Gold Rush (Blackwood Security #4) - Elise Noble Page 0,1

was mugged. I say after, because in the grand scheme of things, the mugging itself wasn’t really that bad. Living where I did, it had been about due.

I’d been on my way home that night. Three blocks away, a scrawny kid stepped out of a doorway, his expensive sneakers and designer jeans at odds with his unwashed odour. Wild eyes peered out at me from beneath a tangle of hair, and from the way they rolled, I guessed the reason he’d turned to crime was to fund his pharmaceutical habit.

“Gimme your money.”

The demand wasn’t original, but when he thrust a gleaming knife in my face, it worked. I handed over my wallet and the week’s wages it contained, then clutched at a nearby lamp post because my legs refused to hold me up.

As his footsteps receded into the night, little did I know that he’d stolen my sanity as well.

The cops had been sympathetic, and the detective who came out to take my statement spent enough time listening to almost make me believe I mattered. He’d bought me coffee, feigned sympathy, and only looked at his watch once while I told my story.

At the end of it, he’d given me his card and said, “If you’re worried about anything, call me.”

What was the point? I was realistic enough to know the high the kid spent my money on had worn off by now. I was just another statistic. And at first, I thought the jitters I felt afterwards were a reaction to the theft. That was perfectly normal, right? Surely I couldn’t be the only girl who got a bit nervous walking home at night?

Be logical, Lara.

I’d lived in Baysville all my life, and this was the first time I’d ever been mugged. Well, apart from the moment Joey Rogers pushed me over in third grade and stole my lunch money, but I couldn’t really count that.

I told myself that I hadn’t been hurt, that by the law of averages it wouldn’t be my turn again for a while. Sure, I hadn’t been able to pay my rent on time, and I ended up living on oatmeal for two weeks, but that was just the way my life seemed to be lately.


In another lifetime, when I was a child, my pop used to call me Lucky Lara. Each Thursday, the guys came over to play poker, and he’d sit me on his lap and let me hold his cards because he said he always won that way. Back then, we’d lived in a proper house, and I had toys and friends and nice clothes and birthday parties and everything else a child dreamed of.

Then a week before my tenth birthday, my luck ran out. As did my father. When he left for work, he’d kissed me on the cheek and said, “Be good at school, Lucky.” I hadn’t seen him since. Gone were the house and the toys and birthday parties.

My friends went too, once I no longer wore the latest sneakers or played with whatever toy happened to be in fashion that week. Until that day, I hadn’t realised how nasty little girls could be. I came home crying most days, and when I walked in the door, my momma would dry her own eyes and comfort me.

She tried to hide her tears, but there’s no way one person could be unlucky enough to get grit in their eye almost every day. Still, I couldn’t complain. Momma did her best to look after me, even if she was never the same after Pop left. At first, I used to ask when he was coming back, but that only made her sadder, so I stopped. Once, I’d asked if it was my fault he left, and she swore it wasn’t, that he’d disappeared because he simply didn’t love her anymore.

Then she’d cried again, and that was the last time I mentioned him.

I went from being Lucky Lara to Lara the Loser, or occasionally Lousy Lara for variety. Grades four through ten were spent hiding in the library, avoiding the outside world in general and people in particular. The bullies couldn’t get to me in the library. Mrs. Weiss, the dragon of a librarian in high school, wouldn’t stand any nonsense in her domain. Books were my best friends—math, science, economics—I drank them in. I kept my head down and my GPA a smidgen under 4.0, so my teachers liked me even if nobody else did. But the loneliness? Yes, the