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"No, really, I heard he was coming tonight."
The young investment banker looked at his buddy, Freddie Wilcox. "O'Banyon? Are you crazy? He's in the middle of the Condi-Foods merger."
"I asked his assistant." Freddie tweaked his Herms tie. "It's on his calendar."
"He must never sleep."
"Gods don't have to, Andrew."
"Well, then, where is he?"
From their vantage point in a corner of the Waldorf Astoria's ballroom, they sifted through the crowd of Manhattan highfliers, looking for the man they called The Idol.
Sean O'Banyon was their boss's boss and, at thirty six, one of Wall Street's big dogs. He ran the mergersand-acquisitions arm of Sterling Rochester, and was capable of leveraging billions of dollars at the drop of a hat or killing a mega deal because he didn't like the numbers. Since arriving on the Street, he'd engineered one perfectly executed corporate acquisition after another. No one had his track record or his instincts.
Or his reputation for eating hard-core financiers for lunch.
Man, folks would have called him SOB even if those hadn't been his initials.
He was indeed a god, but he was also a thorn in the side of the I-banking world's old-school types. O'Banyon was from South Boston, not Greenwich. Drove a Maserati not a Mercedes. Didn't care about people's Mayflower roots or European pedigrees. With no family money to speak of, he'd gone to Harvard undergrad on scholarship, got his start at JP Morgan then put himself through Harvard Business School while doing deals as a consultant.
Word had it that when he lost his temper, his Southie accent came back.
So, yes, the white-shoe, country-club set couldn't standhim-at least not until they needed him to find financing for their corporations' expansion plans or share buy-backs. O'Banyon was the master at drumming up money. In addition to all the bank funds at his disposal, he had ins with some serious private sources like the great Nick Farrell or the now-governor of Massachusetts, Jack Walker.
O'Banyon was who everyone wanted to be. A rebel with immense power. An iconoclast with guts and glory. The Idol.
"Oh-my God, it's him."
Andrew whipped his head around.
Sean O'Banyon walked into the ballroom as if he owned the place. And not just the Waldorf, all of New York City. Dressed in a spectacular pin-striped black suit and wearing a screaming red tie, he was sporting a cynical half grin. As per usual.
"He's wearing all Gucci. Must have cost him five grand before tailoring."
"Couch change. I heard he spent a quarter million dollars on a watch last year."
"It was a half million. I checked at Tourneau." O'Banyon's hair was as dark as his suit and his face was nothing but hard-ass angles and arched eyebrows. And his build matched his attitude. He topped out at six four and it wasn't padding that filled out his shoulders. Rumor had it he did triathlons for kicks and giggles.
As the crowd caught sight of him, a swarm condensed and closed in, people pumping his hand, clapping him on the shoulder, smiling. He kept walking, the powerbrokers and A-listers forming his wake.
"He's coming over here," Andrew hissed.
"Oh God, is my tie okay?"
"Yeah. Is mine-"
"I think I'm going to crap in my pants."
Lizzie Bond stared at the stripped hospital bed and thought of the man who'd lain in it these last six days.
The heart monitor he'd been on and the IV that he'd needed and the oxygen feed were all gone. So too the cardiac crash cart that had failed to revive him forty-two minutes ago.
Eddie O'Banyon was dead at the age of sixty-four. And he had died alone.
She shifted her eyes to a window that overlooked Boston's Charles River.
As a nurse, she was accustomed to being in patient rooms, used to the tangy smell of disinfectant and the bland walls and the air of quiet desperation. But she had come to this room as a friend, not as a health-care professional, so she was seeing things through different eyes.
Like how empty and quiet it was.
She glanced back to the bed. She hated that Mr. O'Banyon had died alone.
And now he was gone.
She stared down at her cell phone and the piece of paper she'd taken out of his wallet. His son's name was Sean, evidently.
She started to dial, but then stopped, picked up the bag of Mr. O'Banyon's things and headed out.
When she talked to the man's son, she was going to need some fresh air.