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Three to Get Lei'd

Three to Get Lei'd

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"A jigger of tranquility is all Em Johnson wants, but now that her beloved Tiki Goddess Bar has been chosen as the location for Trouble in Paradise, TV’s hot new reality show, life is anything but tranquil. When a member of the camera crew is found dead in her kitchen—stabbed to death with Chef Kimo’s sashimi knife—the scene on the sleepy North Shore of Kauai goes from eccentrically crazy to downright dangerous. Suspects lurk behind every paper drink umbrella.

It’s not enough that Chef Kimo is the number one suspect or that the life’s-a-party Hula Maidens nearly burn down the place while dancing the hula with flaming coconuts. Em still has to deal with her Uncle Louie’s wedding to The Black Widow—until his fianceé’s Mercedes plunges into the Pacific. Roland Sharpe, a handsome, Hawaiian, fire-dancing detective, warns the locals not to interfere, but Em and the madcap Maidens can’t help themselves and soon wind up knee deep in danger again. Can the irrepressible troupe solve three murders before the champagne goes flat?
"
"A jigger of tranquility is all Em Johnson wants, but now that her beloved Tiki Goddess Bar has been chosen as the location for Trouble in Paradise, TV’s hot new reality show, life is anything but tranquil. When a member of the camera crew is found dead in her kitchen—stabbed to death with Chef Kimo’s sashimi knife—the scene on the sleepy North Shore of Kauai goes from eccentrically crazy to downright dangerous. Suspects lurk behind every paper drink umbrella.

It’s not enough that Chef Kimo is the number one suspect or that the life’s-a-party Hula Maidens nearly burn down the place while dancing the hula with flaming coconuts. Em still has to deal with her Uncle Louie’s wedding to The Black Widow—until his fianceé’s Mercedes plunges into the Pacific. Roland Sharpe, a handsome, Hawaiian, fire-dancing detective, warns the locals not to interfere, but Em and the madcap Maidens can’t help themselves and soon wind up knee deep in danger again. Can the irrepressible troupe solve three murders before the champagne goes flat?
"

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Published by: BelleBooks Publishing House on Jun 07, 2013
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09/29/2013

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1
 
Cue the Maidens!
IS A JIGGER of tranquility really too much to ask for? 
Standing behind a twelve-foot koa wood bar, Em Johnson, manager of the Tiki Goddess on
Kauai‟s North Shore, started prepping for the day ahead. After filling the ice bin, she
sliced fruit forthe sectional dish that held lime, pineapple, lemon slices, and maraschino cherries for the tropicalconcoctions tourists ordered in droves.
 Across the room, Pat Boggs, better known as “Sarge,” struggled to wrangle an incorrigible
group of geriatric hula dancers into some semblance of order. The senior dancers, a.k.a the HulaMaidens, had stubbornly conned their way into becoming the featured act at the Goddess.
“Okay, you gol‟danged left
-footed boobies, shut up and get in line! You
do
know what a
line 
is
don‟t ‟cha? It‟s show time!” Pat hollered.
 
Pat‟s voice grated on Em‟s nerves like nails on a chalkboard.
 Em inhaled, closed her eyes, and slowly counted to ten. When she opened her eyes, she foundherself staring up at Nat Clark, a full time television script writer and part-time Kauai resident fromL.A. Nat owned the refurbished plantation cottage on the beach next door to the Goddess. A tallhedge separated his property from their parking lot.
“You look like you need a break already,” he s
aid.
“I was thinking about hiding at your place,” Em said. “It would serve you right if the cameracrew followed me over.”
 Nat watched the commotion across the barroom where the Maidens were trying not to fidget while a cameraman balanced a huge handheld camera on his shoulder. He panned across them andthen filmed the three-piece band on the stage.
“You realize I haven‟t had a minute of peace since this whole thing started.” Em opened a new 
box of colorful cocktail umbrellas and set it on the bar near the garnishes. Ever since the pilot for areality show based on the Goddess had aired, the lives of everyone connected with the place hadbeen turned upside down. The show had aptly been named
Trouble in Paradise 
.
“Back the dancers out of the way. I want a close up of the Tiki Tones.” The cameraman foughtto be heard over Pat‟s hollering.
 
“She takes her job seriously,” Nat said.
 
“She does,” Em agreed. “With little success.”
  They watched Pat try to herd the Maidens away from the stage. Outfitted for a full dressrehearsal, all of the dancers were garbed in pink cellophane grass skirts tied over neon-yellow spandex cat suits
 — 
 very large, very neon, cat suits.
Pat waved her arms. “Move back, ya‟ll. Let the cameraman in, would‟ya? Back up, I say. Can‟tcha hear?”
  The line of dancers fell apart as Pat urged them toward the center of the room. Dressed in the worn cowboy boots, white socks, cargo shorts, and baggy Aloha shirt over a bleach-stained, faded
tank top, Pat‟s appearance was gender non
-specific. Her close-cropped hair and lack of makeupmade it impossible to tell if she was a woman or a young man.
Pat was the first to admit she “Didn‟t give a good gol‟durned turd” about it.
 
“She was enlisted to save the Maidens from themselves, and despite the odds, she‟s bound
anddetermined to succeed . .
. whether they like it or not. Most of the time they don‟t,” Em said.
 Nat watched one of the heftier Maidens adjust her cleavage by yanking at the neckline of hertop and heaving it up.
“I didn‟t know spandex had that much give,” he said.
 
 
“You can see why I‟m ready to get out of here.”
 
“My door is always open,” he told Em. “Make yourself at home anytime.”
 
“I was serious when I said the crew would probably follow me over to your place. Every time Iturn around there‟s a camera in my face.”
 
“That bad?”
 
“Worse than bad. Yesterday the producer said he‟d give me a co
-producing credit if I kept Little
Estelle from yelling „Call me Cougar!‟ every fifteen minutes.”
 
“Cougar? She‟s what? Ninety?” Nat laughed.
 
“Ninety 
-
two. It‟s not funny.
 
 The woman is a sex maniac. Want some coffee?” She offered.
 
“I‟d love some.”
 She filled a thick ceramic mug with a dark Kona brew that smelled like ambrosia. Em carefully slid the mug across the bar.
“Looks delicious,” he said.
 
“Cream?” She thought Nat loo
ked sort of delicious himself.
“I‟ll take it black. I need a good jolt.”
 Em glanced over at the stage where everything was at a standstill. The Maidens argued witheach other in hushed tones while Pat shot them all stink-eye. Bandleader Danny Cook and the Tiki
 Tones were working out the chorus of a new Hawaiian song. Em didn‟t speak the language, but
even to the untrained ear she guessed they were murdering the pronunciation.
She turned back to Nat. “Need a shot of something in your coffee? How about some Bailey‟s?”
 
“Nope.” He took a sip. “This will do it.” Nat glanced at his watch. “It‟s only nine thirty. They‟refilming early this morning.”
 
“When
aren’t 
 
they filming? Such is life now, no thanks to you.”
 
Trouble in Paradise 
 
had been Nat‟s idea. Who doesn‟t
dream of an exotic escape from real life,and what better setting than the always unpredictable atmosphere of a tiki bar on the outskirts of nowhere? He had been certain, and it turned out he was right. A big cable channel had picked up theshow. As Em re-arranged the lime wedges in the divided dish on the bar, she wished she could havetalked him out of it before it was too late.
“I still haven‟t completely forgiven you for pitching the idea,” she said.
 
“I thought you finally approved.”
 
“Oh, big Hollywood
 writer, have you conveniently forgotten that I had reservations about
this?” she shot back. “But once you told my uncle about it, Louie was so gung ho I couldn‟t stand inthe way.”
 
Nat set his mug down. “I‟m sorry, Em. I really thought
Trouble in Paradise 
would be great for the
Goddess and the whole North Shore economy.”
 
“Oh, there‟s no denying the show is helping everyone‟s business, especially ours,” she admitted.“Ever since the pilot aired, tourists have been flooding in. The parking lot is always jamme
d. Of 
course, the neighbors absolutely hate all the traffic, and I can‟t blame them. Before we even openour lot is half full with the production crew‟s cars and their van. The Maidens are determined to beon every minute of air time, so they‟re always fin
ding an excuse to practice or just hang around here.
 The overflow parking clogs the highway.”
 
“It‟s hard to miss all the No Parking signs up and down the road.”
 
“For all the good they do.” Em shrugged. “They‟re painted on everything that doesn‟t move:
surf 
boards, trash cans, light posts, derelict cars.”
 
“I especially like the mannequin hanging from a noose in that old mango tree a few lots down,”
he said.
“The one dressed like a tourist holding a sign that says Park Here and Die?”
 

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