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Chapter One

“For fuck sake,” Mayor Connor Rafferty thundered when Chief Jack Donovan finished telling him about the Charlie Kelly incident. “We should have gotten rid of that fucked-up son of a bitch years ago! Well, this time we’re going to! I don’t give a flying fuck about the union or due process or any of that bleeding-heart bullshit! That bastard put a gun in his wife’s mouth in a god damn public bar! He’s fucking history!  Get Carmine in here so we can get the ball rolling. And tell him to bring his staff. We’ll see if any of them have a working set of balls.”

Chief Donovan didn’t bother to argue, even though he knew that the chances of firing Kelly and making it stick were slim to none. Not with Miles Wagner on retainer for the Lodge. The man was a soulless assassin, but he was their soulless assassin, and he was damned good at what he did.

Donovan called Rafferty’s deputy, Maggie McKenna, briefed her and had her round up the legal staff. It might be approaching midnight, but when the king was awake, everyone slept with one eye open. That’s just how it was, and staff was used to it.       


Maggie McKenna cradled the phone and shook her head to clear it.

God damnit, she thought. He’s going to go to war with the fucking FOP. And right before contract negotiations. Jesus Christ!  Never mind that even his brothers in blue knew that Charlie Kelly should have been shit-canned long ago. They would circle the wagons. There was one chance that this wouldn’t turn into a giant cluster fuck; the Local had just elected a new president, who was a relative unknown. Maybe he’d be reasonable.

But even as she thought it, Maggie McKenna knew it was too much to hope for.


Carmine (The Wolf) Caputo scrambled out of bed and rushed to get dressed. He was used to these late-night summonses from the mayor, who didn’t hesitate to call in the troops every time he got a bug up his ass. Carmine knew the meeting was going to be brutal. He debated whether or not to call in the kids. Joe Baker would be okay, he knew his place. But Ann Bennett was another story. She had never been inside the sanctum sanctorum, and this would be a hell of a time to introduce her to the inner workings of the mind of the king. Plus, she was naïve, and had not yet learned how to nuance truth to power – a dangerous combination. But the mayor said he wanted the legal staff, and it was never wise to disobey the mayor. He could only hope she would be smart enough to keep her mouth shut.


Ann Bennett sprang out of bed and headed to her closet in a rush. What a break!  She was finally going to meet the mayor! She called Bobbi for advice as soon as she hung up with Carmine. Bobbi was the Law Bureau’s senior paralegal and they had bonded the second Ann asked him where he shopped for quality clothes when Bobbi revealed he was a gay transvestite. Bobbi advised Ann to sit in the back and keep her mouth shut. She was no match for the barracudas who were going to be in that meeting; they’d swallow her like a minnow with cold-blooded indifference. Ann wasn’t so sure. She didn’t know the issue, but whatever it was, she was ready to take it on, unless Joe called dibs, of course. He’d been there longer, and he was a nice guy, and she had no desire to step on his toes.


Joe Baker took his time getting dressed. This wasn’t his first audience with the mayor, and he knew that if they were being called in at midnight, it was because shit had hit the fan. He rarely got to attend meetings when the shit was about to hit. Those strategy sessions were reserved for the players who had skin in the game. Oh, well, he thought. He knew the drill. Keep his head down and his mouth shut. Let Carmine take the lead. He hoped he would get a few minutes with Ann before they went into the mayor’ office. He was afraid she’d land in the middle of the mayor’s latest shit pile because she wanted to impress him. Trouble was, if she ended up covered in shit, no one would lift a finger to help her. She would be on her own.


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