Loyalty

Curious about my books? Like drama, suspense, or romance?


The Downey Series consists of The Downey Trilogy (First, I Love You; Second of All; and Third Time’s The Charm) as well as the spin-off romances featuring Dom & Kate (The Bird Day Battalion , The V-Day Aversion, and The Good Life).

The Downey Trilogy novels are contemporary drama/suspense with a romance subplot set in Chicago and Omaha. The Dom & Kate stories are contemporary romance set in the Omaha-Lincoln area of Nebraska. It is not necessary to read The Downey Trilogy to understand the Dom & Kate stories OR vice-versa.

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[Start reading First, I Love You for FREE here on my website: Chapter One]

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KikibannerHow are the books connected?

For starters, both Detective Tommy Gates and his criminal-mastermind father Mickey Downey from The Downey Trilogy are mentioned in The Bird Day Battalion.

Not only that, but Officer Kyle Anderson (who is in all three Dom & Kate books) is briefly mentioned at the end of First, I Love You and shows up again at the end of Second of All. Tommy Gates also makes an appearance in The Good Life.

The Bird Day Battalion  occurs before First, I Love You chronologically, but The V-Day Aversion occurs the same month Tommy heads to Chicago for his human trafficking task force in The Downey Trilogy. The Good Life is set after the end of Third Time’s The Charm

It’s not just Kyle and Tommy that connect the books; Mary Gates’ best friend Claire Underwood from First, I Love You–Agent Jack Underwood’s wife–is an Anderson by birth. Her brother, Tom Anderson, is Kyle and Katelyn Anderson’s father. When Kyle Anderson refers to his Aunt Claire in the Tommy Flashback, she is literally his Aunt, versus the fictive use of the moniker by Tommy. Claire also makes a cameo in the Mickey & Mary Flashback.

You can read MORE about the characters from the Downey series here:

CHARACTER TIDBITS

MICKEY’S FAMILY TREE

You can read the free supplemental Flash-fictions here:

NEW BEGINNINGS (A Tommy Gates and Kyle Anderson Flashback)

This short scene features a young Tommy Gates and Kyle Anderson and is set shortly before the flashback scene in the first chapter of First, I Love You in which Mickey finds Mary & Tommy.

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SPIN THE BOTTLE (A Dominic Valentini and Katelyn Anderson Flashback)

This is a look at the spin the bottle game that Kate references in Bird Day Battalion. Little Tommy Gates makes a brief cameo at the party.

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ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS MY TWO FRONT KNEES (A Dominic Valentini and Katelyn Anderson Flashback)

This is a short holiday scene between Dom and Kate set the Christmas before they get together in Bird Day Battalion. It is very fluffy and G-rated. Published in A World of Joy Anthology.

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HER PRINCE (A Mickey Downey & Mary Gates Flashback)

This scene features a nineteen year old Mary Gates, freshly arrived in New York, talking with her new best friend Claire (Anderson) Underwood about the mysterious new man she started seeing, Michael…something or another.

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CONVERSATIONS AT 30,000 FT (A Maeve Downey & Ginny Sommers Missing Scene)

This is a quick missing moment from Second of All set aboard the flight to Dublin that both Maeve and Ginny are on.

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SPECIAL DELIVERY  (A Kiki Downey & James Hoffman Missing Scene)

A Kiki Downey & James Hoffman missing love scene from First, I Love You set shortly after they “hook up” for the first time as Kiki puts it. Published in A World of Romance Anthology — (Warning! 18+ For Sexual Material!)

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SECOND CHANCES (A Mickey Downey & Mary Gates Flashback)

A flashback to when Mary tells Mickey she is pregnant with Tommy, and Mickey persuades her to be his mistress. — (Warning: 18+ For Language and Brief Sexual Material)

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LETTERS FROM MICKEY DOWNEY (Letters Mickey Downey wrote to his loved ones)

These are the letters referenced in The Downey Trilogy that Mickey wrote to his loved ones over the years. In the books, the reader rarely gets to see the contents of these letters so I have begun sharing them as periodic blog posts. Check back as I add more.

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It’s September! Here’s a new Letter From Mickey for my Downey Trilogy fans:


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Dear Joey,

Your last letter gave me quite the laugh! The cheek of you! Alright then, if you want me to trust you with my jet you’re going to have to tell me what the message is hidden within this tale:

Back when Finn was still the adventuring sort and fond of women and drink — well, more so than he was at the time of this tale, in any case — he came across a young scamp. This boy said he’d take care of Finn’s horse in exchange for a few coins. Now, Finn had already spent the coin he had on the aforementioned activities, but he knew the horse was in need of care.

So, he says to the lad, “Tis true the horse needs attending but I’ve a more pressing matter that’ll earn you double the coin… if you’re interested.”

The boy’s eyes lit up at the opportunity,  for he was hungrier than a louse on a bald man, and at least three times more clever than hungry. “Oh, tell me, please,” the boy pleaded.

“Take the horse down the lane, past old man McIntyre’s, then take a right turn by the old oak and another by the raspberry thicket. There you’ll see a farm of some size. Knock on the door and say you’re delivering a message from Finnegan.”

“And what’s the message, sir?” the boy asked.

“That is the message, lad.”

The boy furrowed his brows, but agreed to take the horse. When he arrived at the place, he was greeted by an old hag rather fearsome in visage.

“Oh, ho, so Finnegan’s finally been gotten the better of, eh?” the old woman asked.

The boy opened his mouth to say something, but she waggled a wizened finger at him, “And don’t be thinkin’ I’ll be paying a thief who got the better of another thief, boyo!” Then she grabbed the horse’s reins and pulled him inside.

Realizing he had been had, the boy shouted, “Wait! I found the horse and I was just returning it. I don’t know this Finnegan. I was only hoping for a bit of bread and a place to stay. Perhaps if I clean the stall, I could rest with the horse for the night?”

The old woman paused and contemplated the offer. The boy did look rather peckish and he reminded her of her son at that age. “Alright, lad. I’ll have Moira bring you some bread and goat’s milk. Ye’ll be off at morning’s light.”

“Yes, ma’am,” he assured her.

And come the morning, her stalls shined as if they’d been built yesterday. And they were just as empty. When she returned to the kitchen, Moira asked her why she was smiling so.

“Why, because I’ve finally gotten rid of all my son’s stolen horses without having to answer any questions! What a good boy, my Finnegan is.”

 

I love you, Joey. Do try and be good in as much as that’s possible for any Downey.

Your loving father, Mickey.

Read the rest of the letters here: Letters From Mickey Downey

Fluffy, frisky, angsty!


No, they’re not Snow White’s naughty dwarfs, just missing scenes!

If you’re new here and you’d like a no-commitment taste of my books, or maybe you’re just bored, below are links to the free supplemental scenes from my novels. Some are fluffy, some frisky, well, you get the idea…

(And FYI: In between writing on my super angsty work-in-progress, and real life, I am working on another Downey/Anderson outtake set the Christmas AFTER all the books!)

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NEW BEGINNINGS (A Tommy Gates and Kyle Anderson Flashback)

This short scene features a young Tommy Gates and Kyle Anderson and is set shortly before the flashback scene in the first chapter of First, I Love You in which Mickey finds Mary & Tommy. Rated G.

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SPIN THE BOTTLE (A Dominic Valentini and Katelyn Anderson Flashback)

This is a look at the spin the bottle game that Kate references in Bird Day Battalion. Little Tommy Gates makes a brief cameo at the party. Rated PG.

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THE GOOD LIFE PROLOGUE (A Dominic Valentini and Kyle Anderson Flashback)

This is a wedding jitters scene between Dom and Kyle set before Dom’s wedding to Isabel Alesio, about three years before Dom and Kate get together in Bird Day Battalion. It’s not technically a missing scene, but I’m including it here anyway. Rated PG.

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ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS MY TWO FRONT KNEES (A Dominic Valentini and Katelyn Anderson Flashback)

This is a short holiday scene between Dom and Kate set the Christmas before they get together in Bird Day Battalion. Published in A World of Joy Anthology. Rated G.

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HER PRINCE (A Mickey Downey & Mary Gates Flashback)

This scene features a nineteen year old Mary Gates, freshly arrived in New York, talking with her new best friend Claire (Anderson) Underwood about the mysterious new man she started seeing, Michael…something or another. Rated PG.

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CONVERSATIONS AT 30,000 FT (A Maeve Downey & Ginny Sommers Missing Scene)

This is a quick missing moment from Second of All set aboard the flight to Dublin that both Maeve and Ginny are on. Rated PG.

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SPECIAL DELIVERY  (A Kiki Downey & James Hoffman Missing Scene)

A Kiki Downey & James Hoffman missing love scene from First, I Love You set shortly after they “hook up” for the first time as Kiki puts it. Published in A World of Romance Anthology – Rated R, For Sexual Material.

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SECOND CHANCES (A Mickey Downey & Mary Gates Flashback)

A flashback to when Mary tells Mickey she is pregnant with Tommy, and Mickey persuades her to be his mistress. – Rated R, For Language and Sexual Material.

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LETTERS FROM MICKEY DOWNEY (Letters Mickey Downey wrote to his loved ones)

These are the letters referenced in The Downey Trilogy that Mickey wrote to his loved ones over the years. In the books, the reader rarely gets to see the contents of these letters so I have begun sharing them as periodic blog posts. Check back as I add more. Rated PG-13.

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3 books for 3 bucks? Say what? YES! The Downey Trilogy is on sale Apr 6-12


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ALL the drama, intrigue and romance you could need for ONLY $3!

For the week of April 6th- April 12th, all three books in The Downey Trilogy have been reduced to $.99 each!

This is a great time to share your love of the Downeys with your friends! Or maybe you’ve been meaning to pick up the last book and just haven’t gotten around to it! Maybe you just thought you’d like to sink your teeth into a new series, and happen to love mafia families, cops, Federal Agents, character based dramas, stories about love, betrayal, and redemption. Maybe it’s a Tuesday.

In any case, I hope you’ll spread the word.

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First, I Love You (Downey #1)

“Love knows no time, or distance, and it certainly knows no reason.”

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Second of All (Downey #2)

“Oh, the sweet, painful pleasure of anticipation!”

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ThirdTime

Third Time’s The Charm (Downey #3)

“What makes a family is love and loyalty.”

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Another excerpt from #TheGoodLife (Dom and Kate #3)


In case you missed the excerpt last night on Facebook, here is another scene from the Dom & Kate novel, The Good Life.

On a side note, I know many of you are anxious for this novel, and I apologize for the slow-going nature. “Real life” responsibilities have an annoying way of interfering. I am still working on it, and hoping that I will catch up to where I wanted to be soon.

Thank you for your patience.

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An excerpt from THE GOOD LIFE (subject to editing, all rights reserved, etc):

 

 

“Change of plans,” Kandace began.

Katelyn groaned. “Kandy, even with me being worried, I’m pretty sure whatever you’re going to say is a bad idea.”

“Forget about the cake, I’ve pretty much had it picked out for you since you announced the engagement,” Kandace plowed over her. “We are going to go on the offensive.”

“No, no we are not…” Kate’s heart plummeted. When would she learn? One went to Kandace for shopping and baking advice, not relationship advice.

“Caroline? Hold my calls,” Kandace said into the intercom.

There was silence for a few beats as Kandace grabbed her coat and purse then, “Sure thing,” Caroline’s voice finally responded, barely concealed laughter in her voice.

“Kandace, this is a bad idea,” Katelyn argued as Kandy dragged her out of the building.

“You don’t even know what the idea is yet.”

“I don’t need to. Besides I should get back to Lincoln and help Becky finish digitizing the new archives.”

“Perfect! We were headed to Lincoln anyway.”

“We—we were?” Katelyn’s heart started racing at the determined, slightly maniacal look in her sister’s eyes.

“You and I are going to Open Harvest.”

“Open—why? How is organic produce going to help us? Is this for the wedding?”

Kandace frowned intensely as she weaved through I-80 traffic westward, but she didn’t reply. They were past the Gretna outlet mall before Kandy finally responded.

“Phase one of my plan is we’re going to get some things to bribe her with. Then, while she’s distracted with that, we’ll research her weaknesses. By the time I’m done, Isabel will love you so much she’ll be more likely to try and steal you away from Dom rather than the other way around.”

“What? How?” Katelyn smacked her head at the absurdity.

“Well, you heard Kellie! Demetria and Isabel are apparently friends. And since hippies stick together, that means she must be one of those urban-apologists. You know, completely unaware of where their food comes from, but determined to judge us mid-westerners about it just the same.  And how does one disarm a wanna-be-tree-hugger? Toss hard-to-find vegetables and hemp products at them. And if that doesn’t work, gift them with homemade herbal tinctures and salves that cause them uncontrolled itching.”

Katelyn snorted. “Truly you have a dizzying intellect,” she drawled.

“Nice. Princess Bride,” Kandace acknowledged with a grin, then continued in her Vizzini voice, “but never go in against an Anderson when marriage is on the line!”

“Ok, first flaw in your ‘logic’, for lack of a better word; Demetria is not a hippie. Liking non-GMO products has nothing to do with a social movement of the 1960s. And to assume that Isabel is a hippie by association is too ridiculous to even be addressed. And for Exhibit C, I present Dominic Valentini, who would never in a trillion years marry a hippie or urban apologist. From what I hear she’s a pediatrician who volunteers at women’s shelters. With mad cooking skills and a Master Gardener certificate.”

Kandace had her lip curled in disgust. “This is worse than I thought. She’s either a Stepford wife or a great con-artist,” she paused, tilted her head, and put up one finger in the air, “but the most salient point in our favor is Dom still left her for you.”

“Ooo, a big girl word. And used correctly even,” Kate mocked.

Kandace smacked Katelyn’s leg. “It was the word of the day on the Trophy Wife App on my iPhone,” she admitted.

The sisters met each other’s gaze and laughed in unison.

Kate grabbed Kandy’s hand and gave it a squeeze. “You’re the best, you know that?” her voice choked with emotion, “the way you always have my back…”

Kandace gave her a flummoxed side-eye. “Are you getting… weepy on me?”

Kate sighed and looked out the window. It had to be the stress of everything making her so emotional all of a sudden. She wished the wedding could just be done and over with already.

She frowned as Kandace took the Waverly exit without warning. “Thought you said we’re going to Open Harvest?”

“We’ll loop around on the south side. Gotta pick up the critters from school first.”

“How’re you and Steve doing?” Katelyn asked.

“Better than ever,” Kandy replied with a cheesy grin. “Proof you should never give up fighting for your man.”

Katelyn snorted and laughed heartily. “Kandy, I love you, but you have easily got to be the most un-self-aware person I know. If it weren’t for Kellie and Kyle, or me and Dom for that matter, you’d still be squatting at my house.”

“And if it weren’t for me, you wouldn’t be with Dom.”

“Uh, noooo,” Katelyn argued, “he told me he was going to go for it with me anyway.”

Kandace dramatically rolled her eyes and took the 84th street exit towards the south end of Lincoln. She hadn’t gone but a quarter mile past the gas station before she screeched to a halt. She put her arm out in front of Kate as the seatbelt locked in place. Kate looked down at the redundant restraint.

“Sorry. Mom reflex,” Kandace said sheepishly as she took her arm back.

“What the what?” was all Kate could say as Kandace actually backed the car up half on the side of the road, and half in her lane.

“What are you doing?” she squeaked in horror. She waved awkwardly at the furious drivers screeching around them, honking their horns and waving obscene gestures.

“Look over there!” Kandace pointed to the other side of the street.

“I see… a gas station?”

“No,” she pointed emphatically, “over,” she gritted with another furious jab in the air, “there!

Katelyn’s eyes scanned the parking lot south of the gas station and finally caught the sight of a long legged, stylish looking woman with luxurious honey-colored hair laughing with a dark-haired, middle-aged man next to a silver and black Bugatti Veyron. The woman turned her head enough for Katelyn to get a full view and finally recognize her.

“Huh. Speak of the devil,” Katelyn whispered. She wondered if the high-end sports car was Isabel’s or belonged to the Italian guy she was flirting with.

“What are the odds?” Kandace whispered back.

“Fairly high,” Kate managed to reply drolly. “We’ve established she’s here for a long visit and Omaha and Lincoln are practically attached at the hip these days. It’s not like we ran across her in York or some place.”

“Actually, York would make more sense. I read an article once in one of Steve’s law journals that said it’s a huge crossroads for truckers and drug traffickers,” Kandace argued, nodding her head up and down, eyes bulging.

Kate’s mouth worked a few dumb-struck times, then she shook her head to clear it.

“Holy spurious conclusion, Batman! How did we correlate Isabel with truckers and drug runners?”

“Katelyn,” Kandace sneered, turning Kate’s head back towards the window, “that is a million dollar car. At the frickin’ Kum and Go. Do I have to spell this out to you?”

Kate moved her eyes left and right, then slowly pried Kandy’s fingers from her jaw.

“I guess you do. First of all, it’s a Phillips 66; there aren’t any Kum and Gos in Lincoln anymore.”

“Oh my God, who freakin’ cares what it’s—”

“And so what, she knows a rich guy,” Katelyn continued with shrug. “Or maybe it’s her who’s rich. Don’t you have to be at least a little bit flush in the pockets to get married at the Heinz chapel? That’s where she and Dom got married, remember?”

“It’s not hers,” Kandace nudged her head towards the window again. Kate watched the man get in the car on the driver’s side and Isabel on the passenger’s. The man pulled out of the parking lot and headed south on 84th.

“Her second day in Nebraska and she’s meeting a Mafia king pin,” Kandace clucked, shaking her head in derision as she pulled out after it.

Katelyn’s laughs filled Kandace’s mom-mobile. She laughed so hard that tears escaped and she actually had to gasp for breath.

“Kandy, that’s so stupid I don’t even know where to begin! First, there are no Mafia kingpins in Nebraska, and second, speaking as someone who is about to marry a man of Italian-American descent, it is extremely offensive that you assume he’s some sort of mobster just because he’s Italian.”

“Excuse me, I did no such thing! I assume he’s a criminal because he has a car that costs more than my wealthy husband’s house—”

“By a few thousand dollars…”

“A few hundred thousand dollars. At a gas station people only go to for Pick 5 tickets and drugs—”

“And gasoline and food.”

“And he’s hanging out with a woman half his age from where all the mobsters live in Pennsylvania.”

“She’s from Pittsburg, not Philly.”

“Same difference!”

“Yes, that’s why they put them right next to each other and named them the same thing,” Kate retorted sarcastically. “Besides, if he was a wealthy drug lord he wouldn’t actually be doing some drug deal at a gas station, you know that, right?”

“Why are you being so difficult?”

“Why are you being so insane?”

Kandace didn’t answer, instead she just kept following the Bugatti when it turned west on Havelock.

“I thought you had to pick up the kids?”

Kandy tapped an icon on the screen on the dash of her car. “Carm? Can you tell Steve I’ll be running late and he’ll have to take the boys to peewee football?”

“Sure thing, Mrs. Cheney.”

Katelyn smacked her forehead for what felt like the twentieth time this afternoon. “You are seriously going to make your lawyer husband take time off to pick up your kids when you’re a stay-at-home mom?”

“I am a business owner now. We share duties.”

“Translation: Steve is back to overindulging your whims and fancies. And you are not currently giving me whiplash and breaking traffic laws for business purposes,” Kate said, white-knuckling the Jesus-handle over her door.

“Carmela would have said something if he had a conflict. And Steve likes pampering me. You should consider letting your man do the same every once in a while or you’ll end up as puckered as Kel.”

“Uuuugh! How is it possible you can be so talented at baking and finances, yet be such a flighty idjit all at the same time? I’m telling you, Kellie was right, and I was worrying for nothing.”

“And I’m telling you she has a hidden agenda!”

“Please stop following them. Please.”

“Nope.”

“If you get us arrested or killed I will seriously hurt you.”

“Exactly how could you hurt me if you’re—”

Katelyn’s phone belted “Ring of Fire” and she gave her sister the ‘talk to the hand’ gesture.

“Hey Dom,” she answered, still gripping the ceiling handle and closing her eyes so she wouldn’t have to watch the traffic.

“Whatsa happenin’ hotstuff,” Dom answered, Sixteen Candles style.

“My sister’s trying to kill me. What’s up with you?” she answered shakily.

Dom’s deep chuckles tickled her ear. “Speaking of Andersons with a death wish, your brother has invited us over to watch the game. That’s three date nights in a row, in case you’re counting. Don’t say I don’t know how to treat my laaaday,” he drawled in a comedical deep voice.

Kate laughed at his smug, yet goofy tone. “Which game?”

“Do you care?”

“No,” she admitted with a little shrug. “Who all’s coming?”

“Mmn, his partner for starters.”

“Wuuuut? No,” she whined. Tommy Gates was always so broody and quiet. Getting conversation out of him was like squeezing blood from a turnip. She far preferred the daring, brash extrovert type like Dom. Well, obviously.

“And who else?” she asked, thinking it was odd that Kyle would invite Tommy when he was inviting Dom. The two never hung out together.

“Well, Kyle said Izzy was going to stop by.”

“Isabel?”

“Yeah, so I said, hey why don’t you invite Tommy? To even things out,” Dom replied in a rush.

“How is that even? Three guys and two women who don’t know each other?”

“I just mean, you know, one of my exes, one of yours… maybe they’d hit it off…” he trailed off.

“I’m pretty sure Tommy’s involved with someone, and surely you would not be so clueless as to compare one chaste date with Tommy with a marriage to Isabel. In which sex was involved.”

There was pointed silence on the other end.

Kate plowed ahead to cement the point. “And did you consider maybe Kyle wanted Isabel to come over to spend time with him alone? Unlike Tommy, Isabel is not currently involved with someone.”

“I doubt that’s it,” Dom continued, tone still infuriatingly oblivious. “I mean, why would he?”

She wanted to argue the point, but she couldn’t very well admit that Kyle was supposed to be schmoozing Isabel because she asked him to.

“Besides,” Dom continued, “when Kyle first asked her, she said she’d be spending the whole day with her great aunt in Papillion baking for some charity thing, but when she heard I’d be there she insisted she could make time for the game. I guess she has something she wanted to give me.”

“Reaaally,” Kate drawled.

She opened her eyes to look over at a smirking Kandace. “Papillion?” Kandace mouthed.

“I mean we don’t have to go…” he said, his voice finally seeming to catch a clue something was wrong.

“Nope, it’s fine. Sounds like fun,” she chirped.

“Kaaay,” Dom replied doubtfully.

“Loveyoubye,” she said quickly and tapped ‘end’.

She tossed the phone in a drink hole on the console and met her sister’s grim and smug countenance with narrowed eyes.

She’s going down.”

Kandace laughed and floored the gas pedal.

–“The Good Life”, Copyright 2014 by Genevieve Dewey.

FREE READ|#asmsg #bynr #Mafia #FamilyDrama #Romance|First, I Love You Ch. 14


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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”

CHAPTER EIGHT “James”

CHAPTER NINE “Kiki”

CHAPTER TEN “Mary”

CHAPTER ELEVEN “Mickey”

CHAPTER TWELVE “Ginny”

CHAPTER THIRTEEN “Tommy”

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

 James

 

 

 

 

James figured, as he lounged against the grungy alley wall waiting for his snitch, that if he could just find the right way to crack Tommy, he could be free to give Kiki what she obviously wanted. He wasn’t stupid. She was making all those typical female noises about meeting the friends, maybe even the family. But they’d only been together a little over a month since they’d met at her party. And ‘together’ was stretching it a bit. Sure, they talked every day, saw each other more days than not, but that didn’t mean they were together together. And even though it was also true he couldn’t get her off his mind, found himself thinking about her at odd moments in the day, found excuses to see her when he really should be focusing on the case, still… they had barely started whatever it was that it was.

She was beautiful and intelligent and sexy and fun to be with, surprisingly so given how young she was, but going public and making it official with friends and family instead of the nameless strangers at museums and parks? He wasn’t sure even if he wasn’t trying to work her family for information if he would be ready for that. But what he did know for sure was that it couldn’t happen before Tommy agreed to get Downey on board. It would complicate things too much. Everyone would have their two cents to put in, and Downey would no doubt run the other direction or demand Kiki stop the relationship. Or both. And neither thing sat well with James.

But something was going to have to be done. Take this morning, for instance, she springs on him that they’re supposed to be meeting up with Tommy and Ginny for drinks after work. And he, naturally, balked at this idea. First, she said it while trailing her manicured nails down his lower abdomen, tracing a teasing pattern that had his mind and willpower at seriously subpar levels, and second, she cloaked it in a manner in which he didn’t have a logical reason to refuse.

“You and Ginny and my brother will just go out for Happy Hour like you’ve been doing most days. I already told my brother I’d join him and he thought it was a great idea. He doesn’t have to know you knew in advance I’d be there. We can just feel them out. We don’t have to acknowledge that we’ve already been seeing each other but it could be, like, a dry run. Ease them into the idea. You see? And anyway, Tommy needs help with Ginny, she obviously likes him and I think he likes her, but a snail could move faster—”

“Mmnnn… Katherine, you’ve got to stop with these games. People aren’t dolls… Ahhh, stop that, baby, I got to get to work,” he had said as she teased him with her hair and one delightful fingertip.

This girl ought to just change her name to Mata Hari.

But he’d ended up agreeing, because what else could he do? If he all of a sudden made an excuse not to go to Happy Hour with Tommy and Ginny it would confirm Ginny’s suspicions, and she might go to Tommy, and that would derail his progress. It was frankly a miracle she hadn’t said anything yet, especially after stupid Ted’s drunken ramblings last weekend. Added to that, he could tell by the stubborn, challenging glint in Kiki’s eyes that if he refused it would cause trouble between them.

Besides, maybe Kiki had a point. Maybe if they simply openly admired each other, flirted a bit, it wouldn’t seem like he was using her to Ginny and then she would back off her meaningful glares and pointed looks. And Tommy wouldn’t have to know he and Kiki had already been together until after they’d bagged Bonanno. If they were even still together then. Because who knew where this thing would lead? Surely something this hot and heavy would burn out soon enough. That’s why he didn’t want to involve anyone else. It was confusing enough without her family and his family weighing in on it.

James checked his watch again, worried he wouldn’t make it back to headquarters in time if his snitch didn’t show. He’d gotten a mysterious text from one of O’Rourke’s crew saying he had info on the hit on his boss, and since this confidential informant had dropped some fairly reliable info in the past for him in exchange for getting let off on a midlevel narcotics charge, James had sacrificed his lunch break to meet him. Besides, he’d obviously be seeing Kiki tonight for the Happy Hour of Doom. Maybe she’d be so grateful…

He heard a car door slamming and turned, walking towards the noise on the other side of the abandoned building. His neck prickled. He probably should have brought Tommy along for back-up but he wanted to keep this guy to himself. An O’Rourke snitch was a rare breed. He un-holstered his weapon and crept around the side, using a pocket mirror to see what was down the other alley. His CI was walking forward darting nervous glances left and right. Behind him was a man who seemed vaguely familiar standing in front of a black Lincoln.

Yep, shoulda brought backup. He flattened back against the wall.

“Hoffman! Hey, Hoffman! Come out,” he heard his snitch O’Brien say, voice trembling. “Hoffman, ain’t no use man. They already know you’re meeting with me. They just wanna talk.”

James battled with the desire to know who ‘they’ were versus the obvious disadvantage he had. It couldn’t be O’Rourke’s people or the snitch would already be dead. O’Rourke had a less than zero tolerance for rats. Meaning he tended to go the extra mile and kill a guy’s entire family to cement the message when he so much as suspected a leak. But then again… O’Rourke was now dead. Hmmmnn. He heard another car door slam.

“Come on out and play, Jimmy. Isn’t this what you’ve been angling for?” a gravelly voice James clearly recognized said.

Not the Downey I’d hoped to spend lunch with, he thought with dark humor.

James walked around the corner and faced Kiki’s father. O’Brien was shifting back and forth on his feet like he was preparing to run. The man in the suit next to the limo fondled his high caliber weapon.

Well, shit on a stick.

Downey smiled and walked forward, leaving a distance between him and the other men. James quickly weighed his options and went with his instincts.

“This isn’t about the hit, is it?” he asked politely, attempting to remain professional.

“On the contrary. I have information you and your friends might find interesting. And I’ll give it to you for a reasonable price,” Downey replied silkily.

James’ guts knotted up. This was too easy. What was going on? Downey’s eyes held cold menace, but his smile was pure honey. The classic phrase ‘Make him an offer he can’t refuse’ rang in his head.

“Depends on the information,” James replied.

Downey chuckled. “Come on now, Jimmy boy, we both know this is what you’ve been angling for,” Downey repeated. “This is why you’ve been sniffing around my daughter and schmoozing up my oldest son, isn’t it?”

James’ heart stuttered a bit. “What are you talking about?” he bluffed.

“Your little toy here’s been quite the chatty Cathy. Been selling his information to the highest bidder for quite some time now. Luckily, I find it useful to keep my ears and eyes open even in my retirement, know what I’m sayin’? With O’Rourke gone, it’s only natural the little mice come running to the nearest protector. He tells me you’re investigating an acquaintance of mine, you might even call him family. And we all know there’s nothing more important than family… ain’t that right, Jimmy?” Downey sneered.

“It’s James, Mr. Downey, and if you’ve information to aid us in our case we’d be more than happy to take it, confidentially of course,” James said as calmly as he could.

“Tell me. What kind of a man uses an innocent little girl because he doesn’t have enough balls or competence to get the job done himself?” Downey replied.

James’ ears were ringing from a combination of anger and fear. He looked Downey in the eyes and forced himself to walk forward.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” James answered slowly and firmly.

Downey reached into his coat and brought out an envelope which he opened lazily. He took out pictures of Kiki and James kissing at Grant Park. James gritted his teeth. So much for keeping the families out of it. He looked back at Downey and kept his poker face on.

“And?” he asked.

Downey looked mildly impressed. He stepped forward. They were now almost toe-to-toe. James forced himself not to step back.

“This is how it’s going to go,” Downey said softly. “You’re going to take this envelope, with these pictures and some information on O’Rourke’s connection to Teplov’s operation. You’ll find there’s nothing on Bonanno, nor will you get anything from me on him. But in exchange for this information on the Russians, you’re going to break things off with my daughter immediately. No one ever needs to know of this. See, your snitch O’Brien over there has delusions of grandeur, fancies himself moving up the ranks now his former boss is gone. So he’s going to keep his mouth shut about this meeting, because I’m going to help make his petty little dreams come true. His mouth speaks only what I tell it to speak from now on, and he understands what’s at stake if he doesn’t. You seem like a real smart boy, Jimmy, so I don’t suppose I gotta explain what’s at stake for you either. So this is a real simple case of quid pro quo between me and you. Now, I can’t make you stop fraternizing with my son since you work together, but you damn well aren’t ever going to lay a perverted hand on my daughter again. If you take this information, and you don’t leave my daughter alone, I will make sure my son and daughter understand the extent of your betrayal and then I will have your badge. Don’t delude yourself into thinking I don’t have that kind of clout in this city,” Downey finished.

“You’ve miscalculated, Mr. Downey,” James said. “Kiki and I made an agreement the first night we met. She knows exactly what I’m after. So does your son for that matter. She’s been very willing to help me.” The petty part of him enjoyed the quick flash of betrayal on Downey’s face.

“I don’t believe you,” Downey replied.

“Well, that’s probably because you’re imagining all sorts of sinister motives here and it couldn’t be further from the truth. Your daughter, as usual, is thinking of everyone but herself. She wants you and Tommy to have a better relationship. Why? Because it’s what you want. I’ve agreed to help her because it benefits me to do so. And because I think it’s a goddamned shame she has to twist herself into a pretzel just to get your attention. But she knows what I want and she agreed to help me because I convinced her that you have nothing to do with the trafficking ring, and by encouraging Tommy to spend time with you, she’d be helping her brother and me get the information we need. But I don’t need her to get that done. I need Tommy. But so far, your son refuses to ask you to help. You’ll also be gratified to know your daughter steadfastly refuses to believe you’d ever give us the information you’re dangling in front of my nose right now.”

James grabbed the envelope. “And I don’t give a rat’s ass if you believe me or not,” he finished, then turned on his heel and walked off before his courage could fail him.

He half expected to hear a bullet wiz by or Downey shout after him, but nothing happened. He made it back to headquarters in a completely numb daze and handed the information over, explaining he’d gotten it from a CI. That was enough at first to keep them occupied, but his lack of enthusiasm for this final big break did not go unnoticed. He somehow made it through the afternoon ignoring the puzzled and curious looks Tommy, Ginny, and Jack were giving him.  He’d shaved months off their investigation but he couldn’t muster up interest. He couldn’t get the sick ball of lead feeling to go away in the pit of his stomach. He couldn’t see a way out of the deal he’d just made with the Devil.

He wasn’t sure just what sort of clout Downey had to get his badge stripped but he knew that he could insinuate all sorts of things by way of James’ association with Kiki if he did continue to be with her. Sometimes his feverish mind would think the Hoffman and Dobson families had plenty of their own sway in Chicago, the majority of them being involved in government or politics in some way; he could fight fire with fire. But he couldn’t be certain. He had to get this case wrapped up first to be sure of anything, and he had needed this information to do it. The needs of those exploited children outweighed his desire to be with Kiki. It had to. But the rightness of the decision didn’t make the sick feeling go away.

“Hey, Francis, lighten up,” Tommy said, nudging James as they walked into the sports bar after work.

James forced a smile. “Sorry, I guess my mind is already on indictments and depositions and so forth,” he replied, looking around.

God… what am I going to tell Kiki?

“Well, I’m just happy we didn’t need to ask Tommy’s father for anything. The more I’ve been thinking about it, the more I feel better just going with what we gathered on our own about Bonanno and Teplov,” Ginny said.

James winced and sat down. Tommy shrugged before joining him.

“I don’t think he would have given us Bonanno anyway. We’ll have to hope we have enough on our own. I actually spent an entire day in his shop with him on Sunday. Just him and me. It was weird,” Tommy said. “This man is my father and I had no idea he was such an accomplished woodworker.”

“Yeah, he’s very talented,” James muttered without thinking.

Ginny and Tommy stared at him with marked curiosity.

“Downey is into carpentry?” Ginny asked, eyes narrowing at James. Tommy was still looking at James enquiringly. James thought quickly.

“I’ve seen some of his works in the paper before,” he lied, gambling on the fact neither Tommy nor Ginny were from Chicago and wouldn’t know any better.

Tommy nodded and relaxed a bit, “He told me he mostly does furniture by request and word of mouth. He sells a few pieces at some of the smaller consignment shops around town. Not that the man needs the money or anything,” he finished with a chuckle. It was good Tommy was finally opening up about his father with them, but to James, it felt like a knife twisting in his gut because of what he was about to do.

He saw Ginny smile at something over his shoulder and he turned to see Kiki enter. She took his breath away she was so beautiful. She had done that from the first moment he saw her in person at her party, but at the time he had thought it was just because he had built her up as this fantasy in the papers. He kept thinking it would go away as he got to know her, but it had only gotten worse, this ache for her. She was dressed in a simple and elegant pair of slacks and blouse, her gorgeous chestnut curls tamed into one of those fancy braids crowning her face, the rest left loose.

She smiled a radiant smile at him. He swallowed the lump in his throat and deliberately didn’t smile back. Her smile slipped a bit and her brows hinted at her confusion, but she kept walking towards them. Tommy got up to hug her and she exchanged pleasantries with Ginny, finally sitting across from James at their table.

“It’s good to see you again, James,” Kiki said in a knowing tone, smirking.

Good Lord, this girl would never be able to play poker she was so bad at hiding her feelings. He nodded indifferently. Ginny looked between them, eyebrows raised, mouth pursed in suspicion.

“Should we order appetizers?” Tommy asked without looking up from the menu.

“Sure, it might be sometime in May before they get here though with the game on,” James replied, avoiding Kiki’s gaze.

All through drinks and appetizers he forced himself to smile and laugh with Tommy and Ginny acting as if Kiki weren’t there. Her confusion and hurt were obvious on her face. They weren’t going to announce their relationship tonight but the plan had been to flirt with each other at the very least. Yet he was shutting her down, rebuffing her advances. Tommy seemed not to notice much, but Ginny was looking at Kiki with increasing concern.

By the time their checks got there, Kiki looked delightfully furious like she had the first night at her party. He said a very forced and overly polite goodbye to her and drove the long drive back to his home in Downers Grove, trying to erase the look of hurt in her eyes from his memory. He walked into the house he had bought from his parents and shared with no one, and sat in the silence trying to figure out how he could go back on the deal and keep his relationship with Kiki without losing his badge… or his life for that matter.

The silence seemed to mock him, as did the acceptance they had a relationship just as he was about to lose it. He wished he could rewind the last several hours and not take the envelope, but then he would have the guilt of knowing he could’ve done something to help hundreds of innocent children and didn’t, made them wait a little longer for justice just because he was stuck on a pretty girl. There was a pounding on his door and repeated ringing of the doorbell. He got up and knew before he even opened the door it would be her.

She looked like an angry spitfire on his door step and his groin throbbed in need. He had a wild thought, just one more time… Just one more before he had to say goodbye.

“Just what the hell was that about tonight, James?” Kiki spit out.

He grabbed her and yanked her in, shutting the door with her body as he kissed her madly, like a desperate man.

Which, of course… he was.

–Copyright 2012, Genevieve Dewey.

WHEW! That was half the book, peeps! I hope you’ve enjoyed getting such a large peek! 🙂

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 Ch. 13


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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”

CHAPTER EIGHT “James”

CHAPTER NINE “Kiki”

CHAPTER TEN “Mary”

CHAPTER ELEVEN “Mickey”

CHAPTER TWELVE “Ginny”

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

 Tommy

Tommy woke to the sound of his cell phone belting ‘Pretty Daughter’ by the Bad Livers. He fumbled for the phone in his shirt pocket and looked around for Ginny. She had obviously left.

Dammit to hell and back again, he thought, mentally kicking himself.

“Hey, Kicks, wassup?” he answered sleepily.

“Tommy, for real? You’re already sleeping at nine at night?” Kiki asked playfully.

“Some people with real jobs do that,” Tommy said, still irritated at having blown the evening with Ginny. There was deafening silence on the other end.

Shiiiit, he thought, this girl and the silent treatment.

“Sorry, Kiki, it’s just been a long day, everything ok?” he tried again.

“Tommy, did you have a fight with Daddy?”

“No, not more than we usually do. I thought it ended on a fairly positive note. Why?”

“Well, he was acting weird earlier today, and now you’re crabby, and I guess I just wondered if…”

“If?” Tommy asked when she didn’t finish, trying to tamp down his irritation.

She sighed dramatically. He couldn’t help but chuckle at it. Ahh, Kiki. She always managed to both irritate and amuse him simultaneously. Maybe this was a Downey trait, this innate ability to elicit two usually opposite emotions at the same time.

“Nevermind,” Kiki said sullenly. “Jessica’s gone back to New York and I was feeling kind of lonely. Maybe you and your lady friend would like to double date this weekend?”

“Ok, first of all, she’s not my lady friend. She’s a colleague—”

“That’s not what your mom says,” Kiki interrupted, in that obnoxious sing-song voice.

“Since when do you and my mother discuss my love life? When did you two become BFFs?” he asked, feeling decidedly henpecked.

Good Lord, these two harping on me about my father and now about Ginny? Was it ‘Fix Tommy’ Month? Tommy wondered.

“Tommy,” she said in a long-suffering tone. “Mary simply mentioned she felt there might be the potential of something between you two, and I thought so myself the night of my party a few weeks ago. If you’re having trouble making the first move, this could be the perfect way—”

“Absolutely not! I don’t need any help getting dates, Kiki, nor do I want your interference. Why can’t you for once just leave it the hell alone!?” Tommy interrupted hotly. He felt suffocated by all this poking and prodding by his mother, his sister, his father, even Ginny and James. Christ.

“Geeeeze. If you’re determined to be a grouch tonight just forget about it. I was only trying to help,” Kiki said.

“Who’s the guy?” Tommy asked curtly.

“No one. It doesn’t matter. I probably couldn’t get him to go anyway,” she said in a morose voice. She sounded even a little forlorn. His big brother instincts were fast overriding his irritation with her and transferring them to the nameless jerk his little sister was mooning over.

“What’s his name? Where’d you meet him? Has he met your dad?” he asked.

Our dad,” she said. “For crying out loud, why do you always – and don’t interrogate me! I’m not a suspect here, I’m your sister.”

It was his turn to sigh heavily. Would this day never end?

“Alright, Kiki, let’s do this then. I’d like to meet him.” Tommy said as cheerfully as he could muster.

“No… no… like I said, I bet I couldn’t get him to go anyway. Maybe just the three of us could go out then,” she said, then heaved another one of her patented dramatic sighs.

Kiki.”

“Tommy, if a guy hooks up with you, but he hooks up with you a lot–”

“Argh, stop right there. T.M.I.,” Tommy interrupted.

She snickered. “No, no, I just mean like, it’s not just a booty-call, or a one-off thing, but like, you know in those old movies they’d call it an affair? Maybe even a torrid affair—”

“Kicks, have you been watching old Bogart films again?”

“Would you stop interrupting?” Kiki demanded, sounding exasperated.

“Go on.”

“There’s this guy—”

“We’ve established this.”

“Tommy!”

“Alright, alright, I’m listening,” he said.

Dear God, please no more details… he thought.

“So there’s this guy, and he’s a really nice guy, and we get along great, and we’ve spent a good bit of time together in the last few weeks. I mean not just… you know… but other things, like taking walks, and boat rides, and we went to the museum last weekend, and I think he really likes me, but I can’t be sure if it’s not just about the—” she cut off abruptly.

“About the ‘you know’?” he finished for her.

She was silent.

“Kiki?”

“Yeah, about the ‘you know’,” she answered softly, but he got the impression that wasn’t what she meant at all.

“Hmmmn. Now I’m doubly sure I ought to meet him,” Tommy said.

“Well, take for instance, last weekend I suggested we go out clubbing together with some friends and he said no. He said he wasn’t into that scene, and so I said, well, we could just meet up with some of my friends, or some of his friends at a restaurant, and he just sort of changed the subject,” Kiki said.

“Did he say you couldn’t go?” Tommy asked, his radar going up.

“No, not at all. He suggested I go ahead and go out with my friends, and we’d just get together later. So that makes it seem clandestine, doesn’t it? Like he’s ashamed of being seen with me?” Kiki asked.

Tommy didn’t like the sound of the confusion in her voice. She was old enough to drink and vote and run her own life, but he knew she didn’t have much experience with relationships. Hookups as she called them, yes. Relationships, no. It wasn’t like he was that much older than her, but his almost five more years on the planet seemed like decades sometimes with Kiki. She was pretty intelligent and usually had a good read on people, but obviously this guy had her at sixes and sevens, and that made him want to hunt this creep down and…

“Tommy?”

“Yeah, I was just thinking. It’s hard to say. You say you’ve only been seeing each other a couple of weeks—”

“But a lot in those few weeks; like almost every day.”

“Ok, but it’s still early days yet, right?”

“Right.”

“Well, he may just not be ready to go public yet. But you should definitely tell him your feelings about it, because if he respects you, values you, he will understand your point of view and he will give you the courtesy of what had better be a damned good reason. And I can’t imagine anyone not wanting to be seen with a beautiful, smart, funny girl like you, so if he persists with the cloak and dagger B.S., kick his stupid butt to the curb,” Tommy said.

“Tuh. Not that you’re biased or anything,” Kiki replied, but he could tell from her tone she was pleased with his response.

Man, he thought, this big brother thing was exhausting sometimes.

“Was there anything else?” he asked, rubbing his eyes.

“D’you work things out with Daddy?” she asked, sounding perky again.

“We… agreed to try,” he ground out, still feeling henpecked.

“Oh, Tommy! I’m so happy! You’ll see! Daddy’s really great if you just get to know him better—”

“Alright Kiki, I better let you go. Got a pretty full day tomorrow,” he lied.

It was still new and daunting this thought of having his father in his life as more than an acquaintance and he couldn’t pinpoint what ratio of parts were fear, hope, love, disgust, wonder, and worry, and after the day he’d had, he didn’t want to spend one more second dissecting his emotions.

“Oh, ok, Tommy… um… thanks for your advice,” she said.

“Anytime, Kicks,” he said gently.

“And… I love you,” she replied softly.

“I love you, too.”

“Yeah?” she asked, sounding happy again.

“Yeah,” he answered, feeling exasperated. “Kiki, what’s the matter with you tonight, for crying out loud?”

She just laughed and hung up.

Oh for the love of… if he lived to be a hundred, he would never understand women and their convoluted moods. He tossed his phone beside the uneaten pizza and headed for bed.

The next morning, he was trying to figure out how to call Ginny and apologize for falling asleep on her like a dolt when his mother knocked on the door. He thought about ignoring her, but he was pretty sure he’d go to Hell or Purgatory or wherever it was that sons-who-ignore-their-mothers-who-sacrificed-everything-for-you-but-had-an-annoying-habit-of-micromanaging-your-life go to.

“Hey, Mom,” he said, opening the door.

“Are you sure this is a nice neighborhood?” she asked, looking around her.

Tommy grunted and headed to the kitchen to start another pot of coffee. “It’s no different than Omaha,” he said.

“I read an article that Chicago hasn’t been able to make a whole twenty-four hours without a murder,” she replied.

He sighed. Today was shaping up to be as long as the day before.

“So, let me guess, you’re here to ask if I went and talked to my father. Well, you’re too late, Kiki called last night to confirm that, yes, I did indeed talk to him, and no harm came to any animals while making the film,” Tommy said with a smile.

His mom flushed and fussed with her hair.

Man, I love her, he thought. He loved how she fussed, worried, loved and forgave with all her heart, even those who had done nothing to earn it.

“Well. Well, I’m glad that you at least tried. We’ll just see, won’t we?” she finally said.

He just smiled at her and raised his eyebrow, deliberately trying to mimic his father.

“What?” she asked, hands on hips.

“What’s this about you and Kiki spending time with each other? Dissecting my so-called love life?” he asked her, needling just for old-time’s sake.

“I’m… we aren’t… that’s just… ffffff,” she blew out a flustered breath.

Then she laughed and shook her head. “You know what? It’s the strangest thing. I think I might’ve spent more time with your sister than I have you on this trip so far. I just can’t tell you why. I guess I always wished I could’ve had a daughter. I mean, another child in addition to you,” she said.

She looked a little wistful and regretful. It made him worry a little that she was romanticizing the past.

“But surely you don’t regret what you did?” he asked.

“No… no, I regret that it came to that. Regret what it cost us both, but I couldn’t have made any other choice I don’t think. Because I truly believe that even though God gives us the ability to make choices and pick paths, there are some roadblocks and landmarks that are just meant to be. That no matter what choice you might’ve made, eventually all roads would lead to where you are at.”

“Hmmmnn,” was all he could muster in response. He wasn’t sure he could buy that. Life seemed pretty random to him most of the time. But then again he saw a lot more of the harsher, more evil side of life than his mother did.

He chatted with his mother until he was sure she had satisfied herself that he was alright, and even promised her he would go to Mass with her on Sunday. As soon as she was out the door, he checked his phone again. No messages. He sighed and figured he ought to make the first move since it was his screw up.

He sent Ginny a quick text: Sorry about last night. Make it up to you? T

She replied immediately: Don’t worry about it, it was a long day. See you at work! GS

Well, that sounded friendly, at least. He called Kiki’s number next.

“Good morning, grumpy butt,” she answered playfully.

“Hey, I got a better idea than a double date. How about you and I spend some time with the old man this weekend,” he suggested, ignoring the squirming in his stomach at the idea of it.

“Oh, are you serious!? That’s great, Tommy. Daddy’s going to flip!” she all but squealed in his ear.

He smiled and headed out the door for work. On the way there he convinced himself that it was probably better that nothing came of it last night with Ginny anyway. There was nothing worse than mixing work with one’s personal life. He was pretty sure she must have decided as much also because she was back to her overly professional self when he saw her at work.

And it was why he was frankly stunned when, instead of heading off to her motel room after work the following Monday, Ginny actually joined him and James for Happy Hour. She’d been rather frosty towards James since the O’Rourke hit, and he began to wonder if that had really been what she had wanted to talk about the other day instead of his father. Maybe Hoffman was giving her a hard time or something. Maybe she had decided to get over her jumpiness around Tommy. Or maybe she was just worried about her ‘team solidarity’. The idea made him chuckle. In any case, he was pleased to see her, and tried to convince himself it was for professional, friendly reasons.

They settled into that pleasant routine – work, drinks, work some more – over the next few weeks, ironing out the last kinks, pulling in their undercover ops and compiling surveillance, combined with video conferencing with the New York and DC offices. But after a while, Ginny began to vacillate between looking apprehensive and seeming impatient about something around Tommy. She hadn’t suggested they go out again on their own and neither had he, but he continued to see her at Happy Hour. Eventually he began to suspect she was only attending because her day planner had told her to do so, rather than an actual desire to sit in a crowded pub or restaurant with him and James. She certainly seemed preoccupied. She would show up, order one appetizer, make stilted small talk, and be out like a shot before Tommy had finished his first beer. But that wasn’t nearly as confusing as his so-called family life.

Kiki and his mother would tag team him about his progress with his father when he wasn’t working on the case; his mother at lunch, Kiki in the evenings and the weekend. They’d find reasons why he needed to meet them at places and coincidentally – there’d be his father. Subtlety was not their strong suit. Mickey seemed to alternate between sharing Tommy’s exasperation, and a kind of philosophical complaisance. The ratio of which depended upon whether either one of these women would stick around. His mother rarely did. Especially if Kiki and she were together, they’d rush off after some contrived sale or exhibit or some such blatantly made up excuse to leave Tommy and his father alone.

Tommy didn’t know whether to feel satisfaction or pity at the look of pure frustration on his father’s face when this would happen. During these moments of forced proximity, as long as he and Mickey would avoid the topics of the law and his mother they could get along, mostly, but Tommy still felt like there was an invisible wall between the two of them. His father seemed more interested in filling in the blanks of Tommy’s childhood than what was going on in his life right now. And he’d change the subject each and every time Tommy tried to ask about Mickey’s past. Ironically, their unspoken agreement to not talk about the law, while preventing arguments, only seemed to further the disconnect between them. And then later, when Kiki or his mom would pry, Tommy felt like he was letting them down. And that made him feel resentful and guilty, and then angry.

So, about a month into being in Chicago, it was with a deep sense of relief he shook all three of his suffocating family members, and the trafficking case, to spend a Friday night at a popular club with James and Ginny. They had agreed beforehand, no work discussion allowed. Ginny showed up wearing an outfit he strongly suspected his sister had a hand in picking out because Ginny kept pulling down the skirt and crossing and uncrossing her legs like she didn’t know what to do with them. He tried his best not to look at them. Much.

James kept checking his phone obsessively, so Tommy started ribbing him about whether he and this girl he had been seeing so much of had moved on to the sexting portion of their relationship. He was enjoying watching the way it made Ginny blush furiously and nervously rearrange the coasters and napkins, when a man came up to them and slapped Hoffman so hard on his back that his phone scattered across the table. Tommy laughed.

“Sup, Hoffstops?” the jovial man greeted.

“Piss off, Russo,” James replied with more irritation than heat while putting his phone away.

“Where’s the sexy little brunette?” Russo asked, clearly intoxicated.

“What brunette? How many you had, bro?” James asked, getting up to steer the man away. Russo shook his arm off and leaned unsteadily over the table, holding his hand out to Tommy.

“I’m Teddy Russo, this jackass’s brother-in-law,” Russo said, practically falling over on the table.

Ginny had her lip curled in disgust. Tommy shook Russo’s hand and met James’ worried gaze.

“Yeah, why don’t I get you a cab, and you go on home to Steph, alright, Ted? I’m sure she’s worried,” James said while trying to tug him away.

“Ahh, she don’t care. All you Feds are cut from the same cloth, ain’t ya? Jist work, work, work, woooork,” he drawled out. “Used to be me an’ your sister were a courtin’ and a sparkin’ like you an’ that hot little number I saw you wit’ down at Millennium Park—”

“Listen, let’s get you—”

“I thought I was seein’ things,” Russo said to Tommy and Ginny. “Dis guy doin’ the tourist thing with a brunette half his age, gigglin’ under the Bean like a pair o’ teenagers, I’m tellin’ ya, it was far out. Steph’nie’s baby brudder’s gone and got himself a nose ring,” he drawled out in a booze-mangled, thick Chicago accent.

James dragged him away as Russo was making air kisses.

“I’m going to take him home, alright?” James called out, without turning back.

Tommy grinned at Ginny, expecting her to share in his amusement, but she was looking pale and a bit horrified.

“What, you’ve never seen a drunk man before?” he teased her.

“I – what?” she said in a distracted manner, fingers mindlessly kneading her clutch purse.

“Are you alright?” he asked, thinking she looked a little ill.

“I’m fine. I mean, I’m not. I think I’m going to go home, I mean, back to my motel… if you don’t mind,” she replied, then stood up, and shot out of the bar.

WellHell… he thought. So much for a nice relaxing evening amongst friends.

–Copyright 2012, Genevieve Dewey.

Read on… Chapter Fourteen, “James”.

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 Ch. 12


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”

CHAPTER SEVEN “Tommy”

CHAPTER EIGHT “James”

CHAPTER NINE “Kiki”

CHAPTER TEN “Mary”

CHAPTER ELEVEN “Mickey”

CHAPTER TWELVE

 Ginny

Ginny met Detective Gates as he ducked under the police tape cordoning off the crime scene in the near-west side of Chicago.

“Hope you didn’t have anything too heavy for lunch,” she said with a grimace, “We’re still waiting on James to meet us here. I guess he went downtown for lunch. Again.”

She watched Tommy’s eyes scan the façade of the old building and the growing crowd. She wondered where he had gone for lunch but stifled the urge to ask. After having started off on the wrong foot by tailing him and crashing his sister’s party (although to be fair, he had asked her) she was trying extra hard to not be too pushy this last couple weeks. Not to put too fine a point on it, but it was killing her a little bit.

“What do we have, Agent Sommers?” he asked, all business.

“In short? One very dead Irish mobster. Mo Green special. But that’s downright polite next to the dead dog he’s holding with its genitalia cut off and shoved in its mouth,” she answered.

“Jesus,” he said, grimacing.

“Yep. CPD called us in because of who the particular vic is,” she replied.

“One of O’Rourke’s men?” Tommy asked.

“Actually, The Man himself. Yeeup,” she drawled out at his shocked expression. “Takes balls to take out the Boss, no pun intended, but it’s the message that is interesting, don’t you think? Agent Hoffman said O’Rourke had deals in place here with the drug runners. This would suggest he was getting a little greedy, or in some part was trying to cut out a more powerful partner. But it’s a classic American Mafia message, not Colombian or Russian with whom he had the majority of dealings. Makes you go ‘hmmmn’, huh? And the dog…” Ginny trailed off as she saw James approaching them.

“Well… ain’t this a peach of a present?” James greeted them with a cocky grin.

Ginny was thinking that whatever Agent Hoffman did for lunch, it had nothing to do with culinary delights.

“Present?” she asked.

“As in, O’Rourke lives in north Chicago in one of those fancy estates, yet his body is found on the near west side in a building with historic Outfit roots, of which he is not a part, near FBI headquarters. What are the odds that after only a couple weeks working together, one of our chief persons of interest just happens to show up dead, practically giftwrapped for us?” Tommy asked.

“Slim to none, given the fact that he was at your sister’s party, and the three of us in attendance did not go unnoticed. Question is, is it a message for us, or a message for your old man?” James asked Tommy.

Ginny studied Tommy’s face, but it was devoid of emotion. He turned to the building, cocked his head, and then looked back at James with narrowed eyes.

“I think that you’ve made your opinion clear, Hoffman, that we ought to ask him, but I just spoke with him and I’m certain he won’t help us,” Tommy said.

Ginny couldn’t contain herself any longer – really, it was a lost cause from the jump-off – and she stood directly in front of Tommy to pelt him with questions, “Is that where you went for lunch? Was it a personal visit, or did you go to question him about Teplov and O’Rourke like James has been asking? Did he mention anything specifically about us being there? If anyone could give us an accurate read on what Downey knows, it’d be you, so if you could—”

She took a deep breath and stopped her babbling. Ugh, what was it about this man that has me acting like a silly fangirl or Twitter stalker? she wondered.

Tommy’s mouth parted and he blinked a few times before replying, “I beg to differ. I barely had—”

“Oh please with that!” Ginny interrupted, too excited to care about politeness. “I think you and James are both right, the players are upping the stakes here. Calling us out. But we need to figure out what part Downey plays in this. Surely you see that?”

“What I was going to say,” Tommy replied with marked frustration, “was that I barely got a chance to start a conversation with him before you called me here. But he’s still putting the full court press on me, so it makes me think he doesn’t know what deals Bonanno has in place, or that we’re after Bonanno specifically. He obviously doesn’t think I’m a threat to his reputation, because I would think he would want to keep myself and my mother at bay if he were worried how it looks to them.”

“Unless, that’s what this message is about. Warning him to keep his mouth shut and distance himself from you? Or your mother?” Ginny wondered.

She noticed James was looking less like his overconfident self, and way more apprehensive. Tommy looked like he was mulling over the idea, but remained unconvinced.

“Let’s let them finish processing the scene, and formulate a plan as to how we’re going to force the issue with Downey. I think the time has come to stop pussy-footing around,” James suggested.

“Hold on now, I never agreed to this!” Tommy exclaimed.

“Listen, no offense, but you came to this case late in the day, Detective Gates. We appreciate the information you’ve been able to share with us, but we are this close to an indictment on Bonanno anyway. If you’re not gonna help us sweeten the pot with Downey’s information, then what the heck are ya here for?” James countered, Chicago accent especially noticeable.

“Excuse me, Agent Hoffman! This is a Bureau case originally. You are just as much a Johnny-come-lately as Detective Gates! He is a valued member of my team!” Ginny said hotly. What was his deal? Why was he all of a sudden trying to cut Tommy off at the pass?

They were both looking at her oddly now. Then they shared a quick, humor-filled look. Tommy started chuckling and James shook his head, then slapped Tommy on the back before walking off.

For real? she thought. What was amusing about that?

She was still fuming about the whole thing at the end of the day when she saw James in the parking garage walking with a purpose to his car, eyes steadfastly on the phone in his hand.

“Hey, hey! Wait up!” she shouted.

He turned and gave her his Devil-may-care expression, as she thought of it.

“Yes, Ginny?” he asked.

“Agent Hoffman, I want to know what that was about earlier between you and Tommy, I mean, Detective Gates,” she said.

He turned the watt up on his smile and shrugged his shoulders. Truly, she found it nauseating this practiced Peter Pan fused with Prince Charming thing he had going on. Did some women actually fall for that crap?

“Listen, I’m just trying to get Tommy to man up and do what’s necessary in the next phase of this investigation. You yourself said that he would be the best equipped of all of us to tell if Downey knows we are headed in the right direction with Bonanno,” James smarmed, then turned and started walking again.

Ugh, insensitive jerk, she thought.

“Agent Hoffman, I agree that out of all of us, Tommy – I mean, Detective Gates – is the best able to ‘read’ Downey, however, we must respect his right not to. I don’t believe you have any right to imply that he is of no use to our team without using his father for information, and frankly I have avoided saying anything for the sake of team harmony, but your behavior at Miss Downey’s party a few weeks ago was seriously out-of-line and an egregious breach of conduct,” she panted out as she tried to match his long strides walking through the parking garage.

He stopped smartly. “Oh my God, are you serious, Ginny? I mean, Agent Sommers,” he mocked. “Tommy didn’t take it as an insult what I said earlier. We’re friendly, you could say friends, even. We’ve had beers a few times this week. We get along fine. Maybe if you’d come along sometime instead of hiding in your motel room like a shut-in, reading about how other people live their lives, you’d know that. I like to think after this is all over that we could still hang out, and all be Facebook friends, but at the end of the day we’re not here to hold hands and sing cum by yah. I’m just saying what needs to be said. We have almost everything we need for a solid case, and yes, we could move forward without Downey’s information, but I for one, want Bonanno to roast for good. I don’t want to take even the smallest chance that he’ll walk. Underneath all that confusion and confliction, I believe Tommy wants that as much as we do and would be willing to use his own father to get it—”

“Like you’re using his sister?” she interrupted, blind fury from the truthful sting of his ‘shut-in’ comment causing her to throw a wild speculation out there.

“Excuse me?” James replied in a defensive tone.

“Where do you go at lunchtime, Agent Hoffman?” Ginny asked, rolling with it. Dance with what brung ya.

James walked forward, having completely lost his mask of charming consigliore, replaced by one that looked an awful lot like anger and panic fused into one.

“Where I go and what I do on my off-time will never be your business, Agent Sommers,” he replied icily, and way, way, way too defensively.

Oh, wow. She was mostly bluffing a minute ago, but… oh, wow.

“Oooh… oh, James, you didn’t,” she said, shaking her head, all thoughts of professionalism gone.

She stepped back. He stepped forward, glaring at her.

Think. Think what you are doing here!” she demanded, grabbing his arm.

“This discussion is over,” he gnashed out, yanked his arm loose, and walked briskly to his red sports car.

Naturally, she thought numbly, he would have a red sports car. How incredibly predictable. With fumbling hands she fished her phone out and called Tommy, even though she knew he was still in the building talking to Agent Underwood.

“Tom – Detective Gates. It’s Agent Sommers. I was wondering if you’d like to meet for drinks later? Give me a call,” she said, and then she punched off, before she could change her mind.

She’d barely made it to her own car on the next level before her phone beeped a text message: When and where? T

She typed in: Giordano’s?

Again, when and where? LOL

Ummmnn, good question, she thought. If she suggested getting take-out and going to her motel that might seem too forward, but then again, they worked together and there was nothing wrong with meeting alone, but at the same time, he might take it the wrong way. Except it wouldn’t be the wrong way since it was of a personal nature sort of cloaked in a professional nature, or maybe it was just both and then the wrong way would simply be that she was thinking of him in that way… which actually was the truth, but a truth she didn’t actually want him to know just now. She kept pacing back and forth, ruining the fresh manicure on her thumbnail, then jumped out of her skin at the bleep-bleep sound of the truck next to her being disarmed.

“Whatever this is about it must be good,” Tommy said, laughter evident in his voice.

She looked dumbly down at her phone in her hand as if it would hold answers then back up at him. She’d give anything if just for once she could hold an entire conversation with this man without sounding like a complete idiot. He smiled and nudged his head towards the truck parked next to hers.

“Guess we parked next to each other. Want to just order delivery at my place instead? I’m a little peopled-out myself,” he said, apparently unconcerned by her odd behavior.

“Um… that’d be fine. I’ll just… follow you… then,” she managed to get out, tucking a stray bit of hair behind her ear.

He shook his head and walked forward until he stopped right in front of her. He reached his hand up and un-tucked the lock of hair, rendering her thoughtless as well as speechless.

“I liked it better that way,” he said, then turned and got inside his SUV.

Ginny let go of the breath of air she didn’t realize she was holding and followed him to his apartment. Once inside, she tucked her hands inside the cuffs of her sweater to keep them from fidgeting, a bad habit she had when she was nervous. Which she rarely was… except in press conferences… and job interviews… and first dates. Sadly, each was more rare than the last. And this wasn’t a date anyway. She was pretty sure. Mostly.

“Beer?”

“I’m sorry, what?” she asked, still standing just inside the door.

“Would. You. Like. A beer?” he asked again, slowly but friendly.

He had a charming half-smile on his face. She liked the way he smiled, sort of effortlessly and understated, instead of practiced and ingratiating like Agent Hoffman. Oh, sure, James was very handsome if you go for that Raphael fallen-angel look and his dimples were probably quite effective with ninety-eight percent of the female population, but there was something about the rugged patrician features and quiet demeanor of Tommy Gates that made her feel… well… just made her feel. And she hadn’t realized how much time she spent suppressing her own feelings in favor of analyzing and recording everyone else’s emotions and actions until that very moment.

“Sure. Thanks,” she answered, feeling somewhat more confident now that she had something to do with her hands.

He looked tired as he ordered their pizza from a place just around the corner. She started to feel a little guilty about suggesting drinks when he’d obviously had a long day.

“So what’d you want to talk about?” he asked after he hung up.

Maybe telling him about her suspicions regarding James and Kiki could wait. After all, they were just that, suspicions.

“Ahhh, you know, I just… felt bad about pressuring you earlier about your dad,” she answered. His brows scrunched in confusion. She continued, “I was being intrusive again and I know it’s none of my business, what goes on between you and your family.”

He studied her for a moment and nodded his head slightly. He didn’t look angry. He didn’t look anything but tired. She fiddled with the label on her beer.

“Is there anything you wanted to talk about?” she ended up asking.

His eyebrow shot up and for a second she could see the resemblance between him and his father, except there was definitely warm humor dancing around in his eyes instead of that icy-cold nothingness in Downey’s.

“What is this, reverse psychology?” he asked, chuckling.

He got up from the bar stool he had been half sitting on, half leaning on. He started walking slowly towards her.

“No, no, no, I was just, it’s just you seem… tired and I don’t… I mean, if you wanted to talk… about anythiiing…” she trailed off nervously as grabbed her hands cupping the beer bottle.

He pulled her forward, still holding her hands while walking backwards. “Come in. Stay awhile. Make yourself comfortable,” Tommy said, guiding her gently towards an overstuffed chair by the window.

She hated those kinds of chairs. She always felt like a little kid dwarfed by its nonfunctional largeness. Something must’ve shown of her thoughts on her face because he laughed.

“This place came furnished. I’m guessing by someone with a great fondness for flower prints, oversized furniture, and from the smell of it, lots of cats,” he said, relaxing her with his humorous tone and friendly smile.

She smiled back at him. “Not a cat person yourself?” she asked.

“How about this? I ask you one question, and for every answer you give me, I’ll answer a question of your own. Sound fair?” he responded.

“Alright, but that one doesn’t count,” she said, eager to finally get some answers.

“Why are you always so nervous around me?” he asked.

Not fair! Ginny thought. Her heart started racing.

“I’m not always nervous,” she said.

“No, not always. Sometimes you’re overly ‘intrusive’ as you say, and sometimes you’re overly professional—”

“Why did you go see your father today?” she interrupted, metaphorically putting her cards on the table.

“Uh-uh. You didn’t answer the question,” Tommy said, holding her gaze.

Ginny scooted forward on the chair and set her beer down.

“Truth?” she asked, cocking her head.

“That’d be preferable,” he chuckled. He slouched back against the couch opposite of her, propping his feet up on the coffee table.

“I don’t know. I find you fascinating. I find your family… situation… fascinating. But if I knew why I get nervous around you I’d certainly do something to stop it,” Ginny answered, figuring brutal honesty was probably the best approach.

He lost his grin and was back to looking tired. “Ok,” he finally said softly.

“Ok?” she responded.

“Oooo, Kay,” he repeated slowly, arching the brow again.

He took a lazy swig of his beer and studied her some more, looking pensive. She was about to repeat her question about Downey when he finally answered.

“I went to see my father because my mother and sister have been putting pressure on me all week to do so. And I suppose it was time I made a move one way or the other on a personal level. But I haven’t made up my mind about asking him to help us with the case. It doesn’t sit right with me, and since I can’t figure out if that’s because he’s my father or because my police instincts say it’s too risky, I figure it’s best to do nothing until I do sort it out,” Tommy said.

“And what if you never sort it out?” Ginny asked.

He shrugged and wiped a hand over his eyes and forehead. The doorbell rang and Ginny sprung up out of her chair, needing something to do with her nervous energy. She paid for the pizza, ignoring Tommy’s protests, and set it on the coffee table.

“You mind if I turn on the TV?” Tommy asked, sounding a little frustrated.

“Mmn, uh-uh,” she mumbled through her bite of pizza.

She couldn’t tell if he was feeling chauvinistic or proper or something, she wasn’t sure, but it seemed only logical that she pay for the pizza since she had been the one to suggest the idea, and here they were at his place, and he was exhausted, so of course she should pay for it. So why was he…

Ugh, Ginny, stop thinking, she reprimanded herself while avoiding his gaze.

“So, my turn again. When did you decide to join the FBI?” he asked.

She met his gaze and smiled shyly. “I think I was nine. No, seriously,” she said when he looked skeptical. “I always wanted to join. Pretty much every decision I made in school and my extra-curricular activities were geared towards being able to join up as soon as the age requirement allowed.”

“Huh,” was all he said in reply.

“And you? When did you decide to join law enforcement?” she asked.

“I guess I just took the leap after I graduated high-school. My, uh, father had come to see me, and it was the first time since I was about ten that I’d seen him. It sort of… brought back all these memories of when I was little and we were in Wit Sec and I just felt like… I don’t know, it’s hard to explain…” he trailed off and frowned at his pizza, then tossed it down.

She bit her lip, willing him to go on. He looked up and narrowed his eyes at her. Then he took a deep breath and leaned back against the couch again, staring intently at her.

He sort of twisted his mouth into a weird half-smile, half-grimace then said, “I like you too, you know.”

Ginny blinked at the non sequitur. She could feel her cheeks flushing. His mouth untwisted and he looked endearingly boyish and uncertain for a minute, then he looked away from her and back at the TV. She was surprised when he continued speaking as if the moment hadn’t happened.

“I felt like I owed it to myself and to my mom and Jack to make a difference. To take a stand against what my father did for a living, so that their sacrifices wouldn’t be in vain. I guess a childish part of me wanted to stick it to my father for what he had put us through, because I blamed him for my mother going on the run. But a bigger part of me wanted to be a good example to my new siblings. But when Jack suggested he could put in a word with the Bureau, all I could feel was resentment for the way my mother was used as a bargaining chip by the Federal government, so I felt like the best compromise was to go for detective,” he said almost tonelessly, eyes never leaving the TV set.

“Ah. That explains it,” Ginny replied. “The way you sometimes say ‘Feds’ like we don’t all play on the same team.”

He slid his eyes to her and wiggled his head and shoulder in a ‘if you say so’ gesture, then continued to watch the TV, pizza and beer all but forgotten. She ate her pizza in silence for a bit, contemplating whether she should bring up his sister or continue the Q&A, and pretended to be interested in the old spaghetti western he was watching. When she had worked up the courage to broach the subject of James and Kiki, she looked over at him and realized he had dozed off. She sighed and gathered her things.

She didn’t know what possessed her, but she walked over to him and lightly brushed the messy dark locks from his forehead like she had wanted to do from the moment they had met. He mumbled something in his sleep and she beat a hasty retreat.

–Copyright 2012, Genevieve Dewey.

Read on… Chapter Thirteen, “Tommy”.

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

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Read reviews at Goodreads:

goodreads-badge-read-reviews-12dffc085b5a3997391ce9cfbe1c8a9f

FREE READ|#asmsg #bynr #Mafia #FamilyDrama #Romance|First, I Love You Ch. 11


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”

CHAPTER SEVEN “Tommy”

CHAPTER EIGHT “James”

CHAPTER NINE “Kiki”

CHAPTER TEN “Mary”

CHAPTER ELEVEN

 Mickey

Mickey sighed with satisfaction as he finished the last fine sanding of the figurine he had been carving. He usually worked on furniture, but occasionally he would challenge himself with smaller hand-carved pieces. He loved the awe he still felt when a piece of wood transformed itself into a work of art. It felt that way too; as if the wood had a mind of its own, an identity struggling to get out, and his hands and tools were merely the medium with which it transformed itself. When he was a younger man he would take months to complete what now took him only a few weeks. But back then he had been consumed with making money and the woodworking had been squeezed in as a way to decompress and allow him to be the family man he needed to be.

It was never as easy for him to switch gears as it had been for some of the other guys, or for his father. Maybe it was because he was more of a money guy than a muscle man, but still, it wasn’t as if he hadn’t had to do or be party to some things that just felt like it left a permanent sort of horror in his brain. The sort of thing that made a person feel like he didn’t deserve something as pure as a child’s adoration, or a woman’s loving touch. And truth was, maybe he didn’t. But selfish man that he was, he would continue to take his cake and eat it too, as long as God saw fit to let him roam the earth.

The shrill ring of the shop phone broke his reverie. He knew it would be Frank Bonanno. Right on cue.

“What you got,” he asked without the preliminaries.

“Listen, before I head back, was havin’ a chat with those friends of ours, and they’re fine with what I’ve laid out. As long as you do your part,” Frank stated curtly.

“I’m a man of my word, Frank. You know that,” Mickey tried to curtail the annoyance in his own voice.

These people, he thought, like vultures mated with a pack of African bees. Stand still and you get it, move and you get it worse.

“Your guest list Saturday before last was … interesting … to say the least. You understand their concern,” Frank stated more than asked.

“My son will always be included in my family events. If he chooses to bring a few of his playmates then it’s no different than Kiki inviting your daughter. I believe we discussed this matter at some length already, Frank. I’m just a retired financial and shipping consultant who likes to tinker in his garage. I’m not a threat to nobody. I didn’t even take my damn ball and bat and go home, I left it to yous guys and forgot what it even looked like,” he said, voice betraying some of the street they had both grown up on, instead of the cultured tones he had worked so hard at acquiring.

“I ain’t so worried about the boy or his pals, I’m sure you’ll handle that. I was referring to your female friend. Remember how that pillow talk ended up last time, Mickey. I’m sticking my neck out for you cuz we’re family. Right? Family. You know what they say, if you can’t get rid of the ticks yourself, you just have to get the dog dipped, capiche?” Frank continued.

Mickey counted to twenty inside his head. His hand trembled so hard the Dremel tool he held in it slipped out and clattered on the floor.

“Listen… listen…” Mickey gritted out half a decibel above a whisper. “We agreed. We agreed to this arrangement and my personal life is mine. I’ve stuck to the terms. You stick to yours. I stay out of your thing… you leave me mine. Or we will have a problem,” he ended, he hoped with enough ice and menace to get the image across of what he’d do to Frank if anything happened… if anything… He felt bile rise in his throat.

“Fine, fine,” Frank’s voice was jovial now, signaling an end to business. “Gotta run. Plane’s about to take off. It was good seeing you again, Mickey. I’ll be in touch.”

Mickey didn’t bother to say goodbye he simply slammed the phone down. He breathed carefully and slowly to slow his pounding heart and racing thoughts. When he felt in control enough, he took his cell phone out and called his daughter.

“Lo?” She sounded breathless, like she’d just woken up.

“Wake up. It’s the middle of the day, princess,” he said as calmly as he could muster.

“Oh! Daddy! I – no I was just… thinking… about my next article,” she answered evasively.

He pursed his lips. He sincerely hoped the girl didn’t have another one of her boyfriends over. Though at twenty-one, he supposed she wasn’t a girl anymore.

“Well, I was just checking on you. Would you like to meet for lunch?” Mickey asked.

“Nn-now?”

He could hear rustling in the background and a distinctly male chuckle. He tried to contain his irritation. The mood he was in, it was a good thing he had called before dropping by or some soon-to-be-sorry asshole would be getting his dick rammed into his teeth.

“Well, it is the middle of the day. In the middle of the week. I thought you could see if your brother wanted to meet us somewhere,” he suggested.

“Tommy already had lunch. I mean – I’m pretty sure they’re breaking for lunch right now, so by the time you get here… How about another time instead?” she ended.

Mickey couldn’t recall the last time his daughter had given him the brush off. Frank’s threats had him on edge, and he started to wonder just who was with her.

“Are you alright?” Mickey asked urgently.

“Of course! Daddy, what’s the matter?” Kiki asked, worry evident in her tone.

“Nothing you need concern yourself with, sweetheart. But I did want to ask you, I know you and Mary spent some time with each other last week. I was wondering—”

“Daddy, for heaven’s sake! Just call her already and stop using everyone else for updates. And the same goes for Tommy. This is getting a little ridiculous don’t you think?” Kiki interrupted.

Mickey was silent. First she brushes him off, and now she was interrupting him and making demands? Who was this girl?

The chime on his doorbell rang in the silence. He looked at his security monitors and saw Tommy standing at his front door. Had the world gone mad? First, his sweet loving daughter was being snippy and now his estranged son was actively seeking him out in the same day.

“I’ll talk to you later, princess. Someone’s at the door,” he said and hung up.

As he walked through the house to answer the front door, he texted Carlo:

Put a man on my p. Report all people.

“Hello Tommy, what a pleasant surprise!” Mickey said as he opened the door. Strange how much it still made his heart ache for those days back in Brooklyn every time he saw his oldest child.

Tommy looked hesitant, but he nodded and came inside. Mickey motioned for him to join him in the study just off the foyer. Once inside, his son made no secret of examining the room, but kept his hands in his pockets.

“Would you like something to drink? Have you eaten? What brings you here? Not that I mind, I’m happy you came, very happy…” Mickey stopped himself before he said any more.

He felt incredibly off-balance between Frank’s call, the one to Kiki, and Tommy’s surprise visit. He hated that feeling of not being in control. Hated it.

“Went to supper with Mom and Kiki last night,” Tommy said.

Mickey nodded. He knew that, of course. He had someone who kept an eye on Mary at all times. He knew where she went and what she did and who she met. And he knew she knew that he knew these things. It was almost like she was taunting him these last few weeks with her activities. He wasn’t sure what she was playing at, but he could practically hear the words ‘Game On’ in his head.

“They both figure that we… that is, you and I…” Tommy started to say, frustration and irritation clearly evident in his voice.

“Ah, I see. Plan A didn’t work, so we’re on to Plan B? First, Kiki rooks Joe into some convoluted plot, and now she’s guilting your mother into doing her dirty work as well?” Mickey interjected. He sighed. This girl of his. He didn’t know if he wanted to shake her for her interference or hug her close for always, always, having his back.

Tommy was half glaring at him, lips pursed. Then he, too, let out a sigh and shrugged, running his hand through his hair.

“Truth is, my mom had already mentioned something to me a couple times before last night about spending more time with you while I’m here. I think I’ve been soundly outvoted here,” Tommy said, still sounding agitated.

“And you hate that, don’t you?” Mickey asked with a smile.

This boy was so much like him sometimes it was uncanny. But he knew instinctively that would be the last thing he should say to him right now. He walked over to the wet bar in the study and fixed an Old Fashioned. It was 5:00 somewhere. He got a cooled bottle of water out for Tommy from the mini-fridge and handed it to him. Tommy was watching his movements with a wariness and body language that spoke of fatigue.

“I’ve made no secret of my desire to have you be a part of my life. Everything’s been said, what feels like a thousand times over by now. But the last thing I want is you standing in my home against your will. Out of some sense of obligation to the people you do actually care about. It pleases me to see you, but it pleases me to see you happy most of all. What would make you happy?” Mickey asked softly.

Tommy looked down at his bottle in his hand, then back up at Mickey through the fringes of his hair, and then looked away again. He didn’t answer, but he took a drink from his water and walked to the Chippendale desk in the corner of the room. Tommy fiddled with Mickey’s Al Capone bobble-head someone had given him as a joke when he first moved to Chicago. It was difficult, but Mickey bit his tongue and waited, giving Tommy the space he needed to answer.

“If I didn’t care it would be easier, wouldn’t it?” Tommy finally answered, still not looking at Mickey.

Mickey remained silent, such was his shock at hearing his son say he cared about him. Or is that what he said? Maybe by ‘cared’ he simply meant ‘cared to never have anything to do with you ever’. His confusion kept him mute.

Tommy finally turned and looked at him. “It’s not like we’re strangers. Like we just met or something. We have… loved ones in common. A shared history; a few fond memories, though long ago. We’ve spent a couple holidays and family events together. But it’s not as if we’re close either. We don’t really know each other except for facts on a sheet and a superficial understanding of likes and dislikes. And, yes, that has been intentional on my part. I’ve told you why. I haven’t been able let go of my anger at you for what you put my mother through, and I can’t help but think,” Tommy stopped and ran a hand through his hair again. “What’s the point of getting to know you better? I’m still a cop and you’re still a man who has zero respect for what I do for a living. But I’ve never claimed to be indifferent. Of course I care. I care that my own father loves me, but I also care that he obviously doesn’t respect me—”

“Now hold up just one second, son! I do respect you. I am very proud of you, and of the man you’ve become—”

“I care that you make me feel important and valued but treat others—”

“It’s true I don’t have any faith in law enforcement—”

“—with such breathtaking callousness and cruelty.”

“—or the justice system but I admire your dedication to it. I admire—”

“I care that you lavish us with obviously heartfelt gifts with money stolen—

“—that you are a good person and a good example to your—”

“—from ‘dedicated’ and ‘good’ people who fear you—”

“Enough!” Mickey shouted.

The bourbon in his glass spilled all over his trembling hand then dripped to the worn wooden floor below. His stomach churned with tension and residual panic, and far from calming his nerves, the alcohol seemed to be ramping up the suffocating sensation of powerlessness that had threatened at the edges since Frank’s call. For years he had called all the shots. For years he had commanded respect from everyone around him. But with the one man whose respect he was so desperate to earn he was completely ineffectual. Everything was hanging in the balance on every front, and he couldn’t guarantee that a few loyal men and few billion dollars would be enough to protect his children and the woman he loved. And he had given all that power up for this man – this man! – who refused to even see him as anything but the sum of his worst actions.

Mickey took a deep breath and forced his voice into a semblance of calm. “Answer the question, Tommy. What would make you happy? How about you just answer that question and be done with it,” he demanded, setting the drink down without taking his gaze from his son’s eyes. Eyes so like his own, bloodshot with emotion.

Tommy’s Adam’s apple moved up and down and his jaw worked. His voice was choked and hoarse as he said, “I promised my mother that I—”

“God DAMN it! I asked what YOU want! YOU! Only YOU!” Mickey shouted, accidentally knocking the stained glass lamp next to him in his agitation.

It crashed to the floor, the light bulb flickering, glass breaking. Tommy stepped back. Mickey closed his eyes and gripped the chair next to him, stilling himself and his emotions the best he could. When he opened his eyes he expected to see fear or disgust in Tommy’s face, but all he saw was something akin to marvel or curiosity. A kind of far-off look, like he was thinking about a particularly confounding puzzle.

“…‘for the first time in his life he put someone else’s needs’…” Tommy whispered.

“What?” Mickey asked, feeling utterly and completely exhausted at this point.

“And you’re actually retired?” Tommy asked, eyes still looking through him.

“I – what?” Mickey asked again, now completely lost, as well as tired.  And it was only the middle of the damn day. He knelt down and started picking up glass shards.

The first bars of ‘Woke Up This Morning’ by Alabama 3 started playing on Tommy’s phone. Mickey’s head jerked up and the absurdity of his son choosing that ringtone, combined with fatigue and alcohol, forced a laugh out of him.

“You kiddin’ me?” he asked and Tommy grinned awkwardly at him.

“Detective Gates,” Tommy answered into the phone. The grin left his face as he listened. “I’ll be right there.”

Tommy put the phone back in his pocket and bent eye-level with Mickey. Mickey met his gaze feeling nothing but numb, and braced himself for another rejection.

“For the record, I don’t think this is going to work,” Tommy said.

“Duly noted,” Mickey said with a nod.

“But… I’m willing to try. And since you asked, it would make me happy if you tried as well,” Tommy said softly.

Mickey sat back on his haunches and watched his son walk out the door.

“Well, what the hell does he think I been doin’?” he said to the silence.

–Copyright 2012, Genevieve Dewey.

read on… Chapter Twelve, “Ginny”.

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. 10 “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”

CHAPTER FIVE “Mickey”

CHAPTER SIX “Ginny”

CHAPTER SEVEN “Tommy”

CHAPTER EIGHT “James”

CHAPTER NINE “Kiki”

CHAPTER TEN

 Mary

Mary enjoyed the cool feel of cucumbers on her eyelids, and was struggling not to giggle like a schoolgirl at the decadence of it all. It wasn’t her first spa treatment ever, but it had been so long since she’d had one that she felt like a young girl again instead of a middle-aged woman with a grown man for a son.

No, not middle-aged, that sounds so old, she thought. You’re only forty-five, for crying out loud.

But she was certainly the mother of a grown man. A grown man who clearly was having trouble accepting she had a life outside of being his mother, and more damning still, clearly thought she was as gullible as a goose. On the contrary, Mary knew that Kiki was up to something when she got that phone call, but she figured it was something more along the lines of Michael would just ‘happen’ to show up at their intimate dinner… or some such. She didn’t expect the big party, she had miscalculated that, but she did realize that Kiki had something she was planning.

It was both gratifying and strangely disappointing that Michael had clearly been as out of the loop as she was. But, Kiki’s idea of coming to Chicago and having a relaxing, open-ended vacation had sounded so pleasant, so extravagantly self-indulgent. And in exchange for the idea of an all-expense paid trip to see her only child, plus her old friends Jack and Claire, Mary was willing to play along with whatever shenanigans the girl was up to. If that meant running into Michael, so be it. Better to run into than run away.

She felt like she had spent most of her life running from something; from her family’s expectations, from her stifling small town, from Michael’s life, from herself. She made the choice to accept Kiki’s offer because she felt in her gut that something had to give. No real concrete explanation, just one of those weird tingles up the spine. There was so much unresolved garbage between her and Michael, between Tommy and his father, between all three of them really, that maybe Kiki’s idea had been a catalyst or something. Or maybe she just had delayed empty nest syndrome. But this morning when she was sitting in Mass at Old St. Patrick’s, she just knew in her soul she had made the right decision to come and to stay even after the disastrous birthday party.

Tommy had told her at breakfast that Kiki hadn’t even stayed the whole night. At her own birthday party! Mary hoped that Michael and Tommy hadn’t been harsh with her. She wished she could understand why she felt so protective of Kiki, since of course, she wasn’t her daughter, and she still to this day despised the girl’s mother. Maybe it was just there was something about her that reminded Mary of herself when she had moved to New York and met Michael. She had all that youth and energy, ready to take on the world with bright-eyed optimism and determination. Mary didn’t want to see the girl’s dreams, however naïve, get crushed under other’s cynicism like her own had.

“Explain to me exactly what the cucumbers are supposed to do?”

She sat up with a gasp, the cucumbers falling with a splat on her lap. She stared in shock at Michael lounging against the wall, still dressed in his Sunday best. Her mouth opened and closed like a fish.

“Now, talk about a racket, getting already beautiful women to shell out hundreds of dollars to lie on a slab with vegetables on their face,” he continued with that devil’s grin.

“Michael! What – what – how did you get in here?” Mary finally managed to get out.

She didn’t know what disconcerted her most; that she was sitting there with only a towel and a seaweed mud mask on, or that he had deliberately sought her out, no doubt with the aid of his daughter. Had she really been feeling protective of Kiki a moment ago? Nope, she was going to kill that girl!

He just continued to smirk at her.

“I asked you a question,” she struggled to say with as much dignity as one could with goo all over their face.

Michael jingled the change in his dress slacks, then removed his hands and walked over. She gripped the towel closer and scooted back. He frowned at her action.

“I just wanted to apologize again for my daughter,” he said.

“No need. Like I told you last night, I’m sure she meant well, and to be honest, I am enjoying having a vacation. It’s been years really. Tommy and I used to go to Worlds of Fun sometimes when he was younger or camping. But I haven’t really gone anywhere except back home to Massachusetts since he’s grown. No point in taking a vacation when it’s just you going,” she trailed off.

She cringed at her own babbling and attempted to still her hands kneading the towel. They’d made a child together for goodness sakes! Why was she so nervous? His eyes were focused on his shoes. He was still frowning.

“I’m sorry. I have you at a disadvantage. Why don’t you get dressed – the receptionist said you were almost finished in here – and we can meet for early supper in the restaurant?” he looked at his watch as he said it.

She released a short laugh. It was like going back in time with him. He was older and more distinguished looking, but still the same restless, presumptuous Michael.

“Actually, I was planning on meeting Jack and Claire for supper in Elmhurst,” she said, noticing the quick flash of anger in his eyes at the sound of Jack’s name. She couldn’t help herself and recklessly suggested, “You’re welcome to join us. Tommy will be there.”

She could see the gob-smacked look on his face at her inviting him to supper with the man that had come this close to putting him in prison, at war with the temptation to spend another evening with his estranged son.

The Devil must’ve made me do it, she thought with a smile.

“Where will you be dining?” he asked distractedly.

“Galway’s,” she replied.

He blinked. “That’s not a real restaurant, it’s a pub with food,” he said condescendingly.

“It has food and entertainment, and Claire said I will love it,” she said with her chin in the air, confident he would no longer want to come, if he ever had in the first place.

He narrowed his eyes, his lip slightly curling. She’d forgotten how much Michael liked a challenge and she squirmed nervously.

“Well, maybe I’ll drop by. Who knows? How long are you staying in town?” he asked, clearly no longer concerned with her lack of privacy.

“It’s… It’s open ended.”

She thought about lying, but figured Kiki would tell him anyway. He raised his famous eyebrow, or was it infamous?

“Can you afford to be away from your job so long?” he asked politely.

“I’m not sure what business it is of yours. Aren’t you retired from your job?” she deflected.

She didn’t know why she felt so defensive. Well, yes she did, but she didn’t know why she was still having this conversation with him and not kicking him out. He looked momentarily melancholy before he shrugged.

“I’m carving fulltime now. Keeps my mind and hands occupied,” he said as he headed towards the door.

He paused with his hand on the door handle then looked back at her over his shoulder.

“Maybe you and Tommy could drop by and see my shop sometime. I live in Oak Park these days,” he said, with a tone that suggested he, too, was feeling defensive. Then he left, shutting the door softly behind him.

Mary sat silently for a while and pondered if her courage would fail her now. She wished she knew what the right thing to do was. Stay? Go? Let him in? Push him away? She was still fussing on the conundrum that was Michael Downey when she met with Jack and Claire at the pub later.

He didn’t come.

And she couldn’t figure out why that bothered her so. It seemed as if he was always making subtle overtures, but never actually made a move. Like a lion pacing back and forth behind the bars at the Zoo, waiting… just waiting. Was he waiting for her to make the first move? Yes, that had to be it. But she had invited him and he didn’t show. Yet, he had invited her and Tommy to his home…

It hit her then with a sudden, forceful clarity. He wanted her to come to him. Wanted her to be the one to admit defeat, to surrender on his turf, on his terms. Was his pride that important to him? Or was it about revenge and humiliation after the way she left him? Maybe he saw her as just a means to an end, getting Tommy in his life. It was a lowering thought and made her angry to think it. But if that were the case, she couldn’t understand why he would have stayed away, yet kept such a close eye on her. And if he thought she would just come crawling, he had another thing coming. She was done wondering. Done speculating. Done, done, done. Two could play that game. She started formulating a plan inside her mind and tried not to dwell on the fact it made her feel alive in a way she hadn’t felt in so very long.

At the end of the week, after having visited the major museums and gone on just about every tour the city had to offer, including the gangster tour, she dropped by the Federal Building to visit Tommy and Jack. It brought her such pride as a mother to see her son working so diligently on this case and with such a distinguished Federal agent like Jack. Tommy bustled her into the workroom and introduced her to his colleagues as if she were some honored guest instead of a former stay at home mom who tutored music for a living.

She was pretty sure Agent Sommers had a bit of a crush on her boy by the end of the chat. Not that she’d say anything, mind you. If there was one thing she’d learned a long time ago it was that men needed to discover things on their own. She wasn’t sure what to make of James Hoffman though. He didn’t seem to want to meet Tommy’s eyes but was otherwise very friendly and open.

After her visit, Jack and Tommy walked her to the front of the building.

“I’m glad you and Claire are enjoying living in Chicago, Jack,” she said.

“It’s different. Living in the suburbs makes it not so bad except around rush hour. Still on its worse day it’s got nothing on back home,” he chuckled.

She knew by ‘back home’ he meant New York. She also knew how hard it’d been for him to move from Brooklyn to Omaha with Claire when his wife had gotten so sick with cancer. The doctors were not giving her a very good prognosis on her Stage Four breast cancer and she wanted to be back with her family in Nebraska for treatment. He had loved living there in New York, working in Organized Crime, and the decision to transfer to Omaha came with a demotion for him. But with the case against Michael in shambles and his wife so sick, it was an easy decision. Amazingly, surprising even the doctors, Claire had beat the odds, and Jack had settled into a good life in Nebraska.

But after Michael ‘retired’ to Chicago, Jack had jumped at the chance for another transfer. It was like neither one of them could let go of that long ago case. Mary truly hoped Jack would be able to put it behind him. After all, she had a child with Michael; it was only natural that she couldn’t let the past go, but this need Jack seemed to feel to protect her from Michael seemed like a waste of his energy. If Michael was going to do anything to them he could have long ago. And she felt like he was telling the truth about being retired. So what was the point of keeping tabs on him anymore? But like she said, you couldn’t tell a man anything, they had to come around to it in their own way.

“So what’s the deal with your friend James, Tommy? He seemed a little nervous or jumpy,” Mary said as Jack walked back in the building.

Tommy laughed as he gave her an extra hug good-bye, “Oh, I don’t know. He’s good people. I’m sure he just has something on his mind, maybe that girlfriend he’s been ditching us to go see at lunch. He about breaks the sound barrier getting out of here and comes back practically purring. But now you mention it, he has been a little weird with me since Kiki’s party. Maybe he finally realized how rude he was being to her before you showed up and just doesn’t know how to apologize.”

Mary was surprised to learn he had been there because she hadn’t figured that Tommy’s colleague would be allowed at a Downey family event.

“What do you mean, rude to her?” she wondered. “I didn’t realize you all knew each other previously?”

“We didn’t.”

She must’ve worn her confusion on her face because he laughed again.

“Long story. Not important. He wasn’t there long anyway. What are you going to do with the rest of today?” he asked, obviously keen to change the subject.

“I’m sure I’ll think of something,” she answered. There was absolutely no way she was going to tell him her real plans. “Did you get a chance to see your brother again before he went back?”

“Yeah, man, that boy is growing like a weed, and he talks like he’s a Colonel already instead of a fifteen year old kid,” he said with a grin. It warmed her heart to know he was forming such a strong bond with his siblings.

“And your father?” Lord, but she hated that closed look he got on his face at the mention of Michael. It made her feel so guilty.

“He was there, of course. We went to the Museum of Science and Industry and then we all went to supper together on Joe’s last day. Don’t worry, I was on my best behavior,” he said, rolling his eyes.

“I’m sure you were, and don’t be sassy. I’m just asking because I want you to know I don’t mind if you want to, you know, continue to spend time with him while you’re here,” she said, brushing a lock of his dark hair from his forehead.

He looked at her for a beat. “Can I ask you something?” Tommy asked, looking preoccupied.

“Shoot,” she said with a smile.

“When did you realize he was involved with the Mob?”

She stared into his eyes. Was it possible they’d never talked about this? She took a deep breath. She owed him this, at the very least.

“Well… fairly early on, actually. We’d been together a handful of months when I ran into Theresa Anastasio at the church while picking up my choir music for Sunday mass. She was finalizing the last details on her wedding. Took great glee in showing me the Downey-Anastasio engagement photo they would place in the vestibule on their happy day. Michael never went to Mass back then, and I had no idea she even attended the same church. She knew about me apparently, but I had no idea about her existence in his life. That was the first time I broke it off with him. He begged me not to, said he hadn’t planned on falling in love with me, hadn’t wanted to hurt either of us, and he claimed that he was having trouble finding a way to end the engagement. I was young and naïve but not entirely stupid. I told him we were through. Then I asked my friend Claire if she knew anything about the Anastasio wedding and she told me that her husband – Jack obviously – was investigating Theresa’s father and the groom-to-be. She joked about having never sung at a Mob wedding, and it was a shame they hired some famous entertainer friend of the family instead of using our choir. It suddenly made sense to me what he’d said about not being able to find a way to end the engagement if he was afraid of her father and we’d only been dating for a few months. I was torn between sympathy for Michael – yes, sympathy, Tommy – and a sense of relief that I had ended it in spite of how much I’d come to care for him. But when I realized I was pregnant a few weeks later, I worked up the courage to tell him, hoping it might be just the thing he needed to make a clean break. Oh, don’t give me that look Tommy! I was nineteen! I was alone and pregnant. He said he loved me. But it was too late. They’d just gotten back from their honeymoon. But he promised he would take care of me. Foolish, foolish girl that I was, by the time you were born I had let him back in my heart and back in my bed. To be fair, he spent a lot of time with me and you. Way more than he must have spent with her when you factor in the work he did for her father. He did try and leave her a few times, but then she’d have some sort of breakdown and check herself into a hospital and he’d go right back to her for a little bit. I think you were two years old before I realized Theresa wasn’t really what stood in the way of our happiness. He didn’t go back to her out of love or fear. He was never afraid of her father. He wanted what her father had. He would never get a divorce as long as he needed her to get it. And yet, knowing this, I still chose to stay…” she trailed off as the waves of her memories seemed to choke her throat.

She didn’t even realize she was crying until Tommy wiped a tear from her cheek.

“And you actually want me to get to know this man better?” Tommy asked softly.

“Yes,” she declared firmly, straightening her shoulders. She watched his face battle consternation and frustration.

“Of all the crimes that can be laid at the feet of your father, the one thing he has always done right is love you unconditionally. I took you from him, without even giving him a chance to fight for you. Don’t interrupt,” she gritted out in her mom voice when he opened his mouth. “I kept you from him and he respected that, Tommy. For once in his life he put someone else’s needs ahead of his own. This isn’t about how he treated me back then or the mistakes we both made. This is about you getting to know the man I fell in love with. I believe he’s still in there somewhere. If you get to know him and, independent from your feelings about how you think he may have treated me way back then, you still decide that you want nothing to do with him, then so be it,” she finished.

The door opened behind them and James poked his head out.

“Are you just going to stand out here chatting with pretty ladies all afternoon?” he shouted at them.

Mary snorted and rolled her eyes. It was enough to break the tension though, and Tommy smiled at her as he walked slowly backwards towards the building. She waggled a maternal finger at James, blew a kiss to Tommy, then turned and went to retrieve her rental car. She had to see a girl about a man.

Kiki seemed almost giddy when they met up on Lakeshore just off Grant Park. She had a flush in her face and a smile a mile wide. They walked along the jogging trail together.

“My, what a twinkle you have in your eye,” Mary laughed.

“Oh, it’s just a nice day, don’t you think?” Kiki replied.

“Hmmmn, what’s his name?” Mary asked.

Mary was thinking whatever unpleasantness Tommy thought Agent Hoffman had to feel guilty over at the girl’s party a week ago was long forgotten by the birthday girl thanks to this mystery man. Kiki made a dismissive sound but dropped her eyes and worried her lip beneath flushed cheeks.

“I don’t know what you mean, there’s no guy. It’s just nice seeing you again. I’m glad we’re on the same page with Tommy and my dad,” Kiki said earnestly.

Mary let it drop, but she could tell when a girl was smitten. Hadn’t she been the starry-eyed girl once over Michael?

“So what’s the plan?” she asked, hooking her arm in Kiki’s.

Kiki looked surprised, but pleased at the gesture. “We just need to get Tommy over there. That’s all. Dad’ll do the rest I’m sure. You know how he is,” Kiki said as she sat on a bench by the yacht club.

Mary sat next to her and they watched the ducks toddle by in silence. She did know Michael, only too well. He had a way of saying all the right things, but it was the doing that she worried about. She wanted them to get to know each other better, but as much as she wanted her son to know his father, she wanted his father to truly know Tommy. Mary feared it would take a lot more than being in the same room for these two stubborn men to stop talking at each other, and start talking to each other. Of course, she was one to talk, no pun intended, as her current method of communicating with Michael was to not communicate with Michael. She figured she had sent the men he had watching her on quite the merry chase this week, and planned on having even more fun at his expense next week.

Maybe she’d feel bad about that later.

Maybe.

–Copyright 2012, Genevieve Dewey.

[Find out why “Kiki seemed almost giddy when they met up on Lakeshore…” in this missing James & Kiki love scene here: Special Delivery]

Read on… Chapter Eleven, “Mickey”.

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

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