Updated: Mar 29
Welcome to the sneak peeks countdown. With the 5th book, Cardinal Rose, soon to be released at the end of December, I'll be posting some snippets from the story to whet your whistles :)
I'm sure everyone has a lot going on right now with the upcoming holidays, so if you've made it this far, then I thank you for being here and tuning in.
Now, if you're here, then you are getting excited for the release of Cardinal Rose, book 5 of the Cardinal Series! With a late December release, hopefully it'll be the perfect atmosphere to read cuddled up in front of a fire with busy holdiay 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.
We're almost 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 :)
Cardinal Rose, book 5
The virtual reality rooms showcased how talented the engineers at Delta were. It took CJ and several teams of agents months to create the beauty and brilliance that the VR units represented. Magnets lined the suits as well as every flat surface inside the room. When paired with the complex coding and a responsive, all-directional treadmill floor, it took virtual reality to a whole new level with augmented physics and gravity. To be honest, it scared me more than training outside in the maze of pallets and boxes.
I plugged my headphones in, hearing voices before I saw them. The helmet slid down over my head, submerging me within the digital landscape. My avatar dropped into a bland waiting area with nothing as far as the eye could see—literally, I couldn’t even see the guys though I could hear some of them describing the same view.
CJ muttered to himself about adjusting the digital GPS for players right at the boot rather than tying that aspect into the program.
“Oh, that’s a good idea,” I added. “If you link the code as a child element instead of a parent element in the matrix, it should trigger the positioning when people first gear up as opposed to later—”
“Okay, okay, okay,” Karl griped over the speaker. “I condone your guys’ talents. Truly, I do. And any other time I would encourage that think-tank creativity, but we need to focus on making you guys into a team.”
I watched in wonder as they started the training simulation. The blank, infinite space zipped by as the scene of a city zoomed in around me. Vertigo nearly had me toppling over at seeing such a fast zoom of movement. The rest of the guys generated inside of some tavern with me. Like my amorphous lavender blob, their avatars were generic other than having a general body shape and height.
By process of elimination, the largest, arctic blue blob had to be Aleks, followed by a slightly smaller Brock with the pine green shape. I had to go by the color of their rooms for the rest since the rest of them had similar heights differing by scant inches.
“Babygirl? You okay? You look like you’re swaying on your feet,” the navy-blue figure
demanded with Duane’s deep, raspy voice.
“I’m fine. The zoom just made me dizzy.”
The bar we were in resembled a quilt work of real images layered atop 3D structures. The detail left me antsy.
“Hey, uh, is this another simulation based off of real-life missions? Because I don’t think I can handle a run-in with Ivanov right now, virtual or not.”
CJ’s orange form stepped forward, leaning down a bit to get at eye level. “No, it’s not. The detail is real though. To expedite creating different training situations, we developed a camera very similar to the famous Google Earth ones that can streamline the process of recreating a 3D world within—”
“CJ,” Payton warned. His blob was the neutral cream color. Being colorblind, when they asked what his favorite color was for his avatar, he probably just answered with his beverage of choice, a frothy latte.
“We’ll talk later.”
Pressure pushed in on the back of my shoulder, making me gasp and spin, only to see that Aleks’s mountain of a form had snuck up on me. In real life, he couldn’t do that. His cologne and the displacement in the air always gave him away, but I didn’t have those things in here.
“Quit molesting Callie, Aleks,” Jace deadpanned.
“Bah! I not touch her. Magnets touch her.”
His light blue hand reached out again, and I didn’t even think or wait to see where it would have landed. I batted his paw back.
The simple tap shot his hand out to the side, spinning his entire body one hundred and eighty degrees as he sailed through the air only to crash down on a table four feet away.
Not that the rest of the team could tell with no facial features on my amorphous blob, but my jaw hung open as I stared in disbelief at what had happened.
Only when the arctic blue mountain shifted and groaned in pain did I break from the spell, rushing forward.
“Aleks, are you okay?” My hands hovered inches above his form in uncertainty, not wanting to injure him further. I knew the magnetics could deal a lot of damage, almost as much as real-life injuries. The way he moved one body part at a time like an old man only proved that the hit had hurt him. It took a lot to take the big guy down.
“Oops?” Karl chimed in over the comms. “I might’ve accidentally supercharged Callie’s strength in the system.”
Aleks swore colorfully in Russian at the man.
“Hey, hey now. No need to insult my mom. I’m fixing it now.”
I frowned at Karl’s response, realizing he’d somehow understood Aleks’s string of angry slurs. “You speak Russian?”
“No, I know how Aleks like to swear. Now, Aleks, are you going to behave? Because as we just proved, even if it’s only magnets mimicking physics, the touches—and punches—can be all too real.”
Aleks burst out into boisterous laughter. “Da, I be good. For now. I no man-hands Callie.”
Hope you enjoyed!
Don't forget to stop by for next week's preview as well!