touch. It was merely an extension of their work together. He did not place his hands on her, nor try to extend the contact. He simply smiled, which was rare, exposing his one physical flaw—undersized teeth. They appeared shrunken, immature, as though he were still waiting for his adult teeth to arrive. Hensley swallowed hard, trying to decipher the tingling that had begun in her lips but was now traveling across her chest. Was it fear or longing?
Before she left the theater that night, he placed a hand on her elbow and said only, “Your talent takes my breath away, Hensley. It is difficult for me to contain my admiration. Please forgive me.”
Hensley merely blushed and let him slide her coat onto her shoulders.
Walking home with Marie, she smiled the whole way. “What, you, too?” Marie asked as they crossed Broadway.
“You’ve gone ’round the moon for him, too? We’re such a bunch of sillies. Of course, since I’ve become Old Granny, he’s not that keen on me.”
Hensley laughed but she wondered about the other girls. They did all adore him. He was undeniably the most interesting man she’d ever met. Of course, she hadn’t met many men except her brother’s Columbia chums, who were the epitome of dull. But she thought of Sara Coe and Lily Benton, with their perfect, shiny hair and melodious voices. It was she, not they, whom he had kissed. It was she, not they, whom he found irresistible. She didn’t dare tell Marie that Mr. Teagan had kissed her. But she wondered, as Marie walked beside her in the fading spring daylight, if that kiss would be the beginning of their love story.
• • •
A s she and Marie parted ways and she turned onto her block, her lighthearted mood shifted. A newsie called out the headline, “Wilson to ask Congress to declare war!” She could see from the street below that the light in the apartment was lit. Her father would be writing, the sound of his ink stretched across an unending stack of paper.
“Daddy,” Hensley said as she took off her hat. He was not writing. He was sitting on the sofa, his spectacles in his hands. She sat beside him and leaned her head against his shoulder. “I saw the headline.”
Her father placed his hand on hers. “I remain appalled but hardly surprised. It’s been a long time coming.”
“But aren’t you going to keep writing? I mean, surely you can’t just give up. You have to speak your mind.”
He smiled, then wiped at his eyes, which looked tired. He looked at her anew, as though he hadn’t done so in years. “You are turning into a lady. Right here before my eyes. How are the costumes coming?”
“Fine, just fine. I met with the director tonight. Lowell Teagan. He really likes my ideas. I’ve a veritable closet of clothes to sew, however.”
Her father nodded. “Of course. Splendid.”
“Daddy? Maybe we should go out for dinner. A little distraction this evening might be nice.”
He shook his head. “I’ve had a slight setback at the paper, Hensley. I’ve been taken off editorial completely. They are putting a noose around my neck. Just about the only thing I can write about is the weather. And the worst part is that they assume it has something to do with my heritage.”
“That you sympathize with Germany?”
He stood. “Well, I do. I sympathize with the whole world. But I believe in peace, Hensley. Not one country or another.”
“Well, just tell them,” Hensley said.
“I’ve written nearly ten thousand words this month alone, Hensley. They are not listening. Nobody is.”
At that moment, Hensley wanted more than ever to be back in the theater, behind the dusty red curtain, with the scents of chalk and wood polish and Mr. Teagan’s hands manipulating her body with utter confidence.
“Well, I don’t know, Daddy. I suppose you’ll have to write about the weather, then.”
His face conveyed the kind of darkening that a rain cloud does to a blue summer sky. “Like bloody hell I