74. Soulmate

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Once again, Sarah stood at the edge of the stage at the Diamond Club.

The place was packed with the wealthiest of Hester's black community. A dozen or so white folks stood out among the crowd, one of them being Linda Bell, who in her sleek white dress and perfectly pompadoured hair, looked like a brilliant diamond.

Sarah shifted back and forth on her low heels. Not even the dim lighting, the discord of mingled voices and laughter, and all the liquor in Hester could conceal her nerves.

To top it off, Edward was acting mighty peculiar too. First, he had barely talked to Sarah since she'd arrived at the club. Second, he looked as jittery as a rooster in a coyote's den. And third, he was talking to a white fellow, who despite a classy navy suit, couldn't mask a glare that held contempt for every colored person in the room.

Sarah had been watching the exchange between Edward and this white stranger. They were jawing at one another. Neither of them looking too pleased. After several tense minutes, a self-satisfied smile slithered into Edward's expression.

The two men shook hands, and Edward made his way back over.

"Who was that gentleman you were just talking to?" Sarah asked.

"Oh," Edward said, surprise in his tone. "Mr. Tanner is an old business acquaintance. Nothing for you to worry your precious self about."

Liar!

Sarah pressed on. "The two of you seemed to be having quite the conversation over there."

Edward gave a small smile. "Miss Sarah, I want you to stay focused on your poem. Remember, the stakes are high tonight, and the talent is top notch. It would be a shame if you squander this opportunity again."

Sarah clenched her teeth behind pressed lips. She wanted to strangle the man, but she didn't want to ruin her dress, a silver-white gown she'd picked up at the flea market.

If luck was on her side, Sarah would win Henry back with her poem, and he'd make sure Edward would never bother her again. But if Henry didn't show up, she still had a backup plan to take care of that no good Edward Benedict.

The tuxedoed announcer crossed the stage and stood in front of the microphone. "Ladies and gentlemen ..."

Over the course of the next ninety minutes, Sarah watched as twelve performers showcased their talents. One young woman recited a monologue after explaining it was her dream to become an actress. A middle-aged author read a chapter from his motivational book, "Strive and Be Rich." Several men and women recited poems, and some of them were pretty darn good.

All the while, Sarah kept scanning the crowd, searching for Henry. Each time she failed to find him, she felt a pang of sadness. She missed him, and she'd been really hoping that Nella had convinced him to come see her recite her poem. And though she desperately wanted Mrs. Bell to choose her to write for her poetry column, that wasn't her main reason for being here.

The audience gave a rousing applause for a gray-suited gentleman with slicked-back hair who had just recited a clever limerick about peacetime after the war. As the man stepped off the stage, the announcer said, "And now, our final performer for the evening. It is with great pleasure that I introduce to you, the girl mechanic, Sarah Stewart!"

Where's Henry?!

Sarah felt a million butterflies flapping in her stomach. If Henry was a no-show, then she would be solely performing for her future as a poet and writer. And based on the performances of the other poets, Sarah would have her work cut out for her.

If only she could find a way to stand out!

Sarah glanced around nervously, wondering, until her gaze landed on the four band members. She couldn't help but notice how familiar they looked. On the side of the piano, she spotted the words:

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