Touch Like Breathing, 2nd ed (After Anna, book two)

by Theda Black

artwork by Sonja Triebel

ISBN: 9781452499413


debuted as the #3 bestseller in October 2008 at eXtasy ebooks (1st edition)




Facing life and death situations as cops shouldn't be easier than facing each other…should it?

Will and Tyler lost each other after Anna's death, but they’re determined to save their friendship and partnership on the force. Good thing they’re determined—it's going to take everything they've got as the pressure mounts and denial, anger and pain drives one of them to do something he’ll never forgive himself for. Luckily his best friend has enough forgiveness for both of them—at least until he disappears, leaving behind a grieving partner who’ll do absolutely anything to save him.

Will it be enough, or is everything they’ve been to each other lost forever?


Excerpt #1


Will figured they’d give each other some space after the split, try to figure out how to go on together as friends and partners. Tyler backed off for what, a fucking couple of weeks at work, tops, so determined to make things better between them that if he could have fixed them single-handedly he would have. In no time he was in Will’s face again offering—no, expecting the same friendship and closeness they’d always had. Will couldn’t figure how Tyler could act the same as always, same old horseshit, joking around, eyes warm on his and crinkling easily at the corners, turning deadly serious when the job got rough, still expecting the same responses from Will that he’d always gotten.

But Will didn’t know what normal was after they’d put their mouths on each other, ran their hands and mouths over each other’s skin, sucked each other off until their legs were shaking, insides shaking, blind and crazy with it, aware of nothing and no one else. Going back seemed impossible, though he wanted to, wanted things simple and uncomplicated like before, wanted to bury everything else between them just as deep as he could.

Hell, Tyler had been doing just fine. Will was the one having difficulty forgetting. He was more than a little disgusted with himself, at how it fucked with his head, but he guessed he was coping. Until they’d nearly fucked everything up again.

It felt damned strange to Will, hanging out together after work that first time, but he’d let Tyler’s certainty that they could handle it suck him in. Went to a bar with him. It was like a test.  Pass it, pass go, collect two hundred and he’d beat it. He’d be okay again, they’d be okay again.

Right. Will laughed under his breath, exasperated, shook his head and kept walking. 

Hanging out at a bar was something they used to do together all the time and Tyler acted like he always had back then—like Will’s best friend, no more, no less. Will had felt lost.

He remembered the dark, the heat, the hubbub of people talking, music vibrating into his skin.  Watching Tyler tip back a beer. The movement of Ty’s throat as he swallowed. Will drank a little faster, trying to wash that particular sight out of his brain.

He should have left right then, was getting ready to stand up and go in fact, even though Tyler had driven, but Tyler stood up first. He looked down at Will a long moment, face unreadable, then headed for the bathroom. Will watched him walk away, the broad shoulders and slim waist, the hint of a strut. He remembered Tyler’s mouth moving over his, insatiable. The taste of Tyler in his mouth.

Will closed his eyes and lowered his palms slowly onto the notched wood of the table, slid them over the edges and gripped hard. Tried to breathe, keep his sanity, keep himself from moving.

Then he got up and went after Tyler.


Excerpt #2


He swung the door open, walked down the stairs and got in the car, started the engine and drove away down the block. The further away he got, the heavier the weight on his chest became. 

Another block.

Can’t you just tell him the truth? Tell him you don’t know how to go back to what you were. Tell him maybe you don’t want to.

Another block.

Shit, tell him something—tell him you don’t know what to tell him. Just stop running!

Will did a U-turn, not braking before he swung the wheel. The car rolled over a good five yards of sidewalk before he got her back on the road. The weight on his chest jostled with the car, sinking down to his toes and taking all remaining oxygen with it. He tried to find some anyway, breathing hard. His hands shook like he had palsy, couldn’t see the road anymore. All he could see was Tyler’s face that afternoon in the goddamn car, in the darkened apartment. Will stepped on the gas. 

And there was Tyler in the headlights. On the sidewalk, then wandering onto the grass, then back onto the sidewalk again, weaving unsteadily.  Will pulled up beside him, flung open the door and jumped out. Tyler didn’t look up. He had a sock on one foot but no shoe. On the other foot he had a shoe but no sock. Will laughed, a panicky edge to it because the weight on his chest was more than he could handle anymore. 

Tyler jerked a little at the sound as if he’d just realized Will was there.

“Where you going?” Will asked. His voice rasped.

Tyler looked up at Will. His face was solemn. “After you,” he said.

The weight on Will’s chest was suddenly such a big shitty unsupportable ache that he bent over from it, hand bracing on his knee. “Shit,” he said, trying to breathe. “I don’t fucking know what to do anymore, Ty. I don’t think I can go back to before. I wanted to try, I swear to God I did, but I can’t.”

Tyler’s hand came down on his back and rubbed. “Don’t,” he whispered and leaned his warmth into Will. “It’ll be okay, Will. I promise it will.”

“It won’t.” It hurt, but something in Will wouldn’t let go. Hadn’t let go in a long, long time, not since Anna. “Ty, I’m not,” Will whispered back, “not…okay.” He took a deep breath. “And you, you bastard—it’s so easy for you.”

Tyler laughed, jagged, all edges. “You’re fucking kidding me, right? There’s no alternative for me. I’m not letting you go. So what’s left but to make it work?”

Tyler, shut up. I want to go back to the apartment. I want…”

“What?” Tyler’s eyes glittered under the streetlights. He waited.


“Just say it.”

“I…I…fuck. Okay. I want to go back to your apartment with you.”

“Yeah, okay.” Tyler looked confused. 

Will lost all patience. “I want to fuck. I want to make you come so hard you go blind. Clear enough for you?”

The smile died off Tyler’s face, his lips tightening. His eyes were all pupil. “Not an option, Will.”

“We can see other people, right? Keep up appearances.”


“I don’t care anymore, Ty. I just want…”


“Then what?”

“We keep trying.”

Tyler, no. C’mon.”

Tyler looked at him for the longest time, losing the battle in increments, staring into Will’s eyes with a mixture of acceptance, sadness and something softer, shoulders loosening fractionally, breaths deepening. “Fuck you, Will,” he said, and his voice was soft, quiet. He licked his lips.

“Blind, huh?”













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