Genre: Romantic Comedy
Publisher: Taylor Street Books
Number of pages: 286
Word Count: 90,000
Dudes Down Under, the most luxurious resort ever built. It sits on a privately owned Island on the Great Barrier Reef, off the northernmost region of Australia.
No cell-phones, no computers, no paparrazi.
The world's most famous talk show hostess and the owner of the island sign a deal, the result; Hollywood's 'A' listers all vying for a chance to be the first guests.
They pay half a million dollars for the privilege of being randomly chosen from a barrel of names on her programme.
The winners, include Hollywood's foremost golden couple. His very unforgiving ex-wife.
The young hotel heiress with a habit of driving whilst drunk and little else to commend her. Blend in a couple of famous expatriate actors
Add the tower owning king of power with an unfortunate hairstyle and attitude.
The television hostess and her film crew.
Add to the mixture:
The most politically incorrect bunch of Australian staff you are likely to meet, anywhere.
Cyril, who has impeccable dress sense, adores Al Pacino and Marlon Brando, drinks to excess, and has a fascinating attitude about well—everything! Well ... yes--he is a Crocodile, but he's family.
Blend the ingredients carefully then stand well back!
'Dudes Down Under' is waiting for you to arrive.
Authors are meant to enjoy talking about themselves, right? Wrong! It is so difficult to blow your own trumpet without sounding big-headed or apologetic or both at once … "I do apologize for sounding big-headed." You get my drift? I can do this straight up or in my normal (Occasionally) manner.
So here we go…I have had the privilege of having 3 books published by Taylor Street Publishing. Books one and two are biographical and written under my pen name of Stacey Danson. 'Empty Chairs' and its sequel 'Faint Echoes of Laughter' have been well received and for that I will always be so very grateful. They are difficult books to read, dealing as they do with the explosive topic of Child abuse in its most horrific of forms. When I was writing Empty Chairs I badly needed a release of some sort; somewhere I could focus my mind apart from the memories I had to relive. 'Dudes Down Under' is the result.
The book is Romantic and dare I say it very funny in an over the top, off the wall, 'what the hell did she just say?' way. The characters I loved writing. They became my friends. They gave me an avenue to explore strong women, vulnerable men, and love with all its faults and foibles. They also allowed me to explore comedic writing to its fullest extent.
Reviewers tell me they cried laughing at the comedy … and at times simply cried. I have a sequel (Dudes Does Hollywood) in the planning stages.
I have also recently completed a psychological thriller…phew! Challenges are something I never avoid. Only time will tell if my exploration of different genres will be successful.
Read an excerpt here!
Chapter 1 Dudes Down Under.
The dream becomes reality.
Lucy shook back her waist length hair; it clung in wet strands to her olive-skinned shoulders as she emerged from the lagoon. This was her island, her home. Twenty-four hours from now people ready to criticize and find fault with everything and anything would invade it.
Her stomach clenched in a tight knot. Nerves were her biggest enemy. They often blew the hell out of her attempts to present herself as cool, collected, and unaffected. Well, daddy, wherever you are…this is it. I have done what I promised you I would do. I've built it. It's real daddy, I can see it from here. I wish you could see it. Can you? I hope so. It was your dream and mine, I hope to hell it works.
She gave herself a quick brush down, gently flicking the silver sand onto the pathway leading through the rainforest to her private dwelling.
Tomorrow was D Day…Dudes Day. Today was the last chance to change anything.
Lucy looked out from her wide verandah at the sparkling newness of the resort.
Dudes down Under curved around the lagoon seeming to blend into the crystal water. The separate bungalows at varying levels half hidden from view by the rain forest nestled around them. It was her baby, her pride in it a tangible thing. She had poured her heart and her entire inheritance into her dream, her father's dream. Daddy was gone, their dream resort was here, real at last and waiting.
Every bungalow was individually created to reflect a part of her Australia. The Great Barrier Reef lent itself to every imaginable color combination. The feeling of being in the water heightened by the floor to ceiling aquariums in every bungalow, leading through corridors of terrariums and out to a private pool and spa ceilinged with rain forest vines, and a glass archway that could be soundlessly closed over by remote control.
The pool in each began inside the lower level of the bungalow, the guests could swim from the wet bar area inside and arrive outside without leaving the water. Surround sound systems unobtrusively allowed music of the guests choice to be played in any of the 8 rooms decorated to the absolute comfort of any individual.
Quality not quantity was apparent in every room.
Furnishings lovingly hand crafted by the best of the best…every accessory original and exquisite.
Lucy hugged herself and smiled as the memory of her father and his laughter at her youthful exuberance invaded again. This dream had begun with him. She had been raised with his vision of a classic place where people could come and find nirvana…piece of mind in absolute luxury. Each bungalow was unique. Beautiful stationery lay on the desks inside the library off the master bedroom. Handwritten letters replacing the urgency of email. Time was in abundance here. The urgency of the world outside would disappear for the duration of the stay.
Lucy took a last glance down at 'Dudes'. She dressed in a white cotton sarong, wound her ebony mass of hair into a chignon, and headed down to the main reception area.
Skeet was having a quiet smoke and coffee, he sat perched on a fallen tree. The air was still damp and cool in these moments just after sunrise. He caught sight of Lucy walking down the winding pathway through the vines and ferns. She looked wonderful as always. He gave himself a shake; Steady on stupid! Lucy is way outta your league. The voice on his other shoulder was shouting—'Shut up angel puss…go for it boyo, what have ya got to lose?' He told both voices to shut their cake-holes.
Lucy smiled with relief when she spotted Skeet, he was her friend, and absolutely the most dedicated employee anyone could wish for. He stood up to welcome her and she glanced at his 6 ft 3 inch frame, as a friend he was the best, as a man…whoo-ee! The nicest thing was he had no idea just how devastating he was to look at. Dark curls above a pair of deep blue eyes, and a killer smile. The most wonderful thing about Skeet was just … Skeet.
"G'mornin', me lovely. Did ya get any sleep?" he asked.
"Not much, but it's okay, I was kind of expecting to toss and turn a bit."
"Ya wanna have a coffee before we do the meeting thing?"
"Yes, oh yes please, Skeet. Even my butterflies have butterflies."
"She'll be right, mate. Can't do a thing about it now anyway. So relax a bit, enjoy a coffee and a smoke. What time do ya want me to call 'em in for the session?"
"Half an hour?"
"Yeah sounds good. Sit yourself down; you're as twitchy as a cow in a bull yard."
"That bad huh?"
"Make it a bloody strong coffee."
"You got it."
They relaxed together, sipping on hot coffee and smoking. Each aware of how very important the next Twenty-four hours would be.
Lucy flicked a look at her Rolex, gave Skeet a nod, and they both headed into the Grand ballroom to ready themselves for the staff meeting.
"Testing --testing, 1-2-3—Attention, attention. All staff-- there will be a full staff meeting in ten minutes in the grand ballroom. Bluey! That means you too, mate. So put ya smoke out—drink down ya coffee, and get your arse in here quick smart, ya drongo!"
"Is that what ya wanted, darlin'?" Skeet asked, as he turned from the public address system.
"Thanks, I wouldn't know what to do without you, you're wonderful!" Lucy reached across the desk and gave him a quick hug.
"Geez, mate, knock off the flattery, you'll give me a swelled bloody head."
"Skeet, can you please, please--stop calling me mate! I feel like a man every time you say it."
"Well, now, Lucy, me little darlin', you don't know how often I wished to hear you say that! But you're the boss and I'm just a Croc handler. Sad, isn't it?
"Well — no. I … I don't mean I feel like a man; well I do, but not like really feel, aw hell! You, cheeky bugger, you know what I mean!"
"Wouldn't have a clue, ma … er, chooky! No bloody idea. If ya believe that malarkey, I got an island ya might be interested in buyin'! Strewth, you're a real corker, when ya go that blood red color, Lucy."
"What? Oh, um, thanks, Skeet, I think?"
"Look, Lucy, I've known ya since you started this project, and I admire you a lot, you know that. But, mate, bloody hell, are ya sure it's a smart move--not tellin' the others that you own this joint?"
"I don't know for sure if it's smart or not. But, it's the way I want it. These people are a good bunch. You and I both know just how damned hard they've worked to have this place ready in time. I don't want to have them watching their manners with me. I'll get to hear a lot more about, well--everything, if they think I'm just working here as the manager. Please, Skeet."
"Yep, all right. I understand, mum's the word."
Lucy leaned over and gave her friend another kiss on the cheek, "Thanks, Skeet. Oh, and, Skeet, that's a nice color red on you too!"
"Females. Bloody—females." Skeet headed in to the grand ballroom with a huge smile on his handsome face. Lucy was a real little corker. Her dad would be so proud of her. Bloody shame he had to go and get himself eaten …! Bloody Crocs are such unpredictable bastards. Well--except for Cyril--but Cyril was family.
The staff gathered in the Grand Ballroom waiting for Lucy to come in. She glanced around and noted without surprise that Bluey was not amongst them. She looked across at Skeet; he hurried off to the P.A system.
"Bluey! Ya, lazy bastard--smoko's finished. Get ya arse in here now or you will be in deep shit mate. Now, Bluey!"
Everyone was laughing when Skeet returned; and he gave them a shrug and rolled his eyes.
Bluey wandered in, swaggering as always. His tall lean frame and his shock of red-hair came as an unusually attractive package. Not freckled like many redheads, his skin was clear and his eyes an electric green.
"Thanks for gracing us with your presence, Bluey," said Lucy.
"Anything for you, Lucy, anything at all."
Lucy ignored the comment. Bluey was a problem, she kept hoping he would pick up his act and pull his weight. No luck so far. She dreaded having to fire anyone; but he was a definite liability at the moment. She ignored that thought for now, needing to focus clearly on the meeting.
"Okay everyone." She said and clapped her hands together, "One more day till the opening. I want to run through everything once more. Not as formally as we usually do. We have a hectic and nerve racking time ahead of us. Our first and most important guests will be here in just under twenty-four hours. I want to thank all of you for the amazing amount of work and dedication you have shown. I have been advised that each and every staff member will be receiving a bonus in their next pay."
This announcement was greeted with cheers all round. The electricity and collective nerves were very apparent.
"When do we find out who won the draw, Lucy? It's so exciting." Ginny spoke up with her eyes glittering feverishly. Lucy looked at her fondly, Ginny was her friend, and an employee, yet there was no denying that to every male with a pulse who didn't know her well it appeared that her twenty-year-old body was built for sex. Her mind was built some time later. Sadly, she was also a natural blonde, which sure as hell didn't help her in the, we-believe-you-are-intelligent-truly-we-do, stakes! Lucy was very protective of the youngster, and it showed.
"Miss Peters is doing the draw on her talk show." Lucy continued with a huge grin at Ginny's excitement. "The list will be sent immediately, along with any special dietary needs, and the numbers of staff accompanying those chosen. I have been told to restrict their staff to two. Due to the fame of most of the people in the draw, they will be listed under pseudonyms. We want them to have a holiday--paparazzi free. That is a huge part of what has attracted them here, these people want to be treated just like everyone else. Or at least they think they do!"
"She, gets to come no matter what--doesn't she?" Ginny was almost squeaking she was so excited. Yet still managing to say 'She' with dignified non-blasphemous restraint.
"Yes, Ginny. Miss Peters is the reason all the other beautiful people want to come. They all want to be the first of the big names on the 'A' list to check us out and hopefully give us the thumbs up!"
The entire room turned as one when Cyril made his regular morning entrance and headed for his favorite area near the floor to ceiling windows. He liked looking out over the beautiful lagoon.
"Jeez, is it that late? Sorry, Cyril me old mate, I lost track of the time." Skeet stood as he spoke.
Well I am so touched that you forgot me! Am I that unnecessary! What would it take for me to be more memorable? Hmm? I am twenty-eight feet long. I wear my own little collection of designer t/shirts and sun hats. My sun glasses are Gucci, and yet I'm forgettable. Sigh! Life is so unjust.
Skeet hurried out to the kitchen, returning with Cyril's breakfast. He threw the live chickens one by one, and Cyril did his usual appreciative, snap--crackle and slobber routine. He then lay quietly drinking his gallon of beer. Being a 28 ft long Crocodile had distinct advantages. Cyril smiled his crocodile smile and belched loudly.
Well that is much better. You lot are my family you know. Odd—granted, you certainly are. Yet I love you all, in my own way. I mean I haven't eaten any of you—have I? Just isn't done. Life is good, and the women in this place…mmmm, makes me wish I were a frog, one kiss, and whoo-eeee! I wonder how many of my little family know just how cute they are.
Cyril, having drawn only the briefest acknowledgment at his presence; contented himself by farting and snoring in harmony and stink. Life at 'Dudes' was—so—normal.
"Lucy, they already know about the restrictions—no cell phones, no faxes? No television, all that sort of stuff?" Asked, Didi with a grin on her face.
"Yep, they do."
"So I had better be prepared for a lot of withdrawal symptoms, hey, Lucy?" Said Doc.
"When we are all relaxed and comfortable, I'm going to open up a general question time. Anything—anything at all that might have crossed your minds; things that we haven't covered or you're unsure about, please feel free to ask--anything! If you just want to confirm something we've already covered, or have a gripe about something, now is the time to do it. Once our guests arrive I will have little or no time for a one-on-one with any of you. So people, ask away."
"So, beautiful—what are you doing after work?" Bluey, asked.
"Anything I like, Bluey boy! But I don't date outside my species!" Lucy smiled sweetly at him, daring him with a look to say more.
That shut him up--temporarily.
Cyril belched again. That mongrel, Bluey, better keep his hands of Lucy. I wouldn't need a whole lot of reasons to eat that bastard.
"So, Lucy" Bluey said with his hands on his hips, " Lemme get this straight all right? This bunch of spoiled-arse whatever's; are paying half-a-million bucks per couple, plus the same again for each staff member they bring with them. All for the privilege of being normal human beings for one month?" Bluey was clearly unimpressed at this brand of stupidity. "Don't make any damned sense to me at all. Bunch of wimps if you ask me."
"Bluey … these people have so many restrictions in their lives. They can't do normal things that we all take for granted without a dozen camera's following them every inch of the way. So please lose the attitude. Okay. They are simply here for a holiday. One we need to help them enjoy … got that?"
"Yeah, yeah whatever."
Lucy chose to ignore his muttered agreement. She turned instead and directed herself to the remaining staff.
"Okay people. So long as we are clear on one very important point. These folks want the freedom of going anywhere they want, without question—or paparazzi. They have gone to a great deal of trouble to ensure the press doesn't know where they are." Lucy looked at the assembled faces and continued,
"The names you will be instructed to call them are up to them. Should they decide that they wish to be referred to as … um… 'Hey You!' We will do it. Is that very clearly understood, everyone?"
Mutterings of, "Yeah--no problem … gotcha, right, and … whatever!" All wafted through the air at once.
"Uh-huh—perfect—their jaded palates and boringly perfect lives are about to get sat on their heads—I think they might just find Australia—unforgettable."