Friday, October 29, 2021

Read an Excerpt from Trial by Fire by Taylor Lee

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Riveting Full Length Sequel to Bestselling Sizzling Romantic Suspense “Playing with Fire”.

“The sexiest, most outrageous hero I’ve read in a long time. Snappy, laugh out loud dialogue, and a Sizzling HOT romance makes this wildly exciting murder mystery a true page-turner.” J. John
“A spellbinding police mystery thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat. Pulse pounding action and steamy romance. A cast of unforgettable characters that will capture your heart.” Action Junkie

•A badass cop flaunts every regulation and finds himself the # 1 suspect in a violent murder
•A vicious killer who makes Hannibal Lecter seem tame
•Two wounded lovers haunted by the past

“A love story so poignant makes you want to cheer for Nate and Erin as they struggle to overcome the ugliness from the past.”RomanceReviews

Love Kaylea Cross's heart pounding romantic military thrillers? Sylvia Day’s and Maya Banks red hot sexy heroes, feisty heroines and high adrenaline action? Fern Michael’s compelling characters? Grab Trial by Fire and prepare to be addicted. 

Excerpt:

“What have we got, Jim?”

 

Seeing the Medical Examiner huddled with a cluster of techs and members of the evidence team, Nate Stryker waited for the verdict. Jim Thompson’s face flooded with relief and something akin to wonder when he saw Nate. Nodding to Dan Coulter, the wizened little man turned his attention to Nate.

 

“We’re waiting for you, Nate. I’ve kept everyone out. Knew you’d want this one clean until you saw it. Plus, I wanted to get your first impression. Sure as hell, it’s something I never thought I’d see in Chicadia Falls, Minnesota.”

 

“Point me to it.”

 

 “Fuck.”

 

Dan’s muttered expletive said it all.

 

 Nate nodded to his partner. “That about sums it up, Dan.”

 

Exchanging a glance with Dan, who was rooted to a spot by the sofa, Nate moved toward the makeshift cross in the middle of the room. Jim Thompson didn’t exaggerate. Wasn’t only Chicadia Falls that hadn’t seen a scene like this. Nate was damn sure this one would go down in police annals everywhere. Hell, their little township could become famous. Or infamous, Nate snorted. Leave it to Peterson to go out in style. Fucking show-off. Couldn’t even be murdered without drama.

 

Nate approached the naked man hanging on the cross. Fortunately for Mike, he’d relied on his wealth to attract women. Sure as hell wasn’t his physique. Scrawny, sagging skin liberally sprinkled with age spots, and a pendulant belly about summed up the former ladies man’s body. And granted it wasn’t fair to judge a guy’s dick when it was stuck in his mouth, but c’mon! The best that could be said was at least Mike didn’t choke to death. It was a cinch that little nubbin didn’t reach much past his front teeth.

No, more likely Mike bled out. Inch-deep cuts marked his torso and limbs. Systematically placed, the slashes were made by a pro. Someone well-schooled in the art of slowly whipping a man to death with as much pain as possible.

 

Of course, that open area between his legs that used to anchor his manhood, contributed to the blood clotting on the floor. From the way the blood had dried on his pale skinny thighs, that unkind cut was made early on. Either Mike was unwilling to give up the information his tormentor wanted or the end goal was torture, plain and simple.

 

Dan’s voice was shaky. Smearing a gob of mentholated ointment under his nose, he offered Nate the slim metal tin. “You want some of this, Nate?”

 

Nate shook his head and moved closer to the cross. Over the years he’d become inured to the smells of death. Particularly violent deaths. Mike’s qualified—big time. The acrid smell of blood, piss and evacuated bowels were all common odors at a violent death scene. Mike’s had all three and then some. The stench was enough to deck a rookie officer. Nate barely noticed it.

~~~

Nate trudged up the circular staircase, running his hand over the opulent hand-carved oak railing. Damn, he knew Mike was a lumber baron, but why include every kind of wood known to man in his home? In the library alone there were four different varieties of wood. By the time Nate made it through the grand foyer he’d counted two more. Given Mike’s penchant for pretention, what should have been beautiful was overkill.

 

Overkill didn’t begin to describe the bedroom they entered.

 

If the library was the epitome of masculine opulence, and the foyer was an adventure into a Tuscan grand hallway complete with columns and multicolored tile floors, the bedroom was Barbie’s playhouse. The last time he’d seen this much pink and white was when his little cousin forced him to be Ken in her never-ending nine-year-old’s version of grown-up play. Once again, in the Peterson household, the motto seemed to be, if it worked once, why not use it multiple times? And in this bedroom, just in case you were sight-deficient, two of the walls were floor to ceiling mirrors. Nate stifled a laugh at the incredulous expression on Dan’s face when he glanced up and spotted the huge mirror above the bed. Apparently his straight-laced partner didn’t know the woman dramatically stretched out on the pink velvet chaise lounge. Nate could have told Dan, wherever Laura was, there were mirrors.

Laura was surrounded by worried-looking medics and a short, graying man Nate presumed was Dr. James.

 

 Moving through the throng that separated to let him pass, Nate made his way to the semi-conscious woman. He spoke quietly. “Laura, its Nate.”

 

Laura immediately came to life. With a wild cry, she jumped up and threw herself at him.

“Oh God, Nate. Oh thank God you’re here. You need to help me. Please! Somebody needs to help me. Mike… Oh God, Nate. Something awful… somebody hurt Mike… I need you, Nate!”

Her stammering, incoherent speech ended in an uncontrolled wail.

 

Nate let her cling to him for a moment, then carefully unwound her hands from his waist and helped her sit up against the back of the tufted lounge. His voice was calm but loud enough to be heard over her jerky sobs. “Yes, Laura. I saw him. Dan and I just left the scene. I’m sorry. It is a terrible crime. I’m especially sorry that you had to see him like that.” He  stepped back, putting distance between them. “I’m going to need to ask you some questions, Laura.”

 

At the sound of a small cough, Nate glanced at the clearly concerned little man hovering by Laura’s side. Nate raised a questioning brow.

 

The doctor shook his head and motioned for Nate to follow him. They stood at the side of the room.

“I’m Dr. Andrew James. She’s in shock, Detective Stryker. This is not a good time to interview her. You are unlikely to get useful information. She’s coherent for short moments and then becomes agitated, then hysterical. I’ve given her a significant amount of Valium, a much larger dose than I like to give. I’m hoping that it will allow her to sleep.”

 

As if to punctuate his point, Laura’s head lolled to the side. Her breathing deepened perceptibly and she appeared to fall asleep. Nate grimaced. Although she’d just discovered her murdered husband’s body, and her life had turned upside down, Laura looked as beautiful as ever. Her long blond hair hung down her back in shiny waves of gold. Dark lashes shadowed her rosy cheeks. Her plump bee-stung lips were moist, even inviting. The peek-a-boo clothing she always wore showed her voluptuous body to perfection. Her bountiful cleavage spilled out of her abbreviated halter top. And, even asleep, she’d managed to hike up her short skirt, revealing the lacy edge of her panties.

Seeing the EMT’s trying to look away, not to gawk, Nate gave a soft snort. He could have told them not to bother. It didn’t matter. Even sleeping, Laura made sure she got attention. Always had. Always would.

****

The library buzzed with activity. Well-equipped technicians, EMT’s and cameramen were hard at work, in colonies of specialized activity. From the doorway Nate took a last look at the pitiful shell of the man still hanging on the cross. No question that in life Mike Peterson was an arrogant asshole. Hell, so was he. Nate grimaced. He and Mike had something else in common. They’d both had the misfortune to have been married to Laura.


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