Tracy Brandt considers himself a lucky man. He has a wonderful family, good friends, and a dependable job. His love life, however, features a cheating ex who, though out of the house, is not yet out of the picture—with a past that just might get Tracy killed.

Homicide inspector Cord Nolan wants nothing more than to show his best friend’s little brother that he’s a reliable man, but to do that he’ll have to get Tracy to look past the player he used to be. It'll be a tough sell; reputation is everything, and Cord's is tarnished by his past indiscretions.

Tracy and Cord have spent five years trying to suffocate their fiery attraction under a blanket of grudging antagonism. When Tracy finds himself with a target on his back, Cord finally has the chance to ride to the rescue and break through the dam of Tracy's reserve. But he’d better be careful: if Cord is breaking the floodgates to wash away the past, he's going to have to hold tight to Tracy to make sure they're still standing when the tumult recedes.

Chapter One

THE SHOT went off over my head, exploding the horrible framed picture of dogs playing poker. I had always hated it, had complained that it didn’t belong in our upscale office close to Jackson Square, but shot into a million pieces was a fate I had never imagined it having.

I dove under the desk and crouched there, hearing men going from room to room, yelling out that there was no one there to whoever was still in the room with me. I knew they were waiting, hesitating, because they weren’t sure if I had a gun or not. If they’d known where they were, the answer would have been self-explanatory. But if they had checked, they would have never been there to begin with.

They were in the wrong place on an early Wednesday morning in October because someone hadn’t done their homework. They didn’t know at this point that they’d made a mistake. They would, and there would be hell to pay on their end, and there was some consolation in that for me, but it didn’t help at the moment. I was still about to be dead at thirty-three because someone had, again, confused one brother for another.

Weighing my options, I considered going out the window or out the back. I had seconds to decide. The window would be faster, but it had a frame, and since the building was a historical one, chances were good that it was sturdier than it appeared. There was no guarantee it would give under my weight. Plus, I didn’t have much space to build up momentum, and there was the glass to consider. The back door was safer all the way around… if I didn’t get shot. The “if” was kind of funny since, when we moved to our office from the old one close to the Embarcadero, and I had brought up his infamous brother to him, Dimah Mashir had assured me that, honest to God, nothing exciting was ever going to happen. His brother, Kirill, was the one involved in nefarious pursuits; he, Dimah, was the legitimate one. As I ran around the office, a lamp exploding beside me, papers blowing up off my desk, chunks of bookcase whizzing through the air, the whole room blasting apart, my only thought was that if I lived through the attempt on my life, I was going to rip my partner a new one.

Flying into the hall, I hit the wall hard, bounced off, turned, and saw a guy running in with what looked like a semiautomatic pistol in his hands. I wheeled around and took off in the opposite direction, toward the back. The only advantage…


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