Authors: Christopher Smith
### Product Description
*STEPHEN KING on Christopher Smith: "Put me down as an enthusiastic Christopher Smith fan. Smith is a cultural genius."
For the first time, all three books in the international Top 100 best-selling FIFTH AVENUE series are now available in one boxed set! Look for the fourth in the series, PARK AVENUE, in 2012.
Over 800 pages!
Look beneath all the power and all the wealth that represents New York City's Fifth Avenue, and you'll find greed, blood, revenge. In the international best-selling thriller "Fifth Avenue," each intermingles within a revered society that is unprepared for what's in store for it when one man finally strikes in an effort to destroy another man for murdering his wife thirty-one years ago.
Louis Ryan is that man. George Redman, his wife, two daughters and their close friends are his targets. Both men are self-made billionaires who came from nothing to stake their claim to Fifth Avenue. But when Louis Ryan hires an international assassin to literally rip the Redman family apart, a series of events that can't be stopped catapults them all through a fast-paced, hard-edged thriller in which nobody is safe.
Secrets are revealed. Sex lives are exposed. The Mafia get involved. And George's two daughters, Celina and Leana Redman, come to the forefront. More than anyone, it's they who are caught in the throes of their father's past as Louis Ryan's blind desire to kill them all takes surprising turns in his all-out effort to see them dead.
RUNNING OF THE BULLS:
TWELVE PEOPLE TARGETED FOR DEATH...
Five years ago, each person sold out to the SEC and took the stand against Maxmilian Wolfhagen, a man who robbed the world of billions. Now, with Wolfhagen out of prison, each is dying a grisly death.
TWO ASSASSINS WITH ONLY 48 HOURS TO CUT A SWATH OF MURDER AND REVENGE THROUGH NEW YORK...
Time is tight and the challenges are massive--but so are their ruthless skills.
MARTY SPELLMAN IS ON THE CASE...
Hired to investigate Wolfhagen, private investigator Marty Spellman soon learns that all isn't what it seems as the twists pile up along with sheer number of the dead. His life is put on the line. His family is threatened. No one is who they appear to be. Who can he trust as the bulls of Wall Street start to run as the two assassins fully ignite their killing spree?
FROM MANHATTAN WITH LOVE:
An outcast billionaire’s daughter is caught at the wrong place at the wrong time.
An international assassin questions her sanity when she falls in love with the very assassin she’s charged to assassinate.
What happens when each collide? Chaos. Murder. Love. Revenge.
In this taut, 35,000-word novella, which is a prequel to the upcoming third novel in the Fifth Avenue series, “Park Avenue,” both women come together for the first time in an explosive story that threatens each of their lives, particularly when one woman breaks her own rules and dares to fall in love.
In “From Manhattan with Love,” she soon learns what she always feared. When it comes to real danger, there’s nothing more dangerous than love itself.
RAVES FOR CHRISTOPHER SMITH:
***PLANET KINDLE ON CHRISTOPHER SMITH***
"Fifth Avenue, the first novel by penned Christopher Smith, is a fantastic first effort and was the reason I was simply unable to put my Kindle down over this Christmas period. And I would go as far to say that it ranks as one of the best first novels I’ve ever read."--PLANET KINDLE
***P.M. RICHTER ON CHRISTOPHER SMITH***
"Fifth Avenue. A big, big novel. A blockbuster? Yes. A bestseller. It should be. The author, at the beginning of the novel, thanks the people who introduced him to the 'real' Fifth Avenue. I suspect the real one could not be as interesting or engrossing as this novel. ...This is a highly recommended novel. It deserves the five stars." --P.M. RICHTER
***CHRIS TRUSCOTT ON CHRISTOPHER SMITH***
"Christopher Smith delivers an amazing story that's worth the advance billing."
Running of the Bulls
From Manhattan with Love
Books by Christopher Smith
Fifth Avenue (Book One in the Five Avenue Series)
Running of the Bulls (Book Two in the Fifth Avenue Series)
From Manhattan with Love (Novella Three in the Fifth Avenue Series)
Bullied: The Complete Series
A novel by
For my father, Ross Smith, for always pushing and never giving up.
For my mother, Ann Smith, for her enthusiastic support.
And for Constance Hunting, who edited this book over the course of many years but who didn’t live to see its publication.
This is our book.
I thank you and I miss you.
Copyright and Legal Notice:
This publication is protected under the US Copyright Act of 1976 and all other applicable international, federal, state and local laws, and all rights are reserved, including resale rights.
Any trademarks, service marks, product names or named features are assumed to be the property of their respective owners, and are used only for reference. There is no implied endorsement if we use one of these terms.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means (including photocopying, recording, or information storage and retrieval) without permission in writing from the author.
First ebook edition © 2010.
For all permissions, please contact the author at:
This is a work of fiction.
Any similarity to persons living or dead (unless explicitly noted) is merely coincidental.
Copyright © 2010 Christopher Smith.
All rights reserved worldwide.
For their help with this book, the author is particularly grateful to Erich Kaiser and Sanford Phippen; to Roslyn Targ; to Ted Adams; to Deborah Rogers, Paul Ersing and Faith Benedetti; and to those men and women who introduced the author to the real Fifth Avenue while he researched this book; and to friends old and new, all of whom either helped to shape this book or who offered support as it was written.
New York City
The bombs, placed high above Fifth Avenue on the roof of The Redman International Building, would explode in five minutes.
Now, with its mirrored walls of glass reflecting Fifth Avenue’s thick, late-morning traffic, the building itself seemed alive with movement.
On scaffolding at the building’s middle, men and women were hanging the enormous red velvet ribbon that would soon cover sixteen of Redman International’s seventy-nine stories.
High above on the roof, a lighting crew was moving ten spotlights into position.
And inside, fifty skilled decorators were turning the lobby into a festive ballroom.
Celina Redman, who was in charge of organizing the event, stood before the building with her arms crossed.
Streams of people were brushing past her on the sidewalk, some glancing up at the red ribbon, others stopping to glance in surprise at her.
She tried to ignore them, tried to focus on her work and become one with the crowd, but it was difficult.
Just that morning, her face and this building had been on the cover of every major paper in New York.
She admired the building before her.
Located on the corner of Fifth and 49th Street, The Redman International Building was the product of thirty-one years of her father’s life.
Founded when George Redman was twenty-six, Redman International was among the world’s leading conglomerates.
It included a commercial airline, office and condominium complexes, textile and steel mills and, soon, WestTex Incorporated—one of the country’s largest shipping corporations.
With this building on Fifth Avenue, all that stood in George Redman’s way was the future.
And by all appearances, it was as bright as the diamonds Celina had chosen to wear later that evening.
“The spotlights are ready, Miss Redman.”
Celina turned and faced a member of the lighting crew.
Later that evening, the spotlights would illuminate the red ribbon.
“Let’s try them out.”
The man reached for the cell phone clipped to his belt.
While he gave the men on the roof the go-ahead, Celina looked down at the list on her clipboard and wondered again how she would get everything finished in time for the party.
But she would.
All her life she had been trained by her father to work under pressure.
Today was just another challenge.
Hal nodded at her.
“Should be any time now,” he said.
Celina tucked the clipboard beneath her arm and looked up at the roof.
She was thinking that, at this distance, she would never see if they worked when a switch was flipped and three of the ten spotlights exploded into flames.
For a moment, she couldn’t move.
Thousands of shards of jagged glass were hurtling toward her, glinting in the sun.
She could see a great cloud of black smoke billowing on top of the building.
There was fire—roaring, twisting toward the sky.
And there was one of the spotlights, flipping through the air, rushing toward her and the ground.
She felt a hand on her arm and was pulled to safety just as the spotlight whooshed past her and slammed onto the sidewalk, where it cracked the cement and burst into a shower of fiery red sparks.
For a moment, everything went silent—and then the glass began to hit in a deafening cascade of sound.
She was pressed against the building, frozen in fear as she watched traffic on Fifth veer right, away from the fallen spotlight, and snarl to a halt.
Suddenly, there was nothing but the squeal of metal crushing metal, the shrilling of car horns and the frightened cries of passersby, some of whom had been cut from the falling glass.
Stunned, Celina looked at Hal.
He was in the street, looking up at the roof, shouting something into his cell phone.
His face was flushed.
The cords stood out on his neck.
There was so much noise, Celina couldn’t hear what he was saying.
She took a tentative step forward, toward the crushed spotlight, and knew exactly what he was saying—the men on the roof were hurt.
She hurried into the lobby, shot past the waterfall and stepped into her father’s private elevator.
The building was too tall.
The elevator was too slow.
No matter how quickly she raced to the top, it wasn’t fast enough.
Finally, the doors opened and she stepped onto the roof.
People were running and shouting and pushing.
Some stood motionless in fear and disbelief.
Those who had been standing near the spotlights when they exploded were either silent with shock, or crying in pain from the burns that ravaged their bodies.
She moved forward and nearly was run into by someone rushing for help.
She watched the man pass, her lips parting when she realized he had no hair.
It had been burned off.
She forced herself to focus.
She had inherited her father’s strength and it was this that she called on now.
Through the smoke that whipped past her in soiled veils of black, she could see the damage—at roof’s edge, two of the remaining nine spotlights were engulfed in flames, their wires twisting like angry snakes on the ground beside them.
Mark Rand, the man in charge of the lighting, was standing near the spotlights, shouting orders and trying to gain control.
Celina went over to him, her legs weak.
Although she didn’t know what she would do or how she would help, she was damned if she would do nothing.
Rand pointed at one of the burning lights as she approached.
“There’s a man trapped behind that spotlight.
When the lights blew, he fell back and struck his head on the concrete.
“Why isn’t anyone helping him?”
Mark pointed to the tangled mass of writhing wires.
“No one’s going near them,” he said.
“It’s too dangerous.”
“Then turn off the power.”
“We can’t,” he said and motioned toward the generator at the opposite end of the roof.
Although it was still running, it, too, was alight with flames.
“It could blow at any moment.”
Celina’s mind raced.
Through the smoke, she could see the young man lying on his stomach, his arms outstretched, the live wires curling inches from his body.
She scanned the roof for something that could help him.
And then she saw it.
She grabbed Mark’s arm and they went to the crane that was behind them.
“This is the crane that lifted the lights up here?”
“Then use it to get rid of them.”
Mark looked at the spotlights.
Their casings were coated with a hard shell of rubber to resist dents.
It would not conduct electricity.
He scrambled into the crane.
Celina stood back and watched him bring the enormous steel hook about.
It swung swiftly through the smoky air, glinting once in a dim band of sunlight and was upon one of the burning spotlights in what seemed like seconds.
It took several tries before he hooked the tip of the spotlight’s casing.
And when he did, when he finally lifted the spotlight into the air, one of the wires hissing beneath it rested against the fallen man’s forearm, sending him into convulsions.
Celina’s hands flew to her mouth.
She watched the man’s head arch back into an impossible position.
Reacting instinctively, she rushed forward and knelt beside him—just as Mark Rand began swinging the spotlight over her.
With a start, he pulled back hard on the controls, lifting the spotlight away from Celina with a jerk, causing it to jump and waver on its hook.
For one terrible moment, he felt sure it was going to jump the hook and fall on top of her.
The spotlight was teetering in the air, no more than ten feet above her, spewing black smoke as it swayed on its metal line.
The wires snapping beneath it were almost touching her back.
But gradually, he brought the spotlight under control and moved it away from her.
When it was far enough away from the generator, the spotlight unplugged itself, the light flashed and it went dark.
A member of the lighting crew went to Celina’s side.
Together, they pulled the young man to safety.
Celina knelt over him.
The man’s body was sheathed in perspiration.
His skin was the color of chalk.
She gripped him by the shoulders and gently shook him.
She noticed his name sewn into the pocket of his denim work shirt and shouted it once, twice, but there was no response.
Her mind raced.
She had been trained in CPR, but that was in college and now she struggled to remember how to perform it.
She tilted his head back to clear the airway and then ripped off his shirt, exposing his chest.
She looked to see if it was rising and falling, but it wasn’t.
She listened to see if he was breathing, but he wasn’t.
She placed the back of her hand to his mouth, but felt nothing.
She checked for a pulse in his neck, but found none.
She pressed her ear to his chest.
For a moment, she thought her own heart had stopped.
He was dead.
Immediately, she covered his mouth with her own, pinched his nose and forced two sharp breaths into his lungs.
She checked once more for a pulse, found none and gave several compressions to his chest, wishing she could remember exactly how many she was supposed to administer.
She stopped after the twelfth and repeated the procedure.
And then she did it again.
But the man didn’t respond.
Fighting to remain calm, Celina looked up for help just as the New York City Fire Department stormed the roof, hoses and axes in hand.
She turned to her right and saw Mark leaving the crane.
The final spotlight was removed and he was coming toward her.
“What’s the matter with you?” he shouted.
“You could have been killed—”
The words died in his mouth when he saw the man lying beside her.
“Get help,” she said.
She bent back over the man, again pressing on his chest, again forcing air into his lungs.
But there was no response.
Panic rising, her shoulder-length blonde hair hanging in her face, she repeated the procedure, knowing that time for this man was running out.
But her efforts seemed in vain.
No matter how hard she tried to revive him, the man just lay there, motionless.
And so she went for it.
Raising her fists above her head, she slammed them down onto the man’s chest, causing him to jerk slightly upright and expel a rush of air.
“Breathe!” she shouted.
To her surprise, he did.
His eyes fluttered.
Color rushed to his cheeks and he gagged and coughed and vomited.
Celina felt a surge of elation and turned him onto his side so he wouldn’t choke.
Tears began streaming down his face as he pulled in great gasps of air.
Celina held him on his side.
“It’s all right,” she said.
You’re safe now.
It’s all right.”
When the paramedic reached them, she knelt beside Celina, cleaned the vomit from the man’s face and covered his nose and mouth with an oxygen mask.
Another woman appeared and covered him with a blanket.
Celina stood and watched with Mark as relief washed over the man.
He drew deeply on the clean air.
For him, the nightmare was over.
“Where did you learn that?” Mark asked.
Celina’s face was pale.
“My roommate in college had a sister who was a nursing student.
She used to teach us things I never thought I use.
One of them was how to perform CPR.”
“Not so worthless,” he said.
Together, they looked at the spotlights Mark had removed.
Although they were no longer burning, the air around them was dim with smoke.
“Why did they explode?” she asked.
Before Mark could respond, a fireman approached and answered her question instead.
“I’ll show you.”
She exchanged looks with Mark and stepped over to one of the smoldering lights.
There, they watched the man pull two frayed, blackened wires from the now empty light socket.
“Do you see these wires?”
“They shouldn’t be there.”
He bent to his knees and asked Celina and Mark to do the same.
On the back of the spotlight, he pointed to a small hole where the metal was contorted and twisted out of shape.
“This hole shouldn’t be there, either.”
Celina braced herself for what was coming and the uproar it would cause.
“Off the record?” he said.
“It’s not confirmed, but it’s obvious.
The spotlights were rigged with plastic explosives.
When the power was turned on, the electricity came into these two wires and set off the bombs.”
“Who would plant three bombs here?” she said.
“That’s for you and the police to figure out.”
George Redman left the limousine, moved to the front of The Redman International Building and was engulfed by reporters.
He pushed through the crowd and tried to ignore the cameras and microphones being thrust in his face.
His world was the twin glass doors ahead of him.
He would say nothing until he spoke to Celina—but that didn’t stop the reporters or their cacophony of voices.
“Can you give us a statement?”
“Do you think this has to do with your plans to take over WestTex? The recent decline in Redman International’s stock?”
“Who’s responsible for this, Mr. Redman?”
George glanced at the reporter who asked that question and then pressed forward, thinking it was the best question yet.
Who was responsible for this?
Celina was waiting for him beyond the doors and, as George embraced her, he thought she never looked or felt better to him.
“Are you all right?” he asked.
Knowing her father as well as she did, Celina said, “Really.
“What happened?” he asked.
Celina explained everything to him.
When she told him about the man who was trapped behind the spotlight, she raised her hands in apology. “I tried to keep what happened to him from the press, but it was impossible.
The reporters got wind of it before I could do anything.”
“Don’t worry about it,” George said. “This wasn’t our fault.
If anything, they’ll be congratulating you for saving that man’s life.
Was anyone else hurt?”
She told him about the men who had been burned.
“So, we’re facing lawsuits.”
“Not necessarily,” Celina said.
“I sent Kate and Jim from PR to speak to the families of those who were hurt.
If all goes well, each wife will be driving a Lexus by week’s end, their kids will have their college educations paid for, a significant amount of money will be in their bank accounts—and we’ll have signed documents saying that each family has waived all rights to sue.”
Something caught her eye and she turned.
George followed her gaze.
Across the lobby, three men in dull yellow jackets were stepping into one of the elevators with two large dogs.
“Bomb squad,” Celina said.
“They arrived just after the police and fire department.”
“How long will they be?”
She checked her watch.
“A full crew is here,” she said.
“They’ve already covered the first eighteen floors.
With the help of those dogs, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re out of here in the next few hours—leaving us time to make a final statement to the press and last-minute preparations for the party.”
“If anyone shows,” George said.
If only because they’ve paid ten grand per couple, they’ll show.
Besides, when have you ever known one of Mom’s parties to fail?”
George raised an eyebrow.
She had a point.
They moved to the bar.
“So, who did it?” Celina asked.
I’ve been racking my brain since I got your call.”
“I phoned the company who supplied the spotlights and was told that each light was inspected before delivery.
If that’s true—and I’m not saying it is—then that can only mean that someone here planted the bombs.”
“Have the police questioned the lighting crew?”
“They’re being questioned now, but what I can’t figure out is why a more powerful bomb wasn’t used.
The three that went off were low-impact explosives.
They were designed to cause only minor damage.”
“I’ve been thinking the same thing.”
“So, what is this?”
Maybe someone hates the design of our building.”
Somehow, her father usually managed to keep his sense of humor, even in situations as difficult as this.
“What’s the word on RRK?” she asked.
“If they were nervous about backing us before, they must be terrified now,” he said.
Roberts, Richards and Kravis—better known as RRK—was the investment group George hired to help finance the takeover of WestTex Incorporated.
Although George had management, without RRK’s $3.75 billion war chest, without their skills and the banks they had locked up, he wouldn’t be able to complete this deal on his own.
“I haven’t heard a word,” he said.
“But I’m sure I will by this evening.
This is probably the excuse Frank Richards has been waiting for.
He’s never been in favor of this takeover.
If he thinks someone rigged those spotlights to make a statement about our falling stock, or to protest our interest in WestTex, he won’t think twice about pulling out—regardless of any deal we have with him.”
Celina knew that was true.
While there were other banks and investment groups who might be willing to take the risk her father was offering, few were as experienced as RRK when it came to LBOs.
“Have you seen your sister today?” he asked.
“Your mother was looking for her earlier.
She was supposed to help her prepare for the party.”
“And Mom thought she’d show?”
Celina tilted her head.
“Leana probably doesn’t even know what happened here today.”
“I need to call your mother,” he said.
“She made me promise to call as soon as I knew something.
If you see Leana, tell her your mother needs her.”
Although she knew she wouldn’t see Leana until later that evening, Celina agreed and followed her father to the door.
The press was there, cameras and microphones raised.
“You can use one of the side entrances,” she said.
“And lose their sympathy at the very moment I need it most?
And then he was gone, through the doors, swarmed by reporters and finally answering whatever questions he could.
Celina watched him for a moment, listened to the crowd’s frenzied shouting, but then she stepped away and resumed her work.
There was still much to be done before the party.
The sun was just beginning to set behind Manhattan’s jagged horizon when Leana Redman left Washington Square.
She had been in the park since morning, reading the latest edition of Vogue, talking with those people she knew, watching those she didn’t.
Now, as she passed the big empty fountain and neared the white arch, she watched the many children playing with their parents, glanced at a father twirling his young daughter in the air, and then kept walking, oblivious to the man taking pictures of her.
Evening was beginning to descend, but the air was balmy and she was glad to be wearing only shorts and a T-shirt.
At twenty-five, Leana Redman had a long, thick mane of curly black hair, which, to her dismay, she had inherited from her father.
Although she wasn’t considered as beautiful as her older sister, there was something about her that always made people look twice.
She left the park and began moving up Fifth.
The sidewalks were jammed with people.
A group of five teenage boys darted past her on skateboards, screaming and shouting as they shot through the crowd in a colorful blur of red and white and brilliant shades of green.
Leana lifted her face to the warm breeze and tried to focus on the problem ahead of her—tonight’s party.
She had planned on not attending when her mother, sensing this, demanded her presence.
“Your father will be expecting your support.”
The irony almost made Leana laugh.
He’s never needed it before
Four hours ago she was supposed to have met Elizabeth at their Connecticut estate and help her with last-minute preparations for the party.
Why her mother wanted her help was beyond Leana—especially since they both knew that Celina would take care of everything.
As she always does.
She stopped at a crowded newspaper stand.
A man moved beside her.
Leana gave him a sidelong glance.
Tall and dark, his face lean and angular, the man wore an unseasonably warm black leather jacket that exposed a broad chest and the sophisticated camera hanging around his neck.
Leana sensed she’d seen him before.
It was her turn in line.
Ignoring the many newspapers and magazines that carried front-page pictures of her father, Celina and the new building, she asked the attendant for the latest issue of Interview, paid him and then tucked the magazine into the oversized Prada handbag that hung at her side.
She looked again at the man in black leather, saw that he was staring at her and she started up Fifth, aware that he had purchased nothing and now was following her.
It wasn’t until she glimpsed his reflection in a storefront window that she realized he was taking photos of her.
Leana turned and was about to ask what newspaper he worked for when she saw, tucked between the folds of his black leather jacket, the butt of a revolver.
Startled, she looked at the man’s face just as he lowered the camera.
When he smiled at her, she recognized him.
Earlier that morning, in the park, he had been sitting on the bench next to hers.
She thought then that he had been watching her.
Now, she knew that he had.
“Tonight,” the man said, “after these pictures are printed, I’m going to pin them to the wall beside my bed—with the others I have of you.”
His smile broadened, revealing even white teeth.
“And soon—before you know it, really, Leana—I plan on taking you home with me and showing them to you, myself.”
She turned away from him with such speed, the magazine toppled out of her handbag and fell to the pavement.
The pages fanned open.
Ahead of her, a taxi was dropping off a fare.
Leana rushed to it.
The man followed.
“Wait!” she shouted, but the cab already had pulled away.
A quick glance over her shoulder confirmed the man was still there.
The shiny butt of his revolver glinted in a band of sunlight.
Leana was about to shout for help when another cab pulled to the curb. Frantic, she ran toward it, her heart pounding, and stepped inside just as an elderly couple stepped out.
She slammed the door shut and locked it just as the man tried opening the door.
His face was only inches from the glass and he looked furious, as if he had been cheated out of a prize.
He slapped his hand against the glass and Leana recoiled.
The cab wasn’t moving.
Leana looked at the driver and saw that he was waiting for a break in traffic.
“He’s got a gun!” she shouted.
“Get me out of here!”
The cabbie looked at the man, saw the rage on his face and punched the accelerator, nearly causing an accident as he cut into traffic and raced toward Washington Square.
Leana looked out the back window.
The man was on the sidewalk, his camera hanging around his neck, his arms at his side.
“I didn’t know you were in trouble,” the cabbie said.
“Are you okay?
Do you want me to take you to the police?”
She considered it, but thought better of it.
“By the time we turn the corner, he’ll be gone.”
She leaned against the cab’s torn vinyl seat.
“Just drop me off at the new Redman International Building on Fifth and 49th.
My car’s there.”
“I wouldn’t count on it.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“You’ve gotta be kidding me.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Doesn’t anyone pay attention to the news anymore?”
He spoke slowly.
“This morning, three bombs exploded on top of the building.”
Leana’s face paled.
Her father and sister were there today, preparing for tonight’s party.
“Was anyone hurt?”
“A few people.
One guy would have died if it wasn’t for Celina Redman.
She saved his life.”
Leana’s jaw tightened.
“Through quick thinking, the guy on the radio said.
She’s a hero.”
“What she is is a fucking bitch.”
The cabbie stopped for a red light and glanced at her in the rearview mirror, not quite sure he heard her right.
“You know the Redmans, or something?”
Leana wondered again why she had been so concerned for her family’s safety.
After all the times her parents ignored her, after all the times they chose Celina over herself, how could she possibly have any feelings for them besides contempt?
“No,” she said.
“I don’t know them at all.”
High above Fifth Avenue, Louis Ryan sat in his corner office, his back to a wall of windows and the new Redman International Building that towered in the near distance.
He was at his desk and gazed at the frosted letters carved into the glass that covered it: Manhattan Enterprises. The company he founded thirty-one years ago now was one of the world’s leading conglomerates.
Only Redman International surpassed it.
Earlier that day, Louis’ private war against George Redman had begun—Leana Redman was harassed, the spotlights exploded as planned.
And now, the gala opening of The Redman International Building was about to begin.
Louis looked up Fifth Avenue, toward the activity surrounding Redman International’s red-carpeted entrance.
Judging by the crowd of reporters and the string of limousines that snaked down the avenue, one would think that every influential man and woman in the world had come to show their support for George Redman.
The fact that Louis did business with many of these men and women made him turn away in disgust.
He looked across the desk at the black-and-white photograph of his wife.
In its heavy silver frame, the photo had faded over the years since Anne’s death, but her beauty shined through.
Louis studied her face and thought back to the few years they had shared together.
She had been his first love, his champion and best friend.
She had given him his best memories.
She also had given him a son and, although he and Michael had their differences, whenever Louis saw him, he was reminded, through Michael’s features alone, of his beloved Anne.
The wife George Redman robbed him of.
Louis thought about all that was coming Redman’s way.
The time was now.
At last, George Redman was vulnerable.
When Anne died, Louis promised that both he and Michael would make Redman pay for what he did to her.
He promised to destroy George Redman, his family, the Redman empire.
He would make them all feel the pain he had felt for years.
He glanced down at the front page of the Wall Street Journal. The banner headline read:
REDMAN STOCK PLUNGES TWENTY-THREE POINTS.
PROPOSED TAKEOVER OF WESTTEX MAKES STOCKHOLDERS NERVOUS.
Well, that’s too bad
, Louis thought.
He opened a desk drawer and reached for the latest issue of People magazine.
On the cover was his son, Michael Archer, the movie star and bestselling novelist.
Even as he aged, it was clear that Michael inherited his looks from his mother, from the dark hair to the cobalt-blue eyes.
There wasn’t the slightest resemblance of himself in Michael.
As he studied his son’s face, Louis wondered how Michael would react when he learned that George Redman murdered his mother.
He had been only three when it happened.
To save his son the pain and anger he had to endure, Louis raised Michael thinking his mother’s death was an accident.
But despite the tragedy that should have brought them closer together, it had driven them apart because Louis needed to devote his time to Manhattan Enterprises in an effort to secure their futures.
They never had been close.
In fact, until last week, Louis hadn’t seen or heard from Michael in sixteen years.
And all because of George Redman
, he thought.
He put the magazine down and turned to watch the limousines inch their way down the avenue.
He wondered which one his son was in.
Last week, when Michael came unannounced to his office, Louis was surprised by the change in him.
Michael seemed older to him in person than on film.
His eyes had hardened over the years, erasing his former look of innocence.
Perhaps struggling in Hollywood had been good for him.
Maybe he finally had grown up.
But, of course, he hadn’t.
When Michael explained the predicament he was in, that his life was in danger, Louis listened, feeling the same sense of shame and anger he felt when Michael left home for Hollywood at the age of eighteen.
Even now, Louis could hear Michael asking him for help.
Even now, he could see the look of surprise on Michael’s face when told he would only get the help he needed if he went to the opening of Redman International and met Leana Redman.
In his father’s black Lincoln limousine, Michael Archer looked through the tinted window at the glittering New York skyline and thought he’d rather be anywhere else than here.
He wasn’t happy to be back.
He hated what he saw.
He left this place once and hadn’t looked back until a few weeks ago, when he had no choice.
All around him was his father, from Louis’ towering office and condominium complexes on Fifth to the lavish hotels he’d passed earlier on Park and Madison.
Even if no one knew he was Louis’ son, the idea that his father’s ego had spread like a disease throughout this city embarrassed him.
It was ironic, he thought, that now he was being thrust back into a life he had once run from.
More ironic, still, that his father was the only person who could help him.
On the seat beside him was the manila envelope Louis gave him that evening.
Michael reached for it, turned on the light above his head and removed several photographs of Leana Redman.
Most were pictures of her reading in Washington Square, but some had been taken of her standing in line at a newspaper stand.
Others were of her running to catch a cab.
Michael studied her face and wondered what his father was getting him into.
Why was it so important that he meet Leana Redman?
And why had Louis refused to give him the money he needed if he didn’t meet her?
The limousine caught a string of green lights and sailed down Fifth.
Ahead, Michael could see the bright, resilient spotlights fanning across The Redman International Building, illuminating the red ribbon in sharp, brilliant sweeps.
He put the photographs away.
For now, he would do as his father wished.
After the recent threat against his life, he hardly had a choice.