Focus Friday: A Case of Sour Grapes


By Gae-Lynn Woods



THE DREAM IS ALWAYS the same: a rush of adrenaline as my body throbs to a pounding bass and pulsing lights; the dancing grows wild and sweat builds as bodies crush against me. Then dread creeps in, stealing the light, muting the music, and pressing down, down, down until I can no longer draw breath and just as I explode with need: relief. Sweet air fills my lungs but an image from a horror movie hangs over me, a familiar melting Dorian Gray of a face, eyes distant and dead, breath huffing and foul. A searing pain tears across my chest and a screech rips the fabric of my nightmare.

I woke, swinging at a phantom that didn’t exist, drinking in huge gulps of air, heart thrumming against my ribs, scar burning with liquid heat.

With equal measures of relief and rage, I glared at the howling alarm clock, a new addition to my bedroom. I slammed the snooze button and rolled away from the window, glowing with the dawn’s early light despite the heavy curtains I’d dragged shut last night. I lay motionless, panting, knowing my memories of dancing that night are real. But I wondered, yet again, which of the rape elements my mind has simply conjured to make sense of that night, and which are true memories buried deep in my subconscious.

Truth versus fiction matters, you see. Because my life is changing direction beginning today, and the hunt for my rapist will gain intensity in the coming months.

The dream always recedes as quickly as it appears and my heart slowed, the sweat slicking my body cooled, and terror released my mind. Cuddled in my down duvet, I pondered yet again whether working for a living was really worth the effort, and drifted back to sleep.

My personality must be quite resilient, because I slipped easily from my rape nightmare into an erotic fantasy. In the middle of a magnificent dream about Daniel Craig in his Quantum of Solace days, right when I was easing the button of his shirt through its hole and feeling the warm flesh of his chest beneath my fingertips, just as his lips brushed mine, my cell phone rang with the gutsy opening strains of “Bad to the Bone”.

I groaned but answered. “Do you have any idea what you interrupted? Shouldn’t you be sleeping until noon? You’re off work, you don’t have to be up at the crack of dawn.”

“It’s nine-fifteen, Max. I drove around the square and your car’s not there. You’re late.”

All thoughts of Daniel Craig vanished. “Crap. Thanks. Lunch?”

My best friend laughed the throaty laugh I love and envy in equal measure. “On your first day at the agency? I wouldn’t miss it. Call me.”

She was the reason I was taking the job, and she was right. Although my Aunts Kay and Babby owned Lost and Found Investigations and I’d been in and out of the office since I was a child, this was technically my first day at work. Running late would only confirm my aunts’ belief that I was unsuitable private investigator material. And I had my first assignment: picking up a package from the bank before going to the office. It was time to focus.

I slid the short-barrel pump-action shotgun I keep beside the bed into its case and then ran for the shower. I lathered and rinsed, and lathered again but forwent conditioner, which shows true dedication. My hair begged for a good moisturizing.

It had been some time since I had held a full-time job. Or a job of any kind, really. So it was no wonder my body rebelled when the alarm sounded at six o’clock. But I was determined to get my private investigator’s license and while I knew I’d have to pass an exam and get certified to carry a handgun – which sounded pretty awesome—I still wasn’t sure about the whole getting up and going to work every day thing.

I yawned at my reflection as I dried my black hair, glad I’d cut it short.

It’s worth it, I told myself. If the only thing you do in this job is find the man who raped you, your best friend, and who knows how many others, and get him off the streets, it’s worth getting up early.

But maybe not until six-fifteen.

About A Case of Sour Grapes

Wine, women, and song. What could possibly go wrong?

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.

About Gae-Lynn Woods

Gae-Lynn Woods is a Texan who has traveled the world, lived overseas, and come back home. She and her husband, British jazz guitarist Martyn Popey, share a ranch in East Texas with a herd of Black Angus cattle, one very cranky donkey, and The Dude, a rescue kitty with attitude.

Gae-Lynn writes the Cass Elliot Crime Series. When she’s not playing the roadie, tending to cows, fixing fence, or digging post holes, Gae-Lynn is working on the next Cass Elliot novel and the next Companion Novel featuring Maxine Leverman, Cass’ best friend, who makes her debut in Avengers of Blood.

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For June 2021,

it’s David C. Cassidy’s bestselling thrilling time-travel tale, Velvet Rain.

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