Vivienne Michel is in trouble. Trying to escape her tangled past, she has run away to the American backwoods, winding up at the Dreamy Pines Motor Court. A far cry from the privileged world she was born to, the motel is also the destination of two hardened killers—the perverse Sol Horror and the deadly Sluggsy Morant. When a coolly charismatic Englishman turns up, Viv, in terrible danger, is not just hopeful, but fascinated. Because he is James Bond, 007; the man she hopes will save her, the spy she hopes will love her.
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Ian Fleming (1908-1964), creator of the world's best-known secret agent, is the author of fourteen James Bond books. Born in London in 1908 and educated at Eton and Sandhurst, he became the Reuters Moscow correspondent in 1929. In the spring of 1939, Fleming went back to Moscow as a special correspondent for the London Times. In June of that same year, he joined Naval Intelligence and served throughout World War II, finally earning the rank of Commander, RNVSR (Sp.). Much of the James Bond material was drawn directly from Fleming's experiences as an intelligence officer. Later, Fleming became a consultant on foreign affairs for the London Sunday Times, by which time he had become far better known as the creator of James Bond.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
1. SCAREDY CAT
I was running away. I was running away from England, from my childhood, from the winter, from a sequence of untidy, unattractive love-affairs, from the few sticks of furniture and jumble of overworn clothes that my London life had collected around me; and I was running away from drabness, fustiness, snobbery, the claustrophobia of close horizons and from my inability, although I am quite an attractive rat, to make headway in the rat-race. In fact, I was running away from almost everything except the law.
And I had run a very long way indeed - almost, exaggerating a bit, halfway round the world. In fact, I had come all the way from London to The Dreamy Pines Motor Court which is ten miles west of Lake George, the famous American tourist resort in the Adirondacks - that vast expanse of mountains, lakes and pine forests which forms most of the northern territory of New York State. I had started on September 1st, and it was now Friday October 13th. When I had left, the grimy little row of domesticated maples in my square had been green, or as green as any tree can be in London in August. Now, in the billion-strong army of pine trees that marched away northwards towards the Canadian border, the real, wild maples flamed here and there like shrapnel-bursts. And I felt that I, or at any rate my skin, had changed just as much - from the grimy sallowness that had been the badge of my London life to the snap and colour and sparkle of living out of doors and going to bed early and all those other dear dull things that had been part of my life in Quebec before it was decided that I must go to England and learn to be a 'lady'. Very unfashionable, of course, this cherry-ripe, strength-through-joy complexion, and I had even stopped using lipstick and nail varnish, but to me it had been like sloughing off a borrowed skin and getting back into my own, and I was childishly happy and pleased with myself whenever I looked in the mirror (that's another thing - I'll never say 'looking-glass' again; I just don't have to any more) and found myself not wanting to paint a different face over my own. I'm not being smug about this. I was just running away from the person I'd been for the past five years. I wasn't particularly pleased with the person I was now, but I had hated and despised the other one, and I was glad to be rid of her face.
Station WOKO (they might have dreamed up a grander call-sign!) in Albany, the capital of New York State and about fifty miles due south of where I was, announced that it was six o'clock. The weather report that followed included a storm warning with gale-force winds. The storm was moving down from the north and would hit Albany around 8pm. That meant that I would be having a noisy night. I didn't mind. Storms don't frighten me, and although the nearest living soul, as far as I knew, was ten miles away up the not very good secondary road to Lake George, the thought of the pines that would soon be thrashing outside, the thunder and lightning and rain, made me already feel snug and warm and protected in anticipation. And alone! But above all alone! 'Loneliness becomes a lover, solitude a darling sin.' Where had I read that? Who had written it? It was so exactly the way I felt, the way that, as a child, I had always felt until I had forced myself to 'get into the swim', 'be one of the crowd' -a good sort, on the ball, hep. And what a hash I had made of 'togetherness'! I shrugged the memory of failure away. Everyone doesn't have to live in a heap. Painters, writers, musicians are lonely people. So are statesmen and admirals and generals. But then, I added to be fair, so are criminals and lunatics. Let's just say, not to be too flattering, that true individuals are lonely. It's not a virtue, the reverse if anything. One ought to share and communicate if one is to be a useful member of the tribe. The fact that I was so much happier when I was alone was surely the sign of a faulty, a neurotic character. I had said this so often to myself in the past five years that now, that evening, I just shrugged my shoulders and, hugging my solitude to me, walked across the big lobby to the door and went out to have a last look at the evening.
I hate pine trees. They are dark and stand very still and you can't shelter under them or climb them. They are very dirty, with a most un-treelike black dirt, and if you get this dirt mixed with their resin they make you really filthy. I find their jagged shapes vaguely inimical, and the way they mass so closely together gives me the impression of an army of spears barring my passage. The only good thing about them is their smell, and, when I can get hold of it, I use pine-needle essence in my bath. Here, in the Adirondacks, the endless vista of pine trees was positively sickening. They clothe every square yard of earth in the valleys and climb up to the top of every mountain so that the impression is of a spiky carpet spread to the horizon -an endless vista of rather stupid-looking green pyramids waiting to be cut down for matches and coat-hangers and copies of the New York Times.
Five acres or so of these stupid trees had been cleared to build the motel, which is all that this place really was.' Motel' isn't a good word any longer. It has become smart to use 'Motor Court' or 'Ranch Cabins' ever since motels became associated with prostitution, gangsters and murders, for all of which their anonymity and lack of supervision is a convenience. The site, tourist-wise, in the lingo of the trade, was a good one. There was this wandering secondary road through the forest, which was a pleasant alternative route between Lake George and Glens Falls to the south, and halfway along it was a small lake, cutely called Dreamy Waters, that is a traditional favourite with picnickers. It was on the southern shore of this lake that the motel had been built, its reception lobby facing the road with, behind this main building, the rooms fanning out in a semi-circle. There were forty rooms with kitchen, shower and lavatory, and they all had some kind of a view of the lake behind them. The whole construction and design was the latest thing - glazed pitch-pine front-ages and pretty timber roofs all over knobbles, air-conditioning, television in every cabin, children's playground, swimming pool, golf range out over the lake with floating balls (fifty balls, one dollar) - all the gimmicks. Food? Cafeteria in the lobby, and grocery and liquor deliveries twice a day from Lake George. All this for ten dollars single and sixteen double. No wonder that, with around two hundred thousand dollars' capital outlay and a season lasting only from July 1st to the beginning of October, or, so far as the NO VACANCY sign was concerned, from July 14th to Labour Day, the owners were finding the going hard. Or so those dreadful Phanceys had told me when they'd taken me on as receptionist for only thirty dollars a week plus keep. Thank heavens they were out of my hair! Song in my heart? There had been the whole heavenly choir at six o'clock that morning when their shiny station wagon had disappeared down the road on their way to Glens Falls and then to Troy where the monsters came from. Mr Phancey had made a last grab at me and I hadn't been quick enough. His free hand had run like a fast lizard over my body before I had crunched my heel into his instep. He had let go then. When his contorted face had cleared, he said softly, 'All right, sex-box. Just see that you mind camp good until the boss comes to take over the keys tomorrow midday. Happy dreams tonight.' Then he had grinned a grin I hadn't understood, and had gone over to the station-wagon where his wife had been watching from the driver's seat. 'Come on, Jed,' she had said sharply. 'You can work off those urges on West Street tonight.' She put the car in gear and called over to me sweetly, ' 'Bye now, cutie-pie. Write us every day.' Then she had wiped the crooked smile off her face and I caught a last glimpse of her withered, hatchet profile as the car turned out on to the road. Phew! What a couple! Right out of a book - and what a book! Dear Diary! Well, people couldn't come much worse, and now they'd gone. From now on, on my travels, the human race must improve!
I had been standing there, looking down the way the Phanceys had gone, remembering them. Now I turned and looked to the north to see after the weather. It had been a beautiful day, Swiss clear and hot for the middle of October, but now high fretful clouds, black with jagged pink hair from the setting sun, were piling down the sky. Fast little winds were zigzagging among the forest tops and every now and then they hit the single yellow light above the deserted gas station down the road at the tail of the lake and set it swaying. When a longer gust reached me, cold and buffeting, it brought with it the whisper of a metallic squeak from the dancing light, and the first time this happened I shivered deliciously at the little ghostly noise. On the lake shore, beyond the last of the cabins, small waves were lapping fast against the stones and the gun-metal surface of the lake was fretted with sudden cats’ paws that sometimes showed a fleck of white. But, in between the angry gusts, the air was still, and the sentinel trees across the road and behind the motel seemed to be pressing silently closer to huddle round the camp-fire of the brightly-lit building at my back.
I suddenly wanted to go to the loo, and I smiled to myself. It was the piercing tickle that comes to children during hide-and-seek-in-the dark and 'Sardines', when, in your cupboard under the stairs, you heard the soft creak of a floorboard, the approaching whisper of the searchers. Then you clutched yourself in thrilling anguish and squeezed your legs together and waited for the ecstasy of discovery, the crack of light from the opening door and then - the supreme moment - your urgent' Ssh! Come in with me!', the softly closing door and the giggling warm body pressed tight against your own.
Standing there, a 'big girl' now, I remembered it all and recognised the sensual itch brought on by a...
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