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Authors: Lara Reznik

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Lara Reznik - The Girl From Long Guyland

BOOK: Lara Reznik - The Girl From Long Guyland
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Lara Reznik - The Girl From Long Guyland
Lara Reznik
Violet Crown Publishers (2012)
Tags:
Mystery: Thriller - Texas
Mystery: Thriller - Texasttt
Laila Levin enjoys a successful marriage and a thriving career as an I.T. executive in Austin, Texas, but she can’t quite shake her lifelong sense of not truly belonging anywhere. When her company announces a major layoff, Laila finds herself caught between an unscrupulous CEO and her promiscuous boss.
Then news of her college roommate’s suicide stirs up a dark secret involving three devious friends from her past. One has betrayed a vow, another wants to rekindle their romance, and the third is out for revenge. Suddenly for Laila, it’s 1969 again. She’s only 17, and she’s left her sheltered home in Long Island for college in Connecticut.
Amid protests of the Vietnam War, she’s tempted by the sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll that rule her generation. Laila gets swept up in a deceptive love triangle with two older locals and initiated into their unethical hippie family. Too late she realizes her search to belong has led to tragedy. Laila must now juggle the demands of her perplexed husband and her baby boomer past forcing her to make choices that endanger her survival and challenge her conscience. She learns that the lines between right and wrong are often blurred, and sometimes you have to risk everything to be true to yourself.

“In Reznik’s debut novel, a woman confronts long-buried secrets when an old college friend commits suicide… . While effective as a page turner, the novel also tells a timeless, universal tale of a woman’s journey toward self-acceptance. An exciting tale of past crimes and dangerous friendships.”

Kirkus Reviews

Barbara Gaines, Executive Producer, The Late Show with David Letterman

 “Reznik has an instinct for complex characters in threatening situations with twists and uncertainties to catch the reader by surprise. I couldn’t stop reading until I found out how the executive would face the rock ‘n’ roll music of her past misdeeds as a naïve seventeen-year old who only wanted to belong somewhere.”

Cynthia J. Stone, Author, Mason’s Daughter

 “A doozy of a tale. The masterful dialogue and structure race to the end.”

Beth Fowler, Author, Drawn

Includes Discussion Questions

THE GIRL FROM LONG GUYLAND

Lara Reznik

Austin, TX USA

All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2012 Lara Reznik

ISBN: 978-1-938749-04-9

NOTICE

All rights reserved under International and Pan American Copyright Conventions. Published in the United States by Violet Crown Publishers LLC. No part of these pages, either text or image may be used for any purpose other than personal use. Therefore, reproduction, modification, storage in a retrieval system or retransmission, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical or otherwise, for reasons other than personal use, is strictly prohibited without prior written permission.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination, or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Cover design:
Tosh McIntosh

Front Cover Photo:
by permission granted from iStockPhoto.com

Back Cover Photo:
by Don Peterson

Also Available In Paperback

ISBN-13: 978-1-938749-03-2

ISBN-10: 1938749030

For Rudy, Jacob, Matthew, Marshall and Madison

CONTENTS

Chapter 1 – Lost in Texas

Chapter 2 – Joey, The Hash King

Chapter 3 – The Feast

Chapter 4 – Eduardo

Chapter 5 – You Can Take The Girl Outta Long Island

Chapter 6 – Danny the Pig

Chapter 7 – The Demonstration

Chapter 8 – The Family

Chapter 9 – The Funeral

Chapter 10 – The Window Pane

Chapter 11 – The Note

Chapter 12 – The Big A

Chapter 13 – Bagels & Salsa

Chapter 14 – The Emancipation Proclamation

Chapter 15 – The Go-Between

Chapter 16 – The Pretender & The Bitch

Chapter 17 – The Family Business

Chapter 18 – The Split

Chapter 19 – The Land of Enchantment

Chapter 20 – The Promotion

Chapter 21 – The Letter Opener

Chapter 22 – Blood of Christ

Chapter 23 – Margaritaville (Chris’s Story)

Chapter 24 – Easy Rider

Chapter 25 – Darlene & Bob E.

Chapter 26 – The Husbands

Chapter 27 – The Plaid Suitcase

Chapter 28 – Back to Bridgeport

Chapter 29 – Past & Present Collide

Chapter 30 – The Affair

Chapter 31 – Laila’s Explanation

Chapter 32 – The Reconstruction

Chapter 33 – The Lockout

Chapter 34 – The Surprise

Chapter 35 – Ivy’s Version

Chapter 36 – The Saab

Chapter 37 – The Deposition

Chapter 38 – Angel Dust

Chapter 39 – A Woman Scorned

Chapter 40 – Out the Window

Chapter 41 – The Real Truth and Nothing But the Truth

Chapter 42 – We Gotta Get Outta This Place

Chapter 43 – The Burial

Chapter 44 – Gotcha One More Time

Discussion Questions

THE GIRL FROM LONG GUYLAND

Lara Reznik

CHAPTER ONE

Lost in Texas

Austin, Texas, 2012

A couple dozen stars and the eye of a yellow moon pierce light through a sky filled with smoke. I look out the broken window to the ground below. Crumpled in the weeds is a lifeless body with red-flecked eyes, a bushy mustache, and sweet smile.

Vapor seeps into the room. I can barely breathe. Ben wraps his arms around me as I weep. Denise lies in a catatonic state perched on the bed. Why is she only wearing her bra and panties?

Chris stumbles inside the room. His eyes glow like diamonds. He cranes his head out the window. “We gotta do something, man.”

“I’ll call for an ambulance,” I say.

Ben gulps, “That’s not a good idea.”

“We have to,” I insist. “For Godsakes.”

“He’s dead, Laila,” Chris says.

Tears sting my eyes.

WITH A JOLT,
I awake whimpering. The nightmare has infested my dreams for years. It may be time to see a shrink.

The anxiety subsides when my husband Eduardo arrives with a cappuccino and the morning paper. “Are you okay? It sounded like you were crying.”

I clear my throat. “No, no, I’m fine. Just a dream, I guess.” I’ve never discussed these recurring nightmares with him. Eduardo’s got his own problems. He was recently laid off in a corporate downsize and refuses to talk about it. There’s lots of tension in our home right now. Maybe we should both see a shrink.

From our king-size Tempur-Pedic bed, I sip the coffee and stare at a cloudless sky and the sapphire water of Lake Travis. The serenity of the moment is interrupted by the sound of NPR news blaring from my alarm clock. Time to go to work. I shower and dress for a managers’ conference forty miles away.

 

AN HOUR LATER
, I enter a pavilion filled with mounted animal heads and good old boys, and wonder how this counter-culture Long Island girl ended up in Texas. Yes, it’s Austin, home of tree huggers and music lovers, but I’m mystified by the path my life has taken.

The Hobbs brothers, proud owners of the Burnet County Landfill and Exotic Park where
LBJ
Electric holds its annual manager retreat, greet me with toothy Texas grins and matching Stetson hats. “How y’all doing today, darlin’? Welcome to our home.”

I flash a smile but it pains me to know these men are the proud hunters of the dead animals in the hall. It gives me pleasure imagining
their
heads mounted next to the trophies.

As I head to a long pine table and retrieve my white-sticky badge with the letters
LAILA LEVIN
printed in magic marker, Darlene McIntire, dressed business-gorgeous in a navy suit and cleavage-leaking blouse, approaches me and waves. Darlene is an upper-level manager who advocates for women in the company and played a key role in my promotion from Database Analyst to I.T. Solutions Manager two years ago. “Meet me in the little girls room at break, hon,” she whispers. “There’s something I want to share with you.”

During the morning, two hundred
LBJ
managers and I feign interest in long-winded corporate presentations. One of the executives reminds us that
DIVERSITY
is one of our company’s “Foundation Values.” Right. As one of only twelve women in the room, I try to look at the bright side: short lines to the ladies room.

A bald guy grabs the microphone and informs everyone it’s time for a break. Conversations revolve around Longhorns and Aggies, and of course, the beloved Cowboys. Go Tony Romo!

With nothing of substance to add to these discussions, I dash to the ladies room where I find Darlene at the mirror applying a fresh coat of mascara. She smiles at me. “Nice outfit.”

“Thanks.” My reflection reveals a contrast of wild curly hair with the Ralph Lauren suit and high-heeled boots I bought at Dillard’s yesterday. Like most in
I.T.,
my preference is jeans and sneakers.

Three coats later, Darlene pops the mascara back in her purse and turns to face me. “Can you keep a secret?”

“Of course.”

“John is going to announce his retirement.”

John Bell is the
LBJ
Chief Executive Officer. Rumors of his impending retirement have been rampant for weeks. “I’ve heard talk.”

“That’s not the secret. Bob E. is the heir apparent. Not to be announced today, but it’s pretty much a done deal. And he’s promised me V.P. of Corporate Services.”

I look away hoping she didn’t see my eyebrows jump to my hairline. “Congratulations.” Darlene is important, but not that important. This promotion is a big leap from Human Resources Manager. Certainly not done often in a company like
LBJ
. “Wow. Didn’t realize you had the seniority.”


Darlene blushes. “Succeeding in the boardroom is not the only way to get ahead.”

Oh my God. She’s sleeping with Bob Englewood, a.k.a. Bob E., the biggest flirt alive
.
Darlene has a great-looking husband and two kids. Makes no sense to me. But then I’m not that ambitious.

I’m trying to think of a good response when the buzzer goes off over the building’s loud speakers indicating the end of the break. I produce a weak smile and head back to the conference area with images of Darlene and Bob E. spinning in my head. Why did she share this with me?

I take a seat at my assigned table. John Bell, a short, stocky man sporting a bolo tie and a fine pair of ostrich boots, stands onstage tapping the microphone. “Good morning,
LBJ
managers. It’s good to be here at our annual meeting. I have some important announcements to make today. Before I do, I want to point out the emergency exits, and ask y’all to make sure to turn your cell phones off.” John delivers his big retirement announcement then drones on about the accomplishments of the company under his watch.

I doodle with colored pens trying to digest Darlene’s news, wishing I was anywhere but here.

John pauses, takes a sip from his bottled water, and clears his throat. “While I can’t promise there won’t be another layoff…”

The news jolts me to attention. I look around at my
compadres
who clearly are thinking the same thing.
Brace yourself, it’s going to be a big one, and it could be
ME
this time.

Everyone sits in stunned silence as the sound of a cell phone chimes the Beatles’ song “Yesterday.”

Damn, it’s mine!

My neighbors smirk at me as I rummage through my purse. This cannot be happening. I could swear I turned it off.

Finally, I locate my iPhone, press a couple of buttons, but the melody plays on.
Oy vey, my troubles don’t seem so far away
. I just switched to the phone from my tried-and-true Blackberry last week. Vainly, I attempt to locate my reading glasses but after endless seconds, I bolt from the room. My face feels red and puffed like a ripe tomato.

On the patio, damage done, I finally locate my glasses and glance at the display, which reads “
PRIVATE NUMBER
.” Could it be Human Resources calling already?

The voice on the other end says, “Hey Laila, it’s Katie.”

It takes a moment to recognize the New York intonation behind the affected English accent. “Katie, how are you? Gosh, we haven’t spoken in ages. You sound so British.”

“I lived in London for a couple years, but I’m back in L.A. now. You better sit down.” Katie B., always the drama queen.

I sit in an antique rocker and stare at the pale blue Texas sky.

Katie clears her throat. “Denise committed suicide yesterday.”

I try to speak but my mouth feels like it’s full of marbles. Finally, I gasp, “My God.”

“She was never right after—”

“Don’t say it. Remember the pact,” I whisper.

“I remember it.”

I suck in my breath. “It’s kept us safe.”

“We’re gonna have to talk about it. Denise left a suicide note,” she whispers.

Fear fills the membranes of my eyeballs. “Oh, Jesus.”

“I just got off the phone with Chris. A private detective showed up at his house in Tucson.”

“I can’t believe that son of a bitch lives in Tucson. My sister has lived there for years.” It’s been four decades since I’ve seen or heard of Chris, yet his name causes goose bumps to parade up my arms.

“I’m surprised you’ve never run into him,” Katie says.

“Tucson’s a big place.” Would I even recognize him now?

“He googled
me
and found
my
phone number. He and Ben think we should go to the funeral.”

“Ben. You spoke to him, too?”

She laughs. “Yes, Jesus still lives.”

I blush at the sound of his name. “What is he like?”

“I don’t know. Same old Ben, I guess.”

“Did they find…?”

She swallows. “No one knows what they’ve found or what she wrote in her note.”

To think just five minutes ago I was worried about my job, trophy animals, and Darlene and Bobby E. doing the deed.

Katie takes a deep breath. “We could all go to fucking prison.”

BOOK: Lara Reznik - The Girl From Long Guyland
12.34Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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