November 28, 1912
As I looked at the calendar this morning, I had the fleeting realization that I hadn’t celebrated Thanksgiving in two years. Today, my streak came to an end …
Brynne’s eyes flew open. Something seemed wrong, and she confirmed it when she looked at the window and saw the sun beaming brightly through the window. Sarah usually came to wake her before dawn on weekdays. Today was Thursday.
Brynne ripped the covers away from her body and bolted out of bed, her eyes on the mantle clock above the fireplace. It was nearly nine. She was usually at the office by 7:30 or 8, at the latest. What had happened to the Sarah? And why hadn’t Thomas woken her?
“Sarah!” Brynne called out to the maid, hoping she was within earshot. “Sarah!” She hurried over to the dresser and examined her reflection in the mirror. Of course she was a mess.
The bedroom door opened, and Sarah stepped calmly into the room. “Yes, ma’am?”
Brynne stared at the woman in disbelief. How could she be so calm? “Sarah, it’s almost nine o’clock,” she said. “I should have been gone nearly two hours ago. Why didn’t you wake me?”
At that point, Andrews casually strolled past Sarah into the room, a newspaper in hand. “Good morning, darling,” he said.
“Tom – what are you still doing here?” Brynne asked. “Why aren’t you at the office? For that matter, why aren’t I at the office? Why didn’t you or Sarah wake me? We’re going to be late!”
“We didn’t wake you because we wanted you to sleep,” Andrews replied.
“What?” Brynne, still confused, shook her head. “Why?”
“Have you been here in Europe so long that you’ve forgotten your American roots?” he asked. “Today is a holiday for your former countrymen. It’s Thanksgiving, and as I was the primary reason you neglected to celebrate last year, I decided that this year shouldn’t pass without acknowledging the occasion as your fellow Americans do. I’m taking the day off, and so are you. We’re going to celebrate Thanksgiving, with a big American feast and everything. I even invited the O’Reillies to join us.”
Brynne stared at Andrews in stunned silence. She didn’t know who the O’Reillies were, and her reasons for panic had just shifted. “We’re having guests?!”
“Gerald and Myra were the best man and matron of honor at our wedding,” Andrews said. “I’d hardly consider them guests.”
Brynne forced a little smile. “Of course, dear. I don’t know where my mind was. I suppose I was thinking about all the preparations that need to be made for their arrival this evening. There’s so much to do. I need to come up with a menu, get the house ready, get myself ready – and all in a matter of hours.”
“No, no no,” Andrews said, gently caressing her arms. “You don’t have to do worry about anything today but relaxing.”
“But what about all that needs to be done for this evening?” Brynne asked. “All the preparations?”
“Don’t worry about that. It’s already being taken care of. Isn’t it, Sarah?”
“Yes, sir,” Sarah said. She looked at Brynne with a reassuring smile. “You really don’t have a thing to worry about, ma’am.”
Thomas and Brynne greeted Gerald and Myra O’Reilly at the front door a few minutes past six that evening.
“There’s the happy couple,” Gerald said, greeting Andrews with a hug. “I can’t believe it’s been seven months already since the wedding.”
Myra beamed at Brynne and enveloped the her in a big hug, too. “Brynne, you look just as lovely as you did on your wedding day,” she said.
“Thank you so much for the kind words, Myra,” Brynne said. “And thank you for coming to our home.”
“We wouldn’t have missed this for the world,” Gerald said. “As soon as Tom told me what he was planning, I told him Myra and I would be happy to be here.”
“Won’t you two come in?” Brynne invited, stepping to one side so that Myra and Gerald could enter.
The cook and the other house staff had prepared a lovely set up for the Thanksgiving meal, certainly one of the fanciest that Brynne had ever seen in her lifetime. It had been a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, with a roast turkey and all the classic trimmings.
“I know your schedules are rather hectic,” Myra said as the group moved from the dining room to the parlor to take after-dinner coffee. “But I was wondering if you have considered whether you’ll be traveling at all this winter?” She and Gerald settled down onto a small sofa.
“Myra … ” Gerald said in almost an admonishing tone. “I’m certain Tom and Brynne would appreciate it if you didn’t mettle in their affairs.”
Andrews offered a small grin as he and Brynne sat in the two armchairs on either side of the sofa. Myra continued, practically ignoring Gerald’s suggestion. “I don’t wish to bring up unpleasantness, but I know your honeymoon wasn’t ideal.”
“It wasn’t,” Andrews began, “but we consider ourselves lucky to have made it out alive with each other. A hundred others weren’t as fortunate.”
“As far as I know, we weren’t planning any trips any time soon. The only thing set in stone is Britannic’s maiden voyage, and that won’t be for another year and a half, at least. We’re bound to go somewhere before then, though.” Brynne said, turning her eyes to Andrews.
“Our entire marriage to this point has been eventful, with the Britannic and the refits of the Olympic.” Andrews said. “And then there was the whole ordeal with the inquiries.”
“Well, at least you had a beautiful wedding,” Myra said.
“This is true,” Gerald said. “It was a magnificent day.”
“You made such a beautiful bride,” Myra gushed at Brynne. “I never heard the story of how Tom proposed. How did it happen?”
Brynne blanched. She had no idea how Andrews had proposed. What the hell was she supposed to say?
“Well …” she began, “Tom tells the story so much better than I do.” She looked to Andrews for salvation, which he unknowingly provided.
“It was the week before the new year,” Andrews began. “We’d only been courting for a few months, but I didn’t need a long time to figure out that this was the woman for me. I would’ve asked her sooner, but I didn’t want to scare her away.
“We were at the firm, and I asked Brynne to come into my office because I wanted her opinion on something. When she came in, I had the Titanic’s deckplans spread across my worktable, as usual. I closed the door and asked her if there was anything she wanted to change about the Cafe Parisien …”
“No, I don’t think so,” Brynne said. “The plans I last submitted to you were my final draft.”
“Why don’t you take a look at the plans again, just to make sure?” Andrews suggested.
Brynne walked over to Andrews’s work table, located the plans for A-deck, and picked up a magnifying glass. As she began studying the schematics for the Cafe, she paused suddenly and looked up at Andrews. “Thomas, what is this?” she asked. “These aren’t my plans.”
“I know. I made a few additions,” Andrews said. “What do you think about them.”
Brynne looked down at the plans again and said, “But it says ‘will you marry me?'”
“I know,” Andrews said. “So what’s your answer? Will you?”
When Brynne turned and looked at Andrews, he was down on one knee, presenting a ring.
Brynne looked down at the rock on her ring finger. One more piece of the puzzle that comprised her life had been solved. But it still didn’t seem like enough. She needed to know more. She could go on like this, gleaning bits of information here and there, but she wished there was someway to learn everything all at once.