FBI Agent Alex Voretti is done pretending to be someone he’s not—especially when it means posing as his love ‘em and leave ‘em identical twin, Matt, so he can let Matt’s girl-of-the-week down easy. And especially when that girl is Alex’s partner, Nikki. But when the plan to let her down easy turns into one sizzling night after another, it’s not long before Alex realizes that coming clean to Nikki is the only move he has left.
Nikki Church thought twin switches only happened on TV—until she finds herself staring into the eyes of fellow adrenaline junkie Matt Voretti…only to discover he’s actually her mild-mannered coworker, Alex. Horrified, she takes off, hoping she’ll never see either Voretti twin again. But when her undercover job turns dangerous, there’s only one person she can ask for help—if she can convince her heart to trust Alex one last time.
FREE FALLING IN LOVE Excerpt:
Alex Voretti was never late. Not when he got food poisoning the morning of his SAT test. Not when his plane was rerouted to Kentucky on the way to new agent training at Quantico. But as he sped down the darkened freeway, he couldn’t escape the pit in his stomach. The one that said, no matter how early he made it to Castalano’s, he still wouldn’t be in time to prevent disaster.
He glanced at the clock as he exited the freeway. Twelve minutes until he was due to meet Nikki, and it wouldn’t take more than five minutes to get to the restaurant. But all the logic in the world couldn’t dispel that haze of panic. He shoved the accelerator down, barreling around a corner.
Thunk. The pothole came out of nowhere, nearly swallowing his tire. And then that sound. The persistent thud-thud-thud made it clear he had a flat even before the SUV listed to the right.
Damn. He did not have time for this. But, with no other choice, he pulled over.
Ten minutes until he was supposed to meet Nikki.
His heart pounded fast and hard, a countdown timer ticking away the last few seconds before detonating a bomb. He wanted to close his eyes and breathe until everything cleared from his mind except the calming energy of the universe, but he didn’t have time to meditate. He pulled the jack out of his trunk with one hand while dialing his twin brother Matt with his other. No answer.
He should’ve left his twin dig himself out of this latest predicament. The problem was, this wasn’t only about Matt. If Alex didn’t step in, Nikki would be the one to suffer. And Alex refused to let that happen.
He dialed Nikki as he jacked the car up. No answer on her end either. Her cell was probably out of juice, even though he’d reminded her to charge it.
There were no streetlights on this stretch of road, and in the near darkness, everything took twice as long as it should’ve. Finally, fifteen minutes later, he had the spare on. His shirt had a grease stain down the left side and his hair gel had given up ten minutes ago, but he didn’t have time to stop at home to change.
He unbuttoned the shirt and threw it in the back seat. The plain white T-shirt he wore underneath wasn’t exactly the typical dress code for Castalano’s, but hell—Matt was probably in a T-shirt and jeans.
He cranked the motor and shoved down the accelerator, but breaking the speed limit didn’t turn back time. He screeched to a halt in front of Catalano’s.
Ten minutes late and counting.
He threw his keys to the valet, and rushed inside. The place was packed, but he saw Nikki right away. It was always like that. Even at the corner of the bar, her back to the room, she might as well have had a spotlight trained on her.
When he looked at her, he saw possibilities. Adventure. The future.
You see a hot woman you want to fuck. But you aren’t going to, because you have to work together. Get over it.
Instead of her usual loose, confident posture, she was hunched over. No mystery who she was hiding from. Alex’s twin brother, who was at the other end of the bar, grinning his let-me-rock-your-world grin at some random woman.
Anger burned through Alex’s veins. He’d told Matt to stay away from Nikki. But Matt hadn’t listened. Matt never listened. And now Alex had to clean up the mess.
But this would be the last time. As soon as his transfer to the FBI’s San Francisco field office came through, he was out of here. Matt would be on his own the next time he messed up.
Alex pushed through the well-dressed crowd until he finally made it to Nikki’s side.
“Hey.” She smiled at him, and everything around her turned to fuzzy, gray background.
“Hey,” he managed, offering a silent prayer of thanks that he’d made it in time. Nikki wouldn’t have to sit all alone, watching Matt and his girl-of-the-week.
“You’re here,” Nikki said, like he’d done something amazing.
“Of course I’m here.” He’d invited her, even though Matt’s plan had gone against his better judgment. But it had been either invite Nikki to Castalano’s, where she’d see Matt flirting with another woman, or let her go on thinking she and Matt were a couple until she figured out the reason his brother wasn’t taking her calls was that he’d moved on.
At least, this way, she had closure and a shoulder to cry on. Not that Nikki was the kind of woman who cried on shoulders. In the eight months they’d worked together, he’d never even seen her get misty eyed. Still, that was work and this was personal.
“Sit down,” Nikki said. “Have a drink with me.”
Like someone up above was monitoring the conversation, desperate to make Nikki feel better, the guy next to her vacated his stool. Alex took it.
“What can I get you?” the bartender asked.
Alex wanted his usual scotch and water, but he’d promised to get Matt’s brewery up and running before he left the city limits, and that meant educating himself about beer. He ordered a local IPA.
“I have a serious, life-altering question for you.” Nikki leaned in close. “If you were going to backpack through the wilderness, would you do it in Bolivia or Nepal?”
“Uh…” She didn’t seem upset. Maybe Matt’s breakup strategy hadn’t been the worst idea in recorded history. “I don’t know.”
“Close your eyes.”
Her husky voice overrode his better sense, and before he had a chance to catalog all the reasons why it was a bad idea, his eyes shut. The crowded bar disappeared. There was only Nikki. Her fresh, clean scent. That voice that was wired straight to his dick.
“Picture yourself out there in the wilderness. Do you see condors and alpacas or sherpas and glaciers?”
He swallowed, trying like hell to picture an alpaca, because that was a lot safer than what he was currently thinking about.
“Where are you?”
Wherever you are.
He forced his eyes open. “Glaciers.” He needed something cold, that was for sure.
“See? That wasn’t so hard.” Somehow, Nikki’s hand had landed on his wrist. Her touch was so light he might not have noticed if it hadn’t been for the heat of her skin. The subtle stroke of her thumb against his pulse point.
He pulled his hand free and grabbed his beer. Then he took a big sip.
Disgusting. But at least that rancid beer taste took his mind off his dick.
Nikki regarded him from under lowered lashes. “Maybe you should come with me.”
His dick perked up. Was she flirting with him?
No. He’d been fixated on her for so long, he was taking one innocent touch and exaggerating it into a full-blown pass. “I’ve never been backpacking.”
“Think about it. You and me scaling glaciers and soaking in hot springs. Then cuddling up at night.”
Shit. She was flirting. She must have been more upset by Matt’s stunt than he’d thought.
Nikki laughed. “You look like a deer staring down the headlights of a Hummer.”
“Hold that thought.” She motioned to the bartender. A second later there was a shot of vodka in front of both of them.
“Liquid courage.” She held up her glass. “To a life full of adventure.”
She downed the liquor in one practiced motion, and when she set the glass down, she was even closer to him. She smelled like sunshine and adventure, and before he realized what he was doing, the other glass was in his hand. “To adventures.”
The vodka didn’t burn the way it usually did. He was already hot from Nikki’s touch.
It had been too long since he’d gotten laid—over three months since he’d said goodbye to his ex-girlfriend Gabby. He needed to get back out there. Find an appropriate outlet for this buildup of lust he hadn’t even been aware of.
“Look,” Nikki said. “I know this isn’t the relationship we agreed on. But things change. Feelings change.”
“I…” He had to shut her down. Though he wasn’t officially her supervisor, he was supposed to be looking out for her—making sure she didn’t get herself into any more trouble. And he couldn’t start a relationship when he was going to move five hundred miles away as soon as his transfer went through. “It’s not that I don’t… As much as I might want…”
“I’m not asking for a lifetime commitment. I just want to explore.” Her hand found the center of his chest. It burned through his T-shirt to the bare skin underneath, taking his brain out of commission. “See where this goes.”
Her head tilted toward him, her lips on a collision course with his.
Move. He had to move. But his muscles weren’t responding the way they were supposed to.
Maybe this wasn’t really happening. It could be another one of those dreams he pretended he didn’t have. And if it was a dream, he didn’t have to run away.
Nikki’s lips met his. Energy zinged through his skin like a lightening strike, waking up every organ, every muscle, every cell.
Not a dream. Way too fucking intense to be a dream.
Nikki kissed the way she did everything else—with her entire body and all her focus. Her arms wrapped around his neck and her body tangled with his and her scent enveloped him, stealing what was left of his good sense.
Need slammed into him. He pulled her closer. Kissed her deeper.
It wasn’t enough. It wouldn’t be enough until she was under him. Until he was buried so deep inside her, she forgot about every man who had come before him, even his twin.
His twin. The one who’d broken up with Nikki by parading in front of her with another woman. The sole reason Alex was here.
It was too hard to pull away from Nikki all at once, so Alex did it in stages. First, he disengaged his lips from hers. Then he forced his hands away from her soft skin.
Without the distracting contact with her body, rational though filtered back into his brain. Jesus, Alex. Could you be any more of an asshole? You don’t come on to a woman who’s just been dumped.
Nikki smiled at him, soft and warm. She looked almost shy, which made him feel like an even bigger asshole. She was vulnerable as hell right now, and he’d taken advantage.
“Nikki, I—” His voice broke.
The world stopped. Everything except Nikki’s voice, which was playing on repeat inside Alex’s head. Matt. Matt. Matt.
“I’m not looking for a ring. I’m only talking about moving beyond our friends-with-benefits thing.”
Jesus Christ. She thought he was his brother.
Available December 11, 2017
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