Puttering amongst my old berth in the back of the cargo hold, I stumbled upon a scrap of paper. Since I hadn’t had the chance to sneak into the captain’s library, I salivated over the opportunity to read something not written in the log book. I examined that piece of paper so long and so hard that my head began to throb with the implications. Even as I rubbed at my forehead in an attempt to dull the ache, I continued to stare and plot.
It’s there. Right there. If only I could–
“Lolita Seleste! Why aren’t you at your post?” The captain, Lolita Suzanne, rounded the stack of crates that towered over me, anger writ in the pinching of her brows and the tight line of her lips. I was in trouble.
“I came here for my break and–”
She pointed toward the ladder, not deigning to speak until I started that way. “You specifically requested boiler duty. If you want to make yourself indispensable to this ship, you cannot shirk your responsibilities.”
“Yes, Captain.” I still clutched the paper in my fingers as I climbed. This was, by no means, the proper time to ask, but if I waited I would lose any chance. “Captain, I believe part of the reason for my daydreaming is that I’m unaccustomed to so much time confined. Some time on the ground would do my state of mind a world of good. Re-focus my attention.”
She tilted her head, eyeing me in a most discomfiting manner. “Aye, Lolita Seleste. I can see where that might be of some benefit. The ship will touch down tomorrow in order for the crew to participate in something called #steampunkchat. Foolish beliefs about romance and airships. Nonsense really, but it will provide you the opportunity you’re looking for. You may accompany Lolita Cindy on her errand.”
Not at all what I had in mind. “But, Captain–”
“She is attending the World Steam Expo. Surely, someone with aspirations such as yours could benefit from joining her.” The captain tilted her head toward the crumpled paper in my hand.
My lips twitched, and I had to fight the urge to smile. “Aye, Captain. I surely could.”
“Dismissed.” The instant she turned away, I raced toward the boiler room. Then her voice pulled me up short again, “Oh and, Lolita Seleste, do make sure you dress the part. I will not allow any of my people to present our dirigible or crew in a negative light.”
“Aye, Captain.” She’d as much as told me to blend in. Surely she wasn’t giving me permission to… No. Preposterous…
In case you haven’t figured it out, I will indeed be attending World Steam Expo in Dearborn, Michigan, this weekend, along with fellow Lolita Cindy Spencer Pape. If you happen to be there, I’d love it if you found me to say hi on Saturday or stopped by the Local Authors panel we’ll be part of on Monday at one. (I will have a limited supply of Badlands buttons and chapter books as well as postcards with discounts for ebooks at the Carina Press website.) In addition, don’t forget about the last #steampunkchat before the summer hiatus. It’s tonight at 9PM Eastern time. The topic is romance in steampunk, and I’ve heard rumors there will be book giveaways!