Lia went to Kieran’s house early, since it was Saturday. She and Lilly knew each other, but Lia was looking forward to getting better acquainted with the young girl.
When Lia arrived, she peeked in Lilly’s room to see it the girl was awake. Lilly opened her eyes and looked at Lia when the door opened.
“Oh, I’m sorry Miss Lilly,” Lia said.
“Lia!” Lilly sat up and smiled at her, rubbing her eyes. Lia smiled back at her.
“Would you like to get some breakfast with me?”
“Yeah!” Lilly said, jumping out of bed. She ran over to Lia and grabbed her hand. Lia smiled at the young girl. They ran down the hallway giggling. The large kitchen was still empty. It was too early on a Saturday for employees to be there yet. Lia lifted Lilly up and sat her on a counter. The young girl beamed at Lia.
“What shall we eat?” Lia asked innocently.
“Ice cream!” Lilly answered witha yell. Lia put her finger to her lips.
“We can’t be too loud Lilly, ortheywill catch us!”
“Yes. The mean mansion guards. They won’t let us have yummy things for breakfast. They’ll make us eat broccoli!”
“Yuck! Then we have to be quiet,” Lilly agreed, putting her finger to her lips, mimicking Lia.
“Yes,” Lia whispered. “Shhh…” Lia shushed Lilly. They both listened. Footsteps echoed in the hallway outside the kitchen. “Run Lilly! Hide under the dining room table! I’ll come and find you! Run!” Lia whispered. Lilly ran into the dining room.
Joe came into the kitchen.
“You’ll never take me alive!” Lia yelled at him. He stood in the doorway and rolled his eyes.
“What are you doing in here?” Joe asked.
“Lilly and I are getting breakfast.”
“Then allow me. I’ll make eggs.”
“Fine.” Lia squinted at him. “Party pooper.”
She went out into the dining room and looked under the table. Lilly was curled into a ball underneath.
“I got caught,” Lia said. “We have to resign ourselves to eggs.”
“What does resign mean?” Lilly asked while crawling out from under the table. Lia explained it the best she could. They sat next to each other. Lilly sat to the right of where Kieran usually sat, in Will’s spot. Lia sat across from her. Joe brought them out eggs and orange juice.
“What are we going to do today?” Lilly asked, while shoveling a forkful of eggs into her mouth.
“I was thinking we could go to the park,” Lia suggested. Lilly’s eyes lit up, but then she immediately looked sad again. “What’s wrong Lilly?”
“I want Kieran to come with us, but he never can.” Lilly poked at her food now, looking downcast.
“Wait here Lilly. Don’t move.”
Lia got up from the table and went to Kieran’s room. It was still early and she was sure he was asleep. It was also a well-known fact in the house that Kieran didn’t like being woken up before his alarm clock went off. But Lia was determined. For Lilly’s sakeandKieran’s. No one should work all the time and have no fun. That would be a sad existence.
Lia peeked in the door. Kieran was asleep. Lia was about to leave and wait for him to wake up, when Kieran began to move in his sleep. He also began to moan. It sounded like he was in agony. Then he started to yell the word “no” over and over again. He was having a nightmare. Lia ran across the room impulsively, and sat next to him, shaking him lightly. She had no second thought about it, until he clenched his fist and raised it to Lia. In response she shook him harder.
“Kieran!” Lia cried. He opened his eyes, and dropped his fist immediately. Kieran was breathing hard. He frowned at Lia, clearly upset.
But something in Lia wasn’t afraid of Kieran. Something inside of her felt an immense sadness and destitution for him. He had lost so much in that one night, of course he was going to have nightmares. Lia’s heart felt like it was made of lead. And without thinking, she threw her arms around him. At first, he froze at her touch. But after a few moments, she felt his arms around her back. Her heart was beating so fast, she thought he would feel it for sure.
The sound of the alarm clock made Lia pull away.
“What are you doing in here?” Kieran asked.
“Lilly and I wanted to know if you would accompany us to the park,” Lia said timidly. Kieran was silent for a few moments. Lia saw his bright eyes gleaming, lost in his thoughts.
“When?” he asked.
“Soon. But we won’t be there for long,” Lia prodded. Kieran made eye contact with Lia.
“Okay,” he answered. “Okay.”
“Good! I can help you get ready!” Lia jumped up and beamed at him. Kieran laughed.
“That won’t be necessary. But I will have some breakfast. I’ll be right out.”
Lia nodded at him and hurried out of the room. When she got back, Lilly was still picking at her breakfast. Lia concealed her excitement.
“Where were you?” Lilly asked quietly.
“I had to go to the bathroom, I’m sorry. What were we talking about? Did you say yes to the park today?” Lia asked innocently. Lilly looked down at her food again and shrugged.
“I guess so.”
A minute later Kieran was at the door to the dining room. Lilly hadn’t noticed.
“I hope you don’t mind if we bring along a guest Lilly,” Lia said. Lilly looked up at her, and Lia nodded towards Kieran. When Lilly’s eyes found Kieran, her entire face lit up. A huge smile spread across the little girl’s face, and she jumped out of her chair to run over to Kieran, throwing herself in his lap. When Lia looked at Kieran’s face, her heart almost melted out of her body. Kieran had the most beautiful, serene smile on his face that she had ever seen on anyone. It was that moment that Lia realized that Kieran needed Lilly just as much as Lilly needed Kieran. She had assumed that raising another person’s child would be scary and unwelcomed by a twenty six year old man. But, when Lia looked at Kieran’s face, she saw neither fear, nor burden in his eyes. Kieran loved the girl.
It was enough to make Lia’s eyes water. She wiped away the tears before they were noticeable.
* * *
Riley was just about to call it a day when he received a phone call from Brennan.
“You son-of-a-b—h, you have a f—–g Benedict Arnold in your ranks!” Brennan was yelling into the phone.
“Yo! Calm down, what the hell?” Riley responded.
“Get your dumbass over here!”
“Where, the docks?”
“My place. Now.”
Riley listened to the line disconnect. He was still confused. By “his place,” Riley knew Brennan meant for him to go to Brennan’s usual headquarters. It was down by the docks, but in a heavily guarded warehouse.
It only took Riley fifteen minutes to arrive. When he walked in the door, he was met with a gruesome sight. There was blood on the floor, and many of Brennan’s men trying to either bandage their own wounds or the wounds of another. Riley found Brennan in his office behind his desk, with one of his men trying to put a bandage on his bleeding arm.
“What the hell?” Riley asked.
“What the hell is right, you a—–e,” Brennan spat at him.
“Well, Riley, you should remember from the meeting that I found a big client.”
“And we went today, to sell to that client.”
“But we were ambushed on the way to the POE by the d–n Westside assholes.”
“What?” He knew POE meant point of exchange, but Riley was still confused.
“Shut up and listen. We were ambushed, robbed of the goods, and sent home on our asses because someone YOU let in is a f—–g snitch, double-sided ass-wipe, and when I get my hands on him he will wish you never hired him!”
“Wait, they took the goods?”
“Yes. And sold to the client. He called to give his d–n regards! We look like a bunch of jackasses!”
Riley ruffled his own hair in frustration.
“That’s right dear friend. Great judgment, a—–e.”
“Hey! Shut the hell up. How do you even know it was one of my guys?”
“Who else would it be?” Brennan yelled.
Riley actually considered the question, aside from the fact he wanted to punch Brennan’s whiny b—h-ass in the face.
“I think we have to consider the fact this could be orchestrated by the same person who sold out warehouse 7,” Riley said with a concentrated frown.
“Right, and my grandmother helps Santa Claus deliver presents every year.”
“Shut up Brennan!” Riley yelled. Brennan was pissing him off. “Have you called Will and Kieran?”
“Good. They’re coming?”
“At least I’ll be able to talk to a rational, intelligent person then,” Riley said, walking out the door to Brennan’s office. He heard Brennan cursing him out through the walls.
* * *
Will was fascinated. He had awoken to the sound of laughter, and found Kieran getting ready to go out. Since Will’s bike was in the shop, and he was still injured, he had planned on staying with Kieran for at least a week. Kieran had insisted. And Will had stayed with Kieran for extended periods of time before. But never had Will woken up on the weekend to find Kieran ready to go to the park.
So now Will was sitting on a bench next to the park’s playground. Murphy and the chauffeur were back in the car still. It was a brisk day, since it was November after all. And Will felt dumb wearing the sling under his coat, but his wrist was still giving him hell. His ribs weren’t being much better. Will had to take pills to help him sleep for the past three days.
But he was fascinated watching Kieran, Lia and Lilly. Lilly was running around the playground laughing, while Lia chased her. Kieran was sitting nearby, looking relaxed and… happy even. Will hadn’t seen Kieran enjoying himself like this in a long while. And Kieran was watching the two girls very fondly. Will realized that hehadwitnessed Kieran growing a particular tenderness in regards to Lia. And here they all were, enjoying a day in the park- despite the fact the skies were overcast and gray. Will shifted position on the park bench, as dead leaves swirled around his feet in the wind. He glanced over his shoulder when he heard someone approaching. It was Murphy.
Will noticed Murphy’s face was slightly pale and his expression was drawn. He sighed as Murphy came hurrying up to him with a phone. There was a reason he had left his phone in the car, however; Murphy’s expression told Will that something seriously wrong had occurred and that he wouldhaveto take this call. Murphy held out the phone to Will, and Will took it with his available hand.
“Yes?” Will said.
“It’s Brennan.” It had to be Brennan to ruin the day.“We have a problem,” Brennan continued, jumping right into the issue. Will hated the fact he never had a transition period to deal with these d–n crises. He would be relaxed or enjoying himself one rare moment, and the next he would be running down the hall in his pajama pants trying to avoid a gang war or trying to get Kieran out of harm’s way.