Hi! So this story goes along with my other Citizen Kane fanfic. This particular chapter occurs between chapters 2 and 3 of "On My Own Terms". I'm not promising excitement, but character development is in there fore shore.
Jed walked away from the Norton residence feeling shell-shocked.
He needed to be drunk. Now. And there was only one person with whom that would be best accomplished:
It was summer, it was lunchtime, and the sun was out. Charlie would be in one of three places: the sunroom at his gorgeous home just outside the city, on the balcony of his loft apartment – which he had somehow managed to keep a secret from Mr. Thatcher, his guardian – or out on the patio of his favorite bistro. As Jed walked down the Norton's lane toward the main road, where he hoped he might catch a cab back to Manhattan, he forced himself – painful though it was – to think about what had just happened.
Cut to the chase, Jed. You screwed up. She's never going to want anything to do with you. Ever. Again.
It had been a fool's errand. He didn't even have an excuse for coming all the way out to her house, uninvited, to see her. He had nothing to ask, nothing to tell. In fact, come to think of it, he was nothing.
Jolted from his self-loathing reverie, Jed looked up at the driver of a two-horse carriage whose approach he had somehow managed not to hear. "Yes?"
The driver inclined his head. "Mr. Leland, Miss Emily requested that I drive you wherever you'd like to go."
Great, Jed thought. She wants me out of here as fast as possible. "I have a lunch appointment at the Bistro Rugosa in Manhattan. Do you know it?"
"I do indeed, sir," replied the driver, who then hopped from his seat and opened the carriage door. Jedediah climbed in, and the other man secured the door. As Jed had expected, the driver did not merely trundle along; no, Emily must have told him to step on it, to get him out of her sight.
The twenty minutes of country driving gave Jed plenty of time to reflect on the events of the morning. Waking up at the boarding house where he spent summers. Showering, shaving, putting on his best clothes, all the while practicing what he would say to her.
Then, of course, his miserable failure. Their icy conversation.
If he could have, Jed would have kicked himself.
He still wasn't sure why he'd needed to see her all of a sudden. Sure, they'd been friends when they were kids, but they'd gone to their separate private schools. Finally, after years and years of scraping the bottom of the barrel for his tuition money, Jed had gotten a full-ride scholarship to Yale, and Emily had wound up attending a ladies' finishing school in New Haven. (There had been rumors of starting a women's college, a sort of corollary to Yale, but so far the idea was considered too controversial.)
Once in Connecticut, Jed had started his freshman year, studying the fine arts and slowly becoming friends with his boisterous roommate, the gold-mine heir from out West – Charles Foster Kane. Most of their acquaintances at Yale came from families that had been rich ever since they came over from Europe, or who'd made fortunes at the beginning of America. The Elis – and their family friends over at the finishing school – had, by and large, accepted Charlie into their circle, despite the fact that he was "new money". People liked Charlie for his wit, his charm, and, of course, his bank accounts.
Jed, on the other hand, would never have met any of those people if it hadn't been for Charlie. Initially he'd had some exotic appeal; the children of America's financial elite weren't used to "poor" kids like Jed. Oh, they'd always been polite about his fiscal stature, of course, but especially at the beginning of the school year, Jed's relative poverty had been an elephant that accompanied him into every room. By the end of the term, however, most of the kids accepted Jed as one of them. They respected him because he was generally quiet and polite, but within that serene exterior burned the fire of a true prankster, a mischievous mastermind. The boys admired his intelligence and ability to have a good time; the girls all felt that they could confide in him, and he would keep all their secrets. Slowly, his character won out over his lack of wealth. Everybody liked Jed.
The outskirts of New York City zipped by out the window, but Jed didn't notice.
His mother had always wanted him to be cultured, and part of that meant dance lessons. The logic behind this was that someday, Jed would be able to impress some rich girl with his dancing prowess, marry her, and live the rest of his life in fiscal, marital bliss. Now nineteen, almost twenty years old, Jedediah could ballroom dance with the very best. He was light on his feet and, more importantly, always polite. The chink in the plan, though, was that none of his New Haven friends particularly enjoyed dancing, and there was no point in dancing alone.
"The Rugosa, sir."
Jed hadn't even noticed that the carriage had stopped. Where had the trip gone?
Oh, yeah. Emily.
The door swung open as the driver let him out. Jed reached into his pocket for his money clip, but the driver held up his hand. "Miss Emily said to refuse any payment."
This annoyed Jed. What was her game? "Thank you," he told the driver, and turned to walk into the Rugosa, where Charlie would be waiting, hopefully with gin.
"She must like you, Mr. Leland."
Without hesitation, Jed whirled around. "What makes you think that?"
Grinning, the driver replied, "Never in my life have I played chauffeur to anyone but Miss Emily herself."
Too stunned to reply, Jed just gaped at the driver as he returned to his seat and pointed the horses back toward the countryside.
He shook his head and returned to his senses. She probably did like him, though it was preposterous to think her affection extended beyond friendship.
Jed set his jaw and turned toward the bistro, only to see Charlie Kane sitting at an outside table, his eyes glinting with what some might mistake for sunlight, but what Jed recognized as mischief.
"Emily Monroe Norton's personal carriage and driver?" Charlie asked. "My my my, Mr. Leland, you must have a story to tell."