Horribly abused by his mother, Van eventually goes in search of his father. When he finds him, his life is radically changed. His father works for the FBI, and has contacts to a covert group, run by the Old Man, that goes after the worst of the worst criminals. Van is recruited to join both -- and does.
Van handles every job he's sent on with cold efficiency, letting nothing stand in his way of gaining the information he seeks and stopping his foes. Eventually, he's offered a team of his own within the Old Man's organization. He accepts, with one caveat -- none of them can be female. Because of his mother, the only woman he has ever trusted is his handler, Makie.
His attitude takes a hit when he meets Ginna, a cop, while on a job for the Old Man. When it's over, much to the shock of everyone involved, he requests that she be added to his team if she's willing -- which she is, as long as the organization can promise to keep her young son safe while she's on assignments.
Ginna fits in well with the team, and though she is appalled at some of the tactics Van uses to gain information, she finds herself attracted to him. Can she break through the walls he's erected around his emotions? If so, then what? Only time will tell.
Turning off the computer, Fortier leaned back in the chair. giving Vance a measured look. "The reports on you are mixed at best and to be quite honest I for one am not certain the Old Man’s making the right decision in putting you in charge of a team."
Vance’s eyes went cold for a moment at the implied insult and then he laughed. "Honestly, I’m with you on that one, though probably not for the same reasons. I prefer working alone, although I have occasionally had to join forces with someone else while doing jobs for the Bureau. Generally that didn’t work too well because I do what needs to be done and the hell with what anyone thinks. In my book the end always justifies the means. When we go up against scum, we have to be just as dirty as they are if we’re going to win."
"No matter what?"
"No matter what. The only thing I won’t do is put a kid in danger or use one. Everyone else is fair game. But then I know you’ve figured that out just from reading the reports you have on me." Vance’s gaze was icy as he stared at Fortier. "You put me in charge of a team and I’ll expect them to do whatever I tell them to. No holds barred, no quarter given when we’re dealing with the enemy." He paused for a long moment before adding. "I have no morals, Mr. Fortier. I had to lose them a long time ago in order to survive."
"I don’t believe that. I’ve heard what you did for that boy two years ago."
Vance shrugged. "Like I said, kids are the only weakness I have, if you want to call it that. You hurt one and I find out, you’ll pay for it one way or another and that goes for anyone, friend or foe."
"Other than that it’s ‘take no prisoners’?"
"Oh, I take prisoners," Vance said with a snort of amusement. "You can’t learn anything from a dead man, or woman."
"Correct me if I’m wrong but I’ve never heard of you getting information by dint of pillow talk."
Vance snorted again. "Nope, because there’s no way you can trust that what some woman is telling you in bed is the truth. Women are as devious and underhanded as any man, often more so in my opinion. They actually make good agents as long as you keep them on a short leash and don’t let them get involved with the subject they’re after."
"That’s a very cynical point of view."
"I’ve never met a woman who hasn’t turned out to be a bitch in sheep’s clothing, to mix metaphors. Well, except Makie. Her I’d trust with my life but she’s the exception to the rule."
"So putting a woman on your team wouldn’t work."
Vance shook his head. "Women can be sneaky and underhanded but they don’t have the guts to do what’s necessary when the chips are down, unless they’re psychotic."
Fortier cocked an eyebrow. "So it’s all right for you to torture someone to get the information you need, but if a woman does it you label her psychotic?"
A smile quirked Vance’s lips. "Oh, I’m as psychotic as they come, but I know I am and that’s the difference."
There was a long silence as Fortier put one hand to his ear, nodding occasionally. Vance watched him and understood immediately that everything that had been said in the room had been heard by the Old Man. "So?" he said when Fortier looked at him again.
"Tomorrow morning you’ll be meeting with several people whose files I’ll give you. Pick any or all of them, your choice. They’ll make up your team."
"Shit, and here I thought I’d talk you, and the Old Man, out of doing this."
Fortier laughed. "When he makes up his mind there’s no arguing with him." Turning serious he said. "I will warn you here and now that this is a test. Fail and you’re out, lock, stock and barrel."
"Out, or dead?"
"That I’ll leave you to ponder to your heart’s content." Fortier stood, holding out his hand. "It was good to meet you, Mr. Montgomery."
Vance looked at his hand. "Obviously you don’t know everything about me," he said, giving it a quick shake before pulling away.
"Oh I knew. I just wanted to see if you’d break precedence and actually do it right because I’m your immediate boss."
"Mr. Fortier, I wouldn’t care if you were God, I don’t do personal touching, even handshakes, unless I'm forced to be civil."
"That must play hell with your sex life."
Vance laughed. "I don’t have I sex life. I occasionally fuck a woman for physical relief. That’s it. And there’s nothing personal about that trust me."
"You know, somehow I believe that. This has been interesting, Mr. Montgomery, to say the least." He handed Vance a slim stack of files. "I shall see you again tomorrow morning."
Vance nodded. "I’ll be here, with bells on."