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Charlotte Whittaker

Things will be different in America

0 · 372 views · located in RMS Titanic

a character in “"Ice-burg ahead!"”, as played by Sirius Baren

Description

Miss Charlotte Whittaker
XXX I was told once that daydreams are for the foolish and the desperate. If only they had a chance to peak into my mind, than they would surely know that I am no fool. XXX
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FULL NAME
"My name? You want to know my name? I thought that it would be obvious."
Miss Charlotte Constance Whittaker


ALIAS
"He always said I'd always be his Little Lottie."
Lottie


BIRTH DATE
"Never ask a woman her age, it is very impolite."
June 21, 1888


ORIGIN
"My father fell in love with a gold digger."
British 50 %, German 50 %


ECONOMIC CLASS
"You cannot spite me for a life I was born into."
First

OCCUPATION
"I haven't had to lift my finger or work a day in my life; you may find that tragic."
Heiress


MARTIAL STATUS
"There's always been a suitor at my door, but they've been too droll, or too interested in my money rather than me."
Currently unattached

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Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall
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APPEARANCE
The first word that is used to describe Charlotte would be elegance, and the second would be graceful. She has a sweet doe eyed appearance that has ensnared the hearts of many bachelors. Her skin is flawless which is both a surprise and the envy of many London socialites as she spends a great deal of time out of doors. She has supple lips that are a coral pink. Many women in the high society of London have envied her seemingly perfect beauty. She has set many trends within the London society, her most recent being the way she wears her hair. The color of her hair is somewhere trapped between the color of corn silk and honey.

If ever there was something average about her, it would be her height. She is not particularly tall, nor is she particularly short. She does favor higher shoes and it has led to many people believing she is taller than she is. Many times she has been caught with a far away look in her eyes that could even be considered aloof. This wistful expression has pulled in many men as they assume she is sad or something is on her mind. Charlotte cannot help this and is always surprised by the antics of men when they try to cheer her up or take her mind off of her troubles, when in fact she is usually quite at peace with herself.

Charlotte has rarely ever bothered with makeup. She has never thought of herself as a particular beauty and does not see the merit in wasting money unnecessarily on beauty products when she already catches the eyes of the men within London--which she believes is solely based upon her fortune.

As a fashion icon in the society, she usually wears clothes of more modest make and only saves her finer apparel for special occasions or functions she is required to attend. The most jewelry she ever wears is a single strand of small and delicate pearls that her father gave to her on her sixteenth birthday. She has never reflected her wealth through her clothing choice which has brought a refreshing look to the London women.

Though Charlotte does have a love for fanciful--sometimes absurd--hats.

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Aptitudes and Oddities
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LIKES
Charlotte has always been a dreamer. She loves books and being swept away to other lands and adventures. She loves that when she reads books she can break free from the tight restraints of her social class and expand her mind. She reads everything from Charles Dickens, to Jane Austen, and to Charles Darwin.

Because of her love of books, she also is a lover of quiet and the peace that comes from the early morning or at twilight. She loves to take walks by herself.

Charlotte has had a passionate affair with insane and outrageous hats since she was a young adolescent. For her, it was the only way she felt she could rebel against the standards and expectations set up for her by her mother and the high society. Many of her hat choices have taken hold in the London society which she finds quite amusing.

Since her father bred horses as a hobby, Charlotte had the chance to grow up around them and has been in love with the animals her whole life. She loves riding and the exhilaration of feeling free with the wind at her face and dust in her wake.

Her father; Charlotte has always been a daddy's girl. It didn't matter how busy he was, her father has always made time for her and made her feel loved and wanted. Her most favorite part about her father was when he would bring her books back from his trips. He always knew what she would love best and every book he's given her has landed on her list of favorites.

Charlotte has a particular affinity for fanciful and usually impractical hats.

DISLIKES
Tea; quite ironic. It's always bitter in her mouth and she hates the socializing parties where she is forced to sit and sip on it. She will avoid drinking tea at all costs.

Large crowds make her uncomfortable. Her mother loved to drop her into huge social gathering and it always made her feel like she was being paraded around for the highest bidder.

Her mother. The woman has always thirsted for money, power, and position. When Charlotte was born, the young girl became a new tool in Sylvia's belt to further her own selfish whims.

Being lied to and/or manipulated.

TALENTS
Charlotte is an excellent rider--as a young girl she used to fancy putting on a disguise and racing her beloved stallion Goliath.

Since she is a well bred and well mannered woman, she is also an accomplished dancer and knows several forms and variations on all of the socially acceptable dances.

WEAKNESSES
Charlotte is a bit gullible and quick to believe in people who have more to say than mentioning wealth or status.

She is desperate to believe in love. She aches to find a man that will love her, and she will love in return, the same way that her father has always felt for her mother. She's terrified to be strapped to someone just like her mother.

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Temperaments
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PERSONALITY
Charlotte sometimes comes off as distant and aloof. Many of the people that her father knows view her as a ditz, or a bit of an airhead. Charlotte is quiet and knows the role she is supposed to play. She is not to have opinions, she is not to be loud, or crass; Charlotte must be submissive, quiet, and demur. Because Charlotte is the heiress to a very grand fortune she understands that she is not supposed to mix with those below her. Her mother told Charlotte over and over growing up that those beneath Charlotte are not worthy of her time or effort. Charlotte has perfected her skills of indifference to those around her even though she wishes deep down to be able to hold a normal conversation with them.

Charlotte has perfected her outer persona. While her mind spins with the thousand questions, and her thirst for knowledge insatiable, no one would ever expect the Whittaker Heiress to be more than a trend setting socialite. Charlotte knows that it is distasteful and laughable for a woman to be smart and well informed. This causes her to be quiet in most settings, though she has a constant internal dialogue with herself and generally carries on whole conversations in her head in an attempt to prevent boredom from setting in when she is at parties.

As a dreamer, Charlotte has craved adventure or a grand romantic tale her entire life. As a dutiful and obedient daughter she would never openly go against or defy her parents wishes to seek either of those things out. It is why Charlotte reads so much. She feels stifled and restrained within her social class. The women are caddy and pretend to be your friend only to whisper behind your back--and there is a great deal of whispering as they are jealous of Charlotte. The men treat her as if she is a prize or trophy to won as Charlotte has a considerable fortune to her name. This has left Charlotte lonely and she is very reserved. She struggles to open up to anyone and can't think of a single person who she would count as a dear friend.

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Memoir
XXX I am chained by my past and my future seems to hold more or less the same. XXX

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HISTORY
Richard Whittaker had traveled to Germany on business where he had met and fallen instantly in love with a great beauty named Sylvia. They were wed a year after they had met and only shortly after were they pregnant. Charlotte was born into a marriage of unrequited love. While Richard was madly in love with Sylvia, Sylvia was in love with Richard's fortune. As Charlotte grew older she could never understand how her father never saw her mother for what she was--a manipulative gold digger.

Sylvia insisted that Charlotte have the best tutors money could by so that she would receive the best education. Of course the education that Sylvia had in mind was not the education that Charlotte would have thrived with. Sylvia's ideal education consisted of lessons on etiquette, dancing, and refinement. Richard would not stand in the way of his wife's desires for a well bred and properly mannered young lady. He did see the intense desire and thirst for knowledge that Charlotte had, so he always made it a point to bring her books and have his vast book collection readily available for her.

When Charlotte was only eight years old, her father gave her a colt for her birthday. The horse was quite large, but especially so to a young girl. Charlotte fell in love with the yearling and named him Goliath. Sylvia was furious that Richard would give their daughter such a dangerous gift and pulled out all the stops in trying to convince Richard to sell the horse. For the first--and only time--in Charlotte's life, Richard refused to bend to Sylvia's will. He believed it was important for Charlotte to have moments of freedom.

Charlotte took advantage of her riding lessons. She was a natural. For several years it seemed the only place you would find her was with Goliath in the stables, or out running around the large country estate they lived on. Charlotte loved Goliath more than anyone except her father.

Sylvia had finally found a loop hole in separating her daughter from her beloved horse when Charlotte had turned fifteen. It was then that Sylvia decided Charlotte was old enough to come out into society and start meeting potential future suitors. That was when Charlotte moved to London.

To say that Charlotte hated London would be an understatement. Everything about the city was the opposite of what she loved. It was loud, and smelled funny, and she quickly realized that her mother was searching out the best suitor that would reap the highest benefits.

The only solace Charlotte had within London was her books. She dove head first and read anything she could get her hands on. Sylvia did not think it was becoming of a young woman to read so much, but since Charlotte was always in a better mood to put up with the social functions, Sylvia decided to let it slide.

When Charlotte was just shy of her 18th birthday, she ended up meeting a young man in her favorite bookstore in London. At first she disregarded him because it was evident from his attire and his mannerisms that he would never be someone that her mother approved of. She was even quite annoyed when he seemed to have an eye for her, and greatly despised it when her called her "Lottie"--though she later grew to love the nickname. It wasn't until one day when she was perusing the shelves of the bookstore, and she noticed him flipping through The Iliad and the Odyssey--on of her favorite classics--that she realized there might be more to him. A conversation was finally struck up between them and she gave him a chance.

Charlotte was terrified of her mother finding out. She kept telling him she couldn't meet him anywhere but the book store, and even then it was a bit iffy. Charlotte usually had a chaperone with her since her mother did not trust Charlotte to be left alone. It was almost always her driver. The boy began to leave her notes in books he knew she'd leaf through, and Charlotte began her correspondence with him that way.

It had been a couple weeks of this when Charlotte discovered that he was outside of her home. She was mortified when he had come in the night, though a bit flattered. She had begun to develop genuine feelings for him and made him promise to not come back to her home as it was too risky. Unfortunately for Charlotte, that had been the night her mother discovered the little trysts between them and quickly brought a stop to them. Charlotte was banned from the bookstore and any further communications with the boy. It was the first time in Charlotte's life that she argued with her mother. There had been a great deal of yelling and screaming and in the end she had lost. It was at that point that Sylvia began to throw Charlotte head first into the London society and kept her too busy to even think about sneaking off to meet her "filthy vagabond"--as her mother so delicately called him. She never found out what happened to the boy.

After things had calmed down Charlotte could never look at her mother the same. She distanced herself from the woman as she was forced into expensive world she had been born to.

The years began to pass and Charlotte's Aunt Margaret had sent a letter from America with the invitation for Charlotte to come live with her for a while. What Charlotte didn't know was that her mother had written to Aunt Margaret about how wild and defiant Charlotte had been. Aunt Margaret had offered to take Charlotte. It also wasn't mentioned to Charlotte that Aunt Margaret has found a very wealthy American bachelor that she is very likely to marry.

And that is how Charlotte finds herself with a first class ticket heading to America.

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OOC

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PORTRAYED BY :
Sirius Baren

TIME ZONE :
Mountain Standard Time[MT] .

HOW OFTEN DO I POST? :
As often as I need to
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So begins...

Charlotte Whittaker's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Raven Summers Character Portrait: Charlotte Whittaker
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There was a pleasant sort of flush to her cheeks as he said she was far too sweet to go to Africa. She managed a smile when he said she'd be eaten by lions, but there was something in his words that made her uneasy. It was as though she were staring the lion down now. She shook the ridiculous thought from her head. Stas had charmed her over all those years ago. He had to really work hard to bring her attention his way. Now was different. This Stas was successful and had a job. The quirk of his lips and then the sudden shift after his offer sent her heart fluttering. She was falling more quickly under his spell. It wasn't too hard and she shouldn't be blamed. He knew how to make himself irresistible. Charlotte was dying for adventure and it seemed adventure had been placed at her feet.

Her mother would raise Hell if she knew that Charlotte's rebellious side was surfacing quickly. Stas brought it out of her and she was quickly finding that she desired nothing more than to throw caution to the wind and see where she'd end up.

There was a quickening in her heart as he procured the nickname he had given to her so long ago. He was the only one to ever call her Lottie and it brought back a surge of memories that were very nearly ready to threaten her conscious mind and sweep her away in a bought of nostalgia.

She was shaken quickly from those memories as she realized what he was saying. Her face fell perceptively and she lowered her eyes as he was quickly excusing himself from her presence. Even though he had brushed off their past and told her there was no harm left, she felt as though the pain was there. Why else would he abandon her so quickly?

She felt quite ready to reprimand herself for the foolish thoughts that had swirled into her mind in a heated rush. Stas was right. They were different people now. She offered him a tight and polite smile as he rose to his feet. Her light mood had been soured and she turned her attention away from him as he paid the waiter-

He was speaking again and she had to quickly recover so she could hear what he said. His lips were quirking up in the familiar way she remembered--one of the ways he had whittled past her sense of propriety before--and was asking her to dinner. "Yes." The word came out breathless as she attempted to gather her wits. "I'm in room 2." This was quite a significant amount of information. The closer your number was to 1, the more money had been dropped to secure a room. Charlotte was invariably telling Stas just what kind of wealth was kept behind her dreamy airs. Charlotte didn't like to think about the small fortune her father had invested in the room and was even less likely to complain over the comforts. The first night had been spent enjoying the splendor of her room.

"I'll see you at 7." A dazzling smile crept onto her face. It was a smile she had forgotten she had possessed. It was the smile that had only ever been reserved for Stas.

She watched him disappear through the doorway before she turned back to the coffee she had hardly touched.

Stas was here and she struggled to wrap her mind around that fact. She sipped at her coffee only a short time before she grew restless. She wasn't hungry enough to eat as the gentle motion of the ship on the sea had caused her stomach a slight upset. She left first class dining and decided to explore the ship for the day.

She stuck mostly to the areas populated by first and some second class. She was an un-escorted woman and she was too cautious to wander around the less extravagant places.

The sea was beautiful. At this point they were surrounded on every side by ocean and she felt a stirring in her soul. This was beautiful. The deep blue of the ocean met the clear sky in a perfect line on the horizon. The two colors were so different and yet they complemented one another in a perfect fashion.

As the day crept on she found her mind wandering down the paths in her mind that led to a young Charlotte and a young Stas that often stood behind the bookcases in the back of the book shop.

Charlotte had retired to her room when the time was ticking down to when Stas would arrive to accompany her to dinner. She had rummaged through her clothes and felt silly that nothing seemed to be just right, when in fact she knew each gown would be more than suitable for a dinner with Stas.

Why was she trying to impress him? Why was she even entertaining these dangerous thoughts? It didn't matter that she was infatuated with him when she was younger, or that she felt drawn to him like a moth to a flame even now. She knew that even if Stas had worked to build his name or came into exceeding wealth it would never matter.

Her mother did not have a forgiving heart, nor did she forget. Anything Charlotte dared to think of would never be approved simply because Stas was not born into a higher caste of society. Sylvia held more than a grudge against the man who had nearly spoilt her daughter for a more suited man.

It wouldn't do good to get her heart or her head wrapped up in him all over again when she knew the outcome. However, it would be extremely rude to decline his invitation just as he would arrive to collect her.

She sighed and finally settled on a gown made of very light material. It was smooth against her skin and she admired the way it looked on her in the vanity mirror. It was a lovely peach color that made her skin look flawless. Even though it was extremely flattering on her person, Charlotte was unable to see it completely. She felt she looked average and no less outstanding than a wall flower.

Lottie.

The old nickname came unbidden into her mind and it flashed images in the forefront of her mind.

"My little Lottie," the words were whispered and she shivered as if he spoke them to her now. Once he had come through her defenses she had begun to see him in a way she had never seen any boy before. He was charming, sweet, and doting. She remembered when they would be whispering in the book store and how he was quite adept at managing to drive her into a corner like a cat with a mouse. He would trap her between his arms and against the bookcase. He spoke sweet nothings to her. He showered her in flattery.

There had been so many opportunities for him to steal a kiss but she had always dodged him with silly excuses "You can't kiss me today, I'm wearing purple...you can't kiss me today, it's a Tuesday...you can't kiss me today, I'm too short..." how ridiculous they all seemed now but he had humored her.

She remembered the rage that coursed through her body as if she had been struck by lightning and the energy was bouncing inside of her restlessly. She had never been so angry in her life or hated her birthright when she had been banished from ever seeing him again.

Then the hurt she felt when he never tried to see her. She had hated him a great long while when she was younger as she thought he had filled his fancy with her and moved on to another girl. When she discovered how deeply her mother had meddled it turned her wrath back upon her mother and turned her hurt into longing for the boy who made her feel alive.

It had been so long since she had dredged up these memories and emotions. Her fingers were twitching and a great sigh escaped her.

Stas would only bring grief into her life. She knew this. She owed it to have dinner with him but she could not let it go further than that. She could not handle heart break again. She had been close to falling in love with him as a wayward teen and now she had seen how well he had grown. Stas could capture her heart quickly if he set his mind to it and Charlotte didn't want that.

There was a precise knock upon her door and she jumped causing a few of her belongings to topple from the vanity. There was a small container of powder--her mother insisted she take and use it even though Charlotte abhorred the stuff as she thought it made her look like a ghost--that broke open and spilled everywhere. She looked down and realized that much of the powder covered the skirts of her dress and she frowned.

She bent down to clean it up when she remembered why it had spilled. She straightened and walked over to her door before shifting the latch so she could open the door.

Stas was standing there and she felt her breath catch in her throat. She was frozen for a moment before she came to her bearings and offered a simple smile. She quickly guarded herself in an attempt to resist his charisma.

"I'm so sorry, but there's been a bit of an accident." She glanced down at her white splotched dress and her face flushed in embarrassment. "I've managed to spill an entire container of powder and it seems to have traveled everywhere. I apologize for my state of appearance." She dropped her eyes feeling to awkward to look him in the eye.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Charlotte Whittaker Character Portrait: Evan Tuck Character Portrait: Stas Kelevra Character Portrait: Syllia Kelevra
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                        Yes. That was a yes, wasn’t it? He wasn’t quite sure what he had been expected. That was the answer he’d wanted after all. Maybe a bit more hesitation? The Charlotte he knew from the past was all hesitation. He was surprised, after her, to learn how quickly other women and girls of her status fell to his charms. He had been expecting something more arduous, taxing— a longer chase. But he was warming their beds within the month. His record was just shy of three days. Quickest con he’d ever pulled with a sizeable gain. He’d treated Syl to a nice dinner that night.

                        And yet, the approval came remarkably quickly. Perhaps she was right; being at sea far from the confines of shores seemed to loosen one’s inhibitions. He certainly wasn’t going to complain. He’d seen her face fall then brighten with his invitation. He was already halfway to the end of his game. The coldness in him smiled, ignored the pang in his heart.

                        “Lovely,” he said, forcing an expression of pleased relief onto his face. His internal dialogue prompted him, reminding him like an actor reading from a script— Mr. Kensington does not have the same calculating nature as Stas Kelevra, Mr. Kensington is new money, worried he will never be enough for a woman he loves should she come from a higher status. Mr. Kensington does not read expressions like Stas Kelevra; he does not know what reply to expect before it comes, he does not plan a response tailored to what the person opposite him would like to hear. Mr. Kensington is intelligent, but not wicked and clever. Mr. Kensington is a fool.

                        He had processed the information about her room number quickly, hadn’t let it phase him. It was interesting information, but he’d always known she was very wealthy. Now he knew exactly how wealthy. Some sick part of him was curious about the proximity she might afford him to the tenants of Room 1. Who exactly was put up in there? An older man, surely, but maybe one with a deadbeat son, seeking a competent successor? Perhaps one with a much younger wife, idle and bored, seeking some enjoyment? He shook the thoughts from his mind. Pursuing two jobs at once in such close quarters was too much, even for him. And he had already decided to dedicate himself to this one.

                        “I’ll be seeing you then.” He offered one last smile, then headed off to the exit. He waved at a man and offered a quick greeting (one he was sure would wave back despite not knowing him, one who would assume they’d met and have been too embarrassed to express that he’d maybe forgotten about the young man), another subtle action meant to cement his identity and validity in Charlotte’s eyes. If he was going to do this, he was going to do it right.

                        Following that train of thought, he pondered how exactly he was going to procure a proper outfit for the night. He’d brought his best suits, of course, and nice suits they were, but ultimately, at the night of the night, they were just suits. He’d need a tux. A proper one, sleek with no wrinkles.

                        He was pleased to have the time to gather his wits. There was no acquaintance to meet, obviously, but the meeting with Charlotte had caught him off-guard, and even slightly off the ball was never a good place to be with a mark. Especially one he’d once had an emotional vulnerability to before.

                        He retired to his room (Syllia showed up some time later, and obviously in a foul mood. He avoided speaking too much to her, and only filled her in on the basics of his evening plans) where he drew up a plan of attack, both for finding himself the nice tuxedo he required and for the evening in general. Sometime around 5:30 (the perfect time for the wealthy to start milling about the bar area to chat before dinner), he changed into a simple, almost dirty, outfit. One that reflected his true status in society. He mussed his hair, found dirt to put under his fingernails and on his hands. And then he walked into a staff-only room on the ship and no one paid him a second glance. From there, he took a staff uniform off a rack, changed in the changing rooms. On the deck of the first class, he walked by a maid staff. He bumped into her, apologized profusely, offered a charming smile. While she was blushing, he slid a hand to her waist and lifted the master set of keys off of her. He wondered how long he had before she noticed. She was sweet though, and he made a mental note to return the keys if he bumped into her again so she wouldn’t find herself in too much trouble.

                        With the keys, he ducked into a suite some ways down, found a tuxedo hanging in the closet, and changed right in the room. He threw the staff uniform out the porter window. It was 6:30 by then, and he had plenty of time to wash off his hands and face and fix his hair in the borrowed bathroom before simply continuing down the hall some to the front door of the second suite. He waited the thirty seconds it took for his newly acquired watch to reach the seven mark before knocking.

                        She opened the door and Stas let his jaw slacken slightly, eyes traveling down slowly as if to take in her appearance, a smile, seemingly almost involuntary, lifting the corners of his lips as he did. He laughed when she mentioned the incident she’d had with powder, lightly but with good humor.

                        “Nonsense,” he said, tilting his head to look down at the offending marks on her dress. He paused, then looked up again to meet her eye. “I think it gives it character. You’ll be the loveliest woman there.”

                        Again, he smiled, widely this time, combined with a short huff of a breathy chuckle. “Just give it a bit of a shake if you’re worried. It’ll be hardly noticeable. People will be much too caught up in your eyes and charming conversation to give it a second glance, I can promise you.”

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                        The day had been... exciting, to say the least. Still, she was more than glad to be put all of the events that had occurred far behind her. If she was going to be on the ship for much more time, she’d have to keep an eye out for the man, be sure to avoid him. With any luck, she thought, he’d forget about her in a day or two and she’d never have to worry about seeing his mug ever again.

                        Truth be told, the whole harrowing experience was terribly frightening. She’d been terribly worried he’d hand her off the ship’s guards, that they’d keep her in holding until the end of the journey, that she’d rot in prison, or, Christ, that she’d never see her brother again.

                        She had nervous tendencies, it was true. Her mind raced in dangerous situations, and even though she always managed to squash the thoughts down, push them to the back of her mind until she found a solution, they always came back to haunt her when she was clear. Case in point, her hands was shaking like mad after she ran out onto the deck. It certainly didn’t help that she saw him chase her down. She spent a good couple of minutes darting from crowd to crowd, trying to avoid his gaze. Very nerve wracking. Just terrible.

                        When she was sure she was clear, she took the fastest route down to her cabin. She was surprised to see Stas, would have figured that he’d be casing out the top deck for good marks, but the events of the morning had dampened her mood, and she didn’t question him too much, not even when he told her of his evening dining plans.

                        Sometime after Stas slipped off to do god knows what, Syllia decided some nice air was in order. Help alleviate her mind and bring her back into good spirits again. She changed into a clean pressed shirt (not as stiff and starchy as the one Stas had forced on her that morning) but kept on the pants and, of course, her newsboy cap. It was ideal for her profession— concealed her face if needed, but never looked out of place. This time, she let her hair down. No need to conceal her gender. She wasn’t trying to pass off a member of the first class; she just needed to be easily forgettable.

                        Up on the deck of the ship, she spent some time simply watching the boat stir the water, keeping an eye on the horizon and letting the wind press against her face. After some time, she sat and pulled out her deck of cards to practice her counting. But a child, impressed with the fluid motion of her shuffling, approached and looked on with wide-eyed innocence. A grin sprung to her face as she demonstrated a simple trick for him. And then another. And another. Before long, there was a small crowd gathered around her, some second-class children but mostly poorer looking kids. Her heart ached for them. She was the same once, entranced and enchanting by the small illusions of cards and coins. The false magic provided a small escape. She did her best to entertain them.

                        “Is this your card?” she asked, for the second time. The child shook his head vigorously. Syllia feigned a frown. “Hmm,” she said, lifting a hand to stroke her chin. “Well, I don’t know what’s gone wrong then. Surely, it must be around here somewhere. Can’t have just gone off and disappeared could it have?” Again, she stroked her chin as the child squinted and looked down at the deck she held in her left hand. As he looked away, she took the card she had palmed much earlier and bit the edge of it as she brushed her hand over her mouth, leaving it hanging there. The bright grin on the child’s face as he looked up and saw his missing card hanging from Syllia’s mouth was priceless. She laughed as she pulled it away, but the general joy of the atmosphere was interrupted by a voice she (sadly) recognized. She jumped up from the crate she’d sat down on, ready to bolt along with the escaping children. But the boy she’d just shown the trick to had, in his fright, clung to her leg. She quickly shooed him away as gently as possible, but by the time he’d run off, it was already too late.

                        She found herself face to face with the man from earlier, caught in his bruising grip with a very small chance of escape. She winced for the second time that day, but this time it was in pain. His fingers dug into the soft flesh of her upper arms, which, lamentably, had always bruised incredibly easily. She’d be nursing the pain there for days.

                        “Come on,” she half groaned, half whined. “You can’t just let it go, mate, can ya?” She huffed and turned her chin up to return his glare, looking him square in the eye. “I didn’t cheat you nothing. It’s called sleight of hand, yeah? You heard of that before, have you? It’s not cheating. It’s a part of the game. Which, if you’ll recall, you agreed to play.” She lifted her forearm, using the minimal space between them to take the opportunity, despite her lack of much movement capability, to poke him hard as she could in the chest. “Cheating would have been if I’d switched out the queen entirely. But I didn’t. You never said I had to make it easy for you.”