Too Hot Four Hula: 4 (The Tiki Goddess Mystery Series) (5 page)

BOOK: Too Hot Four Hula: 4 (The Tiki Goddess Mystery Series)
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“You made it. I knew you would,” he said.

“I didn’t.” Em let go a sigh of relief. “I feel like we’ve been away for two weeks already, and we haven’t even left the airport.” She was afraid to look around. “Did everyone get on? Is Kiki here?”

“They’re all here. Big Estelle said she didn’t care if her mother made it or not when she handed me your stuff. They’re spread out all over the plane. Kiki said they all managed to get aisle seats. She was pretty stoked about that. Guess it was too late for them to get seats together.”

“Just as well.” Em imagined the Maidens talking nonstop all the way.

“It’s only a twenty-five minute flight,” Louie reminded her as they taxied down the runway.

The flight attendant was showing them how to put on a life vest and blow into a tube on the shoulder if it didn’t inflate automatically.

“Fat chance,” Louie said as he watched the pretty young thing pretend to puff into the tube. “If we’re gonna need a life vest we might as well bend over and kiss our sweet
okoles
goodbye.”

Em looked out the window as the tarmac sank below them and they were airborne. Within seconds they banked over the turquoise waters of the Pacific, and the lush green mountains of Kauai grew smaller behind them as they climbed into the clear blue sky, headed across Ka’ie’ie Waho Channel toward Oahu.

Em reached for an inflight magazine just as the flight attendant stopped in the aisle and asked if she wanted any POG, the passion-orange-guava juice that was complimentary. Em declined. Louie asked for two of the little plastic cups sealed with foil.

As soon as the attendant moved on he pulled out a 50 ml mini of rum.

“How’d you get that on board?” Em asked.

“Kiki bought it for me at the sundries shop.” He opened the top and dumped it into the POG cup. “Want some? I have plenty.”

Before she could say no thanks, the song “Beautiful Kauai” came blaring over the speaker system, and up and down the aisle, the Hula Maidens were suddenly climbing out of their seats and dancing the hula.

“Look, a flash mob, Mommy.” A little boy in the row across from Em and Louie clapped his hands.

“Flash mob hula. A-looo-ha!” someone else called out.

“Look, Bill,” the woman seated behind Em said. “It’s those dancers from the
Trouble in Paradise
show.”

“They sure looked a lot younger on TV,” said a man beside her.

Em opened her magazine and held it in front of her face. If the rest of them were pulled off the plane and arrested when they reached Honolulu, she planned to deny knowing them.

All around people held up their phone to snap photos of the flash mob hula.

Thankfully the song was short. When it ended, passengers whistled, clapped, and applauded. One by one the Maidens buckled themselves into their seats.

Em heard a click over the speakers.

“Here we go,” she whispered to Louie. “They’re going to announce TSA and the police will be waiting at the gate.”

Louie drained the last drop out of his second cup of POG and rum and smiled. “You worry too much. Chillax.”

The captain’s voice filled the cabin. “A big mahalo to some very special ladies flying with us today. I’m sure most of you recognized the Hula Maidens from the show
Trouble in Paradise
. On behalf of Hawaiian Air we’d like to say mahalo to the Hula Maidens for sharing their aloha with us.”

The passengers burst into applause again.

“So much for getting arrested.” Louie passed his empty cups and mini bottles to the attendant in the aisle with a plastic bag.

With the possibility of a night in jail evaporating, Em’s stomach was tap dancing with anxiety over being face-to-face with Phillip again tomorrow.

“I can’t wait to see what happens next,” Louie said.

“I can.” Em closed her eyes and shook her head.

7

KIKI COLLAPSED INTO a faux wicker chair at one of the four tables the Maidens had pushed together at the Hau Tree Bar between the Rainbow Tower, the beach, and the Super Pool at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. She grabbed a drink menu and fanned herself.

“How long until the rooms are ready?” Trish Oakley pulled out a chair next to Kiki and sat down. Except for when she flash danced, her camera hadn’t left her hands throughout the trip from Kauai. Now Trish started snapping away at scenes on the Waikiki shore.

“I think they said forty-five minutes.” Suzi Matamoto took a seat and signaled a young waiter in uniform.

“Lucky they aren’t making us wait until three o’clock check in,” Trish said.

“Lucky we even got to book our rooms here so late. The place is packed with those women attending the Mindy’s Miracle Makeover Cream Convention.”

“I saw some of them over by Benihana,” Trish said. “They’re all wearing lavender and more makeup than a Kabuki dancer. Did you see the glimmer eye shadow?”

“I saw them,” Trish said. “I’ll bet they brought enough hair spray to blow this hotel sky high.”

Kiki laughed. “A couple of them passed me on my way down here. They tried to talk me into a free makeover. Can you imagine? As if I need one.”

She gazed toward the Super Pool, ten thousand square feet of splashing fun, according to the Hilton website. It was surrounded by lava rocks, tropical flowers of all colors, and the obligatory faux waterfalls that tourists expected. Her hands were itching to start purloining greenery for hair adornments.

“What’ll it be, ladies?” A handsome young twenty-something waiter drew their attention. He added, “We’re not open for lunch yet.”

“I’ll have a martini. Three olives,” Kiki said. “That is lunch.”

The others had ordered when Flora came huffing up to join them.

“Your face has gone red,” Kiki told her. “Better sit down and catch your breath.”

Flora managed to wheeze out, “Mai tai,” to the waiter. “Double fisted.”

“What took you so long?” Big Estelle was seated at the far end of the table arrangement. Her mother was parked next to her on a rented scooter contentedly scanning all the male sunbathers scattered around on chaise lounges.

“I was on the phone with the airlines,” Flora said. “How you think they lost twenty pounds of
poi
, eh? Not to mention all the other stuffs. My ice chest didn’t get here.”

Kiki shook her head in disbelief. “How dare somebody steal our
poi
? And what about all the frozen
akule
Kimo sent along?”

“It’s not stolen,” Suzi chimed in. “It probably didn’t get on the right plane from Kauai. When it arrives in Honolulu somebody will bring it over here from the airport.”

“Fat chance,” Little Estelle sniffed. “All that
poi
is gonna end up at some luau. Mark my words. We’ll get an empty cooler back.”

Kiki thought it best to change the subject. “Our flash mob dance was great. We’ll have to do it again on the way home.”

“They asked us not to, remember?” Suzi wagged her finger at Kiki. “They said once was enough.”

“No worries. It’ll be a different flight crew,” Big Estelle said.

“Maybe they made a note on our paperwork.”

“What paperwork?” Kiki wanted to know.

“The flight list or something.”

Flora turned on her. “What? You think they’re going to send us to hula jail or something?”

Kiki barked out a laugh. “Hula jail? I’m glad there’s no such thing, or we’d be serving life sentences by now.”

Lillian came rushing up. She scanned the bar area before she grabbed one of the last remaining chairs and dragged it over to the table. Her lip was still swollen, and she’d barely spoken all morning. She only spoke loud enough for them to hear over the kids hollering in the nearby
keiki
pool.

“Tell me if you see any of those Mindy’s Miracle Cream gals coming.”

“Why?” Kiki asked her.

“Because back in Iowa, I used to be one of them. I was even named one of the top Miracle Makers for selling the most product three years running. If any of them recognizes me, I’ll be called out for not living up to the Mindy Promise.”

“The Mindy Promise?” Flora said. By now all the Maidens were staring at Lil.

She raised her hand as if being sworn in. “I promise to apply Mindy’s Miracle Cream nightly. I promise to apply Mindy’s Miracle Makeup the minute I wake up in the morning and never, ever go to bed until I’ve used Mindy’s Miracle Makeup Remover and then moisturize with Mindy’s Miracle Makeup Moisturizer.”

They all joined in when she said Mindy’s Miracle Makeup Moisturizer.

“Look at me,” Lil cried. “I barely have on any foundation, and my eyeliner keeps melting and smearing.”

Just as the waiter returned to the table and began passing out their drinks, a woman on the other side of the bar in a red straw hat and a flowing accordion-pleat caftan shouted, “It’s them!”

She waved at the Hula Maidens, grabbed her husband’s arm, and started pulling him toward the table.

“It’s them, Fred. It’s the Hula Maidens.” The tourist filled out her Moroccan print caftan. “You’re the Hula Maidens.” She was staring down at the assembled group.

“We know.” Kiki reached for her martini.

The woman dug a pen out of her purse and grabbed a cocktail napkin off the table.

“May I have your autographs?” Her hands shook as she handed Kiki the napkin first. “I can’t believe it. I thought you’d be on that other island. Cow-eye, right?”

“Kauai,” Suzi, a stickler for Hawaiian pronunciation, said distinctly.

“Whatever. We heard a rumor going around the lobby that you were here. We just have to see you dance before we head home for Nebraska tomorrow. Is there any chance at
all
?”

By now guests seated around the bar and Super Pool area were watching the exchange.

Kiki paused and patted her hair into place. “We’re going to be on Oahu for five nights for the big cocktail Shake Off. Tonight we’re going to be dancing right here at the Hau Tree Bar.”

The waiter had just set Little Estelle’s drink on the tray of her scooter. He turned to Kiki.

“You are?” His smooth brow was suddenly furrowed with lines. “Dancing out here? We’ve never had dancing out here. There’s barely room to move.”

The Maidens were all watching her expectantly. Kiki cleared her throat.

“We’re dancing here around seven.”

The woman in the caftan grabbed her husband’s arm again and started dragging him toward the Ali’i Tower. “Come on, Fred. We’ve got time for a last shopping spree before we come back to get a seat in the bar.” She turned around and waved at the group. “Ta, ta, Maidens. Mahalo!”

They waved back.

“Wow, Kiki. Thanks for booking us some gigs. This is going to be great,” Trish said.

Kiki smiled, drained her martini, and signaled the waiter.

8

“WHAT AM I GOING to do, Em?” Louie actually hung his head in his hands and moaned. “I’m ruined without my recipes.”

Em reached for her cell. “No problem. I’ll call Sophie and tell her to FedEx your copy over. It’ll be here tomorrow.” She started to enter the number for the Goddess but heard him mumble.

“Did you say something?”

“There is no copy,” he said.

“What?” Em realized he’d never definitively answered her when she’d asked about making a copy of his recipes at the Lihue airport.

Her uncle sank into a chair, rested his elbows on the desk, and cradled his head in his hands.

“I never had a copy made.” He gazed up at her, looking sheepish. “I was afraid to take it to the business center. I thought someone might steal my recipes now that we’re all so famous.”

“And now they have. The whole notebook.” The large, battered, three-ring binder was full of handwritten legends and cocktail recipes. There were even doodled illustrations. There was no file on a computer, no back up.

“Who would do such a thing?” he moaned.

“Your competition for one.”

“You think so? I haven’t even gone to the contest registration area yet. How would they know I’m here?”

“Well, there
was
that minor ruckus in the lobby when we checked in.”

Naturally hotel guests in the reception area recognized the Maidens, which didn’t deter Kiki from yelling, “Do you
know
who we are?” at the reception clerks when their block of rooms wasn’t quite ready.

Suddenly they had been surrounded by a crowd of autograph seekers.

“Maybe it was a crazed fan,” Louie said.

“Could be. There’s been plenty of press about the contest, you in particular, thanks to the show. The Booze Bible is legendary. You’re a threat to the other contestants.”

“If someone stole it,” he sighed, “I’m toast.”

Em picked up the house phone and asked for security. A recording in English and then rapid-fire Japanese asked her to please hold. Hawaiian music immediately filled her ear.

“Are you sure you packed it?” she asked.

He closed his eyes. “Of course.”

“You’re sure? Absolutely.”

“I looked into the briefcase when I was in the airport boarding area just to make sure. Remember, you asked me about it when we were in line. So I checked when we were settled, and it was right there. You were out looking for Little Estelle. Where was she, by the way?”

“Practicing her perversion as usual. Let’s focus, okay? When did you next see it?”

“We were in the van on the way here from the airport. I looked at it again just to make sure.”

“Where did you stow the briefcase? In the back of the van with all the other luggage?”

“No. On my lap.”

“Okay. So when we checked in, did you set it on the luggage cart with everyone’s stuff?”

He frowned, remembering. “I was talking to Kiki and the girls about their rooms not being ready and about the lost ice chest.”

“Where was your satchel, Uncle Louie?”

“I’m pretty sure I still had the strap over my shoulder. I never set it down.”

“Then we left the Maidens and got checked in.”

“Right. Then I came up here with you and put the briefcase on the desk in my room. Now it’s gone.”

“But the briefcase is still here.”

He shook his head. “Yeah. They just took the binder.”

A recording of Don Ho crooned “I Will Remember You” in Em’s right ear.

“How could it just vanish? You never left the suite. Did you go to the bathroom?” she asked.

He shook his head no. His eyes widened. “I took the ice bucket and went to get ice. It’s the first thing I do when I get to a hotel. Isn’t that the first thing everyone does when they check into a hotel? Fill the ice bucket? I went out through the door in my room.” They were sharing a suite, two rooms separated by a sitting room with an efficiency kitchen.

BOOK: Too Hot Four Hula: 4 (The Tiki Goddess Mystery Series)
9.5Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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