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A Shot in the Dark

A Shot in the Dark

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“The perfect sip of a gin martini. Red lips, glowing pearls, this story is nothing but class.” – USA TODAY bestselling author, Zoe Blake

Anything, anything at all. That is how far Matthew will go to steal her back.

Main Tropes

  • Roaring 20's Moonshine Romance
  • He Falls First, And He Falls HARD
  • Sweet, Yet Forbidden Romance
  • Virgin Heroine On The Run
  • Whiskey Runner Meets His Match
  • All He Wants Is To Take Care Of Her
  • A Strong, Independent Woman
  • You'll Be On The Edge Of Your Seat!
  • Gloriously Snuggly Happily Ever After


“The perfect sip of a gin martini. Red lips, glowing pearls, this story is nothing but class.” – USA TODAY bestselling author, Zoe Blake

Anything, anything at all. That is how far Matthew will go to steal her back.

She loves him, he know she does. He knows Charlotte ran away thinking it might keep him safe from her obligations to Chicago’s Gangland.

But she needs him…

Nothing will keep Matthew from him from the woman he cannot live without.

And if she won’t listen to reason, then he’ll just have to tie her up and drag her home.

Intro into Chapter 1

Alice lowered her coffee cup, a little moon of crimson lipstick lingering on the rim. Shifting in her seat, she answered the frowning man across from her. “No, Matthew. I already told you. I haven’t seen the blonde you were with before.”

He’d shaved again, put on his new suit, almost looked like he fit in, yet lacked all Chicago swagger. “What about Radcliffe?”

“He comes and goes.” She was openly uncomfortable when Matthew’s glare grew jarring, sputtering as she rushed to say, “You don’t want to get mixed up with that man. He’d shoot you just as soon as look at you.”

Matthew tried to keep his voice smooth, but to the point. “Listen, Alice, I need to find Charlotte right quick.”

While Nathaniel and Eli scouted the Drake’s lobby, Matthew had combed the city, going to every place he could remember Charlie showing him. Even so, since coming to Chicago, not one of the Emerson boys had caught a glimpse of her. Sheer desperation led him to seek his old flame, to press Alice into coffee when she’d turned up her nose at his initial approach and forthright questions.

“I can’t help you.” Alice sat back, frowning at her cup. “She’s family to Radcliffe. That man won’t allow a soul to muss a hair on her pretty, spoiled head.”

Matthew snorted, would have laughed if capable of enjoying the irony. “Can you find out if she’s even staying at the Drake?”

Alice put a cigarette between her lips and struck a match. “No.”


“I’m not risking my neck asking questions about a mobster’s kin.”

Impatient, Matthew pressed. “I ain’t asking you to risk your neck. I’ll give you money if that’s what you need.”

Her sulky voice turned sharp. “Don’t insult me, Matthew.”

Feeling the entire awkward conversation had been a waste of time, Matthew stood from his seat. “She saved your life once, Alice. Doubt you knew that.”

“What do you mean?” For a split second, Alice lost a bit of her haughtiness. After chewing her lip at his stony silence, she offered an aggravated sigh. “Fine… sit. I’ll check and see if she’s on the register—but no more.”

Thirty minutes and two cups of coffee later, Matthew was starting to think she’d stood him up, but the door chimed and a disgruntled Alice shimmied out of the cold. “Suite 2334.” Sullen, she offered her hand in a final goodbye. “If what you say is true, then thank her for me… But I don’t want to see her, or you, again.”

There had been a time the raven-haired woman had not been so cold. Once he even tried to convince himself he cared for her. “This place ain’t any good for you, Alice. Go back to your kin in Jackson.”

Sneering, Alice walked away.


A few days had passed since coming to the city, most of the time spent locked up tight in her fancy suite, sleeping and ordering room service. Charlie was moping, she knew that, but everyone was entitled to a good sulk now and then. Eventually she pulled it together and called on Martha, the woman overjoyed to hear she’d stay past Christmas.

Beaumont, when he’d arrived home in the evening, looked entirely unsurprised at the news. He said no word about it, just pulled out a cigarette and took a seat while Martha prepared his drink.

Handing a dram of whiskey to her man, Martha smiled at her girl. “Charlotte will join us for New Year’s. Make sure the mayor knows we’ll have another guest for the Gala.” 

Beau’s answer was the smallest of winks and a long slow pull of his cigarette. “Tommy will escort you.”

There was no point in arguing. Charlie nodded, willing to at least try on the life and see if it fit. Besides, it wasn’t like she had anywhere else to go.

Uncustomarily quiet, she just listened while Martha began outlining what would need to be done. “We’ll go shopping tomorrow and get you something appropriate for the party.” Martha’s dark eyes skimmed Charlie’s simple cotton dress, her nose wrinkled at the country fashion.

“Whatever you say, Martha.”

Those seemed to be the magic words.

Christmas came and went, spent at the Radcliffe’s table just like when she’d been a girl. Every day after was a whir, Charlie’s room and unacceptable wardrobe ignored at the Drake in favor of the family home and comfort of friends.

She didn’t mind any of it, not really. Being lavished with attention from a woman she loved helped ease the melancholy, and the distraction of preparing for the New Year’s party gave Charlie something to do—beyond pine for a life she would never have. Finding a dress had been easy enough, there were only three or four shops in town Martha Radcliffe would even consider walking inside. The day of grooming was not. Charlie had been poked, prodded, plucked, waxed and painted. By the time she was dressed in her velvet gown, she wasn’t Charlie anymore. She was Miss Elliot, Martha’s fashionable niece and Beaumont Radcliffe’s re-hatched Blackbird.

The New Year’s Gala was lively, raucous—the music loud, the dancing wild, and liquor decadent. Charlie smiled through it; she laughed, a bit overwhelmed by the self-indulgent excess, a bit underwhelmed by the life laid out on a platter before her.

Everyone who was anyone was there—movie stars, politicians—all plying Charlie with champagne and conversation, thinking she was somehow access to the powerful Beaumont Radcliffe. Through it all, Tommy remained fast at her side, attentive and charming, a showstopper and the life of the party.

The company was tolerable, Tommy made her laugh and even though she knew it had to be a challenge for the rake, she didn’t once see him look at another woman.

Beaumont noticed as well.

When the kingpin cut between them on the dance floor, Radcliffe, suave in his tuxedo and slicked hair, nodded for Tommy to run off.

It seemed a bit odd to dance with a man she’d chopped up bodies with in the past… and oddly sweet. Yet, he wasn’t going to let her off easy. “So you gonna tell me what’s going on, Lottie? It ain’t like you to be so… compliant.”

A flash of humiliation crossed her face. “I’m sure this won’t surprise you, but apparently I’m single handedly ruining the women of Monroe.”

The infamous mobster burst out laughing. “Small town hicks can’t handle your fire? You don’t belong there. Marry Tommy, be his Martha, and the world would be at your feet.”

Charlie grimaced. “I don’t like Tommy.”

“You don’t have to.” Beau took her chin so she might pay attention, making it clear he was serious. “Have a piece on the side. He will. Your skills are wasted lazing about in the redneck foothills. You belong in Chicago. Help guide him in the business and you would have access to money, power…”

Her grin was glorious though her tone cautionary. “As charming as leading a criminal empire from the shadows sounds, I’m going to pass. Though I am honored you find me worthy, Uncle Beau.”

Beaumont’s blue eyes glittered, the man admonishing, “I just want what’s best for you, Blackbird.”

Jutting out a stubborn chin, she disagreed, “Oh no… you want what’s best for you.”

“Course I do.” Throwing her a warning glare, Beau led her off the floor and handed her back to Tommy right in time for the midnight countdown.

The handsome gangster took her, Tommy wrapping an arm around her middle just as glittered confetti began to rain down. Looking at the man Beau wanted for her, the man Martha wanted for her, she wondered if she could live that kind of life. 

Tommy gave her a knowing smirk and used the moment to his advantage.

He gave her a kiss. 

“Happy New Year, Lottie.”

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