A light-hearted tribute to the power of girlfriends and the bonds women forge through trauma, drama and humor.
Liv and Susie have been best friends for 30 years. Over forty and over-scheduled, they make a break for an overdue beach vacation. They’re feeling closer and more relaxed than they have since eighth grade. But with strange power outages and wild rumors flying faster than the grounded airplanes, their holiday is turned into more adventure than they’d bargained for.
Defiant Susie is not having it. She promised herself three relaxing days to catch up on the sleep she’s missed in the last thirteen years of parenting. Pragmatic Liv urges Susie to consider getting back home, where things are more controllable, even if it means sacrificing grown-up drinks and uninterrupted naps. After the power in the whole city goes out, they try to make the best of a sticky situation by holing up their evacuated hotel. Susie and Liv take full advantage of all five stars before the southern humidity forces them out of the luxurious resort and into trouble.
Their careful plans for a safe trip home are wrecked before they even leave the parking garage. They maneuver around the good guys, the bad guys, and the guys who are playing on both sides. This wild ride of a vacation breaks down their patience with the world and strengthens the bond, and snark, between them.
Targeted Age Group:: 20-50
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
My best friend, Angela, had a dream that inspired this storyline. She and I started this book together as a delicious distraction from our busy schedules and for dedicated time together. Four months into the project, she died unexpectedly. I picked the project up again over a year later, as a grieving tool and a reminder of the magic of life amid such devastating loss. Angela was one of the founding board members of the first women's sober living facility in Mississippi. The proceeds of the sales are contributed to the facility in her memory.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
The four main characters are based loosely on the women in Angela's inner circle. The character of Susie is absolutely based on Angela's outrageous personality. The supporting characters were pulled from a combination of popular characteristics in the region and pure imagination. It was important to balance the severity of the situation with humor and to represent the people of the south accurately.
“Do you think he’s dead?” My whisper was at odds with the roar of adrenaline in my head. I poked the crumpled body with my foot. It rocked backward a little. The gravel underneath it crunched loudly enough to echo in the silent city.
“I reckon not. Can’t kill cockroaches,” my bff answered. She stepped over the cinder block where it had landed after she had smashed it into the spinal column of this asshole who was now flattened on the ground like an amphibian who’d met with a Mack truck. She held up her hand, backside to me, and wiggled her fingers. “Chipped my fucking polish.”
We stared at each other for a minute, her mostly polished fingers held up between us like a red flag. No air conditioners hummed, no helicopters buzzed, no traffic hitting potholes like drum beats. The air hung heavy and silent like the Spanish moss in the live oaks.
“What now?” Her confidence seemed to dip a little. She half-hiccuped, “What’s the next step after dropping a body?” The mischief flared back to life in her eyes.
“GTFO is protocol,” I answered. I pulled her away from the maggot of a man on the ground. He was so dirty he was making the ground beneath him cringe. A blade of manicured green grass, as rich and pampered as a politician, struggled to lean away from his putrid mouth.
“Look, he’s breathing,” I pointed at the grass that suffered from his breath. She gave me the “I told you so” look that she used every day of her life.
“Let’s ziptie him,” I won’t deny a smirk danced on my face at the thought of him waking up tied to his rotting self, instead of how he thought this would end – with me tied up at his mercy. Surprise, motherfucker. Three zip ties and four big globs of Purell later, we assessed our work. Hogtied, he would wake and stay in the fetal position until his rage broke the hefty plastic. We, and any other decent human left in the city, should be long gone by then.
“He’s gonna be too weak to whip a gnat,” Susie predicted as she threw his machete onto the second-floor balcony above us. She gave the ties a final yank and stood over the mess she’d made of the man, her nose wrinkled at the stink of dereliction coming off him in waves.
“Where’d you learn that move, Suz?” I rhymed her nickname to lighten the mood and help shake off the heebie jeebies. “How’d you know to drop him like that?”
“The Walking Dead, season one.”
We shared a quiet moment of reverence before she hummed, “Mmm, Shane.” I wrapped my arms around her, thankful that her lust for a bad boy had finally led to a useful end.
“C’mon,” I said, “I’ve got polish in my pack. Then let’s loot Walgreens.”
A Week Earlier
The air conditioning and the playlist were turned up to battle the Mississippi heat and our tone-deaf enthusiasm for Prince, as the Mercury Mariner blasted down the highway like a leather-lined rocket. Our phones blinked with unread messages and ignored calls because chair dancing with your best friend takes priority over responsibilities.
“Honey, you know I trust you with my life and all, but maybe we could slow it down to reckless-driving qualifications instead of automatic jail time?” I leaned a bit closer to my window in case she swung at me between gulps of fancy water.
“Hush it. I think it’s funny how everydambody complains about my driving, but we’re always in my car.” She didn’t think it was funny, really.
“You don’t passenger well. You’re a driver in life.”
“We’re not taking this into a let-go lecture, Olivia.” She wagged a finger at me, “Because you’re exactly the same.”
“But in the nav seat. The plush, cushy, buttery-soft, air-conditioned nav seat. Of life.” We chuckled at how far off the mark that was, as I motioned to the goods in the back. “Besides, we can’t off-load all that gear into any other vehicle, unless there’s a semi handy.” Susan was small-town famous for having gourmet snacks, a change of clothes for any sized body, things that smell good and enough cleaning supplies to eradicate Ebola.
The first guitar rips of “Sweet Child of Mine” got the volume punched back up as the fields flew by. Bushy white cotton floated at the end of their stems and gathered in the ditches like snow in Montana valleys. A few fields had been harvested already, the dry brown sticks shorn close to the earth like an Army crew cut. The sharp, dead stems contrasted with the glaring white softness.
It wasn’t noon yet, but the heat waved off the pavement ahead of us. It was hot for April, but Mississippi only had two seasons: Hot, or Hot and Humid. Hot was enough to melt your makeup, but Hot and Humid would turn your hair into a nightmare and make you consider living in the grocery store freezer section. We were headed to the beach during Hot season because neither of us wanted frizzy-headed selfies.
Although Susie had a two-day conference to run, I was off work until next week. She wasn’t technically in charge of the conference, but she ran everything all the time and that’s the way people liked it. It wasn’t easy to convince my boss to allow me to use my untouched vacation
time. Her co-dependency was exactly why I needed to step away. Because I worked remotely, I could avoid her a hell of a lot easier than tip-toeing past her office. I looked forward to cool pool water, hot sunshine and not a single responsible decision.
There wasn’t a plethora of fun to be had in Biloxi, which was why we were excited to hole up in a hotel we’d not have been able to afford on our own dimes. Combining business with pleasure had made Susie’s career exceptionally successful and the topic of plenty of gossip. We had nothing else to do for days but play on Pinterest, decorate organizers and catch up from the last few months since we’d seen each other. Living hours away from each other had been the dumbest idea ever.
“Are we stopping for lunch at our usual?” She’d turned down the music because she wasn’t a shouter. The Meridian Cracker Barrel might not be glamorous, but it was awfully convenient, with the thermostat set on sub-zero and next to the on-ramp for I-59.
“Yup. Remind me to get some honey for my oatmeal.” Although we had practically morphed into one person in our thirty years of friendship, we had areas of vast differences. Especially around food.
“Your oatmeal needs brown sugar. As does your coffee.” Her finger pointed at me again. “And butter. In both.” She grinned at the gagging noise I made. “That bullet coffee keeps me going ‘til lunch. I swear it’s the butter.”
“But it tastes like ass. Coffee must be dark and bitter…”
“Just like our men,” We said in cheesy unison and laughed at the joke that was old to everyone but us. And ours really were dark and bitter, but they were big softies when no one was looking.
“Ten bucks says Colt shows up to check on us. ‘Just droppin’ by’, he’ll say. He could worry the horns off a billy goat,” Susie wasn’t kidding. My husband was more than a little protective and paranoid about the world being out to get two pretty women, even if we’d already traveled it twice and haven’t had any charges brought against us. So far, at least.
“He swore he wouldn’t, but if he does, just give us a quick minute,” I grinned back at her. Sure, I’d be a little irritated, but if he made the trip, I might as well make it worth his while. “I guess Ethan’s used to having the kids solo, but were they sad this morning?” Susie and Ethan’s schedules usually required swapping kids like hot potatoes. Mine and Colt’s kids are covered in fur and pooped in the field beside our house.
“Are you kidding? They know they get away with murder at their Granny’s. I think they’re happy to see me go just for that. Pudding for breakfast, for God’s sake. BREAKFAST, Liv! Can
you imagine?” She looked genuinely shocked, as if this wasn’t the case for every work trip she’d taken in the last ten years. “I mean, what the hell are my babies going to grow on – sugar? Rot their teeth right out. They’ll be gumming their bacon by the time they’re twenty.” She might’ve been a little off the mark, but her mama-bear roll didn’t slow. “Ethan would kill for our kids, but don’t ask the man to cook,” she shook her head at the thought and her black curls bounced with the vehemence.
“Bacon and pudding sound good to me. How far to lunch?” I tapped the Google Maps app and admired my Mango Tango polish while my stomach loudly requested bacon and pudding. The blank white screen and map icon stared back at me. “Look,” I flashed the blank screen at her. “Weird. Let’s try yours.” She handed me her iPhone, but I got the same result.
“We must be out of range, Liv. Let’s go old-school.” She punched buttons on the car nav system, with an occasional quick glance back at the road. One hand rested a little too lightly on the top of the wheel while the other poked icons like a firebrand.
“Where are your paper maps?” I asked, with the intent to get her to drive instead of assault the nav system.
“Shug, they make those out of trees, don’t you know? I love trees, why would I support their murder?” she answered. The car’s nav screen didn’t load, either.
“Oh, you know what?” I asked and snapped my fingers as I remembered. “Mercury goes retrograde tomorrow. Shit’s going to be a little fucked up.”
“Oh, bless it,” she whispered, which is Mississippian for “Fuck this shit.” Finally, her eyes moved back to the general vicinity of the windshield.
“Fine. We’ll wing it. Did you see the last mile sign? I think we’ve got like 10 miles to go. You wanna snack?” Susie waved a hand over her shoulder at the acres of coolers behind her.
“You got bacon and pudding?” I mean, she did ask.
“Pudding in the orange-topped cooler, bacon in the yellow tote bag.”
She was completely serious. “Suz, I love you so much,” I said with my hand over my heart. “What’s not to love? Now eat something before you have a conniption."
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