Chapter 1: Looking back.
I stood there watching the red elevator numbers slowly climb. Eager to get to my meeting with the CEO. When the numbers finally stopped at 7 and dinged as the doors open, I found my self frozen. Those all to familiar golden eyes staring back at me. Even through my dark red hair, fake glasses and brown contact lenses, it felt like he was looking right through me. His still, ever so adorably handsome dimpled smile faltered to a blank stair. He knew.
We both just stood there staring as if we were the only two people there. To my relief the doors began to shut, and I was able to let out the breath I had been holding. But my relief was short lived when big long fingers pierced through the slit of the doors at the last second. Before they could open back all the way I did what I do best. I disappeared.
I've been a ghost most my life. Always living in the shadows. It's one reason why I'm good at what I do, and the fact I've been training with one of the most highly skilled assassins in all of the world since I was 5. My Jason Stathum look alike body guard Gram. He's been a second father to me since mine was executed along with my mother and little brother 10 years ago.
If it wasn't for Gram I would have died that night too. As far as the world and those responsible for my families death knew, I did. We had been ghosted, and I have spent every day since then training, calculating, and plotting my revenge.
My father William Bane was one of the most powerful Irish mob bosses known in up state New York. He practically owned most everything from Manhattan to Vermont. After having me, he focused more on his legitimate businesses which alone made him one of the wealthiest men on earth. He allowed his brother Roy to keep running the night clubs as long as he promised to cut ties with the drug and sex trafficking part of it. But Roy was a sleaze.
My father did his best to keep my younger brother and I out of the lime light of the criminal world by moving us to a huge country estate in Albany. But at 6 years old I was proving to be a handful for the tudors. I was too smart and they were too boring, So my mother talked my father into sending me to private school in Manhattan. I was a ghost even back then, always keeping to my self, focusing on school work, going un noticed for the most part. That is till the 5th grade when I joined the fencing team. Richie Valentine a 7th grader and the Mayors son didn't like being beat by a girl.
I had one of the highest IQ's at St. Francis and I was certainly the most skilled in hand to hand combat thanks to Gram. But Grams number one rule was to never show all your cards at once. Remain neutral never showing an enemy your strengths nor your weaknesses. This meant I had to suppress my skills when it came to fencing and even at my worse I still beat Richie Valentine every time.
One morning before school Richie and his two puppet goons surrounded me, forcing me into the boys bathroom.
Richie: If you don't quit the fencing team I'm gonna make you.
He demanded shoving me against the back wall.
Rylee: How do you suppose to do that?
His grip tightened on my shirt as he pushed my back further into the wall.
Richie: You couldn't play your precious piano or compete with broken fingers now could you?
His puppets reached for my hands but I slipped them behind my back reading my self up for a defense attack, when out of no where, he showed up with his adorable dimply smile and thick black perfectly tussled fo hawk hair. Eyes of gold and a mean right hook, my first crush and only friend Dante Santino.
He sucker punched Richie to the side of the head knocking him out cold. His two side kicks John and Devin both lunged at Dante. I couldn't just stand by and do nothing so I reached out grabbing John by his blond pony tail, yanking him so hard he fell flat on his back. Dante lands one punch to Devins nose and that was the end of that.
He smiled at me grabbing my hand and ran out of there as quickly as we could. Dante was the only other person in our school with an equal IQ to me. He was also a grade above me and a year older. We became inseparable as well as sparing partners after Richies sudden with draw from class and over the next few years we had become best friends. His father a modern day god father, Vincent Santino and my father had done business together for years. Which kept the Russian mafia further south. When my father went legit the Russians started to move back in on his territory causing a bigger head ache for Santino.
Things started changing as we got older. He at now 15 was becoming more interested in girls., and they of him. A couple months shy of 14, I was still more focused in school, but I couldn't deny a change on how I felt about him. I'll never forget the last day we saw each other. It was the day before spring break. At lunch Dante had asked me to get out of last period early to meet him in the schools green house so we could have a minute alone before our guards show up to take us away from each other for two weeks.
Hidden away from prying eyes, Dante grabbed my hand smiling down at me with that same adorable dimple smile. Only now he had sprouted a good foot over me and had small whispers of hair along his chin and jaw line.
Dante: I was thinking. Neither of us have ever kissed anyone and I know this sounds sappy but I wanted you to be my first Rye.
I loved when he called me Rye. He was the only one I ever allowed to call me that. My hands got instantly sweaty. My heart was pounding out of my chest. None of this was in my training.
Rylee: What's the urgency?
I asked shyly. As I pulled my hand away from his to wipe off the sweat. He rubbed the back of his neck glancing down at his feet.
Dante: I just wanted to give you something to remember me by.
Rylee: Are you not coming back after the break?
I asked in panic.
He chuckled and grabbed my hand once more.
Dante: A lot can happen in two weeks. I don't want anyone else stealing your first kiss when it belongs to me.
My eyes widened in shock while an odd tingling sensation coursed through my body at his claim. Before I could respond Dante grabbed the back of my neck pulling me into a sweet kiss. He pulled back just slightly. His nostrils flared, his chest heaving. I licked my bottom lip and instantly he took my mouth again. Only breaking apart at the sound of the school bell. Meaning we had less than 4 minutes to get to our cars before guards come looking for us.
I took off the black ring I wore on my thumb and slipped it into the palm of his hand backing away.
Rylee: I could never forget you Dante Santino.
Dante: I'll never forget you Rye Bane.
I heard him holler as I fled the Green house.
My heart was pounding so hard in my chest I felt like I couldn't breath as I watched her vanish out of the green house. I waited til I was alone in the back of the black SUV before opening my hand to find the black band she always wore on her thumb. I know we were young she was almost 14, I was 15 but there was something about Rylee Bane that made me feel different. It was something my pubescent teenage self wouldn't understand until later but in that moment that ring had become my most prized possession. I was going to marry her someday, and not because my father was planning on it but because I knew I wanted to.
My father had been talking with Ryes uncle Roy about an arranged marriage between us for the purpose of joining the families for territory rights. It was a bonus in my eyes that I happened to already be falling head over heals for the girl. I slipped the ring on my pinky but it was a little too big so I squeezed it over the fat knuckle of my next finger over. Something was bothering me though. For some reason in that moment her comment about me not coming back after break struck me. My heart was pounding for another reason entirely. It was a bad feeling much like the one I had when my mother died of cancer a year ago.
Rylee probably never knew how important she really became to me during that time. She was always there for me. She wouldn't even have to talk most of the time, but she made a point to always walk beside me or sit next to me at every opportune moment. Having her near me everyday at school was enough.
A feeling of fear and dread overwhelmed me when we pulled up to our Manhattan estate and I walked in to find Roy Bane having a heated discussion with my father in the study. At the sound of Rylees name I tried to sneak in closer to find out what was going on when Leo my sleazy uncle saw me from over his shoulder. He rushed out smacking me upside the head so hard my ear started ringing, then dragged me by my collar and flung me towards the stairs.
Leo: What's the matter with you. Didn't your mother ever teach you any manners.
He barks before retreating back to the study, slamming the doors shut behind him. God damn Italian psycho. I was thankful for my mom being full blooded Irish. It made me believe I had a good side cuz clearly the Italian side of the family was a bunch of angry psychotic assholes. That nagging feeling of fear hovered over me as I lied awake all night worried about Rye. At the crack of dawn a caravan was waiting out side. My Father his two brothers and half our guards were heading out. I'm used to him leaving with out saying anything but for some reason today it left a very unsettling feeling.
I barely slept at all last night, could hardly eat anything and now I found myself falling hard on my back.
I look up to see Gram staring down at me with a worried look. I couldn't believe it, I was so distracted by Dante's kiss I let my little brother drop kick me.
Chase: What's wrong with Rylee.
He maybe three years younger but I have never let him get the drop on me. While still on the ground I sweep his legs out from under him bringing his cocky laugh to a halt.
Rylee: Sorry Gram. It won't happen again
He glares at me with disappointment.
Gram: That's enough for today, Chase head on up stairs.
Half of the basement was converted into a boxing gym. As I climbed out of the ring to head upstairs Gram crossed his arms standing like a brick wall in front of me.
I look down and away holding my arm to my sides waiting for the lecture.
Gram: You ok?
My eyes shot up to his, leaving me in near shock. This was a man of few words. Always about discipline and rules. One of which "never ever allow distraction during combat", training or not.
Rylee: I'm fine why?
He tilts his head raising a brow and grunts.
Gram: I know you Rylee, you're distracted. You don't get distracted.
I let out a sigh and as if that gave him all the answers he needed. I hear a faint chuckle as he puts a hand on my shoulder.
Gram: This have to do with a certain boy?
Double shock. He actually lets out a hardy laugh at my expense.
Rylee: How did you know?
Gram: Let's s just say twenty seconds longer and the greenhouse would have became an outhouse.
I could feel my cheeks heat with embarrassment.
Gram: It's obvious the two of you like each other, and I know he's nothing like his father or his psycho uncle but he is still a teenage boy. And an older one at that.
Rylee: Only by a year.
Gram: A year and two months to be exact. But none the less. You're going to need to train even harder. You'll need to learn to keep those new girly feelings suppressed like any other emotion during training.
Rylee: No distractions. I know. I'm sorry.
Gram: Just promise not to grow up too fast in that way?
I nod as he gives a soft smile before motioning to the stairs.