Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Read an excerpt of 'Spring Break'

Spring Break

An all-expenses paid trip to Cancun for spring break? It wasn't exactly a hard sell for Leigh, Eva, Gia and Joy, frenemies from Arizona Southern University. But all is not well in the land of silver or lead. Soon after arriving, Leigh and the girls stumble upon some cartel carnage—a bloodbath of debauchery that makes even their wildest desert party seem tame.

Instead of doing the proper thing, like contacting the authorities, the girls go down the rabbit hole in this tale of sex, lies and bloodshed. It’s all fun and games until they make the acquaintance of Guero, a cartel kingpin who is none too pleased with their newfound lust for blood money.

These perky coeds aren’t on campus anymore, and after Guero lets them know just how serious he is, they make a run for the border no one will ever forget.

Read an excerpt!
The sky was lightening when Leigh rose, showered, and dressed for the day. She put on a comfortable beach outfit, tucking a long dress shirt around her miniskirt, careful to hide her machete in its makeshift holster, and belting the ensemble. While she had chosen the most loose and practical garment, they hadn’t exactly packed for a day trip to the jungle. Leigh was also careful to pack her favored handgun in her purse, hoping they wouldn’t be searched.
They decided against leaving Gia, after clear indications from Benicio’s mother that she was no longer welcome in her house.
She said she was doing drugs in the bathroom,” Eva translated, finishing off her breakfast and quickly dumping some provisions in her roomy bag. Leigh went to find Gia, who was awake and semi-coherent.
Take your bag, you’re coming with us.”
Leigh paused to study her. Despite the conditions, and the fact Gia hadn’t been eating, she was still beautiful. Her blonde curls had gone frizzy and wild in the heat, which only further heightened the pigment of her clear blue eyes. She looked like some jungle creature, wild and unpredictable.
Shower, please,” Leigh said, “and get dressed.”
They made the trek back to the bar in silence. If Gia wondered where they were going, she neglected to ask. It was just after sunrise when Manuel met them. He greeted Eva with a smile, the cleft gleaming. After a flourish of introductions, he crawled behind the wheel of a red Jeep, motioning Eva to take the seat beside him. Gia and Leigh took their places in the back of the Jeep.
It was slow going, and there were no seat belts. Each passenger had to hold on to avoid tumbling out into the jungle. The vegetation was thick and green, the humidity drenching the group in sweat.
After a few hours, they stopped to rest. Leigh was grateful for the pit stop, and she eased her aching limbs out to the side in a glorious stretch. Nodding at her from the front seat, Eva exited the Jeep, departing into the thick foliage to relieve herself. She was shortly followed by Manuel, who wiped off sweat from his brow with his arm as he disappeared into the jungle.
After both had left the vehicle, Leigh carefully pulled out the gun from her purse, sliding it under the floor mat of the Jeep. Gia shifted next to her, and Leigh realized she was not, as she previously had assumed, asleep. Slowly, Gia climbed out of the Jeep, wandering into the foliage where Leigh assumed she would partake of her stash.
Now alone in the car, Leigh took her machete from its holster, and slipped it snugly between the seat cushions. Just in case, Leigh thought to herself. After what seemed like too brief of a stop, Manuel gave a shout. Leigh only had time to take care of her own necessary business before climbing back into the Jeep to continue their journey. Leigh’s stomach told her it was around lunchtime when they arrived.
Her instincts from earlier were right—they were searched as soon as they exited the Jeep. It wasn’t an aggressive search, just a friendly one of necessity, with smiles all round from the men who had greeted them. After this was completed to Manuel’s satisfaction, Leigh allowed herself a quick survey of their destination.
It looked like a guerilla camp straight out of some bad action movie, consisting of huts and curling smoke coming from several structures situated in a semicircle. Manuel gave a short, boastful tour, from the meth lab (Leigh assumed that was the reason for all the glass tubing), to packets of miscellaneous materials she assumed was either heroin or cocaine.
Even though her hunger was starting to get the best of her, and Gia was beginning to twitch, Leigh felt frozen on the tour, unable to muster more than a smile at the many piles and packets of clean, white powder.
Now, the boss wants to meet you!” Manuel stammered in English, after concluding their little tour. Leigh looked at Eva, clad in a bright blue dress, looking more like a beach goer than someone on a jaunt at the local cartel hideaway. Eva turned, leading the way, with Leigh following suit and Gia trailing slowly behind.
Their destination was a sturdy building of taupe stucco, which would have looked right at home in any Phoenix suburb. When they entered, Leigh felt like she had walked into one. Flat screens donned the walls, a pool table took up much of the back room, and every possible accommodation had been thought of. A wiry young man, probably no more than 30, rose from a sofa chair to greet them.
Well, now where are you from? NO wait! Let me guess, California?” Before they could answer he motioned to Manuel. “Keys, my man.” On cue, Manuel tossed the Jeep’s keys to him with a smile.
Phoenix, actually,” Eva responded, looking at Leigh to try and figure out which one of them was going to have the best rapport with their new acquaintance.
Arizona Southern University,” said Leigh, who held his brown eyes for a few seconds before they settled on Gia. Leigh glanced at Eva, whose expression was the smallest of “ah-ha’s.”
And who is this?” he asked, gesturing towards Gia, still looking like a deer-in-the-headlights in her barely-there beach cover up and platform sandals.
This is Gia, and you are?” Leigh inquired, still taking stock of their surroundings.
Call me the Matador!” he cried, spreading his hands out to his sides for emphasis. His face broke into a wide grin, which made his wiry goatee look that more pathetic.
You’re from Texas?” Eva inquired.
Nah, Long Beach.”
Leigh raised her eyebrows in surprise. The Matador threw his head back and laughed.
Plain as print that face of yours, I know exactly what you’re thinking.”
What am I thinking then?” inquired Leigh, sizing him up.
What is some hippie from Long Beach doing in the middle of the jungle working for a drug cartel?” The Matador smiled.
La Familia?” inquired Eva.
Who else? They own Cancun,” Matador responded cockily. He whipped his head around. “You must be hungry—and thirsty, beer time.” He gestured towards Gia, who let out the slightest of giggles, and she followed his lead into a generously stocked kitchen.
Maria will make you anything you like.”
Tacos for me, please, we’re famished,” offered Leigh, as a small, middle-aged woman smiled and began preparing something that soon smelled wonderful. The Matador was not one to let silence rule the day. He regaled them with tales of his prowess in the Long Beach drug market, how he owned four houses in California and one in Cancun.
And one here?” Leigh responded. The Matador didn’t miss a beat.
Well, not really, the cartel owns this one. Which I guess means I do, because I am the fucking cartel! Ha ha!” He shoved a taco in his mouth, and while munching, stared at Gia, who was only picking at her food, but had forced down half a taco. Her eyeliner was drooping a bit in the heat, but this seemed to enhance, rather than diminish, the Matador’s admiration.
After lunch, Manuel departed, and they retired to a back patio for beers. Leigh felt the warm buzz of alcohol as she propped herself on the arm of a wicker chaise. The Matador brought up the reason for their visit.
So, the boys tell me you’re looking to make some money?”
A lot,” admitted Eva, exchanging glances with Leigh.
You might make more selling yourselves than running drugs,” the Matador laughed, shooting another glance at Gia.
What do you mean?” Leigh asked, peeling the label of her beer. She knew exactly what he meant, but felt like having it explained to her.
My cartel,” he stopped to take a swig of beer, “we also run women. Pretty ones. People pay. The cuter, the better. You make a million easy that way.”
For a human life?” asked Eva.
For a slave,” the Matador responded, pulling at his goatee and shrugging. He had obviously enjoyed his time in the jungle. Gifted with average looks, his confident personality easily made up for his scrawny features. He had certainly been eating well, if the paunch in his stomach was any indication.
We’re not that desperate, not yet,” Leigh sniffed in response.
Why do you want the money so badly then?” he asked, with genuine curiosity rather than suspicion. He was on his seventh beer, and Leigh got the feeling he enjoyed the company of his American compatriots more than he let on.
Tuition . . . shopping,” Leigh replied, which was answered by another round of laughter from the Matador.
Fine, I’ll give you some shit to run. But you buy the stuff from me first, that way you take extra care of it.”
Don’t need to, we already have some,” Leigh replied, downing her beer and reaching for another. It took the Matador a few seconds, but he caught on.
Have some of what?” He asked, eyes sparkling. Leigh shrugged at the question.
I’m telling you I have some product. I don’t know what it is and I don’t want to know.”
How much do you have of this mystery product?” The Matador asked, sinewy hands gripping the beer in anticipation.
Lots,” responded Leigh, smiling and taking a drink. “But you have to help us get it first, we don’t have the manpower. And you have to guarantee we get paid, after we drop it off.”
I can do that, shit, I am . . . ”
The cartel,” Leigh finished for him. The Matador smiled.
How do I know you’re legit?”
Leigh nodded at Gia.
Show him Gia.”
Blinking, Gia fished her private stash from her bag, offering it to the Matador like a peace offering.
He studied its wrappings with interest, seemingly recognizing a distinct pattern. Looking up, he smiled.
You got it, baby!”
Finishing her beer, Leigh removed her shirt to reveal her bikini top. She threw the shirt on the ground.
Feel like dancing, Eva?”
Eva jumped a bit, obviously thinking about something else.
The Matador smiled rakishly at Leigh. “Shit, I should have known when you walked in you’d be trouble.”
No trouble, just looking for a good time.” Leigh stood and began circling her hips to an imaginary beat.
A few beers and an iPod playlist later, everyone, including Gia, had loosened up. The Matador wouldn’t let any of his men in, though his phone kept ringing intermittently. Leigh didn’t get the sense that many young women came to this camp very often.

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