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Authors: Lauri Robinson

The Runaway Daughter

BOOK: The Runaway Daughter
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After years of playing the local gin joint to pay off his father’s debts, talented musician Brock Ness has landed a radio gig in Chicago. Now he’s on the up-and-up, his next stop is securing the dame of his dreams, Ginger Nightingale…

…to Chicago celebrity!

If Brock is headed for fortune and fame, Ginger won’t be left behind! She may be the youngest of the Nightingale sisters, but she’s old enough to know what she wants. And Brock is right at the top of her wish list!

Daughters of the Roaring Twenties

Their hair is short and their skirts are even shorter!

The Runaway Daughter

Lauri Robinson

Shine your shoes, slip on your flapper dress and prepare for the ride of your life
in
Lauri Robinson
’s rip-roaring new miniseries

Daughters of the Roaring Twenties

Their hair is short and their skirts are even shorter!

Prohibition has made Roger Nightingale a wealthy man.
With his bootlegging business in full swing, and his swanky hotel the most
popular joint in town, his greatest challenge is keeping his four willful daughters in check!

Join

Ginger, Norma Rose, Twyla and Josie
as they foxtrot their way into four gorgeous men’s hearts!

First travel with Ginger to Chicago in
The Runaway Daughter

Then see Norma Rose go head-to-head with Ty Bradshaw in
The Bootlegger’s Daughter
Available August 2015

Can Forrest Reynolds tame mischievous Twyla? Find out in
The Rebel Daughter
Available September 2015

And, last but not least, discover Josie’s secret in
The Forgotten Daughter
Available October 2015

Author Note

Welcome to the Roaring Twenties! It was a time in America where most every citizen broke the law, and new freedoms were discovered.

People across America have tales to tell about their family being involved in bootlegging during this decade, including me. My father often talked about his grandfather and the hay wagon that was never unloaded, but made regular trips across the frozen river into Canada.

Researching this time period became a family affair. Literally! Dressed in roaring twenties fashions, several of us attended the Bootlegger’s Ball at the Minnesota Historical Society. Family members on vacations sent me pictures of speakeasies and other sites they stumbled upon, and others readily joined me on excursions across Minnesota to learn more about the gangsters who thrived in our state during that time.

The Runaway Daughter
is the first of a miniseries. It’s Ginger’s story. She’s the youngest Nightingale sister, and is ready to take on the world from page one. Freedom and fun are what Ginger is after and, in her eyes, both of those include Brock Ness.

Brock, however, has his own goals, and is not impressed to find Ginger hiding beneath the tarp of his truck.

I hope you enjoy their story, and I hope you stay tuned for the other books in the
Daughters of the Roaring Twenties
miniseries.

Dedication

To Scott at the Ellingson Classic Cars. Thanks so much for pulling aside the yellow ropes and allowing me to get up close and personal with a Model T!

Contents

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter One

1925

White Bear Lake, Minnesota

The ladder listed, thudding loudly against her windowsill several feet above. Ginger Nightingale caught her balance and eased her foot back onto the rung while cursing the night for being so quiet. A cat would have a hard time sneaking about.

After what seemed like a full minute—or more—of holding her breath, she continued her downward trek. Brock had already loaded his instruments into the bed of his truck and could be leaving any minute.

Stars filled the sky, showing no sign of rain. That was a relief. Her purple dress was as new as her shoes. So were the white cami knickers under the rayon dress. The long, loose-fitting silk camisole and tap pants, trimmed with red lace, felt delicious against her skin, and had been purchased just for this event. She might be Roger Nightingale’s youngest daughter, but she wasn’t a baby. It was time the world realized she was eighteen. A woman of age.

Once on the ground, Ginger grabbed the bag she’d tossed out the window and dashed around the corner of the building. A hint of guilt caught in her stomach. She should move the ladder, but it was heavy and awkward. One of the resort’s groundkeepers would see to it, just as Reyes had hauled it out of the shed when she’d claimed her window needed to be washed.

Another splattering of remorse went deeper.

Father would be furious come morning. Norma Rose, too. Her other sisters, Josie and Twyla, would be squawking, but only because they weren’t as brave as her.

It was the 1920s. Women could have more freedom than ever, if they took it.

She was going to take it.

A full moon lit the parking lot. Brock Ness’s truck was backed up near the resort’s front door and the tarp covering his instruments was more than she’d hoped for.

Life was about to get a whole lot better.

On her tiptoes so the gravel wouldn’t crunch beneath her heels, Ginger ran to the truck. After working a knot loose on the rope holding down the tarp, she peered underneath and frustration rumbled in her throat. Instruments, packed in their heavy cases, took up most every square inch.

The heat of the June night had sweat beading on the back of her neck by the time she’d pushed things around to make a cubbyhole for herself. Climbing over the sideboards and under the tarp was difficult in her knee-length skirt, and once situated she realized retying the rope was impossible. Ginger was contemplating what to do about that when a door thudded and footsteps echoed.

A musician through and through, even Brock’s whistle was perfectly in tune. He was the best performer she’d ever heard, and she’d heard a lot of them. Her father’s resort hosted a different one almost every night, two or three per night on the weekends.

Quickly, yet cautiously, Ginger tucked the tarp inside the sideboards of the truck bed.

“Brock! Hold up there!”

The sound of her father’s voice made Ginger jolt, and she hit her head on the guitar case. Muffling an expletive with her hand, frustration welled inside her. Someone must have squealed. Josie or Twyla. They, as well as half the town, clearly were in love with Brock, and watched his every move. One of them must have seen her.

“That amount I just offered you,” her father said. “Double it.”

* * *

Searching for another way to say no, Brock Ness opened his truck door before turning around. The original amount Roger Nightingale had offered him to play at the resort for the rest of the summer had been a nice head of lettuce, but it smelled too much like another handout. “I can’t,” Brock said.

The resort owner pulled the lapels of his maroon jacket over his barrel chest. “All right then,” Roger said. “The full amount your father owes me. Play for me this summer, and we’re even.”

“You’ll be paid the full amount by the end of the summer from the money I make on the radio in Chicago,” Brock said, climbing into the truck.

“I won’t make this offer again,” Nightingale said.

Roger wasn’t technically a gangster or a bootlegger. He was a middleman. Getting filthy rich connecting wholesalers with suppliers, and as cutthroat as either of the other two.

“I don’t expect you to,” Brock said, closing the door of the Model T truck his father had bought to deliver milk five years ago. “I said I’d pay off my father’s debt and I will.”

“See that you do.” Roger stepped closer and laid a hand on the side of the truck. “You’ve come a long way since dropping milk on my back porch, but a debt’s a debt.”

No one had to tell Brock that. His family’s debt hung around his neck heavier than a ball and chain. “I appreciate you letting me play here as often as you have.”

“I’m a fair man.”

Fair and rich rarely went hand in hand, yet Brock had struggled to stay on Nightingale’s good side for years. “I also appreciate what you’ve done for my family.”

Roger was silent for a moment, then let out a heavy sigh. “If anyone in Chicago gives you trouble, mention The Night. Every big cheese knows the name. I’ve got what they all want, and they keep me happy because of it.”

Although he had no intention of increasing his debt to Roger, Brock nodded and stepped on the starter pedal. “Goodbye, sir.”

The ox of a man stepped back and Brock shifted the truck into first gear, easing across the parking lot so the narrow tires wouldn’t stir up a cloud of dust. It hadn’t rained in weeks and the clear night sky said it wasn’t about to anytime soon. Good. He’d have to drive all night and day to be in Chicago by tomorrow evening, and couldn’t afford a delay.

He should have left two days ago, but Roger had insisted he play one more night at the resort. The money covered his father’s payment for this month, and the rest would put food on his mother’s table until the radio gig started dishing out. Then he’d be able to send money home every week. That was a godsend. The economy was booming, and had been since the war, everywhere except the Ness household.

Brock dropped his foot on the gas pedal, and shifted through the gears as the truck ambled along the road circling Bald Eagle Lake. Ever since his father had taken a stray bullet while delivering milk down the street from a speakeasy raid, the Ness family had been one penny shy of eating at the soup kitchen.

Doctors cost money, and until Roger Nightingale had stepped in, his father’s care had been minimal at best. Brock told his mother to take what the resort owner offered, and promised he’d pay off the debt.

He would.

No matter what.

Melancholy pressed heavily on his shoulders, but his train of thought shifted as the truck backfired. Nightingale had a garage full of cars. Norma Rose, his oldest daughter, had a brand-new Cadillac Phaeton. Red with a black roof. A real beauty. Jimmy Sonny, who worked over at the Ford plant, said that car cost upward of four thousand dollars. Roger had bought her that car as a birthday present. Her younger sister, Twyla, had got Norma Rose’s old car, a coupe that still put the three-hundred-dollar milk truck to shame. Josie had a car, too, another coupe that had been passed down. The only Nightingale girl without her own ride was Ginger. A good thing, too. Giving that dame a car would be dangerous.

The youngest of Nightingale’s four daughters was the doll of dolls. A real flapper with her short skirts and even shorter hair. She was a canary, too. She could carry a tune and hit the high notes like a bird on a wire. A Jane like no other, that was Ginger Nightingale, and she stirred things inside him worse than a man who’d been slipped a Mickey Finn. He’d seen men draw back on drinks peppered with knockout drops. Half a glass later they were fried to the hat. That was the way Ginger made him feel, and he stayed as far away from her as possible. The past two days had been torture. She’d badgered him nonstop about the letter the radio station had sent him. He’d thought twice about even answering her. Roger Nightingale made it perfectly clear that men—especially men who worked for a living—had better stay miles away from his daughters.

Slowing to make the corner onto the main road, Brock forced his mind back to Jimmy Sonny. The mechanic said Ford was designing a radio to be installed in cars. That was thrilling. Someday people could listen to him playing while they drove.

Right now, though, the only one listening to him was him.

The town of White Bear Lake was quiet, and hopefully St. Paul would be, too. There were four five-gallon cans of gas strapped to the truck. A stray bullet could put a stop to his trip before it even started.

* * *

Less than an hour later, Brock discovered St. Paul wasn’t as quiet as he’d hoped. The traffic block ahead said a late night raid was taking place. Easing the gears down, he rolled to a stop as a copper with a shiny set of wrist-nippers dangling from his belt loop strode toward the driver’s door.

BOOK: The Runaway Daughter
3.02Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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