Keeper of secrets.
Breaker of hearts.
He can solve any problem . . .
In serving the wealthy power brokers of New York society, Frank Tripp has finally gained the respectability and security his own upbringing lacked. There’s no issue he cannot fix . . . except for one: the beautiful and reckless daughter of an important client who doesn’t seem to understand the word danger.
She’s not looking for a hero . . .
Excitement lies just below Forty-Second Street and Mamie Greene is determined to explore all of it—while playing a modern-day Robin Hood along the way. What she doesn’t need is her father’s lawyer dogging her every step and threatening her efforts to help struggling families in the tenements.
However, she doesn’t count on Frank’s persistence . . . or the sparks that fly between them. When fate upends all her plans, Mamie must decide if she’s willing to risk it all on a rogue . . .
Coming May 28, 2019.
“A forbidden relationship fuels lust and love in the stellar first Uptown Girls historical!”
—Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
The Bronze House
Broadway and Thirty-Third Street, 1891
He spotted her immediately, as he always did.
Frank had a preternatural ability to spot Marion “Mamie” Greene in any room, no matter how crowded. She was a beauty, perfectly put together with the most expensive accessories. Tonight, her coppery brown hair was adorned with diamond combs, her evening dress cut indecently low.
Christ, her décolletage was a thing of beauty from this vantage point.
However, it was her smile that caught his attention. Always her radiant smile. It lit up a room far better than Edison’s incandescent bulbs. Her plump, dark red lips were a sharp contrast to her creamy skin and her white teeth gleamed in the gaslight. Just then, she won and started clapping, joy etched on every square inch of her face. She laughed and loved life more than any other woman he’d ever met, drawing attention better than a moth to a flame.
This evening was no exception, it seemed, judging by the crowd surrounding the two Greene sisters. Mamie and her sister were the center attraction tonight from their spot at the roulette table.
Dear God, a roulette table.
As he stared down at the floor of the city’s most luxurious casino, The Bronze House, he lamented the turn his evening had taken. This was not the first time he’d been summoned to a casino or gaming hell to rescue a client—in fact, the request came much more often than he’d like. As attorney to many of the city’s richest, most prominent men, Frank had done any and all matter of things to keep clients out of trouble.
Nothing illegal. Just . . . creative maneuvering.
Frank’s mind did not work in straight lines, black and white. No, considering his upbringing and childhood, he’d learned how to plot and scheme. Dodge and weave. Survive. Talents that had made him very rich after school. Very rich indeed.
So he did not mind being summoned to solve a problem and save the day. Especially when he was being paid handsomely for it.
This particular client was different, however. This marked the third rescue in four months—rescues Frank hadn’t confessed to his client.
He’d kept these rescues a secret because they involved the client’s eldest daughter. A daughter who, if Frank were being completely honest, he liked. She was unconcerned with dance cards, matrimonial prospects, and other society nonsense. Instead, Mamie spoke her mind and let nothing—and no one—get in her way of accomplishing her goal.
He admired that. In fact, he operated in much the same manner.
However, his interest in her was unhealthy. He was not a “court the uptown Knickerbocker princess” man. He was a “fuck the gorgeous chorus girl until dawn” sort of man. Mamie Greene did not fit into his neatly crafted life, one he’d carved for himself atop buried secrets. It was time to be done with her.
No more bailing her out from seedy establishments. Tonight he would retrieve her and take her home to Duncan Greene, her father, and let him deal with her from now on. Which was exactly what Frank should have done the last two times he’d found her out in the rougher side of town. Instead, her smile and sass had caught him by surprise, charmed him, and he’d believed her when she promised never to return.
The reckless female had no idea what disaster she courted by visiting a casino, the dangers that lurked in every corner of the Tenderloin district. Vice and sin reigned here, with corrupt policemen looking the other way. Any number of ills could befall her south of Thirty-Fourth Street.
But he couldn’t keep doing this any longer, no matter the insane desire to watch over her.
“Thank you for your expeditious arrival.”
Frank started at the sound of a voice directly behind him. Turning, he found Clayton Madden, the shadowy owner of the Bronze House, standing there. Appropriate Madden should lurk in the darkness; not many had met the man, as he preferred to keep an inconspicuous presence in the city. Madden struck out a hand and Frank promptly shook it.
“Of course,” Frank said. “Thank you for alerting me to her presence.”
Madden jerked a chin toward the casino floor. “She brought her sister this time.”
Women were not allowed inside the Bronze House, yet somehow Mamie managed to get inside. “Why did you let them in?” Frank asked, not taking his eyes from her.
“I have my reasons.”
“She could lose a great deal of money. Worse, she could lose her standing in society.”
Madden’s lips quirked. “I assure you, neither of those outcomes concerns me. What does concern me is the crowd they’ve attracted. If men are standing and gawking then they are not gambling. It is one of the many reasons we do not permit women to play here.”
Frank shot Madden a glance. “Figures you have a financial reason for wanting them removed.”
Madden crossed his arms over his chest. He was about the same height as Frank, a little over six feet, but bulkier. Rougher. A scar ran through his right eyebrow, another on his chin. He wore an impressive black suit with a black vest—his usual attire. “Greene and I do not exactly see eye-to-eye. I’ll be damned if his girls win a dime at my club.”
“You could refuse them entry.”
Madden stroked his jaw, staring at the pair below. “I could,” he said cryptically.
Frank did not bother to seek more answers. Madden was notoriously tight-lipped and it hardly mattered. The Greene sisters had no business coming here, and Frank was dashed glad Madden had notified him when Mamie arrived. “Well, I shall collect them now. Greene passes on his thanks.”
“Come now, Tripp. We both know you are not telling your client about these little outings.”
Frank gritted his teeth and thought about denying it. There was no use lying, however. Madden was right. “That ends tonight. I am done with favors. He can look after her now.”
Madden chuckled under his breath. “Keep telling yourself as much. By the way, I wish to hire you for a bit of consulting. My lawyers are giving me a hard time on one particular issue, but I am told you might be able to help.”
Frank nodded. “I have time tomorrow, if that works.”
“That’ll be fine. Come by at four.”
Mamie won another round and threw her arms around her sister as the crowd applauded. Frank gritted his teeth and considered pummeling each man encouraging this outrageous behavior.
Then it happened. In fact, if Frank had blinked he would have missed it.
Clever, delicate fingers darted into the inner jacket pocket of a bystander and withdrew a money clip. The stack of greenbacks then disappeared into the folds of Mamie’s evening gown.
Madden whistled softly. “Not bad. Where’d an uptown girl learn to dip like that?”
Jesus Christ. Frank could not believe his eyes. Her father would have a stroke if he knew. “I must get down there—”
“Hold up.” Madden’s hand landed on Frank’s arm. “Dark suit on her left.”
Sure enough, Madden was right. With Mamie’s back turned, the man next to her took the opportunity to pour the contents of a small vial in Mamie’s champagne glass. Frank’s body went rigid, ice filling his veins. “What the hell?”
“Fucking bastard. Leave him to me.” Madden started for the staircase at the end of the long balcony.
Frank had no intention of waiting. He had to intervene before she drank that champagne. Without thinking, he threw his legs over the side of the railing, then twisted to hold onto the ledge with his hands. He lowered himself until he was hanging on by his fingertips. A high-stakes craps game was about an eight-foot drop beneath him.
He let go.
His feet hit the table, which rocked under his weight but held. Gasps erupted, chips flying every which way, but he ignored them and remained focused on the man to Mamie’s left, the one who had poured an unknown liquid into her drink. Fury made it impossible to look anywhere else. He jumped to the floor, wincing at the sharp pain in his ankle, and lunged for the roulette table.
The man looked up just as Frank hurled across the baize. They smacked together and went down hard, the man taking the brunt of the fall under Frank. “What were you hoping to accomplish?” Frank snarled, shaking the other man. “Were you waiting until she passed out and then you would offer to see her home?”
“Wait.” The man put his arms up to shield himself. “I did nothing—”
Frank hit him in the face. “You are a goddamned liar.”
Hands suddenly lifted Frank off the floor. He struggled to break free, to tear that drugging bastard apart with his bare fists, but whoever held him was too strong. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught Mamie and her sister a few feet away, their wide eyes taking everything in.
“You’re done, Tripp.” It was Bald Jack, Madden’s right-hand man, holding Frank. “Madden wants you out.”
“But this man deserves—”
“And he’ll get it. Madden will see to it personally.”
Frank calmed immediately. Whatever justice Madden doled out in private would be a hundred times worse than what Frank could accomplish here on the main floor. Bald Jack carefully set him on his feet, and Frank smoothed his hair and tried to catch his breath. The bastard on the ground moaned, blood pouring from a cut on his cheek. Frank resisted the urge to add a kick for good measure. Instead, he nodded at Jack. “Pass along my thanks.”
“I will. Now, you best take the ladies out of here—”
“I am not leaving,” a feminine voice cut into the conversation. Mamie. Frank would know the husky tone anywhere.
He pinned her with a look. “You are indeed leaving, Miss Greene. Your sister, too. This is not a safe place for either of you.”
Mamie marched closer, her brown eyes snapping fire. “I am up two hundred dollars, Tripp. I am not leaving.”
Frank clenched his hands and dug deep for patience. The maddening woman. Had she any idea of the danger she’d narrowly avoided? She could have been assaulted or raped…or worse.
Bald Jack stepped in when Frank faltered. “Mr. Madden asks that you and your sister depart immediately, miss. He also insists you refrain from entering this establishment again.”
She pressed her lips together, her chin rising. Frank expected her to argue with the huge man, but she surprised him by saying, “Fine. Allow me to collect my winnings and I shall be on my way.”
“Um, Mamie,” her sister Florence said behind them, gesturing to the table. The chips collected at their places had disappeared. Another patron had used the distraction as an opportunity to steal whatever winnings the girls had accumulated.
“Where are our winnings?” Mamie stalked over and began searching, as if the chips had merely been misplaced. “They were right here.”
Florence, the middle Greene sister, merely shrugged her shoulders.
Bald Jack lifted the injured man and shoved him toward two of Madden’s staff members, who quickly took their quarry and disappeared. “Now, you three,” Jack said to Frank and the Greene sisters. “All of you out. Let’s go.”
“But we have been robbed,” Mamie complained. “Our winnings were stolen. I had over two hundred dollars.”
“All due respect, miss, we cannot pay out without chips. Otherwise every man here’d claim he misplaced a stack somewhere. You need to forget about the money and head toward the doo. Immediately.”
No one won an argument with Bald Jack, at least none that had lived to tell about it. Frank could sense, however, from the set of Mamie’s chin that she was determined to try. He decided to intervene, as had been his original intention in coming tonight.
Striding forward, he took Mamie’s elbow and began towing her toward the exit. “Come with me.”
She struggled but he held fast. “Release me this instant, Tripp.”
A large hand settled on Frank’s shoulder, shaking him roughly from behind. “No manhandling the ladies. Madden’s orders.”
Frank resisted the urge to pull free. The last thing he’d ever do was hurt Mamie. “I am not manhandling her.” He raised his hands in the air to show his innocence as they continued on. “I was merely assisting her to the door.”
Mamie let out an irritated scoff and went ahead, her silk skirts twitching as her bustle swayed. He tried not to stare at the swoop of her shoulders, the arch of her back . . . the curve of her backside.
The girl was dashed dangerous.