3rd 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 another fun scene from the book. I find it hard to include a good action-packed scene without giving away any major spoilers, so it looks like you'll have to settle for some more Callie-Delta boys interactions.
The Cardinal Sin, book 4
Brock pulled from the crowd to help manage his ordinarily unflappable leader.
For whatever reason, the action seemed to make Emerson rebellious, as if he was being taken away to prison and he would never see me again. He yelled out, his emotion strong in his voice and his volume much louder than it needed to be since we were still barely ten feet apart. “I love you, my darling. I will find a way to get back to you! Through hell and high water, over oceans with rough seas, I will make it so as to gaze upon your enchanting eyes once more. This I promise!”
Brock had to let go with one hand, so he could try to hide his chuckle behind a cough.
“Oh, honestly, Payton. Keep your declarations of love to a minimum. You’re making the rest of us look like slackers.” Doc Scott shook his head.
They herded Emerson away until I couldn’t hear their voices anymore. I stood frozen, staring at where they had disappeared from view.
Jace spoke up, his fingers tapping on his phone as he leaned against the wall. “Does he always react that way on medicine?”
“What, like a horny dog?” Corbin asked. “No, but then, he’s not had Callie-Cat around when high as a kite on painkillers either.”
“Should I be apologizing?” I questioned somewhat uncertainly.
“Oh, hell no.” Jace glanced up from his phone. To my horror, I heard a faint echo of Emerson declaring his love for me. “We should be thanking you. This is pure comedy gold.”
My eyes bugged in shock. “You took a video?”
Jace just grinned in response before going back to watching the video. Aleks and CJ leaned in closer to watch it as well.
I glared up at the mischievous prankster. “You’re just trying to embarrass me because Emerson is beyond embarrassment at the moment.”
“Yep,” Jace admitted, popping the ‘p.’
I let out a resigned breath. “Joy.”
Decidedly unashamed of the fact, I made myself scarce the rest of the day, though it hadn’t been easy. I couldn’t hide in my room... it was too obvious. The bloodhounds would track me in a blink.
That was how I ended up perched on the workbench in the garage in a comfortable silence, handing tools to Corbin when he needed them. He’d promised me asylum, even from himself. Deciding to agree to a tentative truce rather than get back on the pranksters I’d stayed around, learning a thing or two.
I got pretty good at remembering the tools’ names—wrench, socket, impact, caliper… my knowledge ended there since Corbin was fixing the brakes on one of the Emerson Team’s sleek, navy blue cars. A real chatterbox, he kept a steady stream of dialog with me, and I realized it was the most relaxing type of personality to be around with my habit of not talking. I had zero pressure to carry on the conversation.
Besides tool names, I’d learned that when Corbin wasn’t training dogs for the force, he worked on cars for fun. He enjoyed it and liked knowing his team would be safe. At least, I deduced that much since when he got the pads off and showed them to me, he sheepishly admitted that they weren’t that worn but that it was better safe than sorry.
I also discovered the names of Corbin’s three older sisters, Rebecca, Kinzley, and Esther—though I was never to call her Esther. She went by Leah, her middle name.
It intrigued me that his family all lived happily together with their three dads and mom. Corbin had been under the car at the time, so he’d been unable to see my reaction—an amalgam of shock, hope, and excitement. However, the sudden silence at his lack of knocking and clanging tools might’ve given away the soft gasp I emitted.
There were so many things to ask. I had so many questions that I didn’t even know where to begin.
His soft, cautious voice brought me from my thoughts. “Monkey wrench.”
I bit my lip and debated what to ask while searching for the tool.
“So, this is where you’ve been hiding out at.”
I jumped, startled at the voice. My head whipped in its direction to spot one of the Tate twins. If I had to bet, my money was on Jace judging by the smug, self-satisfied expression on his face.
I froze, outstretched to grab the monkey wrench for Corbin. My thoughts raced as my hideout crumbled. Would Jace tell the others? My mind further scrambled when I realized how isolated the location was with the two teams’ biggest pranksters—pranksters I had had the audacity to prank before the most recent mess with Grinley.
Would they hold it against me?
At my silence, Jace continued, “You know, Damsel, some of the guys are looking for you.”
I still hadn’t said anything, but hearing my fears confirmed made my heart beat just a little faster. I bit my lip, finally moving to hand Corbin the tool he needed. He grabbed it sooner than I expected, making me jump and turn. He’d rolled out from under the car at some point and sat up on the creeper to watch us. His tan skin contrasted with the white tank top, showing muscles I hadn’t appreciated until on glorious, grease-stained display. His sky-blues looked even brighter with dark smudges randomly marking his face and hiding his barely there freckles.
Those startling eyes studied me for a second before he turned and gave a nod at the newcomer. “Hey, Jace. What’s up?”
Jace shrugged, slipping his hands deep in his pockets as he leaned up against the tall workbench I had hopped up on. Even leaning he was taller than me. “Not much. Just snoopin’ around. Thought I’d pop in and check out this great, awesome garage of yours.”
I narrowed my eyes. “Really?” I blurted, drawing their gazes. “That’s it?”
Jace reached up and tousled my hair. “I don’t like what you’re implying there, Damsel. Can’t two guys just get together and talk?”
My frown deepened, but I didn’t say anything, causing him to smirk.
The two returned to their discussion about tools and the garage and man stuff. I drowned them out, glancing around the garage myself when they started talking what sounded like a foreign language—most likely about cars.
Jace bumped his hip into my legs as they dangled off the edge of the workbench. I looked back at him, and he grinned, his cheek dimples peeking out to play. Luckily, I was sitting because I was pretty sure I just swooned.
Corbin slid up on the other side of me, near enough that I smelled the grease and hints of pine underneath. “You know, I’m surprised you’re here and not with Brock.”
“Really?” Jace put his hand down on the table, very close to my thigh. It became difficult to breathe. “Why do you say that?”
Corbin shrugged. “It’s just, you two are always training Callie together at Delta. I thought maybe you’d be doing the same here. It’s his workout time right about now.”
That last comment distracted Jace from his mission of making me combust. He turned to Corbin. “Looked out a window lately? It’s pouring outside. And I checked the living room, so…” Jace tilted his head. “Oh, shit. He was being serious?”
Corbin shrugged while he used a small towel to clean the grease and brake fluid off his hands.
How could he be so messy from such a polished, clean car?
“If I knew what the Hello Kitty you were talking about, maybe I could answer.” Corbin tossed the rag on the bench.
“When you guys were still taking shifts at the hospital, Brock said I could help myself to the gym. You’re telling me he wasn’t pullin’ my leg, wanting me to go on some goose chase around the house?”
“Oh, then, nope. He was telling the truth.” Corbin rubbed the back of his neck, transferring grease that hadn’t wiped away there. He would need a thorough clean down later on. “I mean, he sorta told the truth. It’s not all the way finished or anything. We did enough to put mats down and haul in some equipment, but it’s low on our honey-do list. I think he wants to get floor-to-ceiling mirrors on the longest wall to help with form and technique.”
“Huh.” Jace looked to be deep in thought, whereas I was stuck on the image of Corbin getting sudsy in a shower.
I could just imagine the rivulets of water trailing down sculpted planes as they gradually ran from brown to clear. Corbin’s playful personality came out to play as he winked at me and invited me to join him, plopping a dollop of bubbles on the tip of my nose.
Jace snapped his fingers, drawing me from my nice thoughts. “Hey, you know what, Callie? You’re healed up. Brock and I could—”
“What?” I blurted, making both of them jump. Jace’s brows furrowed. I could tell because the movement pulled at the muscles around his eyes, even if his curly curtain of bangs hid the view.
He opened his mouth, looking at me as if I was slow for interrupting him and then asking a question before he finished explaining.
“Oh!” I used my good arm to propel myself up and forward, hopping down to my feet. “I think I just heard someone calling my Callie. I mean, Callie-ing my call. I mean—name—heard it. Just now. I leave. Got to.”
I hightailed it out of there.
This sneak peek rewound a little bit to include Emerson since I know many people were wondering how he was doing. And the answer is, he's just dandy!
Hope you enjoyed!
Don't forget to stop by for next week's preview as well!