"I'd say Linda sends her apologies for not makin' it out 'ere but you'd know I'd be lyin' but, Tommy did say to send his. I don't know whether the boys comin' or goin' anymore. Flyin' off by the seat of his pants at all hours." gruffs Arthur, leaning forward as Polly chuckles, watching Charlie who is in front of the fireplace, occupied with toy horses around him.
"He flies around by the front of them as well." Polly adds in, her expression equally annoyed and exhausted by the fact she states.
You're in the nursery you'd had set up in the upstairs guest wing for the Shelby children when they came to visit. You'd spent hours with the four of them, Arthur had been able to talk Linda into letting him bring the baby. Linda wasn't particularly fond of you, seeing as she saw you as a godless, murderous, vain, harlot and all. You were indifferent to Linda. She made Arthur happy and that's all that really mattered. And now all that mattered was little baby Billy who was currently swaddled and gurgling in your arms.
"I'm going to go down and have tea put in our rooms for after we put these little ones to bed." Polly states, looking over to Arthur who gives her a nod.
"Lovely idea." you coo, looking down at the baby you were bouncing in your arms.
Arthur clears his throat after Polly's footsteps fade down the hall. "So..." he says, his hands into his pockets, swaying up onto his toes and back onto his heels with a nod. "I 'eard Solomons is living with ya. I ain't seen him while we been here though." his eyes move around the room but don't look at you. You smirk over at him, your finger being demanded by Billy's tiny hand.
"He is. Out working I assume." you say dismissively, "I'm sure you heard his place was bombed." you give a small shrug. "I happened to be around when he was threatened and offered him a place here if my predictions of harm coming to him were true." he looks over at you, his lips pursed under his mustache.
"So you're not...ya know." he motions forward with his hand and you quietly laugh.
"Arthur." you shoot him an innocent smile. "The poor man's house blew up and I'm not heartless. And besides you and yours, he's the only man in our sort of business to show me any sort of respect since I've been here." you shake your head animatedly. "I'd dare to call him a friend at this point." you nod, looking back down at the baby as you speak. "He's been a gentleman if that's what you're wondering. He has in all our endeavors thus far." you explain in a warm tone.
"Ay, I was wonderin'." he nods looking at the floor. "Ain't the best blood between me 'n 'im ya know," he says with a small frown. "Don't want him to try 'n fuck ya over like he'd done us." he nods and walks closer, placing his hand on your arm. "I can't help but worry about ya here all alone, sweetheart. And with a man like that in that house." he says with an animated widening of his eyes and a huff of breath to punctuate his distaste.
"As always you're a very sweet peach dear, but I'm anything but alone here." you kiss his cheek and the baby goos, hands hitting your chest. "I don't feel he means me any harm. You know if I even had a fleeting thought that he might I wouldn't let him stay." you smile sweetly at him.
"I know, Genny, I know. Don't stop me mind from racin' at the thought though." he groans as Polly enters the room. She set the tray on a table, moving towards Charlie.
"Let's get this one to bed. Arthur, Billy's hungry, look at the way he's beating away on mother Greene's breast." she chuckles. "Go feed him and put him down, Papa." he lights up at the word. You hand him the baby.
"You put him down and then go put yourself down, new father. You're going to get your sleep tonight so I'll watch the baby. " you explain.
"Oh bless ya, Genny." he says shaking his head. "I'd kill a 100 men for this little man but his cryin' does make me wanna add myself to that count after a few nights of it stealin' our sleep." he says with a sigh. "Damn those powerful lungs you have Billy boy!" he cheers, holding the baby under its arms as he walks out of the room.
As you settle and change Charlie, you and Polly speak quietly to each other.
"Is Mr. Solomons behaving himself?" she asks with a suspicious inflection.
"He is." you nod with a small smile.
"I had heard stories of a charming, well endowed, dark-haired woman he was seen with at a fancy party downtown." she lets out a small laugh.
"They'll remember your breasts but they won't remember your name, will they?" you kid.
"Comes as no surprise." she agrees with a shake of her head.
"He invited me to help him feel out some potential business partners. That Cyrus Horne was at the party and we spoke with him. He has a lot of devil in him, doesn't he?"
"You would be correct in your intuition on Horne. His violence is well documented. Especially towards women." her tone drops in lightness as her eyes give you a warning.
"I felt as much after only speaking with him briefly. I hope Mr. Solomons is the man he thinks he is and can fix the situation he's gotten himself into." you sigh at the thought. "I certainly don't want to have to keep saving him...not for free anyway." you say with a smirk.
Polly smiles at your outlook. "For both your sake's I hope so as well. Men and their messes, us with the dust pan behind them." she grumbles, hands on her hips. "Speaking of men's messes? How are your dreams lately?" her voice sounding comforting as she made her inquiry.
"They come and go. They change and they somehow stay the same. Dark sea, big storm, him in the water." you shrug. "They haven't kept me from sleep as persistently as they had been." you shrug, your tone implying you were, for the moment, content to exist in limbo.
"And for you I know that's what really counts isn't it?" she says with a small smirk, tucking in Charlie.
"It certainly counts for a lot." you say with wide eyes, smoothing out Charlie's hair.
"Well the consistency leads one to think that it does hold importance. However, if it's not evolving I suppose that signifies some sort of stability." she says almost as if it's a question.
"The dream I had spoken to you about on the phone carried me straight to him, as a matter of fact. Saved his bloody life right from under his nose." you say with a sigh. "You could infer as much seeing as you hadn't heard word he was dead." you give a playful shrug, stating the obvious.
"Yes I would've heard by now." she agrees, speaking quietly. "But historically your dreams haven't been of others, correct?" she asks, moving her hand to her chin in a thoughtful pose.
"They've been mostly omens for myself, yes." you nod, crossing your arms and watching the boy snuggle into the pillows.
"And now the night has decided to tie you and Solomons together." he say in a gritty way, his eyes narrowing. "And for a reason we cannot ascertain. Interesting, that." she says, her head tilting towards you.
"That's one word for it." you grumble.
"You might not be Gypsy, girl, but you are something, aren't you?" she says with a thoughtful nod.
"Something perhaps, yes." you nod and raise your brows, speaking in a defeated tone. "I only wish I knew what that something was. I long to understand my own head better." your voice is laced with sadness she understands.
She smiles down at you, placing her hand on your arm. "As long as the things we don't understand are working in our favor, best not to question them too much." she says with a chuckle that moves her shoulders.
"Best not." you agree with an unsure smile.
With everyone in bed, you've been called to the babies room. You've been singing to him and he's quieter now. Just intervals of his vocalized distaste if you changed keys in your singing. You guess Linda must sing to him like this. You've lost count of what round of singing "The Boy I Love Is Up In The Gallery" you're on as you bounce him, his head on your chest.
As soon as Alfie walks past the bottom of the stairs he hears your singing, acknowledging the sounds with a grunt as he squints his eyes in its direction. He goes to his room and leaves his outer layers behind as he makes his way up the stairs. He moves slowly as he nears the door to the room at the source of the sound he's drawn towards.
He sees you, silhouetted against a large window. You turn to face his direction but you don't notice he's there. His eyes blink slowly at the sight, more affected by it than he had expected. There's a baby in your arms that you've snuggled to your chest and his mind thinks much like the instinctual infant on your chest as he grunts when he notices your chest in the dress you're wearing. He has the thought to be jealous of the baby as it snoozes away with small gurgles in between lines of the song, rubbing its face back and forth between your ample bosom as if to mock him. They're framed with importance in the long flowing, almost sheer gown, backlit by moonlight he can see the most accurate representation of your feminine shape he's been able to see so far, black against the ambient lights of the garden radiating up from the ground, a halo of light colored fabric around your body giving you an angelic glowing appearance. He moves his body into the doorway and catches your attention. You smile sweetly at him, continuing singing with a wink as you move to put the baby back into its crib. You're bent over the edge of the crib and he can't help but be frustrated with himself. This wasn't a welcome addition to his usual frustrations. You stop at the last line of the song, and walk towards him slowly. He watches you with tired eyes that eventually meet your own as you move closer and place your hand on his chest to move him out of the doorway. He'd not even thought to move away from you. In the back of his brain something sparks that he knew was just an evolutionary reaction to a man seeing a woman in such a situation, but how his mouth went dry as the thought crept further into the front of his mind, he pushed the thought back that it might be something more.
"That weren't there when I left this mornin'." he jokes with you, finger pointed and grin worn.
"It's Arthur's son, Billy." you grin and swat his finger away, moving past him to walk down the hall, he follows without a second thought. "He and Polly came by today. They're in bed. I offered to attend to the baby so he could get some sleep." you nod with tired eyes.
"Very kind of you, Genevieve." he nods, his lips pursed.
"If I were a new father I know I'd need the sleep. I'm just being considerate to my dear friend."
"Dear friend, eh?" he emphasizes the added descriptor of your relationship with the oldest Shelby. "I did suspect you and Arthur were close. What with the huggin' and kissin' and what not." his tone states this factually but the way his nose twitched as he says it makes your eyes narrow, watching his face.
"We're very close. Very similarly dual natured." you say thoughtfully, slowly as you descend the stairs. "And I hug and kiss all my friends, Alfie. I am French, after all." you kid with a grin as he's following you to your room and you're not even sure if he realizes where he's following you.
You stop and face him at the bottom of the small set of half circle stone stairs that lead up the large door leading to your wing of the house.
"You are, yeah." he looks over your face as you stand, one hand on your hip.
"You consider us friends, Alfie?" you ask. You were genuinely curious where you stood with the man. He gives you a closed mouth smile first, looking down at you.
His head leans back slightly, eyes looking at the ceiling showing consideration and as you stoically wait for a response. He keeps his chin up and looks down at you with eyes alone. "For what short time we've known each other, yeah? You and I have been through a bit of seriousness, 'aven't we?" he nods, his eyes narrowing. "Yeah." he nods, dragging out the word ina gravely noise, his face leaning back down towards yours. "I say we're friends Genevieve."
"I was hoping you'd say that." you give him a sweet smile. "You've seen my personal sketches, on that alone by my rules we have to be good friends." you explain in a warm sweeping movement, your hands holding the long, voluminous fabric of your robe.
"You snuck in "good" onto that title friend, but I still cannot say I disagree with ya." his head shakes down at you.
"Then shall I start treating you as I do all my good friends?" you ask, looking up through your lashes just slightly. "If I touch you with a greeting or a goodbye, you're not going to try and snap my wrists out of instinct are you?" the teasing tone in your voice very evident.
"Ridiculous. Now that I know you're really just a hard candy coating covering up a soft middle I won't be on edge around ya, will I?" he leans in with his own mocking tone and you narrow your eyes at him with a grin.
"Then I'll say goodnight to you as I do to good friends," you say with a nod, moving to wrap your arms around his body. His arms hesitate to embrace you back, his eyes dropping to you in unison with your cheeks arrival upon his chest. "Hugs don't work one way." you state. His chest bobs your head as he chuckles at you, you feel him ease and his big arms send heat through your robe. "Much better." you say, patting his back with one hand and pulling away. He expects this to be the end but your hands take his jaw between them, planting a kiss with your lips solidly on either cheek. You release him and turn your cheek to him and tap it with one finger, your face expectant in the return of the gesture from him. "Kisses don't work one way either." your words start off coy then you laugh softly as he smirks at you. You feel his barely-there beard against your skin, he even gives you a smooch of a noise that makes your nose scrunch at the silliness of the gesture. Your other hand lands on his arm. "Goodnight, Alfie." you say softly, your thumb rubbing almost unnoticeably back and forth against his cheek before you pull away to raise your robe with both hands before ascending the stairs. He pulls the door back once you open it.
"Goodnight, sweetheart." you peek your head back out of the door as he starts to close it.
"You call all your good friends sweetheart?" you ask with a playful raised brow.
"Just the pretty ones." one of your preferred incarnations of his cheeky grin is looking down at you. You scoff loudly but in stride at his impish words, taking the door into your own hands.
"Go to sleep, Solomons." you laugh as you clang the door shut. He stands by the door, listening to your laugh as it fades behind your bedroom door.