Welcome to the sneak peeks countdown. With the second book of the new series, Baptism by Fire, soon to be released on July 1st, I'll be posting some snippets from the story to whet your whistles :)
This book has been a long time in the making, so if you're still here, thanks for sticking through.
Some notes before we get to the good stuff... my first series, The Cardinal Series is all completed and available on Amazon Kindle Unlimited for free. It's also available for purchase. If you're interested in purchasing a 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-book limit. Get the Kindle version here. Soon, I'll be bundling the second volume of the series to include Cardinal of Hope and The Cardinal Sin as well as Cardinal Rose and The Red Cardinal. I'll make sure to announce it on social media.
One more thing before the preview, I will be creating the preorder for the next book soon, so keep an eye out for it. I'll be doing a cover reveal on social media, but if you're here reading this, you get the early bird view:
Baptism by Fire, Book 2
My eyes landed exactly where Rossi’s men had intended, and I felt a sickening wave of dizziness steal my balance and vision for half a second before it cleared the path for anger.
Of course they’d left everything as it was.
In such a run-down area, the shining, stainless steel cart glared like a beacon, luring focus to the middle of the cavernous space. The tools that Luca had so carefully displayed as a rather effective intimidation tactic had been left behind and arranged just so, as if he’d used them so many times there was a psychotic organization to the arrangement that I didn’t wish to guess at.
In a daze, my hand rose halfway to one of the precise, silver scars running along my jawline before I switched the motion into scratching my ear. I’d been staring at the razor-sharp scalpel responsible for the matching twin marks.
Without my notice, I’d crossed the floor, drawn in like a bespelled reptile to a snake charmer, but when I realized that I was close enough to make out the dried flecks of blood on that small, deadly edge, I startled, cleared my throat, and looked away.
Of course, my eyes went to the next big attraction on the stage of Luca’s game—the chair. The rickety armchair was on its last leg, but it was sturdier than it appeared. It’d held me only too well for the hours I’d spent thrashing and throwing my weight around in it. The only things that hinted at its sinister nature were the leather restraints. Its placement also insinuated its darker purposes.
They had bolted it down next to the wall, and above it... the showerhead—recently custom installed, as indicated by its shiny, new appearance. In my nightmares, my mind had twisted it into a rusty deathtrap, but the reality seemed worse.
Hadn’t I suffered enough?
Flint’s hand, by the feel and weight of it, found my shoulder once more, and when I met his silver eyes, they lacked their usual mischievous sparkle and shone a more serious gray.
And I had my answer to my question.
No, I hadn’t had enough, because even the person that’d made my school life miserable didn’t deserve the betrayal coming their way.
Would Paolo target all of Gamma? Would Rossi spare the people in this room?
I had no idea, but I still planned to save my parents over them. But, of all of them, Flint’s doom struck the hardest. He’d been nothing but kind to me—maybe because we lacked suitcases full of baggage between us like the sprawling, sordid history I shared with Brien and Rory—and that made him innocent in my eyes.
Did he have family as well? Was there someone who would miss him if he were gone? How could I do to him what I wanted desperately to avoid with my family?
“Are you okay?” he questioned.
A brief smile that felt more sickly than amused flickered across my lips. “You asked me that already, Viking.”
“But your answer was not one of truth.”
“No. No, it wasn’t.”
Rory stepped up to the shower and chair setup, studying it as if he knew its sinister purpose, like he’d seen it before, and then he turned his assessing gaze my way. I fought not to squirm under his scrutiny, unsure how to react to the lack of animosity that normally coated his features. It echoed of the awkward, endearing boy I’d agreed to go on a date with so many years ago. His eyes stayed steady as he let out a breath. “They didn’t just rough you up.”
Flint, Brien, and Henry, who had been studying the more obvious table of tools, turned in his direction.
It wasn’t a question, but I answered him anyway. “No.”
“You were tortured.”
The statement hit me with the breathtaking force of a gut shot. Having been dealing with the nightmares for weeks now, I’d assumed I’d accepted what had happened that night. However, hearing it stated out loud gave me a whiplash of realization.
I’d been tortured.
The words cut through the denial I’d wrapped around me like the comfort of a warm sweater. It staggered me.
“Whoa,” Flint murmured, steadying me until I was no longer in danger of falling over.
Henry and Brien had moved in front of me at some point, watching with varying degrees of worry.
“Sashka,” Brien rasped, his voice fraught with emotion too mild for the expression in his distressed eyes.
I didn’t correct him and tell him he’d lost the right to call me that form of my name reserved only for close friends and family. However, even if my throat hadn’t choked up with pain, I could stare into his eyes and almost recognize my ride or die friend buried there somewhere. So, I let the name go and basked in the warmth and familiarity of him saying it.
Henry cleared his throat, drawing my attention. “Is Lane right? Did Rossi have you tortured?”
“I’m not fucking mistaken,” Rory barked, throwing the water on so that it came hissing out of the showerhead in fits and splashes over the seat.
It drenched the creaky wood in seconds and pooled on the floor, and my body shook with the phantom chill.
“See her fucking face? She’s white as a ghost. You better believe her scrawny ass sat in this chair for at least an hour.”
I hope you enjoyed it!!