Lucky Penny, Chapter 1

LuckyPenny-tinyLucky Penny, book 3 in the Miranda Vaughn Mysteries series, is out on December 14th! Yay! Here’s a sneak peak at chapter 1!

Enjoy!

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

I gripped the handle on the courtroom door and took a deep breath before forcing myself to pull it open and walk into the silent and solemn room. The gallery was about half-filled, and several audience members turned to watch me come in. I glanced around quickly, trying to locate my boss, Rob Fogg, in the area reserved for spectators. From the middle of a row near the back of the room, he nodded and waved at a few empty seats near him. I squeezed past other spectators who had come to watch the trial.

“Glad to see you made it,” he whispered as I sat down.

“Parking,” I mumbled.

It was a common excuse in the busy downtown blocks around the federal courthouse, but it was also a lie. I’d found a prime parking space in the lot across the street. I’d also hit every green light on the way there. There was no excuse for my tardiness except my own nerves.

Continue reading “Lucky Penny, Chapter 1”

New short story coming your way!

I just wrapped up edits on One Red Cent, a short story that will be released this summer! It’s in the Miranda Vaughn Mysteries series, but is from the point of view of Sarah Girard, Miranda’s kick-ass best friend! I had such a great time writing this and am really excited to get to share it with you soon!

KillerBeachReads_finalIn the meantime, here’s a snippet from another of Sarah’s bad dates:

I smiled at Christian and hoped that I looked semi-interested in whatever he was talking about. I was pretty sure it was about his job at a mortgage brokerage firm, but I had tuned out the last time the door had opened and I’d seen Eddie waving a chef’s knife at an employee. 

“…my new supervisor thought he’d be changing the policy after he got promoted, but well, that was just the way things were done from the gecko.”

My head snapped back to Christian. “Uh, I’m sorry. What did you say? The gecko?”

He nodded. “Yeah, it’s a saying. You know, like, from the gecko.”

I paused, unsure if he was serious. “I think you mean from the get go.”

He laughed. “That doesn’t make sense. Get go? What does that even mean?”

“No, ‘from the gecko’ doesn’t make sense,” I said. Was I really having this discussion?

“It means from a long time ago. You know, when the geckos ruled the earth.”

“Uh…” I had no idea what to do with this.

Christian nodded, his handsome face quite serious. “They’re, like, dinosaurs.”

One Red Cent will be released in July in the KILLER BEACH READS anthology, by Gemma Halliday Publishing. For updates on this collection, sign up for my newsletter: http://bit.ly/EllieNews

Trouble… on the move

A Good Kind of Trouble final for Barnes and Noble copyTo celebrate the release of A Good Kind of Trouble, I’ll be dashing around the internet in the next week, with guest posts, excerpts, and other fun stuff at various book blogs. Check in here for my itinerary and then come say hello. First stop is A Passion for Romance, where I’m talking all about the book.

I’ll also be giving away two signed copies of A Good Kind of Trouble (US only, please). Sign up here for the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Thanks to Krista at Bridging the Gap Promotions for organizing the tour!

Are you ready for Trouble?

Good morning!

It’s release day for A GOOD KIND OF TROUBLE! Get it on your Kindle for only $2.99 for a limited time (or free if you’re a Kindle Unlimited subscriber)!

Beacon news reporter Lindsey Fox is on the verge of breaking a huge story of political corruption that will make her career and A Good Kind of Trouble final for Barnes and Noble copymake her famous journalist parents proud—or she could be thrown in jail and fired. It really could go either way. Her streak of bad luck continues when Lindsey finds herself facing a bogus contempt charge—and attorney and former bad date Ben Gillespie is appointed to get her out of the slammer.

Ben can totally believe that Lindsey is behind bars. The woman is trouble. Now he has to get his new client out of jail and away from a shady P.I., help her save her job, and convince her to put down the pepper spray and give him another chance.

This book is near and dear to me because it was so much fun to write. I hope you enjoy spending time with Lindsey and Ben, too.

Read on for a sneak peek at A Good Kind of TroubleContinue reading “Are you ready for Trouble?”

Dropping the Dime is out in the world!

Lovely readers, I have some wonderful news! Dropping the Dime is available today at all the finest online booksellers. This is the second book in the Miranda Vaughn Mysteries series and I had such a great time writing it. Droppingthedimepurple

You can get your copy here:

Kindle * Nook * iBooks * Kobo * Smashwords

Here’s a peek at Chapter One! I hope you have as much fun reading about Miranda’s latest adventures as I did writing it!

Chapter One

My heart pounded, and my legs ached, but I kept putting one foot in front of the other. I struggled for breath and grimaced at the pain in my side. Gasping, I struggled onward through the empty city streets in the gray early light.

“I hate this. I hate this. I hate this.”

There was no one out on the street to hear my complaints, so I voiced them, chanting in time with my footsteps on the sidewalk.

“Hang in there, pretty lady. Your butt will look good.”

“Eeep!” I leapt sideways at the voice and saw the bearded man reclining in a doorway. He lifted a paper-covered bottle and winked a bleary eye at me.

I picked up my pace and crossed the street, my heart rate well into the aerobic range thanks to the new rush of adrenaline.

It’s pretty much impossible for me to explain how much I loathe running.

I hate feeling like a lumbering elephant as my feet pound away at the unforgiving sidewalk. I hate sweating. I hate sports bras.

But I kept moving at a pace that could be considered a jog. It was barely daylight, the only sane time to go out in public and humiliate myself. At least there were few people out and about to see me attempt the concept of exercise.

Why was I doing this if I hated it so much? I asked myself this question as I tried to focus on the music streaming in through my earbuds. It was healthy, though it made me feel like I was dying. It would let me fit into the cute dress I just bought that was a little snug.

And the next time I was chased by gun-toting psychopaths, I’d be ready to run.

I hoped there was never a next time. But after recent events, I wasn’t going to rule it out.

By the time I reached the entrance to the alley that led to my apartment I was a huffing, sweaty mess, and all I could think of was showering then stopping by my aunt’s bakery and grabbing a hot almond croissant right off the baking tray. My mouth watered at the thought of the pastry as I opened the gate to the backyard that led to my apartment over Aunt Marie’s garage. I’d been living in the apartment for a couple of years and though it was small and cramped and I could now afford to move out, I liked living near my only family member. And her yummy bakery.

Continue reading “Dropping the Dime is out in the world!”

Dropping the Dime has a cover!

Droppingthedimepurple

Dropping the Dime, book 2 of the Miranda Vaughn Mysteries, will be released on April 7! And isn’t that cover gorgeous?

I’m very excited to share this book with you! It was so much fun to hang out with Miranda, Jake and the rest of the crew, along with some interesting new characters.

Preorder links will be available soon! Check back here for updates, or sign up for my newsletter and be the first to know!

And here’s a look at what Miranda’s up to next:

Miranda Vaughn was once accused of stealing millions, now she’s helping others who are facing criminal charges. While being an assistant to her former defense attorney isn’t her dream job, she’s eager to prove herself, and her first task is a simple one—protect Kathryn, a shy CFO turned informant, and help her prove that a popular real estate developer is embezzling millions from his company. But what should be a straightforward assignment is deliciously complicated when Miranda is thrown together with FBI Agent Jake Barnes, the man who saved her life, broke her heart, and then disappeared.

 

Beneath the neatly plotted rows of new homes lurk dark secrets, bitter feuds and a whole lot of greed. Nothing is what it appears, even Miranda’s timid client, who is hiding secrets of her own. Despite her growing distrust of her client, Miranda must protect Kathryn from becoming the target of the FBI’s investigation, protect herself from the real thief—all while protecting her heart from the sexy FBI agent she can’t seem to resist.

The release party rolls on!

I’m still making my rounds on the internets, spreading the words about Chasing the Dollar! Today, catch me at A Passion for Romance and enter the giveaway for a signed copy of the book!

For a few more days, Chasing the Dollar is only 99 cents!  Get it here:

 Kindle   *   Nook   *   iBook   *   Kobo   *   Smashwords

Miami quote cropped

Chasing the Dollar is available now!

Today is the day! Chasing the Dollar is available for purchase today at all major online booksellers. And for a limited time, the ebook version is only 99 cents.

I had a great time writing this fast-paced mystery and I hope you’ll have just as much fun as I did! Here’s the blurb:

Miranda Vaughn has spent the last year and a half fighting for her freedom. Arrested for a fraud scheme involving her supervisors, she’s lost her job at a prestigious investment firm, her fiancé, and her reputation. She walks out of the courtroom a free woman, only to find that life has a few more curve balls to throw her way. The jury may have found her not guilty, but Miranda is broke, in debt to her beloved aunt, and can’t find a job because of the cloud of suspicion still swirling around her. 
ChasingtheDollar
She can’t move forward with her life until she finds out who set her up. Buried in the evidence against her, Miranda finds a larger scheme, one involving far more money than the $37 million her boss fleeced from unsuspecting investors. Determined to uncover the truth, Miranda begins her own investigation—leading her to Macau and Belize, and into the arms of one sexy FBI agent, who has his own agenda. When the danger heats up, Miranda finds herself in a race against time to find the person behind it all. Before he finds her…

I’m thrilled to be able to share Chapter One of Chasing the Dollar with you today. Enjoy! And then, visit Amazon, iBook, Nook, Smashwords, or Kobo and get the whole thing for less than a buck! Totally worth it!

Chasing the Dollar

Chapter One

 

“Not guilty.”

The two words sliced through the thick atmosphere in the courtroom, and my heart leapt. The boa constrictor of stress that had been wound around my body for the last year and a half eased a tiny bit. Next to me, my attorney, Robert Fogg, tensed. We weren’t remotely done, his body language warned.

“As to Count Two, wire fraud, the jury finds the defendant—”

A pause. Why was the clerk pausing?

“Not guilty.”

The breath escaped my lungs, but Rob put a cautious hand on my arm warning me not to get too excited yet. He’d spent much of the last fourteen months explaining the odds, explaining the process that I’d face if I insisted on going to trial, comparing the risk I’d face with the known quantity of the plea offer—a mere four years in prison if I agreed to a plea deal and admitted to defrauding clients of the investment bank where I’d been an analyst, compared to ten years or more I risked if I was convicted at trial. And I’d almost certainly be convicted, Rob had assured me. Even if the witnesses against me were convicted felons, liars, conmen who would say anything to get a break on their own prison sentences. The documents were undeniable, incontrovertible evidence of my guilt.

“As to Count Three, wire fraud, the jury finds the defendant—”

Damn her, why the dramatic pause?

“Not guilty,” she finished.

This time I glanced over at the jury and made eye contact with several of them, my heart still in my throat. Instead of the impassive expressions they’d worn in the last two weeks, they looked relaxed. Friendlier. Less scary. And they were looking at me. That was one of the signs Rob told me might signal a favorable verdict. If the jury walked in and wouldn’t look at me, they probably had convicted me. When they had filed in with their completed verdict forms, I was too nervous to look in their direction.

“As to Count Four, wire fraud, the jury finds the defendant not guilty.”

No waiting this time. The clerk flipped the page to the next form and continued reading, her pace picking up. She must have realized that if she kept pausing before the big reveal on each charge, we’d be here until dark.

“As to Count Five, wire fraud, the jury finds the defendant not guilty.”

I couldn’t relax yet, not quite yet. There were still ten more opportunities to hear I was going to prison.

Fifteen fraud charges. Fifteen chances to hear the clerk announce that the jury had believed my former boss, his former boss, and the government’s accountants and investigators who had testified that I, Miranda Vaughn, participated in a conspiracy to defraud banks and investors. That I, with my business degree from a state school still freshly inked, managed to find a way to outwit regulators for the entire six years I worked at Patterson Tinker Investment Strategies to reap huge profits at the expense of the most established investment advisors in the industry.

Rob’s hand gripped my arm, and I realized that the clerk was done reading the verdicts. The room was blurry, and I felt the wet tears running down my cheeks for the first time. The stress of holding those tears back in the last year had caused me to lose sleep, lose hair, and develop a nasty habit of grinding my teeth when I finally managed to close my eyes at night. But I knew that if I had let loose those emotions, I’d never be able to rein them back in and would have ended up in a stark white room with no interior door knobs where I’d spend my days rocking back and forth and waiting for my next round of pills.

“We did it, Miranda,” Rob whispered, putting an arm around me in an awkward hug.

I looked up to see the judge watching me. Instead of the stern glare I had grown accustomed to, he was almost smiling at me. I blinked. It must have been the tears in the way. But when I wiped my eyes, there it was—Judge Smith’s softening expression, looking like someone’s granddad instead of the dour arbiter of my fate.

The judge addressed the jury, thanked them for their service, directed them to the jury commissioner’s office to turn in their parking passes, and then looked back at me.

“The bond is exonerated. You’re free to go, Ms. Vaughn. Court is recessed.”

He stood, and everyone in the room followed suit. The jurors filed back into their room off the side of the courtroom to collect their belongings. Several of them smiled at me, and I smiled back but could feel my lips start to tremble. I swallowed hard and tried to pull myself together. Rob began gathering the legal pads that littered the defense counsel table.

I stood next to the table, still stunned and unsure what I was supposed to do now. Part of me expected to be found guilty, even knowing that I hadn’t done what the prosecutor accused me of. I had prepared myself for that. Studied the post-conviction proceedings, the deadline for filing a notice of appeal, researched sentencing procedures and even federal prisons. I hadn’t planned what would happen if I were acquitted of all the charges, and I was at a loss as to what to do now.

Turning to the nearly empty courtroom, I saw my lone supporter. The entirety of my cheering section was blowing her nose noisily into a hankie. She came toward me, pulling me into a warm hug over the low railing that separated the gallery from the attorneys and defendants.

“Aunt Marie, when did you get here?”

She gripped me harder. “Somewhere around count seven,” she said. “Rob sent me a text when the jury came back. I hot-footed it right down here.”

I relaxed into her embrace. The familiar scent of Chanel and baked goods that always permeated her clothing soothed me and took me back to the safety of my childhood. She had come straight from work because she was still wearing her apron with the Sugar Plum Bakery logo.

“Miranda, I’ll take care of the bond paperwork,” Rob said, interrupting our family reunion.

I pulled away from Aunt Marie and nodded. Rob’s face was flushed, and he looked two decades younger than his sixty-three years. He seemed incapable of suppressing the huge grin on his face. Suddenly I felt awkward, unsure how to tell him how grateful I was.

“I don’t know what to say,” I said. “Thank you, Rob. Thank you so much.”

The words were inadequate. During the fourteen months since my arrest, I always felt that he believed I was guilty of something, but despite that, he had done an admirable job defending me. He gave me a crooked smile.

“You’re welcome,” he said. “We’ll talk soon. I’m going to see if I can catch a few of the jurors and talk to them. Come by the office later. We’ll celebrate.”

He leaned across the railing to shake Marie’s hand and was pulled into a tight embrace. When she finally released him, he gave her a kiss on the cheek and smiled as he gently wiped a tear from her face. Then he turned back to the counsel table and continued clearing it of folders and notepads and his laptop computer, sliding the whole mess into the large black case that he’d been wheeling into court every day of the trial. He zipped the case, gave me another quick hug, and walked over to the other counsel table.

I turned to see how the prosecutors were handling the news. My tormentors—an older, brittle veteran prosecuting attorney named Donna Grayson and Matthew Reese, her younger co-counsel, a clean-cut young man who looked like he was my age. Neither of them would look at me, and their expressions were grim as they shook Rob’s hand. Finally, Matthew Reese made eye contact with me and gave me a nod.

“Good luck to you, Ms. Vaughn,” he said.

I almost believed his words were sincere, but then I remembered three days earlier when he called me a thief in his closing argument. I returned the nod without a word, not trusting myself to hold back if I spoke to him—something I’d been forbidden to do for well over a year.

I slipped through the low swinging gate and took Aunt Marie’s arm, leading her out of the dark courtroom into the bright, wide and empty hallway. When I had been arraigned on the fraud charges in this courthouse, the hallway had been packed with reporters clamoring for a comment. But since then, they had lost interest. The prosecutor’s office wouldn’t be putting out a press release on the loss, and I wondered if anyone would even care that I had won. That the woman the government had called “a slick con artist and one of the masterminds of the greatest financial fraud ever seen in this state” was walking out of court and not heading to prison.

I was free to go. No longer facing a decade in prison. Not under a cloud of allegations that had cost me my career, my good name, and my peace of mind. That had driven off friends. Led to the break-up of a five-year relationship. Cost me every last dime of savings and most of Aunt Marie’s retirement as well.

I walked up to the wall of windows and looked down on the city, the busy intersection by the federal courthouse, the people jaywalking to get to the Starbucks across the street. A normal day, with everyone bustling about in the bright afternoon sunlight, enjoying a typical California summer day.

I was free to go.

Free.

To go where?

* * *

Buy the book at the introductory price of 99 cents!

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