I had held Yevie in my arms all night, listening to the sound of her quiet, rhythmic breathing, watching her lips curl up into a smile when I would stroke her silky hair - Now, as we step through the expansive arch doorway into the prestigious lake shore country club together, me taking in the sight of the over the top lavish reception area - I wish I could go back to that..
Just me and her..
In my fitted dove grey suit, I'm pleased to see I don't stand out too much from the crowd, apart from being the biggest guy im the room, something I'm more than accustomed to..
Yevie is a vision of perfection, an angel, of course she is, the dark navy-blue of her dress accentuating her bronzed-olive complexion, golden eyes and brunette waves..
After our kiss last night I was dumbstruck.. Speechless.. Breathless..
I've never felt the squeezing ache in my chest she has triggered.. But I'm certain of one thing..
I won't be giving her up. Not when the job is done. Not ever..
I'm only a pace behind Yevie, and I sense the moment that her high society alter-ego takes over and she assumes the character she has been playing her whole life..
Her shoulders snap back, her chin lifts, her gait becomes smoother and her mannerisms become prim and proper, all in an instant. She smiles demurely at other guests as they stop to greet her.. She doesn't correct them when they call her Miss Daley.. And she introduces me as her 'dear friend, Mr O'connor' .. Which is more than fine by me.
To be honest I'm amazed that she is able to compartmentalise her personality in such a seamless manner.. But it also scares the hell out of me.. Something happened to her.. There's a piece that I'm missing here, something she still isn't telling me and I'm going to have to dig even deeper into her life to find it..
A suave looking gentleman greets us and leads us to the banquet room where the charity lunch is being held. My teeth itch and my skin crawls, being around these ridiculously affluent people is not something I ever want to become accustomed to, even if my property portfolio means that I would match half the people in this room for status..
My motivations were always somewhat different than folks like these.. I made my money because I needed it to track down the other kids from the IRA camp, the others who had survived.. It has been my life's mission since leaving the service.. So far I have only found six of them - I set them up with a new life, a home, a place to work and anything else they needed - I made a promise to help them all back then and I couldn't. So I won't stop trying until I run out of cash or I'm dead.
So far, neither has been an issue.
"Patrick, you with me?.." Yevie's whisper brings me back from my thoughts as we approach a table with five high backed chairs tucked neatly beneath the beige linen tablecloth..
"I'm 'ere, princess.." I step up beside her and place my palm on her warm lower back, the silky fabric of her tight navy blue, body con dress sliding between my fingers.. As we reach the table and circle it my eyes scan the name cards..
Rep. Anderson Daley. ... Sen. Michael Ryan. .... Mr Zachary Ryan. .... Miss Yevette Daley. .... And my tag.. Which simply says "guest"..
I snort and turn to her.. "They made a fuckin' tag for that?" Rich people, man.. Fucking crazy..
She lets out a soft agonised groan.. "I know.. It's ridiculous.. I'm so sorry Patrick.."
I'm about to reply that it's fine but her eyes travel over my shoulder and focus so intensely that I can't help but turn around to look..
Her father, Congressman Daley is walking across the room with an air of superiority like you wouldn't believe..
When he reaches the table, he ignores his daughter and zeros in on me like a bloodhound.. "Who are you, young man?" He smiles, but it's fake and plastered over a sinister smirk.. He's a well groomed, well dressed man of sixty-five who has held his elected position for decades.. I know, because I've researched him extensively, even more so since I discovered he had been less than supportive of his daughter throughout her separation, the assault and the preceding trial..
Yevie opens her mouth to introduce me.. But I don't let her get far.. I know this kind of guy, and what he will respond to.. Clipping my Irish accent and speaking with a dialect to match his own and put him at ease, I offer out my hand to his.. "Patrick O'connor. It's a pleasure to meet you, Congressman Daley.."
He takes my hand with a firm grip and shakes.. "And you're what? I suppose a sales consultant, or.. What is it you do again Yevette?"
She smiles sharply at him but doesn't reply.. Instead she turns her fascinated eyes back to me.. Yeah, I'm going to have some explaining to do later this evening..
"I'm a Marine actually, sir.. Now I mainly work contracts and dabble in property investment.." I toss him an easy grin.. There's a power in mentioning a military position, especially around politicians. They know you know things they would prefer you didn't..
"Ah.. In that case, we thank you for your service, Mr O'connor.."
I hold up a hand to stop him.. "No thanks necessary, sir.."
He turns his judgemental gaze on Yevie, her shoes, her dress, her hair, as though none of it is good enough somehow.. He doesn't exactly scowl, but he doesn't smile either. "You look well enough, Yevette. I trust you won't make too much of a scene tonight. This is about charity after all, not you.."
"Of course, father.. I wouldn't dream of embarrassing you at the club.." She mutters obediently.
I bite back on all the things I'd like to say as I watch the exchange with my fists clenched at my sides.. The way he looks at her, talks to her, and treats her.. Its fucking gross.. "I couldn't imagine anyone being embarrassed by such a charming woman.. Here Yevette, why don't we sit, darling.." I mimic the uppity manner of speaking of the people around us, maybe a little too well and her head swivels so that her curious gaze can lock with mine..
I can see her mind racing to catch up, her eyes are a little dazed but she nods and steps towards me so I can guide her to her seat, pulling it out for her to sit, before taking my own. A few other men in suits draw Anderson away from the table and she turns to me.. "Patrick.. Your accent?.. You were like a different person.. H-How did you do that?"
I throw her a cheeky wink.. "You're not the only one who's learned how to blend in, princess.."