He pulled away and looked at me. Five years had passed, and he hadn’t changed all that much. His hair was thinning, and he had put on a tiny bit of weight, but the steely resolve and sharp intelligence were still plain as day on his face.
Back when I was a kid, and still blissfully naïve, Davin had been around the most. When my mom died of breast cancer, Davin had helped out around the house, at least until my dad had hired someone to take care of that stuff. Still, even when he didn’t have to, Davin was constantly showing up, checking in on me, bringing me little gifts, and calling me the Little Princess. I only found out later that all the guys called me the Mob Princess, but obviously they didn’t do that to my face.
Sometimes, when I remembered those happy days, I felt like an idiot. It seemed so obvious later on, so clear as day. I felt foolish that it had taken me so long to figure it out, and only because one of Dad’s idiot guys had gotten too drunk one night and let it slip. Once he'd said it, though, everything clicked into place.
And I had lost it. I was furious with Dad, so beyond angry. I couldn’t believe he had been lying to me for so long, letting me believe that all those men were his employees at the pub. Worst of all, I was mad at myself for believing it, and for still wishing that it had all been true. I'd wished I could go back in time, back when I was still just an innocent teenager, but that was all ruined. I had to grow up quick.
But I was pissed about it. And I took it out on my dad, like a bratty child. I regretted that most of all.
“You look great, kid.”
“You do too.”
He stepped away, smiling bashfully. “Ah, well, that isn’t true, but thanks.”
I scanned the room. A bunch of guys were milling about, grabbing drinks from the refrigerator, setting up a card game back at the kitchen table, and generally screwing around. There was food out on the island, and I had to admit that I was impressed that Colin had set everything up so quickly. I recognized a few of the guys, but most of them were basically strangers. Interspersed throughout the Mob guys were a bunch of young, pretty girls. They must have brought their daughters, too, I thought.
And was immediately repulsed as one particularly attractive blonde bent over and kissed one of the men.
Wives, I corrected myself, and frowned. The girls were barely older than me, and they were all attractive. I mean, cliché attractive, all long legs and long thick hair and curves and tits and make-up and more. There weren’t a lot of them, just enough to make me notice their presence, but they still felt strange. I wondered who they belonged to. Then again, I didn’t care, and wasn’t about to ask.
I looked back at Davin.
“So, uh, where’s Dad?” I said.
He shrugged. “Your old man should be here soon. How about a drink? You’re of legal age now, yeah?”
I laughed. “Yeah, I’m twenty-three.”
He whistled. “Twenty-three, God have mercy. I remember when you were ten, and you were this tall.” He gestured with his hands and I laughed.
“You were a lot thinner back then,” I teased.
He pretended to look hurt. “You wound me already, Princess.”
I winced. “Hey, maybe we don’t need to use that nickname.”
He grinned. “Okay, whatever you say. Your wish is my command.”
I rolled my eyes. Davin had always been fake gallant around me, probably to play up the whole Princess thing.
“Come on, let’s have a glass of wine, toast to your mother and the old times.”
I smiled and nodded. It felt good to be around the old crowd again, especially since Davin knew my mother. I caught Colin lurking around the edge of the room, pretending like he wasn’t watching me. He was welcome to join us, but I wasn’t going to invite him over.
Davin led me into the kitchen, pulled out a bottle of red, and then poured two glasses. He held his up for a toast.
“May you live as long as you want and never want as long as you live.”
I grinned. “And to my mother.”
He nodded. “And your mother.”
We clinked glasses and drank. I noticed a few guys glancing in our direction, but I didn’t care. Davin grinned at me.
“Feels strange, giving you a drink after all this time.”
“Feels strange drinking in my own kitchen for the first time.”
He laughed. “Is it really your first time?”
I nodded. “First time home since ... you know, since I left.”
He nodded and didn’t acknowledge my awkward pause. “Well, you’re back now, and we couldn’t be happier.”
He gave me a conspiratorial look. “So you mean to tell me one of the boys never once snuck you a drink?