100 Proof Stud ( The Darcy Walker Series #3) by author AJ Lape
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 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.
Ahhhh, Dylan. We were almost a couple…almost.
The setting was Orlando, on vacation. I’d snuck into Dylan’s bedroom for a late night chat. There were a few whispered words, but before I could say, Hold on lover boy, his lips found mine—slowly moving, taking, and demanding. After a few seconds of OMG, it’s as if someone else entered his body because the tempo abruptly shifted. The kiss became hungry, frenzied, and so savagely impassioned I actually crawled out of the dang room because my legs forgot how to work. I’m here to tell you that last type of kissing is why the Earth is overpopulated.
“Shut up, Ivy!” I hissed. “You remind me of one of those yappy, little dogs that bark so much they make the dog lovers want to kick them. Well, guess what? I’ve got my dog-kickers on, and since Rudi’s too upset to fight for herself, then I’m going to.” Jeez, that
sounded so Kentuckyesque Murphy would be proud.
Ivy lowered her head. “You’re going to,” she repeated.
“That’s right,” I nodded like a fool, “and I’m going to start by telling you that orange washes you out. So you might want to skip first period and go home and change. Find some pants too because those look like they could fit my little sister who has a better butt
Take that, Ivy Morrison. Crap, what was next? Should I slap her in the face? Punch her in the ovaries? Wait for her to smack me first?
Maybe I was thinking too much…
It was hard to hear anything above my own anger, yet the moment my finger poked her in the chest, Ivy backed me up against the wall, her hand steeling around a chunk of my hair. Her blue eyes went hard as diamonds, and the necklace dangling from her neck was…Hello Kitty. Hello Kitty, for God’s sake!! No way in the world did Hello Kitty want the association.
My eyes told her, I hope you burn in Hell.
Ivy’s eyes grinned, Not before I send you first.
Okay, I was more of a lover than a fighter, but I was determined to not allow this to be another bullet for my Darcy’s Such a Spineless Dweeb list. You know how they say a hero rises to the occasion when no one else will? I glanced around, and all I saw were dropped jaws, and Justice running full sprint half a hall away. I knew she came as backup, but I might be dead by then because Ivy’s face went Wicked Witch of the West. Rudi tried to help, but Trudi Hatchett—who I referred to as Brynn’s lapdog—pushed her out of the way, circling us with wannabe members of the skank squad. When Rudi fell to the floor on all fours, my hero gene kicked in, and I went Call of the Wild on Ivy.
I reared back, and…
I had a decision to make. I could call the police, or I could dive onto the car. Without another thought, I dove spread eagle onto the hood, a whole lot of don’t-die-a-virgin giving me flight.
#5 Inhaling deeply, I found my calm, realizing Vinnie and I needed to leave ASAP and phone the authorities. Those plans hit an iceberg because once I joined Vinnie in the front room, I heard a Pfffft. Then another. I was a little slow on the uptake but soon realized the Pfffft was the sound of something striking the couch. Yellowed batting exploded out of a bullet hole in a puff of white smoke.
Call me a genius, but I didn’t consider this good.
“Down!” Vinnie roared, launching himself toward me.
Unfortunately, my legs went moron and glued to the floor. For a moment, I had a flashback of running from a shooter last spring. They say lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same place…evidently, it does. My legs felt like rubber, and the room went to a dizzying whirl. Tears welled in my eyes, but I commanded them to dry up. You couldn’t think rationally when you cried. Emotions ruled. I didn’t make the rule; someone else did. Problem was, my tear ducts didn’t comply. I boo-hoo’d like a little girl.
Vinnie heaved us both off the floor, pitching me his keys I caught in one hand. “Oh, God, Vinnie,” I breathed, adrenaline nearly slicing me in two. This was like a Scarface shootout, only we didn’t have a gun.
Vinnie’s eyes glowed black and angry, but he took time to tenderly touch my cheek in an order. “Snap out of it, Dolce. Go. Out the back. I’ll follow.”
I still couldn’t move.
When Vinnie whipped off his jacket to do God-knew-what, voices boomed outside as three more gunshots landed on the hardwood floor. The wood splintered into pieces, sawdust pooling like an ant mound. When a sixth shot hit near my feet, I lost my balance and cartwheeled across the floor, landing on my knees. Vinnie snatched me up and shoved me in front of him, clutching my back to his front, acting as a human shield. Praying vehemently he didn’t get struck in the mayhem of gunfire, I still was worthless while he kicked out the window and tossed me onto the ground. I landed on all fours, my hands hitting the gravelly dirt of a backyard in need of upkeep. My tights split at the knees, and the air left my body on a hiss. I crawled in an uncoordinated manner like a baby intent on learning a new method of transportation. My eyes blinded with tears, and when I made it around the air conditioning unit, my hands hit something thick and mucousy. Pulling my shaking hand to my eyes, I recognized the red, viscous fluid immediately…blood. Blood that’d partly dried and led me to the body of…oh, God help me… help me.
A. J. Lape is the Amazon bestselling author of the Darcy Walker Series. She lives in Cincinnati with her husband, two daughters, an ADD dog, a spoiled hamster, and an unapologetic and unrepentant addiction to Coca-Cola--and a lifelong love affair with bacon. If the FBI ever checks her computer, she'll be wearing prison orange due to the various "wiki" articles she looks up. She swears the dead body, mob, and drug related stuff is only career research.
Thirteen things you didn't know about AJ Lape
AKA - Ada Miracle Lape
1. I can dislocate my left shoulder on command.
2. My favorite movie is It's a Wonderful Life...cry like a baby when George Bailey starts yelling, "I want to live again...I want to live again."
3. I hate clowns and chicken wings ... not necessarily in that order.
4. I'm a notorious sleepwalker. It happens when I'm troubled. As far as I can tell, I always have my clothes on.
5. I had an academic scholarship. I know that's shocking, but looking at homework today, I'm pretty sure I'm tapped out at fifth grade.
6. I like to shoot 9mm guns...look out Target World, every once in a while you have to walk your inner hillbilly.
7. I started running high school track when I was in the sixth grade. Don't ask me to run now. After two kids, I pee my pants when I walk across the floor.
8. I'm like Rain Man when it comes to fractions.
9. I used to write and record songs. I won Honorable Mentions in the John Lennon Song Writing Contest and Music City Song Festival. Verrrry short career.
10. I've cliff-dived off a 40-foot cliff into a lake...wouldn't recommend it ..that sucker can burn.
11. I'm the only human I know that got turned down twice when trying to adopt handicapped dogs. What the heck...those dogs would've loved me.
12. I would've been a police officer or journalist if life didn't land me where I am.
13. I occasionally have the foul mouth of a truck driver ... sorry, Mom and Dad. I try to change it. So far, the message hasn't made it to the execution part of my brain.