Today I am so pleased to welcome TA Moore to Joyfully Jay. TA has come to talk to us about her latest release, Skin and Bone. She has also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
First of all, thank you so much for having me! I’m thrilled to be here with Skin and Bone, the second book in the Digging up Bones series. Authors should probably be like parents in that they never admit any book is their favourite, but I love this series. It was great fun for me to revisit them in Skin and Bone and I hope you guys enjoy seeing them again too!
For this blog tour I have written a short story called ‘Sticks and Stones’ where you can see what Javi and Cloister were up to between books!
Sticks and Stones – Chapter Six
She didn’t look confused.
Ellie Buchanan was, as far as she was concerned, in her own element. She sat on a wrought iron bench outside the courtyard, elegant in satin pyjamas that could pass for a pantsuit and grey smoke from her cigarette wreathed around her soft, rounded face as she talked. Interns–Javi had checked, she’d refused to have any this year–would have given their eye-teeth for one-on-one with Judge Buchanan like this. The three homeless men and two women she sat with her nodded and agreed with her when she paused.
“Ellie,” Javi said as he approached. “Can I have a word?”
She gave him a sharp, disapproving look–she’d always hated interruptions, people deserved your attention–but nodded briskly. One of the homeless men took the cigarette out of her hand as she stood up. The other eyed Javi suspiciously, and then glanced past him to catch a glimpse of Cloister. The uniform might not be one that usually portended good things for them, but after a second the man relaxed.
“SA Merlo,” Ellie said. She took his elbow with the confidence of someone who knew her own skin. “Walk with me.”
Her feet were bare, dirty and blistered, but she didn’t seem to notice as he led her over the courtyard.
“I’m going to have to crack on dress code,” she said. “I’ve never been as traditional as some, but there’s a level of respect you have to show the building. The people who come here, the defendants and the victims.”
“Maybe later,” Javi said. “Ellie, would you let me drive you home.”
Her fingers tightened on his arm. For the first time he saw something on her face that betrayed some knowledge that something was wrong. A scared crack in her polished, Judge Buchanan facade as she peered into the fog that had settled around her.
“Oh that would be nice,” she said quickly. “I don’t know how I let it get so late. I promised Mary-Anne that I’d start coming home earlier, to get ready for retirement. I’ll miss this, though. Helping people, teaching new lawyers the ropes, keeping young FBI agents in their place.”
“Oh, I don’t know,” Javi said. “If I had someone to love, I wouldn’t want to waste any time to love them in. And Plenty is OK, but it’s no Barcelona.”
“Cuba,” Ellie corrected him. “Mary-Anne’s husband, his family was from Cuba. Apparently she promised him she’d go one day, take their daughter. Since Kris doesn’t want to, I get to go.”
“Cuba has beaches,” Javi said.
The deputies greeted her at the patrol car. They let her ride in the front, as if this was just another escort for the Judge.
Javi stepped back and watched the car disappear into the dark.
“Not going to be good for your case, is it?” Cloister asked as he came up behind him.
“No,” Javi said. He was a little surprised to find out he cared more about Ellie, although he wasn’t going to put any money on feeling the same once his case against Franks came crashing down. “We’ll ask for the new judge to review the case, Franks lawyer will demand a retrial, and we’ll see.”
“See? That’s why I like my job,” Cloister said as put a hand on Javi’s shoulder. “This is just a win for me. I don’t have to make it complicated.”
Javi snorted. “You’ll have to show me how to do that sometime, because complicated is where this starts,” he said. “I have to get ahead of this, update Frome, update the FBI, get ready for every case Ellie tried in the last year to be appealed…”
“Is that an invite?” Cloister asked. “Or a brush-off.”
Whichever it needed to be. Javi thought about it–and, for some reason, Cloister on a white sand beach in nothing much at all–and picked one. “It was an invitation,” he said. “For later.”
“Not like I sleep,” Cloister pointed out. “I can wait.”
It had been–if Javi said so himself–worth the wait. They sprawled on Javi’s black leather couch, tangled around each other and too comfortable to give in to how uncomfortable the couch was. Javi tangled his fingers in Cloister’s sandy, sun streaked hair and pulled his head to the side so he could chew a kiss into the soft skin under his jaw. Pale gilt stubble was rough against his lips.
“I don’t know if this is, officially, uncomplicated, Deputy Witte,” he said.
“All I can do is try,” Cloister said. He propped himself up on his elbow and reached for the beer that sat with the cold pizza. Javi didn’t know why Cloister pretended that this–sweat, sex, and the taste of salt and skin in Javi’s mouth–wasn’t going to happen, that he’d just come over for pizza, or chicken, or food. He knew why he maintained the pretence, but as almost aggressively open-book as Cloister was he could be hard to read sometimes. “What about Mary-Anne?”
“We could probably charge her with wasting police time or obstruction,” Javi said. He waited until Cloister had taken a swig and stole the beer. Whiskey would have been better, but he’d have drunk that alone. Cloister said whiskey went with bad news and worse ideas, not food. “It would never stick. Certainly not when we’d drag her into court in front of the other judges.”
He took a drink of beer and leaned back, arm tucked behind his head, and looked at the ceiling. Cloister trailed his fingers along Javi’s leg in an idle caress.
“Why did they–”
“One last case,” Javi said. “That’s what Mary-Anne says anyhow. Ellie isn’t lucid yet.”
“It’s worse at night,” Cloister said. “People with Alzheimer’s, or dementia, their symptoms get worse at night. Sundowning. Bon’s found a lot of confused folks who got lost in the night. Once an old man hit me with a branch because he thought I was a debt collector from the 90s.”
Javi laughed, and nearly choked on a pinch of guilt.
“I don’t think Ellie’s that confused,” he said. “Not usually, at least, according to Mary-Anne. The symptoms only started this year, or only got pronounced enough to be a worry. Ellie would forget things, go home to their old apartment instead of their house,and get her schedule confused. Not like her, but nothing abnormal for most of us. Then, apparently, she called her ex to ask when she’d be home for dinner, said she’d made their favorite dish. That’s when they knew that…it was bad.”
“How long has it been?”
“Five months,” Javi said. “Around the time Ellie decided to retire instead of just talking about it. But she knew if she pulled out in the middle of the case, that it would fall apart. She wanted to see it through and none of us noticed anything wrong. Day in and day out she was sharp as ever. It just took a bit more work for them to keep the balls in the air than it used to.”
“Until it got worse,” Cloister said. He sat up and stretched. Javi ignored the petty grumble at the loss of heavy warmth draped over him and admired the view instead. “The new housekeeper-”
“The old one noticed something was wrong,” Javi confirmed. “They rehomed their dog because Ellie would remember it needed walked, but not how to get home. I don’t know what I’d do if that happened. What about you?”
Cloister paused halfway through putting his t-shirt on. “I don’t know,” he admitted after a pause. It was, Javi realised with a wince, not entirely a hypothetical for him. There was a whole trauma that his brain had just shucked off, a lost twelve hour hole. “You remember that you’ve forgotten something, you know? Not what it was, or if it was important, just that it’s gone. It ends up like a cavity in your head, you can’t stop poking at it.”
“Sorry,” Javi said. “That was a stupid question.”
“No,” Cloister said as he dragged his jeans on. “Who better to ask? Look, you want to go out for dinner next week? Beer and chicken wings, nothing I wouldn’t ask Tancredi to.”
Javi should have said no. He should have turned down a lot of things that Cloister offered in that off-hand way, but he never seemed to. It was hard to remember your best intentions when you just wanted to lick the freckles off someone’s shoulder.
“I don’t see why not,” Javi said. “But I do have nice dinners without marrying anyone. Maybe a candlelit dinner at the Galleon would be too far, but we could step it up from counter service.”
“But would the chicken wings be as good?” Cloister asked as he leaned down and teased a feather light kiss over Javi’s mouth.
Cloister Witte and his K-9 partner, Bourneville, find the lost and bring them home.
But the job doesn’t always end there.
Janet Morrow, a young trans woman, lies in a coma after wandering away from her car during a storm. But just because Cloister found the young tourist doesn’t mean she’s home. What brought her to Plenty, California… and who didn’t want her to leave?
With the help of Special Agent Javi Merlo, who continues to deny his growing feelings for the rough-edged deputy, Cloister unearths a ten-year-old conspiracy of silence that taps into Plenty’s history of corruption.
Janet Morrow’s old secrets aren’t the only ones coming to light. Javi has tried to put his past behind him, but some people seem determined to pull his skeletons out of the closet. His dark history with a senior agent in Phoenix complicates not just the investigation but his relationship with Cloister.
And since when has he cared about that?
TA Moore is a Northern Irish writer of romantic suspense, urban fantasy, and contemporary romance novels. A childhood in a rural, seaside town fostered in her a suspicious nature, a love of mystery, and a streak of black humour a mile wide. As her grandmother always said, ‘she’d laugh at a bad thing that one’, mind you, that was the pot calling the kettle black. TA Moore studied History, Irish mythology, English at University, mostly because she has always loved a good story. She has worked as a journalist, a finance manager, and in the arts sectors before she finally gave in to a lifelong desire to write.
Coffee, Doc Marten boots, and good friends are the essential things in life. Spiders, mayo, and heels are to be avoided.
TA has brought a great giveaway for along her tour Just follow the Rafflecopter below to enter.
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