Mata Hari and the Tycoon
Disclaimer: I don't own anything pertaining to 'Lackadaisy,' but I have been wondering about the relationship between Mitzi and Atlas. Being the romantic optimist that I am, I thought I'd paint a pretty picture of it. Of course I'm waiting for any page to dispel this notion and completely turn our expectations of the marriage on its head, but – meanwhile, this is a sweet little ficlet.
There it was. The ring on the table.
A beautiful diamond solitaire set in real gold. Just looking at it made Mitzi feel dizzy. She looked up at Atlas.
He looked calm as usual, but a tricksome smile quirked the corners of his mouth.
So this was it. He was going to "make an honest woman of her," as Zib had so bluntly phrased it. But –
"You really mean it?" she stammered.
"With all my heart," he replied.
And he meant it. That's what melted her. She swallowed hard. "Atlas –"
Ah, the calm cracked – she could make this tycoon, this king of moonshine, unsure and fearful of rejection – but she wouldn't, not now.
"If – I have to tell you, then, who I am. Otherwise – I mean, you have to know, right?"
"I would like that. Is there some angry father whose blessing I should beg?"
She smiled tightly. "I don't think so… Atlas, my name isn't Mitzi."
"I figured as much."
"It's Mary. Mary Ellen Montgomery."
"What a lovely name."
She swallowed hard, thinking of the "No Irish Need Apply" signs she'd seen all over St. Louis, and in other towns, all across the plains.
But Atlas only chuckled. "Did I ever tell you my favorite literary heroine is Katie Scarlett O'Hara?"
"Mitzi – or should I say, Mary Ellen – if you're going to be my wife you'll have to read 'Gone With the Wind.'"
Her cheeks flushed. "Well, why not find yourself a pretty debutante who's already read every book ever written, and marry her?"
"I don't want a sparkling debutante – or a respectable widow, for that matter. Idle ornaments chattering about the emptiest subjects. No. I want to marry you, Mitzi, I don't just want to be married. I want you close to me. I want to be sure my little Mata Hari isn't going to vanish into the evening mists and never be found again."
She looked down, blushing and strangling the poor napkin in her hands.
"And Mary Ellen –" he waited to continue, until she looked up at him again. "I see that you're more than just a pretty showgirl. You have passion, and more brains than you let on. You care about the Lackadaisy, don't you?"
Atlas smiled, and lifted and dropped his hand on the table as if to say, So that's it, then. "Why not?" he asked.
She kept thinking. "If I marry you…"
"Yes?" the anxiety was gone; the tide of the conversation had shifted, the uncertainty was lifted.
"You'll remember I've got brains; you won't treat me like a little doll."
"And you won't twit me about being uneducated."
"If I say I want to guide you in a particular direction – "
"Don't 'twit' me, I said. Don't tease me in front of other people."
"Of course not. Do I tease you that often in front of others?"
She shrugged. "Enough."
"I'll leave off, then. But I meant it about 'Gone With the Wind.' You'll like that book."
"I'm sure I will."
"And, so the answer is…"
Mitzi looked into the wineglass, saw years blooming out ahead of her – years of pretty things and money and credit, of galas and parties, and of talks, and evenings together when the galas were over – and then she looked into Atlas' face.
"Yes," she said, with a smile. "The answer is yes."