Even though it wasn’t Rachel’s idea to steal the car, she was happy to go along for the ride. But when her so-called friends bolt as soon as the cops show up, they leave Rachel to take the rap. In court, the judge takes pity on the Beverly Hills bad girl, and offers her a choice: thirty days in juvie, or a year at Blackthorn Academy. Rachel chooses the boarding school. After all, how bad could it be?
Cut into the side of a Pennsylvania mountain, Blackthorn is weirder than Rachel could ever have imagined. The students take Tae Kwon Do instead of gym, there are guardhouses on the edge of campus, and there’s a secret Top Floor that only certain students are allowed to access. Despite Blackthorn’s mysteries, Rachel is starting to fit in. She likes her roommate and her classmates, and even the all-knowing headmaster, Mr. Kim. But when Mr. Kim disappears, Rachel learns a secret about Blackthorn Academy—and herself—that will change her life forever.
About the Author
Spradlin lives in Lapeer, Michigan. Lapeer is French for the peer, which is a big joke on the French because there is no peer there. Unless you count Michael P. Spradlin. But even he is without peer. Sorry, French.
Read an Excerpt
Live and Let Shop
Spy Goddess, Book One
By Michael P. Spradlin
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 2005 Michael P. Spradlin
All rights reserved.
The End of My Life as I Know It
THE COP CAR I rode in the night I got arrested was really clean. Spotless, almost. So was the station house. It wasn't like the police stations you see on TV, where there are druggies and lowlifes everywhere you look and everything is total chaos. It was pretty quiet, very neat, and there didn't seem to be much going on. It reminded me of the locker room at Dad's country club. I guess there's not a lot of serious crime in Beverly Hills. Except for me, of course—Rachel Buchanan, one-girl crime wave.
We only got caught that night because Boozer made an illegal left turn in the car he'd boosted. Unluckily for us, a cop happened to drive by at exactly the wrong moment. So much of life is just timing.
Boozer is so smooth, he probably could have talked his way out of it, but instead he panicked and took off. So there we were in a high-speed chase. The weird thing was, I thought it was funny. For some reason, when I get scared or nervous—or apparently in a high-speed chase—I start to laugh. Maybe I'm a psycho. I'll get on a roller coaster at Magic Mountain with a drop straight down, and while everyone is screaming at the top of their lungs, I'm sitting there laughing like an idiot. It's this really weird nervous laugh that I can't stop. I wonder what a shrink would say about that?
Anyway, so Boozer, Jamie, and Grego were scared and screaming the whole time the cop was chasing us, and when Boozer ran the car up onto a lawn, they piled out right away and took off running. I was laughing so hard in the backseat that I couldn't move, and that's how I got busted.
The cop ordered me out of the car and asked me what I thought was so funny. Stealing a car and driving it up on somebody's lawn? And who were my friends and where did they go? And I was in a lot of trouble, missy, make no mistake about it. And blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I couldn't stop laughing, so he hustled me into his car and off we went to the station.
I wound up sitting on a bench outside the interview room, where a detective named Daniels asked me all kinds of questions about who took the car. He kept saying I'd better tell them what they wanted to know or I'd be in worse trouble. I told him to stuff it because there's no way I was telling the cops who I was with. So he called my parents and invited them down to spend a little quality time with me at the Beverly Hills PD.
It took about an hour for Dad to show up—of course, with the ever-present cell phone glued to his ear. Probably calling Marvin. Marvin is his attorney. Check that. Marvin is more than Dad's attorney. He's like Dad's most favorite person ever. Dad looks at Marvin and sees dollar signs. He just loves Marvin, who is quite possibly the most boring human being on the face of the earth.
No sign of Mom. Probably at home with her coffee cup full of "medicine." I bet she was already working the phones in the neighborhood, trying to find out if word had spread about her daughter the criminal, and wondering how she was going to keep this out of the Beverly Hills Gazette.
"Hi, Charles! Always nice to see you," I said. "Mom busy?"
He didn't even stop to ask if I was okay. He skipped right to the yelling part.
"What were you thinking stealing a car!" he said.
"I didn't steal anything. I—" As usual he didn't let me finish.
"Do you have any idea what kind of trouble you're in? Do you realize what you've put us through?" By "us" I wasn't sure if he meant him and Mom or him and Marvin. Any time he spent having to deal with me meant less opportunity to make even more zillions of dollars.
"What do you have to say for yourself?" he said.
"I didn't do anything," I said. "I was just out with some friends."
"You mean that bunch of juvenile delinquents?"
"Ouch, Dad. I mean, really, that hurts."
"You think this is funny?" He was getting angrier.
"Well, this part not so much. The high-speed chase had its moments, though."
"You think you've got it all figured out, don't you?" he said. "This isn't the first little scrape you've been in. Shoplifting, vandalism, and now you've graduated to Grand Theft Auto. That's a felony! You realize you'll have to appear before a juvenile court judge again?"
"Juvenile court! Again? That'll be great," I said. "Maybe you and Mom can both make it this time. We'll pack a lunch and make a day of it!"
"Keep cracking wise, Rachel. You seem to think it's all a great big joke. Well, if you won't cooperate with the police, that's your problem. No Marvin, no other attorneys, no help from us. You're on your own."CHAPTER 2
How I Got Here
THE NEXT COUPLE OF weeks seemed surprisingly normal. Sure, for the first couple of days Charles and Cynthia were really upset with me. There was a lot of yelling and the using of first names. Whenever they are mad at each other, or me, they use their first names a lot. "Charles this" and "Cynthia that" and "Charles, do something." But after that, as usual, they sort of forgot about me again. Charles even cooled off to the degree that he said he'd actually send Marvin to court with me this time instead of one of Marvin's junior associates. But as far as he was concerned, whatever the judge decided was too good for me. I was grounded, of course, so I stayed in my room, surfing the Web and watching TV when I wasn't in school.
The day after I was unjustly incarcerated, I got to school to find Boozer, Jamie, and Grego all waiting for me by my locker. They were kind of hovering and pacing back and forth. It put a lump in my throat that they were so worried about me. That went away pretty fast, though.
"Did you tell?" That was the first thing out of Boozer's mouth. Not "Are you okay?" or "Are you in trouble?" or "Did they work you over with a rubber hose?"
"Of course not," I said. "I didn't tell them anything."
Boozer and Grego let out visible sighs of relief. They had both been in a lot more trouble than me before, and if I ratted them out, they'd really be in for it.
"I don't understand why you didn't run," Grego said. "You wouldn't be in this mess if you'd taken off like the rest of us."
"I don't know. I just froze, I guess. Anyway, I have to go to court in a couple of weeks—" I started, but Boozer interrupted me.
"Yeah, well, your dad's rich, so your lawyer will get you off. Don't worry about it. Come on, guys," Boozer said. They all followed Boozer down the hall and left me standing by my locker alone.
That got me thinking. I'm not the kind of person who does that very often—think about things, I mean. Mostly I just try to get through the day. But for some reason, being at the cop house stayed on my mind. I kept wondering, How did I get to this point? What was I thinking going along with my friends, the ones who took off at the first sign of trouble and left me footing the bill for a stolen car? Truth be told, I really didn't know the answer.
Maybe it all started when Grandpa died, a couple of years ago. It kind of sounds like a cop-out, I know. But I remember being a lot happier when Gramps was still around. I think he was the only person in the world who loved me unconditionally. He was the coolest, always spoiling me and making me feel like I was important to him. I mean, I guess Charles and Cynthia loved me. Maybe. So long as I didn't cause them any grief and spoke only when spoken to. Then Gramps died and left Buchanan Enterprises to Charles, and everything changed. Charles was obsessed with removing all evidence that Gramps had ever built the company in the first place. He wanted it to be bigger and better and to make more money than Grandpa ever did, and Grandpa had already made hundreds of millions. So he spent all of his time at work, and, of course, Cynthia hated that so she started taking it out on me. Because obviously it had to be my fault.
Up until then, I'd been pretty much a normal kid. I did okay in school and made decent grades. Then Cynthia started spending all of her time at the gym and with the ladies from her club, and when she was around the house, which wasn't often, the coffee cup of "medicine" was never very far out of reach. Charles was always at the office or away on business, so that left me pretty much alone.
So for the last two years, from age thirteen on, I pretty much raised myself. And I started not caring what Charles and Cynthia thought about where I was and what I did. I started to cut class—not a lot, but enough. (They have truant officers even in Beverly Hills, after all.) And I stopped caring very much about school when I was there. For all I know, maybe it wasn't Gramps dying at all—maybe it was hormones, or maybe it was just boredom. Soon I started hanging out with Boozer and his gang.
Boozer was a couple of years older than me, and I have to admit I was kind of flattered that he noticed me. I mean, me with a bad boy! It's no secret how he got the nickname Boozer, and he's what Charles would call part of the "bad element." Just what I was looking for.
We went out a few times, and I got to be friends with Jamie and Grego. At least, I thought we were friends, until they ditched me after the car chase. I mean, I know they've all been in a lot worse trouble than me, so I can understand that they couldn't let themselves get caught. But they still left me there.
Boozer kept his distance for the two weeks before my court date. After that day at school he really didn't talk to me at all, and I guess I couldn't complain, because it wasn't like we were a serious couple or anything. I thought I had made it clear that I wouldn't turn him in and I guess he was grateful, but he sure had a funny way of showing it. Jamie and Grego stayed away too, like I had the stink of trouble on me and they weren't going to get close enough for it to rub off on them.
So I had a lot of time to think about what I was going to do when I got to court. I went on the Internet to look up stuff about juvenile delinquents and joyriding. One of the things I read was an L.A. Times article about the Juvenile Detention Center in Los Angeles. The reporter interviewed a fifteen-year-old girl who had been sent there for drug possession. It was not a pretty picture: gangs, fights, knives, and bad stuff going down. Great. Just the place for a Beverly Hills Princess.
According to the Juvenile Code on the California Legal Aid website, joyriding was a Class D felony. But Marvin said that I was going to be charged with Grand Theft Auto, and that was a lot more serious. That meant jail time. I had to think of a way out of this. I watched a lot of reruns of The Practice on Court TV to look for tips or loopholes in the law.
Two weeks to the day after we "borrowed" the car, I was off to the Juvenile Court Building for my hearing. Charles had to go to San Diego for a meeting on some big condo deal, and Cynthia "couldn't handle the stress." So it was just old Marv and me. Great. Marvin was older than my dad. He was bald and chubby with a really awful comb-over that he thought made him look younger but only made him look balder.
The judge was a woman about my mom's age, which is late thirties. Her nameplate said "Judge Kerrigan." She had dark hair, done up in a bun so she looked really severe, and she wore these huge geeky glasses that she perched on the end of her nose. She was looking at a file folder that I guessed must have been my life story. Snore.
Marvin did a lot of talking. And I think that this is where things started to go wrong. See, Marvin has this really monotone voice that just drones on and on. He comes to dinner at our house a lot, and whenever he starts talking in that voice, it's all I can do to keep from slamming my eyelids shut and falling into a coma. And now the same thing was happening here.
I felt pretty sure that Marvin would keep me out of jail. Despite all the stuff on the Internet about the law, Marvin is a big-time lawyer and I felt pretty safe. I mean, people like me don't go to jail. And since he was so boring and his voice made me sleepy, I didn't really think I had to pay much attention to what was going on. So instead I watched the judge and silently made fun of her hairstyle. Sure, judge, that style is all the rage ... if it was 1957! Hah. That was a good one. "Our next model is Judge Kerrigan, and famed stylist Bobby Brown has given her a look she calls 'Jail Matron.'" That was pretty funny too. I was actually starting to enjoy myself a little.
But I didn't count on Judge "Soon to be the bane of my existence" Kerrigan. I guess I missed her asking me a question, because the next thing I know she's speaking to me in a really loud voice.
"Are we boring you, Ms. Buchanan?" She peered down from the bench.
"No," I said, snapping back from my daydream.
"No, Your Honor. That is how you address the bench."
"No, Your Honor." Then I muttered "whatever" under my breath.
"You think you're being clever?" she said. Oops. I didn't think she'd hear me. Now she was really boring into me with those eyes. It was starting to make me nervous, and I had a little tingling feeling in my stomach that maybe this wasn't going to work out the way I hoped. Stuff from that article about the Detention Center started rolling through my brain. Like about the food being really bad there.
"Let's see," the judge said. "Grand Theft Auto, Evading a Police Officer, Resisting Arrest, Malicious Destruction of Property, and Failure to Cooperate with a Police Investigation. That's quite a list. Do you have anything to say for yourself?"
Marvin started to talk, but the judge shushed him without taking her eyes off me.
"Well, for one thing, I wasn't really resisting arrest," I pointed out. "I was just laughing."
The judge chose to ignore that.
"I see from your file that you've been a regular high-achiever lately. You've already been given probation for shoplifting and suspended from school for cheating on an exam—"
"They couldn't prove that," I interrupted her.
"I am talking now. You listen. Got that?"
"Yes," I said. I was starting to feel worse. The article had also said that in the last six months, five different guards had been injured during fights among the inmates. Fights? I don't fight with anyone. Except Charles and Cynthia.
She looked at me again. "Yes?" she said.
"Yes, Your Honor."
"Aha. So you can learn. Perhaps you're not as stupid as you've been acting lately."
I thought it best not to thank her for the compliment. Was that a compliment?
Marvin took this opportunity to open his pie hole.
"Your Honor—" he started to say.
"Not interested, Counselor."
Marvin got a really weird look on his face, like he'd been slapped, and then sat back down and started fussing with some papers on the table in front of us.
The judge closed the file and looked at me.
"Where are your parents?" she asked.
"Busy, I guess," I said. "As usual." She stared at me for ages before speaking again.
"I do not like what I'm seeing here. I've seen a thousand kids like you, Ms. Buchanan. You're unhappy and you don't know why. Maybe it's because you come from a rich family and you feel guilty about it. Maybe your parents ignore you. All I know for sure is you're on a fast track to Juvenile Detention. In fact, I don't think you're giving me a whole lot of choice here."
"Your Honor, my client—"
"Still not interested in your opinion, Counselor. I believe I have an obligation to the people to remove a problem from the community."
Now I was really feeling sick to my stomach. Remove. She'd said "remove." One of the kids at school knew someone who'd gone to Juvie. He said that you only got one phone call a week and if you broke any rules you'd get no visitors. I'd never survive that! I'm a people person! I need my visitors!
No one was saying anything, so Marvin started in again.
"Your Honor, Rachel's parents are sorry they couldn't be here today, but circumstances prevented it. They would like me to assure the court that they believe Rachel is basically a good kid. You know how teenagers can be, a little high-strung, and maybe things have gotten a little out of hand. But—"
Judge Interrupter struck again.
"Counselor, I've heard every excuse you can imagine. Rachel has been on a downward spiral toward serious trouble for months, and obviously her parents haven't done anything about it." I would have enjoyed this if the judge hadn't been talking about me. I wished Charles and Cynthia had been there to hear it.
The judge turned back to me.
"I think a stint in Juvenile Detention might be the wake-up call you need."
She raised her gavel. "Thirty days—"
Marvin started to stand up and say something, but I beat him to it. I hadn't spent all that time in my room watching Law & Order reruns for nothing.
Excerpted from Live and Let Shop by Michael P. Spradlin. Copyright © 2005 Michael P. Spradlin. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsChapter One: The End of My Life as I Know It,
Chapter Two: How I Got Here,
Chapter Three: Welcome to Blackthorn Academy,
Chapter Four: Step Off, Mister,
Chapter Five: Ain't No Party Like a Detroit Party,
Chapter Six: The First Train Out of Here,
Chapter Seven: Falling With Style,
Chapter Eight: I'm Sure You're a Nice Person, but This Just Isn't Going to Work,
Chapter Nine: This Must Be a Month in Dog Years,
Chapter Ten: Thinks He's So Smart,
Chapter Eleven: Now You See Him,
Chapter Twelve: Rachel, You've Got a Lot of Explaining to Do,
Chapter Thirteen: I Prove My Point,
Chapter Fourteen: Does This Place Have Cable?,
Chapter Fifteen: Finally They Believe Me ... Sort Of,
Chapter Sixteen: We Take Action,
Chapter Seventeen: All This but No Jacuzzi?,
Chapter Eighteen: The Rest of the Plan,
Chapter Nineteen: And That's No Bull,
Chapter Twenty: Don't Have a Cow,
Chapter Twenty-one: The Beginning of My Life as I Know It,
Preview: To Hawaii, with Love,
About the Author,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Meet Rachel who is 15. She's had trouble with her mouthy attitude, problems with school, and her parents who don't seem to have time for her. Now she's in major trouble with the law. She goes before the judge and she gives Rachel a choice: Go to Juvie or to a private school for a year. It's a no brainer, Rachel choses the school and she's not sure she made the right choice. She now goes to Blackthorn Academy. Rachel soon finds out that everything isn't what it seems to be. First off, she's not in normal classes, she's taking martial arts, CSI classes and Code Breaking classes. She finds out that the top floor is locked and is just open for 10 special students, and Rachel isn't one of them. She's not going to let that stop her to find out what's up there. The headmaster at Blackthorn Academy is no ordinary headmaster. Mr. Kim has secrets to who he is and who he was growing up. One day, he vanishes and nobody seems to care or notice, nobody but Rachel. Rachel takes the task to to find out what happened to him and to discover a secret of a book, a book people will kill Rachel to get. This book was such a fun read, I loved it. This book has a lot of great characters that will get the reader hooked and not let go into the last page. This is a great series and I can't wait to get the second book. If you start it, I can promise you won't be sorry. I know I wasn't.
Well i must say this was a refreshing book. I enjoyed it very much and recommend it to all who like sarcastic humor. It's hilarious!
This book was so good and for me beimg a bookworm made it even better!!! Too bad it didn't continue on it would have made love it even more. Anyway can't wait till I read the next book!
It was great i liked it!!
Spy Goddess: Live and Let Shop was so good! I loved how weird and funny Rachel was. Her little investigation to uncover the school's secrets was one of those things that you would want to do in real life, but you know you'd never find anything nearly as interesting as what Rachel uncovered. I liked how it had a bit of supernatural stuff in it, you don't see that in many spy books. I can't wait to read the next book in the series and I'm super excited about the third book since it's a graphic novel.
loved. loved the characters. i really hope she gets a boyfriend!
It's one of the best books I've read!
I couldn't stop reading this book! It keep me reading right until the end and now I can't wait for the next one! Rachel Buchanan is a funny and interesting character. When book the start out she's kind of spoiled and bratty. She gets sent away to a boarking school called Blackthorn Academy somewhere in Pennsylvania. But it's petty obvioius that it's not a normal school. The headmaster Mr. Kim gives Rachel a lot of weird classes, like Micro-electronics, and Code Theory and Crimanology. She also has to learn Tae Kwan Do. Soon she figures out that there are lots of weird things about Blackthorn. One day the FBI shows up and she sees the agents talking to Mr. Kim. Shortly after that, he dissappears and only Rachel is the one with enough smarts to figure out something is going on and get her new friends to go looking for him. By the end of the book, Rachel isn't so spoiled and bratty. She shows that she's pretty smart and tough. She figures things out and isn't a quitter. It was really fun to read, fast-paced with a really interesting mystery. I'll definitely be readig the next one!