"Not Mrs. Willie. Just Willie."
I stared at her. "Actually, Willie, I prefer Jo, and honestly, I don't much care for bows." I pulled the ribbon from my thick brown bob and reached for the lighter on the table.
"I didn't ask for a light," said Willie.
"No, but you've tapped your cigarette fifty-three times ... now fifty-four, so I thought you might like to smoke it."
Willie sighed. "Fine, Jo, light my cigarette and pour me a Scotch."
"Neat or on the rocks?" I asked.
Her mouth opened in surprise, then snapped shut. "Neat." She eyed me as I lit her cigarette.
"Well, Louise," said Willie, a long exhale of smoke curling above her head, "you've managed to mess things up royal, now, haven't you?"
"You can't stay here, not with a child. You'll have to get a place," said Willie.
"I don't have any money," said Mother.
"Sell those pearls to my pawn in the morning and you'll have some spending money. There's a small apartment on Dauphine that one of my bookies was renting. The idiot went and got himself shot last week. He's taking a dirt nap and won't need the place. The rent is paid until the thirtieth. I'll make some arrangements, and we'll see where you are at the end of the month."
"All right, Willie," said Mother.
I handed Willie the drink and sat back down, nudging the bow under the settee with my foot.
She took a sip and nodded. "Honestly, Louise, a seven-year-old bartender?"
That was ten years ago. She never did buy me the doll.
Excerpted from Out of The Easy by Ruta Sepetys. Copyright © 2013 by Ruta Sepetys. Excerpted by permission of Philomel. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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