Home > Edge of Darkness (Drak #27)

Edge of Darkness (Drak #27)
Author: Christine Feehan

Edge of Darkness (Drak #27)

ONE


BLAZE MCGUIRE PULLED her waist-length red hair into a high ponytail at the back of her head and contemplated the fact that she was going to die tonight—and it was of her own choosing. She was going to war with the Hallahan brothers and their mobster boss. They didn’t know it yet, but they would be walking right into hell. They thought they were going to have everything their own way, but they were wrong. Very wrong. She was a woman. She was young. They dismissed her as no threat to them. And in that they were making a very, very big mistake.

Her hair wasn’t just red hair, it was red. Her hair had been that vivid, insane color of red since the day she was born. Hence the name her father had given her, staring down at his newborn daughter who was already giving the doctors hell for dragging her out of her safe little world, kicking and screaming into the cold light, her hair blazing along with her lungs—and that should have given them a clue what they were buying when they murdered her father.

Most people didn’t know when they were going to die, she mused as she rigged the explosives on the door to blow, the charge precise, sending anyone in front of it outward with little blowback into her beloved bar, hopefully leaving it intact. Still, if the charge didn’t kill them all before they got inside, she would give up the bar’s interior in order to take the battle to them. Tonight, the four Hallahan brothers were going to come for her, and she would take as many of them with her as possible.

Sean McGuire had been a good man. A good neighbor. An even better father. The bar was successful because he had a reputation for being honest and was a good listener, because he genuinely cared about his customers, his neighbors and especially his daughter.

He knew everyone by name. He laughed with them. He attended funerals when they lost someone. He got them home safely at night if they drank too much. He cut off the ones that were spending too much and needed to be home with their families. He was just a good man. A good man some mobsters had pulled out of the bar and beat to death because he wouldn’t sign his establishment—the one that had been in the family for two—now three—generations over to them.

Sean had also served in the U.S. Marines and he knew his way around weapons, especially the making of bombs. He was a specialist in the field, so much so that he actually had helped out the local bomb squad the three times they’d gotten calls, because what he knew about explosives, few others did—and what he knew, he taught his daughter.

Blaze had been given an unusual education and she’d loved every minute of it. Her father made it clear he loved her and was always proud of her, and he’d always been patient with her, but he believed in teaching his daughter everything he would have taught his son. He was patient, but he didn’t make it easy because she was a girl. She was required to do everything—and learn everything—he knew about defense and offense. She’d soaked up the training.

It had always been the two of them, Sean and Blaze, after her mother left. Truthfully, she remembered her mother as a disconnected woman who was never happy—when she could remember her, and that wasn’t often. Her mother left when she was four. They’d never done one single thing together. Not one. She couldn’t even recall her mother holding her. It had always been her father.

Sean had been a boxer, a mixed martial arts cage fighter, and he enjoyed the lifestyle. He had always insisted his daughter work out with him. She had—since the time she was two. She grew up boxing her father. Learning martial arts. Street fighting. She learned to fall properly, and she knew all about joints and pressure points. More, Sean hadn’t neglected teaching her how to shoot or to use a knife. He certainly hadn’t neglected her training when it came to explosives.

Later, when she was ten, Emeline Sanchez came into their lives. Emeline lived mostly on the street, shuffled from one home to another, but mostly on the street. Emeline became a family member and spent a great deal of time crawling in Blaze’s bedroom window from the fire escape and sleeping inside with her. Sean pretended he didn’t know. Emeline, thankfully, was away from all of this and in Europe, where Sean had sent her to protect her. Blaze had called her, of course, but told her to stay where no one could harm her.

Blaze smiled grimly to herself as she laid out a grid pattern on the floor of the bar and then paused to glance out the window, looking down the street. This had once been a good, decent neighborhood, a place she had called home for twenty-four years. She’d grown up in the apartment over the bar. It was a big building, right on the corner, prime property. The building and three others on either side had been in their family for generations. Her family had taken good care of them and never sold, not even when property values had soared.

Her eyes narrowed as she returned her attention to the delicate job of setting wires throughout the bar. Low. Mid-calf. Thigh. Hip. She crisscrossed them, building a web. Yeah. They should have known all about that redheaded baby when they dragged her father out of his own bar and beat him to death. They’d broken nearly every bone in his body before they killed him. She knew, because the ME had told her.

Rage welled up. Swirled in her belly. Deep. So deep she knew she’d never get it out. She knew why they’d broken his bones. She’d heard about the “persuading” technique from a few of the other business owners. The mobsters wanted properties signed over to them. Her father had already signed his property over to her. She owned the bar. They’d gone after the wrong person. And now they were coming for her because she’d sent them an invitation. Not to buy her out, but to war.

She would have signed over the bar in a heartbeat to them if they’d called her and told her they had her father. They thought it was important to teach the neighborhood businesses a lesson: what they wanted—they got. They weren’t going to get what they wanted, not even after they killed her. She’d made certain of that. They wouldn’t touch Emeline, either. They wouldn’t get to harm the last person in the world she loved.

Blaze pressed her fingers to her eyes to stop the burning. She hadn’t slept, not in days, not since she’d come home to find her father gone, the door to the bar open and blood on the floor. She’d been frantic, running through the streets like a maniac, calling the cops repeatedly only to be told they couldn’t do anything for twenty-four hours, but they’d send someone by. They hadn’t. She’d sat alone in the apartment over the bar, arms around her knees, rocking herself, trying to tell herself that her father was strong and he knew how to take care of himself, but there was so much blood.

She taped a knife under the table closest to the stairs. If she lived through the initial attack, she would have to have an exit plan. She needed to rig the stairs. If she got to the apartment—and she knew the chances were slim to none—she could go out the fire escape and up to the roof. She did that often. She’d been doing that with Emmy since she was ten years old. Once on the roof, she could choose any direction. She would stash a couple of weapons up there as well.

Two factions of mobsters had moved into the neighborhood, the first and the most brutal one, a year and a half earlier. Four brothers—Irish, by the look of them, but Sean hadn’t known them and he knew every Irishman in the city—who went by the name of Hallahan. The four were always the front men for one of the crime lords, with their grim faces and their ugly demands, and all four were quick to dirty, extreme violence. And they owned the cops. The police, who had always spent evenings and sometimes days in the bar playing pool, had stopped coming around. She knew they worked for a man by the name of Reginald Coonan. Their boss always stayed in the shadows, but he liked blood, and his men liked violence.

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