Chapter One: Arrival
On top of a hill, sat an abandoned hotel, that looked out over the Ocean. Below the cliff, waves crashed against the rocks, making beautiful sounds as the seagulls soared above, looking for their next meal.
The hotel and its grounds had been untouched by human hands, for many years. People stopped coming to the hotel, after it was remodeled, due to the rumors, that it had become haunted. The previous owners abandoned the hotel, claiming they could not refute the rumors.
The hotel was sold to a man, who had a vision. A vision of bringing it back to its’ former glory. For you see, the hotel had once been an exotic paradise. Every season was a busy season, people had to book their stays, months in advance. But things changed when the rumors started, for as we all know, rumors can destroy even the most popular of places, reputation.
The new owner has a challenge in mind. He wants to prove to the public that there is nothing to fear, that all the rumors they have heard in the past, are indeed false. He hired a crew to fix the hotel and the surrounding grounds.
The crew worked day and night, repairing the hotel for his upcoming plans. He set up a raffle drawing, with ten winners to be chosen, and given tickets for a weekend for two, in paradise.
Okay, so he’d fibbed a little. Would you buy a ticket for a raffle drawing that said… Come and stay in our Haunted Hotel…?
On the day of the winner’s arrival at his hotel, the owner stood in the shadows and watched the cars pull into the drive. He watched as his guests got out of their cars, and stared at what laid before them, in shock.
They had been promised paradise, not a hotel on a hill, that looked out over the ocean, with the nearest beach, half a mile down the road. The owner took a deep breath and stepped out of the shadows.
“Welcome to Exotica.” He said, greeting them.
“Exotica? Really?” One of the winners said looking around.
“I know, it doesn’t look very exotic right now. But I promise you, it had once been a hot spot, long ago.”
No one seemed to believe him. Can you blame them? After all, he had promised them paradise. And this is what he gives them?
He cleared his throat, he hoped he could convince them to stay, if not, he’s ruined. “I would like to return it to the exotic paradise, it once was. And I can, and I will.” He said with confidence. He looked around at their young faces. It seemed his winners were a bunch of college students. He shook his head and continued with his speech. “With your help, of course.” He finished, nodding to them.
“Of course.” The same winner mumbled.
“And how are we to do that?” A strapping young man asked.
The owner watched the young man step forward as he talked. He could tell right away that the lad was a born leader. He had dark intelligent eyes, hair the color of honey, and the body of a football player, or maybe a boxer?
“Well, young man.” The owner said.
“Lesley.” The young man said as he watched the owner.
“Lesley.” The owner acknowledged with a nod. “Well, Lesley. You and all these fine people here; will spend the weekend here at Exotica, at no cost to you, just as the raffle drawing indicated. The fridge and cupboards are all stocked, with plenty of food and drink. All I ask is that when this weekend is over, you report to the papers that the rumors surrounding this hotel, are false, and you would recommend staying here to anyone. That, my dear boy, will bring my hotel back to its original good standings, and return it to the Exotic Paradise, it once was.”
“How is our staying here going to help with that, again?” Someone in the crowd asked.
“Well, as I said; after you have stayed in this fine hotel, for the weekend, and you have reported that everything here is how it should be. Your reports will prove that the rumors that have plagued this hotel, for many years are false. I will gain new clientele, whose revenue will allow me to continue the restorations of the hotel, and its surrounding grounds. Which in turn, will transform this place to the exotic paradise, it was once famous for.”
“What’s the rumor?” Lesley asked, intrigued.
“Several years back, there was a rumor started, that the hotel is haunted. But I promise you, it is not.” The owner assured them.
“What?!” One of the other winners hollered, fear apparent in his voice. “This place is haunted?”
Everyone looked at him.
“No, you idiot.” One of the female winners said, annoyed.
The man beside her shook his head. “It is rumored to be haunted.”
She nodded in agreement. “And we are here to prove the rumors false.” She looked at the owner. “Right?”
“Right you are, young lady.” The owner confirmed with a nod.
“Tammy.” She informed him.
The owner smiled and nodded to her.
The young man standing beside Tammy placed his arm over her shoulders and smiled. “I guess I don’t mind spending my weekend here, to prove a stupid rumor false.”
She leaned into him with a sigh. “Me either.”
The young man nodded towards the road, that led down to the beach. “I can work on my tan down at the beach.” He looked down at her and smiled. “And, it will give us that much needed alone time, we came here for.”
“Excellent.” The owner said with a nod and a smile. “There is also a pool out back, and a garden.” He informed them as he pointed to the hotel, then turned and started walking towards his car. “I will be back Monday morning.” He assured them. He slid into his red convertible and waved as he pulled out of the drive.
The group of students watched the taillights, as they disappear down the road. Turning from the road, they looked around at each other. They were just a bunch of college kids, who had thought they had won the raffle drawing of a lifetime.
Boy, had they been duped.
Lesley shook his head as he retrieved his bag from the back seat of his car. “Well, I guess we find ourselves a room.” He said as he closed the door.
“Who died and put you in charge?” One of the other guys asked as he passed Lesley.
The guy slammed himself into Lesley’s shoulder on purpose, trying to throw him off balance.
Lesley watched the larger man as he pushed past him. If he wasn’t so well trained, he probably would have been thrown so far off balance, he would be on the ground right now.
The guy turned to find Lesley standing exactly where he had been. He was shocked to find he hadn’t moved the other guy, even an inch. He knows he’d bumped him hard enough, to have knocked him off his feet.
“No one.” Lesley said as he watched the man. “I was just stating the obvious.”
The guy’s face turned from shock to annoyance. “Are you calling me stupid?!” He demanded.
Lesley’s left eyebrow raised. “Not at all.”
“Of course, you’re not.” One of the girls around them said as she walked up to them. “It’s okay Danny.” She said as she touched the other man’s arm.
Danny looked down at her and smiled. When he looked back up at Lesley, his smile faded, he huffed, threw his bag over his shoulder and marched up to the hotel’s entrance.
“Sorry about him.” She said as she watched her boyfriend walk away. She turned back to Lesley and smiled. “He really is a sweetheart.” She assured him.
“I bet.” Lesley said as he watched her.
“I’m Roxanne, by the way.” She said as she held her hand out to him. “You can call me Roxy.”
He smiled as he shook her hand.
“Roxy!” Danny bellowed from the hotel entrance.
She looked over at her boyfriend, then back up at Lesley. “I guess I’ll see you around.” She gave him a small wave and a smile, then turned and ran to catch up with her boyfriend.
“Don’t talk to him.” Danny growled when she joined him in the doorway.
She smiled as she leaned up and kissed him on the lips. “You’re the only one for me, big guy.” She assured him.
He growled as he lifted her off her feet and carried her into the hotel. She threw her head back and laughed.
“I see you’ve already made yourself an enemy, and we haven’t even started our weekend yet.”
“I can handle myself.” Lesley said as he turned to face the voice.
He stared in shock. He didn’t mean to, but boy was she a beauty. Her long brown hair reached her waist and her eyes, he could get lost in those eyes. They were the purest blue he’s ever seen. She smiled up at him and his heart skipped a beat.
“Hi.” He finally choked out. He was having trouble thinking straight. Her smile got brighter, which made the blue in her eyes sparkle.
“Hi yourself.” She said, still smiling.
He stared at her, how had his greeting gotten switched around?
“I’m Lesley.” He said as he held his hand out to her.
“I know.” She said with a laugh as she shook his hand.
“How?” He asked. He mentally slapped himself. Of course, she would know, everyone knows now, he had introduced himself to the owner. “Oh right.” He said, his face pinched in embarrassment.
She laughed louder with a mischievous twinkle in her eyes. “I also know that you are on a swim team, and you are a champion boxer and wrestler.”
He looked at her stunned. How could she possibly know that he’s a swimmer? It’s common knowledge of his wrestling and boxing. But swimming, is a personal thing for him, that not many people know about.
“How do you know I’m a swimmer?” He asked.
Was he dealing with another stalker? He has had plenty of those. They’re not that easy to get rid of, especially being alone with them, at a hotel, in the middle of nowhere. But he has never had one, quite so beautiful before. The way he felt when he looked at her, he truly hoped she wasn’t a stalker.
“Can you keep a secret?” She asked, still smiling.
“Sure.” He said watching her closely.
She leaned in closer to him. “I’m a Psychic.” She whispered.
Oh, Lord. He thought. She’s a nut as well as a stalker. Not a good combination. And he’d been so attracted to her.
She backed away and looked up at him. He noticed the twinkle of laughter in her eyes and blinked. The minx was pulling his leg. Well nice to know she has a sense of humor to go with her beauty. But still, doesn’t answer how she knows something about him, that not many know.
“Are you telling wild stories again, Telia?” Another girl asked as she hugged Telia from behind.
Why is her name familiar? He doesn’t remember meeting her.
“They’re only wild stories; if people actually believe them.” Telia informed her friend with a laugh. She looked up at Lesley. “You didn’t believe my wild story, do you, Lesley?” She asked, the twinkle still in her eyes.
He stared at both girls. Was he being punked?
“Uh, no. Not really.”
Telia laughed; she could see in his eyes, that he had believed her, at first.
The new girl laughed as she looked up at him. “Hi there Lesley, good to see you again.”
He stared at her. Good to see him again? When and where had they met before today? He was really getting confused now.
“Do we know each other?” He asked as he stared at them.
The new girl stared at him, then burst into laughter. “Oh my God. Your memory is worse than my granddad’s. And that’s pretty bad, he has Alzheimer’s.”
Another girl came up behind the second girl and wrapped her arms around her. “Hey, babe.” She said as she kissed her cheek.
The second girl turned into the new girl’s arms and kissed her passionately on the lips. When she pulled back, both girls were smiling. The new girl looked up at him, her brown eyes twinkling with laughter.
“Hey there Lesley. Are my girls giving you a hard time?”
Her girlfriend turned to face him again, grinning from ear to ear. “Us giving him a hard time?” She said with a laugh. “He doesn’t even remember who we are.”
Lesley stared at the new girl. Her eyes were laughing at him, she found this very funny. He was sure she was going to tell her brother about this.
“Hello, Summer.” He said with a nod towards the new girl.
“Oh! He remembers you!” Her girlfriend said as she gave him a disappointed look.
Summer laughed with a shake of her head. “I would hope he remembers me. I think my brother would have his hide, if he forgot who I am, after introducing me to him so many times.”
“Well, he would try.” Lesley said with a smile.
She nodded. “Well, I guess that is all I could hope for.”
“Or he could just invite his friends over.” He told her, laughter in his eyes.
She laughed, fully understanding what he meant.
Lesley smiled at the three girls before him. He knows who they all are now. Summer’s brother Chris is his roommate.
He has met her many times.
Her brother seems to think he needs to introduce him to her, every time she comes over. It was as though he was trying to get them together or something.
‘You remember my sister, right?’ ‘This is my sister Summer.’
Chris is a big nerd, not a geek, but a real nerd, high IQ low people skills. He’s tall and skinny, and no match for Lesley.
The girl Summer had kissed, is her girlfriend, Sally. The one with them is Telia, or Telly, to her closest friends. She’s Summer’s best friend and their roommate. He only remembers Summer and Chris talking about them, he doesn’t remember meeting them in person.
But he knows he had. What was it? Six months ago?
No, eight. Chris had thrown him a party to celebrate his making it into the boxing finals, for their school. The final match for the belt was the following week. He remembered seeing very blue eyes, sometime during the party. But didn’t remember who they’d belonged to. But how could he have forgotten that face? Telia’s face is one you could never forget.
So why had he?
He remembered that his mind had been preoccupied with something else, that night. He’d been waiting for his girlfriend at the time, to show up. He honestly doesn’t remember most of that night.
Except for what he had found in one of the other rooms.
He shook his head, now isn’t the time to rehash that. He can’t even remember who he was dating at the time.
He looked down at Telia. Looking at her now, he honestly couldn’t remember the name of a single girl, he has ever dated.
How did she have this power over him?
“Earth to Lesley.” Summer said as she waved her hand in front of his face, interrupting his thoughts.
He shook his head. “Huh? Sorry, what were you saying?” He asked, without taking his eyes from Telia’s face.
Summer laughed. “I asked if we should go inside now.”
He pulled his eyes from Telia and looked around them. They were the only ones still outside. Everyone must have gone inside, while they were talking.
He looked back at the girls. “Uhm, sure.” He said as he looked at Telia again.
An uncontrollable urge to push her against his car, and have wild sex with her, had his pants tightening. He settled for carrying her bag. Before he could follow through with the urge, he held his bag in front of himself, then leaned towards her and took her bag from her hands.
“Allow me.” He said as he took her bag.
He quickly turned from them and headed to the hotel, hoping to keep his mind off things he can’t have. There is no way a woman like her is single.
He took in a deep breath as he continued up to the hotel entrance.