Shannon here: Mary Ellis shares an excerpt from her latest Romantic Suspense, Sunset in Old Savannah. Comment or answer the question at the end of this post to enter the drawing (US and Canada only. Deadline: April 1st, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Mary:
Excerpt of Sunset in Old Savannah by Mary Ellis:
If ever there was a perfect time for Beth Kirby to get out of town it was now. While other parts of the country were enjoying the first crisp days of fall, the streets of Natchez, Mississippi could melt the rubber off her worn-out tires. Her mother’s hints that she should attend dance lessons with them at the community college had become insistent demands. After all, lots of eligible men were taking lessons these days. Rita’s criteria would include any unmarried male between twenty-five and sixty who’s still breathing without mechanical assistance. Then there was the obstruction of justice charge pending against her in district court. Despite her current partner’s assurance, the D. A. wouldn’t drop the second degree felony until her former partner withdrew his complaint. And nasty Jack was living up to his reputation by taking his sweet time.
So why do I feel so uneasy? Beth parked in the shade and headed toward the back entrance of Price Investigations, only to be intercepted by her partner.
“I see you’re here on time for a change.” Michael Preston practically levitated from his shoes with excitement.
“I’m always on time, give or take ten minutes.” She stepped around him on the metal steps. “Could we not act like sixth-graders on a field trip to Graceland?”
Michael kept pace at her heels. “I thought you couldn’t wait to get out of Natchez for a while. Are you homesick already?”
“Hardly, but I know better than to get my hopes up too soon.” Beth pulled open the door and waved him in.
Always the gentlemen, Michael refused to precede her inside. “You first, Miss Kirby.”
“One of you should come in,” called the office secretary. Maxine dragged Beth across the threshold by her sleeve. “Nate’s chomping at the bit to deliver some good news.”
Before she could free her arm from Maxine, Nate hollered from his office. “That you, Beth and Michael? Grab a cup of coffee and get in here.”
“Donuts, Miss Maxine?” Michael produced a bag from behind his back. “Cream-filled with icing and chocolate sprinkles—your personal favorite.”
Maxine snatched the bag from his fingers. “Be still, my beating heart.”
Beth rolled her eyes as she filled her mug. “Bring me a donut, too,” she called over her shoulder. Belatedly, she remembered eating most of Nate’s M&M’s and then neglecting to replace the bag.
Their boss straightened in his upholstered leather chair, looking tan and well-rested after his three-week vacation at the beach. “Make yourselves comfortable. I’m sorry that yesterday’s staff meeting deteriorated into an impromptu celebration, complete with mystery guests from all over the state.”
Beth took the chair closest to the door. “Never apologize for a party during work hours.”
“It’s not every day we hear a honeymoon was an unqualified success. A new baby on the way—congratulations, Nate.” Michael leaned against the windowsill, two donuts in one hand, coffee in the other.
“He and Isabelle have been married for two years, Einstein. It’s not like they’re rookies—” Recognizing the indelicate ground on which she tread, Beth swallowed a gulp of coffee. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean…”
“No problem,” laughed Nate. “The pregnancy came as a pleasant surprise, but enough about that. While Isabelle and I were sightseeing, I found a case for both of you.”
“Your wife said you were quite a hero in Mobile.” Beth reached for Michael’s second donut. “Chased some thug for three blocks, tackled him, and returned a little old lady’s purse to her.”
With his face turning a rosy shade, Nate waved off the praise. “I did what anyone would have done.”
“I don’t think so. Most bad guys pack loaded guns these days.” Beth sucked the cream from the donut’s center.
“Fortunately, this particular miscreant carried no weapon to ruin my honeymoon or the other couple’s anniversary celebration. The woman’s husband offered me a reward, but I refused. Instead, I gave them some of our business cards to pass out when they got home, in case their friends need a good P.I.”
“Is Mobile anywhere near Talladega?” asked Michael. “I’d love to see a Nascar race.”
“It’s not, and the case isn’t in Mobile.” Nate took a tablet from his briefcase. “The couple I helped, Mr. and Mrs. Baer, had been vacationing in Mobile, but they live on the East Coast in Savannah. Thanks to the Baers talking up our talents, you two are going to a charming city steeped in history and home of the famous Oglethorpe Town Squares.”
“Like in Midnight in the Garden in Good and Evil?” asked Mike. “I read that book years ago. A couple of scenes kept me up all night.”
Beth swiveled to face her partner. “That book was fiction. Let’s stick to reality. What kind of case?” she asked, turning back to Nate.
“Surveillance. A friend of Mrs. Baer hired our agency to check up on her husband. Take some pictures; discern the facts, but we are not to intervene. You’ll create a file to present to her. What she does with it is her own business.”
Uggh,” moaned Beth. “Spying on somebody’s spouse? Sounds like a job for Sleaze Incorporated.”
Nate’s jaw twitched, while he shifted in the chair. “The last time I checked, Miss Kirby, my name’s on the paychecks around here. Which means we need to generate cash flow so those aforementioned paychecks don’t bounce.”
About Mary: Mary Ellis has written twenty-one novels. Her debut book, A Widow’s Hope, was nominated for a 2010 Carol Award. Living in Harmony, won the 2012 Lime Award for Excellence in Amish Fiction while Love Comes to Paradise won the 2013 Lime Award. She is currently writing Secrets of the South Mysteries. Book one, Midnight on the Mississippi, was a finalist for the RT Magazine’s Reviewer’s Choice Award, and a finalist for Daphne Du Maurier for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. Her current book is Sunset in Old Savannah.
About the book – Sunset in Old Savannah: In Savannah, everyone has something to hide. Investigative partners and best friends Michael Preston and Elizabeth Kirby are hired by a wealthy socialite to do surveillance on her wayward husband. When the husband turns up dead, the socialite becomes the police’s chief suspect. Mike and Beth must follow the clues through the historic town with more secrets than branches of moss-draped oaks. The duo uncovers a hodgepodge of potential murderers, including a scheming business partner, a resentful mistress, and a ne’er-do-well brother. As praise of their agency gets around, Mike and Beth must hire investigator Kaitlyn Webb to ease the workload. But will ghosts of Kate’s past threaten everyone’s safety before a killer can be put behind bars?
Question for Readers: I traveled to Savannah several times to research, but turned it into a vacation too. What’s your long favorite city to visit/vacation? (must be a city, not a resort)