Chapter Twenty

Rose ushered Gina into her flat and sat her down at the desk. She slid off her friend's hat and coat, and Gina grimaced slightly as the latter was pulled down over her right hand.

Gina stared without expression as Rose silently examined her face and head. She couldn't find any injuries save the large welt on her cheek. Rose gently took Gina's right hand in her own and checked for an open wound.

"Does this hurt? Are you still bleeding?" she asked softly.

"Anthony's…blood…," Gina replied, shaking her head slightly.

Rose led Gina to the wash basin and helped her clean her hands of the dried blood. Being careful not to touch the bruise, Rose used the wash cloth to wipe away the trail of blood on her cheek and then sat her down on the edge of the bed. She picked a small piece of ice from the block in her icebox and, wrapping it in a clean towel, gently placed it against Gina's bruised area, holding it there until the girl lifted her own hand to maintain it in place.

They sat in silence. Gina looked shocked and emotionally spent, and Rose thought it best to wait until she was ready to talk.

"He hit me," Gina said after a while.

Gina flinched slightly, as though reliving the blow in her mind.

"He hit me hard."

"Are you hurt anywhere else?" Rose asked.

"No…I don’t think so. I hit him back; I scratched his face…he was bleeding a lot."

Gina gazed up at her and Rose's heart crashed at the hurt she saw within her friend. Gina's eyes spoke of an utter loss of faith in the promises of love.

"It was over…nothing. Nothing. But he screamed at me and called me terrible names…horrible names… and threatened to hurt me, to kill me, if I left. While he was cleaning his face…. I ran."

Gina looked back down at her hands. They trembled as she sat, and she crossed her arms, grasping her elbows in an attempt to stop the shaking.

"I'm tired of him hitting me…."

Rose sat beside her friend and cradled Gina's head on her shoulder.

"I want him away from me," Gina whispered, her eyes wide as she stared across the room without blinking. Rose felt her shudder and then, trying to find strength, Gina sat back from her.

"I want him away from me… for good."

Rose tried to look past the profound despair in Gina's eyes, searching for some sign of the determination that she knew her friend would need.

"Are you sure, Gina?"

Gina rose up and walked slowly to stand before the mirror set over the wash basin. She let her hand drop away from her face, exposing the rough, discolored wound beneath her eye, and she studied her reflection for a few heartbeats. Slowly closing her eyes, she took two deep breaths and reopened them.


She turned away from the mirror and slumped down onto the desk chair, all her strength gone. Rose stood, assessing the situation.

"Does Anthony know where I live?" she asked.

"No. At least, I don't think so…I'm not sure. But he has lots of connections and friends; it won't take him long to find you."

Rose was unsure how to phrase her next question.

"Might he expect you would return to him tonight?"

Gina hesitated, seemingly embarrassed to acknowledge her past weakness.


"Okay, I think you'll be safe here for tonight. Tomorrow we'll move you someplace where he won't find you."

Rose moved to stand next to Gina's forlorn figure.

"You'll need to be strong for yourself, Gina."

Gina looked up at her, and Rose could see fright flooding across her features.

"What if he comes here tonight?"

"I don't think he'll come that soon," Rose replied quietly, trying to ease the girl's fears with her calm tone.

"What if he does? I don't want him to find me!"

Rose stopped to think. She walked to her closet and purposefully removed her winter blanket, an old bed sheet and a broom.

"Come with me," she instructed, opening the door and leading Gina out onto the stairway landing.

Reaching upwards with the broom handle, Rose unlatched an overhead door, and then, supporting its weight with the broom, she lowered it slowly until it opened full length. Rose unfolded the attached ladder, offering a clear climb upwards.

"You'll be safe in the attic for tonight. Even if Anthony should come, he won't think to look up there. In the morning we'll find you a better place to stay."

Gina peered uncertainly into the recesses of the attic; she seemed reluctant to be alone, and Rose could feel her anguish.

"It'll be okay …it's only one night. And you'll be directly above me, you can hear if anything happens, and I can hear you if you should need me."

Gina relaxed slightly and, handing her ice-wrap to Rose, she climbed until she disappeared into the shadows above. Rose scaled the first few steps in order to hand her the sheet and blanket.

"Let me get you more ice," Rose said, and she returned to her flat for another piece. After handing it to Gina she folded the ladder closed.

Gina looked down at Rose from the open access-way.


Rose smiled at her reassuringly and Gina pulled the door closed with the attached rope. Rose re-latched the door and returned to her room.

While preparing for bed she heard the creak of the floorboards above as Gina settled in, and then nothing further, but as Rose lay between her sheets, hoping for sleep to take her, she heard the sound of gentle weeping from the dark recesses of the attic.


Rose was out early the next morning, making her way to Mr. Souster's factory while the coming sunrise was just a pastel rumor on the eastern horizon. The stars still commanded the sky, and the air had a bite to it as fall presented its calling card to the city.

She had written a short note to her boss explaining her need for a day off for personal reasons. She hadn't missed a day since she had started work for him more than four months earlier, and she knew he would understand.

But I wouldn't feel right not notifying him, Rose thought as she crossed the avenue. He has been more than fair with me.

The streets were strewn with wagons and trucks of every description as the food staples for the city found their way to market, and Rose walked on through a smorgasbord of aromas. New York looked different at this time of the day, like sneaking a peek at the behind-the-curtains preparations for a big show.

Rose slipped her note into Mr. Souster's mail slot and turned to retrace her path. Her mind wrestled with Gina's predicament and then she suddenly became aware of a figure standing out of the glow of the streetlights of Sixth Avenue, hands in pockets, watching her. She froze in her tracks.

Anthony has found me already?

The figure was across the wide thoroughfare; too far to recognize in the gloom still gathered between the tall buildings. A large produce wagon passed between them, and when it had moved on up the avenue the figure had vanished.

There's no way anyone could have moved that fast, she told herself, scanning the vicinity for any motion. I'm just scaring myself into imagining things!

Still, she quickened her pace as she walked back to her apartment building.

Rose slipped quietly past the O'Reilly's door; the sounds inside told her the family was up and about and she didn't want to involve them in Gina's problem.

Scaling the stairs, she took a quick glance back down the stairwell to reassure herself that no one had heard her entrance and then used the broom to tap the attic door twice.

"It's me, Gina," she said, as loudly as she could dare speak.

She heard two answering taps and proceeded to unlatch the door. It slid quietly open and Gina descended the stairs after throwing her bedding down ahead of her.

As Gina washed and straightened herself, Rose related the plan she had fashioned while she was out.

"We're going to pack you some of my clothes and find a place for you to stay for a few days; a place where Anthony won't find you," Rose said as she offered Gina a biscuit.

"I'm really not hungry, thanks," Gina said, shaking her head. "I don't feel good about this… I'm afraid wherever we may go in the city, Anthony will find me."

"Maybe so, but the place I have in mind is one of the last places he'll look, and even if he does find you, he still won't be able to bother you there."

Gina looked nervously at Rose, unconvinced.

She's really afraid, Rose mused. But not unsure, just simply afraid. Maybe it will stick this time.

They left just as the sun was rising and joined the crowd that sandwiched onto the El, grumpily greeting the new workweek. Rose examined Gina's face in the growing light.

The eye looks a bit better, but it's still best to keep it concealed, she thought. At least the cool morning makes her turned-up coat less conspicuous.

They were forced to stand in the compact crowd, and Gina, Rose's suitcase at her feet, kept her eyes riveted downward, not wanting to encounter any inquiring gazes from fellow passengers. Rose stared down the length of the train, acutely aware of any glance that came their way and lingered upon them for a fraction too long.

For Gina's sake I can't get carried away worrying if someone is following us.

They were swept out along with the tide of passengers exiting the train on 34th Street, and once down to street level Rose led them on a circuitous path eastward. With Gina in tow like an obedient puppy, they wound their way, entering shops and then exiting on the opposite side of the building, hiking through alleyways and generally disguising their trail.

They waited at the head of a quiet back street for nearly five minutes, hoping to unmask any secret pursuers, but the path remained empty and so, satisfied that no one had followed, Rose led Gina into the lobby of the Bank of New Holland.

"Wait here," she told Gina as she started across to the manager's desk. Halfway there, another idea struck her and she returned to Gina's side.

Better to be prepared for any situation that may arise.

"On second thought, come over with me to meet the manager. I want to go to my safety deposit box, but I also want to talk to him about allowing you access to it as well. Just follow my lead."

Gina nodded in understanding as they approached the desk.

"Good day, Mr. Sanderson."

The manager was hunched over a thick ledger and he pushed his spectacles down the bridge of his nose in order to peer up at the two women. His face lit up in recognition.

"Miss….Dawson, isn't it? How nice to see you again. We haven't had the pleasure in quite a while."

"Yes, a few months at the least, sir. I'm surprised you remember me."

"A friend of Mrs. Brown? I wouldn't dare forget," he replied with a chuckle. "And how is the dear lady these days?"

"Fine, I believe. I haven't heard from her in a while…traveling abroad, you know. Mr. Sanderson, I would like to introduce my sister-in-law, Gina Dawson."

Gina took her cue and stepped forward, hand extended.

"My pleasure, Mrs. Dawson," he said, shaking it firmly. He glanced for just a second at her bruise but years of conditioned discretion came to the fore and his gaze quickly jumped back to Rose.

"What can I do for you ladies this morning?"

"I'd like to get into my box, if you will, and as well I would like to arrange for Gina to have access it in my stead, if need be."

Rose wasn't sure how difficult this would be but Mr. Sanderson seemed to take the request in stride.

"Surely. Perhaps while you are in the vault I can have your sister-in-law fill out a signature card?"

"Excellent, thank you."

Rose was escorted into the vault and she opened her box. Though she tried to steel herself, her heart clenched on seeing the 'Heart of the Ocean' once again. She held it in her hand for just a few seconds, remembering, and then just as quickly folded it back into its covering, her mind focusing on the problem at hand.

Rose looked at the remaining currency in the box. She had been saving as much money as possible since she began working, including the small bonus that Mr. Souster had given her for some outside bookkeeping, intending to one day repay Molly Brown every penny that the good woman had given her. Rose added the money in her pocket to that already in the box and, calculating her current need, she removed $100.

I will repay Molly someday, but for now this is more important.

When she returned to the lobby, Gina and Mr. Sanderson had completed their paperwork and were chatting amiably. Rose looked at her 'sister-in-law'.

Gina is pretty amazing. She can be charming even when things are falling apart for her. Anthony doesn't deserve her, not one bit.

Gina noted her return and they took their leave of the manager, heading back out into the morning.

"Now where to, Rose?"

"This way," she replied, hefting the suitcase, and she resumed an easterly path down the street, taking the most direct line to their next destination.

If anyone is stalking us for Anthony, it's too late for him to do anything anyway, Rose thought.

Gina was still walking head down, self-conscious of her appearance, and she didn't glance up at all until Rose turned off the sidewalk into an entranceway. As Rose continued on, Gina stopped in her tracks.

"Rose…we can't…."

Rose turned around, unaware that Gina had halted until her friend had spoken. She walked back to her side.

"Sure we can, and we will," she said, grabbing Gina's arm.

"It's much too expensive," Gina said as she leaned back to take in the whole expanse of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.

"Don't fret about that. I have some money saved."

"For this kind of place….but how??"

"Oh, let's just say it's from an angel," Rose replied, and her mind's eye was suddenly filled with an image of Molly, floating overhead with white wings outspread, wearing a halo for a crown. She let out a quick laugh.

Angels come in all forms, I guess.

Rose sat Gina down on an overstuffed sofa across from the hotel manager's desk and, dropping the suitcase to the floor, she approached the captain on duty.

"I would like a room, please."

The captain looked her over, overtly assessing her appearance and not caring that she knew.

"Do you have a reservation?"

"No, but I have stayed here before."

The man seemed dubious.

"And when would that have been?"

God, I had forgotten about dealing with such upper-class snootiness, Rose thought. Could I have ended up like this pathetic man?

"I stayed with my friend Margaret Brown this past April."

The captain suddenly jerked to attention, and his eyes began to search the room behind Rose.

Well, I guess THAT rang a bell with him, she thought, amused at his response.

"Let me get the manager, Miss…?"

"Dawson. Rose Dawson."

He scurried across the lobby and stood conversing with the manager, gesturing in her direction. Gina's eyebrows shot a question to her and Rose reassured her with a slight nod. The manager made his way towards her, the captain in his wake like a baby duckling.

"Miss Dawson, how nice to have you with us again," the manager said, shaking her hand. His searching expression told Rose that he had no recollection of her.

Not surprising, actually, she thought.

"And how is Mrs. Brown these days?"

Molly, you're helping me still.

"Just fine. She sends her regards…. Sir, my sister-in-law is visiting for a week and I would like to arrange for her to stay with you."

He clapped his hands together a bit too sprightly.

"Splendid! Splendid! Where is she, may I ask?"

Rose pointed to Gina, who waved in response. Opening her purse, Rose handed the man $50.

"I want to pay in advance for one week…my belated wedding present for her, don't you know."

Rose leaned forward conspiratorially, and he cocked an ear with interest.

"My brother is conducting business overseas and has put his trust in me, New York's reputation being what it is and all that. I now put her in your good hands, sir, and have the utmost faith that you will keep a sharp eye out for her well-being."

The manager seemed to swell with importance, as though his stature grew by the mere association with such elite people.

"Absolutely! You can count on me!"

If he only knew we're just a couple of girls from the garment factory, Rose thought with an inner smile. THAT would surely burst his bubble!

"A room high up, with a view," she requested. No patios on the higher floors. No intruders.


Rose left the manager and captain to titter amongst themselves and returned to Gina to explain the arrangement.

"Just stay inside the room. Here is some money; the room service is expensive but wonderful, and they can get anything else you might need. I'll deal with Anthony when he comes looking for you; perhaps I can convince him that it's over between you two. In any event, we'll let him cool off for a few days with you out of reach. I'll come back to get you as soon as I can."

"You've been here before?" Gina asked.

"Yes, briefly. It's a long story."

Gina looked relieved to be in the hotel, realizing she was likely to be safe there.

"Thanks for everything, Rose."

"What are friends for, darlin?" she replied, and when Gina looked at her quizzically, Rose just laughed.

"Same long story. Maybe I'll tell it to you someday."

Rose left Gina in the doting guardianship of the manager and carefully retraced her path to her apartment. As she approached the building, she grew nervous, expecting Anthony to accost her at any moment, but other than her continued nagging feeling of being followed, all was as it on any other afternoon.

She took advantage of the extra day off to work around her flat, do her laundry and do some shopping. Her senses were on constant alert but the peace of the day remained undisturbed. Incessant nervousness quickly sapped the energy from her body and she retired early, fatigue bringing on sleep despite her anticipation of trouble.


The next morning her insides were still skittish, but in the end the workday passed quietly. Rose explained Gina's absence to Mr. Souster and he seemed genuinely sympathetic, even acquiescing to Rose's request to hold her job open for as long as possible. Rose ate her lunch outdoors, despite the early-fall chill, hoping to tempt Anthony into a confrontation but to no avail.

As she walked home in the evening, she was beginning to think perhaps he had just given up on Gina; was letting her go quietly.

Could it really be that easy? Rose wondered.

As she turned up the steps to her building, Mrs. O'Reilly came flying down the stairwell, hair frazzled, eyes wild.

"Rose! I tried to stop them, I did, but there were two of them and what could one poor woman do?"

"What? What are you talking about, Mrs. O'Reilly?"

"They broke in the door and I called for the police but they didn't come…"

Rose raced up the stairs. The door to her apartment hung at a crazy angle, the doorframe sporting a splintered wound at the lock.

She looked inside and gasped loudly.

All her pots, pans and plates were scattered about the kitchen, shards of melting ice lay on the floor around the half-opened icebox, the chairs lay on their sides, her clothes were strewn on the bed, and every drawer and box she owned had been overturned.

Mrs. O'Reilly had climbed the stairs behind Rose and moved to her side.

"I didn't recognize either of em, Rose. Who would do such a thing, then?"

Rose barely heard the woman. Her pulse began pounding in her ears and her face flushed.

You bastard, she thought. You have to hit your girlfriend to make yourself powerful… a big man. To think I was giving you the benefit of the doubt. Hah! Violence runs through you like blood.

Come look for her, fine, but why destroy my apartment? You did this to spite me for being Gina's friend.

Rose felt anger swell within her as it had not done in a long time. She clenched her fists and had to remind herself to breathe.

If this is the way it has to be….



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