|With a bit of luck this just might work, Rose
thought. She only
had to wait a short while for Sean's return after her meeting with Molly, and as she set
off for home Molly slipped out the stables into the back alleyway. 'Mr. Mole' followed
Rose closely, zig-zagging like a kite tied to her as she crossed and re-crossed the
streets just to needle him. His presence behind her assured that Molly had been able to
leave the area undetected.
Now that the wheels are in
motion, I need to ask for Gina's help.
Gina looked up from the stove as
Rose entered the flat, their dinner at a boil in front of her. Rose draped her winter
things on the coat-rack and inhaled deeply.
"That smells wonderful,"
"Just about ready. How was
your day with Red?"
Gina looked at her with curiosity
as Rose busied herself setting the table.
"Let's eat and I'll tell you
all about it," Rose said.
While they dined, Rose told Gina
everything that had happened since the afternoon when they had run into Mr. Hammond after
the movies. She told of the 'Heart', though she didn't reveal how incredibly valuable it
just that it was precious to her. Gina listened enrapt, from time to time her
fork halting, suspended in mid-air, her mouth agape at what she was hearing. As Rose
finished Gina sat back from her half-eaten meal, astonished at the tale she had just
"I can't believe it! Mr.
"Yes, it IS hard to believe,
though I'd like to kick myself for not recognizing the signs long ago."
Gina shook her head slowly.
"You can't trust anyone, can
"I do trust YOU, Gina,"
Rose replied. "It's funny, I always pictured my troubles coming from Mother or Cal
trying to find me
not like this. Not ever like this! I'm sorry to involve you in this
mess; it would have been better if I had kept everything to myself and we had not become
such good friends."
"Don't be silly! Oh,
that's just the tension talking through you. If it wasn't for you coming along
when you did
Hammond or no Hammond, YOU saved me, Rose
. I owe you a lot. Don't
EVER think that way!"
Rose felt tears pooling in the
corners of her eyes and wiped them with the tip of her napkin. Gina watched her silently,
her eyes also moist, waiting for the right moment to continue.
"So, what are you and Molly
going to do?"
Rose related the plan she had
concocted, bouncing the ideas off her friend.
"Cal will be here
York?" Gina asked, surprised. "How will you feel about that?"
Rose smiled slightly.
"I'll let you know
afterwards. Despite half a year having passed, my feelings about him are still in a
When Rose had finished with the
details Gina nodded.
"I'm not familiar with the
people involved, except for Mr. Hammond, and it seems the whole thing could go wrong, but
I don't think I have any better ideas for you. What can I do to help?"
"There is something I'd like
you to do, but I feel guilty asking you to become more involved."
"There you go, being silly
again. This is a chance for me to repay you a little of what I owe you. Now
Rose went to the desk and removed
two pieces of stationery. On one she wrote a short, formal note, folding it neatly and
putting it in a matching envelope. On the other she drew a rough sketch, its dimensions
and labels straight from vivid memory. Gina watched, listened, and finally gave one strong
nod in affirmation of the plan.
The next morning, Rose headed for
work at the usual hour, picking up her spying 'caboose' at the usual place, and she turned
on her usual course down Sixth Avenue. The only thing at all out of the ordinary on this
particular morning was that she walked to the factory alone.
'Mr. Mole' doesn't seem
concerned, Rose thought. Maybe he figures she is sick today.
Just after Rose and her shadow
disappeared around the corner, Gina emerged from the apartment doorway, face hidden deep
in the hood of her coat, and headed in the opposite direction, towards the bank and the
Two hours later, as Rose sat bent
over her ledger, a knock came at her office door and Gina stuck her head in, smiling.
"Well?" Rose asked
"No problem. Your sketch was
near perfect. Friday, for sure," Gina said. "Mr. Souster?"
"I told him we'd both work a
little extra to make up for your being late. Same for Friday."
Gina winked and disappeared out
onto the factory floor. Rose found it hard to concentrate on her work, her mind racing
into the days ahead.
I'll have to call Molly at her
hotel in New Jersey to confirm the plans, she thought. It looks as though
everything will be ready, as long as Cal comes...and I'm quite sure he'll be here.
Rose took a few deep breaths and
tried to focus on her figures.
I wish Saturday was here
On Friday, Rose and Gina
duplicated their staggered departure from home. Gina retraced her steps, but this time she
reversed her course through midtown before heading back down to the factory.
Rose sat at her desk, anxiously
awaiting her friend's arrival.
It this part isn't done right,
and on time, the whole plan won't work.
She walked to the doorway for the
tenth time, searching for Gina across the space of the factory floor. She paced back into
the office and then again to the door, and was about to turn back once more when her
friend pushed through the entranceway and walked towards her.
"You look nervous,
"It shows, huh?"
"Don't worry. Everything was
done perfectly and all is in place. You're ready."
Rose breathed a heavy sigh of
relief. Molly had indicated her readiness as well. Everything was set.
As they left the factory for
lunch, Mr. Hammond stepped forward to meet them, threading his way through the crowd of
workers streaming out onto the sidewalk.
"Mr. Hammond!" Gina said
brightly. "How are you?"
Rose looked at Gina. Her friend's
manner was warm and her face gave away nothing. Mr. Hammond's return greeting reflected
her light spirit.
She really can put on a good
act, Rose thought.
"Will you hold on a minute
while I speak to Mr. Hammond?" Rose asked Gina.
"Sure," Gina replied,
and she moved back under the cover of the entranceway, out of the wind.
"I'm glad to see you are
keeping this between the two of us," Hammond said, referring to Gina's apparent
ignorance of events.
"I am making quite sure of
that but, unfortunately, you are not!" Rose shot back.
"What are you talking
"I told your 'man' to keep
his distance and he got angry; he said to me, 'I know all about you'."
"That's impossible! I've told
him only what he needed to know, and he hasn't ever needed to know who you really are. I
don't believe you."
"He'll deny it, I'm sure,
just as you are. I'm having second thoughts about our agreement, seeing as I don't know to
how many people you have already told of my identity."
"Something this valuable, I
don't let anyone horn in on the action. The men who have worked on this know bits and
pieces, but I'm the only one who knows what it all means."
Rose gave him her most potent look
"Look, forget all that,"
Hammond said, dismissing her concern with a wave of his hand. "Hockley is on his way
up; he'll arrive tomorrow morning by train. I have a suite, number 117
Rose, are you
Rose shook herself, re-focusing on
"Sorry, I was just lost there
for a minute." Cal will be here
"I trust you won't be getting
'lost' tomorrow. I set the meeting for two o'clock. You're not going to be backing out on
the deal now, are you?"
Rose clasped her hands in front of
her and raised them to her lips, staring at the ground near her feet for several seconds
"No. I want this over just as
badly as you want the money. I need to, once and for all, sever every last connection to
"How will you be bringing the
necklace to the hotel?"
Rose cocked her head to one side.
"Oh, you'd like to know,
wouldn't you? Maybe try to intercept me on the way? Don't worry, I'll be there shortly
after two. Be sure you station Cal in the bedroom of the suite, out of sight of the
entrance doorway. I don't want him seeing me
if he should, it all goes up in smoke;
my secret and your money. He'd expect the 'Heart' back from me, and then no finder's fee
for you. So shut him in the bedroom before you come open the outer door. Just give him
some excuse about the need of anonymity for your courier."
"You really don't want
anything to do with him, do you? What the hell did he do to you?"
Rose's stare was pungent and cold
as she locked eyes with Hammond, forcing the man to blink and turn away.
"Maybe this Hockley isn't as
bad as I thought," Hammond said.
"I will see you tomorrow.
Just after two."
A first floor suite, Rose
thought, as she rejoined Gina. Fortune is smiling so far. That will make things
a bit easier.
Neither Rose nor Gina was able to
sleep, so they spent most of that night playing cards while the hours slowly passed.
Nervousness tied both their
tongues, and for distraction they played poker without scoring, each lost in her own
thoughts. Rose drew a card to her hand and held it up for consideration, but she looked
right through it, her mind elsewhere.
"What do you want to
when this is all over?" she asked Gina, breaking the silence.
"You mean, with my
"Funny," Gina continued,
"I'd just been thinking about that myself."
"I feel like I need a clean
start, to begin over, but I'm not sure if I can do that here. Everywhere I turn in this
city I see someone or something that reminds me of Anthony."
"So you'll move on to another
"I don't think I'm brave
enough for that
.Oh, Rose, I don't know how it will ever happen, but I think I'm
ready for a new life," Gina said. "I'm going to trade this one," she added
with a short laugh.
Rose smiled, nodding in empathy.
"That sounds good. For me, I
thought starting over in New York would be all right, but my past is just too close to me
here. I suppose it was just a matter of time before someone came and tried to drag me back
to my old life."
"So you're going to
and soon enough, I
think. I just need to feel that the time is right; that I'm not running away, only to find
the same questions following me to my new home, wherever that may be. I know now that this
was just a way-station for me, a place to wash the past completely out of my life before I
"I like how you put
'wash the past out'
I'm going to miss you."
There was an awkward pause as both
women felt the weight of their future separation.
"Sometimes, with all I've
done, I don't think
," Gina said, her voice soft as it trailed off.
"Don't think what?"
"Oh, nothing," Gina
replied, her eyes averted.
Rose studied her friend's
"Sometimes it's better to
just blurt it out."
"I'm afraid that I might be
too hardened now
that I won't be a good mother or wife. Sometimes I'm
"Gina, you have a wonderful
heart, you do. You really care about people. Some will take advantage of your good nature;
that's the way the world is. But there will surely be that ONE special person who
who will love you for it and do everything to protect it."
Gina pondered Rose's words for a
"Have you ever been really
scared?" Gina asked, and then her face suddenly went ashen, realizing her mistake.
"Oh, I'm so sorry,
for a second, I forgot
.you're always so
"It's all right. I still get
scared, Gina, but I'm able to contain the fear now. I feel like I have the ability to
handle anything. A year ago I looked upon myself as 'strong', but I realize now that I was
mistaking stubbornness for strength. But things change all of us, and I AM different
I've never been stronger."
I have the strength of two
people inside of me now, Rose thought.
Gina looked at Rose wistfully.
"Do you think a normal life,
a husband, children, is out there for us?"
before that, I want to live a life BEYOND the normal. There is much I need to do
first," Rose answered.
"WE need to do first!"
Gina corrected her.
Rose smiled at her friend. She
finally looked at the card in her hand with awareness and, with a laugh of triumph and
delight, spread a full house out on the table.
As soon as the one o'clock whistle
sounded on Saturday, Rose and Gina changed into the more formal clothes they had brought
along with them and hustled out of the factory for the El ride up Sixth Avenue.
Rose had told Gina that she
needn't go along, but she had felt relieved when Gina insisted on accompanying her for
support. They rode in silence, Rose staring out the window while trying to calm her
breathing, until they reached their stop at 34th street. Gina had looked over
her shoulder several times, trying to stare down 'Mr. Mole', who was seated several rows
behind them. He never met her eyes, suddenly needing to check his shoelaces each time she
glared his way.
As they were disembarking at the
station, Gina turned and blew an ebullient kiss to the spy as he rose to exit as well. He
was caught totally off-guard, and was supremely embarrassed as curious stares from the
other passengers fell hot on his face. He tripped over the rider in the aisle seat as he
shuffled by, doubling his discomfort.
Despite her blossoming tension,
Rose had to laugh at the spectacle.
"You are really something,
"Aren't I, then?" she
replied with a mischievous smile.
They had arrived a bit early, so
they stopped in a department store, killing time idly looking at the Christmas wares. At
1:45, Rose led the way east to the Bank of New Hudson. It was closed for the day but a
sharp knock on the door summoned Mr. Sanderson from deep inside the building's confines.
He pulled aside the door shade and, smiling brightly in recognition, unlocked the door.
"Miss Dawson, a
"Mr. Sanderson, thank you so
much for accommodating me today."
"Oh, it's quite all right.
Just catching up with my bookkeeping, anyway. And Mrs. Brown did instruct me to extend you
He turned and shook hands with
Gina. "And Mrs. Dawson, we must stop meeting so often, don't you think? I trust your
visits this week have been handled with the proper discretion and privacy?"
"Yes, quite," Gina
responded with a smile.
"Mr. Sanderson, as I said in
my note, I'm going to be taking a very valuable piece of jewelry out of my safety box and
bringing it over to the Waldorf," Rose said. "Have you been able to arrange an
escort for me?"
He beckoned towards two burly bank
guards seated inconspicuously in a corner. The men presented themselves in short order.
"Whenever you are ready, Miss
Dawson," the manager continued.
Rose signed into the vault and
opened her box. She removed the necklace, turning it over in her hands for a few seconds,
feeling its polished facets, and then placed it into a small, hardwood box that she had
brought along. Replacing the safety box, she returned to the lobby.
"Everything okay?" Gina
"Perfect," Rose replied
with a smile.
"I'm going to wait for
you," Gina said, and she moved to give Rose a kiss on the cheek. "Good
luck," she whispered when they were close.
"Okay, gentlemen, I'm
ready," Rose announced, and after thanking Mr. Sanderson she headed out into the
afternoon with her escorts, carrying the box that now seemed weighted with far more than a
solitary necklace. Gina stood for a while watching them from the street corner.
'Mr. Mole' eyed the size of the
bank guards and followed at a discrete distance as the group crossed the street and made
their way to the hotel. They strode up to the captain's desk; the man seemed to vaguely
recognize Rose but apparently couldn't place the face.
"I have an important package
for Mr. Hammond in suite 117," she announced to the captain, "and THAT
man," she turned, pointing to 'Mr. Mole', who was just entering the lobby, "has
been following me!"
All eyes at the desk turned to the
man, who stopped dead in his tracks at the sudden attention. One of the guards started
towards him and the spy spun on one heel and quickly fled back into the afternoon.
"Don't bother with him,"
Rose called after the guard. "When you gentlemen accompany me to the hallway, please
just wait there, observing from this end. Once I'm inside the room you can go. I thank
you, and please thank Mr. Sanderson for me once again."
They nodded in understanding.
Rose glanced at the imposing
grandfather clock that was the focal point of the ornate lobby.
"Mr. Hammond is expecting
you," the captain chirped.
Okay, Rose told herself, time
She could hear her heart pounding
in her ears, nearly drowning out the sound of her dress swishing along the deep carpet of
the hallway. Her palms perspired as she clasped the wooden box tightly to her bosom. The
hallway seemed endless, but suddenly the number loomed large in front of her: 117.
She stopped to compose herself,
looking up and down the corridor. Except for the two guards standing vigilantly at the
lobby end she was quite alone.
She knocked hard once, twice. The
sound of very muffled voices carried from within, an inner door was opened and closed, and
she heard the outer lock being thrown.
Mr. Hammond pulled open the door.
He was dressed in a finely tailored suit, obviously doing his best to impress Cal with his
business acumen. He glanced back into the room and stepped into the hallway, closing the
door quietly behind him.
"That's it?" he asked,
gesturing to the box Rose still clung to chest.
She held it up to him and opened
the lid. Hammond whistled appreciatively.
"That's a big rock, if ever
I've seen one!"
Rose clapped the lid shut. Hammond
noticed the men stationed at the end of the hallway.
"Careful, aren't you?"
"Shouldn't I be, around
Hammond smiled. "Now
"Cal is in the
the door is closed?"
"I'm coming in with
you," Rose stated. "I want to listen by the door to be sure you've given him the
"You're not afraid I'll tip
him off to your presence?"
"No, because there is no
profit for you in doing that. And remember this
If after he has the diamond you
should EVER mention my still being alive to him, I will scream that you stole the necklace
from me and you will have Cal's revenge to deal with."
He looked at her, considering the
"Fine. We'll do it your
. To tell you the truth, I wasn't sure you'd even show today. I thought you might
decide to keep the jewel for yourself; sell it, like a smart woman would."
Have your fun, Rose
They entered the room and walked
silently to the closed door to the bedroom. Hammond knocked once, and Rose handed him the
box. Entering, he left the door slightly ajar, and Rose positioned herself next to the
crack, back to the wall, listening.
"Here's your necklace,
Hockley, just as I promised."
"Let's see it, man!"
Rose's heart jumped
voice! She hadn't heard it in such a long time, and she was surprised at what it did to
her composure. Her mind tried to fill with thoughts of love, blame, responsibility,
recrimination ...all the questions she had asked herself since Titanic. Was her
picture of him all wrong? Was he less of a monster than she imagined?
She pushed the thoughts away and
concentrated on the discussion in the next room.
"Not so fast," Hammond
had answered. "Let's see the money first."
"All right, though this is no
way for gentlemen to conduct business. Insisting I bring all cash, indeed! You'd think you
were a common peddler."
"I know a little something
about how you 'gentlemen' do business, Hockley. I might find, for instance, that your
check wouldn't be honored when I presented it, and then where would I be? Up the creek,
"Fine! You don't trust me, I
don't trust you. Do you assure me that no one else knows the necklace has been
"Still worried about that
damn insurance settlement? No, not a soul."
Rose heard the bed creak as a
weight was placed upon it, followed quickly by the sound of a pair of locks being sprung.
Kicking her shoes off, she held them in one hand, gathered up her dress with the other and
raced across to the patio door, sliding it open as silently as possible until it was
cracked a few feet. Nodding to a figure standing outside, she placed her shoes on the
patio and ran back to her listening post.
like it's all
there," Hammond was saying. "Okay, here's your necklace
all $2 million
Rose heard the box snap open and
she held her breath, her heart racing. There was a silence that seemed to go on forever.
the truth. Where
did you get this?" Cal asked, finally.
"I told you that already! A
source of mine found it in some stolen goods, traced it back to a Titanic victim's
possessions, and I traced it to you."
"This is a source you
"Of course, but rest assured
the source knows nothing about the true value of the piece."
"So I have just you to thank
Another pause. Rose could picture
Cal in her mind, turning the necklace over and over, holding it up to see the light
sparkle through it. She had an almost irresistible urge to look through the crack, to see
him, but she held her position.
"It's quite a piece of work,
I have to hand it to you Hammond," Cal said.
"I'm not sure how you got the
dimensions and arrangement so close, but did you really think you'd fool me with these
stones; that I wouldn't know my own diamond? Did you truly expect to get away with
"I'm not sure what your game
is," Cal continued. "I wouldn't have even deemed this story of yours worth a
trip if you hadn't worked for Molly Brown. Seemed too much for coincidence. Too bad she
was out of town when I called Denver. I think she could've saved me a wasted
There was a space of several
heartbeats in which Hammond digested Cal's comments.
"I get it, Hockley! Forget
it, it won't work. You're trying to con me into believing that the necklace is a fake, so
you can have it AND your money. I KNOW it's genuine!"
Rose was ready to take flight. She
knew she should go, but she still hadn't heard what she wanted, needed to hear. She HAD to
hear it from Cal's mouth.
"Don't be a fool, Hammond.
It's a fake, plain and simple. It's obvious that you planned this whole thing, though I'll
be damned if I can figure out how you found out about the 'Heart', or why you decided to
try to swindle ME."
"Then SHE switched the
she set me up!" Hammond cried.
Rose beckoned to the figure
standing just outside the patio door.
"Who?" Cal asked.
"Your fiancée, Rose Bukater,
This is it, Rose thought.
"You really are insane! My
diamond is at the bottom of the Atlantic, and so is Rose Bukater
The words hit Rose hard, slamming
into her. She let them sink in, erasing her doubts, cleansing her guilt
Then she was off in a flash across
the carpeted room and out onto the patio. She could still faintly hear the conversation
from inside the bedroom as she slipped on her shoes.
"She's right here in the next
room!" Hammond was yelling.
Cal's voice was louder; Hammond
had obviously thrown open the bedroom door.
"Your fiancée, you
Rose heard a muffled set of
footsteps as Cal and Hammond entered the sitting room.
"Fiancée, huh? No offense
there, Cal, but I need a little romancin' first," a third voice said.
Rose almost laughed out loud at
Molly's comment; the release of so much accumulated tension made her slightly giddy.
"MOLLY!" both men
exclaimed as one. Hammond's obvious surprise was laced with dismay.
"Howdy, Cal. This IS a
surprise! Never expected to find you here. Is Hammy here peddlin' my jewelry in
"YOUR jewelry?" Cal
"Molly, what are you doing
here?" Hammond asked, finally sensing the trap around him.
"I found out you've been
skimmin' my money, you weasel, stealin' my fortune. And now
sellin' my trinkets,
"Your jewelry?" Cal
repeated, obviously dumbfounded by the turn of events.
"Yes, just a gaudy piece of
costume jewelry I've had for a while. Why he thinks you'd be interested in it I haven't a
"You're lying! You're in on
it, too! You know Rose Bukater is alive!" Hammond yelled.
"Rose? Bite your tongue,
slime! Draggin' that poor darlin's memory into this, just to save your
"Molly, what ARE you doing
here?" Cal asked.
"I've been lookin for Hammy
here for quiet a spell, ever since I found out he was siphoning off my money. Fortunately,
I had alerted the management here to be on the lookout for him, and they were happy to
oblige. They contacted me when he reserved a room. Ya shoulda used an alias,
Rose heard the hallway door of the
"Come on in, boys, "
Molly said. "The marshals here will want to ask you some questions, Hammy. They're
"Hockley, I can prove Rose
Bukater is alive and has the diamond
you just need to believe me
give me some
she's HERE, I tell you!" Hammond pleaded in desperation.
"What makes you think I would
ever again listen to a low-life like you? I believe you are a liar and a thief, as Molly
says, and a poor excuse for a crook, at that. I'm a businessman; I don't have time for
your kind. If I ever hear even a MENTION of your name again, I will track you down and
make your life really miserable."
"Oh, don't be frettin' none
over that, Cal
Hammy'll not be botherin' anyone for a long while."
Rose saw a shadow approaching the
patio door and she backed off to the side.
"Stop him! He's trying to
run!" Cal yelled, and just then Hammond flew out of the door, turning abruptly
towards where Rose stood.
His eyes went wide and he opened
his mouth to trumpet his discovery, but his reflexes were too slow and he was unable to
protect himself at all before Rose hitched up her dress and, with one quick motion laden
with all her pent-up anger, kicked him solidly in the groin.
He staggered back, unable to yell
or even draw a breath, and fell to the ground, pulling himself into a fetal position. Rose
turned and sprinted along the building's edge, a smile of sublime satisfaction across her
face. She glanced over her shoulder once to see the marshals emerge from the room and lift
Hammond off the ground, and the last thing she heard as she sped around the building's
corner and joined Gina was Hammond finally filling his lungs with a tortured gasp and
roaring in pain.