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Sneak Peek 2 of In the Line of Fire, Book 4 of the Stillwind Series by Mia Smantz






Hello all!

Welcome to the sneak peeks countdown. With the fourth book of the new series, In the Line of Fire, soon to be released on May 1st, I'll be posting some snippets from the story to whet your whistles :)


This book was originally going to be released in April, and I have to admit that it's been sitting on my computer waiting for me to go through the edits my amazing editor got back to me so quickly. I try to do a release every four months, and book 3 came out in December...


I apologize in advance. My attention got sucked into a reading spree. It happens.


Because of that, there shouldn't be as long of a wait-time for book 5, On Fire, to release. I'm hoping for an August release if I stay focused this summer.


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 book limit. Get the Kindle version here. I've also bundled the second volume of the series to include Cardinal of Hope and The Cardinal Sin. That volume is available here for the Kindle version and the hardcopy version. The third and final volume with Cardinal Rose and The Red Cardinal will be available just as soon as I have a cover for it. I'll make sure to announce it on social media.


One more thing before the preview, I've got the fifth book of the series, On Fire, up on Amazon, so preorder your copy today!












In the Line of Fire, Book 4


SNEAK PEEK




The guys broke into a quick discussion about updating information on the databases, and I zoned out until one of them called my name.


“Popova.”


“Yes, Rory?”


“Did you not catch the fucking question?”


“Don’t get your panties in a twist over it, Lane,” I countered, emphasizing his surname as a pointed jab at his insistence on still using mine when addressing me. “You started doing your Gamma talk, none of which involves or needs my input, and I got bored, so sue me.”


“I’ll fucking s—”


Brien tilted his head, and that was all it took to cut Rory’s rant short. “We’re being insensitive, Sasha. This is overwhelming information for us, so I can only imagine what you’ve been going through… Can we talk in your room?”


“Are you making a move on our girl, Brien?” Eli teased, but an underlying note of seriousness laced the question.


As thankful as Eli claimed he was to Brien, he also seemed to need an honest answer.


Brien picked up on it too, because his thick brows pulled together into a frown. “What? No. I would never—”


Whatever worry swirled through Eli’s mind lost turbulence and evaporated like a dying tornado. “Ah, ah, ah.” He wagged his finger at him. “Never say never.”


Further confused, Brien gave up his denial and shot me a helpless look.


“Goddamn, this is painful to watch. Does he have to get permission from all of your boyfriends to talk to you these days, Popova?” Rory grouched, propping his feet up on my coffee table. “You two were thick as thieves. Fuck if I know why, but you were.”


“Charming,” I muttered, delivering a strategic kick to his ankles and causing his booted feet to drop back to the floor.


“You know what, Popova—”


“Rory,” Brien interjected, “you don’t have to defend my honor, you know.”


Rory snorted. “Yeah, fuck you too. You do you. If you want to revisit the slippery slope you escaped, then by all means. Don’t mind me. I’ll just be the one who has to listen to you whine and complain again when she breaks your heart.”


His words, although exaggerated, echoed uncomfortably close to my earlier thoughts.


I owed Brien a gigantic apology.


Brien sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. “Why does everyone assume that we’re going to get together? She’s with Eli and Nolan.”


“And me, if the lady wishes,” Flint added, throwing his hat into the ring as if we all hadn’t watched him flirt like a lech downstairs.


Rory groaned, but Brien continued on as if Flint hadn’t spoken. “Happily, I might add. Why would she want or be looking to pile onto her already full plate? Or have you forgotten all of the stuff she’s been through lately?”


Silence fell over the room before Rory’s emphatic, “Well, fuck!” broke the spell. “I hate it when you do that, man.” The redhead turned my way. “Sorry for giving you a hard time, Popova. You know how it is.”


An apology? From Rory Lane? In front of witnesses?


Terry, my pint-sized terrier, could have bowled me over after that bombshell.


“It’s okay, Rory. You were right before anyway.” I caught and held Brien’s gaze. “I owe Brien an apology. I have for a while now.”


Brien’s jaw clenched, and his Adam’s apple bobbed in a mesmerizing movement as he swallowed. Every time I thought I had no idea who this man wearing my childhood best friend’s face was, he’d go and do something that struck my memories so hard that a voice practically screamed his thoughts.


Right this second, he was fighting back emotions and terrified to speak, lest he lose his tight control over them.


Yeah, I definitely owed him an apology.


Unable to wrestle his feelings enough to talk, he nodded down the hall, gesturing for me to lead the way.


“Just so we’re clear” —Rory’s voice carried into the bedroom before we shut the door— “this apology isn’t carnal in nature, right? Because I’d like to get lunch at some point to—ow! Fuck!”


The door cut off the bickering and chaos descending in the living room without their leader there to mediate.


A quick glance showed me that Brien didn’t seem bothered by that in the slightest. Instead, his cinnamon brown orbs locked on my face with an intense, almost desperate inquiry.


The weight of it stole my breath, and my pulse fluttered in my throat. I swallowed and averted my eyes, taking in the room to avoid getting caught in his gaze. Since gaining two boyfriends, I’d kept the space cleaner. My clothes no longer littered the ground, especially after the third time Nolan stubbed his toe in the dark for a midnight water. The same historic crown molding and floor-to-ceiling windows that lined the living area likewise peppered the front of my bedroom, since it also sat facing the main street—though I left blinds and curtains drawn to combat the draft and increase the privacy.

Stillwind’s gossip mill would have a heart attack if anyone ever caught me with two men in my bed.


Brien cleared his throat. “What happened to your other comforter?”


I glanced over the dark blue and pine green plaid number—warm and comfy enough to win me over. “Eli didn’t care for the other one, so he brought his. It’s a king-sized, but they complain that the bed’s too small for three people anyway, so they plan to…” I trailed off and shook my head. “Why am I telling you this?”


Brien snorted, and instead of making it awkward, he shot me a mischievous smirk. “Eli couldn’t stomach the idea of sleeping under a bunch of unicorns?”


I grinned. “It was a single unicorn, and of course not. He’s too manly for that.”


My heart panged with fierce longing as our past scattered across the floor between our feet like an upended jigsaw puzzle—distorted and vague, beckoning us closer while also warning us away in case we stumbled and lost pieces of ourselves underfoot.


“Bri—”


“Sash—”


We both started, then stopped.


Why was this so hard?


I only had myself to blame.





END EXCERPT








I hope you enjoyed it!!







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