Give in to the Feeling by Sarah Zama by Sarah Zama - Read Online

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Give in to the Feeling - Sarah Zama

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Chapter 1

Susie left Simon’s table and crossed the speakeasy toward the bandstand.

The club was dusky, smoky, chock-full with people. She knew most of these people, at least by sight. The smoke and the soft light had become so familiar to her that they now wrapped around her like a warm protection.

She squeezed in between two men standing beside a table with cocktails in hand. One of them winked at her. She smiled back but didn’t stop. The show would start momentarily. Susie found a chair waiting for her by the bandstand and sat, watching the crowd ease off the dance floor as the band finished their number. As always, before the show, her heart beat faster. She liked that sensation. The music embracing her, taking control of her body — it lit a flame inside her every single time.

She watched her fellow dancers take their positions on a line of chairs on the other side of the dance floor, all dressed in yellow and showing off their legs and shoulders. All sporting black bobs adorned with white feathers.

Susie dropped her gaze to her hands as she fanned her fingers. Even her nails were polished red. Red like her lips and her dress. It took her a while, but she had become accustomed to her new look. She actually liked it, now. Her fingers were steady, didn’t tremble like the first time she danced right here in this club. Was it only two years ago?

She looked across the floor for Simon. He sat in the dusk of the far corner, his face lit by the golden glow of the stained-glass lamp on the table, a finger tapping his cocktail glass at the rhythm of the fading music.

He smiled at her when their gazes met. A small smile curled the corners of Susie’s mouth.

She raised her chin and straightened her back. The song died out and the murmur of customers took over.

A brush on her shoulder, and she thought a feather might have fallen from her headband. Its gentle touch breathed down her back, causing a shiver that wasn’t unpleasant, but when she turned, she saw no stray feathers. Her gaze then rose to the entrance by its own accord.

That’s when she saw him.

A stranger.

Only people familiar to the doorman would enter, or people introduced by a customer, and she had never seen this man before. Lithe and willowy and dressed in a grey suit with a matching fedora, a grey coat draped on his shoulders. A black man with black curly hair reaching past his shoulders — and she was staring at him.

She tore her gaze away and saw his companion, taller, bigger and watchful. He wore a black suit, black fedora, black long coat and when he stopped beside his friend and leaned to speak to him, Susie saw he wore his dark hair in a long braid on his back.

So unusual.

Back in China, all men wore their hair in braids even longer than that, but she had never seen it here in Chicago. Simon didn’t wear it like that.

And this man was not Chinese.

Her gaze moved back to the black stranger in the grey suit. She couldn’t look away. Was he really a stranger? Hadn’t she seen him before?

Don’t stare, that’s so rude.

The music burst alive. Susie started and jumped up, joining the dance a second later.

* * *

Michael paced lazily toward Blood who had stopped in among the tables.

So, what is it? he asked, leaning slightly to him.

Blood didn’t react. He was scanning the place, looking for something — as if they had anything to do with a place like this.

Are you going to tell me why we talked that bunch of kids into letting us enter with them?

Michael had been in more saloons than he ever wished in South Dakota, but it was the first time he set foot in a speakeasy here in Chicago. And he had been perfectly fine with it.

Blood finally turned to him. There was the hint of a question in his eyes, but when he spoke, he said, I needed to get in.

Michael frowned. Is that supposed to be an answer?

Blood shrugged.

I hope you realize you won’t keep me here with that excuse, Michael said.

Blood laughed. Come on, relax. We won’t be here for long.

Michael shook his head helplessly. His skin crawled with the need to get out, but he knew Blood wasn’t going to leave.

Are we getting a table? he asked. He started to move when the music exploded. Applause, whistles, cat-calling rose from the people crammed around the dance floor. In the thin spaces between patrons, Michael saw a show had started.

A group of dancers, all girls with a flapper air about them, whirled, kicked their dancing feet and waved their naked arms in the center of the dance floor. Their lustrous bobbed hair gleamed under the spotlight, blacker in the contrast with the white feathers clipped to their headbands. All wore yellow dresses — all except one, who wore red.

Blood was staring at the red girl. He had stopped dead in among the tables and was staring at her as if he had just seen the light.

Michael grabbed his arm and jerked. You must be kidding me, he hissed. He dragged him to a table in the corner, where he pushed him down on one of the three chairs around it. Blood let him but he never turned his gaze from the dancers.

Michael sat beside him and sighed. Fine, let him take her in. He turned his attention to the club.

It didn’t look like a saloon at all. People came for basically the same purpose — get drunk — but the place was completely different. First, there were women. Lots of them. Was this what made all the difference in the feel and look?