May felt the buzz of the room and blushed, a deep red hue that ran from the tips of her auburn hair through every freckle and skin shown area. The bosses knew their employees, sure enough, but that was the highest of high praises. Taking a mental note, May momentarily realized maybe being herself wasn’t such a bad thing after all. Spencer’s words rang aloud in her ears. “That’s some real East End fight you’ve got in ya and you’re not even a local.” Then the look on Erik’s face just added to it all. No flying under the radar tonight. Might as well be proud of it, they certainly both looked impressed – Mr. Stranger not so much, but he wasn’t her boss, or employed by her boss and could possibly be her boss – that she knew of – so she wasn’t concerned with what he thought. Normally though, subconsciously so much more then she even acknowledged, she wanted everyone’s approval. A therapist would love to take a crack at her head.
“Thanks, boss. I’ve picked up a thing or two, here and there.” She grinned a mischievous smile as she glanced around and found that most of the crowd, while still side-eyeing her, had returned to their seats, their drinks, and their own conversations, all centered around what happened in one manner or another. Clearing her throat, she patted the victimized man on the back as he scampered off, knowing full well you listened to a King in the King’s club. She followed the in case he needed any information from her, or a recount of the situation, but something told her it wouldn’t be that professional. That sixth sense kicked in and she grabbed a thick towel off the bar as she passed it, tucking it into her waist.
As the door closed, she quietly waved to the waitress Spencer had spoken to, indicating that she should turn up the volume and a second later, until the door closed, it was deafening. As she watched, she leaned casually against the door, ensuring it could not open unless someone pushed her out of the way. Now May hadn’t necessarily been around a lot of violence, but even when there was, it had never bothered her much. Her mom had always said she didn’t know where she got her violent streak, but it kept her calm under pressure, kept her from erupting when threatened, and helped her inflict pain without so much as batting an eye. Later, once Maeve knew that her father was not her father, she questioned if it was a family trait from that side was.
A small laugh escaped her lips when Spencer made sure the man knew how ugly he was. It shouldn’t be funny, but it was. Erik went to pour a drink, May leaned and poured for him, leaning out of the way of the fight in front of them, side stepping a sweeping kick. She stayed standing just beside Erik, door still to her other side. When he smashed the cabinet, blood and glass going everywhere, she knew she’d be cleaning that up later. Maybe it was time to ask for a raise. Spencer asked her a question, but she had been lost and thought and almost missed it. When Erik’s arm touched her, she blushed again, grinning like a kid who had just brought home the championship trophy for state.
The kiss to the head just deepened all effects – blush, grin, and prideful look. May had never felt accepted for being herself before – only the face she kept up for others, and that never felt like true acceptance. “I’m fine. He got a little grabby with the hands a few times, but I kept him at arms distance after that. Apparently, it wasn’t enough of a hint, but I normally don’t need to spell out for them that I’m not on the menu.” Looking at the blood and piss on the floor, May untucked the towel and threw it over the spot, “That will keep it from running everywhere, but I’m pretty sure cleaning it will be easier if you can get the arse hole out of here before he shits himself. If he does that, I’m out, you definitely don’t pay me enough for that.” She winked and laughed, a kind of dark but melodic laugh, spreading the towel with the tip of her boot.
Even though Harper had never given him a reason to doubt her kindness, Billy still felt enormous relief that her response to his coming out had been so positive. On the whole, the realisation that he was gay still scared him; he still knew that he would be facing a difficult life, especially while general attitudes towards gay men only seemed to be worsening. But in that moment, just him and his sister in the kitchen with no one else around, it felt okay. Exciting, even. He could forget about the risks that being gay posed, let go of his shame for a minute and just imagine how wonderful it would be to have the man he loved in his arms.
That moment was shattered, however, when he heard a voice come from behind him. The sudden change in atmosphere gave him whiplash; the warm, fluttery feeling vanished as deep embarrassment hit him like an electric shock. “What the fuck?!” he yelled, both hands flying to cover his face. His eyes were still puffy, his face still stained with tears and he would never, ever have let someone seen him like that if he could help it - Harper, sure; his uncle and brothers if he had to; Erik, perhaps, but only because he had seen him cry plenty in return. But no one else. Especially not Jeremy.
Of course, the worst thing was what the man had said - not only did it clearly mean that he had heard Billy profess his sexuality and love for Erik, but it also brought up something that Billy had hoped to take to his grave. He remembered when his brothers used to hang out with Jeremy after school; Billy would join in when they let him, feeling proud whenever Jeremy spoke to him or gave him any attention. He would spend his time thinking of ways to impress him, eavesdrop on their conversations to find out what could bring out his beautiful laugh and, perhaps most shamefully of all, try to dress like him. It was overwhelmingly embarrassing to think back on, especially since Billy hadn’t even realised until now that Jeremy had in fact been his first crush whereas it was clear that Jeremy had known all along.
When he could finally drag his hands down his beetroot-red face just low enough to peek over, he found Jeremy smiling kindly at him, with a wink that would have absolutely floored Billy 15 years or so ago. Later on he might be grateful that Jeremy wasn’t making a big deal out of it and was supportive of him instead of judgemental, but in that moment he just wanted the floor to open up and swallow him. Especially when he called him ‘Little’ - he couldn’t even argue, just let out a groan of yet further embarrassment.
Thankfully Jeremy didn’t linger on the topic and got to the point of his intrusive arrival. When he announced that Bruce had given him a key to Harper’s house and was under orders to keep her safe, Billy let his hands drop. “Safe?” he asked with a frown. “But why would -”
Harper cut him off by jerking a finger in his face, almost touching his nose and causing him to lean back in surprise. She asked him in an accusing tone if he had anything to do with it and he raised his hands in defense. “Harper, Uncle Bruce ain’t told me shit!” he protested. “You know I’d have told you, and he probably knows that too which is why he kept me out of it!”
His sister was on a rampage now, going off at both him and Jeremy for assigning her security that she didn’t think she needed. Despite the tense atmosphere, Billy couldn’t help but smirk at Harper’s comment about Alex needing a human chastity belt to stop him from being reckless. However, he made sure to wipe the smile off his face before turning to address her again. “Hey, you ain’t irresponsible, no one’s callin’ you that. Right, Jeremy?” He flashed his eyes at the man, almost begging for help. “We can go down and visit Uncle Bruce together, have a little word with him. We’re a package deal, remember?” He slowed down, then, unsure of how to go on without offending her. “I ain’t sayin’ this is right, but Uncle Bruce has got a point. He’s just gone about this the wrong way, okay? The Irish are savage, they ain’t afraid to hurt innocents - I mean, people who ain’t done nothin’ wrong -” he stumbled, knowing that calling Harper innocent could come across as patronising. “His quick fix is to assign you security, but what you really need are your own weapons, proper training and more security on the house. Not some babysitter who’s just gonna drive you up the wall. No offence, Jeremy.” He raised a hand at Jeremy, in a rough attempt to keep the peace. “Jeremy, look, don’t tell the others, but I’ve been training Harper and she’s gettin’ really good. She can get out of most holds in just a few seconds, she can wrestle me to the ground and keep me pinned there and she could probably knock me out if she didn’t love me too much. My wrist still hurts from where she twisted it two weeks ago, and I've still got a bruise on my shin, too, look," he quickly pulled up his trouser leg to prove his point. "Can you not just keep training her instead? You get to fulfill Uncle Bruce’s orders, keep my sister safe, and Harper you get to punch Jeremy in the face whenever you want. How’s that sound?”
It happened exactly the way he expected it to happen, once he stepped into the room. Harper lost her shit, Billy turned redder then the setting sun, both looked at him like they wished he would crawl under a rock and die, and Jeremy just watched them both with his nonchalant look of Not going anywhere. Harper exploded, and the slightest twitch formed at the corner of his mouth, like he was fighting a smile. She was a hell cat alright, and he’d called it spot on. To bad he couldn’t call lottery numbers like that. First he listened to Harper, then Billy explain their sides, all without flinching or indicating a single response to either.
When Billy started to explain that he’d been training his sister, Jeremy had a mental image of Harper and him sparring, although he’d still win by pinning her. The part that brough just the faintest tint of red to his cheeks was the slow lean in he imaged. Shaking his head, he dismissed it, though he did get a look of deviousness to him as he stood up to his full height of six-foot-two and crossed his arms over his chest, perking an eyebrow at Harper. “Oh, training, eh? Sure, we can train. Starting…. NOW!” With Harper completely not in the right state of mind to be prepared for training, and Billy trying to survive his embarrassment – even though Jeremy wasn’t sure why he was embarrassed, Billy was still Billy – Jeremy moved like a flash.
Swiftly, his leg swung out and hook Billy’s foot, sweeping him into a fall on his back, directly on the couch. The next step was his muscular arm wrapping around Harper to pin hers in place. Sure, there would be some resistance once her brain caught up with her body, and they might wrestle for a moment, but first chance he got, he unbalanced her as well, sending her falling too. Most folks stuck to one method of fighting, Jeremy had learned to incorporate a mix of styles, including aikido to use an opponent’s own movements to redirect them.
Just went Harper was about to hit the floor, he caught her, both arms around her as he leaned over her, keeping her from bouncing off the floor. Carefully he sat her back up, eyeing her in thought. “Ok. Training it is. We’ll train for a bit each day if you want, but I’m still staying, end of discussion. Your Uncle is both my boss and my friend, hell you all are like family to me. If things with those Scummy Sullivan's don’t simmer out, I’d be happy to be here in case you do need me. They’re not above doing something dastardly, disgusting, and down right dirty.” Jeremy – always with the fancy talk. It was something the guys on the job often gave him a hard time for, but he hadn’t gone to school to get smart – he already was and his speech had moments at times that hinted at his hidden intelligence.
Jeremy was careful not to mention, or even give a second of body language, to how when he caught her, her body in his arms, set his blood to boiling. Ever cool, his face remained stoic and passive – though there was a twinkle in his eyes he couldn’t hide, not for all the practicing in the world.
- Billy Bella:D
Syd inhaled a breath and ran a hand through his hair when Roxie told him the kids would be going home with him hyperactive after all the sugar Reina had fed them. He didn’t really mind at all - he would have been beaten down from his interaction with Shinoa but the fact that he had managed to escape the scenario to instead be with his children actually boosted his energy and motivation. “Wow, thanks, Reina,” he said with some light sarcasm. “It’s alright, I’ll get the dogs to run them round the garden when we get home.”
He wasn’t particularly interested in taking food from her, even if she and Jane had both offered it to him. Instead he focused on her lack of appetite. “Yeah, the kids told me you’ve had some sort of bug,” he lightly commented. “Are you feeling any better?”
Having offered, Syd was of course willing to help Roxie give her a hand with the heavy lifting in her office, but when she told him she wanted to talk to him in private he was more keen to find out what that was about. He sent Reina a brief smile as Roxie led him away down the corridor and into her office. When she closed the door he assumed she would get right to the point, but instead she at first showed him to the boxes she wanted him to lift. “Yeah, no problem,” he said, and got to work right away.
She began by thanking him for taking the kids off her hands - she was clearly fatigued by the whole moving process, as anyone would be, but explained that it was a necessary change after everything that had happened. She left out the details but Syd knew exactly what she meant. “Don’t worry, I get it,” he said. When Syd’s wife Skye had died, Syd had done everything he could to hold on; he hadn’t wanted to move to New York even years later, not wanting to be away from her grave site. His inability to let go had sent him into a state of psychosis and driven him into a psychiatric hospital after his third suicide attempt - and not for the last time, either. Of course, when she passed away he had been at that young age when underlying mental illnesses could begin to reveal themselves, so he understood that he probably would have become ill even if she had survived. Equally, he doubted that Roxie would experience grief for the loss of her fiancé in the same way he had for his wife, or develop the same mental health conditions for which he was still being treated. Yet he still worried about her, and was glad that she was able to let go of the house she had lived in with Matthew, rather than hold on like Syd had. It must have taken great strength to move away from somewhere that contained such strong memories of him, and he could only hope that the change would be as good for her as intended.
As he was placing the last box on the bookshelf, Roxie began to open up to him. Syd couldn’t help but be surprised that he was her first choice to talk to, above even Ricky or Reina. Turning back to face her, Syd dusted off his hands and gave her his full attention. From the look on her face it was clear that something heavy was on her mind, something she needed to confess. “Rox', what is it?” he asked her, not even noticing the nickname that had slipped out. He folded his arms and took a step closer, trying to will her to look him in the eyes. “Whatever it is, I’ll help you. Just talk to me.”
Syd wasn’t sure how much more waiting he could take; his brain was too quick to fill in the blanks, coming up with too many possibilities. Was she in danger? In trouble? Had she done something terrible and was struggling with the guilt? The way she looked at him in desperation, he could see a longing in her eyes but he wasn’t sure what it was she longed for. Surely not him - that made no sense. But then, what?
After failing to spit it out, Roxie directed him to the couch and he sat down, trying not to show his own nerves. He perched on the edge of the seat and watched curiously as she pulled out an envelope from her desk drawer. By that point, his heart was racing. Envelopes like that rarely contained good news, especially when delivered in such a heavy atmosphere. His fingers closed around it and Syd looked up at her - when before he had been desperate to know what was plaguing her mind, now he suddenly was afraid to find out.
Knowing Roxie was waiting, however, Syd tentatively opened the envelope and pulled out a photograph. No, not a photograph - a sonogram. Unconsciously, he let the envelope fall to the floor and he just stared at the image. His mind automatically flashed back to the times he had looked at the first sonograms of his own children, Roxie at his side just like she was now. Except it was different this time, of course - because this one wasn’t his.
He wasn’t sure how much time passed as he stared at the fuzzy black and white picture. Finally, he opened his mouth to speak. “Is this yours?” he mumbled, before looking up at her. “You’re having a baby?”
As soon as the question left him, he realised what this must mean. Setting the sonogram down beside him, Syd leaned forward, elbows on his knees, and covered his mouth with his hands. His mind went blank in the way it did when there was too much to process, like Newton’s colour wheel spinning all the different colours into an empty, blank white. On the one hand, the baby could be a blessing...the best thing Matthew could have left behind for her. On the other hand, however, there was something profoundly sad about carrying the child of a late loved one. Especially since Matthew wouldn’t have known. The child would never know their father, and Roxie would always be left wondering what kind of father Matthew would have been. Syd looked up at her again, unable to hide the look of sadness in his eyes.
“What are you going to do, Roxie?” he asked, his voice weak and low. He remembered how she had at first wanted to abort Jane and Jeanie, how he had guilted her into keeping them with his explosive reaction. He was trying his best to word everything carefully and keep himself together this time, to ensure that he put her feelings first. “You know I’d…” he trailed off, suddenly confused about where he fit into all this. He would help Roxie through this...at least, he thought he would. But the baby wasn’t his. Getting too close might confuse him...he loved babies and children and seeing Shinoa with precious little Lillian had made him realise he would probably never have another. Regardless of where he and Roxie currently stood - something Syd was still uncertain about - Roxie would always be important to him and he would always care about her. Leaving her to deal with this alone would bring on awful guilt, especially since she had chosen to confide in him before anyone else. But he also knew himself, how he could get carried away sometimes, become lost to his emotions as they took control over his decisions and actions. If he let himself get close again, he might grow attached to the baby and forget that it wasn’t his.
Realising that he was already getting ahead of himself, Syd shook his head in an attempt to clear it. “Sorry,” he whispered, before clearing his throat. “You know I’ll always be here for you, right? You’re...you’re the mother of my kids.” Hoping she wouldn’t mind, Syd gingerly reached out and curled his hand around hers. He kept his gaze set on the floor ahead of him, finding it easier to speak while not making eye contact. “What I mean to say, is...whatever you choose to do...if you want my help, then you’ve got it.” Giving her hand a small squeeze, he finally turned to look at her. "So, how are you feeling about this?"
Lucy Porter Sully's Diner - Dublin City Center, Dublin -
Lucy had a clear understanding of the atmosphere when everyone had arrived so suddenly and she knew that Shinoa was going to deny Syd's request the minute she saw the sassy look form on the teen's face. Lucy bit her lip down to keep from saying anything as the pair reacted to one another. Syd's expression was pretty stoic but Lucy could read him very well. The smile he had placed on his face when she had mentioned that she had originally come to just see Shinoa was the fakest one she'd ever seen and she knew that she had unintentionally hurt him.
She wasn't surprised when her son stated that he needed to go when she invited the two men to lunch but nevertheless she was disappointed that he didn't want to spend time with her, even if it was in the company of people that he didn't necessarily trust. Frown lightly, Lucy nodded her head in understanding. "Send my grand-babies my love then, hmm?" The blonde forced herself to smile sweetly, seeing that Syd was just ready to leave without giving her a hug. Instead of embracing her, he forced his own smile before telling her to enjoy lunch. Lucy didn't have a chance to address the lack of embrace as he spun on his heels and took off in the direction of his car as if someone were chasing him.
Lucy watched him go for a few seconds before turning her attention to Tom and Shinoa, seeing the redheaded man moving to open the door open for her and Shinoa to enter. Lucy let Shinoa enter first before Lucy followed behind, quietly thanking him before she waved down a waitress to direct them into a booth.
Tom offered to help Shinoa carry her bag and although Lucy would normally have been too weary to allow such an action, she was honestly very distracted by Syd's behavior as he stormed off. Tom was a gentleman helping both her and Shinoa into their seats. His comment about not all chivalry being dead was endearing and sweet. She was quite impressed as she watched him dote over Shinoa. It was interesting to see, given the fact that they had only known the man all of 5 minutes. Apart of her wanted to be suspcious but her internal compass tended to tell her who was a threat and who wasn't...it had only been wrong a number of times. The most recent had been with Roxie back in the 70s, Lucy had been convinced she was out to get the family but that ended up being so far from the truth that Lucy felt embarrassed and guilty she had put her son and her through hell she did. Lucy looked up from her hands that were folded on the table to see a flower being handed to her.
"Well aren't you sweet, Tom." Lucy commented, looking to Shinoa to see what her reaction was and offering her an easygoing yet distant smile before looking to her own menu. Lucy had decided on something pretty quickly, not really feeling as hungry as she had been before the awkward interaction outside the diner. Tom looked to her before commenting that none of them looked alike. Lucy waved a hand at his compliment, smiling modestly. "Ah, most of my children are adopted. I only have one blood son who lives around here too, but he looks more like his father I'd say." Lucy told Tom. "Shinoa and little Lillian here are the newest additions to the family."
Lucy looked to Shinoa with a fond smile before pretending to look down at her menu as her thoughts went back to Syd. She loved her eldest son dearly but it was increasingly difficult to give him the attention he needed. If there was even one day that she didn't give him attention it seemed that he got incredibly hurt. Lucy was living with him still, seeing him every day, and yet that still didn't seem like enough for Syd. Meanwhile, Thomas wanted no attention and seemed to be content without seeing her ever again, and Olivia...Olivia was a perfect child, in all honesty, she was extremely humble and grateful for Lucy and James taking her in and raising her as their own. Shinoa was expressing the same gratitude and while that wasn't why Lucy adopted children and gave them a place to live, it was nice to feel like her efforts were being seen in their eyes. Syd and Thomas made her feel like all the effort she had put into giving them a roof to live under, comfort, security, and food as well as endless love and support were all for nothing and they just lived to take and take and take from her.
"How's it been working with Syd so far, Tom? Honestly, he's not here...you can be honest. I know he can be a lot to...deal with." Lucy asked the man gently.
with: Tom BasDorcha
; Shinoa Kawashima Lightning
mentions: Ungrateful Son Pyroclast
~James Edwards~ (Cameo)New York City, New York | Airfield in Queens
While it felt nice to finally be out of Riker's Island, James could not help but feel guilty for leaving his young friend behind. All he could do now was hope that Kurt would look after Bradley in his stead now that both he and Porter were on the outside. In order to not draw attention from the Mafia or the NYPD, James did have to separate himself from Porter and took a completely alternate route to the airfield that he had just made it to not too long ago. Most of his day was spent evading the NYPD, but he couldn't help but wonder if the Italian Mafia, which Porter had warned him about on the way out and during their time behind bars. On the way to the Airfield though, James had made a quiet stop to Hell's Kitchen, where Bradley's Father had stashed the Mercedes he had stolen a few months ago. Although the Columbian Cocaine that was mentioned previously wasn't present, it looks like the weapons remained. "Thanks, Kid. I owe you big time." He sighed before loading his temporary car, which was a beaten up Lincoln Continental.
Grabbing at least one-third of the weapons and ammunition present for himself and for Porter. Before leaving Hell's Kitchen, he used a payphone to leave a goodbye message for his Family and saying that he'd send letters monthly to let them know how he was doing. Hopefully Ireland didn't have an extradition treaty with America, otherwise he was never going to be safe. After starting the car back up, Edwards frowned, knowing that he would be starting a new life as a Foot-soldier for the Irish Mob, the fate having been sealed the moment he befriended Porter and Kurt while in prison. However, unlike most gang members, James had the training and combat experience of a War Veteran. His extensive training as a former Sniper for the Navy SEALs surely would give him an edge over other gang members in combat, but since he didn't know how gangs operated outside of the United States, there was no real way for him to know.
As the thought of life in the mob traversed his mind, he could only wonder what his former comrades in the Navy would think of him now. Probably not positively, but he had to survive in this cruel, harsh world somehow. After a lengthy drive, he had made it to the Airfield. Once he stepped out of the car though, he was met with a bit of hostility from the people by the plane, likely members of the Irish Mob that Porter had warned him about earlier. "Whoa, whoa, easy! Your old Boss sent me!" He called out as soon as he saw a laser sight on his chest, even put his hands up and hoping that he would not be shot.
After the situation didn't escalate, James proceeded to explain to the people there what had happened since he got out of Riker's Island and his connection to Porter. Once they seemed convinced, he proceeded to go ahead, with their permission, load up the weapons he had obtained into the plane, even arming himself with one of the handguns. From there, they waited for Porter. About a few hours later, Porter finally arrived. Naturally, James was happy to see him. "Hell yeah I did. I got us some new toys along the way, courtesy of Brad. He told me to consider it as a thank you for helping him and asked me to pay it forward. And that the Sniper Rifle is his gift to you." He smiled, but that smile faded when he saw that poorly patched wound on Porter's chest. "I'll take a look at that once the plane is stable in the air." He said, motioning to the wound.
James ended up being the last to board the plane. From here, he was saying goodbye to his home. Possibly for good. As the door closed, James simply took a seat and fastened his seatbelt to prepare for take-off. Interactions: James Porter Misty Gray Mentions: Bradley Beckett | Kurt Resnik Pyroclast Nearby: Chase Zegarra Pyroclast
Hearing that Adam thought she was a strong woman never got old, but the fact of the matter was that she felt anything but strong in that moment sitting at the table with him. He stated that she was allowed to be scared and she knew that, but the stubborn part of her wouldn't allow it, not after everything she and her children had been through. The feeling of fear she felt right now, she knew it would only be temporary. She would find a way to shove it away as she had always done and face what needed to be faced. Blake rolled her eyes as Adam stated that maybe he could get an ego post protecting her with his big manly arms. "Well, they are impressively big, I'll give you that one, love." Blake teased in return with a knowing smirk on her face.
She was glad to see that their conversation hadn't made things incredibly uncomfortable and awkward when she had asked him to stay. Blake let out a small scoff as she rolled her eyes once more. "This old bird can't take the creaking noises this house makes when everyone is gone, it's a beautiful place and I enjoy it but I swear to god it's haunted." Blake stated as if that was going to help her case. At her offer to warm up the food, Adam decided to do it and Blake watched him get up and walk to her microwave with her food. A laugh escaped her as he stated that she was the boss in response to her not feeling comfortable with him driving just yet.
The rest of dinner had gone on surprisingly lighthearted compared to the early events and when all of the food was gone Adam took their plates to the sink. He asked if she had any dessert to which she shook her head, "Any dessert or sweet I did have had recently been eaten by my cookie monster of a son. That boy will scale the whole cabinet for sweets." Blake stated, shaking her head before Adam offered to walk to the shop around the block to get some ice cream before they settled in for an evening in front of the TV. Smiling widely, Blake nodded her head, "That sounds wonderful. I'll get the dishes done, you get the ice cream and I'll rummage through my VHS cabinet and pick out some options for a movie. You can make the final decision when you come back." Blake stood up and walked towards him to place her glass that had been filled with liquor into the sink. She brushed up against him lightly, sending a chill down her spine that caused her to bite her lip nervously.
Her hair had fallen in front of her eye so she lightly whipped her head to the side so she could move it and see Adam properly. It felt weird not being intimate with him but she wasn't sure if the conversation they just had warranted her to not be close with him for the time being. His warmth, however, was very inviting and before she could stop herself, she was wrapping her arms around his large frame and burying her face into his chest. "It felt weird not to hug you," Blake mumbled into his chest.
with: Adam Misty Gray
Harper King Harper's Place -London -
Harper didn't easily believe her other brothers but when Billy stated that he had no idea what Jeremy being there was all about and that their Uncle hadn't told them anything, Harper believed him. He had just been completely transparent with her and she had no reason to believe he would lie to her about this, not after everything they had just gone through. Billy was trying to calm her down by telling her that she wasn't irresponsible and she knew he could trust his words but as he looked for Jeremy to also reassure her and back Billy up, Harper found herself glaring at the man she had for a long time found very very very attractive. Jeremy just stood there annoyingly stoic without any indication that he believed what either of them was telling him. Billy stated that they could go down and talk to Uncle Bruce together because they were a package deal and Harper nodded her head in agreement. "He must be going senile or something!! I've never needed a babysitter or bodyguard! Ever!"
Billy went on to then say that Uncle Bruce had a point but he had gone about it the wrong way. "The absolute wrong way! I gave him that key in confidence! Only you, him, and Shona have a key to this place and he is handing it out to men like its candy now!" Harper hissed before she went silent as Billy went on to explain that the Irish were savage and weren't afraid to hurt innocents. Harper glared daggers at him as he then corrected himself to say that they hurt people who hadn't done anything wrong. Harper and Billy told each other everything and that much was solidified after the conversation they just had but Harper knew she could never voice her hesitation about the alliance her family had with those crusty prude Italians. She and Savannah were closer than Harper was with Spencer and Alex...and Savvy was good people. Good people didn't come from horrible families, Harper knew that much to be true.
Billy went on to say that Uncle Bruce's default fix was to assign security but was fighting in her corner when he said she didn't need that, especially a babysitter who was going to drive her up a wall. Harper grunted in agreement as she then returned her glare to Jeremy. Billy spilled the beans that he had been training her and Harper opened her mouth wide to protest but was stopped short as her brother stated that she was able to get out of most holds in a few seconds and that she could do damage if she didn't love him so much. That was true, she didn't want to hurt Billy. Put her and Alex together though and Harper wasn't so sure she would hold back, she felt he needed a swift kick to the face for the shit he'd done to Sav. Billy was being reasonable by asking Jeremy to train her but Harper was frustrated about that pairing in more ways than one. Clenching her jaw, she looked to Jeremy for an answer and saw the slightest bit of color in his cheeks. She was about to point it out in an effort to embarrass him but he beat her in speaking.
First came the words and then literal hell broke loose.
Harper watched as Jeremy swiftly swung his leg out to knock Billy onto his back on her couch before he turned on her, pinning her in an instant. Her mind was in a confusing tangle of fight or flight mode or fight or fuck mode and it frustrated her to no end. She tried to wrestle him off to no avail before he kicked his foot out, sending her falling towards the floor. Harper gasped, ready to catch herself but his arms caught her quickly before he sat her up as if nothing had happened. Harper for once didn't have anything to fucking say. When she could speak, her finger shook in his face, "You...you...you..." She was so embarrassed at the lack of words. He settled for himself that training would be best but there was to be no further discussion about him staying. He finished his god-awful speech and Harper had done something she hadn't done in ages. She actually stomped her foot against the ground like she had done when she was 10 when she didn't get her way, most likely making her look way more juvenile than she actually was. She scrunched her nose in dissatisfaction before looking to her brother and Jeremy. "Fine, train me, whatever but if you think I'm going to make you babysitting me easy, Jerebear, you better think again. I got a life outside of this whole family business and I don't intend on slowing down because my Uncle thinks I need protecting." Harper stated firmly before adding on, "And if I found out that you slipped up on my brother's secret that'll be the end of this arrangement and the end of you, you got me?" Harper stated, her tone deadly and venomous.
with: Billy Pyroclast
; Jeremy BasDorcha
Roxie Carriveau Roxie's New Place - Dollymount, Dublin -
Roxie had been holding her breath as she watched Syd fumble with the envelope. It felt in a way that the world had somehow gone in a full circle as she watched him stare at the sonogram photo. It wasn't quite a full circle in a sense though, they both knew it wasn't his baby yet here they were sitting together again as she broke the same type of news she had done two other times. He had called her Rox' something he hadn't called in ages, had stated that whatever it was he would help her but as she stared at him as they both stood in silence, she wasn't sure what his reaction would be. After a few painfully silent seconds, he asked if the sonogram was hers before looking up at her. His eyes searched her's before asking if she was having a baby. Her breath hitched in her chest as she nodded her head, looking back at him as she stated, "It looks that way...yea." It was such a causal and simple response to the extremely complicated situation she was now placed in.
She watched as Syd leaned forward and covered his mouth with his hands and oddly enough, Roxie found herself wanting to comfort him rather than herself for no other reason than wanting to make sure he was okay. She lightly set a hand on his shoulder. She was all too familiar with the blank look that currently resided on his face, the information was simply too much to process as it had been for herself when she'd found out. Roxie gently let her hand fall to her side as she watched him process all of the things she had most likely thought of. It was a situation that had driven her to her breaking point wondering how the world could be so cruel to her but as she thought harder and harder about it, it seemed like the world was giving her exactly what she had been asking for. Roxie knew she couldn't have her fiancé back...there was no force that could bring him back but the universe had decided to give her a piece of him that she could cherish for the rest of her life. Like all of her pregnancies, this one was a blessing in disguise...an incredibly painful one but a blessing nonetheless.
Syd finally snapped out of his thoughts as he looked at her once more. His face was etched with sadness and sympathy, something she felt she didn't exactly deserve from him seeing as she had been the one to walk away from him. He asked weakly what she was going to do and Roxie sighed as she shrugged her shoulders. She'd been thinking about it for a while and still hadn't come to any conclusions. He started to speak before trailing off his sentence and becoming silent again. Despite her uncertainty about his reaction to the announcement, the reason she had come to Syd was that deep down, despite their relationship being over and them just starting to get along again she knew he would be there for her.
She had her apprehensions, she always had but Syd while he'd lied to her and broke her heart he was not a disloyal man. He was a family man, someone who went the extra mile for them. Roxie had distanced herself from him because he had become too protective, too obsessive with keeping her and the children safe but while that was a major flaw it was also something that bound her to him. Roxie had never had such protection, never had anyone who care for her just as much as he did at the time of their relationship. It was a toxic relationship sure but when Syd was in his right frame of mind, they were compatible. She separated herself from him because she knew if she let him in he'd want to be there for her, to take care of her, and that love for him that she'd pushed down so deep inside of herself would have revealed itself once more.
Although she felt that could happen now and that she was being absolutely reckless for doing it...she didn't have anyone else to turn to. Anyone that she trusted anyway. He whispered an apology before clearing his throat, causing Roxie to look at him once more. He stated that he would always be there for her and that she was the mother of his children before reaching out his hand to take hers. She allowed him to hold her hand as it trembled with emotion, her lower lip mimicking the movement as she tried to keep her tears at bay.
He stated that whatever she chose to do that she had his help if she wanted it as he squeezed her hand lightly and Roxie's tears flowed down her cheeks uncontrollably at that point. He asked how she was feeling about it and she struggled to get a breath out as she shook her head. "At first...at first I wonder how the world could be so cruel, you know...I mean what are the fucking chances. I thought very very briefly about termination but it was a passing thought as guilt consumed me." Roxie placed her other hand over her mouth lightly as she tried to contain herself. Her shoulders shook for a few seconds before she took in a deep breath. "I know it's selfish of me...to bring you into this, I know this isn't your problem...I just, I don't have anyone in my life anymore. That asshole, my mother, my uncle...I can't tell Ricky any of this because I fear he's going to go open his big mouth to Gabe. And the kids...Syd, the kids..." Roxie looked up at him with hopelessness in her eyes. "They're already so damaged from all of this, from everything you and I have gone through...I don't know what to say to our babies. They already felt like I was replacing you in their lives and now...this baby, Matthew's baby...they are going to think I'm replacing them." Roxie fretted as she shook her head.
"God and this whole city is gonna have a fucking field day once I start getting big enough. I don't even want to know what Matthew's parents are going to think...they treated me as though I killed their son myself and now here I am pregnant with his bastard child. If they find out or if I chose to tell them...I could lose the baby, my reputation in this place could be enough for me to lose custody of the only thing I have left of him." Roxie turned her head down so that her ex could see her sob but the sound was too difficult to muffle. "The fact that he will never know...it's almost too much for me to bear." Roxie admitted, shaking her head once more before looking up to meet Syd's eyes. "I know you have so much on your plate already...and again I know it's selfish of me but...I need you. I need your help. I want to tell you that I am strong enough to do this alone but I'm not..."
with: Syd Pyroclast
(excuse me while I go cry myself to sleep lol)
Liam Callahan and Patience Davenport
Liam listened with deep interest as Silas corrected him on the subject he'd raised about homosexuality. From what he knew of George, from the man's own mouth or in passing from family members, the man had grown up in household and village of devout Catholics. Although the man going to prison had certainly been a contributing factor, it was mostly George's family rejecting him for his sexuality that had the biggest effect on the man's opinions on religion. As it stood, Lucas had made it very clear that George had no positive feelings towards the church and its teachings. As Silas now explained things to him, Liam wondered if hope wasn't lost. Maybe if he told George what he'd just heard from the priest, his uncle might find his way back to God knowing he was still welcome in the church. "Yeah, I think that makes sense," Liam answered the man, quickly nodding.
Silas elaborated, following Michael's question. Liam faintly smiled upon hearing it wasn't a sin to be gay. It made him feel much better about his loved ones who he had been worried about. "Finn and George are two of the kindest people I know, so I'm happy they can still go to Heaven. They can't create children, but they adopted some, so that's a really good thing to do, right? Making sure kids have a family and a home..." He smiled and glanced to Michael. "I'll tell Lucas this when we next hang out. Maybe then George will let him come here too."
Liam lowered his head when Silas spoke of his family and how they needed to surrender from the fight if they were to find peace and salvation. He looked back to Silas and slowly nodded his head. He didn't want them to be in danger, but he didn't feel like he had much of a voice on the matter. Whilst his mother was encouraging and seemed to respect his beliefs, he figured she was just doing it to be her usual kind self. Getting through to anyone else was an even bigger challenge than Sinead. "I don't know how I will get them to listen to me and take me seriously. Emmy thinks this is all dumb and some of my uncles wouldn't listen to me about this in a million years," he said of Conor and James.
Since Savannah had started working on various modelling jobs and attending auditions, Sinead had been looking after Callum most afternoons. Between him and Hattie, the redhead was loving spending time with her two little grandchildren. Even if Peter would have wanted it, her time to have more children of her own had ceased some years ago. Liam was still a kid himself but she still saw how quickly he was growing up. Thankfully, her grandchildren filled any void of not having children in her life before it had chance to form. She was always in her element when looking after children. Their sweetness and undisputable innocence kept the light shining brightly in her heart, especially when the darkness of her family's world threatened to darken her spirits and lure her into the despair and depression she'd suffered in her younger years.
Today was the fourth time Sinead had brought Callum with her to pick up Liam from the church. After parking her car across the street, she stepped out onto the pavement and helped her grandson out of the child seat in the back of the car. She then took the boy's hand in hers and safely walked him across the road to the churchyard. "Okay, mister. If you're Batman, then who am I?" Sinead playfully asked, continuing their conversation about how he was a superhero.
"Well. You're my grandma," Callum pointed out, pulling a puzzled face as he wondered why that would change.
"Ohhh, okay. So I'm Batman's grandma. I'm cool with that!"
"And I'm Batman," the boy simply confirmed. "Oh look!" he excitedly changed the subject as he let go of her hand and pointed towards one of the trees in the well maintained church garden which preceded the graveyard around the side of the old religious building. "Squirrel!"
Sinead followed the boy's gaze until seeing the grey critter scurrying up the tree. "That's right, and it's so adorable! You always spot them before I do. You're a really smart boy," she fondly told him. Seeing his focus shift to the church, she held his hand again and walked towards the entrance. "Liam won't be long, but remember, we need to use our quiet voices while we sit and wait inside."
"Okay... I won't wake Jesus," Callum seriously confirmed, drawing a humoured smile from Sinead. Once inside, she took a seat on the back pew and helped her grandson up to sit beside her. She observed the boy as he quietly looked around the church. He always seemed in awe on the old-fashioned interior and stained-glass windows. Despite all of the trouble going on between both sides of his family, the boy seemed to remain just as happy and inquisitive as always.
The brief tender moment of Aliana gently touching Conor's face where she had slapped him had soon taken another u-turn when he'd told her there was something else he needed to tell her. As often was the case lately, a good moment was ruined before they had chance to revel in it. As his wife approached him, she carried the box she'd brought in earlier, but given the circumstances, he felt it wasn't yet appropriate to ask what she had brought home with her.
Of course, she was shocked to learn he knew who was behind Matthew's death. When he'd had the photographs of the assailants lead straight back to Ricky, he couldn't just throw away his upper hand, not with the man's alliance with the Morettis being something he could use for his own family's gain. "Yeah, I guess I am a piece of work," he echoed her words. "It was Ricky. Little pissant was all upset Roxie was made boss over himself. The guy's got some serious kind of mental issues Maddox would have a field day with... Fact is, I saw an opportunity to use Ricky to get Jimbo home safely and I took it. I wanted to tell Roxie and Syd from the start, but Ricky would have been useless to us then. Now he's served a purpose, he's all Roxie's," Conor explained. "That's why he's not been to Dublin in a while - I've had him watched the whole time and made it clear he has to stay away until I tell him otherwise. I didn't want him anywhere near Roxie and the kids without her knowing the truth about her cousin."
The phone rang again and under other circumstances, he would have made the caller wait before allowing his conversation with Aliana to be interrupted. Given the situation with Cristina, he rushed to answer the call. He was relieved to hear his brother-in-law speaking to him, even if the other man was abrupt in his words. "Jimbo, I'm glad you--" he began. "Once the guys confirm your plan has taken off I'll--" Conor tightened his jaw as James spoke over him again, making it clear he had to get Cristina home without waiting for the aircraft to be in flight. "Alright," he relented, convinced James was under no duress and everything was going smoothly as intended. "I'll get on the phone now and make sure the girl gets back to her family," he confirmed.
Once the call ended, Conor look to Aliana. "Jimbo's getting on the plane," he confirmed. He then quickly dialed the number for the base in Queens and told the men to get Cristina back to the Morettis without delay. Afterwards, Conor returned to the sofa and sat beside Aliana. "The kid's going home," he quietly assured his wife. Despite his relief about everything going as smoothly as intended, there was nothing to celebrate. A fight had been coming for a long time, be it with the Morettis or the Kings, so he'd made the power movie of being the first to act. He was just thankful he'd been able to get all of his family, including James, Savannah and Callum back to Dublin before it was too late. The only exception was Michelle, and his grandkids, but Conor's eldest daughter had very firmly declined the idea of uprooting her life overseas for one she felt she'd never been a real part of.
Moretti Family Home ~ Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn, NYC ~
Gabriel Moretti and Valentina Wycliff
When the telephone started to ring, Gabriel had to rein in his natural instinct to take control by grabbing the receiver. Cristina was his granddaughter but the man sitting next to him was the child's father, which meant Teddy outranked him on this very rare occasion. He was surprised to hear the man addressing the girl directly, having expected the call to be made from one of Conor's piece of shit employees. He studied Teddy's face as the man asked a series of questions, trying to get some idea of the state the girl was in. Once the call ended, Teddy rushed out of his seat and out of the station, giving little in the way of explanation. Gabriel sent the Captain an acknowledging nod but didn't stick around, instead rushing off behind Teddy.
Cristina had done as her father had said, standing right beside the payphone as she waited for him to arrive. In that time, she'd stuffed the wallet she'd stolen down the front of a pinafore dress, for now feeling mixed about whether or not stealing would be okay under the circumstances or if she would get in trouble for it. Hearing her father's voice call out her name from a distance away, she couldn't help but smile despite her worry. She had been about to rush to meet him, but she stopped as she remembered it was dangerous to cross the road away from an official crossing. Teddy did so with ease, but that was because he was her father, capable of anything!
Teddy reached her and immediately picked up her to hold her in his arms. She tightly wrapped her arms around him and buried her face in his shoulder as held her close. "I missed you, Papa," she cried as he reassured her he was there. Whilst she may have only been gone for hours, Cristina knew enough about her family to know how dangerous it had been. No reassurance from her abductors that she would be okay had been enough, not when she was perceptive enough to understand how serious the situation had been. When Teddy began checking her for any physical signs of harm, she sniffled before quickly shaking her head. "My ribs ache because I tried to escape out of the window and the man pulled me back inside and then I tried making him let go of me, but I couldn't get free," she quickly explained, stopping to take a breath.
Gabriel was relieved Cristina wasn't visibly hurt and wasn't too upset to talk. Not that it made any difference to him. The act of abducting her to begin with was more than enough, regardless of whether or not she was physically harmed in the process. The journey home was a quiet one, with Gabriel sitting in the front passenger seat to allow Teddy to sit with Cristina and fight his own urge to likely overwhelm the child with questions. Gabriel had a lot of questions and was sure Cristina would have useful information for them, but he knew now was far from the appropriate time to be asking them.
When Francis asked what was going on, Valentina was rendered speechless. She was torn between believing Francis was mature enough to be told the truth and knowing he was still a child, so she didn't want to upset him. Elvian spoke before her and said they'd talk about it when Teddy got home, prompting Valentina to quickly nod in support of her mother's decision. Francis still persisted with the questions, asking where Cristina was. Valentina bit down on her lip as she tried to hardest to contain her emotions. Elvian quickly stepped in and ushered the boy away to help out in the kitchen. Valentina let out a sigh of relief when Francis was lead away to save her from having to explain whilst she was so upset herself.
Hearing the sound of a vehicle park up in the driveway, Valentina rushed to her feet to look out of the living room window. She saw Gabriel climb of of the front of the vehicle, but nobody else, which made her feel more anxious. She could soon breathe again when she saw Teddy and Cristina get out of the back of the car. She placed a hand to her chest and the other over her mouth as she struggled to contain the wave of emotions that overcame her. After a time of being frozen on the spot, Valentina snapped out of her shock and rushed out of the lounge to meet with the others. Once in the hallway, she saw Elvian with Gabriel, Teddy and Cristina. When her husband put the girl down, Valentina fell to her knees and outstretched her arms to catch her daughter as the girl approached to embrace her. Valentina held the girl tightly, placing a succession of kisses on top of her head. "Are you hurt, baby? I was so worried about you," she told Cristina. "I'm so glad you're home," she whispered, tears by now streaming down her cheeks.
Gabriel turned to Elvian and brought her into an embrace. "We're both okay, amore mio," he reassured his wife, placing a kiss on her lips. There were many things he could say in regards to having to let James Porter get away, but right now, the Irish were insignificant to him. He kept an arm around Elvian as Valentina's emotions filled the atmosphere around them. Seeing Francis nearby, he beckoned his grandson over and placed his free hand on the boy's shoulder, making sure the kid was okay.
Letting go of Cristina, Valentina reluctantly stood up and stepped away from her for the moment. She gave Gabriel a grateful smile before reaching Teddy. She reached out to give he husband a tight embrace, after a moment lifting her head to look up into his eyes. "Thank you for bringing our baby home," she told him. She then leaned in to kiss her husband. Though her eyes remained tearful, she was only feeling happiness and relief that her daughter was home in one piece. "What happened, Teddy? Did they hurt our baby?" she quietly asked, hoping to God they hadn't laid a finger on her daughter.
"Papa..." Cristina began, looking up to her parents. "I know it's bad, but one of the men dropped this without knowing, so I took it," she admitted, reaching up to hand Teddy the black leather wallet. "I didn't want to give it to the police in case they told me off for stealing, but it has the man's name and things on some of those cards. I never saw their faces..." she explained.
"But you managed to get his name," Valentina added, looking curiously between Gabriel and Teddy. She for one wasn't going to berate her daughter for taking the wallet. This was a good move by Cristina, all things considered.
Not unexpectedly, Harper looked like she was ready to explode with frustration. Although Billy suspected it was mostly for their uncle, he also suspected that between himself and Jeremy, the latter would most likely be the one she took her anger out on. So, he stood strategically between them while they waited for Jeremy’s answer.
The man pushed himself off the doorframe and straightened up to his full height. Billy missed the slight colour on Jeremy’s cheeks, but he caught the challenging look in his eyes when he set them on his sister. Before he had time to wonder what he was up to, the man hooked his ankle around Billy’s and swept him backwards, sending him falling onto his back - thankfully, the couch was right behind him to break his fall, otherwise he might not have seen the funny side.
As it happened, however, the man’s delivery came across as purely playful to Billy and so he settled back on the sofa, watching as he tackled Harper, pinning her in place. “Get him, sis’!” he called out from the side-lines. “Stamp on his foot!”
Having received plenty of training from Jeremy and his brothers when he was younger, Billy knew how strong a fighter Jeremy was. In fact, much of what he had been teaching Harper he had learned from him. Yet, he still watched her with faith that she could take him, so he was waiting for her to pull a trick on him. Instead, Jeremy sent her falling to the floor as he had him just a few moments ago - except there would be no soft landing for her.
“OI!” Billy yelled, jumping to his feet as he anticipated Harper smacking her head on the hard kitchen floor. But then Jeremy caught her, holding her suspended over the tiles. Suddenly they looked like a romantic pairing from one of those old Hollywood musicals, ready to mark the end of a dance sequence with a kiss. Billy screwed up his face at the sight.
Thankfully Jeremy only lifted her back onto her feet, concluding that their time together would be spent training instead of just Jeremy watching her back. Billy thought he would be glad to hear this, but after seeing the man handle his sister, he wasn’t so sure. It wasn’t that he didn’t trust the man’s abilities, but when it came to Harper, it was different...seeing him almost drop her on the hard floor had triggered his protective side and the unexpected tension in the way he had caught her and held her only made him feel less certain. Hearing him refer to her as family reassured him somewhat, but it apparently did nothing to make Harper feel better.
He was only mildly surprised to see her stamp her foot into the ground; although it made her look like a petulant child, he could tell she was genuinely upset. This wasn’t a new thing, either - Billy knew she had always felt belittled by the men around her, sorely outnumbered, underestimated, left out and under their control. He had tried to make it better by listening to her frustrations and keeping a close relationship with her, and of course training with her without Bruce or anyone else knowing - but at the end of day, he couldn’t change the fact that he was just another man.
Until Harper had first brought it up, Billy had never really considered that it wasn’t fair for Bruce to not let her in on the family business. Some of the people they dealt with were dangerous, as were some of the jobs they went out on, so Billy had always been glad that Harper wasn’t involved. He loved all his family deeply, of course, but he couldn’t help but see his little sister as special - if even the slightest bit of harm came to her, it would affect him more than if it had been anyone else. However, despite this, she had managed recently to make him see that it wasn’t fair. Even if he was all for keeping her safe, he had heard everything from her about how she wasn’t happy being treated differently, and that’s why he had started training her.
He didn’t stop her from ranting at Jeremy, believing her frustration was well-founded. When she spoke up in defense of his sexuality and threatened to get rid of Jeremy if he ever spilled his secret, Billy looked down with a small smile, a slight blush returning to his cheeks. If she was ready to protect him, then of course he was ready to protect her in return. Already, Billy had come up with a plan to help her get her independence back but he couldn’t discuss it with her while Jeremy was there.
“Look, no offence, mate, but I don’t think you really need to be here,” Billy suggested, once again uncomfortable by what Jeremy had just learned about him. “Watch the house from a distance if you have to, but me and Harper are just hangin’ out tonight, okay? The training can wait. Besides, I won’t let nothin’ happen.” Although he had initially just come over to apologise and confide in her his heavy secret, he would at least let Jeremy believe that he had come to stay the night. “In fact, tell my uncle that you don’t need to be on duty if Harper’s already with one of us. I don’t need protecting too, you know.” Billy held his eyes on Jeremy for a moment before glancing Harper’s way. He couldn’t be too explicit about his plan with Jeremy there, but he had a feeling Harper would be grateful if he would let her off the leash by pretending to be with her and instead dropping her off somewhere so she could go out without being watched the whole time.
The whole scene had lasted less then ten minutes, but watching Harper felt like it stretched to eternity for one brief second, then it was gone, when Billy brought his attention back around. Harper stomped her foot, and Jeremy had to fight the urge to stomp one back at her, establishing dominancy with a bigger stomp. Like a porcelain mask his expression remained aloof, but under every still body of water, a good fisherman knew a current strong enough to move earth flowed, and Jeremy was an ever calm lake.
"Look, both of ya. We all have known each other long enough to know that I aint gonna go against orders from your family. I also know that Billy would kill for you Harper, and vice versa, Billy. Work may have kept me busy here lately, but that don't change you or me that much." Jeremy looked around the room assessing the security of it. It seemed alright, for the most part. Windows were locked from what he could see, and she wasn't ground floor so that helped as well. Still, Bruce had been clear what he was to do, and where he was suppose to be. Rubbing the scruff of the day along his chin, he cocked his head a bit, thinking. "I don't agree that Harper needs a babysitter either. Still, this is my post and it's where I'll be. I'll get the apartment across the hall if that's what it takes. I wont let any harm come to you..." For the briefest of seconds, Jeremy almost slipped, before pushing on like he hadn't. "both."
"Harper, I will do my best not to be a pain in your arse, but you might as well get use to me as I'm going to be with ya night and day. I don't do it to annoy you, but because of my loyalty and commitment to this family, and because I've," Swallow. "been all of your friends a long time. I'm sorry this pisses you off, but you just need to go ahead and find a way to accept it. Even fully trained, you couldn't defend yourself if several men my size decided to come at you alone, or with your civilian friends. No bloke off the street is going to shoot a man dead because he attacked you, they ain't trained like we are. So no, I'll not be leaving, I'll not be more then ear shot away. Your brothers are of course an exception-" He paused, and at this time, the calmness broke to a mildly intense, prying look directly on Billy, like he had his metaphorical thumb on his head, applying pressure, "But also know if one of them help you, say, slip the noose... Bruce will have to know."
Did he like that he had to make sure they both knew he'd protect her from even her brothers - albeit good but mislead - intentions? Not in the slightest. In fact a frown formed on his face with a look of distaste. Bruce had given him an assignment, it must have been for a reason, and he wasn't about failing. Billy was always a sweet kid, and he'd do anything for his sister - but there in lied the problem. Jeremy didn't disagree with the way things were looking with the Irish that anyone of import should be without a body guard - that meant the men too. Jeremy was dispensable - a soldier there to protect the front lines. Billy, Harper, Alex, Spencer, they were the future of the family, and Jeremy couldn't just let them make sweeet but dumb choices for each other.
"In the mean time, I will let ya finish ya night in peace, I'll just post up outside. Don't look at me like that, either of you." He shoved his hands in his pockets and shrugging, his normal look returned. "You want me called off, you better reach out to Bruce." He turned, ready to open the door. Pausing, he turned back around. Suddenly, he scooped Harper into a hug with one arm and held the other open for Billy. If he came, he'd hug them both, squeezing playfully hard, and ruffle their hair. "Despite you being mad at me, I have miss you two little shits." He laughed, and left then, perching up on a chair he borrowed from down the hall. He'd return it later.
~Harmony Ryu & Quadir Taylor (Final Scene)~New York City, New York | Brooklyn Heights, Moretti Family Home
Despite the brief bout of an anxiety attack and the L.A Gangland Flashbacks that overtook her mind, it wasn't long until Harmony regained her senses. From time to time, her post-trauma stemming from her Brother's death would break out and overwhelm her. Even though she has moved on, it was still in the back of her mind and would likely continue to haunt her for the rest of her life, especially since she had kept a lot of secrets from their parents...and their Father died not knowing the sins of his Son. Granted it was for the best. Her Mother was living out a quiet retirement, unaware of her connection to the most powerful mafia family in New York. That was probably for the best too. Nonetheless, when Don Moretti had assigned her to protecting the Wycliff Family, she did see it as a chance to make up for what she saw as her failure to protect her Brother.
After about another couple of minutes, Harmony fully calmed down and that head-splitting migraine was gone. The only thing that was left was Cristina's safe return. Why would anyone want to target and hurt a little girl who has done nothing wrong. Her Family's crimes were not her own. But after today, Harmony silently promised that she would do better to keep Cristina, Francis and Paolo safe. And if anyone were to ever do so much as lay a finger on them...all bets would be off and Harmony would spill blood to ensure the children's safety. However, it did make her shutter a little as she thought about violently dealing with those who would harm the three Wycliff Children...especially if they had witnessed her do so. She frowned as she thought about what Cristina would think of her if the poor young lady had to witness her beat someone up. Soon her mind cleared once more when the front door opened, and both Francis and Paolo entered through the door with the Bodyguards who had been sent to bring them home. It was a relief to see them again, safe and sound. She proceeded to chuckle when Paolo expressed gratitude about being allowed to get out of school early. It was adorable.
From after he had helped Harmony calm down to the Wycliff boys coming back home, Quadir had kept his attention on Rocco, the family dog, playing with him as a way to cope with the tension that riddled the home. The dog seemed rather content with the pets that the bigger gentleman had granted him. Soon, little Paolo greeted him, which prompted him to smile a little. "Hey Paolo!" He smiled. "Yeah, Rocco's the best."
When the boy asked if he had a dog, he shook his head. "Nah. I don't have a dog right now. I work too much, so I won't be home enough to play with them if I did." He answered.
Soon, the nightmare plaguing the Moretti Family would come to an end. Teddy, Cristina and Gabriel would soon return. From the looks of it, Cristina was completely unharmed. Harmony was overall relieved to see that she was safe. As she wiped her eyes to get rid of the tears, she stayed a few feet behind Val. Although she was eager to go back to performing her duties as a Bodyguard, she also wanted to give Val some space as she had been very eager to see her Daughter again. Both her and Quadir however, did give each other uneasy looks when Cristina gave Teddy a wallet that Cristina had grabbed and informing them that it belonged to one of the men that had kidnapped her dropped it. Interactions: Valentina Wycliff, Gabriel Moretti, Cristina Wycliff, Paolo Wycliff, Francis Wycliff Misty Gray
| Elvian Moretti, Theodore Wycliff Melanin-Gxdess
Moretti Family Home ~Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn NYC~
Elvian Moretti & Theodore 'Teddy' Wycliff
Seeing the way Valentina reacted to seeing Cristina broke his heart. The worry was clear as day on her face and he just knew she was just as frantic - if not more - as he was. He clenched and unclenched his hand several times trying to calm the rage that was boiling in his body. Teddy had prided himself on being a fairly sound man, not one to react before thinking things through thoroughly but it was proving to be difficult. He wanted to leave his wife and mother-in-law to tend to his children while he and Gabriel set out to retaliate again the Sullivans. However, he reminded himself that his family came first and he needed to make sure Cristina was okay. Valentina made her way towards him and he embraced her tightly. He kissed the side of her head and stroked the back of her hair before releasing the breath he hadn't realized he was holding. She thanked him for bringing Cristina home, to which he shook his head. "No, you don't have to do that. She's our little girl. I would go to the ends of the Earth for our children and for you," he whispered.
Before Teddy could respond to Valentina's question, Cristina approached them. He pulled away from his wife to kneel down to Cristina's level, a small smile on his lips. There was a black leather wallet in her hand and Teddy curiously took it from her. He scanned its contents while listening to her speak and when she informed them of where she got it, he couldn't help but smile even wider. His daughter was a lot smarter than he gave her credit for - no doubt something she inherited from her mother. Teddy reached out to her and picked her up once more, showering her in kisses before he locked eyes with her. "You're a very smart girl, you know that? Stealing is bad, but in some cases like this it is very good, princess." He gave her one last kiss before placing her back down on the ground.
Francis was still confused as to what was happening, but clearly, it had something to do with his sister. He stood quietly in between his grandparents as Elvian gave Gabriel's cheek a loving pat. Watching his parents fawn and worry over Cristina worried him. What could have happened to her that she needed all this extra attention? And she was being praised for stealing some guy's wallet! It only added to his confusion but the tension in the air made him hold back any questions he had. His father's voice snapped him back to reality. "Francis, why don't you take your sister and find Paolo?" Francis stared at the ground, a slight frown on his face. "...He's playing with Rocco." He stated before looking between his mother and father. "What's going on? Why's everyone acting so weird?" Teddy froze, unsure of how to answer his question. Of course, he was confused, why wouldn't he be? But how was he going explain what happened without scaring him?
"Why don't the three of us go finish that lemonade, hm?" Elvian chimed in, looking down at him. Francis shook his head, reluctant to be distracted any longer. "No, I want to know what's going on. I'm ten years old; you can't keep hiding things from me." For a second neither Teddy nor Elvian knew what to say. She just looked back at Teddy and subtly shook her head, which he took to mean the boy wasn't going to just forget about it. Teddy walked towards Francis with a heavy sigh and placed his hands on his shoulders, kneeling down again. "Some very bad people took your sister today. Your bunicul and I did everything to get her back safely and look," he said, nodding his head over towards Cristina, "She's back all safe and sound." Francis followed Teddy's gaze, scratching his head as everything slowly fell to place in his head. "Now, I need you to be a brave big brother and take care of her, yeah?" Francis paused for a moment trying to let everything sink in, worrying Teddy for just a moment. He then nodded his head and walked towards Cristina, grabbing her hand. "Let's go see Paolo. He missed you today."
Teddy let out a sigh of relief before standing up again. Once the children were out of earshot, he turned to the other adults in the room, specifically Gabriel. "If it's all the same to you," he said, that anger and disdain present in his voice again, "I'd like to start on our plans for retaliation TODAY. Conor Sullivan and the rest of those Irish fucks will not get away for touching my daughter." He lifted the wallet up, giving it a slight shake in the air. "Starting with this bastard right here."
Leo raised a playful hand to Thomas, nearly about to touch his shoulder again when he remembered how he reacted to it the first time. Instead, he rubbed the back of his head letting out an amused chuckle. "Yeah, me neither. I mean, sure I'm still young but the idea of ever sticking with one person never really crossed my mind." He paused for a moment, before shaking his head. "My parents are a pretty good example - shit all of our parents are - of couples being together for so long but-," he shrugged his shoulders. "I don't know." Leo wasn't sure where his previous hesitation of staying committed to one person came from, but he was happy that it was Natasha who had made him reconsider. "And for the record, I was not always slow in picking up the signs, okay? Some of those I ignored on purpose." He said matter-of-factly, though it was most definitely a lie. Leo was definitely slow on the pick-up when it came to the women of his past and that didn't change when he got older. There were times he wasn't aware he was being flirted with until later in the day or that a girl wanted his attention until they finally came out and said. Though, now that he thought about it, maybe that was another reason why he liked Natasha so much. She wasn't afraid to share things with Leo or just be honest with him. He was sure it was because they had grown up together and she was the only person who truly could, but the fact remained. Natasha wasn't like the other girls he dated just to date and the thought of it made him smile to himself. He made a mental note to call her as soon as he got home to not only tell her how great she was but to take her out on another date soon.
Despite Aliana's reassurances that he didn't have to take over right away, Leo was very much adamant about doing so. He had always looked up to his father, even when he ended up in prison. Most kids would be upset with their fathers for missing a good portion of their lives but Leo was not one of them. If he was upset with either one of them it was his mother for acting the way she did when he was locked up and everything that transpired the first few months when he was released. But he didn't want to take over as a 'Fuck you' to Ali. He wanted Conor to be proud of the man he had become and wanted him to trust him. It wasn't registering with him that he probably did trust him and was proud and every time he was told so it would go in one ear and out the other. Leo still felt like he hadn't done anything to warrant either one and until he did, it would never register properly.
"Pfft," Leo scoffed raising his eyebrows at him. "Rhiannon is my younger sister and scares the living shit out of me when she's in one of her moods. There's something in this family that makes the women vicious," he joked. With his mug refilled he raised it to his lips to drink from as Thomas responded to his question about any women in his life. He filled him in on how she was a barmaid at the pub and her name was Elena, the name tickling his brain as if it sounded familiar to him. The moment he said she was living with him he choked on his beer, spitting some back into his mug. "Y- What?" He narrowed his eyes at him in confusion before they grew wide with realization at what he said. Just as he was about to make another comment Thomas raised his hand to cut him off. It wasn't until he gave the rundown of her previous living situation that he nodded in understanding, taking a deep breath. "Well, never thought I'd see you as the white knight. I'm assuming this is a secret from Aunt Lucy, right? Everyone really? You have to tell me now otherwise we both know I'll blab." He let out a playful laugh, though he would never go around telling Thomas' business. He was just teasing his cousin.
"Seriously though, it's admirable what you're doing. Most people would've just turned her away but you, my good man, are a saint." He nodded at him, making sure he could tell he was being genuine. Leo wasn't sure if he would've let a stranger stay with him, seeing as the last time his family let a stranger stay in their home they turned out to be a traitor. But seeing as she also worked at the pub, perhaps she was okay. "A visit? Oh, please bring me along. I haven't been in a good fight for months now, and I'm absolutely itching," he stated. For a moment he let the quiet settle between the two of them before he broke it again. "Thomas, I'm glad we did this." He turned to him with a playful smile on his face, eyebrows raised. "Now we can go on double dates, take our girlfriends for walks, and eventually go shopping!"
Syd watched the tears flow down Roxie's face as he sat beside her, their hands entwined. Although the circumstances were completely different, the conversation they were having paralleled their own history of getting pregnant as a couple, strongly enough for those 13 years since their break up to suddenly feel like they never happened. He felt like they had aged 13 years overnight. The feel of her hand in his was still so familiar yet he couldn't remember the last time they had even touched each other. Roxie had matured, but still looked as beautiful as ever.
All in all, Syd was glad he had managed not to overreact as it turned out Roxie's feelings were mostly negative. He hated to hear that she had thought about terminating the pregnancy but knew that the whole thing must have come as a heart-breaking shock at first...what he didn't quite understand was that what had changed her mind wasn't a different perspective about carrying Matthew's child, but rather the guilt she would feel if she aborted it. He felt compelled to help her see how the baby could be a blessing, but first he let her get her feelings out in the open.
Syd frowned when Roxie suggested that it was selfish of her to ask for his help; she made it sound like she was an inconvenience to him, which she wasn't in the slightest and never had been. It was clear she was feeling alone, and not just in the way that grief could make a person feel isolated; she didn't believe she had anyone else to turn to, and since Syd was fairly sure, given their history, she wouldn't confide in him unless it was absolutely necessary or a last resort, that she must be feeling desperate.
She brought up the kids, how the news of her pregnancy would likely make them feel replaced, like how they had felt she was replacing Syd with Matthew. All the while she was voicing her concerns, Syd was trying to find a gap in which he could speak up and reassure her, but his mind wasn't going as fast as hers and he couldn't figure out what to say in time. Instead he just held her hand and stroked it tenderly as he listened.
The whole thing went further than just her grief, it turned out; not only would it affect the kids, but Roxie had just stepped into a high position in the family business. It was already a controversial move with her being a woman and with Ricky on her case for accepting the role he believed he was entitled to, but now with a baby on the way and without the baby's father to help her take care of it, people would undoubtedly challenge her further. Then, of course, there was the issue of Matthew's parents. Syd had never met them, but if they were anything as upstanding as the man himself then he would be afraid of their reaction, too. He squeezed her hand when she fretted about losing custody of the baby if his parents made some sort of case against her. Even though they had only recently reconciled and he still wasn't exactly sure what she thought of him, it still hurt to see Roxie in so much pain. She had never stopped meaning a lot to him even while they hadn't been on good terms and sitting with her as she cried made him realise just how deeply he cared. Still, he didn't expect to hear her admit that she needed him, as she expressed regret for not being strong enough to deal with it on her own.
"You don't have to be," he reassured her, placing a gentle hand on her back as he returned her gaze. "Anyone would be insane to try and handle everything you're going through alone...and you know...your safety and well-being is a priority in my life." His brows furrowed slightly, never having thought he would hear himself admit to such a thing. "I'll help you deal with this. With J.J. and the girls, I think the way I handle the news will influence their own response, seeing as it's...Matthew's baby and all. So if they see me showing support, maybe that'll help them come around. And you never know, they might support the idea anyway. They do love you, you know.
“Listen, I’m not trying to invalidate your concerns, but everything you’ve just told me is a prediction,” he pointed out. It was something he often did himself - mistaking concerns for facts, assuming the worst, letting himself fall deeper and deeper into despair before he had time to think of any alternative perspectives. The only way out, for him at least, was to have someone else there to point him in a different direction. “You think you know how everyone’s gonna react - the kids, the Moores, your family, business associates - but right now, it’s only in your head. People will find out eventually, whether you tell them yourself or not, but that doesn’t mean you’ll have to lose control of the situation. You know, Roxie, only the strongest kind of woman gets to where you are now, and that’s ‘cause people like you know how to stand their ground. You know how to fight for what you want, how to deny expectations, how to keep going when the odds are against you. If anyone tries to get in your way, they’re gonna have a hard fucking time.” He showed her a small smile and stroked her back. “We can afford the best child custody lawyers in the country,” he added. “So no one is going to take your baby, your job, your reputation away from you. You’ll have me and my family standing by you the whole time, and we won’t let that happen. I promise.”
With how abruptly Syd had left, Shinoa wasn't exactly the most thrilled. Given that he was well over twenty years older then her, he was surprisingly very childish, or at least in her eyes, he kinda was. How he was before they had met, she didn't know. She's only known him for a little over a month and during the few days she ended up staying at his house before moving in with Finn and George, he was almost always giving her the cold shoulder and was always very rude towards her, so it certainly annoyed the young mother that he had the audacity to ask if he could hold her newborn. While her opinion of him was very much negative, Shinoa did hope that it would change later over time for her Mother's sake, as it would likely kill her to see her children fighting with each other. But given how many kids she had before Shinoa herself was adopted, it was probably something that she was used to. When he stared her down, she stared back with a blank face. Once his back was turned though and he began walking away, she rolled her eyes before going with Tom and Lucy into Sully's.
Next, Shinoa was taken aback by how much of a gentleman Tom was, holding the door open for her and Lucy...and...asking to carry her baby bag for her? That was a first. "Oh no, I got it. Thank you." She smiled at him as they continued making their way in.
Such a lovely young man, she thought. The young mother was even more surprised when he pulled up a high chair and it firmly held the carrier that little Lillian was in. She proceeded to sit next to Lucy as that was where she felt more comfortable. Even though Tom was kind, he was still a stranger and she had yet to even think about trusting him. When he handed her two flowers, she giggled a little. "Well, I don't think Lillian can have it yet. She may try to eat it, but thank you." She said before putting the flowers above Lillian to where she couldn't see them. Speaking of, the little infant seemed very content with the fact that everyone was in her view. She simply smiled and let out her baby laugh before continuing to look around at everyone curiously. Her train of thought was then disrupted when Tom mentioned that no one in the family really looked alike and tried not to laugh when he said that, between their looks, both she and Lucy outdid Syd by a mile. "Flatterer." She chuckled as she began looking at the menu for something to eat.
As the conversation continued, Lucy commented that most of her children were adopted and that she only had one son who resembled his Father. Shinoa had yet to meet him and wondered if she ever would. When Lillian moaned, Shinoa set her menu down to give the attention to the weeks-old infant probably wanted. The young mother proceeded to unbuckle her from her carrier and pick her out of it, allowing the infant to rest in her arms. "C'mon sweetie, I know you probably want some love from Grandma, maybe meet Tom?" She smiled as the Infant smiled back before looking over at her adoptive Grandmother and reaching out towards the older woman. Interactions: Lucy Porter Bella:D
| Thomas Thatcher BasDorcha
Conor couldn't help but feel tense over the last week. Although Cristina had made it home safely and James had made it back to Dublin in one piece, it didn't make him feel any better about the line he'd had to cross to ensure his brother-in-law survived. Whilst he was sure Lucy and the rest of the Porter bunch were grateful to have James home, he figured they'd still be unhappy that he'd involved a child in his plans. Just like Aliana was. Although Conor had been sleeping in the same bed as her, he couldn't help but feel concerned he'd now created a distance between them. As for Rhiannon and Sydney, he'd been his usual self around them. Playful and loving towards his two special daughters. However, in the back of his mind, he felt like a fraud; that he didn't deserve to be around them after what he'd done.
After he'd had Cristina abducted, Conor knew there was a high likelihood of the Morettis retaliating. As such, he'd put more security on his businesses and warned his family to stay on high alert, especially where their children were concerned. He had also turned his attentions to his own employees and seeking to find out which, if any, couldn't be trusted. Considering the fact Ricky had been willing to put out a hit on his own cousin, it made Conor question how many of his employees he could really trust. He had Syd looking into some of them, including the newcomer, Tom. He'd also tasked Adam with doing the same, looking into the likes of Elena. Although the young Cuban woman seemed sweet, Conor couldn't deny that finding out she'd moved in with Thomas raised both his suspicions and his cautiousness.
The last few days had been hectic, but Conor had finally managed to arrange a meeting with Roxie. It was a conversation he hadn't been looking forward to, but he no longer had any reason to hold back the truth from her. He'd assured Ricky that everything was fine; that his help in getting Moretiti to arrange for James' release had been enough to buy his silence. But that was a lie. Conor had no intention of keeping the man's secret any longer. He'd lied to Ricky to make sure the man didn't do a runner or anything else drastic. However, when it came down to it, Roxie deserved to know the truth, for her own safety and that of her children.
Conor sat in his home office he waited for Roxie to arrive for their meeting. He'd instructed his security guards to bring her to his office when she arrived. When she did get to his office, he invited her inside and offered her a seat on one couch whilst he sat on the one opposite. On the coffee table that stood between them, there was an assortment of alcoholic beverages, along with a jug of water as the non-alcoholic option. "Help yourself to a drink," he offered her. He studied the woman for a moment as he tried to determine what kind of mood she was in, and how likely it was to change over the course of the conversation. "How are things going? Are the kids alright?" he enquired. He then glanced to the clock. "Syd will be joining us a bit later, but we can get started in the meantime. As you know, contracts have been signed and the Sullivans are now officially out of New York. Last bit of Queens has been handed over to Moretti. That shouldn't affect my business with you, Roxie, but do you have any concerns?" he asked her.
The Sullivans Pub ~ Dublin City Centre, Dublin ~
Although his evening with Blake the previous week had ended on a positive note as far as still being friends was concerned, Adam couldn't deny that it had left him feeling quite disheartened once he was back home in his own company. Despite having many people he cared greatly for as friends and family-like figures, this was a whole new ballgame for him. It would be reasonable to suggest Adam had slept with more women than anyone he knew, perhaps even combined. The bigger surprise was that out of all of the sexual partners, be it one-night stands or short-term girlfriends, he'd never loved any of them. He'd never got to a stage anywhere near the one he was currently at with his feelings for Blake. It was new territory for him, but despite that, he made a conscious decision that he would play down his feelings in order to give Blake time to come to her own decision without feeling pressured or guilted into a relationship. She was worth fighting for, but he respected her too much to do anything that would upset her or make her feel uncomfortable whilst she was still figuring out how and when she could move on from Jackson.
Despite giving each other space and not seeing each other for a week, Adam and Blake had keep briefly in touch. Just enough to check in but without rushing into a deep conversation. He'd told Blake to take some time to decide what she wanted, so he wasn't going to rush her so soon. Thankfully, the last few days had been busy enough that Adam hadn't found himself at home long enough to overthink his personal life. Following James' release, Conor had made it clear that the partnership with the Morettis had been completely severed and to a level where Adam anticipated the reemergence of tensions reminiscent of the war in New York.
Adam had initially taken steps to increase and tighten security, including putting himself forward for some late shifts protecting the biggest assets. However, the last few days Conor had taken him away from protecting against external threats and instead assigned him to focusing his attentions on potential internal threats. Although he was completely in the dark about Ricky's betrayal, Adam suspected either someone Conor had trusted had crossed him or the man was just being justifiably cautious. For the last few days, Adam had been taking stock of those associated with the mob and doing as many background checks as he could. That didn't just cover active gang members, but also extended to those employed on a neutral capacity. Be it Tom the mechanic, who Syd was taking responsibility for, or a barmaid employed in one of the pubs. That's where Adam now found himself - on his way to The Sullivans Pub to suss out the newest barmaid; one who had certainly caught his attention over recent weeks.
Red flags had been signalled the moment Adam found out Elena had moved in with Thomas, and the man was certain his suspicions would have been raised without Conor's sudden tightening of security. The more he thought about it, the more all of the things that didn't add up began to override the very positive impression he'd had of the young woman at the start. Why would ahe travel from Cuba to Dublin without any family or friends? Not to mention to end up staying in some sleazy hotel before shacking up with Thomas, who was in some ways unstable at present. Whilst he was very grateful to her for saving his life, the act could very easily have been an inspired idea by Elena to gain the trust of a senior member of the mob. Nothing was too crazy, not when Maddox Parker had spent years gaining the mob's trust in a slow, meticulous plan to get revenge. Then the family had been fooled by the fragile, young Kerry Patrick, which led Jackson and others into a trap where they were then killed. If Elena was working for the enemy, she would know what she was doing and she'd work hard to gain the mob's trust. Not to mention the barmaid had medical skills that far exceeded basic first aid. There were a lot of reasons she could be a threat and now she was living with Thomas, Adam knew it needed addressing before it was too late. As sweet as she seemed, Adam knew he couldn't let it distract him. He'd met some great actresses over the years.
Adam casually entered the pub, greeting the bouncer and the odd familiar customer. The evening was only getting started, so the place was relatively quiet for the time-being, which meant it wouldn't be a big ask to take Elena away from her bar work for a short while. Martin was the first to greet Adam. "Are you good to cover whilst I speak with Elena?" Adam asked the barman. After a secretly curious Martin agreed, Adam ordered himself a whiskey. "And whatever Elena's drinking," he said, loud enough for the young woman in question to hear. Adam then focused his attention directly to Elena, sending her a friendly smile. "Elena, I need you to follow me to the office, for a chat - a conversation," he clarified to her. Taking both of their drinks from Martin, Adam led her to the private office away from any customers. He handed Elena her drink so he could unlock the office door and then invited her to enter the room before him. "Take a seat, Elena," he neutrally told her.
Adam closed the door and took a small sip of his alcohol before rounded the desk to sit opposite the young woman. "How are you doing?" he asked her. Despite the genuine question, it was likely she would detect he wasn't being his usually friendly and natural self with her. Whilst a part of him hoped she had an innocent reason for everything, there were too many warning signs as it stood. So despite her seemingly sweet nature and harmless appearance, he had to approach the situation the same way he would to anyone else he was suspicious of.
"I want to say I'm grateful to you for saving my life the other week, regardless of why you might have done it," he assured her. "But I can't ignore the fact that there's things that don't add up," he told her. He sat back in his seat but the way he hung his arm across the back of the chair and utilised the space around him would reflect his authority over her. "I heard about you moving in with Thomas, which is pretty fast, right?" he remarked, now shifting to sit forward and interlocking his fingers, resting his hands on the desk. "Before that, you were living around here in some shitty hotel... What I want to know is why a young woman would travel alone all the way from Cuba to dreary Dublin without any family or friends. Without proper living arrangements. And to work in a pub... this pub." Adam raised a curious eyebrow. "Can you answer that, Elena?" he asked her, wanting to not only hear the explanation but to try and read her body language.
The Royal Taphouse ~ Bethnal Green, East London ~
With Shona due to give birth anytime now, Spencer had started to feel a mixture of excitement and apprehension about becoming a father. He'd done a lot to help look after his siblings back when they were children and he took an active role in helping to look after Callum now. This was different, though. This was going to be his own child and that meant he was completely responsible for them. Anything that happened in the kid's life would be all down to him. He couldn't blame Trevor or the Sullivans for anything when it was his own child. Spencer just hoped he hadn't inherited any kind of genes from his own father that would make him a useless and altogether shit dad. He wanted only the best for his kid and he hoped he would be capable when put into practice. For now, Spencer was getting through as much work as he could so that he could take some time away once the baby was born. He wanted to make sure Bruce and the others weren't tying up his loose ends during his down time. Spencer wanted to be able to focus on his child and making sure Shona had all of the help she needed.
Despite the due date rapidly approaching, Spencer knew work was only going to blow up until then. He'd been made aware of the Sullivans abducting Gabriel's granddaughter and he knew in that moment the Italians wouldn't waste time retaliating. The Morettis had made plans to attack the Irish on their own soil, with Tatiana and Damian being drafted in to make the trip to Dublin with some other London-based Moretti employees. Gabriel had made the Kings aware of his plan but had no expectations for them to assist with it, which was fine by Bruce and Spencer. Although they understood the need for retaliation and to attack the Sullivans in a similar fashion, the Kings weren't going to take part in the attack, especially not if kids could be involved. Still, Spencer had put in a firm reminder not to involve Callum in any of their plans, to which the Morettis had assured them the boy would be kept out of it and protected where appropriate.
After a day of meetings in the pharmaceutical company, Spencer was already dressed up in a suit and tie when he made his way to The Royal Taphouse for his next meeting. This one was related to the other side of the Kings' business - the shadier side. Jocelyn had been intended to meet with him to discuss their alcohol supply contract last week, but she hadn't shown up to the meeting. However, Spencer's irritation at being let down was soon washed away when Tatiana filled him in on what she knew about the attack on Jocelyn. Whilst he hadn't been sure about rushing her into anything, he had offered to meet with Jocelyn again to go over the potential of increasing the alcohol orders. Along with that, he was keen to try get more information out of her about the attack. If there was some way he could find out who had attacked her, he would do everything he could to make sure those responsible wouldn't walk again, if he decided the deserved to keep breathing at all.
The pub was relatively quiet on an afternoon, but still had a few regular customers inside. Spencer hoped it would be the right balance for his meeting with Jocelyn; an open public space where she wouldn't feel backed into a corner, but at the same time not too many people to make it overwhelming. Spencer had reserved a corner of the pub where he could have his meeting with Jocelyn out of the earshot of anyone else. As he occupied a corner booth, he went through some paperwork from his morning meetings, to pass the time until Jocelyn was due to arrive. He'd arranged for one of his female bar staff, Sarah, to pick Jocelyn up and drive her to the pub for the meeting, so he was sure the woman would make it safely to the meeting this time around.
Sinead had been enjoyed her afternoons recently. With the music shop fully staffed, she was able to take more time away from work to look after Callum whilst Savannah focused on building her career in her Dublin. Callum seemed to enjoy spending time with Grandma too, and he was always excited about going to the church to get Liam. Today was different as Savannah didn't have to be in the studio, so was able to stay at home with Callum. Still, Sinead had headed over to her eldest daughter's house that afternoon to catch up with her. The visit hadn't been as happy as the redhead expected, with Savannah seeming distracted and unhappy. Sinead eventually managed to get the truth out of Savannah once Callum had gone upstairs for a nap.
"These are adorable," Sinead gushed as she stood at the kitchen counter looking at Callum's drawings Savannah had handed to her. Though the child was young and still developing drawing skills, she could easily make out that there were people and buildings in the pictures. "And how many of these are of Batman?" Sinead playfully asked.
"I wish..." Savannah remarked, letting out a deep sigh. "Everyone in those pictures is one of the Kings. One of the pictures is Alex's house and another is London Bridge... He'd rather be in London than here," she explained, wiping her tearful eyes with the back of her hand.
"Oh, no he wouldn't," Sinead softly told her, wrapping her arm around Savannah to reassure her. "Callum is young and he doesn't understand just how much distance there is from here to London. Sure, he might say he wants to be in London, but he thinks it's just a quick drive away. I bet if he were in London with Alex, he'd want to be back here with you. He loves both of his families, Savvy," she told her, placing a kiss on her cheek.
"But he says it a lot... that he misses the Kings. And he gets upset that he can't hang out with Alex or watch the football with Spencer. It hurts to hear it so much, but even worse, it breaks my heart to have to deny him of what he wants." She quickly shook her head. "I keep thinking it would be easier if I just moved back to London. Conor can't control my life and stop me from doing what I think is best for Callum."
"You can't go back to London. It far too dangerous now and Conor won't change his mind on that. Yes, he's a stubborn jerk, but on this occasion he's right. With the Morettis now friends with the Kings, it would not be safe for you to be there," Sinead reminded her. Savannah nodded her head in understanding, but chose to move away from the subject. Whilst it wasn't safe for her to be in London, she genuinely believed Alex's family loved Callum too much to ever want anything but the best for the boy. Was it cruel for her to keep Callum away from London?
Sinead had been reluctant to leave Savannah, but she couldn't leave Liam standing around waiting, especially with there being so much tension in the air at present. As always, she parked her car across the street and got out so she could meet her son at the church. It felt strange not having Callum, her little squirrel-spotter with her. Still she decided to wait for Liam outside today, so she could enjoy the mild spring air.
A couple of cars away from where Sinead had parked was a non-descript white transit van. The two Italian-Americans had been watching and waiting for Sinead to show up, having been filled in on the woman's routine from those the Kings had put in Dublin to keep tabs on Savannah and Callum. From his driver's seat, Joe turned to his friend and shook his head. "The little one isn't with her. That makes our life easier," he stated having been given specific commands not to harm or even touch Callum at all. After what had happened to Cristina, the Morettis were out for revenge in kind and beyond, but Gabriel still maintained his partnership with the Kings, which meant not using Callum to get at the Irish. As he spoke, he toyed with the knife he'd brought along with him. It was still daylight and in Sullivan-territory, so they'd been told not to cause too much of a scene, which meant bringing knives along rather than attention-drawing guns. "Boss will be pissed if we return empty-handed," he pointed out. Moretti had wanted to hit the Irish hard today, and from multiple angles. Of the children in Conor's family, Liam had been found to be the easiest to target. Not to mention, taking the boy could also cause Conor's own family to resent him for bringing on the retaliation. "Irish took his grandkid, so let's not leave empty-handed. The skinny little Irish bitch won't stand a chance against us, but the Boss wouldn't care if we snuffed her out in the process... You ready to lead the way?" he asked.
Liam had attended the church without Michael today, but had still had plenty to talk about. He was still finding ways to try steer his loved ones away from their criminal lifestyles so they could follow a moral path. He hoped that they would repent one day and in the end be granted a place in Heaven. Although he'd assured Lucas that it was okay for him to go to church and George didn't need to be worried about being judged for his sexuality, his friend still rejected the invite to join him. Like many of his family and friends, Lucas maintained a strong disinterest in religion. Liam supposed it was at least better than being made fun of for it, like Emery did. Sinead seemed to show interest, but even she didn't seem convinced herself. Liam figured she was just being supportive of him because he wasn't causing her any stress, but he was sure she thought him going to church was strange too.
Liam followed Silas out of the vestry and made his way to the front of the church. "See you next time, Father Healey," he told the man. He quickened his pace, walking away from Silas as he figured the man would remain inside the church. Through the nearest window he caught a glimpse of his mother waiting outside, so he pulled open the large door and stepped out of the church to meet her. "Hey, Mam..."
Chapter 9: Secret Ties Friday 7th June 1985 ...One week later... Dublin: Early Evening - Mild, Dry, Cloudy London: Mid Afternoon - Rain showers, Humid, Thundery New York City: Midday - Warm, Sunny, Breezy
Blake's House ~ Sutton, Dublin ~
Most of the time, having so much to do was what kept Syd in control. When one area of his life was quiet, another would demand attention - it was like a game of whack-a-mole, trying to stay on top of it all, but he hated so much to have nothing to do that he would rather take on too much than not enough. When he was stressed out, productivity was generally the answer - getting something done was his way of proving that he was still functioning, even when deep down he could feel himself spinning out of control. The problem was that he was never quite as productive as he thought he was when he was stressed, on account of being distracted by whatever was on his mind.
The past week, for example, had seemed huge to him. The return of his father, though anticipated, still came as a shock to the system; having only managed a couple of visits to New York over the six years he had been behind bars, the man looked to have aged a great deal and somehow grown yet more rugged, something he never imagined was possible. There was so much that had happened to both of them over the past 6 years that couldn't be covered in a brief phone call. Syd recognised that the two of them must have been changed by their experiences and as a result they may have to work to get to know each other as closely as they had before. He was looking forward to it, though.
The fact that his release had cost the Irish Mob their hold on Queens was painful. Syd still had some friends over there; his previous PA-turned-business-partner, Benjamin Teller, had ended up taking good care of the nightclub he used to own in Manhattan, The Lomax, and even though the club no longer served the mob in any way - since Syd had cut off his own connection to it to save it from becoming a target - he still liked to know that the Irish Mob still had some power in New York, just in case his friends needed protecting. Now, that was gone, and he would just have to trust that no harm would ever come to them from the Moretti family.
Of course, he stood by Conor’s decision to give up Queens in return for his release. Having his father back was going to take a lot of adjusting to, but he was sure it would all be worth it in the end. Even after six years, he still wasn’t used to seeing his mother without him - the two had been together for what seemed to Syd like an eternity and he wanted to see them together until the very end. What he had struggled with, however, was Conor’s decision to have Cristina kidnapped and held hostage after James was taken by Gabriel Moretti. In the moment, his own personal feelings overrode his empathy towards the girl and he had purely wanted his father out safe, but now that James was home, Syd’s mind kept returning to Cristina and what they had done to her. If, God forbid, anyone ever hurt or took his children he wasn’t sure he would be able to restrain himself from murdering whoever was to blame.
It was wonderful to have his father back, especially since Syd wasn’t sure he would ever be let out of prison. However, the joy of having him around again was muddled with the shock of almost losing him to the Morettis at the last minute, his conflicting feelings about Cristina’s kidnapping and of course the weight of Roxie’s bittersweet pregnancy. With everything seeming to happen at once, he had ended up in something of a manic state - trying to be productive to ease the stress, but that only meant that he wasn’t actually managing to get much done at all. That was how he managed to become distracted, and thus late to his visit to Blake.
Hanging out as just the two of them wasn’t something that happened very often these days, so when she had invited him over to her house he had jumped at the chance. They had always had a connection through their shared adoration of Jackson, but after he died they didn’t tend to spend much time together. They didn’t talk about him together, either - Syd wasn’t actually sure she talked about him at all. However, the knowledge of their shared grief was enough to maintain their closeness, even if they didn’t hang out very much. Syd loved Blake for how happy she had made his Godfather and so, desperate for some kind of relief from the overwhelming events all going on at once, he was really keen to see her.
Looking at his watch, Syd cursed to himself. The day had run away from him, again, and wouldn’t leave him with much time to see Blake before having to go to his scheduled meeting with Conor. Still, he wanted to make sure he spent at least some time with her, even if it had to be a flying visit. Not liking to show up empty handed, Syd had managed to get a box of doughnuts from the bakery nearby, and brought them to her doorstep, where he promptly rang the doorbell.
Chapter 9: Secret Ties Friday 7th June 1985 ...One week later... Dublin: Early Evening - Mild, Dry, Cloudy London: Mid Afternoon - Rain showers, Humid, Thundery New York City: Midday - Warm, Sunny, Breezy
The Shopping Plaza ~Dublin City Center, Dublin~
Making up with Thomas had become a core memory for Leo. Sitting at his family's pub and talking with one another was something he didn't realize he missed until it happened. Even if it was a bit awkward and difficult in the beginning, the two of them were able to push through it. Leo was beating himself up on the way home because of how long he had allowed the strain on their relationship to occur. He should've just been the bigger person from the beginning and not offended but that didn't matter now. What mattered is that they were getting their friendship back on track and that it was all thanks to his girlfriend. If it hadn't been for Natasha's constant nagging he didn't think he would have relented, but he was definitely glad he did. The moment he got home he called her to tell her everything as if he were gossiping about his crush. He made sure to keep the part about Elena to himself, seeing as that wasn't his secret to tell. Leo had made it a point to treat her to something as a thank you for kicking his ass into gear, but that would have to wait a few days.
With James' arrival back home, things felt a little tense. Leo was aware that Conor had given up the rest of New York for him, which made sense, but he couldn't help but feel like that wasn't the reason for the weird atmosphere. Even his mother was acting a bit weird around Conor at times. Like she was trying to get over something, which meant they had an argument. About what, he didn't know and no one would tell him. It was frustrating, to say the least, and as much as he knew he shouldn't he was pouting about it. He was an adult and all this hiding of information was annoying. This wasn't like the times Ali and his aunts had gotten attacked several times in New York. He wasn't a kid anymore and he wished they would stop treating him like one. Despite the tenseness of the homecoming, Leo was glad to see his uncle out of prison and the family whole again.
Leo hadn't talked to Ali for a couple of days out of spite and had even left their home without telling her. "Not gonna say bye?" Rhiannon asked as she watched him put on his jacket. He just rolled his eyes before squatting down to her eye level. "This little attitude you have towards her is stupid and unfair." Rhiannon crossed her arms, sticking her nose up in the air. If Ali could count on anyone to have her back it was her oldest daughter. "And this little knack you have for getting into people's business isn't necessary." He stood all the way up to grab his keys before opening the front door. "If she asks, I'm going out." His sister scoffed and started walking upstairs. "Not your messenger!" The brief interaction with his sister left Leo annoyed that he managed to go away once he had picked up Natasha. He didn't want their day out to be ruined because he was feeling grumpy.
It was just a shopping trip, with Leo picking out a few new clothes. Working in the garage his shirts and pants had become stained with grease and oil and some were littered with holes. He was beginning to collect more work clothes than clothes he could wear out and about and school. Since Natasha was good in the fashion department he asked if she would come and help him. Plus, it gave him an opportunity to spend time with her and he appreciated every second he got. He had been telling her about his most recent issues with his parents when - lo and behold - he ran into one of them.
Conor Sullivan had dumped a lot of information on Aliana at one time and it had taken her a week to process it all. He had ordered his men to kidnap Cristina in order to make sure James had gotten home to him. Despite the girl being released and James returning in a less than healthy state, Ali just couldn't shake the horrible feeling she was having. It could have also been stemming from the fact that he had known who killed Roxie's fiance months ago and that he was using the information as leverage. She fully understood how important information was in this line of business but it didn't make her feel any better. The only good thing about this was James coming home in one piece to them. Of course, he had been beaten and nearly tortured to death but the call had come at just the right time. If anything she was glad they were such petty people and didn't immediately kill him as some others would. It gave them the opportunity to finally have their family back and seeing Lucy happy again was the goal.
To make matters worse, Leo had become upset with her. He wanted to know what it was that had her so on edge, so upset with Conor and she wasn't about to tell him. For years she had tried to shield him from the changes Conor had gone through. She wanted Leo to remember him as the fun, loving parent who smiled all the time and not the person he had become. If she told him about Cristina she was worried about what the information would do to him so she kept it to herself. If her husband wanted to tell him then he could do it himself. Because of this, Leo thought she was treating him like a child and it couldn't be any more wrong. Unfortunately, there wasn't anything she could say or do to make him see reason so she had given up and let him be angry. She wasn't about to argue with him as she had many times over the past decade.
Instead of worrying about her grown child, she was standing with Stella in a party decorating store. With James being back she wanted to try and throw a party for him all by herself. She had often asked Lucy for her help, knowing she would always lend it and practically do everything herself. This time, however, she wanted to see if she could pull it off herself. It wouldn't be for another week to give him some time to settle and heal, but she figured she should get started now. "Ugh, what do you think," she said to Stella, holding up a sample cloth, "The gold or the silver? I mean, obviously silver, right, because red and gold is sort of outdone these days..." She trailed off, trying to keep her thoughts together. For a moment she was just looking at all the different colors when she saw a sage green color. "Oh! I've got it! This green, with silver and gold!" She turned to Stella again with the colors in her hands and waited for her response before they went on.
Once they were done in the store, they went to the bakery to pick up donuts for the girls. In exchange to watch her younger sister Ali had promised Rhiannon to get the cream-filled ones. She wasn't about to protest against it when Rhiannon had been having problems eating as of late. Ali jumped at the opportunity to get her whatever junk she wanted. She even offered to buy Stella something before the two left with bakery bags and party decorations. The moment she stepped outside she saw Leo walking down the sidewalk with Natasha. She opened her mouth to speak when she noticed he had stopped a few feet away, itching to turn around and keep walking. So, she thought, he was still upset... "Leo, Natasha! Fancy bumping into the two of you here." Leo avoided her gaze, so Ali just smiled at Natasha instead. "How's Blake doing?"
The rain had done nothing but dampen Darcey's mood as she walked into her car garage, umbrella in hand. She was expecting it from the dark clouds that had lingered in the sky for days but she had hoped to have at least one last day before it started. She found that business moved slower in the rain and it gave her employees little to nothing to do. While that wasn't necessarily a bad thing, some of them took advantage of this to move slower or just simply use the rain as an excuse not to do anything at all. One of them, Chester, had been lounging around when she walked in and quickly jumped up when he heard the sound of her heels against the concrete of the garage. "Chester, the reason your ass is so flat is because all you do is sit on it. I catch you doing it again and you won't be able to for days," she said, insinuating she was going to put her foot up it. He tilted his hat to her and got back to working on a car near the back. Another approached her with a clipboard with numbers on it, showing her the parts she would need to order the next time she made one. She took it with her to look through while walking up to her office.
She placed her wet umbrella in its holder and stripped off her jacket to hang up away from the large, black rug she had. On her desk was a large orange envelope and it caught her eye almost immediately. A few weeks ago she had set out to find out if Maeve had any true relations to the Sullivan family and had called a meeting to discuss those findings. Bruce, Alex, and Billy were to be in attendance seeing as Maeve had begun to make a name for herself and had begun to align herself with the King family. While Darcey had been fond of the girl, she wasn't about to let just anyone come around her family. She may not have been related to them by blood but that didn't mean anything to her. She threw the clipboard down onto her desk and exchanged it for the orange envelope and opened it, revealing the contents. A few pictures, some DNA tests, and other paperwork were all included and she nodded her head.
What May had told her was the truth; she was related to the Sullivans. That fact alone was problematic seeing as things were getting very tense with the two families. Even if she had informed her she wanted nothing to do with them, letting her stay in London wasn't going to be up to her. That was a decision to be made by the boys and Bruce. Darcey may have seemed like she made a lot of decisions on their behalf, but in reality, she didn't. She was just a long-time family friend and the owner of a car garage. Sometimes she gave her two cents to Bruce - asked and unasked - but that was about it. She couldn't decide if she should vouch for her or not, the events of a few weeks ago playing in her mind. May was something of a troublemaker, causing chaos where chaos should not be caused but it wasn't her fault. Maybe if Darcey could steer her in the right decision she would be okay. Darcey took a deep sigh and pinched the bridge of her nose before she tended to her own work before everyone began to show up.
Alex King & Erik Snowden
Ever since his conversation with Spencer a few weeks ago Alex had been doing his best to step up in his role as both a father and as a member of the King family. He tried to make frequent calls to his son as well as send him gifts for no apparent reason. He wasn't necessarily trying to buy his love or win him over, but to make sure he was present. There was no way in hell Alex was ever going to go to Dublin again thanks to Conor's attack on Spencer so this was the best he could come up with. It didn't matter that the man gave his word seeing as his word meant fuck all at the end of the day. What he did to Spencer had been out of order and the very last straw that held the King-Sullivan relationship together. Alex honestly couldn't wait for the day they were able to get proper revenge for Spencer too but was learning about being patient.
Instead of doing what he usually did in the mid-afternoon - which was absolutely nothing - he was attending a meeting Darcey had called them to. Spencer wouldn't be in attendance which meant he would be the one to relay any information shared during this meeting. It also meant paying attention which wasn't really one of his strong suits. He had to remind himself that this was another episode in a series of opportunities that he had to prove himself a changed man... Or rather, a man on the path to change. The rain had been teetering between an onslaught and a small pitter-patter, but Alex made sure to have his umbrella up and out the entire time. He wasn't about to get caught in the rain and yelled at by Darcey for messing up her nice, cloth couches. He was just about to walk in when he noticed Erik at the entrance, soaked from head to toe in a brown suede jacket. He couldn't help snicker at him as this was the second time he had seen the man caught in a heavy rain dressed improperly.
Hearing someone snickering, his head whipped around to find the source before he settled on Alex. An annoyed look was on his face as he peeled his now-soaked jacket off his body and started shaking it out. "Having the time of your life over there, huh?" Erik shook out his hair while Alex put down his umbrella and started shaking off the excess water. "A bit, yeah. You've been over here a couple of years now and you still haven't learned to dress for the weather?" It was quite the contrary. In Erik's experience with the weathermen on TV, they were always wrong in giving the forecast. It would either be maybe a little drizzle or a full-on storm and he would dress according to their advice only to end up sorely disappointed and angry. "Because weathermen are fucking assholes." He just knew Billy was going to have the same reaction as Alex over here and could only prepare himself for it.
"Well, Darcey is not going to let you sit on her couch all wet like that." Erik stopped his drying process and stared at him before looking up towards Darcey's office. He internally debated if he was even needed here today. He had been invited to tag along, but would his presence really be missed if he went home? Then he remembered Billy would be in attendance and smiled to himself. The last time he was a wet mess Billy had gotten all flustered and incredibly intimate with him. What were the chances that he would do that again? Erik turned to Alex and shrugged his shoulders. "Standin' ain't so bad." Alex just shook his head and patted him on the back, walking him up towards Darcey's office. "Word of advice. Always dress as if it's going to piss outside." Erik told him he would keep his advice in mind as the two of them walked up the stairs before Alex opened the door.
Darcey looked up from her desk, a smile on her face as she approached Alex with her arms open. "There's the little troublemaker," she said before slapping him upside the head. Alex clenched his jaw as if he were expecting it, nodding his head. "Mmm, yeah, I knew that was comin' yet I didn't prepare for it." He told her, moving to sit at the oval-shaped table, picking up a green apple on his way. Darcey then turned her attention to Erik, who was still wet and standing before her in his black t-shirt. "You've been in London for years now and you've yet to learn the weather?" Alex laughed from his seat. "Hey, I told him that." Darcey just shook her head and handed Erik a small towel, which he then used to try and wipe some of the water from his head. She then pointed to a plastic chair a few feet away in the corner, adjacent to the table. "You're not messing up my seats with all that water." Erik nodded in understanding and took a seat, watching Darcey go back towards her desk. "And where are your uncle and brother?"
The days following Cristina's kidnapping were perhaps some of the hardest days Teddy had to deal with. The behavior of both his wife and his children had been more than obvious, as was his own and he worried that it would affect his family longer than he wanted it to. Cristina, while still her jovial self at home, hadn't attended school for a week. Teddy was aware that she hadn't wanted to be separated from them even for the eight hours she would be there. In her defense, it made sense. Teddy didn't even want her to attend the same school and had been looking for somewhere else to send her while taking care of other matters. Along with her clingy attitude, Francis had also become rather clingy. There were nights he went to check on them and had found him sleeping on the floor next to her bed, wanting to make sure she was okay. Teddy tried to reassure him that everything would be fine, but Francis thought the opposite. It was hard to get him to go to school, so Teddy just let him and Paolo stay home for a while. He figured it would help them along with Valentina if they just stayed together for a bit.
While searching for more secure schools for his children, Teddy had also been in meetings every day with Gabriel while trying to find some sort of retaliation against Sullivan. Teddy himself had never been one to bring people who weren't involved into his issues with others, but Conor had gone and made it personal. Perhaps it was because people thought Teddy was more reasonable, a softer man than he actually was and it was his fault. He had shown them a face that they had taken advantage of and he was going to show them how vile he could get. It pained him to be this messy person, but when it came to his family he was willing to do anything. The two of them had figured out a plan that should make sure they weren't to be trifled with and once it was set in motion there was no going back.
To take his and his family's mind off of things, Teddy opted to make use of the beach home Gabriel had gifted to Valentina. The beach was a perfect place for the kids to have fun and they would be able to run around without worrying about anything. The drive had taken an hour, but once they all arrived he was determined to make sure they relaxed - even though he was positively stressed about what was taking place in the next few hours. Teddy emerged from the car with his sunglasses on and helped his wife out before placing a gentle kiss on her lips. "Gabe really went all out, didn't he? Think he's trying to win your love?" He joked before moving to let the kids out of the car. "Alright, let's go. You guys go pick out your rooms while I get the bags, okay?" Francis jumped down from the car before helping Paolo and Cristina. Rocco shot out right behind them and Francis pointed in the same direction as the dog. "Let's go, you guys!" It was nice to see him so happy and energetic after the week they had, praying they would all be able to enjoy themselves.
Teddy moved to the trunk with Harmony and cleared his throat to get her attention. "Hey, Val told me about what happened the other day." He said in reference to her breakdown. "I'm sorry for your losses. It couldn't have been easy," he informed her, taking out a suitcase. "For what it's worth, I appreciate how much you care about the kids. They love whenever you're around." He gave her a smile before he paused on taking out the luggage. He looked down for a moment, trying to gather his words before he grew serious and looked at her again. "But, I need to know that your emotions are never going to get in the way of you doing your job." Teddy knew just how capable Harmony was even if he had never seen her in action. Plenty of people had and always gave her kudos, but when it came to his children it was a different story. Cristina's kidnapping had damaged his faith in those who were supposed to protect his kids - guards, the school - and he wanted to make sure Harmony understood what exactly was at stake here. "With that being said, you'll have help. You've got five guards of your own to boss around now." He nodded his head to the other two cars pulling up towards the home. "What happened will never happen again and if it does it won't just be their ass on the chopping block," he told her. Teddy wanted to make sure his point was made to Harmony very well, even if he did feel bad for speaking so harshly.
The week had been long, but some of it had been enjoyable. After going to Tatiana’s home, she had been wined, dined, fed, and cared for. When sleep finally came to her, she had fallen asleep next to Tatiana on the couch. At some point in the night, nightmares had brought her awake, and Tatiana had gone to bed, her asleep on the couch. Jocelyn couldn’t go back to sleep, so she had wandered around the apartment, before ending up sitting at the window watching the ground below. The horror of the previous day had been etched into even her waking view. A shiver had wracked her body as she fought reliving the incident again, in the darkness of night.
Even though she made little noise, Eightball coming and sitting with her must have made enough because Tatiana had woken and came to check on her. Jocelyn had nodded reassuringly, then grabbed the notebook and pen that Tati had provided, asking her if she minded her sleeping next to her and Eightball. The blush that crested her cheeks were hidden slightly in the dim light, but nearness to her calmed the fear in her head.
When morning had come, she had been cuddled up against Tati without a single dream, and so the next week had proceeded like this. Tati never asked her to leave, though she did offer to take her if she needed to go anywhere, but every time she looked at the streets, her throat constricted, and her heart started pounding so hard she couldn’t breathe. Tati had also filled in Spencer on the general situation, and had rescheduled a meeting for them, though she hadn’t found her voice, she had prepared a letter for him to read at the beginning of the meeting over several things.
First, I know Tatiana informed you what happened, but I apologize for not showing up. It’s not in me to leave someone sitting and waiting for me. Secondly, let me give you my side of the story. Some men caught me in the alley that runs past Taphouse… Three of them. Before you ask, I never had seen them before but believe me, if I ever see them again, I’ll know their faces in a heartbeat. I have sketches for you. They beat and raped me in the alley, then left me there. If Tatiana hadn’t found me, I’m not sure what might have happened. I am in her debt.
I’m alive, that’s what matters, but my subconscious is still in hiding. I cannot find my voice. Please, be patient with me.
The King’s Choice Whiskey is doing well, we’ve seen a pickup in sales and have made sure to increase back stock in case you need to increase your order amount.
Today I have something new for you – The King’s Choice Gin. Made in a classic English Dry Gin style with American twist on flavor – a very light citric tones that compliment the English flavors. I realized that you might be needing some additions a while back so we’ve been working on perfecting this as a show of appreciation for both business and friendship, and to surprise you with something new to offer your patrons.
The letter went on to address their business.
Jocelyn had prepared this all when Tatiana informed her of business she would have to be leaving for. The idea of leaving the apartment brought that anxiety back on, but she knew she needed to face it down to start moving on with her life. Tatiana had made sure to set everything up, had loaned her clothes, informed her she would be getting picked up by one of Spencer’s employees, and that she would be in safe hands. When she had left, Jocelyn had watched from the window, waving as she left, suddenly feeling empty. Not one to normally get attached, this new sensation of wanting to be clingy was unusual. Something new for Jocelyn was happening here.
Collecting her few items, notepad and planner included, she had loaded up with the escort. Before they took off, she asked the driver to please stop by her work, where she hurried in and back out, carrying a bottle of clear liquid with a gold and silver label under her arm. Once back in the car, now wearing a long coat with sleeves to her wrist and hung to her ankles. A hat and umbrella in hand, she was on her way to the Taphouse in no time at all.
Once out of the car, she stood looking at the bar for a moment in silence. Willing herself not to look at the alley, she entered, scanning the room for Spencer. Finally, she located him in a back corner, and looking like a skittish cat – the complete opposite of her normally confident and commanding appearance, she headed to him. A silent nod and wordless moving of lips as if to say hello greeted him as she slid into the booth, careful to keep her back to the wall. Shaking slightly, Jocelyn laid everything out in front of her, organizing for a moment before handing Spencer a stack of papers, the letter on top, and the sketches of the three men – in color – below. Tatiana had been sweet enough to indulge her in a request for colored pencils to sketch them out for Spencer. The detailing was surprising for someone who wouldn’t have been expected to remember so much during an attack, but Jocelyn’s artist mind was good at taking mental pictures to later draw, and this had been no different.
The days had got significantly brighter for Elena since she had managed to get away from the hotel manager’s apartment. Moving in with Thomas had been a big gamble - not only would it put pressure on their friendship, but the fact they had also confessed to having feelings for each other meant that if anything went wrong between them, she could end up homeless again. Still, she was hugely grateful to be living with him. She enjoyed his company very much and was beginning to settle into having a room of her own for the first time ever, as well as adjusting to the idea that she could get close to Thomas in ways that didn’t involve anything sexual.
The relief of no longer having to pay rent with her body made her feel liberated, and it showed in the attitude she brought to work. After all, despite Thomas insisting that she didn’t have to pay him at all, she still wanted to, so as to avoid ending up with a debt hanging over her. No longer weighed down by the dread of going back to the hotel manager, Elena worked more efficiently and learned faster; by now, she knew where and how everything in the pub was stored, and even knew the names of all the regulars.
While the pub was quiet, one of the regulars, an old man named George, was showing her the day’s political cartoon in the newspaper and trying to help her understand it.
“The English is okay, but the joke…” she said, narrowing her eyes at the image as she leaned across the bartop. She gave a small defeated laugh, sliding the paper back towards George.
“Don’t you get it? It’s Haughey and FitzGerald, canvassing for the election,” he explained, as if it should be obvious to her. “You know, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael? Who are you voting for, anyway?”
Elena laughed politely. “Ah, yes!” she said, trying to sound confident. The truth was she hadn’t the first clue about Irish politics - she didn’t even know how the election could affect her. She didn’t know about an upcoming election, but even if she did she wouldn’t have thought to vote. Even though she had no intention of leaving Ireland, part of her still didn’t quite see it as home yet. There was so much about the culture, history and political climate that she knew nothing about. “I don’t tell,” she told him, hoping he would leave it alone - and maybe he would have pressed her, but the wink she sent him replaced anything further he had to say with a stupid smile instead.
”And whatever Elena’s drinking.”
Elena’s head turned towards the sound of her name and there she saw Adam being served by Martin. Her face lit up in a broad smile, as it always did when he came into the pub. He made eye contact with her, but he seemed somewhat serious and asked her to step into her office so they could talk. Martin handed the drinks to Adam - a whiskey for him, a fresh glass of lemonade for her - and she waved goodbye to George, leaving him to enjoy his confusing political cartoons on his own.
Once they were in Adam’s office, he handed her the lemonade and offered her a seat at his desk. She accepted both, and began to wonder why he had called her in. Although he was polite in asking her how she was, she could tell he was in a serious mood and only hoped he didn’t have bad news for her. “I am very good, thank you,” she answered, though the way he was looking at her across the desk it seemed like he was about to tell her how she was doing, in regards to her job. “How are you? And your arm, it is okay?”
Feeling only a little nervous, she found the straw with her lips and sip on her lemonade, all the while holding her eyes on him. “Is something wrong?”
First Adam expressed gratitude for her coming to his aid after he was shot in the arm, but the praise was dampened by his admitting that he had some suspicions. He went on to bring up her recent move into Thomas’ apartment as he sat forward, narrowing the space between them. “Yes, Tomás is very kind,” she softly uttered, as if that would help him understand the sudden move. As he brought up her staying in a hotel, Elena had a feeling that she was in trouble - the last thing she wanted to be in with Adam. What he was saying did make sense, however - which was that her story didn’t really make any sense at all. She had come over to Dublin all the way over from Cuba with no family or friends, no job, no permanent residence...she didn’t think she would ever have to explain herself, but now that he was asking, she realised she must have been stupid not to think that it would raise suspicions.
When he finally asked her if she could answer his questions, she simply stared at him, not knowing what to say. Her first thought was to just come up with some innocent explanation, but as she looked into his eyes it crossed her mind that maybe he ought to know the truth. “I...S-solo quería…” Elena shifted in her seat. There was her father, sitting before her, still with absolutely no clue who she was. She wanted to reassure him that she hadn’t come to Dublin with any ill intent, but under pressure she couldn’t think of a reason other than the truth. Her gaze fell into her lap and she took another sip of her lemonade to try to wash away the anxiety growing in her stomach. “I come to Dublin because...I...I...” When she looked back at Adam she could feel a heat pricking behind her eyes but she smiled warmly at him before any tears could form. "My mother wants better life for me," she said. It was a total lie but it did inspire her to come up with something true - even if it wasn’t the truth he was asking for. "We don’t have money there, so if I leave, she has one mouth less to feed. But it is very hard to leave Cuba. But then I meet Irish Mob, and they give me money for...for avión. So, I come here and look for job here in Irish Mob pub...because they help me.”
Unsure if her lie was good enough for Adam, Elena set the straw of her drink between her lips and looked at him with as much innocence as she could put in her eyes.
Chapter 9: Secret Ties Friday 7th June 1985 ...One week later... Dublin:Early Evening - Mild, Dry, Cloudy London: Mid Afternoon - Rain showers, Humid, Thundery New York City: Midday - Warm, Sunny, Breezy
Lucy Porter New Porter Residence - Sutton, Dublin -
The flood of emotions that had consumed Lucy over the last week had been a mixture of relief and frustration. While Lucy was over the moon that her husband had been returned home thank's to her little brother's efforts after she had found out the way James had been able to be returned home...it left her feeling horribly guilty. To top it all off, although her husband still looked like the man she had only visited a few months ago and loved deeply...she soon came to find that he was a hollow shell of what he used to be. Being in prison had changed him and she understood that could happen but he didn't seem very pleased to be home. There needed to be an adjustment period, a period that she had gone through many times before but this time felt different.
A day and a half ago, Lucy had moved them into the new house. She originally had wanted to renovate the place, but wanting to give James his own space as well as some peace and quiet, Lucy decided to wait. The house was in good enough shape and the movers had done a wonderful job of getting everything set up the way she wanted it.
Tonight she was breaking in the new place with a family dinner, she had invited the kids over for dinner feeling conflicted by not inviting Shinoa as well, but she knew that would be a lot to dump on her husband all at once so she decided to wait to reveal all of that news. Olivia was already living with them so she didn't have a choice but to come, however, Syd had planned as well as meeting up with Conor during dinner time so Lucy let it slide. Thomas on the other hand, the blonde had to corner on his way to work. He wasn't too pleased with her but he had begrudgingly agreed to come over for dinner. He hadn't come by at all since his father came home and Lucy would give him the benefit of the doubt and say that it was for good reason because she knew James was furious with him but...they couldn't continue to ignore each other forever. She wouldn't allow it.
Lucy had just finished setting the table and the chicken she had made had a little bit more to go in the oven but all of the sides were finished. Deciding to go get changed, she hurriedly moved to grab something nice to wear before walking back downstairs to find her husband. " James?" Lucy called out lightly. Once he called out to alert her where he was, Lucy walked in that direction and smiled softly as she found him. "There you are handsome, what are you doing? Hungry? Dinner is just about done." Lucy informed him before moving towards him. Placing a hand on his shoulder, she gave it a soft squeeze before giving his cheek a kiss. "You know you can tell me if you are struggling with all this right? I know...this must be...overwhelming for you." Lucy tried to choose her words carefully in hopes of not triggering him in any way. "What do you need? Say the word and I'll get it for you."
with: James Misty Gray
mentions: Olivia Misty Gray
; Thomas (ME) ; Syd Pyroclast
Harper King Harper's Apartment - London -
Harper was ready to pull her pretty blonde hair out. Despite her protests and even pleas, her Uncle and older brother refused to let her be without the glorified babysitter. They said that things were getting dangerous between them and the Sullivans and that she needed to be protected. Harper wanted to kick them both in the family jewels. And when Jeremy said he would be sticking around, he definitely wasn't kidding. When she woke up in the morning, he was there. When she got off of work, he was there. When she went out with friends, he was fucking there. Every single waking and sleeping moment of her existence, Jeremy was there...poking his nose into business that wasn't his. It had only been one week since this new arrangement had been put in place and Harper was already over it.
It was another rainy afternoon in London and Harper had been sitting watching the rainfall from one of the booths in the cafe she worked at. Seeing as it wasn't busy, her manager stated that she could go home early if she wished and Harper wasn't going to refuse that offer. She had been painfully bored ever since she started her shift. The other day she had asked Jeremy to make himself disappear when she was working because him watching her every move was distracting and he had done a pretty good job today. But as she moved to put on her raincoat and grab her umbrella, she spotted him standing outside the front entrance with an open umbrella shielding him from the rain. "See ya later, Ron." Harper called out to her manager before moving to step out the front door.
"I hope my Uncle is paying you well, Jerebear. Standing out in the rain for 4 hours doesn't seem very entertaining." Harper tauntingly said to him as she opened her own umbrella. The rain was really coming down and thunder clapped, causing her to jump slightly as her eyes widened. Ever since she was a child she hated thunderstorms. While she wasn't deathly afraid of thunderstorms now, they still made her paranoid and jumpy. Walking home in the rain was always nice when there wasn't any thunder or lightning though, she only wished it was just raining today. "Come on then, quit stalking me and walk next to me. You can shield me from being splashed by a puddle when a car comes by."
They had walked in silence for a few moments before Harper turned her head to look at Jeremy slightly. "So, what is it you do for fun nowadays, besides being paid to stalk me? I mean..what are you doing when you aren't watching me?"
with: Jeremy BasDorcha
The last week had been the longest week of Jeremy’s life. Living, breathing and literally glued to daily, the one person who got under his skin like no other. Harper constantly insisted he was stalking her, making his mood more and more sour. It had gotten worse once Bruce and the guys confirmed they would not relinquish Jeremy’s position, regardless of her arguments. He had tried to placate her with breakfast – she refused to eat saying she could feed herself. Sat in the back corner at her job – she basically threw him out. He waited outside where he could still see the door and at least keep a partial eye on her, she still wasn’t happy; he bought rounds at the pub when she went out with her friends – she had pretended she didn’t know him. By today, he was moody, sullen, and happy to give her the cold shoulder in return.
Why did it bother him so much that she reacted exactly the way he knew she was going to react? The wet, rainy day that resulted in most of his time actually spent across the street watching from the windows so he could avoid the rain, then the last half hour with him standing outside the door, had done little to improve his demeanor. It had, however, given him lots of time to think, and come up with a hypothesis on his emotional responses. Every time he tried to make a gesture of peace, she shut him down. Part of him wondered if the night he recalled at the welcome party was just a buzzed memory.
With every rejection, that night felt further away from him. He hadn’t even realized it meant that much to him until this week. Now he was mad he ever let it be important to him, she had made it abundantly clear that regardless of how much she hated the idea of a baby sitter, he was not going to be allowed to make the best of it. He needed to forget that night and go back to thinking of her as the little sister, or this whole assignment was going to be torture from beginning to end.
Jeremy’s normally expression of bored apathy was replaced with furrowed brows and his one free hand buried deep in the pocket of his duster. As she stepped out, he fell into step behind her, assume she yet again did not want to be seen with him. This job was going to be the death of him. Jeremy hadn’t been made to feel so much since he was a teenager, before he learned emotional control. Part of his training with Spencer and Alex was learning how to control the anger and outburst that made him a violent and hotheaded youth, and it was obvious the irrational emotional overdose he was going through was not affecting him in a good way.
She hauntingly told him to shield her, and he huffed, brows furrowing deeper as he moved up next to her. No response was given to her comments about pay. Truth was, Jeremy had offered to do it for no more then his normal pay. If asked while he was drunk, he probably would have offered to do it for free – thankfully he was not. So lost was he in trying to find a solution to his internal crisis, he almost missed when she asked what he did for fun. Like he had any time for fun with her being as pessimistic as possible for the last week. “I’m always watching you, Harper.” He waited just long enough for her to feel creeped out, feeling like she deserved some of her own medicine. Glancing at her quickly, he looked away again, then pulled a book out of his pocket.
A busted and worn version of Brave New World with the edge of a picture just barely visible, sticking up above the pages. It seemed like an old picture, but no one’s faces were visible, just a few pairs of shoes (attached to legs and presumably people hiding in the page) that looked like they probably belonged to kids or teens. It was yellowed with age and just as worn as the book. It was as much acknowledgement as he was going to give her. Just as he went to put the book away, he realized they had walked through an intersection, still talking, without looking for oncoming cars. He froze, quickly glancing up to catch a black car headed their way, wind shield foggy and wiping away at the rain. Like a flash, he took two large steps back, jerking her into his arms to prevent her from falling. Strong arms caught her, keeping her from leaning back as the car shot past, whooshing past them both by a hair.
The second stretched, and then the car was gone. Jeremy had placed one hand on the back of Harper’s head, the other had wrapped around her waist, pulling her flush against himself. When it was safe, he looked down at her, the very feintest shadow of… something crossing his features, before he was back to himself. Stepping back, he cleared his throat uncomfortably, picking up his umbrella from the sidewalk where the wind had blown it and holding it over them both.
Gruffly, he spoke with a softer tone now, “Common, Harp, let’s get you home.”