He thrust into her with such force, Ginger screamed his name at the top of her lungs. Thankfully, the music drowned out her cries, because they didn’t cease. Derek drove into her, relentless in his assault. Beneath her, the file cabinet scraped along the ground, propelling them forward until it wedged securely against the wall. Shameless, desperate, she spread her legs, lifted her ass. Her forehead connected with the wall and pressed into its dense surface, eyes squeezed tightly shut as the exquisite pressure built.

“Did you miss me?” He drove deep and held until she writhed and moaned. “You’re supposed to miss me. You’re supposed to crave me. If I’m not the last goddamn thought in your head before you fall asleep, I haven’t been fucking you good enough.” He brought his hand down in a loud smack of her right buttock. “And I think we both know that’s not the case, don’t we?”

When she didn’t answer, he repeated the question more harshly. “Yes!”

“Yes, what?”


“I satisfy you every fucking time.”

“Yes. Yes.”

“And so do you.” Derek braced himself on the wall above them and changed the pace of his thrusts. Deepening them. Prolonging them. “You think I haven’t been miserable at the idea of you alone in our bed? Soft, warm, and tight? I’ve been crazed, baby. I can’t concentrate. I’ve been starved.”

“Then why?” Orgasm looming so close, the words tore from her throat. She couldn’t think past the onslaught of sensation, even though his words didn’t make sense. This was the end, right? Yes. It was. Savor it. It’ll never be this way again.

“Ginger. Ginger.” Her name became a chant on his lips, matching the forward drives of his hips. The file cabinet slammed against the wall with each rough push. She absorbed his need, let it mesh with her own until the force of it buried her in an avalanche of fire and ice, radiant pleasure, a maelstrom of mixed emotions. Knowing it could be the last of its kind, she let the climax flay her, leave her revealed as she collapsed onto the metal cabinet, hearing Derek growl his release before he followed.

His heart pounded against her back, a feeling she used to adore, but now every beat sent pain lancing through her chest. When his lips moved in her hair, nuzzling, laying soft kisses, she pushed herself off the cabinet purely in the name of self-preservation. Ginger couldn’t take a second more. She was horrified to find tears clouding her vision as she backed away from him. They were accompanied by a buzzing in her head. Disgusted with herself, her inability to maintain her composure long enough to accept the inevitable, she dragged in a shuddering breath. When he came toward her, worry and confusion in his eyes, it only made her more determined.

“Goddamn you, Derek.” Fingers shaking, she pulled her panties back into place and smoothed her skirt. Just for the sake of something to occupy her vision. Looking at him hurt too much. “Do it. Say the words and get it over with.”

She sensed Derek go very still. “Do what, exactly? Explain yourself. Now.”

At the soft, dangerous quality to his voice, Ginger’s gaze snapped to his. “You know.” She whispered the words, finally unable to stop the flow of tears.

Loud voices shouted Derek’s name in the hallway. Neither of them moved, but very slowly, his eyes closed and he cursed under his breath as if he’d been expecting the interruption. In a few quick, efficient movements, he repaired his state of undress. He took Ginger by the wrist and pulled her behind him as he opened the door.

“Lieutenant. There you are.” Alvarez. “Let’s roll. We’ve got a time and location. I’ve made the calls, but we’ve got to move. Less than an hour to go.”

“I need a minute.” His voice was deadly quiet.

“Boss, Lazio isn’t going to wait—“

“A minute.”

Lazio. Ginger’s spine straightened, mind racing. She knew the name well. The case Derek had such a difficult time discussing, even with her. He’d lost a man, taken it hard. Of course he had. That was Derek. A leader. A protector. What was happening involving Lazio? In the living room, she heard a commotion, men talking in codes into their police radios. Everything she’d experienced during the week, everything she’d seen since walking into the party, suddenly took on a completely different quality. Tension among the officers, Derek working long hours. Something big was about to go down. Her terror outweighed her earlier pain so extremely then, it nearly doubled her over.

“Derek, what’s going on?”

Leaving the door open a crack, he turned to her, strain showing on his face. He studied her intensely. “When you told me to get it over with, what were you talking about?”

The words felt like they might choke her. “I-I thought…” God, was it possible she could have been so wrong? Doubted him so easily? “You stopped coming home, you wouldn’t talk to me…I thought it was over. I thought you wanted this over.”

More shouts of his name in the hallway. He ignored them. “Over,” he repeated woodenly, the word sounding foreign coming from his lips.

His obvious shock confirmed it. Oh God. She hadn’t trusted him enough. Now he was leaving, heading into a risky situation, her lack of faith fresh in his mind. “I’m sorry,” she said numbly, knowing her words were inadequate.

Derek’s hands rose to frame her face, holding it tightly. “How can you not know by now? I wouldn’t make it a fucking day without you.” He shook his head. “I don’t remember a time before you. It’s all a blur right up until the minute you walked in.”

His face swam in front of her, her love for him so painfully intense it almost buckled her. Relief was short-lived, however, compared to the fear now permeating her nervous system. The shouts in the hallway were increasing. Time was running out and

she still didn’t know what Derek was heading into. How could he expect her to let him walk away right now? Jesus, he still didn’t even know she was carrying his baby. No. She couldn’t let him go. “Derek. Remember when you told me you’d give me anything in the world? Anything. You said I only had to ask.”

“Yes.” He brushed her tears away gently, as if he already knew what she was going to request. “And I’ll do it. If you ask me, I’ll stay right here.” Their lips met briefly. “But this is something I have to do, so I’m asking you not to do that.”

She dropped her head forward to rest on his chest in defeat. I can’t do it. “Come home to me, then. I’m asking you to come home to me.”

“Thank you.” He kissed her one final time, lingered at her mouth. “I love you, beautiful girl. Always.”

“I love you, too.”

Then he was gone.

Chapter Six

Derek nodded as one of his officers sent him a signal from the warehouse across the street, one of their many surveillance vantage points. In a matter of minutes, they would move in on the meeting. They’d coordinated with the SWAT team and narcotics department, all of them with an interest in bringing down the two crime families supplying illegal drugs and weaponry to Chicago’s streets. In minutes, a department helicopter would arrive, giving the operation eyes above the warehouse in case anyone inside tried to flee the scene. Moments to go until their carefully orchestrated plan came together. Then he’d give the signal for his men, SWAT, and narcotics officers to converge on the meeting.