Stone Cold Chicago

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Bad News for the Boss

"Welcome back, Grace, " The mob called out as she entered the room.

"Hello boys" she laughed. "Hey Shaker, where the boss?"

"Waitin' in--in his off--office for ya. You--you--you better clean up first, you know how the b--b--boss feels about you in britches," The bartender stuttered.

"That's only when we go out. You don't want to know how hot under the collar he gets when he see me in these," She winked at the blushing bartender. "I want a Scotch on the rocks delivered to me in his office." With confidence she pushed away from the bar, walked straight to the oak double doors and let herself in.

The room halted at the intrusion and the five gentlemen remembered their manners and stood greet her. Their manners couldn't upset her, she was one of the guys when they were all together, but she was all woman mixed with a little cold-blooded killer, so they respected her. By the look on their faces bad news came in spades today and she didn't have anything better to offer.

Harry "The Horse" Hoffman is Davenport's bookie and most trusted money adviser, there isn't a single red cent that Harry hasn't touched and doesn't know where it's gone. He stood to the left of the desk where he'd been going over the latest casino winnings and racing losses. His spectacles were thick and magnified those reliable brown eyes for the whole world to see. In his position you'd think he'd be nervous, but he had a iron clad hand on that bank roll of Davenport's keeping that man in check and not sparing a penny for ridiculous frivolity. Harry's loyalty to Davenport is true and not even the barrel of a gun could spook "The Horse".

To Davenport's right stood his man "Crazy" Ace Jackson. Ace is the clown of the group, but just like his card playing his knows when to get down to business. This tatted ruffian is the man that you send in to ruff up and warn the misbehaving tricksters, Davenport also uses him to make a scene or two in the rival casinos just to keep them on their toes. Ace took a big brother stance when it came to Grace. He understood that she could hold her own, but he would make sure not only for her sake but for Davenport's as well that she was safe at all costs.

Standing next the doors would be the two most lovable body guards a Mob Boss could have. If you were one of the mob they would joke with you or ask about your day (in private), but the moment you cross their boss you're dead meat with no chance to explain. Besides Grace they were the second most ruthless killers on Davenport's team. They didn't mind Grace being sent out more often, they felt more comfortable knowing the boss was in their hands.

"Hi ya, Lou, Bo," She smiled. She walked over to each of them and straightened their ties. "You boys are looking as dashing as ever, but remind me to talk to Harry about expanding my clothing budget so I can get you boys a new tie." Their cold faces cracked as they smiled down at her. Every mobster in the county had to admit that this girl knew how to work a room.

"You have plenty in your budget, Gracie," Harry called out. His mock scold brought a much needed smile to her face.

"It never hurts to try, Horse."

Ace came up beside her and whispered, "Be careful, Gracie, It hasn't been a good day for us."

She sighed, "I'm afraid it's not going to get any better." She looked to the man behind the desk. His back faced them as he leaned against the wall, his fists curled and turning white. Grace knew that her news wouldn't be any comfort but her heart ached for her man. She turned to Ace with a sarcastic smile as said a little louder, "Don't worry Acey, I am sure I can put him back in good spirits before we go out this evening." Ace cringed because he got the meaning and Harry laughed.

Without turning towards her Davenport asked, "What news from our gambling addict James?"

"Oh is that what his name was?" She walked up to the desk and faced Harry, "The idiot thought that just because I was a girl I wouldn't know the difference between counterfeit bills and the real ones."

"He jipped us!" Harry cried as his fists hit the desk, Ace kicked the wall, and Davenport didn't even flinch.

"You dealt with him right," Ace demanded. Grace just smiled.

"Of course I dealt with him. His days were numbered anyway. Word on the street is that he owed a couple of debts, but the people were more worried about the money, so I took his hide." The boys shook their head at her crude expression, but she didn't care. "Look the money wasn't that important and you know that Harry. We are more embarrassed by how generous we were with that bum. My orders were to deal with him either way."

"Yeah, but he died owing us four thousand dollars, Grace," Harry complained.

She grabbed his tie and dragged him closer to her, "I'm not an idiot, Harry. I know the numbers. He, on the other hand, was." She let him go and he quickly scrambled to loosen his tie. "He had two thousand on him in real bills and a diamond necklace that is priced at the other two thousand. He must have wanted to impress his mother, because no respectable young lady would run around with scum like that." She flung the envelope across the desk, "I found it in his jacket as I was waiting for his shoes to dry. Oh by the way, Harry, the jacket's in the car and a perfect fit for ya. I already gave Danny the ID and wallet."

Both Harry and Ace's faces lit up with relief, Davenport still hasn't move at least no one notice except Grace. She watched his shoulders fall and his stiff stature relax, she had some good news after all.

Finally Davenport spoke up, "Boys leave us." Everyone knew their cue. As Harry passed Grace she pulled him aside to apologize, he knew that he offended her too and let her off the hook. She kissed his cheek to let him know that there were no hard feelings. Ace slowly made his way to the door, Grace winked at him letting him know that she'd take good care of Davenport. Ace knew that the Boss and this fireball grew up together and in the end would probably die together, his boss was in great hands.

"Tell Shaker, I want my scotch," she demanded, "And one for the Boss too."

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