FOR BETTER OR WORSE
Rose awakened early the next morning to an empty bed and the smell of bacon and eggs. Yawning tiredly, she slipped downstairs and was surprised to see Jack cooking.
"You can cook?" Rose raised an eyebrow.
"Of course. I had to learn to when I left home and had to take care of myself." Jack laughed at Roseís surprise.
Rose smiled and shook her head. "What else is there that I donít know about you?"
"Youíll just have to find out." Jack shrugged. "Iím just full of surprises."
"Well, Iím glad one of us knows how to cook. I canít even boil water. I never was expected to know how to do that sort of thing. Mother was adamant about having a cook for cooking and a maid for cleaning." Rose shook her head. "Thereís so much Iím going to have to learn."
"Youíll learn it, Rose. Donít worry." Jack smiled reassuringly just as Lisa entered.
"Oh, good. Youíre cooking breakfast. Wish I had known. I would have stayed in bed longer." She yawned.
"You stay in bed long enough, girl!" Butch Dawson pushed his way past his daughter. "Jack, what are you doing? Thatís womenís work."
"Itís not when you live by yourself and cooking is your only option for a decent meal." Jack shrugged. "Living out there has taught me a lot."
"You should let your wife and Lisa take over." Butch crossed his arms.
"Oh, Daddy, let Jack do what he wants. Iím grateful for the break. Besides, I needed a break." Lisa kissed her fatherís cheek.
"Well, how about another break? Your cousin-in-law here can fix lunch while us men go work on that shed outside."
Rose paled. "Me? Cook?" She looked at Jack, who only shrugged.
"UhÖthat may not be a good idea," Jack intercepted.
"And why not, boy? Doesnít your woman know how to cook?"
Rose and Jack just shared an apprehensive look. "Not all that well."
"Well, then, Lisa can help her this afternoon. Itís time you both became useful around here," Butch huffed.
"I say making breakfast is useful." Lisa lifted her chin. "Saves me some work."
"Shut up, girl. Donít talk when not spoken to." Butch glared at his daughter.
Rose looked at Jack quizzically. She guessed things on the other side of the tracks werenít all that different from upper class life after all.
Later that day, before Jack left to help with the shed, Rose and Jack spent some alone time together. Rose was fretting about helping with lunch.
"Jack, Iím going to burn everything! I know I will! I donít know how to cook to save my life!" Rose paced the floor.
Jack stilled her by placing two secure hands on her shoulders. "Rose, youíll do fine. Have some confidence in yourself. Plus, Lisa is going to be helping, so itís not like youíre going to be on your own."
"Shh. Youíll do fine." He kissed her tenderly, pulling her closer in a tight embrace. She sighed and lay her head on his shoulder.
"Youíre the only person whoís ever believed in me." Rose sighed.
"Thatís because I see all that great potential you have, Rose. You can do anything you set your mind to." Jack kissed the top of her head. "Donít let anyone tell you different."
"Jack! Come on! We want to finish half of this by lunch!" Butchís gruff voice floated through the door.
"You be careful, Jack." Rose kissed him.
"Hey, if I survived below freezing waters, I can survive this." Jack laughed, kissing his wife. "Iíll see you at lunch. And donít worry. Youíll do fine. In fact, walk down with me. Lisaís probably waiting for you."
Rose nervously nodded and followed Jack downstairs, where Lisa, Butch, and Vic were waiting.
"You do know carpentry, donít ya, Jack?" Vic asked.
"Of course." Jack nodded, looking at Rose, noticing her nervous expression. "You can call me a Jack-of-all-trades."
Rose couldnít help but giggle at the joke that was purposely directed at her.
"Ha ha. Come on, funny guy." Butch held the door open. "Weíll be back in three hours. Have lunch ready by then."
"Yes, Daddy." Lisa nodded. Five minutes later, Rose and Lisa were in the kitchen. Lisa was showing Rose where everything was when there was a knock on the kitchen door. Lisa opened it to reveal a man with black hair and brown eyes. He looked nervously at Rose, then back at Lisa.
"I thought you said it was okay to come over," the boy whispered.
"Of course it is. Rose will be cooking lunch while weíre upstairs. It pays to have a cousin-in-law."
Rose paled. Lisa was going to leave her to do this alone? But she thought she was going to help. "Lisa? Weíre supposed to be doing this together," Rose stammered.
Lisa rolled her eyes and giggled. "Oh, Rose, donít be a stick in the mud. Itís only lunch. You can handle that by yourself while Iím busy with Dan here."
"Youíre a real sport, Rose. Thanks. Come, Dan. Upstairs to my room." Lisa and the man named Dan left a mortified Rose alone.
What was she going to do now? She didnít know the first thing about cooking. She had thought Lisa was going to be here to help, but instead she was upstairsÖhaving relations with another strange man. One would say Rose had room to talk, because she had done the deed in the back of a Renault with a man she barely knew. But that had been different. She had known she loved Jack and was going to spend the rest of her life with him. He was her first, her one and only. Lisa seemed to enjoy the company of an assortment of men.
She sighed, looking around the kitchen. What was she going to do? Go to Jack? Tell him what happened? Then what? Lisa would hate her for getting her in trouble. Hot tears sprang to her eyes. She was at a loss as to what to do. If lunch wasnít prepared, Jackís uncles would be mad. Rose looked at the icebox, leering at her, taunting her, letting her know what a failure she was. Burying her head in her hands, she sobbed, not knowing what else she could do.
Two and a half hours had passed, and Jack grew concerned. Lisa might be a little much for Rose. Itíd be a good idea if he went to check on her. Turning to his uncles, he said as much and headed back to the house. He entered the kitchen door and found Rose in tears. Nothing was prepared and Lisa was nowhere in sight.
"Rose? Rose, sweetie, whatís wrong? What happened? Whereís Lisa?" He knelt down in front of her and removed her hands from her face to reveal red, tearstained eyes. "Have you been sitting here all this time crying?"
"L-Lisa had a male visitor. After you left. She went up there with him and hasnít come back down. She said I can handle lunch." Rose hiccupped. "Iím sorry, Jack. I didnít know what to do." She burst into renewed tears.
"Shh, Rose. Donít cry. Itís going to be all right. Iím going to kill Lisa, though, dumping this all on you without warning." Jackís eyes flashed with anger. "Iím going to have a long talk with her."
"JackÖdonítÖI donít want to get her in trouble."
"I wonít yell, okay? Itíll just be between me and her. Now, stop crying. Iím here. Iíll take care of everything, okay? Now, letís see. We have a half hour to have something prepared. Letís see what we have in the icebox." Jack opened the refrigerator and looked in. "Letís see. We have cheese, butter, bread, and soup. Iíve got it. Rose, this is quick and easy, itís the first meal I ever learned to make, and youíll be a hit with it."
"Jack?" Rose looked at him in confusion. "What are you doing?"
"Iím going to teach you how to make grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. Itís simple. Come on. Iíll show you. Your first lesson in the Jack Dawson school of cooking."
Rose had to smile at his bright grin. He always knew how to brighten the gloomiest day, how to make a bad situation seem small. "Okay, Professor Dawson. Iím all yours." Rose got to her feet.
A half hour later, Jackís uncles came tiredly stumbling in to the delicious smell of piping hot tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.
Since Lisa had yet to make an appearance and Jack was angry with her for deserting Rose like she had, they only made enough for the five of them.
"Whereís my daughter?" Butch gruffly asked, as Rose took her seat next to Jack.
"UhÖshe wasnít feeling very well. So I told her to go on up and rest. She said not to bother making enough for her since she didnít feel like eating," Rose covered quickly. She was so used to lying to her mother and Cal that thinking up a lie to cover Lisa was second nature.
"Hmm." Vic nodded. "Rose, youíve outdone yourself. This is the best grilled cheese sandwich Iíve ever eaten. Itís more buttery than most."
"Old family secret." Rose looked at Jack. "We fry them in lots and lots of butter." It wasnít a lie. Jack was her family now, and it was his idea to use a lot of butter to fry the sandwiches in.
"But the best thing to do to make it even betterÖ" Jack took a piece of Roseís sandwich and dipped it in her soup. "Öis to dip it in your soup and enjoy." He fed the dripping piece to his wife, who giggled.
"Newlyweds," Butch grumbled, rolling his eyes.
"Well, Rose, I canít wait to see whatís for dinner." Butch wiped his mouth as he finished his soup.
Rose looked at Jack with panic in her eyes. Jack spoke up for her. "Spaghetti with garlic bread and salad."
"JackÖ" Rose hissed.
"Trust me," he whispered, just as there was a knock at the door. It was Ronald Flintstine.
"What do you want, boy?" Butch glared at the man who had shown interest in his daughter. He disapproved because Wilma would have a fit if she knew her precious boy was interested in Lisa.
"J-Jack. I came to visit Jack. Itís been a long time," Ronald stammered.
Jack got up. "Ronald, hi!" Jack greeted him happily.
"Jack, make it quick. We still need your help outside." Butch glared at his nephew, not liking that Ronald had another excuse to come to his house.
"I just came over to say welcome back, Jack." Ronald looked at the ground. He was really there for Lisa, but he didnít want her father to know that. When he saw Jack, it was a logical excuse.
"Thanks, Ronald. Is that all?"
The other man nodded. "I guess I better go. Ma doesnít like me coming over here at all."
"Ronald, waitÖI need you to do something for me." Jack quickly grabbed his arm. "I was going to have Rose do this, but itíd be better if Ronald did it."
"What?" Ronald asked suspiciously. Five years ago, before Jack had left, Jack had come up with these schemes that had gotten him in trouble. He wondered if this was one of those schemes.
Rose came up and took Jackís hand.
"Donít worry. This wonít get you in trouble." Jack laughed at the memories. "I just need you to do me and Rose a favor. Especially Rose."
Ronald looked at Jackís lovely wife. She was the most beautiful girl heíd seen. Jack was lucky to have found her. "Okay. For Rose. What do you want?"
"I need you to go to Mrs. Lavery and ask her to come to the Dawson residence. Rose needs her help. Okay?"
Ronald nodded. It sounded easy and safe enough. "All right. Fine. See ya around, Jack."
"Thanks, Ronald." Jack smiled as the young man walked away.
"JackÖwhatís going on? And why did you tell them I would cook spaghetti? I donít know how to cook that."
"Because we have the ingredients. And donít worry. Mrs. Lavery will show you how to cook it. Donít worry, Rose. Iíve taken care of everything."
"Oh, Jack." Rose hugged him tightly. "I love you so much. Youíre always pulling me out of trouble."
"I love you, too, Rose." Jack smiled, kissing his wife passionately.
"Jack! Come on! We have a lot more work to do!" Vic called impatiently.
"Iíd better go. Donít worry, Rose. Mrs. Lavery will be here soon to help."
Rose kissed him one last time before he walked out the door to joins her uncles. She sighed happily, wondering what she had done to deserve such a wonderful husband. Little did she know that her past was going to rear its ugly head that afternoon.
Mrs. Lavery arrived that afternoon, a newspaper from New York City clenched in her hand. She wondered what the young Mrs. Dawson needed her for. Of course, the young couple had a lot of explaining to do after what she had seen and read in the newspaper. She was going to get those answers before she offered any of her help. She liked Rose, but she didnít like secrets. The newlyweds obviously had their fair share.
"Mrs. Lavery!" Rose greeted as she opened the door at the knock.
"Rose, call me Betsy." The woman nodded. "Ronald said you needed me."
"Oh, yes. You seeÖIÖ"
"Rose, I hate to interrupt." The woman stepped farther into the house. "But I have some questions that only you can answer, Iím afraid. You see, the demand for more information about that liner that sank a couple of weeks ago has been through the roof. Newspapers are selling out. So my husband thought it would be a good idea if we special ordered some papers from New York. Just our luck, the issues they sent us had a special section on the victims. We looked through the paper, and there were tons of pictures and articles. Imagine my horror and surprise when I saw the picture of the new wife of my daughterís best friend. Except the girlís name in the picture was Rose DeWitt Bukater, and she had supposedly gone down with the Titanic. She was the young fiancťe of the son of a steel tycoon. A Caledon Hockley."
Rose went pale. This couldnít be happening. "May I see the article?" she asked, her voice weak.
"Sure." Betsy handed the girl the paper. Rose opened the paper and gasped. There she was. It was a picture from the gala last year when Cal had announced their engagement. Caledon had his arm around her waist, proud of his trophy. Rose looked less than thrilled, and she was. Try horrified. She hadnít hated Cal back then, but she hadnít liked him, either. Marrying him was the last thing she had wanted, but, as always, her mother had guilt-tripped her into accepting his proposal. "The resemblance is amazing, and the fact that you both have the same first nameÖ"
Rose closed her eyes and took a deep breath, trying to keep her composure. She looked at the door, wondering where Jack was when she needed him. "I donít know what to say."
"How about the truth, dear?" Betsy kindly asked, noticing the haunted look in Roseís eyes as she remembered her past, before and on the Titanic.
"Would you like to sit down?" Rose motioned to the couch. No one noticed Lisa coming down the stairs. She stayed at the top of the stairs, curious. She had come down for something for her and her lover to eat, but she had a feeling this was going to be a lot more interesting.
Betsy nodded and sat on the couch. "Do you know the girl in the picture, Rose?"
Rose took a deep breath and nodded. "Yes, I know her. I know her all too well. I used to be her."
Betsy nodded. "I thought as much. Mind explaining why your fiancť thinks youíre dead, while youíre here, married to Jack?"
Rose swallowed. "WellÖmy maiden name is indeed Rose DeWitt Bukater, and last month I was indeed engaged to Caledon Hockley. BetsyÖitís a long, horrible storyÖsomething I canít find the strength to go through right now, especially not without Jack, because itís his story, as well. But I will tell you this. I met Jack on the Titanic. He stopped me from jumping off the back of the ship, told me a story about falling into Lake Wissota and how cold the water was, and practically scared me into coming back over. I slipped, but he managed to pull me back over. You see, the reason I was trying to kill myself was that I didnít want to marry Cal, but at the time, there was no way out. My father had left a lot of debts when he died, and my mother didnít want to be a seamstress, so she sold her daughter off to the highest bidder. I was going to end it when Jack told me not to do it. We spent time together, and we found ourselves falling in love. I told Jack I was getting off the ship with him when the ship hit the iceberg. We went through the sinking together. We ended up in the cold waters. He made me promise to go on, no matter what. When the boat came backÖI thought Jack had died, but he hadnít. He was so weakÖbut he was breathing. I got the boatís attention, and we were rescued. On the Carpathia, when asked our names, we said Jack and Rose Dawson. We hid out from Mother and Cal, and when the Carpathia docked, we disappeared into the churning crowd. The next day, we were married, and after a couple of weeks, we decided to return to Jackís hometown. Thatís not the full story, but a close enough account to explain why Iím married, not to Caledon Hockley, but to Jack Dawson."
"Oh, you poor dear." Betsy shook her head. "Iím sorry. I never meant to bring up such sad memories. The sinkingÖ.going through thatÖit must have been horrible for the both of you."
"It was. But Jack and I were together, and I knew as long as we were, everything would be all right. I love Jack, BetsyÖwith my whole heart. I never met anyone like him before. He saved my life more than once."
Betsy smiled gently. "Of course you love him, dear. Maybe someday, when you both are ready, you can share the full story of what happened. But for now, that will do."
Rose smiled. "Thank you. Youíve been so kind to me since I got hereÖIíll never know how to repay that."
"Darling, you donít have to repay anything. I love Jack as if he were my own son. Iím so glad youíve made him happy. Iíve never seen him this happy before."
"Now, tell me, what was it you needed my help with?" Mrs. Lavery laid the paper down on the couch.
"Well, as you may guess, I grew up pampered. I know nothing about cooking. It was a stroke of luck that Jack returned early and showed me how to make grilled cheese. But now they want me to cook dinner, and I have no idea what to do. Jack said to make spaghetti with garlic bread. Of course, he canít help this time, so he wanted to ask if youíd show me how to make it."
"Why, of course, dear. Iíd be happy to show you. Come, letís start. Itís getting late, and theyíll be returning in another hour. Donít worry. This doesnít take long to make at all." Betsy guided the younger woman into the kitchen.
Lisa came out of her hiding place and glided to the couch where Betsy had left the paper. It was open to Roseís picture. "Well, well. Looks as if our newlyweds have a secret." She tilted her head, looking at the picture. The girl in the picture was definitely a fancy version of Rose. She had known there was something about her. She looked at Cal and sighed. He certainly was a handsome fellow, and had a need of a new fiancťe. She smiled. That would be a perfect way to escape this drab existence. Instead of bedding these small town men, who she knew would never marry her, she could land this grieving millionaire. But how could she go about it? She looked to where Rose had disappeared and smiled as a plan formed in her head. Soon sheíd be going from Lisa Dawson to Lisa Hockley if she played her cards right.