After lunch at Motto’s, Liam walked Rosie home so she could get ready for the show. After her performance, they would head to the German Social, and Rosie couldn’t wait! For the first time in her life she felt she had real friends, rather than the schoolmates and playmates of her youth.
Rosie was soon telling Kate and a recovering Brigid about her eventful day. They listened to her dote over Liam, and were pleased that she had learned to defend herself from bullies. It was decided that though Brigid was able to perform again, Rosie would join her onstage for a number. Kate brought out her sheet music collection and stacked it on the table. “Last night’s performance was a real crowd pleaser. However, you two should try a duet this evening, maybe even something that Brigid used to sing with Hanorah?” She rifled through her papers with enthusiasm.
“I think that’s a grand idea,” said Rosie, excited by the possibility.
Brigid gave a happy cheer. “Here Rosie, take a look for a song in this stack. We want something up-tempo and bright.” Her cheerful spirit was back, now that she was feeling better.
Rosie leafed through the sheet music until she found an upbeat piece that could be sung as a duet. “How about ‘Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay’?” asked Rosie quizzically.
Kate made a disapproving noise. “Oh no, you can’t sing that. It’s too scandalous!” She ran over to snatch the sheet music from Rosie, but Brigid stopped her.
“Come now, sister,” said Brigid with a laugh, “could it be any more scandalous than that wonderful ragtime music you’ve been playing?” Brigid smiled, knowing she’d made a valid point.
Recently, Kate had been meeting with musicians and dancers who were developing new sounds and styles. One musician in particular, Scott Joplin, had introduced Kate to a new style called ragtime. The unconventional and interesting rhythms shocked classical musicians, and it was mostly played at jazz clubs in the city. Kate, who could pick up anything by ear, would bring home what she learned and play it for Brigid in the privacy of their apartment.
“Yes, but…” Kate stammered to find words to defend her case, her face turning as red as her hair.
“Exactly! A touch of scandal can bring about good change to something old and stale!” Brigid retorted with defiance. “I know we’ll have a great time performing this song, and it was one of Hanorah’s favorites. So put on your most vaudevillian outfit tonight, Kate, we’re going to be scandalous!” Brigid winked at Rosie, who sat on the love seat laughing at her aunts. Although she had only browsed through the lyrics, Rosie agreed with Kate that they were racy. But at the same time, it would be exciting to try something different.
“Fine,” said Kate in defeat. “But if the crowd doesn’t like it, I’m sending Jackson after you!” Kate then exited the room in a feigned huffy manner, which made Brigid and Rosie laugh uproariously.
After dinner, they all went into Kate’s room to choose outfits for the show. After much consideration, they picked a dress for Rosie that would make her look like a little shepherdess, complete with hat and crook. Brigid would be dressed like a clown, and Kate, who even now tried to be her sensible self, would wear an extravagant dress with a giant headdress almost three feet tall and three feet wide.
The shepherdess dress consisted of a corset bodice made of green silk, and embroidered with pink roses. The sleeves were tight to the elbow, and decorative lace hung like cones from her elbows to her wrists. Surprisingly, there was an embroidered rose sewn into the lace at the wrist! Brigid confirmed Rosie’s suspicion that Hanorah had made the dress many years before. The overskirt tied up in the front with green ribbons, making it knee-length and revealing a white gauze underskirt. The bustled overskirt gave Rosie an exaggerated silhouette in the rear and hips. Rosie looked positively eighteenth-century and flirtatiously contemporary, perfect for the scandalous song they’d soon be performing. And with her mother’s secret emblem embroidered on the dress, Rosie felt absolutely radiant!
“With your curls in two tiny ponytails, you’ll look adorable. So cute, maybe the crowd won’t even listen to the lyrics.” Brigid suggested with a wink.
“Quick, go wash your hair and take a bath,” said Kate, laying the dress in Rosie’s arms and pushing her out the door. “I’ll have your makeup out and ready for you when you return.”
Rosie drew a bath and hurriedly washed her hair. While waiting for her hair to dry, Rosie picked out an outfit for the dance at the lodging house, grateful that Darra had told her the social was a formal event. She chose one of her favorite dresses she wore only on special occasions, and carefully laid it out on the bed.
Kate bustled in wearing her beautiful purple dress with its three-foot-long train swishing behind her. Kate’s dress had a few exaggerated pieces that made it apt for the stage. The material featured a threefold style at the shoulders, making the sleeves look like purple accordions. Her heavy hat was decorated with purple clematis flowers, grapes, and vines.
Brigid appeared with all of her clown makeup on, but her costume was more exotic than clown-like. She wore a pair of bright pink bloomers studded with bright-blue rhinestones. Her blue coat buttoned down the front but then opened out like a pair of gentleman’s tails on a tuxedo. Her huge clown shoes curled up at the toes, and to top it off, a pink-and-blue jester’s hat sat perched high upon her head. Rosie wanted to laugh at the funny outfits, but she knew she’d better concentrate on getting ready.
Kate and Brigid were soon applying makeup to Rosie’s face, and with two of them working together, it took almost no time at all to get her ready. Rosie added two bright pink circles to her cheeks to make her look just like a porcelain doll, which made her smile and think of her new friend. Kate helped Rosie into the dress, which fit her perfectly. Kate had fixed a white straw bonnet onto Rosie’s hair, securing it with a white pearl hatpin, and the offset bow lay gingerly on her right cheek. Gazing in the dressing mirror, Rosie felt like she had just jumped out of a nursery rhyme, and all she needed to complete the look was a flock of sheep.
“We are the most odd looking group of performers I have ever seen!” Rosie exclaimed. Side by side, the three Sullivans looked more like a circus act than professional entertainers.
“Our audience is in for a real treat tonight!” Brigid agreed. “Have you memorized those scandalous lyrics, Rosie?”
With a teasing tone, Rosie answered. “Of course, Brigid, but if I forget a word, I know Kate will chime right in.” Brigid giggled. Kate just scoffed in reply, but she also had a smile on her face. “Oh dear aunts, just think how wonderful our first performance together will be!” Rosie added, squeezing one of Brigid’s arms.
“We just love you, Rosie,” said Kate, her eyes suddenly misting with tears. “We’re so glad to have you with us.” Kate looked up at the ceiling to keep her tears from flowing down her made-up face.
Rosie, in turn, wiped at her own eyes. “I love you both, too.”
“We could sit here and cry all night, but my clown face would be dripping down to my pointed toes!” Brigid took Rosie’s hand, gave it a squeeze, and added playfully, “I imagine Liam will be here again.”
“Yes, he is coming to the show. And afterward, we’re going to attend a German social with his friends.”
Kate continued to talk about what a nice boy Liam was as the three made their way out to the stage to find Jackson.
“If only he had two older brothers, all of the Sullivan girls would be set!” Brigid said with a gleeful laugh. When they found Jackson, he told them to expect a big crowd that night. Apparently the news had gotten out about the new addition to the show’s lineup. The performance was about to start, and Jackson reassured a nervous Rosie that Liam was seated with his friends at a reserved table.
“Welcome, ladies and gentlemen! I’m Jackson P. Grand, and I humbly thank you for being a patron of Grand Theatre.” Jackson seemed at home onstage, he always commanded the attention of the audience fully. “Although her replacement did a beautiful job on her own, Brigid has returned tonight to perform for all her adoring fans. And now, I have the utmost pleasure in welcoming to the stage, The Sullivan Girls: Kate, Brigid, and Rosie!”
“The Sullivan Girls?” Rosie giggled excitedly. The crowd began to applaud vigorously.
“We think it’s a wonderful name for a class act. There’s no turning back now, you’re a part of The Sullivan Girls!” exclaimed Kate.
“Besides, the new name makes us sound younger than we actually are.” Brigid laughed quietly as Kate nodded in agreement. Rosie stood between them, holding each of their hands while the red curtain lifted. As if they were strolling through Central Park, the fashionable three stepped out onto the stage.
“Good evening, fine ladies and gentlemen!” Kate shouted with a smile. The three then curtsied as the thunderous crowd continued to applaud.
“Tonight we have a special treat,” said Rosie, perfectly remembering the lines given to her by Brigid.
“Not one,” Kate put one finger up.
“Not two,” Brigid put one finger up.
“But three!” Rosie put one finger up.
“Three beautiful Sullivan Girls!” they said in unison.
“Play us in, sister!” Brigid called out. Kate extravagantly spun around on the piano stool and struck the first chord. Rosie waited for the musical introduction and started to sing at her cue:
“A smart and stylish girl you see,
Belle of good society,
Not too strict but rather free,
Yet as right as right can be!
Never forward, never bold,
Not too hot, and not too cold,
But the very thing, I’m told,
That in your arms you’d like to hold.”
Brigid took Rosie by the arm and twirled her in a circle. Although Rosie didn’t know exactly what she was doing, she let Brigid lead in a small dance step. The crowd loved their fancy footwork. Brigid twirled her niece to the side of the stage, so that she could continue to sing the more racy lyrics:
“I’m not extravagantly shy,
And when a nice young man is nigh,
For his heart I have a try,
And faint away with tearful cry!
When the good young man in haste,
Will support me ‘round the waist,
I don’t come to while thus embraced,
‘Till of my lips he steals a taste!”
The audience laughed at the witty lyrics sung by a very funny Brigid. As Kate played a short interlude, Brigid stepped off the front of the stage to greet their admirers. She definitely could charm them with her beauty, singing voice, and conversation. Rosie felt like an apprentice watching Kate and Brigid perform. She was learning from vaudevillian masters! Brigid sang:
“I’m a timid flow’r of innocence,
Pa says that I have no sense,
I’m one eternal big expense,
But men say that I’m just ‘immense!’
‘Ere my verses I conclude,
I’d like it known and understood,
Though free as air, I’m never rude,
I’m not too bad and not too good!”
Brigid, aided by a few loyal fans in the front, jumped back onstage. Taking Rosie by the hand, she started a kicking dance step that resembled a can-can for the final chorus:
“Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay, Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay,
Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay, Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay,
Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay, Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay,
Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay, Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay!”
Like the night before, the crowd was uproarious. Rosie turned to each of her aunts and curtsied, before they all turned to the audience and curtsied again. She waved at the reserved table at the front, and blew a kiss towards Liam; it was nice to see the smile on his face. The curtain began to fall and, just like they had entered, the three walked arm in arm off the stage.
“Another fabulous performance, girls!” cried Jackson with glee. “The crowd thinks you’re fantastic, and I couldn’t ask for a better main attraction!” Jackson was beaming with enthusiasm and practically dancing a jig of joy.
“You were wonderful, Rosie,” said Brigid, embracing her niece. “Now quick, go change, and get ready for the social. Kate and I will stay and give them a few more numbers.”
“Have fun tonight,” said Kate, “but be home before midnight.” Her sensible and rational aunt kissed Rosie on the cheek. Brigid followed suit and shooed her out to the dressing room hallway. Rosie was still full of energy from the performance and although she merely ran to her room, she felt like she was flying!
Back in her room, Rosie quickly changed into a light yellow, taffeta gown. The whole dress had a delicate overlay of intricate lace, a high, stiff lace collar, and leg o’mutton sleeves tapering down at her elbows. A print of pink-and-yellow iris flowers complemented the green satin sash around her waist. Either it was the bright dress or the events of the day, but Rosie was feeling like the happiest girl in the world.
After removing her stage makeup, she undid her ponytails and fixed her hair into a bun on the crown of her head. She then pulled down a few curls to lightly rest on her forehead. Feeling satisfied with her appearance, Rosie composed herself by taking a few deep breaths. Within a few moments, she was walking in a very lady-like fashion out to the lobby where Liam and the boys were waiting.
The first to see her, Liam stopped pacing the lobby’s red-carpeted floor. Rosie’s heart excitedly leapt in her chest, and although she was still walking down the hall, she felt like her heart had already run to Liam.
“You were wonderful, again!” he said, holding out his arms as she jumped into his embrace. He swung her around and Rosie laughed with excitement. “You are stunningly beautiful,” he whispered into her ear, “as always.”
“Great job, Rosie!” said Tommy, patting her on the back.
“Spectacular!” Spencer chimed in.
Rosie smiled warmly. “Thank you very much, friends.”
The boys were all dressed up for the dance. Liam wore a dark grey suit of light wool with a matching vest. His plain white shirt was buttoned to the top and turned down at the collar, accompanied by a gray tie. “You look very nice, Liam,” she commented. He looked like a true gentleman; his ensemble complete with an elegant gray bowler hat.
“Thanks, Rosie.” Liam looked incredibly proud, maybe because he wasn’t used to dressing up. “Come on, let’s get going. Fern and Darra will probably beat us there.” Liam took her hand and they hurried out the door. Out on the street, Spencer and Tommy made their way up front, swinging on light poles and jumping on barrels. They were clearly excited about getting to the social.
“I bet Fern will be the prettiest girl there tonight,” said Tommy, stating his claim to no one in particular as he flipped his hat in his hands.
“No one is prettier than Darra,” argued Spencer, his eyes just as dreamy as Tommy’s.
“You’re going to have a lot of fun tonight, Rosie, I guarantee it,” promised Liam, squeezing her hand.
“Of course, you’ll get to meet Fern tonight,” said Tommy.
“And Gustaf,” added Spencer.
Rosie smiled happily. “Yes, I’ve heard so much about them, I can’t wait!” Rosie and Liam exchanged glances. Though they’d only known each other a few days, she was starting to feel a real kinship with him, as if they were meant to meet each other.
Arriving at the apartment building, they could see that every light was at full intensity. Once inside the lobby, they found Gustaf leaning back in a chair with his feet up on a desk. He was a kind-looking man with icy gray hair and a weather-beaten face. He wore loose suspenders and a dazzling green shirt with white collar and cuffs. With a lit pipe in hand, he was keeping note of everyone who walked into his establishment.
“Hi, boys,” said Gustaf. “Thanks for setting everything up; the community room looks particularly festive. Oh, and Fern and Darra are waiting for you, so you best hurry upstairs!” Tommy and Spencer clamored up the wooden steps as fast as they could, and Gustaf wrote down their names in his ledger. When he got to Rosie, Gustaf stopped writing. “And who is this pretty girl?” he asked, eyes squinting to get a better look.
“Gustaf, this is Rosie McMurray. She’s the niece of The Sullivan Sisters. You know, the one I told you about,” said Liam, as he patted the old man on the back. Rosie could see Liam respected Gustaf immensely. “Although, they’ve been renamed The Sullivan Girls, now that Rosie has joined the act.” He gave her a proud smile.
“Ah, so she’s the one!” replied Gustaf with a wink. “The pretty little songstress from Chicago.” Gustaf shook her hand vigorously. He had a knowing smile on his face which made Rosie wonder, what exactly had Liam told Gustaf about her?
“And you’re the wonderful landlord I’ve heard about,” said Rosie as she returned his hearty handshake with a warm greeting.
“So glad to meet you, Rosie. I hope you have a great time here at the social, and make sure you try some of my famous schnitzel.” Gustaf was like a friendly grandfather and Rosie felt welcomed immediately.
“Thanks, Gustaf, I’ll make sure she has seconds of everything,” laughed Liam heartily. He patted the old man’s back again, and led Rosie to the stairway. The same stairway, Liam explained, that led to the apartments rented out by Gustaf. It was there where Liam, Tommy, and Spencer shared a modest two rooms with a kitchen.
When they got to the third floor, the stairwell opened up into a large loft where tables and chairs were set up along the walls. A band of lively German musicians played in a far corner, and in the middle was a large dance floor. There were close to sixty people in the loft, most in traditional German dress. Some were eating, some were dancing, and others conversed gaily in small groups. Children laughed and played; running in and out of dancing couples. The music was airy and easy to dance to. Within the crowd, Rosie recognized a few people she had seen at the distribution office and at Motto’s. There were newsboys, girls of Rosie’s age, families with children, and older folks, all under one roof.
Liam squeezed Rosie’s hand. How lucky she was to attend the event with such a charming and handsome man!
Darra, seeing them from across the room, ran up to Rosie excitedly. “Hi, Liam! Hi, Rosie! Isn’t this a fancy social?” Darra wore a beautiful rose-colored dress with ivory lace accents. “Come, I want you to meet our Fern.”
“Oh yes, Darra, that would be lovely,” said Rosie enthusiastically. Liam waved her goodbye, and Darra quickly pulled her away. The two girls wove through dancing couples to a table where sat Spencer, Tommy, and Fern.
“This is Fern,” introduced Darra, “Tommy’s one and only.” Fern was smiling, as though she knew all about Rosie already.
“Hi, I’m Rosie.” Rosie reached over to shake hands with Fern who had strikingly sparkly green eyes.
“She’s the one Liam says-” Darra began, but Tommy cut her off.
“Yeah, yeah, Darra, we all know what Liam says. We’ve been hearing it for days now!” Tommy gave Rosie a smile, which made her nervous, but in a good way. What had Liam been saying about her?
The petite Fern stood up from her chair. “It’s nice to finally meet you, Rosie.” She wore a light green dress with a high lace collar. Her hair was strawberry blonde and light freckles covered her face. “I’m so glad you could enjoy the evening with us,” she added, squeezing Rosie’s hand in a friendly gesture.
“Come, sit down,” said Spencer. “I see Liam is fixing us a meal.” Spencer used his long legs to pull a chair up from a neighboring table, and Rosie sat down. Across the dance floor she saw Liam at the food table, balancing a few plates in his arms.
“So, where are you from?” asked Fern. She had a soft voice, quite different from Tommy’s sharp and brash one.
“I’m from Chicago, and I just moved in with my aunts, The Sullivan Sisters.”
“Has Liam showed you around the city?”
“He’s been the perfect gentlemen and tour guide,” said Rosie with a smile.
“He is a real friend,” Fern agreed. “He’s like an older brother to me and Darra. If Tommy or Spencer aren’t around to help with something, Liam always steps in.”
“It’s really nice to have another girl around,” said Darra gaily. “And it’s about time Liam met a sweet girl like you.” Rosie could instantly feel a great friendship blooming with Darra and Fern. She then felt a tap on her shoulder.
“Good evening, ladies and gents.” Liam stiffly bowed, trying not to topple his balanced plates. “Please enjoy your dinner of lots of schnitzel, and some other stuff I don’t know the name of.” He put down the plates filled with appetizing food.
“You’re a lifesaver, Liam,” exclaimed Spencer, “I was so hungry, I could have eaten Darra’s arm!” Spencer grabbed Darra’s arm and pretended to bite it.
“Here’s some silverware,” said Fern, passing out cutlery and napkins among the group.
Rosie, who had never eaten German food before, didn’t know the names of the dishes, but enjoyed them just the same. Liam got up a second time and returned shortly, after procuring a few pitchers of German wassail, which was a type of cider. After a loud and talkative dinner, the group turned their chairs toward the dance floor to watch the musicians and the dancers.
At the end of a dance, Liam turned to Rosie and held out his hand. “Would you like to dance with me, Rosie?”
“But I don’t know any German dances. I would be a complete fool out there.” Rosie admitted shyly.
“Gustaf has taught me a few steps,” said Liam. “I’ll teach you and you’ll catch on in no time. And if you step on my feet, I’ll forgive you.” He gave her his charming smile and Rosie knew she could trust him to lead her out on the floor.
Rosie turned to the girls. “Wish me luck out there, I’ll need it!” Fern and Darra laughed and waved goodbye, as Liam pulled her out onto the floor. A few couples stood waiting for the next dance, and the musicians prepared their next song, a polka.
“You’ve seen a polka, right?” asked Liam.
“I think so,” she laughed with a smile. It was true she had seen a polka, but she’d never danced one. The only social dance she ever practiced was with her father; basic waltz steps and a few Irish jigs.
“Great,” said Liam, “then hold on!” The accordionist had taken the lead with a melody sounding vaguely familiar to Rosie. Liam took her hand gingerly and placed her other arm on his shoulder. His right hand now gently pressed on her left shoulder blade. As Liam started to move, Rosie followed his lead. After a few moments, she realized the musicians were playing “My Wild Irish Rose,” but as a polka with a strong German influence. The rhythm was certainly different, but the Irish melody was there.
“They’re playing my song, Liam!” shouted Rosie over the band. “Can you believe it?” She was so excited to hear her favorite song in a new style, that she almost lost her balance. The rigorous dancing had her feeling like she was on a carousel ride.
“That is quite serendipitous, Rosie,” said Liam with a wink, as he continued to whisk her across the dance floor at a rapid pace.
Rosie had a funny feeling he had something to do with the lovely surprise. “Did you ask them to play this?” she asked with a questioning smirk on her face.
“Perhaps,” he replied, but by the mischievous glint in his blue-hazel eyes, Rosie knew she was correct in her assumption. Now it felt like the butterflies in her stomach were also dancing the polka! Liam proved to be a graceful dancer and never missed a beat. And slowly but surely, Rosie began to catch on and enjoy the new dance.
“My head is spinning,” said Rosie. “Between my new acquaintances and now these dance steps, you’ll have to lead me around the rest of the night so I don’t call Tommy’s girl ‘Polka’ or try to dance the ‘Fern.’” Rosie smiled a happy smile and batted her eyelashes flirtatiously.
“Any excuse to keep you in my arms,” Liam spoke softly near her ear. He turned her repeatedly as they whirled faster around the dance floor. “Rosie, do you know what amazes me about you? Not only are you intelligent, kind, and willing to try new things, but you’re also a great deal of fun!” Though surprised at his honest statement, Rosie gracefully accepted his compliment with a thank you. Liam laughed openly and shortened the distance between them. Rosie felt sparks of electricity shoot down her spine from his fingertips. “You’re so beautiful, and adorable, and just…perfect,” Liam asserted, again close to her ear. Rosie giggled and suddenly kissed his cheek. Liam turned her again once more and when she came back around to face him, he quickly kissed her on the lips. A sly smile spread over his face.
“Hey, I saw that!” shouted Tommy, a few couples away. “Only dancing allowed on the dance floor!” He was dancing with Fern, who teasingly punched his arm.
“Stop it, Tommy,” said Fern. “Leave the lovebirds alone.”
“Speaking of lovebirds,” said Tommy, “check out Spencer mugging in the corner.” They all looked to the farthest corner, where Darra was leaning against a wall. Spencer’s forearm rested above her head, his other hand behind her. Her arms wrapped around his neck as they kissed passionately. Fern turned Tommy’s head to stop him from staring, and then to stop him from winking at Liam. Rosie couldn’t help but laugh at the enjoyable camaraderie between the friends.
As the musicians slowed down their pace, Rosie rested her head on Liam’s chest. Again, she breathed in his distinct smell. She felt his body vibrate as he hummed along to the slowing melody. Dancing with Liam felt as natural as walking down the street.
At the song’s end, Liam yelled to her over the din of applause. “Come on, I want to show you something!”
“Of course!” she agreed. The next dance was a slower waltz, but Rosie didn’t mind leaving the floor. As she took Liam’s hand, she saw Tommy holding Fern in his arms, his eyes closed in a dreamy state. She stifled a laugh, whispering to Liam, “Look at Tommy.” Liam circled them to get a better look.
“What a romantic,” he laughed quietly with her.
“What do you have to show me?” Rosie asked as they left the dance floor.
“Just wait and see,” said Liam, a mischievous grin on his face.
They exited the loft, and Liam led them to a small doorway by the stairs that Rosie hadn’t seen before. Opening the tiny door by a brass handle, he then motioned for Rosie to be quiet, pointing up the stairs revealed behind it. Rosie crept in front of him and waited on the first step, until Liam shut the door behind them. Though it was dark, Rosie sensed the stairs led to an attic, for it smelled of dust and antique furniture. The only light came from an unwashed window at the top of the stairs. Liam squeezed her hand and walked in front of her. Only the muffled sounds of their shoes on the floor could be heard. When they reached the top, Rosie put a hand on Liam’s back to better follow him. Shadows of barrels and crates blocked the way, but Liam found a path leading them through the cluttered attic.
He led her to the window on the opposite side and pushed open its creaky pane. Liam climbed through and reached back for Rosie. Hesitantly, she kneeled on the windowsill, careful not to rip her dress.
“Now, close your eyes,” he said, “and don’t worry, I’ve got you.” Rosie closed her eyes tightly. He then grabbed her about the waist and effortlessly pulled her through the window. Outside, Rosie could smell the fresh air and feel the cool wind that blew through her hair. He gripped her hands and moved behind her so she was backed up against his chest. Rosie felt comfortably snug in his embrace, which he used to guide them forward.
“Can I open my eyes now?” she asked.
“Yes, now you can open them.”
Opening her eyes, Rosie gasped. The rooftop view was simply amazing! The full moon beamed down onto the cobblestone street below. She could clearly see both Seward Park and Grand Theater from this vantage point. In the distance, huge factories loomed behind tall waving trees and on other rooftops she saw laundry lines and private gardens. The city was quiet, completely different from how it appeared during the daytime. A soft breeze ruffled her skirts and her stomach leapt with the exhilarating feeling of the summer night.
“This is so beautiful, Liam,” she said breathlessly.
“I can think of more beautiful things,” he said. Rosie blushed, grateful he was behind her, for the moonlight was bright enough to illuminate her blushing cheeks. “This is my little escape place. I come here whenever something goes wrong, like if I have a bad day, or if I get in a fight with Tommy or Spencer,” he explained.
“You fight with Tommy and Spencer?” asked Rosie in disbelief. “That’s hard to believe, you seem so close.”
“Well, we don’t really fight,” he said. “It’s more like brotherly arguing, but it happens occasionally. One tiny apartment for the three of us can get a little cramped from time to time, but they are still my closest friends.” Liam scuffed the rooftop with his boot. “Come look at this, Rosie.” A few feet away was a wooden swing bench. Rosie sat down beside him, close enough so he could put his arm around her. She nestled in next to him. “I watch the stars from this spot, too.” He squeezed her tightly against him and for a few moments, they were quiet.
Rosie felt an urge to tell him what she was thinking, and so she did. “I’m glad I met you, Liam,” was all Rosie could manage to put into words. She remained still, wondering what he’d say next. There were many things she felt like saying, and the feelings she had for him were overwhelming. She wanted to tell him that she got butterflies every time she saw him, talked to him, or thought about him. And that she liked the way he blushed when the guys teased him about her. That he had a wonderful sense of humor, was intelligent, and awfully handsome. And how she wanted to kiss him again like they had kissed in the lobby of the theater. Their small kiss on the dance floor was a surprise, but definitely not the kiss she was yearning for.
“I’m glad I met you, too,” he said at last. In his sparkling eyes she could see the shining moon. He tilted his head towards her and Rosie closed her eyes. Their lips met softly. She raised her hand to touch his cheek, which felt warm against her chilled fingertips. He kissed her again. She began to giggle and bit her lip. “What’s so funny?” he asked, his lips still close to hers.
“I don’t mean to laugh, Liam, but I was just thinking about how much I wanted to kiss you!”
Now Liam was laughing too. “Well, quit your talking then.” He leaned in again for a deeper kiss. She put all her passion into it, hoping he could read her mind and heart through her lips. His arms wrapped tightly around her, like he’d never let her go. After a few blissful moments, they pulled apart.
“Rosie,” said Liam seriously, “I know we haven’t known each other for very long, but will you be my girl?”
Rosie paused and then whispered with a laugh. “I was your girl the moment I saw you.”
“Really?” he asked, pulling back to get a closer look at her face.
“Well, not really at first. I was actually mad at you for thinking I was Alphonso’s girl,” she said with a laugh. This made Liam laugh, too.
“Yes, you were definitely mad at me,” said Liam. “But even when you were angry, you were cute and alluring. It made me curious who you were, and why I had never seen you before in the neighborhood. I should have known that Alphonso could never get a girl as pretty as you, Rosie.”
“Oh, Liam,” she said shyly, “I’m going to enjoy being your girl.” She snuggled tight within his embrace.
“I’m going to enjoy that, too.” Liam’s voice was soft, but Rosie could hear the excitement in his voice to have her by his side. She wrapped her arm behind his back. They stayed that way for a while, listening to the sounds of the city night and the muffled party downstairs.
“I want to stay up here forever, it’s so beautiful,” said Rosie. “Thanks for sharing it with me.”
“It’s my pleasure,” he returned. “You know, I’d prefer to sleep up here, but I’d probably sleep till noon and never sell any papers.” Liam yawned.
“Shall we go back inside?”
“Sure,” he said, “that’s fine by me.” Liam rose from the swing, gripping Rosie’s hand.
“Wait,” she said and pulled herself up beside him. Catching him off guard, she gave him a final passionate kiss. “Sorry,” she added, “the wild part in me couldn’t hold back!”
Though dumbstruck, he managed to get out a few words, “That’s also fine by me!” He then gathered her in his arms and carefully dipped her like an elegant dancer; with their dance steps ending with an ardent kiss.
When they returned to the loft, the party was ending and most of the people had gone home. Some men were folding chairs and stacking tables. Women were packing up baskets of leftovers to bring home to their families.
Darra and Fern rushed over to say goodbye to Rosie, promising to meet for lunch, or to visit the market together soon. Rosie was truly glad to have made some female friends. Spencer, Tommy, and Liam, like real gentleman, offered to escort their girls home.
“Goodnight, Gustaf!” Rosie waved, as they made their way down the stairs.
The kind old man tipped his hat. “Say hello to the rest of The Sullivan Girls for me.”
After parting with the other couples, Liam walked her back to Grand Theater.
“I had a lot of fun tonight,” said Rosie, as they reached the backstage door. She stood up on a step, making her almost as tall as Liam. “This has been a wonderful experience. Thanks for introducing me to new people, and teaching me how to polka.” She gripped his arms while he held her around the waist.
“I had fun, too, Rosie. I’m so lucky that I had you on my arm at the social.”
“I wouldn’t have missed it for the world,” she giggled, giving his lips a soft, goodnight kiss.
“Goodnight,” he said, “and sweet dreams, Wild Irish Rosie.” As she entered the backstage door, he bowed to her gracefully. She blew him one final kiss, and the door shut closed. She sighed aloud. Liam simply made her the happiest girl in the world!
Lifting her dress so she wouldn’t trip, she ran to her room at full tilt. Of course, her aunts were sleeping, but Ireland was there to greet her at the door. Silently, she tiptoed to her room and after closing her door, spun with joy. She collapsed with a giggle onto her bed, thinking of Liam and the day spent with him. Suddenly, and with a sense of urgency, she lit a small candle on her dresser and pulled out her leather journal. Flipping to an empty spot, she put her lead pencil to the page, and started to sketch.
A New Chapter
The Streets of New York
A Night at Grand Theater
Newsboy for a Day
A Smart and Stylish Girl
A Day at The Breakers
An Empty Heart
Life Imitating Art
All Questions, No Answers
An Evening to Remember