Read Cover Me Online

Authors: Joanna Wayne Rita Herron and Mallory Kane

Cover Me

Eight years ago, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, three men lost everything. Now it’s time to reclaim what is theirs.…

BAYOU PAYBACK
by Joanna Wayne

Detective Remy Comeaux never got over the loss of his beloved fiancée. But when he returns to New Orleans to expose ongoing corruption and meets Nicole Worthington, something about this beauty seems all too familiar.

BAYOU
JEOPARDY
by Rita Herron

He lost his job and the love of his life when the storm hit, but Mack Rivet never gave up searching for answers. His passionate reunion with Lily Landry forces him to confront what really happened that fateful night. And then he learns about the son he never knew existed.…

BAYOU JUSTICE
by Mallory Kane

In order to bring justice back to New Orleans, FBI agent
Ray Storm must once again turn to Molly Hennessey for help. This time, though, convincing the gorgeous attorney to believe in him is going to take more than just one night of seduction.

Praise for bestselling author Joanna
Wayne

“The shivers start building from the first chapters and don’t
stop rattling until the last climactic page.”
—RT Book
Reviews
on
Son
of a Gun

“Wayne’s got the start of a great series here as she slowly
unfolds the events and characters surrounding an old murder while presenting a
frightening modern
mystery.”
—RT Book
Reviews
on
Cowboy Swagger

Praise for award-winning author Rita
Herron

“Herron’s still top of the line when it comes to bizarrely
twisting plots as she piles up the obstacles to keep the suspense
high.”
—RT Book Reviews
on
Cowboy to the
Max

“Herron gets it totally
on
target in
this tale of family ties, insanity and death.”
—RT
Book Reviews
on
Beneath the Badge
(Top
Pick!)

Praise for reader favorite Mallory
Kane

“Readers will almost taste the flavor of New Orleans in this
mystery that’s never about the whodunit but about the whydunit, all handled with
Kane’s deft hand at suspense.”
—RT Book
Reviews
on
Death of a Beauty Queen

“Kane creates feisty and independent women who
are more than a
match for their men, and this story is a terrifically complicated
thriller.”
—RT Book Reviews
on
The Sharpshooter’s
Secret Son

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Joanna Wayne
was born and raised in Shreveport, Louisiana, and received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from LSU-Shreveport. She moved to New Orleans in 1984, and it was there that she attended her first writing class and joined her first professional writing organization. Her debut novel,
Deep in the Bayou,
was published in 1994.

Now, dozens of
published books later, Joanna has made a name for herself as being on the cutting edge of romantic suspense in both series and single-title novels. She has been on the Waldenbooks bestseller list for romance and has won many industry awards. She is also a popular speaker at writing organizations and local community functions and has taught creative writing at the University of New Orleans Metropolitan
College.

Joanna currently resides in a small community forty miles north of Houston, Texas, with her husband. Though she still has many family and emotional ties to Louisiana, she loves living in the Lone Star State. You may write Joanna at P.O. Box 852, Montgomery, Texas 77356.

Rita Herron
Award-winning author Rita Herron wrote her first book when she was twelve, but didn’t think real
people grew up to be writers. Now she writes so she doesn’t have to get a
real
job. A former kindergarten teacher and workshop leader, she traded her storytelling to kids for writing romance, and now she writes romance comedies and romance suspense. She lives in Georgia with her own romance hero and three kids. She loves to hear from readers, so please write her at P.O. Box 921225, Norcross, GA
30092-1225, or visit her website,
www.ritaherron.com
.

Mallory Kane
has two very good reasons for loving reading and writing. Her mother was a librarian, who taught her to love and respect books as a precious resource. Her father could hold listeners spellbound for hours with his stories. He was always her biggest fan.

She loves romance suspense with dangerous heroes and dauntless heroines,
and enjoys tossing in a bit of her medical knowledge for an extra dose of intrigue. After twenty-five books published, Mallory is still amazed and thrilled that she actually gets to make up stories for a living.

Mallory lives in Tennessee with her computer-genius husband and three exceptionally intelligent cats. She enjoys hearing from readers. You can write her at
[email protected]
or via Harlequin Books.

Joanna Wayne

Rita Herron

and

Mallory Kane

COVER ME

Joanna Wayne

Bayou Payback

CAST OF CHARACTERS

Remy Comeaux—
Private detective and former NOPD narcotics detective with a grudge against the corrupt superintendent of police.

Nicole Smith—
A beautiful survivor of Katrina who is currently dating Lee Barnaby.

Lee Barnaby—
New Orleans Superintendent of Police.

Carlotta Worthington—
Remy’s fiancée before she lost her life in the flooding following
Hurricane Katrina.

Charlie Gibbons—
An NOPD detective whose partner was recently killed.

Doyle Shriver—
An NOPD detective who was killed after suspecting someone in the department of corruption.

Sylvia Shriver—
Wants to hire Remy to investigate her husband’s death.

Mack Rivet—
Former NOPD detective involved with the FBI investigation with Remy Comeaux and Ray Storm.

Ray Storm—
An FBI agent involved in investigating corruption in the NOPD before Hurricane Katrina.

Dr. Cantrell—
Nicole’s employer.

To everyone who loves New Orleans—its culture, history, architecture, music, food and, most of all, the spirit of its inhabitants. And especially to those who lived through the devastation of Katrina and have helped in rebuilding the city they love. And a special nod to my Louisiana and Mississippi friends and family who truly know what it means to live in the path of Gulf hurricanes
and their fury.

Chapter One

Remy Comeaux pulled up in front of the lavish Saint Charles Avenue mansion just before dark on Sunday evening.
Nice digs,
he thought as he took out his wallet and grabbed a few bills to tip the limo driver. Had he shown up in his beloved beat-up pickup truck, it might have been a little harder to crash the party. He wanted nothing to spoil the surprise he had planned
for the guest of honor.

The last time he’d seen Lee Barnaby had been the day Katrina had roared into New Orleans, drowning Remy’s hopes and dreams along with much of Crescent City. The night he’d lost Carlotta. His fiancée. His reason for living. His heart.

Lee had been only the deputy superintendent of police then. Not that most civilians or cops referred to him that way. In everyday
matters, it was simply Chief or Deputy Chief. Tonight Barnaby was celebrating his rise to the top rung of the department. Remy was back in town to make sure his reign was short-lived.

Remy adjusted the uncomfortable silk cummerbund of his rented tux as he walked up the paved path toward the plantation-style home with its massive white pillars and wide verandas. Light spilled into the gathering
twilight, and music and laughter drifted through the open doorway.

An aging, mustached butler stood sentinel at the heavy wood-and-etched-glass double doors. He scrutinized Remy for a few seconds, as if he were trying to place him. Evidently the limo and monkey suit were not enough to sell Remy as an invited guest.

“Good evening,” Remy said. “Looks like I’m at the right place.”

“Yes, sir. Can I have your name, sir?”

“Andre Comeaux,” he said, using the first name of a cousin who just happened to be one of LSU’s former legendary quarterbacks. “Just flew in from the West Coast. Wouldn’t have missed this for the world.”

“Yes, sir,” the butler said, finally buying his act and flashing a welcoming smile. “Welcome to the Delacroix home.”

“Thank you.”

“Mrs.
Delacroix requests that her guests gather in the ballroom at eight o’clock. Until then, the first floor of the house and the back gardens are at your disposal. Enjoy yourself.”

“Thanks. I’m sure I will.” Remy walked away as the next guests arrived and the butler went through his rehearsed spiel again.

It didn’t take but a minute of wandering for Remy to realize that locating Lee Barnaby
among the throng of guests in the sprawling house might not be as easy as he’d figured. A waiter passed with a tray of cocktails. Remy accepted a vodka martini. This was his first and no doubt his last foray into New Orleans old-money high society. He may as well partake of the perks.

He had to admit the house was impressive, though he couldn’t imagine living here. Where would a man prop
up his feet, pop a top and flick on the TV to watch a Saints game? Surely old man Delacroix had a man cave that was off-limits to Marilyn Delacroix’s interior-design team.

Remy made the rounds from room to room, doing his best to remain inconspicuous as he scanned the partiers. He didn’t come across Lee, but he recognized a few of the chief’s pets from his old days with the department. The
suck-ups who’d done Lee’s bidding without question had no doubt moved right up the pay scale.

Amazingly, none of them recognized Remy, even though he practically ran into one of Lee’s go-to cops from the pre-Katrina days. Charlie Gibbons had been the man who’d fastened the cuffs around his wrists the night Remy had been hauled off to jail.

Had he noticed Remy, he’d have no doubt raced
to give Lee a heads-up that trouble was stalking the party scene. Fortunately, good old Charlie was far too engrossed in the cleavage of the woman draped across his shoulder to notice Remy.

Admittedly, Remy had changed a lot in eight years. He’d gained a few pounds—all muscle. Working out at a local gym and coaching a boxing team of underprivileged boys had become his grief-and-frustration
outlet once he’d moved to Houston and started his own private detective agency.

He’d let the military haircut grow out. His nose, which had had been broken a couple of times playing football and again when he was a narc detective, had finally been straightened by an expert surgeon. And the boyish grin that Carlotta Worthington had loved had been replaced by a wary, brooding edge—or so he’d
been told.

He stepped into a spacious dining room with rows of tall windows that offered views of a meticulously tended English garden lit by what appeared to be strings of stars strung through the spreading branches of dozens of century-old live oak trees.

There were no chairs at the beautifully crafted antique mahogany dining table, but it and an equally impressive sideboard were laden
with seafood. The oysters on the half shell looked too tasty to resist.

Remy had just slipped one between his lips when he felt a hand on his arm. He turned and looked into the deep violet eyes of one of the most stunning women he’d ever seen in his life, though she was likely twice his thirty-one years.

She smiled and moved her head just enough that her exquisite diamond earrings trapped
the dazzling sparkles emanating from the multifaceted chandelier. “I’m Marilyn Delacroix. I don’t believe we’ve met.”

Remy smiled. “No, I don’t believe we have. I’m an old friend of Lee’s, but I don’t get back to New Orleans often.”

“You should make time. In spite of what you might hear, the city is almost as vibrant and lively as before.”

“I can see that. And you throw a great
party.”

“Thank you. I didn’t catch your name.”

A young woman in a black suit without the requisite sequins and huge diamonds hugging her neck and dangling from her ears stepped next to Marilyn before he had time to lie.

“I hate to interrupt you,” the woman said, her tone and manner all business. “Mr. Delacroix asked me to find you.”

“Is there a problem?”

“Yes, ma’am. He
said the mayor has been held up and he’s not certain he can make it in time for the formalities.”

“Oh, dear. We can’t start without him. He’s giving Lee’s congratulatory speech.”

Marilyn turned her eyes if not her attention back to Remy. “Perhaps we can talk later. In the meantime, enjoy yourself. I know you must be as proud of Lee as we are.”

“Absolutely. He’s a breed unto himself.”

“My husband says it’s about time Lee received recognition for all he’s done for the city.”

And Remy was here to see that Lee got exactly what was coming to him. The sins of old had ridden long enough. It was payback time.

By the time Remy reached the ballroom, it was teeming with guests. Couples rocked the dance floor to the beat of a loud, jarring tune Remy had never heard before
and with any luck would never hear again.

He scanned the room, growing antsy when he still didn’t spot Lee. Surely the guy wasn’t late to a party given in his honor.

Finally the band took a break. Remy’s ears enjoyed the moment until a woman’s laughter caught him off guard, so hauntingly familiar it sliced into his heart.

He took a deep breath. His mind was playing cruel tricks
on him. He had to get a grip. He’d known returning to New Orleans would bring back the old memories, but he couldn’t let anything get in the way of what he’d come to do.

Yet when he heard the laughter again, he found himself walking toward the sound until he spotted the woman responsible for the free-spirited exuberance. She was facing away from him, but the straight, silky red hair that
reached her shoulders was so much like Carlotta’s that Remy had to struggle to breathe.

She was taller than Carlotta, or perhaps the height came from the silver heels that peeked from below a swirl of emerald-green silk. Her waist was as narrow as Carlotta’s had been, her shapely hips well-defined.

Damn. Start falling prey to old desires and he’d make a fool of himself. Carlotta was
dead. The woman with the lyrical laugh and burnished red hair was a stranger. Still, he was far too intrigued at this point to walk away without seeing her face.

He circled her and the young woman at her side, keeping his distance, but not so far away that he couldn’t see the fullness of her red lips or the nose that turned up ever so slightly. Her smile was dazzling. Her features were striking.
She was an absolute knockout.

She wasn’t Carlotta.

He exhaled slowly, regaining a much-needed sense of equilibrium. But then their gazes met and for a second a sense of déjà vu ran so strong that it rocked his soul.

He turned away, exchanged his empty glass for a full one from the tray of a timely waiter and strode toward the double doors that led to the back loggia. He needed fresh
air and to put some space between himself and the tantalizing redhead.

* * *

N
ICOLE
S
MITH

S
GAZE
followed the sexy stranger as he walked away. She was certain she’d never seen him before, yet for one brief moment, she’d felt as if she were drowning in the depths of his whiskey-colored eyes.

Her friend Deanie nudged her with her shoulder. “Who is that luscious creature and why haven’t
I met him before?”

“I’ve never seen him before, either, but he must be a friend of Lee’s,” Nicole answered. “Likely someone on the police force.”

“May the force be with me.”

“Your husband might object.”

“Oh, yeah, him,” Deanie teased. “But you’re not married, and you’re the one he was staring at. Go check him out.”

“I’m here with Lee.”

“Exactly.”

Deanie made
no secret of her negativity where Lee was concerned. She thought he was arrogant and chauvinistic, but it was only because she didn’t know him the way Nicole did. Sure, he was tough. He was a cop who’d risen through the ranks. But he had his sensitive side, and he spoiled her in so many ways that she actually wished she were sexually attracted to him.

“Go say hello to the hot stranger,” Deanie
urged. “You know you want to.”

“If I do, it’s only because he looks vaguely familiar and I’m wondering if we’ve met before.”

“That’s as good an excuse as any to start up a conversation with a gorgeous hunk.” Deanie put a hand to the small of Nicole’s back and gave her a gentle shove in the stranger’s direction.

“I’ll go introduce myself if you go with me,” Nicole said.

“You
are such a wimp, Nicole. Besides, I’m going to find Billy. Suddenly I’m in the mood for a little romantic adventure of my own.”

“If Marilyn catches you having a quickie in one of the upstairs bedrooms, you’ll be blacklisted forever.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it. Too stuffy. I’m thinking about under the fake stars in the back of the Delacroixes’ Saint Charles Avenue garden. How often does
a lowly nurse get a chance to do that?”

Deanie sashayed off before Nicole could come up with an appropriate response. Deanie was bright, witty, daring, candid and totally unimpressed with money or social status.

The only reason she and her husband were here tonight was because Nicole had asked Lee to add them to the invitation list. Having Deanie around made these occasions a lot more
fun for Nicole and she knew she couldn’t duck out of this one, not when tonight was all about Lee.

Lee—her date for the evening, and yet here she was, drawn to a sexy stranger with mesmerizing eyes and a killer body.

Before she could talk herself out of it, she turned and joined him on the balcony.

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