Eoin took the stairs down the two story entry hall two at a time and grabbed the large knob on the banister so that he could swing around it as he landed on the hardwood floor. He ran down the hall and out the back door, grabbing a set of keys on the way out. Jumping onto his four-wheeler, he turned the headlights on with the engine. The earliest light of dawn was beginning to turn the black sky a muddy shade of purple-blue, but was not enough to see well by.
The vehicle sped across the freshly cut grass, through the little patch of forest, and out again into a large field that hosted his private jet. His cell phone vibrated in his pocket just as he reached the small plane.
Cutting the engine on the little four wheeler, he pulled the cell out of his pocket and began his customary once-over of the plane, to make sure everything was in order. His eyes flitted about the beautiful machine as he ran around it, pausing only momentarily to check the call display on the cell phone. He did not answer the call, but flipped the cell shut and opened the door into the cockpit. There would be time to reply later.
In a few minutes he was heading full speed for the Town of Brentwood, just outside of London, probably making record time. But there was no way he could be late.
Forty minutes later, he set down in a field he rented from a wealthy land owner. The sky was clear and the morning sun had turned it a pale blue. Before the engine had stopped it’s cool-down purr, Eoin was off and running, ignoring the grey and blue striped tie that was flapping about over his shoulder and hoping that the field wasn’t muddy today. It was. His new black dress shoes would never be the same again.
Soon he was backing his small black Ford Escort out of the shed by the road where he kept it and was zipping along. He knew he was going a little too fast on Queen Street, but he was in a hurry. He parked the car in the lot behind the condo and was greeted at the door by Domino; a bouncing, black, second generation Shih-Poo. He picked the little dog up and it stopped barking but continued to shake excitedly. He could hear two alarm clocks going off upstairs—one the annoying beep beep beep BEEP BEEP of his nephew’s alarm, the other fuzzy classical music coming from his niece's alarm clock radio.
Eoin pushed his suit jacket onto a hook by the door, kicked his shoes off and entered the kitchen, still holding Domino under his arm. He opened the fridge, found a carton of eggs, remembered to set the dog down, and pulled out a frying pan.
Moments later, the kitchen was filling with the smell of fried eggs and bacon and Julia was plopping down at the kitchen table, already dressed for school. Angelo entered a few minutes later, sleepy-eyed and yawning, and stole a crumble of bacon off the plate before Eoin could stop him.
Eoin didn’t try very hard, though. He’d given up a long time ago on trying to stop the teenage boy from doing the little things he wanted to do.
“You’re all dressed up, Uncle Eoin,” Julia observed from the fridge, where she was pouring herself a glass of milk.
“Got in late last night and forgot to change,” Eoin lied.
“You’re always getting in late,” said Angelo. Eoin was used to these casual attacks, and didn’t take the bait.
“Anything interesting happen at school yesterday?” he asked, pushing Angelo out of his way with his forearm and setting the bacon down on the table.
Soon the teens had left for school and Eoin collapsed back at the table to finish his breakfast. Domino sat, staring up at him, hoping for a bit of food to fall.
“How long are you going to keep my secrets, little doggie?” Eoin was never ashamed of talking to animals, in private anyways. “You’ve kept quiet for a year now. A whole year. I can’t believe it’s been that long.”
It had been a year since his younger brother, James, had died in an accident along with his beloved wife. Eoin, being the only close relative, had agreed to take Angelo, then fourteen, and his sister Julia, then twelve. He had moved them across town to this three bedroom house, and bought them Domino in an effort to help them deal with their grief.
He sighed and tossed Domino a tiny fragment of bacon. The little dog gobbled it up and energetically licked the floor where it had fallen.
His brother’s death still sat heavily on Eoin’s shoulders. James had been the baby of the family, only three years younger than Eoin, but the gap had always seemed larger. They had played together a lot as kids—Eoin always looking out for James—but Eoin had never shared any of his secrets with his younger brother. And now James was dead, and Eoin felt responsible. Not only was he responsible for the kids, but in the darkest part of him, that he wouldn’t even admit to himself existed, he suspected that he was indirectly responsible for the deaths of his brother and sister in law.
Eoin swallowed his last bite of bacon and decided to take a long nap. He was putting the dishes in the sink when he remembered the phone call he’d received earlier. He dried his hands off on a dirty dishcloth and pulled out his cell phone. The caller had left a message.
“White, I need your help,” a voice Eoin recognized well, addressed him using his code name. “Cardinal Place on Victoria Street, 23rd floor. Come right away. It’s an emergency. Can’t say more over the phone.”
Then the message ended. Kendrick was a recent business acquaintance of his and they regularly exchanged phone calls, which is why he hadn’t expected this to be an emergency. It was strange that Kendrick hadn’t called him back.
Eoin snapped the phone shut allowing the frustration he felt at himself for not taking the call escape in this small gesture. He left the dishes where they were, pulled his shoes back on without adjusting the laces—the poor shoes were now stretched and caked in mud—and pulled on his jacket. He patted Domino saying, “sorry fella. I’ll be back as soon as I can,” and left.
As he drove into London he tried to seal his weary body against whatever he was going to find. He did not expect it to be good.