A/N: My thank yous to Team Jazzward for your help with this chapter. xx

DISCLAIMER: Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight, but if you're here, you knew that already. ;)


"Masen." Felix gets my attention, nodding toward a pretty, young cigar girl who is standing next to him with a holstered tray around her neck filled with an assortment of items.

"Cigars or cigarettes?" she asks with a wink in my direction, but returns her interest to Felix once he pulls his money clip from his pocket.

"Two Upmanns, please," he requests while his eyes never leave her barely covered ample bosom.

"Sure. Let me know if you need anything else."

Felix pays for our cigars, and we light up while a waitress places drinks I didn't know we ordered on the table. Bella and Mary Alice eagerly accept the offered cocktails.

"This is delicious," Bella concludes after a quick sip.

"I wonder what it's called?" Mary Alice takes a longer drink.

"Bee's knees for the ladies and sidecars for the gentlemen," the waitress shares. "You can ask for them by name next time or I can bring you something else."

Felix nods. "Thanks."

Mary Alice keeps a hip flask tucked into her garter for nights like this one, and I suspect this isn't the first alcohol for either of them this evening. Bella is showering me with more attention than normal, and I don't miss any of her friendly touches to my arms or legs either. I've never been around her when she lets loose, and I'm certain Bella with zero inhibitions is something I don't want to miss.

"Aren't they fantastic?" Bella exclaims. She can't take her eyes off the stage while she sips her drink.

Her shoulders wiggle to the beat, but movement beside me gets my attention when Mary Alice abandons her chair, moving to Felix's lap. She wraps her arm around his shoulders while he holds his cigar to her lips, trying to teach her how to blow smoke rings much to her amusement.

I settle into my seat, enjoying my cigar while focusing on the band. The two men playing the cornets are outstanding as they trade solos, but I'm captivated by the sounds one of them creates with something that's muffling the horn sound.

Bella turns toward me, and I lean closer.

"That's Ty," she says. "He's the bandleader. Isn't it incredible the sounds he can create from his instrument?"

"I've heard nothing like it."

"He's using a mute. The other guy on cornet?" She indicates.

I nod.

"That's Mac. He's a new addition to the band who is bound for greatness. Rumor has it that Lil is sweet on him, but don't tell her I said that."

I listen closely to Mac's solos, which have him hitting high notes effortlessly and showcasing an intense rhythmic swing when he's front and center. I know he's composing music on the spot, because it doesn't have any feeling of being rehearsed while the band members follow his lead, jumping back into the rag with perfect timing. The give and take between players feel joyous and free.

The musicians move from one bluesy tune to the next, and with my cigar nearly finished, I realize that tapping my feet is no longer enough. I'm ready to get up and move. Noticing Bella's ever-present grin, I can't resist and tap her shoulder.

"Would you care to dance?"

"Yes!" She downs the rest of her drink in one gulp and takes my hand, leading us to the dance floor.

With our hands linked and my other one at the small of her back, Bella's body brushes against mine as her other hand rests on my shoulder. We move in synchrony and obscurity nestled among the other patrons. Bella giggles at my occasional missteps, and I remind her I'm a piano player, not a dancer. For what I lack in skill, I hope I make up for in charm by doing my best leading her around the room, enjoying her laughter at every turn.

We applaud at the conclusion of the last number and the bandleader announces they will take a short break. With little pause, Bella makes a beeline toward the stage with me in tow.

"Lil!" She waves with one hand while clutching mine tightly with the other. "Come on, Edward."


Bella releases my hand to embrace the piano player in a hug that lasts longer than expected.

"I want you to meet someone. Lil, this is Edward Masen. Edward, this is Lillian Hale, but everyone calls her Lil."

"Nice to meet you, Mr. Masen."

"Please, call me Edward."

"Okay. Thank you. I'll do that." She nods in my direction and focuses back on Bella. "What an unexpected surprise. What brings you to this part of the world, my sweet Bell?"

"When I heard you were here, I knew I couldn't miss the opportunity to see you perform."

"Oh, would you listen to this?" Lil wraps an arm around Bella's shoulders, hugging her closely, as they interact like long-lost sisters. "I doubt I'm the reason you're in Chicago."

"I'm performing at The Twilight Club."

"That's more like it. I'll bet that's quite a show. Have you seen her perform, Edward?"

"Closely. She's been draped across my piano a few times."

"Why am I not surprised? A piano player, huh?" Lil accepts a glass from Mac and takes an appreciative drink. "Thank you, Mac."

"It's only water." His smile brightens with hers and he grabs a towel, wiping the sweat from his brow.

"I'm the regular entertainment and Bella has been brought in to help fill the seats."

"Well, if anyone can, it's her." She waves at Mac to join the conversation. "Let me introduce you. Mac, this is a close friend of mine, Isabella Swan and her friend Edward Masen."

"Nice to meet you, Miss Swan. Mr. Masen. I'm Emmett McCarty, but everyone calls me Mac."

"Then please call me Bella."

"And Edward," I interject.

"Bell is a singer, but she's got some moves too. Edward could probably use a few lessons." Lil winks at Bella, sending her in a fit of giggles. "The last time I saw you, Bell, was in San Francisco, right?"

"Yes, you were performing at the Pergola Dancing Pavilion on Market Street."

"That's right. Well, Chicago is a long way from San Francisco. Are you living here now?"

"Temporarily. I'll be leaving for New York in about a month."

My heart soars at the reminder of an entire month with Bella, and I'm determined to make the most of it.

"New York is something. I'm originally from there. We may consider it in a few years, but for now, the money is too good to leave Chicago."

"Lil, it's almost time," Mac reminds and retrieves his cornet, ready for the next set.

"I'll be right there." She finishes her glass of water.

Bella reaches out, lacing their hands together. "We should have tea together soon. I know the perfect spot."

"I'm not sure I'll be welcomed in your part of town, Bell. I know I don't need to remind you, but we're far from San Francisco."

"I'll see to it you are more than welcome. Leave it to me."

"Okay." She shakes her head, turning her attention back to me. "There's no telling this one no; is there Edward?"

A grin takes over my face instantly. "Sounds as if you know her well."

Lil nods. "Bell, I would ask you to join us on stage for a song, but I know how wonderful it is to have a night off. So, I'll let you off the hook this time. Enjoy the rest of your night."

"Nice to meet you," I add, offering my elbow to Bella to escort her back to our table.

"You too." Lil winks. "Stay out of trouble, Bell."

She leans into a last hug from Bella and watches her wrap her hand around my arm.

"I make no promises to do any such thing. I've never been good at following rules."

"Sounds like old times. I've sure missed you."

"I'll be in touch soon."

"I can't wait."

A/N: I also shared an additional musical influence post last chapter on my website, kayrichard dot com, if you're interested in listening to King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band, who is the inspiration for the resident band Edward and Bella are enjoying at Lincoln Gardens.

Thanks for reading. xx