Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Tesla's Stepdaughters - Chapter 6 Excerpt


A quick note that Tesla's Stepdaughters is now available at the Sony Reader Bookstore.

The last known residence of Miss Athena Kesting was in Bolingbrook, which with traffic took almost forty minutes to reach. The quaint little village was covered by a large glass and steel dome to protect residents from the acrid smoke and acid rain that was the bane of the Midwest. The address in question proved to be huge house on a large, fenced estate.


“Not what I was expecting,” commented Loginova, as she pulled the car up the driveway, passed extensive gardens.

The two agents parked and got out. On either side of the front door were life-sized marble statues of women in long flowing dresses. Andrews knocked, using the brass door knocker, and when the door opened, he was surprised to find a woman who was the spitting image of the statue on the left.

“Good morning,” said Loginova, showing her badge. “We would like to speak to Miss Athena Kesting.”

“Oh. She doesn’t live here anymore.”

“Can you give us her forwarding address?”

“Won’t you come in please?”

The two agents entered a home that was as opulent inside as the outside had hinted. Passing through a foyer covered in rich wood paneling, they entered a stunningly decorated living room and sat down on a beautiful antique sofa. Two other women were seated when they came in, but both rose to their feet.

“Inga, would you ask Mr. Larkin to come down?” asked the woman with whom they had entered. “My husband will very much want to speak with you.”

A few minutes later, the gentleman in question entered the room. He was an average looking man, wearing casual though expensive clothes. He was slightly balding, something that he had chosen not to try to cover up by combing his hair over.

“Good Morning,” he said, shaking hands with both agents. “I’m Evan Larkin, and these are my wives Elke Lom-Larkin, Angelina Redmond-Larkin, and Inga Lom-Larkin.”

“Agent Andrews, and this is Agent Loginova.”

“So what can we do for you,” Larkin asked sitting down across from them. Elke sat to his right, while Angelina and Inga stood behind them.

“They are here about Athena,” said Elke

“Oh yes. Well, no surprises there. She was a troubled girl, I’m afraid.”

“What was your relationship with Miss Kesting?” asked Andrews.

“We were engaged. My wives thought that she might fit in with us here, so she moved in for a trial period. I’m afraid it was not to be though. She left, what has it been now? Six months ago.”

“Do you have a forwarding address?”

“Inga will find that for you. May I ask why you are looking for her?”

“I’m afraid we can’t say. It involves an ongoing investigation.”

“I see. Well, it’s no stretch of the imagination that it involves Athena’s strong feelings. She was brought up in a very religious community in Idaho.”

“They were very strict adherents to morality and believers in a patriarchal lifestyle,” said Elke. “That’s why we thought she might fit in here.”

“And you are all adherents to a patriarchal lifestyle?” asked Loginova.

“Not really,” replied Elke. “We’re more of a pragmatic family. We just thought that having grown up that way, Athena would fit in. It just didn’t work out. She was far too inflexible.”

“She thought that everyone had to believe the way she did,” added Angelina.

Andrews felt rather than saw Loginova cast a glance in his direction.

“Would you ladies mind if I spoke to Agent Andrews alone in my study?” asked Larkin.

Not waiting for a reply, he stood up and started for a door in the back of the room. He turned to see that Andrews was following him, and said. “Inga will get that forwarding address for you, Agent Loginova.”

The study was a spacious room with large windows looking out over a huge swimming pool and beautiful lawn behind the house. There was a large cherry wood desk near the back of the room and shelves filled with books along the wall.

“Would you like a drink?” asked Larkin.

“No, thank you.”

“Have you had a drink yet?”

Andrews grunted noncommittally.

“I was off the enclave for over a year before I took a drink. When was the last time you were there?”

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