Guy N. Smith
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The Hammerton team are having trouble during preparations for qualifying at California's Riverside. Led by Lee Hammerton, now that her father and brother have been killed, she brings in Mark Slade to be responsible for security. Slade was last year's runner-up at IROC, but lost his nerve and hid himself away in rural obscurity, all the while guarding his secret. But even with Slade there, the team is still plagued with mishaps: a mechanic is murdered, the main car is sabotaged and Slade survives a couple of murder attempts. And hanging over it all is the legend of the Hammerton curse.
elbow, his face upturned towards hers. Their lips met, lightly at first, then crushed together, tongues probing and entwining until they both fell back on the bed. ‘Thanks, Mark,’ she sighed. ‘I hoped that was how you felt.’ ‘Only until we get back from the States.’ ‘So you’re just on hire, then?’ ‘Can’t say. I don’t even know myself. But until we either make it or fail in the IROC grids we’ve got to keep our wits about us. Whoever fixed that tracking is sure to try again. And next time I may
had transformed it into what the estate agent had described as a ‘cottage residence of exquisite beauty with panoramic views’. Low ceilings, oak beams, recently whitewashed exterior walls, and a quarter of an acre of triangular-shaped garden, the latter in need of some attention. Mark Slade had already contemplated taking up gardening. The idea did not appeal, but, nevertheless, it was yet another challenge of the right kind. Escapism. He did not drive straight into the lean-to garage, but
this floor had all been herded in here. This was interrogation federal-style. A gun on the door, more down below. You told them all you knew. They told you nothing. And if your story didn’t fit… ‘Mark!’ Lee Hammerton rushed across the room, an expression of abject despair transforming into one of relief. ‘Mark! Where on earth have you been? We were worried sick about you. John Clyde said he hadn’t seen you since after the race yesterday, and… ‘ ‘Would somebody mind telling me what’s going on?’
arrangements for the return flight.’ ‘No, you won’t.’ There was a firmness about him now, a hint of the former IROC driver emerging from the enshrouding uncertainty and fear. T meant what I said. I’ll drive. For one helluva lot of reasons.’ ‘You can’t. You’ve lost your nerve. We both know it. Even watching the race yesterday shacked you.’ ‘I mean it. It won’t be easy. I can’t even promise that I won’t back out at the last minute, but God, I’ll do everything I can to make it. It’ll be my last
dusk was bringing back his fears. No longer were the multi-coloured spectators’ caravans and tents a gaudy background to inspire him. Colours merged into an indistinguishable grey, turning to black. It was as though there was nobody out there at all, just eight speeding cars in an empty void, reminiscent of a space flight when the radio communications have broken down. Emptiness. Death spreading its mantle. Slade saw the accident. It must have been the Italian, he concluded, the engine blowing