Luxury Suite is a collection of three stories featuring young ladies whose judgment and self awareness are tainted by an excess of money.
In Lindy’s Luck, upright, honest girl next door Lindy Saradon seemed to have everything – a loving husband, a devoted family and a full time job. The only thing she didn’t have was a huge bankroll. When a lottery ticket turned up an unexpected win, it seemed the picture was complete.
Money has a funny way of changing people however, and deception and greed soon replaced Lindy’s solid social and family values. Had Lindy’s luck been the best thing that ever happened to her – or the worst?
Wealthy socialite Tasha Mercedes had landed a deal to host a new talk show in ‘Personally Trained’. Deciding she needed to get in shape for the upcoming taping, she hired dashing ‘Trainer to the Stars’ Nate Bronson to assist her – and then quickly neglected him and her workout responsibilities.
Would Nate be able to get through to his self indulged client, or would Tasha’s personal goals remain unfulfilled?
With Nicole Manning in ‘The Sweetest 16’, everything had to be over the top – and her daughter’s Sweet 16 party was no exception. While husband Richard was out of town, Nicole was home planning the ‘party to end all parties’. Desiring the limelight as much as her daughter, Nicole called in film crews from a reality television show to document the event – without her husband’s knowledge. Would clearer heads prevail or would Nicole’s plans for her daughter’s Sweet 16 party turn the celebration into a national spectacle?
Chapter One – Birthday Girl
“You can’t catch me, you can’t catch me – eeek!” Thinking no one would take her up on her playful taunts, 24-year-old Lindy Saradon suddenly found herself in the middle of a full-blown family pursuit. Beach sand sprayed, long blond hair flew and her mother Marion, sister Kate and nieces Nikki and Mary Beth all took chase.
Lindy did her best dodge-and-avoid maneuvers in the soft sand, but it didn’t take long for the determined mob to capture their prey. Down they went and the whole group landed in a flailing pile of beach balls, runaway sandals and straw hats.
“We got you aunt Lindy! We got you!” twelve-year-old Mary Beth cried, hugging her auntie around the neck. The joyful chase was typical of the way a day that had included swimming, volleyball and sand castles. Birthdays were a big deal with the Saradon family and with Lindy’s falling in the middle of the summer, a day at the beach seemed a perfect way to celebrate.
Lindy sat up, pulled the hair out of her face and adjusted her ?Birthday Bunny? t-shirt. Her big sister Kate looked over at her. “This is the first time I ever remember seeing you with only one shoe!”
Suddenly made aware of her single pink sandal, Lindy poked around in the sand until she located the other.
“Whew! I sure don’t want to lose one of my favorite flip-flops!” Lindy didn’t have many indulgences but everybody knew bunnies and cute shoes were a couple of her biggest.
She loved their get-togethers; they always made her feel so connected with those important to her. Nothing was as important to Lindy as her family and friends. She felt her mother’s arms around her giving her a huge hug and everyone struggled to their feet after the boisterous play.
Little Mary Beth, always impatient, was the first out of the pile of sandy bodies. She took the opportunity to get to her favorite part of the day. “Can we do presents now, please, please?” she asked.
Lindy’s aunt Elaine had opted out of the high-spirited chase and was relaxing with Lindy’s husband, Eric, in a lawn chair by the beach blankets. “If everybody is okay with that,” Elaine replied. “I guess we have made the birthday girl wait long enough!”
“Yaayyy!” Mary Beth jumped up. “I’ll go grab them!”
“A great day like this and I get presents too?” Lindy asked, walking over to Eric. “Gosh I’m a lucky girl!”
Eric got up from his lawn chair and took her hand. “We’d give you the world if we could,” he said, giving her a strong hug. “Are you having a good day, sweetie?”
She looked up into the depths of her husband’s charcoal eyes. “How could I not have a good day with a crew like this helping me celebrate?”
The two lovers had been married for three years. Eric, tall and muscular, was a self-employed lawn and garden contractor with a booming business. He loved his work and he loved his Lindy. They had rented a tiny, older house together in the nearby town over a year earlier.
Mary Beth scurried off to grab packages from the back of the minivan and everyone gathered round to sit on blankets, with Lindy taking the middle of the circle.
“Open mine first!” Mary Beth insisted flopping an armful of boxes and envelopes down on a blanket.
“No, open mine! Open mine!” Nikki chimed in.
“Kids, settle down,” Marion exclaimed. “Let Lindy catch her breath! She’ll get to them all in good time!”
Lindy joked while opening all the cards and packages in front of her. Nine-year-old Nikki gave her a card and a drawing of bunnies. Mary Beth insisted on hers being opened next ? a card with a drawing of bunnies and a poem about a day at the beach. With tears in her eyes, Lindy embraced them both.
The next package was a bright pink box with a bow on top. The tag read ‘From your big Sis’.
“Go on, open it!” Kate insisted.
Turning it every which way, Lindy opened the box carefully. Inside was a brand new pair of white bunny slippers, complete with ears and soft thick fur. Lindy squeezed her sister tight.
“Thank you! You got both my passions at once – shoes and bunnies!”
“Do I know my baby sister or what?” Kate teased, hugging her back. “Enjoy them!”
“This one is from Aunt Marion!” Mary Beth exclaimed, thrusting an envelope into Lindy’s hand.
Taking her time, Lindy opened the card. A big bright card with hearts revealed a $100 gift certificate to Monique’s, the upscale shoe store at the mall in town.
“Oh, Mom!” Lindy cried. “That’s too much!”
Marion pooh-poohed her daughter. “I know you adore that store and I know you don’t get to shop there very often. Buy yourself something you love.”
“Oh, thank you!” Lindy threw her arms around her mother. She was right – Lindy did like looking in that store, but the prices were high. Marion usually gave more modest gifts, but she made an exception this time.
“And here are two more cards – that’s it!” Mary Beth held one card in either hand. “Which will you open first?”
The two cards were from Aunt Elaine and Eric. She knew what to expect from the one, so she started with it. Peeling open the envelope from Aunt Elaine, she found another bunny card, and a lottery ticket for that night’s draw.
“Thank you! You always want me to win big, don’t you?” She grinned and hugged her aunt.
“You just watch, if I keep buying tickets, one day one of us is going to hit the jackpot!” Elaine promised. “And I hope it’s you. Well, you and Eric of course!”
“If we ever won, it would definitely be both ours. Everything we have – income, expenses, bills, fun money – everything goes in one big pot. We’ve never been ones to say ‘this money is his or that money is hers’. It’s always been ‘ours’. If we want to treat ourselves, we just agree on it together first. I hope your ticket lets us treat ourselves a lot!”
With laughter all around, Lindy took the final card in her hand. She looked over at Eric. He motioned her over to him in the lawn chair. Picking her way through the sand, she went over and delicately sat on his knee.
“So this one is from you, is it?”
“It is! Something for both of us, actually. Go ahead, check it out!”
The card had a picture of smooching rabbits on the front and read ‘To my bunny love’. Inside were reservations to Carlitos, their favorite restaurant.
She kissed his neck and he stood up, still holding her in his arms and twirled her around. “We’ll go tomorrow night and you can have anything you want!”
“Well, hardly anything! That’s an expensive spot to eat! But the fish and chips is always good there!”
“That is for sure. Happy birthday, baby.” He kissed her forehead tenderly, still holding her in his arms. “Did you want to check out the pier before we left?”
They excused themselves from the family group and made their way over to the boardwalk pier that ended at the old lighthouse. Hand-in -and they made their way down to the very end and looked up at the ancient structure. Tall and steadfast, its white paint skin was peeled and withered from a century of beatings by the temperamental tides.
“I never get tired of this place,” Lindy cooed.
“And I never get tired of you,” Eric turned her to face him. She lifted up on her toes and kissed him gently on the lips. His hands, strong and worn, wrapped around her and met on the small of her back. The cool of the air coming off the water felt refreshing as the warmth of their bodies transferred from one to the other.
“God, I love you,” she breathed. “I’m so lucky, you’ve given me so much.”
“It is so funny to hear it when you say that,” Eric whispered in her ear. “Because it is I who feel like the lucky one. I’ve married an angel, one who doesn’t even know how divine she really is.”
Eventually a seagull’s curious squawk brought them back to reality and they returned to beach blankets, friends and relatives. As they rejoined the group, the family clapped and wished the happy couple well. Soon after they began packing up for their respective journeys home. Lindy and Eric loaded up their 12-year-old minivan with all their treasures and buckled up for the ride home.
“Oh Eric,” Lindy gushed. “What a super day! And all the great stuff everyone brought me! I don’t deserve it!”
“Of course you do,” Eric replied. “You’re not one of those spoiled celebrity brats who only thinks of themselves. You put everyone else first! And that’s why we all love you so!”
She put her tiny hand on his as they travelled. His hands were her rock, her place of comfort. When she needed respite from the world, she reached for his hands.
“Of course, they are going to love you back at work too when you’re all exhausted from your day at the beach,” he guessed.
A flicker of distress came over Lindy’s face. “Do we have to mention work on such a lovely day? I don’t need to be reminded!”
Eric looked at her sideways as they changed lanes and merged into traffic on the main highway. “Oh now come on, you know they appreciate you at the grocery store!”
“Appreciate me? Huh! Hardly,” she sniffed. Her lowly job as checkout girl at the grocery store had been one of their only bones of contention. “Nobody appreciates anything there! The customers are all crabby and management doesn’t give a damn. You know I’d give anything to get out of there!”
“And you can, you can, I’m not saying no to that,” Eric explained. “But right now it’s all we can find for you, and that money is important. Your contribution is so important to what we do and it means the world to me! As soon as the landscaping business gets big enough you can go back to school and get the career you want or look for a better job. But for now, you’re going to have to tough it out.”
“But honey, I don’t like it. People are mean.”
“Some people are I know, but most aren’t. So many people who go to that store adore you and ask specifically for you. You’re honest with people and good-hearted. It’s just the odd one who?s mean, and they?re just having bad days. Come on, it’s no big deal. You can hang in there.”
“Of course I can”, she sighed. “It’s just hard, that’s all.”
Eric put his hand on her knee. “And you’re a toughie, you prove that every day.”
Lindy made a brave face, but her heart wasn’t in it. The job at the store felt more like a trap than a means to an end. Just the same, she knew he was right. And for her part, she always did what she knew she had to do.