Tuesday, September 10, 2013
High Concept by Whitley Gray
Denver homicide cop and shooting survivor Beck Stryker lives to solve the case that left him with PTSD, chronic pain, and killed his co-investigator four months previous. Now his career hinges on his ability to work with the man who shut down his advances two years ago.
After last parting ways with Beck, psychiatrist-turned-FBI profiler Zach Littman never anticipated seeing the detective again. Being sent to Denver to work on a series of killings that have continued after the only suspect died is bad enough. Discovering the detective in charge is Beck leaves Zach gritting his teeth and girding his loins.
The last thing either of them needs is romantic entanglement with a fellow investigator, but danger is a powerful aphrodisiac. The case heats up, and friction between them ignites a fire neither can ignore, first at work and then in the bedroom. As they zero in on the plot behind the murders, the crosshairs zero in on Beck and Zach.
Damn rainy weather.
He made for the men’s room. In a stall, he dry-swallowed three of the blue gelcaps, then peed and washed his hands. On the way back to his desk, he stopped at the drinking fountain and gulped water, making sure the pills would dissolve. Twenty minutes, and relief should kick in.
Beck reached his desk and lowered himself into the chair. A pile of reports sat waiting for his attention. Ridiculous. He was a homicide detective, not a secretary. This was a waste of his skills. Field cases waited, infinitely more interesting and requiring a detective’s intuition.
Across the room, Van met his gaze and looked away. Beck spun his chair toward the windows behind him. Sheets of water rippled down the windows, blurring the building across the street.
After the shooting, Beck’s ex-lover had made it clear as still water that there was nothing left between them. At least Van had understood the pressures of the job, the danger, both on the street and in the department. Homicide was a macho division, and the other detectives were unlikely to accept an alternate orientation. He and Van had agreed to keep their relationship under wraps. Had they had a relationship or just been fuck buddies?
Nights in a soft bed, Van’s hot tongue everywhere until Beck squirmed with need. A firm grip on his cock, stroking.
“What would you like tonight?”
Heat rushed to his groin. Mind-blowing sex—no doubt about that—but was that all they’d had?
They’d never eaten at a restaurant unless it was out of town. They’d never taken a vacation together. Van liked sun and sand and room service; Beck preferred snow and skiing and grilled steaks at the lodge. And they never stayed over at each other’s places.
Sure didn’t sound like a relationship. Hell, when he’d been lying in the hospital with his shattered shoulder pinned together, wondering if his hand would ever work again, he’d turned to Van expecting emotional support, and his lover had gunned down the only thing Beck had left.
Van had left nothing at Beck’s apartment except travel brochures.
The first time Beck had risked his heart, and he’d gotten blown away for his trouble. Staying secreted in the closet precluded Van paying attention to a disabled boyfriend. “It would look strange if I spent extra time with you,” Van had said, and he’d been careful not to visit more often than any of the others. At that point, Beck had wished his injuries had been more severe, that the bullet had hit a few inches to the right and down, preempting Van’s assault on Beck’s heart. Death had sounded better than total bereavement.
Anger had overtaken depression in short order. The first thing he’d done after arriving home was deep-six the tropical-vacation brochures littering the kitchen counter.
In the ensuing weeks, Beck had fought through the pain of physical therapy and the loss of the relationship.
As Beck’s psychologist, Jay had helped him work through most of that. And the painful inquiry about the shootings.
“Hey.” Soft brown eyes gazed down at him, wary, not welcoming. The familiar scent of Van’s bay rum aftershave reached Beck, and his stomach clenched.
“Well. What can I do for you, Detective Gates?”
Van plopped a folder on his desk. “Got a computer request that needs your expertise.”
“Don’t think I can help you.” Beck picked up a pen, tapped it on the folder. “I’m not a computer expert.”
Van’s full mouth thinned, lips pressed together. “It’s a search for vehicle license plates. Need it for the murder book.”
Helpless to resist, Beck’s gaze wandered down Van’s chambray-clad torso. The memory of burying his face in Van’s groin set off a twitch in his own.
“Hey, dickhead. I need the information.”
Head in the game, Stryker. “What’s the case?”
For a moment, Van said nothing, as if he hadn’t heard. Then, “It’s a home invasion.”
It was Beck’s turn to stare. Another one? “When did that happen?”
“A week ago.”
“What’ve you got so far?”
“You’re not on active duty in the field, Stryker. And you’re not part of my investigation.”
Beck barked a laugh. “Same supportive bastard, aren’t you?”
A faint pink materialized high on Van’s cheeks. He opened his mouth, closed it.
Beck waited, twirling the pen.
“Just get the information.” Van turned on his heel. In spite of himself, Beck took a surreptitious look at Van’s ass as he marched back to his desk. Too bad there wasn’t more to him than a hot body.
Across the room, Van’s partner, Katie Coleman, gave him a huge smile. If she were a guy, maybe she’d pique Van’s interest. As it was, she’d be wasting her time. Bats for my team, Coleman. Beck swung his gaze toward the folder.
Whether Van acknowledged it or not, Beck was part of the investigation now.