20. The Lady

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Edward grabbed Sarah's hand and started to whisk her across the smoky room. As she passed the stage, music blaring, several party-goers giggled and clapped in amusement. The man at the microphone continued to croon away.

I can grow tomatoes, but what I do prefer

Is a little bit of cu-cum-cu-cum-cu-cum

Little bit of cu-cum-ber ...

Sarah eyes widened as she fixed her gaze on the singer's face. It couldn't be! It was Henry! But what was he doing here!? And singing too? Sarah blinked a few times until reality finally set in. She expelled a breath. It wasn't Henry.

Edward pulled Sarah to a far corner of the room before letting go of her hand. She rubbed her wrist, keeping her eyes on the floor, trying to make herself as small as possible.

Normally, Sarah wasn't so blatantly insecure. She almost always made sure to put on a confident face. A woman making her living working with cars and tools had to be able to hold her head high and project the image that she couldn't care less what others had to say about her. But Sarah wasn't feeling herself. She wasn't someone who was in the habit of drinking alcohol and the bubbles of the champagne had started to go to her head, and they were hitting her much harder than she'd thought they would. As uncomfortable as she felt, Sarah realized that in her disoriented state, it was just easier to go along with Edward and see where this led. He would be bringing her home in a few hours anyway.

Still, Sarah could feel the curious stares of those around her. One woman in a deep purple gown ran her eyes up and down Sarah's dress and then wrinkled her nose with a crooked smirk.

Sarah's head felt light and her heart thrummed against her ribs. She wondered if maybe she should have taken the time to drink more water before leaving her uncle's house. She was starting to feel dehydrated and felt a light sheen of sweat dotting the arch of her hairline.

"Mrs. Bell!" Edward called out. "Well there you are, ma'am! You are the lady that I've been looking for."

A woman with fair skin, blond curls piled high atop her head, turned from the conversation she was having with two colored men in sharp-looking suits.

"Oh! Good evening, Mr. Benedict," she said. "Yes, it is so nice to see you. Thank you for inviting me."

"You're having a nice time then?" Edward asked.

The blond woman smiled, but her smile was tight. Sarah studied her face and tried to remember where she had seen her before. She looked terribly familiar, but Sarah couldn't recollect how she might know her. Whoever she was, she looked as elegant as the white, laced evening gown she wore that probably cost as much as a new Model T.

"You know, Edward," she said. "It's been a lovely evening, but I'm not so sure I'm going to be able to find a solid writer for that poetry project I've been planning. I'm a bit frustrated because you did tell me that there would be a lot of experienced writers here. I've talked to several people tonight, but nobody here seems all that seasoned."

"Oh, but Mrs. Bell, you still haven't met all of the poets here tonight," Edward said. "Besides, there will be a lot more great poets at the amateur night later this month."

Mrs. Bell raised a hand to her brow and rubbed the space between her eyes. She gave a light sigh.

"Well, I know that's what you've said, Edward. And that's why I agreed to host that amateur night. But I'm beginning to have my doubts."

"Oh don't worry, Mrs. Bell," Edward said. "Trust me, this amateur night is going to be the perfect spot for you to find a good writer. Speaking of which, there's someone here that I would like you to meet."

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