"Hey, Ray. Whats up?" I ask stepping away from the table answering the phone.
"I got a job. Info retrieval. Meet me at the warehouse." He says in his hard business tone.
"Got it be there in twenty. Have everything ready to go." I reply.
"You got it. See you soon." I hang up and return to the table. Everyone is chatting happily and I feel bad for having to leave. I'm having a good time with my family. Thats a weird sentence.
"Um... sorry guys. I have to go help Ray with something again. Im sorry." I wince.
"Oh thats ok dear! We understand." Grandma smiles softly.
"We do?" Asks Andras.
"Yes, we do. This Ray guy is her family through choice. He is important." Grandpa explains. Im glad they get it. Andras seems to think about it but ultimately nods.
"Alright, remember you have school tomorrow though." He says pointedly.
"Ok thank you!" I run off and then run back in. "It was really nice to meet you. Have a good night everyone!" I smile and grab my jacket and helmet and head to the warehouse.
Ray is waiting outside with the van and he helps me get the bike in the back.
"Hey little mama. How was your meltdown?" He smirks.
"How was Shay?" I snipe making him glare at me. "Then shut up." I smile.
"Fine. Get in."
"Yes sir." I sass and get in the back.
We make our way to another warehouse this one in a shipping yard. I have my aviators, braid and weapons in position as we exit and lock up the van. We stalk towards the specified container and knock.
Liam opens the door and smiles. Fuck today. The whole day, fuck it all!
"Mr. McConnell." I greet with a straight face.
"Ace. Right this way." He says. He seems different than he is at school. Harder. I mean I get it. Im the same. Grace is scared all the time but Ace is strong and ruthless.
"What all are we dealing with tonight?" I ask.
"We have three guys. They're higher up somethings dont add up my father wants to know what they're hiding." He explains handing me three file folders. One on each man.
He opens the first door revealing a man tied up and left on the floor. Thats what I like about the Irish. Theyre practical. The Italians seem to be very dramatic. The Russians are brutal. And the Yakuza is very traditional. Me? I'm flexible.
I stalk in towards the man on the floor hes a mixture of scared and confused. Liam takes up watch on the wall opposite of Ray beside the door. I open the file on the man in front of me.
Brian O'Connor. Age 35. Married. With the McConnell's for ten years. Loves his mistress Angela Marconi. Marconi? Interesting. I know a Marconi. Hes a total scumbag. He was my parents' dealer. Shes going to be the key here.
"Hello Mr. O'Connor. My name is Ace. I've been sent here to talk to you." I say in a friendly voice.
"But you're a girl." Brian observes making himself sit up as Ray curses under his breath.
"Well spotted. Yes I am. But I can guarantee that won't matter in the end." I smirk cruelly taking out a big hunting knife from its sheath behind my back. "Now, im after some information today so depending on how good you are you may walk out of this room. Or not. Your choice."
"What do you want to know?" Brian asks holding his chin up.
"I need to know about Paolo Roberts and his associates. Mainly his boss."
"Roberts? I know him but isn't he with the Italian mafia?" He asks genuinely confused.
"He was." Liam chuckles darkly. I turn to Ray giving him the signal to get Liam out of here. He fucking ruined my plan.
Getting information is a delicate process. You can't just fucking jump in and give the prisoner new information.
Ray shakes his head and leads Liam out while I handle damage control. Once the door closes I sit down across from Brian tossing my knife back and forth.
"Look, im going to level with you. Your boss needs names. Who was close to Roberts?" I ask. I can tell hes clean so whatever. He straightens instantly and answers.
"Honestly? I've never met the guy. I heard he was involved in some skimming off the top but it didn't really matter since he wasn't with us."
"Who told you this?" I ask.
"McCray and Donahue. I overheard them at the pub one night." He admits. I nod.
"Ok. My advice? Ditch Marconi. Shes bad news. Involved in some real shady shit. Your wife is clean by the way." I shrug. "Oh and keep this shit to yourself or I will be back for you. Your boss has me on speed dial." He nods quickly.
"Oh, Ace. I heard some rumors about you that you may want to hear." He mutters. "The four heads are trying to get the heirs involved with you." What?! For fucks sakes!
"Great. Just what I need. Thank you." Im going to ignore that tidbit for now. I walk out of the room with the files. Ray is still chatting with Liam so I head to the next room.
Donnie McCray. Age 26. Single. Connections with Marconi, Roberts, and Ryan Oliver. Intriguing.
I walk into the room and curse. Donnie is shaking with sweat soaking his grey tshirt. I see he's bleeding around his binds. The dude is going through withdrawal. Fuck sakes.
These Irish are not making this easy on me. Im going to have to get this guy high before he tells me anything reliable. I check him over to see his drug of choice. Heroin. Of course it is. Its gotta be Make Grace Freakout Day. I repeat, fuck today! I make my way out to Liam and Ray to give them the good news.
"Donnie is going through withdrawal. I cant do jack shit with him unless he has some heroin in his system. Get it figured out." I tell Liam. Ray subtly tenses at that. He knows this one is going to be rough.
"I'll call someone." Liam nods.
"Ok. Im onto contestant number three."
"Ace. Sorry for fucking with your information." Liam states. I nod and head to the third door.
We have nothing. The only lead we had was McCray and he fucking died before he told us anything. I told Liam that O'Connor was a bust. The third was innocent too.
We make our way to the van when Liam jogs up beside me.
"Ace, can I talk to you?" He asks. I nod and follow him to the side.
"Whats up?" I ask.
"My father said I could learn things from you. Why do you do what you do?"
"Im good at it." I shrug. "Look, this isn't really a job shadow kind of situation. If you're hands are already dirty another stain isn't going to really matter. If you take over your fathers position you'll learn that quickly."
"So, you had a hard life?" He asks.
"Ok, im not talking about my life with you. Find a girlfriend if you want that shit." I say rudely. It hurts but I cant be fucking doing this.
"I tried." He mutters and I cant help it.
"What do you mean?" I ask.
"I fucked things up with a girl I really like. She's pissed at me. I misspoke and she rightfully lost it on me." He admits. I like Liam not just because he's cute and makes my stomach do a weird twirl when he looks at me. I like him as a person. Hes funny and sweet and he's not afraid of my scars.
"Then correct it." I shrug cursing myself as I walk back to the van.
Im almost home when I get a call. Jai.
"Are you fucking kidding me?" I shout at the sky before answering.
"Hey... uh.. grace?"
"Its Jai? From last weekend?" He sounds so unsure i cant help the giggle.
"Are you sure?" I ask making him chuckle.
"Ya. Sorry just making sure you remember me."
"I do remember you. Its only been a few days." I laugh. "Im not that busy."
"Shit, that is not what I meant."
"I know. How did you get my number?"
"Rudy. I was wondering if you wanted to go out for dinner Saturday night."
"I cant im sorry. My friend and I are going to a party."
"Thats ok. Maybe another day. Either way I like talking to you." Fuck! Why does he have to be so sweet?
"Well its been nice talking to you too."
"Shit. I gotta go. I'll talk to you later." He hangs up before I can respond. God damn organized crime syndicates and their hot sons!
I continue towards Andras' house and manage to get to sleep before midnight. Success.
Im surrounded by hands. Theyre pushing and pulling at me. I cant breathe. There's no air here.
All of a sudden I can't move. I'm in a familiar room. Oh no. Not here. Anywhere but here. The ripped and stained green couch and cluttered table are just how I remember them. The blood on the floor follows me as I run searching for safety in vain.
"Where did my little doll go?" His voice echoes.
I jolt awake with a small scream. I try to get a hold of my breathing. I need to do something. I need to get control and I cant wait for my fight tomorrow. I need it now.
Its strange that living on the streets was easier in some ways. Sure I was cold and hungry most of the time but I was in control. It was just me. This whole family and friends thing is making me weak.
I decide to go search for that gym. I get dressed and slap a sticky note on the kitchen counter so the cavalry doesn't get called again.
I head in the direction grandpa left in last night and surprisingly find it after only ten minutes of searching.
I cant even give Andras crap for the extravagance of this gym. If I had money this is exactly what I would do. There is a wall of mirrors and a row of exercise equipment. There are mats and weights and bars. Its got a freaking sauna! I may not see Rudy again if im living with this.
I slip in my headphones blasting DIAMANTE and loose myself to the sweet aggression.