Ugly Beautiful People
by CJ Bedell
Publisher: Next Chapter Publishing
Cover Artist: Lordan June Pinote
Release Date: August 31, 2023
Genres: Adult LGBTQ Thriller (3 out of 5 point of view characters are bisexual)
Themes: Coming out, Self-acceptance, finding yourself, death, grief, loss
Heat Rating: 3 flames
Length: 59 000 words/249 pages
The book stands alone, but it is intended to be the first book in a trilogy.
It ends on a small cliffhanger. Most of the plot points that happen in Book 1 are wrapped up, though.
Welcome to Crescent Hills where beauty only runs so deep. Scandal lurks just below the surface behind the McMansions, designer clothes, and fancy cars. And a death will bring the lies, secrets, and betrayals to a boil.
Welcome to Crescent Hills, where beauty only runs so deep. Scandal lurks below the surface behind the McMansions, designer clothes, and fancy cars. When the town is shaken by the disappearance of journalist Ivy Fields, whispers of betrayal and intrigue begin to unravel the threads binding its elite residents.
Audrey, haunted by her own past, is determined to unveil the truth behind Ivy's disappearance, hoping to find closure she never received. Amidst this, Marcia grapples with the confines of her seemingly perfect marriage, leading her down a dangerous path. At the same time, a young Ben navigates the complexities of love, friendship, and societal expectations. Meanwhile, Cassandra's life gets disrupted by a ghost from her past.
As Crescent Hills residents confront their own dilemmas, the shadow of Ivy's disappearance looms large. For behind every beautiful façade, there are secrets yearning to be exposed, and as they say, the past always finds a way to catch up.
Birds screeched when Audrey opened her eyes. She yawned, then stretched. Her back hairs stuck up. Audrey might’ve been lying on the seating of the pontoon boat, but black no longer veiled the sky. Instead, sunlight beamed from the cloudless sky.
Audrey scanned the boat. Ivy was gone.
Dread filled Audrey’s insides—she couldn’t think of one logical explanation as to why Ivy would no longer be on the boat. Audrey did the only thing she could and leaned up against the edge of the boat and peered into the water. No sign of Ivy.
Something vibrated from her jean’s right pocket and she whipped out her iPhone. Sawyer was calling her. “Hello?” Audrey asked.
“I wanted to see how you were doing this morning.” Sawyer chuckled. “And don’t worry. I’m not mad you decided to have a fun night with Ivy. Just glad Ivy texted me about you staying over at her place. Most people wouldn’t be so courteous.”
“I’m still on the boat,” Audrey blurted. “And Ivy is nowhere to be found.”
“We never went back to shore and had dinner.”
“How much did you drink last night?”
“Just one gin and tonic.”
A folded piece of paper on the driver’s seat of the boat caught Audrey’s attention, and she rushed over to it. “I’m sorry, but I’ve gotta go,” she said. “I’ll be home as soon as I can.”
Audrey pressed END before shoving her iPhone back into her pocket. Then, she unfolded the note and read it.
I’m so sorry to have to tell you this, but I’ve been very unhappy
with my life for a long time, and I’ve decided to end my life.
I know my suicide will probably come as a shock to you. However,
please always think of me fondly.
Audrey crumbled the note and it fell onto the floor of the boat. After that, she screamed. Tragedies were supposed to be something that she watched on the news, not witnessed first- hand. But no explanation was necessary about how cruel life was and the universe often had a twisted sense of humor.
Tears welled in Audrey’s eyes. Nothing could’ve prepared her for this moment, because she wanted to cry. And cry. And cry. Ivy couldn’t be dead; she was only thirty-seven. So, she still had a little more than half her life left.
Ivy was in trouble and Audrey hadn’t seen the signs. So,
Audrey’d never forgive herself for Ivy’s suicide. Audrey had failed Ivy, and she couldn’t fathom how she’d continue with life.
Audrey’s throat tightened. Perhaps Ivy’s death was only meant to resemble a suicide and was really murder. There was a reason people always touted the saying about life being stranger than fiction. Audrey shook her head. Yeah, that had to have been it. Ivy couldn’t have been desperate enough to commit suicide.
The only thing Audrey was certain of was that Ivy was nowhere to be found. And that was why she’d get to the bottom of Ivy’s death. Whether someone murdered Ivy or Ivy actually committed suicide, there had to be more to the story.
About the Author
Chris Bedell is the author of over a dozen novels. He also graduated with a BA in Creative Writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 2016.
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