Read No Cure for Love Online

Authors: Jean Fullerton

Tags: #Saga, #Historical Fiction

No Cure for Love

BOOK: No Cure for Love
2.03Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
No Cure for Love
Jean Fullerton
Orion Publishing Group (2010)
Saga, Historical Fiction


Ellen O'Casey, an Irish Catholic immigrant, is struggling to support her ailing mother, her teenage daughter and herself. Washing other people's laundry in the day, and singing in bawdy pubs at night, Ellen is determined to make a better life for her family by saving enough for the passage to New York where the rest of her extended family have already emigrated. But Danny Donovan, a local gangster and the landlord of the pubs where Ellen sings, intends to make her his mistress. A widow in her late 20s, Ellen has refused to let another man in her life, least of all the brutish Danny, whose advances she doggedly resists. But when Ellen catches the eye of the new doctor in town, Robert Munroe, an intense rivalry is formed between the doctor and Danny. For not only are Robert's feelings for Ellen reciprocated, but the ambitious doctor also intends to investigate the appalling living conditions of the local community and Danny's own hand in it. But as Ellen and Robert become...

Table of Contents
Jean Fullerton is a native Londoner and was born in the East End within the sound of Bow Bells. Until she was five her family lived in Wapping, alongside the Thames, and then moved to Stepney. She is a trained nurse and teaches healthcare and nursing. Jean’s husband is a Church of England vicar, and his parish includes the site of the 2012 Olympic Games. She has three daughters. Jean Fullerton’s first novel,
No Cure For Love
, won the Harry Bowling Prize in 2006.
Her words were cut short as he slapped her across her face again. Ellen’s knees buckled, and at the edge of her vision small stars appeared, then burst. Blackness crept over her mind, but she forced it away as Danny held her upright by the scruff of her neck and hair. ‘Where is it, Ellen?’ he said, as more blows rained down onto her. ‘I’ll find it anyhow.’
Danny’s foul breath assailed Ellen and nausea rose in her throat. ‘But before that I’ll teach you a lesson that you will never forget,’ he said, putting his powerful hand around her neck and squeezing.
Ellen gasped for air as the vice-like grip of his fingers tightened.
I’m going to die,
she thought, as jumbled images of Robert and Josie swam around in her mind.
First published in Great Britain in 2008 by Orion
This ebook first published in 2010 by Orion Books
Copyright © Jean Fullerton 2008
The moral right of Jean Fullerton to be identified as the author
of this work has been asserted in accordance with the
Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted
in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of the publisher, nor to be otherwise
circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published without a similar
condition, including this condition, being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
eISBN : 978 1 4091 2358 3
This ebook produced by Jouve, France
The Orion Publishing Group Ltd
Orion House
5 Upper Saint Martin’s Lane
London WC2H 9EA
An Hachette UK Company
No Cure for Love
To Kelvin, my dear husband, for all his love and unwavering support.
On an April evening in 1832, with her shawl wrapped tightly over her abundant auburn hair, Ellen O’Casey ducked out of the cold on the Whitechapel Road in East London, and into the tradesman’s entrance of the Angel and Crown.
Thank goodness she had bought a half-hundredweight of coal from the merchant. Even now, in March, The two rooms in Anthony Street she shared with her mother and her daughter, Josie, could be cold, and her mother was still low from the last bout of chest ague.
Through the door that led to the public bar and supper rooms Ellen could hear the familiar buzz of customers enjoying their evening meal. She was late, but the staff area at the back of the public house was deserted and she hoped that she could get to the minute dressing room that she shared with Kitty Henry without being noticed.
Dashing down the narrow corridor, Ellen had almost reached the door with the faded brown paint when someone caught her arm.
‘You’re late,’ the voice of Danny Donovan, owner of the Angel and Crown, snarled in her ear. ‘Kitty has already sent word she is sick.’
Trying not to show the pain from the dirty nails digging into her, Ellen turned and faced the huge Irishman beside her.
‘Josephine was sick. I couldn’t leave her until me Mammy came back,’ she said, trying to free herself. Danny held her fast.
‘I don’t pay you to look after your brat. I pay you to sing.’
Danny Donovan was dressed in his usual flamboyant manner. He wore a mustard frock coat over a multicoloured silk waistcoat, and a thick gold chain was strung across his paunch. A shiver of disdain ran down Ellen’s spine as he glanced over her, and she wrenched her arm away. ‘Then, if you’ll be unhanding me, I’ll go and do just that,’ she said.
He blocked her path. ‘You look well tonight, Ellen,’ he said.
Her outer shawl had fallen away and Danny’s eyes ran momentarily over the simple cotton dress she wore. It suited her more than the satins and feathers the other girls in the Angel wore. It set her apart and Ellen wanted to keep it that way.
Danny snatched the chewed cigar from his mouth, shot his arm around her waist and pulled her violently against him.
‘Come and warm me bed and you won’t have to sing for your supper,’ he said, his large hand making free with one of her breasts. His rancid breath and his body odour of sweat and tobacco hit her in the face and her stomach lurched. ‘I’ll give you money to look after that old mother of yours, and young Josephine. What do you say?’
Using all her might Ellen pushed him away. ‘The same thing I said last time you asked. No,’ she spat, gathering her shawl from the floor and dashing past him to her dressing room.
‘You can play the respectable widow all you like, Ellen O’Casey, but I’ll have you in the end,’ he called after her as she slammed the door.
Ellen leaned with her back to the door in an effort to still her wildly beating heart. She shut her eyes and took measured breaths as panic threatened to engulf her. Every part of her wanted to flee from the Angel and Crown, never to return, but she couldn’t. She needed the money. She had worked here a little over a year and Danny had been after her from the moment she had arrived. He would force her if he ever got the chance, but she was determined never to give him that chance.
‘Come on, Ellen, it won’t be for much longer,’ she told herself firmly as her breathing began to slow.
Three months, four months at most, then she would have the money to buy passages for her mother, Josie and herself to New York to join her brother and his family. With trembling hands, Ellen hung the shawl on the nail behind the door and started to get ready.
Looking in the cracked mirror behind the small dressing table, she contemplated her reflection. She pulled a small curl down and over her shoulder. Her hands slid down to her waist. It had been a gruelling ten years since Michael had died, leaving her with a small child to support, but to look at her, none would have known that she was just shy of twenty-eight and mother to a leggy thirteen-year-old.
Ellen frowned. Her breasts were too visible over the narrow lace of her neckline, and she tugged it up. She didn’t want any of the men in the audience to get ideas.
There was a faint rap on the door. Ellen turned from the mirror and went out. Tommy was standing by the curtain rope when she took her place at the side of the stage. Adjusting the lace around her neckline again, she asked, ‘What’s the house like, Tom?’
‘A bit busier than the usual Friday night.’ Tommy wiped his nose with the back of his hand. ‘Your fame must be spreading.’
The low hum of the supper room reached Ellen’s ears. For a Friday it was quite lively, and she would be fortunate if she got away before midnight.
Peering through the little peephole in the curtain, she glanced across the heads of the diners in the cheap seats in front of the stage, her eyes rested on the raised gallery where the wealthier patrons of the Angel’s supper room sat and ate. Danny Donovan was now lounging in his usual place in the corner against the oak handrail that separated the rooms. He was entertaining loudly.
Ellen caught the conductor’s eye. He winked in acknowledgement over his half-rimmed spectacles and called the small group of musicians to order. The opening bars of ‘In Ireland’s Fair Hills’ drifted across the room and the rumble of conversation stopped.
Tommy pulled energetically on the winding rope and the velvet curtains swished back releasing dust particles into the footlights at the edge of the small wooden stage. With a deep intake of breath, Ellen fixed a smile on her face and stepped out on to the stage.
Doctor Robert Munroe sat alone under the hanging oil lamp that illuminated the main medical laboratory in the London Hospital. For the third time he began reading the letter in his hand. It was from Miss Caroline Sinclair, daughter of Henry Sinclair, owner of Edinburgh’s most successful brewery company, and the young woman with whom - or so his mother insisted on telling her circle of friends - he had an understanding. As he slid the pages under each other, Robert’s lips formed a grim line. Understanding! After reading the contents of the letter through yet again, he reflected that misunderstanding might describe their relationship better.
After a cursory enquiry about his health, Caroline’s letter contained a full page of complaints as to why he was staying so long in London, and demanded that he return to Edinburgh before the Spring Ball and the assemblies which began in May. It finished by telling him about the new captain of the town garrison who was accompanying her family to the opera next week.
Robert raked his hand through his mop of light-brown hair and let out an oath. Why couldn’t Caroline appreciate that in order to continue his studies and make his professional name he had to be in London? He had told her all this when he had left not three months ago.
He let the letter fall from his hands onto the bench and looked up at the laboratory shelves, stocked with various jars containing twisted body parts immersed in jaundice fluid.
I’m supposed to be documenting the day’s findings, not reading Caroline’s letter,
Robert thought, firmly putting aside a mental picture of Edinburgh’s foremost beauty standing up beside a heroic, red-coated captain for a country reel.
BOOK: No Cure for Love
2.03Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

Naked by Eliza Redgold
False Charity by Veronica Heley
Singing Hands by Delia Ray
Toast Mortem by Bishop, Claudia
Thornfield Hall by Emma Tennant
The Tilting House by Tom Llewellyn
Pearls by Colin Falconer
The Resurrectionist by White, Wrath James