Free Fiction: Drive Chapter 5: Nothing to Lose

It’s Friday and we are racing fast and furiously now! If you missed the beginning, this week I am posting, for free, a novel. Each day is a new chapter! Welcome aboard, and enjoy the ride!

Drive: Nothing to Lose

Desperate, determined, and maybe a little bit crazy! Drive for your life or they will kill you. Hang on to your hats, because this is the story of an illegal road race and the people, willing and unwilling, who must race for their lives.

Drive can be purchased at Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.

Copyright ©2017 by Jamie Aldis. First Published in 2007.. Published by Valsaga Publishing LLC. Cover Design copyright ©2015 Valsaga Publishing LLC. Cover art copyright © Stevenrussellsmithphotos | Dreamstime. 

All Rights Reserved.. This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. All characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely coincidental. This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.

Drive

by Jamie Aldis

Chapter Five: Nothing to Lose

Washington Monument Parking Lot, Washington DC – morning, Sunday

Tiffany snarled at Nate, “Thanks, but I’m fine.”

“You aren’t fine, you have broken ribs, and possibly internal bleeding,” Nate said, long legs easily keeping up with her stride to the ambulance. He wondered how she came to be driving an ambulance when she looked like she should be in one.

“Why that old man gets the advantage, when we got to the finish line first just isn’t bloody fair!” Tiff snarled, ignoring him.

“At least let me rewrap your ribs. It’ll help you breath a little easier,” Nate offered. “I was a fireman and EMT, once upon a time.”

Tiff paused and looked at him, seeing him for the first time. “Why would you help me?”

“Because you need it,” Nate replied.

“Yes, I know,” Lucia said to the air beside her. She turned to her friend, her eyes too bright. “Heather says we have to win, we have to stop them.” Her madness and urgency was painfully clear, but Tiffany just nodded sadly.

“I know, Luc.”

“Heather?” Nate asked, “I saw her with you the past couple stops. Where is she now?” They had arrived at the ambulance, and he found it well stocked. He pulled out what he needed. Lucia climbed into the front seat, raving about how they needed to win, while Tiff climbed into the back with him and stripped her shirt off with an economy of movement and lack of self-consciousness that told Nate she must be in shock or extreme denial. He was right, her ribs were broken. He palpitated her ribs and organs, though he was no doctor, he thought she was moving around awfully well for a woman with so much visible bruising. His question hung in the heavy silence as he moved swiftly to rewrap her ribs as tightly as he could.

“Heather is dead,” she said, her voice emotionless and flat. “We were hit by a hummer on the I-10 about an hour outside Tallahassee.” She finished buttoning the lab coat she wore over a pair of hospital scrubs once he was finished wrapping her ribs.

He pushed open the back doors of the ambulance and stepped out. Across the parking lot two men leaned against a blue Mitsubishi eclipse. Their arms were crossed, and they had the cave man scowl of hired muscle. The one on the right looked vaguely familiar, and Nate frowned, trying to place the man. Tiffany followed his gaze as he gave her a hand down from the ambulance. She stumbled, her grip tightening fiercely on his hand. He steadied her. She had turned so pale she was almost grey, her eyes wide and full of fear as she stared at the men Nate had been looking at.

“That’s him!” her voice came out as a cracked, hoarse whisper. “That’s the man who killed Heather!”

Nate swiveled his gaze around and frowned. Then it clicked. The man on the right had been driving the silver Mitsubishi that had caltropped him on the highway, just after Key Largo. He jumped when the ambulance engine started. Tiffany pulled out of the parking lot so fast everyone nearby turned to look. Including the men leaning against the Eclipse. The dirty blond that Nate recognized met his gaze, and smiled blackly, his eyes hardened by a long acquaintance with delivering death. A chill fell down Nate’s spine, invaded his veins. He watched the two men nod to each other. The dark haired one climbed into the blue Eclipse, the dirty blond walked behind it and got into the familiar silver car that Nate had been looking for since it had cut him off that day.

Washington Monument Parking Lot, Washington DC – morning, Sunday

“Shit!” Jason exclaimed as the thug who had been following him since Key West climbed into his silver Eclipse. His exclamation attracted Nate’s attention. As Nate walked up to him, he glanced at the gate the racers had climbed over to see if Anne was back yet.

“Jason,” Nate said. “I am glad I caught you.”

“That guy who got into the silver Eclipse, did you see him? Did he see me?” Jason asked, his fingers drumming a nervous rhythm on the yellow and black Mustang he was leaning against.

“You know that guy?” Nate asked.

“Not exactly,” Jason replied.

“He’s the one who threw the caltrops under my tires in Florida,” Nate said, his voice low and a little dangerous.

“That’s right, he did, didn’t he,” Jason muttered.

“You sound like you know that,” Nate’s eyes narrowed in a scowl.

Great, just what I need, Nathan Reynolds to be pissed off with me, Jason thought. “I was in Anne’s car when it happened, and she was right behind you. Damn near rolled the car to avoid you and those caltrops, she did.”

“Did she?” At least Nate no longer looked pissed. In fact he looked thoughtful. Then he nodded to himself, looking a little startled. “He works for them, doesn’t he? That makes sense. But why kill people?”

“Who works for who?” Jason tried to keep it there, play it dumb and safe, but curiosity got the better of him. Besides, he was supposed to get information now, wasn’t he? He was undercover for the FBI, after all. “Who was killed?”

“I want to ask you about the race, who runs it? How does it really work?” Nate became very insistent.

Jason frowned, and looked around. “Not here, here we are probably under surveillance. Have you been to the finish line yet?” He gestured over the fence.

“Yeah,” Nate nodded.

“So you have the clue.”

“Yep.”

“Are we going north or west?”

“Hell if I know, it’s another riddle, of course, and I haven’t even tried to figure it out, yet.”

Jason nodded and frowned. “We need to meet somewhere, if we want to talk.”

“I’ll follow you, stop for breakfast somewhere, and we can talk then.”

“Ok, sounds good, but let’s put some miles behind us, first.”

“Fine.” Nate turned to walk away.

“Oh, Nate?” Jason stopped him, “Don’t make it look like you are following us.”

“Damn cloak and dagger shit is really starting to irritate me,” Nate muttered to himself as he walked to his car.

Me, too, Jason thought to himself. People were starting to climb back over the fence, and he realized Anne was among them. He grinned. That woman had a way of being in the lead, even though she looked so small and mousy and weak. He stepped away from the bumblebee and walked to meet Anne at her car. She powered the locks open, and they climbed in silently.

“So where are we going?” he asked.

“You sure do ask me that a lot,” her lips twitched in a brief grin as she started her engine and pulled out of the rapidly emptying parking lot. “Read it for yourself, and see what you can make of it.”

“We should have gotten the FBI to help us figure these things out, somehow,” he said.

“Hmph,” was her only response as she turned onto Independence Avenue.

“What?” He couldn’t resist asking.

“Nothing,” she shrugged.

“You like it!” He exclaimed. “You like figuring it out! You like the race!”

“Hmph,” was all he got. He decided to wait until they were on the highway before telling her about the breakfast plans he had made.

Washington Monument Parking Lot, Washington DC – morning, Sunday

David handed the keys to his sixteen year old daughter, hoping she did not notice the trembling in his hands. He fought a rush of nausea and watched as his vision narrowed down to a pinprick as he clutched the roof of his economical Toyota. The cold metal stayed under his hands, and a few moments later his vision slowly expanded again. The look of fear in his daughter’s eyes stung his heart.

“Dad, are you ok?”

“I’m fine, Lexi,” he lied. “Just tired.” He climbed into the passenger seat before he fainted. Lexi got behind the wheel and pulled out of the parking lot. He was pretty certain she no longer believed him, but was grateful she wasn’t asking a lot of questions.

“He’s following us again,” she said instead.

“Someone is following us?” he asked, hoping his voice sounded stronger than he felt, as he reclined the seat.

“Yeah, that guy in the car that looks like a bee. He followed us from Tallahassee, too.”

“Really?” He was beginning to drift off again.

“Dad?”

“Yes?” He was barely conscious.

“Where are we going?” The anxiety in her voice pulled him away long enough to answer.

“Niagara Falls, dear,”

“Where is that?” she asked.

“Buffalo, New York.”

“And where is that?” she asked, but he lost consciousness before he could answer.

McDonald’s, McLean, Virginia – morning, Sunday

“Let’s stop here for breakfast,” Jason said.

“I’m not really that hungry yet, let’s push on until we get into Pennsylvania,” Anne replied.

“I really need to take a leak. And I’m starving. We’re here, let’s just stop,” Jason urged. His voice was taking on a whine that set Anne’s teeth on edge.

“Fine!” she relented, pulling onto the off ramp with a sudden swerve, cutting off a car whose horn honked loudly. “But we are doing drive-thru.”

“I need the bathroom! And it’s number two, so let’s just go in.”

Anne rolled her eyes, but she pulled into a parking space. Jason rushed to the bathroom while Anne walked up to the counter. She might as well order breakfast while she was here, then she could push on through the day. There was no line so her McMuffin was in her hand almost instantly. She sat down and just begun to unwrap her sandwich when a man sat down at her table. She flinched when his shadow crossed her vision.

“Philip!” she exclaimed before her brain registered that the man sitting at her table was not her husband. Her heart hammered, but anger swept the fear away. Only then did she recognize Nate, the man who had helped her through the maze. “Do you mind?” her voice was harsh and rude, even to her own ears.

“I generally prefer to be called Nate, actually,” he joked, his eyes glinted with amusement, though the worry lines on his forehead did not ease.

“I’m sorry, for a moment I thought you were someone else,” she said.

“Someone unpleasant, it would seem,” Nate ventured. Then he added, “Where is Jason? He said we could talk when he pulled over for breakfast.”

“Oh he did, did he? And when did he agree to this?” Anne glared at the bathroom door.

“At the monument, I need to talk to him. And you, too. I take it he didn’t mention it?”

“No, he didn’t.” Anne glared at her food as she took a hostile bite of her warm McMuffin.

“Is he in the bathroom?” Nate asked. Anne nodded, her sandwich in her mouth. “Ok. Might as well get something to eat, then.”

Jason emerged from the restroom while Nate was ordering, and Anne glared at him as he walked to the counter. He and Nate greeted each other, and both carried their food to the table.

“What is all this about?” Anne demanded. “I’ve got a race to win.”

“Why?” Nate asked.

“Why what?”

“Why do you have a race to win?”

“I could use that money,” Anne said, unaware that her hand hovered protectively over her abdomen.

“She’s running away from her abusive husband,” Jason added.

“I never said he was abusive!” Anne exploded. “I never said anything about him at all!”

“So it’s a loving husband who calls with threats and then gets you arrested for stealing your own car?” Jason asked.

Nate interrupted gently, “That’s why you want to win the race, not why you have a race to win. What I mean is, who put you into this race?” His voice was low and conspiratorial. Jason’s expression closed down like a switch had been thrown.

Anne blinked at them both, “What do you mean?”

“Who do you think invited you? Who put you in the race in the first place?”

“At first I thought it was a game my husband was playing with me,” she paused. “Mr. Bright?”

“He’s just a hired hand,” Jason said. Nate nodded.

“You know who puts us into the race, don’t you?” Nate asked Jason.

“No,” the cold anger in Jason’s voice chilled Anne to the core.

“Are you talking about the people the FBI are after?” Anne asked.

“The FBI?” Nate asked while Jason glared at her shaking his head violently, indicating she should say nothing further.

“It’s best not to talk about the race, even to each other. People end up dead that way,” Jason said. “Enough of this, let’s go!” He started to get up. Anne stayed where she was, looking between the two men.

“You’re making a scene,” Anne said. “Sit down.”

“I think we all will end up dead, anyway,” Nate said softly. “This is what I know. I was somewhere very remote, very dark, and very personal when I got a call from the man we call Mr. Bright. He knew me far too well for a stranger, proven just in the way I got the race phone in the first place. Then some guy who works for the race tried to take me out of it just a couple hours into the game. I think you know who that man is, since you recognized him this morning. Because of him, I lost the first leg, and I was given a gun as a penalty and told I had to kill someone to get them out of the race, or I was going to be killed instead.”

Anne’s blood ran cold, and her just finished sandwich turned into lead. She gulped her luke warm coffee, but it didn’t help. Nate continued speaking softly.

“I had decided I was going to let them kill me, but one of the race cars had a fatal accident on the way to Tallahassee, and Mr. Bright thought I had arranged it. There has been at least one other death I know of, also because of that man. Additionally, I know that the Miller’s are in the race because their daughter was kidnapped, and they were thusly coerced into racing. So what we have here are three counts of murder, kidnapping, and however many illegal charges there are to having a race. But really what I figure is that there are some very rich people playing us like pawns in some sick game, and people are dying left and right. I want some answers from you, Jason, since you seem to know more about what is going on than anyone.”

“I have no answers to give you,” Jason said.

“He was in the race before,” Anne said. “Now he’s working for the FBI.”

Jason’s face turned a grey white. “You’ve just killed me.”

“What? I did no such thing!” Anne exclaimed. “You are such a drama queen!”

“The people who run this race have eyes and ears everywhere. That clerk behind the counter could work for them. They have probably tapped into the surveillance of this place already. They will kill me if they know I’m in the race.”

“They know already, or did you forget that you happily slept under their cameras for several hours this morning at the monument? Or that the guy in the silver Eclipse saw you?” Nate added. “And you are no fed, so I don’t know what story you’ve been telling Anne here.”

“No story, the FBI pulled me out of jail in Jacksonville. They took my race phone, bugged it I assume, then handed it back to me, and told me Jason was my new partner,” she explained.

“You were in jail in Jacksonville?” Nate asked.

“Her husband put out an APB on her and the car, saying she stole it,” Jason said.

“Would that be why the police are running the license plate of your car?” Nate asked casually.

Anne spun in her chair and looked out the window where a state trooper was idling behind her car, reading his monitor. He spoke into the radio. He clearly didn’t like what he heard. A few moments later, he turned off his engine, blocking her in, and stepped out of the car, his hand on his gun.

George Washington Memorial Pkwy, Virginia – morning, Sunday

Nate’s palms were sweating against his steering wheel as he revved up to speed on the highway, the patrol car unmoving in the parking lot of the McDonald’s they had so swiftly vacated. “We’re clear,” he said.

Anne pulled herself up from the floor and stared out the window behind them. She looked more than a little shaken and her hands trembled, though she tried to hide it. Glancing in his rearview mirror he saw Jason sit up from the backseat.

“So glad you thought to park on the other side of the McDonald’s from us,” Jason muttered, also turning around to look behind the car, though the highway had already eaten the view.

“It seemed like the cloak and dagger way to go.” He wiped his palms on his thighs. “Besides, we still have much to discuss, and now no one has to worry about losing time in the race.” He said with a wry grin. Anne smiled wanly in return. “Hope you didn’t have anything important in the car.”

“Just my money and clothes,” Anne said, her hands curled protectively around her abdomen.

“The car was obviously a liability,” Jason said. “You and that persistent husband of yours.”

Anne fell silent, worrying at her lower lip with her teeth. Nate said the first thing he could think of that might distract her. “So who is the guy who tried to kill me with caltrops.” He shook his head to himself, way to go Nate, that’ll cheer her up.

“Sure, why don’t I tell you?” Jason sneered, “I might as well spill everything. I’m a dead man anyway. If the race doesn’t kill me, then the feds will send me to prison for pulling a gun on them, so I might as well commit as many fuck ups as possible, why don’t I?”

“You pulled a gun on the feds?” Nate asked.

“Yeah, I did. So what if I didn’t know it was the feds? That doesn’t matter. You want the story? Fine, I’ll tell you the story!” An hysterical edge had crept into Jason’s voice. “It all started the day I came home from work on my third anniversary. I was a few minutes late, because the jeweler hadn’t quite finished the diamond setting on the wedding band I was finally able to buy my wife. I came in and the furniture was overturned, and my wife was nowhere to be seen. I called the police, and next thing I know I’m being interrogated under suspicion of murdering my wife, because they found her blood in the kitchen. Not a lot of blood, and there was no body, so twenty hours later, they let me go telling me I better not go anywhere. When I got home, a phone rang. The opportunity of a lifetime, and my wife at the finish line. But only if I won, of course. I got in my car, and the next week of my life was a living hell. I barely survived to the last leg of the race. By the end, everyone was trying to kill me, the other racers, the thugs, the police, everyone. But I was in the lead, and racing for the final finish line. There were people all lined up on a hill beyond the finish line, and my wife was one of them. It was a dirt road in the desert, somewhere in Utah or Arizona or something. My eyes were on my wife, and that’s when it happened. The car behind me passed me and crossed the finish line. As soon as it did, my wife’s chest exploded in blood as they shot her from behind. I screamed and must have jerked the wheel, because the next thing I knew I was driving right over the edge of the canyon cliff we’d been racing next to. I blacked out when the car hit the ground, and I woke up three weeks later in a hospital. I got some flowers with a note the day after I woke up, “Congratulations on your second place prize!” I got a phone call later that day telling me if I ever breathed a word of the race my prize would be rescinded. I had no idea what it meant for several weeks, while I laid in the hospital with nothing to do but think and try to make my muscles work again. I didn’t understand until I went home. The police investigation was over. My wife was listed as a missing person, and my suspicion in the matter had been cleared up completely. It was all over. They never found her body. I’ve been trying to find the race ever since.

“There, that’s my story, now you know everything!”

Nate let the silence hang for a few moments, absorbing the pain of Jason’s tale, sorting the information. It was a grim tale, and it confirmed what he had begun to suspect.

“Not everything,” Nate said. “I still don’t know how you pulled a gun on the feds!” He kept his voice light, and was rewarded with a snort of laughter from Jason which broke the heavy tension in the man’s face.

“It’s all your fault. It was your gun!” Jason snorted again, “In Tallahassee, I grabbed your gun from your pocket in the maze. There was this van in the parking lot, and I thought it was a surveillance team from the race, so I pulled the gun and opened the van door, and demanded answers. I got a face full of brass, glocks, and some very pissed off FBI agents.”

“What’d you do, talk ‘em into letting you spy on the race?”

“Basically, yes. They were there following the race, investigating something about it.”

“And how did you end up in jail?” Nate asked Anne.

“Some cops picked me up in Jacksonville, saying I had stolen my car from my husband. The FBI took custody of me, and next thing I knew, Jason was in my car, and we were back in the race.”

“They needed a race phone, the police scanners said Anne had been picked up. It was just convenient,” Jason shrugged.

“So the FBI are somewhere behind us, following Anne’s race phone, and tapping the clues and calls it gets?” Nate rubbed his eyes. This was getting quite complicated.

“Yep, as near as I can figure. They have probably solved the clue by now, and are getting agents to the next checkpoint.”

“What do they intend to do then?”

“Hell if I know.”

“So all you wanted was to hear Jason’s story?” Anne asked.

“No, I want help convincing everyone else to quit the race before anyone else dies. And we have to find the Miller’s baby girl. Oh, and I’m pretty sure that the colonel is going to have to kill someone, too.”

“Is that all?”

“No, I want to know who wanted me in this race. Haven’t you ever wondered who paid to put you in the race?”

“Paid?” Jason frowned. “What do you mean?”

“I mean, this race must be expensive as hell, and that’s not even counting the prize money, if there even is a prize. It’s clearly invite only, so who is doing the inviting? The only thing that makes sense is that we each must be sponsored by someone who really wants to fuck with us, and is willing to pay a great deal of money in order for it to happen. So the question is, who are you? Who are each of us, why have we been invited into the race?”

“Me? I’m nobody, I’m a pizza delivery guy.”

“But who were you before?”

“Just a man in love with his wife.”

“Before that?”

Jason frowned. “I was a race car driver.”

“Did you piss anyone off? Someone wealthy?”

“My owner was very unhappy when I quit to live the married life.”

“What about you, Anne?”

“The only rich man I know is my husband, and he wants me at home. He doesn’t even like it when I go grocery shopping. Of course, he dislikes doing his own shopping even more. What about you?”

“Me? I’m just a former fireman with a bad back, and I don’t know anyone with two nickels to rub together.”

Ronald Reagan Airport, Washington DC – midmorning, Sunday

John James shuffled in his chair, glaring at the eleven other John James’s in the room. They all looked as bored and suspicious as he felt. He had never seen them all gathered in one place. By nature they were all like him, and his bosses knew better than to bring a collection of men like this together in one room. The mercs lining the walls holding automatic weapons encouraged them to keep the peace, however. He was very annoyed that he’d been recalled. At least he wasn’t the only one who had been. It looked like they all had, though no one ever told him how many John James were working the race. Still, his target was undoubtedly in Pennsylvania by now, and it made him jittery. Judging by the discontent in the room, it made them all jittery.

The usual office staff was busy running around the hanger like ants spilling out of a flooded ant hill. Sarah was here, which meant the Battle-Axe was here. Great, just what he needed. Sarah was busy pulling the plugs and packing the impressive array of electronic equipment they traveled with. When the Battle-Axe strode across the room, her heels clicking like a death march across the concrete floor, he was almost glad to see her. At least he could go soon, once she said her piece. At her entrance, Sarah ran to the laptop that sat on the table at the front of the room and hurried to turn it on. After a few flickers the grey wall in front of them turned blue, showing a waiting computer screen. Fucking joy, they were recalled for one of the stinking slide shows the race loved to put together. As one, every John James in the room groaned. They all hushed quickly as the Battle-Axe glared at them. She grabbed the remote from Sarah, and the pretty assistant scurried to the rear of the assembly, and resumed packing up equipment.

“There is little time, so I’ll be quick about this,” the Battle-Axe’s voice rang out like the harsh kiss of steel on steel. “Pay attention, I will not repeat myself.” She glared at the thugs draped menacingly across the metal folding chair. “The FBI have infiltrated this race.”

John James and his cohorts all snapped to attention at that one. Not one of them was innocent in the eyes of the law.

“We are moving this race across the border after the next checkpoint. They must cross the Rainbow Bridge, and they are racing faster than anticipated, so slow them down. We need time to get the advance teams into Canada,” She clicked her remote and a map of Niagara Falls and Rainbow Bridge came up on the screen.

A general grunting indicated that the John James collective understood their orders.

“How do you know the feds found us?” One guy, stupider than the rest, ventured the question. You never questioned the Battle-Axe. But he was probably assigned to one of the pansy advance team units that set up, rather than his follow and clean-up unit. To his surprise the Battle-Axe decided to answer.

The blond broad that John James’ thief had hitched a ride with clicked onto the screen. John James started to curse under his breath. “The racer Anne Collins was arrested in Jacksonville, but the FBI took her into custody. She checked in at this morning’s checkpoint, on time, and in the company of this man.” John James bit his tongue not to swear out loud as the thief he’d been trying to kill since Key West flashed on the screen. The picture was poor, taken from the surveillance cameras at the monument, and blown up as it was onto a roughly painted wall, but that was the man. A loud crash ricocheted through the hangar and everyone turned to see Sarah staring wide-eyed at the man on the wall, her face pale and white, a box of equipment dropped at her feet. She looked like she’d seen a ghost. She muttered an apology and hurriedly picked up the box under the glare of the Battle-Axe who continued speaking as if nothing had interrupted her.  “None of the sponsors claim the act, so we must conclude the man is FBI or working for the FBI, and this race has been compromised. We must, at all cost, protect the sponsors. Is that clear? Your orders are to get all the racers onto that bridge,” the map returned to the screen, “at the same time. Failure to do so will mean your lives.”

She strode away with a harsh clack of heels, leaving the map glowing starkly on the wall. One of the assistants stepped up to the table, his voice hesitant and wobbly. “There is a plane to take you to Buffalo, where your cars will be waiting. Since the racers are so close together at this point, we anticipate that you should be able to delay most of them at Goat Island easily enough. Encourage stragglers to get there on time, delay the leads, and allow the colonel through to fulfill his challenge. Your cars at Buffalo will be equipped with trackers so you’ll know where the racers are. You have your orders. Your plane is waiting.”

SR-295, Baltimore, Maryland – Sunday, midmorning

“Dad? Dad? Are you awake?” Lexi’s voice pulled him out of his sleep. At least he hoped it was sleep. He was beginning to think he had less time than he hoped. “Dad, I don’t know where to go from here.”

“Where are we,” he mumbled, barely able to hear himself.

“Baltimore, and there are like eight roads that go north, and I don’t know which one to take.”

David Campbell rubbed his eyes, ignoring the pain that filled his head with cotton. “We need to get to Buffalo.”

“Yeah, I got that Dad, and it’s in New York, which is north. But which north road? Should I pull off the highway and get a map? That guy who has been following us for, like, ever, is still behind us, so I wanted to ask you what you wanted to do.”

His daughter tried to hide the concern in her voice, and that touched his heart deeply. Instead of saying anything, though, he reached for the safer subject, “That yellow and black car, you mean?”

“Yeah, him.”

“Hm, he seems like a nice enough fellow,” David said. An idea began to form in his muddled thoughts.

SR-295, Baltimore, Maryland – Sunday, midmorning

Drew frowned as the father daughter team pulled off the highway into the city of Baltimore. They always seemed to know where they were going, but he just didn’t think Baltimore was where they were supposed to be going.

“They probably need gas,” he muttered to himself. He checked his gas gauge and added, “Probably not a bad idea.”

They pulled into a mini-mart gas station. He pulled up nearby and began filling up his car. The daughter went into the mini-mart. She had a nice tight ass, he noticed. Jailbait, though. He turned back to his gas pump, and jumped when he saw dad standing right next to him, giving him the evil eye.

“You’ve been following us,” the dad said.

“Uhhhhh,” he answered.

“My name is David Campbell,” the man paused, waiting.

“Uh, Drew.” The silence stretched even longer. “Uh, Drew Thompson. Uh, sir.”

“I have a suggestion,” David finally nodded, and began. “Clearly your vehicle is faster than mine, yet you follow us, which suggests that you don’t know what the clues mean.”

Drew opened his mouth to protest, but David held up his hand to cut him off before he even began. He was starting to feel stupid, and he hated feeling stupid.

“I know where we need to go, but I’m feeling unwell and can’t help my daughter drive. I propose we team up for the remainder of the race.”

Drew took an involuntary step back, “Whatcha got?”

The man laughed at him, “Nothing contagious, and I’m mostly just tired from all the driving. Not as young and strong as some.”

Drew stood up a little straighter, liking this man a bit more. At least he knew when he was beat. “You’re the second person to ask me to team up,” he said, because he couldn’t think of anything else to say, and he wondered why the man was making the suggestion, when he’d been in the lead much of the race.

“It would appear to me that a person alone is at a disadvantage than one with a partner,” David said. “And ten million dollars is still a lot more than nothing.”

“I’m already getting where I need to be,” Drew said.

“But can you get there if we stop racing here and now?” David asked.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean that we team up, or I drop out of the race here and now.”

“Dad! What are you doing!” Lexi shouted, close enough to have heard her father. She was thrusting her tits out in her anger and Drew had to rip his eyes away before either of them caught him looking. This was gonna get interesting. 

“We need a partner, Lexi, because I don’t think I can drive anymore.”

“I can do the driving!” She insisted.

“Not all the time,” her father said. He turned to Drew, “Well? What do you say?”

Since he had no clue where the hell Lelawala was, Drew didn’t see that he had much of a choice. “You tell me where we are going, then we take my car, old man.”

David laughed sardonically, “We can take your car, but I’ll only tell you our destination once we are back on the road.”

“Yeah, all right.”

Gas station, Baltimore, Maryland – Sunday, mid-morning

Lexi fumed as she stomped back to her car. “I’m not going with that stupid pervert!” she said to her dad, once they were far enough away from Drew.

“Lexi, I have to tell you something. This isn’t easy, so please, understand.” The look on her father’s face scared her more than she would ever admit, and her heart leaped into her chest. He took her hands in his. They were cold, and his face had a grayish cast to it that did not look good at all. She swallowed the lump in her throat hard, and waited as he took a deep, shuddering breath.

“Lexi, remember those doctor appointments I had last month?”

“Your check-ups?” She suddenly knew they had not been ordinary check-ups, and she didn’t want to hear any more, but if she protested, then the tears she was fighting would fall.

“Yes, those. Lexi, there is no easy way to say this. I’m dying. I have an inoperable brain tumor. When I got the call, I thought I could make it through the race without a problem, but, as you know, I’m not doing so well.”

“But dad!” The tears slipped her hold, and burned like acid down her cheeks.

“Hush, pumpkin,” he wrapped his arms around her and held her like he had when she was seven. “It’ll be all right.”

“We can quit the race, Dad, and go find other doctors, someone who can fix you!”

“Lexi, my sweet daughter, I’ve been to all the doctors, and they all agree. Inoperable. I wanted us to have this race, this time together, a last, great adventure.” She sobbed into his chest. “We just need a little help getting to the finish line, that’s all.”

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