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I’m continuing with THE EARTH SHIFTER excerpts. Today’s entertaining episode is about the mysterious and beautiful brunette with clandestine plans, called simply “Red,” her Underworld castle, and Kei’s drag racing in his new magical car. While reading this, you’ll notice that I know my drag racing. If you think that I might have had this kind of experience in my life – neah, not really. Me, I’ve always been a proper little girl. However, I really do possess first-hand knowledge of how it’s done. How, you ask? Believe it or not, from my hubby, who was quite a daredevil in his previous life and who was known to climb steep mountains, cycle and drag race along the Canarsie Pier in Brooklyn, just as it is described in the book. So, the technical details here come straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.
Magic, Underworld & Drag Racing
Kei became a regular at Red’s. He would usually ride his bike from Chinatown to the Underworld Club, knock on the inconspicuous door, which would open to let him in, leave the bike in the clock room, and proceed through the spacious club to the elevator. He got used to the speed—the trick was to inhale before it started moving and exhale while it was in motion. Every time the elevator started its descent, he tried not to think how deep into the crust of the Earth he was moving. He focused on Red—the mysterious, the beautiful, one-of-a-kind, the kind of woman any man could only dream about and would gladly die for.
She wouldn’t tell him her age, and every time he tried to ask, she’d just laugh with that sexy laugh, which electrified his entire body with goose bumps. By the way she looked and dressed, he guessed she was about twenty-two or twenty-three, although sometimes she behaved as if she was an old soul. But the best part was that he absolutely didn’t care. Only sixteen-and-a-half and pretty lucky with girls, he was very cognizant of the fact that he could wait his entire life and never be fortunate enough to meet such a woman. He knew what he wanted, and age had nothing to do with that. He wanted to hold on to this miracle and never let her go. For some reason he couldn’t quite understand, she seemed interested in him. That was fine with him—all he wanted was to be with her.
Kei descended the elevator as usual and was met by the bowing guard down below. He nodded casually and walked past the guard, straight into Red’s drawing room.
“Kei, darling,” she purred, her sultry body so close to him that his heart skipped a beat. “I was just going to call you. I have a surprise for you.”
“Surprise? What kind of surprise?”
“Do you like cars?” she continued, her hand caressing the biceps on his right arm, then proceeding to his chest.
“Cars?” he murmured breathlessly. “What cars?” In her proximity he hardly understood any human words. She was so intoxicating that he was ready to do anything she wanted, and go anywhere she commanded.
“Really fast and cool cars, darling,” she purred on. “But let’s go outside and I’ll show you what I mean.”
“Oh, but I just got down here.” He said that with regret. “I was hoping we could spend some time here…alone.”
She gave him a seductive smile. “Alone—later. I promise you’ll like the car. Let’s go.”
He followed her back to the elevator, remembering to inhale before and exhale during the trip up.
They got out of the building through the back and entered a small parking lot attached to the building. There were several cars, including a Ford SUV, a Mercedes, a Range Rover, and in the most prominent spot, he saw a shiny yellow Ferrari. He held his breath—the car was beautiful.
“Like it?” she said, smiling. “It’s yours.”
“Are you kidding me?”
“No, absolutely serious.”
“I can’t accept this kind of gift, it’s too much.” He shook his head. “I’ll never be able to repay you. Besides, I don’t even have a driver’s license. And even if I did, how would I explain it to Mom and Dad?”
“You don’t ever have to repay me anything. I enjoy giving gifts. And you don’t have to tell your parents either. Keep the car here, and when you need it, just come over.”
“This is way too generous.”
“Don’t worry about it.” She shrugged her shoulders easily. “I’ve got an idea. Let’s take it for a spin.”
“Okay. Where do you want to go?”
“How do you feel about drag racing? Despite not having a driver’s license, you can drive, right? Judging by how you handle your bike, you are a natural.”
“Of course I can drive!” A sly smirk slowly unfurled across his face. “Drag racing is a great idea—always wanted to try it. I just need to make a quick call.”
He got out his cell phone and dialed home.
“Mom, I will be home late. I am at Alex’s,” he lied. “There are several guys here and we’ll be hanging out. How late? I don’t know, but don’t wait up. Just don’t bolt up the door so I could get in.” He listened for a moment, and then continued. “Well, it’s Friday night, no school tomorrow, so there’s no problem, right?”
Red smiled approvingly at him as he talked. He hung up the phone and said, “All set. Let’s go.”
They drove onto the crowded New York street and quickly made their way towards the Brooklyn Bridge. The car was exquisitely responsive and handled like a dream, as if it was an extension of his body. He felt exhilarated. It was the best present anyone had ever given to him, and probably the best he’d ever get.
They crossed over the Brooklyn Bridge and headed to Canarsie Pier. Canarsie Pier, located in the slummy part of Brooklyn, was a sleazy local drag racing hangout. Abandoned warehouses lined the shore, and police rarely showed up there. The die-hard drag racing crowd would take bets as cars raced along the deserted stretch. They arrived early; drag racing started at 1 a.m.
“I tell you, dude, the police is on our tail,” said one drag racer, tall, black, and clad head-to-toe in shiny black leather. “I can’t race like this. The moment I see police, I am outta here.”
“Hey, Mike, I bet on you, so you can’t just split,” objected another, apparently his fan.
“I can’t help it, dude. I’ll keep my end of the bargain if everything’s quiet, but I can’t have them take away my driver’s license, or worse, put me in jail. I have three mouths to feed.”
“I also have money on you, Mike,” yelled another man.
“Me too.” It appeared Mike was very popular.
“He is the best,” murmured a man next to them as if to confirm their initial impression.
Kei sat inside his new Ferrari, as other drag racers made their last preparations. The tall guy in black leather on his right turned out to drive an old, and somewhat beaten up silver sports car. Their eyes met.
“First time?” he asked.
“Fancy wheels, dude,” he said enviously to Kei. “You do realize this is a drag race, so what’s with the Ferrari? We race for pink slips, you know.”
Seeing that Kei just stared at him blankly, he added, “You lose, I keep your car, man!”
“Not really,” responded Kei. “I intend to be ahead of everyone, so that won’t be an issue.”
“Wrong answer, dude,” grinned the drag racer. “I always win, so get ready to hand over the keys.”
Kei stared back at the man with confidence. He liked his competitive spirit, but today Red was watching and he intended to win no matter what. As they pulled up to the starting line, a girl upfront suddenly whipped off her bra, waving it like a flag. Kei watched her every move, waiting. Suddenly, she dropped her bra and immediately the air filled with the sound of roaring engines and screeching tires. The race was on!
Kei took a deep breath and floored it. Obediently, the car responded to the slightest move of his foot or turn of the wheel. Kei felt the exhilaration of the race, concentrating on the stretch of road in front of him. Soon, all the other cars were indeed left behind, except Mike’s. Kei threw a quick glance in his direction, trying to assess his competitor’s chances.
Mike was one with his car, his eyes glued to the road in front, immense concentration on his face. He didn’t look like that sociable and easy-going guy with whom he just spoke. Now, the look on his face was that of a hunter with a killer instinct.
Kei increased his speed, but surprisingly, his competitor kept up. He glanced at Mike, whose face was now contorted into a grimace. They were approaching a narrow sleeve on the road, which also had a difficult hidden curve. Kei was unaware of all this, but as he threw another glance in Mike’s direction, their eyes met and Kei read everything on his competitor’s face.
All of a sudden, the entire road materialized in front of his eyes, as if a giant map floating in thin air. All the twists and turns, as well as gravel and potholes, were laid out before him. With a jolt, he realized that he had tapped into Mike’s mind, but not in his usual way. This time, he not only read everything Mike was thinking, but also visualized the whole thing on-screen, like a 3-D roadmap, mentally downloading the entire pool of Mike’s drag racing experience available to him.
He allowed Mike to get ahead of him so he wouldn’t collide with his competitor on the difficult curve ahead. This little trick was also supposed to lull Mike into false sense of security. When Kei fell behind, the poor guy already thought he had the race in his pocket.
“Just you wait, Mikey, just you wait,” muttered Kei in a singsong voice. “I am so coming to get you…”
Once they passed the curve, Kei floored the gas pedal again and swiftly maneuvered around the silver car, passing it before Mike could understand what hit him. The next curve is crucial, came in Mike’s new thought. I’ve got to get ahead now in order to be on the winning, inner side of the curve.
Thanks for the tip, Mikey-boy, murmured Kei. He maneuvered the car as close to the right as possible and managed to reach the crucial curve first. He emerged onto the final stretch and threw his faithful steed into one last attack. At the finish line, Kei came to an abrupt, but artistic halt, raising a huge cloud of dust.
He won. He threw a glance of triumph at Red, who was watching him from the crowd’s first row, her face one big, sexy smile. The silver car reached the finish a second or two later, as Mike, dark as a storm cloud, jumped out of it. Soon, other drag racers started arriving.
“Great ride,” Kei said to him, extending his hand. “Don’t worry, you’ll win next time.”
“I don’t have that much time left,” murmured Mike.
Kei was going to ask what he meant, but didn’t get the chance. At that very moment, they heard sirens and a bunch of police cars surrounded the area.
“Damn,” whispered Mike. “I hope they didn’t get it on camera.”
“Attention everyone, get out of your cars and line up here. In case you were wondering, we’ve got everything on tape,” announced police captain with a smug expression on his face. “Get out your driver’s licenses so I can see them.”
Kei threw a quick glance at Mike, who stood quietly next to him, apparently resigning to the fact. He handed his driver’s license to the policeman, who was writing something down on a sheet of paper. “Your ticket, and this is your court appearance date. Don’t miss it, so you avoid further problems.” Mike took the ticket and the court date slip with a dejected look on his face.
“How about you, young whippersnapper?” The policeman turned to Kei. “I bet you are not even old enough to drive. Now, just look at the car you are driving. I wonder where you got wheels like that. Not stolen, is it?”
Kei opened his mouth to say that he forgot his driver’s license at home, when Red appeared next to him.
“Excuse me, officer,” she said with the most charming smile. “Here is his driver’s license—he gave it to me to hold on to.” And she handed the policeman a driver’s license.
“John Ping,” murmured the policeman. “Nineteen years of age. Hmm… I could have bet anything that you were younger.”
“All Asians look younger,” replied Red promptly. “Excuse me officer, but if there is nothing further, we should be going. It’s pretty late.”
“You are free to go,” said the officer. “Unfortunately, he isn’t going anywhere yet. I need to issue him a ticket and schedule him for court.”
“Based on what?”
“Based on the fact that he was drag racing, and we’ve got everything on tape.”
“Racing? In what?” inquired Red innocently.
“In this yellow Ferrari,” replied the officer, starting to lose his patience.
The officer turned his head to the right and blinked. Kei blinked, too. Where just a moment ago was his brand hew car, stood a bike.
“What the…” said the officer in bewilderment. “Where did it go? Hey Cap, did you see the yellow Ferrari?” he asked his captain.
“Ferrari?” The captain frowned. “What Ferrari? Are you okay, Jim?”
“Yes, I am.” The policeman looked confused.
“So, officer, we’ll be going if you don’t mind,” said Red, gently pulling the driver’s license out of his hand.
“Wait, what were you doing here then?” asked the policeman, trying to re-acquire his grip on the situation.
“Watching, of course,” replied Red.
“Okay, you may go, but don’t think this is over. I am going to watch the tape, and if the yellow Ferrari is on it, I’ll come after you, so it better not be there.”
“Of course,” said Kei, smiling.
As they started walking away, Kei whispered to Red, “You are amazing, you know that? But what about the tape?”
“What tape?” asked Red with a mischievous grin.
Kei grinned at her with appreciation. “I always thought we were kindred spirits.”
As they were leaving, he caught a miserable look on Mike’s face and felt sorry for him. “Are you sure the tape is not a problem? I feel sorry for that guy, Mike.”
“The tape will be blank,” replied Red. “They’ll have to let him go, so not to worry.”
They walked for a couple of blocks, Kei walking his bike, formerly known as the beautiful yellow Ferrari. “We should catch a cab. The nearest subway is probably too far, plus it’s very late.”
“I have something better,” said Red. She turned her head to the right and to the left to check that no one was watching. Then, she lightly touched the bike and a moment later, a slick black BMW was standing by the curb.
Kei whistled. “You are much better at this than I am. No contest. And there I thought I was pretty good.”
“You are very good. I am just more experienced. If you want, I can teach you some of my tricks.”
“Of course,” said Kei. “That’s one neat trick—turning a bicycle into a BMW. That kind of trick I definitely want to learn.”
“There is so much more than a mere car that you can do with this trick,” said Red.
They arrived back at the Underworld Club and Red parked the BMW in her parking lot.
“You did well today,” she said to him.
“So did you. I was very impressed,” echoed Kei. “Too bad my Ferrari is gone.”
“Who said she was gone?” Red mischievously pointed into a shadowy corner of the parking lot. There, behind a Mercedes and a Ford SUV stood his yellow Ferrari, which he already had fallen in love with.
“You are amazing, Red, did you know that?” he said adoringly, stroking the car’s yellow hood, as if it was the voluptuous body of his beloved sexy brunette.
Red responded with her trademark Mona Lisa smile. Now she was absolutely confident—Kei was hers, in body, mind, and spirit.
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