I have loosely borrowed several ideas from other authors more from admiration of their fan fiction than for personal gain. This story is of my own creation, but reference to such things as the law firm (references to law firm named for Hardcastles wife Nancy) are borrowed mainly for time line references. I have read much fan fiction over a span of years so naming each author would be difficult. If you see an idea that belongs to you and I didn't do it justice, you can message me and I'll edit accordingly. Also, I have did SOME research and hope that I am not too far off base when I mention some of the drag racing legends, again, if I am you can message me and I'll edit accordingly, but they were added to make the story more real though I may not be a 100 percent correct in what was going on with them in that exact year.
Flashbacks are typed in italics.
In the last six years Mark McCormick had been very busy. He had began and finished law school, passing the Bar Exam with flying colors. Though Judge Hardcastle had slowed his pursuit of the 'bad guys' only a little while McCormick studied, they were still very much in the 'hunt' of all those cases (and more) that had walked out of Hardcastle's court room on mere technicalities.
Hardcastle had helped McCormick set up what was quickly becoming a well known and reputable law firm. Whether you had been done wrong and needed an attorney for legal advise and to prosecute the guilty party or whether you were in the wrong place at the wrong time and needed legal aid, Mark McCormick was you attorney. He'd put everything on the line to defend you if you were innocent or he'd work with the Prosecuting Attorney to put those that did you wrong away in the house of many doors.
Gulls Way was also getting a face lift. Much to the Judge's pleasure (and dis-pleasure) a new structure had taken shape on the grounds. The ground level floor was mainly garage and storage area while the second floor was complete with Living Room / Dining Area, Kitchen, 1 bath, 2 bedrooms and a Master Suite which was large enough to house a bath and office space as well as plenty of extra room. It was complete with a full bay window view of the ocean.
Though Mark and Hardcastle had both been shot and had many a bad day, neither had regrets about the friendship that had been earned and had grown between them. Mark might have wanted to have changed certain things, like HOW they got to know each other, but all in all, would have never missed the 'dance'.
The downstairs was filled with 'toys' for weekends when Mark wasn't busy with legal cases or Hardcastle's cases. But, today was a weekday, a work day so McCormick and Hardcastle were in the office working on cases. The grounds of Gulls Way were quiet, almost silent as Mrs. McCormick tossed back the covers and headed for the shower. Slipping on a pair of shorts and casual shirt, she returned to the bedroom. She walked across the bedroom and opened several of the windows in the large bay window. There was a warm breeze blowing and she couldn't resist leaning out the window to take in the breath taking view of the ocean. She smiled as she remembered the Judge and Mark bickering about the location of the house on the property. It had been the Judge's idea originally and he had insisted that he finance the building of the house as a wedding present. She thought back over the last seven years and about how much had changed, then she thought back to the first time she had seen Mark McCormick...
There he was standing outside Don Garlit's office. She had parked near the garages. He was slim, with a great tan, wearing jeans, T-shirt and sunglasses. She wondered who he was as she watched him light a cigarette, his curly hair blowing in the breeze. As she walked down the familiar parking area, he turned and looked at her. She saw the questions in his eyes as she spoke, opened the outer office door, and entered Don Garlit's offices as if she owned the place. Several others followed her in the minutes following her entry. The unknown man entered the offices with "Flip" Johnson. After introductions and some light conversation and humor, Don looked at her and said, "Why don't you go open up the garage and show these gentlemen around?"
She beamed with pride as she pulled out her set of keys that contained 'her' garage key to Don's garage. She replied, "Your wish is 'my' dream!" as she hoped off the desk and headed out to the garage. She was followed by a couple of the regulars who drove for Don and those who hoped to or those who worked the pits. After a bit everyone gathered around a set of picnic tables and chatted awhile. Later, the Chief Mechanic said to her, "Go get it and bring it down here."
She had to admit, she was shocked, but tried to hide it as she asked, "Me?"
He grinned and replied, "Yeah, you."
She shrugged her shoulders, looked around to one of the guys who worked the pits, and said, "Come on. If I'm goin' kill anyone, you're gonna be an accomplice."
The others heard the car start and fully expected the male crew member to bring out the brand new top fuel dragster. They were quiet surprised to see the young lady drive it out of the garage and down to the large parking area with the male crew member standing on the exhaust pipes.
One of the female on lookers who was there with a crew member said, "Hey, we have a female driver! Cool!"
She knew that they had all expected the male crew member to bring the dragster out. She beamed with pride as she climbed out of "Big Daddy's" new dragster, only to hear, "A girl? You have got to be kidding? You have got to be able to get a 'better' driver than a girl!"
She glared at the loud mouth, know it all.
Big Daddy replied, "I'm her sponsor. Who's yours?"
The loud mouth swallowed hard. Nothing he thought of saying would remove his foot from his mouth. Sammy O'Connell opted to say nothing.
The new guy laughed at Don's comment and said, "Hey, if you support her in your car, I'll support her in YOUR car!"
Big Daddy smiled and asked, "So who's your sponsor, kid?"
McCormick had a shocked look on his face. He and Flip had made 'an' arrangement but nothing formal had been signed, so he wasn't sure how to answer the question.
He was saved by Flip,"I am."
From somewhere behind them all a female voice was heard, "Well, I for one, have to bet on the lady. That is at least until we line up together." Shirley Muldowney said.
Don Garlits was off the table and to Shirley's side, "We wouldn't expect you not to!"
Shirley shook her head at her long time rival and friend.
"Don't go trying to butter her up. After all you were one of the driver's who signed her Top Fuel license!" said none other than Connie Kaliltta.
As the friendly insults were traded among the three veteran drivers, Mark looked at Flip and whispered, "You didn't tell me they would be here."
"I told you we were going to see a few of my friends." Flip said quietly.
Mark was almost awe struck, being among three drag racers who were all on their way to being legends. He was so caught up in the moment he had almost forgotten about the young lady who seemed so at home around Don Garlits garages, that is until she lined up on the practice strip. She cut the light like a pro.
As she climbed out of the dragster, Connie joked, "Don't tell me we're gonna have two of 'them'!"
The remark earned him an elbow to the ribs from Shirley.
As everyone had a good laugh, the younger lady replied, "I sure would like to give you a run for your money, Connie, but I can't talk anyone into signing my license at least not for another year or so."
Connie replied, "Well, at least we're safe until them."
This time Shirley took the opportunity to step on Connie's toe. "Just remember, it may take awhile to be able to race competitively, but you are in the 'cat bird's seat'. You haven't even made your license and have a sponsor. I bet some of these fellas would like to say the same thing." Shirley rubbed in her point.
The young want to be driver had the good graces to blush at the compliment from the drag racing champion.
Don Garlits looked around at the young talent and also the 'want to be's', "I've got a car from last year. Anybody got a driver they'd like to give a shot at the lady's time?"
Flip Johnson waited a second to see if any other sponsor there would take the bait, then said, "Yeah, I do."
Mark looked at him like he was from outer space.
Flip continued, "I'd like my driver to give it a shot. He's got potential on the round track, let's see if he can just hold it straight." Flip Johnson knew Mark was a champion the first time he saw him drive a car. Though he was mainly dirt track, he didn't want to hold Mark back if he could get a better ride, and what better company to show off new talent than was standing here on a Saturday afternoon.
Don, Connie, Shirley and Flip gave Mark a briefing on the car and let him have an un-timed 'run' for the feel of the car before he was timed. His second time down the track he tied with the young lady's time.
This day would be the beginning of Mark's racing career and the beginning of a lovers triangle that would take decades to straighten out.
As the wind blew, she breathed a deep breath, looked at the grounds of the estate she now knew as home, and thanked all the powerful beings for all her chances in in life. Here she was. She had been a racing champion in her own right. The wife of a champion. The ex-wife of a champion. She still held the fastest time at a couple of tracks. Now she was Mark McCormick's wife, living on the Gulls Way estate of Retired Judge Milton C. Hardcastle. Her husband had been a racing champion also, but now days spent most of his time in his office and the Court rooms of California, either defending his clients or helping to prosecute the people who did his clients wrong.
She left the window and went down to the garage area that contained her and Mark's 'toys'. She ran her hand over the slick finish of her top fuel car...
Her thoughts drifted back to a time years before, it was 1977. She was 21 years old and was well known among most everyone at the track. She had even dated several of the drivers and crew members in the last three or four years. Don Garlits along with other veteran racers had finally signed her license and she hoped her racing career was off to a good start. Recently she had been Mark McCormick's steady date for evenings at the arcades playing Pac Man or to the movies to see Star Wars. Even more recently she had been seen in the 'company' of another hot new driver, Sammy O'Connell. She wanted desperately to become a name in racing. She had the sponsor, but wanted / needed more. Maybe she thought a 'gimmick' would be the key. Maybe she was just confused. She told Sammy O'Connell the night before the finals that she was pregnant. Later, she stood on the beach in her cut of shorts and told Mark the same thing. Both had been honorable. Both had asked her to marry them. Sammy had won the championship next day and she had accepted his proposal. They had quickly married, only for Sammy to find she had been mistaken and was not pregnant. They would quickly become the racing couple of the sport as both began to win race after race and set new records.
That, too had been a life time ago she thought. She stepped into her car and fired up the powerful engine. Both Mark and Milt wished she would leave the cars along when they weren't home, but she unlike most 'housewives' in a lot of ways. She pulled the car out into the bright sunlight. It didn't need the wash job she was going to give it, but she was going to wash it anyway. As she soaped up the top fuel dragster, the young mail man let himself through the security gate. He drove up the long driveway, hoping to find someone outside. He never knew where to find these people on the large estates that he delivered mail to. He worried that someone would think he was messing around their place instead of looking for someone to sign for their mail. The young man was in luck as he spotted awesome machine being washed in the main driveway. He hardly noticed the woman washing it until it registered that it was a woman washing it.
As he approached he with the large brown envelope he said, "Wow! Man, your husband is sure lucky to have a car like this."
He was met with a friendly smile and eyes that held just a hint of mischief as she said, "It's not his car. It's mine."
It was only then that he saw the name on the car. Sure enough the name "Kiki" was written down both sides in yellow of the shiny red car.