Summary: Despite prohibition laws, liquor flows freely in the speakeasies of 1923 Chicago as Dixieland jazz thrives and evolves throughout the city. When piano player Edward Masen fails at drawing the expected crowds at The Twilight Club, an aspiring singer arrives from San Francisco for a single night’s performance, and his world will never be the same again. AH
Twilight – Rated: M – English – Romance – Chapters: 1 – Words: 3,943 – Published: Aug 28, 2019 – Updated: Nov 18, 2023 – Bella, Edward
A/N: Welcome to 1920s Chicago and my new story, For One Night Only, my contribution to the 2019 Babies at the Border Fiction charity compilation. My original story banner that accompanied my donation is in the story gallery. It is imagined in the simplistic style of 1920s flyers used to promote performers with a touch of glitz, but here is the new one making its debut.
For me, this story began when I asked, what if . . . Edward Masen survived the Spanish influenza pandemic, even though his parents did not? What about influences on him, like his grandparents? And how would his life be different while living in Chicago during the 1920s? Of course, our favorite couple is bound by fate, which means her arrival is inevitable. No vampires. This story will be all EPOV, all human, and probably as close to a mafia Twilight fanfic as I will ever get. lol
There are numerous photos that have shaped my vision for these characters. Those will be found here in the gallery for this story. My greatest inspiration is from international artist, Brent Heighton. You can learn more about him here. I love his style. He is a romantic impressionist, and I stumbled onto a work attributed to him while browsing the internet years ago. This is the screenshot I took and saved.
In 2019, I wanted to write a historical Twilight fanfiction that was music-based and the compilation offered the perfect starting point. I had no idea how much research or time it would require to write a story of this nature, and I tip my hat to all the historical fiction authors out there. Let’s hope I get it close enough to right. (fingers crossed)
I’m picking up now from where I left off writing this story back then. Thank goodness I left myself with some great notes. While my style has evolved a little more since I began writing and I tend to be more wordy now, I anticipate shorter chapters than you’re used to getting from me. Midnight Cougar worked her magic on the donated chapters and we are lucky to have her expertise for the remainder of this story. Yay! My thanks to her and also AnakinsMom for volunteering to pre-read too. Enjoy!
DISCLAIMER: Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight, but if you’re here, you knew that already. 😉
The sounds of the city drift through my open window as evening becomes night. The constant hum of gasoline-powered engines, carrying passengers up and down the bustling city streets, overrides the chatter of men and women ready for a night on the town.
I lie on my bed, watching the wisps of smoke fade, as I enjoy a last Pall Mall before I need to don my suit and walk downstairs for the night, where I’ll sit at my piano in the club, playing the same songs I have for the past five years.
While I know them all by heart, they are a far cry from the classical music of my childhood. Mother used to sit for hours listening to me practice after my piano lessons with Mrs. Cope. As I grew older, I played more romantic pieces by Josef Suk, but Mother always preferred the passionate sonatas of Richard Strauss. To her, music was the universal language of the heart, and while maybe that was true, I loved spending time with her and making her happy more than anything else.
Father wasn’t as dedicated to fostering my natural talent, claiming the lessons and practicing were a waste of money and time. In his opinion, no lawyer needed lessons in music, and he was set on me following in his footsteps. At seventeen, Father wanted me to focus on selecting a college, but all I wanted to do was become a soldier.
After President Wilson declared war on Germany, I hoped I would get my chance to defend this great nation, as Grandfather had during the Civil War. I grew up listening to his harrowing stories from the battlefields and could almost hear the cannons of the Union Army firing in the distance as he described their successful efforts. More than anything, I wanted to be like my grandfather and become a man of honor and pride, as he was.
With the passage of the Selective Service Act, the War Department began enlisting men as young as twenty-one, only later to expand the draft age to eighteen, leaving me hopeful I would soon take my place in history, but that day never came.
I’ll never forget that evening years ago, which changed everything.
Father and Mother had plans to have dinner in the city to celebrate Father’s recent victory in a case he had been arguing for months, but their early return alerted our housekeeper, Mrs. Cheney, and me that something was gravely wrong.
I abandoned my schoolwork upon hearing Mother’s shouted pleas as Mr. Cheney, our caretaker, helped Mother get Father from the car and to their room. While I looked on from the doorway, I could see he was sweating and had trouble breathing. Mother never left Father’s side, as she tended to his fever and the call for our neighbor Dr. Cullen went out. Mrs. Cullen let us know Dr. Cullen was at the hospital and promised to come to check on Father as soon as he could.
After closing all the windows and doors, Mrs. Cheney boiled a pot of ripe red peppers from the garden. She didn’t want to take any chances and heard from the ladies at church that it was beneficial in warding off the virus that was spreading throughout the city.
By the time Dr. Cullen could visit, Father had developed pneumonia and Mother was showing similar symptoms too. He feared they had contracted the Spanish Influenza. At his urging, we moved Father to a private room at the hospital, but Mother could no longer stay at his bedside as she was growing weaker daily, until she was finally admitted as well.
Those days were long as I sat waiting for them to recover. Father never did, and I soon took his place next to Mother. I think she knew she didn’t have much longer, as I remember hearing her voice, begging Dr. Cullen to take care of her only child while I was drenched with sweat, fading in and out of consciousness.
Dr. Cullen and the nurses tended to me the best they could until my fever broke, and we knew I was on the road to recovery. I was released from the hospital and returned home under the watchful eyes of Dr. and Mrs. Cullen. In the weeks that followed, my cough faded and the pain in my chest lessened, but not the one in my heart at losing my only living family.
Mr. and Mrs. Cheney arranged for Father’s and Mother’s funerals while I was still hospitalized. Father’s business partner and personal lawyer, Mr. Jenks, took care of all legal matters in my absence, including executing their wills. I was the sole heir to their massive fortunes—Mother’s more so than Father’s—but after my recovery, I found it too painful and lonely to stay at our family estate without them.
I grew despondent after losing my parents, but with the war ending later that year, I also lost my purpose too. I could no longer be the soldier I dreamed of and brushed off Mr. Jenks’ attempts to guide me toward a career in law.
No matter how much Dr. and Mrs. Cullen wanted me to stay nearby, I knew I couldn’t and needed a change. Having fully recovered, and no longer plagued with fatigue, I moved to the city where I felt a little less alone, shuffling among the inhabitants by day and drawn to venues offering music at night.
On a tip from a barkeep, I found an apartment and a job, playing piano in the lobby of a luxury hotel. It was there I caught the attention of Michael Newton, who was opening a bar of his own and looking for a nightly performer to entertain his patrons.
We struck a deal, and while I’ve held up my end of our agreement, Mike has struggled over the years with the government and politicians interceding at every turn by banning the sale and consumption of liquor. Fortunately, Mike is a man with connections, and after reaching out to his uncle in New York, his bar has remained open and fully stocked.
There are always a few regulars who show up every evening needing an escape and searching for the peace only found at the bottom of a bottle. I’ve found it a few times myself over the years, but sometimes it’s even better in the arms of a woman.
Times are changing and women are more forward than I ever remember. Many are cutting their hair short and wearing dresses with plunging necklines and above the knee hemlines, showcasing their silk stocking-covered legs.
Dr. Cullen’s daughter, Mary Alice, visits the city regularly with her friends and invites me along to the parties she attends.
Sometimes, they are small, scandalous gatherings full of shared bottles and scantily dressed women where everyone pairs off. The women smoke and drink without reservation. It doesn’t take too many sips before roaming hands find their way under silky dresses, fondling the edges of lace undergarments. Curious mouths explore smooth, perfumed skin, and partners are exchanged for new ones until everyone is intimately familiar with all in attendance.
Other times, the parties are large, extravagant affairs full of the best of everything—food, liquor, and music. It’s the larger ones where I won’t see her until it is time to leave, but I understand and always keep myself busy with her free-spirited friends.
With a heavy sigh, knowing there will be no parties or women in my immediate future this evening, I stub out what’s left of my cigarette and get ready for work.
A/N: As I mentioned earlier, this story explores the life of Edward Masen had he survived the 1918 influenza pandemic or Spanish flu and lived a human life driven by his love for music during the roaring 1920s. The Spanish flu accounted for 50 million deaths worldwide with over 600,000 in the U.S. alone. More than 25 million suffered from the Spanish flu, but survived.
The 1920s were a great time to be a musician living in Chicago, because jazz was popping up in clubs around the city. This was due to The Great Migration of African Americans from Southern states, because they found segregation, racism, and prejudice to be significantly less intense in the North. Jazz started in New Orleans, but it was a melding together of blues from Africa with ragtime and creole music then used in harmony with instruments.
It is difficult to believe, but using musical instruments to accompany vocal music wasn’t always common. In churches, it was and still is believed that they should not be used during worship services for many reasons. The first is that the scriptures were silent on their use but state explicitly to sing. This allows for the participation of everyone and allows for a unifying of the congregation. Musical instruments are seen as counter productive, because they are adding to the exclusion rather than the inclusion of an audience’s participation, as most will sit back and become passive listeners when they are used during a service.
At the end of the chapter, Edward refers to “parties” which were later known as “cuddle” or “petting” parties. They went by many other names too. These parties were where young men and women could explore kissing and fondling in a group dynamic, but always stopped before intercourse. This “group chaperoning” was a way to self-limit behaviors from going too far as they weren’t orgies, but participants paired off as couples. It was scandalous at the time, along with jazz music, unchaperoned dancing, lipstick, and cigarette smoking by women.