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If Looks Could Chill

If Looks Could Chill
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the hero, Marc Lafayette

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If Looks Could Chill
Berkley Sensation
(book 2 of the Passion For Danger series)
ISBN-10: 0425231526
ISBN-13: 978-0425231524
December 2009

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A kick-ass Yankee cop and her special-ops Cajun guide search the Louisiana swamp for a deadly virus, but succumb to a fever of a very different sort.

Mysterious deaths stalk the bayou. No-nonsense Louisiana State trooper Tara Reeves reluctantly enlists the aid of Marc Lafayette, a too-sexy-for-his-own-good Cajun heartbreaker, to guide her on her search for evidence so she can bring down those responsible. But the source of the deaths is more dangerous than Tara could ever imagine. A foreign terrorist cell, plotting an attack on U.S. soil, is testing a deadly biological weapon in the remote wilderness of the swamp.

But the terrorists aren’t the only ones with secrets…

What Tara doesn’t know is that her sexy guide is part of a covert special ops team sent to destroy the terrorist threat, and Marc is not happy about having to babysit a nosy cop—even one as temptingly beautiful as Tara. But as they search the Louisiana swamp for a deadly virus, they succumb to a fever of a very different sort. Both of them know that love and work don’t mix, a harrowing showdown with the enemy will make their steamy passion boil over…and change their lives forever.

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From Chapter One

December, present day
Lower St Martin Parish, Louisiana

Bodies lay scattered on the wet ground in an unholy tangle of bones and rotting flesh. Swamp mist swirled in wispy drifts through the chilly morning air, making the scene seem almost surreal.

Marc Lafayette waded slowly through the still, green waters of Bayou Creche, taking in the putrid jumble of remains scattered above the low bank. It was real, all right. All too real.

Rage exploded within him. Dieu , it was bad. The worst kill yet.

In the distance, the plink-splash, plink-splash of a paddle dipping in water echoed through the silent morning. He halted to listen intently. Had the terrorists come back to inventory the lethal effects of their latest bio-weapon experiment?

He couldn’t possibly get so lucky.

Marc quickly scanned the area and ducked under cover of a dense clump of swamp oak, grateful he’d left the pirogue moored further upstream. With the practiced ease of a lifetime hunter—-both of creatures and of man—-he melted into the verdant foliage, making himself invisible.

A canoe glided slowly past him, with a lone occupant.

The boat was one of Charlie Thibadeaux’s rentals. Marc didn’t recognize the woman. Late twenties maybe? Soft, sable-brown hair pulled back in a thick braid. Interesting face. Très joli. Very pretty.

But she lost all appeal the second he spotted the unmistakable gold “LSP” on the back of her blue windbreaker. Louisiana State Police.

De merde. What the hell was—-

She suddenly gasped, spotting the carnage. Clamping a hand over her mouth she let the prow of the canoe run up onto the muddy shore below the kill site, staring in horror at the largest of the carcasses: a mature black bear. There were also birds, nutria, and even a bloated gator floated nearby. All poisoned by a specially genetically-altered, weaponized virus.

And all clues to a bio-terror threat the likes of which had never been experienced on American soil.

Until now.

Of course, a local cop had no way of knowing that.

He assumed.

“My God,” the woman murmured aloud, her words whispering through the thick cypress and Spanish moss like a troubled prayer.

What the hell was she doing here, anyway? Although technically the whole state of Louisiana fell under State Police jurisdiction, and Bayou Creche was only about a mile into the wilderness from highway 70, usually troopers never ventured even this far into the swamp. Not in a canoe. Certainly not without a good reason. Which meant she’d come out here deliberately.

Putain de merde. This was all they needed. A foutre nosy cop on their six.

For fifteen minutes Marc remained silent and still, watching with growing agitation as she photographed the scene, then brought out a series of small specimen tubes and collected evidence from the carcasses. What was she, some kind of goddamn CSI?

Salleau prie. The boss was not going to like this. Not one damn bit.

Since when had the LSP started concerning itself with animal kills? Wasn’t there some damn traffic jam somewhere needed unraveling?

The female trooper finally got back in the canoe and started paddling in the direction of the highway. He was going to have to have a talk with Charlie Thibadeaux about renting out to étrangers who had no business in the swamp. At least not without telling Marc about it. He made a mental note to put Charlie on the payroll, then pulled out his cellphone-slash-PDA and sent a quick text message to the STORM field HQ, located for the moment in a remote fishing camp about twelve clicks north.

Within seconds the response came back. He swore softly under his breath.

Neutralize her. Any means necessary.