Winter Break by Kayla PerrinWinter Break by Kayla Perrin

Winter Break

byKayla Perrin

Paperback | January 4, 2011

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I knew it wasn't true. It couldn't be. . . . And yet, I couldn't help staring at him, wondering. However fleeting, there was the slightest hint of doubt in my mind.

Didi Randall doesn't think her life can get much worse than public humiliation when her boyfriend is the subject of a vicious rumor on campus. Despite their four-year relationship, the rumor puts a wedge between her and Drake, but Didi is hopeful that they can reconnect on the winter break cruise. She, Drake, and a handful of Lan-U students will be sailing the high seas of the Caribbean just before the start of the New Year and new semester.

The cruise turns out to anything but happy and carefree when ugly secrets and grudges between friends are revealed. But Didi's troubles go beyond simple public humiliation when she wakes up on deck early in the morning, disoriented, and then learns that Drake is missing. It quickly becomes clear that he must have gone overboard. But was it an accident-or was it murder?

Kayla Perrin is the author of twenty-seven novels. She lives in Toronto, Canada.
Title:Winter BreakFormat:PaperbackDimensions:320 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.72 inPublished:January 4, 2011Publisher:St. Martin's PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0312644582

ISBN - 13:9780312644581


Read from the Book

Chapter One Two weeks later …HER BODY TURNED UP three days after she was last seen. Everyone assumed that Rachel Jepson had gotten into her car and simply taken off. That she’d headed to her sister’s place in New York. Or to the airport, where she’d gotten on a plane and headed for home. Or any other place where she could have escaped it all for a while.People figured that she had wanted to be anywhere but Lancaster University, and who could blame her? Most women who dated Seth Downey didn’t escape unscathed. He was simultaneously Lan-U’s biggest jerk and most sought after guy. People often overlooked character flaws when an obscene amount of money was involved.And Seth Downey’s parents were obscenely rich. Something Seth flaunted shamelessly, as it bought him a lot of power.Unfortunately, money couldn’t buy class. Nor could it buy decent character. In fact, one could argue that it enhanced one’s character deficiencies.Which was no doubt the case where Seth Downey was concerned.He dated women for sport—Rachel included. And when he’d had his fill of her, he had humiliated her with some X-rated pictures he’d taken of her—projecting them on his big-screen television at one of his house parties. Rachel, who had been at the party and still officially Seth’s girlfriend at the time, had understandably run from the house in tears.Three days later, Rachel’s car was found in a ravine off a rural road heading toward Philadelphia. Maybe she’d been drunk. Maybe she’d simply gotten disoriented on the dark road and had accidentally veered off the paved path. Or maybe she’d swerved to miss hitting a deer. Somehow she had ended up in a ravine obscured by bushes. If not for some kids playing in the area who had spotted her car, her body might not have been found for many months.News of Rachel’s death had spread like wildfire across the campus. Most people speculated that it wasn’t really an accident, but a suicide.I believed the speculation. Given what Seth had done to her, it made sense that Rachel had killed herself.Her suicide had been the second one since my senior year started, and it had shaken us all. But after about three days of speculating and feeling sorry for her, we moved on.Continued with our lives as normal.I’ll admit, I wasn’t too torn up over her death. I wasn’t Rachel’s biggest fan. Not after learning of her indiscretion with my boyfriend. She had crossed the line with Drake, and that had been inexcusable.Inexcusable because we’d all been friends. We came from the same town, and Rachel had gone to high school with my boyfriend before he’d transferred to my high school. With all of us from Oakland, California, we’d had a common bond at Lan-U. But after learning that she’d seduced my man, well, she became one of my least favorite people.But I did feel sorry that she had been so unhappy that she’d been driven to suicide. I pitied her for dating Seth, and felt her pain at what he had so cruelly done to her.At the time, I couldn’t imagine suffering public humiliation like that.Little did I know that mere days after Rachel’s suicide, I would be the one thrown into the lion’s den, publicly humiliated for the entertainment of others.*   *   *“Hey, babe.” My lips curled into a large smile when I saw Drake, my boyfriend, standing just outside my dorm-room doorway.He stepped forward, drew me into his arms, and kissed me, the kind of kiss that had me feeling sparks. We had been together for five years, but my passion for him had not faded. Drake was tall, dark, and incredibly handsome. At six-foot-four, with golden brown skin and an athletic build, he was one of the hottest guys on campus.And he was mine.“What was that for?” I asked as we pulled apart.“Can’t I kiss the girl I love?”The sensual timber of his voice had me wanting to get naked, but I knew that my roommate could show up at any minute. “Don’t get me all hot and bothered,” I whispered. “You know I’ve got that psych paper to write.”“Actually…” Drake slipped an arm around my waist and nuzzled his nose in my neck. “I was thinking we could get away for a couple of days. Head to that hotel we went to last time.” He ended the suggestion with a smirk and a raised eyebrow, and my body flooded with heat. We had been to that hotel just before the beginning of our senior year, and we’d had the best time a couple could have.I was tempted—seriously—but there was no way I could swing it now. “My paper is due on Friday, and I already got an extension.”“Come on, babe,” Drake said in his deepest, most sensual voice. “With my basketball this weekend, I won’t be able to see you. Which is why I want to get away now.”“Why are you trying to tempt me like this?” I asked, my body flushed.Before Drake could respond my cell phone rang, loudly interrupting our moment. Saved by the bell, I couldn’t help thinking, because I knew my resolve had been weakening, and I simply couldn’t afford a romantic getaway right now.“Don’t answer that.”I giggled as I turned and headed toward my bed where the phone was, thinking that Drake was seriously trying to turn on the charm. “Gimme a minute, lover boy.”As I reached for the phone on the bed, I saw Roxanne’s number flashing on the screen. She was one of my two best friends at Lan-U.I lifted the phone, then gasped when Drake’s fingers curled around my wrist. I looked up at him, expecting to see a playful expression on his face as he continued in his attempt to seduce me. Instead, I saw steely resolve in his eyes.“Don’t answer that.”His tone, coupled with his serious gaze, caused alarm to slither down my spine, as cold as a cube of ice.“It’s only Roxanne,” I protested.Drake wrung the phone from my hands—hard enough that a spike of pain shot through my wrist.“What the hell’s the matter with you?” I asked, an edge to my voice.“Damn it, I told you to leave the phone.”Fear gripped me from head to toe. Something serious was going on. Something Drake didn’t want me to know.“What is it?” I asked, my heart beating rapidly. Surely he wasn’t about to break the kind of news he had when he’d admitted his one-night stand with Rachel.Drake lowered himself onto my bed and dragged a hand over his face. My cell phone rang again, but I made no move to take it from him.He groaned. “All I wanted was one night. One night … so I could be the one to tell you.”“Tell me what?”When Drake didn’t speak, just sat on my bed looking as if he had the weight of the world on his shoulders, I knew he was about to shake the world as I knew it off its axis.My iPhone trilled, telling me I had a text message. I waited several seconds for some type of reaction from Drake. Getting none, I took the phone from his fingers. He didn’t resist.The message was from Roxanne, who was clearly anxious to reach me. I pressed the button to open the message and quickly read:OMG! Didi, go to The Gossip Hour website right now!Then call me asap!!!I glanced at Drake, who still wouldn’t meet my gaze. Then I hurried to my desk where my netbook sat open.I quickly brought up the Web site for The Gossip Hour, a campus blog that anonymously dished dirt about Lan-U students for sport. No one was ever named in the oftentimes vicious blog, but enough of a description was given to make it clear who the person was.My eyes scanned the latest entry to The Gossip Hour site.And now for the latest bit of Lan-U gossip. And oooh, it’s juicy. Rumors abound that a certain Lan-U basketball player—about 6'4? with flawless tanned skin and looks as hot as a movie star’s—forced himself onto a certain Plain Jane senior who crawled out of the hole she normally hides in and actually went to a college party. And by “forced himself” I do mean what you think: he raped her.Allegedly, of course. But this is one of those rumors so bizarre, you can’t help wondering if there isn’t truth to it. I mean, who would make this up? Hot jock rapes a geeky wallflower? You know what they say: truth is stranger than fiction. And after all, where there’s smoke, there’s fire.I sat still, not breathing, staring at the screen. I knew who the girl was. Natalie Laymon, queen of the campus geeks, had shown up at one of Seth’s parties just over two weeks ago. Her shocking appearance at the soiree had been the talk of the campus. And just days after Rachel’s death, I’d heard some rumors that Natalie was claiming she had been raped.I was so absorbed in the words on the screen that when Drake’s hand touched my shoulder, I nearly jumped out of my skin from fright.A beat. “Didi, it’s not true.”I knew it wasn’t true. It couldn’t be. Drake didn’t need to rape anyone, much less a girl who could easily compete for the title of Least Attractive Girl on Campus.And yet, I couldn’t help staring at him, wondering. However fleeting, there was the slightest hint of doubt in my mind—because he had admitted he’d screwed Rachel Jepson. He had hurt me in a way I had believed him incapable of doing.“Damn it, Didi. Don’t look at me like that.”“Why didn’t you just tell me?” The fact that Drake had come to my room hoping to lure me away on a supposed romantic getaway made it obvious that he was the star basketball player named in the blog. “You had to know I wouldn’t believe it. In fact, I would have laughed at just how ridiculous the idea was. But for you to try to get me to go away in an effort to keep me from finding out—”“Means I’m guilty?” Drake supplied, anger flashing in his eyes.I didn’t answer right away. “That’s not what I said.”Drake’s mouth pulled into a tight line. “Yeah, it’s real obvious you believe me,” he scoffed.“Don’t put this on me,” I countered, shooting out of my chair. “You’re the one who came in here acting all guilty.”“Guilty?” His eyes grew wide with disbelief. Disbelief that quickly morphed into disgust. “Five years, and this is the best I can expect from you?”“I didn’t say you were guilty.”“You may as well have.”And with that, Drake spun on his heel and charged toward the door.“Drake!” I pleaded, but he didn’t stop. He jerked my door open and rushed into the hallway, slamming the door so hard that the framed photo of us—taken at our senior high school prom—fell off the wall.The photo dropped to the floor, the glass shattering into a million pieces. Copyright © 2010 by Kayla Perrin