In this electrifying romantic suspense set in the steamy streets of New Orleans, Lieutenant Commander Nik Baudin, accidently meets up with an identical twin he never knew existed. When his brother Max goes missing, Nik assumes his identity as Special Agent Maximilian. This gives him access to FBI files making it easier to arrest the gangsters who attacked his brother and to stop their trafficking of underage girls. Being that Nik has specialized commando training, he’s the perfect man for the job – that’s if his PTSD doesn’t kick in and leave him cowering in a corner.
Special Agent Maya Barnes can’t believe it when she spots her partner, Max Foster, wandering along the French market without a care in the world. Since he’d been beaten and had gone missing weeks earlier, they all believed him dead. There’s only one problem… though this man might look exactly like the missing agent, she knows differently. In all the years they’ve worked together, she’s never wanted to have mind-blowing sex with her partner before.
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From the corner of his eye, Nik saw the redhead approaching, hair flying, face full of anger. He managed to duck in time to elude the fist aimed at his face, but the one that plowed into his belly caught him off guard.
“Maximilian Foster! Where the hell have you been? I’ve searched high and low for your sorry ass for more’n a month. Everyone thinks you’re dead. And where do I find you? Sauntering in the French market as if you haven’t a care in the world.”
Imprisoning her wrists before she did major damage seemed to be the most intelligent thing for Nik to do, but he hadn’t realized her skill. In seconds, she had him pinned to the wall of the shop next to where he stood—not wanting to hurt her, he’d let it happen.
“Lady, what the hell is wrong with you?” He stamped down on his rising frustration. What’s going on with this crazy dame?
“What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with… are you kidding me? We’re partners, or have you forgotten that insignificant detail, and that it used to mean something?”
Ah! So this was Max’s partner, Maya Barnes. Now what the hell was he going to do? Recently, he’d made the decision to fake being his twin, pretend he was Max Foster. But maybe he’d gone and spoiled the chance. Thinking quickly, he attempted to recover lost ground.
“Maya? I’m sorry… I–I don’t remember. I don’t remember anything. I’ve been wandering around here praying something would be familiar. I’m sorry, I…” He choked on the word sorry since it wasn’t a word he was familiar with, but he knew his brother used it a lot. That stupid word, along with his twin’s winning smile, had no doubt gotten Max out of a lot of scrapes.
“Dammit, Max, don’t try using that idiotic grin on me. You know it doesn’t work. We’ve been hunting for you for weeks. One day you were there and the next you’d disappeared. I figured the Mosleys had gotten you once you’d let it out that we were on to them.”
Mosleys? She had it half right. They had been after Max, and in the end had put a hit on him. Only they weren’t a local gang as the department thought. It went a lot deeper than just New Orleans bad boys. Seemingly, Max had clued into their operation, which had led back to Los Angeles. And it hadn’t only been drugs. Nope! Things had gone deeper and dirtier than even he’d suspected.
Nik pretended a weakness he didn’t feel and let his body slouch to the side. At first her green sparklers flared with suspicion, then softness flooded her expression and she supported rather than shoved.
“Oh God, Max. I’m sorry. You really are in a bad way, aren’t you? Come on, let me help you. We’ll grab a cup of coffee and you can tell me what happened.”
Playing this lady while she was pissed hadn’t bothered Nik whatsoever, but lying to her when those big eyes plied him with an affectionate pity was another thing altogether. What the hell was he to do now?
“I don’t really want coffee, Maya. Maybe I could just come to the office.”
Not taking his refusal seriously, Maya wrapped her arm around his body, clamped her fingers on his wrist and half dragged him through the open doors to a nearby table at Café du Monde. She led him to a seat and sat across from him. “Don’t be silly, you love coffee. Look, you’re a rotten son-of-a-bitch, but I’m glad to see you. I couldn’t believe you’d leave me high and dry, worrying myself sick about what could have happened. Now it all makes sense.”
Shaking his head, not understanding her logic, he just stared at her and waited. No doubt she’d enlighten him as to what she meant. He must have shown his lack of understanding because she assumed a disgusted look. “Stop being so dense! You might be a philandering S.O.B. and an unmitigated snob, but I’d never have believed you would treat me so shabbily. I guess I’m relieved to see I was right.”
“You’re relieved to know I can’t remember anything? That I woke up in the ditch with a lump the size of an extra-large egg on the back of my head? God save me from trying to analyze the labyrinth of a female’s mind.”
Maya sat with her mouth open; her eyes focused and didn’t utter a word. With a laser-like gaze, she drilled every spot of his face and then shook her head. “Even dressed like an army store reject, I’d swear you were Special Agent Maximilian Foster. Then you say something and I have to admit to having huge doubts. And just so you know, Max’d die before appearing in public looking like G.I. Joe.”
Nik had seconds to decide his future. To make up his mind if he was serious about going after the people who’d beaten his brother and left him broken, covered in blood and lying in a ditch. Guessing there had never really been a choice, he replied softly, “I’m sorry, Maya. You’re the first person I’ve remembered, even remotely. That is, I know your name, but that’s about it. You have to believe me when I tell you that I can’t remember anything after being struck. My own clothes were covered in blood and I got these cheap. After all, I only had ten bucks in my pocket—no wallet, no I.D. I’m a mess, and I guess I need your help.” Instinctively, watching the caring flood her face, he reached out his hand and she grasped his fingers and squeezed. Hard.
Her eyes, piercing green shards, speared him. “You lying piece of shit. I don’t know what your game is but you aren’t, and never could be, Max. Now who the hell are you and what’s going on?”