Molly looked up to find her boss standing in his office doorway. Burke Broussard was in his midforties and, other than a few silver hairs at his temples, hadn't changed a bit since he'd been her CO in the Marines a decade before. "Morning, Burke. I brought you coffee, too." She held up the cup.
"Thank the good Lord for that," he said fervently. "I've been here since six."
Molly shuddered in mostly mock horror. "Why?" She'd left rising with the sun behind when she'd finished her final tour with the Marine Corps. Burke, however, had a love-hate relationship with mornings. He said he hated them, but he continued coming in earlier and earlier. The man was a fool.
He was also smart as hell, driven to succeed, compassionate, and generous to a fault. But a morning fool.
"Come into my office," he said. "I have a new client you should meet."
Joy's eyes widened further, and she maneuvered her wheelchair so that she could unabashedly watch Molly walk into Burke's office.
And Molly immediately understood why.
Sitting in the chair at Burke's conference table was none other than Gabriel Hebert, Choux chef extraordinaire. He looked tired and tense and very unhappy.
She wondered if he'd been so unhappy the night before. He had looked tired, but not this unhappy. Of course, he might be one of those people who could put on the face they wished the world to see.
"Molly, this is Mr. Hebert. Gabe, this is Miss Sutton. I'm going to assign her to your case."
Molly's brows shot up. What?
Gabe's brows shot up as well, then crunched together in a disgruntled frown. "What? You're handing me off?" He came to his feet. "What the hell, Burke?"
The two men faced off, and they couldn't have appeared more physically different. Burke's skin was olive toned, his deep tan a testament to all the road biking he did in his spare time. Gabe was so lightly tanned that she might still call him pale. And, like a lot of redheads, he had a smattering of freckles across his nose.
She'd always wanted to trace those freckles with her fingertips. She'd wondered where else he had them.
Both men were tall, but Burke's body was bulky where Gabe's was lean. Molly loved to watch Gabe move. When he was cooking in his restaurant's kitchen, it was like watching a choreographed dance.
Only their accents were similar-both speaking with that smooth New Orleans drawl that sounded like hot summer nights with jazz music thick in the air. Except that Gabe's voice made her shiver, when Burke's never had.
She probably shouldn't have shivered at all, considering how angry he seemed, but her body couldn't help how it reacted. Sue me.
Burke waved at him to be seated. "I'm too close, Gabe. Your father . . . he was important to me, too. He was my partner. I had his back, and he had mine. Whatever else went down when I was on the force, I knew your father would stand by me, and he did. I don't know that I'd be able to keep an open mind."
Gabe did not sit down, his frown deepening to something almost dangerous. "Open to what?" he asked, each word dripping with anger and warning.
"The truth," Burke said simply. "Whatever it might be. Molly's my right hand. She will not let you down. Now, please, have a seat. If, after you've talked with her, you want someone else, we'll figure it out. Don't worry. You can depend on her discretion, no matter who you choose to work your case."
Gabe released a harsh breath. "Okay." He sat, then shifted his gaze to Molly, who still stood in the doorway, having not moved a muscle. He did a double take. "Do I know . . ." He trailed off. "Right. Last night. Happy birthday, Miss Sutton."
Burke looked between them, his expression suddenly unhappy. "You two know each other?"
"No," Gabe said.
"No," Molly said at the same time. "I've been to his restaurant a few times, that's all. The girls took me there last night for my birthday. I brought you some cake," she added lamely. "It's in the fridge in the break room."
"Thank you, Molly." Clearly relieved, Burke gestured to one of the empty chairs at the table. "Join us. As I'm sure you've figured out, this case requires extreme discretion."
Molly nodded. "I understand. Mr. Hebert, if you decide I'm not the best fit, there will be no hard feelings. But should you choose to work with me, I'll do my very best."
Gabe's shoulders slumped, his exhaustion clear to see. "I appreciate that." He swallowed hard. "I need to find out who killed my father."
Molly glanced at Burke. "Are the police involved?"
Gabe's laugh was bitter. "Most likely, yes."
Burke sighed. "What he means is, someone in law enforcement might be complicit. Or responsible."
There are good cops. And there are bad cops. The question is...who wins?
After completing her tours with the Marines in Iraq, Molly Sutton knew she could take down any bad guy she met. But when her law enforcement agency in North Carolina turned against her, she joined up with her former CO Burke Broussard, who left New Orleans PD to set up a private investigative service for people who couldn't find justice elsewhere.
Gabe Hebert saw the toll that working for the NOPD took on his dad and decided instead to make a name for himself as one of the best young chefs in the French Quarter. But when his father's death is ruled a suicide after a deliberately botched investigation by his former captain, Gabe knows his dad stumbled onto a truth that someone wants silenced.
Gabe goes to his father's best friend, Burke, for help. Burke assigns the toughest member of his team, Molly, to the case. Molly can't believe she's being asked to work with the smoking hot chef whose chocolate cake is not the only thing that makes her mouth water. Sparks fly as they follow the leads Gabe's dad left them, unraveling a web of crimes, corruption, and murder that runs all the way to the top.