She doubted it was on Derek’s radar, either. Not with his heavy workload, the way his peers relied on him. He’d been honored by the department earlier that year for his work in a sting operation involving two local gangs. She’d watched him accept his plaque from the Chicago police commissioner to thunderous applause from his colleagues, so choked with pride she could barely breathe. His career was on a major upswing. This would mean change. Sacrifices. Then, there was her own work. She’d opened Sneaky Peet’s in Wicker Park, creating and selling custom furniture. Her designs had become so popular, her hours were nearly as demanding as Derek’s. Throwing a baby into the equation at this stage, well, it was damned inconvenient.

Automatically, she felt an immense wave of guilt at her own thoughts. Slowly, very slowly, her hand crept to her still-flat belly and lay there. The world didn’t end.

“Hell, Dolly. I’m screwed. I already love the little booger.” She blew out a breath toward the ceiling. She would tell Derek. He would understand. He’d hold her and tell her everything was going to be all right. She had to believe in that. Believe in him. “Looks like the three of us are having a baby.”

Chapter Two

Without looking up from his mountain of paperwork, Lieutenant Derek Tyler waved in the detective who’d just knocked tentatively on his glass office door.

“Do I not look busy enough to you, Alvarez?”

Most detectives knew when to back off around him. Not Alvarez, twenty-year veteran and all-around bullshit artist. He whistled softly through his teeth. “Someone’s even testier than usual. I know you haven’t been home to see your woman in two nights, but cut a dude some slack. Only doing my job.”

Stone-faced, Derek simply let Alvarez squirm under his stare. He didn’t like any of his men talking about Ginger. Not in any capacity. His woman. His business. Being that he’d spent the night away from their bed, instead of wrapped around her soft form where he belonged, he wasn’t in the mood to make an exception for the ball-breaking detective. Derek had thought when she moved in with him, he wouldn’t feel quite so anxious, unsettled, when he was forced to spend the night working. She’d be safe in his bed, behind a door he’d locked himself. Oddly, the desire to be home had grown exponentially. He should be home with her. Seeing to her needs. Demanding that she see to his. Spending every moment enjoying the fact that she’d taken that leap for him. With him.

His work-weary gaze strayed to the clock on his computer. Nine fifteen in the evening. She’d be spreading on lotion after a hot bath. Throwing on one of his department T-shirts. Nothing but tiny panties underneath. Sitting cross-legged on the floor cutting out pictures from magazines for her furniture designs, her brows drawn in concentration over her beautiful face. If he were to walk in the front door right now, she’d give him that hundred-watt smile and climb up his body for a long, wet, welcome-home kiss. God, as bad as he needed a fix of Ginger right now, he’d probably throw her down on the closest surface and f**k her hard and thorough before they’d even exchanged hellos.

So, no. He wasn’t in the mood for this shit from Alvarez.

“The point. Get to it.”

He threw up his hands. “Fair enough. Although by the time I’m finished giving you this report, you’re going to wish you’d put it off a little longer.”

“I highly doubt it.”

“Don’t say I didn’t warn you.” Alvarez flipped open the manila folder in his lap. “Two words. Gino Lazio.”

Derek’s spine stiffened, his entire body immediately on high alert. The paperwork on his desk suddenly became meaningless. His exhaustion a minor detail. Gino Lazio. Notorious crime boss on Chicago’s South Side. Last year, a raid on the warehouse where Lazio’s crew was making a major narcotics deal had ended in the loss of one of Derek’s men. Lazio had been the one to pull the trigger. Then he’d disappeared without a trace. Derek’s team had prevented the drug deal, temporarily disabled Lazio’s crew, but there’d been no justice for the fallen officer—a fact that haunted him constantly. Relentlessly. He’d sat through the man’s funeral, shook the hand of his crying widow…and he’d been unable to offer closure. Lazio had immediately gone to ground. They’d even heard through one informant that he’d been lying low in Italy, waiting for his chance to slip back into Chicago unnoticed. Not likely. Derek hadn’t forgotten. Gino Lazio was his white whale.

“Tell me everything.”

Alvarez had the good sense to keep a straight face. “As you know, we’ve had to pull our undercover officer embedded in the Lazio crew and relocate him. Things were getting too hot. They suspected a leak and he was new blood. Good news is, we’ve got an informant who continues to deliver. Lazio’s nephew. We pick him up for cocaine possession like clockwork once a month and he spills his guts in exchange for leniency.” Alvarez paused, seemingly for effect. “The kid swears Lazio is returning from Italy this week for a major meeting with Modesto’s remaining crew.”

Derek’s eyes widened at that piece of news. He’d been commended by the department for leading the bust on the Modesto crew last year, right around the time he’d met Ginger. Trafficking charges had stuck to the major players, but a small portion of the crew had walked. “Lazio is absorbing the Modesto crew?”

Alvarez nodded once. “And their territory along with it.”

“Can’t let it happen.” Derek meant every word. Lazio’s operation, thanks to generations of experience dealing dirty in Chicago, was twice as sophisticated as Modesto’s. If they were granted rights to more territory, the police would have a damned hard time containing it. They had ten times the men and enough firepower to cause serious damage to the city. His city. “When and where is this meet taking place?”

“That’s the bitch of it. I leaned on the nephew for hours and he swore to every saint his junkie brain could remember that he doesn’t know. He likes his freedom too much to bullshit me, Lieutenant.”

Derek cursed under his breath. “Where the hell does that leave us?”

“Waiting on pins and f**king needles. That’s where.” Alvarez propped his booted foot on the edge of Derek’s desk, removing it just as quickly when Derek scowled at him. “The kid says Lazio and company have grown too suspicious of the leak. The meeting time and place is going to be spur of the moment to avoid police interference. We have to be prepared to go at any time.”

“I don’t like it. We need more intel going into something this big.”

“Working on it.”

“Lazio and Modesto meeting,” Derek mused. “Lazio sure as hell won’t take any chances on getting caught. We’ve got an eyewitness in Detective Troy Bennett. That bullet killed his partner. He transferred to New York last year, but he’d fly back in a heartbeat to testify and put Lazio away.”

Alvarez made a sound of agreement. “Yeah, he would. It’s up to us to bring in Lazio, though. You were right about them not taking any chances. There’s going to be more guns at this meeting than an NRA convention. Lazio is already a scary son of a bitch. Throw in the fact that he has nothing to lose? We’re walking into a possible massacre.” Copyright 2016 - 2024