Today I’m taking part in the blog tour for Dark Drink. I’m sharing an extract from the book with thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me on the blog tour and to the author for providing the extract.
Jude and Mercedez have kept deadly secrets from each other.
Jackson’s suicide haunts Jude. She burned all evidence of her brother’s depravity. One less monster in the world, right? Tech-savvy Mercedez is the last living witness to a teenage amateur horror film that ended with a gruesome death. She never told.
A viral video (thanks, Whiskers) brings internet fame —forcing flip-phone wielding Jude to choose between her job as the second female in the VP motorcycle motorcade or her mixologist hobby.
Global visibility brings naked vulnerability—someone has subscribed to Jude’s channel.
Missing neighbors found dead in side-by-side freezers, viral drunk “I quit” videos, spammed porn magazine subscriptions, snail mail severed fingers, sabotaged cave trips, cryptic social media comments, and stalking photos push the codependent friends over the edge (literally, off the side of a bluff) when best friends find out that secrets can kill.
A flashback from Mercedez’s point of view to when she first met her teenage psychopath: Zack. If only she had never taken his up his offer of going to see his secret office.
8 – TIGERS
Once, Jude showed up at my front door, tears streaking down her dirt covered face, wearing no helmet, carrying a backpack full of cold drinks and sandwiches.
“Spray up buttercup,” Jude said, “and grab a book.”
I didn’t ask her to explain, the look in her eyes said there would be no further discussion. The tiger had batted the mouse about, taunted it, left it dazed and breathing rapidly in a dark corner. Meanwhile, the tiger waited for the mouse to have a hope of escape, only then would it pounce and renew the game.
I drowned myself in bug spray, grabbed my huge, tattered copy of the Chronicles of Narnia, all ten books bound into something heavy enough for self-defense or hours in the woods. Days in the woods, even.
I jumped on the back of Jude’s bike and held on for dear life as only a scrawny 10-year-old can. We had many escapes like this. That was the day the new kid in town found me in the woods.
My own tiger who would taunt and torture my little mouse soul.
I was halfway through the book, nose buried deep, keeping an ear out for Jude as she buzzed through the trails, when a noise in the woods caught my attention. The obnoxious gray smoke from her two-stroke engine left a haze that hung in the air, making it difficult to see who was approaching.
“What you reading?” a voice called from the fog.
No one had ever followed us into this abandoned area behind suburbia land, at the foot of the hills. In the distance I could hear Jude buzzing through the trails, maybe ten minutes, forever, away. Alone in the woods can be a wonderful feeling, away from everyone, no one there. Until you realize you are alone in the woods, away from everyone, and you are not alone.
I looked up to see a teenager I had never seen before break through the haze. Dark curly hair hung down over his eyes and he brushed it away with a hand. His nails, cut perfectly, buffed, covered with clear polish, shone in the midday sun. I had never seen a boy with a manicure. His face broke out in a grin when he saw the direction of my gaze. The grin was friendly and warm, unlike Jackson’s.
“Mom wants me to be a hand model.” He smiled wider, stepped a little closer. “I’m Zack.”
I introduced myself and then asked, “Why are you out here?”
“We just moved into town. Mom and me. I’m wandering around. Heard the bike, thought I’d see who was tearing up the trails,” Zack said. He nonchalantly leaned against a tree.
I relaxed. He wasn’t coming any closer and didn’t seem to have any ill intent.
“That’s Jude.” I pointed over my shoulder in the general direction of the hills behind us.
“You don’t ride?”
“Me? No. I don’t have a mini-bike.” I didn’t even have a normal bike.
He looked at me closer, nodded as if understanding more than what I had said. Heat rose to my cheeks. I wasn’t used to being looked at, being seen.
Zack patted down his pants pockets, looking for something, then retrieved a silver packet. “Gum?” he asked.
He moved closer, squatted down, and held the pack towards me. I took the offered piece. Closer, I could see the rash of pimples across his forehead covered by his dark hair. They screamed in angry defiance to his flawless hands.
“Have you had any modeling jobs?” I asked.
He shrugged and looked away. “Not yet.” He unwrapped a piece of gum, took a moment to inspect it, put it in his mouth. He didn’t look at me when he said, “Mom used to be a beauty queen. She wanted a daughter. Got me instead.”
We fell silent together. In the distance, Jude was jumping her bike over small dunes; the engine revving and switching gears when she caught a little air. She’d do that for hours, hoping to take flight, leave the gravitational pull of this dark earth.
“I was an accident,” I admitted. “Born clutching the IUD in my hand.”
“Metal,” he said.
Why did I admit that to him? He was easily five years older than me and paying attention to me. That easy going smile and charm made me feel taller somehow, bigger. Keeping some secrets to myself, I didn’t disclose being adopted by a suburban white couple who died when I was four. He’d never see my aunt. I rarely saw her.
We chatted about school, the teachers, where the best video game store in town was, who was in the snob group, the nerd group, etc. I spoke more to Zack in those 30 minutes than I probably had to anyone besides Jude in my entire life.
“You ever been to the old Chrysler plant that shut down?” he asked.
“No.” I had heard of it but straight-laced Jude and I would never dream of going inside a closed factory.
“It’s only been closed a few years, but there are parts that have been derelict for decades.” He raised his hands and wiggled his fingers. “Spooky place.”
“Don’t they have security?” I asked, imagining guards with guns, red lights, sirens.
“Not in the back part. I have an office there.” He grinned and nodded. “It’s kinda cool.”
Dark Drink is available from Amazon.
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