Howdy, all. quick book update: right now, looks like the release is set for this weekend. There’s gonna be a bit of a site overhaul (hopefully making it a little less cumbersome and a bit more professional looking) the day we announce it, which if all goes as scheduled, should be Saturday evening.
I’m not in love with what the printer did to the bottom margin. It looks like crap on this second proof. I’m not sure I can remedy that. I don’t know. We shall see. I wouldn’t call it a deal breaker, but it irks me.
I guess it’s entirely possible (probable) I’m obsessing.
Dorcas hoped he didn’t notice that she was following him. Maybe ‘following’ wasn’t the right word. It wasn’t that she was following him home per se. It was more that they both lived in the same building and she was simply keeping pace with him at a distance, keeping him within sight.
Staying close enough that he was within earshot in case she called out.
She always felt foolish doing this. It wasn’t the first time she’d kept pace behind Jargie Feckin’ Monahan as he made his way back to the “ Ald Brew’ry”, as he called it in his lilting Irish accent. In fact, it had become a habit of hers. If her brothers were unable to be there when it was time to head home, she’d wait until the gunman left the dance hall, let him get a bit of a head start, then slip out behind him and keep pace with him all the way home.
She’d die of embarrassment if he ever found out. But the truth of it was that even though he was a criminal, even though she knew he probably had blood on his hands, even though he represented everything that made living here awful, she knew that he wouldn’t hurt her and he’d help her if she ran into trouble on the street. That if she called out to him, he’d defend her.
You know your life has taken a strange turn when the presence of a Roach Guard makes you feel safer. She hugged her violin case under her arm and quickened her pace to keep up with his long legs. The compromises we have to make in this life...
She watched him make his way up the dark street ahead of her, a tall, lanky silhouette in the pre-dawn mist. He’s an annoying bastard...she thought, an involuntary smile tugging at the corner of her mouth. But he sure can dance. Her mind went back to the evening at Almack’s where she’d played with the band, and they’d played faster and faster as dancers dropped out, exhausted and laughing and shaking their heads. Monahan hadn’t, though. He never even faltered, his feet stomping and sliding across the sanded floor, scuffing out syncopated rhythms to the music. He was beautiful to watch, his face alight with pure joy. Clearly, he’s not the disgusting animal I originally thought he was. She thought back to when they’d first met, and remembered how terrified she’d been he would attack her. She had no doubt that his horrible brother would have done exactly that, before Monahan had diffused the situation and had managed to send his brother away before the situation had escalated. It had been her experience that men wearing gang colors were to be avoided at all costs. Still, life is hard around here. Hard and cheap, and you either figure out a way to get by or you die quick and end up in a dustbin like a dead cockroach. She didn’t have to think too hard to imagine the kind of desperation that might drive a man to become hired muscle for criminals. Even if that man has a brave, gentle heart and a love of music and dance.
She frowned, shaking her head. Did I just think that about an armed thug?
She realized he’d stopped and she nearly stumbled trying to stop as quickly as he had. She shrank back as he stood there, his head turning as he surveyed the street before him. He looked to the side, but didn’t turn around. His hand strayed to the pistol strapped to his hip. Sudden fear sharpened her senses, crawled up her throat.
“Come here to me now, Miss Smith.” He said softly.
She gasped in surprise, hesitating.
He turned his head to glance at her, gesturing slightly with his free hand. “You don’t want to look alone right now. Heed me, lass.” There was a quiet urgency in his voice. Heart in her throat, she covered the distance between them in brisk paces, her embarrassment replaced by fear and uncertainty. Have I let my guard down too soon? Was my first impression of him the correct one?
“You need to walk close to me tonight, so you do.” He said, his eyes continuing to scan the dark street as she tentatively stepped up beside him.
She looked around wildly, seeing nothing. “Are there...”
“Aye.” He whispered. “Two of them. Boys, I think. Over there in that alley...see?”
He jerked his head towards the dark alleyway ahead. Indistinct shadows loomed, pooling around the rubbish and bins. “Petty thieves, I’m hoping. They noticed you, so they did. Don’t think they’ll come after the two of us together.”
She saw a dim gleam of movement on metal. Shivs. They're armed with knives. She felt the bottom fall out of her stomach and she turned to look at Monahan.
He unholstered his pistol and held his other arm out for her to take.
She smirked at him in spite of her fear, raising an eyebrow at his offered elbow. “Aren’t you worried about being seen with a colored girl on your arm?”
“Not unless you’re worried about being seen on the arm of a ‘filthy mick’.”
She winced, remembering the first time they’d met and she’d threatened to stab him, and then awkwardly grasped his bicep.
“You know, lass.” he said amiably, as if they were not walking past knife-wielding robbers and possibly worse. “I don’t mind if you walk with me. You don’t have to do all this sneaking around. In fact...can I just stop pretending’ I don’t know you follow me home every night?”