The ancient motto, inscribed in Latin on a mysterious golden medallion recovered from the ruins of the Roman Empire, has guided Michael Tiranno to heights few men have achieved. Once an orphaned farm boy in his native Sicily, Michael made millions by mastering the intricate world of high finance and is now the fabulously wealthy owner of Las Vegas's Seven Sins, the grandest and most extravagant casino in the world. The lavish resort embodies the personal philosophy fueled by his lust for power: the greater the risk, the greater the reward.
But he also has secrets—secrets that he and Naomi Burns, his driven corporate attorney and confidante, have gone to great lengths to bury. When an enemy from the past threatens to undermine everything he has built, his dark history must now be uncovered. Together, they must tear open painful scars in Michael's heart and soul to discover the true identity of their unknown foe—before all of Las Vegas pays the price for Michael Tiranno's realized dreams.
|Publisher:||Tantor Media, Inc.|
|Edition description:||Unabridged CD|
|Product dimensions:||6.50(w) x 5.50(h) x 1.20(d)|
About the Author
Patrick Lawlor has recorded over three hundred audiobooks in just about every genre. He has been an Audie Award finalist multiple times and has garnered several AudioFile Earphones Awards, a Publishers Weekly Listen-Up Award, and many Library Journal and Kirkus starred audio reviews.
Read an Excerpt
The Seven Sins
The Tyrant Ascending
By Jon Land
Tom Doherty Associates, LLCCopyright © 2007 King Midas World Entertainment, Inc.
All rights reserved.
McCarran Airport, Las Vegas
"You want the cab or not, mister?"
The voice startled Gianfranco Ferelli, and he switched his briefcase protectively from one hand to the other.
"Yes. I'm sorry," he said in broken English and climbed into the cab's backseat, instantly grateful for the relief the cool air brought after even such a brief exposure to the scorching desert heat. The setting of the sun two hours before had clearly provided no respite, and Ferelli mopped his stringy hair back into place atop his scalp. "Seven Sins Casino and Resort," he told the driver and felt the car lurch forward into traffic.
The flight from Rome to JFK had been smooth and quiet. But the next leg out of New York to McCarran Airport in Las Vegas was packed with loud and boisterous tourists who drank and gabbed away the hours. Even in first class, Ferelli was left to sit anxiously with the briefcase held protectively in his lap out of fear one of the drunken, soon-to-be-gambling revelers might make off with it if he dared sleep.
A few times he cracked open the case and peered at the photograph of Michael Tiranno, born Michele Nunziato, resting atop the stack of manila folders and envelopes. Captured in black and white, the man's face looked to have been drained of all fat as well as emotion. Lean in shape and sparse in feeling.
But Ferelli knew enough about Michael Tiranno, things that few men did, to realize quite the opposite was true. Tiranno might not have shared his passion, or worn it on the exterior. Yet that passion had been the calling card of a rise from orphaned farmboy to fabulously wealthy casino mogul. Along the way, those who had crossed Michael Tiranno had inevitably lived to regret it, and those who had aided him inevitably prospered as a result. It was said he interviewed all of his employees personally and could greet each and every one by name, offering a hundred-dollar, on- the-spot bonus anytime he failed to do so.
Ferelli had been in the company of royalty before; he'd been in the company of fame. But something about Michael Tiranno, captured even in a photograph, transcended both. Something about his eyes, the way he held his smile. Stare at the picture long enough and the eyes seemed to rotate until they locked on to Ferelli's gaze, at which point they would not let go. And that made the task before him all the more daunting because he could not imagine what it would be like to meet Michael Tiranno in person, much less how he might react to what Ferelli had to say.
Because the information contained in his briefcase would change Michael Tiranno's life forever.
Ferelli had spent the bulk of the flight from New York rehearsing lines in his head to explain his discovery. The circumstantial evidence that defied reason. The truth discerned from a terrible lie. Tiranno had never heard of him, and Ferelli was headed to the Seven Sins without benefit of an appointment.
Just give me five minutes, five minutes, I beg you....
From there, a glimpse into the briefcase would be enough to guarantee all the time Gianfranco Ferelli needed.
Ferelli felt cold sweat soaking through his shirt and asked the cabdriver to turn up the air- conditioning. Thankfully, he had made it this far without incident and had full confidence Michael Tiranno would greatly value him coming all this way to share the secrets contained in his briefcase.
Gianfranco Ferelli knew he had nothing to fear, as his cab fell in behind four virtually identical sedans on Tropicana Avenue.CHAPTER 2
Tropicana Avenue, the present
The four sedans clung to the speed limit, McCarran Airport shrinking in the distance behind them. The cars had been left in four different long-term lots the day before, the parking stubs tucked beneath the driver's-side visors. The cars had been chosen for their innocuousness, typical rentals that cruised the Vegas Strip with frequently flashing brake lights as their occupants took in the glitz and glamour they had come to sample.
But the sedans weren't rentals. Rentals might have aroused suspicion. Instead they had been purchased from used car dealerships, where the possibility of a sale dwarfed all other concerns. Even then, added precautions had been taken. The dealers were hundreds of miles apart and none less than five hundred miles from Las Vegas itself. In each instance the buyers were trained to barter before agreeing on a price, then to return the next day with a cashier's check for the agreed- upon amount.
At that point the cars were driven to four designated load points where their trunks were packed with chemical fertilizers stockpiled over a six-month period and dynamite smuggled in through Mexico. The drivers then headed for McCarran Airport and boarded four different flights out of the city during peak travel time.
The four men currently driving the cars had flown in today, arriving within ninety minutes of each other from four separate airports chosen for the least likelihood of delays. The weather had cooperated brilliantly and each of the flights had landed on time.
The drivers were now right on schedule, the lights of Las Vegas twinkling before them in the night.CHAPTER 3
The Seven Sins, the Present
"Mr. Trumbull," Naomi Burns greeted the man seated in a hand-carved chair in the lobby of the Seven Sins Casino and Resort.
"Sorry I'm late," Lars Trumbull told her, rising to his feet. He was tall and gangly, dressed in jeans with designer tears and a loose black Dolce & Gabbana shirt that hung shapelessly over his belt. He was younger than Naomi Burns had expected.
"Actually," she said, "you were an hour early. I imagine you've seen everything the lobby has to offer."
Trumbull's expression tightened a little. His face was thin, showcasing cheekbones that looked like ridges layered into his face. "I'm impressed. Keeping track of your enemies, Ms. Burns?"
"That depends, doesn't it?" As an attorney, Naomi was well versed in answering one question with another. And, as the corporate attorney for both Michael Tiranno and King Midas World, she was equally adept at deciding who would be allowed to meet her employer and who would not. Her attractiveness—dark wavy hair always perfectly coiffed, a tall, shapely frame, and a wardrobe made up of the finest designer names—helped by giving men like Trumbull a false ease. Naomi's graceful manner could be, and often was, misconstrued as weakness, and she enjoyed nothing more than turning the tables on those who took her lightly.
Her navy blue Chanel suit, the same color as Trumbull's jeans, fit the lines of her taut frame elegantly. She wore her hair short, just grazing her collar, a style that complemented a face she had always thought too narrow, further exaggerating her deep-set eyes. A soft, powdery scent, something trusted like Bijan or Samsara, melded into the air around her, refreshing it, in stark contrast to Trumbull's drugstore cologne. Brut, she thought.
"I'm a journalist," Trumbull told her. "I'm only here because of certain information about Michael Tiranno that has recently come to my attention."
"I know what you are."
After wandering about the lobby and retail area for the past hour, Trumbull had phoned her from this chair set just beyond the hotel's entrance of glass doors inlaid between golden archways. The desired effect was one of stepping from the mundane present into a majestic and ancient past offering the spirit of adventure. A forest of golden ionic columns stretched upward from a black marble lobby floor adorned with live exotic flowers, from the radiant golden iris to rare red poppies. Remnants of ropes of amber from Baltic lands, ostrich eggs from Nubia, and a silver stag from Asia Minor covered by a delicate shower of gold rosettes posed amid golden masks, belts, discs, and shields. The lighting, adjusted automatically throughout the day to account for the sun, was soft and easy on the eye: plenty to read by but lacking the overbright glitz of the gaudy. The air, meanwhile, had a fresh rose scent to it, courtesy of carefully concealed automated fragrance releasers.
"Old news, Mr. Trumbull," Naomi told him. "The Nevada Gaming Commission investigated the same allegations and dismissed them as baseless."
"The Gaming Commission doesn't have my sources, Ms. Burns. You'd be wise to keep that in mind."
"Michael Tiranno doesn't take kindly to threats."
"And I thought that's how you must have gotten the job as his corporate counsel. Why else would he hire someone fresh off an embezzlement charge at her prestigious New York law firm?"
"So your article's about me, then."
"You're a part of it, specifically how the charges mysteriously went away after the debt was mysteriously paid. What have you to say about that, Ms. Burns?"
"It all sounds very mysterious to me," Naomi said simply, unflustered.
"Michael Tiranno swooped in and rescued you. Saved your proverbial ass and your career in the process."
"You spoke to my former partners, then."
"It wasn't necessary."
"Of course. Why bother looking for facts when rumors will suffice?"
Trumbull sniffed hard, swallowing mucous. Perhaps he was allergic to some of the exotic flora that adorned the lobby of the Seven Sins.
"Allergies, Mr. Trumbull?"
"Nothing that'll kill me."
"Not yet," Naomi said. Neither moved his or her eyes from the other until a tourist bumped into Trumbull, turning him around into the path of another guest who smacked into him and pushed him backward.
"Your guests always this rude, Ms. Burns?"
"They're always in a hurry to check in, as you can see."
True to Naomi's word, the check-in line behind the eighteen-station marble reception counter wound through an elaborate maze of stanchions strung together by velvet rope. The casino's best customers, identified by a gold medallion, used a separate, lavish VIP room where all their needs were handled. Many of them would be staying in the high-roller suites erected six floors beneath ground level, with one entire wall offering a view into the world's largest self-contained marine environment, prowled by the only great white sharks ever in captivity. Those suites not held back for returning regulars were booked two years in advance at the rate of two thousand dollars per night. One section of the lobby floor was glass as well, allowing strollers a clear view of marine life captured in a perfectly re-created ocean habitat and, if they were patient, a glimpse of a thirty-foot great white.
"Can we cut the bullshit, Ms. Burns?" Trumbull snapped suddenly. "Am I going to get to see Michael Tiranno or not?"
"He asked me to see you first, give him my opinion."
"Have I impressed you so far?"
"Yes, as a hack, a journalistic hatchet man."
"Behaving like a lawyer, in other words."
"Bad lawyers can be disbarred. Bad writers end up in rehab. So," Naomi continued, after a brief pause, "can I get you a drink?"
"What exactly am I doing here?" Trumbull asked, recovering his bravado. "Why grant me an interview with Michael Tiranno if you had all these suspicions?"
"I granted you an interview with me, not Michael Tiranno."
"I said Mr. Tiranno was appreciative of your interest in him and expressed a desire to make sure you had all the facts straight."
"Which means you've already made up your mind."
"That doesn't mean you can't still prove me wrong, Mr. Trumbull. Mr. Tiranno has asked that I give you a tour of the casino," Naomi told him. "Who knows, you might actually like what you see."CHAPTER 4
The Seven Sins, the present
"Roller's out. New roller up, please."
Edward Sosa accepted the dice from the stickman and moved what was left of his chips about the pass line at the no-limit craps table. The last five disastrous rolls had nearly exhausted his two- million-dollar line of credit.
"I need another million," Sosa said to the boxman before rolling.
"Sir, your credit line—"
"Fuck my credit line. Do you know who I am?"
"Sir, I'm not authorized—"
"Then find someone who is."
The boxman rose from his chair and approached a pit boss who was already speaking softly into a wireless, handheld microphone, his eyes fixed on a security camera mounted on the ceiling.
"Eddie," Jeannie, the luscious and willowy blond showgirl who was Sosa's companion for the night, said softly, looping an arm around his thick bicep, "why don't we just go back to the room?"
"Because I'm losing my fucking shirt here," Sosa snapped, rolling the bulky shoulders his former days as a bodybuilder had gained him. He had never once expended his entire line of credit, at the Seven Sins or any other casino, and he wasn't about to tonight. With the roll having finally come round to him, this was his chance.
"Eddie," Jeannie started again.
Sosa jerked his arm from Jeannie's grasp. "Stop calling me that!"
He wheeled and backhanded her face. Blood trickling down her nose, Jeannie lurched backward into the arms of one of Sosa's two hulking bodyguards.
"Keep her the fuck out of my sight," Sosa ordered, swinging back to the table to find one of its two dealers glaring at him. "What the fuck you looking at?"
Before the dealer could respond, the pit boss slid in between him and Sosa. "Your line's been increased, sir," he announced, "an additional one million dollars as requested."
Sosa seemed to relax a bit, enough, anyway, to accept another one million dollars in chips, half of which he began to disperse about the table. Why not? He'd never gone this long without a winning roll. Now, when it came, he'd walk away with his original stake and then some.
"New dice," he ordered the stickman, who proceeded to peel the plastic off a fresh package. Sosa accepted the assortment of dice from him and selected a pair that felt right in his grasp.
He ran a hand through his thick, gelled hair and shook the red squares in his closed hand, listening to the reassuring plastic clack, willing them to be kind to him. Then he looked up at the same hidden camera toward which the pit boss had turned.
"You just made the biggest mistake of your fucking life," he said to the man on the other end.
Sosa snapped his hand open and flung the dice. They skimmed across the felt, banged up against the bumper on the opposite side of the table, and skittered to a halt.
Sosa saw a four and, he thought, a three. Seven, a winner!
"Six," said the stickman, "the point is six."
It was a two, not a three, his eyes having deceived him. No matter. Six was an easy point to make and, once he did, the payoff would be even greater.
Sosa took the retrieved dice from the stickman and squeezed them. He could have played the table conservatively to cover himself, but felt his luck about to change, a winner coming on, and decided to press. When his next three rolls failed to produce the point, he had his entire one point two million remaining on the table, eight hundred thousand on the numbers, and another four hundred behind the line. Make the point now and he'd be even. Not a bad night's work, considering how much he'd been down.
Sosa rattled the dice about in his hand, snapped open his fingers, and launched his toss.
"Seven," the stickman announced.
Sosa gazed down in disbelief, his throat heavy, something sharp churning in his stomach, as the dealers collected all his chips and slid them away.
"Roller's out," the stickman continued. "New roller up, please."
For a long moment Sosa didn't move at all. Then he stormed away from the table toward the private elevators located in the far rear corner of the floor, trailed by his bodyguards and knocking anyone close to him from his path.
Jeannie snuggled up against Sosa in a show of comfort once they were inside the first compartment to arrive.
"Get off me," he snapped.
"I told you not to call me that!" Sosa flung her off him the way he had flung the dice across the green felt table. "It's Edward."
Jeannie hit the wall hard and bounced off right into Sosa's hand crashing against her face. He felt her nose compress on impact, the cartilage absorbing the brunt of the blow. She slumped to the floor, teary-eyed and belching blood from both nostrils.
"Clean her up and get her away from me," Sosa ordered his bodyguards. He looked at the blood running onto Jeannie's gold silk blouse. "She's bad luck."
It took both bodyguards to hold the whimpering Jeannie up while Sosa slid his key card into the door of his Daring Sea suite. Entering the most exclusive lodging in all of Las Vegas, if not the world, promised to make his losses almost palatable.
Excerpted from The Seven Sins by Jon Land. Copyright © 2007 King Midas World Entertainment, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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"[This] spectacular ride, global in its dimensions, will enthrall all thrill seekers. Highly recommended." -Library Journal