He opened his eyes and the sound of boyish laughter died in a ghostly echoing way, replaced by the terrible soul-searing sound of silence.
This guy… a handful of weeks into retirement and he’d already done a 180 and was acting like someone had stolen his favorite blankie from him – the same blankie he had just declared himself too old to snuggle with.
James must have sent the flowers in a preemptive strike knowing he was going to be late. It was awfully sweet of him, she thought, and a cunning move. She really loved that about him. She couldn’t wait to show him how much tonight… whether he wanted it or not.
“The first time, I ran away. The second time, you ran away. If they try it again, let’s just run away together.”
“A man who doesn’t protect his family is nothing! Less than nothing. I’d rather be dead. You wanna do it your way, that’s fine, but I’ma do it my way.”
Had he asked for twenty-four hours without any more surprises? Hell, he’d like to make it a full hour.
“One of the things I find most attractive about you is the massive sneaky streak you have.”
Kiki jumped and turned. She placed a hand to her racing heart and caught her breath at the huge grin on her fiancé’s face. She met it with one of her own.
“We’ve got to stop meeting like this, Agent Hoffman.”
“I’m pretty sure that’s my line,” he answered with a chuckle.
“These are mine. You meant them for me. You might want to lie to yourself they were meant for you, but the lying to me stops today. Now,” Mary finished firmly.
The logical part of Tommy’s brain understood that maybe she had only done it to protect him as child and not because she wasn’t willing to be with a mobster. But the child in him resented the lack of a father when he had needed him most. Now that he was an adult, watching them together made him feel like it was all for nothing—the loneliness, the fear, the lies, and resentment.
“She has a sweet, giving heart,” Downey said, leaning back in his leather office chair.
“Girl like that just attracts predators.”
“I’m not a predator, sir. I’m just a man who’s in love with your daughter.”
“And you better start praying, amico, that she’s in pristine condition when we find her or I’m not gonna stop cleanin’ ’til a whore’s hooch shines, capiche?”
Just one word, infused with naked desperation; half prayer, half enchantment. It felt like a freezing charm on her soul making her his prisoner, yet setting her free all at once. She had always felt that way with him, like a butterfly in a zoo exhibit, permitted to flutter about and live its life without restraint yet never truly free.
Tommy flipped the watch over.
“‘Famiglia’… That’s it?”
“Ye claim to love my son but ye sure as shite don’t understand him if ye don’t understand why he stayed away. Yer the one who left, ye daft woman! Wit’out even tellin’ him why or givin’ him a choice. Of course he’d be waitin’ fer ye to make the next move. That’s how the game of chess is played. At least he gave ye the respect of makin’ the choice to not choose.”
“You bring any cannoli?” Mickey whispered, trying to downplay his worry with humor.
“No, but I’m keeping my gun no matter what he says.”
“At the end of the day, if you want something to feel proud of, feel proud of the fact you proved to him, a hardened criminal, that a man of integrity and honor can hold a badge and have compassion and concern for a criminal without compromising those values.”
“…they lie to themselves about honor and codes and putting family first, but it’s a lie and ye know it! Who are the first to pay and suffer? Their women and children. The only thing they put first is greed.”
“…it isn’t things and proximity, or even blood that holds us all together. What makes a family is love and loyalty.”
She sailed down the steps of St. Patrick’s, ignored the honks of traffic, and crossed to the statue from Galway across the street. It was hours before they’d planned, but just like a charm, her chariot appeared.
“I sense shenanigans.”
“Yeah, that’s a given. Like I said… this is Joey.”
Ginny laughed and looked up with a mischievous grin.
“I like Downey shenanigans.”
Tommy grinned back, “Me too.”