Love Lies Bleeding Special Sneak Peek
Well, y’all, we are exactly two months until Love Lies Bleeding (Undercover Series Book 4) will be available. In the spirit of holiday giving, I thought I’d give you a little taste of what you can expect in the next book. Well, not so little. We’re looking at four scenes today.
But here’s the thing…if you haven’t read Foresight is Flawless yet, leave now or ye shall be spoiled.
Like BIG TIME SPOILED.
I’m talking the entire epilogue will be an anticlimactic experience of epic proportions if you keep reading.
Seriously, spoilers ahead.
Does it seem like I’m just vamping and drawing this out? I am. Gotta make sure none of the actual spoilage that I’m about to post accidentally feeds into social media somewhere.
Cause, you know, accidental spoilage is the worst kind. You’re like, “Oh, cat picture, cat picture, random book promo, holy crap that actually just happened and now I know the end of book 3. NOOOOO!!!!”
Ahem. Anyway, here’s your special sneak peak of Love Lies Bleeding*. Enjoy!
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~
From the time I left the DA’s office, my day had only gotten worse. Of course, it wasn’t as though anything short of Jenna showing up saying she was alive and well was going to make much of a difference in my life. I still couldn’t believe she was gone.
I was able to pull Sykes off to the side to find out if there was any chance Jenna was still alive. His outlook had been grim. Based on their estimated timeline, Jenna might still be alive, but without any leads or a suspect, the chance she’d be found alive was nearly nonexistent. As much as I didn’t want it to be true, some part of me knew Sykes was right. At this very moment, the woman I loved could be fighting for her life and there wasn’t one single fucking thing I could do about it.
Not even one.
I tried to see Elaine because I knew Jenna would want for me to look out for her sister at a time like this. Brandon told me when I got there that he’d been the one to break the news to her and then he’d slipped a sleeping pill into her hot tea so she’d be able to push it all away for at least a few hours. Lana was spending the night with a friend whose parents could be trusted to keep her away from anything that mentioned Jenna. None of us knew how to tell her that Aunt Jenna wasn’t coming back.
This was all just so unreal. One day we’d made love under a sky filled with fireworks, practically refusing to let go of one another until the sun’s first rays had pierced the deep night; the next day I’d proposed, we’d fought and I left town with Skylar. And now, just over a week later…this. I just couldn’t bring myself to process it all, to deal with the realization that I’d spent thirty-three years of my existence wandering through life basically alone only to have my soul mate ripped from me after ten short months.
Now, I couldn’t get that damn depressing thought out of my head and I still couldn’t feel the loss. Not really. My mind just went round and round it, tormenting me with the thought that she might be with me right now if only I hadn’t gone to Hot Springs to close my case. Hurray for me. Jackson Caldwell catches another bad guy, making the streets safe for everyone but the one person who matters.
Instead of taking Brandon up on his offer of some random distraction, I opted to tell my troubles to the worm at the bottom of the bottle of tequila from which I was drinking. He didn’t say much, but he seemed to get it. It didn’t matter how many swigs I took, I never once got a disapproving look from him.
Even the cats seemed to know something wasn’t right. Sure, it might have had something to do with the fact I never sat alone on the office floor, in the dark, staring into the nothingness of my heart for hours on end. Or maybe they were using those super-enhanced cat mind-reading powers people always swore they had. Either way, Chloe was curled up in my lap, something she never did because she didn’t like to be held, and Buddy was curled up beside me, something he never did because I was the man sleeping in the spot of the bed he still thought should be occupied by Jenna’s dead fiancé who he’d apparently loved dearly – for a cat, that is.
And now I was the one with a dead fiancée…
Perhaps the worst thing about this whole situation was the way we’d left things before my trip. Jenna had told me she couldn’t marry me if I left town with Skylar and I’d basically told her that it was tough if she felt that way. Did she even understand how much I loved her, how much I still do, even though I’ll never again have that love returned?
My soul is empty.
I could certainly understand that. It had never occurred to me until now that I’d needed another person in my life to make me feel alive. Jenna had changed my life in so many more ways than I’d ever thought possible. It wasn’t fair to have her taken away before I could at least let her know how lucky I was to have loved her.
My heart incomplete.
The gaping hole in my chest, the constant ache of despair radiating from inside, let me know I’d never really been a whole person before meeting her. Without Jenna in my life, I knew I would probably never be whole again. I’d just remain an empty shell to roam in a haze until death’s sweet embrace took me to be with her.
In that moment, I knew what the author of these four sad lines had felt when they’d been penned. I could acutely identify with the range of emotions he’d experienced. I could understand his pain, his grief, the nagging claw that must have been scratching inside his brain to drive him to the level of insanity he’d reached.
My love lies bleeding.
As the image of my beautiful Jenna – cold and lifeless, destroyed at a monster’s hand – filled my mind, that instant of understanding was forever shattered.
My life had just been ruined by this man, grief-stricken or not. I hated him for what he’d done. I hated him for the fact that I’d never get to see Jenna walk towards me, a vision of white satin and lace. I hated him for taking away the children whose voices I could almost hear, whose faces I could almost see every time I closed my eyes. I hated him for giving me the lonely life I probably deserved instead of the life I might have had.
But Jenna might not have said yes.
It was possible that the damage I’d done to the relationship by keeping so many secrets over the past weeks may have been irreparable. If that had been her decision…Even the worst case scenario of us breaking up and occasionally being forced to work together on a case was still better than this. I’d miss her like crazy every day of my life, but she would be alive.
But we would have worked everything out. A love like ours didn’t come around more than once in a lifetime. Love like that didn’t just evaporate under a summer sun like so many clouds and drops of dew – not even in a Texas summer.
Maybe things would have been strained for a while between us. So what? Maybe Jenna would have refused my proposal. Big deal. I could have waited until things were more solid and then asked again, the right way, down on one knee in a romantic setting, the way she deserved. In the end, we could have had a beautiful life together.
Here in the darkness, I was free to ignore reality and indulge my fantasy. Jenna’s gorgeous brown eyes were locked on mine as I slipped the simple band onto her ring finger, my promise of forever. Her lips were warm on mine as they touched for the first time as husband and wife. The sweet aroma of honey and almonds filled my nostrils, intoxicating my senses, her hair spilled around my face that first night of the honeymoon. The lilting music of her nervous giggle filled my ears as I playfully chased her down the hallway to our bedroom, to the bed where we would try to conceive our first child. Her smile tugged at my heartstrings as she cradled the baby in her arms.
It was all so clear in my head that I expected for it all to be true when I opened my eyes. But instead of the perfection of our life together, I was faced with the bleak reality of what I had without her.
I felt a sharp pain in my leg as Chloe’s back claws dug in just before she leapt off me. Something must have spooked her; something always spooked her. It took a minute for me to realize that I had spooked her. Apparently, tears of joy had filled my unseeing eyes during the fantasy and had turned to sobs that racked my entire body at the harsh truth.
That was what set me off. I did not want to deal with sorrow; it was not an emotion I was equipped to handle. It was better to be pissed off. My world was crashing down around me because some sorry bastard had taken my foundation out from under me.
Unacceptable. Fuck weeping.
My mind switched gears to the business card burning a hole in my wallet. It may well be too late to bring Jenna home, but it sure as hell wasn’t so late that I’d let this monster win. No way. Fuck that. I would have my vengeance.
I turned the card over in my hand a few times to make the numbers stop swimming before my eyes. Tequila had been a poor choice.
I dialed as soon as I was able and dismissed the thought that it must be after midnight on the East Coast.
While I waited for an answer, I noticed the bottle of tequila. Did worms cry?
“Banks,” a grumpy voice finally answered.
“Does your offer still stand?”
“Caldwell? Do you have any idea what time it is?”
“Not really and no, I don’t give a shit. You told me to call when I came to my senses and now I have.”
“That’s great.” She stifled a yawn. “I guess Miss Monroe finally cut you a little slack in the rope she’s got tied around your balls.”
I could strangle her until those haughty green eyes bulged from their sockets right now and no one would convict me. “You could say that, Sherry. She’s dead.”
She swore softly. “I’m so sorry, Jackson.”
“Whatever.” I cleared my throat. “Look, I have some conditions.”
“Okay.” There was caution in her voice.
“I want my first assignment to be nailing this sick psychopath that is murdering women in the area. I want the bastard who took Jenna from me to pay.”
“That’s not a great idea.”
“I’ll do it with or without your blessing. You know I will.”
Sherry sighed. “Fine. You’re worthless to me if you’re in prison. I’ll call you in the morning with…”
“I also want Franklin to work with me on this one.”
My statement was followed by a lot of silence. “I thought you didn’t want to work with him ever again. That was what you said when you requested to be assigned to a new partner.”
“I don’t want to work with him, Sherry. What I want is to work with the best agent the Bureau has to offer. You’re the one who’s spent the last two years throwing the fact that he’s the best in my face.”
“I honestly don’t know that he’ll agree to this. I can’t make any promises,” she warned.
“Whatever. Make it happen or you can forget about having me on your team. It’s your call.”
I hung up the phone before she could respond. It didn’t matter what she said anyway. I’d been serious when I told her I’d do it on my own if I had to. She could bet on that. Lifting the bottle to my mouth, I began to imagine all of the painful things I could do once I’d caught up with my enemy. For the first time, a smile touched my lips.
The most awful things Jenna had imagined hadn’t come to pass. Her captor had told her he had to go and that he couldn’t give her any explanations about what had happened to her. Of course, Jenna knew what had happened to her, but she was still looking for some small shred that she could use against him at her first opportunity.
Before he left, he gave her a single item: a small soft-bound Bible and instructed that she should read if she felt lonely. Sobbing on the floor would not be an action he’d tolerate from her again.
As soon as the only way out was snapped shut, trapping her in with her thoughts, she’d tossed the book onto the bed in disgust. Reading the Bible would not bring her any comfort, regardless of how many people had told her it would over the years. It had brought her no comfort when her parents had died in that still unexplained church fire so many years ago. It had afforded her no consolation as she’d stood at Tony’s grave, left with only an engagement ring and a grey kitten that still hadn’t decided if he liked her much. It had certainly done nothing to ease her pain for that terrifying week Lana had been missing.
But everything else in the room had already been thoroughly searched and Jenna had yet to discover anything to clue her into the reason behind her abduction. She simply couldn’t accept that some people were just crazy. There was always a reason.
Unfortunately, the only mystical secret provided to her by the Bible was found in the form of an inscription on the flyleaf.
To my darling Laura with my undying affection. You are truly my pure angel.
What the hell was that supposed to mean?
With a frown marring her face, Jenna picked up the well-worn book and turned to the beginning. It wasn’t as though she had anything better to do. But this certainly didn’t mean that she’d forgive God for all of the people who’d been taken from her by senseless tragedy. Ironically, she had the knowledge that she may soon be reunited with them.
The buzzing didn’t stop when he hit the alarm. After a moment, he realized his phone was vibrating on the nightstand. What now, he thought, reaching for it. The only person brazen enough to call at this hour was Sherry and he’d hoped to never hear from her again after she’d packed up her office a week ago. Though it had been staged to look as though she wanted to spend more time with her children, he knew the truth.
Seth always knew the truth about what went on in the office.
With one last glance to ensure the noise hadn’t awakened Melissa, he reached for the phone. Of course, a marching band could come though the bedroom and she wouldn’t even flinch after the amazing night they’d just shared. Anniversaries rocked.
Without preamble, “I’ve got an assignment for you. How quickly can you get to the airport?”
“Never. I don’t work for you anymore, remember?”
Not one to ever be without a snappy comeback, Sherry was silent for a long moment, alerting Seth that this was no ordinary assignment. “Then consider it more of a request. I’ve been on the phone for a while with the Dallas field office. There’s a serial killer and they need the best agent available on this one. That’s you.”
Seth raked his fingers through his shaggy brown hair. “Hell, Sherry, you make it sound like I’m Superman or something. They’ve got good agents down there already.” He should know; he’d trained one of the best himself.
“I’m going to level with you.”
“I wish you would. Mel will be pissed if I can’t give her a damn good reason why I’m leaving so soon after coming out of cover.”
“Jackson’s girlfriend was taken yesterday or the day before by a new serial killer in the area. At this point, she’s presumed dead. I need you on this, Seth. You know I wouldn’t call otherwise.”
The muscle in his jaw worked. “I would get on that plane in a heartbeat, Sherry, to help him out. You know I would.” Seth paused as the memory of the last time they’d spoken popped into his head. His chin ached at the mere thought of his former partner’s right hook. “I’m probably the last person Jack would ever want on this one.”
More silence. Clearly, Sherry was weighing how much to tell him. “Believe it or not, you were actually requested.”
Oh, hell. This, he did not need. Especially not now. “My bags are already packed. I have to let Melissa know what’s going on, but I should be at the airport within the hour.”
“Excellent. I’ll have your tickets, the case file, and your instructions on what to do once you reach DFW waiting at the usual place.”
Melissa rolled over in sleep and the sheet fell away, revealing all of her silken skin, flushed in sleep and lingering satisfaction. “So you know, Sherry, we’re now even.”
“I’ll take that under advisement.”
The headache was back.
Laura was lying to him. Again. He wasn’t sure exactly what she was hiding, but he knew that it had better not be what he thought it was. She would not make a fool of him.
There was a whisper in his mind that none of this was right. What he was doing was wrong. Laura was trying to remember all of the things she’d forgotten. She was trying to be the woman he loved again. All he had to do was be patient and let her come around, just like she always did.
The needle of pain sliced from his right temple across his brow to the other side, obliterating that tiny voice.
Even as Laura had said all of the things he wanted to hear from her he could tell she didn’t quite believe what she said. It was in her eyes. Those beautiful brown orbs told him all of the secrets she kept locked in her soul. He didn’t like what he found there; not one bit.
He dropped to his knees as the needles of pain multiplied into a vise around his head.
My soul is empty.
Laura had never been perfect – not even close – but lately, she’d kept one secret too many, she’d cried a bit too often, she’d refused him her affections. It was time to punish her for her wicked ways. This was the way their life together had become and it left him feeling hollow inside.
My heart incomplete.
What Laura had never fully understood was the simple truth that they were soul mates. Soul mates had a connection that went beyond the mind and body; they were sacred. She had betrayed that sacred bond they once shared. How could she do this to him, her other half? He could still hear the other man’s name on her lips…her lover. Laura’s lover.
The pain intensified until the kitchen counter swam in front of his eyes; hazy waves of impression, loud flashes of colors.
This was as it would have to be. He would go to her now and demand answers of her, demand to know why she shrank from his touch. She would not lie this time. She would not deny her love to him. The tiny voice was back now, telling him that she would make things right with them. It would not be necessary to punish her.
My love lies bleeding.
Tonight, Laura would return his love and confess all the sins she’d committed against their pure love. He would forgive her of anything if only she would just tell him the truth. Tonight, he would get his Laura back.
The pain spread down his spine to his chest, stinging his heart as the dark flood invaded.
Laura had been doing this to him more and more often and he grew weary of the monotony. She would get out line; he would punish her. In time, she would come to know that his stern punishment was only meant to show her how painful her life would be without their love. And then he would have his sweet Laura with him again.
But now, he’d grown to hate the games she played. This was the last straw. For the last time, Laura had shunned him. Of course, it was only fair to give her one more chance. It was the very least he could do after all of their time together.
The pain fled his chest.
Yes, he liked this new plan. Laura would have her one shot at redemption. He would give her the opportunity to set their life back on the path they’d selected together. However, her previous deceptions had prepared him well for her constant betrayal. If she lied to him, if she decided to naively pretend she didn’t understand, if her eyes gave away even the faintest glimmer of duplicity…
In that instant, his vision snapped into focus, leading his gaze to the block of chef’s knives. There would be no games tonight. He selected a knife with great care. Running his finger along the cool steel, he was satisfied by the crimson line that appeared, growing out of control until it became so thick that it pooled into his cupped palm. He lost himself in the sight of the unholy lake he held. With a fluid movement of the wrist, it became a waterfall, crimson assaulting the pristine tile at his feet.
Watching the life’s blood seep from a body was possibly the most arousing thing he’d ever experienced. He lifted his palm to his lips to taste that sweet nectar, but recoiled at the bitter penny taste. His own blood was repugnant to him; he’d forgotten that. One should never taste of their own fruits. If he wanted to remain pure then he must exercise self-control over his baser impulses.
Not bothering to dress his wound, he carried the knife to the basement door. Excitement pulsed through his veins. This was going to be a truly spectacular evening. His penis stiffened just thinking about what would happen on the other side of the door.
Laura would tell him the truth; she would deny him nothing. He would strip off her clothes to enjoy the sight of her, his blood covering her curves. Then he would lift her up onto the bathroom sink, wedging her against it as their bodies joined. He would take her hard – much harder than he knew she liked. She would feel him in her every step for a week and she would remember the anger she’d caused.
She would remember she belonged to him.
But if she did continue her games…His gaze wandered to the knife in his hand. Her poor behavior would no longer be tolerated. The punishment dealt by his hand would be swift and unforgiving. Laura’s hands would be bound far over her head and secured to the hot water pipe running along the ceiling. He would let his hands roam over the creamy expanse of her naked flesh before piercing it with the knife. Only once he’d completed his punishment would he allow himself to taste the sweetness of her life flowing from her body. It would take all of his discipline to keep the cuts shallow. Laura could not pass out; she had to experience both the punishment of his knife and the forgiveness of his lips on her tarnished skin.
Only then would she fully understand the depth of his love for her.
And just like that, his headache vanished.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~
So, who wants to find out whether Jackson can get to Jenna in time while working with the man who stole his first wife from him?
*Keep in mind, there’s still one more round of revisions, so the final content of these scenes, as well as their order, may change slightly by the time the book goes to print.
© 2013 – 2015, Sydney Katt. All rights reserved.