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Mac whipped around in her seat to scan the road behind them. Eyes wide with fear, it was a few seconds before she could discern the vehicle. The dark, ghost-like shape hovered behind some distance, partially lost in wisps of mountain mist. Gradually, it emerged out of the greyness, the distance between the two cars closing by the second.
“IT LOOKS LIKE THE SAME CAR!” Fear pinched Mac’s voice to a squeak.
The black vehicle (some kind of Ford, Em thought) was now trailing them by just a few yards, and still coming. When it was some ten feet from her rear end it held that position. She attempted to make out the driver and any other occupants but what with the mist and her car’s spray it was impossible to see any details of the car’s interior. As Mac and Em watched in fearful silence, the tailgater began to weave back and forth. For what seemed like long minutes it continued its erratic behavior.
“Watch out,” Em said. “I think it’s going to try passing us.”
Suddenly the dark shape pulled out from behind the McLaren and accelerated. It fishtailed through the snow like a salmon swimming upstream. Em held her breath, as she was sure Mac did, as she watched the car gain on them, then draw level. Either it was intentional or the driver lost control in the deeper snow, but Em watched in horror as the car swung madly at them. Mac shrieked. Em’s eyes darted from the encroaching car to the road ahead, and to the edge of the road.
Instinctively she was steering the McLaren away from the other vehicle but she could see that any second now she could easily lose control in the snow banked on the road side. Em took her foot off the accelerator and gripped the steering wheel, white-knuckled.
Mac screamed and covered her eyes as her friend fought to keep the car on the road. The McLaren’s speed dropped off noticeably as the snow dragged at the tires. The tail end began to fishtail. Em’s eyes were riveted on the road, when suddenly, the other car came into view ahead as it whipped in front of them. Two or three laughing faces peered at her from its rear window.
With a waggle of its tail, the car accelerated and dissolved in a spray of dirty snow. Seconds later it was lost to sight altogether as the mountain mist swallowed it. Em’s breath exploded from her; she had been holding it for the entire time. She was shaking; her hands still gripped the wheel and hurt from the tension, as did her arms. Em noticed her legs trembling.
“Fucking louts!” The expletive fairly exploded from her as Em glared ahead and tried to relax. “If I ever see their faces again I’ll fucking lay them out cold.” The promise was forced out through grinding teeth and made more to herself than her friend. “That couldn’t have been your mystery car—all the way from Florida?.” It was more a statement than a question.
“It was the same sort…and color. But I don’t think it was the actual car.” Color was beginning to flood back into Mac’s face. “Shitheads! What made them pull a fucking stunt like that? We could’ve been killed!”
“Testosterone. But if I get my hands on the driver he’ll wish he never had balls.” Em looked across at Mac. “Are you okay?”
“I could do with a restroom, but apart from that I’m alright…I guess.” A tremulous smile eked across Mac’s face, then she uttered a nervous chuckle. Em couldn’t help joining her in the quivering mirth as the adrenaline rush began seeping out of her system, leaving her drained and suddenly tired. They were both laughing quietly.
“The lodge isn’t far now. Let’s get this bloody show back on the road.” With that said, Em gradually edged the McLaren back away from the roadside and increased its speed again, while giving silent thanks to the gods for keeping them safe.
That was fucking close! the driver of the trailing car thought. Those fucking snow jocks nearly lost it. After trying the same fucking stunt on me, you’d’ve thought they’d learned their lesson. Guess not. Well, no real harm done…I guess. The girls probably pissed their pants, though. A soft chuckle sounded as a mental image of the two women squirming in wet pants came to mind.
The McLaren, with its two women occupants, moved further ahead as the following driver dropped the car back a bit more, allowing the forest shadows to help cover its movement. I should’ve guessed she would head for the lodge. If I hadn’t thought she would’ve suddenly changed her mind, I would’ve headed out earlier and been there already waiting. Oh well, what the heck, I probably would’ve just frozen my arse off waiting for her to turn up anyway. At least this way I’m toasty warm. A gloved hand reached out and stroked a sinister-looking rifle. Soon, baby, soon.
Route 7 wound its way down the Front Range towards the township of Estes Park. Tall timbers thinned as they neared the town, passing through streets lined with houses and light industry buildings. Route 7 became S St Vrain Ave, named after the white water river they’d rus escort followed out of Lyons up into the Front Range.
Their road joined Highway 36, made a long sweeping left curve, with a golf course and lake to their right, and touched the edge of downtown Estes Park. As the car cruised through the intersection of 36 and 34, to their left they had a view down E Elkhorn Ave through the middle of town lined with storefronts. They took Hwy 34 north, skirting downtown.
Most of the town’s people appeared to live this side of town because they drove by more houses, most with cared for yards. As they continued northwest, the houses dropped behind and the countryside became an open valley dotted with pines mainly, with a low range of waves of large rock formations on their right. The road made another long left curve and a few houses materialized on their left with a backdrop of thickly wooded granite cliffs rising up behind. The two women were now 1 mile west of town, and entering the Rocky Mountain National Park.
“Finally.” Em swung the McLaren off the main road and through a majestic timber gateway marking the entrance to the exclusive mountain lodge just as soft downy snowflakes began drifting out of a soft blue-grey sky. The black Mercedes-Benz 300 purred along the lane as it snaked its way through a dense pine forest. Signs of recent ploughing were evidenced by the fresh banks of snow piled to either side of the narrow road. Mac gazed about in wonder at the dark green trees quickly receiving a soft blanket of white. Suddenly she sat bolt upright in her seat despite her belt restraint.
“A deer!! Look, Em, a deer!” Mac was like a young city girl making her first trip into the country. “Another one! There’s a whole bunch of them!” She twisted about in her seat, endeavoring to catch glimpses of the gentle creatures as they moved quietly among the trees feeding on clumps of mountain grass and shrubs. “Oh, Em, this so beautiful.”
Mac’s eyes glistened.
Em couldn’t help smiling at her friend’s exuberance. In all the years she had known Mac, Em could count on the fingers of one hand the number of occasions she had witnessed such joyful abandon exhibited by her younger companion. Mac, Em thought to herself, had given herself over to the recklessness of the idle rich ever since inheriting her late father’s millions and allowed herself to become indifferent to the beautiful world around her, particularly the wonders of nature.
However, once removed from her artificial world of glitz and glamor, and allowing sufficient time for her senses to retune themselves, Em paid her friend a lot of dues for her ability to recognize the reality of true beauty.
Em, on the other hand, had never lost touch with her appreciation for the sense of freedom she always experienced once away from her work. Recently, though, the responsibilities of running her own company, and nurturing its growth, had placed a heavy demand on her personal time and all at the expense of her keeping in touch with her romantic side.
The young girl in her—the one who still believed in knights in shining armor, fairies, castles glistening white in untainted emerald green countrysides, with dragons certainly nearby—that girl was never far below the surface. Maybe, just maybe, Em thought wistfully, this time away with Mac will help to ground me again.
Em’s reverie was broken when the McLaren emerged from the forested lane into the main grounds of the spacious resort. Unlike similar establishments, this mountain resort was reasonably small, having only a total of fifteen chalet-styled lodges which stood apart from each other for privacy.
The two-storey buildings were of true rustic appearance, being constructed from rough-hewn logs and roofed in wood shingles, and with each being well-surrounded by trees and shrubs, the total affect of the resort was one of a settlement of pioneer settlers. The theme was carried by the main office, which resembled an old goods store. But all pretence of old worldliness was left outside as the two women pulled up in front of the office and entered to check in.
“Oh my!” Mac exclaimed softly the moment she set foot inside the office. The outer appearance of the building belied the extensive floor space inside. The women fronted up to the main desk and while Em went through the check-in formalities, Mac gazed around, taking in the walls of honey-colored logs draped here and there with magnificent tapestries featuring mountain wildlife and scenery.
Elsewhere, antlers of varying sizes adorned the walls, as did a quantity of framed originals and giclée prints by well-known wildlife and western painters. Opposite the check-in desk the far wall was taken up almost entirely by a huge stone fireplace in which an inviting fire burned.
Several people lounged, chatting and enjoying drinks from the bar, in the various sumptuously-padded leather seats arranged facing the fire and in companionable clusters yenimahalle escort about the room. Rugs of brown, green and gold hues were scattered strategically over the beautiful stone flooring as were several well-tended large potted plants. And hanging from the ceiling, a huge chandelier created from numerous antlers loomed.
“Come.” Em touched her friend’s elbow gently to gain her attention.
“Care for a drink first, before we go to our lodge?” Mac nodded, and followed Em as she wound her way through the room to the guests’ bar. Sliding onto a couple of bar stools, Em caught the attention of the young bartender.
“I’ll have a Rob Roy, please, and my friend here will have…”
“A Crocodile Cooler, please.”
“Certainly, ladies. Coming right up.”
“Well? What do you think of this place?” Em glanced around the room for the first time, taking in the various guests.
“What do I think? This place is…is fantastic! How come you’ve never brought me here before now?” Mac was watching the young man behind the bar as he prepared their drinks. Kinda cute, she thought to herself.
“It wasn’t even here when you last visited.”
“You’re kidding. It looks like it’s been here for ages.”
“That’s the way they want you to feel about it. They went to a lot of trouble to make a new resort look old. It only opened for the first time winter before last. I’ve only been here once before myself, for a board meeting.”
“A board meeting? I should’ve known—work again.”
Em smiled and took up her drink as it was placed before her. “Sort of. I’m on the board that owns and runs this place.”
“You bloody sneak. If I’d known that I would’ve come way sooner.” Mac smiled over the top of her glass at Em. Suddenly a commotion at the front desk caught their attention. A group of young men seemed to be harassing the girl working there.
“Excuse me, Mac, while I go see what all the fuss is about.” Mac left the bar and quickly made her way to the group of noisy men. She stood, arms folded, for a few seconds while she listened to their ranting, trying to assess the situation.
“Excuse me…gentlemen. What seems to be the problem? Maybe I can be of assistance.”
Like a multi-headed beast, the men all turned their heads as one at the sound of the voice behind them. Angry scowls turned to lascivious grins and expressions of appreciation. There stood a tall magnificent creature dressed all in black. The group turned their full attention to Em, totally forgetting the flustered girl behind the desk, and formed a semi-circle around her. Em regarded the men quietly. They were all taller than her own six foot, and it was quite evident they all worked out as each was very muscular. Footballers, perhaps? She stood their close scrutiny, fully understanding their thoughts.
Men—they all saw her only as a sex object. There was nothing about any of these fine change-room specimens that held any interest for her whatsoever.
“I’m sure I can think of something you could assist me with.” Em supposed the leering spokesman to be the group’s leader; it was also the same guy, she noticed, who was harassing the check-in girl earlier.
“Yes, I’m sure you could. Be that as it may, sir, right this minute I’m more interested in helping with any problems you and your…associates may be experiencing. So…what seems to be the issue here?”
The brute leaned towards Em; the smell of alcohol and bad breath wafted over her. She crinkled her nose, which seemed to agitate the bully even more. But despite his closeness to her, the woman didn’t relinquish any ground to him and his eyes narrowed menacingly. The brute had started a confrontation with this woman, but more importantly he had done it in front of his fellow cohorts. He couldn’t afford to lose face now, especially to this bitch.
“When I made the reservation I asked for a specific lodge. Well, I’ve changed my mind. I don’t like the one we’re in and I want to change to another one—”
“I told him that there are none available, miss. They’re in No. 12. The resort is fully booked,” blurted the girl from behind the desk.
“I see,” said Em, giving the girl a short nod. “What is it exactly about your accommodation that you are not happy with, Mr…?”
“Brubaker. But you can call me Ace, sweetness.” The lout smiled around at his group. “Everything. I don’t like anything about the one we’re in and—” Em cut him off mid-sentence by softly taking him by an elbow and turning him towards the entrance. The young man looked over his shoulder at his companions and cocked an eyebrow. They all filed outside after Em, and their leader.
“Now, perhaps you would care to show me exactly what is wrong with your lodge…Mr. Brubaker. I’m sure it can’t be all that serious a matter that we can’t make you happy to stay there.” Em purposefully set off at a brisk pace heading across the central park area towards a grouping of three lodges. It was now snowing quite heavily. Back in the office building, Mac—along with a handful of other guests—was standing at the window watching her friend lead the disgruntled Mr. Brubaker and company towards their lodge. Suddenly the men stopped and turned to look at a parked car that one of the group was gesturing towards. It was Em’s sleek McLaren SLR.
“Hey, Ace! There’s that set of wheels we—”
“So it is,” said the pack leader as he angled away from following Em and made towards the black car. “I wonder if the broad who drives this beauty is staying here?” The leader and his pack gathered around the McLaren trying to peer through the dark tinted windows.
“She is staying here.” All heads turned to Em who was striding back towards her car.
“Oh? You know her?” Ace couldn’t help leering at the young woman; her outfit left nothing to his imagination as every curve, every crease was plainly obvious, encased as her body was in the soft black leather she was wearing.
“Intimately. You could say I’ve known her all my life.” There was a subtle smirk on Em’s face as she confronted the hulk of a young man.
“And you guys were in that car that nearly forced her off the road a ways back?”
“Mmm, yeah. But we were only clowning around. So what? No one got hurt, did they?”
“Ha! Except I bet those chicks shit their pants,” exclaimed one of the group, and the others laughed along with him. Em lanced each of them with an accusatory glare. The laughter changed to nervous sniggers, then stopped altogether. “Yeah, well…” stammered the joker.
“I’m disappointed to see that you all seem to have been born in the shallow end of the gene pool.” Blank stares met her comment. “As it is, I may just call the local police. I just happened to be the driver of this car when you tried to run us off the road. Me, I’m not all that worried about what happened, but my best friend was with me and no one gets away with upsetting her.”
From their viewpoint inside the main office, Mac and the other guests watched the confrontation out in the carpark. They could see the group of large young men begin forming a loose semi-circle around the woman in black, and Mac began to feel anxious for her friend. Snow began to fall in earnest again, as if a soft gossamer veil were being dropped between the audience and the stage.
“Those young men seem to be menacing that woman. Shouldn’t someone call the manager…or somebody?” The concerned voice of a woman in the room broke the silence. At that moment there was movement outside. Em stood her ground as she carefully took note of the men encircling her. The woman’s apparent calmness and inaction bemused the men and they eyed her warily as their fearless leader stepped close to the black figure, seeming to tower over her.
For a moment the two central figures stared at each other, neither blinking. Ace was getting more and more annoyed that the bitch was provoking him into doing something in front of his gang. He didn’t especially want to harm her, but he certainly wasn’t going to let her make a fool of him either. It looked like he had no choice but to teach her a lesson, like most of his girlfriends had needed to be taught how to respect him and his wishes. A cruel smile curled his lips at the thought of his administering lessons on various girls.
“You go right ahead and call the cops, lady. Won’t do you any good, though. My dad’s a senior judge and he’ll see to it that no charges will be pressed. As I said, no one got hurt. I had full control of the car and knew exactly what I was doing. Just clowning around, that’s all.” He reached out to lay a conciliatory hand on the woman’s shoulder. It never touched the black leather fabric.
Em knew perfectly well that the man didn’t intend to hurt her, despite the flicker behind his eyes and smile a second before. But to those watching from inside the safety and warmth of the office it would appear that he had made a move to attack her in some fashion. She threw up an arm and batted his outstretched hand from her shoulder, then stepped inside his reach and closer to his body. She was almost eye-to-eye with the guy as her knee drove up hard between his legs. Em could feel the testicles compress almost flat as the force of her blow pushed them up into the lower abdomen area.
Ace’s eyes flew open in astonishment, his mouth making a large silent ‘O’ as his body folded in on itself, instinctively trying to protect his valuables. Em danced backwards a couple of steps and watched as her ‘assailant’ crumpled to his knees in slow motion, then fell face forward into the snow. The other men watched, stunned, as their leader writhed in agony while squeaking in shallow gulps of air; his huge hands were clamped tight between his legs.
“What the fu—!” A fellow with dark complexion lunged angrily at Em, who was standing silently, watching Ace. Her peripheral vision caught the action off to her side. Feinting with a backward step, the woman allowed the lunging hands to sail pass her, catching her assailant off guard and off balance. His arms fully outstretched and clutching nothing but air and snowflakes, with his body overextended, the bewildered man was teetering forward on his toes when his world disappeared from under him.
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