Today I am so pleased to welcome Victoria Sue to Joyfully Jay. She has come to talk to share an exclusive cover reveal for her upcoming release, Beneath This Mask. She has also brought along an exclusive excerpt and giveaway! Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
So first off, here is the gorgeous cover!
Jake looked at the houses. All boarded up. Brick fronts. There were about eight still standing, some so dangerous, especially after Hermine had ripped through last year, they had been taped off.
“It’s the end house,” Gael said, and they both stared. Two stories, red brick, and a lean-to sunroom-type thing to the side. There were outside steps on the other side leading up to the second floor, and the first had a huge boarded-up window that looked like a storefront. “It was a tobacco store back in the day,” Gael supplied. Jake knew, but he was surprised Gael had bothered to find out.
“And the entrance to the storeroom is behind the stairs inside,” Jake confirmed, and walked to the front and started yanking at the boards. The key to the only door had long since been lost. “They’re gonna flatten it anyway, right?” he shouted behind him.
Warm hands covered his own, and Jake jumped and took a step back.
“Let me,” Gael said woodenly, and Jake could have cursed. Gael had to think he was flinching at him. He was, but not for the reason Gael likely assumed. This really wasn’t gonna work. Jake was determined to stay, to do some good, but he was getting nowhere with Gael, and now… what? He liked the guy? “Here,” Gael said, stepping through the hole in the storefront where he’d ripped the boards away. Jake knew they’d been removed initially and then replaced when the crime scene guys had finished.
He followed Gael through, the sunlight streaming in. They both went toward a door at the back, or half a door. What was left of it, anyway.
“The cellar is down there.”
“It’s not exactly a cellar, though, is it? I mean, Florida? Do they actually have anything that would flood?”
“More a storeroom,” Gael acknowledged. “No windows.”
It had been an anonymous phone call. Some kids thinking they were all badass and going somewhere to smoke weed. They had scared themselves to death and phoned the cops. Jake had listened to the 911 call. Small, scared voices. Definitely kids.
Gael put his hand on the door and paused at the marks. He fingered the scratches and the different-colored paint where something had been. “Locks?”
“Bolts,” Jake said in disgust. “They were taken away by the local PD when everyone was done, for safety. A ton of fingerprints but nothing on file.”
Gael stared at the door and then pushed it open. He had to duck. Jake followed him in, bending as well. It was a small space, probably 8 x 10. Jake pulled the photographs out of the file, and Gael silently held out his hand.
“The mattress was in that corner.” Jake nodded to the top end and passed him the scene photos. The mattress was where they had found the man’s starved body.
“How long was he here?” Gael asked quietly.
“They think at least a few weeks.”
He’d been just a teenager. A baby. Jake had seen some messed-up shit, but this?
Gael suddenly whirled around and was out of the door back into the store before Jake thought about what he’d said. He took one more look around the empty space and then headed out after Gael. He stepped through the storefront they had uncovered and saw Gael with his back to him. For a second he wondered if it had made him sick, but Gael was standing still, breathing quietly. Jake chewed his lip, processing the hunched shoulders, the powerful arms that were currently wrapped around his body, the bent head.
“Hey,” Jake said, putting his hand on Gael’s back. Gael stiffened slightly but didn’t take a step away. “When I was a beat cop, we were called to a house,” Jake continued conversationally. “Neighbors upstairs were complaining of a god-awful smell and had called the landlord. We went in. The tenant had two kids. He’d shot the kids and turned the gun on himself because he’d caught his wife having an affair. I was due to take the detective’s exam the month after, and I canceled and went into SWAT instead.” Jake took a breath of clean air, and Gael looked up, fixing his eyes on him. Jake would never forget the smell as they walked in or the sheer defeat it would have taken to push someone to do that, to end the lives of their children. “That’s when I knew I could never do that full-time,” he added, dropping his hand awkwardly.
“When I first transformed, I lived with my dad, uncle, and my kid brother. We knew to avoid Dad because he drank, and when things weren’t going well, it was better to stay out of his way.”
Jake stayed completely still. Gael’s blue eyes had deepened, and even though they were fixed on his own, he knew Gael wasn’t really looking at him.
“We had a cellar. A proper one. Wyatt had done something to piss him off, and there was some lady coming around from his school or something.” Gael’s brow furrowed. “Dad said I had to get lost, so I headed for the front door, but Wyatt started crying. He didn’t want me going anywhere. Dad blew up. Said Wyatt was going to get exactly what he’d asked for, and he locked me in the cellar. Said if Wyatt behaved, he would let me out.” Gael swallowed. “Dumb, I guess. I was only in there for just over a day, but it was the longest twenty-four hours of my life, and I can’t think what weeks would have been like.”
Jake didn’t know what to say. Any empty sympathy would be insulting. “I know this great little café down by the water,” he started cautiously. “What do you think about grabbing a coffee before we go see Adero’s family?”
Jake waited, holding his breath while Gael looked kind of puzzled at him. Then Gael smiled. His skin crinkled and the scar on the left side of his face pulled tight, but Jake didn’t care about any of that. He was too busy staring into smoky dark blue eyes and getting lost in them.
Gael Peterson has spent years hiding behind the enhanced abilities he wears like a mask, even though he is an important, confident member of the FBI’s exclusive H.E.R.O. team. The hurt and betrayal of his mom’s abandonment and his father’s fists are secrets buried deep beneath the ugly scars on his face, and he doesn’t trust Jake, his new regular human partner, with any of them. In a world where those with special abilities like Gael’s are regarded as freaks and monsters, it won’t be easy for him to rely on Jake to have his back, especially when the abilities of a vulnerable, enhanced, nonspeaking child make that child a murder suspect.
Tempers rise and loyalties are challenged, and when the serial killer targeting the enhanced finally sets his sights on Gael, not only will Gael have to trust Jake with his secrets, he might have to trust him to save his life.
- eBook: https://www.dreamspi
nnerpress.com/books/beneath- this-mask-by-victoria-sue- 9191-b
- Paperback: https://www.dreams
pinnerpress.com/books/beneath- this-mask-by-victoria-sue- 9192-b
Victoria has brought an ebook copy of any of her books to give away to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Thursday, November 30th at 11:59 pm ET.
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