"Emily, look!" Dolores breathed.
Emily opened her eyes, squinting in the sun. "What is it, Dolly?"
"The boys are coming!"
And so they were. Emily sat up hastily, shaking sand from her dark brown hair. Shielding her eyes with her hand, she scanned the beach. Ah, there they were. One of the boys spotted her and Dolly and pointed them out to his companions. The girls waved enthusiastically.
Greeting the girls, the boys removed their shirts and set their things on the girls' blanket. Emily scanned their faces, her vision spotted by the sun. She smiled at Joe, Will, Roger, Dick, and- oh. Her cheer faded to disdain. Charlie.
Oh, how her friends adored Charlie Kane. Agnes had simply worshiped him when he was at Harvard – in fact, Emily suspected Charlie was the reason Agnes had disappeared for the better part of the school year and into the summer. He'd gone out with several of the other girls, too. He was an abhorrent rascal, newly moneyed and poorly bred. Now, beside her, Dolly was all smiles and pinup poses as the other boys left Charlie behind.
"Aren't you going to swim?" Emily asked pointedly.
Dolly shot her a glare that almost instantly snapped back into her winning grin. "The ocean is so dirty this time of year. Do sit down, Charlie." She scooted to make room for him on the blanket.
Emily seethed. Don't sit down next to me, don't you dare sit down, don't-
He sat between them, his lean torso exposed to the sun. "Got to get a tan before we head up to the Alps."
Dolly leaned in. "The Alps?"
Charlie reclined, closing his eyes to the sun. "Will's idea. He said to invite anybody." He cracked open an eye and gave Dolly that half-smile that Emily so loathed. "Want to come?"
As Dolly squealed her acceptance, Emily had to restrain herself from being rude. She couldn't lay down next to him; it would be shockingly improper. She was just about to excuse herself and go somewhere else – anywhere else – when Charlie turned to her.
"How about you, Em?"
"Emily," she said curtly.
He merely grinned at her, opening his other eye. "Alright, then. Would you feel inclined to join us in the Alps this fall, Lady Emily Monroe Norton?"
She stuck her nose in the air. "I have plans."
It didn't take Dolly long to break the tense silence. "Oh, come now, Em. I insist. I don't want to be the only girl up there."
Emily only stared at the other boys, frolicking in the Atlantic. She couldn't help releasing a small sigh.
Apparently, Charlie gave up. "Pity Jed couldn't come, isn't it?"
Without thinking, Emily whipped her head around. "Jed isn't here?"
Charlie searched her face, that no-good smirk bringing a blush to her cheeks. Had he guessed? "He's directing a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. They're doing a string of performances this weekend. Hadn't you heard?"
She took a deep breath. "No, no I hadn't." Pointedly looking back out to sea, away from Charlie Kane and his searching, knowing gaze, she mentally kicked herself. Had she actually appeared interested in Jedediah Leland? In front of his best friend? And how could she have missed that he had a play going on? She wished she could see it, she wished –
She wished Charlie would stop staring at her.
Thankfully, Dolly came to her rescue, apparently miffed that Charlie's attention was elsewhere. "I'd love a soda. Wouldn't you, Charlie?"
He stood up, blinking, still staring at Emily. He knew, she thought. Of course he knew.
"I'll take you for one. My treat." He helped Dolly up. "Will you be staying here all by yourself, Miss Emily?" It took all her resolve to keep her temper in check. This low-born scoundrel dared take that cheeky tone with her?
"I think I'll go for a swim, thanks."
Dolly, mercifully, did not object. She clearly wanted Charlie on his own. "See you back at the hotel, Em." Dolly fluffed her wavy blonde hair, put on her wrap, and walked away arm-in-arm with that cad, Charlie Kane.
Emily didn't know how to swim. She sat, staring at the sun reflecting on the water. Somewhere across that ocean was Jed Leland. With the time difference, maybe his play had even started. A Midsummer Night's Dream. She knew the title, knew of Shakespeare, had read his sonnets and even a play or two. The girls all adored Romeo and Juliet. Emily, though, had found it distasteful, stupid even, and hadn't paid much attention to Mr. Shakespeare since. Though, if Jed liked him-
She stopped. Nothing could ever happen between her and Jed Leland; her father would put his foot down if he even heard a ghost of a whisper that she had been seen in public with some English major attending college on – perish the thought – scholarships. No, she thought to herself, laying back down on the blanket and closing her eyes. She and Jedediah Leland were never meant to be.
But there he was, beside her in the theater. She didn't know what was going on onstage, only that he was close, so close she could smell him, could reach out and touch him if she wanted. His wavy hair, his intelligent eyes. Oh no, she was staring, she knew it. In a moment he'd look over and catch her. Or not even him. Anyone could see her studying his jaw, his profile, his eyelashes. Anyone in the entire theater might know. She had to look away before things got out of hand, before he found out-
Rats, she thought. Someone was coming to sit in the chair between them. Curious, she looked up to see who it was, then scowled. Charlie Kane, always ruining everything. But to see his seat, he had to have seen her ogling Jed. That was unacceptable. Charlie returned her gaze, not with a scowl, but with a grin. Would he say anything? Jed turned-
A shadow fell over Emily's face. Her eyelids fluttered as she squinted to see its source. Dolly's eyes filled with concern for her friend.
"Do you have heatstroke? Oh no, oh no. Help me get her out of the sun," she called over her shoulder to someone Emily couldn't see. Emily tried to tell Dolly she was alright, but her mouth was dry, so dry. The sun had moved considerably since she'd closed her eyes. Could she really have fallen asleep?
Another shadow. Emily squinted and could just make out Charlie's face. Despite her weak struggle, he picked her up. Dolly gathered their things and trotted beside Charlie, warning him not to jostle her.
"Don't worry," he said, looking Emily straight in the eye, "I've got you."
Comforted more than she wanted to be, Emily let the darkness overtake her.
Hi everybody! As you've probably guessed by now, this is a Citizen Kane fanfiction. I'm a cinema student, so I've had lots of critical discussions about the film. There's been lots of speculation that Jed is gay and in love with Charlie; I think he stays single and feels betrayed by Kane for different reasons, that his mention of dancing school is significant in a way other than implying homosexuality. So that's this story. Hope you like it!
In case you're interested, there's a companion "story" to this that's more in Jed's head and provides more of his backstory. (If you can't tell, I have a pretty serious crush on Mr. Jed Leland.) That one's called "On Jed's Terms". This may or may not link to it: .net/s/5642125/1/On_Jeds_Terms
This is my first serious fanfic, just so you know, and I would ABSOLUTELY ADORE reviews. If you think I suck, please tell me so I can get better - only, please be nice about it? Please? Thanks. You're awesome (but only if you review. Am I kidding? Hmm...). Also, if you know the movie well, I beg of you, tell me if anything isn't in keeping with the original story. I'm pretty vehemently opposed to AU.
I'm gonna try to update weekly on Saturdays. Story statuses will be available on Twitter - /sebhar - and you should hound me to update on time.
Thanks for reading!