A/N: This is my entry for the Age of Edward Contest. It won a Judges Choice award, awarded by ARFalcon AND a runner-up Judges Choice, awarded by Runtagua! It was inspired by the Titanic, because I find that entire tragic incident fascinating, and can only imagine all the back stories that took place during that crossing. Ceci Lolypowski has done me the honor of making a beautiful banner for this story, and there's also the kick-ass banner prepared by Betti Gefecht for the AOE contest. Hope you guys enjoy it!
This entry was originally 15,000 words, and Michelle Renker Rhodes and I had an incredible time cutting it down to close enough to 12,000 to be accepted into the contest! This is what resulted. Maybe one day I'll post the original 15,000 word version. :)
Title of Story: The Crossing
Word Count: 12,493
Type of Edward: Time-travelward (early 1900's/2033)
Story Summary: I'mon the unsinkable ship. The one that History tells us hit an iceberg and sank at two-twenty a.m. on April 15, 1912. I'm on Titanic - and I've traveled through time and space to save her.
Standard Disclaimer: The author does not own any publicly recognizable entities herein. No copyright infringement is intended.
Betad by Michelle Renker Rhodes.
Journal Entry 1: April 11, 2033 / April 11, 1912 Time: Dusk
Emmett, before I begin, let me just say that I'm going to conduct these entries like a conversation with you so that when I get back, you can confirm that all this really happened: that the five years we spent on this project paid off, that we were successful and able to overcome a mountain of paradoxical physics.
I may need proof that I'm not insane - that I've really traveled one hundred and twenty years into the past.
Right now, I'm hiding inside a lifeboat, naked and clutching my small, steel box. The air temperature outside feels about forty-seven degrees Fahrenheit or so, but a few people are out and about. If I've landed on the correct date, the ship set sail yesterday from Southampton, England, made a stop in Cherbourg, France a few hours later, and left Queenstown, Ireland a few hours ago with a total of 2,228 passengers and crew (now 2,229). We should now be sailing for open waters, towards New York.
Jesus, I'm on the unsinkable ship, Em; the one that History tells us hit an iceberg and sank at two-twenty a.m. on April 15, 1912.
I'm on Titanic.
Journal Entry 2: April 11, 1912 Time: Way past dusk.
I'm freezing my balls off.
My chest constricts painfully with every cold breath.
I snuck out of the lifeboat when it got dark and crouched behind a wooden bench in the first-class section. Men in tuxes and top hats and women in long, silk gowns and elaborate hairdos stroll by.
I need some fucking clothes.
Journal Entry 3: April 12, 1912 Time: 1:43 a.m.
Em, a lot has occurred since I last wrote:
Just as I was about to give new meaning to the term, "blue balls," a young man strolled by, walking stick in one hand, a pretty, dark-haired girl in the other. He was in the middle of a conversation with her when he looked down at the bench and directly at me.
He helped me up, exclaiming, "Good God, Man! What in heaven's name happened to you?"
I thought quickly. "A couple of young lads from steerage accosted me and took all my possessions!"
The guy's eyes grew wide. The young woman at his side took me in from head to chest, her eyes bulging when they trailed lower.
Nevertheless, I could tell that they believed my story. Despite the fact that my dick was on display, I held my chin high with the aristocratic air of someone who completely belonged in this section of the ship.
We practiced well, Emmett.
"Dear Lord, what madness! Alice, my love, please run inside and fetch help!"
"No! I mean, thank you, but that won't be necessary." I looked down at my naked self. "It would be quite mortifying to admit that I allowed two hooligans from third class to leave me in this despicable state."
Understanding crossed the young man's features. "A mortification indeed."
"Especially as you are so well…built, Sir," added the girl - before flushing and averting her gaze.
"Yes...very well," the man smirked, "I fully understand your concern. I am Jasper Whitlock Hale, of the Boston Hales, and this is my fiancée Mary Alice Brandon, of the Maryland Brandons. Is there anything at all we can do for you?"
Jasper Whitlock Hale and Mary Alice Brandon. I remember them from our research. Mary Alice will get on one of the first lifeboats, and though Jasper will end up in the freezing waters, he'll be one of the lucky few who'll get pulled out of the water.
They look a bit like the holos of their old pictures. He's about mid-twenties, 6'3" or so, lean build, blond hair and blue eyes. She's five feet tall if that, with jet black hair and hazel eyes.
"To be honest, Sir, I am quite cold." I jerked my chin southward. "Perhaps if you wouldn't mind, I could borrow your top coat?"
He grinned and clapped me on the shoulder - quickly remembering my bare skin and snatching his hand away. Removing his topcoat and hat, he handed them to me.
"Give us your stateroom number, my friend, and we'll escort you back. Are you traveling with family or friends?"
I palmed the back of my head and pretended to sway. "I'm traveling alone, but I do believe the blow those ruffians gave me has made me forget my stateroom number."
Jasper's eyes narrowed in concern. "Do you remember your name?"
"Uhm, yes. My name is Edward Masen, of the Chicago Masens."
Were there Chicago Masens, Em?
"Ah yes, the Chicago Masens. But you don't remember your stateroom number, and we cannot in good conscience leave you to wander the ship with your manhood waving about. I have a spare room in my cabin you're more than welcome to stay in for the night. Hopefully tomorrow, you'll remember your stateroom number. How does that sound?"
I grinned in gratitude.
"It's a good thing they didn't take your personal safe."
Jasper pointed to the steel box in my hand. "That is your personal safe, is it not?"
"Yes. Yes, it's my safe."
So now, Em, I have a room to stay in for the next three nights, until I find those jewels and until the machine once again builds up enough energy to open up the Window that'll get me back to the present, back to 2033. I'll see you at 11:00 p.m. on the fourteenth, Buddy, just as we agreed.
Journal Entry 3: April 13, 1912 Time: 1:23 a.m.
Before I detail my day for you, Emmett, there's something I need to confess now that we're thousands of miles and hundreds of years apart.
When we first decided that this would be our first time travel test and we poured through all the history of Titanic, there was a picture we came across that drew me in and called to me in a way I'll never be able to explain because I still don't understand it myself.
It was the picture of Isabella Dwyer.
Isabella Dwyer: fiancée of Lord James Huntington, the Earl of Winchester, the man who stole the jewels I've come to steal back. Isabella Dwyer: heiress daughter of steel tycoon, Phillip Dwyer.
Isabella Dwyer, who along with her fiancée and two-thirds of the passengers on this ship, met her end at the bottom of the Atlantic on a cold April night in 1912.
I've shocked the ever living shit out of you, Em, haven't I? You're thinking I may have lost it during the crossing from 2033 to 1912. I haven't. I know we agreed that other than retrieving the jewels, I can't make any other changes to what occurred on this ship that night. But her image imprinted itself in my mind, stayed with me day and night.
In my dreams, she isn't a black and white hologram image of her picture. In my dreams, I run my fingers through her dark, chestnut hair, gaze into eyes the color of chocolate, smell the sweet scent of her skin, and taste her soft, warm lips. In my dreams, her entire face lights up when she smiles at me.
In my dreams, she's mine.
It's crazy; I know it is, Emmett. That's why I could never tell you.
I'm aware of the facts: that the Earl stole the jewelry that his cousin, King George the Fifth, meant to present to his future wife, the Princess Mary, as a wedding present. He then boarded Titanic with his young fiancée in tow, hoping to be far gone before the jewelry was noticed missing.
He was far gone alright; at the bottom of the Atlantic with his jewels and his innocent fiancée.
And yes, I'm fully aware of my limitations here, Em; the machine was calibrated for one specific person, and it'll only bring back the same person it brought to the year 1912 in the first place.
But maybe in the few hours that I have on this ship, I can gain her trust. I can tell her who I am, where I come from and what's going to happen to this ship in a little over sixty hours.
Maybe, just maybe, I can save her.
Getting back to my day, I spent last evening as a guest in Jasper Hale's stateroom.
"How are you feeling, Edward?" he asked in the morning.
"Much better, Jasper, but I still can't seem to recall my stateroom number."
Jasper frowned. "Then I'm afraid I'll have to insist that you remain my guest until you remember, or until we arrive in New York – whichever comes first," he added with a friendly grin.
Emmett, was everyone this trusting in this day and age, or was Jasper simply one-of-a-kind?
Alice and her mother agreed with Jasper when they stopped by the stateroom a short while later. Alice wore a long, pink dress with puffy sleeves and a bunch of lace that dragged behind her. Her mother wore a green dress with an uncomfortable-looking collar that buttoned all the way up to her neck. They both wore huge hats with copious feathers sticking out of them.
Anyway, Jasper lent me one of his day suits, which had been custom-cut for him, but Alice and her mother assured me profusely that I looked quite "dapper and handsome."
We had breakfast in the dining saloon located on D Deck, where waiters in white jackets and gloves provided us with anything our hearts desired, literally, on silver platters. The tables were decked out in expensive china and silverware. Sparkling chandeliers lined the impeccable white ceilings.
Now I have a question for you, Emmett: Do you believe in fate?
You're laughing at me, Asshole, aren't you?
But with over three hundred and twenty first-class passengers aboard this ship, what were the chances that so early into my trip, among a room full of men and women dressed in all their morning finery, she would stand out as if she had a spotlight on her?
She was at the end of a table a few feet away, in a cream dress that should've blended into the background, but somehow didn't. She sat stiffly, chin held high with the bored expression of someone who'd done all this too many times. White, laced up boots peeked out from under her dress while she bounced her crossed legs impatiently. And unlike almost every other woman in this dining room, her hair wasn't up; rather, it cascaded loosely down her back in long, dark blonde layers.
Yes, Emmett. Unlike in my dreams, her hair is dark blonde.
"Darling, look," I heard Jasper say. "Isabella has left her stateroom. I suppose she's feeling better this morning."
Alice responded in a low voice. "If I were her, I would've stuck to the seasickness ruse rather than show my face in public."
I narrowed my eyes.
"Darling, that's not very generous of you to say," said Jasper.
"I'm sorry, my love," Alice replied, "but I say it for her own well-being. She knows they will be whispering about her for the rest of the crossing."
We took a few bites of the food in front of us: poached eggs, grilled ham, baked apples and scones.
Sidenote: Have you ever had poached eggs? They're good. I've never seen them as an option on the iChefs, so I suppose they're one of those things we'd have to prepare on our own, but who does that nowadays?
Anyway, I turned to Jasper and whispered, "What was that about?"
He glanced in Isabella's direction. A man was now at her side: tall, older, about mid to late forties.
"That is Isabella Dwyer, daughter of the late Phillip Dwyer, from New York. After he passed away last year, Isabella inherited the estate, but the will stipulates that she cannot inherit the company itself unless she marries."
"Why?" I questioned.
"Because she's a woman," Jasper chuckled, as if that should've been plainly obvious. "Her mother sent her abroad to meet Lord Huntington. Though he is in his mid-forties and she is only twenty-one, he is titled, in need of a rich wife, and would do well as the new President of Dwyer Steel."
"The marriage was arranged?"
"Of course," he frowned, giving me another bemused grin. "But Isabella has refused an escort for the crossing back to America and is spiting her mother by sharing a stateroom with her fiancée. Granted, it is one of the large promenade staterooms, but it's become a bit of gossip.
I looked back up at Isabella.
"I met them yesterday and would be happy to make introductions, if you'd like," Jasper offered.
We excused ourselves and walked over to Isabella and Lord James.
"Lord James, Isabella, it's wonderful to see you both this morning!" Jasper exclaimed.
"It's wonderful to see you as well, Mr. Hale," I heard Isabella say, her voice laced with a note of blasé monotony. I refrained from looking directly at her.
"I'd like to introduce you both to my good friend, Mr. Edward Masen, of the Chicago Masens. He is…uh…he is…"
"I'm traveling with Mr. Hale and Ms. Brandon."
"Uh…yes," Jasper quickly agreed.
James reached out to shake my hand. "Good to meet you, Edward."
As if in slow motion, Isabella extended her hand in my direction. I slid the tips of my fingers under the tips of hers and drawing in a deep, internal breath, allowed myself to look down at her face.
Blue eyes as cool as the morning sky met mine.
"An honor, Mr. Masen."
"The honor is all mine," I murmured.
She withdrew her hand, and I drew in a silent breath of bewilderment at the apparent differences between my dreams and reality.
Either way, Emmett, dark or light features, her face is - go ahead and laugh - the most beautiful face I've ever seen. That ancient, black and white picture I've holoed hundreds of times doesn't do her a drop of justice.
We made small talk, and then Lord James suggested we take a stroll along the boat deck. Jasper returned to Alice to escort her and her mother to us while I remained with James and Isabella.
"Tell me, Edward," James began, "in what type of business is your family engaged?"
"A very useful endeavor."
"It is," I agreed. "And if you should ever have anything…valuable you would need insured, I would be honored to provide assistance. Of course, I would be extremely discreet-"
"I'm sorry," Jasper interrupted, "but…uh…Alice isn't feeling well. She'll be returning to her stateroom with her mother and won't be able to join us."
Emmett, the man can't lie to save his life. When I glanced back, Alice and her mother were making their way out of the dining saloon as quickly as their long, complicated dresses would allow.
"Ah yes," Lord James said, "I'm afraid that the sea air does not sit well with many of our fine ladies. Isabella suffered with it until just this morning."
I chanced a look at Isabella. She had her face turned to the side, attempting to hide a smirk.
"Shall we?" James suggested. Turning himself and Isabella around, they led the way.
As we strolled, other first class passengers did the same, some playing deck games, a couple played shuffle board. A young boy spun a wooden sphere with a string, over and over. It was a strange, primitive toy, but the boy seemed entertained.
Jasper and James soon delved into a conversation about an apparent suffragette uprising in London the month before, something on which they both seemed to have the same opinions. I'll admit I'm growing fond of Jasper, even though his ideals are a bit misguided. I think it just goes with the times.
Yet, what would these men think of our world, a world that's prospered exponentially in the past fifteen years or so since women ascended to the predominant leader positions around the globe?
But I digress.
Since I had nothing to contribute to this particular discussion, I was soon left to walk behind and alone.
That is until Isabella casually dropped her arm from the crook of James' arm and slowing her steps, fell in step with me.
"You're very quiet, Mr. Masen," she murmured, sliding her arm through mine. "Do you not share the same views as my fiancée and your friend?"
"Please call me Edward, and I believe women are as intelligent and capable as are men."
She raised a brow, her lips twitching in amusement, eyes gazing forward.
"I may have to visit Chicago before I speak my vows. It seems a very…" – she turned intense, blue eyes my way – "enlightened State, Edward. Perhaps you can be my escort while I'm there?"
She was flirting, but my heart broke when she said this, Emmett. I know the Theory of Compossibility says that no matter what I say or do, I can't change what's already happened; I can't save her.
I've never been in love; you know this. Even those two years that Tanya and I spent together weren't what I needed. And no, I'm not saying I'm in love with Isabella. I've just met her. But I dream of her, and that must mean something, right?
I held her gaze with the same intensity, tightening my hold on her arm.
"I'll escort you whenever you need me to, Isabella, but you don't have to bind yourself to anyone - not on this ship," I swallowed hard and whispered vehemently, "or off of it. Your first priority should always be taking care of yourself. Please remember that."
Her big, blue eyes widened. For a few seconds, she simply stared at me.
"I wonder at your nerve at taking such familiarity with me, Edward. Then again, I'm sure this entire ship is currently taking the same familiarities in discussing my private concerns."
Her tone was playful, but the bitterness in her words couldn't be disguised.
Our steps slowed, leaving a fair distance between us and the two men too engrossed to notice.
I inclined my head closer to hers. "I haven't discussed you or your private concerns with anyone, Isabella. But your fiancée isn't the man you think him to be."
"Not the man I think him to be?" she grinned wryly. "Oh, I think he's exactly who I think him to be."
"Let's just say, I know certain things about him," I smirked.
"Do you?" Her voice was teasing. "Please, do tell."
It took all my willpower not to spill everything to her right then and there.
"I can't, Isabella. Not now. But soon."
She stopped walking and cocked her head sideways, locking me in her cool, blue gaze.
"Your words, Edward, give the impression that you believe you and I will spend time together…alone…"
Her fingers suddenly gripped my arm tight and every nerve ending in my body hummed. I reached up and stroked her cheek.
"I want to be honest with you," I breathed.
She gazed at me speculatively. "Since you're being so candid with me, Edward, I'll be candid with you. Lord James needs my family's money, and I need his family's name. Despite how liberal Chicagoans seem to be, in my part of the world, I don't have many choices – not if I want what is rightfully mine."
While her gaze fell to my mouth, her fingers stroked circles inside my arm. She licked her top lip before lifting herself up on the tips of her toes, her face a mere inch or so from mine.
"But you may certainly share your secrets with me, Edward, and perhaps…" - she looked up at me through long, curved lashes - "…before this crossing is over, I'll share mine with you."
And with that, she pulled away from me and walked off.
Jasper and I accepted an invitation to the pool from James and J. J. Astor. (Yes, that J.J. Astor). As luck would have it, Jasper had a spare swim outfit to lend me.
I emerged from the spare bedroom wearing extremely tight, black boxer briefs and a tight, black tank top.
I know you're laughing at me yet again, Asshole.
I may not have looked as ridiculous as you think. Alice, who was in the parlor room with Jasper when I emerged, took me in from top to bottom.
"Edward, I hadn't noticed the other day how…firm you are." She bit her lip. "It's actually quite…a pity you don't recall your stateroom since your own swim shorts probably don't fit you as snugly in some areas-"
Jasper cleared his throat loudly.
Sidenote: There was an article in The Times the other day that said that the average size of a man's penis has grown by an inch or so in the past hundred somewhat years. I only mention this because you can't really blame poor Alice here.
As we all walked out of the stateroom, I sucked in my teeth.
"What is it?" Jasper asked.
"Do you mind if I catch up to you at the pool? I need the water room."
"No problem," Jasper grinned, clapping my shoulder. "Take your time, my friend."
I skipped the fancy lift and instead took the stairs one flight up to B Deck, where the six staterooms with private promenades were. Isabella and Lord James were two of the lucky few who could afford these accommodations.
I peeked into the hallway from behind the staircase door, making sure that no one was around before I emerged. With a deep breath, I walked confidently down the halls. If anyone were to see me, they'd assume I was just another member of the privileged elite.
My heart thumped anxiously in my chest while I carefully put my ear to Isabella's and Lord James' door. After thirty seconds of silence, I took the pin I'd surreptitiously stolen from Alice's carefully styled hair and jiggled it inside the lock. Primitive locks being what they were, within seconds, I had it open.
The stateroom was one of the most opulent displays of privilege and wealth I've ever seen: walls of rich, dark wood paneling, gold light fixtures, priceless paintings, Victorian era furniture, all gave the room the feel of a museum.
I checked out Isabella's room first. Her closets were full of expensive gowns, her drawers held all the articles considered essential for a lady in this day and age: slips and panties, nightgowns and camisoles, corsets and garter belts…
Sidenote: Do women in our time even remember what panties were? I've never been with a woman who's worn them or who's worn a "bra" other than the small cups hidden under each breast.
Nevertheless, these were some beautiful articles of clothing, Em, and I've gotta be honest, I stood there for a few seconds admiring them.
Yeah, yeah, go ahead and laugh at me yet again. Women walk around with no constraints nowadays, and I fantasize about undergarments that would've taken me a half hour to undo.
I found James' room next, but there was nothing in there either. It really would've been helpful had I been able to bring my iX-Ray with me; too bad those kinds of toys can't make the crossing.
I tried the huge, walk-in closet, half of which held more of Isabella's beautiful gowns, the other half, James' suits and tuxes. An oversized, black wardrobe stood right in the middle of the room. The right side of the wardrobe was all drawers, but the left side had a large cabinet door. When I opened the door, a large, black safe waited on the inside.
Yeah, I know you taught me how to open safes, but I'd already been in this room for fifteen minutes. Jasper and James were waiting for me. I had no idea when one of the other inhabitants of this room would decide to return. I'd have to come back when I knew I wouldn't be interrupted.
I closed the stateroom door behind me and had managed about four steps when Isabella rounded the corner, dressed in a white, terry robe open in the front – and giving me a clear view of her own swimsuit.
It was bright red, and though it covered a hell of a lot more than swimsuits cover nowadays, the way it hugged her body just enough to outline her hourglass figure took my breath away. A black swim cap covered her hair.
Her expression was cool and composed as she reached up and removed her cap, shaking out long, dark blonde hair while she walked to me and stopped just a foot or so away.
"Edward," – her eyes roamed shamelessly up and down my body, arching a perfectly groomed brow - "it's a pleasure to see you again."
"Isabella, the pleasure is mine."
She grinned knowingly. "Are your accommodations on this floor? I don't recall seeing you here before…"
"No, they're not on this floor." Trying to keep my gaze averted from her body, I added, "I see you're returning from the pool."
"Yes, well, when the men arrive, the ladies must depart. We wouldn't want men and women swimming together, would we?"
I smirked. "Wouldn't we?"
She laughed out loud, and God, Emmett, how I wanted to tell her everything. But how do you tell someone that you're a time-traveling scientist here to retrieve stolen jewels hidden in her room, and oh yeah, by the way, this ship is going to hit an iceberg in a couple of days, and she's destined to die on it?
"You know, Mr. Masen, we're only on this ship for a few more days, so if there's something specific you want to say to me…" – she lifted herself on her toes and brought her mouth close to my ear, – "something you want to do…I'd suggest you get to it. Soon," she breathed, making the hair on my scalp prickle.
And with that, she sidestepped me and walked on to her stateroom.
After swimming, we made plans to meet Lord James and Isabella for lunch and then went back to the stateroom so that Jasper could loan me another suit.
-Yes, we were changing yet again, Em. Go ahead, have a laugh about it-
Then Jasper left to pick up Alice, but was soon back - alone.
"Uhm…Alice isn't feeling very well. She'll be taking lunch in her stateroom, and…I don't want to leave her alone."
Have I already mentioned what a shitty liar Jasper is? He's so lucky iTruths didn't exist back in this time, or else mine would've been beeping off the hook.
I smirked at him through the floor-length mirror while adjusting my tie.
"Alice doesn't like Isabella, does she?"
Jasper frowned. "She doesn't approve of some of the things Isabella has done."
A sliver of indignation crawled up my spine. "I think it's pretty hypocritical that the same society that limits her choices has the balls to hold her in contempt when she does what she has to do to survive in its world!"
Jasper gaped at me. "Edward, I'm not judging Isabella, and I have told Alice that I don't agree with her shunning of the young lady. Yes, our society limits women, and in some cases, it's not fair. But whether we like it or not, this is the society in which we live."
"So we must accept it for what it is?"
Jasper sighed. "Edward, every society has its rules, and if we don't live by them, then we have to deal with the consequences. Whether those rules are fair or not is not the issue."
I didn't answer him because he was right about that much.
He smiled ruefully. "Who knows, perhaps in a hundred years things will be different."
If only he knew.
When I arrived at the Café Parisien, a small restaurant modeled after a French Sidewalk Cafe, I was informed that my party hadn't yet arrived, so I sat and waited.
Fifteen minutes later, Isabella arrived, now wearing a pale yellow lace dress with a matching yellow wide-brimmed hat, tilted to the side so that it covered one of her cool, blue eyes.
Sidenote: Seriously, how much clothing was brought on this ship?
The waiter led her to my table. I stood and took her gloved hand while the waiter pulled the chair out for her.
"Where is Lord James?"
"He received a better offer from Mr. Astor. Where are Mr. Hale and Ms. Brandon?"
"Alice still isn't feeling well, and Jasper is accompanying her until-"
"-until she loosens the hold she's got around his britches." She chuckled.
"That's not very nice, Isabella," I chided, but my lips twitched in amusement. "Jasper and Alice are good people."
"I'm sure they are," she grinned. "But I've found that being on such a narrow, confined object as a ship tends to narrow people's minds even further."
"Perhaps," I conceded.
She reached for her glass of water and took a sip, looking up at me over the rim of the glass.
"It also tends to…uninhibit people…knowing you will most likely never see each other again once you debark."
We ate quietly, and though I don't know what was going through her mind, I couldn't get the thought of her proximity out of mine.
"Why are you marrying him?" I finally asked. "You don't love him, that's obvious. If you must marry to inherit, why not wait to find someone you could love?"
She held my gaze, blue eyes intent on mine, and took a sip of wine before answering.
"What difference would it make whom I married, Edward? Every man would see me for my fortune."
"That's not true."
She snickered. "In the society to which you and I belong, we don't marry for love, we marry for advantage."
"What about Jasper and Alice? They love each other."
"If Alice were poor, do you think Jasper would love her half as much as he does?"
"Then you, Edward, are either extremely naïve, or the best man on this entire ship. Perhaps I should marry you," she teased with a smile. "But you see," – she leaned in closer and lowered her voice - "the problem is that I don't want to get married - not to anyone. Yet I have no choice, do I?"
"I want you…" – I drew in a lungful of air – "to make your decisions based on what is best for you. You should never risk yourself for society's expectations."
She narrowed her eyes, gazing at me curiously as if I'd suddenly confused her. For a second, Emmett, that aloof, arrogant air with which she carried herself disappeared, and the eyes gazing back at me were sad, and so damned lost.
I reached over the table and took her hand in mine, lacing our fingers together. She held on tight, as if she were already falling deep into that cold ocean.
Our eyes locked on one another for an immeasurable moment.
"What do you want from me, Edward?" she whispered.
I swallowed thickly. "Isabella, I want…I need to tell you-"
But the words wouldn't come.
She shook her head. "I need to go."
Her chair scraped across the floor, and then she was gone.
April 13, 1912 Time: 2:38 p.m.
Jasper must have had a talk with Alice last evening, because this morning, when Isabella and James walked into the dining saloon and he called them over to our table, Alice actually managed a convincing smile.
I offered Isabella my seat next to Alice and moved down a chair, quietly listening to both women exchanging formal pleasantries. I went to stab a piece of ham with my fork-
-and instead scraped the tines noisily through the expensive china when a hand suddenly landed on my thigh.
The hand moved in small circles at first, widening its perimeter, slowly moving closer to my inner thigh…
"Edward, Jasper, how about a game of Squash today?" James asked.
Isabella's fingers dug insistently, slowly trailing higher...
"That sounds like a fine plan," I managed to accept, vaguely hearing Jasper's own agreement.
All around us, conversation continued. Silverware and dishes clinked together noisily. Music played quietly in the background…and Isabella's hand trailed higher and higher – and then cupped my cock.
I sucked in sharp breath.
"Are you alright, Edward?" Jasper asked.
"Yes, I'm fine," I smiled faintly.
For the next fifteen minutes, Isabella carried on a casual conversation with everyone around the table while giving me a hand job through my pants under it.
By the time breakfast was over, I was barely breathing.
When her hand suddenly withdrew, I drew in a deep, ragged breath.
Isabella stood and bid everyone a polite goodbye, assuring James that they'd meet up after Squash. Without a glance my way, she walked out of the dining room.
I waited about five minutes, heart racing in my chest while the tent in my pants deflated.
"I'm afraid I am feeling slightly queasy this morning. I think I'll go rest for a while and catch up with you gentlemen later."
I walked out of the dining room blind to everyone I passed until I saw her a few feet ahead, waiting for me. She grinned and turned into a small space blocked from view by three walls and a door marked "for employees only," - which I pushed her up against when I crashed my mouth to hers.
She opened up eagerly, her tongue sliding quickly inside my mouth while her hands fisted my hair. I slid my hands down to her hips and picked her up. When I did, she ground herself against me; her breasts crushed against my chest.
"What are you doing to me?" I asked, my voice ragged. "You're making me forget…you're making me want…"
"Making you want what?" she asked against my mouth. "What is it that you want, Edward?"
"This isn't…it's not what I'm here for."
She tightened her grip on my hair. "What are you here for?"
"I want to save you."
She backed away until her blue eyes met mine. "I don't need saving."
A pounding from the other side of the door startled us. I quickly lowered Isabella, moving her aside so that one of the employees could get by. He smirked at us before resuming his pace.
When I turned back to Isabella, she'd already opened her parasol.
"I'll see you later, Edward."
But she caught up to another lady, and giving each other air kisses, they walked off.
Journal Entry 4 April 14, 1912 Time: 1:06 a.m.
Alice tried to be friendlier to Isabella during dinner tonight, but Isabella was distant and aloof, smiling coolly or responding with short, one word answers.
She's built a wall around herself, and I'm not sure what it'll take to crack it, to get past it enough to warn her.
No, Emmett, I haven't forgotten about the jewels. I know I have to get them. The royals have sponsored our research, and I know they'll be none too happy if I return empty-handed.
"Well, gentleman, what say we escort the ladies back to the library or tea room, and then have some port and cigars at the club?" James suggested after dinner.
I saw this as a chance to speak to Isabella, to tell her the truth.
But she turned frigid, blue eyes towards James.
"I don't need an escort, thank you. I have a massive headache this evening and will ask Jane to make me some tea before retiring early. Good night everyone."
I'm running out of time, Em.
Journal Entry 5 April 15, 1912 Time: 1:16 a.m.
I'm still here, scribbling furiously while the world of the privileged and undesirable alike converge and crash. Neither sphere will make a difference in a little over an hour, because both will be under water.
I don't know what went wrong. I don't even know if you'll ever read this, Emmett. Perhaps this journal will be a relic found sixty years from now underwater, illegible ink stains destroyed by time and saltwater. No one will ever know what you and I were able to accomplish in a small lab in New York; no one will ever know the truth about Isabella.
But I have to tell it.
And I don't have much time.
We went to church Sunday morning, observing traditions regardless of religion – though still mindful of class. Afterwards, I followed Isabella out. Once more, she was waiting for me by our hidden corner, and once more I pushed her against the door.
"Isabella…" I groaned, licking along her collarbone while she wrapped herself around me and cradled my face, guiding me to the space between her breasts.
"Don't stay with him tonight, Isabella," I pleaded against her skin.
She picked up my head, her chest heaving, and held my gaze coolly.
"Tell me what you think you know about James."
In my dreams, she's warm and gentle; her dark eyes are intense yet kind.
I narrowed my eyes and tried with all my might to see the Isabella from my dreams.
"He'll destroy you," I growled.
I grabbed her shoulders, shaking her. "Listen to me! Don't sacrifice yourself for him! Save yourself! You hear me?"
"What are you talking about, Edward?" she asked, frowning in bewilderment. "Save myself from what?"
"Don't let him take you down with him," I begged. "I…I have something to tell you, but I need you to trust me."
She searched my eyes for one long moment, and then placed a soft kiss on my lips.
"Edward, after dinner, James will go smoke his cigars until the early hours of the morning, as he always does. I'll go back to our rooms and send the servants away for the night. Come to me, Edward."
My heart hammered painfully between my ribs, Emmett. I wanted her, I won't deny that I did, but what was the point? Whether I saved her or not, she and I could never be. I didn't know whether it was love or lust that was binding me to her, but I knew I owed her the truth.
Before I could respond either way, I heard a gasp and looked up.
Alice was staring at us in shock.
Isabella snorted, and turning back to me, placed a kiss on my cheek, leaning into my ear.
"I'll be waiting for you tonight."
With a smile in Alice's direction, she walked away.
Alice turned around and walked towards the railing, staring off at the clear, ocean waters. I followed her.
"She's engaged, Edward."
"If she's unhappy with her situation, she can change it."
"Do you love her?"
"I barely know her."
She was silent for a few minutes.
"Edward, I've always…seen things. And sensed them. I have a bad feeling about tonight, Edward. I don't think you should…" – she closed her eyes momentarily – "You and she don't fit."
I filled my lungs to capacity with the cool, ocean air. "Perhaps in another life, we would've."
Alice turned and put a hand on my shoulder.
"No, Edward. I don't even think in another life. Whatever you think you feel for Isabella, it's not real."
"Your judging her based on her situation with James."
She smiled and cradled my cheek. "No, Edward. I'm going on what I see in her soul. Save yourself, before she drowns you."
The rest of the day passed in a haze.
At dinner, Isabella was much friendlier than usual, though Alice refused to look her way for the entire dinner.
"Are you still not feeling well?" Jasper asked me as we finished our meal.
"No, actually, I'm not. I think I'll retire early tonight."
I felt an ache at the knowledge that this would be the last time I'd see Jasper; that in a few hours, he'd be fighting for his life in the frigid waters below us.
We stood, and I shook his hand, gripping it tight between both my palms.
"Jasper…you've been a great friend. Take care of yourself, and take care of Alice. I know you two will have a long and happy life together."
He gave me a puzzled look.
"I remember my stateroom now," I grinned weakly.
"Ah!" he chuckled. "Splendid news, my friend! Alice and I shall pay you a visit in the morning, then."
"Sounds great," I smiled, and looking down at my borrowed tux, added, "I'll have your tux cleaned before I return it."
He laughed, and clapping me on the shoulder, walked away.
I arrived at Isabella's stateroom at 9:30 p.m. I'd brought the metal box to give to her because…Em, I'd decided that Isabella needed those jewels more than did the Windsors of England. I was going to tell her everything and then convince her to take the jewels tonight; use them in any way she could. Maybe she could trade them for a seat on one of the first lifeboats, or use them to escape her world once she got off this ship; to make a new life for herself away from all those who'd keep her oppressed and bound.
But all my thoughts, all my planning, everything soon escaped me.
Do you remember those articles of clothing I told you I found in her drawers?
Isabella opened the door for me dressed in a long, black silk robe, through which I could see the cream colored corset underneath, the garters attached to her thighs.
She closed the door soundly behind us, and I walked to the middle of the parlor, chest heaving. Her hand grazed against my back as she leaned into me from behind, whispering in my ear.
"You don't have to be nervous, Edward. James will be gone for hours."
"Isabella, there are things I have to tell you."
She smiled slowly, offering me a small shot glass filled to the rim.
"Drink it. It'll calm you."
With a deep breath, I took the shot from her and downed it in one gulp. She smiled and served me another. When she started pouring me yet another, I protested-
Until she threw her head back and took the shot between her lips, and crashing her mouth to mine, let the warm liquid seep from her mouth into mine.
I pulled her against me, kissing her wildly while her hands fisted in my hair.
"Edward…" she moaned. Her robe fell from her shoulders, exposing her creamy breasts. I dipped my head, sucking a nipple into my mouth. She cried out softly while my mouth skimmed her skin back and forth, from one mound to the other. Then she turned around and arched her back into my chest.
"Unbind me," she breathed.
I sucked in a couple of breaths of air, trying to think, Em, but it was so hard because my head was spinning.
I grabbed her breasts, molding them between my hands as I pulled her flush against me and whispered in her ear, "We have to talk, Isabella."
She chuckled, grinding into my cock. "Afterwards."
All I saw was her, Emmett. All I tasted was her skin. All I smelled was the scent of her desire. I'm not sure how I managed to untie her corset, but soon it fell to the ground, leaving her in nothing more than white stockings up to her thighs.
She crashed herself against me again and as our tongues mingled together, her hand went down to my fly. She undid it quickly, releasing my throbbing cock into her hands and stroking me base to head, pulling me forward until she landed on the Victorian sofa. She spread her stocking-covered legs wide and waited.
I dropped over her and slid inside in one long, thrust.
When she cried out, her hips bucked against mine. She removed my jacket, my shirt and my tie and then her mouth sucked on my newly exposed skin while her pussy swallowed me whole.
"Yes, Edward. Yes…" she urged me on, wrapping her legs around me. I groaned as she took me in deeper, sucking blindly on every part of her body I could reach. The world was a hazy entity of muted colors and far-away sounds. Only sensation existed, the feel of being buried inside her to the hilt.
She released a throaty chuckle. "I have a cap in. I don't plan on having babies anytime soon."
Through my clouded mind, I remember pounding into her hard, over and over, and when I felt her walls contract around me, I thrust harder still before emptying myself inside her with one long groan.
Then I was floating in a black room with nothing but her, yet it wasn't her; not the one with the cool, blue eyes, but the her of my dreams.
My head pounded, my body suddenly…shuddered.
I opened my eyes, disconcerted. Blinking a few times, my vision slowly focused; shapes became colors, colors became objects.
Isabella was there, sitting on the chair across from me, dressed in a dark blue glittering dress.
And reading my journal.
I tried to lunge for it, but my body felt heavy and uncoordinated. She jerked away from my reach and held the journal up in one hand, and pointed a gun at me with the other.
Yes, Emmett, a fucking gun.
"What are you doing?" I asked in bewilderment.
"I think I should be asking you that. Though by this journal, apparently you're traveling through time and space, and trying to save me and my jewels at the same time."
I had a hard time registering her words. I cradled my head in my hands.
"What time is it?"
She didn't answer.
"Damn it, what time is it?!" I howled.
"It's 11:50 p.m. You've missed your - what did you call it - Window." She chuckled.
My legs gave out. I sank to the floor, head still in hands.
"Relax, Edward. You're not about to sink on Titanic. You're merely insane."
I whipped my head up, the abrupt motion making everything inside my brain rattle. There was no emotion in her eyes, Em, not an ounce.
"What did you mean by, 'my jewels'?" I asked. Questions and thoughts all jumbled in my head.
"I meant exactly that, my jewels," she replied, gun pointed straight at my chest. And suddenly it was all so clear.
"You knew about the jewels."
"Did you really think a nitwit like James could've ever come up with that?"
"Why, Isabella? You have money."
"I have my father's money!" she yelled. "I have an inheritance that will only be mine if I marry!"
"Does James know of your plan to run off with his jewels?"
She snorted. "They're my jewels, and of course not."
I closed my eyes for a second and filled my lungs. "Isabella, in less than two hours, it won't matter who has those jewels. None of this will matter."
"You're an investigator, aren't you?"
She eyed me in that deep, penetrating way of hers. All along, she'd been measuring me up as a potential obstacle, and nothing more.
"How did you know about the jewels?" she demanded.
"You know how."
She studied me again. "You really believe all you've written in here, don't you?"
"Put down the gun."
"Isabella, please put down the gun."
I felt quicker and stronger now, so once more, I tried to lunge for the gun, but she dropped the journal and held the gun out wrapped in both hands, cocking the trigger.
"Don't make the mistake of thinking I won't pull the trigger, Edward."
"I know you would."
"Because you know me so well, don't you?" she sneered. "You've been researching me for months, looking at my old – what did you call them – holos? Did I live up to your expectations, Mr. Masen? Did I live up to your dreams of making love to me?"
"That wasn't making love. You drugged me. And I never said I dreamed of making love to you."
"It's written in between the lines, Edward! So tell me, how was it?"
"I've had better," I hissed.
A look more of indignation rather than pain crossed her features, but she quickly laughed it off.
"I can imagine you have, with women of your time who are used to running the world, no longer wearing undergarments and more accommodating to a male penis which has grown in the past hundred years or so. Sex in the year 2033 must be glorious indeed." She laughed.
"Isabella, listen to me, did you feel that shudder a few minutes ago? That was the ship hitting an iceberg."
Her grin faltered briefly. "That was the motor turning about and nothing more."
"No!" I yelled. "Over two-thirds of the people on this ship will die tonight when the ship sinks!"
"You're insane! This ship is unsinkable!"
"It will sink! Five of the six water proof compartments will fill, and the ship won't be able to remain afloat!"
"And how do you know this?" she taunted. "Because you're a time-traveling scientist from the year 2033?"
"I know it sounds crazy, but it's the truth! How else would I know about the iceberg, or the jewels, or about-"
"About what? About my supposed death?" Her hands tightened around the gun. "Did you plan on killing me, Edward? Was that part of your insane plan?"
"Isabella, goddamn it, listen to me! I've been trying to warn you, trying to get you to trust me."
"How? By sleeping with me?" she shrieked. "I'm supposed to believe you when you say that I'm going to die tonight simply because I allowed you between my legs?"
"No! Yes! I don't know! All I know is that I can't let you die!"
"Why? Because you're in love with me?" she snickered. "Is that what you're going to tell me next?"
"No. Both you and I know that would be a lie. But I need you to survive; that's all I know!"
We heard a commotion outside. Her eyes flashed towards the door, wide and confused.
"If all this were true," her voice quivered, "you'd be going down just like the rest of us. You've missed your window," she taunted.
I swallowed thickly. "Yes. I have. But now, maybe I can save you."
"I told you before, Edward, I don't need you to save me from anything!"
There were three abrupt knocks on the stateroom door, and then we heard it open.
"Ms. Dwyer, Lord Huntington? Is there anyone in here?"
She kept her eyes on me, gun pointed straight at my chest and called out impatiently,
"Yes, what is it?"
"Ms. Dwyer, I've been instructed to ask you and the Earl to put on your life jackets and gather on the boat deck for further instruction."
Her eyes widened in horror. "Why? What is it?"
"It's just a precaution. That's all I know right now, Miss. Please put your life vest on as soon as possible, and gather on the boat deck!"
For a couple of minutes, she didn't move. Fear, bewilderment, and disbelief all marred her features. Her hands shook violently around the gun. Then, she kicked the journal at me and sprinted off into the wardrobe room.
I hurriedly put on my tuxedo pants and dress shirt and picked up the journal at my feet, folding it and stuffing it in a pocket – as if it made any difference at that point. I found her turning the combination knob on the safe, gun resting at her side.
"Isabella, there's no time for this! We have to get you on one of the lifeboats!"
"I'm not drowning, Edward," she said through clenched teeth, "I'm not dying. This is just a precaution. A drill."
I whirled her around to face me. "Then let's go!" I growled. "If it's just a drill, leave the jewels and let's just go!"
"No!" she cried, yanking her arm out of my hold and returning to the combination. "I'm taking my jewels! They're mine and I-"
The safe finally opened, and with a whimper, Isabella fell to the floor.
When I looked inside the safe, I found piles and piles of money, and nothing else.
"He took them. He took my jewels," she sobbed.
I swallowed thickly and dropped to the floor next to her.
No, Emmett, I wasn't in love with her, but I felt a fierce sense of protectiveness over her, as if no matter what else I ever did with my life, saving her would be the only thing that mattered.
Gently, I slid my hands under her arms and picked her up. When I carried her into the parlor and put a life vest on her, she let me.
"Listen to me, we have to get you on a lifeboat."
She stared back blankly.
I sighed, and putting on my own life vest, led her out of the stateroom.
It was 12:30 a.m. when we arrived on the Boat deck. Men in top coats and top hats, holding glasses of wine strolled by with women dressed in expensive furs and jewelry. We found the first lifeboat being loaded, and I pushed Isabella through the small crowd gathered around the boat. But when I tried to help her on, one of the sailors pushed us back.
"This lifeboat is full."
"Are you fucking crazy?" I yelled. "There's room for three times the people in there!" I grabbed Isabella's hand in mine and pushed past him.
All of a sudden I found myself on the floor, pinned down by about five sailors.
"We said this boat is full!" One of the men howled in my face. "And you aren't getting on anyhows! Women and children only!"
"I want to get her on the boat!" I yelled back.
The one in my face looked up, his eyes scanning all about, and sneering back down at me, signaled to the others to let me go.
I stood up quickly and looked around for Isabella.
Panic rose into my chest; wrapped itself tightly around my lungs.
I broke into a run, pushing past first class passengers aimlessly walking about, past the band playing for people who had no idea they were breathing their last breaths.
A rocket suddenly exploded in the sky. I looked up at the display of light, blending with the thousands and thousands of stars. When I looked down, Jasper and Alice were running towards me.
"Edward, thank God!" Jasper breathed.
Alice hugged me. "Are you alright?" she asked.
"I can't find Isabella," I murmured.
Her lips trembled. "Edward, please, just save yourself."
I turned to Jasper. "You have to get Alice onto a lifeboat right now."
He nodded vehemently. "Where are they loading?"
"Follow me," I instructed.
He gripped Alice's hand tightly and followed. When we found the next lifeboat being loaded, we fought through an increasingly larger crowd. Alice clung tightly to Jasper, sobbing almost uncontrollably.
"Alice! He'll be safe! Trust me!" I commanded.
Em, she stared at me for about thirty seconds, and I swear to you, it was as if she were seeing my entire future. Her demeanor suddenly shifted. She took two steps and wrapped her arms around me.
"He will be safe," she smiled when she pulled away. "And so will you, Edward. You're not going to die on this ship. You're going to die an old man, surrounded by so much family and love."
With one last hug for me and her beloved fiancée, Mary Alice Brandon disappeared into her lifeboat.
Jasper watched Alice's lifeboat row away until it was nothing more than a small dot in the black waters. I pretended I didn't see the wetness around his eyes.
"Jasper, you have to try to get on a lifeboat."
"You heard them," he said. "They're only loading women and children."
"Try. If you don't succeed…" – I gripped his shoulder tightly – "go to the stern of the ship and stay there for as long as you can. If you end up in the water, swim hard and stay afloat until one of the boats comes for you. Do you understand?"
He frowned. "What about you, Edward?"
"I have to find Isabella."
A couple of more rockets exploded in the air while I searched everywhere for Isabella: the grand staircase - littered with first class passengers who'd decided to ride out their destiny with a glass of port and a cigar, the First Class Smoke Room, the Promenade on A Deck. Finally, I returned to her stateroom.
As soon as I pushed open the unlocked door, I heard voices coming from beyond. Heart racing, I sped through the room.
"They're mine! Give them back!"
"You little slut. Did you really think I had no idea what you were up to?"
"Give me my jewels!"
I burst into Isabella's bedroom just as James backhanded her, sending her flying across the floor.
"NO!" I howled, and lunged for him. We fell to the floor, rolling around as fists connected with jaws and elbows with ribs. But Emmett, you and I have fought for everything we have, literally. It didn't take long to knock him out.
Afterwards, I sat on the floor panting, staring at an unconscious James. Reaching over for Bella, I cupped her face carefully in my hands.
"Are you alright?"
She nodded quickly before crawling over to James' limp body, digging into his pockets, sighing when she found a black pouch buried deep inside his jacket. She opened it up.
"My jewels," she breathed.
Even then, as the ship tilted enough to dispel any doubts as to what was occurring, those jewels were everything to her.
I stood and quickly walked to the parlor room, returning with the small metal box, the one that was supposed to hold anything I wanted to bring back with me: my journal, the jewels.
I knelt in front of her and pulled out the miniature keyboard, resetting everything. Then I took her thumb and pressed it against the recognition pad.
"Keep the jewels here. This will only open with your touch."
At first, she eyed me suspiciously, but then she simply sighed.
"I'm sorry you missed your window."
"So am I."
And now, Emmett, she sits next to me and watches me write this. It's 1:30 a.m. We're on a bench on the boat deck while people from every class on this ship scurry about trying to get to the last remaining life boats.
She won't get on a boat, not without me, and I can't get on until I finish writing this.
I have no idea, other than it must be written, even if it may never be read.
End of Dr. Edward Cullen's Journal. April 15, 1912 1:45 a.m.
I open my eyes.
I'm in my bedroom in Brooklyn surrounded by white walls that I haven't had time to paint because I'm always at the lab. In front of me, my dresser is littered with socks and shirts. A pair of classic Jordans are thrown across the floor. Outside my windows, birds chirp and fly along with yellow cabs, their engines glowing against the morning sun.
I try to sit up, but my head spins.
"Where am I?"
"This isn't my room!" I yell. "I painted my ceiling blue last week, but didn't get around to the walls! Where am I?"
All of a sudden, everything around me morphs. I'm in a different room with equally white walls. The floor is also pristine white. A white door appears where the dresser was. A large, glass window covers one wall, and beyond it I see nurses and doctors walking back and forth.
And then Emmett walks through the door.
"Hey man," he grins. "Welcome back."
I stare at him while he takes a seat at the chair that's appeared next to me.
"Where am I?"
"Clinton Memorial. You passed out when you returned. The Doctor and I thought it would be best to have a brain scan done to make sure you were okay."
"The Doctor? Brain scan?" I repeat aloud, confused. "What's with the virtual of my bedroom?"
"The Doctor thought it might soothe you to wake up in familiar surroundings."
I nod unsurely.
"How are you feeling?" Em asks.
I swallow thickly. "My head's pounding, my body aches, and my vision's a bit blurry. Other than that…" – my eyes widen, and I sit straight up, wobbling a bit.
"Whoa, whoa!" Emmett says, trying to push me back down. "Take it easy there, Buddy!"
"Did it happen? Did it all really happen?"
Emmett holds my gaze and nods solemnly.
Then I remember her, and that's when I try to stand up and fall straight to my knees.
"Edward! Shit!" Emmett reaches down and tries to help me up.
"Emmett, where is she? Where's Isabella?"
"Relax, Edward. We'll explain everything to you, but you need to-"
"Where's Isabella?" I demand. "Did she survive? Did she make it onto a lifeboat?"
"WHERE THE HELL IS SHE?"
The room morphs again. The large glass windows disappear, replaced by a white wall that blocks me from view. Emmett's eyes move to the opening door. At first, all I see is someone in a white lab coat…and long, dark hair…
The dark hair cascades loosely around a creamy face, around eyes the color of chocolate…around a face I've dreamed about.
"Dr. Cullen, my name is Dr. Bella Swan. Can you hear me? Can you hear me, Dr. Cullen?"
Everything goes black.
When I open my eyes again, I'm neither in the hospital room, nor in my bedroom. The room I'm in now is warm. Family pictures and a work from an artist that was popular back in the 2020s decorate the walls. I'm lying down on someone's brown sofa, - that is, unless this is another virtual.
"Hello?" I call out hoarsely.
Light footsteps approach, and then she appears from the hallway, wiping her hands on a small towel, the kind you see on TV in those old movies where people cooked.
"How are you feeling?" Her voice is full of a tenderness and concern that's reflected in her dark eyes.
I force myself to take a few deep breaths, but I can't respond right away.
She shakes her head. With a deep sigh, takes a seat in a chair across from me.
"My name is Bella Swan. Isabella Dwyer was my great-great-great grandmother, though my family never knew her as Isabella Dwyer. We knew her as Isabella Masen.
"I don't understand." Yet even as I say the words, I know that this all makes some sort of fucked up sense.
"What's the last thing you remember, Edward?"
"I…" – I close my eyes and try with all my might to lift the heavy fog still permeating me.
"I remember…begging her, begging Isabella to get on a lifeboat, but she said she wouldn't without me, and I knew I couldn't."
"Why couldn't you?" Bella asks.
"Because…" – I frown – "because I didn't belong there with her, with any of them. I belonged here with…" – I frown again, unsure as how to finish that thought.
She bites her lip. "Then what happened?"
"I…started dragging her to where I saw the last lifeboat loading. She fought me." I drop my head. "She fought me the whole way, but I kept pulling her, and then…I looked across the railing, towards the black, cold water waiting for us. It was still and sparkling and on any other night, under any other circumstances, it would've been so damn beautiful. Then…there was a ripple…
Bella waits patiently while I try to remember.
"There was ripple, only it wasn't in the water. The air and the stars seemed to dance back and forth with it, as if they were ocean waves."
"Your window," she breathes.
"My window," I nod. I stare at the wall through unfocused eyes. "Isabella saw it too. I stopped for just a few seconds to look at it because I had to get her to that lifeboat. My window was there, waiting for me, for just a few more seconds, but I had to get her off the ship. So I was going to ignore it, but she threatened to throw herself off the lifeboat if I didn't take the window. She said she'd drown herself." I can't help sneering as I remember her words. "She was very…head-strong, and I knew she'd keep her word. She said if I did take the window, she'd swear to me that she would survive, no matter what."
I drop my head. I don't want Bella to see my tears, though I'm sure she can hear them in my voice.
"I only had a few seconds to decide, Bella. What would've been the point of dragging her onto a boat if she was just going to throw herself off? And I couldn't go with her!" I hiss. "I didn't belong there. I didn't belong to her, I belonged…"
I see my dreams then. The dark hair. The dark eyes.
"I didn't belong with her."
Something crosses Bella's face, but she forces it away and though her gaze is still soft and warm, it gives nothing away.
"I ran towards the railing, and to anyone looking it would've just looked like another man jumping off a sinking ship. Then I awoke to a virtual of my room."
For a long time, we simply sit there, lost in our thoughts. Finally, I draw in a deep breath and look at her.
"Now you tell me your story."
She stares at me through deep, chocolate eyes, and without a word walks out of the room. When she returns, she's carrying a small, aged metal box.
My metal box.
She sits next to me and puts her thumb on the pad. It opens easily. Inside are a small black pouch and a journal.
"I grew up in Washington, in a small town named Forks. My mom was a teacher who would keep us entertained for hours with tales about her family. There was one particular story she loved, about a great-grandmother who had fallen in love on the Titanic before the sinking." She smiles. "But we simply thought she'd gotten her inspiration from that old movie that played around the turn of the century. Anyway, one day when I was twelve, I was playing up in our attic, and I came across this box."
She looks down at the box, turning it over from side to side on her lap.
"I tried everything to get it open; took a screwdriver to it, threw it across the room, burned it," she chuckles. "One day, my thumb scraped it here," – she puts her thumb in the right place – "and it just…opened."
She takes out my journal and flips through it. I'm amazed by how old and yellowed it looks, when just a few hours ago it was in my hands.
"I don't think it actually hit me until I was about fourteen that it wasn't just my great-grandmother's active imagination, but a true account."
"Your great-grandmother's imagination?"
She nods, eyes still on the journal, and flips it towards the back, handing it to me.
When I look down at the page, I realize that I'm not looking at my handwriting.
"After you…left, she added to it. It's how I knew how to find you, what time you'd be on the boat deck, and where exactly."
"Wait. How you knew how to find me?"
She nods, meeting my gaze carefully. "I'm a scientist, Edward, just like you. When I realized that everything between these pages was fact, I knew I had to figure out how to get you out of there. How to get you back home to-"
She cuts herself off and looks down.
"Your journal told me that you and Emmett had only planned one window. I've spent my entire adult life figuring out how to generate enough power to open up the window for you again, at the right place and time."
My head feels about ready to explode.
"Wait a minute," I say, trying to shake off some of the stupor. "Why didn't you just come to me before I left for Titanic and tell me all this?"
"Because that's not how it was supposed to happen." She looks at the journal in my hands. "You didn't know about this while you were on Titanic. You didn't know about me, or the second window, or the truth about Isabella, and I couldn't tell you any of it because I couldn't risk changing anything that would have you miss that second window. As soon as you left for Titanic, I found Emmett and told him everything. He had a hard time believing me at first, but I showed him the box which he gave you, the jewels you were supposed to bring back and the journal in your handwriting. Then I showed him how to power the machine with solar energy, and we set it up for the time and place my grandmother instructed."
"She left instructions?"
Bella nods. "Very specific ones. She'd figured out you'd need a second window that hadn't been planned when you left for Titanic. She figured out…a lot of things actually."
I'm dumbfounded beyond words. For a long time, neither of us says anything.
"You saved my life," I finally murmur.
Her head whips up to me, soft brown eyes taking me in.
"You saved my life. If you hadn't saved my grandmother, I would've never existed."
"If you would've never existed, I would've never made it off that ship."
We stare at each other and chuckle.
"It's enough to drive one crazy," she smiles.
I remember something else.
"Jasper Whitlock Hale and his fiancée-"
Bella grins. "They made it back to Boston safely. Got married a few months later and lived long and full lives. Had a son they named Edward."
I grin smugly. "Of course."
She laughs and gives me a playful punch on the arm. But in the next second she stiffens, looking away from me.
"I've…made lunch, if you're hungry," she says, still staring at her lap.
"I'm starving. What did you iChef?"
She shakes her head. "Not iChef. I've made…poached eggs. I…read that you liked them."
I draw in a few, unsteady breaths. "I love them."
She looks up and smiles, and it's a smile that lights up her entire face.
One month later
Journal Entry 1: May 2033
We've spent the past month together, Bella, trying to put together the puzzle of the events of what was to me a few days, but to you, almost a lifetime.
We've become good friends. Your smile fills my heart. Your laughter fills my days. I look into your eyes and I see the warmth I've been searching for my entire life – both in the past and in the present.
Last night, we were having dinner at your place. You like cooking the old-fashioned way without the iChef, and I do taste the difference. Everything made from your hands tastes a thousand times better than anything I've ever had.
When we were done, you were standing by the sink, watching the dishes load themselves into the washer when I came up behind you and slid my arms around your waist.
You moved away.
"I…have been in love with you since I was twelve, Edward, but it's not me you see," you said with your back to me. "It's her."
I shook my head though you couldn't see me doing so. "It has always been you."
I heard your labored breaths, and Bella, how I wanted to wrap you in my arms, but I needed you to understand first.
"You're the one from my dreams, Bella. The one I described in my journal."
"Edward, I don't want you to think that the future is written for us. We make our own future. We make our own destiny. You saved her because of your actions, not because it was written." Your voice shook around your next words. "You loved her despite the space and time between you both, despite what should've been in your futures."
That was when I turned you around to face me, Bella, and lifted your chin to me because I couldn't take you believing that for one more second. I forced you to hold my gaze so that you could see the truth of my next words, and because looking into your bottomless, chocolate eyes is something I can no longer live without.
"I never loved her, Bella."
"Throughout the entire journal, you wanted nothing more than to save her."
"Because it was the only way I could come back to you. I didn't know it then, but I felt it, Bella. I dreamed of you, and it was those dreams that kept me going. Somehow knowing that you were here waiting for me, that there was warmth, and love, and vulnerability in store for me, Bella…" I breathed, gazing at your soft lips. "I had to save her because it was the only way you'd exist."
And then I kissed you, Bella, and it was like nothing I'd ever experienced before. So much love, so much warmth, so much truth in that one kiss.
Slowly, you responded, wrapping your arms around me, allowing me the heat I'd dreamed of.
When I removed your clothes, Bella, I didn't need anything else underneath. You were perfection just the way you were. When I kissed your breasts, it was the sweetest nectar. When your mouth skimmed my entire body, I saw real, bright stars.
When I slipped inside you, we made love, Bella; not sex, not desperation, not something confusing born out of simple lust. When you and I joined, the world disappeared. Your soft cries enlightened me. Your gentle moans liberated me. When our hips moved together there was an unequal rhythm to our motion. We fit together, Bella. When you clenched all around me, you filled my soul. When you cried my name, it was the voice of an angel.
You were everything I had dreamed. You fulfilled my every fantasy, Bella, even the ones I'd never allowed myself to write about…to dream of.
So yes, Bella, I do believe in choices. I do believe we make our own future. The future isn't written in stone.
A good friend once told me that I'd die an old man, surrounded by those I loved and who truly loved me.
You and I aren't together because we have no choice, but because all our choices have led us to this.
What's meant to be is meant to be.
And you and I were always meant to be.