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by Lindy S. Hudis
Description: An innocent-sounding family reunion at an exclusive California beach resort turns into a weekend of murder, deceit, exposed secrets and unexpected intimate encounters. John Peterson has it all: He's a respected, successful Beverly Hills entertainment lawyer with a loving wife and grown son, the strikingly handsome young film director Joe Peterson. John also has a secret and he decides to gather his disparate family members at the elegant Hotel Del Moor in picturesque Linda Bella, California for some luxurious fun, togetherness and re-connecting before revealing his secret. Unbeknownst to the family, a brutal serial killer is lurking in the midst of all the wondrous festivities.
eBook Publisher: Lachesis Publishing/LBF Books, 2005
eBookwise Release Date: February 2008
3 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [425 KB]
Reading time: 271-379 min.
"Weekends by Lindy S. Hudis is a novel of what happens when a sprawling, dysfunctional family gathers together for a reunion in an opulent hotel resort in Linda Bella, a sleepy California coastal town. Instead a traditional family reunion, what follows are three days of unbridled sex, suspense and murder with family secrets exposed, young couples finding love, a brutal serial killer intent on destroying as many as he can. With Weekends, Lindy Hudis emerges as a gifted storyteller of vivid imagination whose skills with character development and plot twists will leave her readers looking eagerly toward her next effort. Highly recommended reading for fans of the mystery/suspense genre!"--Midwest Book Review, 5 Stars from CataRomance
"Lindy Hudis puts her 'Hollywood know how' to good use in her debut novel, Weekends, that reads like an award winning movie thriller! I found myself reading late into the night, not wanting to miss a single exciting page."--Donna Zapf, CataRomance Reviews
"Weekends by Lindy S. Hudis has an amazing cast of characters, which this author adroitly pulls together with a fascinating plot. I loved this story and highly recommend it to all readers who enjoy a good mystery and an even better love story!"--Nadine St. Denis, Romance Junkies
The plane touched down at the Santa Barbara airport around ten a.m. During the short flight from LAX, John Peterson contemplated the weekend ahead. He had not seen his younger siblings in ten years, and was looking forward to seeing them and their families. He was also very concerned, because he had bad news to break to all of them. Very bad news, and everybody's life would be affected. He was nervous as to what the family's reaction would be. John was a fifty-year-old, extremely successful entertainment lawyer in Beverly Hills. His clients included rich and powerful movie stars, producers, and studio heads--they were the reason for his phenomenal success. He was the kind of man who silenced rooms when he entered them, and would tell another man's children to be quiet.
Sitting next to John was Joyce Peterson, his wife, age forty-seven. She was born and raised in Los Angeles, and being the daughter of a prominent L.A. heart surgeon, was used to the good life. Her one and only dream was to marry a rich doctor or lawyer, have children, and be a good wife.
Then there was Joe. Joe was the twenty-three year old son of John and Joyce. To say that Joe was good-looking would be the understatement of the year. Joe was beautiful. He looked like a work of art, a Greek god. He had long, blond hair that hung just below his shoulders, and fantastic azure eyes, the color of the California sky itself. His body, although on the thin side, was cut and lean, with pronounced chest, biceps, and a washboard stomach. The facial structure, with its defined jaw and cheekbones, was captivating in its exquisite, masculine beauty. He could easily be a beautiful woman on testosterone.
He, like his mother, was born and raised into wealth in L.A., but his goal was not to become a doctor or a lawyer. He had just graduated from New York University Film School. Although his looks were better suited for being in front of the camera, his dream was to become a movie director. Having inherited his father's magisterial personality, he simply answered, "Because I don't like being told what to do." whenever he was asked why he was not an actor. Through his father's many industry connections, Joe was not at a loss for employment. He chose, however, to start at the bottom, doing Production Assistant work to get his foot in the door. His father told him it builds character, and advised him to "work for it" rather than have it handed to him. Because he was also very charming, he was meeting and networking with all the right people. The only direction Joe was going was up.
As the plane landed, the family unbuckled their seatbelts, even though the steward had instructed the passengers not to. When the plane came to a complete stop, the family was the first ones off. Joe passed by three flight attendants who gazed at him, with a look on their faces that Joe saw all the time. He smiled and bid them good-bye.
The three hiked through the jet-way into the busy airport, carrying their weekend luggage with them. They took the escalator to the lower level where the car rental stations were. While John was making arrangements for the family to rent at nice, slow sedan, Joe stepped outside. It was a hot Spring morning; a light, cool breeze offered relief from the sweltering heat.
The famous California sunshine shone brightly, reflecting off Joe's equally golden hair. He squinted his sapphire eyes to look at it, and decided that he was determined to enjoy the insipid family reunion that his father was forcing him to attend. He did not have much in common with his simpleton cousins. Some of them he had not seen in ten years, although his father's brother, Uncle Stephen, kept in touch with them by phone. It was, of course, just a weekend.
It was now Friday morning, they would be back home by Monday, and not much happens over weekends anyway. He decided that he would just smile and say hello to the many relatives that will be in attendance. At least, he had his own room, hopefully with cable television and an ocean view. Maybe getting away for the weekend on a mini-vacation would do him good, and he could relax a little. An older lady and a pretty, teenage girl walked by, both turning and smiling at him. He smiled back.
At only twenty-three, he was very aware of the amazing power he had over women, and as he got older, it would only get more intense. Females started throwing themselves at him when he was fifteen, and the feeling was more than mutual. He loved women, and would never use his power for cruel or destructive purposes, like many attractive, rich men do. That was not his style. Quite a few of his Beverly Hills buddies teased him for that. "Take the goods and run", the guys said, and kidded him for being so sensitive.
Joe was not like the other guys, being a romantic, he honestly believed that there was the love of his life out there somewhere. He was determined to find her, but he wanted to win his Oscar first. The sliding glass doors of the airport flew open and John and Joyce hurried out. Joyce was carrying the keys to the Lincoln Continental that would take them to their final destination, the elegant Hotel Del Moor, overlooking the mighty Pacific Ocean. The three climbed inside the automobile, secured their luggage, and took off, with John driving, Joyce up front, and Joe in the back.
The family cruised north along the Pacific Coast Highway, with it's incredible, palm-tree lined vision of the long, sandy beach that stretched all along the length of the Golden State. While Joyce and John were heatedly discussing who would be there, what to do, and so on, Joe gazed out the window, lost in thought. The enormous ocean and the endless sky met over the horizon, both equally wondrous and awe inspiring. Joe rested his head against the plush back of the seat and just stared at the blueness of the sea, and the swaying palm trees.
He thought about his life and how lucky he was. Being the adored only child of a wealthy L.A. lawyer and a loving mother, not to mention his genetic good fortune, he was thankful the world was at his feet.
He thought about the day ahead, meeting people less fortunate than he. Relatives from the mid-west--middle-class people from small towns, people utterly foreign to him. Needless to say, the weekend would be an adventure. As the car sped along, Joe started to drift off, eyelids getting heavy and, with the gentle motion of the back seat's softness, he slowly fell asleep.
His father slamming the car door awoke Joe with a start. He rubbed his eyes and looked out the window. It was around noon. The drive had taken much longer than John expected, he was quite agitated. Joe stretched his gorgeous body, grabbed his duffle bag, and stepped out of the car. The intense heat did nothing to cheer his father up, that with the usual tribulations of hotel check-in. The mild breeze slightly shook the towering palm trees, and Joe caught a strong whiff of the salty ocean air.
The hotel itself was splendid, in all of its stately allure. It was a giant, pink structure, with a grand waterfall in the center of its circular driveway. It was surrounded with pink rose bushes and 'Birds of Paradise' flowers. Behind the main building was a row of small bungalows, slightly resembling little Polynesian huts, which were mostly occupied by honeymooning guests. Adjacent to the huts was a small bar, with a Polynesian motif as well, and a sparkling, kidney-shaped pool and Jacuzzi--beyond that was the Pacific Ocean itself with the hotel's private beach. Joe took one look at the wonderful place and decided that this was not going to be such a bad weekend after all.
After glancing around the grounds, Joe followed his parents inside. Once his eyes adjusted to being indoors, he looked around at the impressive, though not stuffy, interior. It was not Beverly Hills, what he was used to, and the Hotel Del Moor could never give the Regent Beverly Wilshire a run for its money, but for a hotel on the beach of a small, coastal town, forty-five minutes north of Santa Barbara, it was very pleasing.
The cheery lobby was bright, due to most of the walls being all glass, and the inside as well as the outside was pink and delicate. His mother, a snob of sorts, gave the quaint place her seal of approval, much to the relief of Joe and John, for they would have never heard the end of it if she didn't. While John was busy with checking in and Joyce ran through the lobby in a frenzy searching for the ladies' room, Joe found himself staring into the ocean again. Maybe when he got rich, on his own of course, he would purchase a house in Malibu, because he just now realized how the ocean soothed him.
"Joe!" The rigid voice of his father broke his trance. "Can you come here for a minute, please?" Joe went quickly to where his upset-looking father was standing. Even though he was his son, when John Peterson called his name, he came running.
"There seems to be a mix up in the reservations." John explained to him. "They over-booked the rooms and there are none left. Now you can do one of two things. You can stay in a room with your mother and me, or you can take one of the honeymoon huts that are available. Which do you prefer?"
Joe hardly relished the thought of sharing a room with his mom and dad, so he chose the latter. He would be closer to the ocean anyway, and the solitude would be a welcome change. John handed his son the keys to Bungalow Three and eyed him suspiciously.
"Are you all right, son? You're awfully quiet." he asked.
"Just tired, Dad." Joe answered, and he was.
"Well go get some rest. We have to go to that introductory dinner tonight, so go take a nap, and meet us in Suite 326 at four-thirty. Got it?" John commanded and handed Joe a manila envelope. He then followed Joyce upstairs and disappeared.
Joe stood alone in the lobby, holding his bag, the keys to the hut, and the envelope. He must have looked bewildered, because after about three seconds a young lady appeared and asked if he needed help. He smiled, knowing what she was thinking and feeling quite humble he asked politely how to get to Bungalow Three.
"Oh, are you on your honeymoon?" she asked, her big eyes shining.
"No, I'm here for the family reunion and they ran out of space. They put me out here." Joe explained. Her sigh of relief was almost comical.
"Come on, I'm on my break so I'll show you personally." the girl grinned cozily. She gestured with her arm and walked out into the little walkway, Joe followed. The sea breeze was light and airy, the young lady's skirt flitted in the wind, something Joe could not help noticing. She led him like a lamb down a little concrete path, with rose bushes on either side, and down a narrow pathway. The delightful aroma was a mixture of ambrosial flowers, salty ocean air, and her buttered scent. Seagulls circled overhead, dodging the immense, swaying palm trees.
"Some people get lost on their way to the bungalows." she said, turning to him and smiling. Joe just nodded and kept walking behind her. They finally arrived at bungalow three, the one right in the middle. To Joe's delight, he discovered that each bungalow had its own little private patio, and was literally about fifteen feet from the water. He took the key, opened the door, and stepped inside. The young girl kept smiling at him, unmoving. Joe was polite, but wanted to be alone. He had not slept the night before and really needed that nap.
"I'm Cindy, I work in the Velvet Room as a waitress." she smiled at him, still not leaving. Joe looked back at her, used to this kind of behavior from women, yet trying not to get annoyed. She was just admiring the view.
"I'm Joe Peterson, I'll be in the Velvet Room this evening. I'm with the Peterson Family Reunion, and we are having a big, family dinner there." he told her, and held out his hand. She shook it with enthusiasm.
"So, I guess I'll see you later?" Cindy asked. Her eyes were deep and shadowy in their hopefulness.
"Maybe." Joe smiled politely, and began to close the door. She finally took the hint and her smile dropped a notch.
"Well, have a nice day." she said, then turned and sauntered away. The little bungalow was cozy, but it was definitely intended for honeymooners. The room was complete with a champagne-stocked mini-refrigerator and a heart-shaped hot tub in the corner. Great, he thought, and I'm here alone.
Joe flopped onto the queen-sized bed, and opened the manila envelope that his father had given him. It was an itinerary of sorts, charting out all of the organized activities of the upcoming three days--stating what, when, and where all of the events were to take place. Joe leafed through it for a few minutes, then tossed it aside, wondering what the big deal was. Why not just have a family dinner and be done with it?
He lay back on the bed, took his address book out of his duffle bag, and removed a lone joint that he carefully had hidden in the secret pocket of his little book. As he lit up and took a deep drag, he wondered if only one joint would get him through the weekend ahead, and hoped that some of his long-lost cousins had some grass on them. He thought about how his parents would kill him if they found out he smoked pot and laughed at the thought of his father confiscating it and smoking it himself. He had been high around them many times, and to the best of his knowledge, they never suspected a thing.
He took another long drag and stared at the ceiling, slowly beginning to feel its clouded effects. His mind began to become sticky and slow, and he escaped into a sweet, stoned haze.