Driven by ambition and guilt, Faolan fights his way up the ranks in a battle to justify his sins with success. He s learned the hard way that relationships are vulnerabilities and friends are just enemies in disguise, but he also knows that he can’t conquer a city alone.Aided by an emotionally-crippled genius and a warm-hearted call girl, Faolan builds a loyal crew with which to challenge the tyrannical Killian s rule. However, will this re-awakened humanity prove a fatal flaw or his ace in the hole? With his life and the future of the city he loves at stake, can Faolan play his cards right or is he drawing dead?
Faolan O’Connor wanted to be somebody before he died.
He burned with fever and shivered under a pile of blankets on his sickbed as the snowy world outside prepared for 1932 to arrive. The bullet wound in his side tingled and burned. He thought it smelled funny, too. He had to remember to ask Colleen to hit it with more iodine when she changed the dressing tomorrow. He looked over at his watch—lying next to his prized Remington Model 51 on the small nightstand—and saw that it was only eleven at night. Colleen wouldn’t be in to open her parent’s café until five. He could call her if there was an emergency, but if the Dutchman’s boys were watching her, she’d lead them right here. That’s why she was at home and he was here in the vacant apartment above the café.
Actually, Dutch Schultz was the real reason he was here. After negotiating a very fair contract for the emotionally difficult task of killing his best friend and mentor Jack, Faolan was enraged that Dutch had the nerve to pull a double-cross. Only Faolan’s instinct that something was fishy at the meeting and his skill with a pistol had allowed him to escape Dutch’s death trap. Worse still, when Faolan had called Vincent Coll—Jack’s frequent ally against Dutch—Coll had cursed him as a traitor and threatened to kill Faolan if he ever laid eyes on him again. Dutch had spread the story. The rest of Jack’s gang would go with Coll now. He was alone.
Then he heard footsteps on the stairs.
The only light came in through the closed dormer windows. He’d become accustomed to the creaks and groans of the house during his time here, so he recognized the sound of someone climbing the stairs. Faolan grabbed his Remington from the nightstand and dragged himself to a sitting position. Colleen wouldn’t come over without calling first. The pistol already had a round in the chamber, so he released the safety as quietly as he could and aimed at the door. He thought about trying to hide under the bed, but knew he couldn’t get down there fast enough in his current condition.
“Don’t shoot, eh?” came a voice with a strong Irish accent. A voice that Faolan didn’t recognize. The door opened and a short, skinny man strolled in. He didn’t walk: he strolled like a man without a care in the world. He wore a camel hair coat against the cold, soft soled shoes that made almost no noise on the wood floors, and a tan derby cocked at a rakish angle.
As the man approached, he picked up the wooden chair Colleen always used and plunked it down at Faolan’s bedside. He straddled the chair backwards and hung his hat on the back of the chair before resting his arms there. He was pale and gaunt, but youthful looking despite the gray streaks in his straight black hair. His eyes had heavy lids that made him look sleepy. However, the hazel eyes beneath were bright and inquisitive. He was a man made up of contradictions. “You’re a difficult man to find, Faolan O’Connor,” he said with a smile.
Faolan lowered the pistol, but didn’t let go of it. “Not difficult enough.”
The stranger chuckled. “Sure, I’ve ways of learning things that most don’t. Name’s Byrne, by the by. Liam Byrne.” He reached out his hand and Faolan shook it with his left, keeping his pistol ready. Despite the temperature outside, Byrne’s hand was warm and he released Faolan’s hand without trying anything. The gun didn’t appear to bother him in the slightest. “I’m here to save your life, Faolan, if you agree to my terms.”
“I can handle the Dutchman.”
“Not in your current state, you can’t,” Byrne said. “Sure that wound’s going septic, I can smell it. By the time your lass comes to check on you in the morning, I wager you’ll be past saving. You could go to a hospital, but you know Dutch’ll send someone in to finish you there.”
Faolan found himself touching his wounded side and didn’t like how tender and swollen it felt. “You some kinda doctor?”
“No, I’m a vampire.”