Chapter Twenty

It's midmorning and Rose is setting in her favorite chair on the porch breaking fresh green beans for dinner that night. Jack is once again off to find a job, this time with no objection from Rose. She sincerely doubted that she'd return to work for the Hathaway's again. Jack and Eliza were right, it was hard on the baby, and after yesterday's scare, there was no way she'd do anything to risk loseing the baby.
"Good morning rose," Eliza smiled, coming upon the porch.
"Morning Eliza. Come on up and take a seat. I can use the company now that Jack's off to find a job. I'm telling you, he's so detemined. I hate to see it happen though. It'll take time away from his drawing and he loves it so. I'm surprised he won't try to do that for a living instead. His talent is exceptional. You should've seen the drawing he did of me when we first met..." Rose blushes as she remembers posing nude for Jack on Titanic. She can't remember any other time when her heart had beaten so fast. She still wonders what Jack had thought of her doing that back then. "His drawings are exquisite."
"He does have a gift, but he's rigiht for finding a study job. Chippewa Falls isn't like New York and Los Angelas. People here think there's more important things to buy than a couple of drawings. I'm afraid Jack wouldn't make much at all here if he tried to sell his drawings here," Eliza begins to help her friend break green beans.
"So brings you by so early Eliza? You usually aren't out until noon."
Eliza takes a deep breath, not sure how to explain herself. What would Rose say? What would she think of Eliza? Would she agree to keep this a secret? "Rose...I'm so confused. I think I'm developing feelings for another man."
"What? Who is it? Do I know him? Does Jack know him? Do your parents know?" Rose asks, ceasing to break the beans to stare at her friend in amazement. "And what about Lee? I know you've been putting off the wedding, but sooner or later you'll have to marry him."
"I know. This couldn't come at a worst time," Eliza sniffed. "Oh Rose, what am I going to do?"
"First tell me who the lucky man is," Rose goes back to breaking beans, but her ears are open. She can't wait for Eliza to tell her.
"Maxwell Calvert. Your new doctor," Eliza stares at her hands miserably. "He walked me home yesterday morning after checking up on you. We talked for a while and then we stopped and we looked into each other's eyes. That's when we began to...connect...I never had that feeling before in my life, not even with..."
"Jack?" Rose arches her eyebrows.
"Rose how did you know?" Eliza asked amazed. "How long have you known?"
"When he returned I saw the hope and heartbreak in your eyes. I'm not stupid Eliza. I knew that you two had shared a close relationship that went beyond friendship in the past. Plus, before I left Jack in New York he had told me about a friend in Chippewa Falls he hoped didn't hook up with a Lee Conway, so I figured that must have been you. I was just wondering when you two would get to telling me."
"Oh Rose, it wasn't that we were keeping secrets from you, it was just that Jack was afraid that our past relationship would get in the way of our friendship. He said that I was one of the few girlfriends you had and that he didn't want to ruin that."
"Eliza, you both should have known that I wouldn't have cared. I know what you two had is in the past, that Jack loves me now. I'm secure in that. So you don't have to worry. We're still the best of friends."
"I can't tell you how happy I am to hear you say that. I thought you'd hate me for sure," Eliza smiled in pure relief. "Besides, I've never seen a husband look at his wife with total adoration as Jack looks at you. I have to admit that at first it made me jealous to know that he never even looked at me that way."
"Eliza...what you and Jack shared was very special to him. It's a part of his past he will always carry with him and he does care about you deeply. I saw that when he watched you leave with your mother the other day. So don't think he's forgotten about you...because he hasn't. You'll always be with him. You never forget your first love."
"I know that's true. I never once stopped thinking about him when he left town after the fire. Even when my parents told me that I was going to marry Lee I never stopped thinking about him."
Rose smiled. She can't help but be envious of Eliza and Jack's relationship. Their love must have been filled with laughter and innocence. But she wouldn't trade in the love she shared with Jack now for the entire world. She adored the passion and love he gave her every day.
"Well enough about the past. Tell me what you did next after you two...connected."
"I ran away of course. I mean Rose, what kind of girl am I? I'm about to be married and here I am having feelings for another guy. What must you think of me? What would mother and Lee think if they ever found out? Oh Rose, they'd hate it. They already hate Jack for the past relationship we shared, just think what they'll think of Maxwell. Mother would abhor it!"
"My mother hated Jack, but we managed," Rose lays a comforting hand on her friend's shoulder.
"But you're a strong woman Rose."
"So are you. You just haven't found your inner-strength yet. But once you do, you'll be able to tap into it anytime," Rose remembered when she had to tap into her innerstrength relentlessly. The Titanic experience really had taught her something about herself. "Eliza...did Jack ever tell you how we met?"
"No. He just told me that you were engaged to a man you didn't love named Caledon Hockley."
Rose took a deep breath. She fights back the tears that threaten her each time she thought about the great ship that sank under the dark ocean. She didn't really want to relive the horrible sinking, but for her friend's sake, she must.
"We met on the Titanic. I was a first class passenger boarding along with my mother and fiancee Cal, Jack had won a third class ticket in a game of poker. Titanic was called the ship of dreams...and it was. It really was..."

Two hours later, after Rose had finished, Eliza was in tears. She couldn't believe how courageous rose and Jack truly was. The lengths they went through jsut to be together. She can just imagine a scared Rose running down a flooding corridor with an ax to free the man she fell in love with after just knowing him for a day. And Jack...she could see him insisting that Rose get on the floating debris, even though he knew that staying in that cold water would man certain death for him. If that lifeboat hadn't come when it did...she'd never see Jack again, and Rose...what would have become of her? Would she till be the brave caring woman she is now?
"Oh Rose...that was beautiful...and horrible...and wonderful..." Eliza couldn't find the words to describe the tale that Rose had just shared. "You two must really be in love in order to go to such lengths and make such sacrifices to be together."
"Eliza...I told you about Titanic so you can see that love can conquer anything. If a pampered upper class girl from Philadelphia and a man off the streets can defeat a sinking ship and a gun crazy fiancee...just think of what you and Maxwell can over come."
"So you're saying that if it's Maxwell I love, then it's Maxwell I should be with? No matter the consequences?"
Rose smiled and nodded. "Eliza...would being with him make you happy? Or would you be happier with Lee?"
"...Maxwell. He's all I've been thinking about for the past twenty-four hours. But mother..."
"Will probably hate him. But my mother hated Jack at first too, but she came about. You'rs might too. And if she doesn't it still wouldn't matter. This is your life Eliza, not hers. You have to make decisions for yourself...decisions you can live with."
"Rose...I don't know. I don't know if I'm even strong enough."
"Eliza...Jack was my hero. He pulled me back over and saved me from a miserable, loveless marriage. Let Maxwell do the same for you. Let him pull you back over."
Rose was right. Even if it didn't work out with Maxwell, she couldn't marry Lee. She just couldn't. But what was she going to do? Should she tell Maxwell how she felt or should she wait and see what he did? Would she even see him again any time soon? She had six more months 'til her wedding, then after that, she didn't think she'd be able to hold it off any longer. She had to figure out what to do and she had to figure it out fast.
"Rose! Look who I ran into at town," Jack comes upon the porch, Maxwell is right behind him. "You don't mind if he joins us for dinner tonight do you?"
Rose smiles and shakes her head. "I don't mind." That's when the idea pops inot her head. Eliza and Maxwell needed to talk. Why not talk here? It's a safe place where no one would disturb them. "There's plenty of room for everyone. In fact Jack, Eliza was staying for dinner too. It can be like a double date or something."
"Rose!" Eliza hissed at her friend, but there was no anger in her voice. There was only relief.
Jack at first is confused, but he plays along. Maybe Rose sees something he doesn't. Maxwell is ecstatic. He's wanted to spend more time with Eliza since their conversation the night before. He wanted to spend more time with eliza since their conversation the night before. He wanted to find out if she had felt the way he did.
"Sure, why not," Jack shrugged, lightlykissing his wife on the cheek.
"Well, I have other things I'll have to intend to today. Will five o'clock be okay?" Maxwell asked, not taking his eyes off Eliza, who's becoming more flustered by the minute.
"Well, we eat at six but five would be great," Rose grinned in satisfaction. Her plan to get Eliza and Maxwell together was working.
"See you at five then," Maxwell waves as heads off the porch.
"He is such a nice man," Rose sighed, turning to Jack. "Don't you think so honey?"
"I wouldn't be letting him bring my baby in the world if I didn't," Jack answered, turning to the house. "Well, I'll be up in my studio if anyone needs me."
"Jack!" Rose called, wanting to know how the job search went, but it was too late. Jack was gone. "I wonder how the job search went."
"By the look of things, it didn't go too well," Eliza looked towards the door that Jack had disappeared into.
"Did he say he was going to his studio? He doesn't have a studio."
"Yes he does Rose. There's a ladder in your closet that leads up to the attic. Jack used to use it as his studio," Eliza giggled. "If you want, I'll continue to break beans while you go up and talk to him. I have a feeling he needs to talk to someone right now."
"You wouldn't mind?"
"After boring you with my problems? Of course not. Go. Go to him," Eliza waves her friend away. "Cheer him up."
"I'll be back," Rose insured her freind before disappearing into the house. Sure enough, Rose found him in the studio sitting down on an old stool, his head in his hands.
"Jack?" Rose walks up to ohim and places a hand on his shoulder. "Jack...are you ok?"
"Darling, what happened? What's wrong?"
Jack looks up at her and back down to the ground. "The only job out there is the one at Conway's factory. Rose...I don't know if I could do it...I don't know if I can work for him. I don't even know if he'd hire me."
"Why wouldn't he hire you?"
Jack is silent. He didn't want to reveal his past with Eliza to Rose. He was so afraid the truth would hurt her.
"Jack? He...surely he can't hold your past with Eliza against you can he?"
Jack looks up in amazement. How did she find out? Did Eliza break her promise? Was Rose angry with him? "How do you know about that?"
"Oh Jack, I guessed she was a old girlfriend when she told me that she was marrying a Lee Conway," Rose giggled. "I just happened to remember you talking about a "friend" getting with a Lee Conway and I put two and two together. Then when you two saw each other again in the dress shop...that just confirmed it."
"Oh Rose, I'm sorry for not telling you about Eliza. It's just that I..."
"Didn't want to ruin my friendship with Eliza. I understand and all's forgiven. But you didn't answer my question. Does Mr. Conway hold your past with his fiancee against you?"
"You know the answer to that Rose. Men like Lee Conway always dwell on the past. No matter how long ago it was. In fact, he still thinks I'm after her. Can you believe that?"
Rose again giggled. "Well darling, you haven't actually been yelling our marriage from the rooftops of Chippewa Falls. Only a handful of people actually know that we're married. Most of the people in this town still refer to me as Mrs. Hockley."
"I'll put it in the paper tomorrow," Jack mummbled, slipping back into his mood. "What am I going to do about a job?"
"You're going to Conway's mechanical parts tomorrow and you're going to apply for the job, and you're going to get it using the luck you used to win that ticket," Rose placed a firm hand on his shoulder. "The luck you used to talk me back over that railing."
"Oh come on Rose. You wouldn't have jumped. We both know it."
"No Jack, I don't. All I know about that night is that I desparately wanted to escape my life. and at the time I saw no other way out other than jumping off that ship. Little did I know that a knight in shining armor was going to come to rescue me."

Well...I'm glad my luck held out then. Because're my whole reason for living."
"Oh Jack..." They stand there, just looking into each other's eyes, lost in their own world. But that world is suddenly disturbed by loud voices downstairs.
"Eliza," Rose pales, aready heading down the ladder with Jack close behind.
They come downstairs to find Lee gripping Eliza's arm, trying to drag her off the porch.
"Stop it Lee!" She cried. "You're hurting me!"
"Then you should listen to me instead of being so hardheaded. Now come on!" Lee growled, gripping her arm even harder.
"Jack, we have to do something," Rose begins to head for the door, just to be pulled back by Jack. She turns to him, her eyes showing her confusion.
"I'll do something about it. You stay in here. I don't want to take the risk of him hurting you and the baby," Jack explained, heading downstairs. "Don't worry. I'll be right back...with Eliza."
Rose nods and follows him to the door. "Be careful Jack. He scares me...worst than Cal ever did."
"Don't worry Rose. I'll be fine," Jack gently touches her face before exiting the house, leaving her to look outside to watch the scene.
"Let her go!" Jack demands, approaching the scene.
"Dawson, why am I not surprised to see you here?" Lee growled, his eyes buring with hatred.
"Let her go right now Lee," Jack demanded in the same voice Rose remembered him using on Titanic when he demanded for the steward to open the gate.
"I don't think so," Lee turns to Jack, all the time gripping Eliza's arm harder. "Eliza belongs to me now. She does what I tell her and she goes where I tell her. She's no business of yours anymore."
"Lee...please," Eliza whimpers, tears streaming from her eyes.
"She's a human being Lee. She doesn't belong to you. She belongs to herself, and she already said she didn't want to go with you. So I suggest you leave now."
"Or what Dawson? What would you do if I don't leave? Take off again? Never to be heard from for another five years? That'll be just fine with me."
"I'll call the sheriff and have you brought in for trespassing," Jack crosses his arms and glares at Lee. "And I don't think you want that Lee. I know how much your reputation means to men like you and I don't think you want a visit from Sheriff Watley to soil it. Now do you?"
Rose had to laugh at Jack's cunning. He was using his knowledge of what he learned of Cal against Lee. Hopefully it'll work.
Lee slowly releases his grip on Eliza, who sighed in relief, but her shoulders remained tense, wondering what move her fiancee did next.
Lee slowly walks up to Jack until they're face to face. "This isn't over Dawson. Eliza is my wife by practice...if not yet by law and I will be back for her later. So be expecting me." After all that being said, Lee walks off the porch and disappears down the dirt path.
"Thank-you Jack," Eliza wipes away a tear that had escaped from her eyes. "I don't know what I would have done if you hadn't been here."
"Eliza!" Rose runs out of the house and hugs her friend tightly. "I was so worried about you."
"I'm fine now. Thanks to your husband here. He knew just where to hit Lee. Where he was most vulnerable."
"Thanks to Cal. I guess he helped us out after all," Jack laughed. "If only he knew."
Rose just smiled. She was just reminded of why she fell so hard for Jack Dawson. It was that laugh. So light hearted and carefree. So unlike herself. So unlike the world she had come from.
"Shall we go inside and start dinner?" Eliza turned to Rose, who was still gazing at her smiling husband with completer and total adoration. She can't help but wonder if she'll ever have that look in her eyes when she stared at her husband...whomever he may be. Hopefully she'll find the courage to break off the engagement with Lee and explore the chance of romance with Maxwell Calvert. Maybe the dinner with Maxwelll will make everything clearer.