"Well," Thomas broke the heavy silence. "Shall we decide who gets which room then?"
James spoke up immediately. "I won't stay with him." He jerked his head at Matthew, who threw him a dirty look.
"Can we please be adults about this?" Key asked no one in particular.
"What is your name?" James snapped at him. Key didn't answer, making James give a smile that lacked any humor. "Don't go on about being adults. It's a perfectly reasonable request. I won't stay with Mr. Riverton."
There was a nasty silence following his words. It seemed to all five that this might and probably wouldn't work out. James wasn't too worried – anything to spite his arrogant uncle.
"In that case, I'll room alone." Matthew said, daring anyone to contradict. When no one did, he picked up his suitcase and disappeared into the last room, shutting the door with an insulted snap.
"That went well." Jimmy said, earning himself a sneer from James. He looked calmly back before continuing, feeling rather like he was dealing with his children.
"Mr. Albany and Mr. Brown can stay together in one room." Thomas sent a pleading look in his direction, which he ignored. "Mr. Wilson and I will stay in the final room. I think that the arrangements will work out fine." He added, seeing both James and Thomas open their mouths to protest.
Jimmy picked up his suitcase and walked into the first room without another word, leaving the door open for Key. He had to admit, as childish as it was, he was with Matthew in the feeling that he did not want to stay with James. Any person so selfish he wanted nothing to do with.
He saw Key give a weak sort of smile at the other two before joining him in the room.
Jimmy looked around. This room was far cry from the tiny room he and his wife inhabited back home. Though she told him it would seem to big with him gone.
Key had begun to unpack, placing his things in one of the bureaus and Jimmy did the same. He could hear the sounds of muffled arguing coming from next door, but he ignored it. Let them work it out.
He finished unpacking first, having less possessions than the others might have. He placed his viola case gingerly close to his bed and picked up a piece of paper and a pen, sitting at the lone desk.
My Dearest Samantha,
We have finally arrived on the boat. My room is large, but I like ours better because you're in it. I wish more than ever that you and the children were here. I'll miss you more than you could ever imagine.
I'm sure this job will provide very nicely for our family; the money will arrive at our home twice a month, I've been told. Please, don't only use it for necessities. I want you to buy something pretty for yourself and something for the children to enjoy.
Samantha, you've never seen such wealth in all your life! This boat is beyond belief. The dining room itself will just about take your breath away. From the little we've seen, the rest of this ship is just as luxurious. One day, I'll take you on a boat just as grand as this one, you'll see.
I am one of five musicians. There is me, the violist, Key Wilson and Matthew Riverton on the piano (no, I do not know Keys real name. He refused to tell us), Thomas Brown on the violin, and surprisingly, James Albany as the cellist. I shall try to keep my distance. I will tell you how everything works out in future letters.
I must go. We will be called upon to play soon.
With all my love,
Jimmy set aside the letter with a sigh. He knew Samantha would never read it while he was here – there was no way to send post while on the boat. But he had promised his wife that he would write her every night so she could read them when they were together again.
He leaned back in his chair and placed the folded paper in the top drawer, after making sure Key was otherwise occupied and not paying attention.
He closed his eyes, wondering what his family was doing.
"I can't believe this." James fumed, slamming his bag on the first bed.
Thomas followed rather tentatively, shutting the door and claiming the second bed. "Um, can't believe what?" He asked, attempting to make things civil.
Unfortunately, James wasn't in the mood. "What do you think? Not only am I here against my wishes, I am stuck here with an arrogant uncle and four people who can't stand my presence."
Thomas opened his mouth to refute that, but closed it again. It was kind of true. James had a remarkable ability to make people hate him on first sight. He groaned inwardly. Why did he have to get stuck with him? Why not Mr. Riverton or someone else better equipped to handle this? At least he was more used to James' animosity. But, he figured , they didn't want the boat to sink, and if those two stayed together, Thomas had no doubt that it would.
"If you don't mind," James' irritated voice cut through Thomas' thoughts. "Please stop staring at me like a fool."
Thomas looked away and turned to his bag, pulling things out and placing them in one of the bureaus'.
"I wanted that one."
Thomas turned, more than a little annoyed. "If you wanted it, why didn't you take it?"
James shrugged indifferently, still lounging on his bed. Thomas narrowed his eyes.
"Do you do that on purpose?" He asked. "Make yourself as hateful as possible? If you want peoples first impressions of you to change, maybe you should start changing first."
James snorted. "I didn't ask for advice." He said derisively. "And if I did, I wouldn't ask a 22-year-old."
Thomas turned away, taking out more clothing and putting them away. He was uninterested in hearing any childish complaints.
"I'm twenty." He muttered to himself. For some reason, the fact irritated him. Everything irritated him at the moment.
Damn you, James Albany.
He heard James rise behind him and begin to put his things away. Thomas took hos violin out of its case and sat on his bed, beginning to pluck the strings, tuning it.
"Could you please stop?" James asked without turning, "It's giving me a headache."
"Why?" Thomas snapped, drawing the bow slowly and gently over the strings.
"Because I told you to."
The melodious sound stopped as Thomas stared at James incredulously. "My violin needs to be tuned." He said slowly, as if to a small child. "I hate to break it to you, Mr. Albany." He added, turning back to his violin. "You are not always going to be able to get people to do your bidding simply because you told them to."
James was silent. Why risk his dignity in the face of a 22 year old child?
The silence was broken by James' uncle voice coming from the hall, speaking those fateful words,
"Get ready. We're almost ready for you."