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By Annette Broadrick
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.Copyright © 2005 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneJude Crenshaw's phone rang at seven o'clock, waking him from a deep, exhausted sleep at his condo in Fort Meade, Maryland. He fumbled for the phone without opening his eyes.
"Crenshaw," he mumbled.
"This is Ms. Kincaid's office calling. One moment, please." He was put on hold. Kincaid was his supervisor at the National Security Agency.
Jude had worked for the agency for the past four years. He'd been hired as a civilian after leaving the army, where he'd been in Special Ops. He had been in the field until six months ago when he'd been promoted to a supervisory position.
He couldn't imagine why Jackie Kincaid would be calling him at home at this time of morning. He sat up, rubbed his hand over his face and swung his legs to the floor.
"Jude? Jackie. Sorry to bother you so early. I tried to reach you yesterday, but you must have been incommunicado. I couldn't get my calls to go through on your cell phone so I could leave a message."
"I've been on the west coast for the past two weeks. Got home in the wee hours this morning."
"I know you're on vacation this week but something's come up here that needs your presence."
"Nothing like that. We need you at an interdepartmental meeting at nine."
He frowned. "What department?"
"You're kidding me."
"Nope. Do you think you can get here by that time?"
Jude yawned and said, "Sure. No problem."
"Great. See you then."
Jude stood and stretched. His body was still on Pacific Standard Time, which meant he was having to function at four in the morning.
He went into his kitchen and made a pot of coffee that would be ready by the time he finished his shower. In the bathroom, his bleary-eyed gaze looked back at him from the mirror.
He needed a haircut.
He'd been out in the sun quite a bit while in southern California, so that his skin was deeply tanned and his blond hair lighter than usual.
Jude showered and shaved, dressed and returned to the kitchen for his caffeine fix. After his first cup, he filled a thermos cup with the rest of the coffee to drink on the way to work and went into the garage where he kept his baby.
His two-seater late-model Porsche spent more time in the garage than out on the road. He'd been looking forward to a few days off so he could take her out, wind her up and put her through her paces. The car was the love of his life, and why not? She was always waiting at home when he got there, never complained about the hours he kept, didn't demand attention and didn't eat him out of house and home while he was away.
He hit the garage-door button as he stepped through the door and slid behind the wheel. When he turned on the engine, he smiled at the whisper of sound. She was purring for him.
Jude drove to the NSA office complex sipping on his coffee, determined not to let the rush-hour traffic disturb him. Once there, he went to his office, checked his mail and headed down the hall to Kincaid's office.
He stopped at the desk of Kincaid's assistant, who looked up from opening the morning mail and saw him.
"Welcome back, Blue Eyes," Justine said, her expression mischievous. "I like the tan. Wish I had nothing better to do than lie around on a beach all day soaking up some rays."
He lifted one eyebrow and said, "Yeah, me, too. I have an appointment with Jackie."
"Go right in. Mm-mm. I swear, that tan shows you off quite nicely. You probably have to fight off all the women you meet."
He shook his head and grinned. "Not so's you'd notice."
Justine was in her midthirties, happily married with three young daughters. She'd teased him ever since she'd met him that he'd be her pick for a son-in-law if he'd only wait to find a bride until her daughters were grown.
He tapped on Jackie's door and walked inside.
Three men and a woman sat in front of Jackie's desk. They turned to look at him, their faces grim.
One of the men stood and turned to face Jude.
He looked to be in his late forties, possibly early fifties, with thick dark hair liberally sprinkled with gray. The man looked trim, probably worked out several times each week. His eyes missed nothing about Jude and Jude caught himself before he polished his shoe on the back of his pants leg.
"Jude, this is Sam Watson from the Drug Enforcement Agency. With him are three of his agents: John Greene, Hal Pennington and Ruth Littlefield." The agents stood and Jude shook hands with each of them.
"Now that we're all here, let's go into the conference room where we'll have a little more room," Jackie said, and led the way out of her office.
Once they were seated around the conference table, Jackie said, "Sam, I'll let you explain to Jude why you wanted to see him."
Watson smiled, transforming his craggy face, and Jude decided that the man was younger than he appeared at first glance.
"Thanks, Jackie," Watson replied. He turned to Jude. "I have a major problem with my San Antonio office at the moment. One of my men was killed last week and we have reason to believe that another agent was responsible."
Jude straightened. "Damn. That's really tough." He glanced at the other agents. "You've got to trust the man who's got your back."
If possible, they looked even grimmer as each one nodded.
"I need to get someone down there who I can trust and who can go undercover for us. In my search, I came across your file. You've worked covert operations for several years."
"And you're from Texas."
Jude grinned. "Can't deny that, either."
"I also found out that your family is well-known in Texas."
"Well, there's a lot of us there, I'll admit."
"You would be ideal for what I want to do."
Jude nodded and waited.
Excerpted from Double Identity by Annette Broadrick Copyright © 2005 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd. . Excerpted by permission.
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