Her captors were as afraid as she was.

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A VG Serial: An Unlikely Arrangement

Chapter 26

Ella Adams struggled against the restraints which bound both hands behind her back. The kidnapper blindfolded her, stuffed a handkerchief in her mouth, and tossed her onto the floorboards of the motorcar’s back seat. She tried to make out what the driver was muttering about, but couldn’t understand a word. This has to be Ruth’s doing. She lures me out to that shack and knew I would be assaulted. But why? I haven’t done anything to her.

The driver turned around. “Shut up, back there. It ain’t gonna do you no good to feud and scream. No one can hear ya. Might as well enjoy the ride, Ruth. Time to worry when you see the boss.”

Ruth? He thinks I’m Ruth? My God, he took the wrong girl. How am I going to convince him I’m not her. Ella stopped tussling and tried to formulate a plan. Okay, Ella, don’t panic. You look nothing like Ruth. I’m blonde, she has black hair. Once he realizes the mistake, he will let me go. I have no way to prove I’m not Ruth, but surely by the description he’ll figure it out. Its my only chance.

The automobile continued to speed down the long highway, and Ella lost track of time. Her shoulders burned from the unfamiliar position, and both wrists were raw from the rope binding. Unable to comprehend how long she lay bound and gagged, sleep rescued her from constant panic.

****

            The wharf was dark and empty. Johnny the Nose waited inside a shadowy passageway for the motorcar to flash its lights—a signal the job was successful. They had her. The boss would be pleased.

The girl looked unconscious as the two men pulled her out of the auto. “She better still be alive, you lunkheads. I wouldn’t want to be you if she’s not.” He held the door open.

“Aw, she’s passed out, Johnny. I don’t kill ‘em til the boss tells me. Where is he?” The hired men held the limp girl between them.

“Take her up those stairs. He’ll be here in about an hour. In the meantime, you better get her cleaned up and presentable. You know how he likes ‘em to look proper before he offs ‘em.”

“Why’s he want to waste a pretty number like her? She don’t look like no threat to me.” The kidnapper lifted her chin and ran a hand over her cheek.

“How do I know? I don’t question the jobs; I like the payola too much. Don’t touch the merchandise, you fool. He might just want her for his own pleasure.” Johnny watched them haul the girl up the stairs. Guess I should wait down here til the boss gets here. Gotta take credit for the job getting done.

            Johnny pulled an old wooden chair against the open door, leaned it back on two legs, and kept vigil. He filed his nails, flicked lint from the pinstriped suit, combed his hair, and counted the money he received from this job. Not only did he clean up from Eric Horton, but the boss actually paid him double to kidnap her. Of course, he hadn’t mentioned the money Horton gave him to the boss. He wasn’t that stupid.

At the end of the alleyway, Johnny saw headlights turn in—the boss had arrived. The auto moved slowly, and he knew the driver took great care, making sure rival gangs didn’t ambush them. Finally, the motorcar stopped right in front the doorway.

Johnny stood and kicked the chair behind him. “Evenin’ boss, been expectin’ ya.”

A tall, well-dressed gentleman emerged.

“Whoa, boss. You been to some fancy affair? Never seen you in black tie before, looks good on ya, though.” Johnny scanned his boss from the shiny, black shoes to his slicked down hair                                                                                                                                        .           “Never mind that. Did you accomplish the job I gave you to do?” The man drew a white handkerchief from his breast pocket and wiped it across one brow.

“Sure did, boss, got her right upstairs. Wasn’t no trouble at all.”

“Good. I already paid you, so take her to the river, and tie a concrete block to her feet. I don’t want to be seen down here. I can’t be connected to this operation at all.” He retreated to the auto.

“Wait, boss. You ain’t even gonna look at her? She’s a right pretty thing, blond ringlets, big blue eyes. Talk to her sweet and you might have a new little conquest. Bet she’d really go for a man of your stature. You can hide her in Canada, no one would look there.” Johnny tossed coins in the air as he spoke.

The fancy man jerked around and grabbed Johnny by the lapel. “Blond hair? Blue eyes? The girl I wanted you to kidnap has black hair and brown eyes! Good God, what have you done?” He took the stairs two at a time, Johnny on his heels.

****

            Ella regained consciousness as the men tied her to a chair. One of them tried to brush the scattered curls into place with his fingers, while the other wiped her face with a wet cloth. She struggled to elude them both.

“Hey missy, you wanna look good for the boss, don’t ya? He might even take a fancy to ya. You could do a lot worse. Hold still.”

“Look you dolts. I heard you call me Ruth in the car. You have the wrong girl. My name is Ella. I know the girl you are looking for, and I can take you to her. I am not Ruth.” She struggled against the bindings and tried to wrench away from their clammy hands.

“Nice try, Ruthie. We don’t make mistakes like that.” The taller thug tweaked her nose, while the other made sure the rope stayed tight.

She jerked away from the greasy fingers. “You idiots. My father is a very important man. Mess with me, and you will have to tangle with him, and believe me, it won’t be pleasant. Now let me go.”

Footsteps clattered up the stairs, and all three swiveled around.

“Must be the boss. Sounds like he’s in a big hurry.”

Ella heard cursing, shouts of anger, and the thunder of heavy shoes ascending the wooden stairs like a herd of elephants, and anger melted into fear. She looked at her captors. Their eyes were wide, faces white. They are afraid, too. An uncontrollable shaking took over her body.

The door burst open and three men scrambled into the room.

Ella screamed.

Chapters of the novel appear on Monday and Wednesday.

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