|Thomas rapped against the stairwell wall just outside
of Rose's flat and peered in around the broken door. Rose was kneeling in the center of
her kitchen, retrieving the utensils scattered about the floor. She looked up at the sound
of his knocks."Rose!
My mother told me what happened but
"Hello, Thomas. Come in, pull
up a chair," she replied with a weak smile.
Thomas wound his way to the middle
of the room and crouched down to help to gather the mess.
"Why would anyone do this?
Were you robbed?" he asked.
"No, nothing like that. It
was Anthony, or some of his friends."
"Anthony! Why on earth would
he do something like this?"
Rose went on to explain about Gina
and Anthony, and she filled him in on what history she knew of their relationship, being
careful not to break Gina's confidence. Thomas slowly shook his head.
"That's a nasty temper. Poor
Gina; what a worm he is. Do you want me to talk to Anthony?"
Rose looked at Thomas, considering
his offer. She could see that he genuinely wanted to help, but she didn't want involve him
in the situation.
"No, I don't think so. You
only met Anthony the one time, and I'm quite sure he wouldn't look too kindly on your
Thomas looked around the
"You're right about that, I
still, I'd like to help, if there is anything I can do."
"Everything will turn out
okay," Rose said, trying to calm her own fears as well.
They picked up the remainder of
the debris and Rose set to putting all the items back in their proper places.
"Rose, I also came up to tell
I'll be leaving for university on Wednesday morning
She felt a sharp pang in her heart
and turned to look at him. It struck her that she would miss him more than she should.
"I just wanted to
case I didn't have a chance before
seems unimportant considering all of this,"
Thomas stammered. He glanced around the room as though searching its recesses for the
Rose walked silently to him,
studying his face, trying to preserve the image in her mind.
"Rose, I've wanted to
She put her finger to his lips,
hushing him, and then she moved near enough to encircle his waist gently in her arms.
Thomas was taken by surprise at first and he trembled slightly at her nearness, but
gradually he returned her embrace and they stood in comfortable closeness for a long time.
Rose stepped back, looking up at
"Thank you, Thomas, for your
understanding and your friendship."
started, and then went mute. "God speed, Rose."
"And you, as well."
He walked to the door and, with a
backward glance that was laden with a summer of unfulfilled wishes, he left the room.
Rose sat for a while before
returning to her work, her mind swimming in the emotions of that final look. Christmas
vacation didn't seem too far away, and she couldn't decide if that was a blessing or a
Anthony stood like a statue, arms
crossed, waiting for Rose at the door to the factory. She had spotted him from a block
away and as she grew nearer she could feel her anger rising, laced with nervousness.
"Not here," Rose replied
tersely, and she walked right past him, wanting to put some distance between them and the
inquiring eyes and ears at the entranceway. Anthony watched her for a few seconds and then
"Have you seen Gina?"
Rose studied his face. Two long
gashes laced his left cheek, attesting to Gina's retaliation. His stony expression
"Why do you have to hit
her?" she shot back, trying to hold her temper in check.
"I didn't mean to strike her
so hard, really; it just got out of hand. I want to apologize to her. Where is she?"
"You want to apologize?"
Rose responded, incredulous. "Is that why you trashed my apartment?"
Anthony's eyes widened almost
imperceptibly, but his expression remained unreadable.
"What are you talking
"You mean you're going to lie
to my face and say that wasn't your doing?" Her voice cracked slightly.
Anthony's response was even,
"I just want you to tell me
where she is."
"She doesn't want to see you
anymore, can't you understand that? She wants you to leave her alone; she doesn't love
you," Rose said, forcing her volume lower.
"I don't believe you; she
would never say anything like that. She needs me. We belong together."
You arrogant bastard, Rose
thought, but she resisted launching a full-scale attack. He either thinks I'm
incredibly stupid or he's trying to bait me. I won't bite; I won't.
"She told me to tell you that
you are through for good, so you might as well just leave us alone and go on with your
. please," Rose said.
Rose moved to pass him, trying to
head back to the factory entrance. Anthony blocked her path.
"Tell me where she is,"
he demanded once again, his voice steeling.
"Why, so you can hit her
"I told you, I didn't mean
it. Anyway, that's between Gina and me; it's none of your business."
"And that's why you broke
into my flat, because it's none of my business?"
Anthony's eyes narrowed. He seemed
completely indifferent to Rose's anger.
"I know she would go to you,
and I know you're hiding her. Tell her that she should come back by tomorrow or I'm going
to find her, one way or another."
"Because you love her SO
much?" Rose asked, and then wished she could pull the words back. She regretted her
sarcasm, expecting his violent streak to rush to the surface.
"You know, YOU caused all of
this, you and your ideas; talking to her. We were fine before you showed up."
"I caused it? I don't
Rose stopped mid-sentence as a
co-worker walked by, eyes alive with curiosity. Rose nodded to her and then stared
self-consciously down at the sidewalk until the woman was well past. It gave her a chance
to rein in her temper before she continued.
"I don't think anything I've
said or done changes the fact that you are no good for her. Leave her alone, and leave me
Rose once again started to walk
past him, and this time Anthony didn't attempt to stop her.
"Tell her, Rose. Tell her
I'll give her a day or two, that's all," he called after her, evenly, as though
ordering a drink at a saloon.
Rose didn't acknowledge his
demand. This isn't going to be easy, she thought, as she turned into the factory
doorway. Not easy at all.
Thomas left before dawn the next
day, before Rose had awakened from a fitful sleep, and she was both sorry and relieved
that there hadn't been another goodbye. His parting left a slight ache in her heart, but
she knew the hollowness would deepen once Gina's problems were behind them.
Rose wondered how Gina was holding
up, alone in the hotel, and during her afternoon break she jotted a short note to her
friend and had a messenger deliver it to the Waldorf-Astoria.
"Anthony is still insisting
that you return and won't listen to reason. It's best you stay put for now; he doesn't
know where you are."
Rose was sure of the latter
statement now. If Anthony had known Gina's location he would have tried to snatch her from
the hotel, and Gina would have sent word of the ruckus that he most assuredly would have
No, he didn't know Gina's
whereabouts, but Anthony was a man fiercely determined to get his own way, and Rose knew
that that kind of man could be very persistent.
An image of Cal drew unbidden into
her mind; Cal, who for the longest time had seemed to Rose to be nothing worse than
supremely self-possessed. Until, that is, those final desperate moments on Titanic,
when he had become insane with jealousy, struggling with an unaccustomed loss of control
Until I met Jack, she
thought, I never fully realized how narrow Cal was, how like a straightjacket for me,
but I know now that many men are like that. Jack was the exception
His kindness and his honest concern for my wellbeing make men like Anthony and Cal look so
selfish in comparison!
As for Cal, Rose was beginning
to feel that she had never really understood him or his world.
What brought the worst in him
out in the end?
As she walked homeward, her
attention was captured by a glint of silver reflecting from a shop window, and she turned
to examine the source. Suddenly, her breathing stopped
It was a silver goblet, engraved
with an eagle, wings outspread. She had seen a goblet just like it before, long ago it
seemed, and the world around her hazed and then disappeared altogether as her mind
returned to that night...
Mother had lectured her
incessantly, explaining that it was to be the most important event in Rose's young life,
and Rose's ennui had finally succumbed to her mother's infectious tone.
"The Debutante Ball is the
arrival of womanhood for you, Rose, and your entrance into society."
Rose looked at her mother in the
mirror. The woman's eyes sparkled, and Rose swore she could hear her heart fluttering from
across the room.
"Do you remember your coming
Ruth looked up from her sewing,
her eyes glazing as they opened a portal into her own past.
"Oh, yes! That was the first
time I ever set eyes on your father, though he was much too reserved to speak to me that
"Afterwards, did you feel
different?" Rose asked, turning around in her chair to face her mother
"It felt like a magician had
. I thought people were looking at me differently, regarding me as an
adult, and that in men's eyes I had gone from being a girl to being a woman."
Rose's gaze returned to her own
reflection and she pulled her hair back tight, considering her face in profile.
I hope I feel that, she
thought. I hope people will finally start treating me as an adult.
The ball had been a whirlwind of
colors, music, faces and drink, but Rose didn't remember many details of the setting when
she later reminisced. She had stood next to her mother, listening to the conversations and
trying her best to sound grown-up though her strangling nerves seemed to suffocate all of
her more intelligent thoughts, and then suddenly
HE was there, offering her a drink
in a silver goblet crested with an eagle
. her knees went weak and she forced a silly
smile onto her face, hoping to disguise her nerves, and her mother was beaming and
laughing and chattering on and on and on about her, her precious daughter, and Rose felt
her face reddening, as always beyond her control, and when he offered a toast to the
debutante she had forgotten the cup in her hand and stupidly began searching for one with
her eyes, in panic, and Mother had lifted her arm and
there it was!
drank the spiked ambrosia, and as it sent its soothing tentacles spreading over her mind
he's so handsome, so strong, so dashing, and she was sure she had never
seen a young gentleman quite so perfect as Caledon Hockley
Rose's reverie was shattered by
the sound of a horn on the street behind her. She found her heart was racing and she
realized that the memory of that night still affected her deeply. She looked a final time
at the silver cup in the store window, gleaming in the late afternoon sun, and continued
on her way.
Things were like a dream on
that night, she thought. So perfect. Like a fairy tale spun by a fairy Godmother,
but soon enough reality set in. It's sad, and disappointing, to find out what people are
REALLY like, behind their oh-so-proper veneer. In the beginning, Cal had been so charming,
so attentive, but then familiarity had led him to take me for granted and to ask me
no, TELL me
to act a 'bauble'. To live under his thumb, like I had my mother's.
Jack had changed everything for
. but there was still a twinge of guilt buried deep within her
conscious, a nagging doubt that Cal had somehow changed for the worse because of her own
actions, her own growing indifference towards him.
Maybe he wasn't so horrible.
Rose's workload was heavy that
week and she was very late leaving the factory on Thursday. As she stepped into the
gathering dusk she immediately became aware that she was being watched.
Her senses seemed to have become
attuned to being spied on, and she quickly spotted the outline of her pursuer, leaning
against a lamppost perhaps fifty feet away, indifferently smoking a cigarette. She started
on her usual path home, in the opposite direction, but after a few strides decided to
finally confront Anthony's crony and, spinning around, she ran straight into Anthony
"Oh, God, you scared
me!" she exclaimed, her heart pounding. "Where were you hiding?"
"You talked to Gina?" he
All pretense of civility is
gone now, Rose mused.
"I sent word. Her mind is
Anthony looked away, his eyes
skipping along the tops of the nearby buildings.
"I'm getting very tired of
this game," he said, finally.
"Look, there are plenty of
girls in this city, why bother with one who doesn't want to be with you?"
"Who the hell are you to tell
me what to do?" he yelled, the cords in his neck tightening. "Who the HELL are
Rose glanced around, scared,
looking for help or an avenue of escape. She noticed the spy had come to attention at the
loudness of Anthony's utterance, but he remained on his station, just watching intently.
"I need to go now," Rose
said, and she started walking, hoping to catch Anthony by surprise.
His hand grabbed her elbow and he
spun her around. His grip was very tight, it hurt her, but she didn't want to give him the
satisfaction of crying out.
"I'm warning you
warning both of you
" he said, his voice cutting like a razor.
His eyes flared and, for the first
time, Rose saw in those widening pupils the violence that Gina had faced; the mindless
fury that Anthony was capable of. She began to really fear for her own safety, and she
wrenched her arm, trying to escape. To her surprise, he let it go without a struggle.
"I hope you know what kind of
woman you're protecting," Anthony said. "I always help her, always take care of
her when no one else will, when no proper man would want her
. Now, get out of here!
This is the last time I'll ask nicely."
Rose walked away quickly, without
looking back. When she turned the corner onto the avenue she glanced over her shoulder.
Anthony stood in the same spot, glaring after her. He reminded Rose of an over-stoked
Once she was out of his sight she
stopped to massage the pain out of her elbow. As she traveled the rest of the way home she
considered the situation.
Anthony won't let go easily,
she thought. Our only ally is time, and the idea that eventually he will give up. But
how long is 'eventually'?
A surprise letter in her mailbox
caused her to race up the stairs to her flat, nervously bolting the newly installed lock
behind her. The return address read, simply, 'G. Dawson'. Rose tore open the envelope.
stir-crazy. Please tell me what's going on there
maybe I should talk to him?"
Gina had made the note cryptic
enough that, if it had been intercepted, it wouldn't have given away her location.
Good for her, Rose thought,
but it sounds like she might do something stupid, like confronting him. Maybe what she
really needs to do is leave New York for a while. Get away.
She considered what she knew of
I don't think she'd go.
She'd feel like she was running away.
Rose jotted a short note to Gina,
telling her to try to remain calm and, above all, to stay at the hotel. She promised to
visit as soon as possible, most likely on the coming Sunday afternoon.
Being extremely cautious, Rose
didn't address the envelope until she stood outside the post office, the mail slot within
arm's reach. Glancing nervously around, she quickly scribbled the necessary information
and shot the letter down into the receptacle inside, watching it nestle in anonymity among
the hundreds of other envelopes in the bin.
Now, if she will just stay put