Author's Note: This chapter is an Andrews-free zone, but he'll return soon.
Thanks as always to all subs/faves/reviewers!
Chapter 15: Desperate Lengths
Now, many of you will be thinking that I was nothing more than a glutton for punishment. And looking back all those years, I can see that I was. I really was. But at twenty seven, being young and naive and heartsick, I just couldn't admit it. Mr. Andrews was all I'd wanted, and all I'd craved. I realise now, many years afterwards, how obsessive I must have appeared. I'd known how much his indecisiveness had hurt me over and over again, but that hadn't stopped me pursuing him. Every low blow he dealt me was agony to my heart, but I was losing my ability to tell him 'no'. If anything, his playing around with my feelings only served to make me more determined! I had one more chance to convince him to leave his wife and make a new start with me, and I wasn't going to waste that chance. Nobody on the voyage knew that Titanic would never make it to New York, and at that time, I was no different. If I could go back to April 1912 and change the way I did certain things, then I would. But none of us onboard foresaw the lifechanging events that would soon unfold. It had felt like business as usual, so to speak, on the day of April the fourteenth.
April 14th, 1912
I was working a different shift pattern than usual, with my housekeeping duties beginning at three o'clock in the afternoon, instead of a morning start. This suited me just fine, in light of what I wanted to do with regards to Mr. Andrews. I could certainly take advantage of having the morning to myself, free of changing bed linen and making endless pots of tea. I had a mission to accomplish, and a plan had formed in my head the previous night before bed. I needed to find Rose, and more specifically, Jack Dawson. He would be the one to help me out with what I wanted to do next. Yes, that's right! Jack Dawson, the young lad from steerage who was breaking all the rules by courting a first class socialite. They'd been leading Mr. Hockley and Lovejoy the valet on a merry dance all the way around the ship, or so I'd heard from the other housekeeping staff. I could quite believe it though, from what I'd seen before.
I wasn't sure where to find them; would Rose be with her mother and Caledon Hockley on the first class deck, or would she be with Jack and his friends down in steerage? My guess was as good as anyone else's. I went with my first instincts, and made my way down the decks to steerage. As I marched on through one of the many corridors, I quite literally bumped into First Officer William Murdoch in my haste. He'd come out of his cabin and we'd slammed straight into each other, which must have indicated how fast I'd been walking down that corridor! However, it was initially an awkward moment. I hadn't seen him in two days, in fact, not since the time on the promenade where I'd grabbed him for a kiss to make Mr. Andrews jealous. Mr. Murdoch smiled at me, and readjusted the officer's cap on his head after our collision.
''Miss Monaghan! I'm very sorry. Are you alright, lassie?''
I coyly returned the smile.
''Yes, Will, thank you. I'm the one at fault here, rushing around like this!''
He shook his head, quite unperturbed.
''In a hurry to get somewhere at this hour?''
''Oh, I'm looking for the young lady, Rose DeWitt Bukater. Her gentleman friend from third class should be able to help me with something,'' I said, somewhat cryptically.
I'd noticed, as I was speaking, that Mr. Murdoch's eyes held a sudden glimmer of mischief about them. But he was polite enough in conversing with me.
''I think I saw them heading to steerage not too long ago.'' he said. ''It's a very unusual relationship, isn't it? Unconventional. Not that it's anyone else's business, of course,''
''Well, I know that if I had the choice, I'd marry for love and not for money,'' I sighed, moving a few stray curls from my face. ''It's very romantic to care so little about social class and fall in love with someone's heart,''
Mr. Murdoch laughed quietly to himsef, and looked me up and down, subtley.
''I agree with you, Miss Monaghan. I'm interested to know, though, and pardon me for being so forward - but, what is happening between you and Mr. Andrews?''
His sudden questioning had caught me off guard, and I blinked with surprise.
''What? I don't know what you mean,''
Mr. Murdoch again laughed, this time, a little louder.
''Oh, come on, now. Remember, the promenade deck? We shared a kiss together. Ater that, I heard all these whispers that you and Andrews were engaged, which certainly came as news to me. I'd always assumed Andrews already had a wife, and you'd said you were just friends. Then I hear that you're no longer engaged to be married! I mean, Miss Monaghan, it all sounds a bit, well, y'know...''
I was aghast, and my face certainly told him so before the words came out of my mouth.
''Will!'' I gasped, looking around me in the hope that no-one else would be hearing all this. ''I'll thank you to keep your nose out of my business!"
Again, his eyes darted up and down my form, and I was in no doubt he was admiring the view. Well, I only had myself to blame for that one, after what I had done the other day. Leading him on before, maybe hadn't been the wisest thing to do.
''I only asked because I...rather like you,'' he admitted, with a shrug of his shoulders. ''It's lonely out here at sea, and well...a man has needs, as I'm sure you'll understand,''
Was I hearing this? I couldn't quite believe my ears. Mr. Murdoch was pleasant enough; reasonably handsome, very Scottish, and there was something appealing about his position as First Officer. The dashing uniform might've had a part to play in that, too. Oh, I was probably quite out of my mind chasing after an unobtainable man like Mr. Andrews, when someone like William Murdoch clearly had more than a passing interest in me. But it wasn't that simple; Mr. Andrews was the man with my heart, as well as my mind. I liked Mr. Murdoch, and perhaps he would come in useful in addition to what I was already planning to do. My mind began to whirl with excitement. I gave Mr. Murdoch my best "come hither" look.
''Oh, I understand,'' I replied, batting my eyelashes quite deliberately. ''A woman has needs too, Will. It's a complicated situation with Mr. Andrews. Sometimes he wants me, other times he doesn't. He feels guilty because he's still married, but his wife was unfaithful to him! It's not her that he wants, but he cannot bring himself to divorce her,''
''And if he doesn't play nicely, he may lose you for good. Am I right?'' Mr. Murdoch continued for me, almost as though he'd read my thoughts.
All I could do was look at him glumly, nodding my head with agreement. The First Officer noticed the hurt in my eyes, and he lifted his hand to my face to stroke my cheek.
''I have a lot of respect for Andrews and his work, Miss Monaghan. But it sounds to me, as though he doesn't deserve your romantic admiration.''
I let him touch my face in a way that only Mr. Andrews had done before, and didn't back away.
''Maybe he doesn't, Will,'' I whispered, revelling in the positive attention.
''Perhaps, then...you should show him what he'll be missing,'' Mr. Murdoch suggested, his eyes firmly on mine, ''Perhaps he needs to realise that another man can treat his mistress better,''
Now, call me a strumpet if you wish, but I actually liked the sound of this. It was something I'd spent the last few minutes thinking about anyway, and now Mr. Murdoch was alluding to the same idea himself. My goal was to pull out all the stops to make sure I could steal Mr. Andrews away from that careless wife of his. Now I had proposals to fulfill in the process of doing so; one was asking Jack Dawson to grant me a kind favour. And the other...was sleeping with First Officer Murdoch. Yes, sleeping with the First Officer. I knew I had to orchestrate this whole thing very carefully, for it to work well enough. Mr. Andrews had been moderately jealous of my stolen kiss with Mr. Murdoch on the promenade. Surely he would show more than just a smattering of jealousy, if he could see that we were having our own more risque moments together as well? There would be just one way to find out. He was scheduled, as usual, to be showing a touring party around the promenade deck at lunch time. All I had to do was catch him before then, somehow.
''Are you doing anything at about midday, Will?'' I enquired to Mr. Murdoch, as the little cogs turned and turned in my head.
A smile played on the First Officer's lips.
''I'm due at the wheel room very soon, but I'm sure Mr. Moody will cover me for a while when the time comes.''
I reached onto my toes and placed a thankful kiss on his cheek.
''I'll meet you here. Be sure to be prompt, or your, um...needs...may not be met.''
Mr. Murdoch couldn't hide his glee at the thought, and rubbed his hands together eagerly.
''Oh, don't you worry lass, I'll be here. Midday it is.''
Without so much as a goodbye, I turned on my heel and continued on my way, to where I'd been heading before bumping into Mr. Murdoch. Well, that was a lucky encounter, to say the least! I was sufficiently pleased with myself at how things were so easily falling into place now. Everything was brewing away in my head quite nicely, and all my plans were for the love of one man, and one man only. Now I had to find the young Dawson lad, to ask him for that kind favour.
Down on the third class deck, I caught sight of Rose with Jack, milling around quite openly together with the other steerage passengers. Rose resembled a flawless porcelain doll, wearing the most exquisite navy blue velour outfit, nipped in at the waist with a sash made from the purest silk. Her scarlet hair was cascading down her shoulders, and pinned loosely at the back by a comb shaped like a dragonfly. The reason I mention her appearance here is quite simple; she was unlike anyone down there in third class, with her fairytale looks and her elegant clothing. Yet, there she was, mingling happily with the rest of them, without a thought or a care for their social class. I had not seen the likes of it, in all my months serving on the liners. First class passengers would never in a million years intermix with those from the third class. Perhaps this girl really wasn't suited to the socialite way of life after all. I must admit, I was beginning to admire her more each day. Quite a change in heart for me, as only a few days ago I couldn't stand the mere mention of her. Mr. Andrews had seen her special qualities, before I could begin to appreciate them.
Knowing exactly what I had in mind, I made my way over to Jack and Rose, who were both relaxing on a bench with a couple of friends. Jack was smoking a cigarette, his blonde locks hanging in his face carelessly. Rose's sitting posture on the bench was much more carefree than at dinner, where she'd been expected to behave one way only. Being such a stickler for observing people's body language, I always noticed these little things. Actually, it was Rose who caught sight of me first.
''Mimi!" she gasped, obviously surprised to see me down there.
''Good morning, Rose,'' I said with a smile, and I looked to Jack as well. ''Morning, Jack,''
''Nice to see you again, miss,'' he responded, taking the cigarette from his mouth and holding it casually between his thumb and forefinger. There was a sudden hint of mischief in his blue eyes as he then joked, ''Has Cal chased you down here to join the rest of us sewer rats?''
I gave a chuckle, and shook my head.
''He can try all he likes, he can't do anything. No, actually Jack, it's you I've come to see.''
Jack shifted forward on the bench, and glanced quickly at Rose.
''Me? Am I... in some sort of trouble with Mr. Andrews or somethin'?''
''Oh, it's nothing like that,'' I assured him, waving my hands dismissively in front of me. ''I remembered the other night at dinner, Jack, when we were talking about your drawings. Rose said you were a fine artist,''
Jack's face immediately lit up at the mention of his art work.
''I like to think I'm pretty good at what I do,'' he perked up. ''I see people, y'know? I observe and interpret everything on paper,''
Rose also became quite animated, still seated next to him.
''Oh, his work is quite something, Mimi. He has such attention to even the smallest details, it's quite incredible."
I nodded my head.
''May I see your work, Jack? I've had an idea about something, and well...you're the only person who comes to mind. I'd like you to help me.''
Jack passed his cigarette to Rose, and reached underneath the bench to grab hold of a battered, brown folder from the floor. He handed the folder over to me, with much enthusiasm evident on his face.
''Have a look, miss. There's quite a collection of stuff in there. I hope you don't mind the, er, content of some of my work. It's all in the name of art, you understand!"
As I opened the folder and began to thumb through the pages, I could see why he'd thought to mention that! These were wonderfully detailed, true to life pencil drawings, and some of his subjects were... well, women, wearing hardly a stitch. Many of them were completely nude and posed in suggestive positions. But his work didn't consist of just those girls. There were sketches of mothers with their children, a man sitting alone in a French cafe, and what appeared to be a well-to-do lady propping up a bar, wearing a lot of jewellery. Jack observed me looking at that one for longer than the others, and stood up from the bench to join me.
''That one there? That's Madame Bijou,'' he eagerly explained by my shoulder, pointing to the woman in the drawing. ''She used to sit at that bar every day, wearing all the finest pieces of jewellery she had. Day and night, she was there, waiting for the man of her dreams to come and sweep her off her feet. I had to draw her. She was too interesting for me to pass up.''
I was impressed. He had a natural eye for seeing the smallest of details and getting them down on paper.
''Your work is very good, Jack. I like these a lot.''
Rose gave a coy giggle and turned to me, her voice dropping to a hushed tone.
''Mimi, I must tell you. I persuaded Jack to draw me last night, like one of those French girls!"
Jack's eyes widened and he shot her a look of disapproval, embarrassed that she'd mentioned such a thing to me. The French girls she'd been referring to were the same ones I'd seen in the pictures - those who had not a stitch of clothing on their exposed frames. There was something that had ceased to surprise me about Rose's new found rebellion. Jack was keen to change the subject as quickly as possible.
''So, miss, what's your verdict? Is there someone you'd like me to draw for you?''
A smile slowly grew across my face, and I looked again at the sketch of the French girl lying draped across someone's bed. Her face was turned to the side, her hair was hanging loosely around her neck, and her top half was exposed. There was something quite sultry about that pose.
''Jack, I need to do something to win back Mr. Andrews,'' I sighed, my eyes flitting from the sketch of the French girl to Jack, and back again. ''I love him and I want him back. I have to make him see he's missing out on being with me. So yes, I'd like you to draw someone for me.''
''Well, I'd have to find Mr. Andrews first, but he's always wanderin' around the ship. I've been told he's a hard man to get a hold of,'' Jack said, his cigarette back in his mouth again. ''How's he going to stay still long enough for me to draw him?''
I shook my head, and pointed to the drawing of the French girl.
''No, not Mr. Andrews. If Rose doesn't mind, I would like you to draw me... like, well... this.''
Jack's face was a picture, and he spat out his cigarette with a start. Knowing there was no point in picking it up from the floor again, he stubbed it out with his shoe and whistled with astonishment at my request, his eyebrow raised.
''Are you sure? I won't be improvising or anything, miss. I need the subject fully prepared in front of me, which means... ''
He gestured with his hand to my clothes.
''I'll be fine with it,'' I said, glancing over at Rose. ''I'll have a brandy before I take anything off. And it'll be purely professional, I can assure you."
Rose didn't seem bothered by my request, actually. She knew I was sentimental about Mr. Andrews, and I suppose she identified with the need to do something like this. After all, it seemed she'd posed for Jack last night in a similar way.
''You really love Mr. Andrews, don't you?'' she sighed, standing up from the bench and touching my arm. ''Well, he needs you back in his life. I saw him this morning, on the way to breakfast. He seemed... cranky. I asked him if he was alright and he said no. He wasn't clear, but I get the feeling he has regrets. I don't know what about, and I didn't pry. I hope he can make it up to you, whatever it is.''
What Rose had said to me there, only cemented my thoughts on what I was planning to do to win Mr. Andrews over. Jack took his drawings from me and bundled them back into his folder.
''That's settled, then,'' he said hastily, looking deeper into my eyes to see that I was sure. ''You definitely want me to draw you like this, miss? You don't have to. You can pose fully or partially clothed. It's your call,''
I shook my head, chewing on my bottom lip a tad nervously at the thought of taking my clothes off in the name of art. But my mind was made up.
''It's fine, Jack. I want you to draw me like that girl in the picture. I need to do this.''
Rose gasped, her eyes large and her face overcome with exuberance. ''I'll help you! I'll help with your hair and your make up. Oh my, this is so exciting. I'm desperate for Mr. Andrews to appreciate what you do for him, Mimi. Yes, I think you really need to do this. And I have something which you could wear for the picture. I asked Jack to draw me, wearing a jewel Cal gave me. You can borrow it when you pose for Jack.''
I had no idea what she was talking about, and although she was not wearing anything around her neck now, she still gestured with her fingertips to where the item had been last night.
''Le Couer de La Mer,'' she explained. ''It's a necklace, Mimi. Very heavy, very expensive! A blue diamond. Cal's engagement present to me, actually.''
Ouch! I thought to myself. That's one in the face for Caledon Hockley...
''I'll be keeping it for prosperity, but I have no real desire to wear it. If you'd like to use it while sitting for Jack, then you're very welcome to,'' she continued, smiling warmly.
I looked into her eyes. This young lady had the most thrilling ideas, but I'd been so harsh on her not even two days ago. I did feel a pang of guilt about that.
''Let's do this,'' I breathed nervously, a mixture of exhiliration and nerves overcoming me.
Rose squealed excitedly, and grabbed me by the hand, pulling me forward.
''We'd better do it now, before you overthink it and change your mind!''
Jack plucked a spare cigarette from behind his ear and tucked his art folder under his arm, walking a little behind us.
''Where we goin', miss? You'll need privacy.''
My heart was pounding at the realisation that a twenty year old lad I hardly knew would be drawing me, minus clothing of any kind. I was happy to have Rose coming along with me for moral support, though maybe she was also planning on keeping a close eye on Jack too.
''The best place will be my cabin,'' I called over my shoulder to him, as Rose pratically dragged me down the corridor. ''There will be no interruptions there, I'm sure,''
And so, off we went, to carry out the second half of my elaborate plan: making Mr. Andrews see sense. I don't know what had come over me that morning, but I was gaining confidence in playing these immature games to win him back. I just hoped he'd appreciate all the effort I was going to, all for him. Having Jack sketch me in the nude, and then doing my best to render him jealous by being intimate with another man; well, these seemed like genius things to do at the time. Whether or not they would have the desired effect, remained to be seen. I'd turned into quite the cunning, conniving young woman onboard this ship, and there was only one man to blame for my unusual change in personality...