I am bringing you an excerpt today from the book Spring Break by LC Kanon. Read below then make sure to head over and follow the rest of the tour and enter the giveaway.
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How long had they been there—three hours? Four? Night had fallen, and Leigh could feel the pull of the tide mark the passage of time.
When the meal was finally over, the group went out to the elegant patio for yet more cocktails. Soft music hummed from invisible speakers. The humidity made the sharp smell of the liquor even more noticeable. Leigh could hear the rhythmic crashing of the waves, which instead of being comforting made the situation seem more claustrophobic.
By this time, Leigh found herself in solitary company. Danny and his friend had sequestered Gia and Joy on one end of the patio. Both girls seemed delighted at this, and even if they weren’t, they were too drunk to stave off their advances.
For his part, Mr. Jiménez had quarantined Eva on a low chaise camouflaged by some strategically-placed foliage. Seated a few feet away, Leigh noticed Jiménez was doing the most of the talking, his low voice carrying into the night. Eva was not motioning for assistance, and was even shooting him several shy smiles.
Feeling the numbing effects of the alcohol, Leigh wanted to melt away entirely. She let her attention wander to a lit pathway exiting the patio. She got up with the intention of doing a little investigating, and maybe finding the bathroom.
No one noticed as she walked down the winding pathway, which ran parallel to the beach. She was invisible to the group as she disappeared behind the dining area, the pathway ending a few yards away in front of a large, windowless building. It was the same in appearance as the white-washed resort, and Leigh thought nothing of trying the door, annoyed to find it locked.
Walking quickly back down the little path, she noticed a boat rising and falling with the waves, just off the shore. This boat looked very fast, with clean lines and no clutter onboard. Finding everyone on the patio where she left them, Leigh walked up to Danny.
“Hi, sorry to interrupt,” she began, as Danny continued his intense conversation with Gia. Leigh stomped her stiletto on the ground in drunken annoyance.
“Hello! I have to pee people!” she cried out.
Without turning, Danny shoved an electronic key card at her so he could continue speaking with Gia, who never looked up to acknowledge her friend.
Leigh snatched it from him, tracing her steps back to building and gently placing the key card on the electronic pad. The door opened with a click, revealing several more doors. Leigh opened each one with the same key card, her brow furrowing at all the security.
There were no doors in the entire Sol II resort, Leigh mused, which means this must be Jiménez’s private residence. Intensely buzzed and getting hungry again, Leigh immediately located a very ornate bathroom in one cavernous hallway.
Flipping on the light, she attended to the necessary business and did some primping. Her unease with Joy and Gia, coupled with the inattention of the other dining companions, didn’t exactly put her in the best of moods. Grabbing her bag, she exited, quickly realizing after a few turns that she had no idea how to get back out.
The twisting hallways didn’t assist her drunken navigation. Further complicating matters was the lack of overhead lights, and Leigh wasn’t about to go searching for a switch. She could only hear her heels clicking on the tiled floors as her eyes adjusted to the darkness.
“Oh this is it. This is the way,” Leigh declared to the empty hallway, feeling her buzz give way to sobriety as she realized she was getting lost. Burying her growing panic, Leigh walked down a hallway she thought was the exit, only to find all the doors lining it locked. She advanced towards the last door at the end of the hall. Holding her breath, she placed the key card next to the pad. It chirped back at her, and the door clicked open. With a yelp of success, she opened it.
Weird, Leigh thought, as the room’s cool air made her hair stand on end. Leigh kept walking forward, the lights coming on with each step. After a few tentative steps, all of the lights flew on, highlighting a very long, narrow room.
Surveying her surroundings, it took a few moments for Leigh to register what she was seeing. The room was packed to the ceiling with racks of small, white packages tightly wrapped in plastic. She leaned down to investigate and shot up just as quickly.
“Fuck me,” she whispered. She knew what she had stumbled upon and immediately felt her stomach drop. Midway down the aisle, Leigh glanced toward the exit closest to her, a door located at the opposite end of the room. She made a beeline for it. Fumbling at the handle, she hastily inserted the key card, hearing the chirp of recognition as she pushed it open. Soon after entering she stumbled over what felt like a pile of rugs.
Leigh let out a tiny yell as she fell, landing in something wet and sticky. Pulling herself to her knees in the pitch black, she fumbled for her purse, located her phone, and activated her flashlight app. She followed the artificial beam of light to a shoe, then a leg, and then to a torso. Where she expected to see a head there was nothing.
A musty, metallic scent hit her like a brick wall, and she pulled herself slowly to her feet, shining the light on the rest of the room. There were eight or nine torsos, all without heads, all piled neatly on top of one another. Leigh felt the rush of blood in her ears, bile rise in her stomach. After a few moments, it subsided, melting away into a disturbing calm.
Leigh managed to stumble out of the room, past the rows of endless white packets, and, with an audible cry, located the bathroom. When she looked in the mirror, her pupils had dilated, and the pallor that had startled her earlier was replaced by a faint glow.
As she scrubbed the blood off her hands, she watched the pink trail flow down the drain. After exiting the bathroom the second time, she realized she must have been drunk. The way out was obvious.
Walking back to the dinner party, Leigh returned to empty plates and margarita glasses. Turning, she grabbed a bottle of tequila from the nearest patio table and retreated behind some oversized ferns, intending to have a seat on the beach and drink away the last 30 minutes of her memory.
She was about an inch into the bottle when she realized it was no longer just her and the waves. Someone had re-entered the patio area. It sounded like Danny, and it seemed he was having a rather unpleasant conversation.
Leigh, hidden behind the foliage, could feel his nervousness in the tense and halting sentences as he spoke into what she assumed was a cell phone. His conversation went on for a good 15 minutes, mostly dominated by the person on the other end.
The conversation abruptly ended and Leigh heard thudding footsteps moving away from her. It was then she realized she still had the key card. Tucking it in her purse, she slowly began tiptoeing towards the beach, bottle in hand. She followed the coast line all the way back to their room.
As she approached their condo from the beach below, she could see that the lights were on. From her vantage point, she watched shadows crossing in front of the patio door. A small voice told Leigh she should not enter the room. She would enter on the patio, making sure it was safe before entering.
Emboldened by alcohol, Leigh tucked the bottle of liquor in the front of her dress, wincing as the heavy glass dug into her flesh. She slung her purse diagonally across her shoulders, and began climbing the decorative design on the outside of the villa.
As the resident queen of the Arizona Southern University rock wall, this was fairly easy. It only took her a few minutes of climbing before she deftly pulled herself up and onto the patio. Waiting a few moments to catch her breath, she could hear muffled sounds from within the condo. Slowly, she crept towards the patio door, removing the tequila bottle as she did so and holding it firmly at her side.
Looking through the glass door, between the vinyl blinds, she saw Gia and Joy. They were sitting on the couch, trembling, dark trails of mascara marking their cheeks. The man who was with them at dinner, the one whose name Leigh never caught, was shouting on the phone. Eva was nowhere to be seen.
Leigh leaned in closer to see if there was anyone else in the room. She noticed the door to her bedroom at the end of the hall was closed. A thud from behind the glass door made her jump. In the span of a few seconds, the man on the phone flung the glass door open, and stepped out on the patio, still yelling at his phone. Leigh had just enough time to retreat into a dark corner, her back flush against the railing, heels hastily discarded.