Rosie arrived at the distribution center before any of the workers. The train station was just a few blocks away, where Rosie would later meet up with her aunts. Her stomach was churning with excitement about the trip, but also churning with anxiety about leaving Liam. She pulled at her gloved fingertips and nervously kneaded a handkerchief between her hands. Rosie wore a light green dress, the color of a hummingbird’s eggshell, with lace adorning the neckline, hem, and sleeves. A wide straw hat shielded her face from the early morning sun.
Suddenly two arms wrapped around her from behind, and she was pulled tightly into a familiar embrace.
“Good morning, gorgeous Wild Irish Rosie!” exclaimed Liam, turning her and kissing the top of her head.
“Good morning, Liam!” returned Rosie, standing on her tiptoes to return his kiss. She knew the news would be difficult to bear, but wanted to tell him immediately. She embraced him tightly, holding his face in her hands. “Liam, I have something to tell you-” she began.
“Stop!” said Liam, covering her mouth. “Not one more word out of you.” He removed his hands and kissed her lips. “I have a surprise for you, and then you can tell me anything you want. Follow me.”
Before she could speak, Liam took her hand and broke out into a trot. They dodged merchant stalls and narrowly avoided carriages in the road. Finally, they turned into the alley where Gustaf’s garden was planted. More roses had bloomed since the last time she saw it.
With an, “Up you go,” Liam swiftly lifted her onto a crate. “Now,” he said, “close your eyes, Rosie.”
“I’ve already been in this alley, Liam. This isn’t much of a surprise!” Rosie chided jokingly, her eyes shut tightly.
“You’re a smarty pants. Now be quiet,” he said, “and hold out your arms for your present.” Rosie did what she was told, and she could hear the sound of a crate being opened. Liam put something in her arms, soft and tiny. It wasn’t until a cold nose poked her face that she knew what it was.
“A puppy!” cried Rosie when she opened her eyes. “Oh Liam, what a wonderful surprise!” The puppy began to lick her face and Rosie laughed openly. It was the sweetest looking dog she had ever seen; a white spaniel with light brown markings around the eyes and on its long ears. A few similarly colored spots marked the rest of its body in various places. Its ears hung down droopily and it had the most expressive brown eyes she had ever seen on a dog. Rosie continued to giggle as the puppy licked her face excitedly.
“I saved him last night,” explained Liam. “I found him wandering the streets all by himself, no mother in sight. When I called, he ran right to me. He wouldn’t stop kissing me, which reminded me of you not wanting to stop kissing me.”
“Are you likening me to a dog, Mr. Cooper?” Rosie smirked at him.
“Yes, indeed I am, Miss McMurray.” He mirrored her smirk in perfect mimicry, and then leaned over to give her a quick kiss on her forehead.
“I will name him Lucky, since he was lucky you found him.” The little dog yipped, as though he was agreeing with the new name. Rosie petted Lucky’s head, and he gave her another lick on her cheek.
Liam put his arms on the crate and leaned towards her. “And he’s lucky to be in your arms.” Rosie tilted her head to meet his kiss, and she felt that orbiting feeling in her heart again. They kept kissing until Lucky decided he wanted kisses, too, and began licking Liam’s chin continuously. Liam laughed and pulled a long rope from his pocket, fashioning it into a collar and leash. Lucky obediently sat and wagged his tail, while Liam adjusted a knot for the collar. When Liam had finished, the two of them left the alley with a prancing puppy leading the way.
“So, it looks like I’ve a new selling partner joining me today. Not only do I have a distractingly beautiful girl at my side, but now I’ve got a distracting little puppy, too!” He laughed as Lucky stopped to sniff and investigate each leaf on the sidewalk.
“Well, actually,” said Rosie, “I’m glad Lucky is here to keep you company for awhile, because I won’t be able to.” Liam’s face grew dark at the seriousness of her tone, but they kept walking. “I’ll just tell you this quickly, because I am not really sure what I should say. Last night, my aunts and I were hired for a three month contract in Rhode Island. Mr. Cornelius Vanderbilt II has hired us to perform at his summer home-”
“That’s wonderful, Rosie! Congratulations!” Liam beamed proudly, his strong arm wrapped around her gave her a quick squeeze. “But what is it you’re really saying? You don’t look very pleased.” He appeared happy for her, but suspicious at the same time. His eyes flashed curiously as they came to a stop on the sidewalk.
“We’re leaving today, in just a few hours.” Rosie wrapped her arms around Liam and squeezed tightly, her head buried in his chest. Lucky, confused that they were stopped, ran in circles and tied them together with his long leash. Rosie felt little paws now resting on her shins.
“Oh…today,” said Liam quietly. His voice was deep and sad, unlike the fun-loving Liam she had come to know.
“I’m sorry, Liam,” Rosie said into his shirt, “I feel awful having to leave you so suddenly.”
Liam wrapped his strong arms around her. “Well, it’s something that you want to do, isn’t it? Imagine an entire summer at the beach with rich and famous people! Everything is fine, Rosie. I understand that you have to leave.” Liam now sounded confident and steadfast.
“Are you sure you’re not upset?” asked Rosie tentatively.
“No, I’m not upset, Rosie,” he replied. “Of course, I want you here in New York City, but this is a great opportunity you simply shouldn’t pass up.” He released her from their embrace so she could see his earnest expression. “Your heart and your true talents lie with performing and that’s plain to see. And everyone needs to accomplish personal goals and achievements, Rosie. Performing in Rhode Island is one of those achievements that I know will make you happy. And when you are happy, I’m happy, too. I would never stand in the way of your dreams, and in fact, I would like to be a part of them.”
Liam was so resolved and sensible about the unexpected news, and Rosie’s heart melted at his kindness. She had fallen in love with a wonderful man who absolutely supported her dreams.
“Besides,” Liam added, “we can always write each other.”
“Yes, you’re right,” agreed Rosie. “No matter how far apart we are, or how long we’re separated, I will always care for you as much as I do now.” With that, Liam gave her a swift, strong kiss.
“Now come on, Rosie,” he said. “Let’s enjoy the morning before I see you off.” With deft fingers, Liam untangled Lucky from her skirts. He then grabbed her hand, and they continued down the street.
“What about your papers?” Rosie stopped suddenly, knowing that they should head back to the distribution center for him to buy his papers for the day.
“My papers can wait,” said Liam. “You’re more important than any headline.” He tugged gently on her hand with a genuine smile on his face and a twinkle in his blue-hazel eyes. Everything was feeling so right and perfect to Rosie that she burst into a happy smile. She rushed to Liam, wrapped her arms around his neck, and kissed him with all the passion she was feeling in her heart!
They spent the next few hours watching Lucky chase ducks in Seward Park while they sat under their favorite shady tree by the pond. Liam began to teach Lucky how to sit, roll over, and shake his paw in Rosie’s hand. He seemed like a very smart dog.
“I can see he loves you dearly,” admired Rosie. “Will you keep a good eye on Lucky while I’m gone?” Liam lay on his back, wrestling with the new puppy. It made Rosie happy to see him so playful with the dog.
Between Lucky’s licks, Liam managed a reply. “Of course I will. Since I can’t cuddle with you, I’ll cuddle with Lucky.” Liam pushed Lucky onto Rosie’s lap and tackled the two of them together. Suddenly the church bells rang in the distance.
“Oh, no!” she cried out in alarm. “It’s ten-thirty and my train leaves in thirty minutes!” They were having so much fun, Rosie almost forgot about her approaching departure. Liam stood up and slung her over his shoulders like a fireman. Rosie shrieked playfully, and Lucky yapped at the strange pair.
“We’d best be on our way!” exclaimed Liam, running off with Rosie, Lucky running at his heels.
On the way to the train depot, Rosie gave Liam the address of Mr. Vanderbilt’s summer home. He, in turn, gave her his apartment address at Gustaf’s building. They arrived to find Brigid and Kate, in matching traveling coats, sitting on a bench at the station. With the dozens of hatboxes, carpetbags, and trunks surrounding them, it looked like they were going on a year-long trip.
“Liam, it’s wonderful to see you again, but hurry along now,” a smiling Kate called out beneath her ostrich-feathered hat, “the train is just pulling in!” She had stood up and was pointing at the nearing train. She then scrambled over some boxes to give Rosie and Liam brisk hugs.
Brigid grabbed a bag and winked in their direction. “Come see us sometime in Rhode Island, Liam. We know Rosie will be absolutely delighted to see you.” This made the couple look at each other bashfully with identical happy smiles.
“Goodbye, my Lucky,” said Rosie. “Don’t forget about me.” Liam picked up the dog so Rosie could give her new puppy a hug, and Lucky licked her cheek in return. Liam put him down, and Lucky loyally lay down at Rosie’s feet. “Thank you for sharing the morning with me, Liam. I’m so sorry to have to leave you.” Rosie carefully looked to see if sadness filled his handsome eyes. He didn’t look sad, but he wasn’t smiling either. Rosie wrapped her arms around his neck and said softly, “I guess this is goodbye, then.”
“This is a temporary goodbye,” said Liam, a supportive smile now on his face. “Soon to be a good hello.” He made a silly face that made her laugh, then removed his hat and placed it over his heart. “Please keep up with your drawings, Rosie, and write me every chance you get.” His expression was suddenly boyish and innocent. Rosie tried to memorize each detail of his face, fixing Liam into memory. She concentrated on his eyes and thick lashes, his eyebrows, his nose, his mouth, the freckles sprinkling across his fair face, the hair curling at his forehead. She would definitely miss Liam while in Rhode Island.
“I promise, Liam, I will write you every day,” said Rosie, thinking fondly of when Liam explained what promises were, and how much they meant to him. Liam picked her up and swung her around, her feet dangling above the wooden planks of the station.
“I promise to write you, too,” said Liam, “and you know I mean it. I’m not the best writer, but you’ll always know what I’m trying to say.” His humbleness made Rosie adore him even more. “I’m not very good at goodbyes either; you’d better get on that train quickly, or I might not let you go after all.” Liam lowered her down and gently pushed her towards the train. He then handed the rest of the bags to the porter. A whistle cut sharply through the station, and Rosie stepped up onto the train.
“Goodbye, Liam,” she said as he bowed and kissed her outstretched hand. The whistle blew again. Rosie quickly jumped into Liam’s arms, wrapping her arms around his neck. It was as if time stopped as she held him; being in his arms made her oblivious to any train or destination. She thought only of the two of them and how much she cared for Liam. Taking in a deep breath, she inhaled the heavy outdoor scent of his soap. She gave him a kiss, which he returned as he lowered her down, and the growing love she felt for Liam was now overwhelming. Her heart spun very quickly in her chest and tears formed in her eyes. The train’s whistle blew a final time again, and the brakes were released. The train now pulled away, but Rosie was still standing on the platform.
“Rosie!” Kate called, her head poking from a window, red hair blowing in the breeze.
“Go!” said Liam. He returned Rosie to the steps of the train, and the porter quickly ushered her inside. Rosie ran quickly through the cars toward the back of the train, all the while keeping her eyes on Liam. Liam followed her alongside the train, running on the platform with Lucky right behind him. Rosie finally made it to the caboose, where she could stand outside on the moving train. Liam and Lucky jogged beside her. He had lost his cap running, and with his messy hair blowing in the wind, he looked more handsome than Rosie could have imagined.
“I’m running out of platform!” Liam warned, starting to slow down. Lucky barked and slowed his pace, too, while Rosie blew kisses to them both.
“I’ll miss you very, very much!” Her chest tightened, and it felt as if her heartstrings began to stretch from the train to the platform. She couldn’t contain it any longer and just had to shout it out, “Liam, I love you!” She knew he could hear her over the train, for his smile grew wider.
Liam caught hold of a post and called out to her with an outstretched arm. “Rosie McMurray, I love you!” With his words, Rosie’s heart soared! It felt as though fireworks had gone off in her heart, the heat of which spread joy through her entire body. He looked like a jockey who had just won the race, for he absolutely beamed with happiness. They continued to wave for as long as they could see each other.
When Rosie finally found her seat, her heart was bursting with glee. Sitting opposite her aunts, she couldn’t contain her happiness and she sunk down into the comfortable seat with a joyous sigh.
“I know that kind of sigh,” said Brigid. “I told you they would say it today.” Brigid poked her sister until Kate started to laugh.
“We knew things would work out, dear Rosie,” said Kate with a knowing look.
“Did they ever!” Rosie exclaimed.
So, this was love, she thought. It felt as if a part of her was still on that platform with Liam. Rosie would match his promise by writing to him every day; he was important to her, and she wanted him to know that. Gazing out the train window, she imagined the kind of reunion they would have after three long months of separation. It would be the best welcome home she could ever receive.
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