Friday, October 28, 2022

Read an Excerpt from Jude by Taylor Lee



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!


As she walked slowly from one aspect of the horrific tableau to another, Skylar Hughes couldn’t ignore the human drama playing out around her. She knew most of the Justice family. She’d met Jared Justice, the youngest of the infamous brothers, when she worked as an intelligence analyst in the Washington, DC DEA office.

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.

Along with the rest of the CSI team, Skylar stood back when the shattered Parker offspring entered and saw the hideous corpses of their parents. Somehow, the Justice men managed to keep the screaming sisters and their brother from collapsing. After many too-long moments of shrieking questions, sobbing entreaties begging to hear that the horrendous scene wasn’t real, and asking again and again, “Why? Why? Who? Who could have done this?” the Justice men led the devastated group from the library.

Jared had his arm wrapped tightly around a sobbing Blake while his grandfather and Jorden were each holding, half-carrying the wailing sisters. Seeing the troubled expressions on Jake and Jude’s faces as they watched the distraught party stumble from the room, Skylar was surprised to feel moisture on her cheeks. Sky rarely acknowledged her emotions, but even she couldn’t tamp down the surprising grief she felt at the hideous family tragedy playing out in front of her. But then it would take a heartless automaton not to be affected by the catastrophic event she was peripheral to.

After the family left, the CSI team went to work. Murmured questions and Detective Justice’s clipped orders were virtually the only sounds as the industrious team worked steadily for the next several hours. At one point Commander Justice announced that there was coffee in the hallway. Skylar heard him but was too intent on her observations to consider leaving. A moment later, Jared tapped her on the shoulder and handed her a bottle of water. When she started to refuse, he shook his head, removed the cap and said curtly, “Drink it, short stuff. We’re hours away from being done.”

Skylar stepped back against the wall and sipped at the water. Preoccupied as she was, she hadn’t realized how thirsty she’d become, and acknowledged Jared with a grateful smile. When she drained the last drop, she walked out into the hallway to dispose of the bottle. Eager to get back to her work she 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. 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 Michel’s, 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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