16. Choices

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"Who the heck is this fella again?" Albert demanded.

Sarah sighed, glancing into the glass of the kitchen window where the approaching darkness outside made it possible for her to just make out the faint image of her reflection. She reached up and adjusted the thick yellow ribbon that she'd used to tie up her hair.

"His name is Edward Benedict. He's a business owner."

"Oh yeah?" Albert snorted. "And just what business does he own?"

"The Diamond Club," Sarah replied. "He owns others, but that's the one I'm going to tonight."

"I don't think you need to be spending time at any night club," Albert said. "I don't need my niece hanging around people who want to spend their time drinking and smoking and dancing. What sort of man do you think he is if he's running a place of debauchery like that?"

"Uncle Albert," Sarah said, sighing. "I'll admit that night clubs and bars have never been my thing, but this one's different. I may read my poems at the club on amateur night ... on a stage ... in front of an audience."

Albert waved his hand in dismissal before he wandered over to a chair at the kitchen table and sat down.

"I promise I won't be out all night," Sarah said. Through the kitchen window, she could see headlights followed by a car pulling into the lot. "You know you don't need to worry about me."

Albert didn't say a word. He wasn't happy. Earlier they had gotten into a fight. Albert wasn't keen on Sarah going to some club. But when she threatened to move out, just so she could go with Edward, Albert saw he had no choice in the matter.   

Sarah gave the top of her hair one last pat and her ponytail one last fluff. She felt badly that Uncle Albert was so upset, but at the same time she was a grown woman, and it was her right to choose how she would spend her evenings and who she would spend them with.

A sharp knock on the door gave Sarah a start.

"Oh, that's him!" Sarah said, practically singing the words.

Albert grumbled something unintelligible under his breath.

Sarah hurried over to the door and opened it.

"Edward! Hello!"

Edward stood there in an impeccable white suit as bright as the moon itself. Out in front of the house, an admiral-blue Paige Touring convertible sat gleaming in the driveway.

Sarah smiled and smoothed her hands over the side of her yellow dress.

"Hello there, beautiful," Edward said. Then he peered around Sarah's shoulder and waved to Albert.

Sarah stepped to one side and raised her eyebrows at her uncle, hoping he would say something nice. Albert lifted his eyebrows back at her, his mouth bending into an exaggerated smile.

"Evening, Albert," Edward said. "I don't know if you remember me, but you patched up my other car a couple times. I think around two or three years ago."

"You don't look familiar to me," Albert said flatly.

Sarah winced at her uncle's poor manners.

"Okay, we should get going," she said hurriedly, grabbing her ivory sweater from the side table near the entrance.

Albert pushed himself up. "You have her home by midnight," he said. "Not twelve-thirty. Not even five after twelve. If I don't see her walking through that door by midnight, I'll be walking on down to that club of yours myself."

Edward chuckled. "Don't you worry about it, Albert. I hear you loud and clear. I won't keep your niece out a second past twelve."

Sarah stepped outside, shutting the door behind her.

"Sorry about that," she said. "He's kind of protective of me."

"I understand," Edward said. "Now, let's get a move on. I'm afraid for my life if I don't have you home before twelve!"

Sarah giggled.

"Really," Edward said, placing a hand on the small of Sarah's back and guiding her over to his car. "I'll have an angry old man running up in my club ready to throw fists."

Sarah laughed at that image.

Edward opened the car door for her, and Sarah climbed in, taking a seat on the soft leather. He started the engine and it quietly hummed.

Sarah closed her eyes, feeling the purr of the car throughout her entire body. When she finally opened her eyes, the rest of her sad little life had become a distant memory.

Author's Note:

The chapter image is a 1917 Paige Touring Convertible like the one that Edward owns. In 1918, Model T's were very common, but there were so many other car manufacturers, and models on the roadways. More than most people today realize.

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