Authors: Kay Brody
THE CARLISLE SISTERS: BOOK 1
By Kay Brody
This is entirely a work of fiction. All people, places and events contained have been completely fabricated by the author. Any similarities to real people, places, or events are completely coincidental.
Copyright © 2015
All Rights Reserved.
No part of this work may be reproduced in any manner or used in any way without advanced written permission by the author
Table of Contents
ethany Carlisle stared through the window of her taxi in complete shock. She could hardly believe her eyes as she looked at the beautiful resort. It was difficult to comprehend that the old, dilapidated bed and breakfast that scarcely provided food for a family of five was now one of the top ten resorts in America. How had so much changed within the eight years that she’d been gone from home?
She remembered the last time that she’d been at the tiny shack on the Texas shoreline. It had been the day of her mom’s funeral; cold and rainy. The minister had spoken kindly of her mom, causing even more tears to streak down her face.
Her sweet, loving mother was gone; dead from a heart attack. A sudden and massive coronary, according to the Medical Examiner. But Bethany knew better.
There was certainly nothing
about it. Her mother’s passing was the result of years of brutal cruelty by Bethany’s father. An unfair end to an even less fair life; Sarah Carlisle had finally succumbed to Jonas Carlisle’s heinous treatment.
Although she grieved for the loss of her mom, Bethany knew that Sarah was in a much better place. Jonas had been relentless in his abuse of her frail mother. When he wasn’t working his wife to a frazzle, he was beating her senseless. And after years of physical and mental abuse, Sarah simply couldn’t take anymore.
And when the last shovel-full of dirt had been tossed onto Sarah Carlisle’s grave, Bethany knew she couldn’t take anymore, either. She ran straight home from the cemetery and crammed her few belongings into a worn, brown duffel bag. After sliding the strap across her shoulders, she just started walking down the road that led out of town.
She was nineteen and she was on her own. And she had only stuck around
long to try to shield her mom from her dad’s brutality. But it hadn’t helped. Jonas would become even more enraged when she’d try to protect her mother and he’d end up hitting her as well. But now her mom was gone and so was she.
She’d made it from Texas to Vail, Colorado where she found a job working in a restaurant as a dishwasher. She’d worked hard and eventually advanced to her current position as Sous Chef. Bethany had a knack for cooking and the head chef had noticed it when she’d made a fancy club sandwich for herself for lunch. He took her under his wing and began to teach her the rudiments of fine cooking. Bethany had found a new life and she loved it.
She had never said goodbye to her dad and she had never looked back. Her life was in Colorado and she had never thought she would come back to Lake Jackson, Texas. But then her father died and she’d been summoned by his attorney, Jarod Clancy, to Cozy Cabins; or she should say to The Sea View Resort, as it was now called.
Jonas had changed the name of the old bed and breakfast. In fact, he had changed nearly everything else about it, as well. And as she reluctantly pulled up in front of her childhood home, it was hard to believe that it was the same place she’d walked away from all those years ago.
The taxi came to a halt in front of the impressive resort and Bethany opened the car door and stepped out into the stagnant humidity she’d happily left behind. Summers in Texas were one thing that she did not miss.
The driver took her suitcase out of the trunk and placed it at her side. She paid him then walked briskly into the hotel lobby. It was a relief to be in the cool, air-conditioned building. She looked around at the lavish, expensive décor and was impressed. Obviously Jonas had worked with an excellent interior designer. He certainly hadn’t had any style of his own.
Bethany looked to her right and saw her two sisters waving frantically at her. She sighed. Bethany had mixed feelings about seeing her older sisters again. Jennifer, the eldest, had left home as soon as she graduated high school. And Tracy, just one year younger than Jennifer, had done the same a year later.
That left a twelve year old Bethany at home, alone, with a weak, weary mother and a tyrannical father. On one hand, she understood why her sisters had left. But she was also bitter that they had.
She’d been a child and needed her big sisters desperately. And they knew that as well as anyone. Yet they deserted her and it gnawed at her. She took a deep breath and moved across the huge lobby toward her sisters.
“Hello, Tracy. Jennifer,” Bethany said.
She did not reach out to hug them. They noticed the obvious lack of warmth but still moved to embrace her. Beth barely returned the gesture then stepped back. There was an awkward pause before Tracy spoke.
“Look at this place. Who would have thought that Jonas would have achieved something of this magnitude?” she exclaimed.
“I assumed that he would have continued to live in the squalor that he called a Bed and Breakfast,” Jennifer said scornfully. “I never imagined he’d have the ingenuity to develop this kind of grandeur in Lake Jackson.”
“He had to have help achieving this. I can’t picture Jonas doing it all on his own,” Tracy mused.
any of it
on his own,” Jennifer said.
“I guess old Jonas had more ambition than we thought,” Beth said.
“It took him over twenty years to find it,” Jennifer said derisively.
“It makes you wonder what our lives could have been like had he been different,” Tracy said.
“Well, he wasn’t,” Beth said stiffly. “But it appears we are about to get our just rewards anyway.”
“You think we’re going to inherit all of this?” Jennifer asked in disbelief. “Why would he leave it to us when
he felt we left him unjustly?”
“Why else would we have been asked to come here?” Tracy said. “No sooner than Jonas drops dead his attorney calls us here? It’s not coincidental.”
“Well, I guess we’ll find out soon enough. Let’s go up to the suite that Jarod arranged for us. We have time to freshen up before he gets here,” Beth said.
They crossed the lobby and stepped into the sleek elevator. Jennifer pushed the button for the penthouse. Within seconds the doors opened to reveal an elegant, sophisticated suite.
“Wow! Look at this place. I could get used to this kind of style,” Tracy said in awe.
“It reminds me of my past life in Beverly Hills; all chic and glam,” Jennifer said. “That life had its perks.”
“Why aren’t you still living it? Stephon was a terrific catch,” Tracy asked.
A shadow came over Jennifer’s face.
“Marriage to Stephon wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be,” Jen mumbled.
“But a divorce? That was pretty extreme,” Tracy pressed.
Jennifer remained quiet.
“Not if he cheated. That’s obviously what happened. Stephon was unfaithful,” Beth deduced.
Tracy looked at Jen in surprised.
“Was that it, Jen? Did he cheat on you?” Tracy asked.
Jennifer moved to stand in front of the glass doors leading to the terrace and stared out at the magnificent view.
“Yes. Stephon was a cheat. We traveled across the globe and in every city we visited he found a willing woman to satisfy his needs,” Jen murmured. “It didn’t matter where we were; Paris, Australia, Tokyo or Barcelona. There was always a willing woman to share his bed.”
“But he had
to share his bed. Why didn’t he turn to his wife,” Tracy snapped.
“I begged him to stop sleeping around; to come back to me. And he did. For a while. But he would never give up the women,” Jen mumbled. “He even told me when we were fighting about it once that I shouldn’t even be upset. He said that I knew what to expect when I married him. That it was the lifestyle that he led and I couldn’t expect him to change just because he said ‘I do’ to me.”
Tracy crossed to Jen and put her arm around her shoulders.
“That lowdown piece of scum. You were right to kick him to the curb. You deserve better, Jen,” Tracy said empathetically.
“Do I? I wonder,” Jen said. She turned to face Beth. “Maybe it’s my Karma.”
Jennifer and Beth’s eyes clashed. Beth stared at Jennifer stoically until Jennifer dropped her gaze. Tracy saw the look that passed between her sisters and felt ill at ease. She felt a certain amount of guilt as well.
“I’m going to freshen up and then lay down. It was a long flight and I could use a nap,” Beth said.
Beth went into one of the bedrooms and closed the door firmly. Tracy and Jennifer stared at the closed door for several seconds. Then Jennifer opened the terrace doors and stepped out into the hot July climate. Tracy joined her.
“Will Beth ever understand why we left Cozy Cabins?” Jennifer asked in a subdued voice.
“I don’t know. But I think we should try to clear the air with her. I do not want to live with this animosity between us,” Tracy said.
“I not sure that discussing it will do any good,” Jen said.
“But we have to try. We’re sisters and we’re all we have,” Tracy insisted.
“She may forgive you. But I’m another story,” Jen said.
“Why me and not you? We both left her,” Tracy asked in confusion.
“Beth holds me responsible for your leaving. She thinks I influenced your departure,” Jen answered. “And perhaps she’s right. I wanted you to leave and come be with me. I didn’t want to be out there all alone.”
“But I wanted to get out of there as soon as I could. I couldn’t stand it there and Beth knew that,” Tracy said.
“But when you got out of high school, you came to LA. Until you left for New York to pursue your art, she knew we were together while she was left alone with that monster,” Jen said sadly. “We had begun new lives and never looked back at our little sister. She has a right to hate us.”
“Maybe she does. But we have a chance to be sisters again. And I intend to make it work,” Tracy said emphatically.
“That’s a good thing; for you’ll need to be a tight unit to face what’s ahead.”
Tracy and Jennifer spun around to see who was speaking.
“Jarod?” Jennifer asked.
“Yes,” he confirmed. “And I am about to change your lives forever.”
Jennifer and Tracy walked back inside.
“What do you mean?” Jennifer asked. “Change our lives
“You must be Jennifer,” Jarod said, momentarily ignoring her question.
“Yes,” Jennifer said. “And this is Tracy.”
“How do you do,” he said, more of a statement than a question, as he extended his hand for a shake. They complied. “Jonas was quite accurate with his descriptions of you.”
“He told you what we looked like?” Jennifer asked.
“Yes. He had no photographs of you, so he relied on his memory,” Jarod said.
“Not surprising,” was all Tracy said.
“What did you mean by your earlier comment?” Jennifer asked again.
“I will explain when everyone is present,” Jarod replied.
“I’ll go wake Beth,” Tracy said.
Tracy quickly left the common room. The room had been decorated to accommodate business meetings as well as social affairs. Jennifer watched Jarod as he laid his briefcase on the long, oval conference table. He carefully removed several file folders and began organizing their contents.
Jarod looked to be in his early forties. He was a man of medium height, slender with light brown hair that was just beginning to thin. He certainly wasn’t wildly attractive but Jennifer felt there was something about him. And, while he wasn’t the type she was normally attracted to, she was drawn to him.
It was his eyes. He had kind, grey eyes that were filled with compassion; something she could use in liberal amounts these days. He glanced up at her and she smiled, flipping her brunette hair for effect. He returned her smile but said nothing.
He returned to reading the file he was holding in his hand. Jennifer wasn’t used to that. She was a beautiful woman who had no trouble getting the attention of men. A slight smile or a coy wink from her would bring them scurrying to her side immediately. But this man seemed unaffected by her beauty and wile. He was different; which only made Jennifer more determined to conquer him.