I am participating in the virtual blog tour for Gone At Zero Hundred Hours 00:00 Today.
"Their lives are in the hands of two 18 year-olds..."
Sydney Marie McSwain - a tomboy who yearned for a father.
Cody Beck - a wannabe filmmaker, wisenheimer and flirt.
Jaden White - the star who led the high school hockey team to two championships, and was now on the A-list for NHL scouts.
Sydney Marie McSwain loves her mom, Anna - a private investigator in the coastal city where they live - but they had a major issue between them. Anna refused to give Sydney the identity of her father. On the day of her high school graduation, they were battling it out, once again. An hour later, Sydney, Cody and Jaden were at the local café, and watched as Anna was gunned down.
Faced with immediate responsibility, Sydney and Cody agreed to take over the agency, only they changed the name to McSwain & Beck. At the same time, Sydney convinced Sutter Beach Detective, Ace Carter, to help her track down her father.
Then out of the blue, a model walked in and hired them to follow her step-brother. While Cody was busy editing a trailer to solicit new clients, Sydney settled into her lemon-yellow pickup to do surveillance, and wound up staking out a secret club called The Devil’s Door whose suspicious members wore the tattoo of a devil.
That same night, Sydney received a call from one of her mom’s former clients, but the client was gunned down at the location where they agreed to meet. The mysterious discovery of a DVD revealed the possibility that teenagers were being abducted, only nobody reported them missing.
On the hunt for the victims, McSwain & Beck were chased by men in ski masks, nearly gunned down by a members of a drug cartel called the outlaws, Sydney’s precious pickup was broken into; then the step-brother they were hired to follow, was found dead and Sydney was the number one suspect.
If things weren’t bad enough already, they had to figure out how to crash a red-carpet Mardi Gras bash being held on a private cruise ship, before it sailed off into the sunset, where they just might meet the devil, himself.
Now, the clock was ticking…
And time was running out…
How was she ever going to find her father, now?
Then, a guy who called himself, J.C., pulled up to the firehouse on a juiced up Harley
Davidson claiming to be her attorney.I met up with him outside when I heard the sound of theexhaust. He took off his skull and bones helmet, and followed me into the firehouse wearing a
leather vest and a pair of chaps. I thought he looked more like a member of the Sons of Anarchy,
and found myself wondering if he wore his get up when he faced a judge in court.
"As I said on the phone", he started as he followed me inside.
"I was hired by your mother to take care of her personal affairs". He glanced around the firehouse with admiration; then offered
a handshake to Jaden and Cody who were there for support.
In the old days, the fire trucks sat in the bay just inside the firehouse garage doors. Now, it
was where my mom set up the office. There was a desk with chairs, a wall of filing cabinets, anda mechanical bull-riding machine. Yes, you read that right, a bull-riding machine. One thing my
mom and I did like to do together I was check out the local flea markets. You could find the
coolest things. My mom said the mechanical bull was better than a treadmill any day. A couple
minutes a day and you were sure to wind up with six-pack abs. She bought it and I was hooked.
To the right, there was a locker room cluttered with old turnout gear, fire boots and helmets
that were left over from volunteer firemen. A small dispatch office with an alarm box sat just
inside the front door, and a set of stairs led to the second floor - the living quarters.
J.C. pulled a stack of papers out of a leather satchel then we all sat around the desk. For the
next hour, he read through the contents of my mom's will, and informed me of my financial
responsibilities from now on. He also confirmed something I knew, but had never seen the
physical proof - until now.My mom received a cashier's check from an 'unknown individual' on the first of every month. He said the checks would continue until I turned twenty - one. I knew they were from my father, but I still couldn't understand why his identity
was such a big secret.Listening to J.C. ramble on and on about my new responsibilities, I wanted to crawl into bed,
pull the covers over my head and dream it all away, but that wasn't an option. I had to grow up,
With J.C'S help, Jaden, Cody and I read through everything - all the things my mom usuallyhandled. Things I took for granted. She wasn't kidding. There were a lot of bills. J.C. called the
leasing company and convinced them to take the Tahoe back, so I didn't have to worry about that
monthly payment. But, they said there was still a fee that needed to be paid for turning in the car before the end of the contract. It's not personal, just business they said. In response J.C had
some interesting words for them. When he threatened a lawsuit with media coverage they finally
waived the fee. I guess they knew the media would paint them as a giant bully corporation, who
was harassing a young woman who just lost her mother.
Then, the subject of the firehouse came up a conversation I was dreading. J.C. suggested I
put it up for sale, and get myself a small apartment. I thought about it, but just couldn't do it. My
mom loved the firehouse, and so did I. When he realized I wasn't going to budge, he said we
could use the monthly check to pay the mortgage each month. That helped a lot but there were
still taxes and funds to keep it running. Gas, food, and all the things she reminded me of, also
had to be covered. The monthly check from the 'unknown individual' wouldn't cover it all. "Bottom line" J.C said as he stuffed the papers back into the satchel; and put his motorcycle helmet on.
"You'll be fine for a while, Your mom had a few clients that paid her well, but you'll
need to have something viable in the future. The retainers that were recently paid will have to be returned, unless the cases are completed". With that he was out the door.
Seconds later, the
sound of the exhaust drifted off into the sunset.
Jaden, Cody and I were quiet, contemplating and evaluating the options. The problem was the
only thing I knew how to do, I learned from working with my mom two days a week as an
apprentice for McSwain Investigations. And Cody relied on the income she paid him to help with
his filming equipment, and to pay his rent. "Wow", Jaden said , finally breaking the silence. "That's a lot of responsibility to take on..."
"I say we keep McSwain Investigations open," Cody interrupted, suddenly filled with excitement. He turned the chair around, straddled the seat and looked directly at me. "That way, you won't have to give the retainers back". " I don't usually agree with Cody, but he might be right, Syd". Jaden added. "I mean, c'mon, the two of you have been helping out your mom for years. You know the drill".
Cody nodded with confidence, like it was the only thing that made sense. "We may know the drill," I said with a little, less enthusiasm. "But, it won't be that easy
convincing clients to pay a couple of eighteen-year-olds."
Cody shrugged. "Well there might be a way around that."
"What do you mean?"
"We could show them our abilities," he said as if it were a no brainer. We could call around to
some of the clients on retainer. Like for instance, McAlister Insurance.Your mom did a lot of work for them. They wouldn't let us handle anything major, but the auto claims are pretty easy.
Maybe your mom has few of those small cases lying around. We could go out and get the goods, film it and send it off to the company showing we can do it." I thought about it; then perked up a little when I couldn't see a negative. "I suppose that might work" I said, but I wasn't confidentit would be as easy as he said. "I can go through the files, and see what cases are still open. I have to get the place organized, anyway."
"I don't envy you that," Jaden said when he glanced around at the mess in the office.
After my mom was murdered, the task force searched through the files old and new looking for suspects. Manila folders had been yanked from the filing cabinets, strewn around the room and piled high on the floor. They took what they wanted, but didn't bother to put anything back when they were done. "I think that's the ticket, Syd" Cody chimed in, and now he was getting jazzed.
I mean, totally jazzed. "We keep McSwain Investigations up and running.
We could even change it to McSwain & Beck."
He followed the comment with a smirk.
The journey started after CR interviewed big city detectives about their lives on the job; then talked with some of their victims. That resulted in her first YA series: McSwain & Beck. The novels are works of fiction, only based on real life events, but you can't help but wonder while reading the books which parts are true.
When CR isn't writing, she enjoys renovating houses, spending time outdoors, catching up on her favorite books and TV shows (dedicated fan of NCIS, Justified, Southland, Blue Bloods, Person of Interest, and Big Bang Theory) and most importantly, spending time at the campfires with her family and friends.
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