Chapter 11: Now

Brynne stood outside Jeremy’s door, scrutinizing the actions she was about to take. She raised her hand to knock on the door, but then lowered it and turned on her heel to walk away. This was crazy. She couldn’t do this. She took a few steps … but stopped and turned back to the door.

Why couldn’t she do this? There wasn’t a good reason. Carmen had warned her to stay away from Jeremy, but that was before everything went wrong. Tomorrow would be the last day, so Carmen couldn’t relieve her of duty for too long. Besides, the Titanic hadn’t sunk, and the notebook was at the bottom of the Atlantic somewhere. What else did she have to lose? She returned to the door.

But she couldn’t do this. Not after she’d been so cold toward him. He’d probably think she was crazy, or that she was toying with his emotions. And he had every good reason to. She was running hot and cold on him. She turned away from the door again. No, she decided. She didn’t need to do this.

The door opened before she could even take one step away.

“Brynne,” Jeremy said. He was still wearing his dinner shirt and slacks, though the tie and jacket were gone.

“Hi,” Brynne said. She and Jeremy stared awkwardly at each other for a few moments. “I’m sorry I missed you at dinner tonight. I was still feeling a little under the weather, so I decided to have it in my room tonight.”

“No, it’s all right,” Jeremy said. “I ate with Mr. Andrews and Dr. O’Loughlin.”

“Oh, good. I’m glad that you didn’t have to eat alone.”

“Yeah.”

A lull followed. Someone walked past Brynne.

“Is there something I can help you with, Brynne?” Jeremy asked finally.

This was it, Brynne decided. Either she was going to do what she came here to do, or she was going to turn around and go back to her own stateroom. “Would you mind if I came in?” Brynne asked.

Jeremy stepped aside, and Brynne walked into his room. In her mind, there was no turning back, now.

Jeremy closed the door. “I know it isn’t exactly first class, but it’s served me well,” he said, referring to the room.

Brynne looked around the room. It wasn’t much to look at, but she mostly did it to avoid making eye contact with Jeremy. “You know what they say about Titanic – a second-class berth on this ship is like a first-class berth on any other.”

“Very true. It could do with a window, though,” Jeremy said.

Brynne turned away from Jeremy and set her little handbag down on the small writing table beside the bed. “Mr. Andrews told me about what happened last night,” Jeremy said. Brynne turned to him, with a questioning gaze. Her eyes finally met his. “On the poop deck,” Jeremy clarified. “He also told me the other version, the one with the stairwell.”

“That one’s just for appearances sake,” Brynne said.

“I know,” Jeremy said. “You don’t have any idea who the guy was?”

Brynne shook her head. “I’ve never seen him before in my life.”

“Never? That fellow must have been looney.” He hesitated before taking a few steps toward her. “I can’t believe it’s almost over. I didn’t expect it to go by so fast.”

“It seems like it’s lasted longer than I expected,” Brynne said. “I expected a few days at sea to pass very quickly.”

Jeremy shook his head. “I wasn’t talking about the trip. I meant the past year. I thought for sure that it would feel like forever.”

Brynne lowered her eyes and offered a small, apologetic smile. “I suppose I didn’t make it easy for you most of the time.” She raised her eyes to Jeremy again.

Jeremy chuckled. “No. But contrary to popular belief, I didn’t mind. I wasn’t a walk in the park either, mind you.”

Brynne grinned and walked over to him. “No. But contrary to popular belief, I didn’t mind.” At Jeremy’s skeptical look, she recanted, “Okay, maybe I did a little.”

The conversation stalled again. But it wasn’t the kind of uncomfortable lull where someone was clawing for a topic. This was the type of lull where something was going the happen if someone didn’t say something soon.

“Brynne, what are you doing here?” Jeremy asked quietly. “We’ve been in this situation before, remember, and you said it was a mistake.”

“Did you agree with me then?” Brynne asked.

Jeremy shook his head. “No.”

“I don’t know how this thing between us developed,” Brynne said. “It seems like it just sprung up over the course of this trip, though I’m sure it’s been brewing for much longer than that. I suspect that before this trip, we’d been so focused on the work that we didn’t have time to give much thought to our feelings.”

Jeremy responded with a kiss, directly on her lips. To his surprise, she pulled away. He looked down at her, once again confused.

“I just want to let you know that I can’t make any promises about the future,” Brynne said.

“No one can.”

Brynne shook her head. “I know that. I meant … ”

“I know what you meant,” Jeremy said, interrupting her. “But it doesn’t matter, really. This ship could sink tonight, and we could both die. All we have is right now … and that’s all I want.”

Brynne let Jeremy’s warmth wash over her and fill her, and she melted into him.

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