The thunder crashed outside as the doors to the bar flung open. It had been a long day, and the brunette woman really needed a drink. Her dark eyes shined in the dimmed lighting, and her heels clicked across the wood floor as she took her regular seat. She sighed, removing her jacket and placing it behind her to dry a bit, having left her small umbrella at the door. "The usual?" the bartender asked, not even having to look up to see who was at the seat in front of him.

"Please." her voice came, and soon a short glass filled with bourbon was placed before her. "Thanks." she said, and he gave a curt nod, seeing a few bills be placed on the counter for him to take. He took them and went back to wiping down a few things. Wednesday nights were usually slow, but with the storm, it was extra slow. And all Nichole wanted at the moment was to drink and be away from her family. Her father had asked a lot of her today. With Richard learning to take his place, and everyone else trying to keep things in their control and to gather intel on the O'Connells, it was hard for anyone to get anything done.

"Take a seat, Nichole." the tall, greying man spoke as he motioned to the chair before his desk. To his right was a man that Nichole had known for years now... Victor Moretti, her father's right hand man. Nichole gave a gentle nod, smoothing out her black dress as she sat before her father. For a moment he remained standing, but soon he took a seat and looked at her across his desk.

"You wanted to see me?" her voice came, and he nodded. She had seem that look on his face before. He was trying to piece together what he was going to ask her. "Have I done something wrong?"

"No, no, dear." His voice came, and Nichole looked around the room again. She noticed that Richard wasn't there and her interested became piqued.

"I thought Ricky was supposed to be shadowing everything you do?" Her statement came as more of a question, and she received a look.

"He need not know what I am about to ask of you, Nichole." Her father said, plainly and she gave a nod. "I have a very important task for you. It is strictly need to know. With me trying to prepare your brother to run this Family in my stead, and everyone else with assignments of their own, I need someone I can count on."

Nichole sat up a little straighter. "Yes sir." she spoke, knowing that he meant strictly business.

"Victor agreed with me. With you not being as known as your brother, Victor, and myself, I need you to do something a bit different than your usual hitman routine." He said, and Nichole had cast a look to Victor that time. "I need you to find a way into the O'Connells, gather intel necessary for us to cut them off and get rid of them for good."

She nodded. "Why ask this of me? You have plenty of new recruits looking to show that they can earn their place."

"Because, I need you to get closer than that. Recruits are easily manipulated, especially if they were to be offered something more than what we are giving them. You, however, can get in in a way no one can." He explained and Nichole nodded.

"As a gun for hire?" she assumed and he nodded. "You know, if you allow me to have reign like that, they may actually try and use me for what I am. And I can't keep up a ruse if I am meant to kill someone in this family."

Her father held up a hand. "You make your affiliation to us known, let them know we've used you. Any respectable person will not send a hitman after the one who uses them most. It is unethical, and I hate saying it, but they do tend to stick to their ethics."

Nichole's face became one of thought before her father spoke again. "If I didn't think you could do it, I would not have asked you to do so."

"I am aware father." she said, "I assume I will be checking in with Vic, since Richard isn't supposed to know."

Her father gave a nod. "Indeed, he will bring your reports to me, and we can further discuss what we need more information on. Do whatever is necessary, Nichole."

"Yes, father." she said, moving to stand. "Are we done? I have prior engagements to attend to."

He nodded, and walked over to stand before his daughter. He towered over her at 6'3" and her at 5'4." He bent a little and kissed both of her cheeks. "Be careful." he whispered beside her ear, watching as she left his office.


Nichole had barely noticed that she was tracing the rim of her glass with her finger to the point that it had made a sound. She had forgotten that this bar used real crystal glasses from time to time, but a voice drew her back fully. "Nic! There you are!"

Her head turned and she saw a blond man sit beside her, nursing a beer to his lips. "James." she greeted, and he held his hands up.

"Hey, I was being polite. No need for the hostility." he chuckled, taking his seat next to her. She took a sip from her glass and James noted the look on her face. "A game of darts? That usually picks your mood up."

She shot a sidelong glance to the man beside her and sighed. "I kick your ass every time, James. Are you just a sucker for pain?"

He caught the half smirk turning up on her face and decided that it was safe to play along. "Well, I mean, I let you win." he chuckled, and he watched her take another drink and shake her head. "The other guys bailed because of the storm. So, you know, when the clients start coming in looking for us, more money for us to split."

Nichole gave his arm a gentle smack and shook her head. "More like, I'll get all the money and you'll beg for my scraps." she teased, and James shrugged.

"Well, I'm shocked you're here. It's been a few months, The Amatos have been hording your skills." he said, and it took her a moment before she nodded. That's right, to keep from having attention drawn to her so she could actually do her job, she had been going by Nichole Yakavetta. Still an Italian name, since it was hard to hide her heritage with her looks, but it didn't stop plenty of other gangs from using her. In fact, before her father had asked her to pull herself out of the game for a bit, she had done quite a few hits in the North part of the city for the Russian mob. Those guys had asked for some very... gruesome hits, and she hoped that tonight would not bring them back here.

"I'll be surprised if anyone actually shows up with the weather." she said, and she knocked on the table and placed a bill down. The bartender refilled her drink and placed down a second. "Grab your drink, James, and let me kick your ass in darts."

James gave a grin and walked with her over to the dartboard and noticed that the scoreboard was already clear. "Ladies first." he said, handing her the darts and he watched her hit the bullseye. "And you start off lucky."

Nichole shot him a look. "Not luck, I'm all skill." she said, her eyes drifting down to her left leg. "Even in a dress, I carry. And I will prove how much skill I have if necessary."

James held his hands up, "Easy, tiger, just teasing." he said, and soon both of them found their attention drawn to the door that had opened and a figure came in. "Well, looks like people are going to show even with the weather."

Nichole's eyes watched the red haired woman though, and she just gave a barely there nod. "Not up our alley, I guarantee." she whispered, placing a hand on his shoulder and breathing in his ear, "She'd be a cop more than a gang member, Jimmy boy."

Nichole took her phone from the strap that she was wearing around her left leg and texted Victor.

So, things may get interesting, you still coming to see what goes down?

--

"O'Brian!" the voice had caught Cassidy off guard as she absent-mindedly wiped off the table in front of her. The man addressing her was in a very nice suit, and he straightened his tie. Luckily, Daniel had things to attend to, otherwise he would likely be here trying to discuss his new plans with her. It had been a rough year for her, since her assignment had brought her home to do undercover work. She shook her head a bit and looked to the man sitting across from her. "Did you even hear me?"

"I did." she said, her voice remaining even to try and not let on that he had startled her out of her thoughts. "It's hard to give anything at the moment. The O'Connell's are barely letting me into any of their major operations. I work closely with Daniel, and his primary focus is gathering intel on the Amato family."

The man ran his fingers over his stubble. "I see. At least that's something, Agent O'Brian. I'll be by again next week and I expect a better progress report. We need better intel soon, otherwise we may be pulling you off this assignment." he said, standing up.

Cassidy couldn't afford to be pulled off the assignment. That would cause far too much explanation to do to Daniel, and lying to him was already hard enough. He'd been her best friend since they were kids, and not letting him know that she had actually pursued a career in law enforcement was killing her. After everything behind her father's death by the hands of the Russian mob uptown had her focused on justice. That's all she wanted anymore, but the O'Connells was the only sure in she had... And they didn't deal with the Russians. Not for anything.

"Cassidy..." the voice came and she perked her head to the man. "There is a bar in neutral territory, The Cherry, that an old friend of mine told me about. It's where all the hitmen meet up. Might want to check it out, it could help you get more info to this friend of yours and he may be able to supply you with more."

"Thank you, Blume." she said, watching as the man left. She looked at her phone on the table a moment before she picked it up and scrolled through her contacts a moment. She was sure Daniel could likely go for a drink with all the stress lately, and she knew she would for sure want to check this bar out if it really was hit man central. That likely meant that someone would know something. She found Daniel's number and shot Daniel a text.

Want a drink? Heard something about a place called The Cherry. We should check it out.

She kept her phone in her hand as she headed into the bathroom of her small apartment and set it on the counter so she could hop in the shower. Agent Blume had caught her after she got back from the gym after her day job, and she had just finished some leftover stew before he had showed up. She sighed, hopping in and letting the hot water hit her back before the thunder outside startled her out of her thoughts once more. She couldn't believe that she didn't realize it was storming. Oh well, she had been past the bar that Blume had told her about, and it wasn't too far from her. She'd have to catch the bus leaving in a few minutes to the stop off 39th and then it would be a good three blocks after that. She would just have to remember to wearing weather appropriate clothes.

She got out of the shower and headed back to her bedroom in her towel with her hair up. She dressed in a black sweater and a pair of jeans that she tucked into her black rain boots. She sighed, walking back into the bathroom to blow dry her hair. She put on a bit of make up and looked at her phone, seeing Daniel had responded, but she didn't bother to read it. Whether or not he went, she was going. This would be a good opportunity to gather intel, even if he didn't show. Then maybe she could go back to him with what he would need.

"Maybe one of the Amatos will end up there to hire a hit man." she chuckled at the thought. She had a feeling that the Italian mobs everywhere tended to stay within their family for things like that. They only liked dealing with those they trusted and it was hard to get in if you weren't trusted. She sighed and pulled on her jacket and grabbed her bright yellow umbrella and headed out to the bus stop about half a block from her house. Apparently she had impeccable timing because she walked up as the bus stopped, and she got on.

The bus ride was about 20 minutes, and she zoned out for a while and nearly missed her stop. She got off the bus as thunder cracked again, lightning brightening the sky for a moment. She shook her head and walked a bit faster, finding the bar with ease and heading inside. She shook out her umbrella and placed it by the door before she walked inside.

It was dead... A couple of older men were sitting at the far end of the bar, talking to the bartender. Then there was the guy watching the game at the middle of the bar, but her attention went to the sharply dressed woman and man playing darts towards the back of the bar. She gave a gentle wave to the man. He had been in a file she had seen. His name was James Sandridge, and he was a known gun for hire around the city. No evidence could ever stick, and with his background, she could see why he had chose gun for hire. The woman, however, she wasn't one she had seen ever.

"What can I get you?" The bartender asked her as she sat at the bar.

"Sam Adams if you have it." she said, and she looked over to the game of darts. She placed her money on the counter when the beer was brought to her, and she watched as the woman hit the bull's eye. It took her aback simply because of the lack of focus the woman had had when she threw the dart. She had been talking to the man, and she sighed. She would need back up if she went over to talk to them, but she decided on an easier route. "Sir?" she asked the bartender and he turned to her. "Are they regulars?"

The bartender laughed and nodded. "James and Nichole. They're here every Wednesday night on business. They won't care if you go over and watch them. They've gotten used to it."

She gave a gentle nod and she took her beer and walked over, sitting on a stool near the dart game. She saw James throw his dart and barely miss the bull's eye.

"Losing touch, James." Nichole spoke, and James rolled his eyes. Cassidy couldn't believe this, and she just smirked, watching as they played a bit. Her hand went into the pocket of her jeans and she looked to her phone and texted Daniel, letting him know that she was at the bar already.