Sneak Peek 4 of The Red Cardinal, Book 6 of the Cardinal Series by Mia Smantz

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Hello all!

Welcome to the sneak peeks countdown. With the 6th (and last) book, The Red Cardinal, soon to be released near the end of April, 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 The Red Cardinal, book 6 of the Cardinal Series!


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 as well as Cardinal Rose and The Red Cardinal. 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. But, here it is, the next series:





We're finished with the series--for now. People have asked if I'll be making another series with these characters in it, and my answer is undecided. With the finish of each book in my first ever series, the feeling has gone from 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 at the end of this book.


But for now, be sure to check out the new series, The Fire Series, with a new cast of characters to learn to love or hate--or both!







The Red Cardinal, Book 6


SNEAK PEEK



I strapped and unstrapped the gun on the tactical vest for the fifth time.


Brock shot me a concerned look. “You okay, dušo?”


“I’m fine, it’s just… why did it have to be here? Of all the bases he had, why did he settle here?” I demanded.


Brock put a hand on my shoulder, the one without the walkie-talkie strapped to it in case someone inside threw a jammer again. It’d blocked our cell phones in Frankfurt, so they hadn’t planned to procure walkies since some jammers blocked all communication. It wasn’t until I mentioned Ivanov wouldn’t leave himself so vulnerable to eliminate all forms of communication that Henderson shrugged and decided it was worth a shot.


Through the vest, I only felt the weight of Brock’s hand as he tried to comfort me. “You can sit this out right here. Henderson or Juarez won’t begrudge you of that. They already informed Rollins you were here, so officially, once this is over, you’ll have your pardon.”


The problem was that I’d never live with myself if someone from Delta got hurt because of me—especially any of my guys. “Nah, I’d get bored.”


Brock shook his head. “Fuck, Jace did a number on your sweet responses. Any idea when this sarcasm will wear off?”


“Will you like me any less if it never does?”


Brock’s prominent jaw clenched. “No,” he affirmed in a soft voice that he only used with me. “Nothing you could do would make me love you any less.”


I smiled and faced the base in front of us. It’d taken three days to gather everyone and prepare. Rollins, distrustful of Petrova’s actions, had sent the Cardinals and Henley Team to different locations to help keep Petrova accountable to his promises. Already they’d checked in to let us know that Petrova’s promised thirty-five men had shown up, ready to roll.


All we were waiting on was Petrova to get here with ours.


Speak of the devil, I thought as men melted out of the darkness to join us. One thing was for sure. By the time Petrova himself stepped into the small clearing, there was certainly more than thirty-five men here. In fact, I’d estimate that number spanned closer to fifty.


“It’s easy to be generous when it’s your own life on the line, I see,” Payton commented.


“Fuck off.” Petrova turned to Juarez and Henderson. “I’m here now, as ordered.”


I sent off a quick text to our inside man. We’d tried to figure a way around it but had been unable to. Besides, the risk was worth it for an up-to-date confirmation.


Callie: IS HE HERE?

Blocked: HE’S HERE


I nodded at Juarez.


She clapped her hands. “We’re a green light. Petrova, do your men have groups? If so, split them up and alert your people at other bases to move.”


He gave a quick command in Russian, and they split into seven groups of six, and one group of eight which Petrova joined.


Juarez nodded. “Okay, CJ, Jace, Brock, and Aleks, you’re all taking your own group since you’ve been here before.”


“Really?” CJ blurted. “I get to go in?”


Henderson snorted. “You’re dressed for it, aren’t you?”


“Well, yeah, but I thought… I just always provide computer support.”


Henderson clapped him on the back. “Not this time. Your knowledge of the base is more helpful to us.”


CJ straightened and nodded.


Juarez turned to me. “Callie, we’re pairing you with Petrova’s group and one other since you have the most experience with this place.”


That was an understatement. I’d spent four years of my life here. “Alright.”


“You’ll get inside and guide the smaller group where to go, then I want you to stick with Petrova since his has greater numbers—” She held up a hand. “—and before you guys protest and say that he’s betrayed her before, Payton, Bryce, Duane, and Corbin, you’ll be with her as well. As the biggest group, you’ll act as our sledgehammer to target Ivanov.”


When they didn’t argue, she finished with, “Henderson and I will take the last two teams and approach ten minutes after as a second wave. By then you’ll be able to let us know who needs the back up. Any questions?”


Jace raised his hand. “Yeah, I’ve got one. How are some of us supposed to lead a group of Russians if they don’t speak English?”


Petrova answered that. “There is at least one man in each group that can translate for you if necessary.”


Juarez glanced around the clearing. “Any other questions?”


At the silence, she turned to me. “Alright, I’ll let you choose where we all should hit. Remember, your group’s goal will be Ivanov. Do you have any idea where he’ll be?”


“Yeah, I have a pretty good idea.” I gave directives to CJ, Jace, Brock, and Aleks. “My two groups will take the front of the base and make our way toward his office.”


CJ looked hesitant to ask, but he did so. “You don’t want anyone to hit the warehouse?”

His question cleared up why he’d been reluctant to ask.


“No, the warehouse is normally empty. There’ll be a maximum of two men there if someone is in the tank, and I don’t see them being a problem.”


“Okay.”


Juarez cleared her throat. “You have your orders. Let’s move out.”


We’d stayed three miles out of range from the compound, so it took just under an hour to arrive without wearing ourselves ragged.


When the buildings loomed into view out of the darkness of the forest, I tensed and stopped, taking them in. The warehouse where I’d almost died before the guys rescued me stood to the side maybe forty meters from the primary base. Its ugly, dark rusted metal matched its true nature as an execution chamber.


My eyes shifted to the real target for the day. It was also a warehouse building, but it was more updated and compartmentalized than the open expanse of the outbuilding housing the torture tank.


Once we were inside, we’d have to go through a series of mazes and rooms to reach our destination, designed to slow intruders. We’d have to keep an eye out for Tarasovich’s traps, and our group had the furthest to traverse since Ivanov’s office was well protected in the dead center of the extensive building. It’d be slow going once we breached.


“Well, lookie here, on the same team again, Foxy,” Joe cajoled, drawing me from my thoughts.


I turned to face him, catching sight of Zakhar not too far behind.


Of course I'd be entering hell with those two on my tail.


I squared my shoulders and took a deep breath.


It was too late to back out now.



END EXCERPT




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