She stood in the center of a group of people on stage and watched as they danced around her. The beat went faster and finally she joined in when two men moved towards her. She pushed one away and allowed the other to lift her up. Her dream was to dance on stage and here she was dancing. Fourteen quick steps to the left and a quick leap and she was standing by the edge of the stage. She could see her father in the front row and her head bowed.
Irish Step was never something to take lightly, she decided as she allowed herself to be pulled back into the fray of dancers. The music slowed as did the steps of everyone on stage, but not her own. It was a contradiction, instead of moving to the beat of the fiddle and flute, she moved to the beat of the drums. Left, right, leap. She coached herself in her mind as she danced. Her body knew the moves, but it calmed her when she told herself what moves to make.
With the last beat of the drums she stilled and closed her eyes. It was over and she was sad of that. Dance made her happy among other things. Her fellow dancers crowed near her and they all bowed in sync. The curtains went down and she allowed her body to take over and lead her into the wings where she was stopped and congratulated by many of the dancers and members of the tech group.
"Ellie," Someone called and she turned to smile at the man. "You did a wonderful job, I hope to see you back in June."
"Of course you will," she replied with no doubt in her mind.
He smiled, "Can I hold you to that?"
"Yes, I would never miss out on an experience like this again."
The troop manager nodded and then he went off to talk to others. She was excited and it showed as she basically leapt into the arms of her father as he appeared beside her. It was wonderful to have him here to see her perform; this was something she hadn't really expected but she was glad that it had happened.
"Athair," She exclaimed happy.
"Comhghairdeas," he replied as he set her back down on her feet. "Shall we go? I believe your favorite restaurant is just around the corner."
She nodded, "Just let me change."
Later, as they sat near the windows in the family restaurant, owned by an Irish family, she watched her father as he spoke in Irish Gaelic to whoever was on the phone. He may have thought that her own Gaelic only went has far as 'father' and 'congratulations', but in truth, she could hold a conversation with someone. She was fluent in the language of her origin and she disliked that her father seemed to think she wasn't; if at all it was her elder sister who didn't know the language and who had given up on the family for reasons unknown.
"Shall we order?" her father asked breaking into her thoughts.
Her accent was strong as she replied, "Sure."
He glanced at her for a moment before he waved over a passing waiter. She could almost hear herself trying to explain her feelings to her father. The only time that her Irish accent came out that strong, when she spoke English, was when she was pissed off about something or worried. The only other time it's that strong, is when she's speaking Gaelic.
"I'll have the beef stew," her father ordered.
The waiter turned to her, "And you, miss?"
"A garden salad and the chicken tenders please, with honey mustard for the chicken and parmesan peppercorn for the salad," she said before the waiter could say anything more.
"Of course," he turned back towards her father, "I'll try to speed things up in the kitchen, sir."
Did everyone seem to know who her father was, but her? She needed to know just what her family did for a living, and it wasn't just the ownership of a publishing firm that controlled newspapers around the world. That was her mother's legacy, something she would take over once she completed Yale. Soon she would really discover what made her paternal family tick and she could became a part of it.
"Athair, how's Uncle Riley?"
"Your Uncle is fine, he sends his regards."
She smiled at him and just as she was about to say more gunshots rang out in by the front doors.
It seemed unknowable: her life. Like she knew nothing about herself, about who and what she was. Sure, she was a dancer and a journalist with the London Times, but she didn't know who she was. Was she truly the person who enjoyed dancing, who loved to jump into her roommate's convertible and take a spin in the countryside? Who was she? She had feelings and thoughts, but none of that told her who she was.
Every time she woke up screaming from a nightmare or was startled by the sound of an engine backfiring she realized she didn't know herself. It was something she hated yet yearned to figure out. What made her do the things she did? Why did she have a urge to know so many things?
Sure, she had memories of when she was a child and when she was in college. But she truly didn't know who she was. Her father's side of the family remained a complete mystery to her, even after his murder before her very eyes. She knew everything she could about her mother. But, she knew nothing about her paternal family and she wished to know.
Her green eyes showed how tired she was as she exited the elevator and stepped onto the twentieth floor. It was only ten o'clock on a Tuesday morning and yet she felt like shit. The first reaction was to assume she was sick, but there would be no staying home sick until she finished her newest article on the rivalry between the O'Grady Crime Family and the Martello Crime Family. The best of the Irish Mob against the best of Italian Mafia. What was next, the best of the Irish Mob against the Yakuza? With her luck it would be.
"Hayden, my office now," the editor shouted from across the room.
Someone must have it out for her, she decided as she stalked across the bullpen and stepped into her editor's cramped 'office'. Whatever he had to say probably wouldn't be good.
"Stop favoring the Irish," she was told the minute she stepped into the room.
"Huh?" So, not what she had been expecting.
His eyes rose to meet hers, "I understand that you're Irish but you have to stop favoring them. Maybe I should have someone who is English write this article, not an Irishwoman," he commented dryly.
She snorted, "None of them would have the guts to walk into an Irish or Italian bar and ask questions about the mob or mafia. I do."
That was her last comment before she walked back out of her editors office and over to her desk. Sometimes she hated her idea of being an informant in her own newspapers. She sat down at her desk and pulled up her almost finished article. As she reread it she found herself scrapping four of the paragraphs. It was a horrible article and probably would need to be written entirely if she didn't find something to stick into the whole thing. Something unrelated to the feud between the Martello's and O'Grady's. She pulled up an internet browser and typed in a few things but what came up wasn't what she expected.
'The Police raided four locations belonging to the Hayden Crime Family. Yet, nothing illegal was found in those locations. The Police commissioner has told reporters that they will not stop until they take down the Irish Crime Families responsible for so many illegal acts.'
She had to read the blurb a few times to make sure she had actually seen what she had. Moments later she had other—older—articles pulled up on the Hayden Crime Family and what she found wasn't as shocking to her as many would think it would be. In fact, one of the articles was about her father who had been killed years ago in New York.
"My day keeps on getting better and better," she muttered to herself.
Her heels clicked softly against the marble floor of the large estate as her years of dancing and training to be 'light on her feet' allowed her some semblance of furtive ways. She rarely if ever showed up here at her paternal families estate, but when she did it was just for a quick visit if she was passing by on the way to a scene to photograph for work. Only then, was it mostly to use the bathroom and snag a quick bite to eat. But even so she had an understanding of the layout of the estate. At this moment, though, she was headed for the grand dining room on the opposite side of the flamboyant hall. The doors were closed and no one stood outside but she could hear the raised voices of the people inside. She peeled off the black pea coat she wore and draped it over a chair near the doors along with her two bags; the messenger bag that held her camera bag and a notebook, and the duffel bag with some clothes. All of it was placed by a lone chair and she straightened her shoulders as she opened the door softly and slid into the room.
"Aidan O'Grady has gone to far," an older man at the far end of the table hissed in outrage, "he's blatantly disregarding the rest of us when he goes after the Italians."
"Ian," her Uncle Riley spoke, "I'm sure Aidan has a very good reason for all of this, so let the man speak."
A man with brown eyes, that looked flecked with gold, looked around the room before they stopped on her. But he said nothing and instead just smiled and listened to what was being said. Why he said nothing confused her, but she settled back against the wall in a relaxed manner which was just what she felt: relaxed. How strange it was that she felt this way in a room filled with potentially deadly people. Finally after about twenty minutes of listening to the angry voices and feeling those eyes on her she decided it was time.
"Riley," Her voice easily reached him over the loud voices of everyone else, and she could tell as he stiffened.
"What are you doing here?" He asked as he pushed his chair back and stood.
She shrugged, "Well, pretend your me for a moment. Your editor calls you into his office and orders you to stop favoring the Irish in your articles. You go back to your desk and work on your article but it sucks and so you go on the internet to search for something to use. You find an article on the Hayden Crime Family and decide to search for more. What conclusions would you come too…Uncle Riley?" As she said that last part her voice was all sarcasm.
"Oh please, I'm guessing this is where you try to deny all of it? Well, to bad; I've been here, in this room, for almost a half hour. So, I wouldn't try to deny anything."
"How much did you hear?" Someone else asked slowly.
She turned and looked straight at Aidan O'Grady, "While your plan seems perfect to you it has flaws. I'd stay away from the Warf, my contact tells me that their buildings there are set to explode if you don't have some code."
Her Uncle sat down as if in shock, "Your contacts?"
"I'm a journalist, it's a part of the job." She stepped away from the wall, "Now if you'll excuse me I feel the need to cook lots of Japanese dishes."
The one who had noticed her when she walked in, looked at her, "Japanese?"
At this she turned and looked at them, "Please don't fight the Yakuza, I happen to like them."
With that she spun and left the room with barely a sound. Her heels continued to click softly against the marble as she gathered her things and walked towards the back of the house. At least she knew where the kitchen was; it seemed like she had passed endless room on her way to the kitchen but once she was at the kitchen she was happy. It was a kitchen any chef would die to have. She set her things down on a window seat and then started to search the kitchen. It's amazing what you can make even if there aren't many Japanese ingredients.
She turned around and looked at the one who had watched her all the time they were in the dining room. Now though, she got a good look at him. He was slender and tall, a good five inches taller then her five-six. His eyes, now that he was closer, she could see were more gold then they were brown. His hair was dark, almost black, and seemed to be in a stylish disarray, but not like what teenagers had for hairstyles nowadays, it was more mature and didn't look like it had been styled that way. She was appraising him and she could tell by the slight smirk on his face that he knew. Her gaze roved lower and she quirked an eyebrow at the slim boot-cut jeans he wore that seemed to ride low on his hips. For a shirt he wore a Dropkick Murphy's T-shirt and she had applaud his taste in music, though, it was in her head. Her eyes then stopped at the underarm gun holster that held the 9mm Smith and Weston.
"Can I help you?" She asked finally.
His smirk grew larger, "Walk with me."
"Why?" She realized her Irish accent was coming on strong and hated it.
"So, we can talk," his eyes told her she had no real choice in the matter and that pissed her off to no end.
"Walk by yourself, I have misao soup simmering and I can't leave it."
"We need to talk."
She glared at him, "then talk, this is good a place as any. So, if you want to talk, then just talk."
"It would be better outside," he seemed adamant.
"Why? You afraid I'm going to use a kitchen knife to hurt you?" She pointed the tip of the paring knife at him. "This is as blunt a butter knife, it won't do anything to you."
She chuckled at his expression and set the knife aside. With a roll of her eyes she turned back to the cutting board and started to move the cut up fruit into a bowl. Without fail, she always had fruit with whatever she ate, it kept her healthy, as did other activities of hers. As she placed a piece of strawberry in her mouth she felt his hand on her shoulder and her elbow slammed back into his gut at the same time as the heel of her foot slammed down into his foot. Unfortunately, he didn't move fast enough.
"I suggest you don't touch me. We, dancers are very agile," especially those with martial arts training, she added in her head.
"You think I wouldn't be able to 'urt you?" He asked with a strange glint in his eyes.
She smirked, "That's exactly what I'm thinking. Why? Am I way off base?"
"I think you are."
"Well," she stepped forward, "We could always test this theory of yours…if your up to it of course. I'm not afraid to break a nail."
He just rolled his eyes and put his hands up into the air, as if to give up. Then just as Ellie was about to turn back to the food, he drew his gun. But before he could get the gun high enough for it to be aimed at her head, she brought her left foot back and snaked it around his left ankle. With a glint in her eyes she brought her foot forward and he fell backwards. She continued her turn and went back to chopping the carrots. He, on the other hand, stayed where he was on the ground for a moment. It was running through his head that not only was he beaten by a girl, but he was beaten twice by the same girl in less then two minutes.
"Do you need some help getting up or are you going to lie there all night?" She asked after a few minutes.
His eyes narrowed and without her help he stood and leaned against the counter next to her. For once, he was at a loss of what to say. Nothing like this had ever happened to him before and frankly he wished it would never happen again.
"How could you never know that you were a part of the Irish Mob?" He heard himself ask.
"Easy, it was hidden from me. My parents divorced when I was ten and I lived with my mom and her parents in London. I only saw my father when he would come by and take me and my older sister out to eat."
"You have an older sister?"
"Yes, Courtney, she wanted nothing to do with my father and his side of the family, but on those days she put aside her feelings. Now I know why she hated them so much."
"Do you hate them?"
"No," she spoke frankly, "I am disappointed that they wouldn't trust me enough to tell me, but I can understand…I suppose." She looked around at the food, "Are you hungry? The food is ready and it seems I made more then enough for one person."