Sometimes life smacks you right in the kisser with a whole lot of ohhhh craaaaap.
Just ask Darcy Walker.
100 Proof Stud picks up four months after No Brainer’s cliffhanger ending, and Darcy discovers the aftermath pales in comparison to the crisis her heart is in. All of a sudden it’s raining men, and this teenage heroine’s personal life turns her inside out.
Before she can sort out her feelings, she chases a spray-painting vandal and stumbles upon a case of identity theft right in her own backyard. Darcy jumps into the fray headfirst to prove she can hang with the big boys.
But it’s not just to hang…nope, she’s chasing reward money.
Tapping her band of misfit brothers for help, she turns Valley upside down trying to unearth the criminals. Problem is, the cloak and dagger goes high-octane, and she raises the bar on “crazy” in the process.
Bullets ring out…dead bodies appear…and Darcy rubs shoulders with the ultimate sociopath. In the midst of murder and mayhem, will she finally follow her heart or build a fortress of lies around it? Will she even get the chance?
I’ve recently embarked on a ten-week course with the West Chester Citizen’s Police Academy with one of my girlfriends. My favorite lesson, hands down, was SWAT night. We met at a local church, and as soon as I stepped out of my SUV, a SWAT team member debriefed us (yeah, I get giddy using that word), on what was “happening inside the church.” Here’s the scenario: a 25-year-old youth pastor wants to marry his 15-year-old girlfriend, and he’s got the pastor held hostage by gunpoint, forcing him to marry them. The youth pastor wants the girl’s fathers blessing since she’s only 15, so he is on the phone with her father, trying to get him to sign-off on a marriage that isn’t legal. (Believe me, I laughed aloud when I heard the scenario because my father is a pastor, and honestly, nothing surprises me on what people want blessed on—even at gunpoint). After I realized the SWAT team guy wasn’t going to laugh along with me, I pulled my inner-idiot together and was all about the game. We were supposed to be church members; some of us knew what was going on…some of us just walked into a hostage scenario without having a clue what was going down. The fact that some of us were debriefed with more information than others (yeah, still love that word) was all part of the SWAT training. Team members want to be prepared for all types of hostages—those in the know, those freaked out because of not having a clue, and those that only know party of the story. The reason they do this is not only to deal with those different sets of circumstances but also to gain experience in interviewing those types of hostages AFTERWARD. I was led to the blue room and asked to hunker down with two other women and…watch, listen, and wait. Fortunately, we were right outside the room where we could here Fake Youth Pastor and Fake Girlfriend making a phone call to Fake Girlfriend’s Father. After about ten minutes, we were given the signal to run like banshees toward the end of the building. I led the pack and when we rounded the corner, on our left were men in full SWAT gear, ready to storm the place. I got a little star-struck. This was some serious crap, and the only thing that would’ve made it perfect would be if Jack Bauer jumped out and asked me to be his baby mama. I stopped mid-run for one point something seconds and stared like an idiot until I finally came back to myself and realized I was throwing a variable into the mix they probably didn’t need. Anyway, when we got out of the building, we were interviewed by a SWAT team member who asked us two things. One, how many are left inside? Two, what did you see/hear? Dude, I had this story down. The girls and I gave him body counts and locations, but then we were led back to a general “holding place” for hostages to be interviewed separately. We gave them our names and phone numbers—all part of SWAT SOP in case they need to call you to testify. So I rewound the story as I knew it, realizing the biggest thing if you are ever held hostage is to know who is where and what their names are. Er, I got half of it right. I know, face-palm. I called the bad guy “Jeff” when I knew his name was “Matt.” But I swear, I got the rest of the crap right, even telling him where people were located. So I’m sorry Mr. Hypothetical Youth Pastor Erroneously Named Jeff…when the SWAT team storms your hypothetical house tonight, it was me that threw you under the bus…my apologies.
I squeaked open the door to the adjacent bedroom and was met with an empty twin bed. A rumpled white sheet draped the bed, no comforter. Pivoting around, I did a quick scan of the gray carpet, found nothing overly suspicious or weird, so moved onto the closet.
By that time, Vinnie nipped at my heels. “I’m getting a funny feeling, Dolce. We need to roll.”
My thoughts exactly. But when I opened the walk-in closet and stepped inside, no way in the world would I ever have been prepared for what I’d find. There’s an idiom about skeletons in your closet. Trouble was, the skeleton I’d discovered still had meat on it.
“Vinnie,” I whispered, “there’s a skeleton in the closet.”
Vinnie munched on his moon pie behind me; I heard the crinkle of the wrapper. “Ha-ha, Dolce. Is this some metaphorical test I’m supposed to decipher?”
“No, like a real skeleton that I think is a man.”
Vinnie took one step inside and dropped the f-bomb. Then added mommy-effer.
“Do you smell that?” I asked.
Vinnie’s inhale was audible. “Yeah, smells like O-positive to me.” Loosely rolled in a faded navy comforter were the remains of a man. He lay facedown with a small patch of flesh and short black hair still clinging to his head. This wasn’t the only dead body I’d encountered, and neither was the body of a man I’d found in a dumpster last spring. I, eh, well…I found a head…buried in the sand on vacation in Orlando. I had a habit of stumbling upon dead bodies and/or body parts. Something the majority of people could go a lifetime and not have happen once, I’d experienced one too many times to count. The smell wasn’t as bad as bodies that’d recently expired, but it smelled like death, nonetheless. Death has a peculiar smell you never forget. Covering my nose with my hand, I lifted the tip of my boot and kicked the blanket back, starting at the naked feet. Black boxers framed femurs that barely had any flesh left, and a plain white t-shirt adorned the crumpled torso. A vintage concert t-shirt from The Minstrel Cramps, a local all-girl band popular back in the day, lay beside the corpse’s head. A memory played in the back of my mind I immediately tried to erase.
A memory that’d haunted me since I was nine years old.
About the Author
A. J. Lape’s Darcy Walker Series broke into the Top 50 books in Teens Literature & Fiction within 36 hours of its release. It has spent numerous weeks in the Top 100 in Mystery Series and Teens, Mysteries & Thrillers Categories as well as being one of the Top Rated in its genre. A self-proclaimed neurotic and troublemaker at heart, a perfect day for A. J. consists of writing, watching her kids play sports, drinking Coke, then lounging in her pajamas by 8PM.
She lives in Cincinnati with her husband, two feministic daughters, an ADD dog, a spoiled hamster, and an unapologetic and unrepentant addiction to Coca-Cola, with a lifelong love affair with bacon. She studied English, Journalism, and Political Science at Morehead State University and left the business world when her daughters were born. Her love for suspense and a good story was born from watching Mystery Science Theater with her sister during childhood. That and any B movie with comedic undertones they could get their hands on.
When she’s not riding that razor-thin line between creativity and insanity, she likes to read, watch too much cable TV, or cheer like a banshee at her daughters’ sporting events. She’s a huge hometown sports fan and loves to watch the Cincinnati Bengals and Cincinnati Reds whenever she can.
A. J. loves to connect with fans! If you would like to receive emails of upcoming releases, please sign up for her distribution list by visiting her homepage at http://www.ajlape.com and clicking the “contact” tab.
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