After her flight to Mesquite, Nevada for her best friend’s wedding, Claire’s luggage is lost. She’s without her bridesmaid “dress,” and desperate times call for desperate measures.
The ultimate ugly bridesmaid dress: an Elvis costume. Worn while skydiving. Yes, my best friend Alicia is having a processional of skydiving Elvises. Meaning the wedding party will approach the altar by coming in for a landing. And I thought walking down the aisle was nerve-wracking. But Alicia is marrying her “skydiving soulmate,” and they both adore Elvis.
And since I’m the maid of honor, well…I’m screwed, with blue suede shoes.
God, I hate that song.
But that’s just the beginning. Tom, the best man and my now ex, was going to tandem jump with me. But when I caught him banging Cindy, his HR manager, he flew off her so fast he broke his ankle. So, that plan fell through—no pun intended. Now Cindy is his plus-one, and I’m jumping solo for the first time in my life. And if I think about either of those things, I’m definitely going to hurl.
Since my flight was canceled yesterday, I’m arriving the day of the wedding. If that isn’t bad enough, baggage claim has just informed me that my suitcase is “unavailable.” AKA, lost somewhere between Atlanta and this itty bitty gambling town in Nevada called Mesquite.
Not good. My costume is packed, and the wedding is in two hours and twenty-two minutes. I’m sure I could get Elvis get-up in Vegas, but by the looks of the sprawling desert around me, It’s hardly Vegas, baby.
I call all five shops in Mesquite while I shuttle over to The Platinum Penny, the casino hotel where the wedding will be. It is the only place that allowed Alicia to skydive onto its grounds. Not surprisingly, no one has Elvis costumes here. It’s appears that my bridesmaid outfit will be what I’m wearing now: jeans and a t-shirt that says, Bridesmaid, AKA, easy.
Approaching the casino entrance, I pass the security guard on duty. And oh, my. Tall, dark, and sculpturesque, he says, “Welcome to The Platinum Penny, miss.” His sexy deep voice sends tingles across my skin.
He must see my t-shirt, because he says, “I hope the dress you have to wear isn’t hideous.”
I smile. “You don’t wanna know.”
Chuckling, he replies, “Whatever it is, I have a feeling you’ll pull it off.”
“Or you could.” My cheeks burn. Realizing I need a subject change, I blurt out, “But I’m easy,” while tugging at my shirt. And that did not just come out of my mouth.
He winks one of his chestnut eyes. After I pass by, I turn for an ass glance, and it’s so perfectly carved it hurts.
After checking in, I beeline it to The Platinum Penny’s gift shop to buy pajamas, a toothbrush, and underwear. I’m leaving when I see it: a sign announcing the Dancing Elvises’ weekly performance in the casino theater.
Serendipitous? I think so. I race out of the shop and head to the casino croupier who is lint-rolling his vest. “Excuse me, sir, who can give me permission to borrow one of your Elvis costumes?”
“Me,” he deadpans. “I manage the dealing and the hotel.” He has a thick French accent. “And my answer is no.”
“It’s an emergency—”
“There is never an emergency involving an Elvis costume. Now go away. I’m very busy.”
“No you’re not.” I frown. “It’s for an Elvis-themed wedding in a few hours. I lost my luggage, and I’m the maid of honor. My ex is bringing his new girlfriend.”
“My performers don’t want strange body odors and germs on their costumes.” He points to the door. “Now go away, or I’ll call security.”
Actually, that was more of a temptation than a threat, but I march away.
Now I’m not a criminal…exactly. Unless you count the candy I took from the local Quick-and-Go as a kid. Anyway, I’m desperate, and the only Elvis costumes in all of Mesquite, Nevada are here.
I zig-zag through the slot machine zombies and head to the theater. It’s not locked, and I take a breath. Maybe I can still give my bestie the wedding of her dreams. I’ll return the costume tonight after the wedding. No harm no foul.
But the stage closet is locked. Not surprising, and I know how to use a credit card to bypass it. I grew up with two older sisters and bedrooms I had to access for clothes, earrings, shoes, whatever.
Inside is an Elvis heaven. I dance through the costumes, choosing the one that looks like it will fit. Stuffing it into my gift bag, I blow out the door.
I’m heading up to my room when Mr. sexy security guard stops me. My heart thuds against my chest, and I can’t figure out if it’s because I’m completely hosed or in love. “Excuse me, ma’am. I saw you take a costume on my security camera,” he says. “Follow me.”
Crap, crap, crap.
So, I’m going to jail instead of my best friend’s wedding, and yeah, I’m bawling. “I can explain,” I blubber out.
“Shhh.” He nods to the casino croupier and whispers, “Let’s talk in private.”
Once we’re in the back room, he says, “I’m Derek.”
“Mia.” My voice trembles. “I was going to return it—”
“I know, you need it for a wedding this afternoon.” He swipes his hand through his silky black hair. “I heard you telling Francois.”
“Yes.” I sigh.
Derek opens the back room closet where two Elvis costumes are hanging. “Francois doesn’t know about these.” He clears his throat. “So, um, I was just wondering if you need a date? To show your ex you’ve moved on, of course.” He winks.
I smile a smile that could light up all every slot machine in the joint. “Sure.”
Then I put my hand over my t-shirt. “But this ‘easy’ thing is a joke.”
“Dammit.” He shakes his head. Then he flashes me a brilliant smile and says, “I’d still love to be your date.”