Million Dollar Man
Rebecca Gatsby stood on the dock holding on tightly to the iron rail. Bitterness was growing in her chest as she looked across the bay to the Buchanan Mansion. She wanted someone to have the blame for what had happened to her sister and for what had happened to her family. Mary Harper had been a fun loving, innocent young woman. She’d always pushed the envelope, but was always forgiven in the end. The Harper Dynasty, one of the oldest and most respected families in New York City, had been able to use their wealth to cover up plenty of Mary’s affairs. However, the last affair that she'd been involved with had nearly left the family reputation in ruins.
Rebecca blamed Mary for so much, but Mary wasn’t alone. Rebecca blamed her parents for indulging Mary’s every whim and she blamed herself the most for not checking Mary’s wild behavior. She was an older sister and it should have been her job to make sure that Mary behaved, but she hadn’t and now everyone had paid. Mary had been cast out of the family and was now living God only knew where with God only knew whom. Her parent’s anger had known no bounds when they blamed everyone for their near ruin.
Marrying Jay Gatsby had saved everyone in the end, but the cold water had been splashed on her the same day her mother had rejoiced. Gatsby was one of the richest men in New York City and one of the most influential. His name connected with the Harper's had made people forget all about Mary Harper and the scandal that had shook the city only a year earlier. Katherine Harper, matriarch of the family, was happy that doors were now open to her. She boasted often that she claimed Jay Gatsby as her son-in-law. Rebecca's father, Edward Harper, was happy that his business was booming thanks to the Gatsby connection. Rebecca's youngest sister, Elizabeth, was accepted into society with open arms at her coming out with many rich, handsome young men after her hand and the connection to Gatsby.
Everyone but Rebecca was happy and she could still remember the days when the imaginary fairy tale she’d created for herself was shattered…
She stared at the engagement ring on her hand.
It was a pretty ruby surrounded by diamonds that rested on her ring finger. It felt heavier than it really was on her finger. The man who had given it to her had sat in her father’s library discussing God only knew what the night before their wedding day.
He was charming and sweet and she adored him. Just when it felt like all hope had been lost to ever recover their reputations after Mary’s scandalous behavior with another, Gatsby had come asking to court her. It had been a time of havoc in their lives and in their household. Mr. Harper had already tossed Mary out and it had frightened Rebecca down to the very bone. Despite all the tears, screaming, and yelling, Mary had been sent away and was never coming back.
Her mother was angry at her husband and blamed Rebecca for Mary’s fall, believing that in no way was she as Mary's mother was at fault. Elizabeth had retreated deeply into her studies and rarely went outside her room. Rebecca herself felt lost not knowing how to continue on as her parents fought viciously over whose fault it was that Mary had been tarnished beyond repair.
Everything had changed though one winter evening at the opera during the second intermission. Sitting quietly with her friend, Mildred Banks, and the rest of the Banks family, Rebecca had been approached by a gentleman with beautiful blue eyes. He was like a breath of fresh air and in the space of one night Rebecca had felt herself taken with him.
He’d made her laugh and smile with his stories and she’d felt like a bird high in the sky when he’d asked to call on her later. Without hesitation, Rebecca had agreed. She had partly agreed out of fear of what her mother and father would do if they’d learned that she’d turned down a potential husband, but the man had truly interested her beyond reason. On the way home from the opera, Mildred had questioned Rebecca on everything she’d found out about Jay Gatsby. Just saying his name out loud that night had made her blood sing on high.
True to his word, Jay Gatsby had called on her house just a little after one o’clock a few days later. It had shocked her mother that someone as rich and as powerful as Jay Gatsby would have any interest in her, but Katherine Harper had latched on quickly to the idea that any of her daughters would marry Gatsby. Rebecca had watched as her mother did everything in her power to promote how good a wife her eldest daughter could be to Mr. Gatsby.
Gatsby was all Katherine talked about day and night for the three months Gatsby had courted her. Her mother had sent them walking in Central Park the moment warm weather had come in March. They’d gone dancing at every major event that they attended together and to Katherine’s delight, everyone knew that Rebecca Harper was Jay Gatsby’s future wife. Gatsby had even taken her to the theater a few times to see plays and operas once she’d confessed that it was a favorite entertainment of hers. He’d even taken her driving in his car a few times with her younger sister to see the beauty of his home in West Egg.
In the course of three months, Rebecca had found herself falling in love with Jay Gatsby and it wasn’t very hard not to love a man like him.
In late April, Jay had hosted a party and had asked her and her family to attend. Katherine had dressed everyone to perfection and their driver had taken them out to Gatsby Manor. After dinner had been served and the men had separated from the women, Gatsby had taken her out to the beautiful gardens. His proposal had been so simple. The ring had been beautiful and she’d recognized it as the ring she’d picked out with Elizabeth when Gatsby had asked them to go watch shopping with him weeks earlier.
In that moment, Rebecca had been so sure that he’d loved her. There hadn’t been a doubt in her head that Jay Gatsby didn’t love her. She’d said yes and tears had come. Tears of joy and Jay had insisted with a smile that they go back to the house so that he could show off his beautiful, future wife to the group. Rebecca had been so happy that night and the days afterwards that she didn’t think that anything could ever rob her of her joy.
She’d been wrong.
Gatsby became more and more withdrawn as the wedding had approached and it made her nervous.
Was he questioning his choice in a bride?
Was he falling out of love with her?
Did he not care at all about their marriage?
Her mother had told her over and over again that Jay Gatsby was a busy man and probably working hard so that when they were married, there would be more time to spend together. Rebecca had accepted her words halfheartedly and tried to believe them, but something inside her said otherwise.
It had been a warm day on August seventh, her wedding day, when Rebecca had been woken up by her maid, Tilly. From the moment Rebecca had opened her eyes she’d been a bundle of nerves. Her worst fear of Gatsby never showing up and running off played over and over again in her mind. Even as Tilly dressed her in the white wedding gown, Rebecca found it hard to breathe.
Long sleeved with beautiful fabric, the dress had been made by one of them most sought after seamstresses in the city and was stunning. Made of a soft chiffon fabric, the dress was loose and flowing around her legs and had a waist band that was just above her navel and tied in the back as a bow. The neck of the dress covered her collar bones and was embroidered with flowers and jewels, just like it was around the hem of the dress and her wrists. Her long, silky blond hair had been pulled back into a soft and loose chignon at the base of her neck and a bejeweled head band was placed in her hair.
Her mother had insisted that the train of the dress and veil be long and some maids worked on last minute stitching to anything that looked like it needed to be mended. Diamond earrings hung from her ears and the more Rebecca stared at the mirror, the more nervous she'd felt. She began to question everything and quickly dismissed everyone. The beautiful engagement ring stared back at her and she wanted to see Jay in that moment.
She wanted him to tell her everything would be alright. Nothing was wrong and all that mattered was their happiness and their future together.
The door swung open and Katherine Harper walked in already dressed and her hat was on. In one look Katherine must have known what she was thinking because a frown marred her face.
“Don’t even think about calling off this wedding,” she said with a scowl. “We’ve had one scandal. This family can’t handle another.”
“I wasn’t thinking that at all, Mama,” Rebecca replied truthfully. “How do I look?”
Katherine’s face softened a little, “Gatsby will think he’s marrying a queen.”
Rebecca managed to smile back at her mother, “I’m ready.”
The drive to the church passed in a blur and Rebecca could barely remember anything but blurry buildings passing them by. Pulling up to the chapel doors, Rebecca took a deep breath and tried to focus on not tripping or falling over. Everyone in New York Society had been invited to the wedding and she refused to embarrass herself in front of any of them. Her father offered her his arm and stepping inside, the heavy wooden doors to the worship area of the cathedral were closed. The last flower girl had walked down the aisle and she gripped her father’s arm tightly as he squeezed her hand back. Turning to look back at him, Rebecca was met with a mirror reflection of her own blue eyes.
A small smile graced his face.
“You look beautiful Rebecca,” he said softly “Just like your mother did on her wedding day.”
Rebecca nodded for she was too nervous to speak. It was true that she looked exactly like her mother except for eyes. She didn’t have Katherine Harper’s green eyes; she had her father’s soft blue ones. A handsome man, Mr. Harper had dark hair with grey beginning to show around his temples. Fit, he didn’t look a day over thirty-five when he was far closer to fifty-five then he’d ever admit. Rebecca could see why her mother had been attracted to him, but she hoped that there would be more to her marriage than her parent’s marriage.
The only thing that existed between them was three daughters and cold, icy partnership that had left them both looking for love in other thing. Her father was always with another woman and her mother took comfort in her material things.
“Ready?” he asked.
Rebecca looked at him and nodded. The door opened and immediately she felt weak in the knees seeing all the people staring at her. If it hadn’t been for her father’s hold on her, she was sure she’d have fainted. Whispers went around the cathedral as they all looked at her dress and watched her. Walking down the aisle felt like it took hours but, within a few short minutes she was standing next a handsome looking Gatsby in a grey morning suit. A soft smile was on his face that was reassuring to her and all the fears she’d had inside vanished to only be replaced by joy.
If anyone would have asked her if she’d remembered anything from the wedding and the party that followed Rebecca wouldn’t have been able to answer. Everything was a blur in her mind of colors and music. People were smiling at them and wishing them the best. Everything had been so wonderful that when it came time to retire, Rebecca couldn’t believe that the day had passed so quickly. Gatsby had left her in the care of her maid and had simply said that the evening was pleasant and he hoped she’d enjoyed herself.
Rebecca had barely had the chance to reply before Gatsby was gone leaving her alone in the large suite of rooms that were hers at Gatsby Manor. The largest sitting room she’d ever been in was the first room she walked into. Double doors were open directly across from the doors that opened to the hallway. They led to a beautiful large bedroom that had been done in soft blues, greens and creams. The bed sheets were silky to the touch and the large windows that nearly went from floor to ceiling looked out at the bay.
A green light was in the distance and it was entrancing to watch for a moment. Tilly found her there watching the light and took her back to the sitting room and through a second set of doors to the left of the main bedroom doors. Her dressing room was beautiful. A vanity sat in the middle of the room with all kinds of creams, perfumes and make up on it. Beyond the vanity was a large painting that Rebecca recognized as being an original Antoine Vestier. It was a portrait of a lady with a book and a beautiful navy blue sash around her waist.
Walking to it, Rebecca ran her fingertips gently over the frame and was surprised when she heard a soft click. The portrait gently sung open to reveal a large vault that was inside the wall.
“Mr. Crawley said that the vault is where you’re jewels are kept, ma’am,” Tilly said quietly from behind her. “Mr. Gatsby has the combination. I was told to tell you that you must ask him for it. I’m not allowed to have the combination. Your bath is ready though, ma’am.”
Rebecca nodded and turned back. She silently followed her maid to a large, porcelain bathtub and quickly found herself in the hot water, nervously thinking about what was to come later in the evening. Tilly quickly helped her to bath and washed her hair. Within a half hour, Rebecca found herself sitting on the ottoman in her sitting room waiting for Gatsby to come to her as she’d been told he would.
Her mother had explained to her how Gatsby would come to her room and she was to let him do exactly as he pleased. Katherine hadn’t given much detail and it left Rebecca anxious, but curious to know what would happen. The only kiss she’d shared with Gatsby was when the priest had told him he could kiss his bride. If tonight was supposed to feel anything like the feeling of his lips on hers earlier, Rebecca was sure it couldn’t be horrible like her mother had made it out to be.
Glancing at the clock, Rebecca twisted the silver band that was no next to the ruby engagement ring and wondered what was taking Gatsby so long to come to her. They’d both left the party a little after midnight and it was now close to two in the morning. She wondered if he’d simply fallen asleep, but more sinister thoughts came and her mother’s voice taunted her inside saying that Gatsby was with other women because he wasn't interested in his little bride. Getting up and not bothering to slip on the soft silk slippers that were next to her, Rebecca left her suite and began exploring the mostly dark house.
At the end of the hall, elegant double doors were closed, but light crept out from behind the door onto the shiny but cold marble floors beneath her tiny feet. Something inside of her said that Gatsby was through the door and Rebecca slowly reached out for the elegant door handle. Turning it slowly, she pushed the door open and looked around the impressive master bedroom. It was bright inside and she see few pieces of furniture. A large inviting bed was in the middle of the room, but it only held her attention for a moment. A soft breeze caressed her skin from the open glass doors that looked out over the bay. The nearly transparent curtains that were supposed to cover the four sets of large, opened French doors fluttered in the breeze.
Gatsby sat in one of the twin chairs that were near the middle set of doors. His long legs were crossed and he held a glass of brandy in one hand. He was still dressed elegantly in his grey morning suit from the wedding and his hair was combed back. Rebecca briefly wondered what it would be like to run her fingers through it as he kissed her. The thought made her warm and tingly all over in a way she couldn’t understand. Pushing the thought away for later, she walked towards him but was startled when he spoke.
“What are you doing here?”
Gatsby didn’t even bother to get up or look at her when he spoke. He just continued to stare out at the bay and the flashing green light.
“How did you know I was there?” she asked him softly.
“Your perfume…it’s French,” he said before repeating himself. “What are you doing here?”
Rebecca shoved aside the shock she had that he knew where her perfume was from as reached out a hand and held on to the back of his chair.
“Looking for you,” she answered nervously. She’d never seen this side of Gatsby and it made her scared. He seemed so cold and distant that she wasn’t sure how to respond.
“Are we not going to-" she stopped not knowing what to say as she watched him stand up and adjust his wedding suit tie.
“Do you want to know the truth of the world?” he asked her, looking exceedingly bored. “People use each other to get what they want or need. We do it all the time without even really realizing."
“I don’t understand,” Rebecca said with a sinking feeling in her stomach. She didn’t want to know what he meant because she knew deep down that she wouldn’t like the truth.
“It’s very simple. I needed a wife with money and connections while you needed a marriage to save your family’s reputation from ruin,” Gatsby replied without emotion. “We’ve used each other and now we’ve done our parts. Go to bed, Mrs. Gatsby. Don’t come back to these room.”
Gatsby settled back down into his chair and looked out the window to the bay where the green light across the bay was still flashing. Rebecca couldn’t stop the sting of rejection as it overwhelmed her. It hurt more than she could have ever imagined and a tear fell down her cheek. Him calling her 'Mrs. Gatsby' was only a taunt. It twisted the blade deeper into her pain.
“I thought I told you to leave,” Gatsby snapped as he looked over his shoulder at her a second later. “Go!”
His harsh voice startled her and Rebecca instantly turned away and walked out the door. She closed it behind her and for a moment she stood unsure of what to do. Slowly walking back to her rooms, Rebecca hugged herself and tried to fight the feelings swirling around her body. Tilly appeared out of nowhere and walked with her back to her room. Rebecca stood in front of the door as her maid opened it and a crushing realization hit her so hard that she nearly fell over.
Everything had been faked.
From his smiles of adoration to his gifts. He cared nothing for her. He’d just wanted her money and family name. The only small ray of hope shined through the horror and heartache was that she hadn’t told him that she’d loved him. She’d been spared that humiliation and Rebecca was grateful. Tilly pulled back the bed sheets and helped her settle in without a problem. Extinguishing the light, Rebecca was alone in the darkness.
Somehow the dark was comforting and haunting at the same time. Every meeting, every moment, everything that she’d ever done with Gatsby raced in her mind as she went over every memory with a fine tooth comb. Knowing the truth know, Rebecca felt horror blooming deep inside her as she realized more and more she’d let her childish notions about love and marriage blind her to the truth.
Gatsby had never told her that he loved her or anything like that. She’d always assumed that he did and had never asked. Turning over and seeing the same green light that Gatsby had been looking at in his rooms, Rebecca promised herself that in the coming days she’d visit her mother and ask for advice. She wasn’t good at this marriage thing and maybe her mother knew what to do. It was the last thing Rebecca remembered before falling asleep from exhaustion
It was five days later that Rebecca was able to go and visit her mother in East Egg. In the days since she’d married Gatsby, Rebecca hardly saw him. Only on the first day did he have breakfast with her to explain how he wanted things done around his home. They dined again at dinner and afterwards, he left her alone to do business. Rebecca had spent the lonely evening playing the piano and had retired early knowing Gatsby wasn’t coming to warm her bed.
On the second morning of their marriage, Gatsby hadn’t bothered to come and break his fast with her. Instead, he sent his apologizes through the butler, Crawley. He met her only for dinner and left again after to do more work. The third day had been the same, as was the fourth.
On the fifth morning of their marriage when she’d been getting ready to leave, Gatsby hadn’t shown up to see her off. Instead, Crawley had introduced her to Mr. Brighton, her personal driver and footman. He was responsible for getting and taking her to where ever she wanted to go.
Brighton was a handsome young man with dark hair and even darker eyes. His skin was pale and his chauffeur uniform was a dark green like the rest of the staff that took care of Gatsby Manor.
He’d helped her into the back of the black custom Rolls Royce that was now hers. Settling into the soft leather seats, Rebecca ran her gloved finger tips over the soft leather and swallowed. She just wanted to see her mother and be told that everything would be alright. She wanted comfort, but deep down Rebecca knew that Katherine Harper didn’t have a comforting bone in her body.
While she wanted comfort, her mother would give her the undeniable truth and that was what Rebecca needed.
Brighton closed the door and quickly moved to the driver’s seat. The drive to East Egg passed in a blur and soon they were pulling up in front of an extremely large manor. Brighton stopped the car in front of the large stone steps that led to dark double doors. Rebecca watched as the portly old man that was her parent’s butler, Mr. Taylor, opened the front doors of Harper House and walked down the steps. Brighton opened her car door and held out a hand to assist her in getting out. Closing her legs, Rebecca slid out of the car as she had so many times before with her governess’ voice in her head telling her exactly how a lady gets out of a car.
“Mrs. Gatsby,” Taylor said in his deep gravelly voice. “A pleasure to see again, ma'am. Mrs. Harper is in the parlor. Should I announce you or would you like to forgo that formality?”
“I will announce myself Taylor,” Rebecca answered in a detached tone.“Please see to Mr. Brighton. That’s all.”
Stepping into the large marble foyer of Harper House, Rebecca was assisted out of her coat and gave her accessories including her hat and purse to Taylor’s second in command, Mr. Harris. Quickly finding her way to the second floor parlor, Rebecca knocked on the door and was bid to enter. Stepping in, the sight of her mother and Elizabeth sitting together having tea and treats nearly made her cry.
“Rebecca!” Elizabeth exclaimed as she stood up from the couch and quickly flung herself into her older sister’s arms. Rebecca laughed and caught Elizabeth in a tight hug.
“Oh, how I’ve missed you!” Elizabeth exclaimed before pulling back and looked at her with glittering eyes. “You look so well! Becoming Mrs. Gatsby must have done something because you’re simply glowing!”
Rebecca simply smiled. She didn’t have the heart to tell Elizabeth that her glow was from the happiness that was felt from seeing mother and sister again.
“Is Mr. Gatsby with you?” Mrs. Harper asked from her seat on the couch.
“He had business today to attend to. I am to tell you all that he wishes you all the best,” Rebecca lied.
She wasn’t prepared to tell her sister that she had made the mistake of marrying a man who held no affection for her. Elizabeth thought the world of Gatsby. Rebecca couldn’t bring herself to destroy her sister’s belief that her husband was the most wonderful man that ever existed.
“Elizabeth, you have studies to attend to,” Mrs. Harper said sharply. “You had best finish them if you wish to go shopping with Georgina Miller.”
Elizabeth looked sad for a moment, but turned to look back at Rebecca with a smile.
“Promise me that you’ll go shopping with me someday soon. We’ll have to find a dress that Mr. Gatsby will absolute love on you,” she whined and Rebecca couldn’t help but to smile even more for Elizabeth’s love of shopping was notorious and poor Gatsby’s bank accounts would be devastated by a shopping trip with Elizabeth Harper.
“I promise. Now go,” Rebecca laughed. “I will find a date and call you as soon as I am able. I’m sure your governess is looking for you. If I recall, you still haven’t quite mastered Bach.”
“Who needs Bach when you have all these new big bands and Jazz? Honestly, classical music is boring,” Elizabeth mumbled as she left the room with wave of her hand.
Hearing the parlor door close, Rebecca walked over to the couch that Elizabeth had just occupied across from their mother and watched as Mrs. Harper poured a cup of tea.
“She sounds just like Mary,” Rebecca whispered mournfully.
Mrs. Harper ignored the comment and offered Rebecca the tea cup and saucer.
“You could always lie to Elizabeth, but you can’t lie to me. Mr. Gatsby had no business of any today so why are you here instead of being at home entertaining your husband?” Mrs. Harper asked sharply after Rebecca had taken a few sips of tea.
Setting down her tea cup, Rebecca looked out the window and watched as rain slowly began to fall. The rain drops that ran down the glass in lines reminded her of tears.
“When did you know that father didn’t love you?” she asked quickly as she looked back at her mother.
Mrs. Harper looked at her with a raised eyebrow, “Love? Your father has never loved me. He loves his whores. We both knew when we were married that it was never about love. It was about money and power. Is that what this visit is about?”
“When I married Jay…I thought he was marrying me because he loves me. I married him because I do love him. I care for him, but he…he told me that he only married me because he needed a wife. Nothing more...I just…I don’t know what to do.”
Mrs. Harper put her tea down and looked across the table hard at Rebecca, “Jay Gatsby is one of the richest men in New York City. You have anything and everything you could want possibly at your fingertips and you’re complaining about him not loving you? Rebecca marriage isn’t about that! Life isn’t about love! Love is fleeting and never an absolute! But money, power and society? Those things are forever. Love can’t possibly get those things for you. It was always obvious that Mr. Gatsby never loved you. He was a nice gentleman and doting to be sure, but love you? Never. Now knock the silly notion out of your head and fall back down into reality. For God’s sake, all you have to do is give him a son or two and then you’re free to do whatever you wish with whomever you wish.”
Rebecca stared at her mother in shock, “Are you suggesting that I cheat on Mr. Gatsby?”
“Rebecca, it’s time to grow up and get this romantic notion out of your head that fairy tales exist. Did Mr. Gatsby ever mention anything about love? He never mentioned anything about love or anything remotely close to it. Did he mention being faithful till his last dying breath? He never mentioned that either. You believed what you wanted to. Be thankful you at least have a nice husband. Joanna Jackson’s daughter married a drunk gambler. It could be far worse. Here’s my advice to you Rebecca, find a charity, a group, or something to occupy your time and thoughts while you wait to have a child and soon afterwards you can have a pick at all the men in the city. Do you know how many men will be vying for your bed? Plenty and you’ll be happy. Love has nothing to do with it. Love is a like a spider that ensnares many in her web and they all die. Look at what happened to your sister. Do you want that ending? Look at what love got her.”
Rebecca was silent as she absorbed everything her mother said.
“Now let’s talk about something else,” Katherine Harper sighed. “This subject is over. You know what to do. Do you like your new home?”
“I’m not allowed to change anything inside of it,” Rebecca admitted remembering Gatsby’s warning about leaving everything the way it was. Nothing was to be moved or changed or redesigned. Everything was exactly the way it was supposed to be and even if she disliked something it didn’t matter to him.
Katherine Harper raised eyes brow, “Not allowed to change anything? Why not?”
“Mr. Gatsby doesn’t want me changing anything. He said that everything is perfectly decorated just the way he wants it,” Rebecca replied in a dull tone. “I got the distinct feeling that…the house was ready for something.”
“Or someone,” Mrs. Harper suggested with a sly look at her daughter as Rebecca's head turned sharply.
“What are you talking about mother?” she asked with surprise.
“Nothing at all. Now, tell me all about the grounds of Gatsby Manor. I know how much you adore flowers and gardens.”
Rebecca felt overwhelmed from the conversation and her replies to all her mother’s questions after that were automatic. The end quickly came to the visit and Mrs. Harper accompanied her down to the foyer. Her mother’s maid, Nell, helped her into her coat and gloves. Running her fingertips over her thin coat, Rebecca said goodbye and let Taylor open the front doors to Harper House. Walking down the steps, Rebecca let herself be handed into the car by Brighton.
The chauffeur closed the door and looking out the window; Rebecca watched as her mother turned away from the open doors and disappeared from her view.
How she would have loved to have been hugged by the other woman and told that everything would be alright. She could remember the last hug she’d received. Mary had come to her room late in tears and had hugged her tightly as she’d confessed to being pregnant.
She’d been devastated saying that the man had promised to marry her, but was now reneging on his promise to marry some high society girl from Kentucky. Mary had been so frightened and afraid of what would happen. Looking back, Mary must have known what would have happened once their parents knew about her pregnancy. It was the last time she’d hugged her sister. The feeling of Mary’s head on her shoulders still lingered and Katherine Harper’s words about love passed through her head.
Love had made Mary weak and immune to the bastard who’d left her with child. Love had made Rebecca weak enough to think that Gatsby was marrying her because he cared. The idea of love had blinded her to the sad reality of truth and Rebecca wondered if she hadn’t fancied herself in love with him, would she have seen Gatsby for what he really was?
She didn’t care for the answer and the more she thought about, the more Rebecca wanted to lock away her complicated feelings for Gatsby. She didn’t even know what she felt for him anymore and what it could be described as. She watched from the window as Brighton drove them back to West Egg.
Silently, Rebecca promised herself that she’d never let love inside her heart. Katherine Harper had been right about love. Love was for children and it belonged in bedtime stories. Love was an illusion and she wasn’t going to be blinded by it anymore. She wasn’t going to let the poison of love slip into her veins and kill her…
Rebecca blinked and turned back to look at the butler of Gatsby Manor and raised an eyebrow, “Yes, Crawley?”
“Mr. Gatsby’s guest will be arriving soon. He requests that you come back to the house now.”
Rebecca looked at the green light one last time and pushed away the feelings that had come up from remembering. Letting go of the rail, she walked up the wooden dock to the steps and looked up at the large manor that seemed more like a prison. She saw Jay standing the library window looking out across the bay as he held the telephone to his ear talking to someone.
She didn’t care who it was, all she wanted was for the night to be over. She didn’t want to entertain the wives of his business associates. She wanted to sleep so that come tomorrow night when everyone came to the weekly parties that Gatsby gave, she could make it through the night without willingly throwing herself into the pool and drowning.
Looking back down at the path, she missed Gatsby’s eyes change focus and look at her.
Jay Gatsby watched as Rebecca walked up the path from the dock to the house. At twenty, she was a beautiful young woman. Medium height with curves and a lovely face, but there wasn’t much beyond that. He found her personality dull and the things she enjoyed boring. When he’d married her, there had been one thing on his mind and that had been business.
Meyer Wolfsheim had pointed the Harper family out to him when news of the second oldest daughter’s scandal hit the papers. They were an old, elite family in the mostly untouchable part of New York’s society. Her family’s connections were vast much like his and a connection like hers could quadruple business while getting many law enforcement agencies in their pockets.
When Meyer had pitched the idea to him it sounded perfect and he knew that once he had Daisy, it would be fairly simple to get Rebecca to leave. Her pride wouldn’t let her stay with a man who cheated. Everything was planned out in his head.
He would have Daisy in the end.
He was determined that he would.
It had hurt, giving her the name Mrs. Gatsby, but Jay reminded himself over and over again it was a means to the end. Rebecca was the key to getting close to Daisy while growing the business. Everyone won at the end of the day and he truly didn’t care what happened as long as he had his love, Daisy.
Daisy was just across the bay and soon, she’d be with him in the house he’d perfected. Everything was just the way it was meant to be. Gatsby had made it clear to everyone, including Rebecca that changing any one thing about the house risked a harsh punishment. In the first few weeks of marriage, Rebecca had been vocal about not liking the linen and disliking several pictures on the walls. Gatsby had forbidden her from changing anything including her rooms.
Slowly, but surely, she’d stopped saying anything about the house and she’d even stopped complaining about the weekly parties he threw trying to get Daisy to come to his house.
Listening to the other man on the phone in Chicago, Gatsby smiled a little seeing that as Rebecca turned to look over her shoulder at Crawley. He could see a fair amount of cleavage from her evening dress. Telling the man on the line that he had to go, Gatsby hung up the phone and left the library. He met Rebecca in the foyer a few minutes later and watched as she looked in the mirror and adjusted the diamond necklace she wore.
“Make sure Mrs. Harrison has good time tonight,” he told her. “She has quite a bit of sway over her husband and I want her going home thinking she’s had the best time of her life. Are we clear?”
Rebecca ignored him as her maid came up to her holding a tray. Gatsby watched as she picked up the red lipstick and applied it to her lips. She truly was a stunning woman who turned heads, but she wasn’t Daisy.
While Rebecca had Daisy’s coloring, she wasn’t the beautiful woman he wanted. He found that compared to Daisy, Rebecca was so-so in everything. She wasn’t nearly as accomplished as Daisy and she wasn’t the fantastic hostess Gatsby knew Daisy was. In seven months of marriage, Gatsby knew that Rebecca was everything he’d described her to be to Meyer. Boring, dull with nothing remarkable about her accept for a pretty face. Meyer had laughed at him, but it was the truth.
“I know what to do,” she finally said as she looked away from the mirror and looked back at him. “I have hosted parties before, Mr. Gatsby.”
She put the lipstick back down on the silver tray and dismissed the maid. Gatsby continued to watch as she looked at herself in the mirror checking the threading on the soft pink dress she wore. Gold, silver, blues, greens and reds all were a part of the pattern in the dress that ended at her knees. The fringed hem line glittered in the lights as she turned to look at Crawley, who had mysteriously appeared.
“Mr. Harrison’s car has been spotted, Mr. Gatsby,” he announced.
“Good,” Gatsby nodded. “We’ll go meet them on the steps.”
Rebecca followed him and they both secretly counted down the hours until the latest game of playing happily married newlyweds would be over. Gatsby wanted it over because he felt like he betrayed Daisy every time he did it. Rebecca wanted it over because having to act like she loved Gatsby only awoke feelings inside her that she desperately wanted to keep locked away.
The green light from across the bay blinked and Rebecca watched it wondering if there would ever be a day where pretending to be happy wouldn’t be a monumental chore.