Shannon here: Sneak peak excerpt from Mary Ellis’ latest Romantic Suspense, What Happened on Beale Street. Comment or answer the question at the end of any post dated April 11 – 14 to enter the drawing for a copy, U.S. & Canada only. Deadline: April 23rd, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Mary:
Excerpt from What Happened on Beale Street by Mary Ellis:
“Why don’t I show you to the latest addition to my balcony?” She crossed the room to the slider and opened the drapes.
The sight of the morbid decoration turned Nate’s blood cold. “Did you handle the wreath or touch the railing? The police will want to dust for fingerprints.”
“You called the cops?”
“Yes. I don’t think this is child’s play, Miss Andre. If Tony Markham is a threat, we’ll need documentation. Do you have a problem with that?”
Several seconds spun out before she replied. “Not if he’s the one behind this. I just don’t want to make trouble if he’s not.” Her gaze darted around the room nervously.
“Neither do I, so maybe you should tell me about anybody else with a grudge against you if you’re uncertain this is Markham’s handiwork.” Nate hooked a thumb toward the balcony.
Isabelle shifted from foot to foot, like a child getting scolded, but she remained silent.
“Look, if you want my help, I need to know about people you’ve alienated since moving to Memphis—clients unhappy with houses you’ve sold, mail carriers disappointed with their Christmas tip, other former suitors spurned after some unforgivable faux pas.”
“Suitors? This isn’t the Victorian era.” She set her purse on the counter between the kitchen and living area with a thud.
“Dates, beaus, potential mates—pick a noun, Miss Andre, and start talking or I’m out of here.” Nate stuck his hands in his pockets. “The Germantown police will soon be here to take your statement.”
Isabelle’s eyes darted between the door, the balcony, and his face. “I’m surprised they’re not here already.”
“This isn’t an emergency. They have to respond to 9-1-1 calls first.”
“Of course. I should have thought of that myself. Please have a seat, Mr. Price. My list of unhappy acquaintances won’t take long.”
When he settled on the couch, she lowered herself to a chair. “I moved to Memphis four years ago after my divorce to be close to Danny. He’s all the family I have left except for a couple of aunts and cousins in Natchez. We shared an apartment until I found a position in the Germantown office. My brother had no desire to move to suburbia.” She attempted a smile that didn’t quite work.
“What about your ex-husband? Maybe he’s tired of paying alimony payments or still mad about the divorce settlement.”
Isabelle’s laughter sounded hollow. “I never received a penny of alimony. My share of the property settlement amounted to half the debts he accrued during our marriage, even though I worked two jobs to put him through law school.”
“A lawyer should make a decent living, even if he’s a court-appointed defense attorney.”
“I’m sure he does, but Craig has a new girlfriend to spend his money on. Around the time a major Nashville corporation hired him for their legal team, Craig decided the vow of fidelity was far too restrictive.” Isabelle tucked a lock of shiny hair behind her ears, revealing a bit more of her flawless complexion. “I hope I don’t sound bitter, because I’m not. After some counseling, I was able to let go of my anger and resentment. The only reason I bring up my ex-husband is because at the time of our divorce, Craig owed a lot of people money. And I’m not talking about student loans. He acquired a gambling habit during college, betting on sports. I helped him pay off as much of it as I could, but I had half the credit card debt to deal with and a car constantly breaking down. So one day I pulled up stakes and moved away, absolving myself of any further responsibility for his debts.” Her green eyes turned luminous as they caught the lamplight. “You don’t think some bookie found me here and took his revenge out on Danny, do you?” Her lower lip trembled either from fear or sorrow.
“That’s not very likely.” Nate stood. “Put that out of your head. Most likely it was Tito Sullivan, who’s already in custody. If not him, then Tony Markham would be my next guess. Nashville bookies wouldn’t come after a penniless ex-wife in Memphis four years later.” He felt his face redden and grimaced. “Sorry about the penniless comment. I meant no offense.”
This time her smile looked genuine. “None taken. I am barely surviving here in the land of upwardly mobile, two-earner families. I leased this condo to be close to my office, but I should have stayed in the city with Danny. Then he wouldn’t have taken in a dangerous roommate and maybe he would still be alive.” Her eyes filled with tears.
“Hold on a minute. None of this was your fault. Danny chose to volunteer with former addicts at the outreach center. That kind of work comes with a measure of risk. Maybe he wasn’t given a long life, but it’s what we do with our number of days that counts.”
“Thank you for saying that. Does your philosophical attitude come from a strong spiritual base?”
Nate knew this was one question he needed to be absolutely truthful about. “Yes, I guess it does. That’s how I was raised, and that’s what I believe, although I don’t talk about it much. ”
Isabelle nodded with understanding. “Death makes us consider our own mortality and what comes next. I’m glad you and Nicki will be with me during the funeral.”
The way she stared at him turned his legs to jelly. “Ten o’clock on Saturday? Nicki and I will meet you at the United Methodist Church at nine. You’ll get through this, Miss Andre. We’ll make sure of it.”
A knock on the door signaled the arrival of Germantown’s finest. Nate was never happier to see the police in his life. Every time he was alone with Isabelle Andre his confidence and composure plummeted to zilch. Why this tiny, hundred-and-fifteen-pound woman would have such an effect on him, he had no idea.
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, What Happened on Beale Street, is second of a new mystery series, Secrets of the South, from Harvest House Publishers. 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.
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About the book: What Happened on Beale Street – Secrets of the South Mysteries (Book 2) :
How Can Music So Beautiful
Hide Something So Deadly?
A cryptic plea for help from a childhood friend sends cousins Nate and Nicki Price from New Orleans to Memphis. When these two private investigators arrive at Danny Andre’s last known address, they discover signs of a struggle and a lifestyle not in keeping with the choirboy they fondly remember.
Danny’s sister, Isabelle, reluctantly accepts their help. She and Nate aren’t on the best of terms due to a shared past. Can they get beyond painful memories to find her brother?
And what on earth was Danny involved in besides becoming a rising star as a sax player? Nate and Nicki follow clues into dim and smoky clubs, trail potential stalkers, and challenge dangerous men with connections to underworld drug trafficking. To complicate things, the hotel they are staying in has its own secrets. Confronted with murder and mystery in the land of the Delta blues, the cousins and Isabelle will have to rely on their faith and investigative experience to solve the case and not lose their lives.
Can’t wait for the drawing? Purchase now: What Happened on Beale Street
Question for Readers: Have you ever been to Memphis? If not, share about a place you’ve visited.
Come back April 18th for Laura V. Hilton!