Chapter Twenty-One

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….my God!"

"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 intervention."

Thomas looked around the disheveled room.

"You're right about that, I suppose…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 you that… 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…in 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 proper words.

Rose walked silently to him, studying his face, trying to preserve the image in her mind.

"Rose, I've wanted to say…"

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 him.

"Thank you, Thomas, for your understanding and your friendship."

"I…." Thomas 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 curse.


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.

"Hello, Rose."

"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 reluctantly followed.

"Have you seen Gina?"

Rose studied his face. Two long gashes laced his left cheek, attesting to Gina's retaliation. His stony expression revealed nothing.

"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 about?"

"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, almost monotone.

"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 life…. 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 again?"

"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 think…"

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 alone."

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 caused.

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 over events.

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 …… special. 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 out, Mother?"

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 night."

"Afterwards, did you feel any… different?" Rose asked, turning around in her chair to face her mother directly.

"It felt like a magician had transformed me…. 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!…and she drank the spiked ambrosia, and as it sent its soothing tentacles spreading over her mind she thought…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 her …everything …. 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 himself.

"Oh, God, you scared me!" she exclaimed, her heart pounding. "Where were you hiding?"

"You talked to Gina?" he asked.

All pretense of civility is gone now, Rose mused.

"I sent word. Her mind is made up."

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 you?"

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…I'm 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 boiler.

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.

"Rose…I'm going 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 Gina's character.

No…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 until Sunday.


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