A/n: You know, I really was joking when I spoke of updating again in six months. Hi, everyone! Long time, no updates, huh? I want to thank everyone who never gave up on me and kept reviewing, and also those who told me to update already, it's been too long! Also, I re-wrote chapter four completely, so if you want to check it out, feel free!
This chapter is dedicated to my amazing readers, and to all the poo-heads who assured me I was never going to update again. Your tactics worked, you amazing poo-heads. I'm updating!
And a BIG thank-you to my new Titanic beta, Bohemian Anne. You have no idea how much I appreciate your help, Anne!
No excuses. My life is a busy, busy thing, but a year is too long!
And a late Happy Holidays to everyone!
Disclaimer: Nothing of Titanic is mine. And nor is the name of the watch I use…that belongs to the Gruen Watch Company.
I have never moved so fast in my entire life.
One second, Jack and I were staring at each other wide-eyed and pale. The next second, I was running full-throttle towards him, not even checking my footing lest I fall, and grabbing his arm to shove him into the pantry with the broom and over-stock food. Shutting the door as quickly and quietly as possible, I buried Jack's mug amongst the sink dishes and took my seat again, trying to look nonchalant. I tried very slowly to catch my breath. It made me feel like I was suffocating.
"Clara, is that you?" My mother called again, as she peeked her head into the doorway.
"W-Who else would it be, Mum? What a-are you doing up?" Lack of oxygen was making it difficult to speak.
"I could ask you the same thing. I thought I heard voices," she gave me a searching look. "Are you feeling alright?"
I took a deep breath and let it out, disguising it as a sigh. Ah. Much better. "Fine. Just couldn't sleep. I'm too excited for the costumes tomorrow."
My mother went over to the kettle to make some water for herself. That was when I noticed the letter I had left for her earlier, still hanging on the refrigerator. Oh, lord. If she saw that, the jig was up! I had to move fast. Again.
"You know, I'm excited, too. It will be fun to design something. I've always thought I would be good at it."
"Don't I know that," I said as I inched towards the fridge, all the time keeping a hawk-sharp eye on her. "You've always tried to make small changes to my clothing. Telling me this would look better a bit shorter, that a different color. I've contemplated putting a padlock on my closet doors!"
My mother let out a small laugh. "We vary on what looks good and what doesn't, that's all. "
"You just don't like bright orange."
"It's a terrible color, that's why."
"That's your opinion. Bright orange happens to be my favorite color." I reached slowly for the letter while my mother poured steaming water into a cup, and stirred sugar into the darkening liquid. I snatched the letter off of the fridge lightning fast, and hid it behind my back just as she turned around. She gave me a strange look at the huge, phony smile on my face. I only smiled wider.
Mum shook her head and sat down in Jack's seat. I sighed, hoping Jack wasn't claustrophobic. We would be here for a while. I crumpled the paper and threw it into the trash on my way to my stool.
"So, you told me why you were up," I said conversationally. "But, not why you were awake."
My mother looked a little uneasy as she sipped her tea. "I was dreaming."
I felt for her. I knew a little something about dreams rousing you from a good sleep. "Was it about your accident?"
She shook her head. "No, no. Nothing violent."
"Then why are you awake?"
Mum sighed. "To be honest, I was dreaming of your father."
"Oh?" I worried my bottom lip with my teeth, trying to hide my jealousy and be sympathetic. I knew how hard remembering my father was for her, but if I could dream of him I wouldn't let myself wake up.
She nodded. "I've dreamt about him for years, on and off. Tonight was the first one I've had in a while, though, and for some reason I could see him so much more vividly than in any of my previous dreams.
"When I woke I couldn't shake the feeling that he was nearby somewhere. I had the ridiculous urge to come down here. And so I did. And then I heard voices…"
My heart stuttered at the mention of voices again. "It must have just been me mumbling to myself, Mum," I covered. And then I couldn't help asking, " Somewhere near?"
Mum nodded again and laughed at herself, tears glistening in her eyes. "Look at me, crying over a silly dream."
I put my hand on hers. "You miss him, Mother. There's nothing wrong with that."
"I thought I saw him the day of the accident, too. Jonathan told me I was calling some strange man's name. I vaguely recall it. I was delirious. But, now…"
I forgot about Jack. My mother was starting to speak more openly and less hesitatingly about my father lately, and I wasn't going to miss an opportunity.
"Will you tell me what he looked like again?" I asked wistfully. It has been so long since I'd heard it out loud.
My mother smiled and pushed her tea aside. "Maybe another time. I'm very tired. I should get back to bed. So should you, in fact."
She pushed away from the counter and walked back to the doorway. Then she paused.
"I see him in you everyday." And then she limped up the stairs. A minute later I heard her bedroom door softly close.
I had been looking for her to tell me eye and hair color, but that had been better. My eyes started to tear and I looked down, finding a hang nail very interesting.
Some one sneezed.
My head shot up and I looked around. It had come from the pantry. How odd. And then I realized.
"Jack!" I ran and opened the pantry door and he stumbled out, brushing dust from his face and sneezing again.
"Does anybody clean in that thing?"
"You're one to talk about cleanliness," I muttered before I began to brush off his jacket. "I'm so sorry you were in there for so long!"
"That's okay. I've always been one for cold, dark, small rooms."
"No need to rub it in."
He snorted. "I had no idea what hit me! Next thing I knew, I was standing in a broom closet!"
"Pantry," I corrected. "And good thing you had the good sense not to come out! My mother would have flipped, and then had you arrested, had she seen you!"
"Well, whatever it is, it's small."
"Are you going to leave yet? She may come back down any minute! There's no convincing her she's hearing things a second time!"
"I'm going right now." I walked him to the door again. He stepped out as soon as it was opened.
"Hey," I said, catching him before he left the porch. "I'm sorry you had to hear all of that."
Jack shook his head. "I don't mind. I can understand where she's coming from. Real familiar voice, too…"
"Maybe she sounds like me. At least you see now."
"See what?" He looked confused.
"That my father isn't really dead. He's still very much alive in my mother's heart."
Jack just looked at me. "What I'm trying to say, Jack, is that she's not really dead, as long as you love her; remember her. Don't torture yourself so. You're not crazy."
He smiled at me now. "Thanks for saying that. And you are crazy."
"That's not very nice!" I pretended to be offended.
"Don't worry about all that stuff with Daniel so much. I know what a boy in love looks like."
I gave him a small smile of my own. "Thanks for saying that, Jack."
"Don't mention it. So, I guess I'll see you for this costume fitting thing?" He asked.
"Bright and early Thursday. Party's the week after," I replied.
"Alright. Have a good night, kid."
Strange, but as I watched him walk away I almost said, you too, father.
"You too, Jack." I called quietly after him.
Perhaps all three of us were crazy, I thought as I cleaned up the kitchen and trudged up to my room. Love did that to people.
"No, the skirt needs to go up a little higher. Up more. There!" My mother and Annie were a fashion force to be reckoned with. Making clothes could have been their super power. My mother translated the sketches she'd helped me create, and Annie molded them into fabric.
"How am I doing with these stitches?" I asked almost helplessly. The needle I was holding made me nervous for the health of my fingers. I'd already jabbed myself three times with it.
"Just keep doing it like I showed you, and you'll be fine," Annie said dismissively, holding up a swatch of dark green fabric against a lighter shade.
I groaned. "What time is it?"
"Two minutes past the time you last asked, Clara," Annie replied.
How could Annie do this for a living? Stitching fabric together was so, so…tedious! Over, and over, and over again you stuck the needle through and then pulled it out. In, out. In, out. I was going to get a cramp in my arm. Amelia better get here soon. She was picking up feathers for our head wear.
We'd been at the costume making for four days now. Amelia and I both found as many errands to go on as we could, (In the name of the costumes, of course.) to get away from stitching. We were all working our tails off to get them finished by the party. We still had Jack's to do, and we weren't even half-way done with our own. Annie, the slave driver, was confident we would finish. I wasn't so sure.
I winced as I pricked my finger again. The end results had better be worth all of this!
"So, are you sure my mysterious date will show up tonight for our costume fitting? He better be as handsome as you say he is," Annie started to talk as she finished sewing a sleeve.
"What date? What man, Clara?" My mother was looking back and forth from Annie to me.
I had no idea what to say. My mind froze.
"Clara got me a date with a man she knows, for the party. From what I hear, he's blond and his name is-"
"I'm back, everyone! Goodness, who knew feathers could be so heavy!" Amelia grunted to herself as she lugged two sacks each full of a rainbow of different feathers, through the backstage door.
I jumped up to help her, thankful for the interruption. "He is very handsome, Annie, and he will be here. Mother, Daniel has met the man, as well. So, no need to worry. And Amelia, how many bloody feathers did you buy? Do you think we're going to the party as birds?"
"I'll have you know," She panted, as she dragged the sack I hadn't taken to a table. "I could not decide what color would look best with what. So, I got them all."
I shrugged. "I suppose we can make fans with whatever we have left," My eyes glanced over the heaping bags of feathers again. "Really, really large fans."
Amelia slapped my arm, and swung her glossy black hair as she turned towards me, her just as dark eyes bright with excitement. "Do shut your mouth. Fans would be wonderful."
We traded barbs back and forth a bit longer, until I got a glance at Amelia's new Baguette watch. I had grabbed her wrist just to see how many more hours of torture we had to endure for the day, but when I saw the time I gasped.
All three females watched me as I stood up, dropping the half-done dress I'd been sewing, and dashed for my coat. I grabbed the pile of costume sketches from my mother, and pulled out one of the male counterpart to my costume.
"I have to go! I promised Daniel I would meet him at his house an hour ago, to show him his costume sketch! Oh, he'll kill me! I'll be back soon, love you all!"
As soon as the taxicab pulled up in front of Daniel's house, I paid the man, and made my way up to the front door.
I could hear the arguing from the street.
An uneasy feeling kicked to life in my abdomen. I froze in place, not sure I wanted to go any further. Something was wrong. Never once since I had known them, never once, had Daniel's parents raised their voices to one another. Could they have something to do with Daniel's behavior lately? I had a strange feeling the two were connected, but not caused by each other.
Dread filled me as I knocked on the door. I didn't want to go in there.
The volume of the shouting increased when the door was opened, and I took an involuntary step back at the vibes of hostility that washed over me from within. Daniel stood in the doorway, with bags under his eyes and his usually impeccably neat hair tousled. He looked harassed.
"Clara, you're over an hour late." His tone was almost tired. Tired of me?
"I know, Daniel. I'm sorry. I lost track of time, with all the work we've been doing-" Something crashed from inside the house. It sounded like shattering glass.
I looked at Daniel, worried. "What going on?"
He rubbed his brow. Something he only did when greatly upset. "It's nothing. Look, right now isn't a good time. You should leave."
He sounded like he was dismissing me. "I understand that I was late, Daniel, but do you really mean you want me to leave? Maybe there's something I can do to help."
I suddenly heard crying in the midst of all the yelling. It sounded like Daniel's sisters. He looked behind him, and then back at me. "You really need to go, I-"
He was cut off as both the girls came to the front door, sobbing, faces blotchy and swollen. Before Daniel could fully shut the door in my face, I bent down and held out my arms to Sarah and Joan. They ran to me and clung to my neck. I had no idea what was going on, and even if Daniel didn't want me around, I knew the twins needed me.
I looked over their tiny heads, and up at him. For a moment Daniel looked stricken, before masking it. He was hiding from me. When had Daniel ever hidden from me? We knew everything about one another. I was so confused. This boy I was looking at was like a totally different one from the boy that had once asked me to be his beau, soul laid bare as he waited for my answer. I saw no trace of that boy, the one I loved beyond words, in Daniel anymore. This was a stranger standing before me. The Daniel I had known all my life would never send me away, dismiss me, try to slam a door in my face. Something significant in our relationship most surely altered at that moment.
Before, the signs had been subtle. Now, they were painfully, ruthlessly clear. Did he even care about me anymore? I had never once doubted that, for as long as I had known him. Now I was. It felt like some one had died.
The shouting inside died down, and a door slammed. Daniel looked inside once, and then sighing, came outside and closed the door behind him. He bent down and picked up the sketch I had dropped in my haste to hold the girls.
"We should probably take them to the park," he murmured. And then he simply walked away, without looking back to see if I'd follow. I cannot lie. It stung.
Sarah and Joan's sobs had quieted down to sniffles and hiccups, by the time we reached the park. I placed each one on a swing, and bent down to wipe the wet from their cheeks. I stepped behind them and pushed the swings, looking at Daniel as he sat under a shaded tree, examining the plan for his costume like it was the most important thing in the world.
I was afraid to ask. "What's going on, Daniel?"
He didn't look up from the sketch. "You know, this is going to be really great. I think green would be better on the sash here, though."
"Daniel, what was that all about?" I stared at him so intensely, I knew he could feel it.
"How much have you gotten done of your own costume?"
His head snapped up; his gaze burned mine like fire. "Leave it alone, Clara. I won't say it again."
Then he turned back to the sketch.
My heart stuttered; my eyes glazed over with tears I would not shed in front of Daniel. He had never spoken to anyone that way before. Especially me. Not even when we were small, and got into small tiffs. I stared at him for a moment, looking a bit pathetic, I'm sure. And then I turned my full attention back to the twins. They were quiet, and no longer crying. It was so odd, seeing them in such a state. Those girls were never quiet. They were too full of spirit to waste time on silence.
I was growing so tired of all the silence. Jack may have been right about Daniel loving me once, but now I was convinced he no longer did. I was too weary to do anything more about it, for the time being. So many times he had been there for me, and when he finally needed my support, he pushed me away. No relationship had a chance of surviving this way. I was sure Daniel knew it.
I stopped pushing the girls. "I'm tired, Daniel. I'm going to go home. You may want to come play with the girls," I knelt in front of them. "No more tears, alright? Only smiles."
They nodded, and began to pump their legs to swing. Daniel hadn't moved.
I walked up to him, and held out my hand. "Give me the drawing. Come by theater before tomorrow night for your fitting. We'll be there."
Daniel just stared at the paper for a moment, thinking about something. Annoyed, I bent down to snatch it from his hand, but he was faster, and grabbed my wrist. Next thing I knew, he was pulling me unceremoniously into his lap, and then crushing his mouth to mine. His kiss was hungry and dark.
I kissed him back for a minute, just happy to be close to him again. But, then I came to my senses and roughly pushed him away. I glared into his eyes, and deliberately wiped my mouth with my hand. I wanted to be kissed my some one else, not this person. I told him so.
"You're making no sense, Clara." He sounded tired again.
"Yes, I am. It's you who isn't, Daniel Treveali. And you shouldn't maul a girl in front of your sisters. Now, give me the damn sketch!"
I was now furious with the entire situation. I was going to break down crying soon. I couldn't decide which emotion to run with. I was hot, and now cold. My body was shaking with suppressed emotion. When Daniel still didn't move, just stared at me, I ripped the paper from his fingers and stood up, turning my back on him. I wanted to bump him off.
I bent down in front of the girls again, and kissed each on the forehead. "Be good, and remember: no tears!"
Before I headed back to the theater to get prepped for Jack's fitting, I decided to stop at my house. I needed to gather my bearings, and I knew my mother would be home for lunch by now, resting. Even though I knew I was too old to do so, I wanted to seek solace in her arms. When I stepped in the door, it was to voices coming from the parlor.
My brow furrowed. We weren't supposed to have any guests over, that I was aware of. I tiptoed to the parlor entrance, and peeked in. And what I saw and heard next just made my entire day complete.
Jonathan Rudders was over again. He was asking my mother to be his companion to the Halloween party tomorrow night. And she was accepting his invitation.
I felt betrayed.
A/n: Phew, a lot just went down, huh? Just so you know, 'bump off' is twenties lingo for killing/murdering some one. So, next chapter is Daniel/Jack's costume fittings, and the beginning of the Halloween party. I've been looking forward to writing it.
So, I have a huge favor to ask all of you. I'm going to give everyone a chance to participate in the story. I need some help deciding what famous couples my pairs should dress up as for the party. That's where you come in. I'd love it if you guys would contribute your thoughts on who should be who for Halloween. Here are the pairs you have to decide on costumes for:
And remember, it has to be famous couples…like, Romeo & Juliet, Lancelot & Guinevere, Elizabeth Bennet & Mr. Darcy. Those are really the only ones I could think of. I need something before or during the time period of the story, which is late 1920s. I'm totally excited to read your suggestions, if you decide to share them! I really do need help!