Miranda Beckett has been born and bred in Chicago, and with that comes the knowledge that the city built firmly on criminal enterprises is still a city where crime is as much of the economy as the retail shops and hotels that line Michigan Avenue. Just like others in Chicago, a blind eye is a content eye—until it’s all brought into sharp focus by her younger brother one late night. She hasn’t seen her brother in years, and the last time she told him she never wanted to see him again, so she knows it’s desperation that led him to her door. Before, he flat-out stole from her, but now he’s pleading for the money. He pleas for the money that he owes the head of the IRA in Chicago, and then he threatens that Declan Kelly knows about her and that she has the money, and if she doesn’t give it than Kelly will come for it himself.
Miranda refuses her brother, and she knows she’ll be able to refuse Declan Kelly when the time comes. But she’s wrong, so very wrong. It isn’t money Kelly wants, it’s her. Her expertise as an accountant to audit his books and find who is stealing from him—that’s it, he tells her, but his eyes tell her there’s more.Without even being quite sure how and why she agreed, a deal is struck, and Miranda wonders how long she can fight the need for a man she can’t have. It’s one thing to know what Declan Kelly does and another to allow herself become involved with him. She is sure she can keep Declan at bay—she has plans to become a gangster’s girlfriend or lose her heart to him.
Miranda wanted to run. She could see the front door and freedom, but her legs wouldn’t carry her away. How? How had he slipped through her every defense? Turning to him, she found he had moved, and he was so close, too close. She stepped back and crossed her arms. It was a blatant tell, and she couldn’t give a damn how it looked. His beautiful full lips tipped up, and he reached out and ran a finger down her arm. Through her thin silk blouse, fire followed the path he left.
“Don’t touch me.” Miranda flinched to hear the words escape her in a breathy, shallow whisper.
Declan smiled wide then, a hunter assured he had won his prey. “You say the words,” he said as he reached out and encircled her wrist in an unforgiving grip. “But your body says something very different.”
Slowly, he pulled her arm away from her body. Her other arm fell to her side, and her body was open to him. Her breasts were swollen and begging for his touch; her nipples, so tight and hard she was in pain, were on full display. He leaned down and kissed one nipple lightly. It was a mere flutter of touch, but it still burned through her blouse and her bra. She bit her cheek to hold back her moan, but there was no holding back the gush of liquid heat that spread through her. He moved to her other breast and gave it the same light kiss, and she sighed. Just as she believed that kiss was the end, his mouth captured the painfully hard nipple, and sucked it hard into his hot mouth.
She couldn’t breathe. Just when she believed she might black out, he released her breast and her legs gave out from beneath her. He caught her and swung her up into his arms. Heat seeped into every inch of her body at having so much of him pressed up against her. She wanted to sink into him; she wanted to crawl inside his skin. Then he cradled her into his lap, and she could feel him hard and thick beneath her. The feeling of him pulled her violently out of the haze of desire. She pushed away from him hard, and in his surprise, he let her go.
Landing with a thump on the floor, she saw they had made it to the long leather couch. Miranda’s face was hot with shame, and she couldn’t look at him. Looking down, she saw he had managed to undo not only her blouse but her bra, and she fumbled to close it again. It didn’t help that her breasts were still heavy and hard with need. A moan of distress escaped her when her hands refused to do what she wanted them to. His hands were there to do up the bra, and she groaned and slapped at his hands. “No, stop it. You have to stop it. I can’t do this. This isn’t me. I don’t have sex with practically random strangers, who are criminals, no less. I’m fucking frigid! My nipples do not get hard at the sight of someone. I don’t fantasize about someone’s dick and get wet just thinking about what it would be like to taste him. I can’t even get wet masturbating on my own, for fuck’s sake. No, I can’t do this. You have to stop. Please.”
At last, she managed to work the clasp of the bra back together, but gave up on her blouse. She had only managed two buttons, and they didn’t line up. She looked up at last, begging him to understand.
Declan kneeled in front of her. “Ah, sweetheart, I wish I could, but I can’t.”