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Authors: K.J. Emrick

Tags: #Mystery: Cozy - Paranormal - Ghosts - Psychic Cat - Australia

K.J. Emrick - Darcy Sweet 12 - Death at the Wheel

BOOK: K.J. Emrick - Darcy Sweet 12 - Death at the Wheel
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K.J. Emrick - Darcy Sweet 12 - Death at the Wheel
Darcy Sweet [12]
K.J. Emrick
South Coast Publishing (2014)
Tags:
Mystery: Cozy - Paranormal - Ghosts - Psychic Cat - Australia
Darcy Sweet always seems to end up in mysterious situations. And it was very mysterious indeed when a car accident that crashes its way into town results in a missing driver and a dead body. What happened? Where did the driver of the death car go? Could it have been a ghost driving?
Anything was possible in the town of Misty Hollow. As Darcy gets deeper into the mystery, she uncovers evidence that seems to point in an entirely unexpected direction. Once again, the mysterious has landed her in danger. Can she work out what really happened before it's too late?

COPYRIGHT

 

First published in Australia by South Coast Publishing, August 2014.
Copyright K.J. Emrick (2014)

 

This is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents and locations portrayed in this book and the names herein are fictitious.  Any similarity to or identification with the locations, names, characters or history of any person, product or entity is entirely coincidental and unintentional.

 

- From a
Declaration of Principles
jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations.

 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. 

 

No responsibility or liability is assumed by the Publisher for any injury, damage or  financial loss sustained to persons or property from the use of this information, personal or otherwise, either directly or indirectly.  While every effort has been made to ensure reliability and accuracy of the information within, all liability, negligence or otherwise, from any use, misuse or abuse of the operation of any methods, strategies, instructions or ideas contained in the material herein, is the sole responsibility of the reader. Any copyrights not held by publisher are owned by their respective authors.

 

All information is generalized, presented for informational purposes only and presented “as is” without warranty or guarantee of any kind. 

 

All trademarks and brands referred to in this book are for illustrative purposes only, are the property of their respective owners and not affiliated with this publication in any way. Any trademarks are being used without permission, and the publication of the trademark is not authorized by, associated with or sponsored by the trademark owner.

Chapter One

 

It was incredible to see how much Misty Hollow had grown over the last year.  Darcy Sweet’s sleepy little home town wasn’t so sleepy any longer.  New houses were being built, and she’d even heard a rumor that one of those dollar stores was going to go in next summer over where Garfield
Somner’s farm used to be.

Watching the world outside through the front window of her bookshop, Darcy sipped at her coffee, combing back her long dark hair with her fingers and smiling a lazy smile.  For now, everything in the town’s center was still quiet and peaceful, but how long would it stay like that?  Progress marched on, she supposed.  That was the very reason why she had started selling electronic readers and e-books in her shop.  When things changed, you either adapted to the change or you got left behind.

She reached out with her free hand to straighten the rack of books she had on prominent display in the window shelf.  Eight copies of the same book, actually.  On the cover was the picture of a bearded, laughing man in a floppy hat and the title “A View From The Mountain.”  The book had been written by Carson Middlemiss, a friend she had made while she and Jon had been on vacation.  Carson had made a deal with her to sell his books and give him a portion of the proceeds.  That had been before he died, of course.  Now Darcy was giving the bulk of the profits to a non-profit organization that helped crime victims.

Darcy had kept a copy of the book for herself.  It was full of Carson’s personal wit and humor.  It made her sorry she hadn’t gotten to know him better.

That trip hadn’t been all bad, she reminded herself, holding up her left hand.  Jon’s engagement ring was there.  A slim cathedral style gold band with a diamond that sparkled with an inner fire. It took some getting used to having another ring sitting on the opposite finger to the antique silver ring she always wore. She had inherited that ring from her great aunt Millie. Its comforting weight and geometrical designs always made her feel calm and safe. She smiled as she touched the little carved rose on the ring. She had made room for Jon in her life.  Now he was finally ready to do the same.

Her heart still leapt to think of it.  Jon had asked her to marry him.  She’d said yes.  There was no backing out now.

“Hey, Darcy?” Izzy McIntosh said from further back in the store.  “Where exactly do these books on early pregnancy go?”

“Um, put them over in the child care section. 
Next to the preschool books.”

“Makes sense.”

Izzy brought the box of new arrivals over to the section where Darcy pointed.  She whistled as she worked and blew loose strands of her dark blonde hair away from her eyes.  She’d cut it short not all that long ago, but now she was letting it grow out again and it was becoming a bit unruly.  It suited the oval shape of her face in Darcy’s opinion.

Darcy’s one and only store employee had her little assistant with her again today.  Izzy’s daughter Lilly ran happily up and down the aisles between the book stacks, light brown hair up in pigtails that trailed behind her, laughing as she played a game of hide and seek.  She was dressed like a tomboy again today.  After a pretty dress phase had ended for her, Lilly had started wearing nothing but jeans and t-shirts, much to her mother’s dismay. 

Darcy kind of liked jeans and t-shirts herself.  The pair of jeans she was wearing today were old and comfortable and had just a tiny tear across the right knee.  She hid another smile behind her coffee cup.  She liked to think she was a good influence on Izzy’s daughter.

“Careful, honey,” Izzy scolded Lilly gently, stepping to the side so Lilly could run past her.

“Aw, mom,” the girl sighed in that way children had.  “Don’t worry.  Millie is taking good care of me.”

Izzy gave Darcy an amused look, and rolled her eyes.  Only a child could accept a ghost as a playmate so easily.  At eight years old Lilly had taken to the spirit of Darcy’s great aunt a lot quicker than Izzy had, but now even she considered Millie a trusted, if mischievous, playmate.

“Have we had any customers in this morning?” Darcy asked.  It was a Tuesday, always a sluggish sales day for the store, but business had been pretty good for them recently.

“Not yet,” was Izzy’s answer.  “Are you hosting the book club again tonight?”

“Sure am.  Cora and Evelyn and the others are really looking forward to it.  Rosie Weaver can’t make it but she promised for next time.  I guess her daughter is coming into town.  They haven’t seen each other in forever, and apparently she just got married.”

“Oh, wow.  And her mom didn’t know?  When did that happen?”

“Recently, I guess.  So now her daughter wants to make up and show off her new husband.  Rosie is ecstatic.”

“That’s fantastic.  Well, if you have an opening would you mind having one more for the book club?”

“Of course.”  Darcy smiled.  Izzy was an accepted member of the community now but she still felt shy about asking to join things.  It was because of the way she came to live in Misty Hollow, Darcy knew, but still—

A heavy book from the reference section flew off its shelf and landed hard against the floor.

Both Izzy and Darcy jumped.  Over in the stacks, Lilly looked back at her mother with her brown eyes wide and a breath caught on her lips.  The book had landed not two feet from where the little girl stood.

“Millie, be more careful,” Darcy admonished her aunt.  Not that she could see Millie’s spirit right now, but the woman could always hear her.  At least, here in the bookstore she could.  Walking over to where the book now sat upside down on its cover, she picked it up and replaced it on the shelf where it had come from.  “Now, Millie, I know you’re happy to have a friend to keep you company while I’m working, but really. 
Us living people still bruise if something heavy falls on us.”

She replaced the book, gave Lilly a quick smile, and then turned apologetically to Izzy.  “I’m sorry.  Millie likes to move things sometimes just to remind us she’s still here.  I don’t think she meant to—”

Behind her, the book fell to the floor again. 
Thump
.

“For Pete’s sake, Millie!
  Stop it!”  Darcy was quickly becoming annoyed.

“Um.
  Miss Sweet?” Lilly said in a quiet voice.  “Millie says we should all stay back here.”

Izzy was already here in the stacks with them, right behind Darcy.  She bent down to her daughter with a worried expression.  “What do you mean, honey?”

“Lilly,” Darcy asked, not sure if she’d heard the girl correctly, “did you say Millie spoke to you?  Like, really spoke to you?”

A nod and a confident smile was the answer.  But that’s impossible, Darcy thought to herself.  Well, not impossible.  Some people could hear ghosts without having the gifts that Darcy did.  Some ghosts could talk to people, too, if there was a special link between them…

The noise shattered the world.

Out on the street there was the sound of heavy objects crashing, colliding,
smashing into each other.  Even as Darcy was reacting, pulling Lilly and Izzy down with her closer to the floor, another noise broke like tinkling music against her eardrums.

The sound of the front window of the bookstore shattering inward.
  Darcy dared a peek, and saw tiny sparkling shards of glass flying everywhere, a small dark something thudding to the wood floor and skidding forward on the same momentum that had thrown it through the window.  From where they were huddled, next to Millie’s dropped book, the glass couldn’t reach them.  It covered books and displays all along the front of the store, chiming like broken wind chimes as it covered the floor, but stopped well short of where they crouched.

If they hadn’t been back here because of that book falling off the shelf they would have been standing right out there in the middle of the falling debris.  Millie had saved them all from serious injury. 
Maybe even saved their lives.

“Thank you, Millie,” Darcy whispered.

“What was that?” Izzy was asking, holding Lilly to her chest protectively.  Her voice was tight and scared.

“A car accident.”
  Darcy had heard the sound before.  Once, she’d struck a deer while driving her sister Grace’s car.  Another time, she’d been a passenger in a car that had rear-ended the car in front of them.  There was only one sound in the world like a car’s sheet metal being crumpled and broken. 

What they had just heard from out on the street was that sound.

“Stay here,” Darcy told Izzy.  “Don’t let Lilly walk across all that glass.”

She noticed things absently as she rushed to get outside.  The window was gone.  Displays of books—Carson’s books as well—had been knocked over or covered in glass but didn’t look like they were actually damaged.  The piece of metal something that had broken the window had gouged out a curving line in the floor.  She clenched her teeth.  It would be the rest of the day before they had this cleaned up.

The bell above the bookstore door dinged as she flew through it.  The sound of it was too normal, too cheerful, for what she saw on the street.

Almost directly in front of her two cars sat in a smoking and tangled heap.  Her mind picked out details as she tried to decide what to do.  One car was blue.  One car was red.  The red one had rammed into the back quarter panel of the blue one on its driver’s side and then had driven so far into it that she could barely tell where one ended and the other began.  Glass and broken bits and little things like fast food containers and plastic water bottles lay all over the street.

The violence of the scene impressed itself on her.  How could the red car have run into the blue one so hard here on Main Street?  There was a reduced speed limit here on purpose.  It just didn’t seem possible.

Then she saw the man lying on his side near the front of the wreckage.  His back was to her.  He wasn’t moving.

Her mind kicked her into gear, and she rushed to help.

People up and down the Main Street had come out of their stores or homes to see what had happened.  There were people running this way from every direction.  Darcy reached the man first, others soon after.  The guy was bleeding from several different places. 
Cuts on his face.  A gash on his left arm that had torn through an expensive looking blue shirt.  A dark stain was spreading along the hip of his khaki pants, too, and Darcy had to wonder if he was hurt too badly for her to help at all.

She felt for a pulse, found one, and breathed a sigh of relief.  He was still alive.  His blonde hair had blood in it, too, and tiny pieces of safety glass.  His glasses had miraculously stayed in place and Darcy could see his eyelids fluttering like he was trying to wake up.

Then he gasped and sputtered and sat bolt upright, his eyes frantic.

“Darcy! 
Darcy, d-d-don’t m-move him!”  Mark Cameron, the teller from the bank, knelt down beside her.  His stutter was coming out worse now in the stress of everything.  “He c-c-could be hurt.”

“He is hurt, Mark.  Stay with him, all right?  Do you know if anyone called the police?”

He nodded, checking the guy over like he’d learned to do in the same municipal CPR course that Darcy had attended.  Darcy knew the injuries were beyond what either of them could handle but she supposed any kind of help was better than no help.  “I c-c-called.  P-p-police are on the wa-way.”

Darcy nodded.  As she started to stand up to check out the rest of the accident scene a hand grabbed her elbow.

The man from the accident stared at her with fear in his eyes.

In that moment, a vision flashed over Darcy.

It was too quick, too chaotic for her to make much sense of it.  Physical contact with this man had triggered her sixth sense, her ability to see what others know, to tune in to the ethereal truths locked away in secret places in people’s minds.  Through the eyes of the man who gripped her so tightly, she saw a memory.

Running around the front of
Jarred’s car.  The blue car that had just been in an accident on the Main Street of this sleepy little town.  The accident that he’d been hurt in.  Badly.  Pain flooded him everywhere, but he had to get to her.  He had to know if Lindsay was all right…

The scene skipped, swirled, settled on an image of a pretty girl with long red hair, the kind of red that you get from a quality dye job at a salon. 
The kind of red that hides blood.  Lindsay.  She was hurt.  She was hurt badly, and he needed to help her, needed to do…something…

His hand reached toward Lindsay’s throat—

The image snapped away and Darcy sucked in a breath, disoriented to be back in her own mind and staring at the guy again, instead of seeing the world through his glasses.  His lips trembled as he spoke.  “Help her.  Please.  We were coming into town together and the other car…  Please.  Help Lindsay.”

Without having to ask, Darcy knew that was the girl from the vision.  She knew it from this man’s own memories. 
The girl in the front passenger seat with the red hair.  “I’ll check on her right now, okay?  You just stay here.  Help’s on the way.”

Passing a look to Mark she gently pried the guy’s fingers off her arm and stood up just as the wail of sirens cut the air.  People stepped back out of the way as two black and white patrol cars rolled up, their red and blue lights flashing, a plain dark sedan close behind.  She knew who would be in that car.

BOOK: K.J. Emrick - Darcy Sweet 12 - Death at the Wheel
10.21Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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