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.
Ginny met Detective Gates as he ducked under the police tape cordoning off the crime scene in the near-west side of Chicago.
“Hope you didn’t have anything too heavy for lunch,” she said with a grimace, “We’re still waiting on James to meet us here. I guess he went downtown for lunch. Again.”
She watched Tommy’s eyes scan the façade of the old building and the growing crowd. She wondered where he had gone for lunch but stifled the urge to ask. After having started off on the wrong foot by tailing him and crashing his sister’s party (although to be fair, he had asked her) she was trying extra hard to not be too pushy this last couple weeks. Not to put too fine a point on it, but it was killing her a little bit.
“What do we have, Agent Sommers?” he asked, all business.
“In short? One very dead Irish mobster. Mo Green special. But that’s downright polite next to the dead dog he’s holding with its genitalia cut off and shoved in its mouth,” she answered.
“Jesus,” he said, grimacing.
“Yep. CPD called us in because of who the particular vic is,” she replied.
“One of O’Rourke’s men?” Tommy asked.
“Actually, The Man himself. Yeeup,” she drawled out at his shocked expression. “Takes balls to take out the Boss, no pun intended, but it’s the message that is interesting, don’t you think? Agent Hoffman said O’Rourke had deals in place here with the drug runners. This would suggest he was getting a little greedy, or in some part was trying to cut out a more powerful partner. But it’s a classic American Mafia message, not Colombian or Russian with whom he had the majority of dealings. Makes you go ‘hmmmn’, huh? And the dog…” Ginny trailed off as she saw James approaching them.
“Well… ain’t this a peach of a present?” James greeted them with a cocky grin.
Ginny was thinking that whatever Agent Hoffman did for lunch, it had nothing to do with culinary delights.
“Present?” she asked.
“As in, O’Rourke lives in north Chicago in one of those fancy estates, yet his body is found on the near west side in a building with historic Outfit roots, of which he is not a part, near FBI headquarters. What are the odds that after only a couple weeks working together, one of our chief persons of interest just happens to show up dead, practically giftwrapped for us?” Tommy asked.
“Slim to none, given the fact that he was at your sister’s party, and the three of us in attendance did not go unnoticed. Question is, is it a message for us, or a message for your old man?” James asked Tommy.
Ginny studied Tommy’s face, but it was devoid of emotion. He turned to the building, cocked his head, and then looked back at James with narrowed eyes.
“I think that you’ve made your opinion clear, Hoffman, that we ought to ask him, but I just spoke with him and I’m certain he won’t help us,” Tommy said.
Ginny couldn’t contain herself any longer – really, it was a lost cause from the jump-off – and she stood directly in front of Tommy to pelt him with questions, “Is that where you went for lunch? Was it a personal visit, or did you go to question him about Teplov and O’Rourke like James has been asking? Did he mention anything specifically about us being there? If anyone could give us an accurate read on what Downey knows, it’d be you, so if you could—”
She took a deep breath and stopped her babbling. Ugh, what was it about this man that has me acting like a silly fangirl or Twitter stalker? she wondered.
Tommy’s mouth parted and he blinked a few times before replying, “I beg to differ. I barely had—”
“Oh please with that!” Ginny interrupted, too excited to care about politeness. “I think you and James are both right, the players are upping the stakes here. Calling us out. But we need to figure out what part Downey plays in this. Surely you see that?”
“What I was going to say,” Tommy replied with marked frustration, “was that I barely got a chance to start a conversation with him before you called me here. But he’s still putting the full court press on me, so it makes me think he doesn’t know what deals Bonanno has in place, or that we’re after Bonanno specifically. He obviously doesn’t think I’m a threat to his reputation, because I would think he would want to keep myself and my mother at bay if he were worried how it looks to them.”
“Unless, that’s what this message is about. Warning him to keep his mouth shut and distance himself from you? Or your mother?” Ginny wondered.
She noticed James was looking less like his overconfident self, and way more apprehensive. Tommy looked like he was mulling over the idea, but remained unconvinced.
“Let’s let them finish processing the scene, and formulate a plan as to how we’re going to force the issue with Downey. I think the time has come to stop pussy-footing around,” James suggested.
“Hold on now, I never agreed to this!” Tommy exclaimed.
“Listen, no offense, but you came to this case late in the day, Detective Gates. We appreciate the information you’ve been able to share with us, but we are this close to an indictment on Bonanno anyway. If you’re not gonna help us sweeten the pot with Downey’s information, then what the heck are ya here for?” James countered, Chicago accent especially noticeable.
“Excuse me, Agent Hoffman! This is a Bureau case originally. You are just as much a Johnny-come-lately as Detective Gates! He is a valued member of my team!” Ginny said hotly. What was his deal? Why was he all of a sudden trying to cut Tommy off at the pass?
They were both looking at her oddly now. Then they shared a quick, humor-filled look. Tommy started chuckling and James shook his head, then slapped Tommy on the back before walking off.
For real? she thought. What was amusing about that?
She was still fuming about the whole thing at the end of the day when she saw James in the parking garage walking with a purpose to his car, eyes steadfastly on the phone in his hand.
“Hey, hey! Wait up!” she shouted.
He turned and gave her his Devil-may-care expression, as she thought of it.
“Yes, Ginny?” he asked.
“Agent Hoffman, I want to know what that was about earlier between you and Tommy, I mean, Detective Gates,” she said.
He turned the watt up on his smile and shrugged his shoulders. Truly, she found it nauseating this practiced Peter Pan fused with Prince Charming thing he had going on. Did some women actually fall for that crap?
“Listen, I’m just trying to get Tommy to man up and do what’s necessary in the next phase of this investigation. You yourself said that he would be the best equipped of all of us to tell if Downey knows we are headed in the right direction with Bonanno,” James smarmed, then turned and started walking again.
Ugh, insensitive jerk, she thought.
“Agent Hoffman, I agree that out of all of us, Tommy – I mean, Detective Gates – is the best able to ‘read’ Downey, however, we must respect his right not to. I don’t believe you have any right to imply that he is of no use to our team without using his father for information, and frankly I have avoided saying anything for the sake of team harmony, but your behavior at Miss Downey’s party a few weeks ago was seriously out-of-line and an egregious breach of conduct,” she panted out as she tried to match his long strides walking through the parking garage.
He stopped smartly. “Oh my God, are you serious, Ginny? I mean, Agent Sommers,” he mocked. “Tommy didn’t take it as an insult what I said earlier. We’re friendly, you could say friends, even. We’ve had beers a few times this week. We get along fine. Maybe if you’d come along sometime instead of hiding in your motel room like a shut-in, reading about how other people live their lives, you’d know that. I like to think after this is all over that we could still hang out, and all be Facebook friends, but at the end of the day we’re not here to hold hands and sing cum by yah. I’m just saying what needs to be said. We have almost everything we need for a solid case, and yes, we could move forward without Downey’s information, but I for one, want Bonanno to roast for good. I don’t want to take even the smallest chance that he’ll walk. Underneath all that confusion and confliction, I believe Tommy wants that as much as we do and would be willing to use his own father to get it—”
“Like you’re using his sister?” she interrupted, blind fury from the truthful sting of his ‘shut-in’ comment causing her to throw a wild speculation out there.
“Excuse me?” James replied in a defensive tone.
“Where do you go at lunchtime, Agent Hoffman?” Ginny asked, rolling with it. Dance with what brung ya.
James walked forward, having completely lost his mask of charming consigliore, replaced by one that looked an awful lot like anger and panic fused into one.
“Where I go and what I do on my off-time will never be your business, Agent Sommers,” he replied icily, and way, way, way too defensively.
Oh, wow. She was mostly bluffing a minute ago, but… oh, wow.
“Oooh… oh, James, you didn’t,” she said, shaking her head, all thoughts of professionalism gone.
She stepped back. He stepped forward, glaring at her.
“Think. Think what you are doing here!” she demanded, grabbing his arm.
“This discussion is over,” he gnashed out, yanked his arm loose, and walked briskly to his red sports car.
Naturally, she thought numbly, he would have a red sports car. How incredibly predictable. With fumbling hands she fished her phone out and called Tommy, even though she knew he was still in the building talking to Agent Underwood.
“Tom – Detective Gates. It’s Agent Sommers. I was wondering if you’d like to meet for drinks later? Give me a call,” she said, and then she punched off, before she could change her mind.
She’d barely made it to her own car on the next level before her phone beeped a text message: When and where? T
She typed in: Giordano’s?
Again, when and where? LOL
Ummmnn, good question, she thought. If she suggested getting take-out and going to her motel that might seem too forward, but then again, they worked together and there was nothing wrong with meeting alone, but at the same time, he might take it the wrong way. Except it wouldn’t be the wrong way since it was of a personal nature sort of cloaked in a professional nature, or maybe it was just both and then the wrong way would simply be that she was thinking of him in that way… which actually was the truth, but a truth she didn’t actually want him to know just now. She kept pacing back and forth, ruining the fresh manicure on her thumbnail, then jumped out of her skin at the bleep-bleep sound of the truck next to her being disarmed.
“Whatever this is about it must be good,” Tommy said, laughter evident in his voice.
She looked dumbly down at her phone in her hand as if it would hold answers then back up at him. She’d give anything if just for once she could hold an entire conversation with this man without sounding like a complete idiot. He smiled and nudged his head towards the truck parked next to hers.
“Guess we parked next to each other. Want to just order delivery at my place instead? I’m a little peopled-out myself,” he said, apparently unconcerned by her odd behavior.
“Um… that’d be fine. I’ll just… follow you… then,” she managed to get out, tucking a stray bit of hair behind her ear.
He shook his head and walked forward until he stopped right in front of her. He reached his hand up and un-tucked the lock of hair, rendering her thoughtless as well as speechless.
“I liked it better that way,” he said, then turned and got inside his SUV.
Ginny let go of the breath of air she didn’t realize she was holding and followed him to his apartment. Once inside, she tucked her hands inside the cuffs of her sweater to keep them from fidgeting, a bad habit she had when she was nervous. Which she rarely was… except in press conferences… and job interviews… and first dates. Sadly, each was more rare than the last. And this wasn’t a date anyway. She was pretty sure. Mostly.
“I’m sorry, what?” she asked, still standing just inside the door.
“Would. You. Like. A beer?” he asked again, slowly but friendly.
He had a charming half-smile on his face. She liked the way he smiled, sort of effortlessly and understated, instead of practiced and ingratiating like Agent Hoffman. Oh, sure, James was very handsome if you go for that Raphael fallen-angel look and his dimples were probably quite effective with ninety-eight percent of the female population, but there was something about the rugged patrician features and quiet demeanor of Tommy Gates that made her feel… well… just made her feel. And she hadn’t realized how much time she spent suppressing her own feelings in favor of analyzing and recording everyone else’s emotions and actions until that very moment.
“Sure. Thanks,” she answered, feeling somewhat more confident now that she had something to do with her hands.
He looked tired as he ordered their pizza from a place just around the corner. She started to feel a little guilty about suggesting drinks when he’d obviously had a long day.
“So what’d you want to talk about?” he asked after he hung up.
Maybe telling him about her suspicions regarding James and Kiki could wait. After all, they were just that, suspicions.
“Ahhh, you know, I just… felt bad about pressuring you earlier about your dad,” she answered. His brows scrunched in confusion. She continued, “I was being intrusive again and I know it’s none of my business, what goes on between you and your family.”
He studied her for a moment and nodded his head slightly. He didn’t look angry. He didn’t look anything but tired. She fiddled with the label on her beer.
“Is there anything you wanted to talk about?” she ended up asking.
His eyebrow shot up and for a second she could see the resemblance between him and his father, except there was definitely warm humor dancing around in his eyes instead of that icy-cold nothingness in Downey’s.
“What is this, reverse psychology?” he asked, chuckling.
He got up from the bar stool he had been half sitting on, half leaning on. He started walking slowly towards her.
“No, no, no, I was just, it’s just you seem… tired and I don’t… I mean, if you wanted to talk… about anythiiing…” she trailed off nervously as grabbed her hands cupping the beer bottle.
He pulled her forward, still holding her hands while walking backwards. “Come in. Stay awhile. Make yourself comfortable,” Tommy said, guiding her gently towards an overstuffed chair by the window.
She hated those kinds of chairs. She always felt like a little kid dwarfed by its nonfunctional largeness. Something must’ve shown of her thoughts on her face because he laughed.
“This place came furnished. I’m guessing by someone with a great fondness for flower prints, oversized furniture, and from the smell of it, lots of cats,” he said, relaxing her with his humorous tone and friendly smile.
She smiled back at him. “Not a cat person yourself?” she asked.
“How about this? I ask you one question, and for every answer you give me, I’ll answer a question of your own. Sound fair?” he responded.
“Alright, but that one doesn’t count,” she said, eager to finally get some answers.
“Why are you always so nervous around me?” he asked.
Not fair! Ginny thought. Her heart started racing.
“I’m not always nervous,” she said.
“No, not always. Sometimes you’re overly ‘intrusive’ as you say, and sometimes you’re overly professional—”
“Why did you go see your father today?” she interrupted, metaphorically putting her cards on the table.
“Uh-uh. You didn’t answer the question,” Tommy said, holding her gaze.
Ginny scooted forward on the chair and set her beer down.
“Truth?” she asked, cocking her head.
“That’d be preferable,” he chuckled. He slouched back against the couch opposite of her, propping his feet up on the coffee table.
“I don’t know. I find you fascinating. I find your family… situation… fascinating. But if I knew why I get nervous around you I’d certainly do something to stop it,” Ginny answered, figuring brutal honesty was probably the best approach.
He lost his grin and was back to looking tired. “Ok,” he finally said softly.
“Ok?” she responded.
“Oooo, Kay,” he repeated slowly, arching the brow again.
He took a lazy swig of his beer and studied her some more, looking pensive. She was about to repeat her question about Downey when he finally answered.
“I went to see my father because my mother and sister have been putting pressure on me all week to do so. And I suppose it was time I made a move one way or the other on a personal level. But I haven’t made up my mind about asking him to help us with the case. It doesn’t sit right with me, and since I can’t figure out if that’s because he’s my father or because my police instincts say it’s too risky, I figure it’s best to do nothing until I do sort it out,” Tommy said.
“And what if you never sort it out?” Ginny asked.
He shrugged and wiped a hand over his eyes and forehead. The doorbell rang and Ginny sprung up out of her chair, needing something to do with her nervous energy. She paid for the pizza, ignoring Tommy’s protests, and set it on the coffee table.
“You mind if I turn on the TV?” Tommy asked, sounding a little frustrated.
“Mmn, uh-uh,” she mumbled through her bite of pizza.
She couldn’t tell if he was feeling chauvinistic or proper or something, she wasn’t sure, but it seemed only logical that she pay for the pizza since she had been the one to suggest the idea, and here they were at his place, and he was exhausted, so of course she should pay for it. So why was he…
Ugh, Ginny, stop thinking, she reprimanded herself while avoiding his gaze.
“So, my turn again. When did you decide to join the FBI?” he asked.
She met his gaze and smiled shyly. “I think I was nine. No, seriously,” she said when he looked skeptical. “I always wanted to join. Pretty much every decision I made in school and my extra-curricular activities were geared towards being able to join up as soon as the age requirement allowed.”
“Huh,” was all he said in reply.
“And you? When did you decide to join law enforcement?” she asked.
“I guess I just took the leap after I graduated high-school. My, uh, father had come to see me, and it was the first time since I was about ten that I’d seen him. It sort of… brought back all these memories of when I was little and we were in Wit Sec and I just felt like… I don’t know, it’s hard to explain…” he trailed off and frowned at his pizza, then tossed it down.
She bit her lip, willing him to go on. He looked up and narrowed his eyes at her. Then he took a deep breath and leaned back against the couch again, staring intently at her.
He sort of twisted his mouth into a weird half-smile, half-grimace then said, “I like you too, you know.”
Ginny blinked at the non sequitur. She could feel her cheeks flushing. His mouth untwisted and he looked endearingly boyish and uncertain for a minute, then he looked away from her and back at the TV. She was surprised when he continued speaking as if the moment hadn’t happened.
“I felt like I owed it to myself and to my mom and Jack to make a difference. To take a stand against what my father did for a living, so that their sacrifices wouldn’t be in vain. I guess a childish part of me wanted to stick it to my father for what he had put us through, because I blamed him for my mother going on the run. But a bigger part of me wanted to be a good example to my new siblings. But when Jack suggested he could put in a word with the Bureau, all I could feel was resentment for the way my mother was used as a bargaining chip by the Federal government, so I felt like the best compromise was to go for detective,” he said almost tonelessly, eyes never leaving the TV set.
“Ah. That explains it,” Ginny replied. “The way you sometimes say ‘Feds’ like we don’t all play on the same team.”
He slid his eyes to her and wiggled his head and shoulder in a ‘if you say so’ gesture, then continued to watch the TV, pizza and beer all but forgotten. She ate her pizza in silence for a bit, contemplating whether she should bring up his sister or continue the Q&A, and pretended to be interested in the old spaghetti western he was watching. When she had worked up the courage to broach the subject of James and Kiki, she looked over at him and realized he had dozed off. She sighed and gathered her things.
She didn’t know what possessed her, but she walked over to him and lightly brushed the messy dark locks from his forehead like she had wanted to do from the moment they had met. He mumbled something in his sleep and she beat a hasty retreat.
–Copyright 2012, Genevieve Dewey.
Read on… Chapter Thirteen, “Tommy”.
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