Prologue: A Long Story
In a crowded cafe in Hell’s Kitchen, NYC, two wizened old men sat enjoying their morning coffee amidst an incessant buzz of chatter. One of them was Gentleman Marcone, the undisputed crime lord of the neighborhood. The other was an old friend of his, James Harkis. Marcone’s salt-and-pepper hair was just beginning to recede, but still graced him with a very distinguished air, and he went everywhere in an Armani suit. His ice blue eyes were well reputed for giving whomever they observed the sense of being dissected. And Marcone had ears everywhere. Anything to be known about the people and goings-on in his area, he knew.
Now in his 80’s, Marcone was simply waiting for the final curtain to fall on his life, and he only wished he knew where his son Lukas was. Probably with Anita, he thought. The two are as inseparable as conjoined twins. He had just sipped the last of his coffee and was getting up to go when a familiar face appeared on the morning news. Harkis, a slightly younger man in his 60’s, noticed a glint appear in Marcone’s eyes and turned to look at the television: it showed a ravishing young woman, early thirties, with flowing black hair, fair skin, striking blue eyes, and a confident smirk. He tuned in as the anchor began, “In other news, thirty-four-year-old Anita Valushka, an international assassin, is still wanted for the murder of her father, retired Marine Nikolas Valushka.
“Sources say that she is currently wanted in several other countries for over a hundred more murders. If anyone has information on this highly dangerous criminal, please notify your local authorities immediately.”
“Little Anita,” Marcone mused. “She had such a bright future ahead of her, and now she’s hunted like a deer.” Harkis sipped the last of his cappuccino and steepled his fingers with interest. “So you know her?” Marcone barked out a harsh, raspy laugh. “Do I know her? She’s my goddaughter. Hell, her father was my enforcer for four years. Guy was like family to me. I was devastated when I heard that she bumped him off. But I couldn’t hurt her. Especially not after my boy Lukas fell for her. She’s family to me, as much as her old man was.” Harkis frowned, his brow furrowing in confusion. “But why did she kill her own father? I don’t understand.”
“Well, it’s a long story, Jimmy. Sounds like it’s worth another round of coffee.” He got the waitress’ attention for a refill, and as he spooned a moderate amount of sugar into his fresh cup, he began, “Let me start with how I met Nick…”