Introduction

This town, for me, is peace. It's escape. And those things are rare indeed when you live a life like mine. In theory it is home, although these days I only get to visit a few times a year – I'm far too busy in my City.

My role in life is not exactly what people expect when they meet me. A smart, be-suited exterior says many things – manager, maybe, or secretary in a particularly big company. What it doesn't say is “I'm with the Mob.” But that's who I am.

My name is Maria Jennifer Rosaria, eldest daughter of the London Mafia. I often handle the business for dad while he's distracted with his own pursuits, or off on business somewhere else. At least for now I'm fine with that, but in the back of my mind I know I'm itching for more. More responsibility! More power!

He'd never accept me, though, he'll never choose me as his successor, all because of my sex and that damn Code! Still, I'll find a way. I'll tear the Code into a thousand pieces if I have to.

Why do I want to be in charge? It's simple – altruistic even. People are stupid. They can't always be left to their own devices – they need looking after, they need protecting, they need someone in charge who cares for them.

Woman or not, I'm the best man for the job.

It's nice to relax here. The place reminds me of my school days – quiet, isolated, and all paid for by the family's fortune. I don't like staying here for long, though. While here, all I ever do is talk and cook and occasionally sew or practice my fencing, just things to pass the time.

After a few days, I long to go back to London's gritty underworld, a place of thick darkness and shady deals and violence. That's not to say that I especially like doing shady deals or hurting people, but at least it feels real. This place is all white-painted architecture and stylish flowerbeds – artificial, all of it. There's something much more real about suitcases switched in car parks and knives to the throat.