Love Irresistibly Page 1

Author: Julie James

Series: FBI/US Attorney #4

Genres: Romance

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One

BROOKE PARKER STEPPED up to the bar at The Shore restaurant, ready to place her lunch order. The bartender, however, beat her to the punch.

“Hey, it’s my favorite customer—Chicken Tacos, Extra Pico.” He flashed her a grin. “That’s my nickname for you.”

Yes, she got that. “I suppose I’ve been called worse,” Brooke said as the bartender moved to the cash register to ring her up. She was indeed a regular, and she took pride in that. The restaurant was only two blocks from her office, right on Oak Street Beach, which made it the perfect midday escape. And it had the best chicken tacos in the city. Not that she was biased.

Okay, maybe she was a little biased.

She handed over a twenty-dollar bill. “I’ll take a strawberry-mango smoothie, too.”

“Ooh, a smoothie. Getting a little crazy today, are we?” In his early twenties, with blond hair and a tanned face, the bartender had the look of a recent college grad who planned to spend a lot of time playing beach volleyball this summer.

He called Brooke’s order back to the kitchen, and then looked her over. “I’m starting to feel like I should know more about you, Chicken Tacos, Extra Pico.” He winked. “Since we’ve been seeing each other on a weekly basis for nearly a month now.” He took in the tailored gray suit she wore. “I’m thinking that you are a . . . lawyer.”

“Good guess.”

“I knew it. I bet you’re one of those ballbuster types in court.”

Brooke fought back a smile. Really, she should just spare the poor guy the embarrassment, but this was kind of fun. “Actually, I’m not a trial lawyer.” She decided to give him a hint. “I’m general counsel for a company based here in Chicago.”

He made a big show of being impressed. “Look at you, Ms. Thing. What kind of company?”

“Restaurants and bars.”

“What a coincidence. We’re both in the restaurant business.” He leaned his elbows on the bar, giving her a smoldering, sexy look that likely helped him rake in big tips with the female clientele. “It’s Kismet.”

Or . . . maybe not so much. Brooke raised an eyebrow. “Are you supposed to be flirting with the customers?”

He brushed this off with an oh-so-cool smile. “Probably not. But for you, Chicken Tacos, Extra Pico, I’ll break the rules. Just don’t tell any of those stiffs in corporate.”

Brooke had to bite her lip to hold back a smile at that one. Aw, she definitely couldn’t clue the poor guy in now. Then a voice called her name.

“Playing hooky for the afternoon, Ms. Parker?”

Brooke turned and saw Kurt McGregor, one of the managers of The Shore. “Unfortunately, no. Just sneaking out for a quick break.”

Kurt gestured to the bartender. “I hope Ryan here is treating you well.”

“Ryan has been most charming,” she assured him.

The bartender pointed between them. “You two know each other?”

Kurt chuckled at that. “You could say that. Ryan, this is Brooke Parker from corporate. She’s general counsel of Sterling.”

The grin on the bartender’s face froze, replaced by a look of panic. “Oh, shit. Sterling Restaurants. As in, the people who sign my paychecks?”

“The one and only,” Brooke said.

The bartender looked like he’d swallowed a bug. “I just called you a stiff.”

“And Ms. Thing.”

“Please don’t fire me,” he whispered.

Brooke pretended to think about that. “It’s tempting. But firing someone involves a lot of paperwork. Not something I want to do on a Friday afternoon. I’ll hold off until Monday instead.” She saw his eyes widen. “I’m kidding, Ryan.”

Kurt cleared his throat pointedly. “Ryan, maybe this would be a good time to check on Ms. Parker’s order?”

The bartender straightened up, clearly relieved to be dismissed. “Good idea. One order for Chicken Tac—uh, Ms. Parker—coming right up.” With that, he bolted for the kitchen.

Kurt turned to her after the bartender left. “Okay, seriously. Should I fire him?”

“Nah. He sneaks me extra pico on the side. He’s a keeper.”

Kurt chuckled at that, then gestured to the terrace. “Are you sticking around? I’m sure I can finagle you a table with a view of the lake if you want to eat in.”

Brooke looked out at the umbrella-covered tables on the sunny terrace, tempted by the idea. It was a gorgeous June day, and the view from the terrace was undeniably one of the best in Chicago: skyscrapers towering majestically against the shimmering blue of Lake Michigan. Today, however, duty called.

Actually, duty called every day. Duty had her on speed dial.

“Wish I could. But I’ve got a conference call in”—Brooke checked her watch—“yikes, twenty minutes.”

Ryan the bartender came out of the kitchen with a carryout bag and a smoothie. With a sheepish look, he set both on the bar in front of Brooke and scurried off.

“By any chance would this conference call have anything to do with a certain deal you’re negotiating with the Staples Center?” Kurt asked in a sly tone after Ryan disappeared.

Brooke’s face gave nothing away. “I can neither confirm nor deny the existence of any such deal.”

“Spoken like a true lawyer.”

Brooke winked as she grabbed her smoothie and tacos and headed for the door. “Always.”

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