Chapter 3

The dinner bell rang at six, and all the third class passengers were hurried into a large dinner hall that was dimly light and musty and full of cigarette smoke. It was extremely lively though, and people were laughing and drinking and having a grand time. Amongst the loud music, was a mixture of accents and languages that sounded like poetry to the ears.

Katina and Luke took a seat at a table where a petite brunette woman was sitting. She couldn't have been much older than Katina, or Luke. By the look of her clothes, she was most likely European. Possibly German or French.

"Hi." said the woman as Katina took a seat across from her.

"Hello." said Katina. Luke took the empty seat next to Katina.

"I'm Clarinda Marceau." said the woman.

"Ka-" began Katina. She tried to mask her Russian accent as best she could, "I mean Alice Sullivan. And this is my husband Sean."

"Pleasure to meet you both." said Clarinda, "I would introduce you to my husband, but he's resting in our cabin."

"Oh." said Katina shyly.

Clarinda was very polite and spoke with a very faint French accent. It seemed as though she had been well educated and came from wealth, but her clothes hinted differently. Katina assumed she may have lost her family and her money due to the war, as she had, but Clarinda did not speak much of her past, more of her future and what her plans were once the ship docked in France. She didn't even speak of why she was leaving America and coming back to her homeland, or why she left her homeland at all.

Throughout dinner, Luke and Katina became more acquainted with Clarinda Marceau, and then were joined by a tall, older man in his early thirties. He too was also dressed somewhat poorly, or that of a lower class.

"Darling, there you are." he said.

"Alice, Sean, this is my husband Frederic." said Clarinda. The man leaned down and exchange a tender kiss with his wife.

When it seemed like everyone was finished eating, the music started up again. A group of Irishmen with fiddles and bagpipes began to play some lively tunes just near a dancing floor.

Some of the third class passengers began to dance along, including Clarinda and Frederic. Luke leaned over and whispered in Katina's ear, "Do you want to dance?"

Katina jumped in her seat. She turned to face Luke who was only centimeters away from her face.

"No." she said almost instantly.

Luke half-smiled.

"No?" he asked.

"No." repeated Katina in an annoyed tone.

Luke's smile grew as he took Katina's hand and whisked her out onto the dance floor. He spun her around and twirled her in different directions. At first, Katina tried to pull away at every instant and return to her seat, but Luke ignored her stubbornness and continued to dance and enjoy himself. Soon, Katina couldn't help but laugh. Luke smiled, pleased with himself, and pulled Katina close to him.

Katina began to blush as Luke cleared his throat nervously.

"Ready?" he asked. Before Katina had a chance to respond, Luke began to lead Katina across the room, following all of the other couples. The music began to play louder, as more musicians began to play. As the music became louder, the dancing became faster and the laughing became harder. Katina let out a squeal of delight. Never in her life had she ever danced like this. She remembered all of the parties and balls her parents and her uncle, the Czar, had thrown and never was there ever dancing like this. The only dance Katina knew was the waltz, because it was the dance that was done at all the proper balls and banquets.

Luke glanced over at Frederic and the two men switched partners so that Katina was now with Frederic.

"You and your husband make a lovely couple." said Frederic. Katina immediately stopped in her place.

"I beg your pardon?' asked Katina confusedly.

"It's very noticeable that you and your husband are so in love." said Frederic. Katina's smile quickly faded, as the song ended. She nearly tripped over her feat as she headed back over to the table where Clarinda was waiting.

"Is everything alright dear?" asked Clarinda. Katina glanced over at Luke who was with a group of men playing cards. She caught his attention and he smiled at her. Katina turned back toward Clarinda.

"I-I don't feel so good. I n-need some fresh air." she said nervously.

"Was it something you ate?" asked Clarinda worriedly.

"I-I think so." lied Katina. She could feel her heart quicken and her palms moist with sweat.

"Alice, you're flushed." said Clarinda, "Let me go get you a wet cloth for your face."

Clarinda hurried up from her seat, leaving Katina alone at the table. Katina didn't wait for Clarinda, but instead got up from her seat and quickly leave the hall.

Katina went straight up to the third class deck and leaned against the railing. The sun began to set in the horizon, the sky was filled with orange and red.

"Thought I might find you up here." said a familiar voice.

Katina turned around to see Luke just a few feet behind her. She turned back toward the sunset.

"I needed some fresh air. Too much cigarette smoke." lied Katina. She could hear Luke's footsteps coming toward her. He leaned against the railing next to her.

"Is something bothering you?" he asked turning his head toward Katina. She looked at him, anger in her eyes.

"I am afraid!" yelled Katina.

"Afraid? Of what?" asked Luke.

"Afraid of this war, of what's going to happen to us, to me!" continued Katina, "I have nothing, and no one, left in my life. I don't want to run. I want to be free and safe."

Luke smiled a small smile.

"Don't smile when I'm yelling at you!" continued Katina, "You are so stubborn and arrogant!"

Luke's smile grew.

"Stop that! See? This is what I'm talking about! You never take anything seriously and-"

Luke cut Katina off by pressing his mouth against hers and holding her in his arms. Katina squirmed to break loose, but ultimately surrendered and wrapped her own arms around Luke's neck.

Katina felt safe in Luke's strong embrace. His arms holding her tightly against him, surrounding her with warmth.

The wind picked up a little and sent Katina's long, curly hair flying around hers and Luke's faces. Neither paid much attention, only holding on to each other more tightly.

"There you are!" exclaimed another familiar voice. Katina and Luke both quickly pulled away to see Clarinda staring back at them with a big smile on her face.

Katina quickly left Luke's side and joined Clarinda for a walk around the deck.

"I hope I wasn't interrupting anything." teased Clarinda. Katina forced a smile, trying to remember not to blow her cover.

"You and Sean, have you not been married long?" asked Clarinda. Katina shook her head.

"I see." said Clarinda, "I suppose it was an arranged marriage?" Katina said nothing.

Clarinda took a seat on one of the deck chairs. Katina sat down beside her.

"I have a little story to tell you," began Clarinda, "I met Frederic when I was fifteen. At the time, he was twenty-five. I came from a very wealthy family, we were on holiday visiting family and I met Frederic. We fell in love, even though his family didn't like me because I came from wealth and my family didn't like Frederic because he was poor. I was engaged to a man my family had arranged a marriage with for me. I didn't love him, and I wanted to be with Frederic. We went against both of our families wishes and got married behind their backs. My family cut me off from everything, moved to America. At first, Frederic and I thought that we could take care of each other without their help, but money seemed to just dissolve. Which is why we left France to come to America to see if my family would finally help us, but they didn't, which is why we're heading back to France."

Katina sat completely still listening to Clarinda's story. It all made sense now.

"The point of my story is that, I understand it's hard to love someone you were arranged to marry, but had I married the man I was engaged to, I'm sure in time I would have loved him. But I have Frederic and I gave up everything to be with him, and if I could do it all over, I wouldn't change a thing. You and Sean may have had an arranged marriage, but you two love each other like Frederic and I do. I can see it. You are lucky to have one another." said Clarinda. She reached across to Katina's chair and gave her hand a squeeze.

Katina continued to stay quiet. She looked out at the sea, to avoid making eye contact with Clarinda. The sky was dark now, except for the moon and a few bright stars.

"I hope I didn't offend you." said Clarinda.

"No, you didn't." said Katina, turning toward Clarinda.

"You know, you're the first real friend I've made on the ship so far." said Clarinda, a sweet smile across her face.

Katina couldn't help but smile as well.

"You are my first real friend too." she said.

"I do hope we can stay friends once we've reached France. What are your's and husband's plans once the ship docks?" asked Clarinda.

"Well, we really don't have any plans right now." said Katina. She bit her lower lip.

"Oh, I see."

Katina felt uncomfortable realizing how ignorant she must've sounded to Clarinda. It really didn't make any sense for two supposed Americans to travel to Europe during a time of war.

Not wanting their conversation to continue, for hopes that she could keep her alias a secret, Katina gave Clarinda a small hug before getting up from her chair. She mumbled a quick goodbye and then turned away, heading back down to the room.

Luke was waiting for her when she got down there. He was sitting in the uncomfortable chair staring out the port-hole window.

"Were you talking to Clarinda all this time?" he asked when he noticed Katina enter the room.

"Yes."

"What'd you two talk about?"

"Nothing." lied Katina.

"It should only take us a few more days 'til we reach France." said Luke.

"Alright."

"You're awfully quiet." said Luke. He raised an eyebrow.

"I'm just tired."

"Well, it's late," said Luke, "you should get some sleep."

"Where shall I sleep?" asked Katina.

"You take the bed, I'll sleep here." said Luke patting the arm of the chair. Katina couldn't help but smile.

"That chair does not look very comfortable." she said.

"Yea, well, I've slept on worse." said Luke, "Trust me, it's better than having no bed at all."

Katina walked over to the bed and pulled down the covers. She didn't even bother taking any clothes off as she slipped under the thin crème blanket. She listened as Luke got up from the chair and shut the room light off, then returned back to the chair.

The room was dark, cold and quiet. The only light coming from the moon shining through the porthole window.

"Good night Luke." Katina murmured in the darkness. Luke gave no response, Katina assumed he had fallen asleep.

The next morning, Katina awoke sooner than Luke. She left the room and headed down to the dining hall. She spotted Clarinda almost immediately, mainly due to the fact that she was one of the only people in the hall.

"Alice!" called Clarinda from her table. Katina joined her, taking the seat next to her.

"I take it your husband is a heavy sleeper, as is mine." she said in a light teasing sort of tone. Katina nodded.

"Well, that's alright, at least I have you!" said Clarinda cheerfully, "How did you sleep? I was impressed of our quarters. Growing up I had always been in first class, but now-well, you understand. Anyway, I wasn't expecting our room to be so decent. I had always heard that third class was unbearable."

"I slept well." answered Katina. She tried not to speak much around Clarinda, as it was hard for her to mask her accent.

"What are your plans for today? I hear there is shuffleboard up on deck." said Clarinda. She took a small bite of her roll. Katina hid her smile, when she realized that, although Clarinda was hungry, she still managed to use proper eating manners, by taking small bites as taught to proper young ladies of upper class. Katina had been taught those same manners by her mother, the Duchess. Using them now seemed almost silly.

Clarinda noticed Katina's smile.

"Oh you must think I'm full of myself for acting like this." she said embarrassedly.

"No, not at all. I smile because I too was raised in an upper class family, and forget myself that there is no need to use such grace and manners now." Katina blushed when she realized she had said so much.

Clarinda stared at her for a short while before she spoke.

"I thought you might have been hiding something…" she began, "Alice Sullivan isn't your real name, is it?"

Katina swallowed hard and shook her head.

"And Sean isn't really your husband, is he?" Clarinda continued.

Katina shook her head once more.

"You two are escaping from someone, aren't you?"

"Yes." said Katina quietly.

"I meant what I said, yesterday. You are my friend. You can tell me the truth." said Clarinda.

Katina let out a deep breath before she began to speak, "My name is Countess Katina Elizaveta Alexandra Sokolova."

"You're a countess!" exclaimed Clarinda.

"Please, do not tell anyone, not even Luke knows." said Katina nervously.

"Luke? Is that the man you're traveling with?" asked Clarinda.

"Yes," answered Katina, "we met when I first came to America. I lived in his family's boarding house. Luke is on the run from the police. He made me come with him."

"Made you?" asked Clarinda, she pulled her seat in closer to Katina, "Were you kidnapped?!"

"No-yes-no, it's a complicated situation. In a way, I suppose I came on my own." replied Katina.

"How exciting!" exclaimed Clarinda, "What happened to your family?"

"They were killed in the Bolshevik Revolution, because we are royal blood. Family of the Czar. I escaped."

"I see. So then, who does Luke think you are?"

"Just Katina Sokolova, a Russian immigrant."

"I'm so sorry about what I said yesterday about you and Sean-I mean Luke, being in love." said Clarinda.

"I can assure you, we're not." said Katina defensively, "I cannot stand him. He is arrogant and childish and annoying."

Clarinda half smiled

"I see." was all she said. Katina quickly changed the subject, when she noticed Frederic approaching the table.

Katina spent most the day with Clarinda and Frederic. First in the dinning hall, and then up on deck. It wasn't until sunset that Katina found Luke. He was up on deck playing cards with the same group of men he had been playing with the night before.

From the looks of it, Luke was winning, and doing fairly well. Katina had never seen a card game before, so she strolled over to watch.

Luke noticed her right away. He glanced up from his cards, his eyes locking with Katina's. He half smiled and then threw down a card.

"Hit me." he told the man across from him. The man took Luke's card and then threw him a new one from the deck.

Luke stared down at his cards. He bit his lower lip and made a face, still staring down at the cards.

Katina was fascinated. She then found herself slowly walking over to Luke's side. He paid no attention to her as the men at the table began to throw down their cards.

"Two pair." said one man.

"Straight!" shouted another.

"Three of a kind" said the last man. They all turned toward Luke and waited for him to show his cards.

Luke turned to face Katina. A cocky smile on his face. He turned back toward the table and threw his cards down.

"Flush."

The men all groaned as Luke reached out and swept the pile of winnings towards himself.

"Did you win?" asked Katina.

"That I did." said Luke proudly.

The men all got up from the table heading off in different directions.

"You want to play?" asked Luke.

"Me?" replied Katina, realizing he was speaking to her, "I've never played before."

"It's easy." said Luke as he shuffled the deck of cards, "Take a seat."

Katina took the seat across from Luke, mesmerized by the way his hands magically worked the deck of cards.

"Now, the object of the game is to have the best hand of cards." said Luke as he dealt out his and Katina's cards.

"What is the best hand?" asked Katina sorting out her cards confusedly.

"Royal flush is the best. It's when you have a king, a queen, a jack, a ten and an ace. But they have to have the same suit." said Luke, sorting through his own cards.

"What's a suit?" asked Katina.

"It's the symbol on the card. Either a heart, a spade, a diamond or a club. Basically you just gotta match up everything. Like three of a kind is when you have three of the same card. Like three threes or three kings or something like that. Or a straight is when you have five cards in order like three, four, five, six and seven. Doesn't matter what the suit it. If you do happen to get five in order with the same suit, that's a straight flush. A regular flush-"

"Is when you have all the same suit?" interrupted Katina.

Luke smiled.

"Yea that's right." he said.

"What about if you have nothing?" asked Katina.

"Then you throw down a card you don't want and say, hit me." said Luke. He watched as Katina eyed her cards, deeply concentrating on each one. Finally she chose one and placed it face down on the table.

"Hit me." she said quietly. Luke handed her a card from the deck.

"You ready to show your hand yet?" he asked. Katina shook her head.

"I don't like my hand. I need another card." she said, still eyeing her cards.

"So put down another." said Luke. Katina took a card from her hand and placed it on the table.

"Hit me." she said with a little more confidence.

Luke handed her another card from the deck.

"Ready now?" he asked.

Katina looked up from her cards.

"You first." she said.

Luke took one last look at his cards and then threw them down.

"Four of a kind." he said coyly.

Katina smiled as she threw her own cards down.

"Royal flush."

Luke's smile faded as he took a look at Katina's cards.

"How the hell…" he began.

"Beginner's luck." said Katina, a cocky smile on her face, "We play again?"