Almost six years ago, the Porters of the Irish Mob emigrated and moved their business operations from Dublin, Ireland to New York, USA. After the former New York Boss, Liam Sullivan, was killed, James Porter had agreed to take control of the business in the man's place. The Porters saw great opportunity in New York, especially in the wake of the Mayor and the Gardai cracking down heavily on organised crime back in Dublin.
It soon became apparent that the wealthy and brutal Moretti Family; the Porters' closest rivals in New York City, were behind Liam Sullivan's death. Over the last few years, attention was directed at taking down the Moretti Family, both in revenge for Liam's death and to wipe out the closest competition. In 1969, Francesco Moretti, the boss of the Italian-American gang was killed by the Porters and the remaining members of the gang were gunned down. This left the Porters with more businesses to add to their empire and greater control over the city's criminal activities.
In June 1971, the war on drugs was declared by President Nixon. Although it was seen as a definite crackdown to most, the Mob saw nothing was actually being done by government, so took the opportunity to take over and control the drugs business themselves. Whilst this had brought in even more profit and power to the Porters, it has also brought in new rivals and smaller gangs attempting to threaten the Mob's empire. Despite being in control of the city for some years, the Mob's rivals bring great challenges to the Porters.
In such a dangerous city, where violence, gang rivalries and organised crime are in heavy operation, who will be the last one standing?
**WARNING: the material you are about to read depicts violence, abuse and/or otherwise very real situations. This could be uncomfortable for some readers and we please ask you to proceed with caution. Thank you... the GMs. **
Chapter 1: Happy Birthday, Mr. Porter
Friday 2nd July 1971 Early Evening - Sunny, Warm, Dry
The Porter House ~ Bayside, Queens ~
When he was a teenager, James would have been surprised if someone had told him he'd live past his 20th birthday. Given everything he'd been involved in during his life and taking over the family business two decades ago, he never took his next birthday for granted. Yet, in two days time, he was due to turn 50 and tonight he would be celebrating the milestone with his family, friends and closest associates. Parties weren't his favourite things to attend, on account of him not wishing to be the centre of attention in social situations. He'd always maintained he'd rather be stuck in a room full of people who wanted to kill him than have to get up to give a speech in front of his nearest and dearest. Regardless, he knew how much his family loved and needed the fun of such get--togethers, so he was more than happy to suck it up for them.
It wasn't his birthday for another two days, so James had stayed over in his Manhattan apartment the previous night to attend to business meetings in the city throughout the morning. It was the early afternoon when he returned to the family mansion in Bayside, Queens. He'd been pleased to see much of the party was already set up, with the large function room of the house and the adjoining garden being the main area where the guests would be directed to upon their arrival. James hated the idea of employing staff to run the party, but he simply didn't have the time to do it himself and he knew how busy Lucy was too. All of this fuss, just to celebrate him managing to survive for half of a century!
James had headed straight for his office, unlocking the door before stepping inside and allowing Bruno, his 5-month old rottweiler, to rush into the room after him. The man closed the office door behind him and knew the only person who would enter the room without knocking would be Lucy. He'd always been strict that nobody entered his office without permission, for the pure fact he didn't want the likes of Thomas exposed to the business so directly.
"Come on, boy," James softly commanded the puppy, smiling to himself at the animal followed him. Once seated in his chair behind the desk, James leaned forward to he could rub the dog's belly once puppy had rolled over onto its back. After a brief time of giving Bruno some attention, James sat up straight and focused his mind back onto business. There were two telephones on his desk and he reached for the receiver of the private phone, knowing the line couldn't be tapped into by the cops or anyone else. After dialling the number he wished to call, James listened for a few seconds as the call rang through before finally been answered by the familiar and expected male voice. "I've received confirmation on the missing shipments," James calmly spoke. "Billy Granger is involved. Take him in and get him to spill. Keep him there until I say, no matter how much he tells you. He won't be crossing us again." On that note, James ended the call and rose from his seat. He had a party to get ready for...
Once he was showered and dressed, James sat down on the edge of the bed in the master bedroom and looked to Lucy as she was getting herself ready for the party. A soft smile crossed his lips as he admired his wife and her beauty that he'd been drawn to all of those years ago. "You're gorgeous, Luce," he told her, his cheeks taking on a rosy tiny as he blushed. He then stood up and approached her, resting his hand on her lower back. "I'm a very lucky old man," he spoke quietly into her ear before softly kissing the side of her head, mindful not to mess up any make-up she might have already applied.
James then walked away as he set about fastening his tie around his neck. "How's Thomas been today?" he asked her. He doubted their youngest son would have been causing her too much trouble. The person he was more concerned about was much older than the child. "Has Gwen been home all day and looking after Lorelei?" Knowing Gwen was struggling to get herself back on track, James wanted to give the woman some leeway. However, he had very little tolerance for anyone 'abandoning' their children and wasn't going to make it easy for his sister to do so.
Interaction: @Bella:D (Lucy) Already at the Porters:@Bella:D (Lucy, Gwen, Thomas)
Sinead hadn't had as productive a day as she would have liked. Instead, she'd spent much of the afternoon napping to sleep off the mild hangover she was suffering with. She'd been working at her own jazz club the previous evening, filling in on the piano as a member of the band she'd booked had taken ill. After she'd finished playing for the gig, she decided to have a couple of drinks and hang out with her bar staff. It hadn't taken much persuasion from her bar manager, Scott, to talk her into sticking around the club with the group for much later into the night. Strolling into the house at sunrise wasn't normal for Sinead, but she felt compelled to stay away from home for a bit. She loved Peter with all of her heart, but she didn't want another argument and last night she'd simply decided she deserved the long overdue night out.
She was excited about the party that evening, so much so that she'd bought a new dress and earrings to wear for the special occasion. As she sat at her dressing table mirror, she finished curling her hair. Her thoughts had shifted back to Emery and how she'd been caught by one of the guards the previous night as she tried to sneak out of the house. Sinead wasn't happy, but had decided to save the lectures she had for her daughter until the next day, rather than end up in an argument before the party. No doubt the teenager would think she'd gotten away with her antics.
After slipping into the figure-hugging red dress, Sinead turned around in time to catch Peter's attention. She outstretched her arms so he could look at the outfit that landed a few inches above her knees, along with the pretty earrings and matching gold stiletto shoes. "How do I look, Honey?" she asked him, a bright smile planted on her lips. "Does Mrs. Callahan meet your approval?" she playfully asked. Beneath her smile, she was hoping he too was looking forward to spending time together at the party. On account of her sleeping most of the day and not having chance to talk to him much, she hoped he wasn't annoyed that she'd stayed out the previous night.
Emery had tried to take advantage of her parents been busy the previous evening and had attempted to sneak out of the house to meet up with her friends. Annoyingly, the guard had paid attention at the wrong time and managed to catch her in the act. Judging by the lack of lecture from her parents, she could only assume the man had kept quiet about it. Perhaps he wasn't so bad after all.
Emery had spent much of the afternoon listening to Black Sabbath and sketching drawings of her cat, Jasper, as the animal slept on the end of her bed. As she became aware of the time, she realised she needed to make an effort to get ready for James' party. She was looking forward to seeing all of her extended family together and was as curious as ever to be around members of the mob. Ever since she was a small child, she'd been around those from her Uncle's gang and she only became more interested in their work as she grew older.
Not as bothered about looking as glamorous as her mother and sister were, Emery didn't take long to get dressed. She'd opted for a long lace skirt, strappy top and a leather jacket, along with comfortable knee-high boots. After brushing her naturally curly red hair, she headed out of her room. She first walked to Savannah's bedroom. Although her sister had moved out a couple of years ago, her bedroom had still remained how she left it and the eldest sibling often stayed over at the family home, so it would always be Savvy's room. Though she expected the room to be unoccupied, Emery was still disappointed that her sister wasn't there to get ready with her or to travel to the party with the family.
Emery walked away from the room and instead approached Braden's room where she proceeded to knock loudly on his door. "Brady. You in there? You ready yet?" she called out from the other side of the door. "Your little sister wants to talk to you," she informed him. Really, she'd had a boring day and she was always curious about her brother's experiences working for the family business.
Who else would love him still? When they've been used so ill?
He knows I always will... As long as he needs me.
I miss him so much when he is gone.
But when he's near me, I don't let on..."
Savannah stopped singing as she caught sight from her position on the stage of her fellow cast member raising her hand to give her the thumbs up from the front row seat. From her tearful and heartfelt expression, she let out a relieved sigh and softly smiled. As she hopped down from the stage, she retrieved the folded tissue from down inside her top so she could use it to soak up the tears from her eyes and cheeks. "Lauren... I did it right, didn't I?" she asked her friend for reassurance.
"Like the last five times, it was perfect, Savvy. Or should I say Nancy?" the raven-haired older woman asked. "This is going to be the best 'Oliver!' this theatre has seen. Trust me." She woman lightly squeezed the top of Savannah's arm. "Now go! You've already been rehearsing the entire day and you need to get ready for your uncle's party. Get drunk and have fun whilst you still have the time."
Savannah was excited about her Uncle's party. She enjoyed being able to spend time with all of the family and their friends, as well as some of the gang members she'd grown fond of over the years. Whist she wasn't overly keen on the family's criminal activities, she still loved being in their company.
As she stood in front of her bedroom mirror, she put the final touches to her make-up, pouting as she admired the red shade of lipstick she was wearing. She then lowered her vision to look over the short, figure-hugging dress she was wearing. She thought the scarlet dress was gorgeous, like many of the outfits she'd bought from Evelin. Unfortunately, she knew she would have to change into something different. Her parents had told her to dress a little more sensibly as she'd be in the presence of "gangsters and thugs". Whilst she had no intention of getting involved with her Uncle's employees, she decided to respect her parents' wishes on this occasion.
After eventually changing into a pretty black skater dress, Savannah walked out into the lounge of the apartment. She'd invited Roxie to the party and her good friend Evelln too. Meanwhile, Veronica had been instructed by James to drive Savannah and her friends from Manhattan to the party over at Bayside, Queens, so the blonde was expecting the bodyguard to arrive at any moment too.
In the early morning, Lucy had to take a trip into the city for a photoshoot she had booked with her agent for Cosmopolitan and had been really excited about it. Thomas however, was not pleased that both of his parents were out of the house and leaving him alone with his Aunt Gwen for a bit. He loved his Aunt dearly but even the 11 year old could see that she was a mess.
The flash of the camera's was blinding but Lucy was a natural in front of it, the atmosphere of a photoshoot was always one that put her at ease and let her forget some of the hardships of being a Mob boss's wife. The photographer asked the blonde to lift her chin slightly and she did so before he made a joke that caused her to crack a wide smile, "Beautiful!!" He cheered her on before the camera flashed a few more times. The fans blew her hair back as she blinked a few times, no matter how many times she did this, her poor eyes would never get use to the bright lights.
The shoot lasted about 3 hours in total and once it was all over, she decided to borrow one of the dresses from the shoot to where to the party that evening. With permission of course, she took the dress and the rest of her belongings down to the car that was waiting for her. The driver opened the door for her quickly and took her things before loading the car.
Looking out the window, she watched as the city flew by her, she had more to be excited about. Even though he had been gone for only a night, she was eager to see James and celebrate his birthday tonight.
Lucy had just finished putting the final touches on of her make up before looking into the mirror once more. She was feeling self conscious now as she tugged at the shorter dress. She wasn't a young lass anymore but she could still pull this off...right? Noticing her husband's smile in the mirror, she paused and bit her lip, "What?" She wondered nervously, wondering if the dress looked odd. Instead, he told her like he always did that she look gorgeous, and the slight pink to his cheeks caused the woman to giggle as she watched him approach her. His words tickled her ear before he pressed a kiss to the side of her head. When he walked away, Lucy turned to watch him as he fastened his tie. "Thomas was good. Gwen actually looked after him for a bit as I had a shoot this morning. He didn't seem to pleased that we were gone..." She went quiet for a moment as she thought about her sister-in law. The poor woman had a problem that she clearly couldn't fix herself.
She was good with the children when she was completely sober but when she fell back into her own ways it was like her daughter didn't exist to her. "Gwen's....trying. Lorelei and Thomas both told me that she had drifted off for a while and it had been hard to wake her up." It was hard to see such a young and beautiful woman like Gwen fall so hard. "She's helping Lorelei get ready for the party now, and Thomas has made it clear to me that he is dressing himself. " Lucy was having a hard time with the fact that her youngest was wanting to grow up so quickly now. Sucking in a soft breath, Lucy tilted her head and smiled, "You ready for your birthday party, Mr. Porter? The staff has been working hard. Everything looks great!"
With: James @Misty Gray ;
Mentions:Thomas, Lorelei, Gwen (me)
Peter had spent the day hiding out in the little garage that had currently become a man cave of sorts. This was what the man normally did throughout the day when he just couldn't handle being in the house or around people anymore. This time he was hiding from his wife who had yet to get up from her night adventures. He had always gotten up in the early morning hours to do his morning workouts and head out for a 3 mile jog, but when Sinead walked in through the door at sunrise, he was furious. Instead of confronting her about it like he normally did however, he tried to do what his therapist had taught him, defusing himself before he could get caught up in the situation. The exercise helped to clear his mind for a while but when he returned to the house, he found that he was still upset with his wife.
So he sat around his man cave, lying on the old couch and watching the TV mindlessly as it flickered slightly due to bad connection. He really could't tell if Scooby Doo was on or if it was the 6 o'clock news but either way, he knew that he should get ready for the party. Standing up, he stretched out his back, which was currently punishing him for laying on that damned couch before walking out of the garage and locking the door behind him. He walked into the house quietly before slipping upstairs just in time to see Sinead slipping into a tight pink dress. He stared at her silently, his lips drawn in a thin line as he obsereved her outfit. She looked great, like she always did, but that wasn't going to excuse what she had did the night before.
"You look good." He muttered, his voice bubbling with the venom that laid underneath his calm tone. When asked if it met his approval, Peter paused before answering, "Well the dress does....but I'm not sure if I approve of you sneaking around like some teenager. We already have Emery doing that Sinead, do I have to start worrying about you too?" His tone was aggressive as he moved towards the closet to grab the suit he would be wearing for the evening. He turned his back to her as he slipped out of his own clothes and put on the suit. It would do nothing for his irritability, he really didn't like wearing suits like he use to.
"I get up for my run and I expected to see you back in bed with me. Instead, you were out all hours of the night with god knows who!" His voice got a little louder before he turned to Sinead. The manic in his eyes was clear and the man clenched his fists harshly. His heart was beating rapidly and all he could think was that maybe she had finally grown tired of him. Looking around then, he knew he needed his pills, striding towards the top drawer of the bedside table, he quickly retrieved the pill bottle and fumbled with shaking hands to open it.
with: Sinead @Misty Gray
Depictions of Drug abuse
"Mommy? Mommy?" Gwen's closed eyes twitched as she struggled to determine what was the dream and what was real. She cried as the man held her face tightly, holding her head up when she desperately just wanted to lay down. Her eyes which only fluttered open slightly, could see his familiar face, that messy blonde hair that she knew well. His mouth moved but the voice didn't match. Instead sounding like a soft bell, calling out desperately for her to regain consciousness. Closing her eyes once more, the redhead's head grew heavy and the hands on her face struggled to keep her lifted. Suddenly, the hands moved away and caused her head to fall forward, which then caused Gwen's eyes to fly open from fear of falling."Mommy!"Lorelei gasped before rushing forward to try and support the woman, hugging her around the stomach as she leaned against her shoulder. "Get. Up." She struggled, watching as her mother slowly reached for the arm rests on her chair before pushing herself up.
The little girl breathed out in relieve before she noticed the blood coming from her mothers nose. This was nothing new for Lorelei, it fact it was normal. She knew that her mother had been out the night before, taking advantage of the fact that Uncle James' had been gone. Gwen returned that same night a broken mess that Lorelei felt the need to clean up. Turning to grab some tissue from the coffee table, she handed it to her mother, who took it and placed it to her nose. When Gwen felt like she could speak, she blinked slowly at her daughter before clearing her throat, "Did I...fall asleep again?" To which her daughter nodded quickly, the worry was clear on her face. "Maybe we should tell Uncle Ja-""No." Gwen was quick to cut her off with aggression in her voice, the tears thick in her eyes as she realized that she had been failing her brother once again. She couldn't bare to see the disappointment on his face if she knew that she had gone out last night, that she was falling asleep like this.
Lorelei's own eyes watered with tears, only 7, she only understood so much as to why her mother acted the way she did towards her. Seeing this, Gwen's face softened and she held out her arms to her daughter. "Come here." She murmured softly and the little girl stepped into her mother's arms. There was silence between them for a long time before Lorelei spoke up again, "Are we going to get ready, mommy?" Gwen had totally forgotten about her brother's party tonight. There was a long pause before Gwen nodded her head, "Would you like to dress yourself tonight?" She asked the girl, to which she was graced with a beautiful smile in return, "YES!" Lorelei squealed before helping her mother to her feet.
It wasn't long before the two girls were dress and ready for the party. Gwen stepped out into the long hallway as Lorelei skipped towards the stairs. "I'll be there in a moment!" She called to the girl before turning back into their room and fishing a cigarette from her purse. Her fingers twitched and the familiar aching feeling in her joints was returning. Lighting the cigarette quickly, she hoped it would bring her some sweet relief so she could last the night.
with: Lorelei (me)
mentions: James @Misty Gray
"No no no noooo...excuse me sir, I don't like the tone you are taking with me and I will certainly not stand for it." She spoke into her phone as she paced her office at the Biancardi tower. The phone wire was tangling up as she paced, making it harder for her to walk around any more. Pausing in the middle of the room, she listened to what she imagined to be an incredibly sexist man yell at her over what the art gallery would be donating to the next charity gala.
"That's a ridiculous price to ask for such an event! Its for charity!!! Do you know the reputation you will have amongst the community if that information were to get out? You would be the laughing stock of the whole city!" She paused, letting the man yell at her some more before she laughed at his words out loud, "Well you are speaking to the director of Charitable Events and I will have you know that I do a damn good job at it. If you aren't wanting to participate in the gala that's fine, we will just take your name off the list. However, let it be known that the Biancardi family will be pulling out of any and all business with the New York Art Gallery. Let's see how you do without the funding. " With that, she hung up. It blew her mind that people would still put a price on charity. The woman was flustered but as she looked at the time she knew she couldn't linger around her office anymore than she needed to.
Walking through the door of the apartment she shared with Savvy, she could see that the blonde was already to go. "Oh shit!" Roxanne cursed out loud, "I'm so sorry, Sav. I got caught up with some jerk on the phone at the office, needless to say...I need lots of drinks." She chuckled before looking her friend up and down. "You look...appropriate." Roxie teased before shuffling towards her room. "I'll be out in a sec!!" She called to the blonde before shutting her door and stripping away at her work clothing quickly.
The brunette replaced her work attire with a tight light blue number that showed all of her curves well. She paired that with a pair of black heels and was ready to go. Heading out of her room once more, she glided into the lounge area and smiled at Savvy, "Tell me once again, is there any eye candy that I can impress with this pretty thing?"
with: Savvy @Misty Gray Veronica @undine
Conor Sullivan and Maddox Parker ~ New York City Correctional Facility ~
Earlier that day...
The interview room wasn't the environment Maddox preferred to carry out his work within, but the prison facilities were a far cry from the warm and welcoming setting of his own office in the city-based medical centre. Still, despite the plain walls and room only being furnished with a wooden table plus two chairs, the Psychologist was used to working under the constraints of the prison service. If anything, he knew how difficult it had been for prisoners to gain access to counsellors at all. In reality, he was glad he could be there in the first place, having always had an interest in criminology during his studies.
With table pushed aside, much to the dismay of the prison guard stationed on the outside of the interview room, Maddox and Conor were able to sit openly, without the furniture creating any kind of barrier between them. The doctor sat back in his seat, almost mirroring Conor's even more casual posture. They'd been talking for some time already and after minimal prompting, Conor had felt compelled to speak up about all of the irritations that were on his mind.
"Ali still won't visit me and when Seana brings my lad to visit, I can see the woman judging me as she sits there. Then there's the fact I'm in the same prison as Ali's old man, so I feel like I'm constantly treading on eggshells. Not to mention it's Jimbo's party tonight and I'm going to be stuck in this shithole, completely sober. Sober and trying not to punch that prick, Robbo, in the face." Conor caught Dr. Parker's eye. Though the other man's expression remained neutral, Conor still felt the need to defend his aggressive words. "Sorry, but if he makes one more comment about what he'd do to either of my sisters, I'm not sure I'll be able to ignore it."
"You've said before that you know this other inmate is trying to goad you into fighting. Now, I understand how close you are to your sisters and that you want to protect them. But if you react, you'll be giving this Robbo exactly what he wants and you'll find yourself back in solitary." Maddox let out a deep breath, deciding to give Conor some news that would hopefully motivate him to stay out of trouble. "I'll be submitting my report on Monday morning and my recommendation for your parole will be tossed away if you're getting into fights again." Maddox took a small sip of water from the plastic tumbler and set it back down on the nearby table. "You've been out of trouble for months now and I'm going to need you to keep doing that. You're permitted to use the prison gym now and it's important you keep yourself busy in there. That's always been an effective way for you to safely divert your aggression. What do you think?" Conor quickly nodded his head, knowing Maddox's suggestion had worked in the past and it was only because he'd argued with one of the guards that he'd been banned from the gym as punishment. There was a brief silence which allowed Maddox to consider his next words. "You mentioned you've been having the dreams about drowning again. Did you wish to elaborate on those today?"
Conor covered his mouth with his hand and diverted his eyes to the door behind Maddox as he deliberated over whether he trusted the man enough to speak about his past ordeal. He eventually moved his hand away from his mouth, clearing his throat before looking back at the other man. "It was over 20 years ago, mate. You'd think I'd have got over it by now," he said, letting out an awkward laugh. The truth was, he'd spent quite some time with Dr. Parker and after initially rejecting the man's help, he'd warmed to the guy and now saw him as more than just some 'shrink'. "Back when I lived in Chicago, I got under the feet of a pretty powerful bloke. Long story short, after torturing two people I care about, he moved on to me. He made my sister watch as his employees forced my head down into that filled bath tub, holding my face under until I couldn't breathe anymore. They pulled my head out just before it was too late, letting me catch my breath, only to do it all again. All I could hear was my sister screaming and crying. We both believed I was going to die that night. I just... Those dreams still feel as real as it was that night and I wake up gasping for air."
Maddox remained silent for a time, processing the words as he left a short silence to allow his patient to gather his thoughts and to be sure he'd finished speaking. Once he was sure, he sent the prisoner a sympathetic expression and was about speak up. Instead, he was interrupted when the guard opened the door from the outside and abruptly informed them their time was up. Maddox sat up straight and waited for the guard to leave the room before finishing up the session. "We will focus on this the next time I'm here, I promise."
"Alright, Doc," Conor agreed. Despite being annoyed at the interruption, he knew it would be futile to argue for more time. Instead, he flashed a smile at Dr. Parker and shrugged his shoulders. "You're alright for a shrink," he admitted.
"Well, we have come a long way. I remember a time when you thought I was a 'poncy prick'," Maddox observed as he stood up from his seat. He then pointed his thumb in the direction of the door the prison guard was standing at the other side of. "If it's any consolation, the guards here don't much like 'do-gooders' like me, either," he remarked before letting out a chuckle. He then turned to leave the room. "Stay out of trouble, Conor," he called back.
Conor Sullivan ~ New York City Correctional Facility ~
Conor hadn't been back in his cell for long when the bell sounded for dinner. He figured it was a good thing, as his cellmate was pissing him off as he insisted on reading some novel out loud and Conor had been on the verge of smacking him around the head with book. Conor walked in the line to the prison dining hall. The usual display of inmates attempting to assert their dominance by cutting into the queue ensued. Thankfully, they'd stop trying it with Conor and that meant he didn't need to start throwing his weight around and risk being put on a charge.
Once he'd got his food, Conor carried the tray to an empty table and sat himself down. Usually, he'd sit with a group of inmates he got along with, but his session with Dr. Parker had left him with much to consider and he wasn't willing to share such thoughts with the others. As he started tucking into his food, Conor noticed Allen in the serving area and observed the man for a time. It was an awkward position to be in; locked up in prison with his father-in-law whilst he and Aliana were separated. It was bad enough having Seana judging him every time she brought Leo to visit, but to top it all off, he just had to be locked up in the same hole as Allen.
Lucy and James always knew how to put on a good party, and with the family always growing bigger, Syd knew that tonight was going to be a blast. He always loved seeing his family and friends come together in celebration no matter the occasion, but his father's 50th birthday party had to be regarded as a particularly special one. Of course, in case the man was already feeling at all sensitive about getting older, Syd was ready to rub it in. Although life in the mob was never boring, it did feel good to have a break from it every now and then. If you didn't find something to take your mind off work every once in a while, it was easy to start losing yourself in it.
Friday nights were one of the nightclub's busiest, so Syd had had to work solidly all day to ensure that he would be able to take the night off. It was 5pm by the time he decided he could call it a day, but since he had started very early in the morning, he hadn't been able to go out with the dogs yet. While he could have sent them out with one of his guards, he always preferred to spend the time with them himself, so he decided he would walk them to his parents house rather than drive there. Besides, if he was planning on getting drunk - and he was - then it wouldn't be much use to have his car in their driveway later on. It was a fairly long walk but the evening air was warm; his dogs were highly trained and walked obediently beside him, leaving his hands free to carry the many bottles of whiskey and champagne that he had decided to bring. They got excited as soon as they saw the house and bounded across the driveway to the front porch. Syd ran after them, mimicking their excitement, and unlocked the door so that they could all swarm into the hall.
Within seconds Syd had a whole pack of dogs jumping around him and he had to try hard not to drop all the bottles he was carrying. In case the commotion his arrival had brought hadn't raised enough attention, he called out to let his parents know he was here. Thomas soon appeared in the doorway and Syd grinned at him, setting the bottles down carefully out of the dogs' reach before rushing over to his little brother. "C'mere, trouble," he teased the boy, sweeping him up off the ground into a big hug. Once he had set him down again, he leaned on his brother's head to annoy him as he took in the party's impressive set-up. "Mam didn't make you do all this fancy decorating by yourself, did she? Guess I got here kinda late in the end." Pushing himself away, he passed the lad a couple of bottles of sparkling grape juice. "I know this looks like champagne, so careful you don't get it confused, yeah? It's for you and Lorelei." He ruffled Thomas' hair before crouching down to give rottweilers Mason and Bruno the attention they had been begging him for. "Where are mam and dad, anyway? I've got some jokes to make about his age."
Aliana Sullivan was sitting in her boudoir at her vanity, staring at herself in the mirror. She was still getting ready for James' 50th birthday party, wrapped in her black robe so she didn't get her white dress messed up with makeup. The blue handle on the eyeshadow brush was just sitting her right hand as she went through the events of the day in her head. To start things off, Leo had barged into her room with the Charlie trilogy. Charlie the hamster was, for whatever reason, in Charlie the fish's bowl and Charlie the dog was trailing behind the 10-year-old boy. "Mom!" He said, rather excitedly. Ali moaned and tried to shoo him away but to no avail. "MOM LOOK!" Ali's eyes opened after a few more seconds and things were blurry. Leo didn't let his mother get a chance to come to her senses before getting in bed next to her showing her the bowl. The hamster was swimming and leaving pellets behind and Leo was just super excited. When Ali sat up and realized what was happening she gasped and reached inside, talking the hamster out. "Leo! Charlie the hamster cannot be in your fishbowl, we've gone over this." With the small rodent in her hand, she got up and went for her bathroom to find a towel to put him in. "Mom, I keep telling you he climbs in himself, I swear!" Leo's little voice went up an octave, the small never leaving his face and he follows his mom. Ali, with the wet hamster wrapped in a small towel, pinches the bridge of her nose. There was no arguing with this kid when it came to animals, so she gave it up. "Fine, Leo, but please, clean the bowl because now Charlie the fish is swimming with Charlie the hamster's poop pellets." She gave him back the hamster and watched as he nodded and left her bathroom. "And let Charlie the dog out!" Unfortunately, she was now up which meant she had to get up and start her day, meaning running those errands before the party that night. Luckily, her mother was here to help save the day.
Seana watched Leo while Ali went out to pick up their clothes from the dry cleaners, checked on the businesses she and Conor owned, sent out letters, made bank stops and pick up James' birthday gift. All she wanted to do when she got home was sleep the busy day away but knew she couldn't. She had a 10-year-old son who never got dressed on time and if given the opportunity, wouldn't get dressed at all. Ali had lied and told him the party was starting 3 hours before it actually did, seeing as for some reason it took him forever to get ready. She and Leo had had a conversation a few months ago where she would allow him to get ready by himself and let him wear what he wanted. So far it was all good, but she still didn't know what to expect. The three of them got dressed individually, but when it was time for the women to wear their makeup, Seana entered and stood behind Aliana. This causes her to jump from her thoughts and be welcomed with her mother's smile. She was in her own blue robe, the same idea as her daughter and her hair was in curlers. "Wha gine on?" She asked, her Bajan dialect resurfacing. Ali was slightly surprised by this seeing as she hadn't heard it in a long time. "Where did that come from?" She asked with a smile, her hands finally moving to put her makeup on. Seana shrugged not quite knowing herself before she started putting on makeup as well. "Beats me. It comes and goes, my dear."
A few minutes pass by and the two women are speaking of mundane things when Seana pauses and grows serious. "...You need to see him, Ali." There's a deep sigh of annoyance before the daughter is staring at the mother, the only makeup not on her face being lipstick. "Stop. I don't want to hear or go through this again tonight." Seana adds her finishing touches and shakes her head. "He misses you. Me going to see him with Leo is not right whatsoever." Aliana was tired of hearing the same thing over and over about how she should visit Conor because he needed his family, how she should stay strong for him, and how important it was for Leo to see and blah blah blah. It was like a broken record to her and it wasn't something she wanted to hear before seeing her friends. "Can. You. Let. It. DIE?!" She said in a harsh whisper, not wanting Leo to hear. "You took a man's daughter half-way around the world and never once let him see his daughter, never once sent him a letter and go to the prison you let him rot in not to visit him but to visit your son in law with your grandson so don't lecture me anymore." There was a tense pause in the air as Seana processed what she said. There was a satisfied nod from her and a smile before she tried to respond, only to be interrupted by Leo walking in asking for help with his tie. Ali gave a sigh to calm herself before smiling. "Sure, handsome. It's the least I can do since you're actually dressed for once."
When the three of them arrived at the Porter home, neither Seana or Aliana spoke about what occurred in her boudoir. Instead, like much of their arguments, they put a pin in it. "Hey mom, will Thomas be there? Can I play with Thomas? I'll be good this time AND I'll say happy birthday to Uncle J, but can I play with Thomas?" Ali ruffled his hair before nodding his head. "Yes, kid, you can play with your cousin but say hello to your aunt and uncle first." She said as they walked into the house. Hopefully, things would go better and not crazy like they were a few hours ago.
The day Allen Cartwright found out his family was back in the area was the day a little of his life returned to him. When he found out his only child had gotten married and had a child, he realized he had missed more than he thought he would. Sure, the two of them continued to send letters back and forth all those years but it was different from actually seeing someone. He would never get the chance to walk her down the aisle or to be present for the birth of a grandchild and he regretted it all. He regretted not being able to handle things a bit smarter all those years ago and he definitely regretted missing out. But, he knew he couldn't continue to dwell on it so he worked to be able to get out of there. He was working on getting out on good behavior, seeing as he hadn't bashed any skulls in since the first 4 years he was locked up. It seemed to be working in his favor, but he was still going to be locked up for a bit longer. When it came to his attention that Conor Sullivan, the man who shared a relation with Liam Sullivan, was locked up in the same prison as he. He was also aware that he was married to his daughter and that the two were separated according to their letters. In a sense, he felt for Conor in more ways than one considering he made a similar mistake. Therefore, he did his best to watch his back and make sure he didn't get hurt... Too much at least.
Allen sat in the library most of his days, reading books from a list he had received from his daughter years ago. Before he was locked up, Ali had given him a list of books she was going to read and wanted to ask him about them all. In his first few years, he had finished the list but wanted to be able to memorize them all just for her. Currently, he was reading Faherenit 451 for the 5th time and dared anyone to bother him whilst he did so. While he knew what happened in the book, he still thought he would get something different from it every time he did. It was the same with The Great Gatsby; reading with a different mind each time allowed him to enjoy it differently. He took a pause to go out for his meal, really only wanting the water that went along with it. To be quite honest, he had his own special meal for later but only a select few knew about that one. His eyes momentarily searched for Conor at his usual table but when he spotted him elsewhere, he was curious. Of course, he went over and sat his book in hand and glasses on his face. "Mr Sullivan; how goes things with the grandson? He's coming to visit this week, right?"
Sinead's initial reaction to hearing her husband tell her she looked good was to smile, but this soon faded as she noticed the venom beneath his supposed compliment. Her face dropped to an awkward and uncomfortable frown. Her head had subconsciously lowered but she soon lifted to to look back at Peter. She let out a sigh as he elaborated to make a comment about her sneaking out. She folded her arms around her abdomen as he questioned whether he need to worry about her. The aggressive nature of his voice seemed to cut through her. He turned his back to her before he could see her place her hand to her mouth to suppress any kind of emotion, likely upset or anger, from escaping her mouth. She still couldn't wrap her head around how much the man had changed. He'd been through so much in his life that the gentle and carefree young man she met over two decades ago was sometimes nowhere to be seen. It hurt her to have Peter treat her the way he was doing, but she couldn't lose him. She had to be strong and supportive. She loved him too much to give up on him now.
Sinead was looking to the floor, somehow feeling like she had done something wrong, despite believing she had been well within her right to have a night out. When Peter spoke of her not been in their bed during the night and his comment about her being out, her head snapped up to look at him. The man had moved to grab his pills, but Sinead couldn't stand by as he spoke to her the way he was. She had to defend herself.
"For the record. I was at the jazz club all night," she spoke out, her voice loud and firm. "I told you I was going there to work and I never left the place. Scott asked me to stay back after close to have some drinks with the team, so I did exactly that. I needed it, Peter. I needed to have some fun and to be in the company of people who were happy to see me. All you do is hide out in that shed thing, or whatever you want to call it!" she ranted back. "And you expected me to be in bed with you this morning?" she asked, her bottom lip trembling slightly. "I know how that feels. To wake up alone in bed. I had to do it for months on end... And those were the days when I actually managed to get some sleep between worrying sick about you in that awful jail." Sinead gasped as she suddenly opened her clenched fists, having only just realised how deeply her fingernails were digging into the palms of her hands. "Never mind loving me... Do you even manage to tolerate me anymore?!"
James was glad to hear Thomas had behaved himself and even more so to hear Gwen had been helping out with babysitting. "Good. I'm glad my sister stepped up." He retrieved his watch from the bedside cabinet and fastened it around his wrist as he processed the rest of the details about how their son had been. "I didn't have much choice about staying in Manhattan and Thomas needs to accept that we can't be here 24/7. Do I need to have a talk with him?" James asked. He loved Thomas and whilst he was protective over their boy, James also didn't want to coddle him. The kid needed to have a thick skin and toughen up so he wouldn't be to vulnerable in potentially dangerous situations for the family. "At least Leo will be coming over. Someone Thomas' own age to muck around with for the evening."
James sat on the end of the bed and folded his arms as Lucy continued to speak about how Gwen had drifted off. "Was she just sleeping, or something else?" he suspiciously asked. "If she's being reckless when the kids are under her watch, then she's putting them in danger and we can't risk that." He shook his head as he thought about what his sister was going through. He was trying to be as supportive as he could, but he wasn't sure the soft approach was getting them anywhere. He was starting to think heavier action would be the best way to prevent anyone from getting hurt as a result of Gwen's addictions.
Deciding it was probably best to relax a little for the party, James forced himself to push his concerns aside. He playfully laughed upon hearing Thomas was dressing himself. "Of course. He can't have you cramping his style, can he?" he teased her. He smiled and nodded his head when she asked if he was ready for the party. "Of course. There's a bottle of Scotch and a quiet seat in the corner of the room, both with my name on," he remarked. "The staff have done a great job. We'll have to make sure they have themselves a few drinks too."
Soon enough, Conor watched as Allen began walking towards his table, obviously to join him. He took a large bite of his bread as he anticipated what the older man might wish to say to him. It wasn't that Conor didn't appreciate the company, he was just never sure how he should act around his father-in-law. Their circumstances of meeting each other in prison, as inmates, were not normal. But when was anything in his life normal?
Noticing the book Allen was holding, Conor pointed to it as the man sat at the table. "Do me a favour some time, would ya? Teach my cell-"mate" how to read in his head so I don't have to listen to his boring voice droning on," he remarked.
The man asked about Leo and Conor quickly nodded his head but then his gesture changed to an uncertain shrug. "Things are going well. At least, they were the last time I heard," he answered the man's question. Given that Aliana never visited him and he didn't think Seana was overly fond of having to do it, Conor often worried they could stop him from seeing Leo without warning. He'd already missed most of his daughter's life, especially with Michelle now living in Italy. He hated the thought of also missing out on watching his son grow up. "Yeah, he's due to come see me this week. Guards haven't had any reason to revoke my visiting rights yet, so as long as Ali still allows it..." he trailed off.
Conor sat back in his seat and shook his head. "It wasn't meant to turn out like this. I love Ali and I love Leo, yet I'm stuck in here unable to prove it." Conor paused as he thought over his earlier conversations with Dr. Parker and how the man had mentioned submitting a recommendation for parole. "How do you do it, Mr. Cartwright? How do you stay out of trouble in here? I know what's at stake and I know I need to stay out of trouble, but then all it takes is one wanker saying some dumb shit and I can barely stop myself from reacting. There's nowhere to go to get away from that in here. No alcohol to relieve the stress..."
“الحصول على الصبي...it’s time for a...رسالة.” He was there again. Time slowed, his breathing grew labored; the ashes were nearly suffocating. He remembered this part, and only this part, of the siege. The worst part wasn’t when they nibbled at the back of his subconscious, or when the occasional reminder caused his eyes to narrow, unsure if the vision before them was truly real. The worst moments struck when he slept.
Assad stood within a ruined house. At one time, it may have been beautiful, but not anymore. Not after the insurgency arrived. He could feel and see everything, but he couldn’t control his actions. The past wouldn’t allow itself to be altered and thinking otherwise would be foolish. Sporting a rugged desert camouflage jacket, tan cargo pants, and brown bloused boots, the insurgent hesitantly eyed his comrades beneath the soot and darkness. They all knew what would come next. One by one, the men turned with rifles in hand, stepping over charred wood, bullet casings, and fragments of destroyed personal possessions. They moved with deliberate bounds of silence, as if they were standing on sacred ground, unwilling to provoke whatever spirits may be fuming at them for the actions they had taken. When the first cracks of sunlight kissed his face from beneath the debris, Assad squinted while passing into the light. No longer obscured by the darkness, the group was visible for all to see.
While they looked different, they all moved the same. Their attire was torn and beaten; the clothing of men who had taken the world head on and lived to tell. Weapons dangling by their makeshift slings, shoulders rising and falling with excessive vigor. Some were nervous. Some were ashamed. Others were thrilled. Assad didn’t know which group he was a part of, and deep down, he didn’t want to know. Leading up the front of the three men including himself, Farrid glanced to his right; an older fellow with a partially unwrapped turban and light blue thobe looked back, eyes full of sorrow. He struggled to lift the machine gun he slung over his shoulder, hands shaking intensely. Lazily gazing to his left, he met the stare of a younger man, shotgun in hand and shouldered into a dirty, white t-shirt complimented by a vest with grenades strapped to the sides and baggy grey cloth pants. His face reflected agitation. Blinking away the ashes, the three men passed through the center of the town. Most of the civilians were gathered there, held under the watchful gaze of multiple well armed freedom fighters. Cries echoed off the buildings, curses were exchanged, and the tension may very well have been the thing truly keeping Assad from taking in a breath of relief, not the ashes. Approaching one of the guards, Farrid gave a discouraged nod and jolted the barrel of his weapon towards the group. Waving over a few fellow “peacekeepers” the guard and his accomplices shoved their way into the mass of bewildered people. Seconds passed, muffled screams were heard, and the town square gradually grew more and more silent. The men returned with a young boy, restraining him as to restrict his frantic movements. Assad glared past him into the silent crowd. Were the parents there, unknowing? Or had they been lost in the firefight? Either way, it didn’t matter now. At least he wouldn’t have to see their faces.
While the boy was held in place, Farrid looked down at him with pity, black sunglasses obscuring his true thoughts or motives. Externally, the he may have looked calm and collected, but internally he was at wits end. Out of the corner of his eye, a broad shouldered man atop a pile of collapsed stone waved him over, a makeshift megaphone in one hand and a fully functional handgun in the other. Placing one hand on the boys shoulder, Assad gingerly guided him over to the man, who was now expressing demands to the crowd. Every step Farrid took felt as though it shook the earth, anxiety building with each inch as he neared the end of his memory. Passing by a mirror, he caught a glimpse of himself. Black sunglasses, a medical bag on his back that said “Doc,” his scratched up rifle, and a grey beret on his head were the only discernible features. Everything else about him was incidental.
Upon reaching the top of the stone, he handed the boy off to the man, who roughly grabbed him by the shirt and brought him before the front of the crowd. Screams of realization, horror, and begs were all that filled Doc’s ears. The noise grew more deafening, Assad was completely deprived of breath, and the world around him started to distort.
“Close your eyes,
grit your teeth,
cover your ears,
and ignore the-“
Hisentirebodyvisiblyjolted,kneeingthesteering wheel of his 1966 International Travelette with excessive force. Audibly gasping, a mix of relief and anger filled his face upon surveying his surroundings. Wincing slightly while panting, Assad clenched his knee softly and hissed, using the other hand to swiftly fling his sunglasses off somewhere towards the passenger seat. He had fallen asleep waiting, and he payed the price for it. As the pain from his mistake subsided, the visibly upset man dropped his head into both his hands, running fingers through his wiry hair in an attempt to recover.
“Parker you motherfu...” He trailed off, his voice starting with the tone of an angry accusation before turning into a more quiet whisper, laced with confusion between ragged breaths. “...You said they’d stop...Or did you say they’d start to go away?” Unable to completely remember, the prior insurgent rolled his eyes and sat up with groan. Another appointment with the psych’ was due, apparently. Giving a glassey look out of the cab window, he watched a few vehicles pass by while immersing himself back in the present. Today was supposed to be a good day full of celebrations and good times. He even dusted off the dress uniform for the party, mostly because he didn’t want to seem disrespectful by showing up in his more work oriented clothes. The outfit he currently sported looked like a pretty basic tan suit, albeit with two red stripes running down each of the legs. He was able to remove everything else from the uniform, thankfully, so it shouldn’t look too out of place.
Settling down in his seat a bit, Farrid stretched out an arm and snatched his beret from the dash. Bringing it close to his face, he twirled it on one finger while inspecting it for any discrepancies. He didn’t intend on wearing it, he just liked to keep it around and clean. After the wool hat spun a few times too many, Assad eventually lost control of it and allowed it to fling towards the backseat. Twisting his body back slightly, the flying hat reminded him to check the gift that he had acquired for the boss. Looking back, he trailed his fingers over a well maintained scimitar in a black sheath; something he requested one of his prior comrades back home send him. Using a thumb to nudge the blade free momentarily, the steel was subject to an inspection of its own before being closed shut once again. Nodding in satisfaction, he flicked the grey and black keffiyeh checkered cloth it was resting on up and over it, obscuring the item and keeping it in a pristine condition for the time being.
Facing forward again, Farrid cracked a small smile. Seemingly able to ignore the nightmare he just endured, things were starting to look up again. The saber reminded him that he needed to ask Baker for a new gift for himself, a rifle, to add to his collection again. He didn’t know if she’d be able to get ahold of it, but it was worth a try. Speaking of the pastry, gunpowder, and alcohol fueled woman; where was she? Leaning his head forward a bit, he squinted towards the office she was currently working in. Surely she’d be out soon. It wouldn’t be too hard for her to notice the large light brown truck sitting out by the side of the road, he assumed. Ensuring the passenger door was unlocked, Farrid contemplated what it would be like at this party. This was the first time he had the privilege of attending one, and he didn’t want to do anything absurd. Resting his head in one hand, he yawned lazily and stretched out his legs a bit. He even decided he would leave his personal protection tucked under the seat; there would be no need for it at a birthday party. Hopefully.
A reticent, but distinctive sound echoed across the hallways, of which was covered in darkness, all except for one. As the purple haze of the painted sky began shone through the crevices of the curtained windows, a creature in black emerged from the shades of whence the light had shied from. A few empty bottles of Bourbons littered the room that was barely kept in shape by the flickering lamp that seems like it was about to be extinguished. Folders after folders of ivory white reports dotted the cell, as if it was snowing in July. The sole survivor of the onslaught was awakened by her own sneeze, of which had parted a layer of dust that were unveiled by the shimmering array of lamp lights. The girl's hand quickly found her forehead, with a series of derelict synchronization in between. Her drowsy eyes were laden with a few lines of dark color that was a testament to the hard-working, albeit alcoholic trait of the Mob's auditor. Her head continued its steady course of pounding her mind into submission, of which she had tried to escape with a few short breaths in between. Everything around her slowly receded, as she slowly regained her vision. One could tell, from the overwhelming aroma of whiskey that blanketed not just the room, but the hallways as well. Exhaling softly, as she tried to make sense of her room, what was once a human being was now all shriveled up on her couch.
Her body moved on its own, as if this was a daily routine, and quickly addressed her messy office. From scattered paperwork to alcohol bottles, Bailey was keen on cleaning up the aftermath of her own vices from the night before. Everything was coming back to her, despite the alcohol's side-effects throughout. There were a few truths that she had learned throughout her life, and the thoughts of drinking to forget was one of them. Where one would drink to neglect their miseries, Bailey had learned that it was not the case, and that it was more destructive than productive. As she reflected upon herself, the girl had finally settled the matters at hand, and before long, her office had been renovated anew. Immaculate and organized, yet still reeks of Bourbon, Bailey shrugged it off, as she settled within the comfort of her swivel chair, doing two spins, before stopping. While she had found some comfort in doing so after cleaning up her work space, one more round would definitely make her throw up. The hangover has yet to go away, and so was her work.
The girl had spent a few nights at her office, reviewing the spreadsheets that pertained to most of the Mob's businesses that were scattered throughout New York. While she had her league of staffs, the earnest girl had let her habits got the better of her. For two days straight, the vampire had seen little sunlight, or any person for that matter, as she walled herself off within the confines of her room, eyeing nothing but numbers and lines that stretched for miles. Ever since the mob's recent operations to oust their oppositions, from financial to more 'physical' methods of persuasion, everything had to be accounted for. Needless to say, Bailey was relieved that the syndicate's challenges were usually tended to by a good cast of personnel that worked closely with her. Yet, the woman was less keen on taking on an arduous task of going through everything within a span of less than a week. However, having been invited to attend the Chief's party, the wide-eyed Texan was not going to pass on the opportunity to indulge herself. Not with social calls, but with what the dinner table had to offer - a professional courtesy as befit of her generous employers. With food and drinks, its hard to offend anyone, Bailey thought, as her eyes zoomed out the window, catching a glance of a recognizable truck. The driver's distant, yet familiar face prompted her grey eyes to expand. The girl let out a panicked gasp of realization - she was late.
Bailey zoomed out of her office and stood amidst the dark hallway in a star-like pose, frantically looking around, before dashing towards the bathroom with her duffel bag. She eyed the mirror, almost estranged to her own visage. She was a complete mess, and something must be done. Before long, what was once her wrinkled blouse and black trousers had been replaced with a red one-piece sundress. Bailey had been well-acquainted with utilities over looks, and thus a sundress would suffice in this situation. She couldn't stand an evening or a cocktail dress, no matter how fashionable or enticing to the eyes they may seem. Bailey took a breath, as she tended to her makeup, emboldening her lower eye shadows to conceal her baggy eyes. Passing by the empty hallway, and glancing past the locked basement briefly, Bailey made her leave, nodding and waving at a few individuals that sat beneath the dim lit steps. With the numbers circling around her head all the time, the auditor would care less about the mountainous papers that filled the place, but rather the secrets that were buried beneath her. Manned by a few security details around the clock, Bailey's routine leave was accompanied by her brief examination of those that worked in the basement. After all, there were a lot of hardware that was crucial to the security of the syndicate's businesses and operations. To many, it was a consultancy office, but to the grinning auditor, it was a stronghold of sinister indulgences for those that had taken an interest in the magical swords of the modern world.
Lightly tapping her cheeks, Bailey materialized outside the windows of Farrid's truck, prompting the man's intrigues, before settling within the front seat. What was once a creature of the void was now a vibrant lady in red, with her gleeful smile and delicate movements contrasting greatly in light of her different persona - like night and day. The abrupt entrance of Nueva Maja filled the vehicle, mixed in with a whiff of Bourbon that lingered upon the woman's breath. Despite her effort with the fairly pleasing choice of perfume, Farrid was no stranger to her habitual dereliction, pertaining to the amount of alcohol that she had consumed the night prior. Bailey's neatly combed hair was more than enough to persuade the eyes from the nose. After all, she was a simple girl, and had little needs for charms among familiar faces.
" 'pologies for making ya wait! Had 'a reh-solve a couple o' things, but 'vrything should be in order now." Bailey addressed Farrid, swallowing up syllables as she let her southern accent off steadily.
She had a small satchel that accompanied her, laden with everything an American maiden would need - two spare point-three-eight magazines that accompanied a compact Walther strapped by her left thigh. While Bailey did not expect trouble, given the occasion in comparison with her profession, it was a safety measure, as well as her peculiar enthusiasm when it comes to firearms. There were many times before where troubles arose, and with it, the result of her vigilance from personal experiences. Bailey was not fond of parties and crowd after a few social events gone-wrong. Some perceived it to be the nature of her work, but Bailey would digress. If anything, she had learned that men were far more dangerous than guns. Despite the latter being the instruments of death, it was ultimately the one who pulls the trigger that is truly wicked. Discerning from her thoughts, the girl eyed her surroundings, before settling her gaze upon the driver.
"Expectin' troubles, Farrid?" she asked, pointing at his seat.
While nothing was out of place, the man's firm demeanor, as well as his relaxed posture on one hand, instead of two, gave Bailey a certain impression of perceived conjecture. While the two were not that close, the lady could only speculate the purpose of his free hand, of which were idling by his seat. That, and a certain elongated commodity that only shied from the shadows beneath his seat was more than enough to cue the girl's intrigues.
“It’s foine, I’m glad ya got all yer sheet fixed roight up.”
It went without saying that Farrid was poking fun at her accent, just because he found it interesting. Rolling down the window next to him, he waited for the woman to settle into her seat while looking back behind the truck. The scent didn’t bother him, as it was something he was partially accustomed to. Ensuring he was clear of any possible obstructions, he placed one hand on the steering wheel and straightened up. Reaching into his coat pocket, Assad retrieved his keys with a quiet jingle and proceeded to insert them into the ignition. With Bailey now alongside him, he caught a glimpse of her dress and commented.
“Nice choice, it suits you. Kinda how this suits me,” he said, tugging on one of his lapels while turning the key. “Well, in that case, actually that dresses you and this suits me. Get it? Because it’s a dress. Dress, suit...?” Assad looked over at her, his face reflecting pride at the little quip he just came up with. Fully aware that it was indeed a very bad joke, he still chuckled cheerfully at it and flicked the steering wheel, the steady hum of the truck replacing his laugh as the vehicle came to life. “I knew I should have been a comedian.”
Placing an arm behind his seat, Assad twisted his body a bit to survey what was behind him as he began to back out. Turning the steering wheel steadily and giving some gas, he started to rotate the truck to face out towards the traffic. At the mention of trouble by Baker, he shifted in his seat slightly and pursed his lips. She was one of the few that addressed him by his first name without a negative response, something that he started to practice accepting ever since they started to live together. Underneath him was a Browning Hi-Power with a few extra magazines, and he felt as though she was alluding towards it.
“Inshallah, I hope not. I restocked the rough times bag again, and I’m anxious to use it. Not tonight though, definitely not at a birthday party.” He said before shaking his head towards Bailey followed by a quiet sigh. The bag was a brown canvas and leather satchel loaded up with whatever medicinal items he was allowed to posses legally and, in some cases, illegally. Hanging on the back side of the passenger seat, it was also covered with various scribbles and encryptions of Arabic; most likely from the time when he labeled different parts of it for better access.
Following a minute of waiting for a chance to pull out, Assad got an opportunity and shifted onto the street, flipping the switch to activate his headlights before the two headed on their way. Soon, the aroma Bailey brought with her was intermingled with the natural smells of the passing city, wind flooding into the cab as he started to pick up speed. He didn’t mind driving through the city, and even enjoyed the scenery at night. Something about it reminded him of home in positive ways, which he appreciated at times. It was almost like being back in his natural groove, riding along with the hum of a motor under the guise of darkness, unaware of what fiendish plots could be lurking beyond his vision. Despite his best efforts, Assad still occasionally glanced up towards the roof tops of the nearby towering buildings when he stopped at an intersection, as though he was searching for something unusual. Another habit he had yet to break after all this time.
Twitching his nose, he carefully turned off of the main road as he started to make way towards Porter residence. With thoughts of the party replacing his admiration for the city, Farrid glanced over towards his passenger and asked in a more grim, somber tone than used earlier. “Nothing should happen here, right? I’m not going in armed, there should be no need for it, but do you think that something may go down tonight?” Being caught unawares seriously bothered Assad, and the thought of potential problems occurring during the event made him bite his lip in anticipation. There should be no trouble tonight, he knew, but a second opinion may ease his mind should Baker confirm that the evening will be free of hazardous occurrences. It always seemed like the night invited the worst possible outcomes for anything planned. Grunting, when he reached yet another stop, his hand found its way into his pocket yet again. This time, he withdrew a cut ITC Tir cigar and slipped it between his lips. It wasn’t his favorite, but he tolerated it enough to replace more traditional Cubans. He didn’t care for trying to find them, or fork over excessive cash with the restriction on them upping the cost.
Noting the fuel of the truck, Assad fiddled with his tie a bit as worry started to overtake his expression. Without enough time to reach for his lighter, the agitated honk of a smaller car behind him urged his foot to step on the gas, continuing on the way as they made the final stretch towards the party. Inhaling deeply through his nose, he relived one hand from the steering wheel as a look of realization crossed his face. He didn’t feel his sunglasses when he grabbed a smoke, and momentarily forgot where they were. As recollection returned to him, he nonchalantly pointed over past the woman next to him.
“Can you grab my glasses? They- Uh, I dropped them over there somewhere I think. Please.” Knowing he problably could've found a better explanation, his mind reached for anything that wasn’t referring to the nightmare he had a tango with less than an hour ago. After making his request, the prior insurgent slipped his hand back into his pocket, fumbiling for his lighter while keeping the Cigar carefully balanced. He had made this drive several times before, granted, the other times varied in circumstances, but navigating to the residence was still a simple task. Farrid also had to remember to put his gift back into the box again, rather than just taking it out of the truck and strolling onto the premises to present it. Something told him doing that would be pretty rude.
As much as he hated to admit it, things had not seem to be going very well with his father and mother in the same house again. While they have not fought or anything, Braden could see it most of the times in the gestures and general attitudes, as well as the habits and routines observed in his parents, though mostly in his father, Peter. The man was still coping, and had been seeing some therapist to help with it as well. Braden tried to steer clear of all this, and so he'd holed up in his room for the majority of the day, reviewing manuals and documents sent by his associate within the business after the daily work-out and jog. There was no doubt in his care and love for the family, but the young man was timid, and was never one to confront conflict head on, rather, he was about cleaning up the mess and mending rifts left behind in its wake. Braden hoped he didn't have to this time.
But begone worries and ill thoughts, for today was to be a grand day. The Porters always knew how to throw a party, especially one for the big man himself - his uncle James. Plus with the business blooming as strong as ever, Braden knew this was going to be a big one. All the associates, links and business partners will be there, Syd and Ms. Baker among them. Braden spent the better part of an hour pondering options and working in front of a mirror to put on his best looks, determined not to embarrass anyone at the gala, especially his family.
A loud knock on the door snapped him out of it, followed by his sister calling. "Brady. You in there? You ready yet?" She continued after a brief pause."Your little sister wants to talk to you."
Braden wrapped up the work and answered the door, slightly leaning against it as he did, greeting Emery with a smile. "Well now I am. Hey Em! What do you need?"
Bailey chuckled aloud at Farrid's attempt to imitate her accent. Among the diverse ensemble of the syndicate, it's safe to say her accent would be one of the few to catch someone's ears with a distinct impression. From head to toes, Bailey had retained everything that befitted a Southern sweetheart, and with it, a certain alluring charm of a vigorous personnel of interest. The woman took comfort in Farrid's compliments, stretching a shy smile across her flushed cheeks, as she averted her gaze briefly. She did so out of impulse, as she was perhaps rarely seen in a sundress - at least not in front of her peers for most of the time anyways.
"Well, aren't you a charmer with words..." Bailey glanced back, as she twirled her hair slightly.
Farrid's stirring words would quickly fade as he followed it up with a pun. Bailey expected to happen at some point, but she didn't mind. If anything she had grew fond of it, as it had kept her accompanied among her other wicked preferences.
"... I knew I should have been a comedian."
"You were just waiting to spring that line this whole time, didn't ya?" Bailey replied, shaking her head lightly, before laughing it off. A little more than a while ago, they were strangers sharing the same room. All of what were once a couple of awkward glances and short sentences were now replaced by sarcastic remarks and frequent exploitation of puns.
When inquired upon the man's concealed-carry, Bailey was only met by ominous words, like many times before when they were idling away. From the scars written in his occasional thousand-yard-stares, to the way his firm grip upon a certain object was projected, Bailey did not feel the need to press on. She remained quiet, conforming to her quiet side, as her silence spoke for her. She had seen the same look from her father, of whom had toured across the Pacific Ocean for two different wars, all under the same flag, and then some. The wounds he had sustained eventually got the better of him, and Bailey had witnessed and felt it first hand. To this day, she still felt guilty over it, much to her woeful fate before coming to New York. While she did not inquire upon Farrid's past, like she should, there was a certain understanding between them as time went on. Where others tend to resolve their personal problems via therapeutic words, it was as Bailey deemed it, that silence was the best answer for her and Farrid. Perhaps with time, they would try to open their rotten cans, and with it a certain sense of revelation, but each to their own, as Bailey herself did not possess the true courage for it.
Streetlights passed them by, from one corner of the street to another, where the sun had finally been laid to rest beneath the shadows of the willow trees around them. Bailey eyed the city, as the warm, summer wind brought back a certain sense of nostalgia. The Texan drifted above the trees, as she reflected on the pleasant breeze that lullabied her to sleep every now and then. No words were exchanged between the two, as they had switched on their thoughtful self at the onset of purple horizon. Dusk and evening, a thoughtful time for most, and a reflective one for a day's inevitable end, no one was safe from its reproach. The two melancholic, yet content duo eventually came to the end of line, as Bailey studied Farrid's words.
"Nothing should happen here, right? I’m not going in armed, there should be no need for it, but do you think that something may go down tonight?"
"I don't know, Farrid, you tell me. Besides... I have faith in you and Coreno to see things through." she answered earnestly, trading glances, as the two eyed the estate.
Bailey did not like parties altogether, after being caught in a crossfire on several occasions. It had taught her humility, restraint, and caution. While she had wished for a nice evening among familiar faces, Bailey was not keen on the hopes of not being shot at. She had her doubts and concerns, but it was all in the hands of the Boss's finest. Reaching into her leather satchel, Bailey recounted her belongings, as well as a gift for the man in charge. While she didn't get much audience with the Porters ever since their arrival, the girl was slowly growing out of her initial reluctance to mingle with the crowd. It was a common courtesy, as she deemed it, for the greater good, and with time, perhaps she herself would be given a revelation. But for now, she could only hope that Mr. Porter would take a liking to her gift. Breaking from her thoughts of the party's promises, Farrid's voiced his concerns.
"Can you grab my glasses? They- Uh, I dropped them over there somewhere I think. Please." Farrid requested, cuing Bailey to divert her attention towards the glove compartment in front of her. After a few seconds, she eventually acquired his glasses, and tucked it within the confines of his chest pocket.
"You know. A gentleman would offer a lady a cigar before lighting his." Bailey remarked, fixing her false scowling eyes on the man.
Allen couldn't help but chuckle at Conor's comment about his cellmate. It had been a long time since he had to deal with those kinds of problems and he was grateful. "Easy. You stuff the paper in his mouth." He joked, even though that is exactly what he would have done a long time. But, now that he was older and trying to get himself out of prison to finally see his family he wasn't going to do that. It was nice to imagine though. As Conor answered his question, he gave him his full attention and put his book down. But as Conor talked, he could hear that uneasy and worry in his voice as it was all too familiar to him. He saw a lot of himself in his son-in-law and he wasn't sure if he liked it or if it was something he didn't like. Regardless of which, it was definitely helping him give advice at the moment.
Taking a deep breath, he stroked his beard. "Well, I don't know Marie the way I should," he started, referring to Ali by her middle name, "but from all the letters we send each other and based on her mother, I don't think she would ever keep your son from you. It's a malicious tendency and she's not purposefully malicious." He took a deep breath and shook his head. "Don't worry yourself with that one, kid. Worry about how you're getting back to my daughter." There was a seriousness in his voice, but at the same time, it was soft and fatherly.
Once Conor mentioned how much he loved Ali and Leo, then asked for tips on staying cool, calm, and collected, he couldn't help but laugh. He started thinking about the real reason he started to calm down his temper and started tapping his finger against his book. "You know, when Marie was about 9 or 10, she was always reading something. She'd probably put me in a home for telling you this but she was quite the bookworm. She'd read a book and try to have a conversation with me about them. Poor lad assumed I knew what the hell she was talking about." He shook his head and took a swig of his water before continuing. "Well, when I got locked up, she sent me a list of books she wanted me to read and that we'd talk about when I got out." There was a slight shrug of his shoulders. "That girl. My kid, my whole world. I want to see her face light up when she tells me about all these books." Allen pointed his finger at him, before roughly tapping the table. "You have to remember that the pricks in here; the majority are in here for life with no family, no kids, no wives, none of that to go home to. You've got all of that and then some, kid. From what I hear, Leo is very excited for you to meet the Charlie trilogy. Think about that next time you want to rearrange someones face." He took a pause. "That and that you’re in here with me and I’ll kill you if I see you in here longer than oh say... Three more years.” The last sentence, though he was smiling, he was deathly serious about.
“I think something will happen, and it is out of our control. But, I’ve been wrong before.”
He added the last part with a brief, conspicuous and knowing inflection of his voice. Once again, it seemed as though Farrid was no longer completely immersed in the same moment his physical essence was in. Staring at the Porter residence when it manifested after the final turn, his grip on the wheel tightened. Biting on his cigar regretfully, Assad reluctantly elicited a quiet statement alongside the tobacco filled wrapping.
“Everybody is wrong at some point.”
Brought back into the moment by seeing Bailey find his glasses, he held out his hand expectantly while focusing on the road. When he didn’t feel them grace his palm, his head tilted to eye the woman as she tucked them into his chest pocket. Dropping his hand, it relocated to his pocket to finalize the search for his absent lighter. Assad didn’t really know what to think of the woman at times. He had seen many type of people overseas, yet nobody quite matched her personality. It very much interested the prior insurgent, but it also made him unsure of his actions within her presence at times. Sometimes, Farrid found himself asking if there was something else to her he had yet to identify during the time of knowing her. All the same, he was also very much aware of the fact that some things are best left undiscovered. What he doesn’t know won’t kill him, right? He casted a subtle glance at Bailey.
Well, hopefully it won’t.
Her words forced his thoughts to dissipate, causing him to questionably look over while arriving at the Porter residence. For a moment, Assad didn’t quite understand, but realization quickly replaced his initial confusion. Eventually withdrawing his lighter after checking one too many pockets, he nodded in agreement and grinned mischievously. Bringing the lighter up to his own tobacco product, the driver slowed the vehicle enough to take his eyes off the road and focus his gaze on the woman. Utilizing the plain flip lighter, he made several fluid and pre-determined motions with the steel as his light green eyes fixated on her own optics. Flicking the lighter and igniting the flame, he held it near the tip of the cigar whilst taking a slow drag in. The flame lightly illuminated his face, casting a warm orangish glow over his features as smoke started to rise from the cherry. Keeping a calm and unwavering expression, he maintained eye contact until the screen of smoke that was exhaled from his nostrils, along with the quelling of the flame casted a light shadow on his face once more. Switching his view to the residence, he scanned for a parking spot while simultaneously producing another cut cigar, offering it to his passenger pinched between two fingers.
“I don’t find myself a gentleman, but you are indeed a lady.” Should she take the cigar, he’d quickly reactivate the lighter that was gripped carefully in the same palm, allowing her to get a light before collapsing the fire once more and stowing the piece of steel.
A few silent seconds passed as he envisioned himself parking in different locations, soon settling on relocating distant from the entrance and tucked away near the surrounding wall. It appeared as though not too many people were present just yet, and that benefited Assad just fine in terms of being able to enjoy the rest of his smoke, along with finding a quick parking spot. Taking yet another puff, he killed the engine, halting the steady hum of the vehicle and allowing the sounds of night to envelop his ears. Watching the steady lights in the windows, Farrid contently settled back in his seat and placed an elbow on the door where he had the window still rolled out of view. Propping his head up, he rested his chin on his knuckles and let out a graceful sigh.
Removing the cigar from between his lips by just an inch, he released the smoke from his last draw and addressed Bailey once again. He couldn’t help smiling at his previous display of whatever it may be, stifling another chuckle as he poked the cigar out the window to dispense any accumulated excess of ash. One of these days, he’d probably end up receiving a slap if he didn’t conform to the more chivalrous rules that were upheld in the states. In the end, he did offer a cigar though, so that must mean he is making progress.
“There’s some people here already, if you’d like to head in and join the party. I’m gonna sit tight and enjoy this real quick. It wouldn’t be very ‘gentlemanly’ to stroll in with a lit cigar in one hand, sword in the other.” He spoke slowly, holding up one finger while returning the cigar to his mouth.
The lady smiled at Farrid's truthful words, hoping that he would be wrong this time and all would go well, but given their field of profession, that was rarely the case. There were too many factors to account for, too many scenarios in which the two would be caught in between it all. The foundations of all that is secured, are generally built upon countless mistrusts and deceits, as Bailey viewed it. Boundaries shift, and new players step in, but power always settle upon those who dare to venture the depths of the unknown. Bailey received Farrid's offer, leaning forward, as the man primed his lighter. A flickering light briefly illuminated the shadows of their dark little world, before being extinguished by the swift snap of the man's lighter. Where the summer critters are rehearsing their evening songs, Bailey and Farrid bid their time, slowly burning their blunts away, at the expense of the falling night's tranquil breeze.
Bailey would nudge, but not concede to the world's call. Evident in her words and gestures of most her age, accompanied by a crafted personality that she had spent time refining throughout her time with the Sullivans and then the Porters, she had taken a firm stance in the world as a complex personnel of interest. The girl neither have a preference nor the need to indulge herself with what the earnest Syrian had to offer for the moment. But it was a good chance to take a step back, and dwell in the moment, as the duo spent their time taking a few puffs in between. The scent of fleeting tobacco was somewhat endearing, albeit potent, in its course to let their inner thoughts get the better of them. For Bailey, three shots of whiskey and half an hour were enough to bring about a man's true nature. Anyone can lie and deceive, but alcohol will always prevail, however, that was not the case with Farrid. Among a multitude of personnel that the gunrunner had dealt with in the past, Farrid was one of the few demons to withstand the effects of a good glass. It only made him more intriguing and mysterious to the common eye, much to Bailey's delight, as they share a common cause of befriending the void.
Little more than just a few idling glances around her, Bailey spy the reflections of the truck's mirror every now and then. Her diligent eyes scrutinized Farrid's visage and gestures, all the while fiddling with the blunt that was tucked between her index and middle fingers. She felt the cigar's rough and coarse wrapping, as she contemplated the man's demeanor. Silence befell them briefly since the cessation of the truck's engine, and Bailey was able to make out what was a distinctive smile upon his face. While she did not utter a word in between his, the girl was somewhat glad that the man had found some humor in his recent gentleman-like act. They both acknowledged this, with smiles stretched across their faces and not a single word to disrupt their personal amusements. Although Bailey was somewhat concerned about Farrid's non-disclosure about his thoughts, given what she had seen in his eyes. She tried to raise her voice, but restraint herself. It was probably not a good time to be stepping in her roommate's moment of reprieve. There were a great deal of secrets that Bailey had yet to decipher, perhaps it was for the best, but like many things before her, unaddressed emotions tend to explode one day. Her sentiments for the man was similar to that of a concerned friend.
"There’s some people here already, if you’d like to head in and join the party. I’m gonna sit tight and enjoy this real quick. It wouldn’t be very ‘gentlemanly’ to stroll in with a lit cigar in one hand, sword in the other... Although, it would make for a good story." Farrid remarked, breaking the truce of silence.
"At least we won't have ta worry about security issues." Bailey shook her head lightly, stretching a conforming smile to his words. The lady in red let herself out swiftly, as she leaned on the window frame.
"Just be quick, or there won't be any pudding left for ya by the time I'm done!" she chuckled softly, before running off towards the entrance.
Bailey put on her cheerful facade, as the overarching lamps shone upon her energetic approach. Brown heels with straps had its effects, albeit somewhat less inviting compared to a matching shade of burgundy that would exhibit her elegant forms. Despite her best efforts with her makeup and choice of attires, she was reluctant to follow through with certain apparel conformity of modern fashions. All in all, she had retained a timid side of her appearances, as well as her lack of confidence. A contradictory creature in a sophisticated world of ever-changing norms, such was the fate of those who dwells on earth, and even more so for the ones who partake in the goods and evils of the underground world. Before long, Bailey had stumbled upon a familiar face, one of which was distant, yet recognizable. Pacing herself forward expeditiously, she greeted the man with a firm and urgent tone.
"Coreno! Life and death situation! Those peonies that I brought home a few days ago are already withering. I made sure to give it plenty a' sunlight and water, but it's in vain!"
"...well, there's the alcohol and cigarettes, but never mind that..." she muttered under her breath.
A long sigh emanated from Dante as he stood guard at the entrance of the large get together. He was on security detail tonight and his current position as doorman was on temporary. His true mission was to make sure everyone stayed in line during the festivities. That in and of itself sounded like a hopeless venture but the fact that he was allowed to wear his "business attire" would hopefully dissuade that. After all, being one of the only ones armed (visibly at that) was certainly intimidating.
Still, it was a long cry from his glory days in Rome. There was barely a need to assassinate targets in America. Influence and control reigned supreme here as opposed to fear and power like in Italy.
Well.... when in Rome... ironically...
At least, things weren't too terribly dull when one of his newest acquaintances showed up to the fancy gathering and was already complaining about the flowers she had received from him. His lips tilted up into an open smile and he pulled his shiny new H&K MP5 over his shoulder to speak to the very woman who sold it to him.
"Signorina." he said warmly with a nod to the lady. "I was not aware they had invited you. I would have dressed better." Indicating to the combat gear he was wearing over his dress shirt and slacks.
"As for the Peony, if you are taking care of it properly as you say you are, the plant may have just gotten sick or infected. It may just be leaf blight but it could be fungal depending on your living conditions. Lucky for you, I recently got a batch of Chinese Peonies that look absolutely stunning. I can nurse the ones I gave you back to health and you can take the Chinese ones in their place."
Faint traces of an Italian accent could be detected if one listened carefully but the hitman had been doing his damndest to eliminate it for the sake of work. He had known Bailey when it was more noticeable.
"If you decide you like those better, you can keep them. They can also handle smoke better than the ones you have."
As she waited for Braden to answer her, Emery couldn't help but overhear the raised voices of their parents from the nearby bedroom. She tightly clenched the fist of her right hand as she tried to fight off the urge to go yell at them. She knew getting herself involved would be more trouble than it was worth, especially as any intervention from herself would put her at risk of being attacked in the crossfire. It might stop her parents from arguing with each other, but she suspected they would instead direct their frustrations at her and potentially the fact she'd tried to sneak out. Nothing had been said to her about her antics, but she wasn't convinced she was off the hook.
When Braden opened the door, Emery's irritated expression was replaced with a bright smile. "Why do I always have to need something to talk to my big brother?" she asked him. Without an invite, she brushed passed him and sat herself down on a nearby chair in his room. "I was just seeing if you were ready yet. Apparently, you are!" she told him. "Mum and Dad are pissed off with each other again, judging by their raised voices," she informed him, pointing in the direction of their parents' room. "We're all supposed to be going to a party and having fun..." she said, rolling her eyes.
Emery sat back and looked to her brother, always feeling a little envious of him when it came to the fact he was able to work with Peter for the family business. "What have you and Dad been up to lately? Any exciting jobs?" she drily asked him. Despite her nonchalant tone, she was deeply curious about Braden's involvement with the mob.
Bailey attentive eyes were quick to catch onto Dante's German companion slung by him. She took comfort in knowing, like Farrid and herself, that the Italian took his job description to the letter. One can never be too careful, given their affiliations and professions. While the land of the free offered much to her hard-working subjects, it was far from easy getting the latest shipments from Europe. But Bailey had her ways, albeit less-civilized. This one of a few times that the two met outside of job. The others were either at a jazz bar or Dante's flower shop. As such, there were little that Bailey could go by to strike up a conversation between her and the vigilant gunner. The southern lady leaned back, elbowing her arm, as if flattered by Dante calling her 'signorina'. There was something endearing and powerful about being addressed as such. The term itself carried weight and was almost profound in its deliverance, like a magical spell.
"I was not aware they had invited you. I would have dressed better."
"There's a certain charm to men with guns, I'd dare say. Mysterious ones, at that." Bailey smiled, subtly complimenting his loadout.
Like Farrid, Bailey did not conform to the norms of complimenting Dante's attires. She had only reserved those words for business, while Farrid and Dante were not ones for extravagant flattery, she thought. They were both men with weighty pasts, as she had seen it in their eyes at times. Accompanied by her countryside norms, she was not one for the looks, but rather personality. In a city that was more than what meets the eyes, she had taken pride in admiring her colleagues via their acts. Time, as she deemed it, was and is a reliable judge and redeemer of people. Bailey, in her justification, was not a generous saint to be handing out compliments, and had chosen to subtly insert her admiration and fondness beneath her words.
The two conceded with Bailey's subjects upon her flowers. It was an odd way at conducting small-talks, but given the two's shared interests in botany, as well as their strictly-business demeanor towards one another, it was safe to say that was one of the few ways to go about it. Bailey had received Dante's flowers recently, as part of her effort to start a little garden on her apartment's balcony. Amidst the grey buildings that dotted her neighborhood, the vibrant and energetic girl was keen on making a difference. It was quite ironic, to be a gunrunner and an ardent botanist at the same time. The same can be said for Dante, of whom was far from being perceived as someone who also shares an interest in flowers. Yet here they stood. It was the little things in life that counted, among the colorful yet mundane tints of a corrupted city, so she concluded. But in the end, it was her own vices with cigarettes that killed her peonies.
"...Lucky for you, I recently got a batch of Chinese Peonies that look absolutely stunning. I can nurse the ones I gave you back to health and you can take the Chinese ones in their place."
Bailey's eyes widened, like a child given their presents for Christmas. It was an almost comical scene, where an Italian sicario would be advising an American arms dealer on the topic of flowers. While it was nothing short of a normal conversation, there was a certain peace in their talk, sparing Bailey and Dante from their usual uptight and urgent exchange of words. Even 'til this day, Dante's accent, as with Farrid's, were quite gratifying to Bailey's ears. She found joy in how diverse the syndicate's ensemble of personnel were. It had reminded her of the first time she first stepped into the city, where she was as foreign as her peers are now.
"If you decide you like those better, you can keep them. They can also handle smoke better than the ones you have." Dante's word brought Bailey back into reality.
"That sounds wonderful! I'll come by your shop to pick it up next week..." Bailey replied, clasping her hands together, and smiling brightly.
"... Well, it's nice to see a charming and capable Italian around 'ere." Bailey continued, as she paced herself past him.
[open for interaction with anyone else at the party]
Mitch’s brow furrowed into a deep frown, his forehead creasing along well worn lines. He extended a hand and picked up a long black hair, draped across the lapel of his suit, in stark contrast to the tan fabric. He holds up the offensive hair and looks towards the bed.
“One of yours I think? It damn well isn’t one of mine, dont go giving me that innocent look”
There was no verbal response from the figure on the bed, just a raising of eyes as its head rested on the bed. Admittedly Mitch would probably have had a mild heart attack if the figure sprawled across it had said anything in response. Rex was well trained but hadn’t quite mastered human speech, even though Mitch was sure that Rex was still more intelligent than at least half of the clients he had represented in court. 8 years old and with flecks of grey beginning to appear in his coat, Rex was quite happily sprawled on the bed, soaking in the rays of the evening sun that were filtering in through the window. Middle aged and in a home with plenty of familiar smells, comfy spots and a good supply of food, Rex didn’t have a care in the world. Unlike his master.
Yeah he’d represented and worked with a lot of... let’s call them legally unscrupulous characters before, done a few house calls, normally arriving to find the police already there or 5 minutes down the road. But this was a purely social call. James Porter's 50th. I mean he got on with the man, but a birthday invitation? What the hell do you get a mob boss, buying a bottle of wine and a gas station card wasn’t exactly going to cut it. He’d been invited a couple of weeks back and the whole thing had been niggling away at the back of his mind. He continued mumbling under his breath as he fastened the striped tie around his neck. Taking a step back and examining himself in the mirror. Hair combed to one side, thankfully still brown, though the odd stubborn grey was now beginning to emerge, quickly dispatched with a tug of the tweezers. He straightened the lapels of the tan suit, lighter than his standard dark business attire.
He turned grabbing the car keys resting on the bedside table, giving Rex’s ears a ruffle, to which he lazily wags his tail in response.
“Your food and water bowl is full, you’ve had your walk. I reckon you’ll be alright for a few hours won’t you boy?”
Course he would, he was set in his ways and his rhythm. He’d potter between Mitch’s bed and his dog bed before most likely curling up in Mitch's. He'd spent near enough $65 dollars on a high end luxury bed, and did Rec ever use he thing? Did he ever. He makes his way over to the door, his hand resting on the handle.
“Shit the bloody present,”
He jogs back into the kitchen, his brown leather shoes clicking against the hardwood floor. There in pride of place on the counter rests the bottle of McAllan. 12 years old Malt Whiskey from the Highlands of Scotland. It had cost him and arm and most of a leg, but had to make a good impression, and he knew Mr Porter was a whiskey man. Grabbing the bottle he cradles it proactively in the nook of his arm as he leaves the apartment, pulling the door shut behind him. Hopefully traffic would be clear at this time of day getting out of the city. He rode the lift down, his foot tapping against the metal floor, giving the doorman the briefest of nods as he exited the building.
He half walked, half jogged round the corner to the apartment's secure car park, giving another wave and a nod to the guard on duty. Finally, slightly out of breath, and beginning to get a bit hot he got to his car. He runs his hand over the bonnet, unable to really help himself. A year off the production line, the Chevy Chevelle was his baby, it and Rex were definitely tied up there in first place in the ranking of his affection. It was garish, it was ostentatious, I mean what sort of lawyer drives in a vulgar car like that. At that though he grinned, sliding in and placing the whiskey on the passenger seat and turning on the engine. Still he wasn’t any old lawyer was he. He pulled out of the car park and was soon on his way. He glances at himself in the mirror.
The bodyguard was already awake quite early in the morning, when the sky was a deep blue and the sun was rising. She often woke up early to leave her little suite in Manhattan and patrol the grounds of the Porter Mansion, which was just a 10-minute walk from the apartment complex. Veronica did this not because it was in her job description, but because she just felt like it was necessary, and it became part of her daily routine. She wasn't paranoid, just cautious, especially on today of all days. Not only was it just 2 days before the celebration of America's independence, but even more special, it was the celebration of the 50th birthday of Mr. James Porter.
Compared to other events, this party was of the highest importance. There was no doubt that a considerable amount of people would be at this distinguished gathering. But with such parties, there often came trouble, whether it was a petty fight or something more serious. That was where Veronica came in - to make sure everything was in check and that nothing got out of hand. Her outfit for the night had to be practical for both driving as well as fighting, and would be well-coordinated with her essential black cap and brown leather gloves. While her outfit was not too fancy and perhaps too "little" for such an event, it was of a modest yet refined taste. It was a slight difference from her common outfit, a simple androgynous black-and-white suit complemented with a black bow tie. When she was on boduguard duty, a handgun was included, currently being a Smith and Wesson Model 60. While trouble was anticipated, it wasn't particularly inevitable. The party offered a change of pace, which was welcomed, especially when that change meant not having to drive to a more dangerous side of town and get her hands dirty.
She didn't see the need for a car of her own and simply walked to the grounds everyday, so the limousine became "her" vehicle. It was a stylish 1967 Cadillac Fleetwood and it looked as beautiful as ever, its glaze shining as the sun reflected from the jet black metal. Veronica constantly made sure that the vehicle was looking good and working well, having the car checked at the mechanic every month, and getting it washed and polished when she wasn't driving back and forth. As on most days, Veronica was told to retrieve a certain member of the family. This time, it was Savannah, whom she often drove to the theatre during her days of practice. She was a quiet girl, but she was kind and Veronica liked her quite a bit, though she enjoyed all of the family.
The drive was a smooth one as Veronica was never one to drive unnecessarily fast. There was no true reason in doing so unless it was some sort of high-speed chase, which, in this situation, was obviously not the case. The amount of time was about 12 minutes, though it could have been shorter with less traffic. People seemed to be making there way around Manhattan in a hurry, busying themselves for the Fourth of July. She arrived and parked the limousine just outside. As soon as she walked inside, she saw the young girl standing with two others, Roxanne and Evelin, both of whom Veronica was acquainted with.
Smiling slightly and adjusting the cap on her head, she made her way to the group of young ladies. "Many a-po-lo-gies for the wait, my dear senhoritas," Veronica remarked in a rueful manner, speaking steadily as she enunciated every consonant in her strong Brazilian accent. "The limousine is just outside. Do you ladies have everything you need? Would you like for me to carry your things?" she asked them expectantly. She wanted to make sure that they had not left anything behind, but if the girls told her they did not need her to carry anything, she would still take their things for them.
Savannah folded her arms and shook her head in an exaggerated fashion, feigning disappointment with Roxanne for not being ready yet. "You and I both need lots of drinks," she echoed her friend's thoughts. When her friend teased her about the relatively sensible dress she was wearing, Savannah let out an exasperated sigh. "It looks okay, doesn't it?" she asked, hoping for reassurance. "I had so many cute little dresses lined up for tonight, but then my parents reminded me some of Uncle James' business friends would be at the party. They don't want me catching the attention of any unsavoury guys," she remarked, rolling her eyes. "You haven't met my mother yet. It's easier not to argue with her. I mean, where do you think I get my pouting from..." she warned. In reality, Savannah understood why Sinead would warn her against attracting the attention of rogues and criminals. After all, Sinead herself had once got involved with such a man - some would say an evil man. To Savannah, that man was her biological father; a man she had never got the chance to meet and one she liked to believe would have had some good inside of him. Regardless of her idealistic thoughts for the father she could never meet, she respected why Sinead and Peter didn't want her to repeat such history. She had a blossoming career ahead of her and she wasn't prepared to let any man get in the way of that. Deciding to bring the subject of her dress to a close, she cleared her throat and smiled. "I quite like this dress, to be honest. It'll prove more comfortable if I end up laid out drunk on my Aunt Lucy's sofa later."
As she waited for Roxanne to get dressed, Savannah remembered she still had to wrap James' birthday present. It was an intricately carved wooden cigar box, with some cigars included inside. There were three accessories she'd always associated with her uncle. She wasn't about to go out and buy him a gun, so that wasn't an option. It had been a choice of alcohol and smokes, so the cigars won out this time, especially as she'd set eyes upon the cigar box whilst out shopping for new outfits. It had proved the most convenient option.
Roxanne soon returned from her bedroom, dressed and ready for the party. Savannah looked her over and didn't hide the envy from her face as she saw how glamorous her friend looked. "You look gorgeous, Roxie," she informed her. When asked if there would be any eye-candy at the party, Savannah let out a hum and shrugged her shoulders. "I don't know. Maybe? I mean, one of the security guards at the house is good looking. His name is Warren and he has a sweet guard dog named Benji." Her cousin, Syd, had also crossed her mind, but she wasn't sure if he was ready for dating yet. It had been quite a few years since Skye - Syd's wife and the Callahans' nanny - had died. It had hit Syd hard and whilst it made way for Savannah to form a close bond with her cousin during their mourning, she didn't want to start fixing him up on dates if his heart still wasn't ready for it.
Savannah glanced out of the second floor apartment window and noticed the limousine parked outside. Seeing Veronica stepping out of the vehicle, she unlocked the apartment door so the bodyguard could step inside. "Hey, Veronica. Don't worry, we've only just finished getting ready," she assured her. "Time to go party!" she announced. She hooked her handbag over her shoulder and retrieved the gift bag containing James' birthday present. When Veronica asked if they needed anything carrying, Savannah was about to say no but soon found the gift bag had left her own hand as she'd passed it to the bodyguard to carry for her. Instead, she used her free hands to fish the keys out of her handbag and lock the apartment door once they'd stepped outside. "I'm sorry you've had to trail all the way over here and now you have to take us back to Bayside," she softly apologised. She climbed into the front passenger seat before continuing to speak. "My uncle is far too cautious. I could have easily called a cab and let you chill out at the mansion," she told Veronica.
When they eventually arrived at the Porter family residence, the guard stationed at the entrance to the grounds rushed to open the gates so Veronica could proceed to drive the car along the driveway. As soon as the vehicle was parked up, Savannah rushed out and headed back towards the gates where she'd seen Benji the dog stalking its owner, Warren. Even in her high heels, she was able to elegantly crouch down and softly rub the dog behind the ears. "You're so fluffy," she told the dog. She loved seeing her family, but even just seeing all of the animals around the place was exciting in itself. She was always too busy with work and rehearsals to have a pet of her own.
Savannah soon returned to Veronica, Roxanne and Evelin, happily smiling to the three women. "Now, how about we find the drinks?" she excitedly asked. It hadn't escaped her attention that neither of her parents' cars were in the driveway, suggesting she was the first of the Callahans to arrive.
Conor nodded his head in apparent agreement when Allen advised him to shove the paper in his cellmate's mouth. "Good idea. I'll be sure to give it a try," he joked, though his face remained straight as though it was a genuine intention. Conor then sat up straight and continued to eat the food in front of him as his father-in-law spoke. The prison meal left a lot to be desired, but Conor's large appetite usually outweighed how bad the food tasted. It was a relief to have Allen reassure him that he wouldn't be denied the right to see Leo. No matter how much Aliana was pissed off with him or wanted to steer clear of him, Conor hoped Leo would never be kept away too. "Thanks, mate. That's reassuring to know," he sincerely told him. He let out an exhausted sigh when he was reminded it was getting Aliana back that he should be worried about. "Yeah, I know. I don't think I can get her back while I'm in here. Even when I do get out, I still haven't figured how I'll approach it all."
There was a moment of silence as Conor acknowledged the fatherly nature to the way Allen was speaking to him. Despite the other side of it, where the man could turn on him should he hurt Aliana, it was nice to have such an exchange. His own father had been killed over 20 years ago and his old man's absence had always been felt, especially in the times where Conor had needed the kind of help a father would give his son.
Conor chuckled when told about how Aliana was a bookworm as a child. "Ah, a little nerd, eh?" he playfully commented, hoping he'd get the chance to be able to tease his estranged wife about that one day. A fond smile then took over his mouth as Allen spoke about the daughter he clearly cared for and how Aliana was the man's world. "You'll get to see that look on Ali's face. Soon, mate," he firmly told the older man.
He could only agree when it was pointed out that many of the other prisoners had no families or real reason to get out of jail. He never needed reminding that his family was waiting on the outside, but he just wished he could stop himself from letting his own aggression take over and landing him in more trouble. "I'm excited to meet those pets. Also, to open Leo's mind up to a whole world of other names for pets! Fucking 'ell, though. Charlies?! What a joker..." he said, chuckling to himself.
"I'm trying, y'know. I've got Mitchell droning on at me with that legal shite in one ear, and Dr. Parker in the other telling me bench-pressing a few weights is as therapeutic as punching Robbo in the face." Conor looked down to his empty food tray and pushed it aside. A serious expression took over his face as he looked back to Allen. "I mean, they're both probably right. James and Luce are always on my back and they're probably right. And I really don't want you to kill me - I'm too handsome to be dying just yet... But then, there's that split second where some wanker flicks that switch in my head and all sense goes out of the window. I've managed to hold back for months now and I'm determined to get out of this place as soon as possible. I'm just worried someone's going to drag it all back out of me again."
“Heh, yeah I guess so. Don’t worry, I won’t be too long.”
Careful not to spill ash within the confines of his decently clean truck, he closed his eyes peacefully as the woman vacated the area and made way to join the social event. With the cab now smelling of perfume, alcohol, and cigar smoke, Farrid leaned out the window a bit more. Allowing his arm to dangle alongside the outside of the door, he seemed to find serenity looking out among the stars with the party growing in activity behind him. It was almost peaceful enough for him to take a nap, but no amount of sleep would be worth repeating what happened earlier. Or worse nightmares. Shivering, Assad knew that there were indeed worse dreams lurking within the back of his subconscious. Hopefully, tonight would be draining enough to ensure that he slept like a rock after leaving the party.
While the cigar gradually started to burn out with each puff, Assad sat in thoughtful silence. When it reached the end of its life, he flicked the ember off and observed as it fell harmlessly to the concrete. Not wanting to litter on the Porters property, Farrid decided to place the remainder of the cigar on his dash. He’d just toss it out when he drove off. Ensuring he wasn’t about to light his truck on fire, he waited a moment after placing it before opening the door with a soft click and push of the handle. Stepping out, he flattened his hands and traced them over his coat, straightening off any wrinkles or removing any rogue ash that may have fallen on him.
Clearing his throat, he took a step towards the rear drivers side door and pulled it open, leaning inside as he reached for the black box which he would place the saber into. While lunging for the case, Assad’s vision flickered to a piece of paper that was protruding from an ungracefully opened envelop. Pausing in place, the corners of his mouth formed a frown as he snatched it up. It came with the saber; words from the friend that sent it. The top of the paper was creased over deliberately, as to keep what was encrypted on it out of sight. Taking in a mouthful of air, he held it for a moment before blowing it back out in exasperation while skimming the words. Carelessly, he tucked the paper back into the envelop before tossing it up towards the driver seat. He viewed the letter as a chore, something he didn't want to take care of. But, like all chores, he’d have to address it sooner or later. Not tonight though.
Resuming his previous action, Farrid slid the box out from beneath the seat, lifting it and placing it atop the cushion. Next, he slipped the keffiyeh out from beneath the gift, gingerly moving the saber to the padded interior of its packaging before placing the cover back atop of it. Confident that the boss will be content with the exotic weapon, Assad took the grey and black checkered fabric it was resting on and rolled it over his shoulders. Not wanting to be too formal, he opted to just round it off around his neck loosely like a scarf. He had the band to wear it as headgear somewhere in his truck, but didn’t know where it was.
Assad frowned more-so.
To be fair, he actually did know where it was, he just used that as an excuse to not wear it in the formal fashion. Collecting the package, he tucked it underneath his arm before closing the rear door. Checking to make sure his key was in a pocket, and not in his vehicle again, he closed and locked the door to his truck after flipping off the headlights. Right as he stepped away from his truck, he spotted a familiar limousine pull onto the premises. Gaze following the enlongated vehicle, Farrid waited patiently until it passed by and halted. Figuring he had prolonged his entrance to the residence for too long, he strode towards the mansion with a new worry cropping up in his mind. If he was to drive back tonight, it meant he couldn’t attack all alcoholic beverages in sight.
Spotting the doorman, he slowed his steps and called out curiously, the outline of the armed guard too obvious to him.
“Good evening, Phantom. I’d like to see you stop by Aleiada sometime within the near future, there are a few... afflictions I’ve been trying to better understand in terms of fixing. I don’t know what it is with you people and using wires.” He said the last part quietly, not wanting to disturb anybody who happened to be nearby at the time. Tilting his head and shaking it, Assad confirmed within his mind that he had indeed never seen anyone back in his home use a garrote wire as a method of attack.
Careful not to obstruct the entrance to the mansion, Assad kept the box tucked under his arm while placing a hand on one hip, giving the guards weapon a quick analyzing glance. He hadn’t seen them out East, and if he did there wasn’t too many of them. Trying to rediscover what he remembered about the submachine, his eyes narrowed when he could recall the information.
“Nice gun. I wish we had access to those during the Six Day Situation. It would’ve been a much better alternative to some of the gear we possessed.” Reluctant to give the title of “War” to the conflict he just mentioned, he instead opted to just call it a situation. Farrid didn’t have too much of a problem mentioning experiences to the guard, mostly because he had to if he was to teach anything about his trade. He appreciated Coreno and his knowledge of unusual afflictions; which were normal for those associated with the mob. In the time of knowing him, Assad had learned about many injuries he once thought unconventional and bizarre. The Phantom’s knowledge may very well have allowed the medic to save enough lives to rival the amount of hearts stopped by Dante himself. Jerking a thumb to the box nuzzled under his arm, Farrid asked while tucking the tails of his keffiyeh away from his throat.
“I got the boss a ceremonial saber from Syria, when will we be presenting gifts?”
With a warm, genuine chuckle, Dante bowed as Bailey passed by him. The compliment was a sweet one but no deeper than that and they both knew it. The young lass was a fine lady and made good company. Honestly, it was all the man could ask for.
Dante returned to his regular position and adjusted the strap on his shoulders, so his firearm sat my comfortably in his arms.
A few more guests came and went without incident. Faces the Italian wasn't familiar with but certainly memorized as the passed by. Of course, with them being none the wiser. It was part of the reason he had earned his nickname. Phantoms, or the dead, never forgot faces. If anyone started trouble tonight, they would not go unpunished.
They would get a visit from The Phantom and whether it would be to....dissuade them from doing such things ever again or to Make sure they never did.... would be up to them.
No one would be the wiser. There were very few people who knew who Dante really was. The family's personal assassin. Even fewer that new his nickname, "The Happy Phantom" or "smiling" phantom. The translation did get strange sometimes.
And no one knew of Dante's direct bloodline connection or how close it really was.
Speaking of, one of those few who knew his assassin calling card happened to stroll up while Dante was thinking about it. The armed Roman tilted his head downwards in a polite bow to Farrid.
"Good evening, Mr. Al-Assad."
Funny enough, Farrid wasted no time in breaking down his latest client's condition. Though, it wasn't blatantly obvious to anyone listening. Once he heard the particular "ailment", Dante's eyebrows rose slightly in mild surprise but the smile never left.
Wordlessly, Coreno's hand slid downwards and he pulled his combat knife free from its leathery home on his thigh and presented it to his own throat. He turned sideways and pressed the spine of the blade against his neck, mimicking the knives point going in a few centimeters.
"Garrote wire is usually made from piano wire. If it was a skilled assailant, they would have made sure the victim was on their knees for leverage. They pull tight on either end..." Dante started pushed the knife's point further along his neck until it practically would have been all the way through, "....slicing through everything. It simultaneously strangles them and carves their neck open. Jugular would be severed. Carotid would be split open...."
The hitman then flips the knife does the same from behind, "...if someone was feeling particularly nasty, they could loop the wire around the neck. It would also be cutting from behind. Imagine a guillotine from the front and the back that also strangles you.... slowly."
With a practiced flourish, Dante sheathed the knife into its holster once more. "You would be dead before you knew what was happening to you. Assuming it's a... well practiced hand doing the deed. If you wanted to send a message to someone, the assailant could keep squeezing and pulling until their head actually fell off their shoulders."
Smile never wavering, the enforcer rapped the former combat medic's shoulder, "If none of that has happened, chances are it was an amateur. Which also means the chances are they will live. You just have to treat it like someone who survived a throat laceration. Maybe keep an eye out for brain damage due to the lack of oxygen during the attack. I hope fortune smiles upon you, Mano de Dio."
Dante gestured towards the doorway, "I believe the gifts will be after the speech has been given, my friend. You can have reception hold the present until the time is right. Then they will have it ready for you."
"By the way, good idea. I haven't seen anyone bring in a ceremonial blade tonight. Your gift is unique, so far."