Chapter 1: Chapter One
Josephine Lindholm had just finished restocking the liquorice when the bell above the shops door chimed signalling a customer, she turned around spotting Finn Shelby, he smiled when she made eye contact with him and hopped towards the counter,
"Tommy wants to see you," he announced once he arrived at the counter.
"Well if Tommy wants to see me, then he can come tell me himself." she replied with a small smile that widened when Finn grinned back at her.
Josephine walked around the counter and stared down at Finn with an inquisitive look on her face and crossed her arms across her chest, " And why Mr. Shelby are you not at school?" she asked.
The boy looked up with a cheeky grin and replied " I didn't want to go." Josephine tutted at him with a small frown on her face unimpressed, she also knew that his excuse wouldn't be accepted by Polly.
"I expect you go in tomorrow and if I find that you didn't, then I'll pick you up on Friday morning and take you there myself" Josephine hummed to Finn as she walked back around the counter and started to fill up a paper bag with various sweets and chocolates before handing them to Finn.
"Now shoo and don't tell your aunt Pol about these sweeties" She cautioned him as she motioned him towards the door with her hands. The 10 year-old nodded, quickly running away from the shop with the bag clutched tightly in his hand.
It wasn't until hours later did Thomas Shelby make his way into the sweet shop, his presence causing a hush amongst the customers who were inside and they quickly left the store as soon as he made a step towards the counter. Tommy didn't stop until he was directly across from the woman behind the till, taking off his cap Tommy levelled the young woman with a strong gaze, though the gaze didn't seem to bother her as she met her eyes with his with a small smile quirking her lips.
"You wanted to speak to me?"
"No, you wanted to speak to me Thomas, that's why you sent Finn to fetch me no?"
Tommy kept his gaze on the woman for a few moments before moving it around the shop, analysing it.
"It's about closing time now eh?" He asked her. Josephine rolled her eyes at Tommy's disregard for her question before answering him.
"It's about closing time yes. Why?"
"Arthur wants a family meeting." He replied, turning to face her, settling his gaze on her again.
Josephine made a noise of acknowledgement before she took off her apron and quickly wiped down the counters surfaces before heading to the coat rack and slipping on her coat, flipping off the lights Josephine walked towards the doors and stepped outside waiting for Tommy to join her before locking the doors shut.
Turning to face Tommy and taking his outstretched arm, the pair began to walk towards Watery Lane.
"What did you want to speak to me about Thomas?" Josephine asked, sparing a quick glance at him.
"Never you mind about that now eh." Once again Tommy had ignored her question and knowing better than to fight with him over this Josephine dropped the subject.
"Okay, so what is the family meeting about then?" Josephine asked, once again trying to get some information from Tommy.
"Something about Belfast and trouble" He replied.
"Ah! I'm guessing you're not involved in it?" She asked, sarcasm in her voice as she looked up at him with a smile on her face.
"Me? Trouble? Never." The grin he flashes her grows into a small smile as he hears her giggle and feels her tucking herself further into him.
Arriving at Watery Lane, Tommy pulls Josephine to a stop outside of the house stopping her from going inside. Though before she could ask what the problem was, Tommy had started speaking.
"It's Tommy not Thomas yeah? Aunt Pol is the only one to call me Thomas and she only does that when she's mad at me."
"And if I refuse?" Josephine's eyes were sparkling in amusement and mischief.
"I'll be forced to take matters into my own hands" Tommy murmured as he brought his hands up to gently grasp Josephine's face as he tilted his head down to plant a gentle kiss on her lips.
Josephine had a small smile on her face when Tommy had gone back to his original position.
"That's unfair" she pouted.
Tommy just grinned back at her before opening the door and motioning her inside.
Walking into the betting shop Josephine took a seat next to Polly greeting her with a quick 'Hello' and a kiss on the cheek along with flashing Ada a quick smile, Polly offers her a cigarette which she declines with a shake of her head. Arthur finally speaks up from where he's standing in the front of the room by the table,
"Right. I've called this family meeting because I've got some very important news. Scud-boat and Lovelock got back from Belfast last night. They were buying a stallion to cover their mares."
Arthur motions towards the two men beside who nod in agreement before he continues on. "They were in a pub on Shankhill Road yesterday and in that pub there was a copper, handing out these" He says pulling out some flyers and handing one to Ada which was quickly snatched out of her hands by John and gave to rest to Scud-boat to distribute amongst the room.
"If you're over five feet and can fight, come to Birmingham" John read out before handing the flyer to his Aunt Pol. Josephine peered over Polly's shoulder as they both read over the flyer and it contents.
"They're recruiting Protestant Irishmen to come over here as Specials." Arthur summarises as he sees everyone's confused expressions.
"To do what?" Ada asks, puzzled.
"To clean up the city, Ada." Tommy announces as he receives a flyer himself. "He's the Chief Inspector. The last four years he's been clearing the IRA out of Belfast."
Josephine's head turned towards Tommy, her eyebrows furrowed in confusion. Josephine wasn't dumb, she's known the Shelby's since before she could even speak so she knows what they do, she knows why they have razor blades sewn in their caps and while she was not a part of the official gang she still knew everything that went on with the Peaky Blinders so that's why she confused about why she was hearing about this Chief Inspector for the first time. Though seeing everyone else's expressions calmed her as it reassured her that Tommy wasn't deliberately not telling her stuff, something he tended to do to keep her 'safe'.
"How do you know so bloody much?" Arthur asked.
" 'Cause I asked the coppers on our payroll."
"Why didn't you tell me?" Arthur asked his anger building.
"I'm telling you" Tommy replied. The brothers stared each other down, their eyes still locked as Arthur took a swig from his flask.
"So why are they sending him to Birmingham?" Polly asks, breaking the stare down between the two brothers.
"There's been all these bloody strikes at the BSA and the Austen works lately. Now the papers are talking about sedition and revolution. I reckon it's communists he's after." Josephine noticed Ada's body language changing at the mention of the BSA and the communists and tried to catch her eye but Ada was purposely avoiding looking at her.
"So this copper is gonna leave us alone, right? Polly asked, looking at Tommy for confirmation.
"There are Irishmen in Green Lanes who left Belfast to get away from him. They say Catholic men who crossed him used to disappear in the night." Tommy responded to her. Josephine frowned at the description of this man, she didn't like the sound of him, to her he sounded like trouble.
"Yeah, but we ain't IRA. We bloody fought for the king." John spoke up bringing the attention of the room to him. "Anyway, we're Peaky Blinders. We're not scared of coppers."
"He's right." Arthur agreed.
"If they come for us, we'll cut them a smile each." John continued and Josephine rolled her eyes at the man.
"So Arthur, is that it?" Tommy asks his elder brother.
Arthur looks to his aunt instead of answering Tommy directly, "What do you think, Aunt Pol?"
"This family does everything open. You have nothing more to say to this meeting, Thomas?" Polly asks Tommy.
"No. Nothing that's women's business." He responds shaking his and causing a reaction from the women sat in the den.
"Tommy!" Josephine exclaimed, shooting Tommy a glare. She felt offended on behalf of Polly and Ada who ran the business whilst the boys were away and although Josephine had to run her family's business whilst the war was happening, she helped out Polly and Ada whenever she could.
"This whole bloody enterprise was women's business while you boys were away at war. What's changed?" Polly asked her nephew
"We came back." Tommy simply replied.
Tommy moves to leave, motioning for Josephine to join him but she ignores him and turns to face Polly, still annoyed by his remark. Tommy sighs at her but decides not to push her knowing it'll only make her more mad and leaves by himself.
"You've cut it." Polly says reaching over to wrap a few strands of Josephine's curly around her finger once everyone had left and they had made their way into the kitchen. "You should of kept it long, it suits you better."
"Thanks" Josephine responded drily, "I'll be sure not to cut it in the future."
Polly hummed in approval, getting up to make tea for the both of them.
"So, how's your father doing?" Polly asked over the sound of the kettle boiling the water over the stove.
"He's fine." Josephine replies, flicking through the newspaper someone left on the table, she didn't have to look up to know Polly was shooting her a look which said that she didn't approve of her answer.
Sighing Josephine folds up the newspaper and turns towards Polly, "He's doing better, I'm pretty sure he's accepted what happened and is trying to move on I guess but he's bored Polly. He can't help out much with the shop and some of the kids get scared of him when he serves so he's stopped doing that." Josephine trailed off getting upset at the thought of her father suffering. Polly walked over with a tray that had two teacups and a saucer with a few biscuits on it,
"Send him my way on Monday, I'm sure I'll find something for that man to do." Polly said sitting down.
"None of that now. Send him here or I'll come and pick him up myself" Polly interrupted her before she finish her sentence. Josephine smiled a small smile behind the rim of her teacup as the woman changed the subject and began to gossip.
The next day Finn came speeding into the store the next day shouting for Josephine, luckily there was only the girl and her father in the shop at that moment.
"Josey! Arthur's in trouble!" Finn said out of breath. Running to the woman, Finn tried to pull her up from her seat by pulling on her arm but Josephine wasn't having any of it, she pulled her arm out of his grip and took him by the shoulders to keep him still.
"Finn calm down and repeat what you said. Slowly."
"Arthur's in trouble, he's been injured and Aunt Polly sent me to get you." Hearing this the young woman shot up off her seat, she turned to look at her father and he quickly nodded in understanding, seeing that Josephine grabbed Finn's hand and dashed out of the shop and towards Watery Lane. Upon entering the house Josephine quickly shuffled Finn upstairs not wanting him to see Arthur in the state he was in and walked into the parlour where everyone bar Tommy was and quickly walked over to Arthur's side.
"Jesus Christ Arthur, what happened this time?" She asked but all she got in response was a grunt from him.
"John, wipe the blood out of his eye." Ada ordered as she grabbed a cloth.
"Since when did you give orders?" Asked John as Ada squeezed the cloth out.
"She's a trained nurse didn't you know?" Josephine butted in with a smile that only widened at the sight of Ada's glare.
"Don't make me laugh, it hurts me face." Arthur snorts as Polly gets to work on setting his thumb.
"I bloody am." Ada said already tired of the teasing her brothers were giving her.
"You went to one first aid class in the church hall and got thrown out for giggling" John said to her laughing.
"Not before learning how to stop somebody from choking" Ada shot one more glare at her brothers before moving around to kitchen picking up supplies
"I'm not bloody choking, am I?" Arthur bit back.
"You will be when I wrap this cloth 'round your neck." Ada shot back as Josephine and John laughed in the background but their laughing stops as Tommy walks into the parlour giving the bottle of rum he brought with him to Arthur before taking it off him and using it to douse a cloth which he then pressed against Arthur's face. Arthur hissed in pain before Tommy reassured him.
"He said Mr. Churchill sent him to Birmingham. National interest, he said. Something about a robbery." Arthur hissed at Tommy through the pain and Josephine catches the glare Polly throws at her nephew.
"He said he wants us to help him"
"We don't help coppers." John pipes up, offended.
"He knew all about our war records. He said we're patriots like him." Arthur continued. "He said he wants us to be his eyes and ears."
"I said we'd have a family meeting and take a vote" Arthur announced this to the room but his gaze remained locked on Tommy.
"Well, why not? Mmm? We have no truck with Fenians or communists." Arthur asks, his anger building at Tommy's nonchalant attitude to the situation.
"What the fuck is wrong with you? Polly, what is wrong with him lately?" Arthur finally bursts, fed up with Tommy.
Polly replies, her eyes still on Tommy, "If I knew, I'd buy the cure from Compton's chemists."
Tommy grabs his coat getting to leave, "Arthur, you're broken up pretty bad.", he pulls on his coat and walks towards Josephine, grabbing her hand and walked towards the front door, dragging Josephine behind him and ignoring Polly's shout of his name.
"Tommy, wait! Where are we going?" Josephine asks trying to keep up with Tommy's strides.
Slowing down Tommy allows her to walk alongside of him, "Home."
"Home? What do you mean 'home' Thomas? It's the middle of the day!"
Tommy ignores her causing her to roll her eyes at him but she squeezed his hand that held hers and continued to walk to their shared home before asking another question.
"What was that all about with Polly, Tommy? And don't lie to me, I won't stand for it."
"I'll tell you later" He promises.
Josephine stops walking, pausing in the middle of the street and turning to face Tommy who's eyebrows shot up in question.
She held out her pinky finger to him, "Pinky Promise?", she asks.
Tommy doesn't make any movement, disbelieve in eyes as he stares down the young woman and once again his stare doesn't disturb the girl as she raises an eyebrow and wiggles her finger. Tommy allows himself to smile as he raises his hand and hooks his pinky finger around hers and shakes it up and down, "I promise."
The woman beamed up at him before taking his arm and wrapping it around herself and continued their walk back to their place.
I'm glad everyone likes it so far, it gives me encouragement to keep on working :) and yes grace is in this, she might come in next chapter
Josephine and Tommy laid in bed with only a thin bed sheet to cover their half naked bodies. Josephine was asleep, she had been for hours whereas Tommy laid awake, the fear of having his nightmares keeping him awake.Tommy shifts himself to sit up against the headboard and lights himself a cigarette before he turns his gaze towards Josephine. He loves her, he really does. To him, Josephine is the single most important thing in his life and everything he does with the business is so he can make life better for her. For him. For his family. Before the war he had always envisioned a future with her, somewhere in the country with a handful of kids and him working with horses. A simple life was all that he wanted and needed before the war came but then the war did come and with that so did his dreams and plans.
Josephine twitches beside him before letting out a groan and slowly opening her eyes and she rubs them before squinting up at Tommy, "What time is it?" She asks.
Tommy looks towards the wall where the clock hangs, "4 a.m."Josephine whines at his response as she tucks herself into his side. "Too early" She grumbles annoyed at herself for waking up this early.
Tommy’s eyes flickered towards his bedside drawer, his mind on a small box in particular and in that box held an engagement ring. Tommy sat up straight, he had made his mind up and he was going to propose to her and he was going to do it today, he was going to do it right now.
The couple lay in silence for a bit longer as Tommy built up the courage to propose.
"Let's get married", Tommy blurts overwhelmed and when he feels Josephine's body tense against his, his heart breaks a bit fearing the worst. Tommy closes his eyes not wanting to watch her as she rejects him.
"Married?! Are you serious?" Josephine asks, sitting up and pulling out of his embrace and when he doesn't respond she pinches his arm to get him to open his eyes and when he does he's met with the biggest smile he's ever seen on her face.
Tommy returned her smile and reached over to his bedside table and retrieved the small box out of one of the draws. Josephine gasped when she saw the ring, it was utterly beautiful and she couldn't believe Tommy had gotten it for her. It was silver with a diamond in the centre with leaves on each side surrounding it. Josephine reached for it before she stopped and looked at Tommy with an expectant look on her face.
'What?' Tommy asked.
"Aren't you gonna ask me?"
"I did" Tommy responds dryly.
"No, do it properly! This may be my only chance of being proposed to!" She shoots back.
Tommy huffs but with the smile still on his face he shuffles into a kneeling position in front of her, still on the bed.
"Josephine Linnea Lindholm," Josephine rolls her eyes at his use of her middle name knowing he's only doing it to be petty, " will you do me the honour of becoming my wife?"
Josephine quickly nodded before squealing and wrapping her arms around him in a hug before pulling back and allowing him to slip the ring on her finger.
Looking up at Tommy, Josephine quickly pressed her lips to his for a quick kiss before pulling back and admiring the ring.
"I was wondering when you were going to do that," she confessed to Tommy as getting back into bed. "I'm pretty your Aunt Pol is running a bet with your brothers about it as well," she continued as they laid down facing each other. Tommy's eyebrows twitched in amusement at her statement as he leaned over her, kissing her again but this time the kiss became more passionate.
Hours later Tommy walks through the house at Watery Lane with the aim to get to his office in the betting den but stopped short when he noticed his Aunt Polly along with Josephine's father sat in the kitchen.
Tommy had a lot of respect for Jonas Lindholm, the man had been more of a father figure to Tommy and his brothers than his own father. Jonas had immigrated to England from Sweden and then found himself a home within Birmingham and then opened up the candy shop that is well known throughout Small Heath. Even though when his wife and Josephine's mother had died, Jonas still helped out with the Shelby family as much as he could when their mother died and their father had abandoned him, that's why him and Polly Gray got along so well, their love and respect for each other's family. But during the war, Jonas lost one of his arms due to a bomb and was sent back early, so that's why it wasn't uncommon to see him and Polly with each other as the older woman helped Josephine take care of the man so she wasn't overwhelmed and through that the heads of their families became friends.
"Mr. Lindholm!" Tommy called out as he made his way into the kitchen and over to the older man, greeting him with a handshake and the man greeted him back with a smile. They had only managed to exchange pleasantries before the front door opened again and Josephine called out for Polly, “Polly, have seen papa? I can’t find him anywhere.” She asked wondering into the kitchen before pausing at the sight of all three of them together. “Oh there you are, I thought you weren’t supposed to come round till Monday” Josephine told her father. “I still am,” He assured her, “Polly just invited me around for some tea.”
Polly gasped in shock when Josephine reached over the table for a biscuit after grabbing a seat next to her father and when everyone looked over to her, the only response she had was to pull the hand that was reaching for the biscuits closer to, specifically focusing on the ring that rested on her finger, “I can’t believe he’s finally done it” She murmurs and Josephine flashes her a smile and walks around the table so Polly can get a better look and Jonas who had finally figured out what was happening stood up and brought Tommy into a one-armed hug,
“Congrats son” He whispered into Tommy’s ear whilst he embraced him and those two words meant a lot to Tommy.
“What’s all this then?” John and Arthur walked into the kitchen from the betting den. “Your brothers finally proposed to Josey,” Polly informed them causing them to erupt in cheers as they made their way over to Tommy to congratulate him.
“Alright alright” Tommy called over all the noise, “we’ll celebrate later, at the garrison. Now back to work.” With one more call of celebrations, the Shelby’s and Polly went into the betting den and Josephine and her father leaving the house to go back to their store.
Later that night when the four of them; Tommy, Josephine, Arthur and John were walking towards the Garrison with Polly, Ada and Jonas planning on joining them later they heard the sound of men singing down the road from the Garrison making Josephine’s eyebrows raise. “Is that singing I hear?”
“Yeah, it’s all ‘cuz of that new barmaid.” John replied to her a few steps ahead
“Barmaid?! There’s an actual woman working at the Garrison? God save her soul.” Josephine was shocked, the Garrison was crazy on a regular day never mind when there’s a football match or a race going on, Josephine had to give her kudos considering it wasn’t it wasn’t an easy job.
“What do you know ‘bout god ey?” John teased her causing her to pull away from Tommy and whack him around the head, “Shut up you!” she laughed, no real malice in her actions or words.
“Anyway, there’s seriously a barmaid in the Garrison?” Josephine asked Tommy as she walked back to him and he nodded back to her and she hummed impressed.
Walking into the pub Josephine saw the supposed new barmaid stood on a little make-shift stage singing, and even when all the men in the pub suddenly stopped singing along and turned away peering into their beers once the Shelby’s walked in, she kept on singing, staring at Tommy as he stared back and Josephine didn’t miss the interaction between the two of them and so she squeezed the hand that was holding hers to bring his attention away from the pretty barmaid.
“We haven’t had singing in ‘ere since the war.” Harry pipes up, nervous.
“Why do you think that is Harry?” Tommy asked, glaring slightly at the older man.
Before any tension could build Arthur calls out to the barman, “Give us a couple bottles of our usual plus some champagne, we’re celebrating!”
“Celebrating?” Harry asked slightly baffled by the request of champagne.
“Yeah! Our Tommy has finally proposed to Josey, they’re getting married!” This time it was John who spoke making Josephine laugh, “You’d think their the ones getting married by the way they’re reacting” she whispered to Tommy as the rest of the men in the pub began to cheer, though it was mostly out of fear than anything else but that didn’t bother the Shelby brothers.
When John spoke up nodding towards to couple it was the first time Grace saw the young woman besides Tommy. ‘She’s pretty’ Grace thought, ‘really pretty’ watching as the four of them walked to their snug, the chatter between the patrons starting up again as the doors shut behind them. Grace couldn’t help but be slightly jealous of her; Josephine had warm tan skin, honey coloured eyes and curly brown hair. Pretty was the wrong word to use Grace thought, no, Josephine was gorgeous.
Moments after they got settled the window between the bar and the snug opened and Harry placed the two bottles of whisky along with the bottle of champagne with several glasses. Harry quickly congratulated them before closing the window and going back to the main bar.
Arthur poured everyone a drink before he sat back and took a good look at the couple, “I’m glad that you’re finally getting married, I honestly thought Tommy was gonna do it before the war” he gruffed out.
Josephine had a special place in her heart for Arthur, being an only child Arthur had become an older brother to her growing up. He had scared off bullies and taught her a lot of life lessons. She also held a lot of respect for him, she remembers when she growing up that the Shelby’s didn’t have the best home life and that their abusive father was the cause of it and since he was absent half the time it meant that Arthur had to shoulder a lot of responsibility and care for his younger siblings. The war had changed him but Josephine could still see glimpses of the man he used to be.
“Yea, Aunt Pol even has a bet going” John laughed as the doors to the snug swung open and Polly, Jonas and Ada walked in.
“Right I do John, now pay up” Polly said walking towards John and Arthur her hand held up expecting payment, the boys made a spectacle about it but paid their aunt.
Josephine jumped up spotting Ada and moved over to her whispering and hugging her excitedly. Despite being a few years older than Ada they became close friends, Ada being the only girl in her family found Josephine to be an older sister-like figure and a friend that she could rely on. Pulling Ada over to the seats the girls began to chat and giggle to each other and when Polly joined them, the three of them gushed over Josephine’s ring.
Tommy sat across from them deep in thought for a moment before he felt someone sit next to him, turning his head he saw it was Josephine’s father. Tommy reached to pour the man a drink and received a smile in thanks when he handed it to the older man.
“We haven’t had a chance to speak yet.” Jonas spoke first.
“No, we haven’t” Tommy said looking down at his glass feeling a bit guilty about not asking for Jonas’ permission first. In any other scenario Tommy wouldn’t care but the man meant a lot to both him and Josephine that he couldn’t help but think he owed it to the man.
“I’m not mad you know” Jonas smiled, “I’m glad she has you. I know that if I leave this earth that she has you and I know you may feel like you don’t deserve her but you do Tommy, you do.” Across from them Josephine looked up and threw a smile at the most important men in her life who returned her smile with their own.
Later after they had finished drinking in the Garrison, Josephine sat in front of her vanity removing her makeup and brushing her hair back into a loose ponytail watching Tommy through the mirror, something was clearly on his mind as he gazed mindlessly at her from their bed.
“What’s wrong?” She asked, still watching him through the mirror. She watched as he raised his eyes to meet hers, he paused for a moment before he opened his mouth, "I don't want to ruin your day." Josephine sighed before getting up and sitting next to Tommy on the bed, reaching for his hand and holding it between both of hers she told Tommy to tell her what was happening.
“My men made a mistake,” he starts off slowly, “I had a buyer in London for some motorcycles. I asked my men to steal me four bikes with petrol engines. I’m guessing my men were drunk. There’s a still inside the factory makes tram line gin...they picked up the wrong fucking crate.”
“What was in the crate Thomas?” Josephine was on edge.
“The boys delivered it to Charlies’s yard as agreed. They must’ve taken it from the proofing bay instead of the export bay...inside the crate we found twenty-five Lewis machine guns with ten-thousand rounds of ammunition. Fifty semi automatic rifles, two hundred pistols with shells...all bound of Libya. Sitting right there in Charlie Strong’s yard.” Tommy finished off.
Josephine let out a sigh of disbelief, she knows that the Peaky Blinders are from legal, especially since after the war when all the men were sent to France to fight for their king with many dying on the battlefield or coming back physically injured and then unceremoniously dumped when the war was done with barely any thanks, they had to find ways to survive back in the regular world and provide for their families and that meant having to do illegal things. Thomas shelby is a bookmaker, a robber, a fighting man but this was truly something else and Josephine was leaning towards foolish.
“Jesus Christ Tommy, where are they now?”
“Pol told me to throw them into the cut” He answers, still not looking at her.
“But you didn’t did you?” She asked but the question was rhetorical. “Where are they Thomas?”
“Charlie’s yard, we’ll move them in a few days.” Tommy said with finality, finally bringing his eyes up to hers. Josephine wanted to push the topic but knew it would end in an argument which she didn’t want to do tonight, especially since they were meant to be celebrating but she could still see something weighing on him.
“What else is wrong Tommy?”
Tommy took in a breath in before releasing it, “Danny Whizz Bang was having one of his episodes and killed a Italian, they wanted to kill him their way but I couldn’t let do that, he deserved better so I killed him myself.” Tommy decided against telling her the truth about Danny, wanting to keep her safe if the situation ever ended up blowing back on him.
“Oh Tommy” Josephine whimpered pulling Tommy into her arms, cuddling him and kissing him on the forehead a few times. “My poor baby” Tommy grumbled into her neck not happy about the term of endearment, causing Josephine to giggle, moments like this reminded her of Tommy before the war and so she was going to make the most of the moments like this that he gave her.
This was actually meant to be posted about 4 hours ago lol but also I switched the timeline up a bit in this chapter since I following the script for the most part and it made a bit more sense
Chapter 4: Chapter Four
Josephine watched from their shared bed as Tommy got ready for a day at the fair with his brothers, she was slightly jealous as she loved the fair and hadn’t been since before the war but she had to stay behind in Small Heath to help her father out with their store. She walked on the bed with her knees until she was at the end of it and close to Tommy, she reached over and did up his top button for him, “Bring me back some sweets yeah?”,
Tommy gave her a look, “Josey...you run a sweet store with your father”
“And?” Josephine asked climbing off the bed and following him as he walked downstairs, “it’s not the same is it?”
Tommy reached for his coat that was hanging by the door before facing her, “How is it not?”
“It’s just not, Tommy” Josephine smiled at him and he smiled back before walking to her to give her a goodbye kiss. He turned to walk to the door hearing Josephine’s footsteps behind him, giving her one more kiss, he walked to his car,
“Say hello to Johnny Dogs for me!...and don’t forget my sweeties” Josephine yelled from the doorway, laughing as Tommy sent her a wink before speeding off.
“Tommy!” Johnny Dogs cheered as Tommy stepped out of the car.
“Johnny Dogs” Tommy greeted back.
“Tommy, how the hell are ya?” Johnny asked, climbing up the small hill to the boys.
“All the better for getting the city smoke out of me lungs”
“I thought you became a bit too grand for us” Johnny said, his Irish accent clear as day.
“I’ve been busy.” Tommy replied, lighting a cigarette.
“I’m riding with the Lee family now”
“I heard. Myself, I’d rather live with pigs”, Tommy looked at the Lee boys with disgust.
“Come on, Tommy. No disputing.” said Johnny Dogs, trying to prevent a fight. “So, your first fair since France?”
“What do you know about France, you war-shy Gypsy bastard?” Tommy answered his eyes following the white horse that was walked past him.
“So this is the horse?” He asked, walking up to it to get a better look.
Johnny had a small smile on his face, “And that’s the car.”
Tommy walked over to the horse, looking it over. Running his hand over it and lifting one of its legs to check it over while Johnny Dogs walked over to the car to do his own inspection.
“You’re not swapping the family car for a bloody horse.” Arthur angrily questions
“Of course we’re not swapping it. Ah. That’ll be mad” Johnny says walking back to the group
“We’re going to play two-up” Tommy explains to Arthur.
Tommy and Johnny dogs flipped their coins up into the air and they landed they bent down to see what side they landed on, satisfied they picked their coins up before spitting into their hands and shaking them. Tommy handed Johnny the keys to the car.
“I knew it.” Arthur was angry, “I knew it. Tommy you bloody idiot.”
“Shut up, Arthur, I won.” Tommy interrupted Arthur before he could go on a rant. “I promised Johnny, I’d let him have a spin in the car if he lost” He continued motioning Johnny towards the car with his head.
The Lee boys were laughing at Arthur’s embarrassment and Tommy wasn’t having that.
“Are you Lee boys laughing at my brother?” He asked, walking towards them. “Are ya? Eh? I asked you a question.”
“Tommy! Tommy! C’mon! Come on, it’s just a crack” Johnny Dogs was quick to play mediator. “Get your family out of ‘ere and go and enjoy yourselves at the fair before they start a war”
“Go on. Go. They’re from good people, their grandad was a King. Their granddad was a King” Johnny quickly explained to the Lee boys in Romani.
“Yeah, but his mother was a Diddicoy whore and his woman is a black bastard.” One of them replies.
Tommy was already going to fight them for their comments about his mother but their comments about Josephine made him see red. Ripping off his cap, Tommy turned towards the closest Lee boy and slashed his face, John and Arthur joining in and fighting the other men. Tommy walked over to the man who made the comment and beat him with a series of punches and kicks.
Tommy had made his way to Josephine’s and her father's shop after he arrived back in Small Heath and had a small meeting with his family. Opening the door, he was greeted by Jonas who was manning the till, the older man gave him a brief smile before motioning his towards the back room before getting back to his customers.
Josephine was eating a sandwich and reading the newspaper, her head lifting at the sound of his footsteps, though it was a frown she gave him instead of her usual smile as she let her gaze look over him.
“What happened?” If Josephine was being entirely honest with herself she was getting tired of asking that question to Tommy.
“Had a little fight with the Lee boys, nothing to worry about, don’t worry”
“‘Don’t worry’” Josephine scoffs back at him, standing up and walking over to Tommy to get a better look at him, “I’m your fiance, of course I’ll worry about you.”
Tommy lent down to give her a quick kiss before turning around to walk back into the main store, “Anyway, I came here for something,” he said reaching for the portrait of the King that rested on the back wall and taking off.
“Tommy, what? What are you doing?”
“We’re having a fire tonight, come down to Watery Lane when you’ve closed up.” He told her, making her more confused.
With one more nod at Jonas, Tommy left the shop with the Kings portrait tucked under his arm. The father and daughter looked at each other in confusion though they couldn’t wonder for long as they had to get back to their customers.
As promised, Josephine and Jonas walked down to Watery Lane after they closed up the shop, running into John and Finn on the way,
“Right, what’s this all about then?” Josephine asked John.
“Tommy wants to send a message.”
“By burning portraits of the king?”
“Right…” Josephine realised that she was asking the wrong person and decided to ask Tommy when she saw him.
Walking up to Tommy and Arthur, she stood watching the fire for a moment before turning to Tommy,
“You gonna tell what this is all about? ‘Cuz I tried asking John but he’s as dumb as they come”
“Oi!” John yelled to her, overhearing her comment about him.
“That Chief Inspector came around ‘ere earlier whilst we were at the fair. Smashed up houses, the church and pubs that weren't the Garrison, said we’d given them permission” Tommy took a long drag of the cigarette that he held in his hand.
“I hope to god you know what you’re doing.” Josephine said to him slightly shocked. Turning to face the fire again, she spotted Finn drinking out of the corner of her eye.
“Jesus Christ!” She said, darting over to him and pulling the mug out of his hand, she turned to John knowing it was his,
“Stop giving Finn alcohol for fucks sake!” Josephine nagged at him, telling him off. “He’s only eleven!”
“Oh come off it, Josey. We all drank at eleven,” Arthur piped up.
“Yeah and look how well that turned out,” She muttered back, “I wouldn’t brag about it if I were you.” Tommy stifled a laugh at her comment.
Turning back to Finn, she sent him off to play with his friends and returned John’s beer back to him, she walked back to her previous position and accepted the bottle offered to her by Arthur, taking a few swigs before handing it back to him.
They stood like that for a while, Josephine holding Tommy’s hand, the four of them not speaking, the crowd surrounding them loud enough until Fred came pushing through the crowds with someone following him.
“You’re Mr. Shelby?” The man asked.
“I am.” Tommy replied take a drag of his cigarette.
Josephine squeezed Tommy hand before leaving him to do whatever he needed to do and going over to her father and Polly.
The next morning, Josephine sat with Polly in the house on Watery Lane having breakfast when Ada finally woke and came downstairs to join them.
“Good of you to join us.” Polly told her, barely glancing away from the newspaper. “Where have you been all day?”
“In bed. Couldn’t sleep. Then I couldn’t wake up. Then I was cold and then I had to go for a wee.” Ada explained, making herself breakfast. “Then I was with this bear on a boat, but that was just a dream. Then I was hungry.”
“Why are you reading the paper?” Ada then asks.
“Why wouldn’t I be?”
“I’ve never seen you read the paper. I’ve only seen you light fires with them.” Ada explains, dumping a large amount of jam on her bread, causing Josephine to frown at her actions.
“BSA are on strike. The miners are on strike. IRA are killing our boys, ten a day.” Polly reads out, both her and Josephine watching as Ada stuffs her face.
“What?” Ada asked, noticing their gaze.
“Stand up” Polly suddenly asks Ada.
“Just stand up” Polly places her cup of tea on the table, standing up along with Ada.
Polly walks around Ada, running her scrutinizing eyes across her body before telling her to stand sideways, she then suddenly grabs one of Ada’s breasts.
Ada jumps away in shock, “What are you doing?!”
“Ada, how late are you?”
“Jesus Christ” Josephine breathes out, leaning back on her chair and ignoring Polly’s pointed look, finally understanding what Polly was thinking.
“One week.” Ada looked around the room before realising she couldn’t escape, “five weeks...seven if you count weekends. I think it’s a lack of iron. I got some tablets”
“But they didn’t work.” Polly told her, matter of fact.
Josephine found herself standing outside Mrs. Simeons waiting for Ada and Polly, a hat and shawl covering up her face as much as possible so no-one would recognise her. She quickly followed Ada and Polly as they walked out and down the street.
“Keep bloody walking, Ada. If anybody sees us here they’ll know.”
“I’m not getting rid of it, Aunt Pol.” Ada was on the brink of tears, her voice wobbling with every word she spoke.
“Let’s get home first, we can talk about it” Josephine said, coming to the otherside of Ada and putting a comforting hand on her arm.
“You get off me or I’ll scream it. I swear.” Ada said, pulling away from the both of us.
”Alright, you want to do this on the street, let’s do it.” Polly’s patience was wearing thin,”Whose is it?”
“If I tell you, you’ll tell them and they’ll cut him to pieces” Ada said, finally opening up.
“Not if he marries you, he won’t.”
“If it’s who I think it is, then it won’t matter if he marries her or not, they’ll kill him either way.” Josephine said, shooting Ada a knowing look.
“Who is it? Will he marry you?” Polly was curious now, not liking being the only one who didn’t know who the father was.
“I don’t know where he is.” Ada breathes out
“Jesus Christ, Ada!” Josephine and Polly both groan out.
“He’s gone away but he said he’ll come back.” Ada is quick to defend the man.
“But they all say they’ll come back.” Polly rebuttals just as quick.
“He’s not like that. He’s a good man. He promised” Ada quickly breaks down in tears.”He will come back, I know he will!”
Josephine runs a soothing hand across Ada’s back whilst sharing a look of concern and disbelief with Polly.
Josephine took Ada out to the cinema in hopes to cheer her up a bit, whilst Polly did the dirty work of telling Tommy the news. She and Ada were enjoying the film, sharing a bag of popcorn when Tommy walks in, taking a seat next to Ada, and a surprised look came on his face as he noticed his fiance sitting on her other side.
“Tell me that man’s name, Ada.” Tommy sighed out.
“Rudolf Valentino.” Josephine couldn’t help but smile at Ada’s answer, she also had to give Ada credit for standing her ground.
Tommy quickly stood up and left the auditorium and it wasn’t long till the movie cut out and the lights turned on, Josephine rolled her eyes knowing this was about to get messy.
“Get out!” Tommy shouted as he walked back into the auditorium, “All of you! Go on! Now!”
“I said, tell me his fucking name.”
“Freddie fucking Thorne! Yeah. Your best mate since school. The man who saved your life in France! So go on! Go on, cut him! Cut him up and chuck him in the cut!” Ada called out.
Tommy stormed out and Josephine quickly jumped up to follow him, giving Ada a comforting pat on the arm, she quickly left as well, calling out his name.
“Tommy! Tommy, wait” Josephine had finally caught up to him just a bit away from the cinema and luckily out of the public's view.
“What ey?! How long have you known about this hmm?” Tommy burst, rounding on her. Josephine took a slight step back in fear before she spoke again.
“I actually only found out today but even if I didn’t, why would it matter Tommy? It’s not my business to tell.”
“So you going around keeping secrets too eh? What else has happened that I don’t know about ey?” Tommy kept on shouting, “Did you ever get pregnant and not tell me huh? Did you get rid of it? Ey?!”
Josephine’s throat closed up and her eyes quickly filled with tears that she refused to spill in front of him. She didn’t think she could speak without crying so she shot him a harsh glare and ran off to Polly’s.
Chapter 5: Chapter Five
Tommy hung around in the Garrison, in the snug until he knew it was safe to go back to Watery Lane without running into Josephine, he planned on keeping himself locked up in his office until the early hours of the morning before going home, hoping that Josephine was asleep when he did but his plans changed as soon as he walked in and saw his Aunt Pol sitting in the kitchen with an unimpressed look on her face and not wanting to piss her off, he sat down opposite her.
“I did not raise you to be a fool, Thomas and yet here you are. Do you truly believe that if Josey ever got pregnant she wouldn’t tell you?” Polly wasn’t wasting any time and went straight to the point.
“Of course not. I didn’t mean what I said, I was just angry with Ada and Freddie.” Tommy replied, lighting a cigarette.
“That’s not an excuse Tommy.” Polly sighed, “That girl is too good for you. You need to apologize, so don’t even think about hiding out in here until you think it’s safe.”
Tommy didn’t even try to act surprised about Polly knowing his plans, he was sure that his aunt knew himself better than he did, so he left the house on Watery Lane and his way to the house he shared with Josephine.
Stepping into the house he could hear the noise of the radio along with the sound of Josephine quietly humming along with it from the kitchen, walking into the kitchen he knew that Josephine knew he was there and was simply ignoring his presence.
Josephine turned her head over her shoulder to look at him before turning back to continue washing up, “What are you sorry for, Thomas?”
“I’m sorry for accusing you of ever getting pregnant and getting rid of it, I was angry about Ada and Freddie but that was no reason to treat you the way I did.” Josephine could hear the sincerity of his words, so she dried her hands and turned to face him.
“That really hurt me Thomas. I know since you’ve changed since coming back and I understand that and I’m not holding that against you but you really can’t speak to me like that. Do you understand me?”
“I know, I’m sorry.” The small smile she gave him was all he needed before he walked towards her and gathered her in his arms and pressed a kiss to her forehead.
“I love you, Tommy.” Josephine murmured to him, hugging him tight.
The Garrison was quiet and nearly empty when Josephine walked in, unable to find Tommy at the betting den, she decided to check the Garrison to see if he was in there, knowing he liked to hide away in the snug for peace and quiet when she came across the blonde barmaid behind the bar cleaning glasses. Figuring that now was as good a time as any to introduce herself, Josephine walked up to the bar.
“Hi, I’m Josephine, you must be the new barmaid everyone is talking about.” She introduced herself with a kind smile and her hand outstretched.
“Yes...I’m Grace” the blonde replied, shaking her hand.
“I must admit, it’s quite...brave you do this job,” Josephine paused thinking of the right word to say before continuing, “the men here can be quite rambunctious, especially since coming back from the war but you handle them very well! It’s great to see, honestly.”
Grace slightly relaxed at the girls words and the sight of her grin once she finished speaking, she didn’t know why she felt so on-edge about the young woman, Joesphine was nice and kind but a little voice in her head was telling her that she was jealous, that it was unfair that Josephine got to him first. Grace had only come across Tommy a few times and was already attracted to him, yet stood in front of her was his fiance and Grace couldn’t help but want to be mean to her, to hurt her, so that’s what she did.
“Thank you. You’re Tommy’s fiance right?”
“Uh-huh” Josephine hummed in agreement, “speaking of, is he in?” she asked, nodding towards the snug.
Grace shook her head in response before taking a moment to speak her next words, “you know Tommy invited me to the races…” she said slowly, eyes trained on Josephine trying to gauge her reaction.
Josephine didn’t know how to feel about this new information but she couldn’t help the grimace appeared on her face, she couldn’t help the twisting feeling in her guts, she couldn’t help the clenching feeling she got on her heart.
“That’s nice, I hope you enjoy it” Josephine offered Grace a small smile, much more subdued than what she was like when she first walked in before leaving the pub.
Grace felt smug about the effect her words had on Josephine, she didn’t feel guilty either, in fact she felt quite proud about what she had done.
Josephine paused for a moment after she exited the pub, she felt a bit conflicted so she went to the only place she knew where she could get answers; the church. Though she wasn’t going there to pray, no, she was going for Polly Gray and just like she expected, Polly Gray was sitting alone at a church pew, her head bowed in prayer when she walked in. Polly glanced at her before speaking,
“Speak your mind child.”
“That new girl at the Garrison, Grace, what’s your opinion about her?” Josephine asked.
Polly sat up straight against the bench and turned and faced her, “ Well, I don’t know much about her, all I really know is that she comes from Ireland. Not enough to form an opinion about her, why do you ask?”
“I just went to the Garrison, looking for Tommy, we spoke for a bit before she told me that Tommy invited her to the races.” Josephine quietly explained.
Polly scowled, already not liking the woman from the description of the interaction.
“And she knew you were his fiance?” Josephine hummed in agreement. “Keep your distance from her, it’ll do you no good to hang about with a woman like that, she knew you two were together yet she still told you about the races. I wouldn’t trust her if I were you” Polly advised.
“Don’t tell Tommy either. Make it a test, see if he’ll bring it up first.” Polly added on.
Josephine thanked Polly for her advice and then took her out for lunch.
When Tommy came home that night Josephine did what Polly told her to do and kept her mouth shut about Grace and the races, wanting to see if he would say anything -which he didn’t and despite how much she wanted to bring it up, she kept quiet and they went to bed, their limbs entangled as they fell asleep.
Tommy shot up with a gasp, he had another nightmare about the tunnels, he looked towards the wall where he’d usually hear the scraping of the shovels against it and slowly regulated his breathing when he couldn’t hear them. Tommy looked at Josephine who was still peacefully sleeping and could not help but feel jealous, he yearned for the day where he could fall asleep easily without the use of opium but he’d do all over again to keep her safe. Though her peaceful sleep didn’t last long as a series of bangs on the door and calls of his name woke her up. Tommy quickly peered out the window and saw it was Curly who was calling for him.
“Tommy?” Josephine asked, her voice thick with sleep.
“It’s alright love, it’s just Curly. I’ll be back soon. Go back to sleep.” He comforted her before quickly getting dressed and leaving.
Curly and Tommy quickly dashed through the rain to the stables. Tommy took his hat off as he approached the horse that had one of its legs pulled up so it couldn’t stand on it. Tommy turned towards curly for an explanation, “Curly, tell me.”
“It’s a curse, Tom.” Curly stuttered.
“Curly...shh, shh, shh.” Tommy tried to calm the man down, not wanting him to get worked up.
“Tell me. Tell me, Curly, what’s wrong with the horse?”
“You bought it at the fair in bad feeling. The Lees put a bad seed in the hoof. Got an old woman to put a spell!” Curly stuttered out.
Tommy walked back to the horse and took a long look at it before speaking, “So those Lee bastards cursed him.”
“Whatever it is, he says its spread to the other feet.” Uncle Charlie said
“It’s going to his heart by tomorrow, I’d say” Curly added on, “seen curses like this twice. Can’t take them back, Tom! No!”
Tommy ran his hands across his face in frustration.
“I told you,Tommy. Better enemies to have than black blood gypsies” Uncle Charlie said to him.
“Get out.” Tommy told them and the two of them left.
Tommy pulled out his gun and whispered a quick apology to the horse before pulling the trigger.
Tommy made his way to the Garrison, pounding on the door to be let in and was greeted by Grace.
“We’re closed, Mr. Shelby.” Grace tried telling him as he stepped in.
“Just get me a drink” He told her, walking to the bar and picking up his drink before grabbing a seat.
“Shall I leave you alone?” She asked.
“ I came here for company.”
Grace couldn’t help but feel excited when he told her that, she knew he had Josephine at home, so him coming to her for company felt gratifying.
“Company? Where’s your fiance? I thought you would of went to her.” Grace said with false nonchalance. Grace was digging for information for her mission but she also had no qualms about disrupting their relationship, she had already taken a strong liking to Tommy.
“My fiance, is at home, peacefully sleeping. I hope.” Tommy replied to her, “Where’s Harry?”
“He took the night off and went to the pictures” She said as she took a seat opposite him, “How’s your beautiful horse?”
Tommy downed his drink before he replied to her, “I just put a bullet in his head.”
“Was he lame?”
“He looked at me the wrong way. It’s not a good idea to look at Tommy Shelby the wrong way.” Tommy’s response made her realise why he was so feared around Small Heath.
“What a waste.” She murmured
“Yeah. A waste is what it is.” Tommy took a swig of his drink.
“You know, in France...In France, I got used to seeing men die. Never got used to seeing horses die. They die badly.” He breathed out before reaching for a cigarette.
“Do you tell your fiance stuff like this?” Grace was curious.
“Josey? No...Josey is too soft-hearted. She’ll get weepy if I tell her what happened during the war. It’s easier not to tell her.”
“Do you often keep secrets from her?”
“Just the ones where it’ll keep her safe.”
“How’d you and Josephine meet?” Grace’s Irish accent was pulling Tommy in, making him spill more than he wanted to.
“We’ve known each other all our lives, our mothers we’re good friends when they were alive. Her fathers from Sweden,he's a good man. They run the sweet store in town.” Tommy kept on drinking.
“I love her but not as much she loves me, I don’t think I ever will. Y’know a part of me hoped that something would happen to me over in France, so I didn’t have come home to her but now I’m back and I don’t want to let go of her, she’s there for me all the time, always forgives me too. Is that selfish ?” he asked Grace.
Grace was stunned into silence for a moment, she expected a few bits of information about their relationship but she wasn’t expecting Tommy to spill that much about their relationship.
“A bit yes. I met her earlier, she came here looking for you.” She replied.
“What do you think of her?” Tommy was curious.
“She’s nice, pretty too...but I she’s not what I’d expect someone like you would go for.”
“And what do you think men like me would go for ey?”
Me, Grace thought. Me. Me. Me. But instead of speaking her mind, she just smiled at him and shrugged her shoulders.
“I told her you’re taking me to the races” Grace told him.
“I dug out a dress like you asked.” She told him when he didn’t respond, accepting the cigarette he offered her with a small thanks.
“Is it Cheltenham you’re talking about? Cheltenham’s a grand affair, is it not?”
“The King will be there.” Tommy replied, lighting his cigarette.
“No. King Billy Kimber and all his men.” Tommy smirked.
“And what must I do?”
“For two pounds, you will do what I ask you to do.”
“I want three.” Grace shot back. Tommy scoffed a laugh.
“If I’m meeting a king, I won’t be wearing a cheap dress. And I ask you to let me sing. That’s part of the deal now too.” Grace smiled at him.
“Since when?” Tommy asked, humouring her.
“Since you nearly smiled.” The two stared at each other before Grace broke the silence. “Saturday nights. Open and easy. Everyone gets to sing their song just like we did in Dublin.”
“You never worked in Dublin, so don’t lie to me. I asked around that pub you said you used to work in. I have friends over there. No one has heard of you.” Tommy shoots back before pausing for a moment, “My guess is...you are a girl from a good family, who got herself pregnant” he says finishing off.
“It’s not something I want known” Grace quietly replies.
“And bringing a child into the world alone ruined your life,” he says, thinking about Ada.” Right?...So I’m right and Polly is wrong.”
“Right about what?”
“It doesn’t matter.”
“It looks like it matters to you.” She said, trying to dig for more information.
“You won’t tell anyone my secret.” Grace asks.
“Do you think I tell people things?” He replies, blowing out smoke.
“So what do you sing?” He asked, changing the subject.
“Anything you want.”
“Right.” He says, slamming his hand on the table. “Get up on a chair.”
She does what he says, “Happy or sad?” she asks once she’s up.
“Okay” Grace sent him a small smile, “But I warn you, it’ll break your heart.”
“Already broken.” He tells her with a short shake of his head.
Tommy left the garrison after a few more songs and headed home, once he stepped in he was greeted with the fireplace lit and Josephine lounging on the couch with a book in her hands, Josephine's head popped up as soon as she heard him and she quickly hopped off the couch and walked over to him, she took off his coat and pushed him towards the couch.
"What happened?" She asked, taking a seat next to him and rubbing a comforting hand up and down his arm.
"The Lee's put a curse on the horse, I had to kill 'im"
Josephine made a soft tutting noise before standing back up and heading towards the kitchen, “stay there” she told him.
“You smell of alcohol” She called from the kitchen, “Did ya go to the garrison after?”
“Harry let you in?”, Tommy contemplated telling her the truth but decided against it.
Josephine came back into the room with a mug held in her hands, she gave it to him before she sat down. Tommy takes a sip from the mug before wincing in shock,
“What’s this ey?”
“Green tea, it’s good for ya” Josephine pipes up, back to reading her book.
Tommy looks down at her and ponders for the first time in a while about her. Did he truly deserve her? He knew if he asked her, she’ll adamantly say that he did but Tommy wondered if he was taking her for granted.
The next day, Josephine, the Shelby brothers and a few other Peaky Blinders were in the snug, casually drinking. Arthur, John and Josephine were arguing over what card game to play when Grace walked in with a bucket of beer, Josephine shot the blonde woman a brief look before looking away.
“Did you want whiskey as well?” the barmaid asked, placing the bucket down.
“No. Just beer.”
“Why no whiskey, Tommy? Are you expecting trouble?” Arthur asked.
“Jesus Christ, Tommy, what the hell made you let them sing? They sound like they’re strangling cats out there” John said laughing, Josephine laughing along with him.
“All right. Twenty is the play. Come on…..What did make you change your mind, though, Tommy?” Arthur asked.
Josephine didn’t miss the way Tommy’s eyes followed Grace as she left the room.
“Yeah, it’s about time Tommy.” John said, placing down his cards and facing Tommy.
“Time for what?”
This time, John, faced Josephine who sat in between him and Tommy, and shot her a wide smile, letting her know he was only teasing, “Time you took yourself a woman.”
“Oi!” Josephine squawked at John, hitting him with her hand, who in return exhaled a long puff of smoke in to her face.
“John!” Josephine squawked again, this time using both her hands to hit him.
Tommy had a smile on his face as he watched both of them before stepping in and telling them to stop, knowing that if left to it, they would actually fight.
“You stay the way you are, Tommy. Remember what dad used to say. Fast women and slow horses will ruin your life.” Arthur said, John joining in at the end.
Suddenly, bright lights coming from outside filtered in through the snugs window.
“Coppers.” John quickly said.
“No.” Tommy quickly shut him down and Josephine looked at him suspiciously.
“Who is it then?” She asked but received no response from him.
The door opened then and all of a sudden it became dead silent and Josephine could hear Harry swear as he realised who was there.
“Billy Kimber?!” She hissed at Tommy who patted her shoulder, a nonverbal way of telling her to be quiet and that he’ll deal with it.
“Is there any man here named Shelby?” Billy Kimber asked as he walked into the Garrison.
Josephine flinched at the sound of a gun being fired, “Jesus Christ,'' she muttered under her breath. Tommy bent down and gave her a quick kiss, “Stay here.” he ordered her and Josephine quickly nodded, not wanting anything to do with Billy Kimber.
“I said, is there any man here named Shelby?” Kimber asked again just before the boys opened the door and stepped out.
She struggled to hear anything after the door closed, much preferring to stay tucked in the corner of the snug. She stepped out when the doors slammed shut and it was quiet in the main pub.
“So you picked a fight with Lees on purpose. Tommy, we can’t mess with Billy fucking Kimber” Arthur told him.
“Get yourself a decent haircut, man. We’re going to the races.” Tommy smirked before he downed his drink.
Josephine stared at him, waiting for him to bring up inviting Grace or to even ask her but all did was grab her and hand leave the pub, heading towards home.
Chapter 6: Chapter Six
I won't lie, this chapter is just bad but there's a little in it that hopefully makes you excited for the future chapters. I'll hopefully get the next chapter up tomorrow :) thanks for the kudos and comments!
Tommy had stopped by the store that morning, handing Josephine a large box and shuffled her towards the back room after greeting her father.
“What’s this?” Josephine asked, placing the large box on the table.
“Open it and see.” Tommy grinned, excited for her reaction.
Opening the box, Josephine couldn’t help but gasp, inside laid a baby blue coloured dress. “Oh, Tommy” she gasped, pulling the dress out of the box.
“Do you like it?” He asked.
“Of course, I bloody like it. I love it. What’s it for?” She asked him, still admiring the dress.
“Cheltenham?” she asked, her mood souring.
“Of course.” Tommy sent her a look, no doubt seeing her mood shift. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing” she said, sending him a false smile before hurrying him out of the shop, giving him the excuse that she needed to help her father get the store ready.
Tommy had only left the store for a moment before her father spoke up, “Are you going to tell me what’s wrong or am I going to go round and rough Tommy up?” Jonas asked, adding the last part hoping it would make Josephine laugh and smiling when it did.
Not wanting to lie to her father, Josephine told him the truth, “Maybe I’m just being over dramatic papa but you know what blonde barmaid at the garrison, the new one? Tommy asked her to the races. She told me, I don’t know why though. That’s why Tommy just came over, he just gifted me a dress, said he wanted me to wear it to the races. He’d just assumed I’d just I’ll say yes and he hasn’t even said anything about Grace.” She spilled out.
“But you’re going right, to the races?” He asked, after a moment of silence.
“Ah, min blomma” Jonas sighed, walking around the counter and pulling Josephine into a hug, “I’m sure it’s nothing, Tommy loves you a lot and that won’t change.” He told her, kissing her forehead before pulling back, “Now enough about that, I need you to make some humbugs.”
Josephine smiled at her father, listening to his orders and appreciating his attempt of distracting her. Though she was quickly interrupted by Ada running into the store, dressed in a wedding dress and calling out her name,
“Ada, what the hell is happening?” She asked.
“I’m getting married to Freddie. Right now and I need you to be a witness.” Ada quickly explained.
“Yes, now. So will you do it?”
Josephine didn’t take long to answer her, she grabbed her coat, shouted a goodbye to her father and grabbed Ada’s hand, leaving the shop and running to the church, giggling along with Ada. After the ceremony, she gave them each a hug,
“Don’t worry about Tommy, I’ll tell him.” Josephine told them with a small smile, happy for them and after another set of hugs, she sent them on their way and made her way to Watery Lane, nerves building at the thought of telling Tommy.
Taking a seat at the kitchen table, Josephine poured herself a glass of whiskey, hoping it wouldn’t settle her nerves, though they didn’t have much time to settle as Tommy walked in not long after,
“All right?” He asked, slightly shocked at the sight of you and taken aback at the whiskey in her hand.
“Are you armed?” she asked, after taking a long drink.
“No”, Tommy took off his cap and faced her.
“Then I’ll tell you. Ada and Freddie got married today. They haven’t left the city.”
Tommy took a deep breath as walked around to the other side before letting it out.
“Where are they?”
“Freddie’s comrades have safe houses. Why do you want to know?” She asked him.
“I want to send them flowers. Why do you think?” He snapped back.
“Would it be so bad if they stayed?” Josephine was confused about Tommy’s reaction, she wasn’t expecting him to be happy but this was something else.
“Yes..” Tommy turned and closed to the doors leading to the betting den.
“Why?” Josephine was getting tired of his behaviour.
“Because I said so.” Tommy was obviously keeping something from her.
“You know, you sound just like them.” She told him, slightly changing the subject.
“What?” Tommy was confused by her now.
“You sound just like the people out there,” Josephine points towards the street, “remember how they were about us? Before the war? During the war? even after the war! Tommy, they still would have done that if you weren’t so feared, they’re not accepting of us Tommy, they just don’t want to be blinded!”
Josephine paused for a moment to step closer to Tommy, who had concern in his eyes and his hands out to comfort her, “My god, Tommy, can’t you what you’re doing to them!”, Josephine was near tears at that point.
“It’s not the same! I’m not like them!” He quickly defended himself
“I’m not saying you are! But Tommy, she’s your only sister, you should be the last person to be ostracising her!”
“Thomas, what you not telling me?”
Tommy took a moment before he responded to her, “I promised I’d run Freddie out of town.”
“I told the coppers Freddie wouldn’t come back. It was part of the deal.”
“What bloody deal?! What happened to family votes? What happened to meetings?” Josephine was angry now. “Why didn’t you tell Freddie and Ada? If they’d know they would of left, the only reason they’re in Birmingham is because they’re doing it to spite you!”
Tommy opened his mouth to respond but Josephine cut him off before he had the chance to, “I’ll get Polly to deal with them, you’ll leave them alone. Polly should be able to sort it.”
Josephine shot him a scathing look before storming out of the house with a loud bang. Tommy stood in silence after she left, shocked at her reaction. Never in all the years that Tommy knew Josephine had he ever seen her react like that or get as angry and Tommy felt the guilt building in his stomach, he was her fiance, he shouldn’t be the reason why she felt like that.
After discussing the IRA business with Campbell, Grace hesitates over her next words, internally debating whether or not she should tell him but before she could decide Campbell noticed her hesitance, pushing her to speak her mind,
“What is it Grace? Have you got more information about the Shelby's?”
“Josephine Lindholm, Tommy Shelby’s fiance and her father, they own the sweet shop in Small Heath. I believe you should look into them.” Grace suggested to him, knowing his infatuation with her would mean that he would do it without thinking about it, that he would do something to them whether they did something illegal or not and walking away from him, she waited for the guilt to build but was glad when there was nothing. With now possibly getting Josephine out of the way, she could get Tommy all to herself.
That night after confronting Polly, Tommy made his way home, already wanting the day to be over, stepping in, he pulled off his coat and hat, not caring where they landed before making his way upstairs and quickly climbing into bed where Josephine already laid, fast asleep. Tommy pulled out his opium pipe, knowing he’d use it anyway and didn’t want to waste time by tossing and turning for a few hours. Immediately after falling asleep, he was thrown back into a memory for France, in the tunnels where he had to fight the Germans in the tunnel but he was quickly brought out of his nightmare by banging on his door and the call of his name, he quickly hid his pipe and stash and checked that Josephine was still sleeping before exiting the room and going to Danny Whizz Bang.
Climbing back into bed, Tommy accidentally wakes up Josephine who rolls over to him, wrapping her arms around him and clinging to him,
“Who was that?” she murmured into his neck.
“No one” normally she would have pressed for more information but when she didn’t, Tommy assumed that she was still tired.
They sat in silence for awhile, Tommy wondering when the last time they did something like this was and knowing it was his fault that it had been ages since they did until he remembered something Josephine said earlier that day when she was telling him about Ada and Freddie,
“What did you mean when you said, ‘even after the war’ earlier?” Tommy asked her, hoping that she was still awake and feeling her tense against him, confirmed that she was.
“The people out there are fucking horrific Tommy, if you’re not with me, they scream horrible things at me, sometimes even chuck stuff. When you’re out of town, I have to send a couple of peaky boys with papa to go grocery shopping.” She confesses to him, her head still hidden in his neck.
“It was bad during the war too, some of those women were worse than the men, at some point, I couldn’t even do my errands, Polly and Ada had to do them for me whilst I stayed back and looked after Finn.” Josephine continued, “and don’t get me fucking started on Lizzie Stark, I’m pretty sure that girl is in love with you”, Tommy could hear the pout in her voice and couldn’t help but smile.
Tommy kissed Josephine’s forehead and brought her closer to him, “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“You had so many things going on once you returned, it wasn’t important.”
The couple fell asleep like that, tangled up and cuddled close to each other.
The next morning, on the day of the races, Josephine woke before Tommy, which was rare and spent the time until he woke up, playing with his hair and admiring his face, making the most out of the time she spent with him, even if he was not awake and when Tommy woke up with a gasp, his eyes shooting wide open, Josephine flinched in shock before an understanding look came over her face and she brushed her fingers over his face, tracing over his features as the two laid there for awhile, in silence, looking at each other.
“You need to shave.” Josephine said, as she traced over his jaw.
Tommy didn’t say anything, he just pushed his face into her palm. Josephine smiled, tapping his face with her fingers before sitting up and leaving the bed,
“C’mon, I’ll make us some tea and help you shave.” She said as she left the bedroom. Tommy didn’t respond, his eyes following her as she left before stretching and sitting up.
Josephine came back upstairs not long after with a teacup in each hand, placing them on the bedside table before quickly running out again but when she returned, she was carefully carrying a bowl of steaming water, placing it on their dresser.
“Where do you wanna sit?” She asked him as she walked to the otherside of the room and began collecting the straight razor, shaving cream and a cloth before moving back to the dresser and seeing that Tommy had already gotten his face wet and sat on the edge of the bed with his shirt off and tossed into the corner of the room.
“Why are you so quiet for me today hmm?” Josephine asked Tommy as she started to apply the shaving cream to his face, “Just stunned into silence by your beauty” he responded, throwing her a cheeky grin, one of his hands lifting to hold her by her waist and the other grasping the back of her thigh, Josephine only sniggered in response, which caused Tommy to smile, his eyes never leaving her face.
As they sat like that, Tommy knew that he loved Josephine but he couldn’t deny the appeal of Grace or deny the fact that he did feel attracted to her and he knew that Josephine didn’t deserve that, he couldn’t stop and a part of him didn’t want to stop either.
When Josphine was done, the two of them separated to get themselves ready, Tommy had finished when Josephine was doing her makeup,
“Be ready in twenty minutes,” he told her, briefly checking the time on his watch before heading towards the door, “I’ll be back, I have to pick something up.”
“Grace?” She asked him, turning away from the mirror to raise an eyebrow at him. Tommy didn’t react at her question, making her believe that Grace had told Tommy that she had already told Josephine about him taking her and not sparing her another look, he left the room, shouting ‘twenty-minutes’ before slamming the front door closed.
Josephine closed her eyes and sighed in frustration, it felt like everyday that Tommy was getting further and further away from her and no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t bring him back to her. No matter how many close and intimate moments they have, something is still pushing them away from each other and in Josephine’s mind, that something had a name and that name was Grace Burgess.
Finishing her makeup, Josephine slipped on her dress, grabbed her purse and made her way downstairs to slip on her heels, as she checked herself over in the mirror she heard Tommy make his way indoors and pause, leaning in the doorway, admiring her,
“You look gorgeous.” He told her
“Did you tell Grace the same thing?” She replied, looking away from the mirror and facing him and all he did was raise his eyebrows at her causing her to roll her eyes and grab her shawl, moving to walk past him and to the door when he stood up straight and moved to stand in front of her, blocking her way and leant in close, staring intently at her and whispered to her,
Josephine loudly scoffed and pushed past him, smoothing her expression out and placing a soft smile on her face before opening the door and stepping out. She was greeted by the sight of Grace waiting in the car, in the backseat which made a genuine smile slip on her face. At least Tommy hadn’t completely tossed me away. Josephine thought as she walked to the car, opening the door and slipping in,
“Hello Grace.” She greeted the blonde, looking straight ahead, not bothering to turn her head to face her.
“Josephine.” Grace replied, quietly, surprised at her appearance, just before Tommy had got into the car and drove off but not before shooting Josephine a warning look, telling her to be on her best behaviour.
As they arrived at the races, Josephine fell behind Tommy and Grace as they walked in through the back, listening as they spoke.
“Are you sure we’re allowed in here?” Grace asked as they walked down some steps, walking past all types of men.
“Well, I prefer to come to the races the back way. It keeps me out of trouble. Tracks are lawless place.” Josephine couldn’t help but glare at Tommy’s arm that went around Grace’s shoulders to guide her.
“I can’t stand petty criminals.” Josephine couldn’t help the small laugh that escaped her at his comment, her eyes catching Tommy’s when he turned around at the sound before continuing, “This way.”
“Will we get to lay a bet?”
“Nah. Gambing is for mugs. This way.” He told her. “You’re lucky you’re with me or you’d be wasting your money on fixed races.”
“I always wondered, how do you fix a race?” Grace asked yet another question, making Josephine roll her eyes again.
“How should I know?” Tommy asked with a smirk, placing a cigarette in her mouth.
“Okay, you do the talking.” Tommy told Grace, pushing her slightly forwards before he fell back into step with Josephine
“What?” Grace was confused.
“Tell security you are Lady Sarah Duggan, -excuse us. Lady Sarah Duggan on Connemara” Tommy explained to her, dodging around people.”You got lost when you went to look for the boy riding your horse, Dandy Flower. If they ask about us, say that I’m Prussian and don’t and don’t speak a word of English and she is your lady’s-maid.” He said, nodding his head towards Josephine towards the end. Josephine held back her scowl at the sound of her fake job role, knowing that she couldn’t act out in public.
“Come on, posh girl. Earn your three quid.” Tommy encouraged Grace when she hesitated, his words of paying her caught Josephine’s attention as she had thought that he had invited Grace with different intentions.
The three of them stood on a balcony watching people dance below to the live band, Joesphine feeling completely invisible as Tommy turned to Grace and began speaking to her,
“I still prefer the Garrison.” He said to her, making her smile.
“Do you dance?” Tommy asked.
“If I’m asked properly.”
“Lady Sarah of Connemara, will you dance with me?” Tommy asked Grace with a smile.
Josephine felt herself tear up at those words and with her eyes burning with unshed tears, she quickly made her escape, quickly walking away and trying to find the nearest bathroom without drawing attention to herself or letting the tears fall and when she found the bathroom, she quickly made her way into the furthest stall and let the tears fall as she sat down. Clasping her hand over her mouth so her loud sobs wouldn’t escape, Josephine wept, her body shaking with the force of her tears as they made their way down her face, no doubt ruining her makeup but Josephine couldn’t find it in herself to care, her brain filled with thoughts of Tommy and Grace together.
Meanwhile, Tommy and Grace danced together on the dancefloor,both of them shoot the other small smiles, neither of them realizing Josephine’s disappearance. As the both of them danced, Tommy guided them through the couples so they were in Kimber’s eye level with Grace clueless to his intentions. Grace couldn’t help but ask questions to Tommy,
“Do you and your fiance ever dance?” Her voice light and unassuming, so Tommy wouldn’t catch on to her ulterior motives, Tommy’s eyes flashed with something, but it was gone too fast for Grace to even guess what it may have been.
“Yes,” He told her, spinning her, “we did a lot, when we were younger.”
“Why’d you stop?” The look Tommy sent her told her that she asked a stupid question.
“The war.” He answered her anyway, “I changed. She changed. Things are different.”
“And yet you still proposed to her?” Grace asked, curious for his response but he didn’t give one to her.
After she calmed down, Josephine peaked outside outside of the stall and saw that the bathroom was luckily empty and made her out of the stall and towards the sinks and mirrors, taking a look at herself, Josephine couldn’t deny that she looked a mess, wetting a tissue, she tried to clear up her face as much as she could and while when she had finished, she had looked better, you could still tell that she had been crying by her red eyes. Deeming herself decent enough, Josephine left the bathroom and began to make her way back to the dancehall when she ran in Arthur and John.
“Jesus Christ!” She said in shock, taking a step back before she got a good look at the both of them and when she did, she frowned in suspicion,
“What’s Tommy got you doing now?”
The brothers looked at each other before shrugging, not seeing the harm in telling Josephine.
“Tommy’s got us doing protection.” Arthur told her with a grin.
“For Kimber?!” Josephine was surprised, without her knowing, Tommy had been telling her less and less about his plans and the business, which she was unused to, considering he use to tell her everything.
Arthur nodded and whilst John had said nothing, his eyes were trained heavily on Josephine, being the only one out of his brothers who had been married and closest in age to Ada, he knew a woman who had just been crying when he saw one.
“What’s happened?” He asked her, watching as her eyes leave Arthur and flick to him.
“You’ve been crying. Why?” John could see Arthur stand up straighter in the corner of his eye, Josephine was an only child which meant that Arthur and John took it upon themselves to act like her older brothers.
“Nothing. Just lady problems.” She smiled at the boys, laughing at Arthurs flinch at her words. John still didn’t believe her.
“You take the bags to Tommy and I’ll stay with Josey until they’re done.” John told Arthur who nodded and walked away while he took Josephine’s hand and walked in the other direction and led her back upstairs to the balconies were looking over the dancefloor. Despite what their behaviour towards each other might suggest, John and Josephine were close friends, they were the same age which is part of the reason why she got so close the Shelby family in the first place, he was always dragging her around after school to play with his brothers and meet his new baby sister Ada.
“So, are you gonna tell me what’s really wrong?” He asked, lighting a cigarette.
“Something’s coming between me and Tommy, I fear we’re gonna break up.” She told him, holding nothing back. Josephine held her hand out for a cigarette, surprising John as he knew she rarely smoked but he took one out and lit it for her, nodding as she murmured a small thanks, her eyes trained on the crowd, not taking long for her to seek out Tommy and Grace. John followed her gaze and it didn’t take him long to understand what she was implying,
“Do you really think? You’ve been together since you were seventeen” John asked in disbelief.
Josephine nodded, “there’s something up about her as well.” she told him, taking a drag from her cigarette, John raised his eyebrows but didn’t say anything in response as they watched as Tommy and Grace make their way to the back door and meet Arthur.
Tommy turned to the door as Arthur opened it and quickly started to place the bags he held on the floor,
“We chased the Lees across the track and down to Devon road. We got every penny back.” Arthur panted, “Nice dress. You can wear that to my pub.” he told Grace.
“Buy the boys a drink. Anyone hurt?” Tommy asked as he gave Arthur some coins, “A few cuts and bruises.” Arthur replied with a grin and turnt to leave but before he could fully turn, Tommy stopped him, “Ey, where’s John?” He asked, peering around Arthur, looking for his younger brother. Arthur nodded his towards the balconies, “He’s with Josey, she was crying.” he told him off handedly, not properly thinking about who he was talking too. Tommy frowned at his words, and quickly threw a look towards the balconies to see if he could find them before turning back and nodded at Arthur goodbye when he couldn’t.
“Off we go, Lady Sarah.” Tommy told Grace, grabbing her hand and pulling her through the crowd, not seeing Arthur change in expression when he did so.
John and Josephine watched as Tommy sat down and spoke to Kimber at this table, Josephine kissed John on the cheek goodbye as Kimber left the table and made his was to Grace, taking it as an opportunity to go downstairs, internally debating whether or not she wanted to talk to Tommy. Tommy spotted her making her way downstairs as he sat talking to Roberts, Billy Kimber’s assistant, when Kimber who had finished dancing with Grace sat down beside them,
“Looks like you two are making a deal.” Kimber said.
“We are making progress.” Roberts told his boss.
“Then let me throw a small condition into the mix.” He suggested to the two men, leaning over to Tommy to whisper his offer. As Tommy made his way over to Grace, he ran into Josephine and pulled her over as well.
“So, listen, we’re going to go for dinner at Kimber’s house. He has a place a couple of miles away. I have some business to settle first with his accountant, so, you go on ahead with Kimber.” Tommy told Grace, clearly lying about something.
“Just me and him?” Grace asked, reading between the lines of Tommy’s words.
“Yeah. Till I’m done here. Is that all right?” Grace kept silent at his words, “Look, I’ll throw in an extra three quid for your extra time.”
“You think I’m a whore?” She asked.
“Everyone’s a whore, Grace. We just sell different parts of ourselves.You said you wanted to work for me. To do that you have to sharpen up.” Josephine once again felt invisible as the two stared deeply at each other. “The deal is I give him two hours with you.” Josephine spoke up at this point, no matter how much she disliked Grace, Billy Kimber was a deplorable man and no one should have to be subjected to him,
“Tommy...” She softly spoke up, touching his arm to get his attention but he brushed her hand off him and shot her a look that told her to shut up and her mouth twitched angrily in response.
“He think he’s a ladies’ man. He thinks he can seduce you. Whenever you want, just kick him in the balls.” He continued on to Grace.
“I’m a clause in a contract.” She told him, leaning closer to him, ”If you want to be part of my organization, you have to make sacrifices.” He told her, turning to leave when Grace’s hand on his arm stopped him, Josephine watched as her eyes landed on her and light up when she thought of an idea.
“What about Josephine? Why can’t she go?” She asked Tommy, desperation in her voice.
Josephine glared her, furious at her for dragging her into that mess but her head quickly snapped up at Tommy when she didn’t hear him immediately oppose her suggestion and when she looked up to his face, she could see them flicking between her and Grace. Back and forth, back and forth. Josephine felt sick to her stomach when he took one more look at grace because she knew what he was going to say when he opened his mouth, she knew what words he would of used if Kimber didn’t interrupt them at that moment,
“Nah, nah, nah. I don’t do it with people like her.” He said to them, eyes on Josephine, filled with disgust as he let them look her up and down, “I want ‘er” Kimber, motioned towards the blonde.
“Do we have a deal? ” Kimber asked Tommy. “As a sweetener you can try your luck with mine.”
Tommy speared a look towards Kimber’s wife, “Yeah, we have a deal.”
“Side bet. Ten pounds says I have her fucked in one.” Kimber said to Tommy in a poor attempt of whispering, he then held his hand out to Grace, “Mademoiselle.”
Tommy grasped Josephine’s arm above her elbow and pulled her over to the table where Kimber’s wife sat.
Josephine sat in the back seat of Tommy’s car as they waited for the two hours, she wanted to be far away as possible from him, so she sat in the back with her face towards the window and her hands shaking in anger as Kimber’s wife began to speak from where sat next to Tommy,
“I bet he said you could have me, didn’t he?” She asked, but it wasn’t much of a question. “While he has her. That’s the arrangement, isn’t it?” she didn’t wait for a response before continuing on, “Well, yours might be a prostitute, but I’m not. I was a milliner when I met him. I was independent. I made this hat. I was a good milliner.”
The woman's words had more than an effect on Josephine than she cared to admit, Josephine didn’t like the idea of being chained to Tommy, she liked her independence and perhaps all these events with Grace had been a blessing in disguise, an opportunity to leave whilst she can, before she gets married to him.
“It’s a very pretty hat.” Tommy tells her dismissively, “Really is.”
“So is she a prostitute?” Kimber’s wife asked and Josephine couldn’t help but snort.
“God’s honest truth?” Tommy said, pulling out his pocket watch to check the time. “I don’t know what she is.”
Josephine didn’t know how to feel when Tommy suddenly started up the car and drove back to the Kimber estate, on the one hand she felt glad that Tommy felt guilty enough to go back and save Grace from Kimber but on the other, she couldn’t help but feel like it was another stab in the heart. She stayed in the car when Tommy and Kimber’s wife left and watched as Grace rushed out of the estate and head towards the car and shot her a heavy glare when she tried to sit in the back with her, causing her to sit in the front, they stayed silent as they waited for Tommy and when he came out, Josephine went back to facing away from him.
“Start of the day, I was Lady Sarah of Connemara. By the end, I was a whore with the clap.” Josephine let out a wet laugh at Grace’s words, not having to look to know that Tommy was sending her warning look.
“You’re a fucking bastard, offering me like that. But then you changed your mind. Why did you change your mind, Thomas?” Grace asked and Josephine wanted to know the answer to that too.
After dropping Grace back at the Garrison, Tommy and Josephine made their way back to their place, where she quickly jumped out of the car and stormed inside, not bothering to spare Tommy a look, walking straight to their bedroom and pulling out a travel case and started to pull out pieces of clothing from her closet and chester draws, throwing them in, not caring what they looked like and when Tommy finally climbed upstairs and saw her, he quickly stopped her, grabbing her arms making her unable to move. Josephine glared up at him and started to cry,
“What?!” She growled at him, trying to tug her arms out of his grip but only stopped when he tightened his grip and glared at him harder, knowing he was gonna bruise her.
“What’s all this ey? Why are you being so dramatic?” He asked her.
“Oh my god” Josephine sobbed out, finally snatching her arms out of his grip, “you don’t even know why I’m so mad at you! You don’t see the problems with your actions!”
Josephine went back to packing her bag, walking around the room and picking up varying items and chucking them into her bag, glad Tommy didn’t try to stop her, when she closed her suitcase and went downstairs, he followed her and didn’t say anything until she threw on her coat,
“Where you going?”
“To papa’s. Don’t follow me.” She told him before leaving the house and loudly slamming the door.
Tommy walked towards the kitchen, grabbed a bottle of rum and made his way upstairs and for the first time since he came back from France, he had to sleep without the familiar feeling of Josephine clinging on to him.
As Josephine made her way to her father's place, she tried to calm herself down, not wanting to cause him too much concern, she quickly wiped her cheeks with the sleeve of her coat and knocked on the door, giving him a weak watery smile when he answered the door,
“Hey papa, can I stay here for a while?”
Her father quickly nodded and hurried her indoors, grabbing her suitcase from her and placing it by the stairs as Josephine looked around the room, realizing with a sunken heart that she hasn’t visited him at her old home in a while, she took off her coat and hung it up on the stand before facing her father with an apologetic smile,
“Sorry it’s so late papa,” she paused, her words getting stuck in her throat, “I-i-i.”
Jonas quickly hushed her, pushing her towards to couch as he made his way into the kitchen, quickly explaining to his daughter that he was going to make some tea and shut down her attempts to help him and after placing the teacups on the table and taking a seat, it did not take his daughter long to bury her head into his shoulder and started sobbing heavily and he sat there as she let it all out.
“Oh papa” Josephine whimpered before she started to tell him what had happened, wearing herself down until she was falling asleep on his shoulder, her father having to tell her to go to bed and when she did, she was thankful that nothing had changed since she had moved out, her bedroom had nothing in it that reminded her of Tommy.
Josephine quick changed and slipped into bed, the days events making her feel exhausted but her mind was still buzzing, even after hearing her father make his own way to bed, she couldn’t settle and made her way to the window that looked over the street, hoping that watching as different walk around would chill her mind enough so that she can fall asleep quick and hopefully dreamlessly and while it did calm her mind, she did not have a dreamless sleep that night.
I absolutely loved writing this chapter despite how painful it was also,
me, the author writing terrible things that happen to Josey: wow this is great storyline for the plot
also me: aww poor josey :(
Chapter 8: Chapter Eight
Soz for the long wait, I wanted to pace myself but it ended up killing my flow a bit
Tommy had only been in his office for one minute before his aunt had come storming in. His office door had slammed the wall with a loud bang as it was pushed open and was closed with an equally loud bang as Polly flung it shut once she had stepped in.
"I heard something really interesting from Jonas this morning. Would you like to know what he said, Thomas?" Polly's question was rhetorical.
Tommy heaved a sigh before getting up and pouring himself a drink, he didn't care what time it currently was, as he knew that he needed something strong to get through this conversation with his aunt.
“Jonas said that our Josey came knocking at his door late last night in tears. He says that Josephine was distraught. Now, what are you not telling me Thomas?” Polly jumped straight to it, not wanting to waste time.
“I don’t know what her problem is Pol, she was in a huff all day yesterday, acting like a brat in front of Grace and then had a hissyfit once we got home” Tommy told her his version of events, lighting himself a cigarette midway through.
“Grace was there?” This was news to Polly, “You took the barmaid to the races along with your fiance?” Tommy didn’t understand why his aunt was using that tone of voice or giving him an incredulous look.
“Men.” Polly scoffed with a roll of her eyes, “Don’t get comfortable, John’s in the Garrison. He says he wants a meeting about a family matter. After he’s said his piece, he’ll come back and take his place with Scudboat.”
Tommy stood up and the pair of them made their way out of the betting den, “Scudboat? John will be here in ten minutes.” Polly told the man.
“Five.” Tommy corrected.
“You better fix it with Josey before it’s too late.” Polly told Tommy as they made their way to the Garrison.
“There’s nothing to fix Pol.” Tommy rolled his eyes at his aunt.
Making their way into the snug, they realised that everyone was waiting for them, including Josephine who sat next to Arthur, and didn’t even spare Tommy a look and if Tommy had to guess, he would guess that she was purposely ignoring him.
“All right John, there’s only one man -no, there’s only one man guarding the house. What’s troubling ya?” Tommy walked around the snug, declining Arthur’s offer of alcohol mid sentence.
John cleared his throat before speaking, “Polly, Josey, you know what it’s been like, since Martha died.”
“God takes the best first” Polly reached over and comforted John. Josephine shot John a sympathetic look and nodded at Polly’s words.
“Truth is, my kids have been running bloody rings around me. Running barefoot with the dogs until all hours”
“Pol, give him ten bob for some shoes. Is that it, John?” Tommy obviously wasn’t in the mood.
Josephine made a sound of disapproval at Tommy, “Tommy, it would be better to do this without you!.” She snapped at him before facing John “Why didn’t ya say anything? I would of helped, probably could of got your eldests to do some errands for papa.”
“Now what’s your point?” Polly asked John
“What the kids need is a mother. So that’s why I’m getting married.” John looked down, avoiding everyone's gazes but they were too busy sharing looks with each other rather than looking at John.
“Does this poor girl know you’re going to marry her, or are you going to spring it on her all of a sudden?” Polly asked her nephew.
“I already proposed and she said, ‘yes’.” Josephine’s mouth was open in shock at John’s words.
“I think there’s a shell about to land and go bang.” Tommy said as he lit himself a cigarette.
“It’s, er…” John paused to take a mouthful of beer, “It’s Lizzie Stark.”
Josephine couldn’t help the loud laugh that escaped her mouth, causing everyone’s eyes to fall to her,
“John, Lizzie Stark-” Josephine couldn’t finish her sentence before falling into a fit of giggles. With her hands that were over her mouth in a futile attempt to quiet the giggles that were escaping her but were still audible, along with her shoulders shaking from the force of her laughs and her face that was slowly turning red, Josephine was a sight to behold and Tommy couldn’t help the small smile that grew on his face at the of her, it had been quite a while since he had seen her so happy.
Polly, Arthur and Tommy all started laughing too,
“John! Lizzie Stark is a strong woman, and I’m sure she provides a fine service for her customers.”
“I won’t hear the word. Understand? Do not use that word.” John shouted, hell bent on defending his fiance and the room was silent for a few moments before the sound of giggles erupted. Josephine was laughing again and tears were escaping her eyes as she giggled, unable to keep it in anymore.
“What word is that, John?” Tommy asked his younger brother, head tilted towards the ceiling.
“You know what word that is.”
“Everybody bloody knows” Arthur snorted, handing his handkerchief to Josephine, who had finally calmed down, to wipe the tears off her face.
“Everybody can go to hell!” John shot back, annoyed at his family's taunts.
“Whore. That word? Or prostitute? How about that one?” Tommy didn’t hold back.
“Right. I want it known. If anyone calls her a whole again, I will push the barrel of my revolver down their throats, and blow the word back down into their hearts!”
“John..” Josephine cleared her throat before continuing, “Is this your idea or Lizzie’s? I mean it’s no secret that she’s been trying to get with one of you Shelby brothers since forever. She’s even tried to get with Tommy when we were younger, even though she knew he was with me at the time. I’m pretty sure she’s done it in front of my face too.”
“Men and their cocks never cease to amaze me.” Josephine tucked her head into Arthurs shoulder, knowing that if she looked at Polly then she’ll start laughing again.
“John, Lizzie Stark never did a day’s work vertical!”
“She’s changed! All right! People change!” John jumped up from his seat and Josephine watched, head laying on Arthur’s chest and his arm around her shoulders, as he stood up and began to pace around the snug.
“Like wi-wi-with religion”
“Oh, Lizzie Stark has got religion, eh?” Tommy wasn’t impressed.
Flustered and embarrassed, John tried to come up with an excuse, “No! No, she doesn’t have religion. But-- but, she loves me.”
Arthur laughed, which set Josephine off too and Polly couldn’t help but smile as well.
“Now listen, Tommy. I won’t do it without your blessing. But of all the people in the world, I want you to see it..as brave.” John stood next to Tommy.
“Oh, it’s brave all right” Arthur grumbled into his glass.
“Brave is going where no man has gone before. And with Lizzie Stark, John, that’s really not what you’ll be doing.” Polly laughed at the end of sentence.
John had ignored the others in the room at that point, only speaking to Tommy, “Listen, Tommy. Welcome her to the family. As someone who’s had a hard life. All right? Because I need someone. The kids need someone.”
Josephine had opened her mouth to speak but before she could, the doors to the snug open and Finn appeared, “Tommy! We’ve been done over!”
At those words everybody shot up and ran towards Watery Lane and all of them were stunned beyond belief at what they saw when they arrived and while everyone went over the room, seeing what had been stolen, Josephine ran to the kitchen to pick up the first aid kit and helped Scudboat with his bloody forehead.
“Jesus Christ!” John shouted as he kicked over a chair
“What the bloody hell happened here?” Arthur asked Scudboat
“The Lees. All of them. Cousins, nephews, even their bastards.” Scudboat explained, wincing when Josephine pressed too hard.
“They’ve taken anything they can lay their hands on. Four cash boxes”
“They left these.” Tommy said, showing off the wire cutters to the men in the room, leaving Josephine and Polly confused, “Wire cutters. Why would they leave wire cutters?”
All the men had froze and tensed up at the sight of them, “Nobody move”, Arthur warned the group.
“I think our friends are playing the game”
“What game?” Josephine asked, on edge by everyone's behaviour. Polly started to move towards her office before John had stopped her, “Aunt Pol. Don’t touch anything.”
“Erasmus Lee was in France.” Tommy said, slowly looking around the room.
“Shit!” Scudboat hissed out, slowly rising from his seat.
“Whenever we gave up ground to the Germans, we’d leave behind booby traps, set up with wires. We’d leave wire cutters as part of the joke.” Tommy finally explained to Polly and Josephine.
“Somewhere in here there’s a hand grenade.”
“Holy shit” Josephine whimpered out, wanting nothing more than to be in Tommy’s arms at that moment.
“Attached to a wire.” Arthur said, slowly making his way around the room, “Don’t move any chairs or open any doors. Go easy, John-Boy. Go easy.”
“No.” Tommy shook his head, “Boys, no. It’s not here. If it was in here, it would have blown by now. It was my name on that bullet Erasmus sent. He set up a trap all right. But he’s set it up just for me.”
Tommy sped out of the house and Josephine ran out after him, slightly afraid that he was going to do something that’ll get himself injured, leaving everyone else behind. And when they turned the corner and saw Finn playing in Tommy’s car, Josephine gasped, finally realising what had happened.
“Stay here!” Tommy warned her and she quickly nodded, not wanting to get any closer anyway.
“Finn!” Tommy called out to his youngest brother, “Finn stay exactly where you are.” The little boy giggled, “I was pretending I was you.”
“Which door did you open to come in?”
“I didn’t. I climbed in!”
“I want you to climb out exactly the same way you climbed in, okay?” Tommy calmly explained to Finn but the boy who didn’t understand the gravity of the current situation just giggled and opened the door and jumped out.
“No! No! No! Finn!” Tommy scrambled to stop his brother was unable to, so he grabbed the hand grenade and ran out to chuck it,
“Clear!” He shouted to the men who were working before grabbing Josephine, pulling her into his arms as he ran back to Finn, pulling her along as he held the both of them in his arms as the bomb went off.
The three of them panted as they tried to catch their breath before they walked outside to assess the damage. Tommy knelt in front of Finn before taking his face in his hands,
“That’s why you should never pretend to be me, okay?”
“C’mon Finn. Let’s see if papa has any sweet he can give you.” Josephine took the young boys hand in her and left but not before sharing a brief look with Tommy, one that she didn’t know the meaning of.
A few days later, Josephine was in the store with Finn who was still shaken up from before, so she was trying to keep him busy when hard knocks on the stores front doors sounded throughout the shop. With her father taking the day off, Josephine decided not to open up at all and stayed in one of the back rooms, baking with Finn. Instructing the young boy to stay where he was, Josephine made her way to the door but stopped behind a wall and peeked her head around it to check who it was and spotting Tommy, she left her hiding spot and opened the door.
“What do you want?” She asked, moving out of the way so he can step in.
“Is Finn here?”
“Yeah, he’s in the back. Do you need him?” Josephine moved to head towards the back room but Tommy stopped her, “No, it’s fine, just wanted to make sure he’s not getting into trouble. I wanted to speak to you about something anyway”
“What?” Josephine was on edge, she didn’t know what to expect.
“We got a legal betting licence from the board of control. The Shelby family has its first legal racetrack pitch.” Tommy grinned at her.
Josephine gasped in surprise, “So you’re legit now?” She asked and at Tommy’s nod, she cheered in joy, jumping up to hug him.
“Oh, I’m so proud.” Josephine kissed Tommy’s cheek, “Congrats.”
Tommy stepped closer towards Josephine, taking her face in his hands, “I missed you.” He told her.
“I missed you too, Tommy but you understand why I was so upset right?”
Tommy hesitated before he answered her and Josephine caught on immediately, stepping out of his hold,
“You still don’t understand?!” Josephine couldn’t believe it.
“I just think you’re being a bit over dramatic about the situation. Blowing it out of proportion.”
“Over-dramatic? Thomas, you embarrassed me!” Josephine felt like she was going in circles with him.
Tommy felt his anger and frustration build and headed towards the door, wanting to leave before things got nasty.
“Thomas, I felt like a third wheel out there with you and Grace! The way you went around with her, it was like she was your fiance instead of me!” Josephine followed him to the door and saw the change in his expression when Grace’s name was mentioned.
“What’s happened now?” Tommy hated that Josephine knew himself as well as he did, it made keeping secrets from her much harder.
“Grace...she’s my assistant now.”
“She’s your what? Thomas, can’t you see what she’s doing us?”
“She?! Josephine, all our problems are because of you!” Tommy quickly left after his statement, slamming the door behind him and all Josephine could do is stare after him, trying to will the tears down.
“Josey?” Josephine’s head whipped to face the voice and found Finn, who’d undoubtedly overhear them and came out to see what had happened.”Are you okay?”
“Huh?” Josephine quickly wiped her face with her sleeves, wiping up any tears that had fallen before walking over to Finn and directing back to the back room “Yeah, I’m good Finn. Now...how many cakes do you think I have to bring back to your Aunt Pol for her to forgive me for giving you so much sugar today?
Finn laughed, “Loaaddss!” He spread his arms out to emphasise his words causing Josephine laugh as well, “Well, we better get started then shouldn’t we.”
Chapter 9: Chapter Nine
Short chapter since I overestimated what goes on in the 2nd half of ep 4 lol
Tommy went to visit John, planning on telling him what had gone down with Lizzie, and found him polishing the car.
“Tommy. I need a favor, I want to borrow the car. I want to take Lizzie to the country with the kids. We’re going to celebrate getting the license” John said to Tommy once he had noticed him walking in.
“Not a problem, John.” Tommy harshly swallowed.
“I’ll need the keys.”
Tommy paused before he spoke again, feeling a bit of guilt about what he had done, “Look, John, you’re my brother. There’s something I have to tell you. Yesterday, on the front seat of that car, I offered Lizzie some money and John? She said, ‘yes.’ Now that’s a fact. You do with it what you want. Take the keys and take Lizzie to country, marry her if you want. But you have to know, she said ‘yes.’
John paused for a moment, the fact that Tommy had done that to him, momentarily pushed aside by the prospect of Tommy cheating on Josephine,
“You cheated on Josephine?!”
“What? No. I didn’t sleep with Lizzie, John. I just wanted to see if she would sleep with me, your brother and she did. I did this for you John.”
John quickly stormed off after that, overwhelmed with emotions.
Josephine walked with Polly and Ada to where John was getting married, they stopped next to Tommy with Josephine moving to stand next to Polly, furthest away from Tommy, still annoyed from their previous arguments. Josephine cheered and clapped but was her mind was elsewhere which must of shown on her face because it didn’t take long for Polly to notice,
“What’s wrong?” She asked the young girl, pulling her to the side whilst the celebrations went on around them.
“Nothing.” Josephine said, brushing her off but at the look Polly sent her, she knew what wasn’t the answer she was looking for, “I’ll tell you later, don’t want to ruin the evening.” and whilst Polly wanted to know more, she knew that pushing Josephine for answers wouldn’t help.
The pair of them sat in silence, watching as everyone partied on before the sound of Ada going wild caught their attention, Polly sat up and made her way to where Tommy was sitting and Josephine followed her, curious about what was about to happen,
“Tell Ada to slow down.” Polly told her nephew.
“You think she’ll listen to me?” He scoffed back at her
“I tried to stop her but she’s been drinking, she’s been stuck in that basement for weeks. What do you expect? She’s going off like a firecracker.”
“Oh Christ, Tommy, please.” Josephine spoke up this time, her eyes still on Ada and watched as her brother tried to calm her down as she started screaming and shouting, making a scene.
“All right, Ada, come on, have a rest, sit down.”
“Come and look, Esme. Come and look at the family you've joined.” Ada was shouting now, “Come and look at the man who runs it.Chooses his brother's wives for them.He hunts his own sister down like a rat and he tries to kill his own brother-in-law! Ada, that's enough.And now he won't even let me have a fucking dance! Not even at a fucking wedding!”
“Sit her down.” Josephine had wondered over at that point
“Calm down, Ada.”
“Ada, calm down.”
The sound of water splashing made everyone pause and look down where they saw that Ada’s water had broken.
“Holy shit. Water. Right.” Polly took the lead, pulling Ada over to the car and Josephine followed after them, reassuring Ada.
“Bloody hell Ada, you do pick your times!” Arthur shouted out.
Josephine climbed into the car with Ada, Polly and Tommy who was driving and whilst Tommy waited outside for his brothers, Polly and Josephine took Ada upstairs.
“You’re alright Ada, deep breaths, c’mon now..” Josephine was trying her hardest to comfort Ada without overwhelming her, brushing her hair back and wiping her face with a damp towel.
“Keep going. That’s right. Push.” Polly told her from her position between Ada’s legs.
Esme, John’s new wife spoke up at that point after she felt Ada’s stomach, “I think it may be the wrong way round.I attended three sisters”
“Yeah, I think you’re right.”
Josephine watched in silence as they spoke, not having an idea about what was happening so she focused on keeping Ada calm.
“We should lean her forward.” Esme told Polly and the older woman quickly nodded
The three of them slowly maneuvered Ada into the proper position.
“C’mon on, not long to go now, darling.” Polly reassured her niece.
At the sound of the babies cries, Josephine sighed in relief, glad that both the baby and mother were alive and healthy and went to open the door when someone knocked it. Opening the door, she saw Freddie and she gave him a big smile,
“Congratulations.” Her words seemed to have a realizing effect on him,
“It’s healthy?” Josephine simply smiled at him, pushing him towards Ada. She moved to follow him but didn’t get much of a chance before the police broke open the door and stormed inside, one of them obviously recognised her and slammed her into the wall, her head catching on a picture frame making her bleed and give her a headache. Josephine slumped off to the side while Freddie was getting dragged out and Polly stormed off to the Garrison, her head pounding and too overwhelmed to do anything, and it was only when Esme walked past and only saw her from the corner of her eyes did she managed to get the blood wiped away and her injury looked at.
Polly came back to see Ada and Josephine cooing over the baby, Esme had left as soon as Polly had come in, in search of her new husband.
“You alright Pol?” Josephine asked the older woman who looked very distressed.
“It’s that bloody fiance of yours, a piece of work that one is” The woman scoffed, bringing a bottle of rum along with a couple of glasses and slumping into a chair. At the word ‘fiance’, Josephine started at her ring before scoffing,
“He hasn’t been much of fiance that’s for sure”
At her words, Polly sat up straight, remembering their conversation from earlier, “You gonna tell me what happened then?”
“Something happened between you and Tommy?” Josephine looked towards Ada who was still upset over what had just happened but also looked appreciative of being distracted for a while.
“He’s made Grace his assistant, “ Josephine told them after quickly explaining to Ada what had happened at Cheltenham. “We still hadn’t made up after the fight we had after the races, I’ve been staying at papas and I got mad, asking him if he could see what Grace was doing to our relationship and then he flipped out on me, saying that I’m the reason why our relationship is struggling.”
Polly and Ada scowled, annoyed on Josephine’s behalf who had hesitated on what she was gonna say next,
“I also don’t believe he set Freddie up.” Josephine winced at the glares Ada and Polly sent her way and quickly defended herself, “No, wait, listen, I honestly don’t believe Tommy would do that, yeah he hates Freddie but Ada, you’re his only sister and he truly doesn’t want to harm you.”
The two women mulled over what Josephine said before Polly spoke,
“Who do you think it was?”
“My gut tells me Grace is involved somehow and it’s not because I’m jealous but think about it, Thomas can’t stop telling her about what’s happening with the company, he’s taken her to Cheltenham, the man can’t keep his mouth shut around her.” Josephine rolled her eyes at the last part, “Ever since her and that chief inspector have come to town, everything has been going wrong for Tommy. It can’t be just a coincidence about those two.”
Polly nodded before the baby in Ada’s arms began to cry and Ada quickly stood up said her goodnights and ran to one of the rooms to deal with the baby and Josephine took this moment to say goodbye too and left the house on Watery Lane and made her way to the house she shared with Tommy.
Pausing in front of the house, Josephine took a deep breath, she hadn’t been back since their fight after the races, so she hoped that he was inside because she wanted to speak to him and as she stepped into the house she was relieved to find the kitchen light on.
“Tommy?” Josephine called out, walking to the kitchen, though she was pretty sure that he wouldn’t respond to her and she was right, he was in the kitchen and looked to be several classes deep in his bottle of rum.
“Come to chew me out as well have ya?”
“No.” Josephine plopped down on the seat opposite him, “I don’t think you did it”. That made Tommy look up at her for the first time and immediately his eye caught on to the cut on her head,
“Who did that?” he motioned towards her head
“The coppers” Josephine kept her answer short, wanting to get straight to the point.
“I don’t believe you did it Thomas, despite how crazy she makes you, you don’t hate her.” Tommy didn’t respond making her annoyed. Tommy had a tendency to act like a child whenever it suited him.
“I think Grace did it. She was in the pub, serving you when Ada was giving birth. There’s no-one else who could of done it, Thomas, think rationally.” Tommy shot up at that, “Christ, Josephine! Your jealousy of Grace is making you see things!” He left the kitchen, storming upstairs.
Josephine slumped back in her chair and began to cry, she couldn’t believe how twisted their relationship had become in such a few short months, and as the days went on the more she wanted to take a break from Tommy, everything was overwhelming and she needed time to think clearly. She knew that the Tommy that came back from the war was a different man but the way he had been treating her was unexpected and she knew she deserved more than that but she was stuck on what to do
Once she stopped crying, Josephine went straight back to her papa’s, not wanting to stay in the house with Tommy.
Chapter 10: Chapter Ten
Josephine had been knocking at the door to Ada’s basement for the past thirty minutes hoping that the younger girl would let her in but she had been stubborn, determined not to open the door to any of her family members, Josephine included.
“Ada, you don’t have to let me in but at least take in the food Polly has left ya. You’ve got a baby to care for now, you can’t let yourself waste away.” Josephine waited outside the door for another minute, waiting to see if Ada would open it but left after she didn’t, making her way back to Polly’s.
“No luck?” The older woman asked as Josephine stepped into the house, discarding her soaking umbrella by the door,
“No, I tried talking to her but she didn’t reply. I left the basket outside her door though, hopefully she takes it.” She sighed, taking a seat at the table. Polly opened her mouth to speak but before she could John and Arthur came stomping in, along with an older man that Josephine hadn’t seen since she was a little girl but without a doubt recognise, it was Arthur Shelby Sr. The man had left his family over ten years ago, not long after Finn was born and their mother had passed away but even before that the man was hardly around, he was never faithful and since the Shelby’s mother was constantly sick, it was often left to Polly and the eldest brothers to help with the younger children. Josephine remembered that when her mother was still alive, that she was good friends with the Shelby mother and helped out as much as she could, it was one of the main reasons why Josephine was such good friends with the family growing up.
“Pollyanna!” The man hollered, walking to his sister, trying to kiss her on the cheek before the woman stepped back out of his grasp and shot him a harsh glare.
“What the hell are you doing here?!” Polly walked away from her elder brother to the other side of the room as the man took a seat at the head of the table and despite how much she wanted to move, Josephine didn’t want the mans attention on her.
“Can’t I see my family?”
“No.” John grumbled, annoyed at the sight of his father.
Finn ran in at that moment, pausing when he saw the unfamiliar man who grinned at him,
“How you doing son? Remember your old-man ey?” He asked Finn, moving as to hug him but Josephine jumped out of her chair and pulled him away from the man before he could and went to stand next to John, her arms tightly wrapped around Finn as to prevent him from going to his father.
“Ah! Little Josephine Lindholm isn’t so little anymore ey” Arthur Sr leered at her, running his eyes up and down her body, making her uncomfortable.
“Why are you here?” John repeated Polly’s question, noticing that his friend was uncomfortable and brought the attention away from her.
“Like I said, I wanted to see my family, is that so hard to believe?” Arthur Sr didn’t appreciate the attitude he was getting from his son, “Now, I’m starving, mind getting me something to eat son?” He directed his question at Arthur Jr who ran off to the kitchen as soon as the question was asked, making Polly loudly scoff.
The room was silent as Arthur was making something for his father to eat, no one wanting to interact with the man and hoping that Tommy got back soon. The tension didn’t let up when Arthur came back into the room, handing his father a sandwich,
“Thank you. You are a good boy.” He told his eldest, smiling up at him before placing his hands in the praying motion and closing his eyes, “Bless thee, Father, for these bounties we are about to receive--”
Polly loudly scoffed, “Jesus Christ.”
“Please, woman, not in vain.” The man said to the woman, giving her the side eye.
“Finish your sandwich and sling your hook.” Polly Gray wasn’t intimidated by this man and she made sure he knew it.
“Pollyanna. I’m the guest of the head of this family, so why don’t you maybe tend to your mangle or your scuttle?” Arthur condescendingly said to her.
“The head of the family ain’t here.” John grumbled.
“Tommy, he sometimes helps me with...with business, dad.” Arthur nervously admitted to his father, slightly scared of his reaction.
The sound of the door opening and closing made Josephine breathe a sigh of relief, her grip slightly loosened on Finn, knowing that Tommy was back and he would deal with the man.
“Aye, well, speak of the devil.” Arthur Sr put down the knife and stood up to greet Tommy. “How are you, son?”
Tommy shook his head in disbelief before speaking, “Get out.”
“C’mon, son. I’m a changed man. ”
“This family needed you ten years ago, and you walked out on us. Not now. Get out of this house.”
“Tommy, he’s different--” Arthur tried to defend their father.
“Shut up.” Tommy quickly shut him down.
“It’s all right, son. Arthur Shelby never stays where he’s not welcome.” He said collecting his belongings, “Quite something you’ve become. Don’t think I didn’t notice the ring on Josephine’s finger, I’m surprised son, I thought she was beneath you, never thought a Shelby would ever get with a thing like her.”
“Get out. Now.” Tommy scowled, his patience lowering by the second. The man didn’t argue, turning to leave, he once more reached out to Finn but Josephine tucked him into her side, giving the man a glare as he left the house.
“He’s our dad.” Arthur once again tried to defend their father.
The sigh Tommy breathes out is one of disbelief and frustration, “He’s a selfish bastard.”
“You calling someone a selfish bastard, that’s a bit rich, Tommy. I mean, thanks to you, we’re already down a bloody sister.”
“You want to see him, Arthur? You want to see him? You go with him.” Tommy pointed towards the door, daring Arthur to after their dad, it was quiet for a moment before Arthur jumped out of his chair and stormed out of the house to follow their father.
The silence continued for a while before Polly spoke up, “Josey,” she called making the girls head snap towards her, “Why don’t you take Finn out with you? I’ll come by later to pick him up for supper.” Josephine squinted her eyes, not happy at being treated like a child but complied anyway,
“C’mon Finn, let’s see if Isaiah is around, I need two strong men to help me carry my food back from the market” Josephine said, taking Finn’s hand and leaving the house, laughing as Finn tried to bargain out some sweets as well.
“Thank you boys” Josephine thanked the young boys as they placed the bags down on the backroom’s table, expecting them to run off immediately to play by the Cut but when she turned to face them, they were still there with sweet smiles plastered on their faces.
Rolling her eyes, she walked towards the main shop, knowing what they wanted,
“You better not tell Polly or Jeremiah about this, I don’t want to get a hiding from either of them.”
The boys giggled at the thought,
“But you’re an adult! They can’t tell you off!” Finn chirped, not believing her.
“Yeah, well, you know your Aunt Polly, she won’t hesitate to beat me or your brothers.” Josephine laughed, filling up the paper sweet bags for the boys.
The boys ran off after they got their payment, leaving Josephine with one of the part-timers her father had hired until he came back, relieving them, leaving just Josephine and her father alone at the store, dealing with whatever customers came through.
“Lunch?” Josephine asked her father when there was a lull of activity in shop, wanting to make the most of it and when he nodded, she went into the back to make them sandwiches, though when she came back out, she only managed to place the plates on the table before the doors burst open and a swarm of police officers came into the shop.
The father and daughter both paused in shock before Jonas jumped up and stood in front of his daughter, as to protect her.
“What is this?! Why are you here?!”
His question wasn’t answered but the crowd parted in the middle and Chief Inspector Campbell walked through with a sinister grin on his face,
“Jonas Lindholm,by order of the crown you are under arrest.”
At his words, several officers stepped forward and grabbed Jonas, immobilizing him. “What?! What have I done?!” Jonas shouted as he struggled in their grip.
“Papa! Stop! You’re hurting him!” Josephine moved towards him, “He hasn’t done anything wrong! Leave him alone!”
Two specials stop her from getting any closer, pulling her arms behind her in a rough grip making her cry out in pain.
“Jonas Lindholm, it has been revealed that you’ve been living in England illegally.” Campbell began to make his way out of the shop, the officers holding Jonas following behind him.
“What?!” Josephine was in hysterics now, her face red and tears uncontrollable, “You’re wrong, he hasn’t done anything illegal!” She struggled in the strong grip that held her, trying to escape and when she managed to pull herself out of it, she had only managed to take one step forward before she was met with a slap on the face so forceful that it sent her tumbling to the floor and dazed her, and as she collected herself off of the floor, Campbell and all the officers had already quickly left, so Josephine ran to the only people she knew could help her.
Running down the streets of Small Heath in tears, garnering all types of looks, Josephine sped towards Watery Lane, shaken from the events that had just happened and hoped that at least there was one person at the betting den that could help her. Stumbling into the betting den, she ran into Scudboat, stuttering over her words.“W-where are t-they?” The older man quickly pointed towards Tommy’s office and the woman ran off, forgetting to thank him.
Josephine didn’t bother knocking on the door, instead she burst in, disrupting what looked like a family meeting but she didn’t care. Tommy’s head turned towards the door, ready to go off at the person who interrupted them but stopped short when he noticed it was Josephine and then stood up when he noticed the state Josephine was in.
“My god, what’s happened?” It was Polly who asked the question.
“T-t-they took papa!” Josephine’s breaths were harsh and fast paced.
“Who took him love?” Polly had left her seat and guided Josephine into it.
“Campbell. He said that papa was here illegally!” Josephine’s breathing started to even out and she nodded thankfully at John who had given her a glass of water, after taking a sip. “Oh Tommy! You have to help him! Oh please Thomas.”
Tommy walked over to her and kneeled in front of her, placing his hand on her shoulder,
“Hey, I’ll get him out, yeah. Don’t worry, I’ll sort it.” Tommy waited for her to nod in understanding before he left, Arthur and John going with him.
“C’mon girl, let’s go to the living room, I’ll make you a cup of tea.” Polly gently guided her out of the betting den and into the main house.
Once Josephine was sat on the couch, Polly quickly ran to the kitchen to make them tea, not wanting to leave her alone for any extended period of time
“Come on luv, drink this, it’ll calm you down.” She said handing her the teacup. She watched as the younger girl slowly made her way through the drink, taking small sips every so often until she finished, placing the cup down and facing the older woman,
“Oh Pol, what am I going to do? What if the boys can’t help him-” Polly sharply cuts off Josephine, “Don’t think like that. Of course the boys will be able to help him.”
“We’ll have to leave Pol. Papa can’t stay here, especially not when that inspector is around.” Josephine looked up with her with wide eyes, that were beginning to tear up, Polly sighed pulling the young woman in her chest, squeezing her tight when she began to sob uncontrollably. Josephine cried until she fell asleep, passing out on the couch, Polly threw a blanket on her and made her way back to her own bed, hoping that the boys have helped Jonas.
Chapter 11: Chapter Eleven
I know this all very canon but it's for a reason~~~ don't worry it does develop it's own story line.
Also thanks for all the comments, kudos and views, I appreciate them a lot :D
Jonas had lost track of time. After being dragged from his shop, he had been placed in a damp, dark room and was left alone for hours, with only his thoughts to keep him company and despite racking his brain for however long he was kept in that room for why he was arrested he couldn’t make sense of it, Campbell said he was here illegally but he knew that wasn’t true, he’d been living in England since he was twenty and for Christs sake he’d even fought for the country and lost his arm as a result. Jonas knew he was here legally and had the documents to show for it but he had an inkling that this Chief Inspector wouldn’t care, he had heard the tales from the streets about that man, about how he did care about laws and rules, that he’ll do anything to get his way and Jonas couldn’t help but fear that he wouldn’t be making it out of this room alive.
Hours went by before the clinking of the door being unlocked sounded, snapping Jonas from his thoughts. He tensed as he heard the slow footsteps make their way towards him, keeping his head down and gaze locked on the floor, refusing to turn around to see who it is.
“Mr. Lindholm, it’s about time we finally talked.” The Scottish accent told Jonas that it was Inspector Campbell, a man who he had never met before this afternoon, “I don’t know what you want from me.” He kept his head down which Campbell took exception to, as he grabbed the man’s jaw and forced his head up so Jonas was forced to look at him.
“My agent in the field tipped me off about you and your daughter, about your ties with the Shelby family.” Campbell walked in circles around Jonas’ chair, “Now Mr. Lindholm, tell me what your know about them and we’ll let you go” He paused for a moment before continuing,
“Maybe I’ll think about keeping your daughter out of it if...only if your information is good enough.”
“What’s Josephine got to do with this?” Jonas breathed out, his eyes wide and heart racing, his daughter was the only thing he had left, he couldn’t imagine a life without her.
“Your little Josephine is engaged to Thomas Shelby, who is my prime suspect for some stolen guns and if you don’t give me the right information, then I’ll take her.”
“W-what? I thought you arrested me because I was here illegally?” Jonas was confused, he had no clue about whatever guns Campbell was talking about, along with the threat towards his daughter. It was starting to give him a migraine.
Campbell signed impatiently, wondering if he was wasting his time with this man, “I’m after information about Thomas Shelby, Mr. Lindholm and if you don’t help me, then there will be dire consequences.” he threatened.
Jonas felt his heart start to race, he had no information to give and the thought of something happening to his daughter made him sick to his stomach. “I-i have no clue about what guns you’re talking about--” A harsh punch to his face interrupts him. Jonas gasped in shock, his head whipping to the side from the force of Campbell’s fist hitting him, his breath catches in his throat as he is rendered speechless.
“Fucking useless” Campbell mutters, brushing the back of his hand against his coat, as if it was dirty before walking over to the door, motioning to the two officers stationed outside to deal with Jonas. The officers grabbed him and pull him up, dragging him off the chair and out the door, having no apparent regard for him as he stumbles and trips over his feet, trying to keep up with them, not wanting to be dragged. He only managed to find his feet, though not for long as they suddenly stopped in front of a cell door, which after they unlocked and opened a voice sounded from inside but before Jonas can make sense of it, he was quickly thrown inside the cell, roughly landing on his knees, his one arm unable grip onto something on time left him unbalanced making him face plant into the grimy, wet, cold, stone floor. He grunted, trying to push himself up off the floor but his panic was making him shake, unable to lift himself caused him to panic more and when a hand gripped his shoulder he flinched back and tried to defend himself, falling back onto the ground, his one arm swinging randomly, hoping to make contact with the unknown person.
“Woah! Woah! Woah. Calm down, I’m not tryna attack you” The voice called out to him, but the lack of light didn’t help, as he struggled to see who it was.
“W-who are you?!” Jonas asked, with his arm still stretched out in defence.
“I’m Freddie. Freddie Thorne.”
“Freddie Thorne? It’s me Jonas Lindholm, What are you doing here?” Jonas relaxed at the name, it was one he hadn’t heard in a while, he remembers Josephine briefly mentioning it months ago but he can’t remember what it was about.
“Mr. Lindholm?! My god, why are you here?” Freddie ignored his question, taken off guard by the identity of his new cellmate.
“I don’t know for sure, that inspector out there mentioned Tommy Shelby.” The older man thanked Freddie has he helped him off the floor and on to one of the benches , “Now what are you doing here?”
The man scoffed, “Tommy Shelby is why. My wife gave birth and I went to visit my newborn son but I was only there for a few minutes before the coppers came storming in, dragging me away from my family.” Freddie finished off, he titled towards the ground.
“I-- what does that have to do with Tommy.” Jonas was confused.
“My wife is Ada Shelby.” Freddie looked up at him.
“Ah.” Jonas made a noise of understanding, “And you think Tommy was the one who sold you out?” Freddie nodded and all Jonas could do was offer him a small pitiful smile.
Tommy had been running around the city for several hours, trying to find out the actual reason why Josephine’s father had been arrested, he had been meeting with several local acquaintances, all the police he used to have on his payroll no longer useful as they all now work for Campbell, he was feeling stretched out and guilty, his subconscious knowing that the real reason why Jonas was arrested was because of him and his day didn’t get any better when Finn came running over to him, telling him about the grave being dug up and all Tommy could do is groan out in frustration, desperately wanting to scream but unable to, all his plans have gone up in smoke and all he wanted to do was scream to skies about it but he took a deep breath and told Finn to take him to the graveyard and when they arrived, Tommy could only stand in shock over the dug up grave, he looked around to make sure no one was spying on them before bending down the meet Finn’s eyes,
“There’s gonna be trouble now, Finn. You look after yourself, do you hear me? I’m gonna be going away for a while. Right. Go on.” Waiting for Finn’s nod in understanding, Tommy quickly sent his youngest brother off, not wanting him to get caught up in the mess. Tommy stayed in the graveyard for a while after Finn left, running every plan and possibility through his head before leaving, heading towards the Garrison with Grace the only thing on his mind as he did.
When he stepped in, he nodded Grace towards the back room, an non-verbal way of telling her he wanted to talk.
“I’m gonna have to lie low for a while.”
“Why?” She quickly asked
“I lost my bargaining power. This copper, it’s just me and him now.” Tommy stepped closer to Grace, “When I get back, I’m gonna tell you some things.”
“Harry said the police are already in Digbeth,” Tommy murmured in agreement to her statement.
“You took a chance coming here. Why?”
Before Tommy could answer her, Finn opened the door, “The police are in the lane, Tommy!.
“Come with me.” Without hesitating, Grace took Tommy’s hand and pulled him out of the Garrison and took him through a maze of back roads and behind houses before the stopped outside of a door, where Grace dropped his hand to pull out hers, opening the door she gestured for Tommy to follow her as she stepped in and walked up the stairs. Tommy watched as Grace ambled around, lighting candles around the room to light the place up,
“It’s not much of a place.” She told him as he walked into her flat, closing the door behind him.
“It’s all right.”
“You want tea?” Grace asked
“I have rum”
“Actually, tea it is.” Tommy went back on his words
“You want to impress me?” Grace had a small smile on her face.
“Yes. And do you have a biscuit?” Tommy matched her smile.
“No. The attract mice.”
“People look different at home.” He told her, running his eyes up and down her body as she fluttered around the kitchen.
“In what way?”
“Off guard” Tommy tilted his head
“Should I be on my guard?”
“No, I'm a man who drinks tea.” Tommy couldn’t help but smile, whatever he had going on with Grace was exciting and he loved it.
“When the trouble dies down, I'll go.” He told her after she walked over to the window and peered down into the streets.
“When will it die down, do you think?” She asked, turning to face him.
“Late, I would say.”
“So, not until the morning then.”
“I'd say I'll be here till morning.” The double meaning in his word, ringing loud. “You have a gramophone?”
“We could still dance.”
“Yes.Why not.” They couldn’t stop smiling at eachother
“I know you like to be asked properly.” Tommy whispered to Grace, stepping closer to her “Grace, can I have this dance?”
When she nodded, Tommy pulled her towards him, one of his hands in her own and the other wrapped tightly around her waist as the two of them began sway together silence before pressing their lips together in a kiss that grew more passionate, they continued kissing as they removed each others clothes, slowly moving towards Grace’s bed, their kisses becoming more passionate as they lose themselves in the throes of pleasure.
“Are you okay?” They lay in bed, cuddled up close to each other.
“I don't hear the shovels against the wall.” Tommy grins up at the ceiling.
“Will you help me?” Tommy turns to face Grace.
“Help you with what?”
“With everything. The whole fucking thing. Fucking life.Business. I've found you. And you found me. We'll help each other.” Tommy whispered to Grace before he bent down and kissed her.
“Will you break up with Josephine?” Grace whispered up to Tommy, her eyelashes fluttering, a pleased smile gracing her face when Tommy nodded before he kissed her again.
Tommy left Grace’s flat just before dawn, still smiling as he walked down the street towards Watery Lane, though the smile quickly left his face when he came across Polly in the kitchen who was nursing a cup of tea, reality crashing around him,
“You’re up early.”
“Couldn’t sleep.” She told him, getting up to make him some tea, “Josephine, though, that poor girl, cried herself to sleep last night.” Tommy felt the guilt start to build up in his gut. “Nealy made herself sick a few times.” Polly sighed, her worry for the girl clear.
“Is she still…?” Tommy didn’t complete his question, but he nodded his head up towards the upper floor of the house.
“Oh yeah, wore herself out last night.” His aunt answered him, placing his teacup in front of him before taking her seat again. “So?”
“So what?” Tommy asked, lighting a cigarette.
“Have you figured out a way to free Jonas yet? And Freddie?” Polly rolled her eyes at her nephew.
“Yea, I’ve got a plan. Both Jonas and Freddie will be free by tonight.” He took a long drag from his cigarette hoping to end the conversation there but his aunt knew when he was keeping stuff from her.
“What are you not saying, Thomas?” Polly asked, sitting up straight.
“Don’t lie to me Thomas, or so help me god.” Polly was on edge.
“I slept with Grace…” Tommy whispered and there was silence for a few moments, the sound of his aunt’s chair scraping across the floor as she shot up being his only warning before he felt the smack of a palm across his face.
“The barmaid?” Tommy only nodded in response, he head bent down so he didn’t have to look at his aunt, knowing that disappointment and anger would be on it.
“How. Dare. You.” Polly was seething, her body shaking in anger. “Look at me Thomas! Josephine is up there after crying herself to sleep because her father was taken from her, no doubt it was because of you, and instead of comforting her, you go around sleeping with random barmaids.”
“Aunt Pol--” His aunt cut him off before he could finish his sentence.
“No! Once you have freed Jonas, you’re gonna go to Josephine, tell her what happened and break up with her.” Polly took a step back, fearing if that if she looked at her nephew for any longer, she’ll slap him again. “I can’t you’ve done this to her, Thomas, after all she’s done for you and this is how you repay her? She deserves better than you, so if she wants to leave then you better let her. Give her a chance to leave whilst she can.”
“Aunt Pol, leave it.” Tommy stood up, heading towards his office in the betting den, he couldn’t deny her words, they both knew it.
“Thomas, you better tell her or I will.”
Tommy glared at his aunt before storming off.
Ada had finally came out of the basement she was staying in and was currently with Polly and Josephine in the house on Watery Lane, the older two women cooing over the baby.
“You’re much better with him than I am.” Ada said, watching as her aunt settled the baby.
“He settles quicker with me because he can’t smell the milk.” Polly reassured the young mother, “You look tired. Let’s put him down.”
“Mine were terrors for the tit. Both of them.” Polly spoke quietly, “Well, you never knew my children, did you?”
“No, I was a child myself then.”
“Vaguely, it was so long ago.” Josephine spoke up when Polly looked at her. “You never talk about them.”
“Never had reason to. My heart breaks even when I think about them.” Polly slowly wandered around the room, “But today, I do have reason to. Sit down Ada.”
Ada took a seat next to Josephine, with Polly sitting across from them.
“They were three and five years old. Sally was three, Michael was five. Well..two weeks away from being six. It was Sunday morning. While I was at church, ‘You're not forgiven.’ This pinch-faced bitch said to me, ‘You're not forgiven.’ You see, some sheets I washed and hung on the line had the name of a hotel on them. They'd been stolen in a robbery, and they said some porter at the hotel had been coshed. And a woman from round here told the police about the sheets - jealous, you see, of the new sheets. And when the police came, they found a spirit still for making a few drops of gin. And for that they took my children from me.
And they never told me where they took them.” Polly struggled to speak, tearing up at the thought of her children,
“And they did it cos they could. And cos I was weak. But they will never take your baby away from you. Do you know why? Cos Tommy wouldn't let them. Cos Tommy won't let them walk all over us. Now it is Tommy who has given strength and power to this family. Cos he knows you have to be as bad as them above in order to survive. I'm telling you this cos I want you to forgive him.”
“How can I? When my Freddie is rotting in jail because of him.” Ada was stubborn against her aunts words.
“There’s something about today that you need to know.” Polly’s graze was strong as she looked at the young women who were sitting opposite her.
Tommy had called a family meeting, one that included Josephine, so Polly and Josephine left Ada in the main house and went to the betting den, taking their places as Tommy stood up front.
“Right. I’ve got you all here today because this is the day that we replace Billy Kimber. This is the day we become respectable. The day we join the official National Association of RaceCourse Bookmakers.” Tommy smiled proudly, “But first we do the dirty work. We’ve all known this days been coming, I just haven’t told anybody the date.”
Tommy turned around to face the blackboard, “We’re going to the Worcester races. The track opens at one, we’ll get there at two.” He turned back around, facing the crowd,
“Now, Kimber thinks we’re going there to help him fight the Lee brothers. But thanks to the efforts of our John, and his lovely new wife Esme, the Lees are now our kin. I interrupted those efforts this morning and er-” Tommy paused, letting everyone laugh, “But I can assure you all, John’s making great sacrifices for the cause of peace.
“Yeah. All right” John grumbled out, not amused.
“So it’ll be us and the Lees against Kimber’s boys. We take them out but leave the bookies. I expect a swift victory which will send a signal all the way to London, that we believe in letting legitimate businesses run peacefully.”
“And what about Kimber himself?” John asked
“I’ll deal with Kimber. Any other questions?”
“Yes” Polly told him, after no-one else spoke up, “Does anybody object if I bring a newcomer to the meeting?”
Josephine perked up, understanding what she was getting at. Polly opened the door a bit, whispering through the crack before opening the door fully and letting Ada walk out with the baby in her arms, “I’d like to introduce the newest member of the Shelby clan.”
Arthur slowly started to clap with prompted everyone else to start clapping too as Ada walked towards everyone,
“Welcome home, Ada.” Despite his outward appearance, Tommy was glad that Ada had come back to the family and seemed to have understood what had happened.
“We named him Karl. After Karl Marx.” Ada announced to the room causing laughs.
“Karl Bloody Marx!” Arthur scoffed, moving from his place and towards his sister and nephew, “Let me get a look at him.”
“Oh here we go!”
“Hey, look. He looks just like me.” Arthur took the baby out of Ada’s arms and placed his cap on his head before lifting him up so the whole room could see.”That’s his arse that looks like you, Arthur.” John pipes up.
“He’s alright. He’s a Shelby.” Arthur klutched Karl close to him.
As Tommy and Ada drifted to the side to talk privately, Josephine made her way to Arthur, taking the baby out his arms and into hers, Esme standing next to her as they cooed over the baby.
“Well Ada? Am I forgiven?” Tommy asked
“If what Aunt Polly says is true, you are.”
Tommy nodded, “It’s true.”
Ada breathed a sigh of relief before rushing to hug him, “Thank you, Tommy.”
Pulling away, Ada looked over the room with a smile, the past few weeks had been hell for her and she was glad things were finally getting sorted. Her eyes landed on Josephine who held Karl as she talked to Polly, she turned her head to face Tommy, “Whatever is going on with your relationship with Josey, you better fix it before it’s too late.”, shooting him one more smile, Ada made her way to her other brothers, content on leaving her son with Josephine.
Tommy stared at Josephine as she held baby Karl, her body softly swaying side to side to keep him quiet. He had pictured that image his head multiple times, ever since they got serious, he had thought and dreamt about Josephine with a baby in her arms but only difference was that in his dreams, the baby was their child, his and Josephine’s. The image changed every time he dreamt of it, sometimes it would be a baby girl, other times it would be a baby boy, there were even times where there was an older child, around the age of five and then a baby in Josephine’s arms. Those dreams were his favourite. Before the war, they would lay in bed together, whispering their future plans with each other, about moving away from Small Heath and how many kids they would have and even though Tommy said he didn’t mind what gender they were, he secretly wished for a girl, a daughter, one that would hopefully take after Josephine in every way, from her looks to her personality.
Tommy snapped himself out of his daze, realizing that he had been staring for too long, he quickly looked around the room to see if anybody had caught him before calling out Josephine’s name when nobody had.
Josephine turned her head when she heard her name being called out, she looked at Tommy who tilted his head, asking her to come over and passed the baby into Polly’s arms before making her way over to him.
“It’s about your father, I’m getting him and Freddie freed. You no longer have to worry ey”
Josephine gasped, throwing her hands over her mouth in shock,
“Oh gosh, are you serious Tommy?” She whispered.
“Yea.” He nodded, “I’ll deal with Campbell too, so you don’t have to leave yea.”
Josephine threw him a large smile before pulling him into a large hug, “Oh thank you so much Tommy! Thank you, thank you, thank you.” Tommy wrapped his arms around her, tightening his grip but it wasn’t long before he felt a glare on him and looking up he met his aunt’s eyes, a clear warning in them, a warning to tell her what had happened.
Pulling away, Tommy looked down at Josephine,
“We hafta go, but we’ll talk when I get back yea?” Once she had nodded, he left, the rest of the men in the room following after him and they made their way to the Garrison. He pulled Grace into the back room, wanting to talk to her.
“We need to talk yea, we can do it when I come back from the races. Once Kimber’s gone we can talk properly and then we can be together yea? Me and you.”
“Tommy, the truth is when you come back from the races, I won't be here.” Grace’s eyes were watery
“What are you talking about? All right, look. Grace, I know you weren't born to be with a man like me But I'm turning things around. And when I get back here tonight I will have one of the biggest legal racetrack syndicates in the country. And I'm going to close down some of that other stuff. Maybe open a club, hey? Like in London.” Tommy wanted Grace to know he was being serious. “And another thing..you have a contract of employment with a real limited company. You remember?”
“I remember everything, Tommy.” Grace was melting at Tommy’s words, she wanted everything he was promising.
“I am going to make a success of this. I am going to make a success of it. I am.”
“I know. I know.” Grace couldn’t tell if her tears were from the overwhelming guilt or not.
“And I'm not talking about marriage. We know each other. We can talk. We're the same.”
“Tommy, I have done something terrible to you.” Before Tomy could ask what she was on about, the door swung open and Arthur walked in along with Jeremiah Jesus.
“Right, tell him what you just told me.” Arthur said to the priest.
“Just heard there’s two vans driving up the Stratford Road. An old corporal of mine said he recognized some of the men. He said it’s the Kimber boys and they’re heading this way” Jeremiah told Tommy.
Caught off guard, Tommy only spared Grace half a glance before he sped out of the room and the Garrison, trying to get the Watery Lane as soon as possible.
“Ada!” He shouted out, the door loudly slamming behind him, “You and the baby get into the Bull Ring, where there’s lots of people.” He told her, walking into the living room, “You too Josephine.” He added on once he spotted the girl.
“What’s going on?” Polly stepped out of the kitchen
“We’ve been fucking betrayed.” Tommy panted, pacing up and down. “Someone’s let slip, Kimber’s men are on their way here” Josephine stood up at his words but didn’t move any closer to Tommy.
“But you can handle them Tommy?” His aunt asked.
“It’s just us. All the Lees are all on their way to Worcester. We’re outnumbered. Fuck!”
“Betrayed? Who betrayed you?” Tommy didn’t answer Josephine’s question, a weird look appearing in his eyes.
“Who else knew today was the day you were moving on Kimber? You said you kept it secret. Who else did you tell?” Polly’s eyes were flickering everywhere, her mind running a mile a minute. She paused for a minute before her eyes widened, coming to a conclusion.
“There’s only one thing that could blind a man as smart as you Tommy. Lust.” Josephine eyes widen at her words but Polly continued on before she could open her mouth, “It was that barmaid.”
“What? What does Grace have to do with this?” Josephine asked, confused. She felt like she was missing something.
“Nothing.” Tommy cut in, throwing a warning look to his aunt.
“You better tell her Thomas or I will.” Polly has glaring at him now.
“For christs sakes! Will somebody tell me what’s going on?!” Josephine was fed up
“Thomas slept with Grace.” Polly cut him off, her words coming out in a rush.
Josephine paused at the words, everything around her slowing down as she processed the words, she left her heart sink and the urge to be sick overcame her.
“Y-you what?” She stuttered out.
Polly paused to see if Tommy was gonna answer her and piped up when she saw that he wasn’t, “He slept with Grace the other night. When your father was arrested.”
Something snapped in Josephine when heard when it had happened, her head snapping up to look at Tommy who has avoiding her gaze,
“You what?!” She shouted as she stormed over to him, pushing him and hitting him on the chest “Whilst my father was rotting in jail, you were fucking the barmaid!”
Tommy had grabbed her by the arms, securing her in place, “Calm down!”
“Calm down?! What the fuck Thomas!” Josephine thrashed in Tommy’s hands before stilling, “If she betrayed you about Kimber, then what else has she done, Thomas ey? What else has happened?”
Tommy drops his hand and took a deep breath, running his hands across his face, “...Campbell said something earlier, I think it may have been about Grace”
Josephine took this moment to slap him across the face, his head snapping to the side, as he was caught off guard before she scoffed in disbelief about the fact that this was happening, “Fuck you, Thomas!” Tommy looked down at her and saw how disgusted and hurt she was, and when she her eyes met his, he was met with such a fury filled glare that he couldn’t help but step back in shock.
“We don’t have time for this right now. We’ll deal with Grace. If you set eyes on her again, you might kill her.” Polly quickly cut in, grabbing their coats and leaving, Josephine shooting Tommy one last glare.
Tommy sighed and looked at his sister who ignored his presence, picking up Karl and leaving the room, disappointed in her brother.
Polly handed Josephine a tissue as they briskly walked to the Garrison,
“Wipe your tears, you can’t have her have the upper hand. You have to be strong when we see her, don’t fall to her to level.” Josephine nodded, wiping her face clear just before the step in the pub, catching Grace as she planned to leave.
“Going for good?” Polly asked.
“I heard there’s trouble.” Grace, feigning innocence
“Instinct is a funny thing. See, normally I can tell about a person. But you--”
“Look, the fighting is about to begin. We should get out of here.” Grace cut Polly off.
“We know who you are. Tommy knows as well.” Josephine spoke up then, walking to where Grace stood, causing Grace’s eyes to fall to her, “Turns out that copper as good as told him this morning.
Polly pulled out her hair pin and played with it threateningly, “But I wanted to hear it from your lips.”
Grace pulled out a gun and pointed it towards the two women, “I am an agent of the crown. I have the power to arrest and the right to use force. So please step out of my way.”
“Like I say, instinct is a funny thing. You fell for Tommy for real, didn’t you?” Polly wasn’t bothered by the gun being waved in her face, “Even though you knew he was engaged, you still went after him didn’t you?”
“This gun is loaded.” Josephine scoffed, having reached her limit. She stepped over to Grace and yanked the gun out of her hand, chucking it on the bar top.
“We’re not afraid of you. I feel sorry for you. Slip of a thing, you thought you’d come in here and stitch us all up. We’ve had some coppers narks in here before but you? You’re the queen of them all.” Polly ran her eyes up and down Grace, “So who are you? A little rich girl, I’d guess. Unionst? An Ulster Volunteer? You thought Fenians, communists, low people, they’re all the same. Scum.Then you met Tommy”
Grace dropped her back and pulled back her sleeves, “I’d fight you with my fists and show you how a rich girl fights. I’m from a tough family.”
Josephine smiled, her eyebrows raising at the same time, making it look comical.
Polly walked until she was directly in front of Grace, looking down at her, “Nah. We women have more sense. Why don't you pour us a drink?” Polly and Josephine sat down, Polly lighting a cigarette as Grace fetched them a bottle and some glasses
“So, is she right? Did you fall for Tommy?” Josephine asked
“Then I pity you.” Polly took a drag of her cigarette
“I think he'll try to kill me.”
“He's too soft. I mean I think he should but he obviously has a thing for you so he won’t.” Josephine accepted a cigarette Polly
“Soft. Like you.” Josephine smiled at Grace, though it wasn’t sincere
“You saved his life the night the coppers came. That's why we're drinking, not fighting. We owe you.” Grace knew that if she pushed her luck, the little peace treaty they had wouldn’t last.
“What was he like before France?” Grace directed her question towards Josephine
“He laughed, a lot. He wanted to work with horses.” A small genuine smile came on her face as she reminisced about Tommy before the war.
“He won medals.”
“Threw them in the cut. Ah, not a single man came back the same. You know, after all this is over he might forgive you. He might take you in.”
“What about you?” Grace was shocked at her words.
“I don’t want him. He’s all yours for the taking. I don’t know why you look surprised, I’m sure you’ve been wanting this since you first saw him. Whispering in his ear about the two of you running away, you against the world huh”
“You can never tell with men. They go for whoever their dicks point at, and there's no changing their minds.” Polly spoke up, her voice tightening as she spoke the next words “But I should tell you something. I will never forgive you or accept you or take you in and it's me who runs the business of the heart in this family. And Josey right here, is a part of this family and you did her wrong and as far as I'm concerned, you're a snitch from the Parish and if you're not gone from this city by tomorrow you’ll be dead Now, go.”
Grace was surprised at Polly’s change in attitude but listened to her anyway, moving towards the door, “Maybe what really upsets you is the thought that one day you might lose him.”
Josephine slowly stands up, making her way over to Grace, calling out her before she can leave,
“Grace? Was it you who told Campbell to arrest my father?”
The blonde girl slowly nodded, tensed up, one leg behind her to aid her if she needed to make a quick get away but Josephine only nod, causing her to relax.
Josephine took a deep breath a Grace’s words, waiting for the girl to let down her defensive walls and when she did, she struck, her hand striking Grace’s face with a loud slap. Grace stumbled back in shock, one of her hands shooting up to touch where she was it and looked up at Josephine who had a glare and a scowl on her face,
“If you’re not gone by tomorrow, then I’ll kill you myself. Now, Go.”
Grace quickly ran out, no longer wanting to be in the same room as Polly and Josephine, the door slamming behind her. Josephine let out a sob after she was sure she was gone, her hands coming up to wipe the tears away,
“I can’t do this anymore, Polly. I have to go.” She told the woman, turning around and walking back to her.
Polly nodded, her face showing how upset she was, “I’ll miss you but you’re right. You need to be free from Tommy. I’ll come round later and bring you some things, you should go back and start packing.”
Josephine nodded, taking a step towards the door before she stopped and turned around again. She pulled off her engagement ring, placing it on the table, “You can give this to Tommy, tell him I don’t need it anymore.” and with that, Josephine left the pub, the door closing behind her.
I've actually had chapters 10/11/12/13 already pre-written so it's great to finally post them.
Also we finally got all that slapping action everyone was been wanting
Josephine had been running around the house ever since she came back from the pub, packing up necessities and valuable items, when she heard the sound of someone at the front door, think it was Polly she made her way towards when it suddenly opened, making her scramble behind the wall, no idea who it was, it wasn’t until she recognised the voice that called out for her did she step out.
“Josey! Min blomma!” Jonas shouted, having just made his way back from Small Heath with Danny and Freddie, he immediately went home whilst they went to fight Kimber, desperately wanting to see his daughter.
“Papa?!” Josephine shot towards him, jumping up and hugging him, “Oh papa! Are you okay?!”
Jonas laughed but he was happy to see her, “I’m fine, why don’t we sit down eh, have some tea”
Josephine hesitantly nodded, she desperately wanted to leave but she also had to make sure her father was okay, “Yeah c’mon, I get out the first aid kit..”
The pair of them walked towards the kitchen but Jonas stopped when he noticed the suitcases in the living room, turning to his daughter in confusion, “Are you going somewhere?”
Josephine sighed, encouraging her father to keep on walking, “I’ll tell you over our tea.”
Tea made and first aid kit dug out, Josephine set to work, trying her hardest to clear his wounds without hurting him,
“Tommy cheated on me.” Josephine confessed, unable to ignore her father’s strong gaze.
“He what?” Jonas was surprised, whilst he knew their relationship had been rocky recently, he had never expected this.
“Yeah, with that barmaid, Grace.” Josephine sat back, finished helping her father and took a sip of her tea, “So I’ve decided to break up with him. I’ve returned my ring and I’m planning on leaving.”
“Leaving? Where do you plan to go?” This was too much to handle at once but Jonas tried his hardest to help his daughter,
“I don’t know, but away from here, away from Birmingham.”
Jonas was quiet for a few minutes, his eyes focused on the table in front of him, slowly drinking his tea,
“Let’s go to Sweden.”
“Papa what are you on about?” Josephine didn’t understand where this suddenly came from.
“You and me, let’s go to Sweden. C’mon Josey, you said you wanted to leave so let’s leave.” Jonas was deadly serious.
“Papa, I can’t ask you to come with, don’t be crazy”
“We’re all each other has got. I can’t let you leave by yourself, let’s go together.”
“But what about mama? She’s buried here! And the shop! What will you do with that.” The widower visited his wife’s grave as much as possible but they needed this.
“Josephine, this is a step we need to take.” Josephine nodded, but short sharp knocks on their door stopped her from speaking, noticing her father jump, she quickly comforted him, “It’s fine, it’s probably just Polly.”
It was indeed Polly, who quickly stepped in, not wanting to be seen by any of the peaky blinders who might rat back to Tommy,
“Ah Jonas, you’re back!” The woman hugged him when she stepped into the kitchen.
“Here, take this.” She said after briefly digging around in her purse, bringing out a large wad of money. “Take this and leave. Don’t tell me where you’re going either.”
Josephine took the money and brought Polly into a tight hug, tearing up slightly, “I’ll miss you Polly. I’ll write to you, whenever I can.”
Polly hugged her back before hugging Jonas as well, “I’ll miss you too but this is for the best.”
“Polly, we’re both going to leave.” Polly was shocked at Jonas’ words, “Can you deal with the shop whilst we’re gone? Just clear it out and shut it down, we don’t have enough time to do it before we leave”
“Yes, of course. Don’t worry, I’ll send some of the boys around later.”
Polly left after, not wanting to cause any suspicion with her long disappearance.
“Come on, let’s pack up and then tomorrow we’ll get out of here eh, we’ll get on a ship and leave England.”
Josephine simply nodded, following her father upstairs.
Polly was waiting for Tommy in the Garrison, Arthur and John were slumped in one of the booths, completely wasted and half asleep from the night of celebrating their win against Kimber.
“Drink?” She asked when he had walked in
“No whiskey. If you check behind the bar, you will find a bottle of Champagne.” Tommy walked towards the bar, standing in front of his aunt who went behind as soon as he said.
“The one she bought.” It was posed as a question but it was a statement, knowing it was Grace who bought it.
Tommy sighed, “Today was a good day. All of Kimber's men were busy here, so the Lee boys took all the pitches at the Worcester races. It couldn't have gone better if we'd planned it.” Tommy left the bar and walked to where his brothers where sitting, “Shelby Brothers Limited are now the third largest legal race track operation in the country. Cheers! Only the Sabinis and the Solomons are bigger than us, boys. And all my family is here to celebrate.”
Tommy uncorked the Champagne bottle and cheered with his brothers, ignoring Polly’s look,
“To Shelby Brothers Limited. Shelby! Brothers! Cheers.” He poured his aunt a glass before deeply sighing and resting his head on the counter, “What the fuck do I do Pol?” He didn’t wait for a response before clinking their drinks together and turning around to stumble off somewhere.
“Thomas.” His aunt stopped him, as he turned around to face her, she took out Josephine’s engagement ring and placed it in front of him, “She says it over. Wants nothing to do with you anymore.” Tommy picked up the ring and played it with for a bit before stuffing it in his pockets and walking away.
“Thomas!” This time he didn’t turn around, he stood still, facing the door, “She’s leaving Small Heath and Birmingham.”
“Where is she going Pol?”
“I don’t know, I wouldn’t let her tell me. But she leaves tomorrow, Thomas. You still need to apologise to her so don’t get too drunk”
Tommy only scoffed before stumbling out of the pub and even though he was meant to go back to Watery Lane, he feet took him to the house he shared with Josephine, though neither of them had been living there for a while, Josephine had been staying at her fathers since Cheltenham and he was in his old room on Watery Lane.
Taking off his coat and shoes, Tommy slipped into their bed, his body relaxing into the mattress as he sighed in relief, his body hurt everywhere and as he rolled over to get more comfortable he smelt Josephine’s perfume that had stuck to her side of the bed and groaned, he forgot how comforting that smell was to me and it was there, with his face pressed up against her pillow that he realised how much he fucked up with Josephine. The emotions he felt with Grace leaving and about her betrayal was nothing compared to how he was feeling about Josephine leaving.
Josephine was doing one last walk through the house, making sure they had everything, her father went ahead to the train station and she was planning on meeting him there. A loud knock on the door resonated through the house and Josephine thinking it was her father, went to open the door.
“Papa, did you forget--” Josephine cut herself off once she saw who it was. “What do you want?”
“Can I come in?”
Josephine debated it before answering, “No. Now what do you want Thomas? I need to leave soon.”
“We need to talk.”
“Then talk.” Josephine wasn’t going to give in to Tommy.
“I’m sorry. All of this was just a big mistake. You don’t have to leave, Josey, we can get over it.”
“A mistake?” Josephine scoffed, “This was all just a mistake to you Tommy? My God, how far up is your head shoved up your arse?”
“Wait, you got injured?” She asked before he could respond, spotting his bandage for the first time.
Tommy nodded, “Got shot, Danny’s dead too.”
“Poor Danny…” She frowned before nodding at his injury, “Did it hurt a lot?”
“Good. You needed a wake-up call, something to remind you that you’re not invincible.” Tommy rolled his eyes at her, not surprised at her words, it had been something she had been saying for a while.
“Let’s just talk inside yeah?” Josephine paused at his words, there were a few people staring at them from the street, she nodded before holding the door open and letting him walk in.
“Thomas, she’s ruined everything for me. She told Campbell to take my father in, and whilst I was making myself sick with worry, you were out there sleeping with her.” Josephine continued where she left off, “Do you know how much you’ve embarrassed me? Thomas, what you did isn’t something we can just talk over and forget about it. You understand that right?”
“I understand, but Josephine I need you. Don’t leave.” This was as close to pleading as Thomas Shelby would get. “I thought I loved her, but I was wrong. It’s always been you Josey. Everything that happened with Grace was just a mistake.”
“You thought you loved her? So, her ended up being a spy broke the spell?” Tommy nodded, “Is that meant to make me feel better, Thomas? So what, you fell out of love with me and decided that Grace was the love of your life, until you know, it was revealed that she was a spy so now you want to come back crawling to me?”
“I never fell out of love with you Josey--”
“Who would you of chosen, Tommy? If she wasn’t a spy, me or her?” She cut him off.
“You’re asking me to choose?” Tommy dryly asked
“Hypothetically....of course. You can’t just ask me that.”
“I shouldn’t have to ask you to choose, Tommy! You shouldn't have let it get this far in the first place. You didn’t even have the decency to break up with me before you slept with Grace. You just kept tugging me along, making me look like a fool.” Josephine snapped, fed up with their conversation.
“I’m leaving Tommy, you can’t convince me to change my mind. I have to go now or I’ll be late” Tommy nodded, giving up in trying to convince her to stay and followed her out of the house.
“Josephine!” Tommy called, when she was a few steps away causing her to turn and face him, “When you reach wherever it is you going, send a letter to Pol, just so we know your safe. You don’t have to tell us where you are, just a few words saying you got there safe.”
Josephine slowly nodded, she supposed that was fair enough.
“Goodbye, Thomas.” And with that, Josephine turned around and left and all Tommy could do was stare after her.
Josephine kept her head straight and kept walking to the train station, tears pouring down her face, hating how much this was hurting her. Tommy hurt her so badly and yet she still loved him, her leaving him left a clenching feeling over her heart but she still powered forward, glad that she accepted her father’s offer to leave the country knowing that leaving Birmingham wouldn’t of been enough and that she would have somehow made her way back into Tommy’s arms, so leaving the country would help her heal immensely.
She met her father outside of the station who frowned at her tears,
“You’ll be okay min blomma, dry those tears.” He said, wiping her tears, “We’ll start new and afresh, away from all of this.”
Josephine nodded, shooting a weak attempt of a smile at her father before reaching down and picking up their bags and stepping into the train station with her father next to her, ready to make the next step in their lives.
Polly was sat in the kitchen, reading the newspaper when Tommy came stomping in, his face set in a scowl and eyes harsh, didn’t spare him a look, just continuing to look at her paper,
“She’s gone then?”
Tommy just grunted, sitting down opposite her and pulling the bottle of whiskey that was left out closer to him.
“Good. You play stupid games, you win stupid prizes, Thomas. You only have yourself to blame.”
“Pol, please, not now--”
“Then when, Thomas?! How long until you realise how much you’ve messed up huh?!” Polly was fed up with behaviour.
“What’s all this about ey?” John and Arthur, walked in at this point, confused about what was happening.
“Josey’s left.” Polly told her other nephews,
“Tommy cheated on her with the barmaid, Josey has broke off the engagement and left.”
“You what?!” Arthur question was directed Tommy this time.
“I cheated on her, Arthur and now she’s gone.” Tommy was suddenly reminded of how his brothers treated him when they thought he was the one who ratted out Freddie, but this time he felt that the blow back was going to much worse, he could already feel their glares starting.
“Why’d the fuck did you do that for, Tommy ey?” Tommy didn’t have an answer, so he took a couple of mouthfuls of the whiskey.
“Wait, you said she left, where’s she gone?” John asked, looking between Polly and Tommy.
“We don’t know. Told her not to tell us, she needs a life without us involved in any way. It’s safer this way.” There was silence after Polly spoke and it was only broken when she spoke up again after a few minutes, “C’mon, John, Arthur, we’re needed in the betting den”, standing up, she left without sparing Tommy even a look and his brothers followed her but they each give him dirty looks as they left, disgusted about what he had done.
We've finally finished part one! Hope everyone enjoyed it :) dw it's not the end of book, there's more to come.
Chapter 14: Chapter Fourteen
Hi! I know this took almost a week lol but it actually ended up being 3x longer than I initially expected, plus I didn't have the motivation to write this for like 5 days. Also thank you for the comments and kudos, I love them a lot
Even after two months of living in Stockholm, Josephine was still struggling to find her feet in Sweden, whilst she could speak, read, and write Swedish, she was out of her depth when first arrived, clinging to her father in the first few weeks while she got used to everything. They had moved to Jonas’ old town, where he grew up, Josephine getting a job teaching English in the local school and Jonas had a stall in the local market, selling baked goods and sweets.
Josephine couldn't deny how homesick she felt, the first month was the hardest as she cried herself to sleep every night. She cried because she missed her friends but she also cried from heartbreak. Josephine never gave herself time to truly process what had happened between her and Tommy, everything had been just done in a spur of a moment that it wasn't until she got settled down in Stockholm was she given the opportunity actually process and grieve about what had happened, it allowed her to move on and pick herself up and continue with her life but her heart still hurt whenever she thought of Tommy as he had been the love of her life. But she had been getting better, she was making friends with the local girls which made her aware of how her life revolved around the Shelby’s back in England but all the effort she was putting into making friends and getting adjusted to her new life paid off, she was slowly gaining confidence and she loved the new her.
Josephine kept to her promise and sent a letter to Polly, telling her that they arrived safely, she didn’t tell her where they had gone to, wanting their peaceful bubble to last as long as she possibly could make it and it wasn’t as if she didn’t trust Polly but she knew that if Polly knew then Tommy would somehow make it his business too and at this point in time, she wouldn’t put it past him to travel all the way to Sweden to try and get her back.
Jonas had met up with his childhood friends when he had come back, they had spent a time catching up with each other and it was there when one of his old friends had offered him a chance for him to have his own stall at the market, feeling sympathetic about what the man had gone through during the war and with his late-wife and Jonas immediately accepted the offer, because he truly did love his old shop and what he did back in Small Heath and while Josephine had a full time job, she still made time to help him prep and sat with him on the weekends. It wasn’t until he came back did he realise how much he missed the country and his hometown but now he was back and he was with his daughter and he wanted to make the most of it whilst he could, knowing that at some point Josephine would want to go back to Birmingham and when she did, he would go with her, so he could only secretly hope that they stayed here for at least a few years.
Josephine’s day had finally ended, it was Friday night and she had spent most of her time after the school day had ended, marking school work and lesson prepping for the next week, wanting her weekends to be clear so she could work with her father.
Josephine had never expected that she would end up working with children but she loved it and while it got stressful and the kids were brats sometimes, she truly found a new love for teaching.
Making her way into the house, she dumped her bag and coat in the hallway despite knowing that her father will force her to pick it up when he sees it.
“Josey?” Jonas called from the kitchen and Josephine made a sound of acknowledgement, letting him know it was her.
“I made dinner, come sit down.”
Making her way into the kitchen, Josephine took a seat at the table, waiting for her father.
“How was your day?” He asked, placing their plates down and sitting opposite her, the both of them tucking into their meals.
“Long.” She paused between mouthfuls, “But, it means I can spend the whole weekend with you, so I didn’t mind so much.” She threw a grin at her father who smiled back.
Jonas was glad to see his daughter happy again but he was sure that some of it was just for show but he didn’t want to call her out and make her uncomfortable, so he stayed quiet knowing that she would go to him if she needed help.
“That’s good to hear, we have an early start tomorrow so we should head to bed after dinner.” Josephine nodded and the two of them finished their meal in silence.
“Here, I’ll wash up, don’t worry.” Josephine said, when they had finished, collecting their plates. Jonas nodded in thanks before he left the kitchen and headed up stairs towards his bedroom,
“Don’t forget to pick up your coat and bag!” He called out to her as soon as he spotted it in the hallway, laughing as an ‘papa!’ is whined from the kitchen.
The next day, the pair of them were sat in the town centre, in their little stall dealing with customers all morning, Josephine waving back to the students who recognised her. It wasn’t until mid-afternoon when they got to rest their feet, the crowds dying down when he appeared.
“Good afternoon, do you have any Kanelbullar?” The deep voice asked in Swedish, causing Josephine to look up and when she did, she was rendered speechless.
Stood in front of her was one of the most handsome men she had ever seen in her life, he had dirty blonde hair and blue eyes that radiated warmth and she must have been staring as her father pinched her, causing her to snap back to reality.
“O-of course! How many do you want?” She stuttered, ducking her head, embarrassed about being caught staring.
“Two, please.” The man had a smile on his face as he watched Josephine scuttle around, pointedly avoiding his gaze.
Josephine was forced to face him when she gave him his stuff and receive payment from him, a smile still on his face,
“Hi, I’m William.” He told her, holding his hand out.
“Josephine.” She shook his hand, a small grin appearing.
“Are you from around here, Josephine?”
“Yes, I teach at the local school.”
William made a sound of understanding before he threw Josephine another grin,
“It was nice to meet you, Josephine. I hope to see you around”, nodding at both Jonas and Josephine, William left, quickly getting swept up with the crowd, his form disappearing.
Josephine slumped back into her chair, the brief interaction wiping her out.
“He was pretty.” Whipping her head towards her father, she saw him with a small smile on his face,
“Papa!” Josephine cried out, burrowing her head in her arms, embarrassed.
William did indeed see her around, the next week on her way to get groceries, she bumped into him and his eye lit up in recognition,
“Josephine, right? How are you?”
“Yup! I’m great thank you and, how are you?” Josephine could help the smile that came on to her face, William was very charming and she couldn’t help but fall for him.
“I am well, thank you.” William smiled, “Say, what are you doing this upcoming Saturday?”
“Other than help my father during the day with the stall, nothing.” Josephine was oblivious to what he was hinting towards.
“Then, would you like to go out with me on Saturday night? On a date.”
“Oh…” Josephine was caught off guard, she had never thought about the prospect of dating again, especially so soon, but Tommy had cheated on her and she shouldn’t feel any guilt towards him, “Yes, of course.”
Josephine scribbled her address on piece of paper she ripped out from the small planner she held in her bag, giving it to him before they separated, the both of them going their own way, equally excited about Saturday.
“Papa! Guess what?” Josephine shouted, as soon as she stepped into her house, her arms laden with shopping bags, “Remember William? I ran into him when I was out and he asked me on a date!” Josephine was breathless by the time she had reached him.
“A date?” Jonas helped her with the bags and began to pack away the items, “When?”
“Saturday” Josephine couldn’t help smiling, she had been since she bumped into William.
Jonas was surprised that she agreed to go on a date, whilst they had only been back in Sweden for about six months, he could tell that she was still upset at time but this was the first time in a while that he had seen her so happy and from what he saw, William was a good guy.
“He seems nice, Josey, I’m sure you’ll have a great time.” Josephine beamed at her father, grateful for the encouraging words.
As the week went one, the upcoming date was all Josephine could think about, and as the date got closer, the more her nerves built but she was still excited and when Saturday night came, she could feel how fast her heart was racing in her chest as she sat in front of her vanity, finishing up her makeup and spraying a bit of perfume on herself.
When a knock on the door sounded, she gripped the table so she didn’t sprint downstairs and took a few deep breaths as she heard her father open the door and speak to William. When she calmed herself, she left her room and made her way downstairs to the door where her father and William stood, talking to each other, though they stopped when they spotted her,
“Are you ready?” William asked, a smile on his face. Josephine nodded, smiling back to him. William offered his arm to her, placing his hand on top of hers when she took it,
“Goodbye, min blomma” Jonas closed the door after he watched them leave down the pathway.
William took her to a small restaurant, the pair of them tucked into a small corner,
“Your accent when you speak is not one I’ve heard of before, are you not from Stockholm?” He asked after they had ordered their food.
“I am not from Sweden,” Josephine smiled at the look of surprise on his face, “I am from England, I only moved here a few months ago.”
“England? Wah. What are you doing here then?”
“My papa is from here, he grew up in this town,” Josephine sipped her wine before lying through her teeth, “I’ve always wanted to come here, so here we are.” Josephine didn’t want to tell William about the actual reason why she moved, not wanting to scare him off.
“Oh, so do you teach English at the school?”
“Yes…the children are hard work but it is also great fun to teach them.” Josephine nodded, a smile appearing on her face, “What do you do William?”
“I’m a sailor in the navy.”
“The navy?” Josephine was surprised, she wasn’t expecting that.
“You’re surprised?” William laughed.
Josephine hummed before laughing, “Yes! That wasn’t what I was thinking. You’re too…” She trailed off, trying to think of the right word.
“Pretty?” William guessed, laughing.
“Hmm, yes. Pretty.” Josephine eyebrows shot up at him getting the word right, “I’m guessing you get that a lot?”
William nodded in agreement before he went on about how many people are surprised about his career choice. After the waitress interrupted their conversation with their meals, they continued on as they ate, getting to know each other better.
William had walked Josephine up to her doorstep after their date, they were lingering outside, neither of them wanting the date to end,
“I had a really great time tonight, William, thank you.”
“Me too. I hope that means you won’t mind joining me for another one next week then?” William smiled, something that he always seemed to do.
“Of course! I’m looking forward to it.” Josephine grinned back, “Goodnight, William, thank you again.” Josephine reached up on her tippy-toes and pressed a kiss to his cheek,
“Goodnight, Josephine.” Bidding her one more smile, William left.
Her father was sat in the front room, reading the newspaper in front of the fire, he only put down his newspaper and turned towards her when she slumped down next to him, “Have a nice night?”
“Hm! Very nice, we’re going out again next week.”
“Good, I’m glad you had fun.” Josephine smiled at her dad before wishing him goodnight and making her way upstairs, exhausted by the day’s events.
The next weekend, William and Josephine had another date, this time they had a picnic by the river, making the most of the warm weather before winter came in. Josephine had found out that William had two younger sisters; Beth and Jaqueline and that the reason he joined the navy was because his father was once in it and in turn, she told him about her life back in England, omitting Tommy. The pair of them began courting soon after, their love for each other growing each day.
After a year of living in Sweden, Josephine decided to give both Polly and Ada her address, missing the both of them terribly and when they started corresponding again, it made her so much more happier, she looked forward to every letter Ada sent her about Karl, feeling guilty about missing out him growing up. She also looked forward to every letter Polly sent, everyone without a doubt including a section written by Finn, the young boy missing her tremendously and once again Josephine felt guilty, Finn had become something alike to a younger brother to her, having helped raise him from the moment Mrs. Shelby had passed.
For the year of 1920, Josephine’s life was bliss, she had everything she could ever had wanted, her father was alive and well, she was messaging Ada and Polly and she also had William, who she was in love with.
And as the clock struck down to midnight on the 31st of December 1920, William proposed to her, the pair of them officially being engaged on the 1st January 1921 and Josephine couldn’t be happier, this had been everything she had wanted in life and she had finally got it. She wasted no time in telling Polly and Ada, proposing on an idea that maybe they could come to Stockholm so they could have a reunion but before they could, Josephine and William, received a letter that set off a horrible chain of events.
In March, William had been summoned by the Navy, they wanted him for a mission and they didn’t know how long it would be until he returned. Josephine spent her last few weeks with him making the most of it, she tried her hardest not to cry, not wanting to ruin the time she had remaining with him and she was glad she didn’t and made lasting memories because in May she received a telegram.
William had been lost at sea and that she should presume him dead.
Josephine felt her world collapse around her, in a bout of selfishness, she couldn’t this this kept on happening to her, it was unfair that whenever she got a chance of real happiness, it was ripped from beneath her and all she wanted to do is scream.
Josephine had been like a zombie for the next few months, unable to function and once again she had been reminded how great her father was. She had been spending less and less time with her father as her relationship with William progress and decided that she would spend more time with him. All this loss around her made her realise that her father could be next one and despite how much she hated to think about it, Josephine realised that she much rather makes memories and spend as much time as possible with before it was too late.
It didn’t stop there.
It was early September when she received the letter from Ada, though it was less of a letter and more of an invitation. Freddie had died, from pestilence and she had been invited to his funeral, though unfortunately Sweden had just experienced a bad snow storm which meant that she received the letter late, only two days before the day of funeral, so she was unable to go. Josephine had felt horrible and spent a few days crying in her father’s chest, mourning Freddie and trying to get over the guilt, Jonas’ had convinced her to send a letter back and plan a trip once the storm had finished and she agreed, she wanted to be there for Ada as she was her best friend.
Then the final blow came. A letter came and, in that letter, contained something that made Josephine go back home to England for the first time in over two years.
Tommy had been seriously injured; Polly wrote. Attacked in retaliation by an Italian gang. He was ‘okay’ but was asking for her; though, Polly added, he was heavily under the influence of morphine.
Josephine was stuck on what to do and it took her a few days before she made up her mind. She was going back to England. But not just for Tommy, she reasoned to herself, she was going to help Ada too, who was also attacked by Italians. Josephine knew she had to tell her father her plans but she knew he was going to be doubtful about the whole situation.
Josephine made her way into the living room, slumping into the seat next to him and handing him the letter Polly sent, her eyes watching his face as he read through it, hoping to gauge an emotion.
Jonas sighed before placing the letter down and facing his daughter,
“So, you’re going back to Birmingham?” He couldn’t help the disappointed tone of his voice. His daughter had become so much happier since they had been back in Sweden, even with the loss of William and he didn’t want to see that reversed when she went back.
“I’ll be with Ada in London, helping her with Karl.” Josephine could tell her father didn’t completely believe her but was glad when he didn’t bring it up.
“Okay, min blomma. When everything’s settled, send a letter to me and I’ll make my way over hm”
“What? You want to come back to Birmingham? I thought you loved it here.” Josephine was shocked
“I do but you’re my daughter, if you’re going, then so am I.”
“Oh, papa.” Josephine wrapped her arms around her father and spent the night cuddled up with him, knowing that it would be their last time together for a while.
Two days later, Josephine was a ship heading back to England.
This was the most pain Tommy had felt for a while, everything hurt and all he wanted to do was get loaded up on morphine and sleep but Campbell had come to visit, making his intentions known,
“Ready for a visitor, Mr Shelby?” The nurse called out to him after she opened the door to his room
“I'm here on the King's orders, I'm afraid I must insist.” Campbell said, the door swinging shut behind him, “Ah, you paid extra for daylight. The racketeering business must be booming.”
“Are you not going to thank me for saving your life?” Campbell’s accent rang loudly and smugly through the room.
“Pass my cigarettes?” Tommy ignored him.
“Three nights ago, at the co-operative stables in Montague Street, there was a murder. A man named Duggan.” Campbell dumped the cigarettes and matches on him and Tommy was on edge, not knowing that Campbell knew about Duggan.
“The Oxfordshire constabulary found his body in a shallow grave.”
“I need to piss. Nurse?” Tommy tried to seem indifferent but also tried subtly getting a way out of the conversation
“I know that it was you who carried out the murder of Mr Duggan.” Campbell pressed his cane against Tommy’s chest, smiling at the sound of his grunt of pain
“Oh, by the way Grace, she went to New York. A place called, er Poughkeepsie. She's married now.” Tommy knew which buttons to push
“To a banker. He's rich. I am sure she is very happy.” Campbell shot back, not falling for his bait, “Now, what happened to your fiance. Josephine, was it? I heard she disappeared and you haven’t been able to find her.”
“You have been under my microscope for some weeks now. I have been observing every move you make. That is why I was on hand to save your life.” Campbell continued when Tommy didn’t respond to his jab.
“I imagine being shot by a woman hurts the same as being shot by a man.
Just a bit more shameful. You know, Mr Campbell, when I got shot they gave me a medal. Yeah.” Tommy kept on pushing him, wanting to win the small fight they were having, “No medal for you I bet.”
Campbell shot up, “Mr Shelby our reunion is part of a very carefully worked out plan, which has been in place for some time now.”
“Every time you lean on that stick I bet you see her face.”
As a result of the information in my possession, I can charge you with murder at any time and provide two impeccable crown witnesses whose testimony will lead you directly to the gallows. You are on my hook, Mr Shelby and from this moment forward.” Campbell grabbed Tommy’s neck, pulling his body up and choking him slightly,
“You belong to me. So, get well quickly. I'll be in touch the moment I hear you can piss standing up. Then I will send you your instructions.” Slamming him back down on the bed, Campbell made his way out of the room, his message sent.
Tommy waited until he was sure Campbell had left before he grabbed the morphine off the table beside him and took a swig, grateful for the break from pain it gave him and soon after he fell asleep, quickly lulled by the medicine.
He didn’t know how long he was asleep for but when he woke up there was someone in the seat next to him but he couldn’t tell who it was since his eyes were almost swollen shut,
“Who the fuck are you?” He grunted out, not particularly wanting to deal with anyone.
“You don’t recognise me? It’s only been two years, Tommy.”
Shock registered through Tommy’s body, he couldn’t believe it. He had been waiting for that voice for over two years and now that it was here he didn’t know what to do.
“Cat caught your tongue?” The voice sounded amused now.
Tommy knew he had to stop calling it the voice but he didn’t think he could. Words were caught in his throat, he didn’t know what to say, but he knew he wanted to keep talking, he didn’t want her to stop.
Tommy let out a choked sigh of disbelief, he couldn’t believe that she was back.
“I am...did you miss me?” Tommy would bet that she was smiling right now.
“It only took me getting my shit kicked in for you to come back ey?” He barked a laugh
Josephine scoffed before she stood up, walking to the other side of the room “Don’t fool yourself. You’re just a pit stop, I’m planning on staying with Ada for a while. To help her and Karl.”
She came back and handed him a glass of water, which he nodded thankfully at her.
“Who knows your here?”
“Johnny Dogs, he dropped off here.”
Tommy grunted a laugh, “Johnny Dogs, how’d you get in contact with ‘im?”
“I have my ways.” Josephine smiled, shrugging her shoulders.
“You weren’t at the funeral.” He said.
“No. There was a bad snow storm in Sweden, only received the letter a couple of days before the funeral.” Tommy smiled at her response.
“What?” She asked.
“Sweden...of course you went to fucking Sweden.”
“You didn’t know?” Josephine was shocked, “I would have thought Polly or Ada, would have told you, they’ve known for like over a year.”
Tommy shook his head, “No. I fucking checked everywhere but Sweden though didn’t I. I travelled around the country, sent men to America...even sent men to fucking Australia but I never thought about Sweden.”
Josephine couldn’t help but laugh, she thought that it would of been the first placed he looked, she had been so on edge initially because she thought he would find her.
“S’not funny.” Tommy grunted, glaring at her before reaching for his cigarettes but before he could, Josephine had reached over to get one for him, as well as light one up for him.
“Yea...but it is a bit, innit.” She laughed again, “Your glare isn’t so scary when half your face is swollen up Tommy.”
Josephine couldn’t believe how quickly they fell back in comfortableness with each other but she was partly putting it towards the fact Tommy was injured, she knew that if she had attended Freddie’s funeral then it would be awkward but it had also been two years since everything had transpired and while she’ll probably never completely forgive him and she definitely wouldn’t forget, she did move on. She had William and even though he had been taken from her too soon, he had helped her heal.
“You’re not staying in London with Ada.” Tommy spoke after a few moments had passed, pushing himself up with a strained grunt.
“I’m not?-- Ah what the hell are you doing Tommy?” Josephine moved over to him to help him sit up.
“I need a secretary.” Tommy breathed heavily through his nose, “And I’m assuming you need a job, so work for me.”
“Tommy, I--.” Josephine sighed, “I’m not going to work for you. I’m planning on going back to Sweden after I stay with Ada for a bit.”
“You’re not back for good?”
“That’s not my plan, no.”
“Alright,” He sighed, “ I need a favour from you and then you can stay in London and I won’t bother you again.”
“I don’t really think you should be asking favour from me Tommy but I’ll listen.”
“I need help getting to London. You attend a meeting with me and that’s it, I’ll leave you alone.”
“A meeting? With who?”
“Hopefully a future business partner.”
“So, a gangster?” Josephine snorted.
“So, yes or no? Are you coming or not?” Tommy asked
“I’ll come. When are you going?”
“Tonight?! Tommy are you mad? You can’t even breathe without being in pain.”
Tommy grabbed the notepad on the table and started to scribble down notes before ripping the page out and handing it to her, “Get this stuff for me and meet me at Charlie’s yard tonight.”
“Charlie’s yard. Tonight.” Josephine sighed, getting out of her chair and taking the piece of paper from Tommy before leaving.
Josephine was sure she was crazy, she hadn’t even back in the country for more than two days and she was already going on adventure with Tommy, but she reasoned to herself that she was going to London anyway, so she might as well help out.
Tommy was stumbling, his body swaying from left to right with every unbalanced step he took. One of his arms was wrapped across his chest in a pathetic attempt to relieve the pain but he pushed on, the quicker he got to Charlie’s yard the better.
“Hey! Who goes there?” Tommy heard his uncle Charlie shout out.
Tommy continued walking, in too much pain to notify his uncle that it was only him,
“Curly. Get the oil you put on their legs when they go lame.” Tommy panted,
“Are you fucking mad, Doyle?” Uncle Charlie placed his gun back in his holster.
“The yellow stuff. Go on.”
“They said you'd be in for another three weeks.” Charlie pulled out a chair and helped Tommy into it.
“I need to get on a boat to London. Tonight.”
“You discharged yourself?” Charlie thought his nephew a fool.
“I'm a fucking sitting duck in there, Charlie. Sabini could send a man at any time. I need to get some things done.”
“You're burning up--.”
The gate creaked open again, making Charlie stand up and pull out his gun again,
“S’alright Charlie, s’alright..juss a friend,” Tommy called out to his uncle before he could yell out,
“Here.” Curly arrived then, pulling their attention away from the person making their way over.
“Oh, Tommy! That stuff's for rubbing into fucking horses.” Once again, Charlie thought his nephew was a fool.
“Ha! I am a horse.”
“Whose a horse?” The person had finally reached them.
“Josey?” Charlie couldn’t believe his eyes, Josephine was the last person he expected.
“Hello, Charlie, Curly.” Josephine brought the older men into a hug.
“If you were a horse,Tommy, they'd shoot you with this many broken bones.” She directed the conversation back to the original topic.
“Get the black powder, Curly. Go. The black powder.” Tommy sent Curly off again.
“You pay for a bloody hospital and you're using witchcraft? And you’re dragging Josey-girl into this too? My god, Tommy.”
“I need to sleep in the open air and feel the boat under me, Charlie.”
“Oh, Tommy...you're just like your mother.”
“Do you have a boat here?”
“Only the January. She's heavy. London will take four days.” Charlie informed him
“That'll do. Can you spare Curly? He'll be my captain and Josey will be my doctor.”
“Then God help you.” Charlie scoffed.
“You have tobacco, Curly?”
“And tea and whisky. We'll have you running around like a colt.” Curly eagerly replied.
“Get him aboard. I’ll fill her up”
“If I sleep all the way, it's Camden Town we're heading for.”
“What business do you have in Camden Town, Tommy?”
“Tell Polly she's in charge while I'm away. If I don't come back, tell her she's in charge for good.” Josephine made a noise at that statement, not liking it.
The pair of them step on the boat and they were quickly on their way. They went down into the cabin and Josephine wasted no time in moving Tommy towards the bed,
“Here” She said, giving him a spoonful of morphine, “That’s all you’re getting though, I don’t want you getting addicted.”
Tommy took the spoon and quickly downed it, his injuries becoming increasingly painful, he was then guided to lay down, a blanket quickly covering him.
“Here go to sleep, we’ll wake you when we get to Camden.” He just about managed to hear before he fell asleep. Josephine made her way up, wanting to keep Curly company.
“You hungry yet, Tommy?” Curly shouted.
It had been three days since they left Small Heath, Josephine spent her time on the boat split between looking after Tommy and keeping Curly company and while it hadn’t been a terrible journey, she couldn’t wait till she got off the boat.
“You know what, Curly? I think I am. Where are we?” Tommy stepped out of the cabin
“Heathrow. Curly says, one more day and we'll be there.” Josephine told him.
“I'll put something in the pan. Can you steer?”
“Give it a go.” Tommy lit himself a cigarette.
“You're almost there, too, Tommy.”
“Who we meeting in London?” Josephine asked.
This was actually quite a fun chapter to write ngl
"She's in America, you know." Tommy and Josephine were sat in the cabin of the boat, it was night time and Curly had estimated that they would arrive in Camden in the morning, when Tommy spoke up
"Grace. Married as well, to a rich banker apparently."
Josephine paused before she spoke again, letting his words set in, "Well, I hope he was single before she got her claws in him"
Tommy shot her a look, making Josephine laugh.
"I mean, at least someone between us lot managed to get a happy ending" Josephine's voice became wistful at the end of her sentence, her mind on William.
"You didn't find anyone in Sweden?" Tommy was digging for information, desperate to know what she had done when she was away.
"No." Josephine said after a moment of silence. She couldn't tell Tommy about William, not only did he not need to know but William was hers, it was something untouched by Small Heath and Birmingham and she wanted it to be kept that way for as long as possible.
There was another pause before Tommy spoke up again,
“I expected you to be more angry but you’re acting as if nothing had happened”
“I’m not angry anymore Thomas, those years away really helped me heal but it still hurts, my heart still aches whenever I think about what had happened,” Josephine replied, “ Besides, we’re grown adults, we can act amicable towards each other can’t we?”
Tommy nodded, before holding his hand out “Friends?”
“Friends.” Josephine shook his hand before laying down and getting comfortable in the bed, “Goodnight, Tommy”
Josephine was woken up hours later by Tommy shaking her,
“C’mon Josey, wake up. Curly says we’ll dock in Camden in thirty minutes.”
Josephine made a noise, trying to pull herself away from the temptation of ignoring him and going back to sleep, Tommy quickly left the cabin afterwards, allowing her to get herself ready.
Forty minutes later and Tommy’s patience was wearing thin, grumbling in displeasure, he stepped towards the cabin and banged on the door and was face to face with a displeased Josephine when the door swung open,
“What’s your problem?” she asked, pushing past Tommy as she left the cabin, walking towards the edge of the boat where Curly pulled her up from where he stood on the dock.
Tommy was left momentarily dazed after she walked past, the smell of her freshly applied perfume bringing back memories,
“You were taking too long, we have a meeting to get to.” He replied, pulling himself up beside heron the dock.
After telling Curly that he would be back later, Tommy set off on brisk pace that left Josephine skipping every few steps to keep up with him, “Slow down Tommy, Christ...Anyway, you can’t blame me from wanting to freshen up a little, been stuck on that bloody boat for the past four days, just wanted to change my clothes.”
As they left the dockyard and made their way deeper into Camden, Josephine wrapped her arm around Tommys, giving him an explanation when he looked down at her,
“Just to be safe.” She explained, casting a wearily look around her at the men in the streets. Tommy smiled a small smile, he had truly missed her, before he pulled her closer to him, the pair of them making their way to the bakery.
When they arrived they were stopped by a tall lanky man with brown hair, just as he just stopped searching Tommy, a voice called out,
“Put ‘im down, Ollie! Put ‘im down, mate. He’s only little.”
The voice belonged to a tall man with a hulking frame as he made their way over to them. Josephine had no doubt that whenever this man entered a room, he commanded attention.
“You on your own?” Alfie asked Tommy.
“Jus’ my secretary” Tommy stepped to the side, revealing Josephine to Aflie. Ollie stepped towards her to search her but Alfie stopped him, “Nah, Nah, leave ‘er alone Ollie. She’s harmless ain’t she.”
Josephine could feel Alfie’s eyes on her as he said this but she didn’t feel creeped out, Alfie’s gaze wasn’t sexual, it was more towards him sizing her up, wondering if she was a threat and deeming her innocent enough, he continued his conversation with Tommy.
“You wanna take a look at my bakery?” Alfie had turned around and headed back towards where he initially came from, his arms gesturing wildly beside him,
“We bake all sorts ‘ere, mate, yeah. Did you know wer bake ova ten-thousand loaves a week? Can you believe it? We bake the white bread, we bake the brown bread. We bake all sorts.” Alfie lumbered ahead of them, rambling, before she suddenly stopped and turned to face them, “Would you like to try some?”
“Bread? Yea..” Alfie asked, motioning to the table that sat beside them , multiple bottles of rum resting on top.
“Alright.” Tommy accepted Alfie’s offer.
“What would you like, brown or white?”
“I’ll try the brown.”
“Brown, right.” Alfie hummed before turning to Josephine, “Brown for you as well darlin’?”
“Yeah, might as well.” She responded, accepting his offer.
The man behind the table filled up two glasses of brown rum, handing Josephine hers and motioning for the two of them to taste it, waiting for their reaction.
“S’not bad.” Tommy replied, Josephine nodding in agreement.
“Not bad, eh? Not bad?” Alfie sounded incredulous, “It’s fucking awful, that stuff. The brown stuff is awful. It’s for the workers, yea… The white stuff, now that is for the bosses.”
Alfie turned around again,
“Come look” He threw over his shoulder as he walked away towards his office, motioning them inside when they reached it, telling Ollie to keep guard outside before he stepped in himself, the door shutting loudly behind him.
As he sat in front of her, Josephine took the time to properly look at him. With his short brown hair and blonde-ish beard, along with his big hulking frame, Alfie Solomons in a weird way, reminded Josephine of a bear.
"Well, I've 'eard very baad, baad, baad things 'bout you Birmingham people. Eh?" Alfie gutted at the end of his sentence, "You're Gypsies, right? So what, do you live ina fucking tent ora caravan?"
Josephine looked at Tommy when Alfie had asked his question, she knew he only asked that to rile Tommy up but he also sounded genuinely curious to the point where she wanted to laugh.
"I came 'ere to discuss business with you, Mr. Solomons." Tommy ignored his question, lighting a cigarette.
"Well! Rum is for fun and fucking innit?" Alfie clapped his hands before leaning forward, "So, whiskey, now tha', tha' is for business"
"Let's talk business first, eh?" Tommy stopped him after he pulled a bottle from his desk.
Alfie paused, placing the bottle down and running a hand across his lower face, taking a moment to scratch at it, all while he looked at Tommy,
"Suit yourself" Alfie said as he placed the bottle back into his desk. "They say you 'ad your life saved by ah policeman"
Tommy nodded, "I have policeman on my payroll"
Watching them go back and forth with each other made Josephine curious as to why Tommy even brought her along in the first place, the more they went on, the less it seemed like a meeting and it became more of a dick measuring contest.
“I don’ like policeman because policemen, they can’t be trusted.” Alfie’s eyes grew wide as he stared into space.
“Mr Sabini uses policeman all the time. That's why he's winning the war in London and you are losing it.”
Alfie slightly perked up at Tommy’s dig, his eyes narrowing, “A war ain't over until it's over, mate. You were in the war?” He pulled a drawer open on his desk and the sound of a gun clicking, echoed throughout the room,
“I once carried out my own personal form of stigmata on an Italian...I pushed his face up against the trench and shoved a six-inch nail up his fucking nose and I hammered it home with a duck board. It was fucking biblical, mate. So don't come in here and sit there in my chair and tell me that I'm losing my war to a fucking wop.”
Josephine uncomfortably shifted when Alfie finished his rant, feeling on edge, wondering why Tommy had dragged her into this mess.
“That war was a long time ago. You need to be more realistic.” Tommy argued.
Alfie slammed the drawer shut, the glasses and bottles on his desk rattling by the force,
“‘Realistic’, yeah? Realistic?”
“Well, if you weren't losing the war, then you wouldn't have sent me the telegram.” Tommy took a drag from his cigarette.
“Really? You forget your fucking telegram. The telegram just said, ‘Hello.’ Very simple, you want to sell me something. What?” Alfie asked.
“We join forces--”
“Fuck off! No! Categorical. Fucking ridiculous.” Alfie cut Tommy off before he could finish what he wanted to say.
“Mr Solomons, your distillery provides one-tenth of your income. Protection is another 10%. And the rest you make from the race tracks. I know you keep a gun in the drawer. I know you keep it beside the whiskey. I know you offer a deal or death. I know what I'm saying makes you angry but I am offering you a solution.” The way Tommy spoke was very patronizing but it seemed to be working, “ You see, Mr Sabini is running all your bookies off your courses and he is closing down the premises that take your rum. And people don't trust your protection anymore.”
“You're the bloke who shot Billy Kimber, right? You did, you fucking shot him. That's you.
You fucking betrayed him, mate. So it'd be entirely appropriate to do what I am thinking in my head to you right now.” Alfie switched the subject so it wasn’t about his gangs recent failures.
“I can offer you 100 good men. All with weapons. And a new relationship with the police.”
“Intelligence. Intelligence is a very valuable thing, innit, my friend? And usually it comes far too fucking late-” Alfie pulled out a gun, aiming it Tommy’s face making Josephine loudly gasp and sit back, pulling his attention away from Tommy briefly, the expression on his face told her that he had forgotten that she was there, the apologetic look in his eye disappearing when he turned back to face Tommy.
“Let's say I shot you already, right, in the fucking face and the bullet goes bone, mush, bone, cabinet over there. Which is a shame, innit, cos that cabinet's fucked now and I got to get shot of it. So, what I'd do is this,” Alfie pulled back the hammer on his gun,
“It's fucking simple, mate. I cut that cabinet in half, don't I? I do I just literally I cut ,I cut the cabinet literally in half, mate.”
Josephine had been frozen still throughout the whole thing, only breathing out when Alfie dropped the gun, her gaze had never left Alfie as she was too afraid and it was only when he had made a face at Tommy did she realise that he was having a nose bleed, hissing at him and chucking him her handkerchief when he moved to wipe it with his hands.
“And I take one half of the cabinet, all right, and put it into a barrel and I take the other half of the cabinet in all its pieces and I put that into another barrel, right? And I send this barrel off to Mandalay. And the other barrel off to somewhere like I don't know Timbuktu. You ever been?”
“No? Would you like to go?”
“No.” Tommy roughly swallowed.
“You know, I always thought that you'd have a great, big, fucking gold ring in your nose.” Alfie laughed as he leant back in his chair, “I'm sorry, go on. Tell us your plan.”
Josephine kept to herself as the two men finished off the conversation, trying not to seem too happy when they had finished, just as she reached the office door, Alfie called out to her, making her pause,
“Oi, luv!” She turned around to face him, “Sorry ‘bout that gun thing, didn’t mean ta scare ya darlin’”
“Of course, Mr. Solomons. No offence taken.” Josephine nodded at him with a small smile and left the office, catching up with Tommy, wanting to leave as soon as possible.
“So, what do you think of ‘im?” Tommy asked when they were down the street and around the corner, lighting up a cigarette.
Josephine choked out a laugh, her nerves finally settling, “He’s fucking terrifing, my god Thomas. He’s so unpredictable but I suppose that’s on purpose, to keep you lot on your feet.”
“So you don’t trust him?”
“Of course, I don’t trust him Tommy, but my opinion doesn’t matter anyway” The pair of them stopped at the end of the street, Josephine reaching into her purse to pull out a slip of paper, handing it to Tommy, “Give this to Ada when you see her, I need to do something so I can’t meet her with you.”
“What is it?” Tommy asked, slipping the slip into his pocket.
“Just an address of a cafe, tell her to meet me when she’s finished working.”
“Alright.” Tommy nodded, “Goodbye, Josey.”
“Goodbye, Thomas.” Josephine smiled at him before turning around and walking away.
Sorry if this bad but I'm back home for a week which means I'm stuck with my shitty old laptop and bad wifi
Chapter 17: Chapter Seventeen
I haven't proof read it so don't hesitate to tell me if something is wrong!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Ada didn’t who she expected to see in that cafe but it certainly wasn’t Josephine.
After Tommy handed her the house keys to the new place he bought, he had also slipped a piece of paper in her hand along with a ‘Somebody wants to meet you here when you’ve finished work. Please go.’
Her brother almost never says the word ‘please’, so Ada’s interest was peaked and with her guard up and one of her hands placed in her purse, wrapped around her gun, she stepped into the cafe, her eyes buzzing around looking for a familiar face, hoping that since it was Tommy who had given her the address, that the person she was meeting was safe.
“Ada!” The soft shout of her name brought Ada’s attention to the corner of the room where Josephine sat and as soon as she set her eyes on her, Ada froze, not believing her eyes, she hadn’t seen Josephine in over two years and now she was here, back in England, she didn’t know how to act. Josephine was Ada’s best friend growing up despite being a few years older and now that she was back, Ada realized how much she missed her.
Seeing Ada still frozen by the door, Josephine left the table and made her way over to her, wincing at the sight of the bruises that was still on her face when she got close enough,
“C’mon Ada, let’s sit down.” Gently pulling her hand, Josephine led the girl over to the table, helping her sit down and remove her hat and coat and it wasn’t until Josephine had taken her seat opposite her, did Ada snap out of her daze.
“Let’s get some tea eh” After waving a waiter over, Josephine cast a critical eye over Ada, looking her up and down, “Have you been eating? We’ll get a couple of sandwiches as well.”
“I-i can’t stay too long, I need to pick up Karl.” Ada was overwhelmed.
Josephine relayed their order to the waiter before turning to Ada and taking her hands into hers when he had left.
“Ada he’ll be fine, you need to eat before it’s before you get sick.”
Ada nodded, knowing that she was right.
“I’m sorry Ada, for not being here for you earlier.” Josephine sighed, her grasp on Ada’s hands tightening, “I know this must be very difficult for you, so I must apologize for not coming earlier.”
Ada couldn’t help but laugh, “Why are you apologizing? I got your letter about the storm, there is nothing to apologize for. You are here now and that is what matters the most.”
“And I will be here for as long as you need me to be.”
“Really?”Josephine nodded, “I have missed you a lot Ada, we have two years to make up, don’t we?”
“Tommy gave me keys to a house that he bought…” Ada trailed off, very voice turning very quiet.
Josephine already knew this as Tommy had told her his plan whilst they were on the boat, so she simply nodded not wanting to push Ada into a corner, “Did you accept them?”
“Yea...Tommy said it’s a proper house and everything. I visited the place before I came here but I just stood outside but Josey… it’s so beautiful, it’s a hundred times better than my shitty flat!”
“So you’ll move in right?”
Ada nodded, “It’s not fair for Karl to live in the little flat, the house is in a nice place as well, safer too.”
“Good. I’m glad.” Josephine nodded and smiled at the younger girl.
Ada, grinned and nodded enthusiastically but the waiter arrived with their tea and sandwiches before she could respond. After thanking him, the girls slipped back into their conversation,
“I cannot wait for you to see Karl again, he is walking and running around!” Ada was very proud of her son, not having any shame in bragging about him.
“Truly? I have not seen him since he was a babe. Oh how much he must have grown!” Josephine gasped.
“He is a happy child, always giggling and smiling.” Ada nodded after taking a bite from her sandwich, “And he just absolutely loves the small toys you sent to us!”
Josephine beamed, she had went to the local wood carver back in her town in Sweden, getting small wooden animals made for Karl’s birthday, and now hearing that he loved them, made her heart feel full.
The girls continued their small talk as they finished off their tea and sandwiches, though they saved a cheese one for Karl before they left the cafe, making their way to Ada’s flat so they could pick up Karl from one of her neighbours.
Josephine made her way into Ada’s flat first while she picked up Karl and she couldn’t help the frown that came on her face when she saw her flat. It was terrible. It was underground so it had no windows, and there was mould on the walls as well but she had no doubt that she was getting charged a fortune for it, simply because it was in the capital. Josephine’s respect grew for Ada, it would have been easy to go back running to Birmingham after Freddie’s death and have her brothers sort her out with a nice house and she wouldn’t have work either but she was determined not to have her son involved with the trouble the Peaky Blinders brought, instead working tough hours in a society that didn’t respect women just so she could support herself and her son. That’s why she was glad when Ada accepted the house, the younger woman could be too headstrong for her own good at times.
Josephine was brought from her thoughts when the front door opened and the sound of excited babbles streamed in, and when she turned around, she was greeted by the sight of Ada and Karl, the little boy held in his mother's arms as he babbled nonsense that slowly drifted off as he spotted the stranger in the room.
“Karl, this is your aunt Josey, can you say hello?” Ada bent down, letting her son stand on his own and she introduced him to Josephine.
Josephine smiled as she bent down to his height as well, though she didn’t get any closer to him, not wanting him to feel uncomfortable.
“Hullo, aun-nee Josey” Karl smiled.
“I’ll look after him while you pack up” Josephine told Ada, reaching over and tickling Karl, his squeals making both women smile, “We’ve got some catching up to do and a bond to make, haven’t we?” The boy nodded even though he had no clue about what she was saying.
As Ada left them and went into their room to pack, Karl grabbed Josephine’s hand and pulled her over to his toys, showing them off and playing them with them. He handed Josephine one of the many wooden animal toys she sent him and forced her to play with him, though she wasn’t complaining one bit.
“Karl, what animal is this?” Josephine asked, holding up the small lion toy in front of her.
“Lion!” He cheered before he scrunched up his face and bent his fingers and letting out a rawr, imitating the said animal.
A laugh made both of them look up to where Ada stood, “I see the both of you are having a great time.”
Josephine hummed and nodded, “He’s a great little boy. Have you finished?”
“Yea, just need to pick up a few things and then we can go.”
When Ada was done, Josephine offered to carry the bags whilst Ada carried Karl as they walked to the new place but the child wasn’t having any of it, instead demanding to carried by his ‘aun-nee’ making them laugh.
They made small talk as they walked, the both of them excited to see what it was like and when Ada stopped in front of a house, they stood there in silence, shocked by how big it was.
“Jesus christ, it’s massive. Is all of it yours?” Josephine mumbled, still taking in house.
Ada mutely nodded before she walked forward and opened the door, stepping in and once again being blown away by how great it was. Josephine stepped in behind her, taking Karl of her hip, who immediately started to run around as soon as his little feet touched the floor, his giggles reaching them as they stood in the foyer,
“Can you hear that? Silence, at last and it belongs to us.” Ada spoke out loud, smiling at Josephine when she reached over and squeezed her hands in comfort.
Hours later, after they had fully settled in and Karl asleep, the women were sat on the sofa in the living room, a bottle of rum on the table and a fire burning brightly in the fireplace, keeping them warm. A couple of glasses of rum each made their shoulders relax and their tongues loose, they could talk freely now, without the fear of overheard.
“Do you think I made the right choice?” Ada asked, bringing Josephine out of her head, they had been silent, both of them staring into the flames, lost in their thoughts.
“Hmm? What do you mean?”
“Staying down here in London after Freddie’s death and when I was attacked by the Italians?”
“Ada..” Josephine let out a deep sigh, feeling sorry for the younger woman who had been through so much in such a small period of time. Josephine had no doubt that Ada got lost within her mind at times, with being recently widowed and then attacked, she couldn’t blame her. “If you believe you made the right choice, then you made the right choice. Nothing is ever one-hundred percent in life unfortunately, so there will be times when the decision you take is not the right one but that does not mean it is the end of that particular road but instead you’ve only hit a bump rather than a deadend.”
Josephine shifted to face Ada, the younger woman following suit, “You know, when I first moved away, I spent the first few weeks beating myself up about the choice I made, I kept telling myself that I was too rash and that I should go back home to Tommy and forgive him because I did not know a life with him or the rest of you Shelbys. I had feared that I would not be able to live without him and be independent but I was able to, I persevered through the thoughts I was having and came out on top.” Josephine paused before she continued, “Perhaps I sound too much like Polly here but maybe there is a reason why we do the things we do, you know like a higher being or some sort, a reason why we make those hard decisions and while they may not be obvious at first or even work out at all, they will end up making sense in the future.”
“You talking about a higher being? What’s next, you gonna read my tea leaves as well?” Ada snorted, the mood of the room instantly turning brighter as she did.
“Oi!” Josephine laughed, whacking Ada with the back of her hand gently, “You laugh but Polly actually tried to teach me once.”
“Piss off! No she didn’t!”
“Oh yeah, after many failed attempts with you she decided to try her luck with me.” Josephine nodded, her smile growing large.
“How’d that work out?” Ada topped up both of their drinks up.
“I was seventeen weren’t I. Was more interested in getting off with Tommy than anything else at that age innit” Josephine grumbled, making Ada giggle, “She gave up after a few days, said that I struggled because didn’t have any gypsy blood in me, probably already knew I was will Tommy at that point and decided to save me the embarrassment by pointing it out. You can never keep a secret from Polly Gray. ”
“Wait-- seventeen? I thought you only started going out with Tommy when you were eighteen?”
Josephine grinned at this, her eyebrows wiggling suggestively, “I had been ‘with’ Tommy for ages before we came out as dating and the only reason we did was because John caught us snogging behind the hay bales at the stables. And the last thing we wanted was John of all people to have the ability to blackmail us, so we just revealed our relationship.”
“Alright, I don’t wanna hear about you getting off or snogging my older brother anymore, it’s grim! End of the conversation!”
Josephine’s eyes lit up and a large smile appeared on her face, “Actually, did you know Tommy can do--!”
Josephine’s sentence was cut off as a cushion was shoved in her face by a shrieking Ada.
“You’re the absolute worst!” Ada groaned before falling into a fit of giggles, Josephine quickly joining her.
“On the topic of Tommy, he offered me a secretary job.” Josephine said once they stopped giggling.
“He did? Did you accept?”
“Nope.” Josephine popped the ‘p’. “I said that I was only back in England to help you and then I would be going back to Sweden.”
Ada was silent for a few moments, her gaze strong on Josephine, “I think you should take the job.”
“No, listen to me okay, because admit it, you find life in Sweden boring, even when you had William, you told me in a letter than you missed the chaos and excitement of Small Heath. There’s nothing for you in Sweden anymore, take the job, Josey.” Ada reasoned
Josephine was silent as she took in Ada’s words, “I..what about my father?”
“Your father is safer in Sweden but I also think that he knows better than anyone that you belong in Birmingham. Besides, you can always right him letters and he can come back whenever Tommy isn’t in some sort of gang war.”
“What about helping you?”
“C’mon this is Tommy we’re talking about here, he’ll let you visit every weekend if you ask, he’s still so in love with you that he would give you anything you asked.” Ada snorted
“I’ll think it over.” Josephine nodded before she changed the subject. The girls spent the rest of the night giggling over memories from their childhood before they became too tired and retired to their bedrooms.
Josephine spent the next week deliberating on what she should do, it didn’t help that they got a call from Tommy midweek inviting them to the Garrisons reopening party, making Ada force her to choose by then. She had been babysitting Karl while Ada worked on weekdays, every day they spent together the more her love and adoration grew for the little boy and if she was being completely honest with herself, it was giving her baby fever.
It was Saturday and Josephine was on her way to the market, picking up some groceries for Ada when suddenly, a big hulking form appeared beside her, their hand wrapping around her upper arm, tugging her close to them causing her to gasp in surprise. Just as she pulled away from the grip and opened her mouth to scream as loud as she could, the stranger quickly lent over and muttered in her ear,
“It’s me eh, don’t scream.”
Josephine let out a harsh breath, she recognised the voice but whether they were friend or foe was still up to debate. She took a deep breath and waited until her heart had stopped racing so fast before she turned and faced him,
“Mr. Solomons? What are you doing?”
Alfie simply offered her a smile, his eyes hidden by the shadow provided by his hat and offered her his arm, “Hello luv, fancy a walk?”
Josephine hesitated, unable to get a reading on him on why he had suddenly appeared, before she took his arm and allowed him to take her wherever he planned to ago,
“Mr. Solomons, I do not understand, what is the meaning of this?” She whispered to him.
“I was on mah way back to da bakery, right, yeah, when I saw some pesky little Italians actin’ all suspicious like, so I decided to follow ‘em, cuz you know, this ain’t Sabini’s territory and to mah surprise I see Tommy Shelby’s lil’ secretary! Now, you hafta help me out a bit ‘ere since I thought that since Thomas was back in Birmingham, his lil’ secretary would be too.” Alfie lowered his voice into a mutter, “So, darlin’, wanna tell what you’re still doing in London? I’d pick a good excuse ‘cuz no-one likes a spy.”
“First things first,” Josephine huffed, not liking the way Alfie was talking down to her, “I’m not Thomas’ secretary and second of all, you better mind who you’re talking to with that tone Mr. Solomons because I will tell you now, I will not stand for it.” Josephine made sure Alfie caught her glare.
“Right. I apologise, Miss…” Alfie nodded his head in understanding.
“Josephine. Josephine Lindholm.”
“It’s okay, Mr.Solomons”
“Call me Alfie luv”
“Right Alfie, are those Italians still following us?” Josephine muttered, bringing the conversation back to the reason why they were even together in the first place, her eyes gazing around the street, realising that Alfie was taking them towards Camden, his distillery no doubt being his destination.
Alfie peaked over his shoulder, “Nah, I don’t see ‘em anymore. Guess I scared ‘em off.”
“I’m guessing they must of seen me with Tommy last week,” Josephine grumbled, “That man causes nothing but trouble.”
Already annoyed by being followed by some Italians, Josephine felt her frustration build at the fact that Sabini probably knew what she looked like and that she’d have to move from Ada’s place to keep her and Karl safe and her interaction with Alfie told her that if he hadn’t been around and Sabini’s men had captured her, then she would either be dead or kidnapped by Sabini and held for ransom. She hated to admit it but her time in Sweden made her too trusting, she couldn’t go walking in the streets of England with no worries, she always had to be on edge and keep her ears open. The fact that she was being followed for god knows how long and she didn’t know made her want to cry, she didn’t even have a means to protect herself for christs sake!
Her face must have shown how upset she was as Alfie had quickened his pace, “C’mon luv, don’t cry on me yea.”
They walked the rest of the way to the bakery in silence, Josephine too lost within her own mind that she doesn’t realize that they arrived until Alfie was motioning her to sit in one of the chairs as his desk.
“Tea luv?” He asked as he pulled off his hat and coat.
“Uh..yes please.” Josephine murmed.
“OIlie!” The man in question opened the door almost immediately and when he did, a dog came running past him and straight to Alfie, jumping up for pats and rubs.
“Get us some tea, Ollie.” Ollie barely spared her a look before he left after nodding at Alfie.
“ ‘ello you!” Alfie bent down and gave the dog what he wanted, showering him with rubs and ‘good boy’, Josephine even saw Alfie pull out a couple of dog biscuits from his pockets making her smile. The dog quickly lost interest when he spotted Josephine, pulling away from Alfie and making his way over to her, brushing up against her legs, asking for pats.
“Hello gorgeous!” Josephine smiled, reaching down and rubbing him.
“Of course, once he sees a pretty lady, he suddenly forgets about me” Alfie grumbled but he couldn’t stop the smile on his face.
“Jealousy is not a good look on you Mr. Solomons.” Josephine grinned at him, “What’s his name?”
“Cyril?” Josephine stopped in surprise, she wasn’t expecting that.
“Yea, he looks like a Cyril don’t he?” The dog in question whined, making Josephine go back to patting him.
“Hmm yes, I suppose he does.”
Ollie walked in then, with a tray with a teapot and teacups carefully balanced on top and placed them on Alfie’s desk,
“Thank you Ollie, now fuck off”
Josephine felt her jaw drop as Alfie said that, watching as Ollie left without a complaint.
“You talk to him like that often?” She was flabbergasted.
“Who? Ollie? Yea, known him since was a kid ‘im, it’s all good.” Alfie responded, handing her a cup from the tray.
Josephine nodded her thanks, Cyril rested his head on her lap, loving the small, soft strokes she gave him as much as the pats.
“Right so, why is Tommy Shelby’s not-secretary doing wandering around London?”
“Just visiting some friends,” Josephine shifted, being vague on purpose, “Is that not allowed?”
“Nah nah, you can do what you want luv, just be careful innit, cuz the men ‘round here aren’t good.”
“Yeah well, I’ve gathered that” Josephine muttered, “Thank you, Alfie, for saving me.”
“I’ve got a feeling that if something eva happened to you, then Thomas Shelby, won’t be very happy.” Alfie said after a few moments of looking at her.
“Tommy is very protective of his friends and family.” Josephine kept her answer short and sharp, not wanting to talk about Tommy, still not trusting Alfie.
“Right, you enjoying London?” Alfie took the hint and changed the subject.
Josephine and Alfie spent the next couple of hours talking, not realising how much time had passed until Ollie came back into the office, mentioning the time off-handedly making Josephine jump up in surprise, catching both of their attention,
“Sorry, I hadn’t realised how much time had passed. I must be going, thank you Mr. Solomons.”
Alfie stood up as well, “Let me escort you out.”
Brushing past Ollie, Alfie walked out of the office, Josephine following quickly behind him.
“Thank you again, Alfie.” Josephine thanked him again, throwing him a small smile.
“I hope to see you again, Josephine” Alfie returned her smile, bidding her goodbye.
Josephine, made her way home as quick as she possibly could, knowing that Ada was probably worrying about her.
The next Friday, Josephine and Ada were on a train to Birmingham for the reopening party, Karl was with them, casually sitting on Josephine lap without a care in the world. Ada was planning to go back to London that night whilst Josephine hoped to stay with Polly, having not seen her for a few years and wanting to spend time with her and the other Shelby’s.
When they arrived in Small Heath, the party was already in full swing, they could hear the music from down the street and Josephine couldn’t help the giddy feeling that was bubbling in her chest and the smile growing on her face making Ada laugh at her as they walked towards the pub,
“Oh yeah, can’t wait.”
Stepping in, they were stunned into silence by how great the Garrison looked,
“Maybe the Garrison getting blown up was a blessing in disguise eh” Josephine murmed to Ada, standing slightly behind her.
Ada laughed but before she could respond, the sound of loud, obnoxious, laughing caught their attention. It was Polly. The pair exchanged a look before Polly noticed Ada, Josephine’s figure hidden behind bot Ada and Karl, meaning Polly didn’t see her.
“Ada! I didn’t know you were coming” Polly walked over, arms open to pull Ada into a hug.
“I didn’t come alone, Aunt Pol.” Ada moved to the side, revealing Josephine.
“Oh!” Polly gasped, her hand coming to cover her open mouth, “Oh, my precious girl! You’re back!” Polly pulled Josephine into a tight hug, her eyes watering.
“Hello, Poll. I have missed you so much” Josephine tightened her arms around Polly, her own eyes watering but she didn’t miss the strong stench of alcohol that clung to her.
Esme came over, taking Karl out of Ada’s arms, cooing over him and walking away to where Josephine presumed John was.
“Hello, Ada. Josey” Tommy came wandering over, a glass of champagne in each hand.
Polly tutted and rolled her eyes as he came over, quickly making her leave, causing the rest of them to exchange looks.
“Tommy” Ada said after he handed the women their drinks.
“What do you think, eh?” He asked them as they let their eyes look over the place.
“Gold.” Josephine chimed in making Ada laugh.
“So what d'you want me to say to her?” Ada turned to her brother and asked, making Josephine raise her eyebrows in curiosity, she had no idea what was happening.
“Just talk to her. No-one can get through to her. Tell her I had no choice. I appreciate this.”
Ada nodded and left from where they were standing by the door and made her way to where Polly was. Once she had left, Josephine turned to Tommy and raised her eyebrows in question,
“C’mon I need to have a chat with you.” Tommy ignored her silent question and took her towards one of the back rooms.
“What’s happening Tommy?” Josephine asked after they stepped into the room, taking her coat off and flinging it onto one of the chairs.
“What were you doing with Alfie Solomons?” Tommy rounded on her, his eyes and tone cold.
“I-- what? What are you talking about?” Josephine was confused from where this came from.
“The men I placed in London, said they saw you walking around on Alfie’s arms last weekend.”
Josephine felt anger flare up inside her, “Well did your men also tell you that I was being followed by Italians and that Alfie saved me before something terrible could’ve happened?!”
Tommy stepped back in shock, understanding washing over his features, “You were being followed?”
“Yes and I was nowhere near Sabini’s territory. I suspect that his men saw me with you a few weeks ago and considered me a target.”
Tommy breathed out roughly, brushing a hand over his lower face, “Before you go back to London, I’ll get you a gun so you can protect yourself.”
“...I’m not going back to London, Tommy.” Josephine saw his expression briefly change but before she could identify what it was, he quickly fixed it to his previous one. “I want to stay here, in Small Heath. I’m safer here with you, funnily enough.”
“You want to come back to Birmingham?”
“Yeah, I’m hoping that secretary job is still on offer.” Josephine smiled at Tommy, it growing when he smiled back at her
“I was actually going to hire Lizzie Stark.” Josephine couldn’t believe it, Tommy was teasing her, something he hadn’t done since before the war.
“Good luck with that” Josephine snorted, playing along, “I don’t even think she knows how to read or write.”
“The secretary job is yours.” Tommy held his hand out, “Welcome to Shelby Brothers Limited, Miss Lindholm.”
Josephine shook his hand, “It’s a pleasure to be here, Mr. Shelby.”
“C’mon, let’s go out, I know there’s a few people who would love to see you.” Tommy placed his hand on her lower back, guiding her out, Josephine’s stomach erupting in butterflies as he did so.
“Your face is looking much better, it’s healed a lot.” Josephine said trying to distract herself from the feeling she was currently experiencing in her stomach.
“I took the best medicine available.” Tommy smiled at the raised eyebrow Josephine sent him, “Whisky.”
Josephine scoffed at his answer, rolling her eyes at the fact that she wasn’t surprised. She opened her mouth to speak but cut herself off as she spotted something in the distance,
“Oh piss off!” She cried out, Tommy whipped his head towards where she was staring but couldn’t see anything.
Josephine skipped over to the table where Finn sat with Athur, John and Esme, making Tommy smiled as he followed her with his eyes, finally understanding what made her react like that.
“That’s not little Finn Shelby, I see, is it?” She shouted as she approached the table, a large smile on her face. Arthur and John shot up when they heard her, grins taking over their face,
“Josey!” They yelled, John making his over to hug her but before Josephine pushed him out of the way before he could, intent on making her way to Finn.
She took the seat where John previously sat before he stood up, squishing Finn’s cheeks between her hands,
“Look at you! You’ve grown so much!” She squealed at him.
“Hello, Josey” Finn managed to grunt out between his cheeks being pulled.
“Yeah alright, you’ve missed Finn, now give me a hug.” John complained.
“Alright you big baby. C’mon you, give me a hug then.” Josephine laughed as she pulled away from Finn, getting up and pulling John into a big hug.
“Don’t you forget about me!” Arthur croaked, joining the hug, swaying them side to side making Josephine and John laugh.
Josephine spent the rest of the night with them boys and Ada. John and Arthur making her laugh through out the night. She had stepped outside to get some fresh air after the Garrison became too stuffy for her when Tommy appeared beside her, keys dangling off his fingers,
“What are they for?” She asked him,
“They’re yours.” He said handing them to her, “They’re the keys to our old place.”
Josephine was surprised, “You don’t live there anymore?”
Tommy shook his head, lighting a cigarette.
“You free right now?” She asked.
“Feel like dropping me off home?”
“Yea alright” Tommy let a small smile come over his lips.
“C’mon then, it’s freezing out here.” Josephine wrapped her arm around Tommy’s and allowed him to lead the way home.
They walked in silence, the only sound they could hear was the sound of their footsteps clicking on the cobbled streets.
“I’ll see you on Monday, Tommy.” Josephine said as they stopped in front of the house, squeezing his arm in thanks, Tommy nodded, taking a drag of his cigarette.
Tommy had stayed outside of the house for a few more minutes after she had made her way inside and closed the door before he left, memories of their time spent together in there washing over him. He had originally planned to go home with a few whores but changed his mind after he dropped her off home, instead he made his way back to his place by himself.
I also my plan was to finish this chapter and then go dye my hair but it was probably better if I dyed it and then wrote this while it was doing it's thing because it took forever to finish this :///
Chapter 18: Chapter Eighteen
this is trash but i hope you enjoy :) also pls tell me if you find any mistakes :))
The next morning, Josephine was puttering around the kitchen with a little notepad and pencil in her hands, making a list of things she needed to get when she made a trip to the market later that morning. Whilst the house was clean and fresh smelling, something she had no doubt believing Tommy was the reasoning behind why, it was utterly devoid of food. She had planned to visit Polly before she went though, the way she looked and acted the night before rubbed Josephine the wrong way and she had wanted to get to the bottom of it.
The sound of the front door opening and loudly closing put Josephine on edge, her whole body tensing because she knew that the door was locked as she had double checked earlier after she had made her way downstairs, she slowly pulled open the drawer, not wanting to alert the intruder and pulled out a knife, gripping the handle tightly and holding it threatenly in front of her as she didn’t plan to go down without a fight.
“Fucking hell!” Josephine breathed out, her shoulders relaxing as the tension fled her body, though she still gripped the knife in her hand.
Tommy strutted into kitchen, pulling his cap off and carelessly throwing it on the top. He did all of this without looking at Josephine.
“Jo--” Finally looking up, Tommy paused as he took in Josephine’s form, his eyes glinting in amusement as they catch the knife in her hands.
“You planning on doing something with that?” He asked, nodding towards the knife.
“I’m going to fling it at your head if you’re not careful!” Josephine huffed at him before she turned to place the knife back in the door and facing him again, “Why are you here?”
“I need your company today. For work.” Tommy lit himself a cigarette
“But it’s Saturday and I need to go to the market, there’s nothing here.”
“I’ll get your shopping sorted and I’ll pay you extra today, besides, I need to show you the new office.” Tommy ran his eyes around the kitchen, he couldn’t help the memories that overcame him whenever he was in or near the house. In fact, during the first few months of Josephine’s absence, he had spent almost everyday in it, secluding and locking himself away from the outside world.
“When you say you'll pay me more, it makes me seem as if I’m a working girl.” Josephine squinted at him, not liking the implication one bit.
“‘New office’? You got a new place?” She continued on, finally acknowledging the rest of his sentence.
Tommy took a long drag of his cigarette, his eyes meeting hers, a pinch of sadness glinting in them, “A lot of things have changed in the past two years Josephine.”
Josephine met his stare head on, she had never been afraid of his stare, no matter how harsh it was, though perhaps that was because she knew that he would never physically hurt her, memories of his father doing that towards his mother forever planted in his head, making so that when he was a child, he vowed against ever becoming like his father and he still aims to fulfil that vow.
Thomas Shelby was never exactly an angel, even before the war and Josephine knew that very well but she never had wanted him to change, she loves Tommy the way he is, even though she knew that her unceasing love for him would come back to bite her in the arse at some point.
Josephine mutely nodded, hearing the poorly disguised remorse in his voice before she brushed past him to go to the stairs, “I’ll quickly get changed then.”
Josephine had been surprised the night before when she had found all her old clothes still there, quite a lot remained as she was only able to pack a handful with her when she left after Cheltenam, but what surprised her the most was the fact that Tommy hadn’t thrown them away but she wasn’t going to dwell on it too much, appreciative of the fact that she didn’t have to go out a waste her money on clothes.
Josephine had made her way downstairs to see Tommy puffing on another cigarette,
“You ready?” She asked him, chucking on her coat and picking up her purse. Tommy simply nodded, making his way outside and waiting for her to join him.
Josephine let Tommy lead the way, the journey silent after their awkward conversation earlier and she was content on letting stay silent until she remembered something that happened the night before,
“What’s the problem with Polly?” She asked, unable to resist the urge to ask.
“I found out ‘bout her son, he’s alive and I know where he lives but I couldn’t tell ‘er since he’s only seventeen but it’s his birthday in a few months but she wouldn’t understand, demanding that I tell her but I can’t. Not yet.” Tommy said after he let out a large sigh.
“Oh…” Josephine hadn’t been expecting that, “What’s your plan then, wait a few months and take her to him?”
“Nah, I gave ‘im her address, no rules against that”
Josephine huffed a laugh before she remembered something else, “What about her daughter?”
Tommy gave her a somber look, one that basically told her what had happened,
“They had taken her all the way to Australia. She died of something called spring fever.”
“Poor Polly.” Josephine sighed, a sad frown appearing on her face. “But at least she still has her son.”
They stopped outside of a building a few minutes later, Tommy letting Josephine take it in before he led her inside and into the office, opening the door to reveal a medium sized room with two desks facing each other, one had a typewriter on it and the other was a simple desk and in between them sat another door that was closed, Josephine guessing that it led to Tommy’s office.
“Whad’ya think eh?” Tommy asked, his arm swinging in a sweeping motioning, showing off the front office.
Josephine smiled at Tommy as she nodded, “Very impressive. I bet you get loads of work done since it’s so quiet here.”
Tommy nodded back at her, “C’mon lemme show you my office.”
Josephine was stunned into silence, Tommy’s office was gorgeous. There was dark mahogany panels on the side walls, taking up half the space, the other part was painted a yellow-ish colour and both walls held different paintings and drawings along with windows. The back wall held a bookshelf in the right corner, filled with books that Josephine bet was just for show. Right behind his desk, a couple of framed paintings and on the left there was another window.
“It’s gorgeous Tommy.” Josephine smiled as she spotted a photograph of Tommy and her sitting on one of the side tables, they had taken before the war at a fair that had came through the town.
“Can I ask for a favour?” Josephine turned away from the photograph and faced Tommy with a sweet smile that she hoped would butter him up but judging by the look on his face he knew what she was doing,
“I want the weekends off so I can visit Ada in London.”
“Is that it?”
Josephine nodded, the sweet smile still on her face.
“Yea alright.” Tommy nodded at her.
Josephine squealed and took a step forward as if to hug him before she stopped herself and settled on smiling at him, “Thank you so much Thomas!”
Tommy walked to the door and held it open for her, “The Garrison next, there was a reason why I pulled you out today.”
“What reason is that?” Josephine asked as she stepped out of the office, thanking him as she walked past.
“We’re ‘olding auditions”
“‘Auditions’?!” Josephine scoffed as they walked down the street towards the pub, “Auditions for what?”
“We’re hiring local men to get arrested so the police can fill their quota.”
Josephine snorted, “So why are you bringing me along then?”
“Well, you’ve neva really worked for us so I thought this would help you get into it yea.”
Josephine shrugged, Tommy had a point. They stepped into the Garrison and turned towards to snug before Tommy stopped suddenly,
“You go in, I’ll be in a bit.” He said, walking towards a blinder, remembering that Josephine had no food in her house and wanted it to get it sorted before she returned back home.
Josephine simply nodded and as she stepped in, she was instantly blinded by the gold paint shining brightly in the bright daylight,
“Jesus christ! Did it hafta be gold in here too?” As Josephine waited for her eyes to adjust a voice called out,
“Oi oi! What you doing ‘ere then?!” It was John.
“Didn’t you hear, I’m Tommy’s new secretary” Josephine could see John, Arthur and Finn in the room.
“He asked ya?”
“Yea” Josephine squinted at Finn who held a mug that was half full of beer in his hand that was quickly placed down when he caught her stare.
Tommy walked in at that moment causing the conversation to halt,
“Right Finn, get out there, you’re our doorman.” Finn quickly nodded and left.
John shuffled into his recently vacated place and Arthur took Johns, meaning Josephine was sat on the end of the booths couch and Tommy sat on the chair.
“Send the first one in, Finn!” Arthur shouted and soon after the first man shyly stepped in, obviously intimidated by the brothers.
“Right! Name?” Arthur bellowed at the man making him jump in fright.
“P-p-pickpocketing.” The poor man was stuttering so much and the boys were only making things harder, making Josephine feel sorry for him.
“R-railway porter.” The boys huffed a laugh at this,
“Yea..you’re no good mate, go off” Arthur shooed the man away who looked more than grateful as he sped off.
Josephine groaned out loud as she slumped back into her seat, “Are they all gonna be like this? That was horrific!”
“Buckle up Josey-girl, you’re in for a long day” Arthur chuckled, softly punching her shoulder.
“Why’d you bring me here?!” Josephine turned to Tommy to see him looking slightly amused about her reaction,
“You’re a part of the company now and this is company business” Tommy simply told her making her groan again, leaning her head against Arthur’s shoulder.
The next few hours was hell for Josephine, every single guy that came in there was just as bad as the one before, the boys only selecting a few and telling them to give their address to Finn who stood outside. Her hunger finally caught up to her an hour into the interviewing process making her whiny and annoying until Tommy had called for a break and sent someone to get her a sandwich which left her slightly sleepy, the image of her trying her hardest to stay awake making Tommy’s lips quirk.
The next guy who had walked after their small break in had caught all of their attention, with his bowler hat, tweed jacket, blue checkered waistcoat and a red polka dot patterned bow tie, he was a sight to behold. Tommy had an unimpressed expression on his face as he looked at the man.
“All right then. Name?” Arthur asked.
“The Digbeth Kid.” The man slightly stuttered, his hands nervously played with his bowler hat.
“The Dig...What are you? A boxer?”
“Digbeth Kid, like Billy the Kid.”
Everyone tried to stifle their laughs but none of them were doing a decent attempt; John looked towards the window and tried to cover his lower face with his hand and cigar, Arthur looked down towards his newspaper, Josephine hid her sniggers in her beer mug and Tommy just kept on staring at him.
“Spend a lot of time at the pictures, eh? Cowboy pictures? Tom Mix? Yeah?” The Digbeth Kid nodded along with Tommy’s questions before he pulled his jacket away from his body to reveal holster that he attached to his waist and the reaction was immediate, John and Arthur pulled out their guns and aimed it towards him and Josephine felt her body being heavily pushed back and an arm protectively held in front of her. It was Tommy’s arm.
“What are you?!” The boys shouted
“Wait, wait. It's not a real gun.” He quickly explained and the tension left the room.
“Let's have a look then, eh?” Tommy stood up and walked to the boy, without acknowledging what he had done with Josephine
“It's made of wood.”
“Bang. Bang.” Tommy chuckled as he picked up the gun, playfully shooting at his brothers, them playing along as well.
Josephine rolled her eyes, they were children, the lot of them.
“Very nice.” Tommy handed back the gun
“Where did you get the gun belt?” Josephine asked him, curious.
“My sister made it out of an old blacksmith's apron. My mum did most of the stitching. She's not my real mum but--”
“She does what mothers do. So she made you a gun belt.” Josephine couldn’t tell what Tommy was thinking and she realised that she’s struggled with that ever since she came back, before she would have had no problem. Those two years had more of an effect than she realised.
“All right there, mother's boy. There's the door, on you go. We're looking for--” Arthur went to go and dismiss him before Tommy cut him off.
“Have you ever been arrested?”
“Yeah.” The boy was clearly lying.
“No.” The Digbeth Kid retracted his original answer and shook his head vehemently
“Good. You're the first bloke we've had in ‘ere today with no criminal record.
Arthur, we can stand him up. Do you know what that means? The new Home Secretary wants something done about illegal gambling.”
“Damn right!” John loudly banged the table
“About bloody time.” Arthur joined in on the teasing, making Josephine reach over and pinch him, giving both the boys warning looks.
“So we help our coppers make their quota of convictions by having men stood up to be arrested. First offence, you'll get a week inside. We'll give you five quid for your trouble. How does that sound, cowboy?” Tommy explained to him
“Yeah!” The boy excitedly nodded, a large smile on his face.
“Good. Write your address down for Finn on your way out.”
“I can't write.”
“That's all right, Finn can't read.” John piped up
“Don't worry.” Arthur mouthed to him, neither of the boys taking Josephine’s warnings seriously.
“Just tell him your address and we'll send someone round.”
“If the Sheriff don't run you out of town first.” John teased again
“Good man.” The Digbeth Kid quickly left after that.
“Oh, I don't know, Tom, kids these days…”
“They didn't fight. So they're different. They stay kids.” Tommy kept his gaze on the newspaper, not looking up at all.
After no one came in immediately after that, Josephine took the time to lay down and get comfortable, her sleepiness returning,
“Wake me up if it’s important.” She told Arthur who simply nodded and patted her head.
It didn’t take her long to fall asleep and when she did, Tommy gaze was on her immediately, his brothers noticing almost immediately,
“ So, what’s going on with you two?” John asked, motioning his cigar at them
“I asked her to be my secretary and she agreed, that’s it.”
“So you’ve not talked about what happened at all?” Arthur is the one who asked this time.
Tommy heaved a sigh, “No, but I feel like she will want to soon.”
Tommy looked away from Josephine and towards the door, effectively ending the conversation,
“Finn! Send the next one in.”
John and Arthur were up ahead, play fighting each other whilst Tommy and Josephine trailed behind in silence. They had woken up her after letting sleep through the rest of interviews, only waking her when they finished and wanted to go back to the betting parlour. Arthur and John were now screaming and shouting as they barged into the kitchen of the house on Watery Lane, pretending to be the Digbeth kid, whipping their guns and pretended to shoot at each other,
“Run for the hills! It's the Digbeth Kid!” Arthur shouted as the back door swung open with a loud bang, John running in.
“Get out of town, kid, or I'll shoot your fucking head off!” John stopped and lowered his gun as soon as he spotted his aunt with an unfamiliar youngman stood next to her.
Arthur with his back facing them, couldn’t see why John had suddenly stopped,
“Times up! Pew! You're dead, go down. John!”
Arthur slowly looked behind his shoulder and spotted what John saw and then turned around, walking to stand next to John and placed his gun away. Tommy and Josephine had stepped closer, amusement written all over their faces.
“All right then, Polly. Who's this?” Arthur asked as he leant on a kitchen chair, stifling his laughter, clearly misunderstanding the situation.
“Gentlemen, this is your cousin. Polly's son, Michael.” Tommy introduced them.
“Pleased to meet you.” Michael walked over and shook their hands.
“I'm Arthur. You've already met me. I used to throw ya out of the window so John could catch ya.” Arthur mumbled, halfheartedly motioning towards John.
“I used to put you in a shoebox and kick you down Watery Lane.” John chimed in with his own memory.
“I bet you're glad to be back.” Tommy said, slightly amused
“I don't remember any of it. All I remember is the day they took me away.” Polly walked over after Michael had spoken, pulling him into a tight hug.
“Well, you're here now, son. Welcome to the Shelby family.” Tommy patted Michael on the back, a small smile on his face.
“Later on, we'll show you the ropes.”
“Yeah, we'll show you what's what.”
“Let's leave him be for now, eh? Come on, boys.” Tommy quickly led the boys out of the kitchen, knowing that if they stayed any longer they would only make the situation more awkward and weird.
“They seem nice.” Michael said, watching as the brothers left, causing a strange look to overcome Polly face.
Polly turned around, moving to see if she could distract Michael from her nephews when she spotted Josephine for the first time, not seeing her when the rest of them had piled into the kitchen.
“Josephine!” She cried out and sped over to her, pulling the young woman into a tight hug, “Come sit down, I’ll make you some tea.”
“I was gonna spend the afternoon with you but you’re busy, so I’ll come by another time yea.” Josephine said, pulling out of the hug, not wanting to disturb the time the newly reunited mother and son they were having.
Polly opened her mouth to argue against before she stopped herself, she spared a lot at her son before looking back at Josephine, clearly torn on what to do it,
“It’s fine, I don’t mind sitting here whilst you talk!” Michael piped up, clearly not having a problem with it. Polly sighed from relief, glad that she didn’t have to choose,
“Oh good, come sit down dear.”
Josephine listen to her and took a seat opposite her, letting Polly pour her a cup of tea,
“You’ve kept it long” Polly said after she poured her a cup of tea, reaching over to twirl a curl of Josephine’s hair around her finger. Josephine beamed at Polly,
“You said you liked it when it’s long, so I didn’t cut it!”
“When did you come back? Have you been back long?” Polly looked pleased at Josephine’s previous reply.
Polly, who as always never missed a thing, immediately caught on to Josephine’s guilty look,
“What are you not telling me?”
Josephine hesitated before she opened her mouth not keen on disappointing her, “I’ve been back in England for a few weeks Polly. Been back since Tommy got injured.”
Polly opened and closed her mouth a few times in shock, the disappointment plastered on her face making Josephine feel like she was a school girl again, that was sent to the principal's office for causing havoc, something that happened on more than one occasion once she started getting closer to the Shelby family.
“And you didn’t come to see me?” Polly pursed her lips, appearing like an unimpressed mother.
“I was gonna!” Josephine was quick to defend herself, “Honest! I planned to see you after a brief visit to Tommy and then go down to London to stay with Ada but Tommy dragged me down to London” Josephine quickly rushed out, wavering at the sight of Polly’s stare.
Michael looked on with a small smile, this was his first glimpse of Polly acting like what he guessed she usually did, ever since he had met her, she’d only been overly affectionate with him but the woman he was seeing right now is completely different than what he had seen the last few hours. She was relaxed and carefree now.
“How long you back then?” Polly asked, leaning back on her chair and crossing her arms over her chest.
“For the foreseeable at least, I’m Tommy’s secretary.” Josephine mumbled her sentence, purposely avoiding Polly’s gaze and taking a large sip of her tea.
“You what?!” Polly shot forward, her hands splayed on the table, “Are you daft? After everything he’s done to you, you’re just gonna go back to him?”
“I’m not going back to him Pol” Josephine loudly scoffed, rolling her eyes, “It’s not like that. Don’t get it twisted, I’m not getting back together with him, it was just sorta easy to slip back into how it was with him, sorta like nothing had happened but at the same time, a bit awkward. I’m just working for him. ”
“Why are you working for him then?”
“When I was in London with Ada, I was followed by some Italians”
“Jesus..” Polly breathed out.
“I managed to shake ‘em off” Josephine lied to Polly, not knowing whether or she knew about Aflie, “But it scared me enough innit, I think I’m safer up here with the boys.”
“You’re right love, it’s better you’re up here.” Polly took Josephine’s hands in her own, squeezing them.
“Josephine!” A loud voice prevented their conversation from progressing any further.
“What?!” Josephine yelled back, not wanting to leave her chair.
Josephine rolled her eyes when Tommy didn’t respond, “Tommy, what?!”
“Thomas! Whaattt?!” She yelled again when there wasn’t any response. She made to yell again, only managing to open her mouth before Polly cut her off, “Stop shouting and go see what he wants!”
Josephine huffed but listened to her anyway, making a show of it, shouting Tommy’s name again as she walked through to the betting den.
Michael laughed after she left, “She’s something.”
“Yes, she is. It’s been a while since I’ve last saw and life hasn’t been kind to her but she’s doing well.” Polly hummed with a small smile.
“You were talking about her coming back from somewhere, where did she go?” Michael was curious
Polly’s smile dimmed, “She was living in Sweden for the past couple of years, it’s where her father is from. Her and Tommy had a bad breakup, so she left.”
“Tommy and her were together?!”
“Hmm, ever since they were young, they were even engaged.”
Michael simply nodded,noticing that Polly didn’t really want to talk about it anymore.
Josephine sat opposite Tommy in his office in the betting den, waiting as he finished off writing whatever it was he was doing, though her patience was wearing thin as she had been sitting there for at least ten minutes.
“Right,” Tommy said, lifting his head to look at her as he placed the letter to the side of his desk, he also shot her a look when she mumbled under her breath about him taking forever.
“I’m going down to London with Billy Kitchen and I want you to come down as well.”
“Billy Kitchen? From the Black Country?” Tommy nodded affirmation making Josephine scoff in disbelief, the Black Country men and the Peaky Blinders weren’t exactly what you would call, friends. Josephine remembers the many times Tommy came complaining to her about how Black Country men were robbing their boats whenever they tried to sail through.
“How’d you managed that?” Tommy simply smirked as a response. The action caused her stomach to erupt in butterflies, making her feel like she was sixteen again.
“I need a favour from you as well. Since you’re going down to London every weekend, I want you to keep an eye on Alfie Solomons.”
Josephine wasn’t amused by his wording, “You want me to spy on Alfie?”
“Is that going to be a problem?” He asked as he lit himself a cigarette
“He’s a gangster himself Tommy! He’s gonna know when someone is spying on him!” Josephine couldn’t believe Tommy was suggesting this, it was crazy.
“He won’t guess it’s you, doubt he’ll harm you if he did find out anyway.” Tommy defended his idea.
“What’s stopping him from killing me if he did find out?”
“You’re a woman.”
Josephine louded scoffed, “And? I doubt what gender I am will matter to him when he finds out I’m a snitch.”
Tommy sighed as he stood up and walked around his desk until he was perched on the edge, directly facing Josephine and placed his hand on her shoulder.
“You’ll be fine ey, don’t worry. I’ll have men around Camden whenever you’re there so don’t fret.”
Josephine sighed and nodded, Tommy wearing her down to the point where she couldn’t even be bothered to argue anymore.
“When are we going?”
“Tomorrow. I’m going to see Ada as well, so you’ll get a long weekend.” Tommy kept his hand on her shoulder as he bent down, his eyes meeting hers.
“Really? I can stay down there until Sunday?” Josephine was excited about seeing Ada and Karl again.
Tommy nodded and smiled, pulling back until he was sitting up straight again, dragging his hand from her shoulder, letting his fingers trail her down her arm and slightly brush over her hand before he stood up and returned to his seat behind his desk.
“I’ll pick you up tomorrow, first thing.” Tommy said as he puffed on his cigarette. Josephine nodded before she left, sending him a ‘goodbye’ over her shoulder as she did so.
Guess which part was inspired by my mum lol