|Fire, Freckles, and Intellect
Author: therebelliondies PM
A one-shot about Glenn Mellark and how an unexpected meeting turns into something more for a young man notorious for unemotional personality. This story takes place in the same universe as Another Day Another Dollar.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance - Words: 5,351 - Reviews: 4 - Favs: 1 - Follows: 1 - Published: 11-05-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8676127
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
ADAD- Fire, Freckles, and Intellect
A one-shot about Glenn Mellark and how an unexpected meeting turns into something more for a young man notorious for unemotional personality. This story takes place in the same universe as Another Day Another Dollar.
He has never seen any woman quite so stunningly unique in his life.
That is the first thought that passes through Glenn Mellark's mind when Rosalind Andrews slips into the lecture hall as quietly as possible. He doesn't know her name or even recognize her, which is unusual given that only a handful of women attend Northwestern University and he figures he has seen them all, at least in passing, by now.
But the girl seated four rows in front of him now is like no one he has ever seen before. Glenn wonders at how the sunlight, streaming through one of the only narrow windows in the hall, manages to set her red locks aflame. She's in a simple, well-cut traveling gown, only adding to her mystery.
Glenn is still pondering where she might have come from and who she might be when the young, highly acclaimed Professor George Andrews concludes the lecture. He doesn't even realize the fact right away until his peers start shuffling papers and getting to their feet. Quickly and haphazardly, he too gathers his things into his bag, his eyes watching the young woman as he does.
Rosalind Andrews is itching in her skin for this lecture to be finished. She's just as scholarly as her older brother, George; however, after several hours of travel by the South Shore Line, she is more than ready to spend an idle afternoon chatting with the young man at the front of the room.
It doesn't help her discomfort that she can feel at least half a dozen pairs of eyes on her. She had tried to enter the room unobtrusively but once again was cursed by her silly red hair. It seems to be a beacon for attention that she doesn't want. She's certain that the men watching her are laughing to themselves about the carrot haired girl with awful freckles covering what would be an otherwise acceptably handsome face.
Rosalind is unable to glean any knowledge from her brother's lecture before he closes the dialogue and the class is over. She waits for some of the men to clear out before standing and heading in the opposite direction of the doors so that she might greet her brother.
She is halfway down the stairs of the lecture hall, a smile already pulling at her lips, when she hears a young man's voice call out to the professor. She turns her gaze away from George, who is stuffing papers hurriedly into his folio, to see a man with straight, elegantly fixed blonde hair stumble gracelessly down the stairs to the podium.
As she continues to make her way to her brother, she observes the usurper. He is tall, even for a man, and although he is narrowly built, Rosalind gets the impression that he is quite well muscled under his suit though she can't say exactly what makes her suspect that. He has a very grave look about him as he speaks with her brother, but what catches her eye the most are his pale blue eyes. She doesn't get a glimpse of them until she steps up a few paces away from her brother when he turns to her and nods before turning his attention back to her brother.
"Thank you, Professor Andrews, I'll get the essay to you by one o'clock on Monday." Glenn promises, the back of his neck prickling with unfamiliar anxiousness now that the young woman is watching him. The young professor has granted him an extension on the essay that is supposed to be due by seven o'clock today.
In all honesty, Glenn has the paper already prepared in his bag. He just needed an excuse to speak with the professor so that he might learn the red haired girl's name. When he saw that she was moving to approach Professor Andrews, he had done some quick thinking and decided to pretend he needed an extension in hopes that he might be able to learn her name and be properly introduced.
"Of course, Mr. Mellark." Professor Andrews says with a curt nod, "You're one of my best pupils. I'm sure this won't become a common occurrence."
"No, sir, I assure you it will not." Glenn bows his head gratefully before turning his pale blue eyes to the lady before him, "I'm terribly sorry to have kept you waiting, miss."
"Don't trouble yourself, Mr. Mellark. This is my favorite sister, Rosalind Andrews, just arrived in the city from what I'm sure was an exhausting day of travel." Professor Andrews introduces, "Rosie, this is Glenn Mellark, one of my best students. He will be attending the salon next Friday after exams are over, won't you Mr. Mellark?"
Glenn nods as Rosalind offers her hand, which he brings politely to his lips.
"A pleasure to meet you, Mr. Mellark." She smiles softly, finding his pale eyes intriguing as he continues to stare at her.
"And you, Miss Andrews. Your brother is one of the most highly esteemed professors here at Northwestern, it's nice to meet the family that molded him into the success he is." Glenn says earnestly.
"Did you hear that Georgie? One of the best." Rosalind smiles up at her older brother playfully before turning back to Glenn, "Well, I assure you I taught him everything he knows. I made quite the schoolteacher when we were children."
"Of course you did, Rose." Professor Andrews replies good-naturedly, "Ms. Shultz is preparing dinner for us so we really should be going. Have that paper to me like we said, Mr. Mellark." Glenn nods and hoists his bag back onto his shoulder before glancing quickly at Rosalind one last time and turning to leave the lecture hall.
He hasn't met a girl that has intrigued him this much since Sara Wilkins, that sweet girl from the Seam that he dropped like a used bit of paper. He broke her heart, but he had completely shattered his own in doing so and hadn't found a girl that measured up to her in any way since then.
Glenn looks over his shoulder his eyes meeting her chocolate brown ones. She gives a hesitant smile and ducks her head to look at the crystal glass of champagne in her hand. He's with a group of businessmen who are talking about the projections for the textile mill for the next year. Glenn, for once in his life, finds himself less interested about the business discussion at hand and more interested in the girl across the room.
He politely bows out of the conversation and makes his way across the room to a group of friends who are situated closer to Rosalind, hoping that she might recognize his subtle hint and join him in conversation. She's speaking with two of Glenn's peers and their respective fiancées. The men are rather pompous in Glenn's experience, and judging by the bored expression Rosalind is trying her best to disguise, he would guess that she feels the same about them as he does. She glances up and a momentary look of surprise passes over her face to which he offers a weak smile.
Glenn has always found his smile to be more disturbing than inviting, but Axel is constantly telling him he would be able to win over more girls if he smiled more often. Glenn doesn't particularly want more girls tittering uselessly about him, but he does want one particular girl. Something about her seems different and not just her hair. It's the way she looks at him. He can tell she is intelligent.
She smiles now and begs her leave from the group she is talking to. She hardly remembers their names and honestly hopes she'll never have need to know them. They were condescending throughout the entire conversation, barely acknowledging anything she tried to contribute. As usual, the men here seem to think a woman's mind is limited to sewing and tea parties and cooking.
"Good evening, Mr. Mellark." She greets as she walks up behind him. She noticed him watching her while she was speaking with those two dull men and hoped that he meant for her to speak with him. She would rather not make a fool of herself by approaching a man who has no interest in her but she has a strange feeling about Glenn- Mr. Mellark, that is.
"Miss Andrews." Glenn attempts to smile again and she smiles back so he thinks it might be working. "Are you enjoying yourself tonight?"
"The party is lovely." She says, ducking her gaze and hazarding the next sentence, "The conversation has been somewhat lacking though."
Glenn laughs in surprise as her disclosure. It's refreshing for a lady to be so candid. Once he composes himself again he bends ever so slightly to get closer to her ear so he can quietly inform her, "I thought you appeared a bit tired with your companions when I saw you across the room. I do hope you will find our conversation more intriguing."
Rosalind smiles brightly at the young man before her, glad that he wasn't offended by her admission. He flashes that quirky little smile, the same one he used earlier to entice her away from her company. It makes her heartbeat quicken with the way it makes his eyes crinkle just a bit at the corners.
"Already I find it more pleasing than the last." She nods, "So long as you don't brush off everything I try to discuss, I believe we will manage just fine. I do happen to have a brain in my skull and I would be happy to use it. This is a salon for some of the best intellectuals at the university, after all. I was hoping I might be able to stretch the boundaries of my knowledge rather than talk about my needlepoint."
A thrill runs up Glenn's spine. He's never met a girl so openly intellectual before and it both intimidates and excites him. He searches his brain for what he knows about Rosalind Andrews and finds admittedly little to work with since really they had only been introduced.
"Where is it you reside for most of the year, Miss Andrews?" Glenn questions, alighting on a topic that has been nagging him since Professor Andrews introduced them a week ago, "Your brother mentioned that you had a long day's travel into the city last week."
Rosalind tries to contain the blush that is struggling to grace her cheeks. She knows it makes her skin look terribly blotchy, but she is thrilled that Mr. Mellark would remember such a small detail from their brief encounter a week ago.
"In Indiana. I attend a women's college there." She answers politely, holding Mr. Mellark's gaze steady with her own, watching for some look of horror or distaste.
Glenn is pleasantly surprised by Rosalind's admission that she attends college. She's such a pretty thing that he had never thought she might choose to postpone any marriage prospects to pursue higher knowledge.
"What is it you study?" Glenn questions out of genuine curiosity. This woman is proving to be an enigma on many levels.
"I study art." Rosalind laughs brightly, "I paint."
"Do you now?" Glenn cocks an eyebrow, once again surprised. After she had admitted to attending college he had started making his own conjectures about what she spent her time studying, but art had not been at the top of the list. It seemed too logical for a woman to study art. He had immediately assumed that she would be one of a small handful of women studying the sciences or perhaps math.
"Is it that difficult to believe?" She laughs lightly, seemingly unperturbed by his surprise, "It wouldn't have been my first choice, admittedly, but I'm quite good at it. I am quite taken by Matisse's newer works and the other Fauves."
"A scholar and modest too." He quips before he thinks about what he's saying. His eyes widen as he looks at the petite girl in front of him, waiting for her to pour her champagne on his shirt or at least turn away in a huff. He certainly thinks he deserves it.
Rosalind is shocked for a moment before she bursts out in a laugh that is too loud to be ladylike. She covers her mouth with a dainty hand before lifting her gaze to those horrified blue ones, "Yes. Modesty was never something I was particularly good at. I think if someone is good at something they should be able to admit it."
Glenn recovers, letting out a breath of relief that he had been holding. "Art is not your passion though?"
She lifts her tiny shoulders in indifference, "If I were a man I would have studied biology or maybe medicine." She admits quietly, "But no respectable man wants a wife who knows more about his body than he does."
Glenn frowns, unable to take pride in the fact that he had guessed correctly about her true passions. Instead he realizes for the first time in his life how unfair society can be. He couldn't imagine having a passion for something and being unable to pursue it. He doesn't necessarily think he has a passion for business but he doesn't think he has ever been truly passionate about anything. Glenn Mellark is a middle ground sort of man. He hates very little but in exchange he also loves very little.
"No matter though." Rosalind recovers her smile and it eases some of the discomfort Glenn is feeling. "I am quite happy where I am in life, though mother does wish I would produce more traditional paintings. And what about you, Mr. Mellark? We've hardly spoken of you."
"Am I happy?" He questions, shoving his hands into the pockets of his tuxedo. She nods. "I think I'm as happy as a man can expect to be."
"That's rather vague." She points out astutely and Glenn blinks at her several times.
"I am content." He concedes, "I don't find much in my life to be truly happy about, Miss Andrews. I find I am quite difficult to please in that manner."
She smiles a bit sadly, "What would make you happy, Mr. Mellark?"
"I promise to let you know once I find out." He assures her with a shrug.
Rosalind's heart throbs painfully for the young man before her. He seems like such a kind person that she can't help but wish he were happy. She has found it is the cruel fate of most who are kind and good that they live their lives struggling to find happiness.
"So, Mr. Mellark, have you ever heard of Hull House?" Rosalind does her best to change the subject drastically. Glenn does his best to smile again, recognizing her attempt to save the conversation that he keeps dragging into uncomfortable territory. No lady has attempted to engage in conversation with him for this long since he would spend lazy afternoons with Sara Wilkins.
"I have. Ms. Addams and Ms. Starr seem to have their work cut out for them from what I've heard. I have never visited myself but it seems they're working against a deficit of intellect that is a mountain and they are just ants trying to scale it." Glenn admits with a chuckle.
"I think that it is quite an admirable feat." Rosalind snaps rather shortly, a tiny frown pulling at her full, pink lips.
Glenn notices and immediately realizes he has made a mistake. Most of the women at this party would make a snide comment or two about the Hull House, stating that people of the working class ought to be working more if they hope to improve their circumstances rather than learning about history and fine arts. Miss Andrews seems to hold a different opinion however.
"Do- do you wish to do charity work, Miss Addams?" Glenn quickly attempts to mend his mistake.
"I would." She nods, "It doesn't seem very likely but in a perfect world I would love to graduate from college and work somewhere like the Hull House where knowledge is so desperately needed."
She is so passionate when she speaks that her cheeks flush pink. Glenn doesn't believe he's ever met someone so positively fascinating. And her thirst for knowledge seems to mirror his own.
"I think it takes a remarkable woman to spend time trying to enlighten those less privileged than herself." Glenn says softly and it earns him a sweet smile from Rosalind that sets his stomach tingling in a way he hasn't felt in years.
After that moment, their conversation becomes more relaxed and they spend the rest of the night discussing everything and anything. He tells her about his family's factories and she tells him about her family's ownership of a glass company. She tells him she's from St. Louis but that she's always loved Chicago more and looks forward to visiting her brother every few months. She asks about his family, most especially his brothers, and he tells her several stories of their antics together when they were still little boys. By the end of the evening, Glenn is quite certain he has never met a girl quite like Rosalind Andrews and Rose is quite sure she will never find another man quite like Glenn Mellark. She asks if she might write to him while away at school and he emphatically agrees.
Glenn doesn't see Rosalind for another five months until she returns to Northwestern University after her end of term exams in May. They write occasionally to one another during that time, as often as two collegiate acquaintances can.
She tells him of her artwork and that she has joined a biology club that studies simple plant genetics. She raves about the possibilities of producing even hardier crops and how this would boost the farmers' yield. Glenn writes to her about his business classes and how he wonders at the obliviousness of many of his colleagues. So many of them think of employees more as cattle than an investment and Glenn wonders if this is really for the best.
Glenn increasingly recognizes his desire to know Rosalind as more than just a familiar acquaintance. Rosalind is silently quite afraid that she is falling in love with the rather gangly, pale-eyed Glenn Mellark.
The day she arrives in Chicago for the summer holiday, she's late getting to the campus from her train. Rosalind sneaks into the back of the lecture hall, much like she had six months earlier, and settles herself in the nearest empty seat.
It's the last day of class and Glenn is having difficulty paying attention to the lecture knowing that Rosalind will be arriving in the city today. A gust of warm spring air tickles the back of his neck and Glenn glances over his shoulder casually. His eyes catch a familiar flash of red and they snap to attention for a second glance. Today, he is the first one out of his seat when Professor Andrews announces the end of class and he is standing before her before she has even had a chance to rise from her seat.
"Rosalind- I mean Miss Andrews." Glenn says breathlessly, forgetting for a moment that outside of his daydreams, he is not on such familiar terms with Rosalind.
The pretty redhead smiles despite his slip in manners, "Mr. Mellark, it's so good to see you again."
Glenn's heart skips a beat, something he finds unbearably uncomfortable and he squirms a bit, "Are you going to be at the salon next week? I have heard your brother is one of the guests of honor once again."
"I believe I will be accompanying him." She nods sweetly, "I do hope that means you will be there as well."
"I wouldn't miss it." He replies with his strange form of a smile.
"Rosie!" Professor Andrews calls from the podium, motioning her to join him.
"It was wonderful seeing you again, Mr. Mellark. I look forward to speaking with you more at the salon." She says politely as she makes her departure down the stairs.
"I'll be sure to search for you." He calls after her awkwardly. She glances over her shoulder, her lips curled into a gentle smile that is like a balm to his wounded ego. It nearly makes up for the mortification he feels for shouting after her, especially with her brother, his professor, staring at them from the front of the room.
George had introduced her to Miss Fields and her group of friends as soon as they arrived at the salon. She could tell by the soft smile on his face that her brother thinks fondly of the dark haired woman before her, but she had transformed the moment Georgie had left to speak with the Dean of the college for a 'brief' moment.
This woman is abominable. She is somehow distantly related to Mr. Marshall Fields, the witty businessman and entrepreneur who had made a fortune through his department store. It was the first fact that Miss Fields made sure that Rosalind was aware of and she has commanded the conversation of the group ever since. Currently, she is critiquing the dress and beauty of every girl in the room. Rosalind makes a conscious effort not to roll her eyes, instead choosing to let her mind drift from the conversation only responding when the rest of the group members do.
Glenn's eyes land on her almost immediately when he arrives. His heart does that strange flip again when his eyes take her in. Tonight she is wearing a beautiful white satin gown that makes her pale skin glow and the lighting in the room makes her red hair look as though it's made of flames. She is laughing lightly with a group of ladies, mostly fiancées of the other students and professors here.
Glenn recognizes several of them, one in particular- a haughty looking raven-haired girl named Sadie Fields. He had once been forced to sit next to the girl for an entire dinner party and was ready to throttle her by the time dessert was served just to silence her underhanded remarks. It's safe to say that Sadie Fields is one of the few people that Glenn actually hates, or at least severely dislikes.
Judging by the look on Rosalind's face, Glenn would guess she feels much the same about the dark complexioned girl. He's attention is torn away from the girl when one of his business professors decides that now would be the perfect time to discuss the possibility of bringing Mr. Andrew Carnegie to Chicago for a guest lecture.
Glenn is shuffled around from dignitary to dignitary and he loses track of Rosalind in the sea of guests. That is, he loses sight of her until he sees a flash of red moving unusually fast out of the corner of his eye. He catches the skirt of her dress rounding the corner into the hallway and frowns, suspecting immediately that something is wrong.
Hastily, Glenn excuses himself and hurries into the corridor she just disappeared down. He walks to the very end and doesn't find her. He's about to turn and rejoin the other guests when he hears a quiet sniffle coming from a dark corner where the light just barely reaches.
"Miss Andrews?" He questions her silhouette softly and he hears her shuffling.
Rosalind hurriedly wipes her cheeks and brushes her hands over her skirts, hoping to hide the fact that she has been crying, though she suspects he already heard her and that's how he found her in the first place.
"Yes." She says, her voice sounds watery despite her best efforts to contain the undesirable emotion.
"Are you alright?" Glenn questions and he wants to kick himself for asking. She's crying in the corner, of course she's not alright.
Rosalind gives a weak little chuckle but doesn't dare answer because his concerned voice has brought a new round of tears and she doesn't trust her voice not to betray her.
Glenn joins her in the shadows, reaching out a hand to find her arm, and he can feel her shaking under his grip.
"Shh," He soothes awkwardly. He's never quite known what to do about shows of emotion such as this, "What is it? What has upset you, Miss Andrews?"
"Oh Glenn," She slips, using his first name, but is too distraught to care, "It's nothing. Stupid really." She hiccups lightly.
A smile tugs at his lips in spite of the situation because he finds he quite likes the way his name sounds on her lips, even if she is crying.
"Come on then." He encourages, "Tell me. I promise I won't make it any worse." This earns a laugh from Rosalind, "I hate to see such a beautiful lady cry."
Glenn hears her stomp a tiny foot on the wooden floor before she speaks, "That Sadie Fields has been awful all night. She's been rude and- and- just mean."
Rosalind takes a shaky breath before meekly saying, "She made a nasty remark about my face."
Glenn frowns though he knows she probably can't see it in the darkness. He can just make out the curves of her face but there isn't enough light to see the detail there or her tears, "What did she say about your face?"
"She said- she said that," Her voice cracks and she clears her throat before continuing, "She said that it's a shame; that my face would be almost pretty if I didn't have all these freckles."
"That's-" Glenn is quite speechless and Rosalind's small frame trembles under his hand as the tears overtake her again. "That's horrible for her to say."
"I hate them." She mutters between hiccups. At first Glenn thinks she's speaking about the people still chattering away back in the salon, but then she continues, "I hate them so much. I wish I could scratch the blasted things right off my face and then no one could laugh at me for them again."
It's the freckles that bother her then. The same freckles Glenn has often pictured on nights when he was having trouble falling asleep. He had always found them refreshing and endearing, but apparently Rosalind doesn't feel the same. She's furious. So furious that Glenn has to wonder how it all fits inside of such a tiny woman. She's shaking again, her anger turning into tears.
Glenn is surprised to find himself so upset over her tears and he clamors to think of something that might comfort her. Before he can give himself time to over think it and second-guess his decision, Glenn's hands slide from their place on her arms, the tips of his fingers just grazing the soft skin of her neck and then her jaw, settling to cup her face gently between them. He lowers his face to hers and brushes his lips over her right cheekbone. In this light, her skin is just a dark shadow and her freckles are invisible, but he has pictured her face enough to know just where her dusting of freckles are.
"I love them." He whispers into the darkness, glad for once that he cannot see her face or her reaction.
"W- what?" She questions, her voice shaking and unsure as her stomach flips around nervously inside of her.
He moves to brush his lips on the opposite cheekbone, "I love your freckles."
He doesn't wait for a response before kissing the bridge of her nose and then lowering his lips to meet hers. Heat bursts through his veins and he's suddenly dizzy, drowning in the scent and the taste and the feel of her. Her hands wrap themselves around his waist and her tears mingle with their kisses as her heart speeds up to the point where she fears it might stop at any moment.
When Glenn finally pulls his lips from hers, they are both breathless, still holding onto one another, each silently believing they might just float away if the other isn't there to ground them.
"I'll be staying in Chicago this summer with my brother at the house he rents." Rosalind says softly, her breath caressing his cheek as they are still so intertwined with one another, "My father would rather I stay up here than in St. Louis. He's worried it might not be safe with all the unrest among the workers there."
Glenn's heart feels as though it's bounding right out of his chest when he comprehends what she is telling him. He nearly wants to cry out in joy, something he can hardly ever remember feeling in his life.
"May I court you?" He breathes in question.
She laughs that light, tinkling laugh that sets his stomach tingling again, "You're going to skip the calling on me and move straight to the courtship?"
"Perhaps I should ask your brother first then?" Glenn chuckles and she joins in.
"Perhaps." She agrees, "But I will make sure he agrees to your request."
"Miss Andrews, you are quite the surprise." Glenn murmurs, letting a hand brush against her hair as he pictures the bright red strands in his mind.
"Please, call me Rose," She whispers, "or Rosalind if you must, but all my dearest friends call me Rose."
"And you would consider me one of your dearest friends, Rose?" Glenn questions, his words hopeful as she leans into his touch against her cheek.
"I should hope you would be, Glenn. And I should hope I might become one of your dearest friends in return."
"That shouldn't be difficult. I'm not known for making friends," Glenn says softly, brushing his lips lightly against hers once more because he can't stand the though of not having one last kiss.
She sighs happily when he pulls away.
"I should think that you are already stealing away whatever bit of heart a callous intellectual such as myself might have, Rose." He admits tentatively.
"Well, it's about time, Glenn. I believe you stole mine the first evening I spent with you at the salon before Christmas." She says and Glenn can hear the smile in her voice, "I've been praying you might reciprocate my feelings ever since."
Glenn kisses her one last time chastely on her lips, "Have your tears all dried?"
She laughs, "To think I was so upset just a few moments ago. You know how to comfort a girl, Mr. Mellark, there is no denying that."
Glenn's hand finds hers and squeezes, "Not every girl; only a very special one. Now, let us return to the salon and show Miss Sadie Fields that you are not one to be easily toyed with for her amusement."
"You won't leave me with alone her?" She questions hesitantly.
"Not for a moment," Glenn assures the small woman beside him as they slowly make their way back to the door.
"Though she be but little, she is fierce." He says as they walk.
"Shakespeare." Rose identifies easily, causing a rush of pride to swell through Glenn. How has he managed to catch such a woman's eye?
"Is that meant to embolden me?" She asks with a wry glance his way.
"Only if it's working." Glenn jokes, offering his arm to her now that they are nearing the party and she takes it lightly.
"It is; very much so." She rewards him with a blinding smile that starts his stomach tingling again, her deep brown eyes holding his pale ones as they reenter the party to face the formidable Sadie Marshall and, Glenn thinks, perhaps one day the rest of the world as well.
AN: There you go- just a little nostalgic, fluffy, Glenn Mellark piece. Feel free to let me know what you thought. The next chapter of ADAD should be up sometime soon!