FIRST, I LOVE YOU
By Genevieve Dewey
Copyright 2012 by Genevieve Dewey, All Rights Reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the copyright owner.
This is a work of fiction; any resemblance to living persons is entirely coincidental. The author acknowledges the trademark status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
FBI Special Agent Eugenia Elaine Sommers not only didn’t mind when people underestimated her, she deeply appreciated it. People watching was Ginny’s favorite activity even at a young age, and it was best accomplished the least conspicuous the observer was. She had a sleep shirt when she was little that read ‘Harriet the Spy was framed’ and at least a dozen packed to the margins journals by the time she entered high-school. As an adult, Ginny always endeavored to make herself as forgettable as possible. It helped in surveillance, in being perceived as nonthreatening in the workplace, and in making otherwise smart informants feel safe enough to let their guard down and slip up.
Her only deviation from bland was her shoes, but they weren’t a weakness (not that she didn’t love a nice new pair of stilettos as much as the next girl) they were a carefully calculated move designed to say ‘These are not the droids you’re looking for’. She found that men in particular, but sadly women too, judged a person’s mental worth by the ratio of practicality to sexuality in their manner of dress. And Ginny didn’t mind exploiting this human foible. The end result being that the bad guy routinely miscalculated with her, and her coworkers routinely saw her as pleasantly feminine, yet benign, minimizing their resentment if she outshined them with her casework. Not that she was arrogant, mind you; she just took great pride in her work.
In fact, ninety-eight percent of the time, in the three years she had been an agent with the FBI, this strategy combined with her superior research skills (if she did say so herself), had worked to her advantage. Sadly, she was currently having one of those two percent moments. Five days spent in close proximity to one of the most fascinating human subjects she had met, and he thought she was a joke. Well, maybe not a joke, but certainly dismissible, a non-factor. Which was, as previously mentioned, a feeling she normally cultivated. But in this particular situation, she actually wanted Detective Gates to notice her, not dismiss her, as that clearly wasn’t helping him open up to her.
True, maybe she was overanalyzing the thing; that did seem to be the most often used phrase in her evaluations, that and ‘too verbose’ in her reports.
Really, as far as faults go, shouldn’t one err on the side of over-explaining something versus under-explaining? Ginny thought.
Though these descriptors weren’t nearly as insulting as when in her senior year of high-school she got voted ‘Most likely to pull a Professor Binns and show up to the library dead’. That wasn’t even a real category. They had made it up just for her. Just because she loved libraries and investigating things and had a penchant for getting passionately and somewhat myopically involved in a subject didn’t mean she didn’t, you know, have a real life. Well, not lately, but that was beside the point.
The point was, she loved studying people. Bad people, good people, and all the delicious grey in between. She felt it made her a better Federal Agent. She had thought about sticking with being a profiler, but she liked the newly discovered thrill of field work. She had dual majored in Anthropology and Criminal Justice, graduated in three years, and applied as an Intelligence Analyst with the FBI before the ink was even dry. As soon as the age requirement allowed, she applied for Special Agent just so she could be a professional people watcher who was also one of the top cops in the nation.
Just because she went out of her way to go unnoticed didn’t mean that everything she did, every part of her, didn’t go into being the very best she could be. Her aunt always called it ‘steer from the rear’ behavior. Ginny was reasonably certain this was meant as a censure, but she rather thought it a compliment because the ability to manipulate situations to your advantage without being the fall guy was just good strategy.
But tailing Tommy Gates on his last day in DC, she felt like her carefully constructed world was for the first time ever failing to perform as expected. He didn’t seem to fit any molds. He was a very young detective – newly made detective he had said – just a tad younger than her, but he seemed very knowledgeable about organized crime in an innate way some of her co-workers still struggled to master. They had in common being young and ambitious, both kept up a façade to keep people at bay, and both were passionate about racket-busting. The major difference was she wasn’t related to a known crime figure.
Oh, be real, Ginny, she thought.
She’d been trying to solve the puzzle of Detective Tommy Gates long before she knew that particular piece. Yes, that was the uncomfortable truth. There was something about him, and she knew that Agent Hoffman agreed if their unspoken teamwork was any indication, that didn’t quite add up. He acted overly defensive for someone with nothing to hide, yet had the endorsement of extremely discerning and respected federal agents. After the big revelation of his paternity the day before, she had gone to Agent Pitney’s desk and asked if she could do surveillance. Pitney had seemed surprised but didn’t object when she said she just wanted to check out what her new colleague was up to since Downey was in town. Not that she thought Tommy was on the take. She didn’t. Of course, she had run his accounts and arrest record just in case. Who wouldn’t? There was just… something… that was challenging about him. He was a fresh mystery… with really dreamy green eyes.
The very same black glossy limo they’d seen yesterday rolled up to Detective Gates’ hotel. Mickey Downey exited the vehicle with a young, teenaged boy who had curly brown hair and a ROTC uniform on. She was reasonably certain this was Downey’s youngest son Giovanni, known as Joe. The boy looked nervous, darting glances left and right.
Ginny waited until they entered the hotel, holstered her Colt .45, and stuffed her surveillance gear in her jacket pockets. She gambled they would be headed to Tommy’s room, so she took a different route to make sure she wasn’t spotted. At the hallway, she checked around the corner and did her best to hide behind a scrawny ficus tree at the end of the hall. Downey was talking to the boy in a low voice outside Gates’ room, then patted him on the back and knocked on the door. Downey stood to the side of the peep hole and nudged Joe in front of it.
“Tommy, it’s Joe… and… and Dad,” Joe said.
Downey made a gesture with his hands that said quite clearly, “What’d you do that for?”
“Can we come in?” Joe asked, unperturbed.
Detective Gates opened the door. He smiled at Joe and grabbed him into a bear hug, eliciting a delighted laugh from the boy. The corner of Downey’s mouth turned up in a half smirk, and he walked past them into the hotel room. Gates looked annoyed, but not surprised at this presumptuousness. Joe shrugged his shoulders, grin still in place, and followed Downey inside.
Huh…‘barely knew the guy’… riiight, Ginny thought. And seriously, it was amazing the Bureau didn’t have a huge red flag on this guy’s background check. She made a mental note not to underestimate Agent Underwood’s clout. Or was it Downey’s clout?
She waited until Tommy had shut the door, took her shoes off and crept down the hall trying to fish out her Mini Mic and ear buds from her inside coat pocket. She silently prayed no one would come down the hall and wonder what the crazy lady was doing sitting on the floor listening to music.
“What do you mean, we have a situation?” Tommy was saying.
“Don’t get mad at Dad, Tommy, it’s all my fault,” Joe said.
“You mean your sister’s fault,” Downey interjected.
“Never mind who’s to blame! You’re saying you concocted this hair-brained scheme just to trap me and him into some sort of father-son bonding session?” Tommy asked, outrage pulsing in his tone.
“Why is that such a bad thing, I mean, we’re a family! You two are going to be in the same town for an extended period of time for once, so Kiki and I were just thinking if you’d just take the time to really get to know each other instead of—”
“Can we get back to the part where you’ve been talking to drug pushers? What are their names?” Tommy interrupted.
Someone (Downey?) made an impatient sound and there was silence for a couple beats. Tommy sighed (or at least she thought it was Tommy).
“Listen, I hadn’t planned on avoiding you guys, I said I’d go to Kiki’s party and I knew that’d mean I would at the very least share a conversation or two with him. But that’s all. I’m not there for some family reunion, I’m there for a case. Frankly, it’s best for both of us if he and I just… avoid each other.”
“Oh please! You want Dad to just pretend you’re not his son while you’re in Chicago?”
“That’s not what I’m saying.”
“No, what you’re saying is that our Dad should just continue to – continue to want to be in your life, to love you, when you have no intention of ever letting him in? In the same town even? You want to be a part of our lives but deliberately shut him out when, without him, you wouldn’t even be our brother! How is that fair, Tommy?” Joe asked.
“I know it sounds selfish. But is it any more selfish than what he’s asking me to do? He is asking me to put aside my principles, to risk my reputation and job and act like it’s no big deal this immoral, corrupt world he lives in—” Tommy cut off as Downey interrupted him.
“That’s not what I’m asking! I’m asking to be a part of your life, however small. To love you and earn the right to be loved by you in return. And as for my so-called immoral life, how immoral is it to put family above all, to protect one’s own? Maybe some of my actions in the past – well that’s the past. I’ve moved heaven and earth, put that all aside, just to have a chance with you,” Downey roared.
“You think because you’re retired, whatever the hell that actually means, that it erases a lifetime of pain you’ve inflicted on others? That your crimes don’t matter? Why should you get to live a life of leisure surrounded by your loved ones, when you have taken that from so many people through your actions?” Tommy yelled back.
She could hear Joe making some calming noises, but the two men drowned him out, continuing their shouting match.
“What have I done that is so very different from bankers and lawyers and corporate raiders? How many lives have they destroyed? How many of them are sitting in the Cayman Islands laughing their asses off at the rest of you?”
“I doubt they used murder and the threat of violence to get what they want. And if they’ve broken the law to get what they have, then they are criminals just like you.”
“The law! The law! You know as well I do that law doesn’t equal morality! There are plenty of legal things in this life that aren’t moral, and plenty of illegal things that ought not to be. The law can be manipulated to suit anyone’s purpose and is done so every single day by so-called legitimate businessmen and politicians, and hell, even your precious fellow cops! Don’t you stand there and act like it’s so damn simple. If a business put thousands out of work, cheats them out of their retirement, pushed laws into effect that keep them from ever getting ahead, how is that they should ‘get to live a life of leisure surrounded by their loved ones’? How is breaking someone’s spirit any better than breaking their kneecaps?”
“No better, no worse. You can all sit next to each other in Hell then. Maybe what they do isn’t right either, but none of them are asking me for a relationship,” Tommy spit out.
Silence reigned again. It took Ginny a minute to realize it was Joe speaking, so calm and grown up was his voice as he said:
“None of those other guys are your father, Tommy. Whether you like it or not, we are family. Dad has made changes, to the risk of his own life, and has always tried to respect your wishes, and your mother’s wishes, always. You want to dictate the terms, the boundaries, fine. You can even continue to put time and distance between all of us but the one thing you cannot do is dictate how Dad thinks or feels! How we all feel about you,” Joe finished softly.
“Tommy, I have loved you from the very moment I felt you move in your mother’s womb and I have never stopped loving you. Never. Why is it so hard to accept this love?” Mickey asked.
Geeze, these two… pour it on, why don’t you? Ginny thought.
“It’s not about your love, ok?” Tommy replied softly. “I believe that you love me. I do, ok? And… I’ll admit that there’ve been times when it hasn’t been so bad when all of us get together, but then I go back to work and it hits me all over again… We’re on opposite sides, we think so differently. And it’s like I said, it’s no big deal if I see my sister or brother, but how does it look for you and me? I mean take these Feds I’m working with; they’re suspicious of me already after one brief interaction with you. The only one that isn’t wants me to use you for information. Secondly, I’m having trouble believing you really are retired, but whether you are or not, how does it look in your crowd? What do you tell them about your cop son?”
“If they’re already suspicious,” Joe interrupted. “And you and Dad don’t really interact now then they will be suspicious no matter what, whether you do talk or not in the future. Why not take a chance? You’re not a dirty cop, you have nothing to hide, and unless you think he’s going to be able to corrupt you, what difference does it make if he thinks so differently? He’s not in that business anymore! Maybe you could even make a difference in all our lives. And I don’t know what Dad says to his friends, but I do know ‘our crowd’ as you call it and no one cares you’re a cop because no one thinks Dad’s stupid enough to squeal. Maybe you should take that Fed up on his offer, because if you don’t believe he’s retired, what better way to check it out for yourself than to spend time with our Dad?”
Man, this kid did not fall far from the manipulative tree, Ginny thought.
She also didn’t appreciate being called a ‘Fed’ by Tommy – Detective Gates – even if that was what she was. It was the way he said it, just like before at headquarters, like they weren’t on the same team. And yet his words to his father indicated that he wasn’t on the Other Team. The room remained silent and she was wishing she had brought a visual feed when she finally heard Tommy’s voice again.
“Did you see a woman leave that white Explorer across the way?”
“What?” Downey asked.
“I’m not trying to change the subject. I just want to know if you saw a blond woman in that SUV when you arrived?” Tommy countered.
Oh crap, Ginny thought and yanked her Mini Mic out. She hustled down the hall before she could get caught spying on her own team member. When she got back, she was going to put in a travel request for Chicago.
No way was she letting Agent Hoffman get all the goods.
–Copyright 2012, Genevieve Dewey.
Read on… Chapter Seven, “Tommy”.
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