Darcy Walker excels at lies, deception, and out thinking the bad guys. She has the résumé to prove it. While waiting to attend the police academy, she takes her talents into pizza delivery. Little does she know, life as a delivery driver isn’t all pizza and wings.
On a late-night run to a customer’s home, Darcy’s delivery turns deadly. She stumbles into a murder mystery straight out of a Hollywood script—a blood-soaked crime scene with no known witnesses except a suspicious man with a Mona Lisa smile. To compound the trifecta, the victim appears to have a past he’s been trying to outrun. Uncovering his secret-filled life leads Darcy and some new friends on a high-voltage journey, intersecting with a former adversary.
When shadows of this old enemy surface, Darcy realizes black and white are an absolute as sure as the sun’s rotation. One wrong move could keep her from the academy, and one screw up could mean a friend of hers breathes his last breath.
In Side Hustle, solving crime takes a backseat to the moral dilemma she’s placed in: protect her dream or keep a friend alive. Will Darcy uncover who murdered her customer? Or will a Grim Reaper from the past end her and her friends’ lives first?
Readers call the Darcy Walker Series Stephanie Plum meets Veronica Mars meets The Blacklist in this #1 Amazon Bestseller in Teens Mysteries & Thrillers, Spies & Detective Stores.
“IT’S DOWN THE STREET,” ROLLO muttered.
“Which way?” I asked. Rollo was up to his elbows in flour and did the usual—wave his arm around in the air, thinking my mental ESP would know which area of town he was referring to for my next delivery. “Rollo?” I said. “Is that a right or a left?”
Rollo wiped his forehead on his wrist. “For godsakes, Walker. George Rhodes lives down the street in Holmby Hills. The house is…?” He paused and grunted. “Oh, hell. It’s the blue door…or maybe green? You know, that green that looks like black.”
Lord help me, the man then pointed in the other direction. Following Rollo’s directions could feel like an episiotomy, and right then was a fourth-degree tear. Ephraim came out from behind the counter and grabbed my phone, thumbing the address and directions into my notepad. “I think that’s right,” he said. “At least that’s what was called in. Call me if it isn’t.”
After I was settled in my car, I read the address to Siri and pulled out onto the road, praying for the best. Holmby Hills was roughly ten-to-fifteen minutes from Ugly Pizza, but believe it or not, I’d never delivered to that particular street. Cranking up late-night talk radio, I listened to conservative and liberal talk show hosts crucify one another Jesus-style while I took two turns Siri said were correct. Thing was, I got trapped behind a three-car pileup, and Siri rerouted me onto the scenic route. By the time all was said and done, I wound up at George Rhodes’ door a little over two hours later than when he first placed his order.
Siri, you whore.
Maneuvering onto the curb, I slammed the car into park and turned off the engine. Grabbing the pizza, I did a walk-jog that eventually turned into a dead run. It was pitch-black at three a.m., and save for a few street lights, the neighborhood was as dark as the skin on a seal. By the garbage cans on the curb, it was obviously trash day for this part of town.
When I made it to George Rhodes’ steps, I stabbed the doorbell, praying the pizza had stayed warm. I’d learned one thing about pizza delivery. The golden rule was that a pizza should never be cold. Another rule? The customer never understood.
I glanced over my shoulder while I waited. One sedan was parked three houses down. When I rang the doorbell in a part-two, the car flipped on its lights, crept forward, and then idled in front of me. The driver behind the wheel had long brown hair and a peculiar smiling grin that left my blood cold. It was the Mona Lisa smile. Out of nowhere, he floored the engine, motoring past me in a blur of speed.
Weird stuff happened on the night shift. Nothing shocked me anymore.
When another punch of the doorbell produced zero results, I rapped my knuckles one more time. After another round of pounding, the door slightly parted—like a creak in a horror movie where your gut told you not to go inside.
“Aloha?” I said through the crack. “Mister Rhodes? I’m sorry I’m late, but I’ve brought your trip to the islands. Did you place an order for a twelve-inch Hawaiian from Ugly Pizza?” The roar of a television hummed inside. Mister Rhodes didn’t answer. Neither did a Mrs. Rhodes. I hit the doorbell to punctuate my words and then like an idiot stepped inside. My heart thrashed in my chest because if George Rhodes didn’t materialize, then that meant no tip for Darcy Walker.
Opening that door had been a dumb idea from the get-go. I spotted a man to my left in a brown plaid recliner. His head was slumped forward like he’d fallen asleep, but the angle of his body was too awkward. Like some force had surprised him, and he didn’t know how to respond.
“Mister Rhodes,” I said. “Are you okay?”
Three more steps closer, and I clocked on the reason for his silence. He’d been shot in the back of the head…