Asbury High and the Kidnapper's Drive
Asbury High and the Kidnapper’s Drive: Asbury High Series
by Kelly Brady Channick
About Asbury High and the Kidnapper’s Drive
Asbury High and the Kidnapper’s Drive: Asbury High Series
Young Adult Cozy Mystery
4th in Series
Publisher: Purple Milk Publishing (February 6, 2021)
Paperback: 383 pages
Digital ASIN: B08SKQBYRY
On a quiet summer night, in the peaceful seaside town of Asbury, a local girl is kidnapped from her home.
That very same day, a car thief is chased through an empty car lot, narrowly escaping from their teenage pursuer.
Can the two be connected?
Once again, it’s up to Asbury’s favorite, fearless foursome to find out.
Carly, Maddie, Pilot and Cornelious enter the summer before their junior year ready for normalcy. After a few weeks of calm, it seems that Carly may finally have the drama-free summer of her dreams—other than her boyfriend returning from his two-week vacation hotter than ever, drawing interest from her peers.
Just as Asbury is lulled into a sense of serenity, tragedy strikes when a local six-year-old is kidnapped from her home…with no sign of a break-in, no ransom, and no reason. While the town is desperate to find the missing girl, car parts from Maddie’s father’s shop suddenly go missing, and the gang begins to wonder if the two are connected. With little faith in law enforcement, and prodding from Maddie’s younger siblings, the gang finds themselves at the center of the investigation.
Unfortunately, solving both cases isn’t so easy, as the gang must work around the continually growing criminal enterprise of the Pitbulls, the constant construction occurring around town from Governor Gibbz’s Grant, as well as their changing feelings towards each other. When Maddie and Cornelious begin to sense their friendship might be more than what they realize, jealousies arise as the teens garner attention from others.
With all these distractions, can the foursome save the missing girl and figure out who is stealing from Petrozza Auto?
Asbury High and the Kidnapper’s Drive is the fourth book in a thrilling young adult cozy mystery series, that fans of Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys and Scooby Doo will love.
“I can’t believe we’re being entrusted to this monumental, or should I say instrumental task! I mean, you can’t have a Fourth of July celebration without them!” Maddie checked her watch, as Carly finished getting ready for the night.
Stepping out of Maddie’s bathroom, Carly was wearing a chic coverup, covered with sequins that looked like fireworks were going off whenever she moved from side to side. Underneath she had on her most patriotic red, white and blue bikini and was glad her favorite red headband could be employed to tie back her hair, as it matched her outfit perfectly. Topping everything off, she made sure to wear her beautiful new Flamenco earrings.
“Are you sure you don’t want any eyeliner? I mean your eyelashes are thick enough to go without mascara—though imagine what they would look like with some on!” Carly’s eyes sparkled mischievously.
“Oh no! You are NOT coming near me with any make-up. I’m planning on jumping in the ocean while the fireworks go off this year—not listening to Jeremiah Gibbz grandstand,” Maddie held up both hands to ward off her enthusiastic friend.
Carly rolled her eyes in annoyance, “That’s why they make waterproof make-up Mads.”
“Yeah, well… I’m good… plus, it’s already six ten, and we have to go pick up the fireworks from the Auto Shop.”
“I’d say it’s a weird place to store them… but I also know City Halls’ paranoia with having them hijacked ever since JB found where they were stored a few summers back.”
Maddie laughed, “That’s why Cornelious said that his dad decided that the fireworks should be stored in a different place each summer, with only a select few knowing their location. I feel like we’re in the Secret Service or something.”
Carly chuckled, and grabbed her bag, saying she was ready to go, and that Mia was waiting outside of PETROZZA AUTO. Slinging on her own bookbag, Maddie led the way down her unusually quiet house (for everyone was at the boardwalk or beach already), and out the door. The two talked about the summer when JB had ransomed the fireworks back to the old Mayor, and how stupid Tennett and Swanson looked after JB led them on a wild goose chase, ensuring he wouldn’t get caught. Although he bragged about the feat later and everyone knew it was him, the Police’s hands were tied, as they couldn’t prove it was JB—and he was only a seventh grader at the time!
“Finally! I’ve been here for ages,” Mia Cosentino complained, lowering her oversized sunglasses and adjusting her derby hat. Every year Mia and her friends picked a theme for which they would all dress up and celebrate the Fourth in. This year they had chosen the Kentucky Derby, and even had some mint juleps hidden under the boardwalk for later.
“We did say six fifteen,” Carly pointed out.
“And it’s six seventeen.”
Maddie laughed, “Mia, we all know you’ll break the land speed record to get to the boardwalk.”
Looking pleased at what she took more as a compliment than a hazard, she smiled and reversed her car into the lot, after Maddie unlocked the Shop’s garage door. Quickly, the three girls loaded up Mia’s baby blue convertible with the boxes of fireworks.
“Thanks girls… are you sure you don’t want me to come back and grab you guys? I could be back in five minutes.”
Maddie looked at Carly with an expression that reminded Carly of Macaulay Culkin in ‘Home Alone’. Turning to her sister she shook her head, “We’re good, we need some girl time to talk.”
“Gotcha,” Mia winked at the girls, and careened away from the Auto Shop, hurriedly bringing the fireworks to the anxiously awaiting celebrators.
“I’m glad we didn’t get in that car,” Maddie said, as Mia was gone in the blink of an eye.
“Tell me about it…you know, once I start driving the people of Asbury aren’t going to believe we’re related,” Carly stated, picturing how calm and carefully she planned to drive.
Maddie laughed, and started walking backwards to lock up before she left, “I don’t know Car, I think speed may be in your blood. Wait that sounds—" Maddie stopped walking backwards, and closely examined her friend’s suddenly nervous expression. “Car?... What’s up?”
Biting her lower lip, Carly raised her right hand to her hip level slowly, and extended her pointer finger over Maddie’s right shoulder, to the left of the Auto Shop garage entrance. Breathing out slowly, she mouthed the words, “Someone’s behind you.”
Recognizing that Carly wasn’t one to joke, and seeing how scared she had become, Maddie quickly reviewed her options. She could turn around and would therefore have to chase the perp, or risk scaring him or her away…or she could try to tell Carly to dial 9-11. But in that case, the perp would know something was up, as the two teenage girls would just be standing there waiting for the cops to show. Plus, knowing the geniuses at the Asbury PD, they’d probably assume it was a prank. Maddie correctly guessed they probably had loads of prank calls on busy days like today, with probably half coming from the Pitbulls.
Carly tapped her foot eagerly, and mouthed again, “He’s stealing.”
Angered that someone would steal from her family’s business, again, she made up her mind. Turning around slowly, she watched as someone clad head to toe in a thick black sweat suit, with a ski mask and bulky gloves, tucked a Thermoquad carburetor (weighing a little over six pounds) under his right arm, and was currently rummaging through a pile of chrome rims.
Taking a few cautious steps towards the trespassing thief, Maddie held her breath and moved the keys around in her hand until the largest key was sticking out. After all the action Maddie had faced the past two years, she knew the importance of using whatever you had available to protect yourself.
When she was less than ten feet away, Right Said Fred burst out singing “I’m Too Sexy” for all to hear. Carly quickly scrambled in her bag for her phone to silence Pilot’s call, but it was too late. The thief’s head jerked up and saw the two teenagers.
“Stop! There’s nowhere you can go… this lot is the corner boundary of Asbury and surrounded by trees on both sides. And there’s highway to the north of those trees, so you’d be cut off either way.” While Carly was wondering why the heck Maddie was being so talkative to a criminal, Maddie was trying to accomplish at least one of three things:
One, she was hoping to stall for time and inch closer. She realized the thief, although in thick clothing, was close to her height at five foot eight inches and she bet she could make a tackle and restrain him if needed.
Two, she figured she might hear the thief’s voice and determine if it was a male (as she was already mentally calling the thief ‘he’ anyway, she wanted to know for sure), or a female. Which would then lead to the final thing.
Three, if the thief did answer, it’d be interesting to hear the response. Yes, she might recognize the voice, although that was unlikely. Even an inexperienced crook would know to disguise their voice. But she was hoping that, by describing Asbury’s boundaries in detail, the thief would correct her by saying the Western boundary of Asbury wasn’t forest, but a bog-like bay area known locally as Beyel’s Bay, where a single bridge ran between the Whitacre Grocery store and the MaCrosin household to the neighboring township of Dublin. Maddie figured if the robber knew to point this out, and specifically use the name Beyel’s Bay, he was a local.
In response, the thief straightened up, loosening his hold on the chrome rim in his left hand. Maddie exhaled, and mirrored the thief by straightening up herself. As if waiting for that precise moment, the thief tightened his grasp on the rim and chucked it right at Maddie’s head. Carly screamed, as Maddie threw herself to the ground, landing roughly on her right side.
Feeling hot warmth trickle down the left side of her head, Maddie drew her hand up to check herself and came away with a red-stained palm. Realizing the burglar had clipped the side of her head as she dove, and feeling lucky that a little scrap was all she had come away with, she quickly scrambled to her feet and sprinted after the shrinking figure as it dashed in between lines of parked cars in the lot.
“Maddie! You’re bleeding!” Carly yelled, running after her injured friend.
“It’s just a head wound… they bleed a lot!” Maddie called back, and angrily pursued the thief through her family’s car lot. Even though the thief appeared to be an Eskimo-Ninja hybrid, his lithe actions seemed to be more Ninja than Eskimo. Chasing the thief, Maddie was amazed at the speed and sure-footedness he possessed. Knowing a fifteen-foot chain link barrier was coming up, Maddie felt confident the robber had met a dead end. Unbelievably, the robber wasted no time nimbly climbing up and over the Auto Shop’s high fence. Dubious over what she was witnessing, she stopped at the fence and watched the thief turn into the Grove Apartments—where JB’s family lived, interestingly enough—and disappear from view.
Maddie debated climbing the fence after the thief, but knew she was already at a disadvantage, since the quick-footed thief could’ve been well past her own house by now. Frustrated, Maddie kicked a dilapidated car tire and made her way back to Carly, who was hunched over, breathless and sweaty.
“Madeline Isabella Lydia Natalie Cecilia Petrozza,” Carly angrily spat out despite her breathlessness, “why would you run after someone who just cut your head open?!”
Ignoring her friend, Maddie stomped past Carly, and huffed, “How was he that fast?! And in all those clothes?! And the way he climbed that fence!”
Carly smacked her forehead and trudged after her friend, “Mads! I mean it, that was dangerous!”
Maddie stopped and faced her friend, “We need to tell the guys!”
Carly put her hand on her friend’s shoulder, “Mads. We will… but first, let me look at your head.”
Seeing her friend’s worry, Maddie relented. Carly pulled out her beach towel and wiped away the blood, as it seeped through the wound on Maddie’s head.
“Well, you’re right. It’s not a big cut, and will probably close on its own… And I know head wounds bleed a lot, I’m not a moron! But you should still check to make sure you don’t have a gaping wound before running off after a dangerous criminal!” Carly proclaimed.
Holding the towel to her head, Maddie’s mind was still stuck on the thief and the quick chase that had just occurred. Sighing, she knew there was nothing else they could do now, and the duo decided to lock up and catch the last trolley that was heading to the boardwalk.
Maddie turned to lock up the garage, when Carly roughly grabbed her arm. “Maddie, look!”
Following her friend’s directions, she saw a shiny metal pin that was left in the same area that the thief was standing. Bending over, Maddie dusted it off and was surprised to read the letters FI.
“Is that a pin?”
“Looks like it… c’mon, let’s go tell the guys.”
Across town, Pilot, Jazz, Cornelious, Jason, and Dane were all lounging on the beach, in front of Origin’s Surf Shop. For the past half hour, Jason had done his best to hit on any girl that walked by. He actually succeeded in obtaining four numbers too, much to his companions’ disbelief.
“I just don’t understand why random girls would give you their number,” Dane chuckled, looking over his cousin’s athletic-looking friend.
“And don’t say it’s the mohawk,” Jazz warned, laying on his back and strumming lightly on his guitar strings.
Everyone laughed, but Jason ran his hair through his beloved hair-doo and shrugged, “Mock all you want, but I’ve hooked up with more girls than all of you combined.”
Leaning on his two elbows, facing the boardwalk, Cornelious laughed, “That’s definitely true… but not really fair, I mean half of us here have girlfriends.”
Pilot and Jazz smiled at each other and exchanged a pound. Dane jealously thought of Maddie, and wished he could join in on that group. Maybe soon he would, he reasoned, smirking.
Misreading his smirk, Pilot shook his head. “You guys don’t know what you’re missing out on. For one, having a girlfriend you actually really like, it’s well…”
“Amazing,” Jazz finished confidently.
Pilot reddened but continued, “Exactly. I love being able to spend as much time as I want with Carly. And she, uh, balances me out and honestly makes me better.”
“Wow, you should write poetry dude,” Jason rolled his eyes.
Pilot glared at Jason, “And, you get to hook up whenever you want…unlike you guys who have to go out looking for a girl.”
Jazz laughed, “Right on! I don’t miss crushing on random girls and knowing all the work I’d have to put in before even getting so much as a kiss.”
Jason seemed to consider this revelation for a full minute. “Yeah, but the downside is that you only get to fool around with one girl. That just feels boring to me.”
Pilot sighed and seemed sad for Jason, “Well, you just haven’t met your person yet.”
As the guys continued to discuss girls and the merits of having a girlfriend versus being a player, Cornelious thought about what Pilot had said. He never really thought of having a person out there somewhere. He always figured he was happy with his three people: Carly, Maddie and Pilot. But, he realized, if two of those three people were each other’s person, did that mean the only person left was his person? Feeling his head start to swim, he shook himself out of the hole he was spiraling into, and realized two of the people on his mind were jogging over to him. And one had blood dripping down her left side.
“What the—?” Jason asked, as Cornelious bolted up and closed the distance between the two girls before the rest of his friends realized they had arrived.
Instantly, Cornelious’ hands went to Maddie’s head and he looked it over, before she could even protest. Satisfied it was, indeed, just a long scratch, he felt a sudden need to hug Maddie tight but crossed his arms tightly instead.
“What happened?!” Cornelious demanded.
“Well—” Carly began, but by then the rest of the guys had jogged over, and she didn’t want to have to repeat the story. Or, more accurately, she didn’t want to have to start over so soon into starting the tale. Pilot’s face paled as he saw Maddie’s current state and quickly made sure Carly was unharmed. Assuring him that she hadn’t been touched, the guys turned towards Maddie, asking if she was really okay. Though she reassured everyone, and even let them each take a peep at her scalp, Maddie was still surprised to hear Jason offer to call for help. Maybe he was getting nicer, she thought.
Once everyone ensured the girls were fine, Carly launched into the tale, starting at getting ready in Maddie’s room. Not really caring to hear the story, for he figured Maddie would just tell him later, Dane pulled Maddie aside, intending to both show sympathy and work in a way to ask her out.
Cornelious, watching his cousin grab Maddie by her hand, and lead her a few steps away from the group, balled up his fists and couldn’t take his eyes off of their linked hands. However, before he could walk over and break them up, he heard Maddie tell Dane she was “okay, really,” and then she made eye contact with Cornelious.
Placing her hand on Dane’s shoulder Maddie thanked him, but told him not to worry. She then walked past him, and grabbed Cornelious’ hand to lead him away from the group. Luckily everyone (except for Dane) was enthralled by Carly’s story, for she knew how to embellish just enough to keep her audience interested.
“Carly isn’t going to tell everyone the whole story… it’s for our ears only, ya know?”
Cornelious nodded, but didn’t interrupt. He knew Maddie would explain everything, and he didn’t want her to release her grip on his hand just yet. Stealing a glance at his cousin, he saw how just holding Maddie’s hand seemed to enrage Dane, and he smiled at his cousin’s ire.
Maddie launched into a quick but detailed version of what happened. She skipped over the unnecessary details, such as what everyone was wearing and what the girls were doing before arriving at the Auto Shop. Therefore, she finished before Carly and knew she had some time to spare.
“He dropped this pin,” Maddie looked around to make sure no one was watching, and she slowly opened the hand that was intertwined with Cornelious’. Looking down, Cornelious saw a shiny, metal pin that seemed to be an F and an I.
“FI?” He questioned.
“Shhh… we think this could be important, and aren’t telling anyone else. Besides, this looks broken, like it could’ve been part of a longer name, like Sofi or something.”
Cornelious considered everything his best friend had revealed. Before he could speak any further, Maddie hurriedly continued, “This could be the thief who’s been stealing our stuff! But how’d he get in? We have security cameras that would’ve caught him if he’d been climbing in every time… I guess we’ll have to get Pilot to check if they’ve been tampered with… But, I know the gates were locked, cuz I unlocked them myself when we got there.”
“So, what…” Cornelious asked, reading Maddie’s mind. “You’re thinking this thief had a key?”
“My dad did lose his a few years back. I went with him to make a new one at Henry’s Hardware last summer, remember?”
Cornelious nodded, but doubted that this thief was the same one who took Mr. Petrozza’s key. “If that’s the case, why did he wait so long to start robbing you guys?”
Maddie closed her eyes, and pushed the towel tighter on her head. Mistaking this for a sign of pain, Cornelious pulled Maddie down to a sitting position next to him, and swatted her hand down, so he could apply more pressure to her wound himself. Smiling at the gesture, she stared out at the ocean and was quiet for a few moments. Cornelious could hear Carly explaining how they loaded up Mia’s car with the fireworks, and was amazed she had drawn the story out this long. Although, knowing how clever his friend was, he figured she was keeping a close eye on the two of them, and was waiting for them to finish their private conversation before wrapping up her story. He chuckled. It sure did pay to have a friend with a flair for the dramatic.
Coming out of a deep thought, Maddie leaned on Cornelious and took a deep breath, “I don’t know, I think… I think that maybe there’s more to this thief than robbing car parts.”
About Kelly Brady Channick
For as long as she could remember, Kelly Brady Channick loved making up stories and leaving her listeners/readers on the edge of their seats.
Perhaps that’s why she always managed to talk herself out of trouble…
After graduating from NJ’s own Ocean City High School, Kelly accepted a basketball scholarship to Holy Family University, in Philadelphia. As a lifelong athlete, Kelly understands the importance of teamwork and overcoming adversity, something she hopes translates into her books.
Before writing page-turners, she taught first, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grade — like a dessert menu, she simply had to test them all out. But her favorite job is the one she’s now doing full time: writing. Kelly loves to craft whodunit mysteries, leading readers through various twists and turns filled with red-herrings, hidden clues, and more peculiar characters than a reality show.
Kelly lives in South Jersey with her handsome husband, energetic baby boy, two cookie-stealing dogs, and an awfully smart cat.
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