They've got a home and food this week.
Parkhurst is vile, and he looks at Jimmy like he'd like to pull his skin off - she's told him about tracking mud in the house, but he'll do what he likes, boys that age always do - but he doesn't touch her much. He expects certain things, though, and she'd told Jimmy to stay out until 11. Lipstick, rouge, and eyeliner for her face, the tightest corset and flimsiest dress she owns, and a pennyroyal pessary just in case.
It's only three of them tonight, and she supposes she's lucky. Parkhurst is too old for much of anything, Whitlock is the closest thing to a gentleman they have, and Berryhill will be satisfied with her mouth only. It won't take too long, just a token dance and sucking off Berryhill, then they have dinner reservations at the Ritz. She can cook Jimmy dinner and they can eat in the dining room for tonight.
Times like these are the only times she hates dancing. Every stretch, every turn, feeling leers like cold sweat across her body. She sheds layers like an onion, peels herself down to her skin and wishes she could go deeper. Find somewhere that someone hasn't touched her, that she could keep for herself.
When it's over and she's rinsed the taste of semen and wine out of her mouth with some bourbon, she cleans herself up. She tries to keep Jimmy from seeing her like this, painted for specific men instead of her glamorous job. Puts on a shift and her softest robe, ties her hair back with the ribbon he'd bought for her last week. There's a cut of beef in the icebox and some leftover vegetables Parkhurst won't miss - they'll have steak just like a real restaurant.
Jimmy comes in, telling her about the couple he met on the beach who didn't believe his Uncle Nucky was the sheriff. She doesn't know if the twist in her stomach whenever her son says that name will ever go away. Jimmy doesn't notice - there had been a pretty girl with dark curls on the beach, too - and he sets upon dinner the way only a growing 15-year-old does. He's been tending bar at one of Nucky's places, it's long hours, but they usually feed him and send him home with five whole dollars a week.
He refuses to let her clean up, and lifts the plates and silverware out of her protesting hands. Scrubs them carefully, shirtsleeves rolled up to his elbows, and when he's finished, he replaces the china in Parkhurst's cabinet. He's had to know silverware layouts and the fragility of china from a very young age, and she wonders if he'll ever have any to call his own. Ever own an entire house, one that they won't be thrown out of at the whim of some man.
She almost doesn't hear him speak, cigarette in his mouth and the rattle of a truck outside drowning him out.
"You working tomorrow, Ma?"
She should pick up another night at the Beaux Arts, she knows. He needs a new pair of boots, newsprint peeking out of the soles of his current pair and it won't do for much longer.
"Why, baby?" she asks. "Got something better for me to do?"
His nose wrinkles, and he fishes for something in his pocket. He tosses it to her, and she barely catches it before it hits the polished wooden floor. It's a key, battered silver, and her breath catches in her throat.
"142 Baltic Avenue. Apartment 6."
She gropes blindly behind her for the back of a chair, and feels her feet give out. Jimmy rushes to her side, babbling something about not scaring him, isn't she happy? Happy? She could fly.
"I had to fix a couple things," he says, toe digging into the floor and a hand to the back of his head. "New coat of paint, door that was broken, a big hole in the window. Neary said he'd knock two dollars off the rent every month if I did a few jobs for him and fixed up the place. So we can afford it, don't worry."
She still can't speak, hand pressed to her mouth. Her baby got them an apartment, and she should have done it herself, but sometimes it was all she could do to keep a roof, any roof, over their heads. And he did it by himself, with his own work and none of Nucky's charity.
She's never been prouder.