To the untrained eye, it appears that Monty and a Vegas showgirl have escaped a large showgirl competition with Harold. But the truth is, we’re in Brazil, and the Vegas showgirl is either Brazilian or Australian of American. Whatever she is, she’s heavily tanned. And whitened. And tightened. And Montague Moylan-Hazwell is pretty well flummoxed by them. And even more flummoxed by the vehicle they’re attempting to foist upon him.
“Get on!” The feathered female is yelling, pushing him toward a very handsome, very un-Regency-era motorcycle.
“I beg your pardon,” Monty cries as Harold clings for dear life to his shoulder, “What is that…thing?”
The showgirl gives him a look–as though he’s grown a dozen heads. “It’s a motorcycle, you dummy! And if you don’t get on it and take a hike…you’re going to have to deal with…” She points down the dark alleyway to a group of silk-clad gentlemen coming up the street, a-la West Side Story but with more…well…Portuguese.
Monty doesn’t like the look of them. After all, over the last month, he’s met with extravagant dancers and George Lucas and volcano sacrificers…and he’s come to know what dangerous looks like. And in this case, danger is garbed in silk and dancing shoes. They’re snapping their fingers and moving in formation.
It’s a problem.
Only slightly less of a problem than the fact that Monty doesn’t know how to operate a motorcycle. In fact, he’s never even seen a motorcycle, due to the fact that he’s from the Regency. And…time is…well…usually not so bendy. The silk clad gangmembers are grand jette-ing closer and the showgirl realizes that it’s time to take matters into her own hands.
She leaps onto the bike and repeats, “Get on!”
“My lady!” Monty says, all propriety, “I cannot straddle that…thing…with you…it would be…incredibly disrespectful.”
She cuts him a look. “More or less disrespectful than The Fancy Feet Gang killing you?”
He considers the question briefly, then hops onto the motorcycle. “Less. But only slightly.”
“Yeah, I thought so,” she says, and takes off through the streets of Rio, ignoring the way Monty cries in surprise and clings to her for dear life.
“This thing goes faster than any horse I’ve ever ridden!” He yells into her ear.
She screams back at him, “That’s because it has the power of 123 horses!”
“What mad place is this? And what did those men want?”
She laughs and opens the throttle through Rio’s central market, dodging donkeys and bystanders, and nearly running them straight into a banana cart. “This is Rio, Montague…and those men want your treasure map.”
“I don’t have a–”
“Of course you do. It’s in your breast pocket.” She takes a particularly dangerous turn, leading them onto a dirt road headed up the cliffs on the outskirts of the city. Once they’ve righted themselves from the precarious tilt, Monty risks a look into his breast pocket.
“I had no idea…where did it come from?”
“Volcanoes, Amazons, Wookies, who cares! What’s important is that you keep it safe. It’s worth a fortune.”
“How did you know it existed? How do you know who I am?”
She checks the mirrors to be certain no one is behind them and pulls over to the side of the road, climbing off the motorcycle before turning back to Monty and clasping his face between her palms. “I know because you’re a legend. With all of us. The fated marzipan hatbox. It’s you.” She presses a long, lingering kiss to his lips, then pulls back and whispers, “At another time…in another world…”
Engines sound in the distance, coming fast and furious from the direction of the city. Monty pulls her to him, ready to take a second kiss. A third. More. He’s not choosy, and she’s wearing virtually nothing. She stays the movement. “We can’t. You have to save yourself…and the map, Monty.”
She points into the darkness, away from the city. “As fast as you can, down that road. Don’t stop until daylight and they shan’t catch you. I promise.”
“What of you?”
She smiles, her sequins shimmering in the moonlight. “I will survive.”
“I don’t even know your name,” he said softly.
“Harley,” she said. “Call me Harley.” The engines are coming closer now, and she kisses him–fierce and quick–once more. “Go. Now. And don’t forget me.”
As if that could happen. Monty turns to the bike and eases it into acceleration, pulling away as she calls out “Goodbye! Until next January!”
Whatever that means.
Full throttle, down the road. He takes the words to heart. Follows them to a tee–faster and faster, The Fancy Feet Gang closer and closer, desperate for his treasure map…
Until he goes right over a cliff and into thin air.
And lands, sans-motorcycle, in the middle of the Beaufetheringstone Ballroom.
“Good heavens! Montague!” Lady B approaches, extracting her lorgnettes to have a good long look at her nephew. “Wherever have you been? It looks as though you were chased through a holly bush!”
He brushes his fingers over the cut on his eye and the mottled bruises across his cheek. “I’ve been…Aunt Tropey…you wouldn’t believe it.”
Lady B raises a brow. “No. I don’t believe I would. Please go tidy yourself. People will arrive any moment. We’re to have a ball for Miss MacLean. She’s a new book out, and I’m told I am mentioned in it. I can’t very well have you scandalizing the guests.”
Monty smiles and begins to make his way to the ballroom door, wondering how it is that he’d experienced such remarkable things over the last month. Perhaps he dreamed them. Perhaps worse.
His hand drifts absently to the inside breast pocket of his coat, grazing the parchment there. What in– He extracts the paper. An old, creased map. With a large red X in the center.
His next adventure, no doubt.
Welcome back to The Ballroom, all! Monty is here–bruised as ever thanks to his insane motorcycle leap!
Tell us, what’s the one daredevil stunt you’d like to try? Bungee jumping? Motorcycle racing? Hang gliding?