Declan's mother has always been overprotective of his kid sister, Rosie. And ever since the death of his father, when he was fourteen, she'd expected her son to look out for her. When Rosie develops a crush on a guitarist in a band their uncle has hired in his club, Mom insists Declan find out the details. Rosie is over eighteen and about to become a police officer like her brother and father before her. Declan knows his sister and isn't that concerned. However, to satisfy his old-fashioned mother, who has clung to the values from the old country, he checks it out. Who he finds is Erick, a really cute guitar player who doesn't seem to even know Rosie is alive until Declan shows up.
Erick Powell thinks he's died and gone to heaven when he first sets eyes on the hunky, dark haired cop with the bluest eyes he'd ever seen. Erick is disappointed when Declan invites him to sit at their table and he realizes it is at the request of his sister, Rosie. Orphaned by his father who is doing time in a prison Erick doesn't want to know about, he was taken in by his uncle when he was young, a man who has been in and out of trouble with the law and is insanely homophobic. Erick has been warned to keep his sexuality under wraps. When he agrees to date Rosie to keep his uncle happy and at the hopes of seeing her brother again, things begin to unravel. Mysteries are uncovered that will connect Erick and Declan in a way they never expected.
Declan had slammed his hand down on the alarm clock three times before he realized it was his doorbell, not the alarm that was ringing. He groaned. The numbers nine, four, and six came into focus on the clock’s face when he was finally able to open his eyes.
The doorbell kept on ringing. Declan crawled out of bed and pulled on a pair of navy jogging pants that had been casually flung over his bedroom door. He padded down the hall, pausing when he heard the shower. He smiled, remembering he hadn’t been alone when he came in a few hours ago.
Whoever was ringing the bell was becoming more and more insistent. “Hang on,” he called out, thinking he’d like to get his service revolver and shoot whoever was on the other side of that door.
Declan peered through the keyhole. Oh crap, it was his mother. What in the world was she doing way across town this time of morning?
Declan opened the door.
“Finally,” she said, pushing her way past him before he could say anything. “This city is a very bad place, you know.” She shook her head and walked over to the sofa, putting down her handbag. “You take your life in your hands just getting on the subway.” She gave him an accusing look. “Why don’t you clean up the subways, Declan?”
Declan rubbed his jaw. “Mom, what are you doing here?”
“Can’t I visit my son?” She walked up to him. “You need a shave and a haircut. They let you look like that on the force now? Your father was always clean shaven in his day. Those were the rules. The NYPD had pride then. Now anything goes, beards, long hair, you all look like hippies. How do you tell the cops from the riff raft?”
Declan ran a hand through his hair. “I just came off a ten-hour shift, Mom. You should have called.”
“Called?” She threw up her hands and marched into the kitchen. “You never answer your phone. Too busy to spend five minutes talking to your mother now that you’re a hot-shot, policeman? I haven’t seen you in three weeks.”
Declan walked over to the counter. She was cleaning it. “Mom,” he said, taking the cloth away from her. “Stop. I can clean my own counter.”
“I’ll make coffee then.” She stared at the pod coffee maker. “What is this contraption? Where’s the coffee maker?” she demanded.
“That is the coffee maker, Mom.” He pointed at it.
“Never mind. You’ve forgotten how to make coffee now?”
“No, Mom, but I don’t have a lot of time before my shift. That’s faster. I’m alone. I need a cup. What are you doing here? What’s bothering you? Did the plumber come?”
“Yes. And it was expensive.” She pointed at him as she walked out of his small kitchenette and took a seat on the sofa. “You fixed the leak last time. It cost me a meal.”
“I told you I’d pay for the plumber,” he said. “Just put the bill in my name.”
“I can pay my own bills, thank you very much. Your father left me a pension.”
A door closed.
His mother looked around. “Someone here with you?”
“Ah, yeah, don’t worry about it.” Declan shook his head.
She eyed him. “Another cop, or a civilian?”
“He’s not a cop.”
“Is it serious?” She looked around again. “Is he Irish, Catholic? Are you using condoms?”
“Mom.” He put up a hand. “Stop it.”
She nodded. “Um, bring him to dinner.”
Declan smiled. “Why, so you can interrogate him? Are you sure you’re not the cop in this family?”
“Ha, ha. I suppose some things have rubbed off.”
“So what’s going on with Rosie then?” Declan perched on the sofa arm.
“How did you know it was about your sister?” She narrowed her eyes. “Has she said something to you?”
“No, but it’s always about Rosie.”
“I think she’s taken up with some guitar player at your uncle’s bar room.”
Declan laughed. “Mom, it’s called The Rockaway, and it’s a nice place.”
“A place that used to be our fathers’ restaurant.” She sighed heavily. “Your grandfather would roll over in his grave if he could.”
Declan looked at his mother and shook his head. “You say that all the time. Listen, you know Uncle Jase never liked the restaurant business. And after what happened there, well, maybe it was good to turn it into something else.”
His mother had been dead set against building the nightclub. She’d refused to step foot in the place, and it had been over twenty years. His mother had been born Cora Tasso in Athens. She’d come over from Greece at the age of twelve with her parents and her older brother, Jase, in the nineteen eighties. Her father had opened a restaurant called The Dancing Prince, and it was very successful until a rival restaurant—owned by the Italian mafia—opened up down the street. One night while the Tasso’s were asleep upstairs, the building was firebombed. Cora’s mother died, and the rest of the family barely escaped with their lives.
The night of the bombing, Cora was almost eighteen. One of the officers on the scene that night was Patrick Walsh, a handsome, Irish rookie. It was love at first sight.
Cora’s father returned to Greece, and Jase built a nightclub. After a whirlwind romance, Cora married Patrick Walsh. Declan was born soon after, and Rosie, his sister, came along five years after that.
Rosie and his mother had always been like oil and water. They’d been bickering since Rosie was old enough to speak. His mother was old-fashioned, traditional, and his sister was a staunch feminist—exactly the opposite. Ever since their father’s death when Declan was fourteen, he’d played the mediator. It got tiring, and it looked like he was in for another round.