This is a brand new one shot I contributed to the Pretty in Pink compilation last August. I absolutely loved writing this. I do have a disclaimer however. I did my best to write a Scottish accent, but I wanted to keep it so it was close enough to represent the accent well but I also wanted to make sure people could read it. So please forgiving any shortcomings with that. I researched and have visited the beautiful country, but unfortunately I'm not a Scot. I just like to look at James McAvoy a lot.
"Mr. Cullen, may I take your things?"
I stepped out of the car and motioned to the back where my trunks lay. I slipped a few dollars to the man and told him my suite number as I fumbled for my ticket. My hands were shaking.
"Is Edward scared of his first boat ride?" My brother Emmett cackled, slapping my back.
"Boat?" I looked up at the steel monster in front of us. "I'd hardly call that a boat, Emmett. That there is a ship."
"Ready, boys?" My father pointed to his watch and almost on cue, the ship blew a mighty loud horn. I clutched my ticket against my chest as we walked briskly towards our entrance.
I was so taken by the large beauty of a ship in front of me that I hardly watched where I was going. I stumbled over something and nearly fell to the ground. Thankfully I was able to catch myself on Emmett before he shook me off and continued running after my father.
"I'm so sorry, sir. Please forgive me," a small voice said. I looked down to see what I had stumbled on and noticed a young woman scrambling to pick up her belongings, which had apparently tumbled from her bag that was sprawled out across the ground.
"The fault was mine, please let me help you." I crouched down and started grabbing her things.
"That's very kind of ye, but completely unnecessary," she said quickly. "Ay ran into ye, ye shouldn't trouble yourself."
I noticed that she all but refused to look me in the eye. I could tell by her clothing that she was not wealthy, but I saw that she held a ticket in her hands. Possibly third class.
"Is that hint of Scot I detect in your accent, Miss?" I asked, flashing her a smile.
"Mah mother was from Edenborough." She reached for a necklace the same time I did and we managed to break it right in half. She gasped.
"Oh my apologies, Miss."
She let it fall through her fingers as she held back the tears. "It's no matter. Old thing." She stood up and brushed her hands off on her dress. "Well thank ye for yer kindness, Sir. Ay ought to be going."
"Wait, I take it you're making the trip to America?" I nodded to her ticket.
"Yes, Sir. But Ay highly doubt Ay'll be seeing ye."
"Why is that?" I asked, smiling.
"Because Ay'm not yer kind, Sir," she said with a fire in her eyes. "Mah mother died three months ago and Ay used my inheritance to buy this ticket. This bag is mah entire life and by the looks of it, ye could barely fit yer life into this ship. Ay beg you to save yer charity for someone more suited fer ye. Good day." She bowed her head and scurried into the crowd.
For some reason, I leaned down and grabbed the broken necklace. I tucked it quickly into my front pocket and hurried off to find my family.
My father and Emmett were waiting along with my mother, sister and Emmett's fiancée to board. The Captain of the ship met us as we stepped aboard and shook my father's hand in greeting.
"Enjoy your voyage," he said to me with a nod. I smiled back, but was uninterested. My father was forcing us to go to America, something I had no interest in. He wanted to start up a new medical practice and was offered a job in New York City. Despite the fact that I'd wanted to stay behind to attend college, he insisted that this was a great opportunity for us all.
My mother was delighted, especially when she learned that the Denali's would be making the trip as well. She had her heart set on a marriage between myself and their youngest daughter, but I found her to be dull and conceited, which seemed to be the problem with most of the crowd I found myself surrounded with.
Our attendant carried our things to our suite.
"These are some of our most beautiful promenade suites, Dr. Cullen. You, Mrs. Cullen and Miss Hale will share this suite here. Your sons will be in the suite across the hall. Each have their own fifty foot promenade and attendant to see to your needs." He handed each of us our keys and left.
Emmett escorted Rosalie to her stateroom on one side of the suite and bid her goodbye until dinner. Seeing as this was the only proper suite arrangement, I was stuck with my brother for the remainder of the trip.
I retreated back to our suite and got my things settled. As I took off my jacket, I realized I still had the broken necklace from the girl outside. I pulled it out of my pocket and examined it closer. There was a large locket towards the middle with an inscription on the back that I couldn't read. Whit's fur ye'll no go by ye.
I laid down in my bed, the locket resting square on my chest, and fell asleep. I woke hours later to the sound of someone knocking on my stateroom door.
"Edward?" Emmett called. "Are you nearly ready for dinner?"
"Dinner?" I mumbled. I glanced at my clock and shook my head. It was almost that time. "Yes. Give me one moment."
I launched out of bed and tried to straighten up my jacket and pants. They were overly wrinkly from my nap, but I had no time to change so they would have to do. I ran a comb through my hair and slipped the locket back into my pocket before meeting my family out in the hallway.
Mother was dressed in one of her fanciest gowns, no doubt wanting to impress whoever was aboard. There were rumors that some of England and America's most important people were taking the voyage. She would not want them to be disappointed.
Emmett and Rosalie took off down the hallway, arm in arm as they started towards the Grand Staircase. My mother and father followed quickly after, leaving me tagging behind in solitude.
Dinner was a cabaret. Everyone played their part, acting with excellence. It was so incredibly fake and ridiculous to me. I smiled and did everything that was expected to me. I would never embarrass my family that way, but I felt dead inside. Like this wasn't my life. I didn't want this life.
I saw Tanya Denali watching me from the next table. I smiled and nodded politely, acknowledging her presence but nothing more. Our mothers were chatting quietly with each other, giggling and glancing between us. I rolled my eyes and ignored Emmett's low chuckle. He found these matchmaking theatrics entertaining.
"Just be lucky you're already engaged," I mumbled.
"I am lucky." He smiled and put his arm around Rosalie.
She came from a good family so my mother was happy with their match. Marriages these days weren't always about love, but they were. They had this understanding, this connection with each other that even I was jealous of.
After dinner, I managed to slip out onto the deck to have a cigarette. I hadn't been at sea very often in my short life, but it was definitely something I enjoyed. The air seemed pure out here, not polluted like it was back in the cities now.
"Edward," she purred. I held in a frustrated groan and flicked my cigarette off into the water.
"Tanya." I turned and took her hand in mine, bringing it up to my lips. "You look lovely this evening. I trust you enjoyed dinner."
"I did. We're on the grandest ship in the world, how could I not?" She smiled and took a step towards me. I made the mistake of obliging my mother back in England and courting Tanya a couple of times. Just tea or a walk around the park. She clung to that now. I wasn't even remotely interested.
"Tanya," I scolded as she reached for me, placing her hand on my chest. I cleared my throat and stepped back against the railing.
"I am sorry." I shook my head. "I really am, but I can't…do this." I gently removed her hand from my chest and went back inside.
I found our table a little less crowded than before. The women had retreated back to their room and Emmett and Carlisle were having a drink with Tanya's father. I sat down under Emmett's watchful eyes.
"So I saw Tanya follow you out there." He smirked and cocked his eyebrow.
"You did. And now that's finished."
"Not if Mother has anything to do with it."
I glanced between my father and Tanya's father and knew it was true.
I was nauseous, dizzy and couldn't breathe. "Excuse me, I'm not feeling well." I nodded to Mr. Denali and my father before heading out of the room. I went right to my stateroom and went to sleep, anxious to get this day behind me.
I woke the next morning still in my clothes from last night. As I stretched and pulled off my jacket, the broken locket fell to the floor with a thud. I felt bad about taking it, but I couldn't just leave it there in the street. She obviously didn't have the means to get it fixed but the look in her eyes told me it was important to her.
I washed up and put on some new clothes before I headed over to the suite across the hall. I knocked before entering and found my mother and Rosalie working their needlepoint in the parlor.
"Good Morning, Darling," my mother said. "How was your evening?"
"Fine. Is father around?"
"He's reading in the stateroom." She nodded to their side of the suite. I smiled and started that way.
I knocked again before stepping inside. He was sitting at the desk with a large book in front of him; no doubt some kind of intensive medical book.
"Edward," he said, glancing up with a smile. "What are you up to, my boy?"
"I was wondering if you could help me with something, you have some tools right?"
"I have my basic kit, but I'm not sure I can help you unless you're feeling ill." He laughed.
"Well I uh…I wanted to get this fixed." I pulled out the locket and handed it to him.
"Oh." He examined it. "I might have something that would work with it. Where did you find it?"
"Just outside before we boarded." I put my hands in my pockets. "Do you know what the inscription on the back means?
"I don't, I'm sorry. Looks…" He trailed off, trying to figure out the language.
"Scottish. It's Scottish."
"Scottish. Right. Well give me a little bit and I'll see what I can do with it." He smiled and started pulling out his kit. I retreated back to the sitting room.
I sat with my mother and Rosalie for a while until she started pestering me about Tanya. I got frustrated and escaped to the promenade to have a cigarette.
My father found me there after an hour or so.
"So?" I asked. He smiled and handed me the locket.
"I was able to fix it. Also shined it up a little." He put his hands in his pockets.
"Thank you." I closed my hand around it.
"Pretty girl," he said with a smile.
"I'm sorry, who?"
"The girl. Inside the locket. Very pretty."
I looked down at the locket. I hadn't even thought to look inside.
My father took one look out at the sea and went back inside to see my mother, leaving me alone with my locket. Her locket.
My fingers trembled as I clicked the locket open. The girl from outside was alone in the picture on the left, smiling sweetly at the camera. The other was her and an older woman, presumably her mother. They were both incredibly beautiful, but I couldn't keep my eyes off the young woman. She was completely captivating and I didn't just mean her looks. I was sure men's eyes followed her wherever she went, but I was intrigued by her spirit. Definitely more life than the dull Porcelain Dolls I'm used to. She had fire. A spark. And I had to see her.
I slid the locket back into my pocket and started back inside. My mother started asking me about dinner, but I apologized and slipped past her.
I ignored their puzzles looks as I slipped out of the room. I had no idea where she was or if I could even find her, but I was going to try.
I ran down the hallway and to the elevators. I knew I had to get as low as I could to get to her.
The elevator operator cocked his eyebrow when I asked him how to get to the 3rd class corridors, but he told me anyway.
He took me down as low as the elevator would go, but I had to take the steps from there. I noticed the changes as I went. Less decorative, more basic designs on the doors and walls. The passengers kept looking at me like I was the one that didn't belong. I wasn't used to that.
I noticed it was louder down here, almost like they were having their own kind of party. A few of the suite doors were open and I could hear voices floating down the hallway.
I approached one of the open doors and peeked inside. There were a group of scruffy looking guys' playing cards on a crate.
"Excuse me?" I asked, knocking on their door.
One of them looked up and smirked. "And who might you be, Rich Boy?" His cigarette bobbed with each word.
"I'm looking for someone."
"I don't think you'll find anyone of your kind down here."
"She's not…" I sighed and fumbled for the locket. "This girl. Do you know this girl?" I handed him the locket.
"Sorry to say I don't." He passed it around to his friends and they all shook their heads. The last one glanced at the back and laughed. "You think she's with Whitlock?" He asked. "Doesn't this look like his bullshit he's always jabbering about?"
"I don't know, I don't speak that language, now do I?" The other snapped.
"This Whitlock guy, where can I find him?" I asked, grabbing back the locket.
"Staying three doors down from here," the man said. "We've all heard he's staying with some woman, but we've never seen her."
"Alright. Thank you." I turned and counted three doors down. I knocked on their closed door and heard a loud, booming laughter come from inside.
The door swung open and a tall, young man poked his head out.
"Hoo can Ah help ye?" He asked.
"Excuse me?" I shook my head, not understanding.
"Ah, an Englishman. Suppose I'll have to watch mah English. Whit can Ah help you wit?"
I cleared my throat and slowly held up the locket. "I'm uh…I'm looking for a girl."
He smirked. "Ain't we all."
"No. I mean…I'm looking for a specific girl." I handed him the locket. "This girl."
"Bloody Christ," he gasped, taking in the locket. "An' whit do ye want wi' er?"
"Do you know her?"
"Ah might…" He ran his fingers through his hair.
"Look, it's really important that I speak to her. So do you know her or not?"
He stared at me long and hard before looking over his shoulder, back into the room.
"Bella, mah dear. There's a boy here ta see ye." He allowed the door swing open,
revealing the girl sitting on one of the beds.
I sighed in relief. It was her.
"Hello." I nodded.
"Hello," she said softly. She glanced between the man and I. "Jasper could ye give us a few minutes."
Jasper nodded and started slowly down the hallway with his hands in his pockets, whistling and looking back every now and then.
"I apologize for…searching you out like this. I hope I didn't upset your…" I looked after Jasper.
"Mah brother. Well, half brother." She smiled a little as a beautiful blush crept to her cheeks. "Whit are ye doing here?"
"I uh…" The locket felt heavy in my hand. "I just wanted to give this back to you." I held out my hand and took a step into the room.
She got up off the bed and cautiously stepped towards me, peeking anxiously into my palm.
When she saw what I was holding, she gasped and slowly reached for it. She grazed her fingers along the top before slipping her fingers through the chain and lifting it off my skin. "Ye fixed it?" She asked, her voice breaking. She looked up at me with wet eyes and smiled.
"My father did. I thought you might want to have it back."
"Thank ye. Ye don't understand how much this means."
"What does the saying on the back mean?"
She flipped it over and smiled. "Mah mother used to say this to us when we were young." She sighed. "What's meant to happen will happen."
"And do you believe in that? Fate, I mean?"
"Suppose I do." She smiled and fastened the locket around her neck. "Well thank ye again Mr…." She trailed off and held out her hand.
"Edward," I answered.
"No." I laughed. "My name is Edward. Edward Cullen."
"I'm Bella MacSwan. Mah brother is Jasper Whitlock."
"Glad to have met you."
"Ye as well." She nodded and I supposed it was time to leave. I'd done what I'd come here to do, right? And now it was over.
I started to leave, but something stopped me. Something was pulling. Forcing me back into that room. Maybe it was fate, hell maybe it was nothing at all. But I knew then that I wasn't supposed to walk away.
I turned back and ran my fingers through my hair. "Would you maybe want to go for a walk with me?"
"It's late," Jasper said, suddenly in the doorway. "Shouldn't be out so late, eh?" He cocked his eyebrow at me in that way that told me this wasn't happening. Not tonight.
"Jasper," Bella scolded.
"No, no he's right. It's getting late." I nodded. "Tomorrow evening then?"
"Tamarrow evenin'," she said with a smile and a nod. "Goodnight, Edward."
"Goodnight, Bella." I turned to her brother. "Jasper."
I slept like a baby that night and was happy as a clam the whole next day. I sat with Mother during her lunch without complaint and said more than a few words at dinner. I was just itching to see her again.
After dinner, I went back to the stateroom to clean up a bit. Emmett noticed of course and refused to let me leave until I told him what was going on.
"There's…a girl," I finally admitted.
"You're going to see Tanya?"
"No!" I said. "A different girl. I only just met her."
"Who's her family? The Astor's?"
"No, not the Astor's. She's uh…not in…She's third class," I said.
Emmett started laughing. "Mother's going to have a heart attack. How did you meet someone in third class, Edward?"
"It's a long story."
"Alright. Well you go have your fun with your girl." He slapped my back and I ducked out of the room, hoping that Mother wouldn't stop me with questions.
I found their room quite easily again and knocked. Bella opened the door with a smile and stepped out into the hallway.
"Good Evening," I said.
"Evenin'," she answered. There was that blush again.
We started up the stairs as she clung to her dark green shawl, bracing for the cool sea breeze that we were sure to encounter. Once we reached the elevator, the attendant stopped us and glanced at Bella.
"I'm sorry, Miss. The lift is for First Class Passengers only." He cleared his throat and looked at her like he was looking at a piece of trash.
"Sir, I'm a first class passenger. And this lady is my guest. I'd appreciate if you'd treat her with the same respect you'd treat me." I cocked my eyebrow and opened the door for Bella, not bothering to wait for his response. He sighed and crawled into the elevator with us, begrudgingly taking us up.
Once we reached the top floor, he opened the door for us and we stepped out. I offered my arm to Bella and she smiled before hooking hers around it.
I led her out to the deck, stealing glances at her every now and then.
"So Bella, what are your plans after you get to America?" I asked.
"Not sure, really. Jasper and Ay will start looking fer work probably." She shrugged. "Don't really have a plan."
"I see." I held her arm closer as we passed an older couple. They glanced at Bella's clothing, immediately disqualifying her as a first class passenger, and scowled in our direction. It wasn't something I was used to experiencing and it made me embarrassed to be associated with people like that. "I'm sorry about that."
"What are ye sorry for?" She asked, glancing my way.
"Just…people. Acting the way they do. You didn't deserve that."
"Not sure what I deserve, Edward." She glanced out at the ocean and closed her eyes. "What are yer plans? In America?"
"Well my father is a doctor so he's starting a new practice there."
"So that's yer father's plans. What are yer plans?" She smiled.
"I guess…I don't know." I laughed. "I was going to go to college back in England, so maybe try to get into a college there. Maybe go into medicine like my father."
We talked more about her life back in Scotland and about her mother and Jasper. It seemed as though he was very protective of her and I couldn't say that I was upset about that. I'd barely known her and something deep inside of me screamed to protect her with everything I had. Maybe it was the way she cocked her eyebrow when she was challenging something I said or the small freckle at the base of her neck that made an appearance every time the wind blew her hair back. I was completely fascinated with her.
"I enjoy your company very much, Miss Bella." I laughed and patted her hand that was tightly gripping my arm.
"And Ay ye." She blushed again and looked down at the deck floor to hide her smile.
I sighed, hearing the last voice I ever wanted to hear.
"Hello, Tanya." I plastered on a fake smile and turned ahead. She was walking with her sister and casting curious glances towards Bella.
"How is your evening?" She asked.
"Well. And yours?"
"It has been very interesting." She cocked an eyebrow and turned towards Bella. "I'm Tanya Denali."
"Bella MacSwan." Bella smiled, polite as ever. "Pleasure to meet ye."
"You as well." Tanya grinned. "How do you two know each other?" I knew she was just grasping for information, but I knew better than to be rude and let it get back to my mother.
"We sort of just…ran into each other," I said. Bella laughed.
"How wonderful," Tanya said. "Bella, will you be joining us for dinner tomorrow evening?"
"Oh no, Ay don't…" Bella started to shake her head.
"Oh you must!" Tanya exclaimed. I wasn't amused. She knew that Bella wasn't prepared. She didn't have the dress or the knowledge. I didn't care one bit, but I knew everyone in that room would like at her like she was a pariah. I didn't want that for her.
"Ay…Ay don't know." Bella almost cowered into my side, unaware of what to say. Tanya could be fairly intimidating, especially when she wanted to be. And she wanted to be. She was doing all she could to embarrass Bella enough to stay where Tanya thought she belonged. Below deck and away from me. I'd be damned if I let her win.
"Yes. Yes she will be joining us."
Tanya seemed just as surprised as Bella did at my announcement.
"Well then," Tanya sneered. "I suppose I'll be seeing you tomorrow. Enjoy the rest of your evening." She scurried off before we could say anything else.
"Edward?" Bella turned towards me. "I can't come to dinner with ye tomorrow. Don't ye understand? I'm third class. This dress," she said, grabbing her skirt. "Is the nicest thing Ay own. I can't."
"You can." I smiled, genuinely excited about the possibility of spending more time with her. "And I know someone who can help."
We continued our walk around the deck before I led her towards our staterooms. I skipped my door and went directly to Rosalie's, hoping that she wasn't visiting with my mother.
I knocked twice, and finally she answered.
"Edward." She glanced towards Bella, but didn't say anything. Rosalie was often very quiet, especially around strangers.
"Rosalie, I need your help. May we come in?"
She hesitated, but opened her door for us.
An hour later, I was escorting Bella back to her room with one of Rosalie's dresses in tow. I handed it to her when we reached her door.
"Are ye sure about this?" She asked, hanging it over her arm.
"I'm very sure. I'm just happy to enjoy your company again." I raised her hand to my lips and kissed it. I wanted to kiss more than her hand, but I wanted to act proper. Even though she wasn't brought up in my position, I was still a gentleman. She deserved to be treated with respect.
"Thank ye." She swayed and looked down at her feet. "Please thank Rosalie again as well. I'll return her dress tomorrow after dinner."
"I will. I'll pick you up around six o'clock, yes?"
"See you then, Edward." She smiled and went inside.
The next morning, I woke up early and joined my parents on their promenade deck for breakfast. I needed to tell them I was bringing a guest to dinner, but wanted my father there to buffer my mother from being cross with me.
I picked at my food the entire meal, unable to find my appetite through my anxiety.
"Mother, I'll be…bringing a guest to dinner this evening." I glanced up at her as her face lit up.
"Oh wonderful! I'll make sure to let them know to seat you and Tanya next to each other." She clapped her hands.
"Mother." I held up my hand. "It's not Tanya."
"Not Tanya?" Her face fell.
"Not Tanya, eh?" My father chuckled in amusement and took a bite of his toast. "Who is it then?"
"The girl from the locket," I murmured.
"Really? You found her?" She leaned forward, amazed that my search proved worthwhile. "Splendid."
"Splendid?" My mother said. "I highly doubt I would call this splendid. What about Tanya? What will she think of you bringing some girl to dinner?"
"I don't know, Mother. She's the one who invited her." I laughed with my father and took a drink of my water.
"Oh?" She asked.
"Yes. I went for a walk with Bella last night and we met Tanya on the deck. She invited her to join us and Bella agreed."
"This Bella? What's her last name, maybe I know her parents." My mother started meticulously cutting her food into small pieces.
"She's onboard with her brother actually. No other family to speak of."
"Oh?" She said again. "Well what suite is she in? I'd love to stop by and meet this mysterious Bella."
"Oh she's on E Deck, third class," I said, completely confident. I jumped as she dropped her knife.
"Third class?" She gasped. She cocked her head to the side. "My boy, what ever do you think you're doing?"
"I think I'm bringing a lovely girl to dinner." I sat back and pushed away from the table. "Have a wonderful day." I kissed my mother on the cheek, hardly surprised by her reaction, and retreated to my suite.
I enjoyed a game of shuffleboard with Emmett before lunch. Afterward, we both joined Father for a game of cards with some of his acquaintances onboard until it was time to get ready for dinner.
I was nervous. Not to have her at my side, but to see how they would treat her. I was thankful that Rosalie was able to lend her a dress. I was sure she would stand out, just for being a stranger in a room of people who know each other's business like the back of their own hand. But a part of me was proud to show her off, even though I had no claim to her.
As my family was finishing dressing for dinner, I headed down to escort Bella to dinner. I was dressed in my finest attire, eager to impress her.
Jasper answered the door with a cigarette between his lips. He stepped outside and closed the door behind him.
"So yer taking mah sister out, eh?" He asked.
"Yes. She'll be accompanying me for dinner."
"Good. Ah expect her to be treated wit respect and dignity."
"Right." He opened the door again and stepped inside.
"Jas, whit are ye doing?" I heard Bella ask.
"Just messin' wit 'im." Jasper laughed and I relaxed a little.
"Leave it alone."
I heard the click, click of her shoes against the floor, crawling closer to the door. I held my breath as it creaked open.
"Evenin' Edward." She stepped outside and I realized I was still holding my breath. She was astounding.
Rosalie's deep green dress fit her perfectly, almost like it was made for her. I could tell she tried to make her hair look nice, all pinned up with a few pieces hanging down here and there. Her lips were stained a dark crimson. Her locket was around her neck. It wasn't that I didn't think she was beautiful before or expected her to go out of her way to mold herself into something she wasn't but…I was completely taken with her.
"Is this okay?" She asked.
"You're perfect," I whispered.
Her shoulders visibly relaxed as I offered my arm to her.
I led her back upstairs as we made our way towards the Grand Staircase. I didn't really understand the point of gallivanting down flights of stairs to get to dinner, but I promised my family I would meet them to walk down together.
I clutched Bella tighter as we rounded the corner to where I knew they were waiting. My mother was holding onto my father, a concerned look on her face. She was probably trying to come up with the best way to explain our guest to her friends using anything but the truth. My father and Emmett were talking while Rosalie stared off into the distance.
Emmett glanced our way as we approached and did a double take towards the beauty on my arm.
"Well, my, my…" He said, his eyes sparkling. "My brother went and found himself escorting the second most beautiful lady on the ship." Bella laughed as he reached out to kiss her hand. "Apologies for the second thing. My Rosalie has to come first, you see."
"Ah wouldn't have it any other way." Bella smiled at Rosalie.
"Father, this is Bella MacSwan. Bella, this is my father Dr. Carlisle Cullen."
"Pleasure, Sir." Bella nodded.
"The pleasure is all mine," my father said. "And please call me Carlisle." He turned to my mother. "Esme, would you like to meet Edward's guest?"
My mother put on a nice show, politely greeting Bella with a smile, but I knew she wasn't happy with her presence. She couldn't see past the wall that she'd put up.
"Shall we?" My father said. He held out his arm to my mother and surprisingly Bella. "May I borrow her for a little while, son?"
I laughed and released Bella, just happy that my father seemed so taken with her.
They started down the first flight of stairs and I hung back, walking with Emmett and Rosalie.
"She is absolutely stunning, Edward. Never would have thought," Emmett said.
"Why didn't you think?" I asked.
"Well, I just didn't know a third class could clean up that well."
"I find her stunning even when she's not all cleaned up," I said with pride.
"Oh," Emmett laughed. "This is going to be a lot more interesting than I thought. You're completely smitten with her, Edward."
"And if I am?"
"Then you better be prepared to fight for her because Mother will do anything in her power to squash whatever it is between you."
"I don't even know if she feels the same way about me."
"I don't think you have anything to worry about, Edward," Rosalie said, staring down the stairs. I followed her gaze and caught Bella staring back at us. She smiled and blushed before quickly looking away.
"How do you know that?"
"Because I'm a woman and I know what it looks like."
"What what looks like?"
"Fascination Curiosity? I won't say love but, adoration. She feels it too."
We came to the first landing and found my parents chatting with a small group of people. Bella stood silently beside them. I walked over, stalked up behind her and leaned in close.
"Can I steal you away now, Miss?" I whispered. She shivered and looked at me over her shoulder, so close that our noses nearly touched.
"You may." She smiled warmly and bit down on her lip. "Thank you for the escort, Sir…I mean Carlisle." She nodded to my father and took my arm. I heard the group ask about the mysterious brunette as I pulled Bella away from the crowd.
"How do you find it so far?" I asked.
"Quite formal? Isn't it?" She scrunched up her nose and I couldn't help but laugh.
"My whole life is quite formal."
"Afraid Ah don't quite fit in."
"Neither do I." I stopped and found myself captivated by her stare. We didn't breathe or speak for the longest time, almost like we were in our own little world. Miles away from this ship, away from my parents and the society that tells us that we aren't suited for each other.
"Shall we continue on, Edward?" My mother cleared her throat, suddenly beside us. I nodded and we started on the next flight.
Bella and I were silent the rest of the way as we followed my parents around. I placed my hand over hers as it wrapped around my arm. I noticed my mother's eyes trained on our every interaction, even though we weren't speaking.
"Would you mind escorting a lady to dinner?" Tanya came up beside us and I begrudgingly offered her my other arm. She nodded to Bella and started speaking to me about her plans once she got to America. I wasn't interested. I was watching Bella the entire time, noting her analization of the lifestyle I led. It wasn't necessarily negative, but I just saw the curiosity in her eyes with every new facet that she experienced. Almost like she was cataloging it in her memory.
We finally made it down to dinner and I was happy for Tanya to leave my side. I escorted Bella to the table and pulled out her chair for her. She sat down and thanked me.
Luckily, my mother didn't care to have much of a conversation with her. I knew she would have been impressed if she would have just given her a chance, but I didn't want to risk her being rude. I wanted Bella to have a good evening.
"How is your food?" I leaned over and asked Bella as she enjoyed her dinner.
"It's delightful. Ah don't eat things like this much." She smiled and dabbed at her mouth. I couldn't stop myself; I leaned over and kissed her cheek. Bella froze before a smile slipped across her lips.
"What do you usually eat, Bella?" My mother asked.
I narrowed my eyes at her. "Mother," I scolded.
"Uh…Mah family had a small farm to feed ourselves…most of the time."
"I see," my mother said, coldly. "And is your family onboard with you?"
"Mah brother is. We're the only ones left."
My mother nodded and turned towards her companion seated beside her. She spoke in a hushed whisper, but made sure it was loud enough for us to hear. "You know how it is with the lower class, disease and filth rampant. Wouldn't be surprised if the poor girl was carrying fleas on her."
Bella shrank back into her chair and looked down at her lap. Her cheeks flushed with red, but it wasn't the kind of blush I'd grown to know. She was embarrassed. I was embarrassed.
"I'm surprised Rosalie even lent her that dress," my mother's friend said. "Might as well just have her keep it. Girl probably needs something nice and Rosalie won't want it back after she's worn it."
I dropped my fork on my plate and glared across the table.
"Excuse me, please," Bella mumbled. She got up from the table and scurried away. I watched her go before I turned back to the table. Everyone was murmuring to each other. My father's eyes looked sad. Emmett looked confused.
I sighed and got up to follow her.
"Edward?" My mother said. "She doesn't belong here." She really meant that she didn't belong with me.
"I'm not marrying Tanya, Mother. Not now, not ever." I threw my napkin down and ran out of the room, darting through the tables towards the door.
I burst out into the corridor, looking both ways to find her. I saw the shine of the green dress as she walked onto an elevator. I screamed her name, screamed for her to stop, but by the time I got there she was already gone.
I waited impatiently for the elevator and the attendant to come back down. When he finally did, I hopped inside.
"That girl? Where did she go?" I asked.
"Girl, Sir?" He asked.
"The girl in the green dress? She was just in here?"
"Not sure, Sir. Looked like she was heading out towards the deck," he said as we reached our destination. I threw the gate open and ran in the direction he'd pointed out.
The air was cold as I ran outside into the darkness. I squinted, trying to see her somewhere, anywhere. I finally spotted her leaning against the railing, wiping at her lips.
I put my hands in my pockets and took a step towards her. "May I steal you away, Miss?" I asked softly.
She gasped and spun around. "Edward? Whit are ye doing here?"
"I came after you."
"But why? Ah didn't mean to take ye away from yer family…" She shook her head.
I took a chance and wrapped my arm around her waist to pull her close.
"Edward," she whispered.
"Bella, I've never met anyone like you before. It's like you're this splash of color in this black and white world that I live in. And I…adore everything about you. I adore you."
"I'm not good enough for ye, Edward."
"Bullshit," I said, not embarrassed about my language anymore. "I don't care who they say is good enough for me or not. Shouldn't I be the judge of that?" I pulled her close and brushed a strand of hair behind my ear. "Shouldn't I?"
She nodded and I wanted to kiss her. So I did.
She gasped as I pressed my lips to hers and gripped onto the railing behind her. It was everything I expected it to be. Fire, passion, spark. Like nothing I'd ever experienced before and everything I wanted to experience everyday after.
I moaned and pressed her back against the railing. Her arms were around my neck, caressing my hair and pulling me impossibly closer.
I nipped at her lips, taking her bottom lip between my teeth and pulling. Hard.
"It doesn't make sense, Edward. I'm just the girl with the locket."
"You're so much more than that, Bella." I kissed her again and took her hand in mine. I didn't care about my mother or Tanya or anyone else except for her. She was the only person I saw.
I pulled her off the deck and out of the cold, tucking her under my arm as we headed back towards the elevator.
The attendant stared at us as we loaded onto it. As soon as he looked away, I kissed her. Her stare was intense as I pulled away. Almost like we were both crossing that line into that place that scared us. I just wasn't so afraid anymore.
I bit my lip as we watched each other.
"Edward, I don't want to go back to dinner…" She said softly.
"I don't either," I mumbled.
I thought for a moment and nodded. As soon as the elevator door opened, I led her out of the elevator. We passed the entrance to the dining hall and started up the stairs.
We were in such a rush that the few stragglers to dinner stared at us as we went past them. I let go of her hand just long enough to grab my stateroom key from my pocket.
We finally made it to my door and I fumbled to open the lock.
I got it open and we went inside. I locked the door behind us and turned around. Bella was slowly walking around the room.
"This is lovely," she said.
I shrugged out of my jacket and hung it up by the door. "Thank you. I didn't really need all of this, a bed would have sufficed."
"Ye don't need to act like ye don't have money, Edward." She ghosted her fingers along the fireplace mantle. "It does make things a lot easier, eh?"
"Having money doesn't necessarily mean that you're happy."
"Ye didn't have to watch yer mother suffer through her last days without a proper meal or proper blankets or medicine. Ye would never have to worry about things like that. Never worry that the people ye care about aren't being taken care of. Ye have no idea what that's like."
"No," I said softly. "I don't. But every day of my life since I was born has been planned for me. I was put into the best schools, associated with the right people. I had no…choices, Bella."
"And ye have a choice now, do ye?" She reached for my shirt and pulled me closer to her.
"I could…take care of you." I leaned down and pressed my forehead to hers. "What's meant to be will be," I whispered.
She nodded and pressed her lips to mine. I couldn't think. I couldn't think about how improper this all was or how I should tell her to stop. I could only feel.
I felt my desire grow beneath her touch. I felt myself reaching for the buttons on the back of her dress. I felt her undoing my trousers.
"Are you sure this is okay?" I mumbled against her lips. "I don't care what class you are, I respect you…"
"Edward, Ah appreciate the thought, but could ye please just shut up." She spun around and told me to hurry up with her dress.
"Damn these buttons." My fingers fumbled with them all the way down her back, urgently racing to get them undone.
As soon as I finished with the last one, she pushed the dress off of her shoulders and turned back to face me.
"Are ye going to get on wit' it then?" She tilted her head to the side.
I laughed. "I've never met a girl like you."
She smiled and wrapped her arms around my neck as she pulled herself towards me. I reached between us and finished with my pants. They fell to the ground as I ghosted my hands down the sides of her corset.
I kissed her jaw, her neck and the top of her chest that was exposed above the fabric. She pushed my chest hard, causing me to fall back onto my bed. A moment after I landed, she was crawling up over my body, pulling at my underwear in the process. I lifted my body up as she pulled them down, leaving me completely exposed.
She surprised me completely by dipping down and running her tongue along my length. I shivered as her hair brushed over my stomach and my thighs.
"Bella…." I moaned.
I wasn't very experienced with sexual relations. I'd snuck a kiss or two back in England, but this was new to me. And Hell if it wasn't amazing.
Her lips were so soft and smooth as they moved against me, sucking and kissing my skin. It was unlike anything I'd ever known.
I felt a tingling start to ache deep in my stomach, almost like I was on the edge of a cliff, teetering on the edge. I couldn't help myself. I started moving my hips in sync with her mouth.
Bella looked up and me and pulled away smiling. "Ye enjoyed that did ye?"
"Yes," I breathed.
"Have ye ever been with a woman, Edward?"
I shook my head, a little embarrassed that she seemed a little more experienced than myself. Most people would look down on her for that. Not me. She was just as perfect as she was to me before. Not tarnished or dented or tainted. Just Bella.
"Should Ah show you then?" She nodded reassuringly.
"I want to be with you," I whispered.
She smiled and brought herself farther up the bed, laying next to me on her stomach.
"Will ye undo my corset?" She tucked her arms under her body and grinned as she waited. I turned on my side and, instead of the hurried rush with the buttons, took my time unlacing the back of her corset.
When it was completely undone I slid my hand underneath it and forced my hand up, causing the corset to pop open as I massaged up her back until I was faced with bare skin. I became fascinated with the way the flickers of the fire against her skin, watching them dance with the shadows.
"Edward?" She mumbled, tucking her bottom lip between her teeth.
"Can I be in your plans….when we get to America?" She seemed nervous, uncertain. And for the first time I saw a genuine vulnerability beneath that spark of a girl that I adored.
"You already are." I leaned over and kissed her, forcing her on her back and hovering above her body. She reached between us and pulled the remainder of the fabric away. I quickly unbuttoned my shirt and pushed it off my shoulders. We were skin to skin. Completely bare in front of and against each other.
I looked down at her breasts pushed against my chest and licked my lips. They looked so soft, so supple.
"Ye can touch me, Edward."
I pushed myself up and reached a trembling hand to her chest, palming one of her breasts. I closed my eyes and groaned, relishing the feeling of her beneath me. I squeezed it, pushed it, and rolled it between my fingers before diving down and flicking my tongue across the peak.
She whimpered and arched her back, forcing her body roughly against mine. My hips were thrusting, ever so slightly against her, yearning to be inside her.
I was moving closer to her center, to the place I wanted to be. I watched her as I went, making sure that this was okay. I brushed against her and hissed before slowly inching myself inside her. She held onto me, grasping my shoulders tight as I moved.
"Ye can move."
"What?" I was so overwhelmed that I felt dizzy, like my whole world was spinning. She responded by moving her hips against mine, forcing me deeper inside.
I started doing as she asked, slow then fast. Soft then rough. I felt that same feeling in the pit of my stomach and way too soon I twitched inside her and felt myself spill inside her.
"I'm sorry…I…" I shook my head. She wasn't satisfied. She couldn't be yet. It was too soon.
"It's okay." She smiled.
I leaned down and rested my head on her chest as I fought to catch my breath.
"We have all night," she whispered. She kissed the top of my head. And we did.
I slept like a baby, when we actually slept. Having Bella tucked into my side was like Heaven. I felt like I'd known her forever. I knew more about her soul, about what drives her, more than my own mother. I'd never known that type of relationship, where you're completely open with someone and almost feel like your lives are so inexplicably meant to be braided together that you can't even remember a time when you didn't know them.
"Good mornin'," Bella mumbled. I felt her kiss my cheek before laying back down beside me.
"Good morning." I opened my eyes and smiled. "Beautiful."
"Ah should probably get back to mah room." She sat up and stretched, allowing the sheets to fall away from her body. I leaned forward and kissed her bare back. "We've probably given poor Jasper a heart attack."
She swung her legs over the bed and pulled Rosalie's dress off the floor and over her body.
"I'll walk you," I said. I quickly got up and pulled some clothes on. As we reached the door, I grabbed her hand and leaned down to kiss her. I pushed the door open as she laughed against my lips and we stepped outside into the hallway.
Bella jumped and backed away at the sound of my father's voice. I closed my eyes, hoping that when I opened them I would not see my mother standing beside him. I was disappointed.
"Edward? What is this?" My mother glanced between Bella and I with a glare as poisonous as a snake's venom. "What are you doing?"
"Walking Bella to her room." I cleared my throat. "Please excuse us."
"This discussion is not over." Mother turned away and disappeared inside their stateroom.
"You might want to cool it for a couple of days," my father said, offering a word of advice. I didn't resent it. I knew, despite the fact that he'd never admit it, he was on our side. "You're going to make her jump ship."
I nodded. We left silently and I took Bella back to her room. We lingered outside her door for a moment.
"Maybe he's right." She patted my chest. "Take some time. Talk to yer mother. She's not a horrible person."
"Yes she is."
"She isn't. Ah'll be here whenever you're ready. Spend a few nights with yer family, Edward. See ye soon?" She smiled.
"Of course." I leaned down and kissed her before she went inside. I didn't want to deal with Jasper after returning her this early. Or this late. Regardless, I knew he wasn't going to be happy.
I did as Bella asked. I spent the night with my family and I didn't complain. I played the part again. Tried to give my mother some space and not piss her off more than I already had.
She had plans the next day for us to have lunch with the Tanya's family, which didn't surprise me. Damage control, she called it. If she'd known how much damage had really been done, she wouldn't even bother.
I was itching that evening to go see Bella, but I never made it. I got caught up with my father and Emmett in the smoking room and crashed into my bed before eleven.
I woke some time later to a jolt that shook my bed. The shudder caused it to vibrate wildly against the floor and then just as quickly as it came, it was gone.
I sat up and wiped the sleep from my eyes. I pulled out my pocket watch and shook my head. Barely after eleven-thirty. I'd been asleep a mere half hour.
I laid my head back down, thinking nothing of it, and went back to sleep.
Some time later, a loud pounding at my door woke me up. I cursed and crawled out of bed.
I opened my stateroom door to find my father standing on the other side. "There's been an incident," he said, quickly. "Grab what you can carry." He disappeared back into their room.
"What?" I called after him. I closed my door and walked across the hall into theirs. "What do you mean an incident? I don't understand."
"We've hit an iceberg," he said. My mother was silently packing a few small, expensive items into a satchel.
"So that was the shudder I felt," I whispered. I shrugged. "So what's the big deal?"
"The ship is sinking, son. We have to get to the lifeboats."
I almost laughed. "Sinking? You can't sink an unsinkable ship."
"Damnit, Edward! Do as I tell you. Please." He pinched the bridge of his nose before going to help my mother.
"It's impossible," I breathed, starting to see the look of concern on their faces. "The Titanic can't sink. They said…"
"They lied. There's already water on some of the lower decks. We have to move quickly."
As soon as he mentioned the lower decks, I froze. I only saw one image, one person in my head. Bella.
"I have to go," I said, rushing towards the door.
"Don't you dare go after that girl!" My mother screamed. "I forbid it."
I glanced between my mother and father, knowing that what I was about to do was going to break both of their hearts.
"I'm sorry," I mumbled. My mother ran for me as I slipped out the door. I sprinted down the hallway, past the small groups of people chattering about the latest rumor. Several members of the staff were bustling about, throwing life belts at everyone and telling them to make their way to the deck to board the life boats.
I rushed to the elevator and paid him all the money I had to take me down. Once we reached the lowest level it could go, I pulled open the gate for myself and rushed to the stairs. I couldn't see any signs of water yet. Maybe it was just a dream. Maybe they were wrong…about the sinking. As long as I didn't see water, everything was okay.
Her hallway was quiet, much different from the rest of the ship. I knocked loudly on their door, praying that she was there.
"Damnit, Bella!" I pounded. I sighed and glanced down the hallway. Trickling ever so slowly towards us, just enough to get the soles of your shoes wet, was the Atlantic Ocean. It was happening. "Bella!" I screamed.
"What are ye yellin fir?" She growled, opening the door. She smiled until she took in my expression. "What's wrong?"
"We have to get out of here."
"What? Why?" She hugged her shawl closer to her.
"The boat is sinking…" I said quickly. Her reaction was the same was my initial one. Amusement. Like I was telling some type of a joke. I glanced back at the water that was creeping towards us. She took a step out of her room and followed my gaze.
"Oh God…" She breathed. "Oh God!" Her hand flew to her mouth as I watched the panic take hold of her eyes. Her beautiful brown eyes. I never wanted to see them as scared as they were in that moment.
"Sweetheart…" I took her face in my hands. "Get your locket. We need to leave."
She nodded and rushed inside as a tear slipped down her cheek. She grabbed her locket off of her cot and ran back towards me. I took her hand and started leading her back the way I came. The water was just past the stairs, but still low enough for us to pass.
"I don't whir Jasper is," she said. "We have to find him. Please."
"Alright. Let's get higher and then we'll find him, okay?"
She nodded as we reached the edge of the water. I didn't bother testing it out; I just pulled her along towards the stairs. The ice cold liquid began to seep through my shoes. As soon as it hit my skin it was almost like my whole body felt the sting of its punch. I couldn't imagine swimming in this. I didn't want to imagine it.
"It's so cold," she said.
"We'll get you a blanket when we get to the boats, okay?"
I pulled her up the rest of the stairs and we finally reached the elevator. The attendant was gone. People were running everywhere screaming and crying.
"Where do we go?" Bella asked. I pulled her close and started towards the Grand Staircase.
"We need to get on deck. We need to get you onto a boat."
We ran up the stairs, looking for any outlet to get outside. We finally found one and pushed our way through the throngs of people waiting on deck. Everyone was huddled, pushing against each other as they fought to get to a boat.
I'd never experienced this kind of mass panic before. Nobody cared about anyone else. They only cared about themselves.
"Women and children only!" One of the staff screamed through the crowd. I hopped up, trying to see how close we were. "Women and children only right now!"
"Edward!" Emmett's voice cut through the group of people and I turned my head towards it. He was huddled with Rose towards the edge of the crowd. My mother and father were standing behind them talking quietly with Tanya's parents. Tanya and her sister were holding hands, crying softly to themselves.
"Em!" I held tightly to Bella's hand and started to push my way towards them.
"Edward!" My father sighed when he saw me. "We were so worried." He glanced at Bella. "About both of you."
"What's going on?" I asked.
"They're only allowing women and children onto the lifeboats right now. Men will be loaded last."
Bella cowered into my side. "Ah'm not going without ye, Edward."
"We'll talk about it," I said.
"There's to be no talkin' about it." She stomped her foot.
"Bella, listen to me. I don't care if I have to tie you down to the damn boat. You're going. I'll be fine."
"No, Edward!" She stopped walking. "No."
"Listen to me. I'm not going to risk your safety if you have a chance to get out. I'm not going to do it."
"Ye don't own me."
"You're right I don't. But you own me. Heart, soul, body. You own me, Bella. And because you do I need to keep you safe. Because losing you would be like losing myself. And as long as you keep fighting, I'll be here. Do you understand me?"
"Ah can't…" She cried. "Mah life is on this boat. Jasper is on this boat. Yer on this boat…" She shook her head.
"You can." I kissed her. "You can."
The crowd moved forward as they started loading another boat.
"Rosie, get on the boat!" I heard Emmett yell.
"Like Hell you think I'm getting on the boat without you, Emmett," she snapped.
They loved us. God, they did. And I understood it, them not wanting to go. If the situation was reversed, they'd have to knock me out before I left Bella on this boat. But that wasn't the way it was. And she was getting off this boat.
"Here, Rose. I'll make you a compromise." I pushed Bella in front of me. "You two look after each other…and Mum if you have to. And I'll look after your dumbass of a fiancé until we get on the next boat. Deal?"
"Promise me, Edward," Rose said. "Promise me." Rosie was never one to let her emotions show, even her love for Emmett. But he was her life. And not in a way that she sat beside him like a good wife did. They were one person. Like their soul had been broken in two and placed inside each other's chest. There was no one without the other. She was leaving half of herself on this boat with him.
"I promise." I nodded.
"Bella." Rose held out her hand and I sighed in relief, knowing that she was going to be taken care of. Rose was tough, tougher than she let on. She wouldn't let anything happen to her.
"No." Bella shook her head and held tightly onto my hand.
"Bella, please." Rose looked behind her as my mother climbed onto the boat. My father was talking with the staff. He rubbed his forehead and shook his head.
"What's going on?" I asked him.
"There's a woman with some injuries on the boat. They want me to go…" He glanced up. "I told them no. I'm not leaving my boys alone."
"Father, go. They need you more than we do. We can take care of ourselves."
"Pops, you're almost as bad as the women," Emmett laughed. "Get on the damn boat." He raised his eyebrows. My father hesitated for a moment before climbing in after my mother. He immediately started tending to the injured woman.
Rose climbed in next as I pushed Bella forward.
"Please don't leave me," she whispered.
"I've got to go find your brother. I'll bring him back to you." I pressed my lips to hers as the boatman grabbed her and sat her on the boat. Rose put her arm around her shoulder as he yelled for the boat to be released. Then I watched. I watched her descend lower and lower towards the dark, cold water. And I was happy she was safe.
Emmett and I stepped back as they started loading the next boat with women and children. I tried to think of where Jasper could have snuck off too or where he was now. I prayed he wasn't too far below deck.
"Stay here," I told Emmett. "I need to find her brother."
"Like Hell I'm letting you wander off by yourself, Little Bro." He grabbed my shoulder. I nodded, not wanting to argue with him, and we set off.
I figured we should start as close to their room as possible and work our way up, hoping he's somewhere along the way. We pushed our way through the crowds of people going the other way. We were the only ones trying to get lower.
The farther we got, the more deserted the hallways became. Every now and then we met a lost passenger or a staff member urging us to get back above. I refused. I couldn't leave without him.
We finally made it to their hallway. Or as close to their hallway as we could get. As I turned the corner in one of the stairwells, I was met with a pool of water coming up from the floor below us. It was completely submerged.
"Shit," I murmured.
"Do you think he went up?" Emmett asked.
"I hope so…" I bit down on my lip. "Let's start making our way back up."
I started calling his name, yelling and screaming for him as we made our way back up the stairs just hoping that somehow, somewhere he would hear me.
As we reached the next floor, I heard men's voice echoing down the way. I glanced down the hallway and saw the men I'd met the first night I'd gone below decks, the ones who pointed me towards Bella's room. They were carrying something and yelling at each other, but I couldn't see well enough to tell what it was.
"Guys!" I yelled, starting towards them. "Have you seen Jasper, I need to find him!" I slowed as I approached them, finally able to see what they were carrying.
His entire body was soaked, dripping with the ice cold water from the sea. His blonde hair was matted, covering his face but I knew who this limp, lifeless body belonged to. And I hated that I was going to have to break her heart.
"God!" I screamed. "Damnit!" I punched the wall and doubled over. "What happened to him?"
"He thought she was still down there, mate," one of them said. "We told him it was too late, but he wouldn't listen. He disappeared into the water and surfaced back up a few minutes later."
"Damnit, Jasper." I pulled at my hair. "Okay, okay…" I turned to Emmett. "Can you carry him? I can't leave him here."
Emmett nodded solemnly and reached for Jasper's body. He hoisted him over his shoulders and we quickly started back towards the deck.
I couldn't tell much from being in the crisp, clear hallways. But the ship was tilting. I saw it when the clock fell off the mantle as we ran though the dining room. I saw it when the floor in front of me seemed a little higher than the floor below my feet. Slowly, but surely. We were tilting.
We finally made it back to the deck and noticed it was much less crowded than before. I still didn't hear any lifeboats taking men so we just sat and waited. There was nothing left to do. No one to save. Just waiting for the chance to live.
They were down to the last two boats for as far as I could see. There were no women or children left in this crowd. Just men looking on with curious eyes as they strapped on the boat.
"Last call for women and children!" The boatman yelled. "Last call."
"Come on, Em." We pushed forward, just so we could be close to the front when they finally called for us.
"Alright! Men, please board the boats in an orderly fashion." Order. Even in a time of chaos that damn White Star Line pretended to the epitome of calm. I could see the fear in their eyes. They couldn't hide if any longer.
Emmett and I pushed our way forward, Jasper's body still resting on his shoulders. The man put his arm out just before we could reach the boat.
"What's this?" He nodded up to Jasper. I knew that if we told him the truth, he wouldn't let him on. They were low on space as it was.
"He's our brother. He got knocked on the head. Just passed out. He'll come to in a little while," I said calmly. He eyed me suspiciously before waving us on.
Two more men jumped on after us before they started lowering us towards the water. Emmett pulled Jasper off of his shoulders and laid him down at our feet, the only place there was room. I grabbed one of the blankets towards the front of the boat and laid it over his body.
I buried my head in my hands as I felt us hit the water and started to row away from the ship.
"My God," Emmett gasped I looked up and saw people jumping from the ship. The farther and farther away we got, the more I could see the tilt of the ship taking its toll. Now that I was away from it all, it started to hit me. This was happening. People were dying. The ship was sinking. And my Bella was somewhere out on this ocean.
It was so cold; I was huddling close to Emmett to keep warm. We regretfully took the blanket from Jasper's body just to keep ours alive. The only sound was the soft splash of the oars in the water and the chattering teeth of the men around us. We'd gotten far enough away from the ship that the screams were faint now, barely more than a murmur to us.
The night was black, melting seamlessly with the water. Out in the distance we could barely see the soft glow of the lanterns of the other boats. I wanted to go to her. I wanted to find her. But we stayed put. And waited again. Waited. And waited. Until we saw the ship go vertical. Until we saw it plunge into the Atlantic. Until the distant screams of those left behind faded out.
There were murmurs of another ship, the Carpathia, coming to get us. I didn't believe it until I saw it in the distance. By then the first light of morning had broke across the water.
They pulled us onto the ship and herded us onto their front deck or any room that was big enough to hold a large group of people. It was complete chaos. Silent chaos. No one knew what to do or what to say, how to act. We'd just experienced one of the greatest tragedies of our time. We didn't read about it in the newspaper or hear through family. We lived it.
They had a place for the dead. We laid Jasper down and gave the staff his name. They stuck a name tag around his neck so he could be identified for burial. I put our families name on the slip, just to make sure Bella could be found.
I dreaded seeing her. I couldn't wait to see her.
It took hours to weave through the masses, trying to find a familiar face.
"Excuse me, Sir?" Emmett asked one of the staff. "We're looking for Cullen?"
"Cullen?" He scanned his list. "Yes. I took their name not too long ago. There was a man and two women."
"Two?" I asked, pushing through. "Only two women?"
"Yes, Sir. Two."
"Just over on the other side of the deck. By the stairs there." He pointed over the people and the next thing I knew I was running.
I spotted Rose and my father wrapped up in a single blanket. Her head was leaned on his shoulder.
"Rosie!" Emmett yelled. "Rose!"
Her head perked up and shot in our direction. "Emmett!" She released herself from the blanket and lunged towards us, sobbing as she leaped into Emmett's arms.
My father turned towards us, his shoulders hunched forward in defeat.
"Father?" I started. "Where…."
"It was just too cold," he said, shrugging. I could tell he wasn't himself. His eyes were distant, somewhere far away from here. "I wrapped my whole body around her and I just…I couldn't keep her warm."
"Bella?" I gasped.
"Your mother is gone, Son. She went into shock and the cold was…too much." He glanced down at the deck. "I'm sorry."
I rubbed my face, trying to get a grip on reality as I hugged my father. My mother was dead…but did that mean?
"She's there…" My father pointed towards the railing behind us.
Bella was standing at the railing, looking out over the sea with a blanket wrapped around her shoulders.
"I'm glad you're okay, Edward." Carlisle nodded and walked towards Rose and Emmett. I sauntered over to the railing, soft and silent.
As I came closer, I could hear her crying as she sniffled into the blanket. She wiped away a tear or two and fixed her gaze back out to the water.
I took a deep breath before I spoke. "Can I steal you away, Miss?"
She gasped and spun around. "Edward!" Her arms were around my neck, wrapping the blanket around us both.
"I told you I'd be fine."
She cried into my chest. "When we checked in…they said they hadn't heard from ye. We thought…."
"We're okay." I kissed the top of her head.
"Where's Jasper?" She sniffled and looked up at me.
I couldn't tell her that he died going to look for her. I wouldn't let her carry that burden. Even though it wasn't her fault that he loved her so much, she would blame herself for his death.
"Sweetheart, there weren't…many blankets on the boat. He'd fallen into the water and…" I paused. "He didn't make it."
"I brought his body back. So we could properly bury him. I'm so sorry."
I expected her to cry. And she did. A lot.
She tucked herself into my side and didn't say another word until we reached New York. The people from the papers were waiting for us at the port, along with a large crowd of people waiting to see if their loved ones had survived the journey. It made me sad to know how many of them would be disappointed.
We took my mother's body and Jasper's to the makeshift morgue they had set up for the victims while we made arrangements to bury them. Bella came with us to my father's apartment that he had set up for us before our journey.
Bella sat at the window, looking out over the city. I could see a high hill of grass peaking just above the buildings.
"He would have liked this…New York," she finally said. "Ah'd like to bury him there. Just on that hill."
"We'll see to it, sweetheart." I kissed her forehead and set her tea in front of her.
It was hard, saying goodbye to my mother and watching her say goodbye to Jasper. But we did. And despite everything, life went on. Father eventually opened his practice. Rose and Emmett got married just outside the city on a beautiful piece of land. And Bella and I got our own apartment, just a few blocks away from Father's. I worried about him a little, being on his own. Until he met a woman named Elizabeth. She was a widowed nurse with a little boy of about ten. She finally made him smile again.
Bella went to school, got an education, which wasn't easy for a woman in that time let alone a Scottish woman. She was smart and was always at the top of her class. And when she finished, she began to tutor some of the children of my father's patients. She refused to marry me until she proved that she could support herself.
We did eventually get married, after I'd asked her about fifty times. She gave birth to our first son, Jasper, two years after I joined my father's practice.
We never got over what happened, but we did move past it. It was something that was forever engrained in our very being, and not just the experience itself. We lost family. We lost a bit of ourselves. But we also gained…everything. Bella's mother always told her that whatever was meant to happen would happen. I was supposed to bump into her before I got on that ship. She was supposed to turn my world upside down. And we were meant to survive so we could live. Together.