Saturday morning finally arrived and Rose was standing in the doorway of the boarding house, watching Jack and George load up the carriage. Mrs. Gladys stood beside her, tears in her eyes. Even though she understood the reason for the move, she was still sad to see the young couple go. Jack and Rose was a breath of sunshine around the old house. They had made her feel young again.
"Oh Rose, Im going to miss you two," Gladys dabbed at her eyes with a handkerchief.
"Well miss you too Mrs. Gladys. I wish there was a way we could stay but with the baby coming "
"Youll need the space. I know. Now you take good care of yourself and dont let Cillie and George push you around"
Rose just sadly smiled and hugged the older woman. "Thank you. Thank you for being so kind to me. I was so scared when I first came here, even though Jack was with me."
"Oh dear it was a pleasure. And I meant what I told Jack about you. If his parents were alive today, they would fall in love with you. Youre just the thing a boy like Jack needs."
"Thank you," Rose had tears in her eyes. "You dont know how much that means to me."
"All ready," Jack announced stepping
up onto the porch. "You may want to go on ahead to the
carriage. Ill be down in a minute."
Rose just nodded. Taking one last look at the house she had called home for all those months, and hugging Mrs. Gladys one last time, she headed for the carriage.
"You take good care of that girl Jack. Shes so fragile and needs a lot of love and tenderness "
"And believe me, I plan to give her just that," Jack smiled. "Thank you for being so good to her Mrs. Gladys. You were there for her when she needed a friend and Ill never forget that."
"Im still here if you two ever need anything Jack. Dont hesitate to ask."
"Thank you," Jack hugged the older woman he had known all his life. "Well be around to visit."
"You better be," Mrs. Gladys tearfully waved as Jack ran on down to the carriage and watched them disappear into the horizon. She glanced up at the sky, praying for the young couple before she entered her house to prepare that afternoons lunch.
"Here we are! Home sweet home!" George announced as he led the way into the Dawson house, Roses bags in hand. "Your room is waiting for you."
"Oh Rose, its going to be so much fun having you here," Cillie giggled. "While our men are at work, we can go shopping, out to lunch "
"Looks like Cillie has a whole day planned," Jack laughed.
"Im just so excited. Thats all," Cillie shrugged.
"Well lets tone down on the excitement and get these two settled" George started up the stairs.
Jack, Rose, and Cillie followed George up to a room on the right. Jack recognized it as his parents room. "Wait a minute George I thought you said we could stay in my old room. Not in here."
"Oh. Well Cillie and I talked and decided that would be a good nursery. This way you two will have more room."
"But this is "
"Perfect," Rose interrupted. "This will be perfect. Thank you."
"Jack Im sorry. But this room was going to be used anyway. It might as well be you two. But if you preferr we can switch," George cleared his throat.
"No this will be fine," Jack sighed, placing a arm around his wife. "Ill be fine."
"Ok then. Is there anything else that Cillie and I can do to get you settled?"
"No. We can handle it from here," Jack forced a smile, pushing back the already rising memories. Looking at Rose he knew he had to put the past to rest. For both of their sakes and this really was the best way to do it.
"Ok then. Well be downstairs if you need us," George nodded, leading Cillie out into the hall.
"Jack are you sure this will be ok? I really shouldnt have spoken up like that ," Rose began just to be silenced by a gentle kiss.
"Rose, as long as we have each other, Ill be great," Jack nodded. "Lets unpack."
"Im fine. Trust me," Jack squeezed her shoulder than began opening the drawers in what used to be his fathers dresser. He stops when he comes to a large shirt, he pulls it out and simply stares at it.
"Jack darling what is it?" Rose stops her unpacking and goes to her husband.
"This used to belong to my father. He was so big Rose when I was little I used to get lost in his shirts wanting to grow to be the same size," Jack laughed. "Thats obviously not going to happen."
"Oh Jack here lets not do this now. Lets go downstairs and have some tea," Rose pulled on Jacks hand. "In fact, leave this for me to do while youre at work ok?"
Looking at Rose, Jack knew not to argue. He simply nodded and followed her down the stairs where Cillie was making lunch.
"Are you two getting unpacked ok?" Cillie asked as Jack and Rose appeared in the doorway.
"Yes. I decided to do the unpacking during the week while Jacks at work," Rose answered. "What are you cooking?"
"Chicken pot pie. Georges favorite," Cillie smiled.
"Rose, lets go out on the porch. I want to show you the joys of setting on the Dawson swing."
Cillie laughed. "The Dawson swing?"
"Yeah. My parents used to set on it and rock until the late hours of the night. It was a tradition with them. Dont you and George use the swing?"
"Sometimes. But not that long," Cillie giggled. "Oh well, go on you two. Get out of here. Ill call you when lunch is done."
That night, Rose slept warm and safe in Jacks arms, listening to his heartbeat. But it was different for Jack. He was plagued by visions of flames and screams. Feelings of guilt and grief overwhelmed him so much he could barely breath. For just a minute, he had forgotten where he was and he was again the fifteen year old boy losing his parents.
"Mom! Dad!" Jack bolted up right, waking both Rose and himself up.
"Jack?" Rose rubbed the sleep out of her eyes. "Jack darling wake up. Youre dreaming."
"Rose?" Jack blinked, now fully awake. " I woke you didnt I?" Rose nodded. "You was having a nightmare."
"Oh. Im sorry I Im fine now. Go back asleep," Jack sighed, leaning back onto his pillow, but Rose remained awake. She was deeply concerned. For as long as she known Jack, he had never had nightmares before at least not one that bad.
"Jack please dont shut me out. Tell me what is it? Maybe talking about it will help."
Jack took a deep breath, not sure whether to share the nightmare or just force it from his mind and pretend it never happened. If he avoided the issue, Rose would be hurt and he didnt want to hurt her. He had to talk about the nightmares if he ever hoped for a good nights sleep.
" well I havent had that dream for years. The last time was the last night in Chippewa Falls. Im standing outside the house and its on fire. My parents are calling for me to help them, but I cant get to them. No matter how hard I try."
"Oh my poor Jack," Rose pushed back a strand of gold away from his eyes, her own eyes brimming with tears. She hated seeing him in so much pain. Maybe moving into this house wasnt a good idea after all.
"Rose I dont know if I can do this. I thought I could, but now "
"You can beat this Jack," Rose took his hand in hers and held it tightly, trying to channel all her strength into him. "I know you can. Youre the strongest person I know."
"Well Im glad you have such faith in me," Jack sniffed.
"I just got it from you," Rose smiled, leaning down to kiss him litely. "Now try to get some sleep. Im right here if you need me."
"Yes mam," Jack smiled, a flash of humor in his eyes. "Good night my lady."
"Good night," Roses smile remained. Finally, after thirty minutes of staring up at the ceiling, Jack drifted off into a dreamless slumber. Rose remained awake for fifteen more minutes just to be sure no more nightmares were plaguing him and then drifted off to sleep herself.