Two months had passed since Jack’s shooting. It was the longest two months of Rose’s life…up to that point anyway. It had been a difficult recovery for Jack. Infection had set in, taking the wound twice as long to heal and had put Rose through another month of worry.
Lily had been back for a full two months as well and had managed to keep Dean at bay. It wouldn’t do for Jack to know about Dean while he was still in danger of dying. But now that her son was finally better, she planned to introduce Dean slowly to her family.
But unfortunately, a nice, slow introduction wasn’t about to happen. Lily was in the kitchen preparing breakfast when Dean arrived in a rather foul mood.
His knock was loud and hard. Lily had to run to answer the door so no one else would notice and answer themselves.
“Shhh,” Lily hushed. “What are you trying to do? Wake the whole neighborhood?”
“No. But I am trying to understand you,” Dean grumbled. “It’s been two months now. Jack’s all better, but you have yet to tell him about us! I want to know when I’m aloud to be with my wife!”
“Lily sighed tiredly. She knew Dean was getting impatient with her; but she had to think of a easy way to tell Jack about him. “It just hasn’t been the right time Dean.”
“Hasn’t been the right time?”
“No Lily, you listen. I’ve run out of money. That boarding house wants me out tonight. Now I have no choice but to demand that you tell Jack today!”
“Tell me what?” Jack stood in the doorway, a arm wrapped around Rose. “What’s going on here?”
“Jack…what are you doing up so early?” Lily gasped, turning to face her son.
“Ma, it’s almost eleven o’clock. It’s past time for me to wake up. Now what’s with the arguing and who’s this?” Jack looked curiously at Dean.
“Dean Mitchum…I’m…” He’s about to tell Jack who he really was when Lily quickly interrupted.
“He’s a old friend,” Lily forced a smile. “We went to school together.”
“Oh baby, I’m much more then that,” Dean smiled, stepping all the way into the house and wrapped a secure arm around Lily’s shoulder.
“Dean, don’t do this. Please…” Lily pleaded, but she was ignored.
“I’m your new step-daddy and you must be Jack. My Lily’s pride and joy. I’ve heard so much about you.”
“Funny, because I’ve heard nothing about you,” Jack frowned at his mother. “How long?”
“Jack…” Lily began, but Dean again interrupted.
“Five long blissful years, but we’ve been sweethearts since we were your age kid.”
“My age? But that’s impossible. My mother’s been married since she was twenty…” Jack’s face paled as he realized what Dean was saying. But that was impossible, because his parents were deeply in love with one another. Just like Rose and him.
Rose frowned. “But that would mean that you were…” She stopped, not wanting to voice the implications.
“Ma…please…tell me he’s kidding,” Jack looked at Lily like he didn’t even know her.
“Jack…let’s go into the living room and set down. Dean’s right. It’s about time this came out.”
Jack frowned. He didn’t like the sound of this at all.
“I’m here Jack,” Rose squeezed his hand in reassurance. She knew what was coming next and she knew it was going to hurt her Jack terribly. She wished that there were a way to soften the blow that was about to come.
Once comfortably seated, Lily went into the history of her life, starting from age seventeen, when she had first met and fell in love with Dean at the annual harvest dance.
He was everything her parents had warned her against. Tall, handsome, poor, and the town troublemaker. Despite her disapproving parents, they were inseparable. That was until her father had arranged an engagement between Andrew Dawson and his daughter. It wasn’t like she didn’t like Andrew, she just wasn’t in love with him and she had told her father that as well. But Justin Miller wouldn’t listen to her. He insisted on the engagement and made her cut ties with Dean Mitchum.
She had tried to do just that, but he wouldn’t hear of it. So they had kept their love for each other a secret and met each other whenever they could; even after Lily was good and married to Andrew and had Jack. Their love affair never ended.
Rose would have found it a beautiful, yet heartbreaking story if it didn’t hurt Jack so much. She could even see similarities between this story and her and Jack’s situation on Titanic. But she wouldn’t dare admit that to Jack.
“So you never loved pa huh?” Jack’s face was full of emotion, but his voice betrayed nothing.
“No she didn’t kid. Sorry,” Dean shrugged.
“Dean please…this is no the time.”
“But pa loved you ma! He died for you by going back into the fire! How did you get out of there anyway?”
“Dean got me out…”
“And you were too selfish to let the rest of us know you survived,” George stood on the stairway, tightening his hold on Cillie’s hand, his anger was barely contained.
“George, this is a private conversation. I appreciate it if…”
“No, this is a Dawson family discussion! The only person here who should leave is your lover over there!” George angrily pointed at Dean.
“I will not have you talk that way about my husband George,” Lily angrily glared at Jack’s cousin.
“Well then you should leave too,” George glared right back. “I had no idea you were such a slut!”
Rose gasped at the word Cal had used against her a number of times.
“George such language!” Cillie covered her mouth in shock.
“You son of a bitch!” Dean got up and punched the younger man who fell onto the hard steps. “This house was left to Lily in the event of Andrew’s death! This house belongs to her and I don’t think she wants you here anymore since you treat her with such disrespect,” Dean looked over at his wife. “Am I right?”
Lily glared at George. “Be out of here by tonight. No later then that.”
“Very well then. We won’t stay where we’re not wanted. Come Cillie. We have packing to do,” George grabbed his wife’s hand and led the way upstairs.
Lily sighed and turned to Jack and Rose, who were on their feet by that time. “Jack…”
Jack held up his hand, not wanting to hear anymore. “Not now ma. I can’t hear anymore. I just don’t want to be around you at the moment. Rose?”
“I’m coming,” She squeezed his hand. “Mr. Mitchum…it was interesting meeting you.”
“Same here Mrs. Dawson,” Dean nodded his head as Jack led Rose up to their room.
Two hours later George and Cillie were ready to go. They stop by Jack and Rose’s room to say good-bye.
“I wish you two weren’t leaving,” Rose hugged Cillie tightly. “It won’t be the same without you.”
“We’ll be at Mrs. Gladys’s boarding house. Whenever you need us just drop by,” George hugged her. He looked over at Jack, who was just staring out the window.
“He’s been like that since we came up here. Hasn’t uttered one word. I’m worried about him George.”
“He’s been dealt a heavy blow Rose. He always believed that his folks had this great love. To learn that it was all lies…but don’t you worry. He’ll bounce back. He always does.”
“Call us when you’re settled,” Rose hugged him once more.
“I will. Take care,” George waved once more and then they were gone and it was only Jack and Rose.
“Jack. George and Cillie are gone,” She turned to face her silent husband, who was just staring out at nothing. “Jack, say something. Please.”
“How can I hate and love her at the same time?” He turned to face Rose. “After betraying us like that…why do I still love her?”
“Because she’s your mother and it’s normal to love her. But it’s also normal to be angry with her too.”
“This does not feel like anger Rose,” Jack got to his feet.
“Sometimes our anger is so intense that it can feel like hate. But it’ll fade Jack.”
“Did it fade for you with Ruth?”
Rose smiled, wrapping her arms around his tense frame. “It’s different with my mother and I Jack. You know that first hand.”
“Yes I do,” Jack sighed. “Lies Rose. My parent’s marriage was an arranged lie.”
“Not all of it was Jack. They loved each other enough to have you and to show you how to love. That counts for something.”
“I do know one thing…my father…his part wasn’t a lie. He did love her. I saw it in his eyes many times. He went back into that burning barn to find her.”
“Jack…I wish I could make it different for you. I wish I could make her madly in love with your father like I am with you…”
“But you can’t. No one can,” He pulled away from her and stared into her eyes intensely. “Rose…I need to know before this baby is born…do you really love me? I mean truly? I don’t want this child to grow up in a house of lies like I did.”
“Jack…how can you ask me such a thing? After all we’ve gone through…how can you even doubt my love for you?” Hurt was evident in her voice, and Jack hated himself for causing her that pain, but he was unsure of everything right now. “Of course I love you. I wouldn’t have come back for you if I didn’t love you! I wouldn’t have jumped back onto a sinking ship if I didn’t love you! For goodness sake Jack, I wouldn’t have married you and be ready to have your child if I didn’t love you! How could you ever doubt that?” Rose stared at him in disbelief.
Tears were streaming from his eyes as he pulled her close to his body, relishing the warmth of her being so close. “ I just had to make sure Rose. I just had to make sure it was really me you loved.”
“Well it is,” Rose wiped away her own tears. “It is. Never doubt it again.”
“I promise. I won’t ever doubt your love again.”
They remained in each other’s arms for most of the day, forgetting about the problems outside of that room.