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Authors: Shannyn Leah

Tags: #Romance, #Contemporary, #Literature & Fiction, #Contemporary Fiction

Sunset Thunder

BOOK: Sunset Thunder
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Sunset Thunder

The Caliendo Resort

Book One, Violet Caliendo

By The Lake Series

Shannyn Leah

 

 

 

Copyright © 2015 by Shannyn Leah

All rights reserved

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No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or transmitted by any electronic or mechanical means including information, storage and retrieval systems, without the permission in writing from the author. The only exception is by a reviewer, who may quote short excerpts in a review.

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

Shannyn Leah             

www.ShannynLeah.com

To the sweetest little gal in my life, my niece. I will dance around the world with you! Love you with all my heart!

Chapter One

VIOLET CALIENDO OBSERVED countless couples, as head wedding coordinator at the Caliendo Resort. Couples so deeply in love and were so involved in the wedding planning, they knew the extras available before Violet offered them. Couples who needed their parent’s approval for each decision they made and couples who sometimes didn’t make it down the aisle at all.

Today’s couple however, was a first for Violet.

She had no joy as the sun beamed through her bedroom window, whispering a tranquil good day, while the reminder of her morning appointment brought back the dark and dreary feelings of regret from the previous night.

But Violet had dragged her heavy feet from the solitude of her bed, and the comfort provided by the bamboo-cotton duvet, to slog across the plush carpet. She’d pulled the elegantly embroidered cream and chocolate silk curtains open and soaked up the sun, allowing the warmth to remind her, it wasn’t
that
bad. It wasn’t
that
good either, but she’d made an agreement with the couple and there was no altering that decision now.

Violet was a professional. Working at her family’s resort, she was left with no alternative but to provide the amenities of the resorts five-star rating.

Situated on the outskirts of the little tourist town, Willow Valley, The Caliendo Resort sat alongside the lake with a beautiful beach, where guests sprinkled across the sand like seashells, all summer long.

Violet’s grandparents had transformed the little stone inn into an all-inclusive get-away. Ten stories of elegant rooms stretched across a wide, ranch-style, U-shaped structure and centered around a maze of outdoor connecting pools and flower gardens that were shaded by trees guaranteed to help guests unwind and enjoy all the resort had to offer. Guests could easily find themselves taking advantage of the tennis courts, horseshoes, games area and golf course, while the winter months offered the best ski hill around. Chefs and staff prepped three kitchens in classy, on-site restaurants, and offered an outdoor, all-day buffet under a gazebo. But it was the ballrooms that fascinated Violet the most while growing up at the resort.

On warm July days, like today, most brides and grooms couldn’t contain their smiles of bliss, listening with eagerness to the exquisite services Violet offered to integrate into their special day. A day which they believed would be the grandest, most wonderful day, as they began their lives together united as one, and continued until the day they grew old, sitting on rockers and watching their great-grandchildren play about the yard.

She shook her head.
What a crock.

Violet had been escorting couples into the illusion of “happily ever after” since she’d graduated University.

Wedding co-ordinating? Wedding co-ordinating!
How did someone with a Master’s Degree end up pursuing a career in wedding planning?

The answer was easy. Being the daughter of the down-to-earth Eliza Caliendo, whose guidance in life decisions for her six children lacked education as an incentive, substituting it with the encouragement to follow their hearts instead. That rationale landed Violet in an occupation in wedding planning.

Darned if Violet had known the dream of uniting couples into their happily ever after would come back and bite her on the ass...like today.

Violet had never encountered a groom-to-be who blurted out everything that popped into his small, sluggish head, without filtering his sentences in regards to the people around him. Lacking consideration for feelings...commitment...
vows
.

Joel Bensen was that exceptional groom, sending spikes of irritancy in Violet’s direction. And none of the nonsense they were forced to endure from his shark jaws had a single thing to do with his wedding.

Violet, on the other hand, had been raised to recognize the filter in her head and trained to run every single one of her thoughts through it before a word ever left her lips. The action saved her from embarrassment and looking like a fool, both of which Joel was unaware he was undertaking right now.

“Hey Ryder. I’ve been calling you all morning. What is taking you so long? Are you still tumbling around in bed?” Joel said into his cell phone, and then paused while listening to the reply.

Violet was grateful it wasn’t on speakerphone. This gave his audience a moment of silence to absorb the meaning behind his question. Not everyone would understand, but Violet knew Joel was referring to Ryder’s sexual engagements.

Vulgar.

Violet was attentive to the implication, having been Joel’s wife, for a
long
nine years. Thankfully that had ended two years ago.

Yes, Violet Caliendo was in fact, planning her ex-husband and his bride-to-be’s wedding...their
happily ever after
...the day that would be the beginning of the rest of their lives together.

What a crock.

Joel’s words came out now loud and inappropriate, ricocheting off the blend of neutral colored marble walls, and trailing around Violet and the entire Bensen wedding party, standing smack-dab in center of the high-class lobby. Joel should have lowered his voice, to no more than a whisper, while crossing the marble floors and Persian rugs. He should have actually taken the tasteless conversation outside. Instead, Violet watched him draw the interest of the three receptionists, stationed behind the front desk. Each time Joel’s voice echoed in their direction, their curious eyes bounced up and down from assisting guests to Joel...occasionally landing on Violet. Her eye contact with them snapped their full attention back to their jobs and to the guests they were paid to treat like royalty.

Violet didn’t allow the truth, that some of the staff’s curiosity was about her planning her ex-husband’s second wedding was. There was no room for shame.

Violet’s breathing remained steady and calm, even if she had the urge to suck in a deep, restless lungful of air and slap the phone right out of Joel’s hand with her perfectly french-manicured fingers. Her smile and eyes remained incomprehensible and professional, even soft, fighting the urge to roll them so far back in her head, for the sole purpose of making this whole image disappear.

Could you possibly attract any more attention to yourself, Joel?

“Dude, are you still with that chick?” Joel asked with a piercing laugh.

Violet cringed.

That chick?

How disrespectful. How was it possible that she had been married to this man for nine years? She wished it was the same reason she’d taken a career as wedding coordinator: following her heart. However, that wasn’t accurate. Violet had no say in her marriage to Joel, besides the obvious
I do
at the altar...which had been forced, expected and congratulated.

If only her
I do
had been overflowing with the same magical feeling that tickled her stomach and enchanted her youthful mind, as she pursued her career path. As a child, the summer months at the resort had been her favorite time of the year, as the outdoor pools opened, the golf course kicked-off its season and the lake warmed enough to swim.

But, it wasn’t any of those reasons that her little heart fluttered with eagerness, it was the bustle of the resort being booked solid with weddings. Weddings in one of the elegant ballrooms, or under the white tents beside the beach. Formal attire would sprinkle the grounds with laughter and music. It was magical. It was amazing. It was Violet’s dream to be a part of that remarkable enchantment, in both respects: as a bride and a wedding coordinator.

Unfortunately, Violet’s career path went against her father’s expectations of where a Caliendo should reside on the occupational scale and Robert Caliendo had punished her. He disregarded Violet’s presence in an even colder manner than normal, as he developed a deeper bond with the next eldest sibling, Anya. In a state of rebellion, Violet had laid her own path of punishment far worse than she’d ever imagined, ending up in a marriage that was nowhere near happily ever after.

Violet and Joel’s vows may have united them in marriage, but it was loveless union.

Violet tried to shake off the memories flooding her mind. Being single the last two years, she’d let go of her past...or so she thought. Now, standing here preparing Joel for his second wedding, was the constant reminder of her wedding.

Violet had been left with no other alternative but to marry Joel. The eve of her wedding two men had treaded so hard on her full-spirited heart that it left Violet empty inside. Her desire to find
the
man, that one Prince Charming, as juvenile as the phrase sounded, to pave a future with her, one with everlasting love, devotion, adoration...and so much more, had been ripped out of her and left suspicion, doubt, and distrust instead that eventually consumed the remnants of her heart.

Happily ever after. What a crock.

“No, no. The blonde one.” Joel laughed loudly, in an approving bad manner. 
Ignorant.

Yes, it was very well possible for Joel to attract even more negative attention to himself
. The Caliendo guests did not pay good money to listen to how Joel’s best friend “scored”. Or how many times. Or what color the woman’s hair happened to be. Or how many women there were
. Ugh!

Well done. Joel you are officially the most mortifying client I’ve come across in...forever. 

Joel laughed at whatever comment playboy Ryder Carlex offered from the other end of the phone. No doubt, just as obnoxious a remark as Joel.

Violet envisioned Ryder Carlex, standing on the bow of his daddy’s boat with the sun glistening off the hard muscles of his bare chest, and his hair, silkier than her own, blowing in the wind, looking so proud for doing...nothing. Because he was a playboy who sailed around on his daddy’s fortune, picking up women and wasting money like he had an unlimited supply...which he very well possibly did.

Violet had never been
really
acquainted with Ryder. Even through the years she’d been married to Joel and the two men had maintained a relationship, she’d kept her distance. After Ryder had stood by Joel’s side as best man at Violet’s wedding, she had seen enough of him to last her a lifetime. He basically pounced on every woman at the reception...single or married...and probably scored a rendezvous in the bathroom on more than one occasion. Like every woman at her wedding, Violet wasn’t blind to Ryder’s beauty. Lord, he was a gorgeous man...on the outside. On the inside, he was cold, heartless...loveless.

If Violet hadn’t known Joel’s true intentions, she would blame Ryder’s womanizing ways for misguiding her husband away from her and their two children, eleven-year-old Sophia, and seven-year-old Parker, and into the arms of Missy Daniels. However, she was quite aware Joel got exactly what he came into this marriage for...money.

Violet’s eyes trailed casually and professionally at Missy Daniels the bride-to-be. There was no uncertainty in the look Violet cast, because her father educated her to master the art of expression, or there-lack-of. The look was not that of a jealous ex-wife, but that of a professional.

Missy was a dedicated maid employed at the Caliendo Resort for many years, questionably shacking up with Joel while he was still married to Violet...
happily ever after...eternity...forever...what a crock.

Why Violet had ever believed in happily ever after was beyond her now. As an adult, looking back at the foolish, young girl with her head in the clouds, she couldn’t believe they were two in the same person. If her younger self had paused from her dreams about love, she would have acknowledged that her parents weren’t ever in love and possibly even noticed that Eliza had been cheating on her father with Violet’s Uncle Carl, her dad’s brother, most of their marriage. After Robert passed away just a year ago, Carl and Eliza made their relationship public, as well as presenting the truth about Violet’s oldest brother Marc and youngest sister Izzy’s paternity. It turned out Carl was their biological father...it had been a shock to all of them...
but should it?

Missy was watching Violet and smiled shyly when Violet’s gaze fell upon her. Missy was weak and very few people would respect her. She allowed her feelings to write a tale across her face.

For instance, when Missy and her fiancée had initially walked through the door this morning, Missy carried a look of fear at the possibility of a reconnection between Violet and Joel. That had been quickly extinguished. There would never be a reconnection between that selfish, careless, two-timing jerk and Violet. She was too strong to fall for love again. Love was a foolish game that tipped the game pieces of those involved in the direction of lust, desire and whatever else formed, only to knock them over and scream
game over
.
No, thank you.

Violet maintained a professional smile in return, but inside her stomach was knotting. 

Why had she agreed to this? It was crazy. She was crazy!

When she had agreed, she’d thought it would gain respect from the people at the resort but, even if that was true, it was still the worst idea ever. It was so beyond what normal people did that Violet was wishing she had listened to every single one of her family members who advised her against it. Violet thought she was strong enough and professional enough to soar through the meetings, but right now, listening to nonsense banter and Missy staring at her with suspicion that transferred to her bridesmaids, who were eyeing her up like
she
was the enemy...
her...
it felt like Violet’s insides were about to burst. And that was the last thing she’d ever want, but Lord how she needed a break from all this craziness. 

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