XI. April 10, 1912

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There's a commotion around me unlike anything I've ever heard before; the salty air is humming with happiness and hope. The voices of the people surrounding me are of different accents—men, women, children, all teeming with the excitement of what is coming.

My eyelids flutter open and the air leaves my lungs.

The ship I'm standing on is more massive than I ever could have imagined, the four copper steam stacks shining against the cloudless blue sky.

The RMS Titanic.

"Now, this is a cool place to land," a smooth voice says from behind me. "And I am loving this dress you're wearing, Rylan," Sage breathes in my ear, slipping his arms around my waist, his hands brushing against the silk fabric.

I turn to him and the relief I feel floods my veins, overwhelming my every sense. "Sage." Wrapping my arms around his neck, I smash my lips to his, with no regard for the fact that it's 1912 and making out with a man in public is probably not very ladylike.

Sage holds me around the waist with one arm and grabs the wide-brimmed red hat that flies from my head, returning my kiss. He pulls away with a chuckle as he rights my hat on my head. "I don't know whether to be excited or scared to death," he says, straightening his light-blue and white striped tie while watching the last of the passengers board the ship.

I pull at the ruffles hanging just below the high neck of my tailored red, plaid dress as history lessons about the Titanic flood me: the ship sank on its maiden voyage.

I lean in and whisper, "I mean, you've seen the movie, right? We know how this ends, and it isn't pretty."

He takes my hand in his and we walk along the deck. "Just promise to make room for me on the door."

I snort and cover my mouth with my free hand. "That won't be hard, considering Leo definitely could've fit with no problem," I say before looking at the ticket in my hand. "But it looks like we're part of the first-class crowd...maybe we'll get a lifeboat?"

He casts me a quick sidelong glance. "You mean one of the lifeboats that will go out not at full capacity...one of the lifeboats that isn't enough for how many people are on this ship?"

I chew my lip and raise my eyebrows. "Well, I guess the only thing to do is wait. I think if we've learned anything by now, it's that we can't stop any of these things from happening. So we might as well enjoy the experience of the one and only voyage of this amazing yet definitely sinkable ship; what do you say?" After the stress of the week in India and not knowing how everything was going to work out, I feel like I need a moment to just relax and be.

The horn blasts through the air, and they tug the ship from the dock. Excited passengers wave from the port side of the ship to family and friends seeing them off.

Sage holds out his arm. "Shall we, Miss..." He pauses and chuckles. "I just realized I don't know your last name."

"Tell me yours and I'll tell you mine."

"Montgomery."

I give Sage a small curtsy. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Montgomery. I'm Miss Rylan Walker."

He kisses my gloved hand and tucks my arm through his. "I'll be happy to escort to your room, Miss Walker."

We walk through the ship and I admire all the details I've seen recreated in the movie and various documentaries. It is a thousand times more beautiful in person. We reach my room and Sage opens my door but doesn't come inside. His eyes twinkle and I can tell that the iconic scene from the movie is playing inside his head. "I'll meet you at the staircase right before dinner."

"I'll see you then."

I slide into my spacious room and take my time exploring it. Everything is made of heavy hand-carved wood, the chairs and settee upholstered in thick rich fabric. I step into the bedroom and gasp at the pile of luggage stacked next to the armoire. Lifting the first trunk, I set to work unpacking.

When I've unpacked the last trunk, I open the armoire and brush my fingertips along the rich, colorful fabrics that make up my wardrobe. I check the clock on the wall to see it is almost time for dinner, and my heart speeds up and butterflies enter my stomach at the thought of seeing Sage.

As I lace the corset I suppose I have to wear, I think back on the times a man has given me butterflies, and to be honest, there haven't been many. Sage isn't the first man I've slept with, but he is the first man I've been through so many life-changing experiences with—the first man who has awakened these feelings in me...feelings I am not even sure I can explain.

I inspect my reflection in the mirror, impressed at the illusion of a tiny waist the corset has created. The deep purple and black beaded gown pushes my chest up and out because of the tight laces of the foreign undergarment. I pull my hair back halfway, adorning it with a clip in the shape of a dragonfly.

At 5:00 sharp, I walk down the grand staircase, holding my dress up so I don't trip over the train and make a total fool of myself. I see Sage standing at the bottom of the stairs and my breath catches. He is wearing a black tuxedo and bowtie, his hair perfectly disheveled. He's looking in the other direction and doesn't see me, so I just stand for a moment in admiration of the man who has stood by me through these events that we should've never witnessed and never blinked an eye.

When I tap him on the shoulder, he jumps and spins. He runs his gaze over me and his lips form into a wide smile. "I ruined that moment, didn't I?"

"No, it works for us."

Sage and I walk to the host who leads us to our table. Our meal companions are polite but very dated in their thoughts. I have to fight from looking at Sage and rolling my eyes at the surrounding conversations. Thankfully, our delicious food is a great distraction.

After dinner, Sage and I walk along the deck and admire the bright stars twinkling over the sea. For the first time, we find ourselves not preoccupied with something that is bigger than us, and we take advantage of the opportunity to get to learn the simple things about one another.

It is well into the night when we stop in front of my door. "I had a nice time," Sage says.

"Me too."

He leans in and kisses me gently. "Sleep well, Miss Walker."

A thousand butterflies take flight in my stomach. "Sweet dreams, Sage."

"

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