Rose strolled over to the doors of the Palm Court Café, and as the opened automatically, a gentle breeze from the sea air blew across her hair, a stray red strand blowing out of place. She walked into the sterile looking room with its white walls, matching wicker chairs and tables, green ivy climbing the wall decorations, and of course, fitting to the name, small palm trees dotted around the edges of the room. The room was almost made of glass with the number of arched windows it had, each one allowing the glorious sunlight to pour in from outside. The doors shut behind her, as effortlessly as they had opened, and she surveyed the tables for familiar faces. And then she saw the tight faced red head with the judgemental eyes, and a smile as false as the pearls around her neck… her mother, Ruth.
"Rose, darlin', over here!" a booming American accent shouted through the reverent tones of conversation. It was Molly Brown, a large woman that loved to wear black and large fur hats. She boarded the ship at Cherbourg late yesterday evening. She was a strong willed lady with an even stronger laugh, who loved to share stories of her comical life from when she was poverty stricken. That was before her husband struck gold out west. She was what Ruth called, "new money." She was travelling to America to visit her son who had been ill for quite some time.
Rose nodded politely and headed through the maze of chairs to get to them, her white lace dress flowing elegantly as she moved. There were a few unfamiliar faces at the table. Two older gentleman, one who Rose recognized from the newspaper as the Chairman of the White Star Line himself, and the other gentleman's face was familiar, but Rose couldn't quite put her finger on it. Ruth of course, quietly screaming inside to be in the presence of such ocean royalty, was fast in telling Rose who their company was.
"Rose, at last. I was beginning to think you had jumped overboard." She laughed awkwardly, containing a hysterical laughter. "This is Mr Bruce Ismay, as I'm sure you already know."
Rose smiled at Mr Ismay, "How do you do?"
"I'm doing splendid thank you very much! And why wouldn't I be? Enjoying lunch on my very own creation. I even helped decide the menu for the first week of the voyage!" His English accent sounded stuck up, his curly moustache looked snobbish and he was talking about himself far too much. Rose instantly disliked him.
"And this fine man here is Thomas Andrews." Ruth signalled over to the other side of the table. Rose followed her mother's gaze, and literally had to stop herself from gasping in shock. Thomas Andrews, was a very "fine" man… a very fine man indeed. With his smouldering hazel eyes, gentle smile and salt and pepper hair. Rose realized she had been staring at him for longer than was considered proper … or even normal… and then she noticed that he had stood up from his seat and was holding a hand over the table for Rose to take.
"It's a pleasure to meet you, young Rose." He spoke with a smooth and sultry Irish accent. Rose could feel herself melting like a block of ice in the desert. She took his hand, making sure to savour every second of this modest hand shake. He had big, strong hands, but they were soft and handled Rose with care and respect. He stared into her eyes as he spoke, and then when neither of them were speaking, he continued to stare into her eyes… and shamelessly, she stared back. "The pleasure is all mine, Mr Andrews."
"Please, call me Thomas."
Rose could feel herself blushing. "Thomas." The sound of his name rolling off of her tongue made her heart skip a beat, and the sight of him being so close to her, and touching her hand… and then reality kicked in when a distinctive voice spoke from behind.
"Sorry I'm late everyone. I hope no one missed me too much."
Rose rolled her eyes and sighed. Thomas noticed her look of distaste.
Molly was first to reply to Cal, "I didn't even notice you were gone Cameron!"
As he took his seat next to Rose, he groaned irritably, "It's Caledon… but you can call me Cal."
"Oh can I now? Well thank you for the permission." Molly, knowing how ignorant the 1st class could be, didn't bow down to his inflated ego. It wasn't that long ago that she was a 3rd class citizen cleaning up restaurant tables. And even though she was dining at them now, her personality hadn't changed. If anything, she had become more true to who she is.
"Cal, I don't believe we've met, I'm Thomas Andrews." Politely, he held a hand over the table for Cal, who looked at it as if it was a piece of stale bread.
"And you are?"
"I helped build the ship you're on right now." He replied calmly.
In an instant, Cal had taken his hand and was shaking it vigorously. "Ah, Mr Andrews! It's an honour to meet you Sir!"
"This is Cal… my fiancée." The last part of Roses' sentence came out in a mumble. Thomas looked at her as she looked down at her cutlery, un able to look Cal or Mr Andrews in the eye.
"You're engaged?" Thomas' sounded as if a secret arrow had pierced his heart.
"Happily!" Cal replied, taking the young girls hand possessively and kissing it like a vampire, sucking the life out of her. "I'm surprised I haven't seen you in the papers Mr Andrews, with all the articles and stories on The Titanic's maiden voyage and such."
"Well I don't think my face has been plastered on the front page as much as Mr Ismay here... apparently the owner of the ship is more important than the men who designed and built it." He faked a laugh to hide the true intent of what he had said. A tinge of resentment edged his voice, but Rose picked up on it.
"Well I think that conjuring up a boat in your mind is a simple task that even Mother could do… it takes a REAL man to put his blood, sweat and tears into building it." Rose smiled and Thomas, reassuring him that he had done a good job. "Thank you, Rose… that means a lot to me."
Mr Ismay overheard the topic of conversation, and suddenly realized that he wasn't part of it. That soon changed when he began, "She is the largest moving object ever made by the hand of man in all history. And our master ship builder here, Mr Andrews designed her from the keel plates up."
Thomas was modest, and responded, "Well I may have knocked her together, but the idea was Mr Ismay's. He envisioned a steamer so grand in scale, and so luxurious in it's appointments, that its supremacy would never be challenged, and here she is!" he knocked the table triumphantly, "Willed into solid reality."
As he spoke, with such charisma and energy, and true Irish charm, with that melodic voice and those hypnotic eyes, and sparkling white teeth and rugged, manly features, Rose found herself in a trance. To her, the only people in the room were her and Thomas… and Molly, but that was only because her loud voice broke the trance.