Chapter 1: All That Jazz

February 14, 1929
Port Charles, NY

The Paradise Lounge held more patrons than usual. The Valentine's holiday always guaranteed a full house. No other speakeasy in the city housed the kind of action citizens could find there: booze, gambling, and jazz. Sonny Corinthos made sure potential competitors were fully—and sometimes brutally—aware of his number one rule: no competition. Port Charles was his and he didn't share it with anyone.

Decked out in his usual pinstripe black suit offset with a crisp white shirt, Sonny moved through the Lounge. Women batted their eyes and the flappers swung their shapely gams his way. He winked at a few and smiled at others. Some of them had escorts, but the men beside the lovely ladies didn't matter to Sonny. Anything inside Paradise was his. If the bums with them didn't like it, they could leave.

His enforcer, Rinaldo moved through the maze of tables to reach the boss. Rinaldo was concerned about the crowd, but Sonny shrugged the burly man's worries off.

"It's fine," Sonny said. "If you see Scorpio or Bennett snooping around, you know what to do."

"Hey, boss," Rinaldo said as Sonny turned away.

"Yeah."

"She's here again." Rinaldo pointed his thumb toward the bandstand. "In the doorway to the back. Want me to shoo her off?"

"No, I'll take care of it." Sonny looked around his dark nightspot. "Where's Jase?"

"He's escorting Miss Cates home."

"She juiced again?" Sonny asked. Gina couldn't hold her liquor at all. Sonny wouldn't let her have any at all if her brother wasn't such a good friend.

Rinaldo shook his head. His cheeks flushed with embarrassment.

Sonny grinned. Jason planned to make his move and wanted to get Gina out of the way first. He chuckled. Letting Rinaldo in on the plan was a good idea, but it wouldn't do Jason any good. Not when Sonny was more than willing to cut him out of this special little deal.

"All right," Sonny said, patting his guard's back. "Keep watch."

Sonny signaled to the bandleader to 'jazz' it up a bit. The, he headed to the back door. Just like Rinaldo said, the hot little number was right there, bouncing to the beat of the music. His arms crossed and he leaned against the wall, as he looked her over. She hadn't quite conformed to the flapper girl look, but the dress she wore was almost short enough to compete. Nice brown ankles led to shapely, well-formed legs. He got snug in the pants just wondering about her thighs.

Nice tits, he thought. Not too big, but a girl with a face like hers didn't really need huge knockers. They were palm-sized, Sonny judged. Big enough for his hands…or Jason's.

Screw, Jason, Sonny dismissed his friend in thought. The kid should have gotten the Gina Cates situation handled a long time ago. Finders keepers…losers weepers.

Little Miss Brown Eyes must have felt Sonny's gaze on her. Her head turned and their eyes connected. Although her skin was the color of taffy, Sonny would have sworn she blushed. He straightened up and put on his best poker face.

He extended his hand. She hesitated before accepting it. He held on a little longer than he should have. When he noticed her breath catch, he released it

"Hello."

Dark, long curly lashes fanned her cheeks as she looked to the floor. "Hello, sir. I'm sorry…I'll go—"

"I didn't ask you to leave," he said. He cupped her chin, tilting her head so that she looked him in the eyes. "What's your name?"

"D-Dawn Jensen."

"You like the music here, Miss Jensen?" he asked. "Is that why you keep coming back?"

Her eyes widened in surprise. "You know I've been here before?"

"This is my place. I know everything about it," he replied. "You like jazz?"

"I love it," she said in a breathless rush. "It's not like anything else out there. So alive and you can feel it all over."

"Yes, you can." His gaze raked over her again. "Do you know who I am?"

She averted her eyes again. "Yes," she said nodding. "You're Mr. Sonny Corinthos."

"Would you like to be my guest?" he said, pleased at how easy it'd been to get this far.

A frown of uncertainty creased her brow. She stepped back. "I don't think I should. People wouldn't like it and my sister… I should go. Thank you."

She bolted through the back door before Sonny could do anything to stop her. He watched her leave and his plans for an 'interesting' night took off with her.

"Damn!"

"Sonny?"

He turned. Jason's blue eyes stared back at him. The younger man jutted his chin toward the closing back door. "Was that…?"

"The little piece of brown sugar you've been eyein'?" Sonny chuckled as his friend turned crimson. "Yeah."

"She's just a kid," Jason said.

Sonny wasn't fooled. He'd caught Jason staring at her too many times in the past to believe Jason considered her anything but a potential bed warmer. "I've been close enough to know different."

"How close?"

Sonny's amusement increased. Of course, if anyone else had questioned him with a steel edge to his voice… Well, Sonny might not have been so charitable. But Jason was his best friend. There were only two other people he trusted as much. Rinaldo Grimaldi and Stone Cates. The rest of the planet was just scrubs trying to get ahead. Jason, Rinaldo and Stone were his boys. All for one and one for all.

Sonny raised his hands chest high in mock defense. "Not that close. She's pretty, seems smart. But she's colored, Jase."

Jason brushed past Sonny and went behind the bar. Louie, the bartender moved out of the Lieutenant's way while Jason poured himself a liberal amount of Sonny's special batch.

"You keep messing around with those women," Sonny said, moving to the other side of the counter. He rested his forearms on the bar as he met Jason's dead stare.

"That's funny," Jason said, his voice hard. "I thought you only slept on those sheets. Didn't think you wore them, too."

Sonny put his hand over his heart and shook his head. "My mother would turn over in her grave if she heard that. Those wizards or knights or whatever the hell they call themselves are cowards. It ain't that."

"What is it?" Jason asked, his eyes narrowing. He gulped the potent alcohol down without wincing. As he set the empty glass onto the table, he said, "I messed up with Keesha. I got the scars to prove it."

"Why she still lives--"

"Because I don't kill women," Jason cut in.

Sonny hunched his shoulders. "Have it your way."

"What do you have against them?"

"I told you it ain't the color," Sonny argued.

"Then what is it?" Jason prodded.

"What is it with you?" Sonny countered.

As their conversation-slash-argument continued, the patrons at the bar moved away. It wasn't likely that a fight would break out between the two friends, but anything was possible.

"It's nothing," Jason shrugged. "Is it the color? No. I like beauty. Gina is beautiful. Keesha is beautiful. Dawn is beautiful."

Sonny smirked. "So you got her name?"

Jason nodded smugly. "I got her name."

"But nothing else," Sonny taunted.

"Not, yet."

Sonny chuckled and playfully punched Jason's shoulder. "She'll be a tough nut to crack. I offered her to come inside, but she ran. Said something about her sister."

Jason's face turned to stone. "Her sister is a hard one. Just as beautiful. Getting to Dawn will be a challenge."

"Because of the sister?"

Jason nodded.

"What if I helped you out with that?"

"Sonny," Jason said slowly and with a deadpan expression, "her sister is colored, too."

"No, shit?" The older man rolled his eyes and Jason laughed. "I got nothing against colored women. I've known a few. You just gotta be careful with them is all. Just like with all dames. Take Gina for instance…"

Jason groaned. "Would you?"

"I don't have to remind you that I like Stone."

"Gina…I'm trying not to hurt her," Jason explained. "Besides, Stone doesn't want her here anyway. It'll work out."

"Before or after?" Sonny asked referring to Jason's latest quest.

The blonde shrugged. "Doesn't matter. Gina wants permanent. I don't do permanent. She knows that. It'll work out." Jason paused for a moment and then asked, "You serious about helping me with…her?"

"Yeah. What do you need?"

"Give her a chance on the stage," Jason said. "She likes to sing. Give her a shot and I can do the rest."

Sonny smiled. "Consider it done."


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