"Yeah, Dad, I know. Yes, I will. Dad! I'll be careful, now shut up!" I tried to muster up a glare at the phone but just smiled instead as I folded it closed and put it in my pocket. Really, that old coot's such a worry wart.
Pulling my coat apart so that I could get the gentle breeze inside, I gave a sigh. It was still a little warm to be wearing coats in Chicago, so the thick wool fabric was a bit stifling. I looked around at the softly lit street I was walking on, admiring the latest school project proudly on display outside the nunnery and sped up my walk a little bit. Since this is Wednesday night, my classes let out fairly early and I always stopped by an Italian Sugar Shop before tackling the mounds of homework for the night.
Large windows revealed the cozy interior of one of the best places in the world and I smiled a little bigger as I opened the door and was enveloped in the sweet aroma of sugar, coffee, and vanilla. Tonight the owner was working the counter.
"'A! Stefanie, Bon journo, you come here a little late today no? Give me plenty of time to get a head start on your order. Now how will I keep you here when food comes so fast?"
Grinning, I walked up to the counter, shedding my coat and tugging at the ends of my long sleeves. "If you're so worried, you can make me two Tiramisu and I'll promise to eat them extra slow."
"Ah, sounds like a compromise. You are a smart girl." The owner fussed as his large belly petruded over the counter and flattened a few pieces of bread. I had to smile.
"You better save that sweet talking for the dessert, I've got a mound of homework that's gonna need a double espresso per page."
"Ah, kids now-a-days have to study so hard. When I attended university, the hardest work we ever did was dousing the assistant professor's coat with itching powder." He gave a laugh and looked nostalgic.
"Yeah well, I'm going to need that itching powder to convince my professor to give me another day on this."
"It must be impossible if even you can't figure it out, sugar."
"No, it's not that it's difficult. There's just so much of it, I need an extra day to make sure all the wires hook up."
"Why don't you ask that young man waiting outside in his car for you if he'd help?" The owner offered with a sly grin.
I gave an unladylike snort. "Who, William? No thanks. He's great at what he does and all, but I don't think his brute force method will help with quantum mechanics."
His eyes glazed over a bit at that last part and he just nodded. "Alls I know is that he sits out there every night and you never say hello."
"That's because I'm under surveillance. William isn't a love sick puppy."
"Oh," He leaned in. "Do you want me to, you know," he gave a gesture.
Bursting out laughing, I patted his arm consolingly and told him it wasn't necessary at the moment. Then I headed to my usual booth and organized my thoughts. Getting together what I needed to do and when it needed to be done by was somewhat relaxing. Feeling once again in control of the homework that can take over your life, I hummed happily as the owner sat my plate of goodies down and headed back to the kitchen for coffee.
This is the life, it really is…
1 hour later
"Ah, as usual your food never ceases to hit the spot. Thank you again." I sighed happily as I gathered my books and exited the shop. I had to get working on my robotics project, and then I could focus on the essays. If I was lucky, I could call my neighbor, Jeremy, for advice. He worked for some overseas company doing God knows what. All I knew was that he is absolutely brilliant and pretty cute too.
As I was walking along I glanced at William's car. He's an infuriating man, but I know why he's on the force. They need men like William. It's too bad really-
An arm reached out and pulled me into the darkness behind the Sugar Shop. A hand was over my mouth just as I started to scream, and my elbows and feet met thin air as I tried to get at my attacker. Soon, exhaustion and panic began pulling at my muscles as I turned to face the men who held me. The Chicago Outfit. Fantastic.
"'Ave you r'considered our offer, miss?" One asked lightly in my ear.
Grunting, I replied sourly, "What's there to reconsider?"
A deep, threatening chuckle came from behind them. "Everything." His voice was low, with a Southie accent and a terrible threat behind it. "We'll be seeing you again. Think about it, okay? We like you, don't change that. A beautiful young woman like yourself, with your capabilities, you could have everything you ever wanted."
Too afraid to reply that I had everything I wanted, I just jerked my head in a sort-of nod and they left me to pant in the darkness.