XII. April 14, 1912

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Sage and I have spent the last few days on the ship abiding by the law of the land in 1912—handholding, simple kisses on the cheek, sly flirtatious comments. We spend all day together, eating all three meals surrounded by other first-class passengers, playing shuffleboard and chess, and walking on the decks, and when the sky darkens, he walks me to my room and leaves me with nothing more than a swift peck on the lips.

It is all very polite and appropriate, but the contact is not enough for me. Every minute of the day, I am wishing Sage's hands were on me, and I don't mean with his arm threaded through mine.

"It's getting late," Sage says from beside me. We are sitting on the promenade drinking coffee and eating pastries, and my corset feels like it is about to snap at the seams.

"Is it?" I ask, turning toward him in my seat. "Does that mean you have to escort me back to my quarters now?"

"Unfortunately, yes." He swallows and glances at me. "You know what day it is, right?"

I do; I'd thought about it off and on all day. "The 14th. We'll hit the iceberg in a few hours," I whisper, making sure no one around us is listening.

He nods and squeezes my hand as we stand and walk back toward my room. "Are you scared?"

I take a deep breath and say, "Shitless. But we have to deal with it, anyway. There's nothing else we can do."

He looks at me and cocks his head to the side. "You're so brave, you know that, right?"

I wave him off. "I'm not that brave...just reckless sometimes."

"No. You aren't reckless; you calculate every move you make. You know exactly what you're doing before you do it, and even when it's dangerous, you recognize the importance of what you're doing and you do it anyway. You're scared, but you don't let that stop you. If that's not brave, then I don't know what is." We stop in front of my room, and he puts his hand on my cheek, pressing his forehead to mine. "I'm lucky to know you, Rylan Walker."

I am speechless, and before I can say anything, he kisses the corner of my mouth and whispers, "I'll see you in a few hours." With that, he leaves me at my door, and I watch him walk away, ducking into my room only when he's out of sight.

I close the door and lean against it with my eyes closed, my chest heaving with the desire to not only touch him but to tell him how I feel. I feel like I can't breathe, and I peel the dress off so I can unlace the torture contraption underneath it.

When I'm freed from the constraints of the corset and into my pastel pink nightgown, I am more at ease, but as I lay in bed staring at the ornate design on the ceiling, my mind races for a long time, and I realize that in just a few hours, the Titanic will be thrust into a state of chaos and terror.

We're wasting time. We don't know exactly how this will end, just like the wedding in India. The ship will sink, that much is sure, but we don't know what our fates will be. For all we know, we could end up squashed by a falling smokestack or drowned in the freezing waters of the North Atlantic Ocean.

I can't stay away another second.

Pulling the matching silk robe from the armoire, I slip it over my nightgown and peek out the door; there is no one around. I run through the hall, hair flying behind me and robe billowing around my ankles. When I reach his room, I tap on the door, holding my breath in anticipation.

Sage opens the door, and he looks as if he hasn't been getting any sleep either, still dressed in his suit slacks and undershirt. Popping his head past the doorframe, he looks both ways before grabbing my arm and pulling me into the room. "What are you—"

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