Jeep USA rewarded the top fifty Jeep dealerships in North America by sending the franchise owners and their families to Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii, where they spent two glorious weeks in private villas with names like Kamaole Estates, Hula Paniau, and Wailea Beach. Sixteen-year-old Kiki Logan, whose father owned the Jeep dealership in Jackson, Mississippi, hooked up with seventeen-year-old Austin Griffith, whose father owned the Jeep dealership in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. They lied to their parents in general, but specifically about sneaking out to meet the other. They hid on a strip of secluded beach beside a shallow saltwater lagoon and drank spiked Hawaiian Punch for most of the second week. Fast-forward eight months, and it’s Hele Mai ‘Oe I Ko Maua Male ‘Ana! (We’re Getting Hitched!) and Hāpai Kaikamahine! (It’s a Girl!) at the Bellissimo Resort and Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi.
Where I work.
My name is Davis Way Cole. I’m a redhead, a newlywed, and lead investigator on an undercover team for the casino, which is to say I, along with my partners Fantasy Erb and Baylor (just Baylor, like Batman), perform workplace duties no sane person would ever agree to. Tonight’s impossible task? The Hawaiian Jeep wedding.
The families were bitter rivals and sworn enemies from way back who couldn’t agree on anything, much less a wedding venue, so the wedding was booked on our neutral ground. Huge wedding. The $100,000 package. It was all so Romeo and Juliet.
The mother of the bride and the mother of the groom raised all kinds of hell in the weeks leading up to the wedding, which was nothing compared to the fits they pitched when they checked in and began tearing it up in person. Our special events coordinator, Holder Darby—mid-fifties, ’80s big hair, wears Birkenstock clogs every single day of the year—who’d been with the Bellissimo booking, organizing, and being paid very well for coordinating every wedding, reunion, and conference since 1996, walked off the job. She didn’t show up for work Wednesday or Thursday, and finally on Friday, the day of the rehearsal dinner, Human Resources tracked her down. Holder told them she would never set foot in the Bellissimo again, ever, she’d had it with being bullied, threatened, and strong-armed by Groom’s Mother, send her last paycheck via the United States Postal Service, and don’t call back. All because of a Hello Kitty cake.
Until she could be replaced, Holder’s job fell in my lap. Starting with the Hawaiian wedding. Mission? To keep the Jeep people from killing each other over a Hello Kitty cake. Here’s how stupid this fight is: The groom’s cake is a towering Minecraft number garnished with diamond, emerald, and eyeball cupcakes.
The ballroom was split down the middle. The families marked their territories with two completely different decors, menus, and live entertainment. This marriage was doomed.
We made it through dinner without incident, the Hello Kitty cake was cut and served without bloodshed, and it looked like we were home free when the very pregnant bride propped her swollen feet in a chair and the older Jeep guests began nodding off. It was the dance bands who started the war. The lead singers began arguing from their respective stages over headset microphones. Ugly things about each other’s questionable paternity. F-bombs all over the place. In the blink of an eye, thirty musicians were off those stages and in a pile on the dance floor, fists and bass guitars flying. Every wedding guest under the age of sixty hit the dance floor and joined in.
Fantasy and I, on opposite sides of the brawl, spoke via earpieces.
“Where’s Baylor?” I asked. “He needs to get in there and break it up.” A man’s shoe flew in front of my face. Then a bridesmaid’s bouquet.
“Need some help over here, Davis.”
I hopped on a chair and spotted Fantasy across the ballroom. She was wrestling a fire extinguisher away from a wedding guest who was trying to run out on the dance floor with it.
Good idea. I pulled my phone from my pocket, hacked the Bellissimo’s building management control system, and turned on the sprinklers. Five alarm, full blast, make it rain.
It took until midnight to get the soggy guests sorted and disposed of. Thirteen were hauled off to jail, including five from the Top 40 band, two from the Jazzy Lounge band, and just the one Groom’s Mother. The other guests were sent to their hotel rooms, with the bride and her family traveling via ambulance to Biloxi Regional Medical Center where she delivered a seven-pound five-ounce baby girl. The whole time, a cleaning crew pushed industrial wet-dry vacs through the ballroom. The groom was finally located in a guest room with a Hello Kitty bridesmaid, dry as a bone. I didn’t get home until one in the morning, and when I did, I woke up my husband.
“Bradley.” I climbed into the warm bed. “You have to call Holder Darby and make her come back to work.”
He pulled me into a hug and kissed my forehead. “You have frosting in your hair.”
You can read more about Davis in Double Mint, the fourth book in the “Davis Way Crime Caper” series, published by Henery Press. The first three books in the series are Double Whammy, Double Dip and Double Strike.
GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on July 28 for the chance to win a signed hardcover copy of Double Mint plus swag. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Winner will be notified within 48 hours after giveaway closes and you will have three days to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected.
About the author
Gretchen Archer is a Tennessee housewife who began writing when her daughters, seeking higher educations, ran off and left her. She lives on Lookout Mountain with her husband, son, and a Yorkie named Bently. Double Mint is the fourth Davis Way Crime Caper. You can visit her at www.gretchenarcher.com.