Title: Skin and Bone (Book 2 of the Digging up Bones series)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release: 26 February
Cover Artist: Bree Archer
19 – It’s About the Book
20 – My Fiction Nook
21 – Two Chicks Obsessed
24 – Boy Meets Boy
25 – Love Bytes
Blurb: Digging Up Bones: Book Two
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?
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!
Mary-Anne Buchanan had nervous hands. She twisted her wedding ring until the skin under it was raw and picked at her cuticles until they bled. The white satin pyjamas she had on were spotted with blood where she’d blotted her fingers on the sleeves or thighs.
Cloister Witte was a K9 officer, not a detective. It was the sort of detail he never used to pay much attention to. All he did was find people—the lost, the running, the hidden—and bring them back. It wasn’t his job to work out why they’d gone. He didn’t want it to be either.
Except a certain FBI agent was obviously bad for him for more than the obvious reasons. As he leaned against the door and waited for the housekeeper to bring him an item of Judge Buchanan’s unwashed laundry he watched Mary-Anne out of the corner of his eye.
She fidgeted. Her bare feet twisted over each other and around the legs of the chair. Every now and again she took a deep breath and let out a soft controlled sigh through pursed lips. Her eyes flicked nervously between Cloister, the big black dog who leaned against his leg, and the stairs.
“I’m sure it’s nothing,” she said in an anxious sing-song. “Late night coffee run. Or a candy run. Nothing.”
“I’m sure it is,” he agreed.
“I probably shouldn’t have called.” Mary-Anne chewed on the ragged cuticle around a perfect, pearl-polished thumb nail. “I’ve just wasted everyone’s time, and it’s going to turn out there was no need. I’m so sorry.”
Cloister reached down and scratched Bon’s ears. She yawned and pushed her shoulder against his knee impatiently “It’s our job,” he said. “And trust me, no-one’s happier than us if it turns out that we don’t get to do our thing.”
As if she could understand him Bon sneezed her disagreement with that. Maybe Cloister was happy enough to see the confused, not-so-missing person reunited with their loved ones, but Bon liked to do her thing. Especially since it had been a series of slow shifts the last few days.The Santa Ana winds had finally died down and it seemed like every criminal in Plenty had paused to enjoy the silence.
Or, at least, the ones that needed to be chased down had.
The most interesting thing Bon had gotten to do recently had been a trip down to the penetinary to sniff for contraband in the guards cars. She much preferred a good, meandering trail to follow.
The housekeeper finally came down the stairs, wrinkled clothes folded over her arm.
“I wasn’t sure what was the judges and what belonged to Mrs Buchanan,” the slim, sharp-nosed woman said apologetically. “They all go into the same hamper.”
She draped the clothes over the back of a chair and glanced expectantly at Mary-Anne—who chewed her nail and stared at the door.
“Ma’am?” the housekeeper prompted after a moment. “What should I give the deputy?”
Mary-Anne turned back and glanced at the clothes left out. She started to shrug and then changed her mind as her mouth tightened and she bolted up out of the chair.
“Not those,” she snapped as she hurried over the tiled floor. “For God’s sake, Laura, I’m not giving him those. They were barely worn. Do I have to do everything myself?”
The housekeeper took the outburst stoically. “It’s Gwen, ma’am.”
“…yes,” Mary-Anne said after a pause. “Of course. Gwen.”
She sorted through the laundry, tossing each item aside as it didn’t come up to scratch, until she finally settled on a white, button-down shirt with floral cuffs. Her hands tightened on the fabric as she took a deep breath.
“This will do,” she said.
“Thank you,” Cloister said as he took the shirt. “One of the other deputies will stay with you during the search. They’ll keep you updated. As soon as we find the judge, we’ll let you know.”
Mary-Anne laughed and wiped her bloody thumb on the cuff on her pyjamas. “I’ll do the same, and you can explain to Billie why I caused such a fuss when they’d just gone out for an errand.”
If she’d produced a knife from under a chair and demanded loudly, ‘However did that get there?, Mary-Anne couldn’t have looked more guilty. Somehow that made Cloister trust her more, not less. She was obviously hiding something, but it probably wasn’t guilt. Anyone who was that bad a liar had to know it, and they’d not put themselves in this position.
He folded the shirt inside out as he left Mary-Anne to fidget and headed for the open front door that had raised alarm in the first place. After it had been mixed in with the general wash for a day or more, the best spots for a good scent mark were under the arms and around the collar. Sweat soaked in there.
The Buchanans lived up in the hills, in what had been farmland a generation back. Now it was a manicured wilderness, dotted with idiosyncratic houses built at angles so they could all pretend the view just belonged to them.
As Cloister stepped out onto the driveway a black car pulled up behind the squad cars and SSA Javi Merlo unfolded his long, lean body from the driver’s seat.
The last time Cloister had seen Javi had been in bed the night before. Sweaty silk sheets, no promises, and a smile that made Cloister remember how shit he was at ‘no strings attached’.
Now he got a frown as Javi slammed the door of his car and stalked toward Cloister through the other deputies.
“What are you doing here?” Cloister asked. Bon whuffed a greeting and wagged her tail briskly as she stood up expectantly. In her experience Javi’s presence meant it was definitely going to be an interesting chase. Cloister pulled back on the lead in gentle reminded and she leaned against his leg placidly. “It’s a missing person, that’s not FBI jurisdiction.”
Javi gave him an annoyed look. “Last I checked, I didn’t answer to the local dog handler.” He stopped, grimaced, and pulled his hand down his face. “Long night. Bad coffee. I should have said state dog handler.”
It was, sort of, an apology. At least from Javi. Not an explanation though.
“I still want to know why you’re here,” Cloister said. “Is this going to be another one like the Hartley case?”
Javi exhaled and took his jacket off. “I hope not,” he said as he folded it over his arm. “But the jury are about to come back with a verdict on a federal case, and apparently the judge who’s meant to be on the bench when that happens is nowhere to be found.”
“Maybe they’re with Judge Buchanan,” Cloister said blandly. “We can’t find her either.”
TA Moore –
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.