After five years of being the traveling companion and lover of a secretive man thirty years her senior, Erin Matthews fears his increasing paranoia. At age twenty-two, Erin escapes to a new city, determined to survive with her limited skills and experience. She cannot run, however, from the dark act that facilitated her escape. Making one bad decision after another, she lands in the Philadelphia demimonde world of entertainers, hustlers, and thugs. But will her newly learned skills, native intelligence, and honed instincts be enough to keep her alive until she gains the redemption and forgiveness she seeks?
I knew I was taking a risk, but I had no idea how much trouble it could cause me…
I couldn’t hide forever so I lathered more makeup on my face, hoped the darkness and smoke below would hide any traces left by Charley’s fist. I left the empty dressing room and went downstairs. Nothing seemed different. Trixie was on stage. A few eyes were on her, but as usual most of the men were either drinking, masturbating, smoking, or all of the above. Yet, for me everything had changed. I lingered at the bottom step and looked for Charley. If I saw him, I would have Joe arrest the bastard.
I sat by myself in a corner under the stage, thinking what I needed was a stiff drink. Joe was busy with a group at the other end of the bar. While I waited for him to notice me, I kept busy imagining Charley behind bars. I knew that wouldn’t happen. Not to Tony Corelli’s partner. Corelli knew judges. He’d proven that with my case.
Tony wouldn’t let anything interfere with his plans for Atlantic City. He made that plain enough. He was in trouble and I was the oil that would grease the kinks to smooth sailing. Once he found out I willingly went upstairs with Charley, he’d say I deserved whatever I got. He might even look at the incident as a betrayal. I’d gone behind his back and possibly made Charley a threat to his plans. How stupid could a girl get?
Joe noticed me after about five minutes. His eyes narrowed and his jaw tightened.
“Charley Rossino stormed out of here like the devil himself was after him. Never knew he could move so fast.” He leaned closer. “Did he do that to you?”
“Let it go, Joe.”
“No way,” he said. “That asshole hit you. You can’t hide the bruises with makeup.”