It was as much a young man's sexual appetite as the crushing rejection he had felt last night that sent Micky reaching across the bed just as the sun began to shine in through the parted curtains on the far side of the darkened room. His body was pulsing with an insatiable need, both to fulfill his more base desires, as well as the need to regain some of the power she had taken from him the evening before.
His eyes had fluttered open and slowly the events of the previous few days came back to him. He turned his head and found her resting peacefully beside him. Her dark, auburn curls fanned out across the white pillow case, her porcelain skin, soft and perfect, full red lips, parted slightly.
A soft murmur of protest escaped her. It only urged him on, the need inside of him growing. He settled on top of her and prodded at her thighs with rough hands. It was as perfect as he had first imagined. He had been waiting for the time when he could reach over and take her on a whim. He watched Tom with Ruth. Whenever Tom wanted, Ruth was there, willing and ready. He wanted the same from Mary, but even if she was not in love with him the way Ruth was in love with Tom, he would relish in the knowledge that Mary no longer had the power to rebuff his advantages.
She came to with a small grimace. It was as he pressed himself inside of her. He pressed his mouth to hers in time to smother her slight moan of discomfort. Despite this, her arms wrapped around his neck and her legs spread a bit further. He eventually removed his mouth from hers and buried his nose into her hair. The feel of her clinging to him send fire pulsing through his veins. His entire body felt like it was on fire, tingling from the inside, almost numb, but a tickle in his limbs. The feeling of absolute euphoria was like nothing he had ever experienced before, and though he was not the absolute cad Mary seemed to think he was, he had been with his number of women.
The marks he left on her neck were in locations she could easily cover. He left one where she would not so easily conceal it. Let his friends see. He wanted everyone to know that he'd gotten her into bed. The sooner everyone knew, the sooner she'd realize he was her only option.
Not an ounce of guilt pervaded his thoughts. After all he'd done for her, he was certainly entitled to it, and his motives were pure. He'd told her so many times it wasn't just what was between her legs that he wanted. She'd see that now that he got it. Sweet, Catholic, Mary Mahoney, on her back in his bed. He'd make damn sure, he would be her only option.
When he was finished, he remained on top of her, placing soft, gentle kisses along her throat, peppering special attention to the growing bruise on the side of her neck. Let her try to cover it with makeup this morning. She wouldn't be able to.
"What happens when my papa sees it?" she asked softly. He licked the hot, swelling flesh in one, single motion. The slight tremor of fear in her voice brought him a disturbing sense of satisfaction.
"You think he'll say anything against me?" he asked her. He pulled back and looked at her, gently pushing her thick locks back from her sweaty brow. "I pay for every bill your family has and your daddy knows it. I could probably fuck you under his roof and he wouldn't say a word against me."
"I own you, Mary," he murmured in her ear. If she didn't want to be his girl, if she didn't love him, then she would at least know she belonged him. He kissed her earlobe. He turned her face to his to kiss her. "But I told you already, I'm not going anywhere."
This time, when he pressed his mouth to hers, he did so tenderly. He cared about her, and he wanted her to know that. "You get yourself freshened up. Bathroom's through that door. I'll make us up something to eat."
She nodded. In her eyes there was fear and vulnerability. It fueled a dark part of him. His sense of power and control was renewed. Along with it came the desire to calm her. The risk of losing her had evaporated. In its place, came the desire to comfort.
"You're better than I imagined," he told her. He dragged his thumb along her lip. "Since I first saw you, I've spent every night with my hand in my trousers, thinking about what this would be like. Better than I imagined." He kissed her neck gently. "You're perfect."
He freed himself from her and went to the bathroom. He took a piss, washed himself up, and then went out to cook breakfast. As he passed through the bathroom, he enjoyed the sight of her sitting up in bed, wrapping his quilt around her to protect her from his view. It was a genuine, vulnerable, gesture, and his affection for her, as impossible as he believed it to be, grew.
She came out after about forty five minutes. She was in her clothing from the day before, looking timid and unsure. She sat down at the table, and he put a glass of orange juice in front of her.
"It smells amazing," she said, doing her best to smile. He put a plate together for her. He knew how to cook good food in reasonable quantities, and so when he put the plate in front of her with two strips of bacon, a sausage, a small bowl of baked beans, an egg, grilled tomatoes, and some hash, he was exceedingly happy to see her lips part in surprise. He placed the small plate of toast and marmalade down after making his own plate.
"Tea or coffee?" he asked her.
"Oh, I would love some tea."
He made her a cup and placed the kettle down for later use.
"I would never have believed Micky FLynn was so domesticated," she said, forcing a tight smile, though her eyes displayed her trepidation. He glanced up sharply, wondering if she was mocking him, but found no malice in her eyes.
"I cook… quite well," she said, words disjointed and unsure. "My mother she… has prepared me well to be a good wife."
He set his eyes on hers. He stared at her hard, but she was focused on cutting the sausage. He would have asked her to marry her right then, but he was unwilling to suffer any further rejection. He could have demanded it. She would have capitulated, but that's not how he wanted it. He'd made up his mind. Mary belonged to him, and if necessary, he'd go down that path. It wasn't how he wanted things to go.
"Do you want the day off?" he asked instead. He must have surprised her, for the look on her face was one of severe confusion. "You can take the day if you would like."
"No, I… I think it best I continue to work. I like the work. It is challenging. I enjoy it."
"Good," he mused and then they fell into a more or less comfortable silence. She would say yes if he proposed to her at that moment. She was vulnerable. Her realization that her love had married another had shaken her enough to offer herself to him, despite her apparent disgust of him.
And what disgust she had for him. He was a drunkard, a gambler, a smoker, a criminal. So beneath the beautiful and pious Mary Mahoney, who was so willing to forget where she came from, who she was.
Yet, if he demanded it, she'd marry him. If only for the comfort of knowing that she would not be marked a whore. But despite how badly he wanted her, he couldn't bring herself to do it this way. And maybe… if things progressed, and her reputation continued to suffer, she would come to him, begging a proposal. He would marry her then… when she realized she would have nothing without him.
This did nothing to diminish his opinion of her. She was beautiful. It was what first caught his attention. When he returned from the war, he was in a dark place. He had been back for months. When he closed his eyes, he heard the sounds of the shells. He heard the cries of the dying. He could still see the eyes of Miles, as he stared down at him at him and stroked his cheek. He told him it would be alright. The medic would be there soon. He'd be alright. But he watched the blood come pouring out of his groin, the skin of his face turning the color of an egg, and then finally, the vacant glaze of his gaze.
He returned and found peace in exacting vengeance upon those who deserved it. Those who hurt the ones he loved. Those who did not believe in a simple code; you did not harm the innocent, you do not rape a woman, you do not go back on your word.
He was spiraling. That was beyond dispute. But then, the most beautiful woman he had seen walked into his brother's bar. Porcelain skin, red lips, auburn hair, a vibrant look in her eyes. Immediately he had felt a sense of calm, a sense of peace. It was a feeling he had not felt since he arrived in France. When Danny Mahoney walked up to her he placed her in a moment.
Sweet Mary. When he had left the war, she had been too young for him to have desired her, but he knew of her. She had grown into a fine young woman. Beautiful. All the innocence of before, but now, with a beauty he could not overcome. He became obsessed in a single instant. He needed her. He would have her.
He'd heard Tom recollect his first meeting with Ruth. He remembered how simple it was to ensnare her. And Ruth was compliant, submissive, pleasing. Pay a woman for all she needed, she'd spread her legs with ease.
But his Mary was different. She was a good Catholic woman. If only she understood the importance of her heritage, the suffering she had in her blood. Her rejection of her Irish heritage bothered him. He knew men who would change their surname to sound more English in order to gain employment. He did not like it, but in some cases, he understood it. When faced with sign after sign after sign of 'no Irish need apply' with children that must be fed, he was not in the position to judge. If those same men were offered employment with Nick, more than they might be paid otherwise, and continued upon their path, he felt no sympathy for them.
When he first initiated contact with Mary, he had been certain she would immediately submit to him. That did not mean he believed she would spread her legs, but he was a Flynn. He was well respected, he was in fine shape, he was handsome, he was wealthy.
Her initial rebukes had been expected, desired, but he was certain she would eventually surrender to his attentions. When she did not, he had been perplexed. His brothers told him, he was paying for everything, she could not possibly resist for long, she would appreciate his restraint, but then time pressed on. She did not surrender, she did not give in. Then he was forced to react.
Nick and Tom gave different advice. Nick told him to court her. Tom told him to give her an ultimatum; her brother died,or she submitted to him. His love and respect for his brothers resulted in a mixed strategy. He tried both. It resulted in miserable failure. He should have listened to Tom from the beginning. But now, he had what he wanted, but he still didn't have that peace he had longed for from the first moment he saw her.
"This is very good," she said. He grunted and returned to his thoughts. That was until the door flung open and Ruth wafted in as though it was Tom's apartment she was walking into. She was examining the dresses she had in her hands and came into the kitchen. He watched her walk to the coffee maker. She took the last of the coffee, made a comment about the need for an additional pot to be brewed, and draped the dresses over the back of the table.
"Can I help you?" Micky asked her. Mary was watching in silence as well, but there was no annoyance on her face. In fact, there was a little smile budding on her lips.
"Yes. I just told you the coffee's gone," she replied. She took a piece of toast from the center of the table and nibbled on it. She addressed Mary, "I need to be at the docks by eleven so we'll need to start soon."
"Start?" Micky asked.
"Do you want her driven through town wearing the same clothes she was wearing the day she went over to Micky Flynn's house?" Ruth asked sharply. "With limp hair and day old makeup? Don't you fret, Mary, you look beautiful."
Micky said nothing. Perhaps he did want her seen leaving his apartment wearing the same dress she wore before. Maybe he did want everyone to know that she had spent the night in his bed. He said nothing and stood.
"Well you two get to it then," he said, taking his last swig of coffee. "And if you feel comfortable enough to come in and out as you please, you can put on your own goddamn pot of coffee."
Whatever Ruth said in retort he did not hear, but he stopped in front of Mary and bent down for a kiss. "Can you be in by ten?" she nodded and voiced her assent. He kissed her again and readied to leave. He stopped him with a fist of his vest.
She murmured to him, "I'm going to try harder now," she promised him. His face softened, his muscles loosened. That peace returned to him. He knelt down by her chair and cupped her cheek.
"I do right by you, Mary," he promised her. He didn't want her to be scared. He wanted her to know that he was a man of his word. He wouldn't toss her off now. He kissed her once more and then he was gone.
She arrived at half past nine and was quite cheerful, though it wasn't clear to him exactly how she was actually feeling. He had been certain to tell Callum that he wasn't to treat her any differently. He'd sorted everything out and Mary hadn't done anything wrong. Callum took him at his word and Micky was pleased to see the two discussing book numbers without a hint of discomfort on either side.
He turned his head to see Charles stepping into the pub. Michael ripped his eyes away from Mary to meet his eye. "Nick is ready for you. He's down at the garage."
Micky nodded and twirled his cigarette in his fingers. He took a deep breath and forced the smoke out of his nose with a clenched jaw. He looked at Mary a few moments longer giving another nod. Very rarely was Micky nervous for a meeting with his oldest brother. Now was one of those occasions.
"Let's get this fucking over with," he grumbled, lips wrapped around the cigarette. He walked out of the pub and let the door clatter hard behind him.
Mary had everything sorted a little after noon when she looked up to find the source of the sound of the door clanging shut loudly. Micky was marching out of the pub with Charles, looked grim faced and angry. His mood had been puzzling to her this morning. She had believed he would be more pleasant with her, but it was apparent he was still angry. Getting what he wanted from her hadn't been enough to soothe that anger any.
She did not regret her actions. In truth, the more she thought about Samuel and his new, beautiful bride, the more she longed to do it again. She wanted to close her eyes and feel Micky's hands on her body, feel his hot breath against her skin. What she did regret was telling him she still loved Samuel. She had no doubt it was the source of his anger.
Callum had been surprisingly welcoming. Pat and John were as jovial as always. She was just finishing talking to Callum about the newest shipment when the door opened and Nicholas Flynn, with his imposing presence, walked into the pub. She had not looked up from the ledger, despite hearing the bell. The pub was always busy with people coming in and out. But it was Nick's crisp voice, accented with his Irish Brogue, calling out, "Mary Mahoney" that drew her gaze upward.
He was not smiling but his features were relaxed. Micky stepped in beside him, side by side with Tom, looking grim. Her lips parted and she turned to look at Callum, though he seemed equally as confused.
Nick marched toward her with long strides, his thin lips had the ghost of a curve on it, but his eyes held something that made her uneasy. He stopped before her and closed a large hand around her upper arm. His grip was firm, not painful, but uncomfortable.
"I think you and I need to have a talk. Wouldn't you agree?" His hand pulsed around her arm.
"Yes, Mr. Flynn," she said, too afraid to say otherwise. He guided her toward the back of the bar. She handed the ledger to Callum as she was lead away, and she looked anxiously to Micky for some sort of comfort. He provided her with a soft touch to the back, and he gently guided her into the room. She relished the touch, as her concern that her confession had lead Micky to believe she had not been worth all the effort was beginning to mount.
"Have a seat, Mary," Nick said once they were in the back room. She obeyed silently. Her eyes darted between the three brothers. Tom leaned against the far wall, hands clasped in front of him, and he stared down at his shoes. Micky stood by the door, grim faced, arms crossed over her chest.
Nick sat on the table in front of her, smile tight, hands clasped on the knee resting atop the other. His gaze was suddenly very hard. They stared at each other for what felt like an eternity.
"If I ever find out, that someone approached you about spying on me, and I am not the first person to hear about it, there will be serious consequences. Do you understand?"
She nodded, dry lips parted.
"The next time someone approaches you about spying on my business, you come to me, Tom, or Mick, immediately."
"Y-yes, I -"
"The fact that you saw fit to keep this to yourself, is deeply disturbing."
"Mr. Flynn, I swear, I never said a word to them about anything," she promised. She looked over at Micky. He was glaring at the back of Nick's head. "I would never betray the neighborhood."
He considered this. "Yes, Mick has said as much. If this happens again, there will be consequences. Do you understand?" she nodded. Her response must not have been convincing enough for Nick Flynn's taste. His hand darted out in a flash. She sucked in a violent breath when he reached out and grabbed her by the chin. His fingers squeezed into her jaw, directing her to look at him closely. He leaned forward, eyes pinned on hers and said, "Do you understand me, Mary?"
"Yes, sir," she answered. He released her chin. A smile spread across his lips and he told her, "Good."
Nick moved around the table and pulled out a chair. Terribly saddened with his disappointment in her, she offered, "If there is anything I can do to prove my loyalty, I'll do it."
He pinned her with another gaze and sat down slowly. "You see, Micky. I told you she would be anxious to help."
Micky shot the back of his brother's head a snarl. Mary's hopes were elevated that perhaps she was not the sense of his current mood after all.
Nick continued, "I would like you to take Mr. Doherty up on his offer."
Her lips parted. For a moment, she believed this was his way of telling her she had to leave the neighborhood, but that made very little sense. She looked at Micky. He was looking back at her, eyes nearly black. His face was impossible to read.
"I don't understand."
"I need to know what they have planned. They want information from you, well, I'll give them information, and perhaps in turn, you'll even find something out about them."
"That wasn't what we discussed," Micky barked from his corner.
"If she gets information, that would be wonderful," Nick's voice cut out acidically into the tension laden air. He was addressing Micky, but he was not facing him. His eyes were off to the side. "I'm not sending her in there for that reason."
He looked back at Mary and gave a smile. His eyes softened and she felt a warmth for him bloom. He had forgiven her and she would do what was necessary to prove his faith was not misplaced.
"I want you to bring information to Doherty. I don't want you to ask questions, I don't need you to sniff around. Simply bring them the information, I tell you to bring."
She chanced another look at Micky. He did not appear pleased.
"Can you do that for me, Mary?" Nick prodded gently.
"Of course," she answered. She had no say in the matter.
"You see, Michael, I told you she would be willing to do it."
Micky crossed his arms and leaned back against the wall. No, he was certainly not pleased. Nick reached into his pocket and retrieved an envelope. He had a satisfied smile on his face as he removed the contents and smoothed it out on the table.
"I do not require much from you, Mary. I only want you to memorize, as best you can, everything on that piece of paper."
She took the crumpled sheet and ran her eyes over the page. They were rates, but not the ones she had memorized from the books.
"I don't understand," she said.
"You're a smart girl, Mary," Nick said kindly and lit a cigarette. "Try and figure it out."
"You want me to give them fake numbers, obviously. What will that accomplish."
Nick flashed a grin. "Did he tell you how to get him the information?"
"No," she said. "I think I would just go to the Bog and ask for Mr. Doherty or Jack."
"Jack," Micky spat. He pushed himself up from the wall and turned his back to keep from speaking out further. Nick examined his watch.
"Well, take a long lunch, and go on to the Bog. Bring them that information."
Nick stood and placed his hat back on his head. "You can tell me all about it at dinner tonight. Mick. Tom. Cara is cooking up a fine dinner. I'll see you there."
Nick stopped in front of Mary, who had risen from her seat as he had. "Never again do you keep something like that from me. Y'understand, Mary?"
"Yes, Mr. Flynn," she murmured. He gave a smile and a nod, slapped his hat on top of his head and left the bar. Tom murmured something about seeing him later, and then left as well. Micky flung the door shut and gave her a frightful look.
"If you didn't want me to do it why didn't you say something!" she demanded before he had a chance to berate her.
"I did," he snapped. He paced in a small circle, hands on his hips, before adding, "Nick wouldn't hear anything of it. He wasn't happy at all you decided to keep this to yourself."
He walked over to the far side of the room and unlocked the back office. He said facing the door, "I'm not mad at you," he comforted. "I'm mad at him."
She followed him inside and he closed the door. "Here," he said, pulling out a chair. "Write it down in your own hand."
She obeyed. "You don't think I am in any danger, do you?" she asked him. He considered a few moments.
"Likely no," he answered. "I just don't want you involved in this. I told him you didn't want to be involved." he looked at her earnestly, "I tried."
She nodded. "I can do this," she murmured. "I don't want Nick to think I was ever going to do it."
"He knows," Micky muttered. He picked up the piece of paper and looked it over closely.
His hand was placed in front of her and she allowed him to guide her to her feet. He pulled her into an embrace and placed a gentle kiss to her lips. When he pulled back, he ran his thumb over the mark he had left on her neck that morning. It had taken Ruth some time, but she had managed to cover it up very well. Micky raised his thumb to his tongue and then returned it to the spot on her neck.
"Micky no," she began. Micky shot her a look that immediately stopped her efforts to move his hand. He continued to wipe the makeup from the skin. She protested weakly, "It's humiliating."
She cast him a pleading look. He gazed at her intently, and slowly, the angry heat that had been in his eyes since morning slowly began to fade. It morphed into surprising tenderness, and he removed his hand. "It's not that noticeable," he lied. She was only grateful that he had not done any more damage.
"Thank you, Michael," she murmured. She gave him a kiss on the lips.
"We're not playing games anymore, right Mary?" he reminded her softly. Lips grazing across her cheek.
"I never played a game," she denied, tilting her head back so his lips could leave their scorching trail down her neck. Her eyes found the door. She was pleased to see it closed. She only hoped no one would come inside.
"You pretended to like me," he accused. His hands picked her up by the waist and plopped her down on the table. He stood between her legs.
"I was scared," she admitted honestly. His kisses were hot and wet. She let her eyes flutter closed. "I'm going to put in the effort now."
Her words of comfort had little affect on him. He accused again, "You tried to make a fool of me."
"I didn't - "
He covered her mouth in another kiss. When he pulled back, he murmured against her mouth, "doesn't matter now anyway." He sounded very sad.
His thumb gently stroked her lips. If it wasn't for the look in his eyes, she would have thought his touch was tender. He kissed her again and then a third time.
"I won't hurt you, Mary," he muttered. The words brought her comfort and she raised her arms to wrap around his neck. She wanted to know him that she was trying. It was done now. If he set her aside now, then what would become of her. He kissed her once more and then stepped back. "You should get going then."
"Won't they think it odd? That I'm not being followed?" she asked.
Micky gave a warped grin that would have been a scowl if his lips weren't curved upward.
"No one's followed you since I got back from Ireland. And that was for your safety. So they won't think it's odd. I'm sure Jack's had his eye on you."
He stepped closer to her. "Jack's a handsome guy, don't you think?"
"I think he's a creep," she shot back sharply. Micky smirked and stepped away. She stopped his retreat with a hand to his elbow. "Michael," she said softly. "Are you very angry with me?"
"It'll pass," was all he said. He stared at her. There was a queerness about the look he gave her. He cleared his throat and jerked his chin toward the doorway. "Go on then, before I change my mind and get myself killed by my big brother. Come right back here when you're done. I mean it. Right back here. If you're not back in an hour, I'm going to come looking."
She gave him a smile and moved passed him. She squeezed her hands into fists to keep them from trembling. No matter how badly she desired it, she did not look back to get one more supportive glance from Micky as she left. Nick was still there as she exited, and he gave her a little nod as she passed.
Her legs felt strange, like hollowed out wood as she moved on through the busy streets, and yet they were also quite heavy. She was nearly at Bog's when she spotted Jack McNally come out from a small alley on the other side of the street. He grinned at her, eyes scanning the sidewalk behind her, and then braved the busy street to fall in line beside her.
"I was starting to think I wouldn't be seeing you," he said. He offered her his arm but she ignored the gesture entirely, and he eventually dropped it back to his side.
"I'm doing it for Danny," she answered. The Scotsman nodded and lit a cigarette.
"Course you are," he said. They walked up to the Bog in silence. He opened the door for her and guided her inside with a hand to her upper back. It was a perfectly gentlemanly gesture, but she did not like the feel of him on her, and she shrugged him off. If he noticed, he did not let on.
"Mr. Doherty in?" he asked the hostess at the front of the restaurant. She nodded and motioned to the back of the restaurant, giving Jack a flirtatious smile as she did so. He winked at the girl and he lead her out back. A few men gave her the once over but apart from her redeeming skin, she was entirely impassive.
Jack lead her down a hallway and gave a quick rap on the door with the knuckle of his index finger. There was a curt "yes" and he opened the door.
She stepped inside of a modest looking office. Mr. Doherty sat at the desk, a pair of spectacles resting on his nose, his suit jacket draped on the chair behind him, and a cigarette still burning in the ashtray. He glanced up, steel eyes observing her for a moment without a hint of recognition. He lowered his pen, rose to his feet, and only then did a smile stretch across his face.
"Miss Mahoney," he greeted. "I am pleased to see you here."
"Thank you," she answered.
"It was not an easy decision you've made. I promise you, you're making the right decision. One must take care of their family and Michael Flynn ..." his eyes dropped to her neck and he quirked an eyebrow, "is a shark in bloody water."
She suddenly remembered the mark on her neck that Micky had so cruelly uncovered. She pressed her palm to the marked flesh. She could not see Jack, but she was certain he had a lecherous smirk on his lips.
"I hate him," she whispered, eyes lowered. She did hate him. She hated him more than anything. Yet somehow, all she wanted to do in that moment was run back to the pub and feel Micky's protective arms wrapped possessively around her. She reached into her pocket and retrieved the note she had copied from Nick's notes. Mr. Doherty took it from her and unfolded the crumpled page thoughtfully. She had looked the numbers over briefly so she would know what they were if questioned, but she was unsure how it would help Nick. Mr. Doherty lifted an eyebrow.
"They've been using these numbers for how long?" he asked.
"Since Micky got back from Ireland," she answered smoothly. The number had changed when he got back from Ireland, but they had gone down, not up. Mr. Doherty nodded thoughtfully.
"Thank you, Miss Mahoney. This information will certainly be beneficial."
She looked on in surprise a moment. She hesitantly pushed herself up from the chair. That was it? It was that simple?
"Oh, and once again, allow me to apologize," Mr. Doherty said as she walked toward the door the Scotsman stood by. "An Italian or not, it's a shame he broke you up like that."
Mary froze, eyes on the Scotsman, who stared back with a face of stone. Just beneath the service, that stone threatened to crack, letting a cruel smirk erupt in its place.
Jack made sure she was delivered safely to the neighborhood line before setting her off on her own. He would have liked to bring her to her front door, but he couldn't risk it. As she got out of his car, she assured him, with pale skin, glassy eyes, and a neurotic calmness, that she would get back just fine.
Arm stretched out over the steering wheel, he watched her until she was down the road and took the turn onto Becker Street. In truth, Jack didn't blame Micky at all. Mary Mahoney was a real beauty, but not a stunner like some girls. She looked sweet and innocent, but she had a fire that Jack liked. Pretty auburn hair in long waves, tasteful makeup, modest, but tasteful clothing. She wasn't at all the type that Jack went for, but certainly worth a wank or two.
He returned to the Bog as instructed and walked through the main dining hall. He gave a wink to Cora and moved on toward the back of the restaurant. He gave a quick wrap of his knuckles on the door. His hand was turning the handle before Mr. Doherty's "yes" reached through the door.
He stepped inside and closed the door softly behind him. Mr. Doherty leaned back in his chair. He mused, "You know, I almost feel bad."
Jack chuckled and took a seat where Mary had sat just a few minutes before.
"You are sure she will get home safely?" he asked, holding out his golden cigarette case. Jack took a cigarette, always of the finest quality when coming from Mr. Doherty.
"She was still shaken, but she'll get there," Jack assured him. Mr. Doherty unfolded the paper he had received from the girl and read it over carefully. Jack enjoyed the cigarette and waited in silence. Sometimes he would sit for forty minutes or so before Mr. Doherty would give him his next set of directions.
"Your sister married an Irishman," Mr. Doherty mused. "Any trouble there?"
"Well, we aren't catholic," Jack said, puffing on the cigarette. "But she converted. Dad dropped dead from a heart attack a month later. She blamed herself. Almost called it off, but our mum came round and gave her blessing."
Doherty nodded. There was far more to it than that but he doubted Mr. Doherty actually cared.
"Micky Flynn is his own worst enemy," Mr. Doherty smiled.
"Do you think it's enough to get her to turn on them?" Jack asked. Mr. Doherty looked up and quirked an elegant eyebrow, a smirk coming to his lips.
"Oh yes. The next time we see Mary Mahoney," he said, holding up the crumpled piece of paper between his middle and pointer finger. "These numbers will be real."