Tuesday Sampler: A Case of Sour Grapes by Gae-Lynn Woods

Wine, women, and song. What could possibly go wrong? Read an excerpt from A Case of Sour Grapes by Gae-Lynn Woods.

Meet Maxine Leverman, lover of expensive shoes, beautiful handbags, and her lingerie-wearing ex-husband’s hush money. When she pleads her way into a job at family-run Lost and Found Investigations, Maxine’s only goal is to gain the concealed carry license and PI skills she needs to find the man who attacked her and then kill him. (Or maybe just put him in jail, that decision can wait.)

But when she secretly takes a missing husband case on her first day at the agency, she stumbles into a high-stakes game of blackmail and murder. Maxine must unravel the links between a forgotten folk punk band, an international drug cartel, and the tangled history of the missing husband to keep the women in his life alive.

Fans of the early Stephanie Plum novels and Stuart Woods’ Holly Barker series will love Maxine’s tenacity, grit, and lust for life.

Gee-Lynn Woods

 

Sampler:

BEING WOMEN OF SOUND mind, Cass and I did what any solid sleuths would do before diving into the skank that is Whiskey Bend: we cruised the strip checking for Bret Ivey’s Corvette. I’ve driven this stretch of road just over the state line and into Louisiana numerous times. It’s the kind of crammed together place that always makes me slow down and check for drivers who can’t stay between the lines. During the day, it’s dirty and downright sad. At night, however, it sparkles with twinkling neon signs that distract from the grime and despair.

We drove the half mile stretch of Whiskey Bend at a sedate pace, glancing in the crowded parking lots as we went, searching for a bright yellow Corvette with the license plate WINE-O. We didn’t see it, so we agreed to take a closer look at the seedier side of life.

Have you ever been in a bar for bikers? This was my first time, and despite my show of bravado with Cass, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Dim lights, sticky floors, inebriated rednecks, scantily clad women with vacant stares. You, too? Well, The Golden O was a surprise. I’d talked it over with Cass, and we decided to work methodically down one side of Whiskey Bend to the last bar, then turn around and work our way along the other side.

Back to The Golden O. It wasn’t the kind of place you’d take your mother, but it wasn’t as bad as I expected. The parking lot was packed with motorcycles and muscle cars. A flashing neon sign featured the outline of a curvy blonde, lips pursed in a sexy ‘O’. A bouncer greeted us with a glance up and down, then motioned us inside. I discreetly flipped on my hidden camera. The lights were low, but the floor wasn’t sticky. The foyer had a diner-like counter along one wall, fronting a grill where a big man flipped burgers and steaks for five guys perched on chrome stools. The food smelled surprisingly good. Music flowed from deeper inside the establishment and we stepped through a velvet curtain into a wide room with a stage at its center. A busty blonde with mounds of frothy curls who could’ve been the model for the neon sign stalked along a runway. She was wearing a beautiful black mask and a full-length gown exposing a strip of magnificent cleavage. She peeled off long gloves, one finger at a time, bumping and grinding all the while. The bikers alongside the stage were utterly entranced.

Cass watched the men as they watched the woman. “What gives, Maxine? I thought the whole reason men came to these places was for the skin.”

“It’s burlesque,” I answered quietly. “It’s as much about the tease as the nudity.” The stripper unrolled a glove and draped it across one patron’s shoulder before whipping it away and slapping him in the face with it. A charged growl went up from the crowd.

“How do you know that?” Cass asked.

“My ex-husband Neil took me to see burlesque shows.”

“That didn’t bother you?”

“Not until I realized they were men in drag.”

Cass cocked an eyebrow.

I focused on the faces around the stage. “It was the beginning of the end for us. If they’d been women, maybe I could’ve coped.”

I felt her gaze and wondered if she would ask more. My best friend and I lost contact while I was married, and other than having been maid of honor in my wedding, she knew very little about my married life. In true Cass style, she knew when to hold her questions. She turned back to the men. “I don’t see Bret, do you?”

The dancer tossed her second glove our way and a scrum erupted over the strip of cloth. Amid the chaos, I caught the stripper’s glare. I recognized the smoky green eyes behind the mask and blood drained from my face.

“Oh no,” I whispered to Cass. “We’re so busted.”

“Why?”

“The woman on stage? The dancer?”

Cass glanced up. “What about her?”

“That’s Aunt Babby.”

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