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Sneak Peek 4 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




Kara didn’t bring up Henry again.


Another unexpected boon? She left the guys out of our conversation as well, no longer determined to extract details about Eli confessing his feelings for me.


So, of course, something counteracted all the abundance of good luck.


Fate sent that correction as a seemingly innocuous ding above the door when a new patron entered the café.


“Be with you in a minute,” I called while topping off another coffee—Bert’s third. He must have been working the graveyard shift again.


A powerful force bowled me over, sloshing hot liquid all over the floor since something jostled my arm in the crash collision.


“What the—”


“Sasha,” Kara hissed in my face. “Take him.”


I shook my head, glancing at Bert first. “Are you okay? We didn’t spill any on you, did we?”


He double-checked himself as if he wouldn’t be dancing around if the scalding hot brew hit his sensitive bits. “No, I’m clean.”


“Great,” I said through my teeth with a false smile.


Before I questioned her on her sanity, Kara projected her voice. “Would you looky there? We should clean this up before someone slips. Excuse us.”


She yanked me down beside her.


“What the hell is your problem?” I hissed before jogging through her words and tacking on, “Him who?”


“Your firefighter buddy I hooked up with that one time we all went out for drinks and discussed how you lost your vir—”


“Okay, okay, I remember. You don’t have to give me a million details.”


Lord, give me the patience to deal with this excitable, salacious art major with a penchant for drama and gossip.


“Just wanted to make sure,” she defended.


“Hey, you know what would be one pertinent detail to include? The name of the person you’re acting psychotic over.”


“Come on, it’s not like I slept with all of them. Just Rob.”


“Rob?” I blurted. “Rob wh—”


Suddenly, I remembered exactly who she’d left with that night. My brain needed a second because at the time, he’d only been a friendly coworker—not to mention we always called him by his last name—Banks.


“Wait.” I grabbed her shoulders. “He’s here?”


She frowned, off-kilter from my vehement reaction. “Yes?” She shook her head, finding her balance once more. “And he was your friend first, so you get to deal with him.”


I spluttered. “What? It’s not like I told you to sleep with him the same day you met him!” My voice cut out because my emotions kept edging me toward a shout when I needed to keep the level at a low whisper. My vocal cords labeled the endeavor a physical impossibility and abandoned camp, so I settled on a frown.


And, dear God, Kara banged a murderer!


Nausea swept through my system.


“No, but you should have known he’d be my type before you invited him over.”


“Invited? A bunch of the guys at the station heard I was back, and they showed up unannounced, kind of like you.”


“Fine.” She sniffed haughtily, tilting her chin up. “Things still ended badly between us, and I’d rather continue giving him the cold shoulder than wait on his table.”


“Wait, you just had the one-night stand. You do those all the time. In fact, I distinctly remember you coming onto my guys not even twenty-four hours later, joking around about a replacement.”


She cleared her throat and glanced away. “It might have gone on a bit longer than that, and don’t think I missed the way you referred to those five—you know what I’m talking about—as ‘your’ guys. We will discuss that at a later date, Sasha Li.”


I closed my eyes and groaned, collapsing against the under counter shelf.


She’d banged a murderer and gone back for more.


If Kara ever uncovered half the stuff I’d kept from her, she’d kill me, but then they’d be two murderers sleeping together, and my guilt would be assuaged. Like attracted like and all that jazz. Of course, I’d also be dead, so…


The need to peek over the bar wormed through my soul. The incessant drive to lay eyes on one of the two people responsible for killing Chief Hannover had me halfway straightened from my crouch before I caught myself and dropped back to my haunches.

“Wait, you said you broke things off with him, right?”


“Yes—well, it was… mutual.”


Why? Why did Eli and Nolan have to be so talented and driven to keep me up in the wee hours? I was not equipped to handle this situation while exhausted. “Kara, listen to me. Who initiated the breakup?”


She huffed a breath. “He did, but why does that matter? I’d never take him back, even if he got down on his knees and begged.”


Oh, it mattered, because that was exactly what she’d do. Life cursed Kara with a fatalist sort of attraction in her partners. She liked to use them and lose them, unless someone did it to her first, then they became interesting, a challenge.


Don’t go seeking fires when there’s no smoke, I coached myself, needing to prioritize.

I opened my eyes and clasped her shoulders. “Okay. Make sure it stays that way.”


It wouldn’t.


“Sure,” she agreed easily. “But, like I said earlier, I’m giving him the silent treatment, so if you’d be so kind as to take my place, I’m cashing in my favor.”


I intended to do so anyway, but curiosity reared its ugly head over what theoretical favor she’d racked up. “For what?”


“For waiting on your guys. Have you already forgotten? Before you became all buddy-buddy with them again, you avoided Viking God, Dark and Handsome, and the Raging Redhead like the plague. My entire schedule revolved around being here at the times they showed up for lunch.”


“Not one of my proudest moments,” I admitted. “I’ll do it—”


“Thank you,” she breathed.


“—but this means you’ll be stooping to my level of immaturity.”


“Real mature, Sasha Li. Playing the guilt card to avoid doing me a favor?”


“Oh, I’m not trying to get out of this.”


Having her interact with a cold-hearted killer would be the absolute last thing I wanted.


“Reverse psychology won’t get me to change my mind either,” she added.


“That’s fine. By the way, since you’re down here, be a doll and wipe up the coffee you made me spill. Thanks, hon.”


She rolled her eyes at my impersonation but obeyed as I climbed to numbed feet.


“That must have been one hell of a spill, Popova.”


I froze for a second, tripping over how Banks elected to sit at the counter and currently sat perched atop a stool less than an arm’s length away. “Banks.”


My dilemma stemmed from the fact that I’d witnessed Banks’s victim being murdered through a phone. With my mind blanked and frozen in an untouched, snowy state, I hadn’t ended the call fast enough to deny hearing anything, so either Banks showed up to threaten me, or he intended to scope out the situation and see if I recognized his voice that day. Even if I hadn’t, I’d heard his name, so they either forgot that or assumed they’d been too far from the speaker to pick up their hissed conversation.


“What can I get you?” I asked, trying to play normal, as if I didn’t burn with the knowledge of how he’d ended the life of the chief who trained us all. Before that, I assumed the entire fire department would follow Hannover straight into hell if he asked us to put out the raging, eternal inferno. “Something to go, maybe? You usually sit at a booth.”


Banks spread his hands out over the surface of the epoxied wood. “Oh, I figured I’d mix things up. The view’s better over here.”






END EXCERPT








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