Today I am so pleased to welcome Tal Bauer to Joyfully Jay. Tal has come to share an exclusive excerpt from his latest release, The Murder Between Us. Please join me in giving him a big welcome!
He couldn’t do this. He couldn’t go through another day of this.
Another day with Cole right there—right there—close enough to reach for, to grab, to hold. Another day with Cole’s smile and his laugh and those kind, caring eyes.
Of course, everyone else got to see those kind eyes now. Everyone else heard Cole’s laugh. Jacob got to see Cole’s smile. Hell, even Katie did. Everyone except him.
Instead, Cole looked at Noah the way he gazed at an interesting specimen. Something curious, but ultimately worthless. Something to be figured out and then discarded. He could almost hear Cole’s thoughts whenever he felt the burn of his gaze. What is your malfunction? What parts and pieces don’t line up right? How are you this broken?
Cole watched him. He watched him far too often. Noah could feel Cole’s gaze on him. It burned him alive, set him on fire from the inside out.
It would be easier if all he felt was revulsion when Cole looked at him.
But he didn’t. He wanted. He wanted so much more of the man. Of what Cole had shown him. Of what they’d shared. Of that night. Jesus, he’d slept with Cole. He’d slept with him and had loved every fucking moment of it. And now—
Now he had to act like nothing had ever happened. Like he didn’t know Cole. Like he didn’t want to turn to him, grab him, kiss him. Like he didn’t still want him all the time.
Cole had been fascinating when Noah knew nothing about him, when all they had between them was neon light and jazz and Vegas after hours. But now, seeing him at work, puzzling out the details of each murder. Drawing out the shape and shadow of the killer from the echoes of his crimes. He was brilliant, even more so than Noah had first thought. He had his doctorate. He was…
He was way, way out of Noah’s league.
So you do have my number. I figured you threw it away on your way out the door.
Damn it. Noah rested his forehead on the steering wheel while he sat at the red light. Of course Cole was angry. Noah had disappeared. Never texted him. Never called. But what on earth could he have said that wasn’t…
Pathetic. He was absolutely pathetic.
A horn blared behind him. The light was green. Noah rolled forward.
Another day of wanting to claw out his heart. Gouge out his eyes. Skin himself and escape himself, escape this life. How was it possible that the one time, the one time in his whole life he’d given himself permission to take what he’d always wanted, the man he met was not only wonderful but suddenly here? In his office. In his car. In his life.
Making Katie laugh.
He jerked the wheel to the right and pulled over, earning another honk as he mounted the curb and braked hard. Traffic whizzed by. He was going to puke. Again. He rolled down the window and waited.
All that was left was bile, rancid and rotten, and it burned on the way up. He wiped his wrist over his lips after and sat back, closing his eyes. He wished he’d never gone out that night. That he’d never met Cole. That he’d never tasted Cole’s lips, felt the gentle touch of Cole’s fingers on his skin. That he’d never, ever experienced the pure joy he’d felt when he and Cole—
He leaned out the window again, gagging.
Pathetic. You’re pathetic.
His phone buzzed with an incoming text. He grabbed it. His heart stopped.
Should I call a Lyft to take me to the office?
Damn it, it was 7:10. He was ten minutes late. No, he texted back. Had to drop Katie off. I’m a few minutes away. He rummaged in the backseat, searching for a water bottle Katie always left behind, rinsed out his mouth, and spat the water out the window.
He was hiding behind Katie for his lateness, but wasn’t one of the benefits of having teenagers being able to use them as excuses? Someone had said that once. It was funny then.
Nothing felt funny now.
It was just one night.
It was just one mistake.
FBI Agent Noah Downing had questions about his sexuality that a single night in Vegas should have answered. But dawn finds him on a plane back to Iowa, back on the trail of a vicious serial killer who disappeared six years ago and has suddenly resurfaced. There’s nothing like a murder investigation to escape an existential crisis.
FBI profiler Cole Kennedy is still reeling after finding a heart-stopping connection with a seemingly perfect man, only for him to vanish. When he’s sent to Iowa to profile the killer terrorizing America’s heartland, he finds more questions than answers – both about the murderer and about Noah, the last man he ever expected to see again.
A twisted secret stretches between Cole and Noah, tangled with questions they both have about each other. But now, thrown together, they’ll have to unravel the killer’s profile and follow his trail… back to the very beginning, to where everyone’s questions are answered once and for all.
***This is an M|M romantic suspense standalone novel, featuring a second chance romance, the hunt for a twisted serial killer, and one man’s journey to acceptance.
Tal Bauer is an author of gay romantic suspense/thriller novels.
The world needs more gay heroes, gay love stories, and powerful women kicking ass. I try to write those stories. With a background ranging from law enforcement to humanitarian aid, my stories are global in scope and with diverse characters in all roles. My goal is to help normalize gay characters as action heroes and to bring to life strong, dynamic, holistic women in all of my novels.