Pride After Her Fall

By: Lucy Ellis


NASH as a rule didn’t court publicity, so meeting with a publicist went against the grain. But this was for a charity event and he couldn’t very well say no.

‘I’ll meet her at the American Bar in the Hotel de Paris.’

He checked his watch as he approached his low slung Bugatti Veyron.

‘I’ll be with Demarche until one. I can give her a couple of minutes in the bar. I’ll try to make it, but she may have to cool her heels.’

It was one of the few perks of fame. People would wait. He hooked the door of the Veyron and idled for a moment, looking out over the calm Mediterranean water.

Cullinan was talking about seating.

‘No, mate, don’t book a table. This is a five-minute job. Nobody will be sitting down.’

Blue’s management team was headed up by John Cullinan, a savvy Irishman Nash had used in his early racing career when he was thrust onto the world stage. John had protected him from the worst of the media for over a decade and he trusted him to deal fairly with the public and handle the professionals.

He’d need him in the coming weeks. There was already intense speculation about his future. He hadn’t said a word during the running of the Grand Prix here in Monaco in May, but somehow just his presence trackside with current Eagle heavyweight Antonio Abruzzi had sent the media into a frenzy. Not that it took much. Meat in the water and the piranhas swarmed. That was why this meeting with the construction firm Eagle was taking place in the privacy of a hotel room and security barracudas on both sides had elaborate lock-down procedures in place.

He ended the call and jumped into the Veyron, keen to get out of town.

The flip of a wrist and he had the engine purring. His deep-set blue-grey eyes, which one female sports commentator had called ‘lethal blue’ as if they not only needed colour coding but branding, assessed the traffic and he pulled away from outside the corporate offices of the business that had been his heart and soul for five years.

He had just tied up a deal with Swiss-based car manufacturer Avedon to produce Blue 22, and whilst every vehicle design was a rush this was the car he’d first conceptualised back in his racing days, when nobody would have taken him seriously if he’d spilled his guts on his future plans.

Fortunately he’d never been overly chatty. Being raised by a mean drunk who’d seen a kid’s prattle as an excuse to deal out backhanders had bred in him the habit of silence. To the public he was notoriously impenetrable. ‘Self-contained,’ one journalist reported. ‘A cold sonafabitch,’ countered a disenchanted former lover.

But, however else he was perceived, the world took him seriously nowadays even when they weren’t intrusively curious. At thirty-four, he’d survived as a professional in one of the most dangerous sports in the world for almost a decade before retiring in a blaze of glory—and unlike so many sports pros he’d parlayed his expertise and a passionate love of design into a second career.

An extremely successful second career.

One that overshadowed whatever fame he’d had as a driver—which had been his intention. He could command any price for his work and right now he was in demand—at the top of an elite field of specialists.

Yet he was restless, there was no denying that, and several times in the last year he’d caught himself asking the fateful question: What next?

But he knew the answer to that question. It was why the Eagle head honchos had flown in last night.

Yeah, he wanted back in the game, but this time on his own terms. His twenties had gone past in a rush of track groupies and speed as he’d raced against the world’s best and outraced his own demons. He’d known when it was time to stop. He also knew this time it would be different. He wasn’t a boy any more. His feelings about racing had undergone a change. He had nothing to prove.

The road cleared. He changed gear and took off up the hill.

He had a date this morning up on the Point, with a genuine glamour-girl car who had it all over this newer model he was driving, and even the stumbling block of dealing with meetings all afternoon couldn’t dull the edge of what promised to be a very nice find. She was reported to be a sweet little number, with curves aplenty, an all-original and he was finally going to see what the fuss was about.

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