Friday, October 22, 2021

Read an Excerpt from JUDE by Taylor Lee

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JUDE, Book 2 in USA Today best-selling author Taylor Lee’s provocative new series, The Justice Brothers.

•A shockingly gruesome murder
•An arrogant go-it-alone homicide detective
•A quirky intelligence analyst known for her brains and Clark Kent glasses
•Together they discover that Justice—like Love-- isn’t always fair or easy.

WARNING: Romance so HOT it singes the pages. HOT, tough, explicit. Not for the faint at heart. Definitely bring a fan!

Excerpt:

Skylar Hughes noted the blood on the woman’s inner thighs and added it to her analysis of the crime scene. She’d squashed her revulsion at the hideous montage hours ago, finding refuge in her quest for data. Sky had been to countless crime scenes, far too many in fact, for someone as young as she was. Interestingly, the scenes never ran together in her encyclopedic brain. Each one remained pristine, unique. Of course, there were the expected similarities. There was always at least one body—or in unusual cases, parts of a body. There were the weapons, the smells, and the customary clues. And of course, there was blood and other bodily fluids that always found a way to escape the human body that had once been their holding tank.

            To protect the scene, they all wore paper booties and latex gloves. Unlike the other members of the team, Skylar didn’t carry specialized equipment. No cameras, tagging strips, or other tools were required for her particular expertise. Not even a supply of plastic baggies. The tool kit she employed was housed in her brain. Her job was to comb through every inch of the crime scene, tallying each piece of data no matter how seemingly insignificant, and relegating it to a particular folder in her mind. Sky didn’t try to make sense of the data on-site. That task would come later when all the pieces had been assigned a level of importance. At that point, she would begin the arduous but fulfilling task of making sense of the senselessness.

            The one Justice brother she hadn’t met before tonight was Jude. The tall, overwhelming detective had just arrived from his stint as the lead homicide detective in the highflying LAPD. Prior to that, like his brother Jared, he’d served six years as a Delta team member. Arriving in Duluth, his commander brother had appointed him to head up the homicide division. All the Justice brothers were sinfully good-looking, and Jude was no exception. Watching the shaggy, dark-haired man with the piercing emerald eyes direct the investigation, Sky was struck by how much he resembled his younger brother Jared. Except that Jude was even more dangerous looking than Jared, which was akin to comparing Charlie Hunnam to Travis Fimmel. Like the rest of the family, Jude was clearly accustomed to a leadership role. He commanded the CSI team with few words. His powerful aura ensured that everyone on site, including his commander brother, deferred to him.

Eager to get back to her work Skylar returned to the library, determinedly shoving her glasses higher up on her nose. It was a nervous habit she had since she began wearing the thick lenses after her elementary school nurse had declared her almost sightless. Walking by Detective Justice, she saw that he was studying her. Realizing that he likely didn’t know who she was, she thought about introducing herself. But given the deep frown creasing his brow and the rigid set of his jaw, she decided introductions could wait.

Jude knew most of the CSI squad from his previous life. Almost all of them had grown up in the port city or somewhere on the Iron Range, if not one of the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. He sniffed, conceding that Minnesotans were a closed bunch. Particularly those who grew up in the Northwoods. No matter how distant or how prestigious the colleges they attended, like the migrating birds that lived in the Northern clime half of the year, they managed to wend their way back to the land of ice and snow and stunning blue skies. Even those like the Justice brothers, who had traveled the world from one hellhole to the next in their military careers, sooner or later found their way back home. Which made the dark-haired pixie working the crime scene an outlier.

Through the fog of the murder investigation Jude had noticed the young woman early on. Unlike the rest of the squad who came armed with their specialized equipment and who all seemed to know one another, the small woman was clearly a loner. Not only was she sans equipment, but he never once saw her speak to any of the team. Rather, she moved from spot to spot inches at a time, as if each square inch held the answer to an unasked question if she only stared at it long enough.

Jude had intended to ask Jake or Jared who she was, but in the flurry of hideous activity he hadn’t bothered. As the night wore on and dawn was threatening, he saw Jared bring the newcomer a bottle of water. For a moment he focused on her, noting again how young she seemed. And frankly, how unappealing. Her short, spiky coal-black hair looked like it had been chopped by dull scissors, likely wielded by their owner. Her body wasn’t bad, at least what he could see of it. The shapeless black t-shirt hinted at some nice curves, but her baggy cargo pants masked her ass, making it impossible for him to judge its worthiness. He realized that her would-be stylish platform sandals were intended to make her look taller. Which was a problem. Being as big as he was, Jude avoided short women. He liked his women tall and leggy. Like Hailey Michels, his brother Jared’s latest stunning squeeze.

Seeing the intent young woman shove her glasses higher up on her nose, he huffed dismissively. Along with her short stature and misshapen clothes, Jude decreed that the thick lenses were a decided third strike against the unfamiliar woman.

Sidling up to his brother, he nodded in the direction of the pixie. “Who’s the squirt, Jared? The one with the specs?”

Jared laughed. “Her name is Skylar Hughes. I brought her with me from DC.”

Surprised, Jude stared at his smiling brother through narrowed eyes. “She a cop?”

When Jared shook his head, Jude pressed, “Agent?”

Jared shrugged. “Nope, neither.”

Worn out by the night’s hideous work, Jude’s temper flared at his brother’s flippant non-answers. “Then what the hell is she doin’ here, bro?”

Jared shrugged again. “She’s an intelligence analyst. I introduced her to Jake and he hired her on the spot.”

Not satisfied, Jude persisted. “Is she badged?”

Jared chuckled. “Nope, but relax, brother. The weapon she carries is more powerful than all of ours put together.”

“Huh?” Jude glared at his amused kin and asked in a low voice not hiding his annoyance, “And what weapon might that be, asshole?”

            Jared paused, then pointed to his head and grinned. “Her brain.”


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