Hey everyone! Again, I'm sorry it's been ages since I updated, but college is busy.

Who knew? =D

I had about 12 papers due this week, not to mention all the work to sign up for fall classes and to get permission to stay at school this summer and take some more classes… whew! And to get ready for my Ireland trip in May… to my dear friend Bella, I'll do my best to get you a little something if we actually make it to any gift-shop kind of places… love you chica!

As a note to all those reading this story, just wanted to let you know that Emma de lacey is NOT a Mary-Sue… she does actually have flaws, and she's not perfect… she is completely full of awesome, but she's not a Mary-Sue. There are plot twists that will come in this and later chapters… she has valid reasons for running away from home and ending up at the Racers, not to mention that she's not exactly as sweet and innocent as you think she might be…. That's all I'll say about it for now…

This chapter is dedicated to my amazing friend Bella (you know exactly who you are). Glad I found 'your car' on FB, huh? Hugs to you, Bella, from Shail.

Random note: there is a word in this chapter that I did not invent by myself… "Whomperguana". My roommate came up with this word… not mine… I am using it with permission. If you'd like to know the story behind the origins of this word, just message me… I'll tell. =D

Here's chapter 3…

Random Fact: Vikings used the skulls of their enemies as drinking vessels. ew.

Chapter 3!!!!!


TWO MONTHS LATER—

Emma and Sparky stood in the shop, near her '73 Plymouth Superbird discussing the repairs and new modifications Pops had proposed. Suddenly she looked up at him and in that moment she looked more beautiful than he had ever seen her. He leaned in to kiss her and he was less than a centimeter away when…

B-R-R-R-ING!!!!!!!!

The alarm clock went off very close to Sparky's ears. He abruptly woke up from his dream and re-entered reality. He sighed in disappointment. He'd been having this dream almost every night for the last two months, and even in his dreams he'd still never gotten to kiss her.

Emma had moved into the Racer's house after Mom had discovered her lack of a home. She'd set up her things in the guest room and had been working in the shop with Sparky and Pops nearly every day. It had started as simply helping out with her own car, then others as she saw how tired Sparky was at the end of every day. Then it became her way of "paying rent," as she called it. Pops had told her it wasn't necessary, but she had insisted.

Once she'd been in the shop for more than a few days, her skills became evident. She was a better mechanic than she'd let on, and before they knew it, she had become the second mechanic Pops had been looking for. She and Sparky worked well in the shop together, but neither of them mentioned their "almost kiss." Sparky wasn't sure that it would even have turned into a kiss. And even though they'd become good friends, he still felt like she was the unattainable angel.

Sparky shook his head and got up, got dressed, and headed out to the kitchen for breakfast before he had to go to the shop. There were seven orders that had to be filled by the end of next week. He got a shock when he entered the kitchen and saw Emma talking with another girl and Mrs. Racer.

After twenty minutes of introductions with the entire family, Sparky had learned several things about this newcomer. Her name was Andromeda, but he shouldn't call her that unless he had a death wish. Emma had rolled her eyes at her friend when she had said this, but Andy, as she preferred to be called, replied with her hands on her hips. "You'd hate your name too if your fool of a mother called you 'Andromeda!'" They'd all laughed. He learned that Emma and Andy had been friends since they were seven years old, and that Andy had a habit of driving T-180's. Emma said she was good, so she must be.

Andy smiled at everyone, and said, "So, what are y'all doing today?"

"Working," said Sparky. "Our usual amount of orders have tripled since the Grand Prix."

Andy smiled. "So I heard." She grinned at Emma, who replied with a grin of her own, "I've got to go work too, Andy."

"Oh no you don't," said Mom. "Pops and Sparky can deal without you for a few hours. You should spend some time with your friend. I know she's staying in town for a few weeks, but spend some time with her this morning before things get too busy around here."

Emma smiled and thanked Mom, but turned to Sparky. "Sparks, are you okay with this? I mean, I know we have a lot of orders right now…" She trailed off, but Sparky grinned. This was the first time she'd referred to Racer Motors as 'we.' He put his hand on her shoulder. "Course, Em. Spend time with Andy. I'll see you in a few hours. Lunch together?"

"All right." She smiled. "Thanks, Sparks."


Mom spent the morning in the kitchen. Spritle went to school, driven by Speed of course, and Pops and Sparky went to the shop. Emma and Andy plopped themselves down on the yellow and red couch to catch up. Andy had been working for Tucker Gauges, an honest motor company, for the past few years. Her parents had no problems with her interest in cars.

"So Emma," began Andy, "What's going on between you and Sparky?"

"Andy!" said Emma, hitting her friend's shoulder.

"Well? Are you gonna tell me or am I gonna have to drag it out of you?"

Emma sighed. "Believe me Andy, if there was something going on, I would tell you. Don't look at me like that! Andy, I promise you, there's nothing going on between me and Sparks."

"But you want there to be something."

It wasn't a question, but Emma answered it anyway. "Yes. I do. I- I almost kissed him once."

"Almost?" yelled Andy.

"Stop, keep your voice down, Andy, please."

"Jeez, fine. What happened girl? Why in the name of Thunderhead did you stop at almost?"

Emma sighed again. "We almost kissed the first day we met."

"Why the heck didn't you?"

"Will you let me finish?"

"Fine," she said and crossed her arms.

"Thank you," said Emma. "Anyway, we were going to kiss, and I really though it was going to happen, but Speed barreled into the shop just as we were about to kiss. Not that he realized that he interrupted anything…not that I'm even sure we would have kissed."

"And what's that supposed to mean, chica?"

"After Speedy left, Sparks seemed like he just wanted to go back in the house."

Andy sighed, exasperated that Emma couldn't see that this Sparky was obviously head over heels for her, he was just a little bit shy. When Andy relayed this information, Emma slapped her friend again with a smile on her face and said, "I wish."


While Emma was pouring her heart out to her best friend and giggling and sighing like a seventh grade girl, Sparky was helping Pops put a fresh coat of emerald green paint on three cars ordered by a team called Whomperguana, an honest team that devoted much of their time, energy, and profits to fixing environmental issues. He and Pops were painting all three cars at the same time, in order to minimize the drying times and to maximize the amount of time they had to work on other orders.

Sparky sat on the concrete, staring absentmindedly at his spray gun while he waited for it to fill up. He hadn't noticed that it had finished filling up twenty minutes ago.

"Sparky!"

Sparky jumped about a foot, nearly knocking over the giant can of green paint in the process. "What is it Pops?" Pops Racer looked at his long-time mechanic, who was still stunned from Pops' yell and smiled. "Tell her how you feel, Sparky."

"Tell who what?" Shaken out of his reverie, he was still genuinely confused. Pops just grinned. "Sparky, you've got to tell Emma how you feel about her. She's been here for two months now, and you haven't scared her off yet. Besides, I'm pretty sure she likes you too."

Sparky sighed. "Please Pops, don't tease me about this. I- I know it's been affecting my work a bit, and I'm sorry, I won't let it happen again, I-"

Pops put a hand up to cut him off. "Sparky, I'm not mad at you."

"I- you're not?"

"No, of course not. I'm happy for you. I just wish you'd hurry up and tell that girl how you feel before she goes crazy."

"Pops, what are you talking about?"

"You may not see it, but I can, and so can Mom. That girl is head over heels for you. And before you get too worked up trying to deny that she is, look me in the eye and try to tell me that you don't feel the same way."

Sparky opened his mouth to reply, to deny how he felt, simply out of habit of denying it to himself, but one look at Pops' face and he knew he couldn't deny it anymore. He sighed. "What do I do?"

Pops smiled, and was reminded of having an almost identical conversation with Speed before he asked Trixie out on their first date. Of course Speed had been twelve and here was Sparky at twenty-three, but the general idea was the same. "Talk to her alone. You know this family, this is not a conversation that you can have while they're listening in."

"Pops, you know this family too, how am I ever going to get more than a minute and a half alone with her?" Sparky thought he'd stumped Pops with this one, but Pops had spent the last two months trying to figure out a way for Sparky to have a few minutes alone with Emma. "Tomorrow at breakfast," he said. Sparky opened his mouth to protest, but Pops said, "Don't worry, I'll make sure your pancakes stay hot, and I'll make sure everyone else stays in the kitchen. Tell her you've got something important to talk about. She'll stay. Talk to her here in the shop. You'll be more comfortable surrounded by cars."

Sparky nodded. It was true. Pops paused and saw Sparky looking down, wringing his hands. "Sparky, you do want to tell her, don't you?"

He nodded again. "Yeah, Pops, I do. I- I think I'm falling I love with her. Is that normal after only a few months? I mean, I've never even kissed her. Can you fall in love with someone before you've ever kissed them?"

"Sparky, I knew I wanted to marry my wife five minutes after I met her."

"Really?"

"Really." Pops smiled. "I'd say it's a good thing we had this talk then, huh?"

Sparky smiled. "Yeah. Good thing."

Pops picked up a towel and wiped his face, the headed inside for lunch. Sparky looked at the ground, then at the door. "Hey Pops," he said.

Pops turned around. "What is it, Sparky?"

"Thanks."

Pops smiled. "You're welcome."


1257.3 miles away…

Notorious WRL fixer Draco Zidune grit his teeth in anger. His incompetent morons that passed for stooges had failed to get him the car he was supposed to win two months ago, and now it had been brought to his attention that not only had they failed to get the car at the poker game, but they had let the little snitch who had gotten the car get away.

"How far?" said Zidune.

"What, boss?"

"How far did she get?"

"Over a thousand miles, boss."

"How could you let her get that far?"

"Please, boss, she lit off the same night she won the car!"

"Enough!" The henchmen cowered in the corner. When the boss got like this it was better to be out of the line of fire. "She didn't win that car, she stole it! She stole it from me! No one steals from me, no one!" And with that he took a priceless Ming vase from his desk and hurled it at the wall, where it shattered into hundreds of small pieces.

"What do you want us to do, Mr. Zidune?" asked a new recruit. Zidune turned and snarled. "I wanted you to get that car for me, no matter what it took. The match was fixed, you were supposed to win it! But did you get it for me? No!"

"Well, what exactly did you want us to do about her?" asked the newbie. "Call her out for cheating better than us in front of everyone else?"

A hush fell over the other henchmen. One didn't talk back to Draco Zidune and live to tell abut it.

Zidune turned and smiled. Everyone but the new recruit recognized the danger in the smile and tried to make themselves as small as possible. Zidune spoke. "What's your name, neophyte?"

Still unaware that he'd even made an error, the new henchman replied without hesitation. "Jared White, sir."

"Jared, do you know who I am?"

"Of course, sir. You are Draco Zidune, notoriously infamous in the criminal underworld for WRL fixing."

"Very good, Jared." Zidune was still smiling, this was just the calm before the storm. "Jared, do you know what they call me in the underworld of the criminal underworld?"

Here, Jared finally hesitated. He wasn't sure if he was supposed to know the answer to this question or not. "I don't know, sir."

"They call me… Nemesis."

Jared paled. He had heard a few stories about Zidune, but it was widely known that Nemesis was the employer you only went to as a last resort. Nemesis had no mercy or forgiveness, and he didn't take kindly to being insulted.

This was Jared's last thought as Zidune pushed a small red button on his desk. The floor underneath Jared White opened beneath him and he fell into blackness. Just like a comic book, he thought. But scarily effective, as he heard the growls and snapping of jaws of the unknown creatures in the darkness before he blacked out.

Zidune smiled. Neatly done, just as he liked. He turned to his remaining henchmen. "Now," he said softly, "tell me what you do know about the girl's whereabouts."

One stammered out a reply. "She- she's working at Racer Motors, sir."

Zidune laughed. It was almost too perfect. The girl had taken his car to Pops Racer, father of the newly-famous Speed Racer, and had stayed there for months. It was almost like she didn't suspect that anyone was looking for her.

"Go to Racer Motors," Zidune said. "Case the house and the shop. Find out everything you can. Meanwhile, I'll set up a hold near the house, maybe in the city. In a week, I'll contact you and inform you where we will meet and you will tell me everything you know."

"Yes sir," they chorused.

Zidune smiled to himself. "I wonder what the family thinks of her," he mused.

"They love her sir," said one of the men, a long-time employee of Zidune who went by the name of Foley. He'd been working for Zidune for years, and knew it was safe to answer this question. He had information, and it was his responsibility to give it to Zidune. "The whole family has taken her in like one of their own."

"Good," said Zidune. "Anyone have any…special…feelings for her? Speed, maybe?"

"No sir," Foley said. "Speed's still with the piece he kissed at the Prix. The mechanic seems to like her though. They weren't romantically involved the last time I was there, but he certainly cares a great deal about her."

"Good," said Zidune for the second time. "This may not turn out to be quite as big of a mistake on your parts as I originally thought. Boys, if we can arrange for a visit between me and the Racer mechanic, I might be able to persuade him to build me a car for my driver in the upcoming race at Isla Tarsela Sirena."

"Persuade him, boss?" said another henchman.

"Yes, Marcus."

Foley nudged him, and suddenly Marcus understood Mr. Zidune's euphemisms.

"Yes, I'm glad you all understand the possibilities that exist here. Go to the Racers, all of you. Case it, as I told you before, and when I leave you know of when and where, there's something I want you boys to do for me."

"What is it, boss?"

"Bring me that mechanic."


Well, that's the end of chapter 3… can't promise anything too soon… but you know I'll try…

Read and review please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hugs to all of you, faithful readers, (especially Bella, without whom I would still be stuck on plot bunnies for this story and many others)

beanie