I deleted Marriage for Murder. I don't want too many stories up at once, and I have this more or less finished. I just needed something to get the juices flowing. That was what Marriage for Murder was supposed to do. Hopefully we have a bit more luck with this one. Let me know what you think! Hopefully, we'll have some regular and consistent updates with this one.
She left the corner store. The bell jungled behind her and she checked the inside of the cigarettes. Just as her brother said, the money was rolled up inside, taking up about half the carton. She snapped the carton shut and glanced up and down the street. There were a few people out and about, but the bitter cold kept most people inside, and the streets were mostly empty. She put the carton of cigarettes into her pocket and fixed her gloves. Her heels clopped along the cobblestone. She kept her face down, both to protect herself from the whipping wind and hide her face from those sitting along the coffee shops and stores along the strip.
Her head darted upward. Her brother was hanging out the door of Flanagan's Pub, waving her over. Her flashed her that smile of his, bright and straight. Dimples popped out from his rosy cheeks. He would be quite into his drink by now. She allowed herself a rather dramatic sigh before beginning her journey across the street.
"Come on in," he beckoned her. "Hurry, hurry, hurry."
She picked up her pace and hurried across the street. She hopped over the curb and stepped inside the opened door. Her brother's pale blue eyes glimmered happily.
"Goddamit it's cold out there. We're just back here," he told her. He put a hand on her elbow and tried to direct her through the pub. She shook herself away, noting with surprise how brazenly the patrons sipped at the beers in their hands.
"I'm not staying," she answered. She reached into her pocket and retrieved the cigarette carton. "I'm not doing this again, Danny. I'm serious this time. Samuel doesn't like it."
"You still going with that loser?" Danny asked, leaning up against the door frame with a grimace.
"Mama's putting dinner on at seven," she answered sharply. "Should I have her set an extra plate?"
He glanced over his shoulder toward the back room he now had the privilege of occupying. He looked back, blue eyes anxious. "Yeah… I'll stop by."
"Not stop by, Danny, are you going to have dinner with us or not?"
"Yeah, yeah, calm down," he laughed. "Tell ma I'll be there."
"Alright," she sighed and fixed her glasses. She glanced back over to the backroom. A man was standing in the open door now, dressed in a dark grey suit and a scally cap on his head, one hand in pocket. He raised a cigarette to his smiling lips. Mary looked away before she could examine him more closely. She did not like these men Danny had fallen in with. "I will see you at seven?"
"Six," he said. "I'll come by."
"Danny," she sighed.
"I promise. You watch, I'll be there by six," he grinned. Mary looked up at him critically, but his boyish smile and those popping dimples brought a smile out from her. She fixed the hat on her head, pulled her scarp tightly around her neck, and ducked out of the pub.
Danny stayed inside and watched her get safely across the street before he headed back to the private room the Flynns owned. He paused when he spotted Micky standing in the door, smoking his cigarette. He still made Danny nervous. There was a wildness in him that Danny didn't like. It would take some doing for Thomas and Nicky to keep him on a short leash now that he had returned from Ireland.
"That one of your sweethearts?" Micky asked. His voice was a low timber, slightly grating to the ears. Danny's face flushed hot. He didn't want this man anywhere near his sister.
"My sister," he answered. Micky's eyes went to the door she had just stepped from. Danny retrieved the cigarette carton from his pocket. "Got Nick's money from the corner store," he explained. Micky stepped to the side, eyes still on the door, and let Danny slip inside. Nicky Flynn, the oldest of the three Flynn brothers, was lounging in the far corner of the both, sucking down on a cigarette.
"Nick," Danny said, and tossed him the carton. Nick opened the carton without a word and took out the bills. He counted it twice and then put the bills into his pocket. His dark eyes searched the room. "You boys will need to run down to Rhode Island tonight. Danny, Pat, bring the O'Donnell boys."
"What time?" Danny asked. Nick's dark eyes landed on him. Danny's face flushed beneath the older man's gaze. His eyes darted from person to person. "I promised my ma I'd make it for dinner."
Nick's gaze remained pinned, dark eyebrows lifted in intense surprise. He raised his cigarette to his lips. Danny was painfully aware of Micky Flynn standing directly behind him.
"Is your mother's dinner more important to you than my money?" His eyes were dark. His face was set in stone. Danny swallowed thickly. Mick'y hands slapped down on his shoulders. Danny fought the flinch.
"Nick, really I –"
Nick erupted into laughter and leaned forward in his chair. Slowly, the others began to join in the laughter. An anxious grin tried to take hold of Danny's face. Micky's low rumble joined the others. He patted Danny's shoulders before he withdrew. Nick reached out and slapped his cheek warmly.
"I'll never stand between a boy and his mother's cooking," Nick said. He pointed over at Tom, settled in the booth with a tight grin. "Remember ma when we'd be late to dinner."
"Nothing scarier," Tom answered. Micky nodded solemnly and walked into the corner. He made the sign of the cross.
"God rest her," he murmured. Nick and Tom crossed themselves.
"Head out round ten. We want a midnight drop as it is. Micky you'll be in the money car with Danny," Nick ordered. Danny thanked Nick, but he wasn't sure if the words actually got out of his throat. He calmed himself as the rest fell into comfortable conversation. Reluctantly, his eyes found Micky in the corner. He was looking at Pat as he spoke but his eyes quickly darted over to meet Danny's. Danny looked down quickly, fighting the uneasiness that was taking hold in his gut.
He set off a few hours later, perfectly drunk. He would need to sober out by ten if he was to maintain the high opinion he had managed to cultivate over the past the past few months. He stumbled out into the street and fumbled in his pocket for his cigarettes.
His attention was drawn by a car horn to his right. He turned his head, eyes dark, and placed a good kick to the fender. He noted with some pride as recognition came over the driver's face. He raised his hand in supplication. Danny's pride faded as he felt a hand slap down on his shoulder.
"Need an escort home, boyo?" Micky asked. Danny almost shrugged him off but his fear got the better of him.
"I'm all set, thanks," he said.
"Would Mama O'Mahoney have room for another dinner guest?" he asked.
"It's a small place, Mick," Danny tried to decline.
"I grew up in the old land, I'm used to small," he answered, leading him across the street. "Denying a meal between friends?"
"Are we friends?" Danny asked. Micky laughed. "Course we are. My brother thinks you have a bright future with us Danny-Boy. What'do'you think?"
"That - That's quite the compliment."
"We have a family here though, you see. Family is everything, yeah?"
"My family, I mean yes, we're a family, the Flynns have done so much for me, but my own family, they're not really –"
"I just want to eat," he laughed. He slapped Danny's shoulder again. "Come on, Boyo! Haven't had a good homecooked meal in too long."
"Alright," Danny conceded. Micky jostled him playfully and Danny's laugh was more genuine. "Alright, alright. I'm sure ma won't mind."
Mary will. He pushed that thought out of his mind. It certainly couldn't hurt to make friends with Micky Flynn, no matter what the stories were. Micky removed his flask from his coat and took a swig. He offered some to Danny but Danny declined. "I'm a bit drunk," Danny admitted. Micky gave a grin. He got a cigarette out and gave it to Danny. It would help mask the smell of booze on his breath.
They arrived at his mother's house just a few minutes later. The paint was chipped, a window was boarded up, but Danny gazed at the house affectionately. He had a lot of good memories inside this house. They never had much, but their mother and father never let them know it. A smile came to his lips when he stepped up the front step.
He was a young boy, seven or eight, chasing his sister around the perimeter of the house, a bucket of cold water in his hands. She shrieked as she ran, the giggles of a five year old girl echoing down the street as she tried to avoid the water.
In a year or two, he'd buy them a new house. They'd live like kings.
"Your a…" Micky used his thumb to scratch the area just above his eyebrow. "Your sister home?"
Danny felt a turning in his stomach. He glanced back at Micky as they walked up the steps. He turned back to the door, nodding. "Yeah, yeah, Mary's here."
He opened the front door and stepped inside. He didn't have the nerve to tell Micky his sister was off limits. He regretted it the moment he saw Mary walk carry the potatoes out of the kitchen and put it on the table. She wore a simple blue skirt and a white blouse. Her silky brown hair was curled in gentle ringlets, ending just below her shoulders.
"I bet mama a dollar you wouldn't show before dinner," she called playfully. She walked into the hall, wiping her hands with the rag. She had a smile on her face. "I've quite happy she is not a betting woman." She slowed when she spotted Micky, her smile faltering. Micky was smiling at her, that kind of warped half smile on his thin lips. Their mother came hurrying down the hall and threw her arms around her son's neck. Mary took the opportunity to slip back into the kitchen without the necessity of introductions.
"Hey, ma," Danny greeted and gave her a tight hug.
"Hello my boy," she said and placed a wet kiss to his cheek. "And who is this handsome young man?"
"Mama, Mary, this is Micky Flynn. He's Nick's brother."
Micky removed his hat and held it in front of him.
"So good to meet you, Micky. Nick does such a good job for us here," Mrs. O'Mahoney greeted him with a hug and a kiss on the cheek.
"Thank you, thank you, I'll be sure to pass that on to Nick."
"Hang up the coat and that hat, please come in. Plenty of room around the table, plenty of food. Mary, set another spot at the table for Danny's friend!"
"Micky Flynn," the deep grumble of Danny's father drew everyone's attention down the hall. "Just returned from the war, eh? Kill a few Brits over there, boy-o?"
"I did, sir, many a black and tan," Micky answered proudly. His broad shoulders straightened at the memory of it. "Till I got a piece of led in my leg. Or I'd still be fighting."
"Any man that's killed a black and tan is welcome at my table. Come on in, son."
Danny glanced anxiously at Micky. Micky entered the house with a smile. Danny watched him turn his head to look at Mary in the kitchen. He took a step toward the kitchen, lips parting to offer a greeting.
"Come sit here, son, sit here."
Micky tore his gaze away from Mary and moved to sit where Daniel O'Mahoney directed. Danny's glances darted between Micky and his sister. She sensed his gaze and her eyes darted up to meet it. He looked away from her murderous gaze.
"Where'd you fight, huh?" their father asked. He had a gruff voice. He worked at the docks. He'd never seen Ireland but one would never know it by the way he spoke of it, the reverence and love in his voice.
"County Cork, sir, where my family is from," he answered.
"Lot of Black and Tans in that area?"
"A fair few, sir," he confirmed. "I was in the city when it burned."
"You'll have to tell us of your battles, Mr. Flynn," Daniel said. He was smiling proudly, as if Micky were his very own son.
"Were you there when the fighting broke out?" their mother, Catherine O'Mahoney asked. She brought Danny and Micky a cold glass of milk each. Danny flushed in embarrassment, but Micky thanked her with a bright smile.
"I was in Europe," he answered. "After the war ended, instead of coming home, I got myself to Ireland. Joined up first chance I could."
Danny watched him turn his head toward the kitchen. His eyes lingered there, an unsettling glimmer in his eyes. Danny came home after the war, unwounded, with little to tel. His father would have been thrilled if he had gone to Ireland to join the fight. His son's short service was not enough to tell his friends about. But Danny came home, because unlike Micky, Danny could not get used to the killing.
"Shame about that treaty. My wife has a sister in Antrim," Daniel admitted, almost shamefully.
"I'm sorry to hear that," Micky said grimly.
"Is war really a topic for conversation at the dinner table?" Mary asked as she came into the room. She removed her apron and draped it across a chair. Micky got to his feet as she entered. His eyes were fixated on her.
"Dinner ready?" their father asked. She nodded. Daniel got up from his chair and placed a kiss to his daughter's cheek. As he stepped on by to give his wife the customary before dinner peck on the cheek, Micky stepped up to Mary. Danny watched closely.
"Micky," he said and offered Mary his hand. A sheepish grin came to his lips, but she was no fool. His hand was warm as it enveloped hers. He had a commanding grip. She tried to bring her hand away but he did not let her.
"It is nice to meet you, Mr. Flynn," she greeted. She forced a tight smile. "You're friends with Danny?"
"I am, I work with him at the trucking company," he answered with a half smile. Finally, he let her hand go. His hair was cut short at the sides, longer up top, dark brown, and neatly combed. He was a handsome man, with straight white teeth and a strong jaw. His features were angular, giving him a predatory sort of look. He gave Mary an uneasy feeling. A nervous smile came to her lips and she removed herself from the room with an uneasy giggle.
She shot her brother a purposeful glare as she stepped into the tiny dining room. Micky Flynn was sat down beside Danny. Mary sat across from her brother, and their parents took up the head of the table. They all held hands and Daniel said grace. Once finished, the conversation turned back toward the War of Independence.
He spoke rather evasively about his time in Ireland, no matter how persistent their father's prodding. He spoke more freely about his time in Europe. Often, he would glance across the table to smile at Mary. Her eyes were always down at the plate in front of her and she contributed nothing to the conversation. When it was over, she was thankful that Danny insisted they get going. Their father walked Micky to the outside of the house, trying to get a bit more information about his time in Ireland.
Danny was picking up his hat from the coatrack when Mary approached him. Her voice was low and harsh. "How dare you bring him into this house."
"Mary he –"
"Do you think I don't know who Micky Flynn is?" she asked. "He kills people, Danny. He doesn't transport liquor or drive a truck, he kills people for his brother. And you brought him into this house."
"He's Nick's brother, Mary," Danny whispered. "He asked to come. I didn't really have a choice."
"Samuel is a good man. He's a good cop. A clean cop. I can't have this in my life if he's going to marry me," Mary said. She grabbed onto her brother's arms. "Keep it away from me. I beg you. I have a chance at a good, honest life. Keep it away from me."
"I will," he muttered. "I'm sorry, look, I'm sorry. But he's an important guy and he wanted to come for dinner. I couldn't just say no."
Mary nodded. "You're off to no good tonight," she said knowingly. There was a knowing shimmer her in her hazel eyes.
"Just a drive south," he answered. Their parents still believed the Flynn's shipped milk bottles in and out of the city. Mary knew better than that.
"Be safe," Mary murmured. "I'll pray for you in church tomorrow."
He patted her cheek. "Sweet sister."
He stepped out of the house. Micky was sharing a cigarette with his father. "We have to go, pa."
Danny patted his father on the back. They bid him farewell and they walked down the street toward the warehouse. Micky lit another cigarette.
"Your sister," Micky's voice broke through the frigid night air. Danny's head darted over to him. He pulled his coat more tightly around himself and let out a deep breath of steam into the night air. "What's her deal, eh?"
"She uh… she's a good girl," Danny replied.
"Uh, yeah, Cop in Southie."
Micky gave a quick lift of his eyebrows. They walked in silence into the warehouse. Pat was loading liquor onto the truck with Callum and Charlie. Danny helped them finish while Micky finished his cigarette and had a swig from his flask.
"Alright. Patty, take Cal and Charlie on the load. Danny and I will lead in the empty truck."
A few workers remained to open the garage door. They drove on, the low rumble of the engines the only sound cutting through the cold night air. The jostled onward at a slow pace. Danny looked up into the darkened windows. He glanced out the driver's side of the windshield as they began to slow. A cop was standing in the road, holding up a hand. Micky rolled down the window with a smile.
"Officer," he greeted. The two shook hands. Danny watched the bills exchange hands.
"Evening, Micky, drive safe now, you boys make good stuff."
"Sure thing, Rourke. Take a bottle," he said, jerking his head to the back. "It'll give you a nice quilt out here for the night."
Officer Rourke nodded and slapped down at the car door. He gave a jerk of the head and they were on their way.
"Hey, Mick?" Danny asked as they left the city. The window was still open. Micky was having another smoke. He looked over at Danny and waited. "My sister… she's a good girl. You know, a good Catholic girl. Not one these flapper types. I don't want her messed in with this life."
"Are you telling me to leave her alone?" Micky asked. He had the same look Nick had earlier this afternoon. This time, Danny didn't think this look would crack into laughter.
"I'm just saying she's a good girl."
He continued to stare at him. His eyes were hard. The stare went on for so long, Danny almost reminded him to look at the road. Finally the face cracked and he began to laugh. He shook his head and looked back at the road.
"I got myself plenty of women. I don't need to go hunting after a friends sister," he said. He smiled back over at Danny. "Alright? Are we good?"
"Yeah, yeah. Of course," Danny laughed nervously. "No, I know you wouldn't. Just had to say it, you know. I'm her big brother."
"Yeah, sure," Mick smiled. He turned to focus on the road. Danny looked out his own window into the black forest ahead. The smile might have broken the cold stone of his face, but what made the difference between Nick earlier that day, and Mick now, had been his eyes. The eyes hadn't cracked. The humor had not touched them.
He raised his thumb to his mouth and bit into his nail. By the time they arrived in Rhode Island, every finger was chewed down to the nub.