AN: Fourteen chapters in, a brief title explanation: For months, I tried to mash-up some part of "Gone with the Wind" and "It Happened One Night." Gone One Night... mmm, no. It Happened with the Wind... terrible. I googled wind, looked up names of winds. And then I found it! It Happened One Night is based on a short story called Night Bus. And a bise is a north wind! (It is specifically a cold north wind generally in the Alps, so... let's gloss over that part and just focus on the wind meaning being perfect.) I'm a language nerd, so that little coincidence made my day. (Plus it sounds like the French for kiss! Language kismet all over the place. ;))
Bugsie, I've never been so inspired! I will bribe you 'til the cows come home if that's what it takes and by cows I mean Rhett and Scarlett (sorry, darlings) and by come home I mean "have an earnest conversation and stop breaking their own hearts over bitter misunderstandings of one another." We want 4! We want 4!
Thank you all for reading, and as always, your reviews are appreciated.
High above Fifth Avenue, Gerald O'Hara paced up and down the length of his office, frowning absently at the leather-bound books and mahogany furniture. The man sitting in front of his desk was explaining something or detailing something, but Gerald had stopped listening. The actual words knotted his stomach up with worry—better to let them roll over you and be angry with the message as a whole.
"Three days!" he finally cut in. "It's been three whole days! And what have you accomplished?" He stalked over to his desk, his face growing redder. He waved his hand over a mess of papers scattered across his desk, much like the ones in front of him on his plane ride. "All you've shown me is a stack of feeble reports from those so-called detectives of yours!" He punctuated 'detectives' by thumping his fist on his desk. Unsatisfactory correspondences sifted down from one tall pile at the disturbance. He leaned forward across the desk, fixing the man sitting there with bright, blue eyes that were nearly incapable of conveying sternness. "I want action, Lovington!"
Jonathan Lovington, for that is the name he went by now, shifted in his seat. Some unsavory associations, or perhaps actions on his own part, in his past had necessitated the name shift. The switch to Jonathan was simple, and close enough to his Christian name Jonas; his maternal grandmother's maiden name Lovington substituted nicely for Wilkerson. He'd built this agency from nothing but shrewd calculations and observations. He knew he would be rewarded handsomely for finding the girl, but he wasn't sure what more he could do. And while he enjoyed making money off these rich men, it always stuck in his craw when he had to butter them up or placate them.
"We can't do the impossible, Mr. O'Hara," he drawled.
"Bah!" Gerald said, swatting the air in his usual gesture of impatience. "What I'm asking isn't impossible. My daughter is somewhere between here and Miami," he pointed out the window (which faced west, but you get the point). "I want her found!"
"I've put extra men on, all along the way," Lovington repeated. Had the man listened to anything he had to say?
"It's obviously not enough!" Gerald cried. He narrowed his eyes. "Are you certain she's not with Ashley Wilkes?" Ashley did have the resources, but he didn't seem capable of pulling off quite this feat. Still in all, it'd be foolish not to make certain of it.
"Yes, yes," Lovington assured him. "He's been trailed twenty-four hours a day since this whole thing started. He can't even get a phone call we don't know about," he answered smugly. And what phone calls they were, he thought. When he wasn't ineffectually fretting about his dear Scarlett, the little drip was talking about how flying was like poetry, and how he wanted the world to see the same.
Gerald pressed two buttons on his desk and the intercom crackled. "Send in Ashburn and Benteen," he barked, before hanging up. Fatigue suddenly seemed to overtake him, and he leaned against his desk, and rubbed his forehead, his eyes downcast. "I'm worried, Lovington. After all, something might have happened—"
His admission was cut off when his office door opened and a small cluster of employees walked in.
"Yessir?" one of the summoned men asked.
"Oh, Benteen," Gerald said, his expression brightening ever so slightly. "I want you to arrange for a radio broadcast, right away. I want a coast to coast hookup. Tell them I'll offer a reward of ten thousand dollars for any information leading to her whereabouts."
"Yessir," Will responded smoothly. His calm, unhurried voice was often a source of comfort to his boss. He never fretted like that Charles (who, bless his soul, was at least a fine attorney, even if he was far too skittish) and his slow drawl, which sometimes made people underestimate him, was steeled by a determined, reliable character.
Gerald looked back at his desk, the uninformative cables littered everywhere. One was even half-covering…
"Benteen!" he called again. Will, who had been making his way out the door, turned around.
Gerald unearthed the picture frame on his desk. "Send the story out to all of the newspapers." He struggled with the frame in his haste, finally managing to slide the picture of Scarlett out. "Some of the out of town papers may not have a picture of her. Here," he handed the picture to Will. "Wire this to them. I want it to break right away."
"Now, we'll get some action," Gerald muttered and resumed his agitated pacing. Between the detectives and Benteen, she would be found. Surely, just like they said, no news was good news. Not for the first time, he wondered if he had brought this on himself. Had he been too hard with her? Or too soft? Ashley—what he remembered of him and knew about now, anyway—wasn't altogether such a bad fellow. He just wasn't right for his Katie Scarlett. But he could learn to live with the man, if it meant that his daughter was home and safe. Oh, Mrs. O'Hara… he intoned again.
Will, picture in hand, set off toward the telegraph office.
Later that day, and several hundred miles south, Scarlett sighed and relaxed against the cushions of the bus seat. A group of musicians had just boarded in Charleston, and had been entertaining the passengers since. It had been such a nice day. Rhett was from here, and had told her about some of his childhood adventures growing up. Scarlett had family in the coastal city, and had visited once or twice with her mother. But she had been quite young then, and had little memory of the town. It had merely been a boring place where her mother's much older sisters reprimanded her behavior at every turn, and lamented, when they thought Scarlett was out of earshot, how very much her manners had been influenced by her father's side.
Rhett, with his stories of rebellion and scrapes, made it seem like a place where fun was possible. As long as one didn't have to spend time with Pauline and 'Lalie.
Still in hiding, as it were, she did not get to explore any of the sights. But she was intrigued, and now she hoped to return.
She turned her attention to the window and looked out as the last of the palmettos slid into the deepening dusk. Smiling, she looked back at Rhett. "I hope we'll come back here someday," she said, her voice dreamy.
One corner of Rhett's mouth turned down as he turned to look at her. Oh, did she now?
"Fie, Mrs. Butler! Are you suggesting that we will take trips together in the future?" The flower's face blushed red in mortification, and she covered her mouth in horror. She was temporarily speechless, and he wondered that she should be so embarrassed. A harmless slip of the tongue, the kind she was so wont to make. Why did it affect her so? He had thought she was a sensible person (marriage to Ashley Wilkes aside) and he did not want to be disappointed. There was nothing to be so embarrassed about—perhaps if he teased her out of her discomfiture and into anger…
"Perhaps you long to kiss the earth along the paths where a dashing young bootlegger such as myself got his start. Or is it my mother you're keen to meet?" he whispered, his eyes deadly earnest.
He could see when she regained herself, though her blush did not fade. Her eyes snapped, and like that, she was laughing, and pretending to be angry at him.
What a perversely pleasant wretch he was! Scarlett thought to herself.
She could never let him know how near to the truth his first jest had been. She longed to retort, "But of course I meant with Ashley!" but as she opened her mouth to say it, she'd been struck by the stunning realization that she hadn't. She hadn't meant herself and Rhett, but she hadn't meant herself and Ashley, either. Her we had been… well, she didn't know. Just someone charming and interesting who made her laugh. This was what had rendered her momentarily mute, and she struggled with what it all meant. She had hardly thought of Ashley at all today. And Ashley would probably bore her with history about Charleston, or try to divert her to Kitty Hawk altogether. Her heart panged at the disloyal thought, and she pushed it aside. This whole journey was a plan to reunite her with her beloved. She reasoned to herself that as long as she was traveling north toward him, she was sort of de facto thinking of Ashley.
And then Rhett had teased her out of her discomfort and made her laugh again, and she was grateful to be thinking about something else. Her face was still hot, but she tossed her hair over her shoulders and replied airily, "You're a dirty-minded varmint."
Rhett laughed at her insult, and she couldn't help herself from laughing back with him. She sighed and settled back in her seat. How one person could be so marvelous at prickling her with teases, and setting her mind at ease the next instant, one did wonder.
She shook her head in something like amazement, and closed her eyes, returning her attention to the music.
Several rows ahead, Shapeley finally unfolded the newspaper he'd picked up in Charleston. And he grinned. Believe you me.