Connie, like him, grew fat as the years passed, but when he met her she was...hell, she'd looked like Sophia Loren: thick dark hair, a long straight nose, full lips, heavy breasts, shapely legs. She'd been an absolute knockout—and Mahoney was a man who rarely met a temptation he was able to resist. Connie was neither the first nor the last affair he'd had—he'd had a lot of affairs over the years—but she was the only one to bear him a child. Connie DiNunzio wasn't too Catholic to sleep with a married man, but she was too Catholic to get an abortion.
When she'd told him she was pregnant and that he was the father, he'd had no doubt she was telling the truth. He also figured that if she had the kid it could be the end of his fledgling political career. But Connie never told anyone. She'd been an aide to a New York congressman when they met and she quit the job, went back to New York, and had the child. And she never asked anything of Mahoney—at least not for herself or her son. She did ask for a favor later—and Mahoney was still paying back that favor.
Anyway, time went on. Connie married a guy she later divorced and ended up becoming a career bureaucrat in Albany and a major player in the backstabbing, bare-knuckles world of New York state politics. As for the kid, he went on to college, got married, had three kids, and started his own accounting firm in Manhattan. Mahoney had kept tabs on his illegitimate son—but he'd never met him.
The call he'd gotten had been from Connie. She'd told him that her boy—their boy—had been shot and killed in a bar in Manhattan. She wasn't crying when she called. She didn't intend to share her grief; she'd called because she wanted vengeance. She told him that the man who'd killed her son was the son of a rich guy, a guy rich enough to buy his way out of anything. She said, her voice as cold and hard as ice, "You make sure this little prick gets what's coming to him, John. Dominic was the father of the grandkids you never met, and you damn well better do everything in your power to make sure that the man who killed him pays for what he did."
Mahoney had three daughters, but none of them were currently married and none of them had given him and Mary Pat grandkids. As Connie had said, the only grandchildren he had were as much strangers to him as their father had been.
Mahoney sat down on a bench and thought for a time about all the mistakes he'd made in his long life. He thought about his son's wife and his grandchildren, and made a promise to do whatever it took to make sure they were financially okay. Regarding what Connie had told him—how he'd better make sure the killer went to prison—he could think of only one thing to do immediately.
He took out his cell phone. The face of the iPhone informed him that it was now one a.m.—and Mahoney didn't give a shit. He called a man who worked for him. A guy named DeMarco.
He woke DeMarco up. After DeMarco said a sleepy hello, Mahoney said, "Dominic DiNunzio was killed this evening in Manhattan. Get your ass up there and find out what's happening with the case."
DeMarco said, "What? Dominic? Dominic was killed?"
DeMarco knew Dominic DiNunzio. He just didn't know he was Mahoney's bastard.
Connie DiNunzio happened to be Joe DeMarco's godmother because Connie was DeMarco's mother's best friend. Connie DiNunzio was also the only reason that DeMarco had a job working for John Mahoney.
The way it all came about was that DeMarco's Irish mother had had the misfortune to fall in love with a man who worked for the old Italian mob in Queens. DeMarco's dad had been a mob enforcer. A killer.
When Gino DeMarco was killed, young Joe DeMarco—who was a few years younger than Connie's son—had just graduated from law school and couldn't find a job, as no law firm on the eastern seaboard wanted the son of a Mafia hit man on its payroll. And that's when Connie had called Mahoney and asked for the only favor she'd ever asked. And actually she didn't ask for the favor—she demanded it. She told Mahoney, who at that time was the Speaker, to give young Joe a job. If he didn't give young Joe a job, well then, Connie might...Mahoney hired young Joe.
Over the years, DeMarco had become Mahoney's go-to guy when Mahoney had problems he couldn't or didn't want to solve by going through normal channels. He was also Mahoney's bagman—the one he sent to collect contributions some nitpickers might construe as bribes. DeMarco was smart enough—and ethically bent enough—to do the job well, but he was also lazy. He was a guy who would rather play golf than work, and Mahoney knew he was just marking time, doing as little as he could until he could collect a federal pension. That is, he'd collect one if he didn't get indicted and go to jail first. One thing about DeMarco, though, and even Mahoney had to admit this, was that if he had a personal stake in an assignment he could be as determined and devious as he had to be to get results. And this time Mahoney knew it would be personal for DeMarco, because he loved Connie DiNunzio and had known her son.