Courtney Pembrooke was walking along the cracked sidewalks of downtown Chicago. It was 1924, and her long sky-blue dress was swishing around her ankles with each step she took. Her matching blue high-heels were click-clacking on the sidewalk, and her straight brown hair frantically swished across her tanned face in the chilly wind of the Windy City. The sky was gray, as a storm was blowing in. Smooth paper rubs in Courtney’s bra, the only محفوظ place where she keeps her money.
Courtney was headed to the سٹریٹ, گلی corners of Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street. The salty air from Lake Michigan nipped at her bare arms. A shiver ran up her spine. As Courtney neared the fruit stand, she pulled out a crisp dollar bill from her ample cleavage. The fruit stands downtown seemed to have better apples than in the city. Courtney had to walk all the way here from her home, which was a penthouse in one of the richest apartment buildings on Chicago, because her father was currently on a business trip to دیوار سٹریٹ, گلی and he had taken the Ford Model-T with him.
Courtney handed the dollar bill over to Frank Gardetta, a poor fruit-stand salesman. “Nice دن today, isn’t it, Miss Pembrooke?” Frank asked her, pocketing the dollar bill and placing only the finest apples in a rucksack for his best customer.
“Nice day? I should think not. I despise this chilly weather,” Courtney replies. Another gust of wind comes, ruffling her hair and making goosebumps pop up on her arms.
“Well, آپ should have worn that nice white فر, سمور کوٹ آپ wore last winter. Today seems like an appropriate دن to have worn it,” Frank tells her, tying a loose knot on the bag and handing it to Courtney.
She takes the rough hemp bag and converses, “Nonsense. That فر, سمور کوٹ is much too old. Daddy will buy me a new one once he gets back from دیوار Street.”
“You are very fortunate, Miss Pembrooke. May I hope to see آپ again اگلے week for مزید apples?”
“Most definitely,” Courtney answers, taking a step backwards, “Have a nice day, Mister Gardetta.” She turns and retreats down the sidewalk, back the way she came.
“You too, Miss Pembrooke!” Frank calls after her. Courtney smiles to herself, making a steady beat with the clicking of her high heels. Frank was a nice teenager. He was cute, with floppy brown hair, warm chocolate eyes, a bright white smile, and an amazing personality. But he lived in one of the poorest neighborhoods of Chicago, and Daddy would never approve. Neither would Mother, even though she was much مزید understanding than Courtney’s father.
Courtney waits at the edge of the sidewalk, near an intersection. Barely any cars were driving around; not many people in downtown Chicago could afford them. At a red light, the few cars stop, and Courtney takes her time in crossing the cobblestone road. It would be terrible to break a heel on her new shoes.
Suddenly, gunshots ring out through the crisp fall air. Courtney screams, drops the apples, squeezes her eyes shut, and clamps her hands over her ears. After the rapid gunfire was ceased, she peeks her eyes open and puts her hands back to her sides. She was still frozen in the middle of the street, but the cars were frozen in shock, too, even though the light had long since turned green. Squealing tires are heard from behind Courtney. She turns around, and sees a car resembling one of those illegal racecars zooming straight towards her.
Courtney raises her hands to her face and lets out another high-pitched scream. Before she can even react, Courtney is tackled out of the middle of the narrow road and onto the hard sidewalk. The back of her head slams into the hard concrete and a soft gasp escapes her lips from the pain. Spots swim in front of her eyes, but she still manages to watch the scene playing out before her.
A very handsome teenager was straddling her, with his knees on either side of her hips. He was obviously poor; he wore black dress-pants, but they were filthy and full of holes. His شرٹ, قمیض was white cotton, surprisingly clean compared to his pants, and the long sleeves were rolled up to his elbows, revealing tan forearms. The شرٹ, قمیض was taunt against his chest, from his muscular body. A few white buttons were unbuttoned at the collar, and a black tie dangled loosely from around his neck. His jaw-line was sharp. His hair was pitch-black, and had the perfect flip to it, just barely keeping his shiny, thick hair out of his eyes.
He wasn’t looking at her, however. His arm was straight out, pointing at the retreating car. A small, shiny, black pistol was in his hand. He shot three shots, within regular intervals, at the car. Even though the gun was extremely powerful, the teen was clearly stronger, because his arm hardly shook at the recoil. His other hand was at his side, curled into a fist as he concentrated on aiming.
Eventually, the car was too far away to see, much less shoot at. The teen slipped his pistol into an empty بیلٹ, پٹی loop and stood up, freeing Courtney. He offered a hand, and Courtney, always being polite, took it. Once Courtney was on her feet, though, her vision became fuzzy and her head was filled with light-headedness. She stumbled, and she felt the young man’s hand low on her back, steadying her. Once her vision finally cleared, Courtney finally stepped away from him.
The streets were clear of cars. Nobody had stayed to watch the shoot-out, and all the dirty windows of the tenement buildings had been firmly closed. Front doors had been shut and locked, and all pedestrians had retreated indoors. Abandoned apples were strewn across the road. It seemed that Courtney and the mysterious teenager who had just saved her life were the only ones on the face of the earth.
“Well,” Courtney says shakily, not knowing where to begin. She smoothes the wrinkles on her blue dress and takes another step away from the teen. “I thank آپ profusely for saving my life. Had I any money on me, I would pay آپ for your efforts. However, I must be going. My mother is expecting me,” Courtney tells him. “So, good دن to you, Sir.” She turns around and starts walking away from him.
Before Courtney could barely make it three feet away, the young man had already grabbed strong hold of her thin wrist. “I’m sorry, but I can’t let ya do that,” he says, spinning her around. Facing him, Courtney was struck سے طرف کی his eyes.
They were a bright, bright blue. Actually, his eyes had a bit of green to them. With the blue and the green combined, that made his eyes look مزید over-all teal, یا maybe a dark aqua. His eyes made her knees weak, and they made it seem as if her was looking right inside of her. Not through her, like he was ignoring her, but like he was intensely studying her, as if he was trying to read her mind یا find out how she was going to respond.
Courtney opened her mouth to say something, but his eyes just mesmerized her. She blinks three times, rapidly, and finally sputters, “What?”
“You’ve seen too much. I’m sorry, but آپ can’t go home. For now, anyway,” he replies. Courtney lusted to hear him say more. His voice was velvety and warm, despite the fact he was telling her she couldn’t go home, which was absolutely ridiculous.
“Wha-- why? This is absurd!” Courtney exclaims, shocked.
“I told you, already. آپ saw to much. Now come with me,” he says. He keeps eye contact with her for just one moment longer than he had to, before pulling her with him down the sidewalk. Courtney was speechless. Except, not really. She had loads to say.
“What the heck are آپ talking about? I saw to much? What the heck does that even mean? Why are you--”
Courtney stops in her tracks, mouth and eyes wide open. This time, she really was speechless. The young man, who still had a hold of her wrist, turned around to see what was keeping her. “What?” he asks, not out of curiosity, but out of impatiency.
Courtney blinked twice. Her گلابی lips opened and closed, looking for the right words to describe the epiphany that just came to her. “Oh. My. Goodness,” she breathed.
“What?” he asks again, even مزید patient than before. Time was wasting. The cops would come soon, if they didn’t get out of here.
“You… Your one of those gangsters my Daddy told me about!” Courtney exclaims. He rolls his eyes.
“Seriously, I would have thought آپ would have figured that out سے طرف کی now,” the man replies. He lets go of Courtney’s wrist, not afraid of having her run off, because she was frozen to the spot in shock. With both hands, he touches his broad chest and holds his hands out. “I’m Duncan Malone, notorious gangster-slash-bootlegger of Chicago. My accomplices smuggle barrels of liquor under frozen rivers from somewhere in Canada to Detroit. Then they transfer the liquor from Detroit to here in Chicago, where I then ship illegal booze and moonshine to various speakeasies around the country, namely to St. Louis and various western cities. Recognize me?”
Courtney’s eyes widened, and she began screaming. Duncan lunged for her, clamping her mouth shut with his hand. His other hand, on her lower back, held her close so she couldn’t pull away and continue attracting attention. She struggled, kicking and mumbling profanities into Duncan’s palm.
Then, simultaneously, she bit down on the skin of his open palm and kicked him in the crotch. “Dammit!” Duncan shouted, going down. Courtney scrambled away, sprinting as fast as her high heels could take her. She glanced behind her, and let out a giddy sigh as she saw that she was not being pursued.
Courtney turns her gaze back to the direction she was running. She gasps as Duncan sprints out of an alley-way right in front of her, and she crashes into his chest. His arms immediately لپیٹ, لفاف کریں around her, confining her to a very tight space. Courtney feels a cold item press into the middle of her back. Her eyes fill with tears, thinking it was over for her.
“Don’t think I won’t shoot, because I will. I’ve shot to death dozens of guys in my life before, and don’t آپ go thinkin’ for a سیکنڈ I won’t shoot a girl. So آپ better fucking keep your big mouth shut, and I’ll let آپ live. Understand?” Duncan threatens right in her ear.
Courtney sniffs away her tears and nods, since her mouth was buried in Duncan’s chest, so she couldn’t talk. “Glad we understand each other,” he says, slipping the gun back in his بیلٹ, پٹی loop. He swiftly picks Courtney up سے طرف کی the waist and places her on his shoulder like a sack of potatoes. Duncan starts walking down the sidewalk.
“Put me down! I can walk, آپ know!” Courtney protests, not daring to raise her voice in case of being shot.
“Yeah, whatever. You’ll just run away if I set آپ down,” Duncan tells her, even though he knew she’d do nothing of the sort after he’d threatened her like that.
“But all of downtown Chicago will be able to see up my dress!” Courtney exclaims.
“Thanks for reminding me. I’ll have to check out the view sometime,” he responds.
“Ugh! آپ are such a pervert!” Courtney scolds, pounding on his back with her tiny fists.
“Ohh, that really hurts me, Princess,” Duncan says sarcastically as he walks down a dim alley.
“What did آپ call me?” Courtney demands.
“I am not a princess!”
“Oh, sure. Have آپ seen what you’re wearing?”