We can’t let them have it, Alina had said of the Sinsar Dubh. “Gee, sis, could you have been a little more specific?” I muttered. “Who shouldn’t get it?” Even if by some fluke of fate I found the darn thing, not only would I probably not be able to touch it, according to Barrons, I wouldn’t have any idea what to do with it.
I sighed. I had nothing but questions and nobody to ask. I was thick in the middle of people who guarded secrets and pursued hidden agendas as naturally as they lived and breathed and—probably—killed. Just look at the “men” I’d met in the past week: McCabe, Mallucé, V’lane, Barrons. Not a normal one among them. Not a safe one in the bunch. A lamb in a city of wolves, Barrons had called me shortly after we’d met. Which one will take you down, I wonder?
Secrets. Everyone had secrets. Alina had taken hers to the grave. I had no doubt that trying to ask V’lane questions when I saw the Fae again—I wasn’t stupid enough to think it was done with me—would be an exercise in futility. The alleged prince might answer me, but I was only an OOP-detector, not a lie detector. And Barrons was no better. As Fiona’s little dispute with him revealed, he was keeping secrets, too, and I was somehow in even more danger than I already knew.
That was a cheerful thought. As of this morning I’d pretty much figured out that any time I walked out the door I was taking my life in my own hands, but apparently I was in danger while I was here, too.
God, I was homesick! I missed my life. I missed The Brickyard. I missed Saturday night closes with my bartending buddies. I missed our obligatory three A.M. Huddle House stop for pancakes, where we’d try to unwind enough to sleep before dawn and, in the summer, plan what lake to meet at later that day.
We’ll be seeing Roark O’Bannion tomorrow, Ms. Lane, Barrons had told me through my locked and barricaded door when he’d climbed four flights to chew my head off. He’s the third big player on the field. Among other things, he owns O’Bannion’s, a posh bar in downtown Dublin. It’s Old World with wealthy clientele. As you seem to have a problem dressing yourself, Fiona will fetch you appropriate attire. Do not leave the bookstore again without me, Ms. Lane.
It was three in the morning before I slept, and when I did, it was with the closet door wide open, and every single light in the bedroom and adjoining bathroom ablaze.
Roark “Rocky” O’Bannion had been born Irish Catholic, dirt-poor, and with genes that would give him the strength, stamina, and body of a prizefighter before his eighteenth birthday.
With his looks, some would call him Black Irish, but it wasn’t Spanish or Melungeon blood in his veins, it was an unspoken-of Saudi ancestor that had bequeathed something fierce, dark, and ruthless to the O’Bannion line.
Born in a city controlled by two feuding Irish crime families—the Hallorans and O’Kierneys—Roark O’Bannion fought his way to the top in the ring, but it wasn’t enough for the ambitious champ; he hungered for more. One night, when Rocky was twenty-eight years old, the Halloran and O’Kierney linchpins, every son, grandson, and pregnant woman in their families were killed. Twenty-seven people died that night, gunned down, blown up, poisoned, knifed, or strangled. The city had never seen anything like it. A group of flawlessly choreographed killers had closed in all over the city, at restaurants, homes, hotels, and clubs, and struck simultaneously.
Horrific, most said. Bloody brilliant, some said. Good riddance, nearly all said, including the cops. The very next day, when a suddenly wealthy Rocky O’Bannion, champion boxer and many a young boy’s idol, retired from the ring to take over control of various businesses in and around Dublin previously run by the Hallorans and O’Kierneys, he was hailed by the working-class poor—whose hope and bank accounts were as tiny as their TV’s and dreams were big—as a hero, despite the fresh and obvious blood on his hands, and the rough pack of ex-boxers and thugs he brought with him.
That he was a “damned fine-looking man” didn’t hurt any. Rocky was considered quite the charmer and ladies’ man, but one with a fine point of honor that endeared him to his faithful; he didn’t sleep with other men’s wives. Ever. The man who had no respect for life, limb, or law, respected the sacrament of marriage.
Did I mention he was Irish Catholic? A joke around the city was that the young O’Bannion had missed school the day the priest had given the sermon about the Ten Commandments, and on makeup day little Rocky only got the short list: Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife—but everything else is up for grabs.