Ruby

Ruby by Marie Maxwell

Book: Ruby by Marie Maxwell Read Free Book Online
Authors: Marie Maxwell
Tags: Fiction, Sagas
just a short car drive from the Black Dog.
    ‘You setting up something I should know about?’ He nodded his head in the direction of Eddie Stone as Johnnie set his usual Whisky Mac down in front of him.
    ‘Nothing relevant, Mr Morgan. Eddie’s helping me out imparting some advice to a couple of upstarts from down my way who think they can just take what I’ve worked hard for.’
    ‘Some of the young pups need a bit of a kicking now and then to keep them in line …’ Morgan paused and looked at Johnnie carefully. ‘Mind, you’re a bit of a pup yourself, so you’d best be careful whose toes you tread on.’
    ‘Just protecting my interests. I’m not treading on anything. These are just fly-boys trying to be cut corners.
My
hard-earned corners, as it happens, on
my
patch,’ he said defensively, not enjoying the implied criticism from his mentor.
    ‘A word of advice, Johnnie boy,’ the man said quietly. ‘I like you; you’re ambitious and you’re bright with a bit of education behind, but you’re still young and a bit too keen to flex muscles you haven’t grown yet. It won’t do you any good to get ahead of yourself and get in bother.’ He paused for effect before continuing, ‘Don’t run before you can walk and, more importantly, remember him over there,’ he nodded his head to where Eddie Stone was still standing, ‘he can’t always control himself. Not his fault, mind, but this game is all about being in control.’
    Johnnie shrugged and smiled, but his smile wasn’t as wide or as self-assured as before. He tried to decide if Bill Morgan was advising him or warning him. The man was a big name in London, equally admired and feared, and the last thing Johnnie wanted to do was upset him.
    ‘I’ve got to take care of my business. I can’t let them think they can do whatever they like.’
    The older man shook his head. ‘Ways and means, lad, ways and means. So take heed. I can help you in the long run same as I can help young Sadie, but I need to know you’re sensible. I like you both, as it happens. You’d make a good couple’. He stared at Johnnie eyeball to eyeball for a couple of seconds before turning away. ‘Anyways, I’m expecting company, so think on. If anyone asks I’ll be in the snug.’
    Bill Morgan picked up his drink in one hand, his cane in the other and walked across to the door in the corner of the public bar. Before he even got there someone had jumped up and pulled the door open for him, and as he disappeared into the small bar Johnnie knew he’d spend the evening there, along with a select few, equally important companions.
    Johnnie Riordan loved his family and would do absolutely anything for any of them, but outside of that circle he had little loyalty, few emotions and a ruthless streak that belied his youth and the moderate, churchgoing upbringing his mother had given him.
    Success and money were important to him and he was focused on achieving both. During the day he hovered eagerly on the periphery of crime, looking for a gap in the market; a local Jack-the-lad, able to get almost anything for anyone if the price was right. Post-war shortages and rationing affected everyone and many were prepared to pay over and above for the things they wanted. Johnnie didn’t see that anything he was doing was criminal as such, and he hated being called a spiv, he just saw it as being paid to provide a service.
    Even at school he had been wheeling and dealing in the playground, and then, as now, he’d seen himself as a bit of a Robin Hood. It was his way of easing his Catholic conscience.
    At other times Johnnie kept his working life relatively clean by working in the Black Dog, a dubious establishment with a bit of a reputation, on the borders of Walthamstow and Wanstead in Essex. But it was legitimate employment and a good cover for Johnnie’s other activities. Although his wage as general dogsbody and bottle-washer was a pittance, just being there and mixing with the dodgy

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