It had been a few months now since that fateful night, and Rose was enjoying her new life in New York. She kept working as a waitress in "Antonio's Amazing Ale's," and she loved it. However, she was asked to work a few blocks away (where the streets became cleaner, wider and brighter) in an upper class restaurant. The man who asked her came into Antonio's bar for a drink, but when he saw Miss Dawson serving pints and socializing with the rowdy men around her, he knew he had to have her onboard. At first she wasn't sure about it, but Bella and Antonio insisted that she went. Bella knew that Rose was good at her job, and she lured in customers like a moth to a flame, so it only made sense for the teenage beauty to show off her skills for a higher wage. Bella wanted only the best for the daughter she never had. And as for Robert, well, Robert and Rose had become inseparable. Days for Rose were spent taking orders and collecting dirty dishes at "Le Petit De'jeneur" and thinking about Robert. Her nights were spent sleeping next to Robert and thinking about Jack. She couldn't help but think about him. Although now when she thought of him, she didn't feel sorrow. She felt content, for she was starting to fulfil the promise she made to him. Robert was still planning on moving to England, and Rose wasn't sure if she would be going with him or not. He had not mentioned it to her. It was only because of Mamma telling her that she knew. He had been packing up his things, and Rose assumed one of two things: Either he was going to take her with him and make it a surprise when he asked her to go… or he was going to sneak away during the night without her knowing and leave her behind… she didn't want to be heartbroken again, there's only so much the heart can take, and Rose's heart of ice had only just began to thaw. She understood that he wanted to make more money by going over to London to become a full time photographer and journalist, but why was he being so secretive about it? Rose didn't want to ask him. She wasn't too sure if their relationship had gotten to the stage of opening up and being paranoid about things. And as always, when things were troubling Rose, she went to the one and only person she could talk to about this kind of stuff, and who she could rely on and trust:
"Bella, could I ask you something?" She stood by the living room door, almost shyly. Bella's huge personality soon made Rose feel less uncomfortable about what she was going to ask. "Of course you can, Rosa! Come in and sit."
Rose walked in and shut the door, taking in the smell of Mamma's home made spaghetti bolognaise. Her mouth was already watering. "Bella… you remember when you told me about Robert… wanting to move away to London?" She sat down next to Bella who was on the worn out sofa.
"Yes, I remember." she smiled at Rose happily, drying her hands on her apron.
"Well… he's been a little bit odd lately."
"I'm not sure… well, we always come back here together, and sleep here together, and not once in the few months I've been here has he took me home to his place once."
Bella laughed and waved a hand dismissively. "Oh Rosa my darling, don't you worry. He's a man. He's probably too ashamed of the mess in his apartment to take you back to his place."
"Well, that's the thing… it's not just that he won't take me back to his place, but it looks as if he won't be going back to his place either."
Bella's smile dropped slightly and her tone became slightly more serious, "What do you mean?"
"His furniture is outside the back alleyway behind his apartment block. That homeless man has taken up permanent residence on his sofa and a family of pigeons have a brilliant home in his chest of drawers… I suppose he's planning on buying more furniture once he arrives in London…travelling lightly I suppose." She lowered her head, remembering again that he had not even mentioned it to Rose.
Bella sensed the sadness in her voice and the look in her eyes, and at once she had attacked Rose with her big, warm embrace, holding the young red head to her bosom lovingly. Mamma stroked her hair and comforted her. "Well I'm sure he's not planning on leaving without you. Perhaps he's just forgotten." Even Bella didn't believe herself.
"How could he forget to tell me that he's about to move away to the other side of the world? It's not exactly something that just slips your mind." Rose pulled away from Bella and jumped up, racing over to the living room window almost angrily. "I've been with him plenty of times, and expected him on half of those occasions to tell me, and yet I'm still waiting!"
"Well what are you going to do about it?" Bella asked simply.
Rose turned, taken off guard by her question. "What am I going to do? I shouldn't have to do anything!"
Mamma got up, sensing Rose's frustration and worry. She brushed the girls hair with a soft hand and then took her by the shoulders, almost assertively, looking deep into her eyes. "Rose… you and I, we're women, and as women, we sometimes have to do things ourselves in order to get things done." Roe didn't quite know where she was going with this, but Bella continued, "I left a life of fame and fortune to live here, but that was a choice I made willingly, all by myself… and now it's time for you to take action. If Robert isn't going to tell you, then MAKE him tell you!"
"You mean… question him?"
"Yes!" She smiled and shook Rose slightly. "Rosa, it's like those suffragettes that you see all over the newspaper. They're voices are being heard because they're taking action and making a stand. No one ever got anywhere by putting up and shutting up. Robert cares about you a lot, but he's a man, and as a man he sometimes needs a kick on the behind to wake him up."
"But if he wanted me to go with him he would have told me by now… what if I'm just… you know?"
Bella shook her head. She did not know.
Rose sighed, and looked away awkwardly, not quite knowing how to put it. "What if Robert…. what if he's just using me… for…"
"Sex?" Bella took the words right out of the girls silent mouth. She nodded, and Bella was quick to reassure her. "Robert would never use you for sex… not you of all people." She put her arms out and wrapped the girl tightly in her embrace, looking out the window over at Robert's apartment, with a blank expression on her face. "Robert's a good man… we can rely on him."
Later that day, Rose decided she would do just as Bella had told her. She would confront Robert, and ask him what he was planning to do. But she didn't quite know how. The only man she had ever stood up to was Cal, when she told him "I'd rather be his whore than your wife." as he stopped her from going to find Jack amongst the panicking crowds aboard the Titanic. She then proceeded to spit in his face. A skill that Jack had taught her well. And ever since then she had lived contently, and making her way towards happiness, until now. Was the only good thing in Rose's life about to leave the country without her. And by the looks of things, he was departing soon.
"Working Man's Pleasure" was just around the corner. On these streets, girls in revealing dresses with back-combed, messy hair and overdone make up prowled the alleyways like lionesses, hungry for a kill. The men that walked by wolf whistled at them, but if their wallets didn't come out, the girls just walked the other way. Rose had been friends with Emma for a while now, ever since she saved her from an angry client. Every Friday she would meet Emma outside the "whore house" as Emma liked to put it, and they went out for dinner together and had a girly night out. Rose missed these kind of nights, because all of her friends in Philadelphia were sure that the young Rose was dead and lost at Sea. The thought alone made her shiver, but she tried now to think about it. It was easier to live a lie than to toss and turn at night over the truth.
Rose stood at the bottom of the steps that led into the house, and the men that passed by eyed her up eagerly. Her well dressed appearance, neatly styled hair and generously applied makeup made her stand out fro the rest, of course what these men didn't know was that Rose was not an employee. Rose had been doing this for weeks, and got used to telling passers by, "I'm just waiting for a friend." and funnily enough, the men were not as pushy as you would think. They'd apologise for bothering her and head on their way. Some of them even recognised the girl from every other Friday before and would cheekily say, "Are you STILL waiting on that friend of yours? Poor show my dear lady, poor show." which made Rose snigger slightly… If only Ruth could see her now, hanging around the working classes. It would turn her mother's stomach. This thought alone made Rose laugh out loud.
Just then, the doors swung open, and Emma came bounding down the steps, merrily anticipating Rose's appearance. Today, Emma looked happier than ever. Bringing out a brown envelope, she brandished it in the air as she stood next to Rose.
"Payday at last!" She kissed the brown paper and exhaled contently.
"And by the looks of it someone has had a raise." Rose examined the bulking size of the envelope, compared to previous weeks.
"Well, the boss says I've been working well lately, so she said it was time I got rewarded for it."
Rose had gotten used to the idea of getting paid for sex. "That's good, Emma. At least they're acknowledging your hard work."
There was a pause, and instantly both girls began chuckling over the innuendo behind the expression "hard work" in relation to Emma's occupation. When the hysterical laughter died down, Emma turned to Rose and said, "What does acknowledging mean?"
Rose smiled sweetly and explained, "It means to recognize something, or notice it. They've noticed how well you work and they've paid you extra."
Teaching Emma new words was a regular occurrence. She had a basic education, and when she stopped going to school to make money for her mother and younger siblings, the only job around town which didn't need qualifications was prostitution. The majority of the workers there were young girls who had dropped out of school, desperate to make a living for themselves. Most of the time it was just a name and a bad reputation that they made. Emma's name was Emmanuelle. Her friend Claire was named Coco. And the reputation they had was that they were all a sex craved, ill mannered and inhumane sub species…. Rose knew the truth about these girls.
It was getting dark now, and the two girls had been sitting in Central Park, watching the sky grow black behind the illuminating buildings. They had a whole week of gossip to catch up on, and Emma was telling Rose of a man she was falling in love with.
"He comes to the whore house every couple of days. He always reserves the best room in the house for us, and when we get into bed, it's not all sexual straight away. He likes to cuddle me, and just talk and talk, and nibble my ear, and kiss my neck, and all the romantic stuff that you see in a Nickelodeon." She grinned from ear to ear as she spoke, gazing at the stars. "One time we didn't even have sex! We just spoke about our lives for a couple of hours and then I walked him home and kissed him goodnight."
Rose was puzzled for a moment. "Wait, YOU walked HIM home?"
"C'mon Rose, it's 1912, times are changing. Besides, I'm not exactly a conventinal girl."
"Conventional." Rose corrected her politely.
"Besides, he had paid me. The least I could do was walk him down the block… anyway, enough about me. How's you and your Robert doing? Is he still packing up his things?"
"Yes, although now he's moved onto removing all the furniture from his house." Rose sighed. "Emma, I was going to ask you something…"
"… but I don't quite know how to put it." She tip toed awkwardly around the question that was on the tip of her tongue.
"Well why don't you just try spitting it out. That's what I've always found easiest." Emma giggled.
"That's just it! You say what's on your mind. I was brought up and conditioned to keep quiet and not voice my opinion or question people. But in recent months, I feel as if I've been given a new lease of life, like I'm a new person… and I need to confront Robert. I need to ask him what the hell he's doing… but I can't quite bring myself to do it."
Emma nodded and listened intently as her red headed friend spoke. "Hmmm… well, personally, I would just get him alone sometime when you're both together, and ask it straight out. What's the worst that could happen? He clearly thinks you're an idiot if he's emptying his home across the street from you and thinks you can't see what's going on right under your nose."
"But I'm afraid." Rose spoke almost silently.
"Afraid of what? has he hit you?" Emma stood up protectively, as if ready to hunt him down.
"No no no, Robert is lovely! He would never do anything to hurt me… I guess I'm just afraid of the truth… what if I'm just his "working man's pleasure?" What if I'm just keeping him company until he moves on?"
"Well of he's so lovely, he wouldn't use you like that, would he?"
Rose was silent, deep in thought.
"If you think he can be such a wonderful man, and yet be secretly using you for sex, then you mustn't really know him that well at all… maybe you should ask yourself what you ALREADY know about him before you ask him what you WANT to know."
Rose knew she was right. Perhaps years of arranged partners had made Rose fall for men too easily, because her mentality of love and relationships was that any stranger would suffice… but now that she was thinking this to herself, was she only trying to ease her feelings over Robert and Jack, or was it true?
"Emma…all this talking and walking has made me hungry… have you ever been to Le Petit De'jeneur?"
"You mean, the diner up in the posh part of the City? I used to dream of being one of the girls in there with the big feathered hats and animal fur coats." she stared longingly at the stars again. A lost girl in this world, aiming high in life. Rose knew the feeling.
"Did I tell you that I worked there now?"
Emma gasped, and almost squealed with excitement. "Seriously? Rose, that's great news!"
"Well I think we should take a stroll up town for a 1st class dinner… but first, we've got to look the part."