Intrigue

FREE READ|#asmsg #bynr #Mafia #FamilyDrama #Romance| First, I Love You (Downey#1) Ch. 7 “Tommy”


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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.

CHAPTER  ONE “Tommy”

CHAPTER TWO “James”

CHAPTER THREE “Kiki”

CHAPTER FOUR “Mary”

CHAPTER FIVE “Mickey”

CHAPTER SIX “Ginny”

CHAPTER SEVEN

 Tommy

Chicago, IL

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.)

First, I Love You is available in print or digital format at these official retailers:

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FREE READ|#asmsg #bynr #Mafia #FamilyDrama #Romance| First, I Love You (Downey#1) Ch. 6 “Ginny”


FILYversion413

~~~~~~~

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.

CHAPTER  ONE “Tommy”

CHAPTER TWO “James”

CHAPTER THREE “Kiki”

CHAPTER FOUR “Mary”

CHAPTER FIVE “Mickey”

CHAPTER SIX

 Ginny

Washington, DC

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.

And hello

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”.

First, I Love You is available in print or digital format at these official retailers:

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FREE READ|#asmsg #bynr #Mafia #FamilyDrama #Romance| First, I Love You (Downey#1) Ch. 5 “Mickey”


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~~~~~~~

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.

CHAPTER  ONE “Tommy”

CHAPTER TWO “James”

CHAPTER THREE “Kiki”

CHAPTER FOUR “Mary”

CHAPTER FIVE

 Mickey

Front Royal, VA

Sitting in his car outside the Military Academy his youngest son attended, Michael Liam Downey ran through strategies for convincing his oldest son to help him in the ultimate case of ‘Do as I say, not as I do’. Trouble was, neither one of his boys were fools. Most of his life Mickey had figured the world was made out of fools, willfully blind to the realities of life, and it was their own fault if greater men were able to get one over on ’em. After all, it wasn’t the fox’s fault if the rabbit was too damn slow. As far back as the family Bible could go there had always been a Downey with a little something on the side. Sure, there were plenty of teachers, welders, carpenters, farmers in the family – respectable people, in respected professions – but there was always at least one enterprising individual ready to step into the gulf between the law and giving the people what they want.

For a price, of course.

When he was growing up in Brooklyn it was common knowledge on his block that ‘the law’ was a joke, just a tool to be manipulated to suit one’s purposes, and those that thought otherwise were just kidding themselves. All the Wise Guys knew which cops were on the take and which ones to avoid. Mickey’s Da, Pauli Downey, had run numbers and provided protection for a couple of them. Mickey was allowed to play in the back room of the butcher shop where old Two Fingers ran his books. They’d send him away, of course, when they talked real business but he heard things. He knew things, growing up in that life. And it seemed normal. Right. He figured people who lived a good, clean life were either just pretending – putting on a mask – or not smart enough to see the realities of life. It was all a game, start to finish, of who had the most greenbacks at the end of the day, of who was powerful enough to keep his loot after a friendly game of snatch and grab.

Mickey’s parents were never rich, but they never hurt for the basics and a few fineries either. Mickey’s mother Maeve was from Galway, Ireland which had endeared her to Mickey’s proud-of-his-solid-Irish-roots grandfather, not so much to Mickey’s Sicilian grandmother, Rosa Bruno, who had hoped her son would marry a nice Italian girl. After all, Pauli was working for Two Fingers Luciano; this would go a long way. Mickey’s Nonna always said they’d be as rich as any of those ‘made’ men if his Da wouldn’t ‘waste his money drinking and whoring’.

Mickey didn’t think his Da actually did all that much drinking and whoring. Seemed like all Da did was play poker with the guys at Two Finger’s, drive some cars around, and collect money. But what’d he know? Ma didn’t seem to mind; she’d just roll her eyes and scoff whenever Nonna would bring it up. His Da had died when Mickey was fifteen, leaving him to earn for his Ma and two sisters. But that was alright, Mickey had been selling stolen cigarettes, beer, and watches for years by that point anyway.

All the movers and shakers came to his Da’s funeral, an unusual and inexplicable show of respect considering Pauli Downey was just an associate, and a half Irish one, to boot. That was the day he had first met Giovanni ‘Big Joe’ Anastasio. The circles his Da ran in didn’t involve actually meeting the Boss, just his soldiers, maybe the occasional Capo. Most people didn’t even speak Anastasio’s name when talking about him, that’s how protected he was. But everyone knew who he was. In retrospect, Mickey realized that they had used the funeral as an ‘innocent’ way to meet because the Feds were tapping more and more places back then. At the time, however, he had been awed by their fancy clothes and hats and cars and the way the tough guys would defer to them. He made the decision that day he wouldn’t settle for being useful like his Da. He was the one who would be doing the using from that moment on. He would be the one with all the power and respect.

So, he’d clawed and scraped his way to the top by keeping his eyes and ears open for every money making opportunity, and not just by being the first in line, but making sure there was a healthy distance between him and the next guy. People said he had a knack for making money, had the ‘luck of the Irish’, but making money wasn’t about luck. It was about exploiting weaknesses and capitalizing on strengths. Sometimes it was in how he structured the thing, sometimes it was in how he used people’s weaknesses against them, sometimes it was both.

Mickey had no problem using his fists or a gun to make a point but he far preferred manipulating assets and brokering an intricately layered web of quid pro quos. That way, no one knew what had hit them until he was long gone, and even then, they could never quite finger him. He liked the tactical advantage it gave him. He liked the finesse involved in money work. It was a thinking man’s con. Better yet, money didn’t argue, money didn’t fight back, but it sure as hell talked. Money was tangible, by its very nature quantifiable. One either had it, or one didn’t.

Even when it never existed in the first place, he thought with a chuckle.

He was already earning enough on his number schemes to have the patronage of Big Joe when others were still busting kneecaps and knocking off banks hoping to get noticed. He worked hard to cover his Brooklyn-Irish roots with a more posh Manhattan accent. But he could blend in with normal people when he had to, and it made them not only trust him as he was fleecing them blind, but proclaim his innocence with their last breath, “Nooo, not Mickey Downey, he’s such a nice young gentleman. So well-mannered and well-spoken. Always follows the rules.”

Mickey chuckled again at the memory. “Fools, every one of ’em. Only saw what they wanted to see,” he would often crow to Big Joe.

He was past trying to ‘blend in’ and onto working his way into the fancy limos, fancy clothes, and even fancier women when he met Mary Gates. He’d been dating Big Joe’s daughter Theresa for a year and was meeting Big Joe and his cousin and nephew, both in the business, to talk about Mickey’s impending engagement. That he and Theresa would marry was a foregone conclusion from the time they first started dating. It was the best thing for everyone involved, especially to silence the men who grumbled Mickey was only a tiny bit Italian and mostly Irish. Big Joe would just laugh if anyone brought it up, and say, “But the Irish side is purebred gangster.” Everyone else would laugh because no one argued with Big Joe Anastasio.

Mickey and Theresa hung out in the same circles, had warmed each other’s beds from time-to-time, and he was her father’s protégé. He remembered thinking she’d make a good wife who’d been raised from infancy knowing how to keep her mouth shut and not ask questions. He had the engagement ring he had chosen from the bag Frank Bonanno had brought courtesy of his crew’s last heist sitting without a thought in his pocket when he met Mary at the Drunken Monkey later that evening. There was no reason why he couldn’t have a little fun before the shackles went on. No reason he couldn’t have a drink with a pretty girl even after.

Mickey stifled thoughts of Mary, as he always did, before his mind could get carried away remembering her smile, her laugh, the feel of her skin under his. Twenty years later and none of the many other women he’d had could compare to the obsession he still had for her. Twenty years! That stupid phrase ‘keep your eyes on the prize’ was wrong – he had been leading the world’s longest sleeper campaign against that woman and, quite the opposite, he felt it better for his sanity to not dwell on the quarry before the quarry had been caught… with no desire to escape this time. People said Mickey was at the top of his game when he retired, but he figured he was at the top of his game until he met her. Every decision he ever made after that no longer became a matter of ‘just business’, it was always about her, because of her, for her, against her, in spite of her.

Yeah, Devil take it, the day he met Mary Gates was the day Mickey figured he’d joined the Legion of Fools.

Now here he was, a little over twenty-five years later from the day he met her, on the backside of a mountain of money, lies, and power, practically begging one son to be in his life, and desperate to keep the other son out of it. He hadn’t thought it was going to be a problem until recently. Never saw the signs. Joey and Kiki always knew their dad was not like ‘normal’ fathers. And, hell, their mother’s family had made a few History channel specials themselves. He had never tried to sugar coat the downside to the lifestyle he’d chosen. And his children wanted for nothing, between their mother’s inheritance and his own amassed fortune. Who in their right mind chooses this uncertain life when every other option is available to them?

He had made the final steps five years ago, not only to cement this lesson in the minds of his younger children, but to sweeten his chances with his eldest. If Tommy was bound and determined to be a cop, and that it would preclude a relationship because of his profession, well then, Mickey would ‘retire’. Only for ‘normal’ people that meant 401ks and pensions. For him it meant doing the impossible. Not that it was unheard of for a fifty year old man to retire. It was just infinitely less plausible for a fifty year old so-called mobster at the top of his game. There were no hedge funds or friendly fare-thee-well parties.

That was the thing with that mountain of power; a man stands up there alone at the top kicking wildly at the hands grasping at his feet, threatening to take him down. Actually, Mickey figured it was more like one of those spinning wheels in a child’s park, stuck on an endless loop. The kid spins and spins and enjoys the powerful danger-laden rush, only after a while, all he feels is dizzy and nauseous and alone – made worse as he catches glimpses of all the other kids heading home and just wished he knew how to stop the thing or how to jump off without breaking his neck.

He had plotted his exit strategy almost from the moment he seized power from Anastasio fifteen years ago. Money had been his ticket in, money would be his ticket out. He just had to keep his mouth shut and make sure the money talked louder than his enemies. If his enemies didn’t have the ability to talk at all, even better. Five years ago he ‘retired’ in the way a man is retired from the giant corporation he worked for his whole life, yet still works as a checker at the Walgreens in the worst neighborhood in town. Meaning he watched his own back more now than he ever did before, paid daily for his freedom in cooperation and kickbacks to the Alma Mater – so to speak – and never, ever talked to the cops.

Except Tommy, he chuckled.

He didn’t mind being under the protection of men he had once ordered around … much… if it meant he could pull off what so few had done before him. He had spent his life working the long con. He’d just switched his target from the malleable minds of the populace to the very hand that had once fed him. Getting one over on professional criminals gave him enough of a thrill that, tempered with the idea he might finally get the one thing that he had never been able to buy or steal for himself, he was able to suck up the blow to his pride.

But this – this thing – might just be his undoing.

Kiki had come for supper at his home in Oak Park last week and said she was worried about Joe, that her friend’s little brother had seen him sneaking out to meet with drug dealers. Worse, that word was getting around ‘Little Joey’ wanted in on the action in the nearby Washington, DC area, playing on his family name. Kiki was worried that maybe Joe wouldn’t be given a release to come to her party. A call to the Headmaster revealed some recent infractions they had felt he ‘need not be bothered with yet’.

But Kiki had seemed so certain, and he didn’t want to upset the balance by making inquiries in his former circles. First he had to find out, had the incidents not happened, or was Joe just slick enough to not get caught? Something didn’t add up about it all. Joey had never shown any signs of wanting to follow in his family’s footsteps. Sure, he had never been shy to bandy about the Downey or Anastasio name, but to use it to throw away his future?

Joe had always planned a career for himself in the Air Force; even at a young age he always seemed to have his head on straight. It was Kiki who frittered her life away on parties and shoes and even more useless men. But he couldn’t take any chances with Joe unprotected, especially now that he didn’t have the power he once did. He was still rich, but just rich enough to be a burr in the backside of far more powerful men, not rich enough to guarantee the safety of his youngest child if he’d really gone off the rails.

He had thought it fortuitous that Tommy was in DC when these troubles arose. Mickey could appeal to his obvious deep affection for his little brother, and the fact that as a cop, Tommy was what society deemed a good role model. Sure, Mickey didn’t have much respect for the law, or its puppeteers, but he’d never heard of any dirty dealings or shenanigans associated with Detective Gates’ name. Mickey was damned proud of that, if you were to ask him. After all, if a guy had to have a cop for a son, at least don’t let him be a damned dirty cop. Maybe that’s where he differed from some of his other friends, who just assumed that Mickey had Tommy in the bag, using him as a mole. Mickey was fine with letting them think that, it was probably safer for Tommy that way anyway. But the truth was he liked that he had a man with such strong-willed convictions for a son.

The trouble with that was how he would get such a strong-willed son to stand still long enough to listen to him and, in this case, agree to intervene with Joe. Afterwards, God-willing, they could all go back to Chicago together for Kiki’s birthday. Problem solved. But as usual, Tommy wouldn’t give him the time of day. It was exhausting dealing with Tommy because Mickey felt like he couldn’t use the usual tactics he would use with a recalcitrant child. It was like trying to get a wild horse to come to him, but all he had to offer were rotten apples.

The limo door opening jarred his thoughts. Joe grinned and sat down on the seat opposite Mickey, propping his feet up.

“Hey, Dad, how’s doings?” Joe drawled.

Mickey arched an eyebrow. Joe’s grin widened.

Why is it that this silent gesture used to spark fear in hundreds of men but was completely useless on these children? Mickey thought.

He took a deep breath and leaned forward. “I was about to go in and meet with your headmaster about your recent behavior. How is it that—”

“Listen, Dad, before you get worked up, I’ve got my pass for the next five days. That’s not a lot of time to work with but I’m here to help,” Joe stated with all the certain demand of a board chairman.

When had his baby boy grown up? Fifteen years old and he was sitting here acting like he already commanded armed troops. Mickey felt completely off kilter.

“Help?” Mickey asked.

“Well, Kiki and I didn’t think that it’d be enough for Tommy to come to her party, what with the way he has of avoiding you. This way we’re seeding the clouds, so to speak. Our brother will be concerned about my ‘recent behavior’, as you say, forcing him to actually interact with you for more than a second, and then we do the family thing this weekend. Like a one-two punch, see? What do you think?”

Mickey stared at him. Joe’s bright, hazel eyes seemed to sparkle with all the enthusiasm of youth.

Well, he had the confidence down, but his strategic planning needed some work, Mickey thought with pride and relief.

“I think… that’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard in some time, son.”

Joe looked as if Mickey had punched him in the gut. Mickey sighed and leaned forward some more, clasping his hands.

“Now, listen, son, I appreciate you and your sister wanting to intervene, but things between your brother and me are complicated. Not just by our lifestyles, but by what his mother did, the ideas she’s put in his head, and to be honest, from my own actions. Let me give you some advice. You’ve played your hand too soon, you see? Not only would Tommy have seen through this rather quickly as soon as he talked to you – he is a cop after all – but he would then have blamed me for the thing. It would’ve set us back. People might be easy to manipulate but they aren’t like chess pieces. They’ve an annoying habit of thinking for themselves and there are so many permutations to be thought of before you put your move in play. You’ve got to anticipate all the possible moves and set about neutralizing them one by one. What’s your back up plan? And the one after that? I see on your face you haven’t got one… Was this your sister’s idea?”

Joe sat there, saying nothing.

“You don’t want to rat your sister out. I respect that,” Mickey continued. “But this has her written all over it. I should have seen that from the start, but I was just so worried about you out here all alone. There’s a lot at stake here, son, not just between me and your brother, but in my business.”

“But you’re retired now,” Joe interjected.

Mickey frowned. “Son…” he paused and looked out the window, then back at Joe, “Son, without going into the details, because you know I can’t, my survival, all of our survival depends on me laying low. Have you actually been involved in the local drug scene, or was Kiki making that up?”

“I… I haven’t actually… you know… done anything but maybe I might have… you know… told certain people I was going by ‘Little Joey’ these days and I’d be interested in getting my foot in the door, just, just so it’d get back to Tommy eventually,” Joe confessed sheepishly.

“Goddamn it, Giovanni!” Mickey exploded.

Joe cringed. Mickey counted to ten, then twenty, then thirty, then said fuck it in his mind and buzzed the intercom.

“Carlo, drive us into DC and take us to Tommy’s hotel,” Mickey’s voiced vibrated with fury.

Calm down, calm down, calm down, he told himself.

Certamente,” his driver, bodyguard, and oldest friend said.

“Joe, you have a little over an hour to explain to me exactly WHO you have been talking to, and exactly WHAT has been said so I can do damage control,” Mickey demanded.

He was thinking about how in one way the plan (almost certainly his daughter’s handiwork) wasn’t too bad for a rookie run if it created common ground between him and Tommy, but on the other hand, it could backfire in a big way. He was convinced Tommy had been trying so hard to avoid him lately precisely because Mickey was getting to him, finally getting under his skin. Tommy had never tried so hard to put distance between them in the beginning when he had even more to prove and more to lose than he did now. In the beginning, Tommy had seemed almost indifferent, now he seemed indignant in a he ‘doth protest too much’ way. It was a tenuous position they were in right now. He didn’t want to spook him; if Tommy felt like he was being used or manipulated he might turn his back on them permanently.

But that was the least of his problems if Bonanno got wind Mickey’s youngest child was breaking the agreement between the Outfit and the Bonanno-Anastasio wing of the Gambino family. A thought suddenly occurred to him, and Mickey interrupted his son’s panicked babbling about Tony Luciano’s cousin.

“What other surprises does your sister have planned for her birthday party?”

“N-n-nothing! Nothing,” Joe said nervously.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. These children. Forget the Five Families, forget the Outfit. His children were gonna be the death of him for sure.

–Copyright 2012, Genevieve Dewey.

Read on… Chapter Six, “Ginny”.

[Author’s note: Get another glimpse into Mickey & Mary’s early relationship by reading this flashback: Second Chances]

First, I Love You is available in print or digital format at these official retailers:

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FREE READ|#asmsg #bynr #Mafia #FamilyDrama #Romance| First, I Love You (Downey#1) Ch. 4 “Mary”


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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.

CHAPTER  ONE “Tommy”

CHAPTER TWO “James”

CHAPTER THREE “Kiki”

CHAPTER FOUR

 Mary

Omaha, NE

The only thing that could have surprised Mary Elizabeth Gates more than a phone call from Michael’s daughter was a call from Michael himself. She hadn’t heard from either one of them for seven years. Well, she’d heard from Michael. He had a way of making his presence… known. But he hardly ever talked to her. Not directly, anyway. He preferred to communicate by proxy, for lack of a better way to phrase it. It both infuriated her and thrilled her that he did even that little, to her shame. And that was probably his point. As for Kiki, Mary had never imagined the girl had given her a second thought after their initial meeting so many years ago. Just thinking about that meeting at the hotel brought back the mixture of pleasure and pain she always felt remembering Michael. Her mind seemed to rush with memories of him like a twisted series of rapids on the river.

On the day of her only child’s high school graduation, Mary walked through the door of the house she had made her own to see his father once again sitting uninvited at her kitchen table.

He never changes, she thought in stunned exasperation.

Michael stood up and held out his hand towards Tommy.

“Congratulations, son,” he said, smiling.

Turning to Jack, she saw her old friend’s expression mirrored her own.

Jack shook his head. “You know, Downey, breaking and entering is still a crime in all fifty states,” he said.

Michael kept his gaze on their son but she could have sworn the corner of his mouth twitched a bit in humor, whether at Jack’s comment or his own sense of self-satisfaction she couldn’t tell. Tommy made no move to walk forward, instead he shoved his hands in his pockets and looked down at his shoes. Michael lowered his hand and subconsciously mirrored his movement.

Claire – bless her – put her hand on Tommy’s shoulder and said, “How about I run down to the grocery store and get us some refreshments before you open presents. Jack, you coming with?”

Without waiting for an answer, Claire grabbed Jack’s hand and pulled him back out the door. Mary was torn between the desire to leave with them and the urge as a mother to hover over her baby.

Not a baby anymore, all grown up, she thought.

“Don’t you think it’s time you opened these letters, son?” Michael asked softly.

Tommy shrugged, sneaking a glance through the fringes of his messy, dark hair. Who was going to remind him to comb his hair, now that he was going to be leaving? Her heart ached while she fought the urge to brush it out of his eyes. Tommy had her classic Gates heart-shaped face versus the more angular planes of his father’s features, but he shared Michael’s same dark hair and emerald green eyes. It was those once expressive, now cold, beautiful eyes that had been her downfall.

She had just turned nineteen when she set out to make her dreams come true in the Big Apple. She had driven away from her sleepy little Massachusetts town with nothing but a suitcase stretched almost to the breaking point, $100, and enough grit and resolve for a small army. She was working in a Manhattan restaurant as a hostess when she met Michael Downey for the first time. He came through the doors as if he owned the place, brushing the snow off his fur-lined overcoat and striding past her podium with a distracted, yet purposeful air.

“Sir!” Mary squeaked. “Sir, do you have a reservation—”

He stopped and turned smartly on his heel, cocking his head. His arresting green eyes twinkled with mischief and humor, and he grinned a grin she was sure the Devil himself had handed him. He looked like he was only maybe ten years older than her, but carried himself with an air of a much older man used to giving commands.

“You must be new here. I’m Mickey Downey. I’m here to meet some business associates of mine. In the back,” he crooked an eyebrow, indicating the VIP table set back by the large fireplace.

“Oh. Sorry,” Mary said.

She felt her face flush as red as her hair. She had only had this job a few weeks and was mindful of how lucky she was to have it. It beat working as a waitress in that dingy Brooklyn diner she had started out at by a long shot, and she certainly didn’t want to make the mistake of insulting an important patron. The long hours standing in her heels and the not-so-subtle leering of the owner was worth the increase in pay and the opportunity to rub elbows, however briefly, with people who might help launch her music career.

“Don’t worry your pretty head about it… Mary,” he said, reading her name tag.

His eyes lingered on her front a bit longer than necessary, but instead of making her feel uncomfortable it sent a warming tingle through her.

Her voice was slightly breathless as she asked, “Do you have a card? I mean, for the jar.”

He drew one out of his breast coat pocket, wrote something on the back, and leaned across her to place it in the jar with the other business cards. She could smell a sweet, musky scent on him and smiled shyly as he drew back. She waited about 2.8 seconds after he’d left to fish it out and turn it over.

Drinks? 9pm @ The Drunken Monkey.

She flipped it back over to read a Staten Island business address and Michael L. Downey, Shipping & Finance Consultant. She wasn’t sure what that meant, but she was already planning what she’d wear…

She’d made a rash choice that day, one that had changed the course of her life forever. It seemed like her life was a study in punctuated equilibrium. Things would go along swimmingly and then – bam! – one moment in time shifted course, and off she’d go in a whole new direction.

First, there was the day he came into her life. She’d fallen in love with his deep, baritone laugh that night at the bar: “Michael, why on earth do they call you Mickey? Your Christian name is so beautiful. I’m sorry, I refuse to call you Mickey. It reminds me too much of Mickey Mouse!” she’d said, then laughed ‘haha!’ like Mickey Mouse did in the cartoons. And Michael had laughed so long and hard that it brought stares.

Then, the night he discovered she had betrayed him. Her heart had broken when he walked out on her and Tommy without even letting her explain why she’d done it: “I’m sorry! I’m sorry! It’s too late! They already know everything, where you hide the extra cash, what you told me about Big Joe’s Ponzi scheme, everything! But they said, they said, if you just tell them the rest, that they’ll make a deal with you! Michael, wait, Michael, PLEASE!”

She’d never meant to deprive Tommy of a father, she’d just been… scared… alone… so terribly confused, that she hadn’t stopped to think how it would affect father and son. Jack and the other agents had convinced her that Michael would take a deal. They wanted Big Joe Anastasio, not Downey, they had told her. She could help give the FBI leverage over Michael and he in turn would give them Anastasio. If he flipped, maybe they could go on the run together. Be a family. Be free of his wife in their lives. But it didn’t play out that way. Not even close.

Jack had seemed so friendly, so concerned in those days. He and Claire were the only friends she felt she truly had in a neighborhood where she was an outsider. She had met Claire first, a fellow choir singer at Our Lady of Angels. They had bonded instantly as they were both outsiders, Claire being from Nebraska, and Mary from Massachusetts. Jack and Claire would always ask after her and Tommy; did she have enough, could they help with babysitting, how was she feeling? It had made such a contrast to the growing distance between her and Michael in that last year, and the fights they would have over his continued marriage to Theresa Anastasio. Her frustration with the secrets and lies and the company he kept grew until she couldn’t stand it.

Michael had made her so many promises, so many broken promises, that Jack’s gentle and insistent lobbying that she deserved better seemed to only accentuate those fissures in their relationship. It seemed to make a mockery of the little family she’d dreamed of having with him. She had finally made the decision to help the FBI record conversations and divulge Michael’s hiding spots in their home after Michael had refused to allow her to tell Tommy that he was his father, saying that it wasn’t safe yet. It just sort of… broke her, in a way.

Still to this day, she could remember the feel of panic and queasiness when she took the stand, the look of complete pain and betrayal in his eyes the moment he realized she would go through with it. In the back of her mind she had known that what she would testify wouldn’t be enough to convict either men on its own, but she had hoped – oh, how she had hoped – that playing that card would be enough to get him to choose her and their child over his business. They were always playing games with each other, since the moment they’d met, and this had been the ultimate game of who blinked first. He hadn’t blinked and neither had she, but who had lost and who had won?

She couldn’t regret going out with Michael that first night, getting pregnant shortly after, or the love they shared in their little home. It had been good at first. She didn’t even regret finally taking a stand against his lifestyle. Her son not only had never gotten sucked into that life, he worked daily to shut it down. But she did regret, and would always regret, not being strong enough to fight for more between them on her own terms and not Jack’s or the other FBI agents. Because that one decision she’d made had turned out to be a bigger crossroads than either of them had imagined.

So, there again, on the day of her son’s graduation, she was faced with another crossroads. But it had seemed different somehow that day, like it was not just changing course, but going backwards and forwards all at the same time. A do-over in some respects for all of them, as crazy as that thought was.

There was Michael standing in her kitchen with a bundle of letters she’d had no idea that Tommy had been secretly mailing back to him, probably out of blind loyalty to her. And there was Tommy standing opposite, too unsure of what she wanted to even look at the man who had never actually done him any harm. And if Mary were honest with herself, as lowering as that would be, Michael had never done her any harm even though in his world it must have made him seem weak after her betrayal. All those years she had lived in fear wondering how could he not hate her for what she had done? How could he not want revenge? But he had found them and done… nothing.

Mary had kept Tommy from Michael’s lifestyle, for reasons she didn’t regret, wouldn’t ever regret, but she could see in that moment on graduation day that she had done irreparable damage to both of them. She hadn’t realized until that very moment the power she had wielded. Had she ever asked Tommy what he wanted? Had she ever asked what Michael had planned before she had taken matters into her own hands and chosen for them both? Guilt choked her up.

Time to strap your big girl panties on, she thought and walked over to her son’s father.

“Hello, Michael,” she said, as friendly as she could muster.

He stared at her for a beat, wrinkles at the edges of his eyes now visible. Oh, those eyes… the way he looked at her like she was the only woman in the world.

God help me, why does it still matter? Mary wondered.

“Mary, it’s good to see you again. You look…” Michael stopped and cleared his throat, “You look well. I hope you don’t mind, I was wondering if Tommy – if the two of you – would like to join me and his sister and brother for brunch tomorrow at our hotel?”

So smooth and cool his voice was, as if all those years and miles apart and tangled up feelings had meant nothing. But his eyes told a different tale. They were full of vulnerability, like she had only rarely seen in those early years together. She thought again of his promise to their son eight years before that he wouldn’t interfere, wouldn’t take him from her, but he would always be there for him. He had made good on that promise and it would have been so easy to take Tommy from her with his connections and money. And hadn’t it broken her heart a little that he hadn’t tried, while pleasing her all at the same time? Maybe that had been his punishment for her. Or was it a test? Why did one never know the answers to these things ’til after the milk had been spilled?

Yes, life was made up of these instances in time; big moments hidden inside little decisions.

Mary turned to look at her son, at their son, “Tommy, what do you think? We can celebrate with Uncle Jack and Aunt Claire tonight, and you can spend the day tomorrow with your brother and sister, if that’s what you want,” she suggested.

Tommy’s face was a picture of surprise and confusion. Her little man was all grown up. Oh, how she had leaned on him. Too much… clearly, too much. His eyes darted between her and Michael, and then settled on the letters.

Michael cleared his throat again. “Tell you what… You read those letters, son, and think on it. We’re staying at the downtown Hilton, near the Old Market. We’ll be in the lobby, say, around 10am? You and your mother are both welcome,” he said.

Then he walked forward and put his hand on Tommy’s shoulder. Tommy shrugged away.

“Well… Congratulations,” Michael said quietly. And without another word, he was gone again.

Later that night, she and Tommy had sat on the couch and read the letters together. It was clear to her that Michael had been keeping track of them even though Tommy had never responded to any of the letters, because there were references to events in his life; ‘I hear you play hockey. Your brother likes the Islanders even at his young age… Congratulations on winning third place at the Science Fair, so far your sister hasn’t made me help her with such things, a blessing to both of us…’ Always, always, he would tie each achievement of Tommy’s to his siblings as if with his words and sheer force of will he could weave Tommy in absentia into the family tapestry.

Mary fell in love a little with those two children through those letters, a true miracle given the feelings of loathing she had held for their mother. But she’d always believed a child shouldn’t be held accountable for their parent’s sins. If Tommy hadn’t made the decision on his own to meet Joe and Kiki, she’d have gone herself out of sheer curiosity. But mostly, because Michael’s constant opening, ‘First, I love you’ seemed to burn guilt into her very heart. And he had meant it so, she knew it. He had been fond of saying the very same thing to her when he would come through her door in Brooklyn.

Maybe he hadn’t been quite as forgiving as she had thought. Still, he had kept his word and she had kept her child safe. But now their son was a legal adult, free to choose for himself if he wanted his father in his life. The least she could do was make sure Tommy knew he had her full blessing to figure out what that meant to him without her in the equation.

She and Tommy had made the decision to go the following morning, and though she’d only stayed a few moments, they were etched in her mind. Little Joe had seemed to have all of his father’s energy, none of his restraint. Kiki had been a shy, already beautiful girl who resembled her mother greatly. Thankfully, she had none of her mother’s superiority complex, at least as far as Mary could tell, since the poor girl barely spoke a word. Her intelligent eyes didn’t miss a trick though. The girl seemed to watch the awkward interplay between Tommy and Michael and Mary like they were a fascinating exhibit at the museum.

As Mary took her leave of them, Kiki said in a voice far more mature than her years, “It was nice meeting you, Mary. I hope we’ll meet again.”

And that was that, and here we are again, Mary thought, as she heard that very same voice nearly seven years later. Why on earth would Kiki be reaching out to her now? She couldn’t shake the feeling the Hand of Michael was at play here. Or maybe it was just the mad sprint down memory lane she’d just had.

She shook herself from her reverie. “Yes, Kiki, of course I remember you! What can I do for you?” she asked, trying not to betray her nervousness.

“You know Tommy’s moving here to Chicago for a while to work on some big case, and I’ve asked him to come to my birthday party this weekend. But I was wondering, it would mean a great deal to me and Tommy if you would consider coming as well? I could send you a ticket or pay for the gas, it’s only about six or seven hours to drive. I only figured, it would be a fun surprise for Tommy don’t you think, since he’s going to be away from Omaha for so long,” Kiki said in one long rush.

Well… talk about big moments hidden in little decisions…

–Copyright 2012, Genevieve Dewey.

Read on… Chapter Five, “Mickey”.

[Author’s Note: Read a bit more about how Mary & Mickey got together in this flashback: Her Prince.]

First, I Love You is available in print or digital format at these official retailers:

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FREE READ|#asmsg #bynr #Mafia #FamilyDrama #Romance| First, I Love You (Downey#1) Ch. 3 “Kiki”


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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.

CHAPTER  ONE “Tommy”

CHAPTER TWO “James”

CHAPTER THREE

 Kiki

Chicago, IL

In her mind, there was nothing in the world quite as invigorating as the smell of a new pair of designer pumps. Katherine Anastasia Downey – Kiki to her family and friends – loved a great many things, but spending Daddy’s money had to be at the top of the list. She often thought in her cynically altruistic moments, that it was almost her civic duty to put money back into the pockets they came from. Kiki spent her money on a great many different things, some important, some unimportant, but today was a rare all-about-her day. She was not going to stop shopping until she found herself a pair of Dolce and Gabanas or Jimmy Choos to match the designer necklace and earrings her mother had gotten her for her twenty-first birthday. They were one of a kind. Literally.

Her mother had cultivated a number of useful friends over the years being the daughter of Giovanni ‘Big Joe’ Anastasio and the wife of Michael ‘Mickey’ Downey, but the ones she’d made living in Paris these last several years seemed to be extra… generous… to put it mildly. Kiki might be a daddy’s girl in most respects, but her mother’s one enduring claim on her heart was the way she supported Kiki’s job as a fashion blogger for the Sun-Times. Daddy found it amusing at best.

The trouble with having a father who adored her unconditionally was being left with the feeling of never quite having earned his approval. It left her in a constant competitive state of ‘Look, Daddy, no hands!’ and the emotional dissatisfaction of him not even looking up from the paper to say ‘Knew you could do it, sweetheart.’

“Well, damn, Kiki you’re gonna be the hottest fucking thing in all of Chicago this Saturday night wearing those. Have you picked out a dress yet?” Jessica Bonanno trilled out, interrupting her thoughts.

“Like it matters, stuck here in this hell-hole,” Kiki mumbled, thoughts of her parents ruining her usually cheerful mood.

“Oh, come on, Chicago is far from a hell-hole and you know it. Besides, they have one of the best Nordstrom’s in the country. And I’m here for your party, aren’t I?”

“You know what I mean. All our real friends are back in New York. I just don’t get why Daddy had to retire to Chicago of all places. I mean, who does that?”

“Kiki, you’ve lived here for five years. You’re not a minor. You’re filthy rich. You can leave anytime. Besides, I’m not going to believe you haven’t made some friends here. I mean, I’ve got four or five cousins here I can think of, which means you do too, if you’d just reach out… And, please, no one believes your dad is actually ‘retired’.”

Jessica did the air quotes with her perfectly manicured fingers and a wiggle of her equally manicured eyebrows, forcing a laugh out of her oldest friend and cousin. She scooted closer to Kiki on the bench.

“Is… Is your brother going to be there?” Jessica asked softly, a gleam in her eye.

“Joe? Of course!” Kiki answered, surprised.

“No… I mean… you know,” Jessica whispered.

Kiki sighed and slipped the shoes back off. Not meeting Jess’s eyes, she tossed her chestnut curls in a flippant gesture. She was tired of pretending to be what people wanted her to be, so tired. There used to be a time when she and Jessica had been close, inseparable really, when she felt she could be honest with her, instead of keeping up the role she played for everyone else. But now they seemed so far apart, not just in geography, but in interests. Jess was a couple years older and married with a child, but her husband was serving 5-10 in prison, and she clearly felt fidelity was not necessary while she waited; she didn’t even use his last name. Jessica’s life was a never ending party. Most of the time it was Kiki who was drug along for the ride, but yet the papers painted her as the wild child.

“How should I know? Probably not. Not that I care,” Kiki finally replied, thinking, why does she always bring up Tommy? What’s it to her anyway?

“You’re a terrible liar. Just sayin’,” Jessica said.

Kiki forced herself to meet Jess’s eyes and started laughing. “Let’s see if they have another pair for you,” she suggested in a desperate move to change the subject.

She didn’t want to talk about Tommy because she never knew what she was supposed to think – or feel – about him. The prodigal son that Daddy made with the woman he loved far more than her own mother. Everyone knew that. The man he kept trying to pull into the fold even after he became a cop. A cop, for God’s sake! Resentment was definitely there, maybe some jealousy, but there were other emotions – other softer, sweeter emotions that far outweighed the bad ones.

And these were the feelings, oddly enough, that she felt the most defensive about with everyone but her father. One of her fondest memories was how kind Tommy was to her the day they first met seven years ago, the way he teased her out of her painful teenage shyness with silly and often really, really bad jokes. Even though he was only four and a half years older than her, and just out of high school, he had looked so grown up and oddly sophisticated in his faded jeans and Huskers T-shirt.

She smiled remembering it; little Joey running all over the hotel lobby getting into things the way restless nine-year-old boys do, Daddy all tense and silent, staring at ‘that woman’, as Mom had always called her, and Tommy – Ha! – Tommy, acting like he had just wandered into the Omaha Hilton because he had nothing better to do. But she could see in his eyes he was just as nervous as she was. Just as curious to finally meet his siblings. He was just better at hiding it than she was.

Kiki was never good at hiding her emotions. Instead, she hid herself. When she was little, she used to pretend each room in the sprawling mansion was an exhibit at the museum that Daddy would take her and Joey to on Saturdays (when he wasn’t busy with ‘work’ of course). In this room, she was an Egyptian princess, in this one a Native American princess, this other, a Mayan princess. She was always a princess. Daddy’s little princess. That’s what he’d call her in his distracted way, with a quick, whiskery kiss, the hint of pipe tobacco on his breath.

She far preferred Daddy’s smell to Mom’s. Mom always smelled like French perfume and the Benedictine she drank with her whiskey ‘for her health’. Kiki had snuck a taste in once when she was eleven. It tasted like a forest with too many flowers in it; sickly sweet, not like the wine they drank with supper. When she was younger, she was always proud to tell her friends that Daddy let them drink wine at the table with the adults. He’d wink at her and say, ‘One glass won’t hurt a Downey; it’ll put hair on your chest!’ Then he would laugh his gravelly laugh and Mom would purse her lips.

Her mom hated it when he referred to them as Downeys, even though that was their name, like it was ignoring the Anastasio blood in them. Mom was very proud of her Anastasio blood. Kiki figured Daddy did it on purpose since the only time they ever interacted after the divorce was at family suppers. Her mom had insisted in the settlement that all holidays and one Sunday a month the entire family get together for a traditional Italian supper. ‘There’s nothing more important than family,’ Mom would singsong.

Except by ‘family’, Theresa Anastasio meant her family. The first time Kiki found out about her half-brother Tommy was when her parents were having one of their many, many fights.

Kiki was busy pretending to be Princess Jasmine turning down her suitors in the throes of true never-ending love for Prince Ali Baba in the pink – ‘It’s salmon, darling!’ – guest bedroom when she heard her mother shouting. This was worth pausing for, since Mom never shouted. That was Daddy’s thing. Mom was more fond of jeering insults, crying jags, and dramatically leaving the room, all of which tended to drive Daddy’s temper through the roof.

Belly crawling to the balustrade she peeked over and watched them below.

“I will NOT stand for this one SECOND longer! You will NEVER bring up that woman’s name or her brat in my home ever again, do you hear me? How could you disrespect me this way?!”

“Disrespect you? That would imply I ever had any respect for you, Theresa.”

CRASH!

Mom threw her prized Tiffany vase against the wall. Daddy raised a dark eyebrow the way he did when one of his men didn’t do what he told them to do fast enough.

“Maybe the stress of the new baby has you—”

“Don’t you dare – don’t you DARE, Mickey! This has nothing to do with our son, and everything to do with your BASTARD! Do you know how much I tried to be a good wife, to ignore the fact you had that gumare, that whore on the side? That you preferred her company to mine? That you gave her your firstborn son and you barely touched me?”

“You know exactly why I married you, Theresa. Don’t play coy at this late date. It was a mutually beneficial agreement, nothing more than a business deal with added benefits. But after the trial, I tried my best to patch things up with you, to devote myself to the family we agreed to make together.”

“Bullshit! You only tried for a baby to suck up to my father because he was so furious with you for not putting a muzzle on that snitch bitch. I thought she was gone from our lives forever. Her and that boy. I thought we had a real chance finally. This whole time you’ve been looking for her. This whole time!” Mom’s voice broke on the last word.

Daddy turned away and scooped his Lexis keys off the Italian marble vanity.

“It doesn’t matter what you say, Theresa. I’m going to get my son. I’ll have my lawyer send over the papers. But understand the children stay with me. You try to fight it, and you will regret it.”

“Not for nothing, but my lawyers are gonna take you to the cleaners, you know that, right? You were nothing without me and my father. Nothing!”

“Maybe without your father, God rest his soul, but not you. Without you, I had something. And it’s past time I got it back, whether you like it or not.”

Daddy walked out the door without looking back. Mom screamed a little scream that sounded almost more like a groan, then she sat on the tile and cried. Kiki knew better than to bother her mom when she needed a good cry, so she crept down the hall to where her baby brother slept in his hand-carved crib.

“It’s ok, Joey. Daddy’ll be back. He always comes back. And he’s going to bring us a brother,” Kiki said, and then frowned. She would have preferred a sister, so they could play Princesses together.

But Daddy didn’t bring back her brother. And after Mom moved out, he spent a lot of time alone in his study. Men would come and go, sometimes they would bring her and her brother presents, sometimes they’d bring their kids, most of whom she knew from church and kindergarten she’d just started that year.

Not too long after he came back, she knocked on his study door and waited for his husky voice to bid, ‘Enter.’

“Daddy, it’s Kiki. Can I come in?”

She heard the creak of his chair then the door opened. His eyes looked tired, but they lit up when he saw her.

“Come in, princess. Sit on daddy’s lap while I write this letter to your brother.”

Kiki giggled as he swung her high and into his arms, then he pretended to stumble into his chair. He cuddled her close.

“Silly Daddy, Joey’s too young to read,” she said, nuzzling his strong chest.

“No, this is for your older brother. Tommy. You haven’t met him yet. Maybe one day,” he answered.

“Does he like to play Princesses?” Kiki asked.

Daddy didn’t answer, just chuckled as he picked up his pen and wrote:

Dear Tommy,

First, I love you. I hope you enjoyed the present I sent—’

“Daddy, guess what! I read the word love!” Kiki said, feeling proud of herself.

“Very good, sweetheart, very good,” he seemed to choke out the words like something was stuck in his throat. Then he kissed her head and continued to write.

Whenever she would catch him writing to Tommy over the years, his letters would always start the same, ‘First, I love you.’ Then they would contain some mention of what Kiki and Joe were up to and always end the same way, ‘Your loving father’. It didn’t seem to matter to Daddy that the letters would come back marked ‘Return to Sender’, he would just put it in his desk drawer and write another. When she was eleven (Blame it on the Benedictine, she thought) she got up the courage to ask him why he still wrote to Tommy.

He smiled his distracted smile and said, “Because I’m a Downey. And Downeys don’t give up until they’ve got what they want. Ever.”

She never did figure out how he got Tommy to come that day in Omaha, but she was pretty sure he stayed because of her and Joey. On the rare occasions she saw Tommy in the years after, it was always something important in their lives, not Daddy’s, and he always, always, would do his best to distance himself from their father. Tommy communicated mostly through texts and major-holiday phone calls in between those times. But this time it was going to be different. She had a plan.

Quickly she stifled the hope – hope was so dependent upon someone else, and that made one weak – and focused on a more practical emotion, grim determination. Tommy had texted her a few weeks back and said he’d be working right here in the windy city on some big case for the next several months. That only gave Kiki a short time to work with, but the only thing she prided as much as the fiercely stubborn Downey constitution was the Anastasio cunning. Downeys might not give up, but Anastasios make it happen.

Ducking Jessica on Michigan Avenue, she stopped in a tourist shop and fished her smart phone out. It only took a minute to find the phone number she needed.

“Hello?” a sweetly cheerful voice answered.

“Hello, Mary. It’s Kiki Downey. Do you remember me?”

In the gulf of answering silence, she could hear her Daddy’s voice in her head; ‘Now this here is what you call a Hail Mary pass…’

She smiled in anticipation.

–Copyright 2012, Genevieve Dewey.

Read on… Chapter Four, “Mary”

First, I Love You is available in print or digital format at these official retailers:

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FREE READ|#asmsg #bynr #Mafia #FamilyDrama #Romance| First, I Love You (Downey#1) Ch. 2 “James”


FILYversion413

~~~~~~~

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.

CHAPTER  ONE “Tommy”

CHAPTER TWO

 James

DEA Special Agent James Edgar Hoffman had heard a lot of absurd things in his twenty-nine years on this planet. There was the time a perp tried to talk him into believing aliens were responsible for the ball of Coke shoved up his ass. Or the time his great-uncle decided to divorce his wife of sixty-two years because she had ‘burnt his damned Spam for the last time’. Or just about anything on FOX News Network. But a cop with a mobster for a father had to take the cake. Or was it a mobster with a cop for a son? Either way, it wasn’t possible; there were policies against these things. Weren’t there? Four generations of Federal cops in his family, one would think he ought to know.

“Tommy, get in the car. I need to talk to you about your brother,” Downey demanded.

Aaaaand there it was. Confirmation that his new partner wasn’t who he said he was. Or he was, and he had just left out a few pertinent details. Like whether he was a good cop who happened to have an alleged mobster for a father or a mob plant wearing a badge. And to think James had just chewed Agent D’Amato’s ass for ‘sowing seeds of discontent’ before they left FBI headquarters. Man, he loved phrases like that. English had lost a lot of its aplomb with all this slang everybody used these days.

He looked at the interplay of emotions Detective Gates was struggling to hide from his face, and some of his initial shock and anger dissipated. No, he hadn’t been wrong about Tommy. Sometimes as a cop one just had a feel for these things. No other explanation, James just sort of knew. And he knew Tommy Gates was Team Law Enforcement. Even only knowing him a week.

He could practically feel the gears turning in the minds of Dino and Ginny behind them. He decided to take a gamble. Stepping completely in front of Tommy, he extended his hand towards the limo window.

“Hi. Special Agent James Hoffman. Nice to meet you,” James said.

Hard to say whose demeanor held the most shock, Downey or Gates. But Downey’s shock was quickly replaced with a speculative gleam.

Ahhh mobsters, James thought, so predictable.

Downey smiled, all practiced charm.

“Is that a Chicago accent I detect, Jimmy?”

“It’s James. Actually, you can call me Agent Hoffman. I mean, we haven’t actually been formally introduced,” James said, turning slightly to Tommy and meeting his stunned gaze with raised eyebrows.

Shaking his head slightly, Tommy said, “Uh, we need to get back, so…”

“Actually, we haven’t had lunch yet. You’re welcome to join us,” Ginny suggested.

Ah, Ginny was going to take his lead and run with it, good girl, James thought. Not Dino, though. He was all but vibrating with rage behind them.

“I’ll order in,” Dino gritted out through clenched teeth, then turned smartly and walked back towards Headquarters.

“I’ll talk to you later,” Tommy mumbled with a glare at his father and followed Dino.

James sighed. So much for Plan A. But as he and Ginny turned to go, the quickly masked look of longing and frustration on Downey’s face had him thinking this gamble just might pay out yet.

“Back from lunch already?” Jack Underwood greeted them with a smile when they filed in to the small conference room. He was seated in front of the wipe boards at the head of the long table, case files spread out and iPad in front of him.

“Oh, yeah, it was full of grins and giggles, but I lost my appetite when Detective Gates’ dear old Dad showed up,” Dino sneered as he headed towards Jack.

Standing up quickly, Jack looked worried.

“What’d Downey want?” Jack asked, all cheerfulness gone.

“So you knew?” Dino exclaimed. “How could this guy even be allowed on the police force? How could you assign him to this task force knowing he has connections to organized crime!?”

“Calm down, Dino, I’m sure there’s a reasonable explanation,” Ginny said, pointedly looking at Tommy.

She sat down next to Jack on the opposite side of the table and looked expectant. But Tommy still wasn’t talking. He was looking a little pale, like he wanted to vomit, standing and staring out the windows lining the left side of the room. Agent Underwood opened his mouth, but James sent him a silent ‘I got this’ look. James sat down nearest the door they had just entered to better keep an eye on all the players, then leaned back in his chair and propped his feet up on the table.

Nothing like engaging in a spirited debate with a closed-minded individual, he thought, and prepared to enjoy Dino’s frustration.

Technically,” James drawled. “Downey’s never been convicted of anything.”

“He was charged with nine counts, including racketeering, fraud, extortion, money laundering and—”

“Yeah, some twenty years ago,” James interrupted.

“And since then he has only moved further in the ranks, piling up conveniently disappearing enemies and money making schemes! Just because—”

“There’s no indication he is currently engaging in those alleged activities, for the last several years. In fact, word on the street is he’s retired—”

“He moved to Chicago! No one in the Mob ‘retires’ to Chicago!”

“—and he could be useful,” James continued, still using his deliberately bored, speaking to a child tone he knew irritated Dino.

Tommy whipped around and stared at James. Dino looked like he was about to pop a vessel.

Yep, this is going to get good, James thought. Too bad he didn’t have any popcorn.

“First, I shouldn’t have to remind you that our mission here is to isolate the players in this particular human trafficking ring,” James continued. “How they’re moving product, who’s collecting vig, so on and so forth, and determine the best way to proceed towards a win-able case.”

James held up a finger up as Dino opened his mouth to interrupt again. “And we have to use every means possible to cultivate as many… contacts… on the other side as we can. As you say, Agent D’Amato, Downey lives in Chicago, where Gates and I will be working. I personally don’t care how Tommy managed to slip through the background checks preventing cops with known mafia connections from getting on the force. All I care about is stopping these sons of bitches any way possible, and his father is in a position to provide us with—”

“NO,” Tommy all but shouted.

Everyone looked at Tommy.

Hmmmmnn, interesting, James thought.

“Look…” Tommy paused and ran his hand through his hair, panicked eyes darting between Jack and James. “Look, you know how these guys operate. There’s no way he would agree to help, it would be suicide. Retired or not, he exists only as long as he keeps the current players happy. Even if I agreed to ask, which I won’t, I barely know the guy. We’ve interacted maybe five times in my entire life. And to answer your question…”

Tommy paused again and turned towards Dino. “It’s not a secret. My mother and I were in Witness Protection so the records were sealed in his old case files. After mom left the program and we took our names back, it still wouldn’t have shown up in the police background check because my birth certificate didn’t indicate him as my father. When I applied to the Police Academy, I didn’t indicate a known Conflict of Interest on my application because he wasn’t a part of my life. Still, Jack – Agent Underwood – decided we should talk to Internal Affairs anyway and asked whether having any association with my siblings in the future would present a problem. He explained the situation since he was one of the original agents who worked the case and helped facilitate my mother’s testimony and placement with the Marshals. The commission and the board decided, based on his recommendation, that as long as I never worked any cases involving my father – not hard since he was living in New York at the time – there would be no issue. So, while it’s not exactly common knowledge, it’s not a secret either.”

“But, by your own admission, you have had interaction with him since you became a police officer and he apparently is familiar enough with you to call you son and demand your help,” Ginny interjected, though not unkindly.

“And those interactions still should have shown up in our files unless someone was actively suppressing the information,” Dino added with a withering look at Agent Underwood.

“Last I checked, you and Ginny don’t work on Gambino cases so it’s perfectly understandable you missed it,” James said disingenuously.

Jack moved to stand next to Tommy and placed a bracing hand on his shoulder, clearing his throat in an imperious manner. James sat upright at the table and Ginny leaned forward intently. Even Dino stopped glaring at James long enough to pay attention to what Jack was going to say.

“Only a few people knew Tommy was Mickey Downey’s son at the time of his trial twenty years ago,” Agent Underwood said calmly. “Downey kept Tommy and his mother in a Brooklyn brownstone and though a few of his close acquaintances knew Mary Gates was his mistress, he never publicly acknowledged that Tommy was his, to keep things smooth with his wife and his boss, who was also his father-in-law. There were whispers, speculation, nothing more. After they disappeared off the radar, there would have been no reason to bring it up in surveillance. I transferred to the Omaha division for personal reasons not too long after the hung jury, but whenever I would check in on Downey’s case, he was making every appearance of the devoted family man, no mention of a missing child in his circles.”

Jack took a deep breath and rubbed his face before continuing, “I know it goes against protocol, but I had kept in contact with Mary, visiting her from time to time in a safe location. I was known as ‘Uncle Jack’ to Tommy. When Mary chose to leave the program, her caseworker and I agreed that it was only a matter of time before Downey found them. From everything we knew of the man there was no way he had stopped looking despite appearances. So my wife and I reached out to her and suggested she move to Omaha where I could keep an informal eye on her and Tommy. It was less than a year later that Downey showed up. I believe it would have been sooner, but I think he waited until he could be sure his ducks were in a row after Giovanni Anastasio’s death.”

James looked at the frustrated frown on Dino’s face and he thought, playtime over, time to address the elephant in the room. Looking Tommy in the eye, he tried to make his body language say, ‘hey, I’m on your side, give me something to go on here’.

“It’s easy to see why an isolated event may have slipped under the radar, alleged mobsters make business trips all the time.” James said. “But if Downey’s been in contact since you’ve been a cop, however briefly, and you’ve acknowledged a relationship with your siblings, then Agents Pitney and Jackson will have known about it. So would everyone else working on cases regarding known associates of the Gambino crime family. It is a little odd that such a thing has never come to our knowledge, or the Press’s knowledge, even if we aren’t directly involved in any cases regarding Downey.”

“Pitney and Jackson do know about it,” Tommy replied. “They’ve been known to have men in unmarked cars just happen to drive by whenever these rare events occur. As far as the Press goes, I think if you looked at Gangland News, the New York Post, or any of the other Mob-watcher blogs, you’d see it’s not a secret at all that Kiki and Joe Downey have a brother from the other side of the blanket. It’s just not brought up because, as you pointed out earlier, my father was supposedly retired by the time I started interacting with my brother and sister on an occasional basis. Almost all the people who could still hold a grudge about my mother’s so-called betrayal are either dead or out of the country. I’ve never shown up in New York to open up old wounds and get the tongues wagging. It simply wasn’t news worthy. Maybe if he’d retired to Omaha it might’ve come up again, but he picked Chicago. For what it’s worth, I think my father did his best to squash any mention of me to all but a few in his circles when he was still king of the mountain, and when he ceded command, it just became… a non-issue, so to speak. As for your circles—”

Our circles,” Ginny interrupted with an encouraging smile.

James was gratified to see that Tommy seemed to be relaxing somewhat under the unspoken tag team that he and Ginny were employing. He needed Tommy on board, not on the defensive.

“Our circles,” Tommy sighed in agreement. “Like I said, Internal Affairs knows about it, so do people keeping a watch on all things Downey and Gambino. I’m not working any cases that remotely involve him. It’s not a matter of suppressing information, it’s a matter of whether the information is pertinent, and it’s not in this case.”

“Unless Downey is not actually retired and is involved in this trafficking ring, and then it could compromise our case,” Dino pointed out.

“I don’t think that will be an issue, or I wouldn’t have assigned Tommy to our subgroup. And the Director must agree since he approved the request. Each of you brings a strength to this team. Why do you think I mentioned on the first day that he has unique contacts in the underworld? I had no intention of hiding this fact from you, I just wanted us to be further along before we played that card. Tommy deserves to be measured on his own merits, not that of his father’s,” Jack said, firm tone closing the matter.

Well said, James thought.

He was still waiting for that day himself. He’d had plenty of experience dodging expectations and resentful murmurs when he worked with the FBI on cases. James’ father was a well-known FBI agent in counter-terrorism, his grandfather was one of Hoover’s best men in the heyday of the unfettered wiretap, and his great-grandfather was a Pinkerton. James’ half-assed idea of bucking expectations was applying to the DEA, instead of the FBI.

He could still remember his dad’s outrage; ‘Anybody with a high-school diploma can become a DEA agent, it takes smarts to work for the FBI!’

To which James had rightly pointed out that several of his dad’s closest friends were highly intelligent and well-trained DEA agents, and further (since it irritated his father to be reminded of this and he loved pushing his buttons), that had it not been for certain prescient DEA agents, La Cosa Nostra would not have been exposed for what it was under a purposefully myopic Hoover. Still, debates in the Hoffman household were of degrees of law enforcement. He couldn’t fathom trying to navigate being a cop and the son of such an infamous gangster, even if said gangster was supposedly now retired.

James let the soft drone of the others’ voices slide over him as he kept picturing the longing look on Mickey Downey’s face and the conflicted one on Gates’. He’d bet his badge there was more to this story than Gates or Underwood were letting on, but every instinct in his bones was screaming that Downey had the potential to be a very valuable chess piece in this trafficking case.

Here they would be flying out to Chicago at the end of the week, right where Downey currently lived, and yet Downey had come to DC to see his son. James felt like somebody had dumped one of those thousand piece puzzles right in front of him, tied his hands behind his back and turned off the lights.

Good thing he liked a challenge.

–Copyright 2012, Genevieve Dewey.

Read on… Chapter Three, “Kiki”

 

First, I Love You is available in print or digital format at these official retailers:

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FREE READ|#asmsg #bynr #Mafia #FamilyDrama #Romance| First, I Love You (Downey#1) Ch. 1 “Tommy”


For the month of January, I will post a chapter at a time of First, I Love You. That will be at least half of it–around 150 pages of the paperback book. I think this gives people a feel for the different style of writing I have in that book, which is written almost like a third-person memoir and each chapter is from the point of view of one of the six main characters. That’s tough for some to swallow as a concept, but a significant majority of those who’ve read First, I Love You have said they ended up enjoying it.

When I started it, I wanted the reader to get to know the thoughts and personality of these people in the first book before I hit the ground running with the story I had to tell. Second of All (Downey #2) and Third Time’s The Charm (Downey #3) have their own “feel” and “tone”, and the chapters are not constrained to each person as in First, I Love You.  Second of All contains a lot of flashbacks (ala Godfather II), and is more introspective and romantic than First, I Love You. Third Time has a more suspense feel to it.

First, I Love You was the first book I ever wrote, and telling that story was both cathartic and emotionally wrenching. As many authors have found out, there is a difference between having a story to tell and actually writing it. I have learned a great deal since the day I sat down to write First, I Love You in January 2012.

I am going to post the first three chapters today (in separate posts) since that is the standard sample size. Then I will post a chapter every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday for the remainder of the month. I hope you enjoy getting to know the Downeys, along with James and Ginny! If you are enjoying the story, please spread the word to your friends and/or add it to Goodreads! Thank you!

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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.

CHAPTER ONE

 Tommy

Washington, DC

Warm breath billowed out in front of Tommy Gates as he stood outside the Hoover Building on a chilly February morning. He could feel his heart beating staccato and wondered, as always, at what point would the others’ eyes change from welcome camaraderie to mistrust, and sometimes, disgust. Even those that didn’t question his loyalties remained wary of what associating with him would bring. It made him feel like a little boy again, instead of a twenty-five year old man, standing to the side of the playground wanting desperately to be picked next. Wanting to fit in. To belong. To be part of a crew.

Guess that’s one thing me and the old man have in common, Tommy thought.

A quick puff of air warmed his face as he chuckled in humor. Ignoring the sick, squirming, uncertain feeling in his stomach every time he thought of his father, he straightened his shoulders and carefully arranged his face into a practiced mask of indifferent confidence.

“Fuck ’em,” Tommy huffed softly, and entered the building.

Past security, a sea of faces and bustling bodies blurred in his usually observant mind as he made his way to the room number written in an untidy scrawl on the back of a business card. He didn’t bother knocking and instead quietly slipped inside the room. It was a relatively small conference room with an oblong table in the middle, but no one was sitting at it. They were all standing along the walls, except for two men standing in front of a portable screen full of pictures and flow charts. At the front of the room, Agent Jack Underwood didn’t pause in his speech but his tired, intelligent eyes seemed to light up slightly at the sight of Tommy’s entrance.

No one else appeared to notice Tommy had arrived, or were too polite to make a point of it. Tommy took a moment to scan the room and assess the competition. Colleagues, he mentally corrected, colleagues. He could easily spot the Feds. He could always spot the Feds, even in this modern version of the FBI. There were about a dozen people in the room, including the two up front, and the Home Team were standing as a unit on the right side of the room, while three odd men out kept at least two feet apart from each other on the opposite side like they were waiting to be picked for Red Rover.

Some things never change, Tommy thought.

As Tommy glanced back towards Jack, he thought he caught a sardonic twinkle in the eye of the agent standing next to Jack at the front, as if he shared in the joke. Federal Marshal, maybe? The few he had met never seemed to recognize themselves as swimming in the same Department of Justice pool. It was doubtful he was a fellow lowly law enforcement officer sent here to be a cog in the wheel of yet another Joint Task Force for Patting Ourselves on the Back. He pursed his lips and mentally took himself to task. It wouldn’t do to start out the thing with a chip on his shoulder. He should be thanking his lucky stars his friend and mentor had listened to him, recommended him, no doubt fought for him to be here today. He was startled from his thoughts by the sound of his name.

“Tommy, glad you could make it! Everyone, I’d like to introduce you to my colleague Detective Thomas Gates of the Omaha Police Department. His extensive knowledge of Organized Crime and his underground contacts will no doubt be of great benefit to us. I’ve already briefed him on where our case stands. He’ll be working with myself and Agent James Hoffman of the DEA for the next few months in Chicago,” Jack Underwood said with a smile.

Jack gestured to the casually dressed man who had shared the conspiratorial look with Tommy. Agent Hoffman grinned, showing deep set dimples that seemed to accentuate his relaxed body language and the humor in his blue eyes. His dark complexion suggested some Middle Eastern or Northern African heritage.

“The Director has agreed to appoint Special Agents Dino D’Amato and Ginny Sommers from the Organized Crime Section to be our FBI liaisons here in DC.”

Jack nodded to a swarthy, sour-looking middle aged man on the Home Team dressed in a classic suit and a pretty blond haired woman around Tommy’s age, dressed in slacks, formfitting sweater, and the most impractical heels he had ever seen a cop wear. It wasn’t hard to guess who played ‘Bad Cop’ in their interrogations.

“Detective Gates, if you could come up here and give us a quick overview on what your department has been able to gather regarding the trafficking activity in your area?”

Tommy smiled at Jack and walked forward to stand in front of the mix of Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and a few select detectives that made up a newly formed human trafficking task force. Its members had been chosen from various larger task forces to assess the scope of a growing trafficking ring stretching from New York to Chicago along the lakes. The recent bust of a truck on the I-80 corridor in Nebraska carrying half a dozen pre-teen girls had clued Tommy in that the geographical scope of this ring was rapidly expanding. But the terrified girls weren’t talking, even with their Russian translators, and his boss at OPD felt there was no reason to suspect a larger, more organized operation was at play here. Were they being smuggled in? Perhaps. But sold on the black market? Tommy had no proof – yet – but a gnawing sensation in his gut told him that the two were connected.

But being newly made detective, against quite a lot of resistance, his ‘gut’ didn’t get much traction. Still, he was pretty sure the Russian Mafia were smuggling young girls and boys into and out of the country and using the well-trod drug routes to do it. This had to mean they were working with either the Drug Cartels or the US Mafia, maybe even both. He had bypassed the call to the Omaha division of the FBI and tipped off his old family friend, ‘Uncle’ Jack in Chicago. He knew Jack would take him seriously. Just as he had when Tommy had decided to become a cop, a dream that never would have happened without Jack’s pull. Looking at the curious, slightly skeptical faces staring expectantly at him, he thought of the only piece of advice from his father he valued, ‘When in doubt, bullshit ’til you believe it’.

It was later in the week, just as Tommy was beginning to relax, that the other shoe dropped. He and James Hoffman were walking side by side in front of Dino D’Amato and Ginny Sommers on their way to a favorite lunch hangout of the local law enforcement. Tommy was anxious to get out of DC and head to Chicago with Jack and James, but he didn’t want to jinx the progress he had made with the Task Force, so he kept up his mask of enthusiasm. They had just begun to hammer out a functional working relationship in their subunit in spite of the often clashing egos in the room and he desperately needed the connections and clout of the federal arm to bust this ring.

He didn’t mind Ginny and James so much, but Dino seemed to suspect there was more to Tommy’s story than the one he had carefully rehearsed when asked about his life back home. Dino just would not let up asking questions about Tommy’s background. Tommy had to give him credit; Dino was a good cop and could smell an obvious omission a mile away. Too bad he had all the charm of a horse’s ass.

“Is it just me, or is there a limo following us?” James asked, voice brimming with humor and a practiced sort of ennui.

Tommy frowned and kept his eyes straight ahead as he quickened his pace.

“Oh, well spotted. Not bad for a DEA slag,” Dino mocked.

“Look, can you two not bicker for five seconds? Aren’t we all on the same side? Isn’t this about interagency cooperation?” Ginny asked in a slightly breathless tone.

He could hear her struggling right behind him to catch up in her heels. Why the hell did she wear those damn things? Tommy thought.

“Which question should we answer first, Agent Sommers? Do we get milk and cookies after?” James bantered, turning around to her with his easy smile.

The man probably has the ladies falling all over him, Tommy snickered to himself and turned to share a grin with James. Unfortunately, turning his head towards James gave Tommy a clear view of the street and the limo in question and he knew with a sinking feeling it was the one he feared most.

He wouldn’t do this to me, he wouldn’t, Tommy thought.

“Best bets? Senator or ambassador. It’s a nice ride, right down to the bullet proof glass and the armor plated sides.” Dino said, dismissing the sleek black limo with a bored tone in his voice.

“Yes, Agent D’Amato, but as Agent Hoffman has already pointed out, it is following us. Why?” Ginny asked, showing the first signs of losing her perky attitude.

Tommy sighed and tried to think of a graceful way to duck his new colleagues – had he dared think potential friends? – long enough to put off the inevitable just a little bit. His scrambled thoughts were interrupted by the slow snick of a window being lowered.

“For God’s sake, son, are we going to do this all day? Get in the car, I need to talk to you,” Mickey Downey said, arching a dark eyebrow, his emerald green eyes full of implacable command. His cold gaze swept briefly over the Federal Agents and dismissed them just as quickly.

Tommy felt rather than saw the stiffened shock from Ginny and Dino as he stopped and faced his father. They moved behind him, but James remained where he stood between Tommy and the limo. Tommy knew they needed no introduction to recognize one of the most notorious mobsters – make that allegedly ‘retired’ mobsters – in the country. One of the few Irish mobsters allowed to rise to the highest ranks in La Cosa Nostra in New York. It was universally accepted this was due to his completely ruthless nature, ability to make scads of money, and the fact he was the son of a gangster who was the son of a gangster of the original so-called ‘Gangs of New York’. Michael Downey had grown up elbow to elbow with the most powerful men in the Gambino and Genovese Crime families.

His uncanny knack for making money without even trying earned him the nickname ‘Magic Mickey’ Downey. It had seemed only natural that Mickey marry the daughter of the Boss of the Gambinos, securing himself a lucrative but loveless path to second in command. When the RICO charges came down for Downey and his father-in-law, he stayed true to his code of silence and never flipped on his boss in spite of the bitter estrangement from his wife. It was the damning testimony of his mistress, Mary Gates that sent shockwaves through the community. Not that it was enough for a conviction. The jury conveniently deadlocked and Michael ‘Mickey’ Downey slipped through the system yet again. Mary Gates and her young son disappeared shortly after.

Thomas Michael Gates was not quite ten the first time his father came looking for him. To this day, he could still remember the suffocating smell of leather shoes and his mother’s stale perfume in the coat closet where she had hastily shoved him. He could see her through the crack pacing back and forth with the phone to her ear.

“Jack, Jack – you’ve got to get over here! He’s here! He’s here! How did he find us? Oh God—” she choked out.

The doorbell rang, echoing through the sudden silence. His mother never moved from her spot as if she had been frozen by one of the freeze ray guns in his favorite cartoon. The front door opened and he could hear the soft click, click, click of a man’s shoes on the faded linoleum of their small dining room and kitchen.

“What’s the matter, Mary girl? Cat got your tongue?” a gravelly voice purred.

Tommy couldn’t quite make out his mother’s face but he could hear the fear in her voice as she replied.

“What are you doing here? Why have you come? Why now?” she half sobbed.

“Where’s the boy, Mary?”

“Gone. He – he’s not here. I-I-I’ve made sure he’s somewhere safe. Somewhere you’ll never find him!”

Tommy frowned, thinking as far as hiding spots went, the coat closet across the foyer from the kitchen didn’t seem to qualify as ‘someplace you’ll never find him’. Assuming the ‘him’ was… well, him. Something was familiar about this man, he couldn’t place what, only knew that whoever he was, he was scaring Tommy’s mom. And as the resident man of the house – that’s what his mama always called him, her ‘little man’ – Tommy would have to protect her.

He looked around the closet and grabbed one of her fancy shoes she prized so much and inched closer to the door, ready to spring into action. He cracked the closet door open a small amount more as quietly as he could. The man’s back was almost hiding Mama from view as they stood on opposite sides of the circular kitchen table.

“There’s no sense in making this unpleasant, Mary. I am not here to hurt you. I’ve had a lot of time to think things through and I understand why you did what you did. Them damn Feds got to you didn’t they? Twisted things around like they always do. Always sneaking in and busting up families—”

“Is that what we were, Michael?! A family? I was your whore, nothing more!” Mama said hoarsely, then stepped back and clasped her hand over her mouth as if she’d remembered Tommy was only a room away.

“You were never that to me, Mary, and you know it! You were my life, my everything! You and Tommy were my refuge from that woman and her incessant demands. I could never please her, but with you it was easy, right, so damn good until you—”

“Until I what, Michael? Had enough? You chose to marry that – that – woman! For what? Power? Money? I was a stupid foolish girl to think you would choose me and our son! Time and time again you went back to her!”

“I had no choice, you know that!”

“There’s always a choice, Michael. Always. Well, I made mine. I chose my son over your stupid filthy business!”

“Where is he?” the man hissed.

Silence stretched on. Tommy could hear his mother’s labored breathing, stifled sobs, and the rustle of clothing as the man sat down at the kitchen table. He could see them both now in profile, Mama still standing opposite, holding herself as if cold. With a sigh, the man took an intricately carved wood pipe out of his overcoat, stuffed it with tobacco and flicked open a shiny lighter to light it. He seemed to gaze everywhere but at Tommy’s mother as he puffed on the pipe.

Tommy pushed the door open just a bit more so as to get a better look at this man, the tiny beginnings of memories tracing tingles on the back of his neck. He remembered that smell. He remembered… rocking on an old oak rocking chair while the big man read him stories, always with the funny voices just like Tommy liked it. He remembered the way the man would run his fingers through Tommy’s hair and say ‘see ya later, sport’ and kiss him on the top of his head before he’d leave.

He came and he went, Mama’s special friend. But he was always kind and gentle. This man didn’t seem nice at all. The man in his memories used to lay on the floor and play cars with him like Mama would never do. He used to tell Tommy silly stories and make Mama laugh with his funny faces and the way he’d nuzzle her neck. This man seemed… cold… distant.

But then he set his pipe down and looked at Mama.

“Mary, I didn’t come here to fight, or to hurt you, I swear. I came to make peace. How long did you think you could keep my son from me? He has a right to know his father. Boys need their fathers,” the man said, his voice tired and sad like Mama’s had been a moment before.

“Boys need love. And to feel safe. Better to have no father than one who would never, could never, put his son’s needs first.”

The man made a frustrated gesture with his hand.

“What are you talking about? The danger is over. I’ve talked with my ex-wife—”

“Oh, ho? Ex-wife now? Finally had enough did you? What does Dear Old Dad say about that?”

“He’s dead.”

“I – I hadn’t heard.”

“That surprises me. I would think your friends at the FBI would have kept you informed. I mean, don’t they take care of their little rats and snitches?” he sneered.

Mama jerked as though slapped. The man seemed to regret his words.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered, almost brokenly. “Maybe I drove you to it. Maybe they tricked you. It doesn’t matter anymore, because he’s gone and Theresa’s not going to fight the divorce as long as I continue to support the kids. We have two. A girl and a boy. Don’t you think Tommy deserves to get to know his brother and sister?”

Mama seemed to not hear his words, instead, stared out the window at the sprinklers futilely battling the browning grass on an already hot Nebraska August morning. Minutes ticked away and finally she said, so low Tommy had to strain to hear her,

“What I wouldn’t have given six years ago to have heard these words from you. But now?”

The front door opened with a bang.

Uncle Jack’s booming voice rang out, “Downey! Get the hell out of this house! Now.”

The man’s entire demeanor seemed to change. Gone was the pleading, tired father, and in its place a whole other man emerged, mocking and snidely cheerful like the older boys on the playground who would pick on Tommy after school.

He stood up, sauntering towards Jack and lazily drawling out, “Well, well, well, lookie who we have here. Mr. F – B – I, himself. How much they paying you to sniff around my son’s mother? Oh, they aren’t paying you to do that anymore, are they? At least that’s what I’m told. You do it for free, then? What’s that pretty little wife of yours say about that, huh?”

“Stop it!” Mama hissed.

Uncle Jack strode forward into the kitchen and calmly stood next to Mama. She seemed to lean into him. The man curled his lip and lazily popped his pipe back in his mouth, then turned so his back was completely toward Tommy. Uncle Jack’s eyes slid to Tommy’s issuing what felt like a silent warning to keep quiet. Tommy made no attempt to hide in the closet anymore, instead moved to stand just outside the door frame. He was sure that Uncle Jack would fix it. Like he always fixed it.

“Downey, I’ve asked you to leave,” Uncle Jack said firmly. “I can have the local cops here in a second if you choose to make this difficult. Mary may no longer be in Witness Protection, against my recommendations, but I won’t hesitate to have your ass locked up for harassment in a hot second. You’ve no rights to the child. You know as well as I do that his birth certificate says ‘unknown’ for the father. You never publicly acknowledged him. Even if you forced a paternity suit, the courts tend to place children with their mothers. Oh, you can smirk all you like, but if you were to bribe your way into custody, I would not hesitate to hide them from you so deep you would never find them. I don’t care if I have to call in every marker I’ve ever had to do it, I will. You once claimed to love Mary and Tommy. Do the right thing for once in your God-forsaken life and let them be.”

The man turned his head a bit and seemed to stare at Mama like was memorizing her for a test. Then, pointedly ignoring Uncle Jack, the man walked forward until he was within touching distance of Mama.

“I’m not trying to take the boy from you, Mary. I just want to be his father. You could come back with me. Come back to New York—”

“No.”

Mama’s voice was firm, like it got when Tommy was whining for an extra cookie. She seemed to draw strength from Uncle Jack’s words and looked the man in the eyes. She didn’t seem afraid anymore, just resigned and very, very sad.

“No, we won’t come back with you, Michael. That part of my life is over now. Tommy’s better off here, with all his friends. We’ve made a life here. Without you.”

“You can’t cut me out of his life, Mary. I’m his father. He’ll—”

Tommy moved forward, still in his faded, too-small Transformers PJ’s, his Mama’s pointy shoe clutched in his hand like a weapon. The man turned his head enough to finally notice his presence. Tommy met his gaze as a thousand emotions he couldn’t even begin to define flooded through him.

“I – I – I dddon’t wanna go. And… and, you leave Mama alone,” Tommy finally stammered out.

Tommy straightened his shoulders and tried his best to look tough like Uncle Jack. His hand trembled. The man seemed to appraise him like a new item at the store. His eyes warmed and he smiled a slow, satisfied smile at Tommy.

“That’s a good boy, protecting your Mama. I’m proud of you, son. Do you remember me? Remember how I used to tuck you in at night, sing you songs?”

Tommy nodded. Mama let out a soft “Oh!”, clutching her chest. Uncle Jack frowned.

“But you don’t want to come home? You and your mom?” the man asked as he came towards Tommy and knelt down in front of him.

He smelled like sweet smoke and for a second Tommy remembered again what it was like to be rocked by him. Held safe and loved. Tommy looked at Mama and Uncle Jack over the man’s shoulder and thought of the new friends he was making in his new home. Mama had promised they would stay this time. He wanted to stay this time. And the man had made Mama cry and be afraid. He was pretty sure dads weren’t supposed to do that. Besides, it was Tommy’s job to protect Mama. He was her ‘little man’.

Tommy stepped around him and over to his mother. He put his free hand in hers and squeezed it hard.

“No.”

The man – his father! – slowly stood and turned to meet his gaze. He looked sad again.

“Well, then, young man, I’ll make you a promise. And remember this: a man’s only as good as his word, and you have mine,” his father declared in a voice that was gentle and yet businesslike at the same time.

He held out his hand as if to shake and waited until Tommy put down the shoe and placed his sweaty palm in his large, calloused hand before continuing.

“I won’t take you from your home, son,” he said firmly. “But we will meet again, you and I. And I will always be there for you if you need me. Maybe that means nothing to you now, but someday it just might.”

His father’s hand felt warm and strong, and swallowed Tommy’s own trembling palm. His green eyes seemed to be glittering as he stared at Mama and Tommy for what felt like a long time. Then he dropped Tommy’s hand, turned and left without another word.

For months afterward, Tommy wondered and worried if he would come back and take him away from his mom. But he never did. Tommy began to imagine it had all been a dream except then the presents and letters started to come on his birthday and holidays and his mother would mutter under her breath and look scared again. It made him mad and he felt like he owed it to her to not open them.

But late at night, he would imagine what was inside, and what his father was doing. If he was rocking his other kids to sleep, telling them stories, playing cars on the floor. He wondered what it was the man did that had made Mama so scared she needed to hide. To cry herself to sleep after she thought he couldn’t hear.

He was eighteen when his father showed up again, standing at the back of the room on Graduation Day with two men Tommy had instantly recognized as bodyguards. Gone was the mystery of who his father was. He knew by then just who, and what, Michael ‘Mickey’ Downey was. Google was a mighty thing. Tommy had studiously ignored his presence, and instead focused on his beaming mother’s face sitting next to Uncle Jack and Aunt Claire. They were his family.

Surprise wasn’t a strong enough word for what he had felt when he came home from the school reception to see his father sitting at the gleaming new dining table his mother had scraped and saved for. In front of Mickey lay a neatly bound stack of eight years’ worth of unopened letters, stamped ‘Return to Sender’. His dark, almost black hair was just slightly tinted with gray at the temples and his vibrant green eyes seemed to sparkle at the sight of Tommy and his mother.

Mickey stood up and extended his hand, as he had done so many years before.

“Congratulations, son,” he had said with a smile, as if eight years hadn’t passed since they’d last spoke.

And now here Tommy was again, another handful of years later, staring at his willfully obtuse father and trying to fight through the mess of impossibly conflicting emotions he always felt when face-to-face with the man who had given him life. The man who had loved his mother deeply, but drove her to a life of desperation and fear. The father who was never a real part of his life growing up, but who had never stopped, from the moment he had learned of Tommy’s whereabouts, trying to forge a relationship. The mobster whose very lifestyle was everything Tommy despised.

“Son?” James asked, interrupting Tommy’s memories.

James was still standing sideways between Tommy and the limo, looking politely confused. Tommy met his father’s eyes and blew out a frustrated breath. He had read once that a sign of intelligence was the ability to hold two opposing ideas at the same time and still be able to function.

Tommy figured he ought to be damn near genius levels by now.

–Copyright 2012, Genevieve Dewey.

Read more… Chapter Two, “James”

First, I Love You is available in print or digital format at these official retailers:

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Read reviews at Goodreads:

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#Asmsg #Bynr Nov═►Last week to win a paperback copy of Third Time’s The Charm!


This is the last week to enter the Goodreads Giveaway of Third Time’s The Charm  (open to US, UK, and Canada)!

Please click on the cover below to be taken to the Giveaway and enter to win one of THREE paperbacks!!

While you’re there, please add the book to your To Read list, because EVERYONE who is entered in the giveaway and added the book to their To-Read shelf has a chance to win 1 of 10 digital copies of Third Time’s The Charm! After Goodreads picks their three winners, I will randomly pick TEN more winners, and message you via your Goodreads account for your free digital version.

(Please remember it is necessary to read First, I Love You and Second of All prior to Third Time’s The Charm.)

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(Click on the cover)

Ends November 15th!

As always, thank you for your support!

#Asmsg #Bynr Nov═►Want a chance to win a signed copy of Third Time’s The Charm?


The last week or so I have put a great deal of thought into how wonderful my fans are. And I’m not talking about my family and friends who happen to be fans of my writing, I’m talking about perfect strangers who take the time to tweet me, send inboxes, or write a review. It amazes me and fills me with deep gratitude.

SO, I have changed my Goodreads Giveaway of Third Time’s The Charm to include my Canadian and UK fans. Please click on the cover to be taken to the Giveaway and enter to win one of THREE signed paperbacks (while you’re there please add the book to your To Read list, or rate it if you’ve already read it!):

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(Click on the cover)

Ends November 15th!

As always, thank you for your support!

REMINDER! Tons of Downey Trilogy book deals going on! Links inside! #asmg #Oct═►


There are numerous opportunities to win some books (including all THREE of The Downey Trilogy!) in October!

I am having a sale at Amazon on the Kindle version of First, I Love You (ends October 7th!) for only $.99. If you already have it, you can always gift it to a friend. If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download the free Kindle App for your iPad, Phone, or computer.

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Giveaways:

First, For The Love of Fiction offers an opportunity to win an eBook pair of First, I Love You and Second of All (Downey 1&2).

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(Click on image to enter)

Ends October 8th!!

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Second, the Great Pumpkin Escape Giveaway organized by bestselling romance author RL Mathewson. In that giveaway you have an opportunity to win a signed paperback of First, I Love You complete with swag pack.

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(Click image to enter)

You can also enter via my Facebook page!

Ends October 24th!

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Third, I’ve created a Rafflecopter to give you a chance to win one of two signed paperbacks:

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(click image to enter)

Ends October 13th.

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Last, but of course not least, please head over to Goodreads and add Third Time’s The Charm to your To Read list, then enter the giveaway to win one of THREE signed paperbacks:

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Ends November 15th!

As always, thank you for your support!