Aug 19 2017 11:04am

L.A. Witt, Cari Z Excerpt: Suspicious Behavior

L.A. Witt and Cari Z

Suspicious Behavior by L.A. Witt, Cari Z

Detective Darren Corliss is hanging by a thread. In between recovering from a near-fatal wound and returning to work at a hostile precinct, he’s struggling to help care for his ailing brother. His partner and boyfriend, Detective Andreas Ruffner, wants to help, but doesn’t know how. And with his own family crises brewing, Andreas is spread almost as thin as Darren.

For cops, though, life takes a backseat to the job. When a stack of unsolved homicides drops into their laps, Andreas and Darren think they’re unrelated cold cases. But when a connection surfaces, they find themselves on the tail of a prolific serial killer who’s about to strike again.

Except they’ve got nothing. No leads. No suspects. Just a pile of circumstantial evidence and a whole lot of hunches. Time is running out to stop the next murder—and to pull themselves back from their breaking points.

Get a sneak peek at L.A. Witt, Cari Z's Suspicious Behavior (available August 19, 2017) with an exclusive excerpt of a selected scene.

He went straight to the kitchen without even taking off his jacket. I didn’t think anything of it until a bottle clanked heavily on the counter. Curiosity brought me to the doorway just as Darren took a sip from the highball he was holding in a shaky hand.

Without looking at me, he swallowed, grimaced, and set the drink down. “Want one?”

“Not really.” I stepped closer. “Something tells me you don’t either.”

He slid his gaze toward me. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Means I don’t think you want it—I think you need it.”

He laughed bitterly. “If I drank as much as I needed, I’d be dead by midnight.”

My gut clenched, and apparently my face reflected it.

His eyes narrowed. “What?”

“I just . . . your gallows humor is a little harder to swallow since I almost watched you die.”

That rattled him, and he dropped his eyes. Bringing his glass up to his lips, he muttered, “One of the few things I’m glad I can’t remember.” He threw back the drink like a shot, and reached for the whiskey again.

I stopped him, grasping his wrist gently but firmly, and he froze but didn’t release his choke hold on the bottle.

“Andreas.” His voice had an unsteady edge. “Don’t. After the day I’ve had—shit, the week I’ve had—you’re right, I do need this.” The edge weakened, and he barely whispered, “Just . . . don’t, all right?”

I didn’t let go. “You want to bust this case or not?”

“Of course I do,” he hissed.

“Then you need a clear head, and this—”

“A clear fucking head?” He jerked his arm away, nearly knocking the bottle off the counter. “Every goddamned corner of my life and my career and—” He made a sharp, frustrated gesture, and once again, the bottle almost bit it. “I can’t catch a break. From anything. Literally the only thing with an end in sight is Asher.”

My breath hitched.

He leaned hard against the counter and rubbed a hand over his face. “Fuck . . .” He exhaled. “That’s . . . What the hell kind of asshole am I?” He laughed like he’d had a hell of a lot more than one generous shot of whiskey. “The only way I’m going to get any relief from any of this is when this fucking disease finally does what we all know it’s going to do.” Eyes losing focus, he sagged a little more. “And then I can just lie awake at night and wonder when it’s going to happen to me.” Another bitter, drunken laugh, and he reached for the bottle. “Or maybe I’ll forget that too.”

“That isn’t funny.”

“Isn’t it?” He poured some more whiskey into his glass and picked it up with a shaky hand. “Because I can either laugh about it, or cry about it. Or”—he raised the glass in a mock toast—“drink.”

“Fuck, Darren. You’ve got to—”

“I’ve got to what, Andreas?” He slammed the glass down and glared at me. “Suck it up and keep it quiet so you don’t have to hear about it?” The fury in his eyes wasn’t nearly as painful to see as the shine beginning to form on the lower lids. “If you don’t want to see me falling apart just like my whole fucking life is, you know where the door is. Don’t feel like you have to—”

“This has been hell for me too,” I snapped, and he jumped. “You think it’s been a cakewalk to have this dead-end case on my ass while I’m worrying myself sick because you’re going through all this shit and there’s nothing I can do about it?”

He blinked.

Through clenched teeth, I went on, “That feeling I had out on the tarmac? When I thought you were gone? That’s—” I cleared my throat. “I haven’t shaken that feeling. Not once. Because the only thing I want more than to solve this case is to fix all this shit that’s killing you, and I can’t.” Whoa. Fuck. Now I needed a drink. “I can’t do anything for you. I just . . . don’t want to see you self-destruct on top of it all.”

Darren stared into his mostly abandoned drink. He sniffed sharply and swiped at his eyes.

“I’m terrible at this kind of thing,” I said. “I don’t know the right things to say or do, but . . . seeing you like this scares the shit out of me.”

He looked at me again, eyes wide like he wasn’t sure he’d heard me right. Hell, I wasn’t even sure if the words had come out in the order they’d been in my head. I could rip a confession out of a killer, but God help me if I had to pour my own heart out.

“Just . . .” I swallowed. “If there is something I can do, tell me.”

Darren held my gaze, still shocked and disbelieving, his eyes still shining like he was careening toward his breaking point.

“Say the word,” I said. “Anything I—”

He grabbed the front of my shirt, and kissed me.

And the whole world jerked to a halt beneath my feet.

For a second, my hands hovered uselessly in the air, but as his arm snaked around my waist and his fingers slid up into my hair, I held on to him. Despite the exhaustion that seeped all the way into my bones, I kissed him back as hungrily as he kissed me. When was the last time— Hell, did it matter? Too long. Way too long. Everything had gone to shit, and just kept getting worse at every turn, and though I hadn’t been in the mood for anything besides sleep, I suddenly craved him like he was the only thing keeping me from crumbling. And maybe he was. And maybe that meant I was what he needed, because God knew he’d been through more hell than I had lately.

Darren touched his forehead to mine. He sniffed again and pulled back to wipe his eyes, but he wasn’t quick enough to keep me from seeing the tear that had slipped down his cheek.

I cupped his face. “Listen, we can—”

“I don’t want to talk any more.” He met my eyes, more tears gleaming in his. “I’ve been trying so hard to stay sane, and I just . . . tonight, I . . .”

“You don’t have to be sane right now.”

A ragged, whiskey-tinged breath rushed past his lips and across mine, and then he kissed me again. Sanity could wait. Darren couldn’t, and now neither could I. 

Copyright © 2017 by L.A. Witt, Cari Z.
Learn more about or order a copy of Suspicious Behavior by L.A. Witt, Cari Z, available August 19, 2017:

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L.A. Witt is the author of Back Piece. She is a M/M romance writer who has finally been released from the purgatorial corn maze of Omaha, Nebraska, and now spends her time on the southwestern coast of Spain. In between wondering how she didn’t lose her mind in Omaha, she explores the country with her husband, several clairvoyant hamsters, and an ever-growing herd of rabid plot bunnies.

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