Prologue

June 2009

The last three days had been intense. Andy Flynn didn't mind working a tough case, but this had been different. That woman, as the Chief called her, had investigated one of their own and that never went down well with Andy. Hell, all Gabriel had done was his job, and damn well at that. As far as Andy was concerned, he would have done the exact same thing.

Then FID had to come and investigate him like some common off-the-street criminal. FID, and of course not just anyone, but the ice queen herself: Captain Sharon Raydor. The famous black trenchcoat and aloof bitchiness included. There wasn't a curseword Andy hadn't thrown at her in their many meetings over the years – and she had never shown any emotion. She might have raised her voice a little, never enough to call it shouting, but that was that. Her deathly glare which had earned her the nickname Darth Raydor. Andy vividly remembered the night he had coined that name – but not as vividly as he remembered a night with a very different Sharon Raydor.

No, this whole thing didn't sit well with Andy. At least they'd found the real killer and had exonerated Gabriel. The Chief had sent them all home early and Andy was looking forward to meeting up with Provenza later for drinks, well, or in his case, cranberry soda. But before that, he had some errands to run.

The bright sunlight and hot air hit him upon leaving Parker Centre and for a moment he cursed the idea of walking to pick up his dry cleaning. But the dry cleaner wasn't far and the traffic at this time of day was hell and he would never have found a space to park his car. He took off his suit jacket and loosened his tie, rolling up the sleeves before he noticed the familiar figure a few hundred yards away. Andy squinted into the bright sunlight and pulled out his shades.

Yes, that was indeed his nephew Mario milling around outside Parker Centre. He would have known that boy anywhere. The tall lanky figure of the teenager who was constantly outgrowing his clothes, had been all his life because he had shot up so quickly. It seemed that he had finally stopped growing now that he even towered over his uncle. The boy was moving in time with the music. He was no doubt listening to on his ipod – Andy's Christmas present for his favourite nephew.

Hell, that boy had basically filled the place of Andy's children. After his wife had left him and all but taken his own children away from him, he had spent a lot of time with Mario. He still remembered how it had come about. His sister Guilia had been pregnant with twins at the time, and the pregnancy had been a difficult one, requiring her to lie down and rest a lot. Andy had started going to her home after work to help out with the energetic toddler. Then, when Mario's little sisters had been born, Guilia had been overwhelmed raising them with her husband away in the army. So Andy had continued to spend time with the family. He and Mario had bonded, and the boy had been a good focus, someone to feel responsible for outside of work and in the newfound freedom of his recent sobriety.

But what was Mario doing here in this part of town? Shouldn't he be in school this time of day? Was something wrong with his sister or her family? Was the boy in trouble? Andy's heart beat faster and he picked up the pace of his steps. Mario seemed calm, kicking his foot against the metal railing while bobbing his head in time to the music. He was a typical Flynn with that mop of wild, dark hair so reminiscent of Andy and his brothers at that age. Just last weekend Guilia had told him she had finally given up on sending Mario to a hairdresser. Apparently, Mario cut it himself with the kitchen scissors.

"Mario? Hey buddy, what'cha doing here?" Andy called out when he was close enough. "Paying your old uncle a visit?"

But Mario was listening to his ipod and probably couldn't hear him.

"Mario!" Andy tried again, louder this time and reached out to put a hand on the boy's shoulder. "Mario, hey, why are you here?"

The teenager turned around with a surprised expression on his face and looked at Andy, who had to squint: He sure looked a lot like Mario, but it wasn't him.

The boy extended his hand towards Andy,

"I'm sorry, Sir, I didn't realise you were talking to me. I'm not Mario. My name's Ricky. Ricky Raydor."