Dora blew her hair out of her eyes with an impatient snort and wiped sweat off her forehead. And simultaneously adjusted the timing on the engine, yelled a correction on tire selection to her tire man, and took a quick look out of the corner of her eye for her driver.
He wasn't late--yet. He liked to give her these little heart attacks by showing up literally at the last possible moment. She would, of course, give him hell, trying to sound like the crew chief that she was, and not like his mother, which she was old enough to be--And most certainly not like an aging lover, which half the Bugatti team and every other team assumed she was.
The fact that they weren't had no bearing on the situation. Dora had been well aware from the moment she joined Bugatti at the end of the war that her position in this part of Man's World would always be difficult. That was all right; when had she ever had an easy life?
"All right!" She pulled clear of the engine compartment, hands up and in plain sight, as she had taught all her mechanics to do. Too many men in Grand Prix racing had missing fingers from being caught in the wrong place when an engine started--but not on her team. The powerful Bugatti engine roared to life; she nodded to the mechanic in Jimmy's seat, and he floored the pedal.
She cocked her head to one side, frowning a little; then grinned and gave the mech a thumbs-up. He killed the engine, answering her grin, and popped out of the cockpit--just as Jimmy himself came swaggering up through the chaotic tangle of men and machines in the pits.
She knew he was there by the way the men's eyes suddenly moved to a point just behind and to one side of her. They never learned--or else, they never guessed how they gave themselves away. Probably the latter; they were mostly Italian, steeped in generations of presumed male superiority, and they would never even think that a woman could be more observant than they, no matter how often she proved it to them.
She pivoted before Jimmy could slap her butt, and gave him The Look. She didn't even have to say anything, it was all there in The Look.
He stopped, standing hip-shot as if he were posing for one of his famous publicity shots, his born-charmer grin countering her Look. The blue eyes that made millions of teenage girls suffer heart-palpitations peered cheerfully at Dora through his unruly blond hair. He'd grown a thatch over his eyes for his last movie, and hadn't cut it yet. He probably wouldn't, Dora reflected. His image as a rebel wasn't just an image, it was the real Jimmy.
She pulled her eyes away from his, and The Look turned to a real frown as she took in the dark ankle-length trenchcoat and the flamboyant, long silk scarf he wore.
"Out," she ordered, and watched his grin fade in surprise. "You heard me," she said when he hesitated. "You know the pit-rules. Nothing that can get caught in machinery! God help us, that scarf could get your neck broken! I told you once, and I meant it; I don't care how many movies you've made, in here you're the Bugatti rookie-driver, you're here on probation, even if you are the best damn driver I've ever seen, and you toe the line and act like a professional. And if you think you're going to make me break my promise not to compete again by getting yourself strangled, you can think again! Now get out of here and come back when you're dressed like a driver and not some Hollywood gigolo."