1993 Ford Bluebird Type A school bus

“I’m so sorry, Lexi,” Dobie said yet again.  “I didn’t see him take the briefcase.  I thought he was too hysterical to even think of such a thing.”

Lexi was perched on the back of the leather couch in the entertainment room, her feet on the seat and her uninjured leg bouncing up and down in severe agitation.  She said nothing.

Dobie wasn’t sure what he could say that wouldn’t cause her to go off like a firework.  Considering the day she was having so far, he had no idea what she’d do.  Fortunately Victor was in the room this time.  “I’ll do what I can to get it back.”  He wasn’t entirely sure he could, though.  Danny might head straight back to New York.  And even if he didn’t he wasn’t entirely certain the junior Packard would speak to him.

“Does he know the laws the same way you do?” she asked.

“I hardly think that’s relevant–“

Her voice went up.  “Does he?”

“I don’t know, Lexi.  Why?”

“Because from what’s in that case, it’s not going to be hard to figure out what Ren found.  The only things Danny won’t be able to figure out are what kinds of cars they are, and where to find them.  But if you think he’s not going to do his best to keep me from getting them, you’re on crack.”

She was absolutely right, of course.  Dobie sighed and leaned back in his chair, tenting his fingers under his chin.  “If Danny doesn’t know the law, he’s sure to find out,” he said.  “He might even want the cars for himself.”

“He’s too stupid for that,” she said, shaking her head.  “Danny only knows how to smash things.”  Her good leg bounced some more.  “He’ll find them, Dobie.  I have to go get them as soon as I can.  Can I use your phone?”

“You’ll have to get them out of the country,” Dobie said.  Part of him hoped she’d ask him to help, and part hoped she wouldn’t.

“My network of kung-fu geishas can do that.  Phone.”  He handed it to her.  She called Glen first, because his number was the only one of all the Road Associates’ that she’d memorized so far.  “Hey, there,” she said when he picked up.  “It’s on.  I have to rescue some cars in Ile du Soleil.  Can you come and help?”

“When?”

“Um, as soon as possible, preferably in the next twenty-four hours?”  Lexi put her hand over the phone as something occurred to her for the first time.  “How much is a round-trip ticket, usually?” 

“Don’t worry about it.  I’ll take care of the flight arrangements,” Dobie said confidently.  It hadn’t occurred to him before, but she’d certainly be calling the Road Associates; this was an opportunity to help her, since he really did feel badly about Danny’s acquiring the briefcase, and to impress the car people as well.  “Lodging as well.  I have guest space for up to fifteen.”

Lexi gave him a smile of such pure, uncut joy it made his heart ache.  “Flights and lodging are on Dobie,” she added.  Now was not the time to look a gift horse in the mouth.

“Very convincing,” Glen said.  “Molly will be jealous.”

“Molly will insist on coming,” she replied.  “Do not fight her on that, you won’t win.  Besides, I miss her.”

She couldn’t tell if he was happy or sad about that.  “Good to know,” he said.  “I’ll be there as soon as I can, then.”

“Thanks so much, Glen.  It might be ugly, you know.  I mean, the government might be mad that I’m taking the cars.”

“Are they yours?”

“Yes.”

“Then I’ll come help.  It’s what we do,” he replied.  “Especially when there are cars to be saved.”  There was a wink in his voice, but he was serious.

“Thanks.  Can you give me phone numbers for the others?  I don’t have my address book.”  After scribbling down the rest of the Road Associates’ contact information, Lexi repeated the phone call several times, with similar results:  “Hi, Harold, it’s Lexi.  I have to rescue some cars in Ile du Soleil and I need help.  We might get shot at, but the flight is free.” 

Harold simply said, “I’m in.”  So did Dick Sheehan and Roger Ellison.  Considering the short notice, she was surprised to get that many.  She assumed that Joseph would be able to help.  “I don’t know if that’s enough people,” she said to Dobie, who’d been listening in and taking notes.

“If it’s all right by you, I’d like to tag along.”

“That would be an incredibly good thing,” Lexi said. “Bring Victor.  And Joseph.  Brute force is also a good thing.”

“I’d like to contact Lars, my auto advisor as well.  With your permission, of course.”

“You have an auto advisor, and you never introduced me?”  She raised an eyebrow.  “If I had known, I would’ve made you hire me.  Sure, bring Lars along, too.”

“Thank you.  I know he’ll be excited.  And honored,” Dobie added.

“Who else?  That’s eleven.  I won’t feel better without at least one more.” 

“That’s only ten.”

“Shut up.  Ren will be there, too.”  Lexi ran her fingers over the phone’s keypad, then bounced happily.  “I know!  I’ll call Rocky.”

“Rocky?” Dobie asked, frowning.