Shirley was very much enjoying the time that she was spending with Shona. From the Tea to getting to know the other woman very much made her happy, as this was the most social she has gotten since she started spending time at the Tea shop down the street from her home. As their conversation progressed, Shirley continued to proceed with caution as she has not reached the level of trust where she would share the darker parts of her life, like her Older Sister getting involved with the Irish Mob and working as their Bounty Hunter, or treating Criminals that would show up at her doorstep, injured in some capacity. Once more putting the thoughts behind her, or at least in the back of her mind, Shirley went back to enjoying her tea and continued the conversation with Shona, starting with her Parents' Journey from South Korea to Ireland. "It was, especially with what my Father had to go through during his years of service in the South Korean Army." She frowned a little as one of her babies kicked, sadly it was often very hard if not impossible to tell who. "I haven't seen my parents in five years. They don't even know that they're going to be Grandparents. Or that me and my Sister are separated."
Once Shona told her about how her own Mother was now in a Home and battling Alzheimer's Disease, she could not help but feel heartbroken for her friend. However, not knowing what stage Shona's Mother was in, she was at a loss for words. Either way, it was a difficult time nonetheless, and it was heartbreaking to think that a Grandmother wouldn't going to be around to see her Grandchild grow up. At the very least, Shirley did take some comfort knowing that the Elderly Woman would get to meet their newborn grandchild. The heartbreak soon found its way out of her heart when the two transitioned into what they did in their free time. While Shirley spent most of her free time at the Tea Shop or making sure her home was spotless, Shona spoke about how her Mother was once a Seamstress and how she now made clothes for the baby on the way, since it didn't require her to be on her feet. Before she could respond, she felt another strong kick, prompting Shirley to show a brief look of discomfort. Shaking it off, she did smile a little. "That's a wonderful way to pass time. Looks like your little one won't have to worry about an empty wardrobe. Mommy has a lot more on the way." She said, smiling.
At the mention of parties though, Shirley's mood did take a bit of a dip, mainly because she wasn't used to being at that level of sociability. Not yet anyway. Over time? Maybe. Though it will probably be hard to find time for that after she welcomes her children into the world. "I've never really been to a party. I always found them to be very loud and over-crowded, which I don't really enjoy. My Sister on the other hand, really loved going to them when we were growing up. Always socializing with new faces, taking part in underage drinking or looking for the next person to pick a fight with." She said, shaking her head at the thought of how her Sister was back in their teens...and how she was now a violent enforcer for the Irish Mob.
But once Shona said that she went to her Husband's Pub, Shirley wasn't sure of how to take that, especially since she had turned down the previous invite. However, a Pub wasn't exactly the best place for a pregnant woman to be hanging out at. But Shona wasn't drinking, so maybe it was fine? "I don't know how long I'd last in a pub. I've hated the smell of Alcohol even before I got pregnant. I hate it even more now." She said, now twirling a strand of her hair with her finger while she enjoyed her tea. "And I don't think I'll be drinking at all anytime soon. But maybe in the future, depending on how I'm feeling, I wouldn't mind going with you to the Pub to meet your Family." However the thought of them all coming over to the home instead, was more refreshing, as there was less alcohol and less loud music...well, maybe not less alcohol, but at least the place wouldn't reek of it...hopefully.
Either way, it wasn't her home, so she didn't entirely have a say. Aside from marrying into a big family, Shona mentioned that her Husband also brought friends and colleagues from work over every so often, and how they were nice to her...and how there would be consequences if they were not. This led Shirley to wonder...if that was one of many reasons why there had been men in the past that showed up badly beaten up. To disrespect a man's wife was one thing, but to disrespect a pregnant woman?...Yeah that's asking for trouble. And even more so if you had to pay for discreet medical care. Once Shona said that she would like to invite Shirley to the get-togethers, her smile remained. "I'd love that. It would help me get out of the house a little more often." Gently she rubbed her belly to soothe the little ones as they were starting to get a little rowdy and active, but this was because they weren't very familiar with Shona's voice.
No doubt Shona's baby was unfamiliar with her as well. "Parties will be a little more difficult in the future, sure, but that doesn't mean they'll be impossible to attend, especially if you're the host. And if the guests are good with children, all is well."
Adam couldn't help but laugh when Chase said he'd like to see him get serious with someone, following up with a comment about his looks fading as he got older. Adam hoped with all of the working out and exercise he got on the job, he could delay many of the effects of ageing. As his friend spoke about Blake, Adam could help but acknowledge the fact Blake was already fully aware of the mob activities and that worked in his favour. Of course, there had been selfish reason of enjoyment for him not settling down before now, but another reason he'd avoided commitment was because he wouldn't know how to tell any lady about his work without expecting her to run a mile. At least with Blake, he could be completely honest with her about everything. Chase also pointed out how independent the two were, which was another bonus. Whilst Adam wanted someone to love and be honest with him, he wasn't overly fond of clingy women. Blake was capable of holding her own and Adam liked that independence about her - it was always good to be on the same wavelength. "Thanks, mate," he said, when Chase told him he and Jasmine would be there if things did go wrong. He let out a low chuckle. "12 years together? How on Earth do you put up with him, Jas?"
Normally, Adam would have been encouraging the Zegarras to stay around longer, but the fact he had a date meant he needed a little time to get things ready for when Blake arrived. When Chase got up from the sofa, Adam did too. "Tell Michael I said hi," he requested. When Emilia stood up to place the magazine back on the coffee table, Adam playfully ruffled the girl's hair, prompting her to call her godfather 'silly'. "Bye bye, Safia," he put on a playful voice as he waved at the toddler.
Soon enough, the Zegarras had left and Adam was once again alone in the large detached bungalow. After straightening out the sofa cushions and putting the magazines away in the sideboard drawer, he went into the kitchen to finish up the dinner preparations. Along with setting up the dining table, he was ready in time for the three knocks at the door. He briefly checked his hair out in the hallway mirror before reaching the front door and pulling it open.
Upon seeing Blake, Adam's face immediately lit up and he broadly smiled at her. "Hi," he greeted her in return. He grinned as she said he cleaned up nice. "Thanks..." he said, as he took a moment to look at the blonde woman. "And you're looking amazing," he truthfully told her. After a brief silence, he stepped aside and invited his friend into the house. "Come on in," he said. Once she was inside, he closed the front door. "I'll give you a quick tour, so you can judge my cleaning skills," he remarked, joking back to their conversation a few weeks ago. After pointing out where the bathroom was, he showed her inside the lounge, pointed out of the window to show the back garden. "To the side of the house is where my garage is and I tend to be out in the yard fixing cars when I get time. I was always happy just living in a small apartment as work often kept me away from home anyway. But having the godchildren visit often enough, I figured they'd enjoy a place with a garden and more space to run around in. I've warmed to this house myself, mind you," he explained. "A grown up's habitat," he added, with a chuckle.
He then took her into the open plan kitchen and dining area. "Dinner is almost ready, would you like to take a seat whilst I finish slaving away?" he asked her, flashing a grin. If she agreed to sit down, he would pull out the chair for her, opposite the seat he'd be having. "So, I'm making us ropa vieja with spicy rice. My mother, who is Spanish, used to make this for the family when I was a kid. It's a big thing in Cuba too," he explained. "What would you like to drink?" he offered her. Whilst they were always used to joking around and having banter, it felt different now he'd come around to the fact they were indeed on a date. As such, he wanted to be a gentleman and make a good impression on Blake. "What does Ali think of our dinner date?" he curiously asked, knowing the two women would have been talking about it before now. As he spoke, he continued to check the food and make the final touches to the meal.
Sinead and Liam Callahan
Sinead looked curiously at Silas as he said her son was young and had plenty of time to have the aggression trained out of him. She wasn't sure what the man knew about her family and its business, but if he knew enough, he'd probably know what Liam was up against. Peter, Braden and Emery were all involved in the business, with all three of them using violence in their work. Not to mention, extended family members such as Conor and Syd had their own battles with aggression. Given the environment Liam was in, Sinead knew it was hard to escape violence. Still, she'd tried everything she could to shield him from it and enforce more peaceful means of acting. Unfortunately, she felt outnumbered in her battle and even though Liam had so far displayed no interest in the mob, she wasn't oblivious to how brooding he was becoming, taking after Peter and Braden. Along with the fact her son had recently been getting in trouble for fighting, regardless of his reasoning, she was concerned she hadn't done enough to keep him on a path that led away from the family business. "Oh, I've tried and I still am," she defensively told the priest. "Liam isn't a bully or someone who wants to hurt others. He just wanted to stick up for his friends who couldn't defend themselves. We all know fighting isn't the answer, but we also know it's not as simple as kids telling the teachers and everything getting fixed," she reasoned. In her experience, schoolyard politics weren't too different to out on the streets. If someone reports a powerful criminal - a bully - to the police, things could only get much worse for them. "Of course, I'm not excusing it. My heart tells me to be proud of him for defending those who can't protect themselves. But I don't like violence. I've seen and experienced too much of it in my life. I don't want my boy to think it's the way to solve problems." Having witnessed her own father and Savannah's father being gunned down in front of her, she never wanted Liam - or any of her grown up children - to witness the horrors she'd endured in her life.
Sinead studied Slias' face as he spoke of how he might be considered young and lacking in life experience. When he explained he'd had his fair share of woes, she didn't doubt that from him. She was younger than the priest when she'd witness her loved ones being killed or tortured in Chicago. She didn't know enough of the priest's personal life to question if he too had suffered, nor to suggest he was too young to have an opinion on the discussion. The fact he'd lived in Dublin all of his life meant there was every chance he'd be exposed to some kind of negative experience. The early sixties in Dublin were certainly difficult times between the Irish Mob and the IWU. Still she awkwardly chewed her lip at mention of praying to God. Despite her own mother's upbringing and one of her cousins been a priest in the past, she'd never embraced religion herself. Up until only the last decade, Shannon had been very dismissive of Catholicism and discouraged Sinead, Lucy and Conor from bothering with it when growing up. For Shannon, she'd had a bitter taste about religion for a long time, with her own parents being strict Catholics and ones who disowned her when she fell for Emmet Sullivan. In the end, however, Shannon had softened to the idea of attending church and long since stopped holding a grudge towards her late parents, before she died.
Sinead listened as Silas explained it wasn't his job to pry, that he was willing to listen regardless of her beliefs. She flashed a wary smile as he reinforced that the Church wouldn't turn her away. There was something reassuring in his words. She'd stopped seeing a counsellor a few years ago, but she remembered how good it felt to have someone listen to her feelings. Was this the same? "Thank you, Father," she softly told him, lightly nodding her head. "I will keep that in mind." She fell silent as the door creaked open, taking a moment to compose herself before turning to see who Silas was addressing. She smiled brightly as she saw the Zegarras enter the the church. She stood up and stepped into the aisle between the pews.
Whilst Silas spoke to Chase and Jasmine, Sinead sent Emilia a bright smile. "Hey, beautiful!" she cheerfully greeted the child as she approached to give her a hug. Once Silas went to get the boys, Sinead greeted Chase and Jasmine, followed by a sweet little greeting for Safia. Through their connections to the business, the two families knew each other well by now, often babysitting for each others' children, or at least letting the boys have sleepovers are each others' houses. "I think it's really sweet Michael offering to join Liam on detention. Rest assured, Liam isn't in the habit of hitting people. He told me he only did it because the kids he smacked were being a bullies," she explained, hoping they wouldn't think twice about letting Michael hang out with Liam in the future.
If Liam had any idea why his friend was blushing, he wouldn't have laughed at him. However, he was clueless and so didn't see anything wrong with laughing, figuring it was just the usual joking around. Still, he couldn't help but pick up on some annoyance from Michael after his comment about girls not being priests. "Well, I mean... They just aren't. I don't think women are allowed to be priests or something. She can be a nun though," he said, lightly shrugging his shoulders.
"I could be, but I'm very happy with the work I already do here," Patience reassured the boys. Listening to Michael talk about liking drawing, as well as his father being an artist, Patience kept nodding in encouragement. "Well, perhaps for your dad it's a hobby. If you want to be an artist as a career, then you're at the perfect age to start considering it. You can study art at college and university, or you can sell your work without further studies. It's never too early to think about your future."
When Patience looked to him, Liam shrugged his shoulders. "I don't know. I like riding my bike. And watching films, and playing guitar." In honesty, he wasn't sure what he wanted to do when he grew up. Sinead was always encouraging him with his music and he'd seen how Savannah had made a career in showbiz, but he didn't feel like he had their confidence to perform in front of others. Peter, Braden and Emery were all involved in he family business. He didn't have any particular interest in following in their footsteps, and Silas' words made him feel even more afraid of that lifestyle now. Thankfully, Father Healy returned to the room before Patience could press him further or start to encourage him about some future career.
"Nice one!" Liam commented when informed their families had arrived. He was about to rush out of his seat when Silas mentioned thinking more about what they'd discussed. He was already thinking about it all and how he could help his family so they wouldn't be denied a place in Heaven. "Okay..." he agreed, when Silas said to bring it to him if his classmates caused any more trouble. Liam did well not to look to Michael or give any inclination his friend was being bullied by the kids in question.
Liam got up from his seat and chucked his backpack over his shoulders as he waited for Michael. His friend seemed reluctant to leave, having clearly enjoyed working on the flyer. Liam let out an amused laugh. "I'm here all week," he commented, referring to his week-long detention. "See you tomorrow, Father Healy. You too, Patience," he said as he left the room.
Seeing his mother near the doorway at the back of the church, Liam quickened his pace, motioning for Michael to keep up. Whilst his friend joined the Zegarras, Liam stopped in front of Sinead. "Hey, sweetheart. Are you ready to go home?" Sinead asked the boy. She reached out to straighten the twisted handle on the boy's backpack before tidying his hair.
"Mam!" Liam protested, brushing Sinead's hand away from his hair in a desperate attempt to avoid being embarrassed in front of Michael and the others.
Spencer and Shona King's Home ~ Bethnal Green, London ~
Spencer had another of those days where most of his time had been in the legitimate of his business meetings. The problem with sitting in official meetings with shareholders, directors, or lawyers, was that Spencer had to wear a metaphorical mask; keeping the shadier dealings completely out of the equation. Whilst he managed to do it so well, it was mentally draining. Given that his Uncle Bruce was overseas on business, such meetings had been filling up Spencer's schedule more and more over the last few weeks, and the weeks to come. As risky as it all was, he found his illegal dealings to be much more natural to him. He could only hope the others were keeping a tight grip on it all whilst he was busy presenting graphs and signing legal contracts. There were certainly times when the pharmaceutical company and his gang's activities crossed paths, so he needed to make sure both remained under control. There were plenty of underground buyers ready to pay out a lot of money for the drugs being manufactured off the books, so it was important for the Kings to remain powerful, both in the pharmaceutical business and in the criminal underworld.
On his drive home, Spencer had noticed Savannah walking to her own house and he offered to give her a lift the rest of the way. With Callum still at nursery, he hadn't had to bite his tongue as much as he would if his young nephew was around. He was thankful for that, because when she told him she and Callum were heading back to Dublin again, this time for the funeral of her friend's fiance, Spencer hadn't been happy. He'd suggested he and Shona could look after Callum whilst Savannah was away, but the blonde had refused, wanting to give the boy as many opportunities to see his Irish family as she could. Whilst Spencer knew it was reasonable, he was also fed up of her not telling the Kings until the last minute. Deep down, he was also worried that she might want to make Dublin more of a permanent home for her and Callum. By the time he'd pulled the car up outside Savannah's house, they'd exchanged cold words and the blonde stormed out of the car, slamming the passenger door shut behind her.
Although he didn't regret speaking his mind, Spencer was still kicking himself for the rest of the drive home, knowing his attitude could end up leading to the very thing he was trying to avoid - Savannah taking Callum to Dublin for good. When he got home, he collected the earlier purchased bag of groceries from the back seat and headed into the house. He walked straight past the lounge to the kitchen, calling out to Shona as he did. "Honey, I'm home!" he shouted out, figuring she'd hear him from wherever she was in the house. Once he'd set the bag down on the worktop, he heard sounds coming from in the lounge, so decided to join Shona. "I'm sure it'll all be fine, but... I might have got into an argument with Sav. I just told her to remember this side of Callum's family and she got all pissy with me--" he paused as he stepped into the lounge to see Shona had company. "Oh... Hello. You must be, Shirley?" he asked. He hadn't forgotten Shona telling him about the woman she'd met at her previous appointment, and given the fact the stranger in his lounge looked very pregnant, he didn't doubt it was Shirley. "I'm Spencer," he introduced himself, approaching the two women so he could reach out and shake the newcomer's hand. He then turned to Shona and leaned in to kiss her lips. "Did the appointment go well?" he gently asked her. He then stood up straight and cocked his head towards the door. "Do you want me to leave you two ladies in peace? I can go and grumble in the pub if you want girl time," he offered.
Even though it was Leo who technically owed Natasha dinner, she had been the one to plan where they went. The establishment felt very fancy and intimate; a place he thought was best for couples and not two friends just going out to eat together. Despite the ambiance of the place and the looks the women at home gave him, he was still oblivious to the fact that he was currently on a date. "It's not my fault, Chatty Cathy. I was prepared the entire time." He gave her an innocent smile knowing full well it was definitely his fault. But, pretending it wasn't and winding her up was his favorite pastime. He picked up the menu and quickly looked it over. "Well, to be quite honest I am glad we made it. It's been forever since I've been to a restaurant that wasn't mom's. Though, I'm sure I'm going to get grilled about every little detail. 'How was the food? The ambiance? The prices?'" He rolled his eyes as he mocked his mother, shaking his head. After he set the menu back down on the table he looked over at her. She complimented his outfit and he looked down at himself to take it in before smiling at her. "Yeah, only because you asked. Anyone else would have to fuc-," he stopped himself mid-sentence as a waiter suddenly appeared at their table. After Natasha completed her order, he ordered himself a pint of Guinness. He also declined the waiter's offer for an appetizer and watched as he walked away. "As I was saying before the ninja appeared, I don't like wearing 'fancy' clothes so count yourself lucky." Realizing he didn't give her any compliments yet. "You look pretty today, by the way. You do every day really." He took a pause before deciding to tease her. "Well, except for the morning sometimes when your hair is a mess and you're cranky." He braced himself for whatever repercussions were coming his way before finally looking down at his menu.
"Well, I promise not to judge you or tell anyone." Hearing that she hadn't eaten much of anything today, his tone of voice shifted. He hadn't done it on purpose nor realized it since he was looking at the menu so intently, but it was softer instead of the playful one he had been using. Though it was commanding, he made sure that she understood he cared about her. "You can't not eat, Nat, it's important. Have to stay healthy, don't you?" He looked up from his menu again after settling on a choice. "I mean, you're the only friend I've got and the only one who can keep me in check. I need you in my life." He placed his elbows on the table interlacing his fingers together. He didn't realize just how those words sounded leaving his mouth and basically thought nothing of them. With a smile, he looked at her as she asked him about school. That was another thing he found himself liking about Natasha as he basically stared at her. She always asked about his day, about school, and genuinely seemed interested. He wasn't use to that from anyone other than his mother and Sydney, so hearing it from her had been nice. "Oh, I'm sure I am and it'll come in handy later but..." He trailed off, deciding she had put enough attention on him for the moment. Plus, he wasn't sure this was the time or place to discuss that he really wanted to take over the family business. "Actually, how was your day? What went on in the world of Natasha McCarthy?"
Even though the idea had been theoretical, it seemed like the only thing stopping them had been Gabe himself. A part of him wanted to say, "Screw Gabe; this our life and our family," but he knew better. Valentina may have been an adult but she was Gabriel Moretti's daughter. Any life-changing decision would have to be passed through the boss himself and Teddy knew she was right. Convincing the man to let his daughter move from New York to Florida was a powder keg waiting to explode. Teddy was sure there were reasons - safety, business, wanting his family together - and he respected them as best he could. He looked down at his pants before mumbling, "One can dream right?" It was an unfortunate circumstance, but he would have to deal with it for the time being.
Listening to the way Harmony spoke, he could tell she may have still had reservations about her chosen career. "Nah, I'm sure he is. You've overcome obstacles that stood in your way instead of succumbing to them. That alone is something to be proud of." He took a brief pause before continuing. "Think about it this way. The last memory they had of you is... Something different from who you are now." As he thought about himself, he often wondered if his own mother would be proud of the man he had become. She wanted him to settle down - both in life and with his behavior. He had done a good job of that until Valentina's attack and wondered if she would be okay with what he had done. She had always told him there were other ways to settle things, but he settled the score with a bullet. Sensing his mood was about to slip into a brooding mood, he shook his head. "In any case, you seem pretty great which is something to be proud of."
The mood shifted when Valentina mentioned how much fun she would have with their family. He let out a chortle before nodding his head. "Yep. But don't tell anyone back home; then everyone will be fighting to go on vacation with us." He joked. Listening as she explained she didn't really have anyone to confide in he glanced over to his children to make sure they weren't causing any issues. Francis seemed to have things under control, keeping Paolo from wrecking his sister's sandcastles. "It's important you find someone. Trust me, keeping everything bottled up is not a good idea." He was speaking from experience, Tony being the man's confidant. Teddy trusted the man with his life, family, and secrets. As she said she wouldn't trust the Taylor Brothers, he was suddenly curious as to why but kept it for another time. "Dark basements are the worst places to be. So cold and dingy and dark." His tone was light but his statement was very serious. "Yeah, no thanks. Sun and beaches with a beautiful woman suit me just fine." He turned to Valentina and pulled his sunglasses to the bridge of his knows so she could catch his wink.
Before Teddy was able to say anything more, Francis approached him. "What's up, bud?" Teddy asked. "Just curious... What else are we going to do today?" He tentatively asked. Teddy couldn't tell if the boy was asking because he was genuinely curious or if it were because his siblings had sent him to ask. Teddy looked over to his wife for an answer, seeing as the vacation had been mostly for her. "Ah, hmm... Well, we're going to dinner later tonight on a boat. As for everything else, that's up to your mother."
It didn’t take much convincing for Harper to get Billy on her side. To him, it wasn’t even worth asking his brothers’ or uncle’s opinions first. Harper already had a sharp mind, sharper than plenty of people Billy had worked with, and that would already put her ahead in the business, regardless of her ability to fight. Even if he couldn’t help but see her as too vulnerable around some of the shady individuals he came across to get involved in the action side of the business, it made no sense to him that she should go forth with no self-defence training. If Spencer, Alex or Bruce had a problem with that, he was confident he would be able to justify his decision.
Billy scoffed at Harper’s advance apology that she might scratch his eyes out with her freshly-done nails. “See, you’ve already got your own special move,” he grinned, only half-joking. “My fingernails wouldn’t leave a mark even if I tried. Sayin’ that, I’d quite like to keep my eyes, so if you don’t mind practicing on someone else…”
Eager to get up and brawl with his sister, Billy stood up and came over to her, glancing out of the window to briefly check the weather. She then took his hand and lifted it up to inspect the splinter he had been picking at, prompting him to turn his attention back on her. “Use what as excuse?” he called after her as she skipped off towards the living room. “What, you plan on hittin’ me with a splintery plank of wood? I’m a carpenter, Harp, I’m practically made of splinters!”
Of course, she came back just as determined to squeeze the splinter out as she was before. Billy let her tend to his hand, smiling at her endearing effort to fix the barely-noticeable damage. They hadn’t fought with the intention of actually hurting each other since they were both very young, but given what she was doing, Billy had a feeling his sister would jump to tend to even the slightest mark she left on him during their training session. As if to purposefully challenge his thoughts, she told him to prepare himself, at which he raised his eyebrows. “It’s like that, is it?” he teased back. “You don’t even know what’s comin’ to ya’, sis’!”
He watched as she hopped into the back garden before briefly checking his outfit to make sure it was as flexible for training as hers was. Just as he was about to follow her outside, he spotted a half-drunk bottle of beer on the counter and got an idea. He quickly drew the bottle towards him and drained it in one go before tossing the empty bottle up into the air and catching it by the neck.
“Harper,” he called to his sister with a grin as he stepped out into the garden. “Lower your fists. I’ve got something more fun!”
“This is something that could really happen, and when it does it’s almost always unexpected, so you need to know what to do,” he began. “You’re at the Taphouse, right? Some bloke’s causin’ trouble at the bar. Spencer ain’t around to toss him out on the street. Things are gettin’ nasty…” His voice had lowered to a menacing growl and he squared up to his sister, getting into character to help her picture the scene. “You step in, try to stop the fight before it starts, but he doesn’t respect that, ‘cause, see, now you’re in his way. So he turns on you first. He’s thinkin’, what’s the quickest way to shut this bird up?” As quickly as he finished his sentence, Billy swung his empty beer bottle in a neat strike at her head, stopping just short of hitting her. “Goodbye, Harper’s beautiful skull.”
After drawing the bottle away from her, Billy looked down and broke into a laugh. “Okay, so it’s a tad specific. But when someone draws a weapon on you - a knife, a gun, some blunt object like this - there’s probably gonna be a moment where you’re too stunned to move. If you know how to disarm them well enough that it’s second nature, you’re less likely to get hurt. We’ll start with the bottle ‘cause it’s easy and we’ve already got it out here.” Billy passed the bottle to Harper. “So you’re the attacker now - you try and hit me on the head and I’ll show you what I’d do, right?”
As Harper went to strike him, Billy demonstrated a swift block, pulling himself into her to restrict her movement and then twisting the bottle from her hand. He made her repeat the move slower so he could break down what he was doing, and then swapped roles so that she could have a go while he talked her through the motions.
“You’re a pretty athletic person and very switched on, so I reckon you’ll pick all this stuff up quick enough,” he complimented her. “I mean, self-defence is fun to learn and important to know so I’m happy to get together regularly to work on this kinda stuff with you if you want. But with the business...I mean, you already know the work can get dangerous. What exactly is it you’d want to do, if you were gonna join?”
Rikers Island Prison ~ Rikers Island, New York City ~
Lucy wasn't sure what to make of her husband's worry about her safety now that Giovanni was no longer able alive to keep the peace. She was more worried about him but she kept her worries to herself as she knew James would tell her not to and that he would be fine. Before she could press him further James changed the subject and drew her attention to Kurt, who was sitting a little ways away with a young man she recognized. Hearing that the man was new cellmate was interesting but her mouth pulled further into a frown as she heard the man initially wanted to hurt James. A small resemblance of a smile formed on her face as he mentioned that the man was practically brought up by her Uncle Jack along with Arlene. Lucy's mind briefly went to the moment back in New York where an image of her cousin's bloodied body had been sent to her house, confirming after she had been missing for some time that she was dead. Lucy thought about Arlene almost every day as the pair were very close...but she hadn't thought about that horrific day in years. Closing her eyes briefly, she shut the memory out and opened her eyes to return listening to her husband.
Hearing mention of Aidan, Lucy immediately remembered the man and was glad that he was taking care of Kurt's son. Lucy hadn't had a chance to meet with the young man yet, but since she knew that he lived in Dublin, she was sure she would meet him at some point while she visits. "I'll make sure he is well taken care of." Lucy promised. Hearing that Francesco Moretti had gotten a hold of the boys mother a few years back was heartbreaking and Lucy put a hand to her chest as she looked over at the young man for a moment. He seemed to be having a good chat with his father...seeing him with there with Kurt only made Lucy wish that Thomas would pull it together and just visit his own father.
"He's a good son for coming all this way to visit his father...Thomas has no excuse not to see you. I promise that I will give him a stern talking to and try to make up with him. After we make up I will force both him and Syd to come see you. I know Syd would love to see you but he rarely has time away for himself with work and all and then the kids on the weekends. But I'll make sure he finds time." Lucy said with determination in her voice before she tilted her head to get a better look at her husband. Each time she left, she felt like perhaps it would be the last time seeing him. Her therapist had talked to her many times about fortune telling and about how that alone could bring on huge bouts of anxiety...but Lucy felt her therapist didn't quite understand.
It was instilled in Lucy to expect the unexpected...even before James and her started dating, when she first realized her feelings for him...she feared for her father's life, her brother's life and his. There was this anxiety that probably had been instilled in her since birth that would never go away. Sure she could tame it, learn to control it from spiraling out of control and suffocating her in her own worries, but, it would always be there. "I miss you." Lucy finally said after a few moments of just looking into James's eyes. "I thought that perhaps after a year or two of you being in here...I would get use to it but...the days just seem to be getting harder and lonelier without you with me." Clenching her jaw to control her emotions, she swallowed hard before squeezing his hand in hers once more. "I'll go to Dublin...but I expect you to behave while I'm gone so that I can at least talk to you on the phone one in a while. I can always write letters but...it's just not the same as hearing you voice."
with: James Misty Gray
Blake's cheeks warmed as Adam told her that she looked amazing, "Thank you." She murmured gently before they fell into a very brief silence. He then stepped aside and invited her in to which she smiled wider and stepped a few feet inside. As he was closing the door, Blake took a moment to get a feel for everything in the house. "Ahh, yes. I will be judging your skills firmly." She teased back before following him around the place. He showed her the bathroom and the lounge before pointing to the window where there was a lovely garden. He then stated there was a garage on the side of the house before adding that he was always happy living in a small apartment as work kept him away from home. She remembered a time back in her day when she barely slept at home...her apartment while spacious was mostly just for show until Jackson and her started to settle down. Hearing that Adam had moved houses to keep his godchildren entertained surprised Blake a bit, not many men would bother changing their lifestyles for kids that weren't their own. "Ah I bet they have wonderful memories here already, and I'm sure you do as well." Blake said before chuckling as Adam added that the place was a grown-up's habitat.
He then led her into the kitchen and dining area asking if she'd like to take a seat while he finished slaving away. Nodding her head, she thanked him as he politely pulled out a seat for her opposite of him. Blake watched him with interest as he bustle around the kitchen, listening closely as he explained what he was making. "I'm excited to try Cuban food, I don't recall I've ever had it before." She told him with a smile. When he asked her what she wanted to drink, Blake thought about it for a moment before saying, "Hosts pick, I'm sure you have something good to pair with the food you make." She told him. Blake was very aware of how polite he was being with her and she was very impressed. Though she knew that Adam wasn't a womanizer...it was still strange to see him this way. But as Ali had said, it would feel weird at first no matter the circumstances. Adam seemed to have been reading her mind because he brought up Ali, asking her what the woman thought of their dinner date. "I stopped by the house to drop off Collin and Natasha. She was very enthusiastic about it." Blake said with a small laugh as she shook her head. "She's happy that I have chosen to make me happy. I think a lot of people were fearful that I was never going to recover from Jackson's death. But to be honest, you have my kids to thank for this. If they hadn't given me their permission to go out and date...I don't think I would have accepted." Blake said honestly.
"Ali always told me that I didn't need their permission and of course, I knew that but...everything I do...I do for my kids. And the last thing I need is for them to feel like I'm replacing their father, you know?" Blake realized then she was talking about some pretty heavy topics before shaking her head and putting it into her hands. "Ooo god, I'm totally ruining the mood you beautifully set up in here. I'm so sorry." Blake said as she moved her head up to look at him with a lopsided grin. "You know I didn't know if 13 years of not going on a date would make me lose the touch I once had but damn...I think I lost it. Quick, change the topic before I kill the mood anymore."
with: Adam Misty Gray
When Blake spoke of his godchildren probably having wonderful memories at his place, he smiled and nodded in agreement. "I like to think they do," he agreed. "I ain't ever had kids of my own... 'that I'm aware of', as Jas would say," he remarked, with a brief laugh. "My godchildren are the next best thing. I wasn't sure what Chase was smoking when he asked me to be their godfather, but I'm glad he did." Before then, Adam's only experience of looking after kids had been in the sense of surveillance and bodyguarding - ensuring the Sullivan, Porter, or Callahan children were all kept safe. With his godchildren, it was a different level. Whilst their safety was a priority, things were more personal. He engaged with them on a different level - having fun, talking to them, teaching them. It was just as rewarding as potentially saving their lives from some hostile enemy.
When Blake turned his question about drinks back onto him, Adam feigned a concerned expression. "Damn. The host picks..." he repeated her words. He opened the refrigerator and stared inside for for a short time. "I have beer, beer, milk, beer, fizzy pop..." he trailed off. "There's whisky, vodka, tequila, fuck knows what else, in the drinks cabinet," he added, shrugging his shoulders. He then flashed a mischievous smile before reaching into the refrigerator and pulling out a bottle of white wine. "I do believe German Riesling goes very well with ropa vieja," he confirmed. He popped the cork to open the bottle before approaching the table to pour them a glass each. After setting the bottle down in the centre of the table, he sat down for a minute, knowing the food needed just that little bit more time.
Adam smiled as Blake explained that Natasha was enthusiastic about the date, as well as Collin also giving his blessing. As expected, Jackson's name came up in the conversation. Although she admitted the conversation didn't exactly fit the mood of a date, he was in a way glad she'd brought it up. It saved him from tip-toeing over the elephant in the room. She had clearly spent time thinking about her late husband and the fact she hadn't cancelled the date made him confident that she was ready to take steps to further move on. "I'm sure they would never think you were trying to replace Jackson and I wouldn't dream of trying to replace him. The kids seem to have given their blessing and that sounds pretty mature of them. It seems to me like you've been very respectful of Jackson's memory and your children's feelings. Now, I would like to think tonight goes very well and I get to spend more time with you. But, even if I do make a mess of this, you shouldn't give up. You deserve to be happy, Blake, and to have someone to love. It ain't replacing Jackson. It's just starting your next chapter."
Adam laughed when Blake told him to change the topic before she killed the mood again. "Yeah, and don't let me get sentimental again, else we'll be too nauseous to enjoy dinner." Adam stood up and tended to the food again. Soon enough, he served the food onto the plates before carrying them to the table, setting their meals down on the placemats. "I hope you enjoy," he told her, glancing down to the food. After swallowing the first mouthful, he looked back to Blake. "Though something tells me the highlight for you is going to be watching me was the dishes in my apron and rubber gloves," he joked.
Once dinner was finished, Adam cleared the table, but left the dishes on the side for the time-being. Despite his assurances he was a domesticated man, he didn't want to waste time cleaning instead of being with Blake. Taking the bottle and glasses with them, Adam led Blake into the lounge and sat on the sofa next to her. "So, I don't think we called tonight an actual 'date', not officially, did we?" he curiously asked. "Regardless of whether this is a date or not, what is your ideal date?" he curiously asked her. It was alien territory for him to be doing things the 'proper' way; talking and getting to know a woman with the intention of seeking a genuine relationship. Up until the last few years, much of the interactions on dates had been primarily conducted for the sake of bedding whichever woman he was with. Not that he wouldn't take Blake to bed in a heartbeat, but it wasn't his reason for spending time with her and he was being genuinely respectful.
Rikers Island Prison ~ Rikers Island, New York City ~
James was glad to hear Lucy say she would make sure Benjamin was taken care of. Although he doubted there was anything he could have done to protect a boy he didn't know anything about at the time, he still felt some responsibility for the lad. Benjamin's mother had been killed by Francesco Moretti at a time when James himself had been running New York City. It was too late for ifs and buts, however, had he been only a year earlier in wiping out Francesco and most of the other Morettis, then perhaps Dolores would have lived to see her son grow up. "Even if Thomas doesn't want to come visit me, if he could at least talk to me on the phone..." James trailed off. "But I'd really like to see him and Syd soon."
"I miss you too, love," James told her, returning the gaze into her eyes. "I'm sorry this is hard for you. I think about you all the time," he told her. "In fact, thinking of you is probably what keeps me sane in this place, with so many fucking idiots here." James squeezed Lucy's hand in return. "As soon as you leave here, I want you to be making arrangements to go back to Dublin. Then if Moretti does have a sulk about Roxie being in charge, he can't take it out on our family in New York." He faintly smiled before his next words. "Behaving can be quite subjective in this place, Lucy. But I promise I'll do whatever I think is right while you're gone and we will talk on the phone," he told her. "And keep writing letters for me. I like to re-read them," he encouraged her.
The bell sounded and the CO called out for the visits to end. Time only seemed to fly by during visiting time, with the rest of his days slowly dragging on. James stood up so he could give Lucy another quick embrace as was permitted. However, without regard for the rules, James leaned in and gave his wife a loving kiss on the lips whilst his arms remained around her waist. "Inmate! Porter!" the guard shouted out from behind. James let go of Lucy and took a step back, keeping a bright smile on his face as he continued to put all of his focus on her. As he watched the visitors all leave the room, he was ordered to sit back down. Once he'd complied, the same OC who had berated him spoke up again, thankfully after all of the visitors were long gone from the room. "If your wife is getting lonely, I'll fill in for you and keep her warm," the man taunted him.
James knew the young, overweight OC was trying to get a rise out of him, but despite imagining beating the shit out of the man for disrespecting Lucy, James was too controlled to react violently on impulse. However, as his thoughts returned to Moretti's order for him to kill one of the new inmates - the supposed snitch - who was due out of isolation at any moment, the cogs began turning in James' mind. A snitch wouldn't last more than two days in prison once the inmates knew the truth. James couldn't stop the inevitable, but what he could prevent was being made to kill the man himself. Not only that, Moretti would soon enough realise James' value, considering only a few people knew of how James kept the illegal contraband moving through the prison, not to mention even fewer people were aware of where the drugs and weapons were hidden or stored.
James acknowledged all of the COs and some senior prison staff in the room. Not all of them were on Moretti's payroll and there were too many for anyone to turn a blind eye to what he was about to do. After clearing his throat, James spoke loud enough for Kurt to hear him. "Keep our cell tidy while I'm away, won't you?" he asked Kurt, despite not saying why he was making the request. Soon enough, it became evident. James suddenly stood up and turned on the guard who had disrespected Lucy. After dealing a heavy blow to the guard's face, following by a punch in the gut, he slammed the man's back against the wall. In an instant, he was surrounded by four officers. Despite him raising his hands in retreat, the COs still used force to restrain him, pushing him face first against the wall before cuffing his hands behind him back. As expected, the guards marched James out of the room and straight to 'the hole'.
At least he would get some peace and quiet there...
Ricky decided to hold his tongue when Reina pointed out that Roxie didn't live in New York. As far as he was concerned, much of the Biancardi business was situated there and as such, Roxie would have to consider spending more time there than in Dublin. Like Moretti and then Conor had done, she would have to make the decision to have her children move with her to wherever the business dictated. However, when the woman questioned him for having a meeting with Gabriel without Roxie there, it did rub him the wrong way. Not only had meetings with Moretti been a regular duty of Ricky's even when Giovanni was alive, but now more than ever it had been important for him to have that meeting. People were getting restless following Giovanni's death, so he hadn't had any choice but to represent his family and meet with Gabriel.
Regardless of Reina pointing out that Roxie must have knowledge and experience for Giovanni to have left her in charge, Ricky still disagreed. She hadn't had to witness the things he had over the years, not making impossible life or death decisions that would have to rest on her conscience for years to come. Still, he gave Roxie his full attention as she argued her point, highlighting her knowledge in other areas was useful. Although she didn't have a body count, she reminded him of her skills as a lawyer - something both he and Conor lacked. "Those are all valid points and I won't deny you have helped some questionable humans get off with their crimes over the years. I just hope your new title won't put you in an awkward position when in a courtroom." When Roxie mentioned Gabriel not having all of the US under his control, Ricky slowly nodded his head. "So you would propose focusing on business elsewhere, such as the West Coast? Because, between Florida, New York, New Jersey and whatever else he's got, the East Coast could end up off-limits for us. Not to mention, we'd be practically building a wall between the US and Dublin. Not that I'm particularly precious about Dublin."
Ricky let out a deep sigh when Roxie mentioned Giovanni not believing the truce between the Morettis and Sullivans would last much longer. "I get that," he said, nodding his head. "They're both stubborn as hell. But, I would strongly advise against cutting off the Morettis in favour of the Sullivans. Conor might have control of the trade with the Cubans, but Gabriel has Colombian contacts who I know he's been in contact with over the years. I don't think he'd still be wasting his time if he didn't expect to get something out of it."
Roxie told him to stand by her if he wanted to prove he cared for her. He let out a sigh before quickly nodding his head. "Seeing as I'll also lose out if you fuck this up, then I will work with you and teach you," he told her, allowing his serious face to break out into a brief smile. "You might have skills I lack, but I have a lot of the inside knowledge and the intricacies we can take advantage of to bend in our favour. So we need to combine our knowledge." He glanced to Julia when his cousin mentioned wanting to meet with Gabriel. The woman had been at the recent dinner and heard how Gabriel felt about Roxie's ascension to power. Still, he looked back to Roxie and nodded. "Well, if you're certain you want to meet with Dracula, I can arrange it. We can make sure the meeting is somewhere neutral."
Valentina found it sad to hear that Harmony didn't have anyone to confide in. She wasn't sure how she'd have survived her past ordeals without the likes of Teddy, Elvian and Tatiana to support her; people who she could trust with her thoughts and feelings. She had some idea of who the Taylor brothers were, but that was the side of the business her sister was more likely to be involved in than the side Gabriel begrudgingly allowed Valentina to help with. Although, even running the two hotels meant she came face-to-face with some of her father's employees on occasions. Some she liked, some were jerks, and a smaller number quite frankly creeped her out. "I suppose many of your colleagues aren't the kind you'd want to offload your feelings to. Not even Teddy's bestie, Tony," she said, pulling a teasing face as she thought of Tony. She was sure Teddy was in some way special to have gained the big guy's friendship, and Paolo was especially fond of Tony.
Valentina got the impression Teddy had been partly serious about moving to Miami and she couldn't blame him. It would be perfect. However, she knew how difficult it would be to convince Gabriel of it. As well as the man's stubbornness and concerns over his family's safety, she saw a nicer side to him when he was with the children and she wasn't sure if she had the heart to take them away from him. No matter how much she'd resented moving to New York in the first place and the strict rules she'd grown up with, she couldn't help but feel it would be cruel to take a big part of his family away without his blessing. "Maybe a work in progress?" she diplomatically suggested. "We could become so annoying that he'll be glad to see the back of us," she joked.
Valentina diverted her eyes off into the distance at mention of dark basements. She knew enough about the night Steve was tortured and killed for the attack he'd carried out on her. Although she didn't witness his punishment, she'd formed her own images of what had happened by filling in the gaps of the sequence of events she'd been told about. Whilst it was a dark and disturbing thing to imagine, there was also a part of her to this day remained glad Steve suffered. Still, she shared the sentiment that the beach was infinity better than the dark basements where her father's employees often conducted their work. She turned back to look at Teddy as she felt he'd addressed her. She'd looked just in time to see him wink at her. She sent him a playful smile as her cheeks blushed a little. When they'd first got to the beach, she'd had some insecurities about seeing all of the younger, attractive women around. Not to mention Harmony herself. But those had been fleeting thoughts and she knew when she looked at Teddy that she didn't have anything to be concerned about. Perhaps the Teddy over 13 years ago might have caused her concern, but since the time he hadn't left her hospital bedside, she'd trusted the man with her heart.
Valentina had been toying with flirting back, but she decided to spare Harmony the awkwardness. Soon enough, Francis approached them and made it easier to avoid responding to Teddy in kind. She listened as her eldest child asked what else they were going to do. Valentina caught her husband's look and she didn't immediately respond, instead listening as Teddy mentioned the evening meal they had planned. When her husband left the decision to her, she looked to Francis and softly smiled. Valentina had always wanted to be more lenient with her children and give them a less strict upbringing than she'd had. That didn't mean she didn't have any happy memories from her childhood, regardless of how much she resented the suffocating atmosphere her father had often created. She remembered family holidays fondly. Partly because they were one of the only occasions everyone was together, but also because they'd all been happy and even Gabriel had let his guard down. They were some of her favourite childhood memories. Regardless of how exhausted she had been and how relaxing on the beach was long overdue, she didn't want to waste the chance to create some good memories for her three children. "You know, I think we've had a lovely time on the beach and I will probably fall asleep if I lay in the sun much longer. That would be a waste of Miami," she decided. Sitting up straight, she looked to Francis and smiled. "Let's take our things back to the cottage, then we can all make our way to the fun fair. We can get some junk food for lunch while we're there."
Although he still believed he was in the right and didn't regret telling Savannah to stop taking Callum to Dublin for extended periods of time, Spencer did feel bad that in doing so, he might have made it even harder for his family to see Callum. Savannah had gone back to Dublin to spend time with her grieving friend, but she still hadn't returned despite it had being weeks ago. Not only was he frustrated, but he simply missed spending time with his little nephew, as he was sure Alex and the others were missing Callum too. Not only that, he knew he'd probably made things hard for Shona and Harper, who were both friends with Savannah. However, the fact still remained, that he he didn't think it was right for her to keep taking Callum away from London without giving a second thought for Alex's side of the family.
For most of the afternoon, Spencer had finally got to work on finishing decorating the nursery and building up the cot bed that had been on his to do list for a few weeks. There had been the odd expletive heard from his voice, coming from their unborn child's future bedroom, though it wasn't always certain if it was his response to DIY frustrations or the football game he had playing out on the radio. He supported neither Everton nor Luton, but he'd put a bet on the former winning the semi-final match. Thankfully a second goal in extra time meant Everton won, but more importantly, Spencer had some winnings to collect tomorrow too.
Spencer then spent the first part of the evening with Shona, cuddled up close to her on the sofa whilst she waited for Shirley to arrive. "I don't know how I managed to pull a gorgeous woman like you," he told her as he studied her face. "I'm definitely punching above my weight," he joked. Keeping his arm around her shoulder, he sat back on the sofa and gazed towards the pictures on the wall. "The little kid's gonna love that room, y'know," he assured her.
Hearing the knocking at the door, Spencer rushed to his feet to answer it, giving Shirley a friendly greeting before letting her into the house. At least his wife had a new friend to spend time with and Spencer was happy that she'd invited Shirley over again this evening. He didn't sit back down, instead checking his watch before flashing a boyish smile. "Alright, ladies. I've got a couple of things to collect from the pub," he said, not going into detail about what it was on account of Shirley being present and the items in question not being of legal origins. "It won't take long," he assured them. "I'm going to pick up a takeaway on the way back. Do you both have any preference about what kind of food you fancy eating?" he asked them.
Once the decision had been made, Spencer put his coat on and grabbed his wallet, slotting into his back pocket. After leaning in to give Shona a soft kiss, he left the two women in peace and stepped out of the house, grumbling to himself about the ongoing rain shower.
Although the pubs were no doubt packed out for a Saturday evening, the streets from Spencer's house in the direction of the ten minute walk to The Royal Taphouse were relatively quiet. The rain had eased off for the first few minutes of the walk, prompting Spencer to light up a much needed cigarette. He'd barely started smoking it when the rain kicked in again. Not wanting to waste a cigarette by letting it get wet and soggy, Spencer stopped under the nearby empty bus shelter so he could enjoy his smoke. Noticing his left bootlace had come untied, he kicked the relevant foot up onto the narrow bench in the bus shelter, balancing the cigarette between his lips to free up both hands to tie his soggy bootlace.
Adam didn't make a habit of working out on a Saturday evening, but when he did, there tended to be other motives behind his presence in his gym. Still training Thomas in his new role for the Irish Mob, Adam was involving the young man in a planned drop-off of drugs. Before heading out into the large public gym studio, Adam was briefing Thomas from inside his office. Peering through the gaps in the venetian blinds, he pointed to the door near the entrance which led into the male changing rooms. "We need to keep our eyes out for him entering the changing room. Bald-headed, lion tattoo on his calf, and a dark blue holdall. Only when he exits the changing rooms back into the gym, without the bag, do you retrieve the bag from locker 42," he instructed Thomas, handing him the spare locker key. "Bring the bag back into this office, then we'll then check over the contents and stash it in the safe. The cash will then be returned in the bag and the bag put back into the same locker."
Once everything had been confirmed, Adam led Thomas out of the office, locking the door behind them. "For now, how about we get some practice in over there," he told him, pointing to the area comprising of punchbags and various other combat equipment. "Not only should we be working on our strength and fighting skills, but this also happens to give us a good view of the main entrance and the changing room door." Adam retrieved a couple of strips of material from his pocket and began wrapping his hands with the cloth to keep them protected from the impact once he started practicing. "There's some spare, clean ones over in that box," he told him, pointing towards one of the shelves.
As they warmed up, Adam made sure to keep his eyes on the main entrance. The courier wasn't expected for a good half hour, but Adam wanted to stay on the ball. "How are things going then, Tom?" he curiously asked. "Have you spoken with your mother much since she decided to stay in Dublin for a while? And your sister?" he curiously asked. "I've got Olivia in here tomorrow afternoon for an interview, so it sounds like they're not rushing back to New York, huh? Olivia's already got plenty of experience and it's always good to have people working here who know about your uncle's business. Don't tell her, but she's practically already got the job, I just want to see if she genuinely wants it. And, if she's anything like her mother, Arlene, was I'm confident she'll keep some of the blokes here in line."
Adam grabbed himself a pair of boxing gloves, but set them on the floor for the time-being as he did some warm-ups. After another glance to the door and the clock, he addressed Thomas again. "I keep forgetting to ask. Have you seen the barmaid, Elena, since the other week? I've got to hand it to her, I didn't think she'd last two minutes in that pub. I've checked in on the place a few times and her juggling skills have improved too," he remarked, remembering the young woman dropping a glass when he'd first met her.
With Peter and Braden having gone to London on business, Sinead was thankful to have Hattie and Callum to look after, if only to distract her from worrying tonight. With Savannah having to stick around in Dublin for the foreseeable, Sinead had encouraged her daughter to have fun catching up with family and friends whilst she gladly babysat for Callum. With both of her grandchildren occupied playing with their toys on the carpet, Sinead sat on one of the sofas beside Liam. She put her arm around him and pulled him in tightly so she could kiss him on the forehead. Without any witnesses other than the two littles ones, Liam didn't fight off his mother's hugging on this occasion. Sinead released him from her warm hold and studied the boy's troubled face for a moment, hating seeing him look so troubled.
Liam had attended the church for the full week of detentions, but even after that, he'd felt drawn to the place and to hearing more from Father Healy. Even when he'd completed his detentions, he'd still been in the church since. Along with his mother, he'd attended a couple of Easter services as well as Mr. Moore's funeral. He didn't know why, but he felt it was a place he could go to think in peace, without his mother worrying about why he was so quiet and without others trying to drag him out of his shell. He was taking the things Silas had told him seriously, so his mind was often focused on how he could help his family; to make sure they could repent and go to heaven. "What are Dad and Brady doing in London? They're not going to get in trouble, are they?" he finally asked Sinead.
"In trouble? Oh, no, sweetheart. They're just away on business. They're not in any danger and they know how to be careful," she softly reassured him.
"Okay, that's good. And they're going to get in trouble?" he asked again.
"Ohhh. You mean the police? Of course not. They're wise and mature, believe it or not," she said, with a small laugh. "You remind me so much of how I was when I was younger," she told him. She remembered never wanting a part of the family business, even trying to talk her siblings and parents out of it. She wasn't religious, but she didn't condone the criminal lifestyle either. She always believed in the power of love and showing others mercy. Amongst many other things, she'd always been called a naive idealist or a dreamer. Eventually, she was forced to endure the pain and suffering that came with being related to the mob. She only hoped Liam wouldn't have to live through it too. She hoped he would make his own path in life, far from breaking the law. She wasn't sure if she believed in God, but she did believe in encouraging her children to do what they enjoyed doing if there was no danger to come from it. "I can take you to church on Sunday, if you'd like that?" she offered. When Liam quickly nodded his head in agreement, she sent him a warm smile. "Then it's a deal, but only if you promise to cheer up today. Your Auntie Lucy and your cousins are due any minute. I'm sure JJ will want to play some games with you."
The Oak Tree Restaurant ~ Dublin City Centre, Dublin ~
Savannah had returned to Dublin over two weeks ago to support Roxie as the woman grieved for Matthew. It had soon come to light and been brought to Conor's attention that the Kings had been hassling his niece about her decisions to spend time in Dublin with Callum. More specifically, Spencer had been putting pressure on Savannah for her to stop taking Callum away from London. Whilst Conor appreciated the man's commitment to his young nephew, he happened to favour his own family over the Londoners, especially considering it was Alex's sleeping around that had led to the current problems. Although Savannah had intended to return to Dublin two days ago, Conor had refused to allow it and had ordered his niece to remain in Dublin for the time-being. Not only did he take offence to anyone intimidating Savannah, but he also took Spencer's hostility as an attack on the Sullivans as a whole. He knew the man well enough to determine he was cocky and liked to throw his weight around, therefore he needed to be put in his place. Much to Savannah's protests, Conor had arranged for Peter, Syd and some others to pay Spencer a visit and put him in his place. He was sure his niece would soon forgive him for protecting her.
Knowing how much his work often took him away from spending quality time with his family, Conor tried to have all of the family together at least once a month. Tonight, he'd arranged for them all to have dinner together at the restaurant and afterwards he intended on them all hanging outback at the house. At the rectangular table, Conor seated himself next to Sydney, with Rhiannon, Aliana and Leo sat across from him. His youngest daughter was the easiest to read, so he wanted to see the others' faces across from him as they talked. Just because he was busy with work, it didn't mean he wasn't keen to keep track on what his immediate family were up to, which also meant ensuring they were all being open with him. He'd always hoped to be around his kids more and have a much more relaxed approach to fatherhood, but his position in the family business meant he'd had to take a different path in life.
As the waiter brought out the menus, the young man made a point as ensuring Conor took one particular menu from him and sent a curious nod as he did. "Thank you, Jerome. I'll be sure to tip well for this," he informed his employee. Conor opened up the nearby children's menu and set it down in front of Sydney. "See if any of those take your fancy," he said, knowing the food photos might at least catch her attention. Conor then sent Aliana a knowing look before he placed his own menu down flat on the table, opening it out to reveal a brown envelope. He peered inside the envelope to see a number of photographs concealed. After catching sight of the first one, he was confident the images were clear enough to be useful, even if he didn't recognise those in the pictures. He picked up the envelope and casually slotted it into the inside pocket of his jacket. Having already pre-warned Aliana, she would be aware the photographs were supposedly of the vehicle belonging to the gunman and driver responsible for Matthew's death, but also a third assailant who had been keeping watching over Roxie during her family meal at the pizzeria. The trouble was, Conor's knowledge and access to the photographs was to remain a secret, with Roxie and most of Conor's own family unaware they existed, yet. He wouldn't say anything until he was able to follow up on potential leads and provide Roxie with the answer as to who killed Matthew. Given that he'd had men keeping watch over the woman since the uncertainty that grew from her replacing Giovanni, he didn't want to drop that bombshell on her without softening the blow by gifting her the identity of her fiance's killer.
"Well, I know what I'm having. A nice big steak," he announced, with a pleased smile on his face. He then looked to Sydney and playfully poked her shoulder with his index finger. "What about you, kiddo? A plate full of cabbage and broccoli, right?" he teased. Clearly in a playful mood, Conor closed his menu and sent Aliana a mischievous smile before turning his attention on Leo, saving Rhiannon for the moment. "Leo, you could have invited Natasha, you know. How are you both getting on now?" he curiously asked. Things had been quite tense between the two at the wake, but he was aware Leo and Natasha had since spent time together to make up for it.
Rikers Island Prison ~ Rikers Island, New York City ~
It had been nearly three weeks since James had last seen Lucy, or just about anyone else, for that matter. After attacking the guard, he'd been dragged to the hole and had been kept in solitary confinement ever since. Other than the odd snide comment from various COs who delivered his meals through the hatch, and the whole two showers he'd been permitted, James hadn't had any human interaction or contact since being shut away in the tiny cell. A concrete slab for a bed, as well as a toilet and a sink were all that furnished his cell he'd resided within for the three weeks. Despite having some COs on side, the rest had pulled out all the stops to make James' time in the hole miserable after he'd fractured their colleague's jaw. The first few days had been easy enough, with James focusing his thoughts on his family and trying to figure out how he was going to handle Moretti. There was also enough space for him to perform various bodyweight exercises and stretches throughout the day. However, things got old very quickly and James spent the rest of the days feeling lethargic and somehow managing to sleep too much on the concrete slab that passed off as a coverless bed.
Today was finally the day James was released from confinement and lead straight to the showers to clean himself up. He was then escorted to the exercise yard to join the rest of the prisoners from his wing. The natural sunlight seemed blinding at first, causing him to squint a little as his eyes adjusted to finally being out of the dark cell. He acknowledged Kurt, but decided to take some time out first to stretch his legs by walking the perimeter of the yard a few times. He was soon approached by Nicholas, and for a moment, James was actually missing the deafening silence he'd lived through for the last three weeks. "You'll be pleased to know Finch is still alive and well," Nicholas said, pointing to the snitch in question, who was sat at one end of the yard on his own. "I made sure the prisoners knew to leave him alone, so we could save him all for you. Mr. Moretti understands you couldn't exactly kill him from your sleepover in solitary confinement."
James pinched the bridge of his nose, frustrated to learn Gabriel's order to kill Finch hadn't resolved itself during his time of peace in the hole. As James reached seating area he looked to Nicholas. "Alright, great chat. Now, fuck off," he growled at the man. Despite a smirk, Nicholas did as instructed and left James in peace. Walking over to Kurt, James sat on the bench alongside his cellmate. "Sorry for my unannounced vacation. I needed some peace and that prick guard talking shit about Luce gave me enough motivation to get dragged away there and then," he remarked. "Have you been doing alright? How did your visit with Benjie go?" he asked, feeling glad to be out having a normal conversation again.
Meanwhile, Nicholas approached [the second] James and Bradley, sending them a friendly smile. "There's your 'top dog'," he informed them. As he did, he pointed to James Porter. He was sure the two would recall the conversation a few weeks ago where he'd suggested Bradley got on Porter's good side if he wanted to survive. "Albeit, he's a little cranky from being put on the naughty step," he joked.
Chapter 4: Confrontations Saturday 13th April 1985 ...3 weeks later... Dublin: Evening - Mild, Heavy Rain, Overcast London: Evening - Mild, Light Showers, Overcast New York City: Afternoon - Sunny, Warm, Cloudy
****************************** Roxie Carriveau
En route to Burger Joint ~ On Broadway + W. 76th NY, NY ~
Roxie hadn't wanted to leave Dublin...not while she was still in her never-ending grief but Ricky made it clear that business needed to be attended to and her professional personality wouldn't let her live it down if she decided to bail last minute. It had been weeks since she had seen her kids, making a point to leave them out of her grieving for their emotional wellbeing while also wanting to make sure they were safe. A few days before she left, she arranged for Syd to drop off the kids with her for a little while after she scoured the house in cleaning supplies in an attempt to get rid of the smoke smell. The kids didn't say a thing about the house smelling of smoke so Roxie knew she had done a good job. They had attended Matthew's funeral together but after the formal services were out of the way, his parents made it clear that she had outstayed her welcome. The kids were upset that she would be leaving to go back to New York after her not seeing them in a little while, and she understood the attitude that she was given. She tried to make the best of the time they spent together before dropping them back off at Syd's place. When it was announced that he would also be leaving to go to London, Roxie had to think hard about her decision in going to New York. It was rare that both of them would be gone at the same time, leaving the kids with one of their many relatives. While Roxie trusted the Sullivans, she was worried about her children's safety regardless of both her and Syd's absence. She had been about to call off her trip when Lucy gave her a call the day before she was scheduled to leave. She told her that she was in town and would be more than happy to watch her grandbabies while she was in New York. Despite having their differences in the past, Lucy and Roxie had become extremely close over the years even after Roxie had broken up with Syd. When her mother passed, Lucy was the only maternal and parental figure she had left. She made sure for the kid's sake and a bit of her own to keep in contact with the woman, even going so far as to visit her in New York from time to time when her schedule allowed.
With her worries eased, Roxie felt she had no other choice but to head to New York, and the day prior to today, she landed early in the morning at JFK Airport with Reina practically glued to her side. She was aware of how much the young woman didn't like airplanes, so she continued to express her appreciation for coming along. Now that she was expected to be in New York more often, Roxie had spent a lot of her first day in the city distracting herself by looking at local apartment listings. She hoped that by purchasing a place in New York, it would ease people's minds a bit...but she knew that her being located in New York wasn't all that others were worried about. After looking at many locations, Roxie had settled on one in her family's territory...not too far from Lucy's home. After handing over the deposit, she signed her name on a nice 4 bedroom townhouse. She wanted to make sure she had enough space for the children in case she needed to relocate.
After spending most of the day in her hotel room making arrangements for furniture purchases, she had settled on getting ready for her meeting with Gabriel. After dressing practically for the occasion, Roxie turned to Reina with a nervous expression on her face. "Do I look okay?" She asked before she let out a small scoff, "I mean, I don't care about my appearance...I just want to know if I look the part...I guess." Roxie bit her bottom lip lightly before shaking her head and moving to pack a few things in her purse. The last time she had met with Gabriel had been back in 1972 shortly after her entire world had been flipped upside down. Remembering that meeting brought up a lot of forgotten feelings that she had to work hard to keep in check. Those feelings had temporarily seized her as her hands froze. Her lower lip began to tremble. She had gone about 3 days without breaking down into tears, which was the longest she had gone so far but now everything seemed to be flooding back to her. It wasn't just the meeting that was making her feel this way, it was the fact that the last time she had been in New York, she had been with Matthew. It was strange that it didn't hit her as soon as she got off the plane but her therapist had reminded her that grief could come at any moment, no matter how odd.
Clearing her throat, Roxie forced her hands to move to her suitcase. Although Ricky and she had decided to meet with Gabriel in a neutral setting, Roxie wasn't going to take any chances in terms of protection. She had once carried around a gun religiously when it was just the kids and her. But after she met Matthew, she felt that she no longer needed to carry such a thing in her purse so she decided to lock it away in the safe. As she lifted it from her suitcase, she stared at it for a long silent moment. Besides her children, the gun in her hands was the only thing left from her relationship with Syd. He had given it to her shortly after they moved to Ireland and taught her how to use it. Her thumb rubbed across the cool metal barrel briefly before she moved to load it. Making sure the safety was on, she moved it into her purse. Looking to Reina, Roxie offered the young woman a soft smile, "Ready for the most torturous meeting of your life?" She said, her voice void of enthusiasm.
The phone rang and Roxie moved to answer it, the front office was letting her know that her car had arrived. After hanging, up Roxie took one more look at her appearance in the mirror before moving to hang her purse over her shoulder. "Let's go get this over with." She said to Reina before the pair walked out the door.
Once in the car, Roxie looked to Ricky, taking in his appearance. "You look nice." She commented before sighing. When the car headed onto the street, Roxie looked out the window at the city passing her by. "I know that I said that I would continue to do most of my business from Dublin, but...I ended up putting down a deposit on this townhouse in Queens. Figured it would get you and some of the others off my ass." Roxie told her cousin with a small smirk.
with: Reina Melanin-Gxdess
; Ricky Misty Gray
The Funky Cat ~ Dublin City Center, Dublin ~
The business had been pretty slow throughout the last week and Lorelei was starting to feel a little discouraged. It was slow enough for her to focus on the little things that needed to be fixed around the club which almost never happened. Benjamin saved her from fixating on anything by calling her earlier in the week to schedule the shoot they had planned weeks earlier. To say Lorelei was excited to see him again was an understatement. She had tried her best not to put all her time into thinking about when he would call her again but during the slow week, she had thought about him on more than one occasion. Thanks to her co-workers, Lorelei was about to catch up with her parents and little brother this morning, making sure to spend as much time as she could with them all before having to go to work.
The club was already opened by the time she got into the parking lot and Lorelei was pleasantly surprised to see the line of people waiting to get in. Walking past the line, she greeted her bouncers and asked for a quick security update before walking inside. Looking around as she made her way to the bar, she was happy to see that everyone was enjoying themselves. Karaoke was well underway and the live bands would go on later in the evening. Moving to behind the bar, she made sure to stay out of the way so that her bartenders could continue to do their work efficiently. Katy, one of her oldest friends and in Lorelei's personal opinion-one of the best bartenders she had, stopped to smile at her. "Clubs really booming tonight, Rory! You must be relieved." She said loudly, trying to compete with the drunken couple who was singing on stage.
Lorelei nodded her head and returned the blonde's smile, "I was getting worried! After all, I promised that photographer a full house for the shoot. You know how much I like to keep my promises. Plus, I was afraid I would have to start sending some of you home! Glad that people didn't forget about us." The redhead said before her eyes moved to scan the crowd from behind the bar. Katy briefly turned to get drink orders before turning back to Lorelei with a smirk on her face. "Look at the disappointment all over your face! I haven't seen you so excited to see someone since you dated that trashy American. God, what was his name again?" Lorelei rolled her eyes and frowned, "Let's not bring him up and ruin my mood okay?" She told her friend before her eyes once again looked out into the crowd.
"I'm going to go remind the bouncers who I am looking for. I'll be back in a little while!" Lorelei said before moving out from behind the bar and back into the crowd of people. She was stopped several times by her own employees who discussed issues some of the guests were having along with addressing to her that they didn't have enough seats. After Lorelei helped solve those issues, she continued to push through the crowd until her eyes found the familiar face she had been looking for. "Benjamin!" Lorelei called out, hoping the man would be able to hear her over the noise. She waved her hands out and once she had his attention, she motioned for him to follow her towards the kitchen hallway where it was less crowded and somewhat quieter. Once they were in the hallway together, Lorelei smiled. "Nice to see you again! Like I promised, this place is a madhouse. A little too mad because we ran out of seating. Do you want something to drink or to eat before you get started?"
with: Benjie Misty Gray
Ahead of his work, Billy had called Erik to meet him at the pub instead of his house, knowing he would only get impatient to see him if he waited alone. So instead he surrounded himself with familiar noise and sat with a pint of London Pride in his hand, gazing off into the distance. In his head, he was trying to solve a problem that he had caused. It seemed too often lately that he had been the one to mess up: first, by putting an unstable man in the backseat of his car without tying him up, and now, by losing a useful contact. A few weeks prior, Billy and Erik had met with a woman called Mary Rowland. She wasn’t a big name, only because she kept his identity shrouded in secrecy, so very few ever heard of her even in the criminal underworld. For those who did come in contact with her, however, she always proved useful. The service she was offering the Kings was the use of a storage unit that she had registered under a false name, and had given Billy a number on which to contact her when they were ready to pick up the key.
He was drawn out of his brooding when the door opened to reveal Erik. Had it been one of his brothers walking in, his heart would probably have sunk. He had a degree to back up his intelligence but as the youngest active member of the gang he still felt particularly pressured to never make any foolish mistakes or let the family down. With Erik, however, there wasn’t that same level of pressure. Especially since the incident in the backseat of his car. First it had pushed them apart, but after a couple of weeks, the pair got back into their usual stride and it became clear that the incident had deepened their understanding of each other. Still, he knew Erik was expecting a productive evening, so he wasn’t keen to disappoint him.
“You’re gonna think I’m a bloody idiot,” Billy sighed, before Erik had even reached him at the bar. “Remember in the meeting we had with Rowland a few weeks back, she gave us her number so we could call her on the day to let her know we were coming? Well...that was the same day we picked up that Trevor bloke. I left the note with her number on in the car...right before we got the seats replaced.” With another sigh, Billy shook his head and let his gaze fall to his drink. “It’s gonna be a real ball ache tryin’ to track her down again. If we don’t call her, she’s gonna think we changed our minds. It’s not like we’d find her loitering around the place if we turned up unannounced, the woman’s too elusive. I mean, she’s probably forgotten about us by now, anyway. New shipment coming in soon and nowhere to store it…Spencer’s gonna love me.”
Billy looked up to Erik and the gloom in his eyes lifted slightly. Even if Erik was angry or disappointed in him, his face would still be comforting. He pulled out the barstool beside him and patted the worn leather seat. “What’s your poison, then? It's on the house, if you’ll sit with me and help me work out what to do.”
Ever since bumping into Savannah at her grandmother’s wake, Danny had been waiting for his next chance to see her. It had been difficult to find a time, between his work, her trips to London and of course with the family dealing with Matthew Moore’s murder, but eventually he gave in and decided to give her a call. Even though he figured she had a lot on her plate, he had got the impression when they had seen each other that she would be interested in catching up with him, so he asked her out for a drink. He never addressed it as a date - just an opportunity for the two to get to know each other again after living at a distance for long.
For someone who hadn’t been in his life for 13 years, Savannah found her way into Danny’s mind surprisingly often. The thought of her had him smiling every time, and even while he was busy with work he still found himself wondering what she was up to, and about what they might talk about when they went out for their drink. The place he had chosen was one of the quieter pubs that looked out over the sea, called Scallion’s Pub. It was dimly lit and cosy, with a fire roaring in the corner to provide a comforting contrast to the grisly April showers that were slowly drowning the city. Danny had got them a table beside the window with a prime view of the ocean, although with the sky losing its light it was getting harder to see past his own reflection.
Catching sight of himself, Danny smoothed back his hair with the palm of his hand and adjusted his collar. He was far from the nervous type, but their meeting still meant a lot to him. She had once been the most important person in his life and since it was the long distance that had been the cause of their break up 13 years prior, he had never really got much closure on their relationship.
While there were enough customers in the pub to allow for a private conversation, people weren’t pouring through the doors, so when he heard footsteps on the wooden staircase, he looked up expectantly. Upon seeing her, Danny immediately smiled. “Savannah,” he greeted her, as he got out of his seat. “It’s good to see you. You look beautiful.” Taking a step towards her, he gave her a brief yet warm hug. Once they were both sitting at the table, Danny looked across to her with a soft look in his eyes. “So, how’re you doin’, Sav?” he asked. "Been one hell of a month...you holdin' up okay?" He hadn’t intended on diving straight in, but it didn't feel appropriate to move forward without at least acknowledging the elephant in the room. “How was it being back in London?"
Although he wouldn’t say it aloud, Chase was surprised that Michael was still going to church three weeks later. The boy had been going to a Catholic school for his whole life, yet had never expressed a personal interest in it until he had gone along to Liam’s detention. It was hard to detect much of a change in his son’s behaviour since he had always been the pensive type rather than outwardly expressing himself, but his newfound interest in religion didn’t appear to be affecting him significantly or negatively, so he was happy to support him without too many questions asked.
Since it had been raining for most of the day, the Zegarra family had spent their Saturday doing leisurely indoor activities. Chase was always happy to have a free, uneventful Saturday that he could spend with Jasmine and the children instead of going to work. The murder of Matthew Moore was the most recent example of how suddenly the peace could be snatched away, so he knew to make the most of every minute he got to spend with his loved ones. Of course, having three children didn’t make life particularly peaceful anyway, but he still wouldn’t change it for the world.
“Buenas noches, mis angelitos,” Chase murmured softly through the dimly lit room that Safia and Emilia shared. Their sleepy faces glowed under the coloured night lights that gently shone beside their pillows, worn out from a day of playing, squealing and making a mess. Once he had pulled their bedroom door to, Chase made his way back to the living room where Michael and Jasmine were waiting for him, and turned on the TV. “How much have we missed?” he asked himself before landing on the right channel and sitting down. He had seen that The Ladykillers was due to be on, and as a classic British film that neither he nor Michael had ever seen before, he thought it would be a good way to end a Saturday night.
“What’s it about?” Michael asked, from between his parents.
“It’s about a gang of thieves who rent a room from an old lady under the disguise of a band of musicians,” he explained with some uncertainty. “I’m not sure - the newspaper says it’s a ‘classic comedy crime caper’, so I’m sure if we watch, we’ll know what they mean.”
“Are they going to kill the old lady?”
“I hope not!” he chuckled. “Unless she’s evil, like one of those evil Disney witches. Then she might deserve it.”
The room fell quiet as the opening title sequence rolled. Chase relaxed his arm behind Michael’s head, his hand gently resting against Jasmine’s shoulder, and he turned to look at her with a soft smile. Michael, however, had his eyes fixed on the television. The music turned perilous as ‘THE LADYKILLERS’ appeared in dark font on the screen, accompanied with the familiar image of a gun, which, to his untrained eye, looked just like the ones his father had.
“Mom, dad,” he spoke up, still gazing ahead at the screen. “Have you ever killed someone?”
Michael’s question came as such a surprise to Chase that he at first couldn’t figure out how to respond. “What makes you ask that, Miguelito?”
“Well…me and Liam were talking to Father Healy at church after Mr. Moore was killed, and he said that killing someone was a mortal sin and if you kill someone and don’t repent then you go to Hell forever.” Michael looked up at Chase, and then at Jasmine. “So, have you ever killed someone?”
The Oak Tree Restaurant
~Dublin City Centre, Dublin~ Aliana Cartwright-Sullivan Leo Sullivan
For the past few weeks, Aliana had been keeping herself busy with her children and business. Between ice skating practices, taking Sydney to orchestras, and handling the businesses, she thought all of it would keep her mind busy. The unforeseen murder of Matthew had taken up a fair portion of Conor's time along with anything thing else that popped up. Though she was accustomed to this sort of thing, she found herself growing more annoyed and frustrated. It was starting to remind her of the time he spent in prison, away from his son. Rhi and Syd were still young and needed their father around just as much as they needed her. While the two seemed to understand their father was a busy man and held no ill feelings towards him, Ali didn't like it. Just as she was about to speak to him about it and air her concerns, he approached her about having dinner as a family. It saved her from having an argument she wasn't in the mood for and got her what she wanted. Ali secretly prayed and hoped nothing would go amiss on their family night - anytime there was supposed to be a peaceful night, someone or something found a way to ruin it. She was definitely going to lose her shit if the night didn't go as planned.
Ali watched as Jerome approached their table, handing out menus. She smiled and thanked him while watching her husband. He informed her as they were getting ready together that there would be one little business thing at dinner. She made sure to inform him that it was to be the only business conducted for the remainder of the evening. It was one night from the craziness of everything and she wanted them all to enjoy it. Seeing the brown envelope, she looked to see if Rhiannon and Leo were watching as well, glad to see they were in conversation about something else. Sydney, on the other hand, had been about to look up to her father before Ali called out to her. "Sydney, if you pick what you want to eat first, you can have crayons to color."
The young girl's eyes grew wide at the thought as she quickly looked over her menu, shaking her head at her father's question. "Um, no. Broccoli is little trees which means they have little squirrels and it's not nice to eat their home." Ali just stared at her for a moment, opening her mouth to correct her when she decided against it. Her imagination had always been wild and once she believed something it was hard to get her to reconsider. She looked at Conor and just shook her head before smiling at him. "I want chicken fingers. And apple sauce." Sydney stated, looking up to Conor. "I chosed what to eat. Crayons, please." Ali reached for the four crayons packaged together before sliding them across the table. "Remember: only on the menu, kid. Not the table." Ali warned. Her attention turned towards Rhiannon and Leo once Conor asked about Natasha. "Yeah, it would have been nice to have your future girlfriend out with us." She teased.
"Girlfriend? Please. Natasha isn't talking to Leo right now; he pissed her off again." Ali reached over to pinch her arm, narrowing her eyes. "Language," she warned before turning to Leo. "What happened? I thought everything would have been great after your date." Rhiannon looked to Leo again, beckoning him to tell the family what happened. Leo took a heavy sigh as he rubbed the back of his neck. "I-... Honestly don't know where it started to go wrong. For the first like fifteen minutes, I didn't realize it was a date, right, and I guess once I did everything started going downhill from there. We got into a stupid argument - which wasn't my fault - and now she's upset again. Hasn't talked to me since." Rhiannon just shook her head and reached for her glass of water. "You just have a knack for pissing off your friends don't you?" Her statement earned another pinch from Ali as she glared at her. "Language, Rhi." She turned to Leo and shook her head. "But she's right. What did you guys even argue about?" Leo hesitated for a moment, looking between his parents. His eyes lingered on Conor's as he opened his mouth. Leo was aware that Ali didn't want to talk about the family business tonight, so he opted to talk about it another time. He started fidgeting before turning back to Ali, a small smile on his face as he shook his head. "It's not exactly... Dinner table talk."
Ali tilted her head slightly in confusion at what they could have argued about this time around. She noticed her son beginning to fidget and instead of inquiring about it more, she took a deep sigh. "Well, I'm sure whatever it is the two of you will move on from it soon." Rhiannon rolled her eyes and scoffed. "You better do something big to make it up to her. A proper date where you don't forget and you actually show up on time." Leo glared at her before deciding to tease her. "Well, if you like her so much why don't you date her?" Rhi scoffed and crossed her arms. "Oh, shut up. You're just upset because the one girl you actually like back you can't seem to do right." Leo didn't have a retort, considering she was right. Their argument had been because of what he wanted to do in the future, which was to possibly take over the family business. Natasha expressed her dislike of the idea which led to him saying something along the lines of him doing what he wanted with his life. It wasn't until the car ride home that he realized everything - the date, the reason she was so upset, and just how slow on the uptake he was.
Because he had basically grown up with Natasha he hadn't seen her as anything more than his best friend and family. He never thought about the two of them ever being in a relationship when it was clear other people had. "In any case, I'm handling it, okay? I'm going to fix the problem myself," he put emphasis on 'myself' while staring at Rhiannon - famously known for putting her nose in his business. "She can't stay mad at me forever and I plan on making up for it immensely." He smiled at himself in triumph as Ali looked over to Conor. "He's your son. I'm blaming all of," she gestured to Leo with her hand, "this, on you." She teased.
The Royal Taphouse
~Bethnal Green, London~ Erik Snowden
Just as Erik was about to leave his apartment, he received a phone call from Billy asking him to meet him at the Pub rather than his apartment. A part of him was slightly disappointed as he was going to use this opportunity to snoop a bit. Ever since the incident with Trevor and the visit Billy paid him to his apartment, Erik had some underlying suspicions about his friend. He made sure not to sound too disappointed on the phone as he would have plenty of opportunities in the future. There were other means of finding answers to the nagging question in the back of his head: was Billy secretly gay? Their last few encounters with one another had only caused his curiosity to grow. It was messing with his head a bit and he wanted to get to the bottom of it. He had thoughts of how to find out for sure, but he didn't want to try his luck too much as it could go south very quickly. Instead, he would be subtle about his flirting and advances to see how he responds to it.
The moment he opened the door his eyes immediately caught sight of Billy sitting alone the moment he walked into the building. The man had been a creature of habit - sitting in the same place, drinking the same thing - that Erik knew exactly where to find him. The moment he approached the bar, Billy started speaking. While listening Erik ordered himself a quick pint and shook his head. "You're an idiot, all right. The fuck did you do this time?" He asked, leaning against the bar counter. Billy went on to explain the situation, which led back to the Trevor incident. He furrowed his brows hearing him about it again. It wasn't exactly something he wanted to talk about, nor remember, but it had a place in the story so Erik wouldn't say anything for now. Once his friend finished explaining the situation, everything came full circle for him. Erik knew exactly what he was talking about, seeing as he was the one who had written down the number. The moment his drink arrived, Erik quickly picked it up to hide his smile behind the glass. The situation wasn't one to fret this deeply about, but this was Billy he was talking to.
The man had a very good memory - an eidetic memory. The numbers Billy was fretting over had surfaced to the front of Erik's mind, but telling him this straight up would be no fun. Instead, Erik set his glass down with a long, deep, sigh. Placing his hand on Billy's shoulder, he lightly shook him. "This is an even shittier situation than the Trevor thing. At least that was fixable; you lost a ghost. I heard she's very hard to find if she doesn't want you to find her." He stated, trying to further the man's despair. At the mention of Spencer being pissed again, Erik had to strategically cover his mouth to keep from snickering as he took a seat. Nearby there was a pen and he slid a napkin out of its holder as he started to doodle. "Oh, you're going to owe me more than a drink, pal." He looked up at him with a cheesy grin on his face. "Second time." He put up two fingers as emphasis. "TWO. I've saved your ass twice, Billy, you owe me more than a drink." Erik shook his head before sliding the napkin towards him, the number written on the white background in blue ink. "Quit pissin' yourself and give the old lady a call. Quicker we get this done, the quicker I can go dance 'til I get sweaty."
'Another goddamn airplane... Reina thought to herself, sunglasses on to shield her worried eyes from the world. The woman was terrified of very little and planes were high on that list. She figured she would have to get over it sooner rather than later, considering her boss's new title. There was bound to be a lot of flying between Dublin and New York in the future and Reina couldn't be afraid every time the plane took off. She was grateful Roxie had been so understanding, not bringing attention to her irrational fear of planes. Reina was glad to see the woman up and about for the first time in weeks. The meeting with Ricky and Julia had clearly sparked something in Roxie that was nearly about to be extinguished. While she still didn't trust the pair of them completely, Ricky's willingness to assist Roxie with the transition was a good first step.
The moment they returned to New York, Reina set about doing some work of her own. As Roxie's main bodyguard and basically the head of security, she had to make sure those employed were loyal to Roxie herself and not exactly the Biancardi family unit. There were some amongst her ranks that didn't like Roxie's rise to the top and Reina made sure to get rid of them. She didn't want a single person who didn't have Roxie's best interests at heart to be around 'protecting' her. She was on the landline when her boss walked in asking about her appearance. Reina pressed the phone to her chest to answer her question. "You look like you're ready to kick ass which is a good thing." After giving her a thumbs up, she returned to the phone. A few seconds later and she hung up the phone. Taking care of all the security precautions was tiring and she often wondered how she got stuck with such an annoying job. She slightly pulled the curtain to the side to peek outside, looking for anything suspicious. Some may have called her paranoid but she couldn't be too careful these days.
Once she turned back to Roxie, she couldn't help but notice the gun in her hand. When was the last time she saw the woman - if ever - with a weapon in her hand? Reina definitely wasn't going to tell her that she didn't need it, considering the woman could be rendered defenseless if anything happened to Reina herself. By the way Roxie checked it Reina was relieved the woman knew how to use it. She'd protected people who had no idea what they were doing in the past and it was more than annoying to deal with. Having to make sure they didn't accidentally shoot you in the back was very counter-productive. Reina nodded her head at Roxie's question, slipping her hands into her back pockets. "You mean this meeting's going to be the worst by far? I can't wait." She said sarcastically, following the woman out the door. Once they reached the car, Reina gave a nod to the new bodyguards she had replaced as the two got in. She looked to Ricky with a softer gaze in her eyes than she had a few weeks ago. "Yeah, you don't look like a frat boy spending daddy's money today." She joked, sliding her sunglasses over her eyes as she looked out the window.
Benjamin had enjoyed his trip to New York, primarily on account of the fact he'd been able to visit Kurt in prison. Though the visit was short, in the grand scheme of things, it had served to put a spring in the young man's step and give him the boost he was needing. For the next couple of weeks, it had steered him away from the sadness he'd been feeling as he was aware of the anniversary of his mother's death was approaching. He hadn't wanted to leave New York after seeing his father, but he knew he had to continue moving forward with is own life, career and personal connections. On a positive note, he now had access to more frequent - and free - flights, by joining some of Conor's employees when they made business trips to the States.
The last few days, he'd had a nervous kind of feeling making an appearance and he knew why. It wasn't the fact he had a photography gig at a business belonging to a family member of the mob. It was the fact he would be seeing Lorelei again. He figured the nervous energy was of a positive kind, seeing as it was driven by his attraction to the young woman. Although Kurt had been encouraging about the potential future relationship, Benjamin still knew it was one he should approach with caution and ensure his future actions were not ones that could have negative effects on his father, who was sharing a jail cell with Lorelei's former-Mob-Boss uncle. Benjamin knew he wasn't the kind of guy to mess a woman around or intentionally break a heart, but he still felt a pinch of pressure not to mess anything up... assuming anything happened at all in the first place!
As it was a Saturday night and he would be working in a classy kind of business, he decided to dress more smartly than he often did on photoshoots. He didn't want to bring the style of the club down. Though, if someone were to ask Aidan, the man would suggest the younger man was dressed up to impress only one person: Lorelei. Benjamin hadn't asked for Aidan's input, but that was the teasing he'd received from the man during the drive to the club, nonetheless. Aidan stopped the car directly outside The Funky Cat and turned to Benjamin with a broad smile. "Remember, not flirting on the job," he said, though his mischievous grin suggested he was encouraging Benjamin to do exactly that. "Enjoy your evening, kid."
Benjamin nodded his head, flashing the man a bashful smile. "And don't you be getting in trouble while you're out working," he seriously warned the man. The last thing he wanted was to be visiting Aidan in prison as well as Kurt. Benjamin grabbed his equipment from the back of the car and then rushed towards the club entrance to get inside away from the rain. He wouldn't usually rely on Aidan to drive him around, but he didn't want to risk damaging his camera equipment and it wasn't exactly easy to carry everything around on public transport.
Benjamin was about to offer his bag and camera tripod to the bouncers to check over for security purposes, but his attention was drawn to Lorelei who beckoned him over. The bouncer took a moment to glance at the young man's belongings before letting him enter, having already been warned by Lorelei of the photographer's expected arrival.
Benjamin smiled brightly as he followed Lorelei to the kitchen hallway where things were much quieter and easier to talk over. He balanced the folded tripod against the wall and focused his attention on the club owner. "It's great to see you too," he told her, quickly nodding his head. He then let out bashful laugh as she mentioned the club being a madhouse. "Karaoke night sure is popular," he agreed, briefly glancing back into the main club. When she offered him food and drink, he lightly nodded his head. "I've already eaten, but a Coke would be great, thank you," he requested. As easy as it would have been to ask for alcohol, he was working and wanted to look professional in front of the woman who was paying him.
"I don't know how you do it, Lorelei," he began, his cheeks very subtly reddening. "Managing to run a place like this, on a busy night, and still look so glamorous," he complimented her. As he did, he absent-mindedly rested his elbow on the top of the tripod, overestimating how steady the folded-up equipment was. The tripod slipped from under his elbow and caused him to stumble forward in the process. Despite the clumsiness, he managed to catch the tripod before it crashed to the floor. By the time he stood up straight and composed himself, his cheeks were a much deeper shade of red. "Okayyy. Let's get that drink and you can show me where to set my camera up, before I make a bigger fool of myself," he said, letting out a nervous laugh.
The weeks after lunch with her in-laws had been a busy one. The moment Ava mentioned the opening of the art gallery, Elvian had shown immediate interest. Ava had no idea the woman was a patron of the arts, though she should have figured. The art and decor in her home were all meticulously placed and arranged so it fit. Then there were the floral arrangements which had been a certain art itself. Because Ava was nervous and wanted desperately wanted to impress her, she had spent the majority of her time getting her art gallery together. There was still a lot to do before the grand opening causing her other professions to be put on hold. She hadn't stepped foot in her bar for nearly a month and it had been even longer since she did a tattoo. The more she thought about it the more she began to miss her natural environment.
A lot of her family and friends had begun to make snide comments; that ever since she married into the Moretti family she was becoming more... Civilised. Ava didn't understand where they got this idea from - she had always dreamed of opening an art gallery. It just so happened that she wanted to make it her priority. Sure, the idea of her mother-in-law being disappointed was her main driving force, but that was beside the point. Not wanting any of them to feel ostracized and ignored, she planned to spend the weekend working behind the counter. Word spread about her being back at the bar bringing in all sorts of people she hadn't seen in a long time. The place was more packed than it had ever been, bringing a wide smile to Ava's face. While she loved her husband's family and was grateful about them accepting her, she just could never shake the feeling she didn't fit in. Here, down in Queens? These were her people.
Walking into the front door of the bar, Ava waved to one of the bartenders that had begun to set things up. The older members of the gang had been there enjoying their afternoon drinks as she made her way to the back. After closing the door she opened another that led to her secret tattoo room. Because tattooing had still been illegal, Ava made it a point to keep everything hidden away properly. The first thing she set out to do was sanitizing everything in her small room, starting with the black leather chair. One of her patrons approached her the night before about doing a tattoo for a young girl, Harmony if she remembered correctly. Ava was more than happy to do it considering she missed it. The sound of the needle buzzing, the different colors that blended, and her favorite part: transforming someone's skin into an actual work of art. She was in the middle of tieing up her hair when she heard a familiar knock on the door. She slowly opened it to see who it was, the familiar face of Carter staring back at her. "Ah, there you are." She said before looking at the younger woman. "You must be Harmony? I'm Ava."
Chapter 4: ConfrontationsSaturday 13th April 1985 ...3 weeks later... New York City: Afternoon - Sunny, Warm, Cloudy
~New York City: Harmony Ryu - New Week, New Ink~After spending a week in Miami with the Wycliff Family, Harmony had made a fairly swift return to New York City. Although she had very much enjoyed the warm weather and spending time at the beach, getting to know Valentina, Teddy and their three children. The trip to Disneyworld was also very much worth it, though there were moments that she had wanted to break down and cry due to the fact that it reminded her very much of the Disneyland back in Los Angeles. Although she hadn't said anything, there was one night that Harmony had silently cried herself to sleep and simply passed it off as she didn't sleep very well because she had a bad dream. That was only partially correct, as she only had about four and a half hours of sleep and woke up gasping because of a nightmare. Aside from that, the rest of the trip had gone smoothly and she was smiling for the most part, not wanting to be in a bad mood as she did not want to ruin whatever happiness that the family had, especially that of the children. On the way home, Harmony did give some more thought to the advice the couple had given her; having people to confide in and to not bottle up her emotions, as neither of them were healthy. The next two weeks would pass by smoothly and she had spent a couple of days over the course of the two weeks watching the Wycliff's three beloved children when their parents had work, granted Paolo was probably the hardest to work with, but Harmony was very patient, as she was more terrified of what would happen if any of the children got hurt under her care. Thankfully, she had help from their eldest, Francis. Otherwise she'd be completely lost. And only God knew what Don Moretti would do if something happened to any of his Grandchildren.
This weekend, Harmony had scheduled an appointment with another member of the Moretti Family; Ava, having heard that she is a Tattoo Artist. However, it was really strange to her as to why Tattooing was illegal in New York. Because it was so popular, loved and embraced in her hometown of Los Angeles. There were no Tattoo Parlors around, so where did Ava tattoo people?
Soon, she found herself in Queens and going into a Bar called Maverick's, which was a popular hangout for the Moretti Family, or at least those who worked for them. Upon arriving, she was led to one of the secret rooms in the back by Carter, where Ava had greeted. "Yes, nice to finally meet you." Harmony smiled a little, even offering a handshake. "Its been a while since I've gotten my last tattoo, so I look forward to seeing your work."
Once she was let into the room and the door closed behind her, Harmony proceeded to make herself comfortable on the Leather Chair. As she was getting a Chest Piece done, she ended up having to unbutton her shirt and hang it up on the clothes tree nearby.
Despite the cold reception he'd received from Roxie and Reina, Ricky had remained in Dublin for Matthew's funeral. It was an unpleasant day, but not quite for the expected reasons of being surrounded by grief. Hell, despite being two very different men, Ricky couldn't deny he felt sadness for Matthew's death too. But really, the thing that had made the service most unbearable was the service itself, or more accurately, Father Healy. It wasn't personal to Silas, but it was extremely personal to Ricky. It was the simple fact that the man was a priest and as far as Ricky was concerned, they were all guilty by association. Somehow, he managed to hold his deep-rooted disgust inside and get through the service without causing any issues or commotion. He somehow even managed to acknowledge the priest directly with neither venom nor sarcasm.
Ricky and Julia had returned to New York the morning after the funeral. It wasn't that he wanted to rush away from Roxie, but he had a lot of business to catch up on, including making sure their planned meeting with Moretti went off without a hitch. His position had now shifted from mediating between two families to somehow being stuck in the middle of three. Somehow, despite all of that, he was the one attending the meeting with neither an adviser nor a bodyguard at his side. If he was feeling that way out, he'd point out he was the only one who didn't need someone by his side babysitting. However, today he was in no mood for snide comments and just wanted everyone to get to the end of the meeting unscathed.
The Biancardi-employed driver had first picked Ricky up from his mansion in Queens, before driving into Manhattan to collect Roxie and Reina. Once there, the driver waited inside the car, which was parked outside the hotel. Ricky got out of the front passenger seat and leaned against the expensive vehicle so he could enjoy the warm sun whilst he waited for the ladies. As soon as they both stepped out of the hotel and into view, Ricky opened up the rear passenger doors for them but got back into his own seat before they got into the car. They were more than capable of closing a door for themselves, and given they were meeting a notorious sexist, he wasn't about to get chewed out for patronising those strong and independent women!
When they were all in the car, Roxie told Ricky he looked nice. Before he could vocalise his acceptance for the compliment, Reina made her comment about him not looking like a frat boy. "Well, thank you ladies. I'l have you know, this particular suit was purchased with my own funds, illegally obtained through the means of extortion and exploitation. I actually spent Giovanni's money on the hookers," he joked. He then removed any smile from his face and looked to the women through the reflection in the rear view mirror. "You both look great, though. Perhaps dressed too well for a burger place, but perfectly well for a meeting with Moretti."
Roxie informed Ricky that she'd bought a house in Queens. "Well, as long as you don't keep coming over to my place wanting to borrow sugar..." he trailed off. "But seriously, it's for the best. You'd have even more people on your ass if they were bitching at me instead. But this should help some of them ease off of both of us," he assured her.
Gabriel had been surprised when he heard Roxie wished to arrange a meeting with him. With Matthew's death and Ricky's determination to take back what was rightfully his, he was surprised that Roxie was still pushing forward with leading the Biancardis. As stubborn as he may be, Gabriel wasn't a fool and if Ricky had backed down to let his cousin remain in charge, then the wise thing to do was to hear the woman out today.
Gabriel had taken the opportunity to bring Teddy along for the meeting, wanting his son-in-law to take a more active role in the business and Valentina to take a more active role as a mother. The two men were seated in the back of the expensive vehicle as the driver took them to the Burger Joint. The place had already been checked over by Gabriel's security and measures put in place to ensure there was no risk to himself nor Teddy during the meeting. As such, he was able to relax for the duration of the journey.
Although the Wycliffs had been back from their two-week vacation for a week and he'd seen all of them together, Gabriel hadn't had opportunity to speak to Teddy alone and on a personal level. "Valentina and the children seemed to enjoy the vacation. How was it for you, Theodore?" he asked, turning to look the man in the eyes. "Did Valentina manage to relax enough, or does she need another vacation? She certainly doesn't need to go back to the hours she was working at the hotels. She pays enough people to do the rushing around on her behalf." Gabriel straightened out his tie and cleared his throat. "Besides which, I want you to have time to take a more active role in the business, like you're doing today. I think we make a good team - complementing each other. Heaven knows, we're about to encounter a whirlwind of personalities and temperaments and I don't just mean from Riccardo," he said, letting out an amused chuckle.
Once they arrived at the Burger Joint, Gabriel stepped out of the vehicle just in time to see Roxie, Ricky and Reina getting out of their car. He remained by the restaurant entrance as he waited for the three to join him and Teddy. He first focused his intention on Roxie, acknowledging that she had dressed for the part and gave him no excuse to be picky about her attire. "Roxanne," he greeted her with a smile, offering her a handshake. The gesture alone was something that often told him plenty about the recipient, as well as what the tone of the meeting would be like. "I was sorry to hear about your loss. From what I knew of him, Mr. Moore was a good man," he sincerely told her. "Whilst I have my own experience of having to attend to business in the wake of family losses, I respect that you have taken time to attend this meeting."
Gabriel then looked to Ricky and shook the man's hand. "Good afternoon, Riccardo," he greeted him. He also couldn't help but acknowledge Ricky's clothing, impressed by the man's attire even if he decided against saying so. It seemed like they were all pulling out the stops. He wondered if the meeting would be as much of a success as everyone's fashion choices were. "And Reina. Always a pleasure," he drily remarked, but flashed a smile.
After shaking Gabriel's hand, Ricky greeted Teddy with a handshake. "Well, someone's clearly been on vacation. You didn't get that tan from New York!" he joked. He quite liked Teddy. Of Moretti's senior employees and family members, the man was one of the few without a stick jammed up their ass. "How's the wife and those cute little kids?" he asked.
With the pleasantries out of the way, Gabriel motioned to the door. "Ladies first," he invited Roxie and Reina to enter before him. On account of his history with Roxie, especially when Stefano was still alive and she was sleeping around with one of the Porters, Gabriel knew the atmosphere could very easily be a volatile one.
Three Weeks Later, and Shirley is three weeks bigger. As she drew closer and closer to her due date, the young woman became more and more anxious about childbirth. But she was overall thankful to know that she was not alone anymore outside of her Midwife. Befriending Shirley was probably one of the best things that have happened in her life since the day she learned that she was expecting twins. Three weeks ago, she had gone to Shona's house for the first time and the two got a chance to know each other a bit better. However, she had omitted the fact that she provided discreet medical care to the denizens of London's Underworld for a living. Once Shona, and Spencer, reach that level of trust, then she will be more willing to divulge that information. Another thing she did contemplate about was the future of her private and shady medical practice. Most of the money was covering her living expenses, including on expanding her Maternity Wardrobe, which she was going to keep after childbirth, mainly because they were still comfortable to wear. The next three weeks went by mostly quietly. Her Weekdays were spent keeping the house clean, her nights treating wounded gang members and drug dealers. Then her weekends were spent at her favorite Tea Shop down the street from her lovely home.
She proceeded to wonder about when she would invite Shona into her home, because it was only fair. It would definitely have to be on a weekend though, since people don't really stop by on the weekends. Or maybe even meet at her favorite tea shop. There were plenty of ideas on what they can do. And the most optimal time seemed to be after their prenatal appointments, since they were often on the same day. Though two weeks from now, Shirley was slated to see her Midwife weekly up until labor and delivery. On this weekend evening, Shirley had agreed to another night of spending time with Shona and maybe had the chance to get to know Spencer a bit better. He seemed like a kind man for the most part. Shona was very lucky, that was for sure. Shirley would definitely be lying if she said that she wasn't jealous, but opted to keep that to herself as she didn't really want to ruin the new friendship that she had. However, she did hope that one day she'd find her own one and only, but God knew when that was going to be...
Soon, she arrived at the Kings' House. Shortly after she had knocked on the door, she was greeted by Spencer. Thankfully, there wasn't much of a distance between her and the front door when she had arrived, as it was pouring rain tonight, so her rain coat was a little wet, but not completely drenched like it probably would have been in Dublin. As she was let into the home, she slowly took off her rain coat and hung it on a nearby clothes tree. This week, she was feeling a bit more pain her back and her feet, but it was likely the weight of her unborn babies pulling on her spine. It was not long until she was led to the living room, where Shona was waiting.
After she sat down with her friend, Spencer said that he had to collect something from the pub and that it would not take long. He then added that he would pick up takeaway on the way back home and asked what they fancied for the night. "Well, I'm not sure where you'll be stopping at on the way back. If it is an option, I'll take a Chicken Caesar Salad." She smiled a little, both thankful and very happy that she had been invited over for dinner.
As Spencer left the home, Shirley straightened out her dress. As soon as the door closed though, her stomach growled rather loudly, prompting her cheeks to turn red as she looked at her friend, embarrassed. "At least we're not in public this time."
The Oak Tree Restaurant ~ Dublin City Center, Dublin ~
Conor looked to Sydney as she told him broccoli was little trees and therefore the home to little squirrels. He looked directly to her, giving the impression he was hanging on her every word. "Ah. Is that so?" he asked, as if she'd informed him of something he hadn't known before. "And you know, I am quite fond of squirrels. Those cute little bushy tails... Nah, you're right. Let's not make the little fellas homeless," he agreed. When the child settled on chicken fingers, Conor nodded his head in approval. "Good choice. If steak wasn't on the menu, I'd have gone for chicken too," he assured her. He let out a chuckle when the youngest demanded the crayons. "Yeah, Ali. Princess Sydney has important colouring in to do." He tapped the menu to demonstrate Aliana's instruction to colour on the paper and not the table. "Your Mam's right, this is my restaurant and if you ruin the table, I'll have to sell all of your toys to pay for a new one."
Conor raised a curious eyebrow when Rhiannon said Leo had pissed Natasha off again. The use of the word 'pissed' from the kid went straight over Conor's head, but his wife warned the girl anyway. He sat back and listened as his son explained how he hadn't realised at first that his meal with Natasha was actually a date. Conor lightly shook his head, wondering how such a detail could have possibly escaped Leo's attention. It then turned out that the two had ended up getting into an argument and when pressed by Rhiannon for details about the argument, Leo said it wasn't dinner table talk. Conor sat back, listening as Aliana seemed to accept their son wasn't going to elaborate, along with Rhiannon and Leo teasing each other. Conor maintained a serious expression, not willing to just let the matter drop. "Well, I'm not put off by inappropriate discussion content, so come tell me now or tell me after dinner. Man to man," he told Leo, making it clear he was serious and Leo would have to tell him, one way or another. Jackson had been Conor's best friend and practically a brother. When the man died, he promised to look out for Blake and her kids. Regardless of Leo being his son, he wanted to make sure the young man wasn't messing Natasha about.
When Aliana blamed Conor for Leo being the way he was, the man defensively shook his head. "Hey, I never had any trouble picking up the ladies and knowing when I was on a date," he remarked, grinning at Leo. He then rested his hand on the back of Sydney's chair and nodded to his youngest daughter. "If I'm taking credit for anything, it's Sydney's keen interest in the environment and the effects deforestation has on the little squirrels." Before Conor could make any further preposterous claims, the waiter came to take their orders. Along with a steak meal, Conor ordered himself a refreshing pint of beer.
Once Jerome had finished taking the order and walked away, Conor brought his attention onto Aliana and Rhiannon. "Alright, ladies, what have you two been up to?" he asked them. "How's the triple... triple axel? How's practice coming along and when do we get to watch you perform?" he asked her.