Berkley Bookmas

BookSmacked is so excited to participate in Berkley Bookmas and we’re hosting a "Slice of Life" scene from Elle Kennedy's Killer Instincts series today! Berkley Bookmas is chock full of exclusive content from authors like exclusive excerpts, deleted scenes, author recipes and more! Check out the calendar of events below:

Christmas Without Cate

Killer Instincts Slice of Life

Elle Kennedy

“She’s not going to make it,” Jim Morgan said gruffly.

Noelle wandered over to the floor-to-ceiling windows where her husband stood, brooding. His cobalt-blue eyes were fixed on the dusty courtyard of their Costa Rican compound. She followed his gaze, and her normally ice-cold heart warmed slightly. Not many things elicited an emotional response from her, but seeing Ash out there with his one-year-old son got to her. Even she had to admit that the little boy was fucking adorable. He teetered around on two wobbly legs, while his dad chased after him to make sure he didn’t face-plant into the dirt.

“She might,” Noelle answered.

Jim glanced over with a dry look. “Don’t bullshit me, sweetheart. We both know it ain’t happening.”

She swallowed a sigh. No, she didn’t think so, either. Their daughter had been on assignment in Africa when all hell broke loose—a rebel group decided to make their move, martial law had been called, and all aircrafts grounded. Now Cate was stuck on another continent, more than a day’s worth of travel away. They hadn’t heard from her in almost twenty-four hours, which told Noelle that all the cell towers were down thanks to the chaos over there.

“She’s gonna be pissed,” Noelle murmured.

“No shit. Missing her kid’s first Christmas?” Jim shuddered. “Jesus fuck, I’m not looking forward to her mood when she finally gets in.”

Yeah, neither was Noelle. Cate was a hothead on a good day, but when her only child was involved? She went all mama lioness on the world. She was undoubtedly crushed that she couldn’t be here with him right now, and furious enough to set all of Africa on fire.

“Those rebels ought to be shaking in their boots,” Noelle said with a grin. “Cate can’t be happy with them right now.”

Jim’s answering grin was wry. “I don’t think anyone over there is happy with them right now. But, yeah, you’re absolutely right. She’s probably plotting all their grisly murders while she sits in the airport.”

A shriek of laughter sounded from the bowels of the huge hacienda-style house, making Noelle’s shoulders tighten. One of the million children spending the week here, obviously. And children were goddamn loud.

It was a total madhouse and she fucking hated it. Only Abby, Kane and their seven-year-old son J.J. lived on the compound year-round, and Noelle didn’t mind the little family. Plus, J.J. had inherited his mother’s badassness and was learning martial arts, so Noelle got to spar with him in the compound’s basement gym. Everyone else? She liked a helluva lot more when they weren’t in her face twenty-four-seven.

She’d barely had a moment’s peace since everyone arrived.

D and Sofia had shown up last night carting their four kids. Four.

Isabelle and Trevor got in the night before, bringing along their two daughters.

Liam and Sully showed up this morning—kidless, thank God. Ditto for Ethan and Juliet.

Those two couples were the only ones not on Noelle’s shit list at the moment.

Luke and Olivia had brought their colicky son. Assholes.

And don’t get her started on Bailey. Her favorite chameleon, a woman capable of transforming into a completely different person at the drop of a hat, was pregnant again. Bailey and Sean already had two kids. Why did they need a third?

Noelle just prayed that the baby fever amongst Morgan’s mercenaries and her chameleon assassins wasn’t contagious.

“There are too many kids in this house,” she told her husband, moving closer to rest her frazzled forehead on his shoulder.

Chuckling, he put his arm around her and pressed his lips to the top of her head. “It’s fucking brutal,” he agreed. “Makes me want shoot something.”

Her heart skipped a beat, because Jim’s bloodlust always got her all warm and gooey. He was a crazy bastard, but she was a crazy bitch, so really, a match made in heaven. And despite being married for so many years, the often-violent passion between them had yet to fade. She didn’t think it ever would.

“Can we?” she begged, tilting her head to peer up at his handsome face. “I haven’t fired a gun all week. Or used a knife. You want to go downstairs and have a knife fight?”

A wicked gleam entered his eyes. “Yes.”

Noelle laughed and brushed a kiss over his sexy mouth. “I was joking.

”Jim’s tongue slid through her parted lips to toy with hers, sending a shiver up her spine. When he kissed her this lazily, it usually meant he was contemplating something very naughty.