1st Sneak Peek of The Cardinal Sin, Book 4 of the Cardinal Series by Mia Smantz - Reverse-Harem Book
Updated: Dec 11, 2020
Hello everyone! I hope you've been safe and made it this far through 2020. It's been a rough year.
Welcome back to the weekly sneak peeks. With the 4th book, The Cardinal Sin, soon to be released at the end of August, I'll be posting some snippets from the story to whet your whistles :)
This release date is very special to me. It will be exactly one year since my first book released at the start of this crazy train, but I also picked it because it was my dad's birthday. I like to think that somewhere out there, he gave me a dose of good luck. That was why releasing the fourth book that day, as a celebration of old memories with new people, was so important to me. At many points, I thought that maybe I wouldn't reach the deadline, but here we are.
So the memories of the people in my life taken away too soon gave me the push to take a chance to live my dream because life always goes faster than we hope. Here's a nod to all the people in our lives, unseen but never far.
Now, if you're here, then you are getting excited for the release of The Cardinal Sin, book 4 of the Cardinal Series! With a late August release, hopefully it'll be the perfect atmosphere to read with busy summer plans winding down.
Also, as a reminder--if you're interested in purchasing a new hardcopy set of the first two books, The Cardinal Bird and Cardinal Caged, you can buy the first volume here. This volume is also available in the Kindle Unlimited store if you want to purchase or add to your ten-book Unlimited list to help free up a slot for another great book. I know I always have a hard time trying to cull my ten-books. Get the Kindle version here. Both versions save you some money by bundling :) Plus, it has an amazing new cover design. Soon, I'll be bundling the second volume of the series to include Cardinal of Hope and The Cardinal Sin. I'll make sure to announce it on social media.
I chose this week's excerpt because some people have stumbled across the fifth book, Cardinal Rose and have been sharing it on social media. I created the pre-order so that I could include the link within the fourth book, but I haven't been promoting it. Yet. So, here is me officially promoting the fifth book of the series, Cardinal Rose. Anyway...so the cover of the book Anyway...so the cover of the book hints at things to come in the fifth book--lots of Easter eggs in there, INCLUDING the color of Callie's hair.
We're two-thirds through the series now. People have asked if I'll be making another series with these characters in it, and my answer for now is undecided. With the finish of each book in my first ever series, the feeling has gone from to relief to bittersweet. I know some of you feel the same way. Which is why I can't completely close the lid on further series with Callie and her boys. I've been laying small Easter eggs that would pave the way for further plot, but not be so pressing as to leave us hanging when we reach the end of book 6.
For now, enjoy it while it lasts :)
The Cardinal Sin, book 4
Jace sat up, watching me drowsily with his dark chocolate eyes—and yes, it was Jace. I wasn’t sure where his twin, CJ, and the other missing person on the Emerson Team, Bryce, were. I tried not to think about Emerson’s absence, but the pang in my chest told me I wasn’t doing a very good job at it.
The office was small and crowded, but it seemed cozy instead of suffocating. I would’ve welcomed the missing people with open arms.
Jace blinked before straightening in the chair. His honey curls fell down his forehead as he did so. In just seconds, he looked more alert. His eyes scanned the room, checking over everyone as I had.
When he finished, he turned back to me and approached. He lifted his hands, giving me a reassuring squeeze before dropping mine. Wanting to remain silent, he signed, “You scared me. I thought I hurt you when I picked you up.”
It took a second to make sure I’d translated what he’d said before shaking my head as adamantly as possible with a bruised jaw and throat. I wanted to reassure him more but didn’t want to dislodge the IV.
He continued signing to let the others in the room sleep. “You were a lot more injured than you let on.”
He needed to spell out “injured” since I wasn’t familiar with the word. I shrugged in response.
I bit my split lip before deciding that I couldn’t put off asking any longer. Using the hand without the IV, I spelled out, “E-M-E-R-S-O-N?”
“He’s at the”—Jace signed another unfamiliar word— “hospital. Bryce is with him. He’ll let us know if his—”
There were two more unknown words.
I froze as my mind attempted to fill in the missing words. It was too much to hope for, but it sounded… it sounded like he was alive. My rapid hands moved almost too fast to be intelligible when I asked him to spell the unknown words out. I stared at his movements and held my breath.
Okay, my mind supplied. He was at the Delta hospital. As a patient or in the morgue?
Jace spelled out the next word I didn’t know. “C-O-N-D-I-T-I-O-N.”
My heart beat faster.
I didn’t let him finish. I used both hands to sign, uncaring of the IV pulling and shifting inside my arm. “He’s not... d-e-a-d?”
Jace jerked to a stop. “Dead?” he blurted out loud, his face paling.
His voice rang loud enough to wake the—well, dead. The room came alive. Doc Scott’s snoring ended with an abrupt hiccup as his head jerked forward and his deep, obsidian eyes opened. Aleks had gotten to his feet, already beside my bed somehow. Everyone else woke in various stages of blinking and figuring out what happened.
“All right, all right, people. Back up. Move it. Let her doctor through,” Doc Scott called, quite unnecessarily since only Aleks had been fast enough to be next to me. The bald vet broke through the forces and nudged Aleks to the side, closer to my head.
He took one look at my tear-stained face and said, “Corbin, go get a cup of ice chips. Brock, you know where I keep the pain meds. Bring me a bottle.” He stepped forward, righting the IV that had shifted in its binding during my conversation with Jace. “What’s the matter, Babygirl? What hurts?”
Unable to say anything, I shrugged, my mind racing a million miles a minute.
“Jace?” Doc Scott asked, not getting a response from me. “What’s wrong?”
Jace’s face had grown pale. He opened and closed his mouth twice, looking more shaken than last night which really said something. “She’s been signing, even yesterday when we found her she wasn’t speaking out loud.”
“Ahh,” Doc Scott realized. “If the bruising is anything to go by, your throat is swollen. Not to mention, you’ve been dangerously dehydrated. The ice chips should help.” He pulled up the flashlight on his phone. “Mind if I take a quick look though, just to check? I would hate to have you admitted when we’ve worked so hard to keep you away from prying eyes. Say ‘ah.’”
I opened my mouth, wondering why he’d said to make a noise when we’d just established that it strained my voice. It couldn’t have been a habit of his. He worked with animals. I could tell a dog to say “ah” until I was blue in the face, and it wouldn’t make a difference. I humored him though, giving it my best attempt.
After a second, he pulled his phone away. His face grew hard, and his jaw clenched so tight that the muscles worked in his cheeks.
“You’ve got some swelling in there. So, as your doctor, I’m prescribing all the ice cream and popsicles you can eat.”
I nodded. After the week I had, that sounded heavenly. Already, the heat in my throat had turned into a throbbing ache.
“This isn’t the only time Grinley choked you. He did this the first time he kidnapped you?”
I tilted my head but nodded again. I signed, and Jace interpreted.
“She says that when Grinley got angry at his tactics not working, he wrapped his hands around her neck.”
“Grinley is consistent,” Doc Scott said. “I’ll be sure to return the favor.”
“I’ll help,” Brock growled, his gray eyes darker than normal to accommodate the violent storm gathering at his quick anger.
“Anyway, you’ll get your voice back, no problem, when the swelling goes down,” Doc Scott informed, taking the ice chips from Corbin as he returned to the room. “For now, suck on these, Babygirl.”
“Great flying fluff balls of flame, Callie-Cat, are you okay? You need to stop getting hurt!” Corbin exclaimed, his voice tight and sounding like he was holding back tears. “Promise me, no more dangerous things unless I’m around—”
Brock cut him off, hitting Corbin in the arm.
Brock folded his arms. “No dangerous things, period.”
“But we made such a talented team when we—”
“But did you see the way we ran down the Cardinals’ house? We were—”
“We all saw. And that’s why I said no.”
I noticed CJ trail in after Corbin. He must’ve told him I was awake.
CJ was identical to his brother in every way—six foot tall, lean, muscled body, curly, sun-kissed hair, and brown eyes. I had to rely on other things to tell them apart. CJ was sweet, nerdy, and very tech-savvy. Whereas, Jace relied on sarcasm, skepticism, and a wicked sense of humor. Those traits translated into their movements, posture, and facial expressions.
CJ had his laptop with him. He was never far from it, and most people banked on that to tell them apart. If they approached a twin with a computer question and got a blank look, they realized they were talking to Jace.
There might be physical things that made them different, but I hadn’t had enough time to discover them. I’d only seen Jace in the nude, after all.
That was a dangerous train of thought, so I took a handful of ice and shoved it in my mouth. They helped my sore throat, and I occupied myself with them while Doc Scott checked my vitals. My thoughts were on Emerson.
Jace’s were too because he questioned, “Callie, why did you think Emerson had died?”
Doc Scott paused with his hand on the pressure cuff, his intense eyes flashing to my face.
“The fuck?” Brock growled, his brows angling down.
I spelled out my response, using my IV hand to hold the ice chips.
“Grinley? Grinley told you that?” Jace demanded, his jaw clenching in anger.
I nodded, fiddling with the cup and trying to keep the tears from spilling over.
“Don’t you cry, Callie,” Corbin said on the verge of tears himself. "Please, don't cry. Everything's going to be okay."
And it would, too. Everything would be okay because Emerson was alive.
I broke into sobs.
This excerpt was included in the preview at the end of book 3 since it was from the first three chapters of The Cardinal Sin, but I wanted to take this piece out and add it here. It's a good refresher and summary of what we left off with at the end of the last book with Emerson's status unknown and Callie in harm's way.
Hope you enjoyed!