William is in Hawaii in two days, the day before Thanksgiving. I imagine those tickets cost a fortune. Then again, maybe holidays aren’t as commercialized as they are in the future and airlines don’t jack up the prices for them.
Paige and I wait at the airport for William’s plane to arrive. Paige is sitting in a chair flipping through a magazine. I am pacing up and down the aisle of chairs, looking out the window at the arriving and embarking planes.
“Sit down, Liv. He’ll be here,” Paige says putting her magazine down to look at me.
I stop pacing, but the butterflies in my stomach are still flapping around like they’re doing evasive maneuvers.
I sit down for a minute, but can’t stand to be still. I get up and start pacing again. Paige sighs and goes back to her magazine.
Eventually, though, William’s plane lands, and the passengers are exiting toward baggage claim. I pause in my pacing when I see his tall frame getting his bag.
William’s hair is graying, but he’s not stooped or wrinkled more than some crow’s feet. He’s still the strong, tall, handsome man I fell in love with eleven days and thirty years ago.
When William finally catches my eye, a wide range of emotions crosses his face. It settles on a smile and he rushes over to me.
We stand staring at each other for a moment, unsure of what to do. Suddenly, William drops his bag and pulls me into a tight hug. I melt into his arms and hug him back.
William doesn’t try to kiss me, which might be a good thing. I would have kissed him back, thinking nothing of it.
“I’m glad you made it okay,” I say, smiling up at him. William is marveling at me.
“You look just the same,” he says.
William knew I would, but seeing it and knowing it are two very different things. I smile at him.
“You look good,” I say. William smiles at me and picks his bag back up from the ground. Paige has been hanging back letting me have this reunion, but now she walks up to us.
“I’m happy to see you again, William,” Paige says smiling at him. He and Paige hug each other.
“I’m overjoyed to know you both are safe. I hoped you had made it home, but I suppose that did not happen,” William replies.
“Maybe next time,” Paige says though she seems to be deep in some thoughts of her own.
“I booked a hotel here on the island. Would you guys like to join me?” William asks. I nod and we walk out of the airport into the warm air.
“I’ve never been here, you know,” William comments while we wait for a cab.
“I came once when I was thirteen. Mom and Dad brought Paige and me on a trip here. We spent a week learning to surf, snorkeling, and swimming. We visited museums, and it was the best trip we’ve ever taken as a family. That was when Paige knew she’d be moving here when she finished high school,” Olivia replies. William smiles down at me.
“What about you? What are your plans after you finish school?” he asks. I shrug.
“I don’t know. I don’t have a passion for anything the way Paige does. Nothing ever jumped out at me to make me think ‘this is what I want to do for the rest of my life’,” I reply truthfully.
“I see. I was in the same boat you’re in. Working wasn’t something I had to do in my youth because of my father. I own a steel company now, but I have people to do most of the work for me and I wouldn’t say I love it.”
“Steel. Hmm, that’s big business, isn’t it?” I ask.
“It has been profitable.”
“It’ll probably be even more profitable with the war coming,” I say. William inclines his head.
“Yes, I thought it might be. Knowing someone from the future helps,” William says, smiling. I look at him and laugh, shaking my head.
Paige, William, and I get into a cab that pulls up and we go to William’s hotel. It’s expensive and so very nice.
“Are you interested in spending Thanksgiving with Paige, the other girls we are living with, and I?” I ask, figuring I’d better nail down plans for the holiday.
“I came to Hawaii to be with you, so yes, I will spend the holiday with you and whoever else is there,” William replies, smiling.
I grin at him, pleased. When we get to William’s room, Paige hangs back while William fishes out his key.
“I’ll catch you guys later,” Paige says, already walking away. I wave at her and walk into the room.
This is the first time William and I have ever been alone. People onboard the Titanic always surrounded us. The alone time would have been even more perfect thirty years ago when he was closer to my age.
My heart tells me he’s the same person, and he is, but my head can’t get over the age gap. While we’re alone, though, it doesn’t seem to matter much.
We sit together on the couch, talking. William asks what happened to me in the time since I’d seen him last. I explain every detail and ask what’s been going on in his life.
“My mother and Breeda assumed you and Paige perished that night. I’d hoped when I didn’t find you after I surfaced, that you traveled home. That was the only explanation that didn’t throw me into despair. I took your advice and got my whole body out of the water. I near about froze waiting for that damn lifeboat, but it eventually came back.
“Mother, Breeda, and I all lived together for a while until Breeda married a man rich from the railroads. Mother went to live with her, but they are still in New York. Breeda’s had a couple of kids and Mother is getting old. I stayed in the house we bought by myself. I hoped if I stayed where you thought I’d be, you’d be able to find me. I knew I’d probably be dead if you made it back to 2019, but at least you could find out what became of me,” William finishes.
I have tears in my eyes. Not really from his story, but from all the wasted years he was alone.
“I’m sorry you fell in love with me, of all people. I was the one girl you couldn’t hope to have a normal life with. Look at all the years you spent alone. You should have moved on,” I say to him.
“I regret nothing. I know this was God’s plan. I can’t say what it is or what he’s trying to accomplish, but this happened to you and Paige, and me for a reason. I’m sure of it. I was meant to fall in love with you. If we never get to have a life together, the way others might, then I will find solace in knowing you and loving you,” William replies somewhat fiercely.
I know the reason for time traveling is Fate, not God, but maybe they are the same entity.
We spend the rest of the day talking and catching up. It’s wonderful to be with William again. The ease we once had with each other comes back quickly, but there’s still something different. I know it will always come back to the years he lived and the ones I didn’t.
Just now, his presence is enough. It makes me feel safe, like I can make it through this horrid event I know is just on the horizon.
I leave Olivia and William to be alone. I know they need some time to get used to each other again. Quite a lot of time has passed for William.
I go back to the house and hang out with the girls for a bit. I finally work up enough nerve to talk to Betty.
“Betty?” I ask. She looks up from the letter she’s writing.
“Hmm?” she replies.
“I hope it’s all right, but I invited someone to dinner tomorrow and I know Olivia is also hoping to have someone,” I say. Betty eyes me.
“Who did you invite?” she asks.
“Um. You remember the guy from the jazz hall the night we got here? His name is Theo. He’s in the Navy. He didn’t have any plans, so I invited him. There’s also a family friend that we knew from before that flew into the island today and Olivia is hoping he could come too,” I explain.
“All right. The more the merrier. Theo can bring some friends, too. I’m sure the other girls won’t mind a bit of male presence for the holiday,” Betty replies, catching me off guard. I thought it would be more of a fight.
“Okay, great. Thank you,” I drawl.
Betty goes back to her letter, and I walk outside to stand on the porch. I can see the ocean from the house.
It’s getting late and chilly. Olivia isn’t home yet. I wonder if she’ll stay with William. It isn’t a big deal where we come from, but I don’t know what William will think about spending the night with a woman that isn’t his wife or family.
Although it’s not 1912 anymore, the forties aren’t much better as far as how a woman will be seen by other women and men if she stays the night with a man she isn’t married to.
It doesn’t matter. With any luck, we’ll be going home in a few weeks, or at least leave this time and place. I idly wonder if we’ll ever travel to the future. What that must be like.
With the current state of Earth with global warming and all, I don’t know how much future we’ll have left. That’ll be exactly what I need; to travel to the end of the world. Like I could stop it. We couldn’t stop the sinking and we won’t stop this bombing, so what exactly is the purpose of our travels besides finding our soulmates? Olivia could have easily met William after he arrived in New York. So why on the Titanic?
I can’t bring myself to believe this is random. It’s much too cruel to make us witness these events and not be able to stop them for it to be random. There has to be a reason. I can only guess maybe William and Olivia had to endure tragedy together to become the soulmates they were meant to. Will it be the same for me?
Ugh, I don’t even know. I feel like my mind is just rambling and I long to shut it off.
“Paige! The phone’s for you!” Evelyn calls from inside the house. I shake off the chill from the evening and all my thoughts and go inside.
“Hello?” I ask into the receiver.
“Paige. I’m just calling to let you know I’m going to stay with William tonight. Don’t expect me home. I don’t know what to tell the girls so good luck with that,” Liv says in a hurry.
“Okay. I’ll… think of something, I guess. Goodnight,” I reply and hang up once she says goodnight.
“Where’s Olivia?” Betty asks. I sigh.
“She’s staying with that friend I told you about earlier,” I reply. I get a sideways glance from Betty, but luckily no questions. Let them think what they want.
I’m getting nervous about spending the night with William. Of course, I’m kinda thrilled too, but it’s not as if anything untoward is going to happen.
William graciously lets me sleep in the bed while he sleeps on the couch. He only asks me to stay because he wants to spend as much time with me as possible.
We cuddle together on the couch under a blanket and just talk about anything and everything. I tell him more about my life before I found myself back in time. He tells me about his childhood and the last thirty years.
It’s around midnight when I doze.
“I think it’s time for bed. We can talk more in the morning. We’ve got time. I’m not going anywhere until you do,” William says, shifting the blanket off of us.
I get up and make my way to the bed. I stand beside it, waiting. For what exactly, I’m not sure.
“Is it okay if I kiss you? I know it’s different from before,” William asks.
I’m happy about the politeness of asking before he does anything. I smile at him, loving every minute I spend with him.
As I stare into his eyes, it hit me how hopelessly in love I am with William McCarthy. I nod, still smiling and William kisses me goodnight.
I get into bed and pull the covers up. William kisses me once more on the forehead and says,
“In case I don’t tell you enough, I love you. Goodnight.”
I smile again. I’ll never grow tired of hearing those words spoken aloud, especially coming from him.
“I love you too. Night,” I reply.
William smiles and I see his eyes sparkle. He switches off the bedside lamp and makes himself comfortable on the couch. The bed is plenty big for both of us, but I know the words would fall on deaf ears.
I listen to William’s breathing for a short while before I hear it become more even and realize he’s already fallen asleep. I smile to myself and gradually fall too.
I feel myself waking, but I want to sleep in more before I realize where I am. I spring up out of bed to find William awake and dressed. The blankets and pillows he used last night are neatly folded on the couch.
“Good morning, Liv,” William says, walking over to sit on the side of the bed.
“Morning,” I reply, falling back against the pillows as the minor burst of adrenaline suddenly leaves me.
“What time is dinner today?” William asks. I don’t actually know. I shrug.
“I don’t know. I guess we can head over to the house after breakfast. I’m starving,” I reply, throwing the covers off me.
I slept in my clothes so no need to change, but I desperately need to go to the bathroom. I excuse myself and lock the door behind me.
As I sit there, a mild nervousness washes over me about bringing William around. The butterflies flying around my stomach are doing barrel rolls. I swallow down the nausea I feel and leave the bathroom.
“All right. Let’s go eat,” I say as I fix my hair up a bit in the mirror.
William strides past me and holds the door open. I curtsy jokingly and go out into the hall. He laughs as he steps behind me.
We eat at this cute outdoor cafe. As you’d guess, the weather is amazing. It’s all so picturesque, I almost forget where, or when, I am — almost. A memory of my parents, of home, comes to me then and I sigh.
“What’s wrong?” William asks. I try my best for a reassuring smile.
“Nothing, I was just thinking of home,” I reply. William nods understanding.
“I imagine you miss your parents the way I miss my father. They aren’t dead, of course, but since they haven’t been born yet, they are just as unreachable,” William states.
“I hadn’t thought about it that way, but your right. They are as unreachable as the dead.” William’s returning smile is filled with sadness.
“I hope you find your way back to them.”
William seems sincere, and that’s how I know he loves me beyond a shadow of a doubt. It’s one thing to say those words when nothing is at stake, but in our curious situation, me having my parents back means losing him forever and he knows that as well as I.
“I don’t know if I told you lately, but I love you,” I say, taking his hand in mine.
It’s nearing dinner time and I’m getting nervous. Theo will be here any minute, which makes my stomach want to cave in on itself. Also though, Olivia and William still aren’t here. They’re really taking their sweet ass time, aren’t they? Gah! I’m frustrated, nervous, and embarrassed all at the same time.
The house looks amazing and thanks to Betty and Evelyn; the food smells wonderful. I haven’t eaten yet and I’m getting hungry. I’m glad they didn’t ask me to help prepare dinner because a cook I am not. I can do amazing things with a cello, but I can barely boil water without burning it.
I jump when the doorbell rings.
“I’ll get it!” I shout to no one in particular. I open it to see Theo in uniform with two other uniformed men behind him. I smile widely because despite any of the feelings I am grudgingly feeling, I’m overjoyed to see him here.
I’m ecstatic Theo showed enough interest in me to accept my invitation and not cancel last minute. I’d had that happen a few times before I stopped trying.
“I brought some friends. I hope that’s still okay,” Theo says, producing a small bouquet of lilies.
There’s no way for him to know, but lilies are my favorite flower. If it’s at all possible, my smile gets even bigger as I take the outstretched bouquet and move aside for them to enter.
“Of course, come in, I’m so glad you could make it,” I say as they walk into the house.
Before I shut the door, I see William and Olivia walking towards the house hand in hand. I give them a look of reproach and motion for them to hurry the hell up. As she walks past me through the door, Olivia whispers,
“Sorry. Sorry.” Damn right she’s sorry, but my anger is forgotten when I see how happy she looks and I’m glad for it.
I walk in behind Olivia as she’s introducing William to Betty, the girls, Theo, and his friends. Theo’s friends are introduced as Roger and Rodrigo. Once the pleasantries are through, Betty calls,
“Let’s sit down and eat!”
We all sit around the table and the beautiful meal Betty and Evelyn prepared sits in front of us. I’m not going to lie, it’s a little awkward that Liv and I are the only people to invite anyone and we’ve literally only been here for like two weeks. It’s a little less awkward when I see the girls getting along fantastically with Theo’s friends.
There are some mixed conversations, but I notice Theo looking strangely at William. He catches me looking at him once and quickly averts his eyes from William. Theo can read the questions in my eyes but shakes his head as if to say, ‘I’ll tell you later’. I nod and we continue with our conversation.
“So William, how is it you know the Wells’ girls?” Betty asks sounding like an overprotective mother, though she’s only a few years older than me and several younger than William. He clears his throat and glances at Liv. She gives a small but reassuring smile.
“Well, a friend of the family, really.” William’s Irish accent is stronger right now. I think maybe from nervousness.
“Of their parents, I’d imagine, given your age,” Betty replies.
I groan silently. Betty’s probably wondering where Liv has been all night.
“Yes, well, sort of. I met Russ when he started working for me. I own a steel company in New York. He introduced me to his family and, honestly, I fell in love with Russ’s daughter,” William says coolly.
Betty arches an eyebrow, but before she can say anything, William continues,
“Olivia and I have Russ and Grace’s absolute permission and support to be together though, despite our age difference.”
“I see. Why didn’t their parents come with you if they are so okay with the relationship?” Betty asks.
I can tell Olivia is getting annoyed by Betty’s questioning. The whole table has grown silent and you can cut the tension in the air with a knife.
“Truthfully, Russ asked me to be here. They didn’t have the money to travel here to be with them for the holidays and they, of course, wouldn’t accept my help there. Russ is a proud man, so he asked if I would come to Hawaii and spend the holidays with them since he and his wife couldn’t. I accepted happily as I also wanted to spend the holidays with my dear Olivia. They are, after all, family to me,” William says.
I stifle a little laugh. I love William’s half-truths. He’s excellent at it, but I don’t know if that’s a good thing. At the moment, I’m glad for it.
Betty stays quiet after that, but I can see her eyeing the happy couple. She must suspect there’s more to the story than William is letting on. Only if she knew how we really met.
I wonder if Olivia feels liberated since William basically outed them as a couple. She at least doesn’t have to sneak around or lie.
When dinner is through, as a gesture of good faith, Olivia and William volunteer to do the dishes. I walk to the front porch with Theo.
“Will you take a walk with me… to the beach?” Theo asks. I smile and take Theo’s outstretched arm.
We stroll down toward the beach and make our way to a bar. There’s music playing and a few people.
Theo and I take seats at the bar and he orders two fruity drinks that come with little umbrellas. I see Theo’s brows scrunched up in concentration.
“What is it?” I ask, suddenly worried.
“That William guy that’s with Olivia, what’s his last name?” he asks. I’m a bit surprised by the question, but I answer at once.
“McCarthy, why?” I ask. Theo nods but looks confused.
“I’m pretty sure he lived near my neighborhood when I was growing up. All the kids loved him; he would bring candies and stuff for us. He lived in a huge house, pretty much by himself. He never had a wife or any kids. I guess I know why now,” Theo responds. I try to smile.
“What a small world,” is all I can think to say.
I wonder if that’s some divine comedy or just a coincidence. Theo is silent for a minute, then shakes himself.
“Yeah. Anyway, thank you for inviting me. I had an amazing time and I know my friends did too,” Theo says. It sounds like goodbye, but we haven’t even finished our drinks.
“Is that a goodbye?” I ask. He looks up into my eyes with a start.
“I sure hope not. I thought we could sit and talk for a while,” Theo says.
I sip my drink. Even though I’m not big on alcohol, the fruity drinks Theo orders are delicious.
So, for hours, Theo and I talk. We talk about everything and even though I have this huge secret to keep, conversation comes easy. I tell him all I can, leaving out anything that will give me away.
There’s been a short break in the conversation, long enough for me to notice that the sky’s gone from blue to a dusky purple and pink. The sun is setting, but also the wind is picking up and I can smell the rain in the air. Theo looks up at the sky and I know he smells the rain too.
“We’d better get you home,” Theo says. It pains me a bit and I hesitate. He notices and smiles.
“Can I see you again?” he asks as he pays for our drinks.
“I’d love that,” I reply. Theo’s smile widens and we walk back to the house.
The rain starts almost immediately. It only sprinkles at first, but then comes down more and more steadily until it’s pouring at what feels like hurricane levels.
By the time we reach the front yard of the house, we are both soaked to the bones. I look up at the sky as rain pours down and laugh.
Theo is confused at first but begins laughing with me. He takes my hand and pulls me closer. I have no idea what to do, but it’s like my body knows and takes the reins from my mind.
I put my arms around Theo’s neck, and he kisses me. It’s an explosion of fireworks going off in every part of my body. I’m giddy with excitement. I feel something else, but I don’t know what that second emotion or feeling is.
Finally, when we need to breathe, Theo pulls back and stares into my eyes. I look down and I see my thread again. It’s attached to Theo and I know then I’ll never love another but him.
When Fate steers you to your soulmate, who are you to argue?
Theo smiles and kisses me quickly once more before breaking his hold on me and says,
“I’ll see you soon.”
Theo runs off down the street and I am left breathless and so ridiculously happy. I’ve never kissed a boy before. It’s absolutely terrifying and absolutely amazing.