Russo let out a heavy sigh and turned over on his back. The girl, Dottie, laid her head on his chest. He liked the way her hair tickled his bare skin.
“I overheard you say that you’re looking for Johnny.”
He lifted his head off the pillow to look down at her.
“That’s a dangerous game to play.”
“I’ve known Johnny since I was a little boy. I don’t want any trouble, I just need to talk to him.”
Dottie pushed herself up onto an elbow and brushed her hair behind her ear. She stared directly into Russo’s dark eyes.
“You’re not gonna find him. Johnny’s in Havana.”
“That’s what I heard.”
Russo reached for his wristwatch on the side table. Three forty-seven, it read. He sighed again, more out of boredom and restlessness than anything else. He felt around in the darkness for a cigarette.
“You got a light?” he asked Dottie.
Dottie pull a small, golden lighter out from under the mattress corner. She lit his cigarette.
“Maybe you could talk to the guy Johnny left in charge. He’s hard to find. I think he travels a lot, but I met him once. Maybe he’s in town.”
“Does he have a name?”
“Everybody calls him Curly, but he was a customer of mine a few months back and he told me to call him Peter. Peter what, I don’t know. Does that help at all?”
Russo propped himself against the pillows behind him. He grabbed Dottie’s chin and placed a gentle kiss on her puffy lips.
“More than you know. Thank you, Dottie.”
He could tell that he had caught her off guard with his kiss. He suspected most of the men she saw weren’t interested in gentle caresses.
Quietly, Russo slid his legs out of their entanglement with Dottie’s and slipped off the bed. He wandered around the room in search of his clothes. He finally found his trousers balled up in the corner by the window. He yanked his legs through the holes and did up the zipper before setting out on a search for his shirt.
“Where are you going? It’s four in the morning. I know you wanna meet with that Peter guy, but I doubt he’s awake this early. Stay a little longer.”
He paused in tying his shoe and turned his head a fraction of an inch towards the beautiful girl in the bed. He was tempted to take his shoe off again and get right back in bed with her. No, he thought. I’ve got work to do. He finished doing up the laces.
“Hey, dollface? You know a guy named Antonio?”
“Sure. He used to come in here all the time. He had a favorite girl, Sarah. He was close with Madam Penelope too. Why?”
“He’s in Chicago now working with Mr. Torrio. He was Johnny King’s second in command, his Underboss.”
Russo watched as Dottie’s eyes pulled themselves into a confused line.
“Well what’s that got to do with anything?”
“Johnny is dead.”
“What? How do you figure?” Dottie was baffle by the claim. Surely it wasn’t true. How could this guy know anything about it? From what she’d heard, he’d only just gotten to town a day ago.
“Think about it. The most social man in the world disappears six months ago, and hardly anyone knows who replaced him? I know Peter and I know he’s not above killing King.”
Russo reached into his pocket and pulled out his wallet. He unclipped some bills and handed them to Dottie. She took them hesitantly.
“Here’s a hundred dollars. I need you to go to Chicago and find Antonio. Tell him what’s happened and tell him Russo sent you. He’ll bring you home and keep you safe.”
She nodded dumbly.
“What about you? And who’s Russo?”
“The less you know, the better. If anyone stops you, I don’t want you knowing anything.”
From downstairs there came a thundering knock, followed by an even louder thud.
“What the hell was that?” Dottie asked nervously. She pulled the quilt closer to her body.
Russo motioned for her to be quiet and tip toed toward the door.
He cracked the door an inch at the exact moment a man’s voice yelled out down below.
“Where are they?” the voice was booming.
Russo slid out into the hallway and peeked his head around a column, making sure to stay out of sight.
“I-I assure you I have no idea what you’re talking about, Sir. What are you looking for? Perhaps I can be of assistance.” Russo recognized this voice as Penelope’s.
“Don’t play stupid with me, woman. I know Mr. Schepp had a seven crates of firearms delivered to this address for holding. It’s time to move them up to New York City.”
Cazzo! Russo thought.
What on earth did Schepp need that many automatic weapons for? Perhaps he was planning an attack on the warehouse back home or perhaps it was much worse.
If that were the case, Peter would prove to be a more formidable enemy than Russo had originally thought. Russo would need to be more careful. No more of the sloppy half-assed work that he could normally get away with.
“They’re in the back with the liquor,” Penelope finally said.
Russo watched as the man shoved his mother’s friend behind the bar. The rough way Penelope was being handled made Russo stance a little tenser. Without realizing it, stepped out further from behind the column.
“Hey! That’s the Venzetto kid. Told you he was in Philly, Boss.” He’d been spotted.
It took less than a millisecond for Russo’s body to react, and he was sprinting back to where he’d come from.
He never thought Peter had someone tailing him. He hadn’t thought there’d be a reason for him to. Then again, both times Grace had run into Peter he had been with her. Peter probably assumed he was up to something. Rightfully so, Russo mused.
“I assure you, no one with that name has come into this establishment. I can show you the books to prove it,” Penelope tried to stop them, but it was no use.
“I’m not interested in your records, old lady. Spread out and search upstairs. He couldn’t have gotten far.” Russo knew the man had turned his attention to his accomplices.
Luckily Russo made it back to Dottie’s room before he heard a herd of thundering shoes on the staircase.
Dottie hadn’t moved from her original spot.
“What’s going on?”
Russo grabbed his gun from the desk by the window. He checked to see that it was loaded. It was.
“You got that money I gave you?”
Russo pushed the window completely open. The wind whipped the tattered curtains into the room.
“We need to get out of here. Now.”
He grabbed her wrist and yanked her towards the window.
“We can’t jump, Charles! We could die.” Dottie’s eyes widened with horror.
“It’s a second story window. We won’t die; I’ll break your fall. I promise.” He gave her a reassuring smile.
The footsteps in the hallway grew louder and this time they were accompanied by the screams and hollers of startled girls and guests.
Russo caught a glance of a man bursting into the room just as his feet left the windowsill.
He felt his stomach in his chest for a split second before the ache of the impact smashed into his body. As promised, he caught Dottie in his arms, breaking her fall. Aside from being startled, she seemed to be fine.
“We’ve got to get to the train station!”
As the two ran away from the brothel, Russo shouted orders at Dottie.
“Don’t forget to talk to Antonio. You’ll find him at the Fairmont Hotel. Tell him what happened tonight. Tell him to gather some men and meet me in New York City in two weeks time. I should be able to hold off Schepp until then.”
Dottie stopped in her tracks.
“Wait. Where are you going?”
“I’m going to warn my family.”
Please Read the Following:
Hello Everyone! I would just like to say a massive thank you to every person who has ever read, liked, commented or voted on Love and Liquor. You guys are the pulse of this story and without you, L&L would have died a long time ago. And we CERTAINLY wouldn't have made it to #21 in Historical Fiction. As I begin to wrap up this story, I would like to invite you all to ask anything of me or my story you'd like. I will not be answering any comments in future chapters, as I feel it will interfere with the story.
I would also like for you, my readers to tell me what our next adventure together should be. I have a few ideas posted under Sample Chapters, as well as The Wedding Planner and The Reign. I am also open to suggestions, but I would greatly appreciate input from you guys. After all, you're the ones reading!
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Love and LiquorHistorical Fiction
Its New York, 1924, and Prohibition is in full swing, which means so is the Mafia. Grace Hanson is a seventeen year old that's just graduated from high school, waiting for her life to begin. In the meantime, she lives with her father, Dr. George Ha...