Shannon here: Mary Ellis shares an excerpt from her Romantic Suspense, Midnight on the Mississippi. Comment or answer the question at the end of any post dated August 7 – 10 to enter the drawing for a copy, US and Canada only. Deadline: August 15th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Mary:
Excerpt from Midnight on the Mississippi by Mary Ellis:
“No, Mr. Galen, I’m a private investigator just like Nate. How do you do, sir?” She stretched out her hand.
Hunter ignored Nate’s exasperated sigh. “I’m very well, thank you.” He caught the sweet scent of peaches from her skin.
“You see? He’s just fine, Nicki. But with that long drive ahead of you, you’d better be on your way.” Nate took hold of her sleeve and tried to hoist her to her feet. “Thanks for dropping by.”
Cousin or not, Hunter didn’t like Nate manhandling a woman. “Lay off her, Price. Show your cousin a little family love. Why don’t we have lunch since Miss Price drove all the way here?” He picked up one of the menus that had been ignored thus far.
Nicki shrugged from Nate’s grasp and picked up the other menu. “Thank you, Mr. Galen. That boy has the manners of a muskrat. Wait until I tell Aunt Charlotte how he’s been treatin’ me since I arrived.” This time she used an exaggerated Mississippi delta drawl. “I would love some lunch. I already decided what I wanted before I saw y’all sittin’ here.” Then with a shake of her head, the drawl vanished. “I mean, when I noticed you dining with my cousin and decided to make your acquaintance. I forget myself sometimes. I’m living in the Big Easy now, not out in the sticks. I should talk accordingly because I’m a long way from Jefferson County.”
“Not quite far enough,” Nate murmured.
“Nicolette is right. You do have the manners of a muskrat, Price.” Hunter waved over the waiter. To Nicki he said, “I’m pleased you decided to join us.”
“For crying out loud, Nicki, I’m not hiring you. You can bat your pretty, long lashes all day long, but it won’t change a thing.”
The waiter stood by Hunter’s chair, glancing with amusement from one to the other.
“Do I have pretty, long lashes, Mr. Galen?” Nicki asked innocently. “No one’s ever told me that before.” Her smile stretched from ear to ear.
“You do, indeed.”
“That’s very interesting, but I didn’t come to town to bat my eyelashes, or flirt, or even sample the cuisine of this restaurant.” She pivoted toward the waiter. “But since I am here, I will have a bowl of turtle soup, the shrimp jambalaya, and Niçoise salad.”
Despite the fact her pronunciation of the French dish of cold tuna rhymed with “my cozy,” the waiter didn’t blink. “Very good, madam. And you, sir?”
“I’ll have the same.” Hunter suppressed a laugh. He’d never heard a woman order so much food. Ashley usually ordered a house salad without dressing and then picked things off of his plate when no one was watching.
Nate looked from one to the other. “Are we never planning to eat again? Just bring me a burger,” he said to the waiter. “And I would like a beer. In fact let’s all have a beer, unless my cousin prefers a bottle of Dom Pérignon or perhaps a 1959 vintage Rothschild?”
Nicki’s cheeks darkened with embarrassment. “If you recall, I don’t imbibe. Never have and never will, but don’t let me stop you. I’ll have raspberry tea.” She turned in her chair to face Hunter. “To finish what I was saying, I’m here to try to keep you out of the slammer. I have completed training in criminal investigation and have offered my services to Nathan in return for a modest starting salary. Plus any expenses incurred on the job, of course.”
“Of course.” Hunter noticed a single dimple in her right cheek. The left contained no matching indentation, creating an appealing lopsidedness.
“Of course, nothing,” Nate said irritably. “Nicki will only muddy the water. She’ll make a big fuss and turn everything into a sideshow. I’ve never needed help before and I don’t now.”
Price was really getting on Hunter’s nerves. Even if he hated this out-of-state cousin who dressed like Miss Marple, he shouldn’t treat her so rudely. “Stop!” Hunter held up a hand. “I’m paying the bills, so I would love to hear why Nicolette believes I’m heading to jail.”
A blush rose up her neck, connecting her freckles into rosy splotches. “You may call me Nicki. It’s the evidence, of course. Your fingerprints were all over the gun. There was gunshot residue on your hand—not a lot, but hey, what possessed you to pick up the gun if you didn’t shoot the guy? Don’t you ever watch CSI?”
Leaning back in his chair, Hunter paused to reflect. “Yes, I watch CSI. But when I found my best friend with the bottom half of his face gone and a quart of blood down his shirt after just talking to him on the phone less than an hour earlier, my thinking went a little off track.” He gritted out the words, trying to control his temper. After all, this was Nate’s cousin from upstate Mississippi. “And I didn’t shoot the guy. He was my best friend. I hope you never find one of your friends in a similar situation.”
The waiter discreetly set their luncheon plates on the table and disappeared.
“No problem there, boss. She doesn’t have any.” Nate took a huge bite of his burger. “And don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
About Mary: Mary Ellis has written twelve award-winning novels set in the Amish community and several historical romances set during the Civil War. Her latest, Midnight on the Mississippi, first of a new mystery series, Secrets of the South, is set in New Orleans.Before “retiring” to write full-time, Mary taught school and worked as a sales rep for Hershey Chocolate, a job with amazingly sweet fringe benefits. Mary enjoys traveling, gardening, bicycling and swimming, and lives in Ohio with her husband, dog and cat. Learn more and connect: www.maryellis.net or
About the book – Midnight on the Mississippi – Book 1 Secrets of the South Mysteries:
What Lies Beneath the Black Water of the Bayou?
Hunter Galen, a New Orleans securities broker, suspects his business partner, James Nowak, of embezzling their clients’ money, but he’s reluctant to jeopardize their friendship. After James turns up dead, Hunter realizes his unwillingness to confront a problem may have cost James his life.
Nicki Price, a newly minted PI, intends to solve the stockbroker’s murder as she establishes herself in the career she adores. As she ferrets out fraud and deception at Galen-Nowak Investments, Hunter’s fiancée, Ashley Menard, rubs her the wrong way. Nicki doesn’t trust the ostentatious woman who seems to be hiding something, but is the PI’s growing attraction to Hunter—the police’s only suspect—her true reason for disliking Ashley?
As Hunter and Nicki encounter sophisticated shell games, blackmail, and death threats both subtle and overt, danger swirls around them like the mysterious dark water of the bayou. Only their reliance on faith and fearless determination give them hope they will live to see another day.
Question for Readers: What’s your favorite crime TV show – present or past?
Come back August 12th for Bonnie Leon!