Exhaling: A Mafia Romance (The O'Keefe Family Collection Book 3)

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Exhaling

O’Keefe Family Collection Book 3

Tuesday Embers

Copyright © 2015 Mary E. Twomey

Cover Art by Cormar Covers

All rights reserved.

First Edition: August 2016

This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of characters to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. The author holds exclusive rights to this work. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited.

This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each reader. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

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http://www.tuesdayembers.com

To the great people in my life who have always

fought for my sanity,

believed in me and loved me

– especially when I was insane and unlovable –

I’ll make you proud.

1

The Silence of Sadness

F
allyn stared
up at the ceiling, not sure how she’d found herself in Declan’s house. She didn’t recall who’d driven her there or if she’d answered their many questions that had been shouted at her. She couldn’t feel anything, couldn’t speak, couldn’t move. She simply stared at the white ceiling and pictured the angels she’d made love underneath in Italy.

Made love to her half-brother.

Fallyn went back to the land of no words and no thoughts. She ignored Declan, who held her hand and whispered his apology over and over again. She ignored Killian, who could barely lift his head to look at her as he sat at the foot of the bed. She ignored Danny, Finn and Seamus, who asked her key questions she knew she should be answering. The only thing she did that showed any life at all was when Carrigan brought her a shot of whiskey, and she launched it across the room, not blinking as the glass shattered all over Declan’s wall and hardwood floor.

She loved Vince beyond words, beyond reason. She’d chosen him, and still it hadn’t been enough. Patrick O’Keefe wasn’t her father, which was the thing he’d been trying to tell her all along. She’d thought he was being forgetful, but he was trying to warn her in his own broken way. Papa D had been her father, which explained why Papa D had never hesitated to treat her like a daughter.

The sun went down, and Fallyn only moved from the bed to throw up and use the restroom. She only allowed Killian to touch her, trusting him to be silent and not look on her face as he led her back to the bed. She drank only when he brought her water, but ignored the others. It wasn’t out of spite. It was that when they spoke, she couldn’t understand a word of what they said to her. It was all white noise. Even Killian couldn’t be understood, but she was so lost, she knew she needed at least one beacon to hold to as her world crashed down around her.

Learning that her mother had an affair before she was born was traumatic enough. The story had been that her parents had split up for half a year for untold reasons, with Mama leaving with Killian when she found out she was pregnant. She came back with a baby, and the boys being boys didn’t stop to count the months, or that Fallyn was the only blue-eyed one among them. Patrick O’Keefe had known his wife stepped out on him with his best friend, but when he’d seen Fallyn, the girl he’d always wanted in a sea of boys, all was forgotten. Fallyn had been raised as his daughter, though the patriarch of the D’Amatos – their family’s rival – had been the last one to sleep with Mrs. O’Keefe before she left the home.

Fallyn hadn’t known when it was exactly that she’d fallen hard for the cold and distant Vince D’Amato. No one had an inkling about the affair except for Declan, who had wanted to warn his sister privately, but hadn’t known she would elope so quickly.

Now Fallyn was awash in pain and depression, secretly suspecting she might be pregnant, and unwilling to talk or eat. She simply stared at the ceiling, ignoring the world as it bustled around her, prodding her to wakefulness she simply could not accept.

Days passed, but Fallyn didn’t care. She drank water only when her eldest brother Killian propped her up in his arms and fed her little sips, but he was unable to look at her, so deep was the shame she’d dove headfirst into.

So Killian held his little sister, the fifteen years between their births feeling like a minute between twins. He felt her pain but wouldn’t ease it, keeping his lips shut out of respect for her breakdown. He delegated the upkeep of her business to Danny, who took Fallyn’s phone and ignored all of Vince’s desperate calls.

Though Fallyn and Carrigan had no closure to their months-long fight, Carrigan pushed all the animosity and disappointment aside by day two. After his shift serving his community with his police badge, he drove straight to Declan’s house to give Killian and Declan a break. His sister had been his best friend, and no matter what broken state that friendship had devolved to, Carrigan couldn’t bear her suffering alone. “I’m here, Fally.”

She didn’t acknowledge he’d spoken, or that Killian had left the room for the first time in hours. She blinked up at the ceiling, unshowered and unaware. Even as her body shifted when Carrigan slid into Declan’s bed beside her, she paid him no mind. She was lost in her agony.

Carrigan wrapped his arms around her, his eyes shut tight as he held his sister in her utter defeat. “I’m sorry,” he whispered. “I shouldn’t have beaten Vince so bad that day I found out. There are a million other ways I could’ve handled that. I don’t want to hurt you; I only wanted to hurt him. But I saw only after the fact that when I beat on him, it only broke you away from me. I don’t want that. I don’t want you going through all this crap without me.” He kissed her forehead. “So I’m here. I’m here until you feel like talking about it.”

Carrigan recalled their many long silent walks together after their mother had died. They kept close to each other – the only two who didn’t want to discuss the horrors they felt. In that silence, they helped each other heal. None of the others understood it. They all wanted to talk and reminisce, which only made Fallyn and Carrigan withdraw further into their shells of depression. They’d saved each other through their quiet companionship, and Carrigan was determined not to abandon his sister to her silence this time.

“When you were a little girl, you used to get so afraid of thunderstorms. Mom and Dad would send you back to your bed, but you used to sneak in with Killian or me instead.” He brushed her auburn tangles away from her face. “I remember holding you while you freaked out, and singing you songs until you fell asleep.” He rolled on his side to cradle her in his arms. “Would that help now?”

Fallyn shook her head slowly, which was the first communicating she’d managed since she’d shut down.

“Okay. I’ll just stay with you, then – storm or not.” So Carrigan held his sister, kissing her cheek and clutching her like a teddy bear until they both fell asleep.

A hush fell over the O’Keefes as the days stretched on. Declan’s house became the place they flowed in and out of, having family meetings without Fallyn being cognizant of anything around her, save for Carrigan when he came home from work every evening to hold her. Carrigan rubbed feeling into her arms and tried to press life into her heart, but she remained in her silent depression. Eventually her arms allowed themselves to cling to Carrigan when he was there, but she drifted back to oblivion when he was not.

It was a week later before Killian moved her. “I’ve got you. Don’t you worry. We’re just going on a little drive.” He lifted his sister who felt too thin and frail. He worried that he’d not been strict enough and forced her somehow to eat something. Killian slowly carried her through the dark of night to his car and buckled her in. “You have to see Vince and set him straight,” Killian explained, taking each turn from Declan’s house to his father’s with care. “He’s lost it, Fal. I think we all thought he was using you to bait us, but he’s a man possessed.” He wiped his nose on his sleeve. “It’s out of hand now. When Danny went to help Jen with the inventory at your bakery, Vince and Tony jumped him. He’s demanding we give you up to get Danny back.” When this garnered no reaction, Killian continued without looking at Fallyn. “Don’t worry. We won’t give you up, but if he just sees you and lets us explain things to him, then we can get Danny back and Vince will probably leave you with us.” He glanced over to see the same glazed eyes that had not registered emotion in over a week. “Nothing? You’re still gone? Come on, Fal. Vince kidnapped your brother! Say something!”

Fallyn couldn’t find words. She hadn’t bathed or changed her clothes or eaten in too many days. All she wanted to do was sleep, but the restlessness kept her from even that kindness. She simply stared ahead of her, lost to the world.

2

Crazed

W
hen they pulled
up to the O’Keefe family home just after dark, Killian stepped out of the sedan and locked her inside. His brothers were already there, standing on either side of the secluded dead end street. Both families were ready for a fight under cover of moonlight. Killian held up his hands to the fuming D’Amatos. “Alright, Vince. You’ve made your point. I’ve got her here. Show us Danny.”

Vince unlocked his trunk and lifted the edge of the blanket Danny was wrapped in. Danny’s face was bloody, but he was alive.

Seamus lunged at Vince, his fist cocked. “I’ll kill you!”

Declan caught Seamus before the first punch could be thrown. A single blow could set off a chain reaction that might devolve the kidnapping into a bloodbath. “Give us Danny, and we’ll show you Fallyn,” Declan shouted, wrestling his brother and dragging him back.

Vince had forsaken his cool demeanor a week ago, a crazed look creeping into his icy blue eyes. His hair was disheveled and his usually perfectly pressed white shirt was untucked and filthy. “Give me my wife, or I send your brother back in pieces!” He stood with Angelo, Tony and Joey, who were armed and ready to follow the head of their family to the death.

Declan held up his hands to show Vince he would not attack. “You have to calm down first. Fallyn’s right over there in the car, but you can’t have her until you listen to me. Something happened, Vince. Something big you need to hear before you take her to your house.”

Vince pounded his fist to his chest, his eyes crazed with fury. “Not my house,
our
house! She’s my wife now! You had no right to take her from me! She’s not an O’Keefe anymore. She’s a D’Amato!” He motioned to his cousin, who served as his right hand. “Get Fallyn, Angelo. This ends tonight.”

Declan kept his voice calm. “Fine, you can take her if you want, but you have to hear me out first.” He took a deep breath and gave the most condensed version of the horror he could. “Our mom had an affair with Papa D. She took Killian and left us for a year. Then she came back with a baby girl. Fallyn isn’t Patrick’s. She’s Papa D’s.” When Declan was unsure his point had hit home, he said, “Fallyn’s your half-sister, Vince. I was going to tell her when we found out about your relationship, but you two eloped. So you can see her, but you can’t keep her. She’s your sister, not your wife, and she’s barely been able to string two words together since she found out.”

Vince was speechless as Angelo carried Fallyn’s limp body toward him. Her head lolled to the side, her blue eyes were lifeless – seeing but not seeing. “No,” Vince mumbled, taking a step back. He dropped his gun, not caring that Seamus and Finn ran toward the trunk of his car to free Danny. He dropped to his knees, chest heaving as he tried to find truth. “No! It’s not true! You’d all say anything to keep us apart! My dad didn’t cheat on my mom!”

“I swear to you, Vince. I saw Mom kissing Papa D with my own eyes,” Declan admitted, his head bowed to show he wasn’t gunning for a fight. “No one else saw it, but I did. Kept it to myself all this time because I didn’t want to hurt both our families. But this thing you and Fallyn have done? It’s too much. You have to know the truth. I’m sorry I couldn’t find a way to tell you sooner.”

Vince retrieved his weapon and climbed to his feet, his gun pointed to the others. “Angelo, get Fallyn in the car. We’re taking her to her home. She’s coming with me, because
I’m
her home now! I’m her husband! Not her brother, her husband!”

Declan threw out his hands when Vince ducked into the car, unsure how to get his sister back without pushing the gun-toting crazed maniac closer to the edge. Killian and the others were at a loss, watching futilely as they tended to the unconscious Danny.

“Let her go,” Declan ruled. “Vince needs to come to reason, and he won’t do that unless he can talk to her. Let’s give them until morning. Stake out the border to make sure he doesn’t try to leave the country with her or something.”

The brothers hopped into their cars and drove off, watching and waiting for their sister to come home.

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