2nd Sneak Peak of The Cardinal Sin, Book 4 of the Cardinal Series by Mia Smantz - Reverse-Harem Book
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.
Just some old business to bring up, I created the pre-order for the next book so that I could include the link within the current 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 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 :)
This sneak peek is from a lot further in the book--a cute little dialogue scene of teasing and interactions between the guys and Callie before a mission.
The Cardinal Sin, book 4
While the rest of them plotted out where to surveil and how to form their teams of three, Doc Scott, CJ, and I worked on getting the computer equipment set up.
Yolo slipped out to check all the exits and entrances of the hotel in case of, well, in case of an apocalypse, maybe? It seemed like overkill, but it got her out of our hair. I knew from experience that Yolo grew impatient when it came to technology. I could only imagine how much worse the setup would’ve gone with the petite French woman breathing down our necks.
Doc Scott had a hard enough time of it. Despite all the finesse I knew he possessed from being a veterinarian able to perform surgeries and save animals’ lives, he handled computer equipment like a clumsy caveman.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa there!” CJ eased the delicate piece of technology from the vet’s heavy-handed grip. CJ’s slight fingers smoothed over the surface of it as if checking for injuries. He let out a breath of relief at what he found. “Whew. You’ve got to be careful. It took me hours to wire this puppy up. If any of them had come free, I’d have to remember what wires went where. And since I created this little guy in my teens, we’d be here a while.”
I leaned closer, my eyes lighting in interest. “No kidding? You created this as a teenager?”
It resembled an external hard drive, the portable kind that plugged into a computer and expanded its storage. Only, it looked like an HD on steroids. LED lights flashed on its surface, enough to run a rave, and it had, at best count, three fans added to keep the thing cool. The wires that CJ mentioned were soldered onto a circuit board that he’d modified onto the outside of the device.
My eyebrow raised. “Is that its own computer?”
CJ gave a proud, paternal smile as big as any dad’s. “Yep.”
“What’s it do?”
“Remember that problem we had in the car chase in Estonia? My computer needed to register as legal to hook up to the Wi-Fi, but it also had to circumnavigate any of the automatic security measures to do other things?”
My breath rushed in my lungs with excitement. “This will piggyback off the computer’s internet while allowing us a way to go places and do things that the computer wouldn’t be able to!”
CJ’s proud grin stretched, his eyes warming up as he watched me.
“May I?” I asked.
Without hesitation, CJ passed it over, allowing me to plug it into one of the computer’s many ports. The lights on the device lit up, flashing at different intervals. None of them had labels, but CJ pointed out which light meant what.
With a memory like that, he’d been exaggerating how long it would’ve taken him to fix the thing if Doc Scott knocked any of the solders loose.
CJ unpacked both Jarvis Junior, his computer, and Jarvis Junior Jr., the laptop version of his brainchild. My excitement grew tenfold. Even though I’d be in yet another historically and architecturally rich city stuck inside hacking, it didn’t seem so bad as before. Hacking had always been a solo job in the past. With CJ here and knowing that I worked for the good guys now, maybe this would be fun—like when Jace got a rush doing dangerous things.
Doc Scott shook his head and let out a sigh, interrupting CJ’s and my excited chatter.
We paused, looking at him.
“I thought I’d get some quality time with Callie.” He turned to the others that had gathered around at some point. “Can I switch teams?”
Jace smirked and clapped him on the shoulder. “Too late to jump ship now. Have fun with that.” He nodded at CJ and me. “I speak from experience when I say that it can be like taking a shot of Lidocaine directly to your brain.”
Aleks tilted his head and stroked his beard. “Libido-cane? Is like Viagra? Cane to help old libido?”
Jace shook his head, his blond curls bouncing across his forehead. “You and your sex drive. No, Lid-o-caine. It’s the stuff dentists shoot in your gums before they start yanking teeth.”
Aleks’s eyes landed on my face as a broad grin stretched his face. “Ah, computer talk is little brain-pain-free, da?”
“Actually, mind-numbing is the word you’re searching for, but close enough, my Russian comrade. Close enough.”
“Tovarisch,” Aleks corrected right back.
Jace seemed a little surprised, turning to look askance at Aleks.
I cleared my throat, drawing his attention instead. “Comrade isn’t really Russian. It’s derived from camarada which is Spanish for roommate. Many Russians say tovarisch instead, especially if they aren’t a communist.”
“Because the former Soviet Union popularized it.”
Jace folded his arms across his chest, his smile adopting a wicked glint. “Damsel, you little language savant, you, speaking Spanish and Russian. That’s kinda hot.”
I fumbled the mouse I’d been about to plug in, my face burning.
Luckily, CJ came to my rescue. “Hey, stop bothering my partner. We’re working with delicate equipment here. Delicate equipment!”
“That’s what she say,” Aleks claimed as he let out huge guffaws of bellowing laughter.
They realized that conversation would only further devolve from there, so Emerson and Sabra made the executive decision to head out, the three teams leaving for their designated spots to scope out the meeting point with Natasia’s father.
“I mean,” Doc Scott complained for the fifteenth time since the others left ten minutes ago, “did you see the pleased smirk on Payton’s face on his way out the door? That smug Brit enjoys my pain.”
CJ clicked on something on his screen. “I dunno. He looked pretty stoic to me.”
“You don’t understand, man. Emerson is the quiet, vindictive type. It may be hard to see, but it was definitely there. You saw it, didn’t you, Babygirl?”
I coughed to tamp down the laughter that kept wanting to spring up and flow free. Payton Emerson was the epitome of the cliched “stiff upper lip.” He had very subtle expressions, and if one didn’t catch those nuances, they might think him to be a robot for all the emotion he showed.
Living at the Emerson Team’s house for a while now, I caught those slight tics. And Doc Scott was right. On Emerson levels, he’d all but been crowing in glee when he gave a faux sympathetic pat on his teammate’s shoulder along with his false platitude of, “Next time, mate.”
However, I wouldn’t confirm anything—not with the way Doc Scott had already been carrying on.
I shrugged, pretending to be focused on the task at hand. CJ and I had decided to set things up for tomorrow’s meet, including creating backdoors into systems we might need to use in an emergency. It saved us time versus having to do it on the fly, and it also had the side benefit of calming my nerves doing something proactive.
CJ tasked me with checking out the programming for the traffic grid system. It’d saved us in Estonia. So, it made another cog in our doomsday plan.
I’d hacked the Estonian system under gunfire and a near impossible time limit. Even with a different setup in the coding, the laid-back conditions made my task a piece of cake.
Meanwhile, CJ stayed in communication with the three teams and scoped out the surveillance systems most worthwhile to hack for optimal coverage during tomorrow’s meet.
I cleared my throat, trying for CJ’s attention. He pulled the headphones half off his head and turned while listening to the chatter. “Yeah?”
“I’ve got the backdoor created. It’ll take me two seconds to get back in tomorrow if needed. What should I do next?”
CJ’s mouth dropped open.
I frowned, shifting in my seat. “What?”
CJ didn’t answer, but something someone said on his headphones prompted him to shake his head. “I’m sorry, Sabra, what was that?” He listened without taking his eyes off me. “Okay, that sounds like a good plan. I’ll add it to my list.” He broke eye contact to jot something down. “And you said it’s the camera overlooking the north side? Great. I’ll get right on it.”
He turned back to me. “Sorry about staring earlier, it’s just… you hacked that fast.”
“Oh.” I twisted Kaz’s bracelet on my wrist. “Well, this is what I do, you know?”
CJ swallowed. “Yeah,” he said, his voice thick. “I do. I just forget that someone as cute as you could do what you do and not be unbelievably bigheaded.”
“I—err, thanks? I think?”
CJ zipped forward, kissing me smack dab on the mouth before pulling away just as fast.
This sneak peek was a lot further in the book that the first sneak peek. With all the action and intensity that will be in book 4, I wanted to make sure to include a little bit of the lighthearted banter that we all so love when Callie and the guys are interacting.
Hope you enjoyed!
Don't forget to stop by for next week's preview as well!