three boys lined up and got ready. Astrid held up her hand.

“Ready… steady… go!”

The three hoverbikes took off across the lake. Austin’s blue bike took the lead, skimming just feet from the water, leaving a path in the waves beneath him. Even from the shoreline, it was obvious that he was pushing the bike near its 40 mph top speed. Christopher was racing nearly as fast, though his green hoverbike was flying about twenty feet higher.

“Toby’s losing,” said Regular Valerie.

“He’s just letting Austin win,” said Astrid.

Austin, now firmly in the lead, leaned right and made the turn around the little island. He had just finished the maneuver, when suddenly something reached out of the water and hit the bottom of his bike. The sleek blue hoverbike flipped over end on end, tossing the boy into the lake.

“Holy macaroni!” shouted Denise.

Astrid Maxxim and her Undersea Dome – Chapter 3 Excerpt

Astrid Maxxim 2The next morning, showered and dressed in her school uniform, Astrid found her parents in the breakfast room eating waffles. Her father got up from the table and intercepted her with a big embrace. He was a tall, handsome man, with just a touch of grey hair at his temples.

“Astrid, I can’t tell you how much I’ve missed you,” he said.

“Same here,” she replied. “But I had a great time in Cartagena.”

“I bet you did. Fortunately you had no trouble on your trip.” He spoke with emphasis and nodded his head conspiratorially toward Mrs. Maxxim.”

“Nothing, as long as you consider air-to-air missiles and sharks nothing,” said Mrs. Maxxim, setting a plate down at the table for her daughter.

Kate Maxxim was a tall, blond woman. Though it was still early, she was already dressed in a sharp blue business suit, her hair and makeup looking like something out of a fashion magazine.

“I’m not really hungry, Mom.”

“Eat one waffle,” her mother ordered.

Astrid ate quickly as her father filled her in on the production of several new products, the most important of which, as far as the girl inventor was concerned, were the components for her undersea dome. Before she knew it, she had finished her waffle.

“All right, got to go,” she called back as she dashed out of the room.

“Learn stuff!” called her father.

If her mother said anything, it was lost in the sound of her rushing out the front door.

At the point where their two yards joined, Toby waited for her. As always, he was neatly dressed, and his hair was brushed with his brown bangs hanging down lazily above his eyes. His backpack was on the ground by his feet as he adjusted his tie.

“Back to the salt mine,” he said. “I was just getting used to going without a tie.”

“Here, let me,” said Astrid, sliding the tie’s knot into just the right position. “I kind of like wearing a tie.”

“Well, girls look better in them than boys do.”

“I suspect you think girls look better in just about everything,” she said.

“I do,” he agreed. “I really do.”

“Come on, Romeo. We’re going to be late.”

“You know that’s actually a misnomer,” he said, as they walked the carefully cultivated sidewalk, shaded by overhanging trees. “Romeo wasn’t smooth at all. He was kind of goofy, really.”

“See? And you thought you wouldn’t like Renaissance Literature.”

“Oh, I like Shakespeare.” He stopped, and placing one hand on his chest, lifted the other into the air. “But soft. What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Astrid is the sun. Arise fair sun and kill the envious moon, already sick and pale with grief that thou her maid art far more fair than she.”

“You better not have been looking in my window,” she said with a sly smile.

“Don’t be silly. Your room doesn’t even have a window. Besides, you’re supposed to be more impressed.”

“Oh, should I swoon?” Astrid placed the back of her hand over her forehead. “Oh Romeo, Romeo. Where for art thou Romeo? What’s the next line?”

“I didn’t memorize the girl parts.”

Astrid laughed.

“Seriously,” said Toby, suddenly looking nervous. “Wouldst thou venture forth with me unto the Junior Prom?”

“That’s still more than a month away,” Astrid pointed out.

“You told me not to wait until the last minute.”

“I did, didn’t I? Of course I will go to the Prom with you.”

“Thanks,” said Toby, suddenly not nervous at all.

Astrid Maxxim and her Undersea Dome – Chapter 14 Excerpt

Astrid Maxxim 2After lunch they drove back to the beach and then several hundred feet inland to the Wiamea Arboretum Botanical Garden where they marveled at the amazing plants and flowers. They wandered through the walkways, past ponds filled with lily pads large enough to lie down upon. Then they reached the famous Wiamea Valley waterfalls, which they had seen so many times in movies and TV commercials. Carefully following the posted rules designed to protect the beautiful historic site, they made jump after jump from the high rocks down into the pool below the falls.

“Don’t tell my grandma that I went back in the water without waiting an hour,” Austin told Astrid.

“That’s a complete fallacy,” Astrid replied. “The very existence of stomach cramps brought on by strenuous physical activity is questionable, and the idea that they would cause anyone having them to suddenly sink like a stone is laughable. Now leg cramps while swimming are entirely possible, but eating before swimming could only help prevent leg cramps because your body is newly refueled.”

“You can tell all that to my grandma,” replied Austin. “But don’t tell her it has anything to do with me.”

Astrid found a lovely coral necklace and matching earrings in the gift shop, which she purchased for her mother. Finally they said goodbye to Cokie, who drove off in one direction, while everyone else piled back into the minibus and drove off in the other toward Kailua. When David dropped them all back at the Maxxim estate, Astrid carried herself back to Gardenia House and to her bedroom. Happily exhausted, she peeled off her swimsuit and cover up and climbed into a pair of comfy pajamas. Her afternoon nap began almost before her head hit the pillow.

“Wake up, sleepyhead.”

The girl inventor looked up into her Aunt Penelope’s face.

“Was I even asleep?”

“For more than an hour.”

“Well, heaven forbid I should waste more than an hour sleeping,” said Astrid with a frown.

“Get up,” said Penelope. “You can sleep when you’re old, or at least when you’re not in paradise.”

The fourteen-year-old looked at the clock beside her bed. The pointy hands of the art deco styled timepiece indicated 5:30.

“We’re not going to the club yet are we?”

“Don’t be silly. It doesn’t even open until 9:00.”

“Nine!” cried Astrid. “That’s practically bed time.”

Astrid Maxxim and her Undersea Dome – Chapter 2 Excerpt

Astrid Maxxim 2Early Monday morning, the four young Americans arrived at the airport. Their plane was awaiting them, all serviced, fueled, and ready to go. The Maxxim Starcraft 170 was a sharp, if unusual looking aircraft. Designed by Astrid’s father Dr. Roger Maxxim, the 47 foot long Starcraft featured a long pointy fuselage with a small canard wing just behind the nose. The main wing was at the back of the aircraft, and carried twin turboprop engines, with the propellers facing rearward. These were known as push-props. The cabin, which could accommodate up to nine passengers, was more than spacious with just Astrid and Denise and their carryon luggage. Dennis and Toby took their places as pilot and co-pilot respectively.

An hour later, the Starcraft was soaring westward over the Atlantic Ocean. Though no jet, its cruising speed of 320 mph would carry them back in Maxxim City in under ten hours, even allowing for a short refueling stop in Atlanta. The girls carried on a spirited game of Toad Town using their MX-360 PDAs.

“Do you want to go sit up front?” asked Dennis, walking back down the aisle. “I’ve got to make a pit stop. Toby’s got the stick.”

“I told you that you shouldn’t drink so much orange juice right before takeoff,” said Denise.

Her brother ignored her and continued on toward the diminutive restroom at the rear of the cabin. Astrid unbuckled her seatbelt, walked to the cockpit, and carefully climbed into the pilot’s seat, strapping herself in.

“This is cool,” she said.

“I know,” said Toby. “By the time we get home, I’ll have enough hours to pilot one of these babies myself.”

“Good, you can fly us to Hawaii in two weeks.”

“I don’t know if I can go,” he said. “I haven’t asked yet. I know my dad will be fine with it, but Aunt Gerta thinks that I spend too much time away from home.”

Toby’s great aunt had come to live with him two years before, when his mother had passed away after a long struggle with cancer.

“What the heck is that?” cried Toby, as a loud beeping rang out in the small compartment.

“It’s the SAR,” said Astrid. “Somebody’s fired a missile at us.”

She pointed to the round radarscope at the bottom center of the control panel. It showed a blip coming up toward them from behind.

“What do I do?” asked Toby.

“I’ve got it,” said Astrid.

Taking the control stick in her left hand, she grabbed the twin throttles with her right, shoving them both forward. The engines screamed as they pushed the aircraft toward its maximum speed of 400 mph. Astrid didn’t take her eyes off the radar. The blip, indicating the missile, came closer and closer toward the center of the amber screen. At the last moment, she jerked left on the stick as she stamped down of the corresponding foot pedal and the plane rolled over onto its back. She and Toby watched as a missile shot past them, below the plane, and from their upside down perspective, just above their heads. It flew right through the space where the Starcraft had been.

Astrid flipped the plane back right side up and banked right in a climbing turn.

“What in the world is going on!” shouted Dennis behind them. “Are you trying to crash us?”

“There was a missile,” said Toby. “She just saved all of our lives.”

“Now let’s see if we can find out who shot at us,” said Astrid.

They spotted several recently made contrails high up in the sky, but no other aircraft in their vicinity.

“I’m sure that was an air-to-air missile,” said the girl inventor. “Our attacker must have high-tailed it as soon as they fired.”

“Just a couple of weeks ago they were trying to kidnap you,” said Toby. “Now they’re trying to kill you.”

“Yeah,” mused Astrid. “I wish they would hurry up and make up their mind.”

Astrid Maxxim and her Undersea Dome – Chapter 1 Excerpt

Astrid Maxxim 2Shark!

Denise Brown tapped frantically on her friend Astrid’s shoulder to get her attention. Astrid Maxxim’s focus, like the focus of her underwater camera, was fixed on the bright orange starfish, which rested on the top of the coral outcropping as if waiting for its picture to be taken. Astrid snapped a photo before turning to see what was agitating her dive partner. Denise pointed at the shark, and then to make sure that she was getting the message across, made a fin with her hand and put it on top of her head. Astrid held up her fingers about an inch apart in the universal symbol for small. Denise shook her head violently and shot up toward the surface.

In exasperation, Astrid blew out bubbles around her regulator, and then kicked her way back up to the surface of the Mediterranean. She spat out her mouthpiece and pulled the dive mask up onto her forehead.

“We’ve got fifteen minutes left before we’re done,” she said.

“Shark!” shouted Denise, scrambling up the ladder that hung from the side of the small boat.

“Shark?” said Toby Bundersmith, who was waiting topside. He threw aside his Batman comic and helped Denise up the ladder. “That’s lucky. I was hoping to see a shark when I was in the water, but I didn’t.”

“Come on, Denise,” called Astrid. “I still haven’t got a picture of a lobster yet.”

“There is a shark!”

“It’s only a little one,” said Astrid. “It is more afraid of you than you are of it.”

“That’s not possible,” said Denise. “And it wasn’t little. It was big—large, hefty, colossal, enormous, gigantic, mammoth, massive, oversized, tremendous, vast.”

Astrid tossed the camera up to Toby. “It was little—tiny, inconsequential, minuscule, petite, teeny, undersized, microscopic, miniature, did I say miniature already, no? runty, bitty, wee.”

“Come on,” said Toby, holding his hand down for Astrid. “I’m getting bored up here anyway. Let’s go in and have lunch.”

“Hurry up and get in the boat before that shark gets you,” said Denise, helping Astrid up.

“Honestly,” said Astrid. “It was the size of a dachshund.”

“I got bit by a wiener dog once and had to have five stitches,” replied Denise. “He didn’t have shark’s teeth either, just regular dog teeth.”

Astrid Maxxim and her Undersea Dome – 99 Cents at Smashwords

Astrid Maxxim 2Girl inventor Astrid Maxxim and her friends are back. This time Astrid is building an observation dome beneath the sea. Will she complete her amazing construction project, or will she be sidetracked by underwater monsters, the evil organization known as the Black Hand, or her snotty cousin Gloria?

Astrid Maxxim and her Undersea Dome is available at Smashwords in a variety of ebook formats.