Chapter 8: The Weary Blues
"You look like a million bucks."
Jason's gaze swept over Dawn from head to toe. Sadie chose a peach silk number for the night's outing. The old woman's eye never ceased to amaze him. He knew the gowns carefully packed in the valise were outstanding. But this dress--he stifled a groan. This mass of silk, beads and pearls clung to the pretty canary in just the right places and hinted at everything else. He tucked her hand in the crook his elbow and strolled toward the bright lights of the Cotton Club.
Her footsteps faltered and then stopped. "They won't let me in."
"You're on my arm. You'll get in."
Dawn shook her head. "Not in there. They have strict rules. I've heard about it. I don't even pass the paper bag test. There won't allow me through the front door. This was a nice fantasy, but it won't come true tonight."
Jason understood about the paper bag test. He didn't agree with it, but he knew what it meant. She was right. Her skin was a shade darker than a bag which meant she'd be turned away. But Lucky Luciano gave him a personal invite. That had to count for something.
"We'll see what happens," he murmured against her ear. "Tonight, fantasies are coming true."
He released her hand and settled his hand at her waist. They moved closer toward the club. The lonely blast of a trumpet sounded in the night. Then other instruments joined in, creating a sensational jazz beat. He felt Dawn tremble. Excitement rippled through her and branched out to him. Desire settled in the pit of his gut. His manhood ached for attention. He glanced into her shining brown eyes. What a beauty. He wanted her, but he wouldn't take her. True ecstasy would come in making her want him.
They reached the red carpet. Just as she predicted, two sharply dressed men blocked their path. Before they said a word, Jason informed them, "I'm a guest of Charlie Luciano. The name is Jason Morgan."
One left to check. The other gave Dawn the once over. She shrank against his Jason. He stroked her arm in a soothing gesture before moving to stand in front of her. Jason was ready to strike. Under different circumstances he would have. But this wasn't his territory. He wanted to make a good impression on Luciano. Killing one of his men wasn't the wisest way to do that.
The other man returned. He jutted his chin once. "Mr. Luciano is waiting for you."
Jason didn't respond. Amid stares and hushed silence, he led Dawn inside the Cotton Club.
"This is your suite." Sonny opened the double doors and escorted Dara inside. Her solitary suitcase stood just inside the door. He grabbed it and placed inside the bedroom. Dara wondered if she'd have to make good on their deal so soon.
"You'll have a maid to tend to you." He left the bedroom and returned to the living area.
The décor took Dara's breath away. Such opulence. Plush ivory carpet, beautiful creamy wallpaper and matching furniture. She'd cleaned a few homes where this was normal. Never once did she believe she'd live like this.
"You can call downstairs for food. A bar is over there." Sonny moved to stand in front of her. "What do you think?"
"Yeah," he agreed. He took her hand and placed a key inside. "This is yours. Of course, I have one."
"Of course." She chewed her bottom lip and looked away. Dear Lord, what had she gotten herself in to?
"The Lounge is opening. I have work to do." He headed toward the door. "Tonight, get settled in and make yourself at home."
"What aboutů" She inhaled a ragged breath. "What about the other?"
"You mean familiarizing yourself with my bed?" A faint smile played at his lips. Dimples flashed, making him appear mischievous and boy like. "That will come. Just not tonight."
He left. Dara sighed. Not necessarily with relief.
Evangeline thanked the couple for the ride and stepped onto the slush filled Maywood section of Port Charles. It was late but a few still walked the streets. She found an open café and ducked inside. The warmth seeped through her ankle length woolen coat. She ordered coffee and claimed a booth with a window view. The waitress brought her order and offered the special.
"No, thank you. The coffee will do." She dug two cents from her coin purse and paid for her order.
The waitress pocketed the coins and fixed Evangeline with a hard stare. "You're not from around here, are you?"
"I'm from Pennsylvania. Just arrived tonight."
"Welcome. Do you have family around here?"
"I have a good friend. I was waiting until the morning to surprise her."
The waitress frowned. "Who's the friend? Maybe I know her."
"Keesha Ward. She was at the Paradise Lounge."
"She ain't there no more."
Evangeline's eyes widened. "She's not? Is she still here?"
"She hasn't left town. She's the cook over at Miss Skye's. If you wait, I can walk you over. By the way, my name's Melisande. What's yours?"
"Evangeline. Thanks, Melisande. I'll wait."
John circled Evangeline's block several times. No light beckoned from the window. Her melodious voice didn't drift from the one room she called home. He didn't have to park and climb the stairs to know she was gone. He felt it. Instinctively.
He opened the door with his key and slowly pushed inside. The space screamed of its emptiness. Gone was the clutter of her pretty dresses and flashy shoes. The feather boas she draped over the headboard were also missing. He checked her closet. The only things left were his gifts. The coats, dresses and other accessories all hung in place. Mocking him.
He gathered the belongings into his arms and inhaled. Her light floral scent lingered. His throat tightened. This hurt. In the back his mind, he always knew she'd walk away. But to actually face itů God, he'd been such a fool.
John wrapped her leftovers inside a coat and trudged back to his car. After dumping the items in the back, he climbed into the driver's seat and headed home.
With his suspicions confirmed, he had no other choice but to move on, too.
He picked up the phone and asked the operator to dial a person to person call for Port Charles.
"Commissioner Scorpio speaking."
John coughed once to clear his throat. "Commissioner, this is John McBain in Llanview."
"Lieutenant McBain! It's good to hear from you. Have you decided?"
"Yes, I have." John rubbed his eyes as he made a life altering decision. "I'll take the job."
"How soon can I expect you?"
John shrugged. "I have to give notice here. Maybe a week. Maybe less. Is that fine?"
"As long as you're serious about heading the task force."
"I am." His voice was hard and exact. Managing a love life wasn't his forte, but he knew how to catch criminals. That was in the blood. "I'm dead serious."
"Great," the Commissioner said. "I'll make living arrangements for you and begin the paperwork now. Do you want to select your own officers or should I arrange a group for you?"
"I'd rather select my own, but any suggestions you have will be helpful."
"It's not a problem. Welcome aboard, John."