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.
Tommy couldn’t decide whether he should be annoyed, flattered, or worried that Agent Sommers was stalking him. Oh, she was good, really good. But besides being a well-trained police officer, between his father’s men over the years and the other agents who had come before her, he was pretty good at spotting a tail. Funny, but he had gotten the impression that she sympathized with him like James seemed to, versus her openly hostile partner D’Amato. So why was she sticking to him like white on rice since yesterday? She was supposed to be in DC, but here she was in Chicago on a Saturday night, which no one just accidentally does. Was there something he was missing? Surely Uncle Jack would have briefed him.
Tommy fastened the cufflinks on his monkey suit and reminded himself he loved his little sister dearly, because outside of weddings and funerals, no one should willingly put on formal wear. She was having a ‘formal gathering’ for her twenty-first birthday, the theme being black, red, and white, with silly harlequin masks and hearts everywhere. Their father had rented the entire restaurant floor of the Trump Tower for her.
Retired, my ass, Tommy thought.
He wondered how Ginny was planning on getting past the security. Actually, now that he thought about it, her presence could lend some much needed entertainment to the night. Tommy chuckled as he wondered if James was already rubbing off on him. Tommy wished he could see the world like Hoffman did, relaxed and carefree, or as carefree as anyone in law enforcement could be. Tommy had been told he had a tendency to be standoffish and reserved, but if those people had spent their life living in this liminal state they’d be wary of people’s motivations as well. He wasn’t really a part of his father’s world, and he was never fully accepted in his chosen profession. He didn’t have a lot of friends growing up because he didn’t like lying, and it always came down to that.
If he didn’t, it almost always went one of two ways, people were either overeager to hear all about his gangster father, like Mickey was a hero or something, or they acted like Tommy had smallpox and got … weird around him. The truth was, at the end of the day, the Downeys were the only people other than his mother and Uncle Jack who had embraced him with open, unconditional arms. If he was being honest with himself, that was part of the reason he held them at bay, because the lure of that sense of family was so strong after so many years of it being just Tommy and his mother against the world. That was the root of his fear, that if he could love them so much even seeing them so rarely, mostly communicating via messages and calls and the internet, what would it be like being in the same town as his sister and his father for months on end? When Tommy was around them it was so easy to forget what was crawling on the underside of the rock. Like knowing he was going to get a stomachache, but eating that last slice of pie anyway.
It’s not like Tommy would ever join his father’s criminal enterprise, not that that was ever an offer on the table, but he hated the feeling like he was selling a part of his soul every time he overlooked where the money had come from. At the same time, what good did it do holding onto his pride? If he cut them off entirely it wouldn’t change his situation at work, or the way people acted around him. And so here he was again, getting sucked right back in. Maybe if he had chosen another profession it might have been easier, but he loved being a cop. He loved keeping order and peace, catching criminals. He loved being the ‘good guy’.
He loved the idea that what he did every day helped ease the fear out of some young mother’s eyes and put hope in a child’s heart. The fact that his own father put that fear in so many people’s hearts and minds over the years made him feel like he was constantly being split in two. Just because the bully was always nice to you, never stole your lunch money, didn’t make him any less of a bully, did it? Did it make Tommy partially responsible if he allowed a person like that to be in his life? He didn’t hold Kiki and Joe responsible for what their dad did, but…
A horn sounding told him his ride was here. He opened the door just as Kiki was preparing to ring the buzzer on his efficiency apartment. It was a single bedroom off the first floor foyer in a converted home that he’d rented on a month-to-month basis until the case was over.
“Hey, Kicks,” Tommy greeted her. “I need a favor. You got another one of these penguin costumes, only for a lady?”
“Why? Doesn’t it fit? I had it sent to the best tailors in town! Wait… for a…” Kiki’s pretty features changed from her ‘heads will roll’ look to girlish glee. “Oh! Do you have a date? Already?”
“No, no, it’s just I have a colleague in town, and she doesn’t know anyone. I thought it might be nice to bring her along if you had an extra dress lying around. Don’t you get samples with your job?”
“Well, I’m just a blogger. I buy products and review them. But, yes, I do have a few that would do for tonight, what size is she?” Kiki asked, bustling past him and making no secret of looking around for her brother’s mysterious ‘lady’.
“She’s not here,” he said, lounging against the door frame.
It was unseasonably warm for February, but Kiki had to be cold wearing only a huge lacy shawl over her barely-there black dress. He idly amused himself wondering how their father was going to react.
“You don’t mind, do you? I mean, I know it’s your birthday party, but…” Tommy trailed off.
“No! Of course not! I said you could bring a guest. Besides, I have a surprise planned. You’re going to loooooove it,” she sang out looking immensely pleased with herself.
“Oh? Like I loved getting blindsided by Joe in DC?” he replied.
He tried to maintain his stern Cop-face, but as always, staying mad at Kiki was like trying to stop an ice-cream cone from melting in July.
“Listen, you stand in the foyer by the door here and act all impatient for me, alright? I’ll meet you ’round front,” Tommy continued, enjoying her confusion.
He went back inside and out the kitchen door in the back. He ducked behind the next house and looped around, approaching the beige sedan he knew Ginny was in. Carefully, he snuck up to her window and sharply rapped her window with the butt of his Glock 9mm. She jumped. He grinned at her guilty, flushed face and gestured for her to roll the window down.
“What are you doing tonight?” he asked.
She stared mutely at him. He could practically hear the gears screeching to a halt inside her head.
“See, maybe if you hadn’t taken that redeye so you could continue spying on me, you might be a little more alert and prepared for that amateur bit of junior high trickeration I just did. Follow us back to Kiki’s apartment,” Tommy said when she still didn’t answer. “It’ll be worth it, I promise.”
Then he left before she could formulate a response, confident she would take the bait. Not only did she follow them, she had recomposed herself and was every bit her every-hair-in-place self when she met them in the lobby of Kiki’s apartment building downtown.
Kiki looked her up and down and tapped her red nails to her mouth. “Yes, I think I have just the thing, come on,” she demanded as she grabbed Ginny’s hand. “I’m Tommy’s sister Kiki, by the way. Since he’s being so rude, I’ll just introduce myself.”
She sighed dramatically as she all but dragged Ginny into the elevator. “Nice shoes. Gucci?”
Ginny didn’t answer; she was still staring at Tommy. “Aren’t you coming?” Ginny asked, looking dazed.
Tommy chuckled. “Nope,” he replied and waved at her as the doors shut.
He wondered what the surprise was that Kiki was planning at the party. Knowing her, it wouldn’t hurt to have some back up, so Tommy might as well put Agent Sommers to use. He was praying for an uneventful night when his father and Joe walked into the building.
“Hey, Joe, don’t you look dapper!” Tommy said, acknowledging Mickey with a nod.
When Tommy was first trying to get to know the Downeys, Mickey had insisted Tommy call him ‘Dad’, but Tommy just couldn’t do it, it felt too strange. At the same time, he couldn’t address him by his given name because that felt strange, almost disrespectful. And that made no sense at all. So he avoided saying anything at all. In a conversation with him, Tommy would use all sorts of linguistic acrobatics to escape having to use either name.
“Woah, who’s the hot blond with Kiki? Nice! Ow!” Joe broke off as Mickey smacked him upside the back of his head.
Tommy turned and looked at the supposed transformation Kiki had made with Ginny. She really didn’t look that much different, just… less clothed. Every last bit of her was perfectly put together as usual. Malibu Barbie Cop. He was fighting the mental image of what she might look like with her hair down and that bland, professional look wiped off her face when he noticed her eyes seemed to all but burn with anger, and all crosshairs were aimed at him.
What had Kiki said to her? Tommy thought, panicked at the sight of her heading purposefully towards him.
“Your sister is quite fond of mysteries and secrets. What exactly is this all about, Det – Tommy?” she hissed at him.
Wow. I should piss her off more often, he thought. This was like discovering your vanilla cupcake had a chocolate fudge center.
“Ahhmmnn,” Tommy cleared his throat. “Ginny, I’d like you to meet my brother Joe, and you’ve already met Kiki and – and you met my father in DC. Everyone, this is Special Agent Ginny Sommers of the FBI. I invited her to come with me to Kiki’s birthday party tonight,” he finished.
He could see the exact moment her brain switched gears back into work mode. Tommy knew she saw the opportunity for what it was; a chance to personally attend an event that most Federal agents usually only observed via wiretap. Ginny smiled and shook hands with Joe then turned to his father.
“We actually weren’t introduced the other day, were we, Mr. Downey? Seems to be a bad habit of Tommy’s,” Ginny said, sending a quick, amused, and very saccharine smile for Tommy over her shoulder.
Tommy and Mickey met each other’s eyes and Tommy could see plainly on his father’s face that he didn’t appreciate the inclusion of an outsider, and a Federal agent at that. But Mickey’s voice held nothing but politeness as he greeted her with a nod and a “Nice to meet you”. Then he turned to Kiki.
“For God’s sake, cover yourself up, Kiki,” Mickey demanded and led the way out the door.
Kiki ignored him, rolled her eyes at Tommy and deliberately runway-walked after their father. Joe chuckled and offered a surprised Ginny his arm. Tommy grinned. He hadn’t realized how much he missed them all. Even that jackass who called himself his father.
When they entered the crowded restaurant floor of the Trump Tower, Ginny turned to Kiki and asked, “Will I have the pleasure of meeting your mother tonight as well?”
“Oh, no, I’m afraid Mom can’t come, she’s going to be presenting a line for Fashion Week and is terribly busy at the moment,” Kiki answered cheerfully.
“What? She’s not coming to your birthday party?” Ginny asked, betraying an edge to her tone.
Was she genuinely outraged on Kiki’s behalf or playing it up to gain trust? Tommy wondered.
“Our mom lives in Paris these days. They just saw each other a week or so ago and celebrated early. Mom gave her those earrings and necklace,” Joe said, sharing a look with Kiki that had Tommy remembering his siblings were currently Up To No Good.
Tommy watched his father slip away and join Frank Bonanno and Frank’s daughter Jessica. Jessica turned and waved at them.
“Excuse me,” Kiki said and left Tommy and Ginny standing by the entrance.
Tommy pointedly looked at his brother until Joe flushed and mumbled something about getting a drink, leaving them alone.
“Listen,” they both started at the same time. She smiled, genuinely this time, and it softened her face.
“I’m sorry I’ve been so… intrusive,” Ginny said. “It’s just that it’s really important to me to make sure we’re all on the same page. A unit’s only as strong as its members, and sometimes I get the impression that you don’t really consider yourself a part of this team, especially since you seem to be withholding information. Like the fact you have a much closer relationship with your father’s family than you previously let on.”
“Did you ever consider just asking me?” Tommy countered.
“Would you have answered truthfully?” she rejoined.
He opened his mouth to retort but whatever he might have been about to say completely left his mind at the sound of a familiar voice behind him.
“Here’s a thought. How about we all just accept the fact that we are indeed all on the same team and respect each other’s private lives? Present evening excluded,” James said.
What. The. Hell? Tommy thought, turning around.
“Agent Hoffman, what are you doing here?” Ginny asked, voicing his thoughts. There seemed to be a mixture of territoriality and irritation in her tone.
Hey, lady, you’re the one crashing the party – this is his home turf after all, Tommy thought.
James seemed to be thinking the same thing because all he did was raise his eyebrows at Ginny and step further into the room. He motioned for Tommy and Ginny to follow him to a secluded area by the windows.
“I have an uncle on my mother’s side who is a 7th circuit judge. He’s personal friends with the Downey family attorney. I guess they were in the same Fraternity or something. They play golf together and probably other things my family never asks about. Chicago politics,” James said and shrugged as if to say ‘what are you gonna do?’, then continued, “I asked him if he could get me an invite. He gave me his own invitation. I have it on good authority that not only will Bonanno and a few of his men be here, but O’Rourke and Teplov plan to stop by as well.”
Ginny and Tommy exchanged looks. If the Irish and Russian contingency were here, Bonanno was certainly making some bold moves in the Outfit’s territory. The current upper echelon of the Outfit was in disarray since most of Calabrese’s crew were sent up, but all the evidence so far pointed to Outfit involvement in the Russian slave trade. Question was, was Bonanno horning in on this action or was he working with Torrio, the de facto head of the Outfit? And what part was Tommy’s supposedly retired father playing in it? Facilitator?
“As you know, O’Rourke’s got deals in place with the Colombian drug cartels. We at the DEA have been turning up more and more of his people on our raids. Be interesting to know just who’s really getting what piece of the pie. Not that I think we’ll get anything important tonight, especially seeing as none of us are ‘officially’ here, but between the three of us we might be able to get a better read on the players,” James continued.
Tommy frowned, watching his father chat with Bonanno across the room.
“The trouble is, we’ve got sort of a Schrödinger’s cat situation now. How natural are they going to act with a known cop and two federal agents here?” Tommy asked.
“Good point. I think if we split up and—” Ginny started to say, breaking off as Kiki and Jessica approached them.
“Now, Tommy, don’t be hiding back here with your friends! Speaking of which, who are you?” Kiki asked James playfully, hands on her hips.
Jessica openly checked out both James and Tommy, licking her lips like a cat with a bowl of milk. Tommy snuck a sideways glance at Ginny and saw she was as amused as he was. He winked at her and chuckled when she blushed. Hoffman drug his eyes up from Kiki’s dress to her face and flashed the dimples.
“DEA Special Agent James Hoffman. Tommy’s friend. You’re Katherine Downey. 5’1”, Brown hair, brown eyes, 110 pounds. You live in the MDA City Apartments even though you could buy the building a thousand times over. You love dogs, but don’t actually own one. You write for the Sun-Times and today is not actually your birthday. That was Tuesday,” James said, turning the watt up on his smile then twisting it into a derisive smirk.
Tommy struggled with the desire to wipe it off his face with his fist as Kiki laughed nervously. Jessica didn’t look so admiring anymore, though. She looked deeply suspicious. Kiki was still looking crossways between amused and stunned.
“Ok, first, creepy much?” Kiki replied. “Second, it’s Kiki. Third, I blog, which is entirely different, in that I actually get to speak my mind instead of being told what to write.”
“Oh, yes, it would be a shame if the literati forced us to hear that Louboutin makes such daaarling spiked heels when we know the truth, don’t we, that they should be classified as dangerous weapons. That’s some hard-hitting journalism, sweetheart,” James said mockingly, still smirking.
Kiki appeared to be at a loss for words, amusement replaced with affront.
Ok, now Hoffman was really gonna have to get popped in the mouth, Tommy thought. Which would certainly make Ginny’s precious ‘teamwork’ a little strained, but there was no way in hell he was going to let Hoffman talk to his sister that way.
Jessica stepped slightly forward. “Last I checked this was Kiki’s party. A very exclusive party. Where’s your invitation?” she asked, hostility openly evident.
James pulled out his engraved checkered invitation with a flourish.
“My uncle couldn’t make it, but he sends his regards and appreciates your family inviting him. I graciously agreed to come in his stead,” James said, still looking at Kiki in a way that was standing every brotherly hair up on Tommy’s body.
Kiki’s cheeks were flushed and she frowned down at the invitation. Tommy pursed his lips and took a step towards James. Ginny put her hand on his arm and shook her head. She walked between them and hooked her arm in Kiki’s.
“Show me where the restrooms are, will you? I’ve never been here before,” Ginny said. Jessica scanned Ginny up and down like she was assessing the competition.
Women, Tommy thought.
“Oh, sure, but I was just going to tell Tommy his surprise has just arrived,” Kiki said, sounding flustered and looking around the room.
“Kiki, for the last time, this is your birthday party. You don’t get presents for other people,” Tommy said, exasperated.
But as he glanced across the room for whatever Kiki had gotten him, he saw his father’s face had drained of blood. Tommy whipped his head in the direction of his gaze. There was Tommy’s mother standing at the entrance to the room looking about ten years younger than he’d remembered her and in a red dress that instead of clashing with her auburn curls seemed to accentuate the few golden highlights. She was sharing his father’s look of shock. Standing next to Tommy’s father, Frank Bonanno looked furious. It suddenly hit Tommy, Frank was Theresa Anastasio’s first cousin and from what little he’d heard of the family history, had always had a close relationship with Theresa.
Tommy turned to Kiki. “Kiki Downey, what have you done!?” he hissed. For the second time in five minutes she looked like someone had kicked her. He tried to dial down his anger.
“But Tommy, I just thought it would be a fun surprise for you and her, and from the sounds of it, your mother hardly ever gets out of the house. She can have a pampered vacation and see her son… I… I thought it would be a nice present for everyone!”
“You just thought you’d meddle some more, is what you thought! From the looks of it, my mom had no idea our father would be here tonight. Just what did you think you were going to get accomplished here except reanimate some dead and buried family skeletons?” Tommy ground out furiously.
“No! No, I just thought… I just thought… sometimes you have to force the issue… your mom… our dad…”
Tommy was trembling in an effort to keep his temper in check. He didn’t ever want to see his mother hurt and he could see no other outcome to this bit of chicanery. Jessica had walked across the room and was making a show of solidarity with her father, sending Kiki an incredulous look. James had lost his derisively amused look and had Cop-face securely in place, gaze never leaving Bonanno. Ginny looked… utterly fascinated. There was no other word for it. Tommy’s mother whipped around and left the room. His father raced across the room after her. Whispers broke out like a rushing waterfall.
–Copyright 2012, Genevieve Dewey.
Read on… Chapter Eight, “James” (Warning, sexual content.)
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