Modern Shorts



Mele Kalikimaka

A Christmas vacation short.

 

One- The best laid travel plans of mice and men…

“Jane, are you really sure about this?” asked Elizabeth Bennet as she carefully filled her TSA-approved 3 ounce bottles with her favorite shampoo and conditioner.

“Yes. Absolutely! It’s like that movie we were watching the other night. Remember?” Jane Bennet began to sing off-key. “I’m going to wash that man right out of my hair!”

Lizzy groaned. “If I pretend to remember, will you stop singing?”

“Only if you keep packing! Paradise, here we come!”

~*~

William Darcy was pacing back and forth nervously, quizzing his sister about her readiness for her trip. “Are you sure you have everything? Sunscreen? Phone charger? Phone? Credit card? I just don’t know about this…”

“Will! Cut it out!” Georgiana Darcy protested. “I have everything I’m supposed to and you’re following me out there tomorrow, so even if I did forget something, you’ll be able to rescue me once again, like you always do.”

Will crossed his arms and plainly stated, “I’m your brother, that’s my job.”

She wished more than anything that he would quit hovering about and just drive her to school to meet the marching band already. There was a sharp tone in her voice Georgie hadn’t intended when she shot back, “Well, I think it’s about time you get a family of your own and change jobs!”

Immediately Will’s entire countenance changed. His arms dropped to his side, his head hung low and shoulders slumped. He was a defeated man. For a moment he appeared as though he might reprimand her, but instead he quietly picked up his keys and said, “Let’s get you to school then.”

~*~

“I think that we’d better plan on taking up residence in Honolulu, because I can’t go through security like that again!” Lizzy, with a great deal of her trademark sarcasm, said, “And he didn’t even have the decency to buy me a drink before he felt me up and I just know that he’s never going to call. All is lost.”

Jane tried to soothe her rankled sister. “Now, you know that you aren’t serious. They are only doing their jobs. Thankless jobs at that!”

“Yeah, well, until proven otherwise, I reserve the right to assume they’re all perverts.”

~*~

Charles Bingley had maintained possession of a key to Darcy’s apartment since they’d graduated from college. Without any family nearby excepting his much-younger sister, Charlie was Will’s ‘in case of emergency’ friend. In all the years they’d been friends, Charlie had never once abused his key privileges, always gaining permission before entering Darcy’s place. But now Charlie stood outside in the cold, knowing that Will was inside, refusing to answer the door. After five minutes of waiting, he’d finally had enough.

“Grow up Will!” Charlie called out as he let himself in the apartment. “You had to let her go sometime.”

Will, lying face down on the couch with his head under a pillow, responded dully, “I suppose so. It’s just so hard. How do you get over something like this?”

Charlie sat himself in the nearby armchair. He tried to give his friend a pep talk. “Georgie had to grow up sometime. I know it’s tough, you’ve been more like her father than a brother, but she’s a senior this year and will be off to college before you know it.”

Will sat up and looked at his guileless best friend. It seemed his secret was still safe. “Yes, it’s tough to let my sister go. That’s the problem.”

~*~

When Lizzy and Jane disembarked in Hawaii, it was a far cry from the frigid weather they’d left behind in Baltimore. Winters weren’t normally so harsh in Maryland, but this one had seemed especially brutal. Lizzy had often thought that the way Old Man Winter had battered the land paralled how battered and bruised her emotions felt lately, as if her tumultuous personal life had somehow mystically influenced the weather. When Jane had suggested throwing over their family and enjoying the sunshiny promise of better days in Honolulu, Lizzy couldn’t resist. Even if she hadn’t felt a need to escape her overbearing family, Jane’s own spirits had been so hopelessly depressed that Lizzy would have willingly gone anywhere that her sister wanted. Luck just had it that Jane picked paradise.

The travel-weary sisters eventually were settled into the resort that Jane had booked using her travel agent connections. Lizzy was duly impressed and told Jane so. “Whew,” she whistled, “you didn’t tell me we were going to be rock stars this week! This place is bigger than my apartment.”

Jane was emptying her bags, making use of the dresser and hanging up her clothes as she teased, “Yeah, and this place costs tons more than your apartment.”

Lizzy didn’t bother hanging anything up, intending just to live out of the suitcase. “Then all’s fair. What should we do first? Your vacay, your call.”

“If it’s my call, you have to promise to not make fun. Promise?”

“Yeah, I promise.”

“It’s kinda too late for it tonight, but I know what I want to do tomorrow! A luau. A real, genuine Hawaiian luau! With a pig roast and leis and hula dancing and everything!”

Lizzy flopped on her bed, grabbing a pillow to scream into so she wouldn’t break her promise.

~*~

“Are you sure you don’t mind coming with me? I know Georgie would love to see you and could use all the support she can get, but I don’t want your sisters to hate me for taking you away for the holidays.”

Charlie scrunched his brow in amused disbelief as he waited to Will to realize what he’d just said.

“Ignore me. I’d love it if I could make your sisters hate me. Are you sure you don’t need anything? We have a little time and we can stop by your place so you can actually pack a bag.”

“Nah. I like doing things by the seat of my pants. I haven’t done enough of that lately. And I could use a little bit of my sister’s hating me right now, too.”

“Thanks, Charlie. I really appreciate this.”

Thinking of how good it would be to get away from the constant parade of ‘acceptable’ women his sisters kept bringing home for him, Charles Bingley was the one who was grateful. “No, Pal, thank you!”

 

~*~

Two- Sun, surf and Dramamine

Lizzy lifted her head up from the lounge chair and had a sudden urge to pinch herself to verify that this wasn’t a dream. Instead, she poked her sister, rousing her from a slumber causing the normally serene Jane to swear.  “Ow! Damn! You’ve got my attention, Lizzy, what do you want?”

“Is this real? We’re really here, in Hawaii, and not shoveling out from a foot of snow, freezing our asses off?”

Jane glanced at the clock near the cabana and noted it was time to turn over. “Yes, Lizzy, this is real and we’re about as far from freezing as we can be. Now, can I go back to sleep? I’m resting up for the luau tonight.”

“Go back to sleep.” Lizzy looked towards the surf and noted all the activity. “I think I’m going to sight-see.”

Jane muttered a reply and waved a hand before dozing off again.

Lizzy adjusted her chair so she could have a better view of the people, and more specifically the men, on the beach. Lately, Lizzy had found that she was comparing every man she saw to a certain infuriating man of her acquaintance that she was determined to spend no more time thinking about, even if he was the most handsome man she had ever known and he had professed his love for her and begged her to marry him. Surely here, of all places, she could find a piece of man-candy to take her mind off of that man who was undoubtedly still freezing his butt, his very cute, tight butt off in Washington. That’s not too much to ask, is it?

It was. What is wrong with me? I’m having some kind of mental breakdown… yeah, that has to be it! Making comparisons only led her to find fault with every man on the beach. That guy’s not as tall as him. That one isn’t as broad-chested. Not trim enough. Way too trim. No dimples. Ugh! Too much body hair. No hair at all! That blonde might do for Jane…no! No men! We’re washing men right out of our hair! Lizzy gave up people watching and turned over to soak up some more of the afternoon sun.

~*~

William Darcy wanted nothing more than a receptacle to throw up in.

“We’re here! Isn’t it beautiful?!” exclaimed Charlie.

Will was just glad the flight was over and they were done moving. Having always suffered from motion sickness, he was just beginning to wonder what had possessed him to come to an island in the middle of the ocean. The he remembered: he needed to get away from home and, more importantly, support his sister as her marching band played in the halftime show at the whatever-the-heck- the-sponsor-is-this-year Hawai’i Bowl. He almost smiled when he realized that, again, uncomfortable and hare-brained decisions had women as the driving force behind them.

When Will didn’t respond, Charlie finally noticed how green his friend looked. “Sunshine, Will. You need some sunshine. It’s the sure-fire kill for those wintertime blues you’ve got!”

Since he couldn’t guarantee that if he opened his mouth he wouldn’t throw up, Will allowed himself to be led to their rooms. Will eventually found his equilibrium and checked in by phone with Georgie, who assured her big brother all was well, it was fine he’d brought Charlie along and that she would see them both later on.

 

~*~

Jane was feeling relaxed for the first time in months. No one was there to look down on her or think she wasn’t good enough for their brother. None of these men would convince her there was no one else in the world but her and then abandon her- right before Valentine’s no less! -leaving her heartbroken and unable to trust anyone like a certain man that Jane was trying very hard to forget ever existed. Except that Jane kept seeing him everywhere. Maybe I’m mad, she thought.

Lizzy was just conscious enough to ask, “What’re you mad about?”

Jane was mortified, “I’m not. Mad, that is. I guess I was just thinking aloud.” In Jane’s opinion, Lizzy usually had the best insights and she felt she really could use one now. “Lizzy?”

“Mmmn?”

Jane was uncertain how to ask. “Do you ever think…”

Lizzy never could resist being a smartass and said, “All the time. You see, I have this thing called a brain…”

“You didn’t let me finish!” Jane cried in exasperation. “Lizzy, be serious!” Her sister sat up and nodded she would cooperate. “Have you ever wanted something so much, or thought about it to the point where… you’re gonna think I’m nuts, but you want it so bad that you start actually seeing it? Like your mind is playing tricks on you and you start visualizing what you want?”

As much as Lizzy wanted to accuse Jane of being crazy, she knew it would be the very same as the pot calling the kettle black. The only fair thing to do would be to confess her own neurosis, or at least part of them. “Yep, all the time.” Seeing the relief on Jane’s face made her take it a step farther. “Let me guess: you’re seeing blondie-boy’s face in the crowd?”

“I hate that you can do that. Can I never have any secrets from you?”

“No.” Lizzy felt no triumph over being right, just guilt that while Jane was an open book to her, she remained an impenetrable vault, a regular Fort Knox, to her sister. Jane could have no secrets because Lizzy had the market cornered on them. She believed her sister was miserable enough without adding her own laments onto the pile of woes. The adage ‘a load shared is a load halved’ never once crossed Lizzy’s mind. The same mind which told her Jane was too fragile to handle any more troubles.

“I wish I could just get over this.” Jane’s lip trembled as she pushed away the urge to cry. She would shed no more tears, if she could help it. “He didn’t love me. Or if he did, it wasn’t enough. A man should be willing to overcome everything to be with the woman he loves. He shouldn’t just walk away.”

Lizzy was silent. There was nothing she could say. She turned Jane’s words over in her mind. A man should be willing to overcome everything to be with the woman he loves. He shouldn’t just walk away. At first, she felt ashamed. Will hadn’t walked away; she had shoved him out the door! Then she singled out the word ‘willing’. He had not been willing and he had said as much. Will had long struggled against his feelings; he hadn’t wanted to love her and confessed he loved her against his will and even against his character. Who wants to be holding someone hostage in a relationship? Who wants to be loved by someone that didn’t even want them in the first place? It was remembering this that allowed her to remain angry and release her guilt for her treatment of him.

Jane startled Lizzy from her thoughts by gasping and wagging her pointed finger towards a spot down the beach a little ways.

Lizzy looked but didn’t see anything that should have excited her sister so thoroughly. “What, Jane? I don’t see anything.”

“There, next to the lifeguard station… see? In the blue floral trunks? It’s Charlie! Do you see?”

Lizzy searched, but didn’t see anything except a family building a sandcastle. “No. There’s no one in blue trunks over there, floral or otherwise. I think maybe it’s time you out of this heat and get ready for the luau.”

Disturbed, Jane was still staring off towards the guard tower. “I swear… I thought I saw…”

~*~

Charlie was out of breath, having just run to the bar and back to fetch Will a bottle of water to rinse his mouth after having been sick. “So, maybe surf-jumping wasn’t the best idea I’ve ever talked you into.”

After a long swig of cool water, Will wiped his mouth and laughed for the first time since he couldn’t remember when.

“I take it from your hilarity, you’re feeling better?” hoped Charlie.

Sitting cross-legged on the sand with one arm propped on his knee and the other clutching his stomach, Will shook his head. “No, I still feel horrible.”

“Then what’s so funny? And if you say watching me run or something like that, I swear I’ll kick sand in your face. Consider yourself warned.”

Charlie’s appearance of seriousness drew another laugh from Will. “Yep. I’m terrified.” Charlie glared until Will explained, “Fine. Yes, surf-jumping was one of the worst ideas you’ve ever had. But what’s funny is that I listened to you. I always listen to you and I always seem to regret it.” And the one time you actually listen to me, it was an even bigger disaster.

“No one made you get that stupid tat.” Charlie laughed. “You always drag that piece of old news out! Well, I’m not gonna listen to you whine about it anymore because we both know that you made that mistake all on your own, my friend.”

“Yes, I did,” he admitted before turning melancholy. “My mistakes are definitely all my own doing.”

“Gah! None of that. I thought we were supposed to be leaving depression back in DC.”

“What do you know about depression?”

“More than you do, I bet. You didn’t fall in love with a girl who didn’t love you back! Carrie and Louisa have been dragging me to every society and charity shindig they can find in the hopes that I’ll finally fall out of love with Jane. Neither one of them have a clue just how difficult it is when you find the right person only to find out that you’re the wrong one.”

Another wave of nausea hit Will as brutally as Charlie’s words had. “Sounds terrible, Charlie. You still love Jane?”

“How do you stop loving an angel? It’s not like it matters… she didn’t love me.”

The combination of his nagging conscious, his roiling stomach and the salt water he’d accidentally swallowed proved too much and Will was sick again.

“What can I do for you, Will? You look like hell…”

“A fresh towel would be good. In a minute, I’ll try to get up and I’ll meet you by the cabana.”

Charlie nodded and as he was leaving, said, “Take your time, don’t rush and feel worse. Just sit there and sip your water. I’ll come find you in a minute.”

Out loud, Will said to no one in particular, “I don’t think it’s possible to feel worse.”

As he leaned forward to shift his weight to his knees, Will groaned. “Why did I agree to come to the beach? I should have stayed in my room. Damn Charlie!” He used his arms to steady himself as he brought one leg forward and slowly stood up. He brushed as much sand off as he could and as he tilted his head to the side to let the water out of his ear, he swore he was hallucinating. Straightening up, he focused on the line of lounge chairs by the walkway and knew he was seeing things. It wasn’t possible, it couldn’t be her! As sure as he knew his own name, Will knew that Lizzy was home in Baltimore hating his guts, not here in Honolulu sunbathing!

“Hey! You’re standing!” Charlie clapped him on the shoulder, drawing his attention away from the lounge chairs. “That’s a good start. I’ve got your clean towel here, Will.”

When Will looked back a moment later, he knew he was delusional, for she was no longer there.

~*~

 

Three- Company: March!

Georgiana Darcy was doing her very best not to lose her temper with her overprotective brother. She understood that most kids had to deal with two overbearing parents and she should really be glad that she had Will on her side, but when he got into ‘you’re my little girl’ mode and tried to smother her, it was hard to feel grateful.

“Sunscreen? Are you wearing enough sunscreen? Anything less than SPF 45 and you’re begging for skin cancer.”

“I have 50.” She turned to his friend for help. “Charlie, can’t you do something about him?”

“Sorry to disappoint you, Georgie-girl,” he chuckled, “but I’ve been trying for years!”

Will sulked. “I’m right here. You can quit speaking as if I’m not.” He had been feeling better, but he knew it wouldn’t last long if they ganged up on him, as they often did.

“You’re not being here… I like the sound of that. Please, go find something else to do! Jill’s coming right back with Mandy and Ashley to head to the stadium for rehearsal, I don’t have time for your whole ‘big brother’ routine right now!”

“Are Jill, Mandy and Ashley the kind of girls you should be hanging around with? Are they nice young ladies? Maybe I should stay and meet these girls.”

“My God, Will! You are so unbelievably frustrating! You have met these girls, many times! Go…” she shoved him towards the door, “go out and do something touristy. Go whale-watch or hike a volcano. Take a chopper ride or do a luau… just go!”

Charlie was excited by what she’d said. “A luau? Just the thing! Thanks, Georgie! I’ll take care of grumpy-pants here for you!”

She gave him a brotherly peck on the cheek. “Thanks! You’re a life-saver, Charlie!”

“No problem, Georgie-girl! Have a good practice and make sure you call this big lug when you’re done or I’m sure he’ll be right back over here checking up on you.”

Will was now a bit testy. “It’s my prerogative to do so as her brother! What is this? Pick on Will day?”

Georgie kissed Will on the cheek and gave him a hug. “Nah, that’s every day. Seriously, I love you, but you’re driving me crazy. Go, have a good time! I’ll be safe and sound, I promise.”

Only with more assurances that she would call did he finally, and with great reluctance, leave. Charlie headed to see the concierge about attending a luau while Will took some more anti-nausea medication and took a short nap.

~*~

 

Georgie and her friends were lining up with the rest of the band members in the lobby when she heard a sound she was certain must be in her imagination. She strained to peer over her classmates but was not quite tall enough to find what she was looking for, if it had even been there in the first place! Thinking it must have been wishful thinking, she turned her attention back to her friends. Jill and Mandy were arguing over which section had the cutest boys while Ashley couldn’t make up her mind about who to agree with. Georgie laughed at them all and was about to declare the lot of them insane when she heard the sound again. Whipping her head around to the musical laughter that she knew belonged to Lizzy Bennet, Georgie frantically began to weave through the crowd in an attempt to find the one woman she knew who could stop her brother’s misery. When she was finally managed to cut through the brass section, Georgie was too late. The lady was nowhere to be found.

Feeling foolish, Georgie decided her mind was playing tricks on her and she was seeing only what she wanted to see. Will had been so down lately and she hoped Lizzy could help. Lizzy was one of those rare people that always seemed to make everything better. If there was one thing Georgie wanted above everything else, it was for her dear, pain-in-the-butt brother to be happy and she was certain that Lizzy Bennet was the right person for the job. If only Will had gone to Baltimore instead of following me here! Georgie sighed. Oh well, maybe I can twist his arm and get him to make a New Year’s resolution to not rest until he fixes whatever it is he screwed up.

Mr. Larimore, the band director, announced it was time to head out to the bus for rehearsal. The band filed out and in a well-practiced manner found their assigned seats quickly and quietly, exactly as they were supposed to. As Georgie stood to lower the window by her seat for fresh air, a commotion just a few feet away from the bus was taking place. A cyclist, in order to avoid a small boy who wasn’t watching where he was going, had crashed into a luggage cart just outside the hotel. The little boy was crying and his parent or guardian didn’t seem to be anywhere nearby and Georgie was feeling dreadfully sorry for him since the cyclist and bellboy had completely forgotten him as they argued over whose fault the accident was. Just as Georgie was about to ask one of the band’s chaperones if she could be excused to help the boy, a woman stepped forward to comfort the boy. Georgie couldn’t see the lady clearly, but she seemed to have a calming effect on the child. She had knelt down so as not to intimidate him, then offered her hand in friendship. The boy nodded his head, presumably in response to something she said and then she took his hand and stood up. It appeared she and the boy were heading into the hotel but then she halted and turned to scold the still feuding bellboy and cyclist. They had the decency to look shame-faced for frightening, then forgetting the boy. As she led the boy around to have a word with the men, Georgie could finally see clearly the woman.

It only came as a small surprise that the Good Samaritan turned out to be the one and only Elizabeth Bennet. Georgie sat down and felt something she hadn’t felt for a very long time- hope for Will. Georgiana Darcy felt like everything was going to, for once, be all right and work out for the best. It’s going to be a very good Christmas after all!

~*~

In the cab on their way to the luau, Jane had been listening to Lizzy’s tale with rapt attention. “Then what happened?”

“The two managed to quit bickering for a moment and when they saw the little angel’s sweet face, they felt ridiculously stupid that they had forgotten all about the poor little imp. Once they apologized, I led him into the lobby where his mother was frantically searching for him. I can’t imagine how scary it would be to lose sight of your child somewhere like that!”

Jane agreed but Lizzy didn’t hear what she said. Instead, Lizzy was thinking about someone else entirely. The band she had passed in the lobby reminded her of Will’s sister and, of course, thinking about the teenager made her think of the brother- no matter how much she wished it weren’t so. Will had taken over sole custody and guardianship of his sister from the time the girl was just a toddler and had raised him on his own since he was nineteen. How many times had Georgie frightened Will? Lizzy knew about what had happened with the girl last summer… but how many other terrifying parenting moments had he endured? And why was she thinking about him now, especially when she was determined to forget him?

Jane had concluded whatever she had just said with, “Don’t you agree?”

Noncommittally, Lizzy replied, “What do you think?”

Assuming her sister felt the same as she, Jane said, “Right, that’s what I thought. I’m so glad he was okay! What a day we’ve had… I’m so excited about tonight! I hear there are fire eaters at this one!”

“I’ll try to contain my joy.”

“Sour puss.”

“No, it’s just the idea of seeing someone eat fire… talk about heart burn!”

“Ha-ha-ha. Aren’t you hilarious? Please, try to relax and have fun tonight. I know something’s been bugging you and you, being you, won’t share what it is with me and that’s fine… you’ve always been like that. As for tonight… tonight I want you to forget about whatever it is that’s made you so sad lately and just enjoy the moment. Please? For me?”

Lizzy blew an errant curl off her forehead and gave in, to both her unruly hair and Jane. “Fine. You win. I’ll behave and dance and eat poi and pineapple and whatever else it is you’re supposed to do at one of these things. But tomorrow I retain my right to be grumpy again.”

Jane rolled her eyes and before she could say another word, they had arrived.

~*~

Will had seen his friend wear some outrageous things before, but this was by far the worst. “Really? You’re wearing that?”

Charlie checked his image in the mirror and didn’t see whatever problem Will saw. “Yeah. So? What ‘s wrong with it?”

“Isn’t that a bit…oh, I don’t know… outlandish?”

Charlie’s red shirt had a repeating picture of Santa, dressed in board shorts, surfing with a hula girl holding on tight while he held tight to a beer as reindeer were flying overhead hauling a sled. As if those images didn’t crowd the shirt enough, there were also images of flamingos, whales and dolphins jumping in the surf, as well as motorcycles and convertible cars in random places all over the background.

“What? This is a genuine Hawaiian shirt, bought in Hawaii! And look…” he pointed to a surfing, beer-laden, girl-chasing Santa that was on his pocket, “it’s a holiday one to boot!”

Will could see that his friend was tickled by his absurd tourist shirt but thought he’d ask nonetheless. “You really are going to wear that?”

“Every chance I get! Imagine how much this’ll piss off my sisters.”

Seeing how the shirt had some previously unrealized merits, Will asked, “Do they have it in tall sizes?”

~*~

Four- Tiny Bubbles

Lizzy was on her third Mai Tai and found she no longer felt the least bit silly in participating in the luau activities. Making her own lei was fun, and she felt she showed remarkable restraint and maturity when she chose not to make a joke about leis. Then she realized for Jane to be proud, she would have to share this insight and then she would no longer be mature for keeping the remark to herself. It was then she knew she was on a fair way to being drunk. When she thought about it, Lizzy was certain that being a bit drunk was the only thing that was keeping her from strangling her sister.

Jane had insisted that they try everything, no matter how much Lizzy protested. When she tried to pass on the hula lessons, Jane made Lizzy remember her promise to try to have fun and, apparently, that meant joining in and shaking her hips to Don Ho. Once she was able to get over her initial embarrassment, Lizzy found her groove and began to enjoy herself. She was able to dance a passable hula to a slow song, but a moment later was laughing as she fell while trying to imitate some more intricate footwork on a hula with a faster rhythm. As several of the dancers helped her up, she practiced expressing her thanks with her new favorite Hawaiian word: mahalo. Just as she was beginning to feel hungry- for all that dancing had worked up her appetite- it was time for the feast to begin.

It was their table’s turn to go through the buffet line and Lizzy was determined to try a little bit of everything. She piled her plate with Kialua roast pork, Pulehu sirloin, some Mahi Mahi, a bit of poke, a taste of haupia and some lomi lomi salmon. Lizzy was famished and at ninety-five dollars a head, she wasn’t about to be shy! Another Mai Tai was awaiting her at the table and she was a very happy woman. The food was delicious and plentiful and Lizzy had very nearly been able to exorcise William Darcy from her thoughts. Very nearly.

~*~

Charlie had a difficult time getting Will up and out of his room. The man slept like the dead. “Will! Come on, we’re going to miss all the best parts!”

Will groaned when he realized Charlie wouldn’t simply just disappear. “Go on without me. Please, if you’ve ever been my friend, you’ll just let me lie here and sleep some more.”

“Nonsense. I am your friend, I always have been and that is why I know the best thing for you is to get out of this damned room and eat. All that queasiness from earlier must have left you at least a bit hungry. Come on, Will, come with me and let’s just go and have a good time.”

Will pulled the covers up over his head. “No.”

“There’ll be girls.”

“No.”

“Hate to argue, especially since you know I’m right; but yes, there will be girls. And hula dancing.”

“So?”

“Hula dancing! Come on, man! You’re not dead yet, though I may just do the world a favor and kill you if you don’t get a move on. Its hula dancing, Darcy!”

“Don’t care.”

“Fine. I don’t understand how anyone could not be interested in hula dancing, but you do always like to be difficult.” Charlie snapped his fingers as he thought of another point to entice Will with. “I know! There’s supposed to be a fire eater!”

Will knew Charlie wasn’t leaving anytime soon. He was irritatingly persistent like that. “Why on earth would anyone wish to eat fire?”

“No clue! Come on with me and maybe we’ll find out. We’re a bit late, but it’ll still be fun!”

“Fine,” Will gave in. “But you owe me for this.”

Charlie waved off any notion of indebtedness. “Uh-huh. Just add it to my bill. Now, let’s go hula!”

~*~

Lizzy threw down her napkin and sighed. “I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so much food in my entire life!”

“I know I haven’t!” Jane agreed.

“That, my dear sister, is because you eat like a bird.”

“I do not. I eat balanced meals that provide me with everything I need. Some of us can’t eat just whatever we want and have it go nowhere. I like my thighs as they are, thank you.”

“I’d almost believe there was a criticism in there, but my dear, sweet sister never criticizes! You make it sound I eat a bunch of junk or something instead of just eating more. What can I say? It goes with the job.”

“Yeah, I suppose if I was working out at least fourteen hours a week I could eat more carbs too.”

“Well, vacation calories don’t count.”

Jane rolled her eyes and wondered if Lizzy gave this advice to all her clients. “Right.”

“No, seriously! Vacations should be a time of relaxation and renewal. Plus, if your itinerary includes non-sedentary activities like ours does, there’s really no need to be worried.” Lizzy began counting off on her fingers. “One, we swam today; excellent aerobic activity, the best. Two, tomorrow we’re hiking up the side of a volcano. Couple of miles of aerobic walking right there, and that’s great. Three, we’re doing that bicycle tour thingy, again, that’s hard to beat for aerobic activity. See, Jane? You can relax and eat up because these are all things that aren’t normal features in life. On any given day you go to work and go home or out, but aren’t exercising like that. So, no worries, okay? I promise your amazing figure will still be amazing when we get home… just a little more tan.”

Jane laughed. “I had no idea when I suggested Hawaii, I was actually suggesting a low-level cardio boot-camp.”

It was Lizzy’s turn to roll her eyes. “Hardly.”

Jane wasn’t done teasing. “You can take the girl out of the gym, but not the gym out of the girl.”

“Ha.” Lizzy slapped her knee. “That’s a good one! I’ve never heard that before.”

“Lizzy?”

“Yeah?”

Jane offered an olive branch. “Did you notice there’s an open yoga class on the beach in the morning?”

Lizzy’s eyes lit up. “Really? We’re so going.” Jane and Lizzy made plans to attend before breakfast and began discussing what other things they wished to see and do while on the island.

~*~

“I thought you said there’d be food?” Will groused.

“There was… but for some inexplicable reason,” Charlie elbowed Will as they piled their plates with the remainders, “we were late. There’s still plenty here. It’s just not all fancy to look at now.”

They were shown to a table way in the back. Will complained again, “Next time, if we’re late, let’s just skip it. We’re never going to be able to see anything from back here.”

“You’re determined to be miserable, aren’t you? I can see just fine and as you’ve got- what? five inches on me- I know you can see just fine. Now, will you please stop being a jerk and just shut your mouth so you can have a good time?”

They sat down at their table and as Charlie took a bite, Will asked, “What if I say no?”

“Then I’ll rat you out to Georgie and tell her we need to commit you to an asylum.” Charlie grinned and held up his fork. “Or I could just stab you with this.”

Ignoring the eating utensil threat, Will asked, “So I’m mad now, is that it?”

“If you persist in being miserable in this paradise, then yes! Mad as a hatter. Look at me, my life back home right now just really sucks. I can’t think straight at work, my sisters are driving me up a wall, I miss Jane every single day and I don’t know if I’m ever going to find a way to be happy again… but, right now, for these few days, I don’t have to think about any of that! All I have to do is enjoy the sunshine and the company of my best friend, who is usually a great deal more fun than this. You need to think of it like that one Bill Murray movie and take baby-steps.”

Will listened to Charlie and felt even worse. He really needed to snap out of it and try harder. Charlie was right; all the problems that existed before they left would still be waiting upon their return. Will wracked his brain thinking through Bill Murray movies until he recalled What About Bob? Will prayed he didn’t come across half so neurotic as Bob had been in the film. “So, you’re saying I need a vacation from my problems?”

“Precisely. Though if you ever actually wanted to share what those problems were, that’d probably help a lot.” Will attempted to deny he was troubled but Charlie held up his hand and continued, “And please, spare me your denial. Anyone who knows you knows that William Darcy is wound up tighter than a drum at all times. I suggest you, radical thought alert, use this vacation to actually unwind like normal people do.”

Will sighed, knowing Charlie was right about everything. After a moment, he said, “I can’t promise that I’ll be successful at it, but I will promise to try.”

Charlie waggled a crooked finger at Will and said in a scratchy, high-pitched voice, “Do or do not. There is no try.”

Will managed a smile as he said, “I’ll agree to almost anything if you stop doing that Yoda voice.”

Charlie slapped the table and laughed. “Hoo-boy. You’ve got yourself a deal!”

~*~

A burly Samoan-looking man had just finished telling a story about King Kamehameha’s rule and now it was time for a dance troop to perform traditional island dances. Lizzy and Jane watched, spellbound, as the performers twirled and glided about gracefully, bending this way and that like acrobats. After the dances were done, the musicians stepped forward and another man announced it was time to put what everyone had earlier learned about hula to good use. The music began and girls scattered through the audience to ensure everyone would participate.

“God, Lizzy, you’ve so got the hang of this!” Jane said with admiration. Lizzy had taken to hula much easier than Jane had. “I can’t get my hips to roll quite like yours.”

Lizzy laughed. “Come to my Pilates and yoga classes and we’ll fix that.” She hiccupped and blushed. “I think the booze helps, too.”

Jane watched as Lizzy weaved on her feet, nearly losing her balance. “Just how many Mai Tais have you had?”

Lizzy began to count off on her right hand, then grew confused when she needed to begin on her left. “I’m not sure. You know what, Janey?” Lizzy stopped moving and began to laugh. “I think I’m drunk.”

Jane shook her head. “I don’t think there’s any doubt about it! Do you feel alright?”

Lizzy grinned. “Never better in my whole damn life!” She tried to stand up straight, but something- rather someone- caught her attention across the fire pit and disturbed what little was left of her equilibrium. Grabbing Jane’s arm to steady herself failed. Lizzy fell down, making a riotous spectacle in the process.

Jane knelt on the sand beside Lizzy, declining offers of aid from the concerned people around them in the process. “Oh, Lizzy, I think it’s probably time to go. I doubt you’re going to be feeling well enough for seeing the volcano tomorrow, let alone getting up early for a fitness class. Shall we go now?”

“Go?” Lizzy slurred. “What’s the hurry?” She wanted to see if that had really been William Darcy, or if he was a mirage like those imaginary pink elephants that were now dancing before her eyes.

Hauling Lizzy up was no easy task. It didn’t help that she wasn’t cooperating. Lizzy finally lifted her arms so Jane could get a better hold of her. “Janey, will you answer me something?”

Jane groaned and with one final tug she brought her sister to her feet. “You have to ask a question first, but sure.”

“Do you see elephants?”

~*~

The commotion on the other side of the fire pit caused a stir throughout the entire luau. Both Will and Charlie’s attentions were drawn, but the gathered crowd blocked whatever it was that had happened. Charlie questioned a uniformed server who walked by, “Hey, what happened over there?”

The disinterested server replied, “Some lady mainlander had one too many drinks.”

“Does that happen often?” Will asked.

The young man rolled his eyes. “You have no idea.”

After he left, Charlie elbowed Will. “Well, I’m glad I have you here to keep me from making myself a spectacle like that poor woman.”

“Poor woman? Charlie, you astound me.” Will gave up trying to see what happened and made his way back to his seat at the table, with Charlie following right behind. “She’s probably some young girl who had one too many and mistook the luau for an early Mardi Gras party.”

Charlie laughed. “God, Will, you can be such an ass, you know that, right? I bet she’s a sweet girl that just got a little carried away. I’d imagine it’s probably pretty easy to do in a place like this.”

Will’s remark was laden with sarcasm. “I love how you’re always so quick to make excuses for everyone.”

“Yeah?” Charlie retorted, “Well, I love how you are so quick to be judge and jury in situations you know nothing about.”

Will had a strong suspicion they weren’t just talking about the drunken lady anymore. “I make judgments based on what I see, same as everyone else. No more, no less.”

“And you’re always such a terrific judge of character, aren’t you? You have no idea how lucky others don’t measure you with the same stick you use.”

The music had begun again, but the dancing hadn’t yet resumed as Will asked, “What exactly do you mean by that?”

Charlie didn’t hear Will’s question. He hadn’t had anything at all to drink, so he couldn’t blame the vision across way on alcohol. Will demanded his attention, causing Charlie to tear his gaze away from where he thought he’d spied Jane. He held up a hand to stay Will’s inquiry while he searched the spot where he’d seen her. Jane was nowhere to be found. He had not truly expected to see her, but- impossible as it was- he had hoped nonetheless.

Feeling silly for having let his mind play tricks on him, Charlie made a special effort to focus on what Will was saying. Will, seeing that he’d finally gained his friend’s attention, asked again, “What did you mean by ‘don’t measure others by the stick you use’?”

“I thought it was pretty self-explanatory. If others judged you by first impressions, everyone- including me- would think you were the biggest prick on the planet. You come off all wrong and you make no effort at all to change what others think of you.”

“Why should I? If they want to know what I’m really like, they should take the time to get to know me.”

“Exactly!” Charlie cried, exasperated that his friend didn’t understand the point. “Sometimes you baffle me. It’s a good think I knew you before you had that stick up your ass or I don’t think I’d have taken the trouble to get to know you.”

Will was tired and really had had enough criticism for one day. He was about to protest that Charlie needn’t bother with further explanation regarding his faults- for he understood them all too well- when Charlie held up a coconut that sat atop the table. “You’re a lot like this nut. Tough, damn impossible to break, but if you exercise patience and can get past the impenetrable exterior, you’re all tender and sweet inside.”

Will frowned. “Did you just call me sweet?”

“Good grief! Must you be so dense? Yes, I called you sweet to counterpoint the rough exterior of the shell. It was meant to be a parallel, jerkface. Sometimes I don’t understand how we’re still friends.”

Unable to immediately come up with an answer, Will took a long sip of his drink and found he wondered the same thing.

~*~

It hadn’t been as difficult as Jane imagined getting Lizzy back to the hotel. Once she’d gotten back on her feet, Lizzy had been much more cooperative. Except for that detour to throw up behind a palm tree, she seemed none-too-much worse for wear. As Jane tucked Lizzy in, she swore she heard her sister mutter “Darcy” under her breath. Poor girl, thought Jane, she’s having some sort of drunken nightmare.

Just when Jane had Lizzy finally settled in, Lizzy started to giggle uncontrollably. She laughed, tossing and turning- which caused her to dislodge all the bedding. Lizzy spoke, though clearly not yet awake, and said, “Stop!”

Jane, being such a kind, sweet soul, was about to wake Lizzy from her dream when she heard Lizzy say, “Stop that! That tickles, Will!”

Within every family there are roles that everyone seems to fit into. The Bennet family was no different. Lydia, the baby of the bunch, was the loud-mouthed sass. Kitty, next-youngest, was an amoeba- unable to exist without someone nearby to cling to. Mary was the stereotypical middle-child archetype. Lizzy was the pretty, quick-witted one. Jane was the beautiful and kind one.

Though Jane wasn’t the brainiest Bennet sister, it didn’t take a genius to connect the dots. Lizzy is dreaming about Will Darcy? I better check the news… Hell must have frozen over or there’ve been sightings of pigs flying!

Jane had never believed William Darcy to be the villain Lizzy had painted him to be. She wondered what had happened to make Lizzy change her mind about the man.

Then Jane wondered why Lizzy had never told her.

~*~

Charlie had given up trying to talk sense into Will. If he wants to continue to be a sad, miserable bastard, that’s his problem, right? Trying to get into the spirit of the luau, Charlie had begun drinking Mai Tais and the effect on his mood was immediate. He no longer cared if Will sulked. He would try and enjoy himself regardless of Will’s sour disposition.

Will was feeling guiltier than he normally did. Should I just get it all out of the way and tell him how I interfered between him and Jane? Could he ever possibly forgive me? God knows, he’s a much better man than I am. Maybe it won’t be so bad…

The fire-eater had just taken center stage and the evening’s Master of Ceremonies was explaining what was about to happen. Of course, this was the moment that Will chose to confess his underhanded dealings in derailing Charlie’s love life.

Charlie was watching with the fire-eater with the same wonder that a child has their first time at a zoo. He was completely fascinated and didn’t hear the first several times Will called his name. Finally, Will poked him, causing Charlie to turn his head just at the moment that the daredevil swallowed the flame.

Hearing the raucous applause, Charlie groaned. “What now, Will? You made me miss what I came to see, so it had better be damned good,” Charlie warned.

Obviously, Darcy thought, I can’t just blurt out ‘I ruined your life, forgive me’.  Taking a deep breath, he began, “You have been my best friend forever, and both Georgie and I think of you as family. You know that, right?”

Still irritated that he’d missed the main attraction, Charlie nodded and waved his hand to speed Will’s explanation along.

“All right… so, family looks out for one another, agreed?”

“Yes, Will, they do. Is this the brilliant newsflash that was so earth-shattering it couldn’t have waited five minutes? I’ve about had enough, here. First, all you do is complain, then we’re late because of your whining. Then you whined some more and just when you finally shut up and I’m about to finally see something I want, you screw that up for me, too. Damn it, Will, the whole world- despite whatever you may think- does not revolve around you!”

“Of that, I’m painfully aware.” Will fiddled with his napkin. “If I did think it so, believe me when I say that there’s more than enough people just lining up to knock me out of my orbit, so to speak.”

“Then what the hell was so important? Just be direct, man!”

“I agreed with your sisters that Jane wasn’t the best match for you, and I exaggerated some circumstances and have since learned that I was wrong. She did love you.” Will had rent his napkin by accident. “Probably does still.”

Charlie moved with lightning speed and his fist connected with Will’s jaw so fast, that they were rolling on the ground in a brawl before anyone around them knew what happened.

~*~

 

Five- The Day After

“Good morning, sunshine,” Jane said cheerily as she attempted to rouse Lizzy awake.

“If you love me,” Lizzy moaned, “you’ll go away and leave me to die a peaceful death.”

“I do love you, sister dearest, but you’re going to live a long and happy life. And that starts this morning.”

Lizzy pulled the blanket over her head as she cocooned further inside her bedding. “The long part is right- since only the good die young- but the happy is highly doubtful. Now, do me a favor and go away!”

“I would, but it’s already noon and I thought it might be a good idea if you actually ate something before your stomach rots from all the drinks you had last night.”

“Ugh,” was the response from under the covers, “don’t remind me!”

“Okay,” Jane’s voice teased, “so if food’s not enticing enough, what about mail?”

Lizzy peeked from under the pillow, her eyes trying to adjust to the early afternoon sun. “Mail? Who’s it from?”

“That,” Jane tapped the letter on her head, “is a mystery.”

Lizzy tried to grab the letter, but Jane held it just out of reach. “No, if you want it, you have to sit up like and make yourself decent first.”

“Or,” Lizzy reached to try and tickle Jane, “I could just tickle-torture you for it.”

Jane, however, was not suffering from a hangover, wasn’t affected by light or motion and moved quickly out of Lizzy’s grasp. “Ha! That’s not going to work today, Lizzy.” Jane headed to the door. “I’ll meet you in the downstairs lounge in a half hour. That’s enough time for you to get human again. When you come down to eat, I’ll hand you your letter then and only then.”

Lizzy threw her pillow at Jane. “I’m going to get you! I’ll have my revenge!”

Jane stuck her tongue out at her little sister. “Well, you’d better start by getting dressed and then you can try!”

As Jane left, Lizzy groaned and threw herself back against the bed as she wondered who hated her enough to replace Jane with an evil doppelganger.

~*~

“Will, you look totally ridiculous,” Georgie said for the umpteenth time. “C’mon, take those stupid shades off. Please?”

They had just returned from lunch and Will had walked his sister back to her room, all the while wearing the largest sunglasses the hotel staff had been able to find him.

When they were safely inside her room, Will said, “You want me to take the shades off? Fine!”

Georgie gasped and raised her hand to her mouth to try to keep from shrieking at the sore sight that was her brother’s left eye. There was a gash just below his brow that had been tied together with several stitches and the eye was nearly swollen shut, the tender skin around it a royal shade of purple.

“It’s not as bad as it appears…” Will reached out in an attempt to sooth her.

She shrugged out of reach. Still stunned that someone had punched her beloved brother, Georgie demanded, “Who did this? Who did this to you? Were you robbed? Did you call the police? Why didn’t you call me earlier?” Before he could answer, she added, “Where was Charlie? Why didn’t he stop them?”

Georgie had begun to cry. Will never had any idea how to handle a crying female, or a crying anybody for that matter. Nothing made him feel more ineffectual as a big brother than when something made his baby sister cry. Great, how many more ways can I fail those I love most?

“I wasn’t robbed. I didn’t call the police, but they got involved anyways. I didn’t call you earlier because the emergency room took forever and I didn’t want to needlessly worry you when you can see that I’m fine.”

“You’re hardly fine! Needing stitches doesn’t qualify as being ‘fine’! And you still haven’t answered me why Charlie didn’t step in and try to stop this.”

“Uh, yeah…” Will stammered. “Charlie’s in jail.”

Georgie was certain that was the most surprising news she’d ever heard. Charles Bingley was simply not the sort of man one ever pictured sitting in a jail cell. “What? Why?”

“Why? Because he refused to accept it when I tried to post his bail.” Will said, matter-of-factly.

“No, you idiot! Why is he in jail in the first place? Shouldn’t the S.O.B. who hit you be in jail?”

When he began to turn red and still hadn’t answered a full minute later, Georgie began to get the picture. When it became apparent that she had pieced together that Charlie was the culprit behind the damage to Will’s face, he nodded that it was true.

Georgie shook her head and sat on the edge of the bed. “Oh, my! I can’t believe it. Something huge must have happened, if you managed to piss Charlie off enough to sock you in the eye.”

Willl sat next to her and held her hand as he gently admonished her. “Language, young lady.”

“Yes, Will.” Georgie decided that she would put off telling Will that Lizzy was on the island until the mess with Charlie was straightened out, for there was no doubt in her mind that was what would happen.

~*~

 

The relatively dim light in the hotel room had hurt Lizzy’s eyes enough that she knew it would be foolhardy to even attempt to go anywhere without both a hat and sunglasses. Before leaving the room, she dared a look in the mirror and nearly frightened herself with her appearance. Her curly, wet hair was pulled into a ponytail and fed through the back closure of her Baltimore Orioles ballcap. A University of Maryland t-shirt that had seen better days was paired with an equally worn pair of denim shorts. The mere thought of bending down to tie her shoes made her nauseous, so flip-flops would have to do- regardless of Jane’s hatred for the comfortable footwear. Making certain she had her keycard, ID & debit card shoved in her back pocket, Lizzy grudgingly made her way down to the lounge where Jane was waiting.

Jane stood to greet her sister when she approached. “Good morning, Miss Mary Sunshine!”

Lizzy made a snarling sound and snapped, “Mary’s in Baltimore. Since you’ve forgotten, my name in Lizzy, thank you very much.”

Jane did the one thing that was designed to irritate Lizzy most: she grinned. “Yes, well, if you want me to call you Lizzy, then you should quit mimicking Mary’s disposition.”

Lizzy slid her glasses down her nose just enough so Jane would know she was glaring at her. “That was a low blow.” She pushed the glasses back into place and crossed her arms. “I believe there was some mention of food?”

“There was.” Jane swept her arm towards the more casual of the resort’s eateries. It was a short walk and a friendly young man showed them to a beachside table on the deck. They were given menus and the waiter assured them he’d be back momentarily to take their order. “Sadly, you missed the breakfast extravaganza. I swear, I’ve never eaten so much fresh pineapple in my life. I don’t think I’ll ever be satisfied with plain, old grocery store pineapple again.”

Lizzy was only half-listening. It was taking all of her energy to not lay her head on the table and go back to sleep. It was only sheer curiosity about her letter that had coaxed Lizzy from her bed.

“I’m thinking of being daring and trying that Spam salad. What about you?” Jane asked brightly.

“I may have to kill you for being so damn cheery is what I think. Spam salad? Eww.”

“Well, that’s what I’m getting. What’s a vacation for, if not to try new things?” Jane closed her menu and tried to encourage her, “Live a little, Lizzy! Try something new.”

“I did that last night, remember? All it got me was hungover and you in my face, so no thank you.”

The waiter returned to take their orders and Jane, despite the face Lizzy made, ordered her Spam salad. Lizzy stuck with a plain cheeseburger with a side of fruit.

Despite Jane’s best efforts, Lizzy wasn’t ready to talk about anything, let alone open up about Will. Once their food came, Jane gave up trying to make conversation and they ate in silence. Once the table was cleared, Lizzy demanded her letter.

“I kept up my end of the deal. I showered, I dressed and I came out in public and ate.” Lizzy held out her hand. “Now pony up my letter, please.”

Jane handed over the letter and pouted. “You always were a spoilsport, you know that, don’t you?”

Lizzy didn’t recognize the handwriting on the envelope. Impatient as ever, she ripped open the envelope. “Takes one to know one, Miss ‘Mom, Lizzy’s cooking Playdough in my Easy Bake’. If I was a spoilsport, it was because you were a tattle-tale.”

“Okay, we both had our less-than-spectacular moments of brattiness. Now, who’s the letter from?”

Lizzy held up her hand as she read the note. Jane had never seen so many emotions play across Lizzy’s face in such rapid succession. She appeared all at once to be pleased, shocked, happy and distressed.

When Lizzy finished reading, she said, “You will never in a million years guess who this letter is from.”

Jane shrugged her shoulders and gave a wild guess. “President Obama? Don Ho? They’re both Hawaiian.”

“Ha, ha. No and no.” Lizzy held up the letter and flashed the lines at Jane, then pointed to the signature. “Georgiana Darcy. Georgiana Darcy is here in this very hotel and she saw me on her way to practice for the Aloha Bowl parade.”

“And she wrote you? That’s weird. I didn’t think you’d ever met Darcy’s sister.”

Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! You never told her that! Stupid! “Um, yeah… I did. Remember back in August when I went to show Aunt Sophie and Uncle Ed around DC?” Jane nodded that she did. “Well, we ran into Darcy then. Aunt Sophie wanted to visit Congress and since they weren’t in session, I didn’t think there was any remote possibility of running into him. But it seems he’s a workaholic or something. He was just returning from Wilmington and was pleased to meet some of his constituents. I couldn’t have been more surprised when he invited us to dinner.”

Jane couldn’t have been more surprised either and it echoed in her voice when she asked, “He did?”

“Yep. It was then we met his sister. She was just getting ready to go to band camp and was really excited about the upcoming performance season. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised she’s here. I remember now she told me she was playing somewhere over the holidays, but I guess it didn’t register that it was Hawaii.”

“Is she a sweet girl?” Jane asked, still confused about why a teenager would write to Lizzy.

“She’s a doll. Since Will was busy with whatever it is precisely that a junior congressman does, Georgie offered to accompany us to the best must-sees in DC. She’s written that she’s got some free time later and wanted to know if I would meet her for dinner.”

“Will you?”

“Yeah, I think I might. That is, if you don’t mind. She said most of the band’s families haven’t arrived yet. I guess a flying to Hawaii for a band thing is probably out of most people’s budgets.”

“It’s not out of the Darcy’s budget.” Jane gently reminded her.

“I realize that. However, Georgie didn’t even mention that pig-headed jerkface, so all is well.”

To Jane, it sounded like Lizzy was trying awfully hard to convince someone she still hated Will. She just wasn’t sure exactly who. “Do you really still think he’s such a bad guy?”

Since Lizzy had first met Will, almost every opinion she’d had about him had changed. Almost. No, he hadn’t bought his seat in Congress. Wickham was just sore because Will had honestly succeeded where his underhanded tricks had not. Will was an excellent, not a negligent, brother. He worked hard, fought for what he believed in, and did the best he could- whatever the situation. His intentions were always good.

And the road to hell was paved with good intentions.

~*~

 

The Honolulu police released Charlie to his own recognizance at five in the afternoon and he was not at all pleased to see Will waiting for him outside the station.

“What are you doing here? I have nothing to say to you.”

“Charlie, please,” Will pleaded. “You didn’t hear me out last night.”

“What more did I really need to hear? You betrayed me. My best friend, the high and mighty, oh-so-principled Congressman Darcy betrayed his best friend in the world. You’re no better than my sisters.” He turned to walk away, then stopped abruptly and added, “Actually, I take that back. You’re so much worse than they are. I knew they were armed when I let them stab me in the back. I never expected that from you.”

Charlie was trying to hail a cab. When one stopped, Darcy waved it off before Charlie could contradict him. “What now? You think you’ll mess me up more by keeping me from getting a cab? Fine. I’ll walk back to the hotel. There I’ll catch a cab and get a flight home.”

Will quietly asked, “And then what?”

“What do you mean?” Charlie practically shouted. “Then I drive to Jane’s and begin bowing and scraping at her feet until she can forgive me and take me back. That’s if she can even stand to look at me.” He looked pointedly at Will. “Some things are unforgiveable.”

“I know that, Charlie. But what good would it do to fly today? If, and that’s a big if, you can manage a flight out today, it’ll take forever to get there and you’ll be unbelievably jet-lagged on top of being pissed at me and the world.”

“Not the world, Will. Just you.”

“Okay, I deserve that.”

“Finally! You got something right!”

“Okay, I deserve that, too. But please finish hearing me out.” Charlie nodded permission for Will to continue. “It’s a little public to be doing this here in front of the station, don’t you think?”

“I had a cab, jackass. You sent it away.”

“You did, I’m sorry. Shall we get another? I promise, you can hit me again if you really need to.”

“I shouldn’t have done that.”

“No, you probably should have. Just maybe not in front of a few hundred people. I tried to get them to dismiss everything immediately, but the management seemed pretty miffed at having their place torn apart.”

“My bad for punching a congressman’s clock.”

Another cab arrived and they got in, gave their direction and resumed talking. This time with much less hostility.

“So, best case is you get to Baltimore and you’re all bedraggled and whipped from your flight and then what? Interrupt the Bennet’s Christmas together? I can’t imagine Mr. Bennet being very pleased about that.”

“Probably not,” Charlie agreed. “But Mrs. Bennet would.”

Will knew it was akin to pouring salt in Charlie’s wound, but he needed him to see the sense in not rushing back and perhaps making the situation worse. “When was the last time you actually spoke to Jane?”

“Not since February. You must remember. It was right before Valentine’s that you convinced me she wasn’t worth my time.”

“Again, I’m sorry. I was so very wrong in my estimation of everything. I didn’t think you were any more serious about Jane than you were any of those other girls. And you must admit, Charlie, there were a lot of girls.”

Charlie, for the first time since he’d been arrested, realized that maybe he wasn’t entirely blameless in the matter. How had he let himself be persuaded so easily in the first place? Because you knew Jane was really too good for you, you stupid idiot! It’s way past time to be your own man. Quit letting others lead you. “Yeah, there were. But Jane was different, she really was and I blew it by not believing in myself enough to stand up to either you or my sisters.”

Will was impressed. “That’s a very mature outlook on the matter, Charlie. Did you have time to think about that in your holding cell?”

“Nah. I mostly played solitaire. Seemed appropriate somehow. I only just now realized that I’m as much to blame as you are.”

“So,” Will asked cautiously, “what now?”

“We go back to the hotel, have some dinner and then I go to bed while you do whatever you want. We have to be up pretty early tomorrow and I know you want to spend some time with Georgie before her curfew. Sleep sounds excellent. That cot last night was terribly uncomfortable. I guess that’s one way to deter repeat offenders.”

Darcy chuckled. “What did you expect? The Ritz?”

“No,” Charlie said a bit defensively. “I was expecting something along the lines of the cell they always let Otis use on Andy Griffith.”

Will was about to laugh at Charlie’s joke, but one look at his friend’s face told him he hadn’t been joking, which made him laugh all the more. The tension between the friends was now entirely gone. They both knew all was forgiven and that in the future things would be different.

~*~

 

Six- Little Miss Matchmaker

 

Georgie was squirming in her seat at the table she’d reserved for dinner, anxiously awaiting Lizzy’s arrival. I hope this all works out alright or I’ll end up with nothing but coal in my stocking for sure! Her moment of uncertainty gave way to the confidence she felt in the rightness of her ploy. When this all works out! Just think how wonderful everything will be… Will can finally be happy in the way he deserves and I get to have Lizzy as a sister. Another moment of doubt crept in. Why did Will have to be such a jerk to Charlie in the first place? No wonder Lizzy refused Will. Then she talked herself out of it. She can’t still hate him. At least not totally. I saw them together this summer… it may not have been love, but it sure wasn’t hate. All I need to do is set the wheels in motion and then we’ll see where this ride takes them.

Before Georgie could work herself into another frenzy of doubt, she spied Lizzy approaching with a big smile upon her face. Seeing Lizzy made Georgie all the more certain of her plan. It was now time to put it into action.

Georgie stood to greet her guest. Lizzy, never one to stand on formality when it was much more fun to flout convention, embraced the younger girl in a hug. “Miss Georgiana Darcy, fancy meeting you here, of all places!”

“I know, right? Maybe we ought to sing a chorus of ‘It’s a Small World’ or something.”

Lizzy, feeling much more refreshed since she’d taken another nap, teased, “What would it cost me to prevent that from happening?”

“Nothing at all. Friends need only ask.”

“Then I’m asking! Seriously though, Georgiana, how are you? It seems like ages since I saw you.”

“I’m great. School’s going really well, senioritis hasn’t totally sunken in yet. I’m sure when it finally does, I’ll be climbing the walls.”

Lizzy well remembered just how stir-crazy those last days of high school had made her and smiled. “I imagine this trip helps break up the monotony.”

“Yeah, it does,” Georgie agreed, “but I kinda miss home, too.”

Mistakenly thinking that Georgie meant Will was still in DC, she said, “I know it must be difficult for you, but I’m sure you’ll see your brother soon enough.”

Georgie glanced at the clock on the wall. It was six after six and she’d told Will to meet her at six-thirty. Will was compulsively early, so Georgie knew she needed to work faster or her brother would show up before she’d had a chance to warm Lizzy up to the idea of seeing him again.

“I sure hope so,” she said honestly. “I know he can be a royal pain sometimes, but he’s one of the good guys.”

Lizzy could only nod as the waitress had come to take their order, thus preventing Georgie from hearing Lizzy’s opinion about Will.

“I know you met my brother last year. That was in Baltimore, right?”

“Yes. His friend, Charles Bingley, opened a gallery in the same building as my sister’s travel agency.”

“Charlie’s always had an eye for very beautiful things,” Georgie began. She saw Lizzy turn red and realized what she’d said could be misconstrued very badly. Georgie tried again. “Charlie, well, he’s like another brother to me. I think he likes being with me and Will because his own sisters can be such bitches.” She gasped when she realized she’d sworn. Will was always correcting her for doing so, stating that using coarse language belied her intelligence.

“It’s okay, Georgie,” Lizzy reached out and patted her hand reassuringly. “I’ve met them, too, and understand completely.”

Georgie nodded and smiled as she continued her story. “So, I’ve known Charlie most of my life… he’s been Will’s best bud since they were in prep school together eons ago. Charlie’s mom was always pushing him to be more like Will- more a go-getter. Charlie just isn’t that kind of guy. He’s a romantic soul. When the guys had to study art and music for school, Will did horrible and needed tutors to get by; where all of that came really natural to Charlie. There’s something about the arts that has always seemed to speak to him in a way that it doesn’t to my brother. Don’t get me wrong, Will doesn’t hate the arts or anything, but it wasn’t his passion. Will’s thing is public service, but that’s another story.”

When Georgie paused for a moment to take a sip of her water, Lizzy took the opportunity to ask, “And why are you telling me all this?”

“I’m getting to that… please, just hear me out?” Lizzy nodded and Georgie continued her story. “While Charlie is brilliant when it comes to understanding artistic compositions, he sucks at self-confidence.”

This revelation surprised Lizzy. Charlie had always appeared so self-assured, so easy-going. It was hard to believe.

“I see you don’t believe me. I guess if I didn’t know Charlie really well, I probably wouldn’t believe it either. Mr. and Mrs. Bingley were jerks. They weren’t happy with Charlie’s choices at all. Art wasn’t ‘manly’ enough. Can you imagine what it’s like to live with people who are constantly badgering you, trying to get you to be somebody that you aren’t meant to be? I mean, your parents are supposed to be your biggest fans, not your biggest critics, right?”

Lizzy had only to think of her own mother. Then she shuddered at the thought of “what if.” What if her father hadn’t have supported her career? Her mother had been made miserable by her choice to open up a gym. She could still hear her mother say, ‘It’s just not very feminine, is it?’ Life would have been unbearable without at least her father’s support.

“That’s why Charlie sometime leans a bit too much on the opinions of those he’s closest to: his sisters and my brother.”

“Thank you for clarifying certain things about Charlie… but I still don’t understand why you’re telling me this.”

“I guess I was hoping, since I saw you here, that you could help me make things right. I mean, when we get home.”

“Make things right?” Lizzy’s mind reeled. “What do you mean? Right, how?”

“Between my friend and your sister. Charlie’s been miserable for months and months now, and I only recently learned that it was because he was a stupid idiot who listened to others instead of listening to himself. If he had the confidence a guy like him should, he never would have walked away from her in the first place. I know he still loves her. If Charlie came to her, if he apologized and tried to be a better man, do you think they could have a chance?”

“I think…” was all Lizzy managed to get out before the waitress began setting down their plates upon the table. She was grateful for the interruption. How did Georgie learn all this? There’s only one way… She quickly dismissed that as impossible. There was simply no way that a man like William Darcy would tell his romantic troubles to his kid sister. The idea was ludicrous. Or was it? It seemed to be the only logical explanation Lizzy could come up with.

Georgie was glad for the interruption. Her bravery had begun to fail and she wasn’t sure how long she could manage to avoid just coming right out and begging Elizabeth to consider her brother as more than a pain in the neck. The food was very good and the silence that fell between them was not too awkward or uncomfortable. As she watched the clock, Georgie hoped she could finish explaining everything to Elizabeth before Will showed up.

 

~*~

“Are you sure you don’t want to come to dinner with me and Georgie?” Darcy asked Charlie one last time. “I know she wouldn’t mind if you did.”

“True, but that’s only because I’m not a pain in the ass.” Charlie joked, “Plus, she likes me better.”

Though Darcy knew his friend had spoken it jest, it often felt too true. “It does feel that way sometimes, you know.”

Charlie clapped his best friend on the shoulder. “I know, pal. But she loves you, pain in the ass and all. I’m just the comic relief.” He then flopped on his bed. “What’s not funny is how tired I am. I’m just gonna hang here and catch up on some sleep.” Charlie smiled and shook his head when he saw that Darcy was about to issue another unwanted invitation. “Seriously, Will, I’m fine. You may find it hard to believe, but it’s tough to catch any shut-eye in the slammer.”

“All right, if that’s what you truly want to do, then I’ll leave you alone. Can I at bring you back something? It’s the least I can do.”

“William Darcy,” Charlie groaned, “get the hell out of here now, so I can get some sleep! Please! You’re late for Georgiana, and we all know how fastidious you are about being on time. Go!” He made a shooing motion with his hands. “Be gone and let me sleep!”

~*~

Lizzy couldn’t help noticing how distracted Georgie had become and called her on it. “You certainly seem fascinated by the clock, my dear Miss Darcy. Do you have a hot date before curfew? Come now, enquiring minds want to know.”

Oh my God! Will’s never late! Did he change his mind? Did something happen? He found out what I’m up to and he’s never going to speak to me again because I’m interfering in his life. That must be it. Oh no, my brother hates me. Whether he hates me or not, I’ve gone too far to stop now. “No, no date, hot or otherwise. There aren’t any boys…” Georgie blushed. “I mean, there are boys, but none that like me or anything like that.”

“I find that hard to believe.” Lizzy’s warm smile appeared sincere. “You are a beautiful, smart, delightful girl and I just bet there’s at least one boy, and very likely more, that’s just too shy to get up the nerve to speak to you.”

Yay! This is more like it! Here we go, all or nothing. “You mean too frightened of my brother.”

Lizzy’s eyes went wide while her cheeks turned pink with embarrassment. “That’s not what I said.”

“No,” Georgie giggled, “but it’s so what you meant.”

Before Lizzy could offer a denial, something- or rather someone- had caught her attention so fully that Georgie was forced to turn around to see what it was. Seeing that Lizzy was speechless, Georgie grinned and called out to her brother, who had not yet spotted them.

“Will,” Georgie cried a little too loudly for the other guests’ comfort, “come here and join us!”

Lizzy leaned in and whispered harshly, “What is going on, Georgie?”

Georgie patiently whispered back, “I’m trying to right another wrong. Seems Will didn’t only mess up Charlie and your sister.”

Feeling trapped and frustrated, Lizzy threatened, “I am so going to kill you!”

Will was approaching the table with a look on his face the likes of which Georgie had never seen before. She grinned proudly. Her plan had worked and at the very least something would happen this afternoon. Whether that something was good or bad was now out of her hands and up to Will and Lizzy.  Georgie couldn’t help herself and teased Lizzy.  “You can kill, or thank me, later. You know, whatever.”

It has to be my imagination, it just has to! Will rubbed his eyes, hoping to make the mirage Lizzy disappear. When he reopened his eyes she was still sitting there, with Georgie. There’s got to be something really wrong with me that I keep seeing her everywhere. She’s home in Baltimore, not sitting at a table in Honolulu with my sister. Whispering. Over mostly eaten plates of food. It was then he realized Lizzy was no illusion, but flesh and blood, and sitting a mere three feet from where he stood.

Will’s powers of speech had abandoned him. He stood there dumbly, just staring at Lizzy until Georgie elbowed him. “Will, can you believe it? Lizzy’s here!”

With a goofy smile on his face, Will finally managed to address her, “Elizabeth.”

Lizzy was having equal difficulty with speaking. It was only with a prompt to her shin, courtesy of Georgie, that she managed to return the acknowledgement, “Will.”

Georgie tried not to be too frustrated, though she did wonder how these two would ever manage without her. She pulled out a chair. “Will, have a seat. Lizzy was about to tell me all about your good qualities before you showed up.”

“I was?” Lizzy asked with surprise the same moment Will asked doubtfully, “She was?”

“Yes.” Georgie said firmly, then went on to explain, “I had just mentioned what a pain you could be and she was about to defend you. Right, Lizzy?”

Quickly retracing their conversation, Lizzy realized nearly she’d been trapped into a confession by Georgie. Great, now I know how I make Jane feel. At least someone will be amused by this. Then another thought struck her. Jane! If there’s a Darcy, there’s a Bingley… I can’t believe I underestimated her! My, oh my, you are you a very clever girl, Georgiana Darcy.

Though she hated having her hand forced, Lizzy knew the time for stubborn pride was over. She had long wondered ‘what if’ and now was the perfect chance to the answers. All she had to do was speak.

That’s easier said than done, mused Lizzy. “Right, Georgie, I believe I was.”

For the first time in many months, William Darcy’s heart filled with hope.

~*~

Charlie was having a difficult time falling asleep. He was exhausted and lying in a comfortable bed in a darkened room, but he could not keep his eyes closed. His brain was too busy replaying his history with Jane Bennet.

He tortured himself by recalling the beauty of her smile, the depth of feeling in her eyes and the musical sound of her laughter. All of these details paled in comparison how it felt to have Jane in his arms. Each time there had been a physical connection between them, his world had been perfect, right and complete.

God, I am such an idiot! He berated himself. You had the love of the most perfect woman on the planet and you let others persuade you to leave her? Jackass! I don’t deserve Jane, but damn it, I’m going to try to convince her to give me another chance anyways. He turned over to his side and punched the pillow. Three days, Jane Bennet. Only three days until I come knocking on your door. I don’t want to start the new year without knowing if I’ve blown it forever.

Charlie pulled the covers up over his shoulder in an attempt to try and sleep. He had just finally closed his eyes when there was a commotion in the hallway. A loud crash, complete with the sound of something breaking, forced him to get up and investigate the matter. There were several indistinguishable voices speaking and Charlie was about to ask them all to be quiet when he opened the door.

A luggage cart had collided with a room service cart and there was luggage and broken dishes everywhere. The porter was doing his best to set the bags to right while the young girl from room service was picking up shards of china with the help of another guest. The blonde woman was kneeling on the floor with her back to Charlie’s door, but he would recognize Jane anywhere. Then she laughed and any doubt she might be a figment of his imagination vanished.

While some people spend a great deal of time thinking things through carefully before saying a word, others leap right in without a second thought. Charlie was a leaper. “Jane?” She turned towards him and gave a shy smile. Taking that as encouragement that she didn’t hate him on sight, Charlie rushed to her side and took her hand. “You’re here! I can hardly believe it, this makes Christmas perfect!” He threw his arms around her and hugged her tight, as if doing so would prevent her from vanishing. “I am such an idiot, Jane, can you ever forgive me?”

Jane tried to answer, but was crushed so tightly in Charlie’s arms that she was having trouble breathing. “Charlie, let me go,” she gasped.

He released her at once and stood, feeling stupid for not considering her feelings. “I’m sorry again. It was wrong of me to just grab you like that, Jane. I’ll leave you alone now.”

The waitress and porter had finished cleaning up their mess and had disappeared to give them as much privacy as could be had in a hotel hallway.

Jane wanted to cry, the man exasperated her so! She stood, brushed off her knees and called to him, “Charles Bingley, stop right there!” He turned, not knowing what to expect from her.

Her heart, the small part that wasn’t already in pieces, nearly broke from seeing the man she loved standing there like a scolded child. “Do you always give up so easily? I only asked you to let me go because I couldn’t breathe.”

“Jane?”

She nodded and went willingly into his arms.

A moment later she went willingly into his room.

~*~

Will was listening to Georgie tell the story of how she’d witnessed Lizzy coming to the aid of the small, lost child. “…and that’s when I really knew that Disney was right and it’s a small world, after all!”

“Georgie,” Lizzy warned, “you’re exaggerating. I didn’t do anything special. You make me sound like Mother Teresa or something.”

“I beg to differ, Elizabeth,” Will protested. “There are few who would stop what they were doing to pay attention to a child that’s not their own.” He smiled, “It’s just another example of your tremendous kindness.”

Lizzy knew she wasn’t always kind. She had only to think on her dealings with Will to see that truth. Kindness was Jane’s thing, not hers. Lizzy shook her head. “Now I believe that you’re the one exaggerating, Mr. Darcy.”

“Nonsense, Ms. Bennet.” Will was tired of this polite conversation. He didn’t care that she was enjoying the weather or how good her lunch had been. All he wanted was to know if he had a chance to change her opinion of him. “You’re being very kind right now. After our previous… shall we say disagreement? it’s a kindness to speak to me with this undeserved civility you’re showing me now.”

“No, Will, if anyone’s being kind here, it’s you. I was wrong before and we both know it. You are too good to humor me for your sister’s sake.” She set her napkin on the table and stood to leave. “I think I’m going to go check on Jane now. Georgie, thanks for lunch. Will, it was good to see you this one last time.”

“Elizabeth, wait! What do you mean, ‘one last time’? Please, you know, above all others, that I can be dense sometimes. You can’t mean that we’ll never see each other again, do you?”

She had closed her eyes as she listened to his plea. His voice was warm- soothing, even- as he asked for their acquaintance to continue. Was it possible? Did he really not hate her? He really seemed to want her to not leave.

As if he could sense her turmoil, he added, “Please, I would like for you to stay. Elizabeth, I don’t want you to go.”

Georgie, who had been quietly watching the scene, chose then to interject. “It’s okay, guys, just pretend I was never here.” Georgie’s work was accomplished; neither Lizzy or Will gave her a second her a second glance as she slipped away.

Lizzy sat back down, unsure of everything except needing to hear Will out. “You really want me to stay?”

“Yes,” he smiled, pleased that she’d joined him. “Consider a Christmas gift, if you will.”

“A Christmas gift?” She looked at him, skeptical of this odd request. “I thought you were the man who has everything.”

He put on a pained smile. “Not everything, Elizabeth. I don’t have you.”

~*~

 

In between kisses, Charlie and Jane were working out the new terms of their relationship.

“Remember,” Charlie said as he paused for breath, “I’m kinda dumb and can’t read minds. I need to be told things. And often.”

“Mmn-hmn… oh, that’s wonderful!” Jane managed to say hoarsely. She began to unbutton Charlie’s shirt. “And you’re going to speak to me when you aren’t sure how I’m feeling about something, instead of asking your sisters or trying to guess, right?”

His voice was ragged and breathless as he replied, “Absolutely. I know better now. Asking’s the best policy.” Charlie’s hand picked up the hem of her shirt. “As for asking, may I?”

Jane melted under his touch. “Please!”

They continued negotiating in this manner for some time until they were both highly satisfied.

~*~

Lizzy believed she must have heard Will wrong. That was the only logical explanation. But what if I heard him right? “Why would you want me?”

Will laid his hands on the table, palms down and fingers extended upwards in a gesture that she had witnessed him do countless times. Only now did she understand he did so whenever he became frustrated. Great, I’ve gone and aggravated him… again! Good job, Lizzy.

“Elizabeth, are you serious? I’ve always wanted you… because I’ve always loved you.” Okay, Darcy, your cards on the table… time to make your final play. “However, if you’re only being nice and tolerating me because of Georgie…” Will noticed her eyes had begun to water and he felt awful. Great, I’m such an idiot that I’ve made her cry.

“Stop, please!” She absently swiped away an unshed tear. “I’m not being nice and I’m not just tolerating you… can you really be that clueless?” Lizzy sniffled and used a napkin to wipe her face. “I thought elected officials had to have some common sense.”

This time, his smile was genuine. “You’d be surprised.”

“I guess so,” she returned his smile with one of her own. “I’ve tried… over and over I’ve tried… to forget you, to hate you, to try to stop thinking about you. But I failed. ‘Epic fail’ as your sister would say. You know what? Turns out that you simply can’t forget, hate or stop thinking about the man you love, no matter how hard you try.”

He reached for her hand, wishing they were anywhere but in a crowded restaurant. “Elizabeth…”

She squeezed his hand in return. “So, now that I’ve given you your gift, my Christmas shopping is finally complete.”

Will was amazed at how much his fortune had changed in so little time. “I have a confession to make.”

Lizzy was surprised. “Another?”

He nodded and gave her a wink. “Oh, yes it’s something very shocking. As a boy, I was terrible at waiting to open my presents- the worst.”

She pulled out her key-card and handed it to Will. “If that’s the case, then let’s go open your present, Congressman Darcy.”

That was an invitation that even William Darcy couldn’t misinterpret.

~*~

Seven- Mele Kalikimaka

Will, Lizzy, Jane, Charlie and Georgie all met the next morning for breakfast. Georgie wasn’t able to stay long, as she had to board the bus early to get to the stadium. Will had arranged for a second set of tickets so the girls could attend the game and see Georgie’s marching band play during the half-time show. It was decided that Will and Lizzy would take the original seats, since Will had made all the arrangements in the first place.

As the two new couples drove over to the stadium, they were still rejoicing at how circumstances had brought them together. They laughed at the stories of their near-misses over the few days prior.

Charlie had been happy to defer the driving to Will. That left him able to cuddle with Jane in the backseat. “Guess it’s a good that I did listen to old Darcy this one last time. If I hadn’t, I’d have been on a flight home to Maryland, while you were right here- in the same hotel!”

Will frowned and eyed his friend in the rear view mirror. “Please, Charlie, you would have come to the same conclusion if only you’d have taken a moment to think it through.” He cast a sidelong glance to Lizzy and grinned, “And now everything is as it should be.”

Jane whispered something to Charlie that made him laugh and say, “Really? We were there! You know what else is funny?” Then seeing Will’s reflection in the mirror, he decided to whisper it to Jane, causing her to laugh, too.

“Elizabeth,” Will asked, “is it just me, or do you get the feeling that they’re laughing at us?”

Lizzy turned to see Charlie and Jane’s heads put together. “Since they’re being terribly selfish and not letting us in on the joke, I think that’s a pretty safe assumption.”

“You two are ridiculous!” Charlie began. “You,” he smacked Will’s shoulder, “were moping about for months on end! Why? Because you were too chicken to pick up a damn phone!” When Lizzy laughed along with Charlie’s teasing, he poked her elbow and said, “Oh no, missy, you’re just as bad! Isn’t she Jane?”

That drew Will’s curiosity enough to ask, “What bad behavior do you have to accuse Lizzy of?”

Before Lizzy could voice her protest, Jane chimed in, “So, I understand you were at the same luau we where we were the other night. Do you recall anything about a drunken woman making a scene?”

Lizzy hid her face in her hands, mumbling, “Oh, no!”

Jane wasn’t about to stop now. A chance to tease Lizzy like this was too rare to pass up. “Oh, yes. So, Lizzy’s been miserable ever since last summer… though she never shared why, not even with her sister who’s allegedly her best friend. And though she hardly ever drinks, she chose the other night to become a Mai Tai lush. After she made a spectacle of herself, and believe me, it was a true spectacle, I get her back to our room and she starts gushing ‘Oh, Will’. Gee, it was ever so difficult to connect the dots.”

They’d reached the parking lot not a minute too soon for Lizzy. She glared at Jane. “Are you done embarrassing me yet?”

“For now. I just think it’s cute, in a very pathetic sort of way, that you two were mooning over each other and didn’t do anything about it.”

Charlie put his arm around her. “I agree with Jane.”

Will did the same with Lizzy and added, “Why am I not surprised?”

As they began to walk to the ticket gate, Charlie explained, “No, hear me out… Will here’s always trying to do what he feels is best for everyone and from what Jane’s said, Lizzy tries to do the same for those she loves, too. You are two of the most meddlesome people I’ve ever met and you deserve each other!”

Will and Lizzy each looked as though they were about to argue, but the protests died on their lips. Instead, when Charlie and Jane looked to them for a response, they just shrugged as Will said, “What can we say? You’re right.”

~*~

The first half of the 2011 Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl passed by quick enough. Southern Miss and Nevada exited the gridiron for a well-earned half-time rest while Georgie’s band took the field and got into position. Will was sitting on the edge of his seat, Lizzy’s hand crushed within his own as the band began their long program. The band played flawlessly and when their rendition of Mele Kalikimaka was over, the crowd stood to its feet to offer applause. No one clapped harder or cheered louder than Will.

“She was fantastic, Will.” Lizzy kissed his cheek. As the roar of the crowd began to quiet, Lizzy hugged him and said, “You should be very proud.”

“I am,” he beamed. “My sister just performed in front of a huge audience, so I suppose her shyness is probably just about gone. I’m on vacation in paradise with my best friend who, luck has it, is still speaking to me after I messed up his life. While on said vacation, I was able to finally make things right with the woman I love, who by some amazing miracle, love me back. Life is very nearly perfect.”

Lizzy raised an eyebrow in question. “Nearly perfect?”

Will made a thoughtful face. “Things could be better.”

“Really? And here I thought I was all you needed.”

He pulled her into his arms. “You are all I need, but I need you forever.” Will kissed her gently. “I hadn’t exactly planned doing this here, but since everything else with you has been so unexpected, why not?”

Lizzy now had a pretty good idea of what was coming and her heart began to beat faster in anticipation.

“Elizabeth Bennet, I love you more than I ever thought it was possible to love another person. I am not a great speechmaker, this is something we both know, or I would put into eloquent words how I feel about you.  Instead, all I can do is promise to love and cherish you for the rest of my life. Elizabeth, will you marry me?”

Tears of joy welled up in her eyes, making Will visibly uncomfortable. Seeing his discomfort, Lizzy assured him all was well. “I love you, Will. I would love to marry you.” She kissed him then wiped the wet spot from where one of her tears fell on his cheek. “So you know, these are happy tears. Happy tears are good. Happy tears are something you’re going to need to get used to.”

“So long as you’re happy, my dearest, loveliest Elizabeth, I’m happy.”

~*~

 

It had been agreed upon earlier that everyone would meet back at the car after the game. As Charlie and Jane exited the stadium, he was struck by a brilliant idea. He led Jane to a grassy area just out of the way of the milling crowd. Charlie took Jane’s hand in his, looked into her beautiful blue eyes and said simply, with no pretense, “Marry me, Jane?”

Jane, with no hesitation, answered, “Of course I will, Charlie.”

He picked her up and spun his new fiancée around in celebration of their understanding.

~*~

When Will and Lizzy finally reached the car, they found Charlie and Jane waiting, but far from bored. They had reclaimed the backseat for the return trip to the hotel and were making use of it like they were teenagers in a 50’s movie.

Lizzy took great joy in interrupting the lovebirds by loudly clearing her throat. “Ahem, if you crazy kids aren’t too busy, we have some news.”

Jane climbed out of the car. She was flushed, but not just from the make-out session with Charlie. “We do, too!”

The Bennet sisters then exclaimed at the same time, “I’m getting married!”

Charlie had also gotten out and stood next to his best friend. He frowned and wryly commented to Will, “Notice they left us right out of there?”

Will watched the girls laugh together as they exchanged proposal stories. He knew they were both really excited and, being practical as always, he asked Charlie, “Do you really mind?”

Jane and Lizzy were practically glowing with happiness. “No, I suppose not. Congratulations, by the way.”

“Thanks, same to you.” Will realized that he and Charlie would be brothers after all and let out a chuckle.

“What? Is something funny?”

“Your sisters are going to be royally pissed about this, you know that, right?”

“Yeah, they never liked Jane and I know Caroline’s been trying to get her claws into you for ages.” Will knew the moment Charlie understood what had tickled him. “She always said it would be wonderful if we could be brothers. You’re right; she’s definitely going to be angry. In fact, pissed isn’t the right world. I think ballistic or nuclear would be a bit more accurate.”

The girls had finally settled down enough for the ride back to the hotel. They passed on the idea of having dinner together as a group. They made separate arrangements to spend Christmas eve together, going so far as to have Jane and Will switch rooms.

A very smug Georgie met Will and Lizzy for an early dinner to hear the news. “I knew it! I knew it all along.”

“Yes,” Will played along. “You’re very smart, aren’t you?”

“I am, thank you. So, when’s the big day?”

“We haven’t really discussed it yet…” Lizzy answered, sounding a little disappointed, “but I know your brother has many obligations he needs to meet, so I’ll leave those arrangements to him.”

“Elizabeth, the only obligation I care about right now is making you my wife.”

Georgie was on the case. Using her smartphone’s googling abilities, in a matter of moments she had the Hawai’i Depart of Health website up and informed them both that they could be married immediately upon obtaining a marriage license. “Yep, it says here there are no residency requirements, blood tests or any of that other stuff. If you guys really wanted to, you could be married before New Year’s.”

Will thought the idea had a lot of merit, but wasn’t sure how Lizzy would feel about it. “What do you think? Will you elope with me?”

“My mom won’t like it. That right there is almost reason enough to do it.”

“Elizabeth, I’m serious, would you like to get married next week? Here in Honolulu?”

She nodded, rewarding him with a huge smile and more tears. “I want nothing more than that. This is the best Christmas ever.”

He was beginning to get the hang of this. He used his thumb to gently stop a tear trail. “These are the happy ones, right?”

“The happiest.”

~*~

On Christmas morning, Will and Lizzy explained their plans to Charlie and Jane, who decided it was the most brilliant idea they’d ever heard.

“And what do I get for all my hard work and planning?” Georgie pouted, “I get sent off all alone to my room.”

Will didn’t agree. “Hardly, sister dearest. I believe you were pretty anxious to ditch us and get to your party. Isn’t that right, Elizabeth?”

“I believe the exact words she used were ‘get a room you two’.”

“Well, yeah!” Georgie made a face. “You guys were getting pretty touchy-feely to be out in public like that. And with me right there, an impressionable, innocent youth!”

Jane teased Lizzy, “Can we trade sister-in-laws? I’ve got quite a deal for you, two for the price of one!”

“No way, Jane. Sorry, but Georgie- though she can be a pain in the neck sometimes- is a keeper.”

It was agreed that on Monday morning both couples would apply for marriage licenses and share a simple beachside wedding ceremony.

~*~

 

The couples and Georgie spent Christmas day on the beach, enjoying the sun and surf. The general happiness shared by everyone in their little group was a far cry from the misery they’d all begun this trip with.

Monday morning, right as the office opened, Will, Charlie, Lizzy and Jane applied for their licenses. By nighttime, Lizzy had become Mrs. Darcy and Jane would be forever known as Mrs. Bingley. Georgie, pleased that her scheming had borne fruit, was tired of feeling like a fifth wheel and took an early flight home to spend the rest of her Christmas break with her aunt and uncle, allowing Will and Lizzy to honeymoon in peace.

In early January, the happy newlyweds finally returned home to break the news to their families. As expected, Charlie’s sisters were less than thrilled by the idea of being related to Jane. Of course, after they thought it through, they realized that they still had that elusive Darcy connection to power that they had wanted so badly, so all was not completely lost.

The most surprising reaction came from Mrs. Bennet. Her biggest concern was that there might be a scandal attached to Will’s hasty decision to marry that could possibly damage his career. When they assured her there was no scandal, she calmed down immediately and even thanked the girls for sparing her the stress of planning a high society wedding.

Mr. Bennet was saddened to see his time as the most important man in his two favorite daughter’s lives had expired. “It comes to every man who is lucky enough to have a daughter,” he warned Will. “I imagine you’re the sort who’ll suffer greatly when some young man comes to claim your sister’s, or better yet, your own daughter’s hand. At least I have the satisfaction of knowing my girls married worthy men.”

No one ever remembered there being such a wonderful Christmas before.

 

Epilogue

Lizzy eventually sold her gym to Will’s cousin who’d recently retired from the Army. Jake Fitzwilliam expanded the business to include a series of self-defense classes in addition to the standard fare of aerobics and yoga. His classes were so popular and difficult to get into, that he was persuaded to record a series of fitness videos that became instant best-sellers. Just how many of those DVDs were sold to women who just wanted to watch Jake move and sweat is something the world may never know.

Though Lizzy still loved personal training, she found being a politician’s wife was more than enough to keep her days occupied. She loved working with Will for the betterment of their congressional district. Lizzy spent her days seeing to the concerns of Will’s constituents and helping Will translate those needs into action. Together, they made an amazing team. Any misunderstandings they had in the beginning were quickly overcome as they learned to communicate with one another in a way that left no room for misinterpretation.

Charlie, much to the dismay of his sisters, re-opened his Baltimore gallery located right next to Jane’s travel agency. Jane’s kind and gentle loving influence was the making of Charles Bingley. No more were the days where he lacked self-confidence. When one feels secure knowing they are loved unconditionally, they feel like they could take on the world and Jane’s love did exactly that for Charlie. He was now imbued with enough self-assurance that he had no need to rely on others for their opinions. Charles Bingley had finally grown into a man even his disapproving father would have been proud of.

It had taken a lifetime, but Jane had learned at last to be more discerning of other people’s motives. Being Mrs. Charles Bingley had also boosted Jane’s own confidence. She could no longer afford to the soft touch she’d always been, she needed to be strong for Charlie. Oddly enough, Jane’s new ability to take charge only added to her appeal.

William Darcy still struggled from time to time with the need to help others (or interfere, as Lizzy preferred to call it) when he thought they needed it. Years of being in charge, first his sister, next the family business, then finally his congressional district taught him to rely on his own good opinion first and foremost. Through his marriage to Lizzy, Will quickly learned that there were many other points of view to consider before making life-altering decisions for others. It took a lot of trial, error and patience, but he had finally learned to let others live their own lives. Georgie had even stopped calling him a control freak.

The following Christmas, Will surprised Lizzy with an envelope. “What’s this, Will? I already told you, you didn’t need to get me anything for Christmas. What more could I possibly need?”

Will may not have always been the most observant of men, but he always noted everything about his wife. Lately she had been seemingly run-down and it occurred to him that they’d been working very hard and could use a quiet getaway for the New Year. Since the year before they had seen so little of the island, he had the brilliant idea of a second honeymoon to Hawaii. This time around he figured they might even get around to actually leaving the room once in a while.

“I know you said that, but this is something I think we both will really enjoy. Just open it already!”

Lizzy teased him for a moment. “Maybe I’ll wait a few more days to open this…”

Will appeared ready to burst with anticipation. “Fine,” Lizzy kissed his cheek, “I’ll take pity on you and open it now.” She slit open the envelope and chided him, “You and your inability to wait to open gifts is simply amazing.”

He wrapped his arms around her from behind while she took the papers out to look at them. “True, but my all-time favorite present insists on re-wrapping herself all the time.” He placed a kiss just below her ear and whispered, “It makes it feel like Christmas every day.”

Lizzy didn’t answer as she was too stunned by Will’s present to think coherently.

“Surprise! Well, Elizabeth, what do you think? We leave tonight for two weeks in paradise. We can even call it a celebration of the Mayan non-apocalypse. Merry Christmas, Mrs. Darcy!”

When Lizzy turned around with tears in her eyes Will didn’t think they were the happy tears and wondered what it was he’d done wrong.

“Will, why didn’t you ask me about this before you booked this?”

“Because that would make it so much less like a surprise, dearest.”

Her lip trembled as she told him, “I can’t go.”

This was not at all the reaction he’d hoped for. “Why on earth not? Our schedules are clear and your parents aren’t expecting us anytime soon.”

Lizzy was openly crying now. “My parents know about this trip? Doesn’t matter, still can’t go. Let me get you your gift and then I’ll explain.”

Her frustration was clearly marked by the crease on her forehead. He really hated it when he made her look like that. “What gift? We weren’t doing gifts, remember?”

“Yes! I remember!” Lizzy practically yelled. “And if you’d stuck to that, then everything would be fine now! But no… the great William Darcy always knows what’s best for everyone!”

That really hurt him. He crossed his arms and shot back, “But how would it have been all right for you to have gotten me a gift, but not fine for me to get one for you? You’re not playing fairly, Elizabeth.”

Lizzy opened up the side-table drawer and withdrew a small, wrapped package. “Here’s your present, you aggravating, infuriating jerk!” She threw it right at his head. “Enjoy unwrapping that.”

Will held the present in one hand while he rubbed his aching head with the other. “Elizabeth, why are we fighting? I only wanted to do something nice for you, as a way to show you how much I love you.”

The anger was gone now, but the tears remained. “I know that. Really, I do. Just open the damn present and I think everything will become clear.”

He wasn’t sure solving this unknown problem would be so simple, but he decided to go along with her anyways, since that usually worked out for the best. Carefully, he opened the small square package. Will frowned. “It’s a piece of Tupperware.”

Lizzy said anxiously, “Open it.”

Will took the lid off the container and found a pregnancy stick inside. A plus sign was clearly visible on the indicator strip. It took a moment for his brain to register what he was looking at. “Is this what I think it is?”

Lizzy nodded. Sadly, she explained, “That’s the reason I can’t go. I’ve been getting sick so much lately. An elevator rides lay me out flat, so I think an endless plane ride would kill me. I think you’ll agree that our child is a little more important than a vacation.” When Will didn’t say anything, Lizzy rambled on, “And I know I haven’t been easy to live with these last few weeks… I’ve been weepy one moment and… well, crabby the next. I’m irritable and emotional. I can’t keep anything down for breakfast… and lunch isn’t much better. I’d love to go to Hawaii with you, really, I can’t think of anyplace I’d rather go. But… right now, I just can’t because of the baby. Doctor Parks says that in another month or so, I should start feeling better and…”

Will hadn’t moved at all. Still in awe, he was so focused on the present in his hands that Lizzy began to worry. “Well, what do you think? Are you pleased? Not pleased? Say something…”

Will’s face split into a huge grin, the likes of which were rarely seen on the usually serious face of the congressman. “Lizzy, I couldn’t be more pleased. This… this is amazing!” He set the precious gift down and took the even more precious one into his arms. “I didn’t think I’d ever receive a more special gift than your love, but I was wrong.” Will gently wiped her tears away with his thumb and then gave her a tender kiss. “Thank you, my dearest Elizabeth, for giving me- for making us– a family.”

Lizzy returned his kiss, smiled and said, “I think our becoming a family is the best gift of all.”

~And they lived happily ever after…~

***Merry Christmas!!***

First, thanks to you for not giving up on me and coming to read my stories. I appreciate it more than I can ever express. The other things are not forgotten about and are still being worked on. Secondly, a million thanks to the amazing, talented Debra Anne for helping me make some sense out of this idea! This was written last year, but then things happened and it didn’t seem right to post a Christmas story in March. Any mistakes at this point are, like always, my fault. Hope you enjoyed Mele Kalikimaka. If you did, please consider writing a comment and letting me know. Thanks! I hope everyone has a fantastic holiday season & a wonderful New Year!

~Home~

Creative Commons License
Mele Kalikimaka by Jennifer “michchick” Hickling is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at https://meanderingsandmissives.com/.


Dedicatedly Medicated

 

Elizabeth Bennet was lying in the backseat and mumbling incoherently. This was a highly unusual circumstance, as the pretty young woman was known for being well-spoken and, in fact, made her living giving speeches and presentations on behalf of the charity foundation she worked for. Today, however, she had just had all four of her wisdom teeth extracted at once, was still numb from the anesthetic and still had cotton stuffed in her mouth. All these inconveniences aside, Elizabeth was desperately trying to say something to her sister Jane, but she was not being understood.

“What’s that sweetie? I’m sorry Lizzy, I just can’t quite understand you,” Jane apologized as she drove her younger sister home from the oral surgeon.

Elizabeth groaned in frustration and decided it was best to just wait until she got home before trying to speak again.

Jane managed to get her still-woozy sister up the flight of stairs to her condo. “I don’t know why you can’t live in a building with an elevator.” Jane then laughed, “You do know that when you eventually move, we’re not hauling your junk down those stairs again? Nope, when the time comes, it’s all being chucked off the balcony.”

Elizabeth was shocked by Jane’s declaration and it showed in the wide-eyed look she shot her elder sister. Spitting out the cotton, she mumbled as best as her numbed lips could, “No!”

This sight drew a laugh from Jane. Elizabeth had always been the one with the ready quips and sharp wit while Jane had always been ready with soothing words of comfort and unceasing optimism. Recent events had tempered some of Jane’s spirit and she’d learned to view the world and it’s inhabitants a bit more critically than before. Jane was now a stronger person than she’d been a year ago. She’d even begun to find humor in teasing others and at the moment was enjoying doing so to her sister.

Jane helped her sister to the couch and smiled. “I can’t believe it! You really believed me!”

Elizabeth laid down and pulled the afghan off the back of the couch. She used one of her hands to try to feel her face. She still felt nothing. Trying not to drool on her pillow, she said as clearly as she could manage, “I didn’t. Not really.”

“Ha! You were never a good liar, Lizzy! I saw the look in your eye… you believed me, if only for a second!”

“Fine… I believed you. You’re not helping! This…” she patted her numb cheek, “is beginning to wear off! I’m supposed to have drugs or something, aren’t I?”

“Yes you are. In fact, I’ll be back very shortly. Was there anything else that you wanted from Walgreen’s?”

Elizabeth shook her head no, and Jane left after giving her assurance that she would be back very soon.

When Jane returned some twenty minutes later, Elizabeth was asleep. Jane, not wishing to disturb her, left a note along with a few goodies and the pills, kissed her forehead and then quietly left.

Sometime later, Elizabeth awoke in pain. She’d been warned. People had told her endless horror stories of how awful it would be to have all four wisdom teeth pulled at once, but Elizabeth had chosen to believe they were just meant to frighten her. Now she knew the stories were all true. Even the time when she was eight and had broken her arm when she’d fallen from a horse hadn’t hurt this bad!

She tried to sit up, but Elizabeth had moved too fast and became nauseous. She swallowed back the bile and, this time moving much slower, made a second, more successful, attempt to sit up. Still hazy, she called out for her sister, “Jane?” No one answered, as Jane had left several hours ago. She yelled a second time, “Jane! Are you still here?”

After a few moments with no reply, Elizabeth sighed as she realized she was on her own. Talking to herself, she said, “Well, Lizzy, I guess you’re on your own. Now where might Jane have left my pills?”

Spying the bag on the table, she grimaced at the thought that she’d have to get up from her comfy couch. She gave herself a mini pep-talk, “You can do this. Baby steps, Lizzy. Stand up, walk slowly, and try not to barf everywhere.”

 She stood and took a moment to gain her bearings. This was almost as bad as that time she, Jane and Charlotte had gotten drunk on that cruise in the Bahamas. Walking while seasick and inebriated was a piece of cake compared to how she felt now! Her progress was slow, but eventually she made it to her kitchen table. She sat down to read the note from Jane.

Lizzy- You poor thing! You were sound asleep when I got back and I didn’t have the heart to wake you! I got your pain pills and a few treats for you. There are Dove bars in the freezer and I got you some Jones Soda which is in the fridge. I know right about now you’d probably much rather have a nice glass of wine, but with these pills you’d really better not! Now, please be a good girl and take your pain pills like a good patient should. Oh! Before I forget, Will called and he’s got the details for Vegas and he said he’d be sending them to you in an e-mail. Three more weeks Lizzy! I just can’t wait! Anyways, I’ll give you a call later sweetie to see how you’re feeling! Remember- don’t make any important decisions for the next few days, the drugs they’ve given you are going to make you a little loopy. Anyways, I’m going home. Charlie and I will aren’t going out tonight and if you need us, just give us a call! I love you Lizzy! Smooches! –Jane

The note made Lizzy smile, which hurt so she stopped. “Ah, Jane! You’re always so good to me.” Elizabeth read the bottle of Tylenol 3 and the pamphlet that came with it. “Oh boy, codeine. What do we have here? Let’s see… ‘What is Tylenol with Codeine #3? Codeine is in a group of drugs called narcotic pain relievers.’ Duh! So glad they take the time to tell me the obvious. What else… oh, this is good, ‘How should I take Tylenol with Codeine #3? Take exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not take in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended. Follow the directions on your prescription label. Tell your doctor if the medication seems to stop working,’ Really? Who writes these things? What else… Yay! It can damage my liver, no alcohol, take with food or milk… drink water to avoid constipation?! Good lord! What other side effects does this stuff have? Hmm… ‘Acetaminophen and codeine may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be alert.’ Great. What else… ah, here they are… ‘Call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects: shallow breathing, slow heartbeat; feeling light-headed, fainting, confusion, unusual thoughts or behavior; seizure; easy bruising or bleeding ; nausea, stomach pain, loss of appetite, itching, dark urine, clay-colored stools and jaundice’. Oh my! ‘Less serious side effects include: feeling dizzy or drowsy; mild nausea, vomiting, upset stomach, constipation; headache; blurred vision; dry mouth’.”

Elizabeth considered just going without the pain pills, but the throbbing in her jaw was so painful that worshipping the porcelain gods or suffering cotton-mouth seemed infinitely better than remaining in agony. She grabbed one of the lemon sodas Jane had left and took her two prescribed pills and headed to bed. Her head had barely hit the pillow when she began to drift into dreamland. It was three in the morning when Elizabeth woke next. There had been no noise which disturbed her sleep, nor was she hungry or restless, yet she was agitated. Her dreams had been confusing and wonderful all at the same time.  Lying in bed, trying desperately to get back to her dream, she found she couldn’t.

“Great! This is just what I need. I suppose while I’m up, I ought to make the best of it,” she muttered as she rose from her bed. Elizabeth stopped in front of her dresser mirror and gasped. She lightly rubbed her jawline. “God! I look like a blowfish! At least the pills seem to be working.”

She padded out to the kitchen and took another dose of pain medication, just as prescribed. Afterwards, she grabbed a fresh lemon soda and sat down to her computer to read through her e-mails.

One of the things Elizabeth liked about living alone was that her schedule was her own. No one else would be disturbed if she couldn’t sleep, or care if she slept in or even if she left a towel on the bathroom floor. Of course, Elizabeth’s bathroom was always immaculate, but she liked the idea that she could, if she was so inclined, leave a towel where she liked and certain people who were known for their fastidiousness would never be able to say a thing about it. Another thing she enjoyed was how when she talked to herself, no one was there to bear witness to her inane ramblings.

She opened the latest message from Charlotte. Elizabeth read through the brief note which served to announce her engagement to the most ridiculous man there ever was. “Dear God, no! You can’t marry that loser!” Elizabeth hit reply and wrote a very frank reply that told her oldest friend exactly what she thought about her choice of life partner.

Next, Elizabeth opened up a note from her mom. “Really, Mom? No, Bill Gates is not going to send you any money for spamming everyone you know with junk, chain e-mails.” Elizabeth replied to her mom’s mail, giving a very colorfully worded, in-depth explanation of just how annoying opening a chain e-mail is.

Elizabeth was feeling great and was beginning to wonder what the big deal had been about having her surgery in the first place. “I should have had this done years ago!”

Elizabeth plowed through a few more messages, replying in an uncharacteristically candid fashion to each of them. She e-mailed her boss, a few friends, several of her sisters, Jane’s fiancé Charlie, and even her Pastor, whom, thankfully, she only had nice things to say about.

She had cleared all but one e-mail from her inbox. Elizabeth stared at it, willing it to disappear or go away. Knowing that was absurd and realizing she was being childish, she clicked on the subject line that said ‘Vegas info for J&C’ from ‘FGDarcy’.

Lizzy-

Your sister said you were having your wisdom teeth pulled today. I’m sorry. I imagine that hurts terribly and I hope that you soon feel better.

Anyways, I know that you’ve been busy lately, so I hope that you won’t mind that I’ve taken the liberty of booking a block of rooms for everyone for the wedding. I’ve arranged for what I hope is a nice suite for your sister and Charlie and another ten rooms for everyone else on another floor. As airfare is rather expensive and with all the luggage restrictions from the airlines, I hope you won’t find it too presumptuous, but I’ve arranged for one of my company’s planes to ferry everyone to Nevada. Unless you think this is a bad idea… of course anyone who would like to travel separate is free to do so… but the plane is available all the same. As the rehearsal is scheduled for Friday morning, it’s my suggestion that everyone ought to try to arrive on Thursday so no one feels overly rushed. What do you think? Charlie seems to have no idea about anything, so I’m looking to the only sensible person (as your sister seems as harried as my friend) I know involved in this affair for help!

Charlie tells me that your sister has told him over and over that she trusts him as far as the bachelor party is concerned, yet he’s told me that he gets the distinct impression that she’s greatly concerned. He begs me to ask you to assure Jane that we’ll only be playing golf, which is true. We have an early afternoon tee-time and that’s the reason the rehearsal’s been scheduled so early. Yes, there will be some beer that goes along with the golf, but that really is all. Charlie and Jane have been through too much (yes, I know, much of it was my fault) for me to let him head to the altar hungover. Besides, I’ve endured the wrath of two Bennet sisters now and have no desire to raise the ire of either one ever again! So, you can safely inform your dear sister that, as Best Man, I promise that Charlie will be kept safe from any ‘sin’ in Sin City prior to the wedding. Now, Charlie would be the happiest groom-to-be ever if only I could give him similar reassurances about what you have planned for his ‘angel’.  

Lastly, Charlie had been lamenting that they wouldn’t be able to take a proper honeymoon because of work obligations. I think this is ridiculous. I can easily arrange to have Charlie’s schedule cleared for up to two weeks and was wondering if you think it possible for something similar to be arranged for your sister. If you think your father could spare Jane for that amount of time, I would like to provide them with a proper honeymoon to somewhere. Where do you think would be a romantic place to send them? I honestly have no idea. Knowing your sister as you do, I’m sure you must have some idea where we could send them. Please, I really would like to do something nice for the two of them, especially since I’ve been such a jerk in the past.

Anyways, I’ve droned on too long I think and all I have left to say is that I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Feel better Lizzy.

Yours,

-Fitzwilliam G. Darcy      

 Lizzy immediately wrote the following reply:

My dearest Fitzwilliam-

Have I ever told you that I really, really like your name? I don’t think I have! Well, I do! It’s kinda old-fashioned but it has a strength and masculinity to it that seems to suit you perfectly. Thanks for asking after me and my teeth. It was really sweet of you! They yanked ‘em right out and I feel really great now. I actually don’t think I’ve ever felt better!

Thank you for taking care of the hotel. Are you sure that we need so many rooms? Carrie=1, Lou & Grant=2 (hey, that’s funny! I never noticed that together they make Lou Grant! Get it? Mary Tyler Moore!), mom & dad=3, Char & that idiot of hers=4, my sisters Marnie & Kate=5, that bitch Carrie=6, Lila and that jerk-face are NOT invited, and then all that’s left is Charlie and Jane and me and you. We can easily cut out two rooms if we share. lol! I don’t mean “WE” we, I mean me and Jane and you and Charlie until the wedding and then you see that cuts out two rooms because we shared. Not that “WE” would share a room… because you’d never want to share a room with me after I was such a bitch to you. “ WE”… sharing a room… I wish! But, anyways, I think there are too many rooms anyways and not so many would be needed if we were to share.  

As for the plane, that would be great! I don’t mind you taking any liberties at all! In fact, take all you want! I’m really looking forward to flying away with you! Oh, and everybody else too. Thank you for your very generous offer. You are too kind. So very, very and really kind. I think it’s very fitting that your title for the wedding is ‘Best Man’ because it’s true! You are really and truly the best man there ever was and I am obviously pretty stupid that I didn’t see that before. Anyways, I think that I need to apologize in advance for the antics of my family. Marnie will try to act like she’s not impressed while Kate won’t shut up and will likely flirt outrageously with you and any other men there might be. My mom and dad will also likely be really embarrassing and I’m sorry. In fact, because all of my stupid family will be on the plane, maybe you’ll take another flight to avoid us altogether. I know if I were you, that’s what I’d probably do!

As for a romantic honeymoon… I have no idea what they might like but I’ve always thought that somewhere with white sandy beaches and crystal blue water would be heavenly. It’s actually funny that you asked me what I thought because I was actually dreaming about such a place tonight. I was swimming in the really warm water and then I came to our towels on the beach and then you made some smart remark about my very white legs scaring away all the fish, which was especially funny since we were both very tan from spending so much time on that very beach. So yeah, I think perhaps somewhere warm and sunny would be good to send them. I’ll have dad arrange for Jane to have some time off and you can do the same for Charlie. I think it’s very sweet of you to do this for them and when you decide where you’re going to send them, let me know so I can help out too. I think it’s a great idea and it could be from both of us. “Us” is a weird word, don’t you think? I wonder where the word came from, though I’m sure you probably know because you’re far and away the smartest guy I know. You’re actually the guy who’s the most of most everything! Most smart, most nice, most best dressed, most blue eyes, most best hair, most cutest dimples- I really do like your dimples! most cute butt, most cute everything!

 Anyways… I think that’s everything I needed to say to the very Best Man! (I really mean it- you are!) I hope to see you soon and am looking forward to standing up with you at the altar- for Charlie and Jane, I mean.

See you soon!

Love always,

 -Lizzy Darcy

Elizabeth hit the spell-check button but ignored all the suggested changes. She was confident that she said all she wished to and clicked send without first re-reading any of her letter. Still not yet sleepy, she busied herself by watching cats playing piano on YouTube until her chat icon blinked.

“Who else is suffering from insomnia?” she wondered aloud as she clicked open her chat window.

FGDarcy: Are you alright Lizzy?

“Of course I’m alright! Why would he think I’m not alright?”

lizzy-bennet: Perfectly fine. Why?

FGDarcy: It’s really quite late, and you’re still up…

lizzy-bennet: So are you! I slept a lot today and can’t get back to the dream I was having.

FGDarcy: You remember your dreams?

lizzy-bennet: Yeah. Don’t you?

FGDarcy: Sometimes, but not often enough for my liking.

lizzy-bennet: That’s really too bad. But why are you up?

FGDarcy: Can’t sleep.

lizzy-bennet: Why not?

FGDarcy: Can’t say.

lizzy-bennet: Can’t or won’t?

FGDarcy: Both.

lizzy-bennet: Hmm. You’re such a mystery.

FGDarcy: Glad to hear it. For a moment I feared I was an open book.

lizzy-bennet: You are a strange, strange man Fitzwilliam.

FGDarcy: Were you joking earlier?

lizzy-bennet: Joking? About what? I don’t recall any jokes.

FGDarcy: About my name. You said in your message that you liked it and I couldn’t tell if you were serious or making fun of me. You don’t really like it, do you?

lizzy-bennet: Why would I joke about your name? I love your name! I even love to say your name… Fitzwilliam. I like how saying the ‘z’ tickles my tongue when I say it! In fact, I’m saying it right now! Fitzzzzwilliam!

FGDarcy: Stop it Lizzy!

lizzy-bennet: Stop what? Hey! Did you realize both of our names have ‘z’ in them? Does my name tickle your tongue too?

FGDarcy: You really need to stop it Lizzy!

lizzy-bennet: Stop what Fitzwilliam? What am I doing that’s annoying you now?

FGDarcy: You never annoy me Lizzy, and therein lies the problem!

lizzy-bennet: What problem? I think you’re the one not making sense.

FGDarcy: Probably not. Please Lizzy, I think you need some sleep. You’re obviously not thinking clearly.

lizzy-bennet: I would love to sleep, but in fact I can’t! I think I’m going to go for a drive and get some breakfast at that 24-hr place around the corner.

FGDarcy: NO!! DON’T DO THAT!!

lizzy-bennet: STOP SHOUTING AT ME!

FGDarcy: Sorry! Please, please, please don’t go out. I’m up, I’m wide-awake. If you want something, I’d be happy to go and get it for you.

lizzy-bennet: Really?

FGDarcy: Really. Now, what do you want?

lizzy-bennet: Ham and cheese omelet, hash browns and a Mountain Dew.

FGDarcy: Yes to the omelet and hashbrowns, no to the Dew.

lizzy-bennet: What do you mean no Dew? I want some Dew!

FGDarcy: You need sleep, not a blast of sugar and caffeine! I promise I’ll bring you something that you’ll like. Will you trust me?

lizzy-bennet: Of course I love you!

lizzy-bennet: ***trust

FGDarcy: I knew what you meant. I’ve got my keys and I’m heading out the door now. I’ll be there shortly Lizzy. For the record, I ***trust you too. See you in a few Lizzy. Bye.

-FGDarcy is offline-    

Elizabeth was having another very pleasant, extremely realistic dream. She dreamt she was lying in Darcy’s arms and she was so adept in her visualization that she could feel him, she could even smell him- so real was her dream. Then she felt his breath on her neck and she slowly opened up her eyes to find her dream was, in fact, reality. He was tucked in the corner of her sectional sofa with his legs pointing in the opposite direction of her own. To say that Elizabeth was surprised that he, of all people, should be holding her in such a way would be a gross understatement!

How had he come to be here? More importantly, why had he come here? Obviously, she had invited him. She knew Darcy to be capable of many things, but breaking and entering weren’t amongst his known talents. Elizabeth became more aware of her position. As his arms were wrapped around her waist and shoulders, she found her own were wrapped around his chest. Her head was nestled under his chin, against that said same chest which she found to be very strong. She tried to lift her head, but Darcy’s left hand gently pressed her head back into place while he murmured, “Shh, Lizzy, you need some more sleep.” Elizabeth thought this to be a most sensible idea and since he seemed unwilling to let her go from his arms, she snuggled back into position and was once again sleeping soundly.

The next time she awoke, her mouth was sore again and she was being carefully shifted from her comfortable spot in Darcy’s arms. When he caught her watching him, he smiled and said, “Good morning, sleepyhead. How are you feeling this morning?”

“Good morning to you too, Fi… ah… Will.” Elizabeth couldn’t believe she’d nearly called him by his full name. No one ever called Will Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth found it to be a shame. She thought it had much more character. Anyone at all could be a plain old Will, but only Darcy could pull off a name like Fitzwilliam! Darcy tucked the afghan around Elizabeth’s shoulders and tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear. As he did so, he gently stroked her hair and Elizabeth was pretty certain that if he kept that up such ministrations, she’d have no need for any more pain pills.

As though he could read her mind, Darcy said, “Well Lizzy, I imagine it’s probably well-past time for you to take another pain pill. Excuse me for a moment and I’ll go get that for you.”

Before she could protest, he was gone. Elizabeth thought, ‘Not exactly gone- he’s ten feet away from you! Why, oh, why do I suddenly want to call him Fitzwilliam? What on earth is he doing here anyways, and why is he being so nice? Why does he have to be so nice? If only he could still be a jerk like before, then knowing you can’t have him would be a lot easier. Then again, if he was still a jerk, I wouldn’t really want him then, would I? No, he was never a jerk. That was me. Oh well… at least I got to wake up in his arms at least this once. Why does he have to smell so nice and look so good in the morning? Stop it Lizzy!’

Darcy came back to the couch and sat down next to her on the floor. “One pill as the doctor ordered and a small glass of milk to make sure it doesn’t rot your stomach.”

Elizabeth propped up on one elbow and felt her cheek with the other hand. She was still very puffy and sore. All she could hope was that perhaps the swelling wasn’t as bad as before and that maybe she wasn’t yet bruised. She took the pill and milk, thanking him for both. He returned the glass to the sink and asked if there was anything else he could do for her.

“You’ve already done so much.” She then remembered something Jane said. “Will? Did you have a chance to e-mail about the wedding? Jane said you would send some info.”

Elizabeth watched Darcy’s face change from concern for her to alarm. His voice sounded strange when he asked, “You don’t recall reading any e-mail last night?”

“No, I’m afraid not. Why?”

“I know that you read mine. You replied to it, actually.” Darcy was now pacing back and forth and she was getting dizzy watching him.

She begged him, “Can you please stand still?”  Darcy stopped and Elizabeth said, “Thank you.”

“Lizzy, I think I ought to get going now… but first, I think that you need to check through your e-mail and see who else you might have e-mailed last night.”

Elizabeth threw off her blanket and stood to say good-bye. “Thanks for coming, Will. I really appreciate it.”

Darcy sighed. He’d had his suspicions about her earlier behavior, but he had to know for certain. “You’re welcome Lizzy. I have to ask, you don’t remember much of earlier this morning, do you?”

“No Will, I have to admit that…that I don’t really remember how you came to be here.” Elizabeth turned red and buried her face in her hands in an attempt to hide her complete mortification. “I’m so sorry, Will. Obviously, you have better places to be than here with me. Thanks for coming anyways.”

She looked so sad and forlorn that he could hardly bear it. Darcy stepped closer and lightly traced her swollen jaw. He then gently lifted her chin so she would have to meet his gaze. All the frustration and pent-up longing were clearly evident for her to see. He would lay everything out- his heart, his hopes, his wishes- once more. “Lizzy… do you really not know? There is no better place for me anywhere besides being here with you. But…”

Elizabeth could hardly account for what he was saying. What exactly had happened earlier that morning? “Oh no… what ‘but’? Why does there have to be a ‘but’? Tell me.”

Darcy knew that what he had to say would no doubt hurt her. If there was one thing that Elizabeth prided herself on, it was her ability to always remain in control of any situation. She would not like this, but he chose to hope all would be well. “The ‘but’ is that you’re on some medication that you’re obviously unaccustomed to, and, consequently, you were rather out of your head this morning.”

Her eyes opened wide at the possible implications. “Define ‘out of my head’. Please?”

What could he say? That when he arrived with her breakfast she’d practically thrown herself at him? No. That was a memory he would keep for himself. Should he tell her that she’d been a shameless flirt and had begged him not to leave? No. He would never have left her in such a frenzied state of mind, no matter what. Could he tell her she’d said, both online and in person that she loved him? No. He only wanted to hear those precious words from her when he could be sure that she would actually recall saying them. Finally, he thought of something that would suffice for an explanation. “You IM’d me that saying my name tickles your tongue.”

Elizabeth’s hand flew to her mouth. Was this the reason why when she woke she had to fight the urge to call him Fitzwilliam? She couldn’t believe she’d been so bold! In fact, she flatly tried to deny it, “I did not!”

Darcy had to fight not to smile. “Oh yes, you most certainly did. In fact, you went even further to point out that our names both have the letter ‘z’ in them. You replied to my email about Vegas as well. I think perhaps if you’d like to understand what I mean, you might start with taking a look at your computer.”

Unsure what she should do, she asked, “Will you stay?”

“If that’s what you wish, I’ll stay.”

At that moment, what she wished for most was to have never taken those damn pills! But, since she could not un-take them, Elizabeth said, “Please stay.”

She sat down to her computer and indicated for Darcy to grab a chair as well. “I’m sorry. I’m a very bad host this morning. Would you care for anything? I believe I have some bread… and maybe some eggs. I remember that Jane left some Dove bars.”

“Thank you anyways, but I’m not really hungry. We’ve already had breakfast, Lizzy. You were hungry and I brought over some food from the diner that you were craving.”

 At least one mystery was now solved. “Really? You did that for me. That’s so sweet.”

He waved off her compliment. He didn’t want her gratitude anymore now than he did before. No, he wanted something infinitely more dear to him than her gratitude. “Lizzy, you were stoned on your pills. It was pretty clear you probably shouldn’t be driving.” He picked up the bottle from the table and pointed to one of the warnings. “See? Even the pills agree with me.”

If he was going to play light about their situation, so would she. “Of course they do. Doesn’t everyone always agree with you?”

Darcy looked at her pointedly and said, “No.”

Feeling sheepish, Elizabeth turned to her laptop and tabbed onto her email program. She began to feel a great deal of alarm when she noticed that she’d cleared her entire inbox overnight. What had she done?

“Good lord Will! What on earth was I thinking?”

Assuming the worst, he braced himself and asked, “About what? What’s the problem Lizzy?”

“I told Charlotte she’d be better off being an old maid than marry her windbag sack of sorries. What does that even mean?”

“You mentioned something in your email, but I wasn’t aware your friend had become engaged. Last I recall she was seeing that Collins guy.”

“Yep. That’s him.”

“Somehow ‘windbag sack of sorries’ seems appropriate. I take it you answered several emails?”

“This is worse than having been drunk! I guess I thought I was fine or else I don’t imagine I’d have even attempted such a thing.” She scanned through her outbox, checking out how much damage she’d wrought. “Oh my God! I emailed my Pastor.”

Hiding his amusement behind his hand, Darcy asked, “What did you say?”

“Thankfully, I only told him that I really ought to attend church more and that we need to sing less dull hymns. I seemed to have made a case for playing Stairway to Heaven during a service about avarice.”

“No! You wouldn’t have…” Will protested until the look on her face told him otherwise.

“You can see for yourself if you like. It seems my stupidity knows no bounds. Those pills seemed to have turned off the filter in my brain that says, ‘Hey Lizzy, that would be a bad idea, don’t say that!’”

Hopeful, Darcy asked, “Do you at least personally believe the things you wrote?”

“That’s the thing. I do. These are the thoughts I think, but I still shouldn’t have told my sister that she needs to quit being such a moralizing know-it-all.”

“Marnie?”

“Yeah. I also yelled at my mom, Kate, Lila and I even ripped Charlie a new one for not being man enough to stand up to you in the first place. Seems I doubted his manhood and whether or not he was even a real man at all. I told him he needed to grow a pair.”

“You did? What else did you say?”

 She could hardly tell him that she wrote that Charlie should to look to Fitzwilliam if he wanted to see a fine example of all that a true man is. “Not much. I just threatened him a lot about needing to take good care of my sister.”

Darcy touched her arm to reassure her. “He will. If he doesn’t, I’ll kill him myself. His wishy-washiness has already cost me enough.”

“I stopped blaming you for that a long time ago. Charlie is a grown man. Well, almost-grown anyways. When a man knows what he wants, if others can talk him so easily out of it, he must not have wanted it too much in the first place.”

“But your sister deserved to be treated better than that. I’m sorry.”

“She did, you’re right, but she loves him and you’re forgetting that love can help you overcome almost anything.”

“Do you believe that’s true?” Darcy hopefully asked.

She knew he was looking right at her, but she couldn’t face him, at least not yet. “I don’t know. I sure hope so.”

Darcy wondered how many more e-mails she had to go through. The suspense was killing him. Elizabeth was writing short notes of apology and explanations where she thought they might make a difference. Finally, everything else had been attended to and she could focus on the mess she’d made with Darcy. She opened the message from him first and was touched by the concern he’d expressed and how thoughtful he was towards making the trip out west for the wedding as easy on everyone as possible.

If there had been any lingering doubt in her mind that he was the best of men, with his note it was once and for all forgotten. She stole a quick glance his way, half expecting him to be watching her as he’d done so often before… but he was not. Instead, he was sitting back a little from the table and intently playing with a loose button-hole thread on his oxford. It was taking all the patience he had left to simply sit still and await whatever would happen. He was a bundle of nervous energy and as much as he wanted to get up and pace back-and-forth as was his wont, Darcy knew that would only make her all the more nervous. There was already so much at stake that he decided it would be for the best of he just sat still.

He knew the moment Elizabeth began to read her response to his e-mail. The audible gasp gave her away. Darcy kept pulling the thread and willed himself not to look at her until she said something. At last, she said, “You said we’d been instant messaging?”

His bright blue eyes met her deep brown ones. “Yes. I know on my machine, if I don’t clear the cache, it keeps everything.” Darcy looked down again. “That is, if you were curious.”

She turned her focus back to her browser. The chat window had not been closed after all. Elizabeth read through the messages and wondered if it was possible to actually die from embarrassment. Perhaps she’d been possessed? Had Kate or Lila somehow broken in and impersonated her? No… it had been no one else but Elizabeth. As much as she’d liked to have lain the blame solely with the prescription drugs, she knew she couldn’t do that either. Everything she wrote was true and she, and now Darcy, knew it too.

Elizabeth closed her laptop, signaling to Darcy that she was finished.

Darcy waited for her to say something. She didn’t. Unable to wait any longer, he asked, “How are you?”

She closed her eyes momentarily, trying to think of something clever to say. Nothing came. “I guess I’m as good as anyone can be who just completely humiliated themselves. I’m amazed that you haven’t called the men in the little white coats to come and get me.”

Darcy frowned and crossed his arms. Enough was enough already! Tersely, he asked, “And why exactly would I do that?”

Elizabeth shrugged, “Because I’m nuts?”

“That’s hardly the case, and we both know it. You are a very truthful, sometimes painfully so, person. In fact, it’s one of the first things I loved about you. True, you were decidedly less eloquent than normal, but that’s completely understandable given the circumstances. Your friends, and the people who have put their faith and trust in you, will all understand. And those that don’t? They aren’t worth your time.”

She shook her head in disbelief. “You’re being awfully nice about everything Will.”

What Darcy said next took her by surprise. “No, I’m not.” He reached over and held her hand. “Truthfully, I’m being really very selfish. This feels like my last opportunity and I’m not going to let it go without trying again. Tell me Lizzy, do you really like my name?”

Her heart skipped a beat. She confessed, “Yes. I really do.”

This was it, all or nothing. Darcy tried not to think about the disaster of last time. So much had happened since then. Sometimes, life involves risk. Knowing this, he asked, “And you truly like me as well?”

Elizabeth squeezed his hand and said, “Yes. I really do.”

“And you trust me?”

Her heart was beating very rapidly and, for a moment, she wondered if it was another side effect of the codeine. Elizabeth quickly swept that thought aside when she realized that Darcy had always made her heart beat fast. “Fitzwilliam, yes, I really do trust you. And yes, you needn’t even ask, I really do love you.”

Elizabeth always had found Darcy to be the most handsome man she knew, but the look of sheer happiness which now appeared upon his face only made him more so. Darcy stood and, with a grin, pulled Elizabeth into his arms. “Then if I tell you again that I truly love you, you’re not going to tell me to ‘go to hell’ this time?”

Mortified by her former sentiments, Elizabeth buried her face into his chest. While Darcy very much enjoyed having her safely tucked in his embrace in such a way, he longed to hear her answer and so he gently (ever mindful of her bruises and swelling) lifted her chin so he could see into her face. Blushing from his touch, Elizabeth plucked up her courage to meet his gaze. “No, Fitzwilliam, never again. I love you and I am so sorry for the things I’ve said in the past.”

“A very wise woman, very beautiful too, once told me ‘think of the past only to remember the good’. I think we would both do well to take her advice.”

Elizabeth recalled perfectly that day she’d been spouting that nonsense, mostly to aggravate Darcy and see if she could get him good and angry. He never did. Always the perfect gentleman, he caught her out and said he believed she took great joy in playing devil’s advocate, which she did, of course. It pleased Elizabeth immensely that he remembered their shared conversations the same as she did.

She smiled, knowing full well she was the very wise woman he’d mentioned, and said, “You think I’m beautiful?”

He carefully stroked her cheek. “Beautiful doesn’t even come close. I truly love you, Lizzy, more that I can ever say. But…”

 Elizabeth cried in alarm, “No! No more buts…”

Darcy shook his head and tsk-tsked, “What a shame… yours is lovely.”

A now bright-red Elizabeth exclaimed, “Darcy!”

“What happened to Fitzwilliam?”

“Fitzwilliam is the sweet man who takes care of me and doesn’t frustrate me… Darcy is the teasing man I want to punch in the arm!”And Elizabeth did just that.

Rubbing his bicep, Darcy grinned. “Did you want to hear what I had to say, or should I just go?”

Elizabeth wondered briefly if all women sometimes wished to strangle the men they loved, or was this a unique characteristic exclusive to Darcy? While she knew she likely wouldn’t like what he had to say, she liked even less the thought of him leaving. “Please continue.”

Darcy reclaimed her hand. “As I was saying before, I love you Lizzy, and I’m glad you said you loved me too. But… before we get carried away, I want to know that you have a clear head and know what you’re about. I wouldn’t be able to stand it if you came to regret me.”

“Fitzwilliam Darcy, the only way I’d ever regret you is if you go and walk out of that door before you get it through that thick skull of yours that I love you and I probably always have! I’ve spent the last six months kicking myself for mucking things up so badly. I regret what I said then, not what I said now. I love you, you goofy fool, and, drugs or not, you need to believe me because whether you come back tomorrow, next week or next year, that fact won’t change. I love you Fitzwilliam. Trust me.”

He did trust her and he said so. They shared their first kiss and while many first kisses are magical and full of promise, theirs was not. Indeed, their first kiss was a reflection of their relationship to date, awkward, somewhat painful, but well-meaning nonetheless. Though Darcy was as gentle as he could be, her jaw still ached and the kiss, chaste as it was, still hurt.

Elizabeth rubbed her sore jaw. “I’m sorry, I’m not sure whether I should laugh or cry!”

Darcy pressed a kiss to her forehead. “I promise, in a few days I’ll make it up to you.”

Unable to resist, she teased, “Ah, there it is! That Darcy pride. I was wondering when it might return.”

He held her tight and whispered. “But don’t you see Lizzy? You are my pride now, and my joy. Fault me for it if you must, but don’t deny me it.”

She found she could never deny him anything and as he only did things with her in mind, they were exceedingly happy together.

Darcy and Elizabeth spent all their free time leading up to Jane and Charlie’s wedding together. They paid for and arranged a two-week honeymoon trip to some remote Bahamian island with white sandy beaches and clear, blue water, just as Elizabeth had suggested. Elizabeth had also been correct that ten rooms had been excessive for the needs of the Bingley wedding party alone.

Yet, in the end, all ten rooms were occupied.

As the time drew near to go west for the wedding, Darcy began to make plans of his own. He and Elizabeth had discussed marriage and they knew they would marry, and more likely sooner than later. It had actually been Elizabeth who had proposed this time, teasing Darcy that she was only doing so to save his ego from having to suffer the indignity of asking twice.

Friday the rehearsal went off without a hitch, and everyone seemed to know what they were supposed to do well enough. Then the guys and girls separated to celebrate the bride and groom’s last day of freedom. The men made a poor showing on the green. Darcy fared the best, with a score of 139. Mr. Bennet shot 148, Collins 167 and Bingley, whose idea it had been in the first place, was the worst with a tally of 186. They finished up with a few rounds of beers at the clubhouse with nary a one of the party getting into the tiniest bit of trouble, just as Darcy had promised.

The ladies headed a bit further into the desert for a day of pampering at an exclusive spa where they were treated to heated stone therapies, mud baths, facials and massages, all while sipping on champagne. Rejuvenated, the ladies returned to the hotel completely refreshed and ready for the events of the next day.

On Saturday morning, just as Darcy and Elizabeth were returning from breakfast, Elizabeth poked Darcy in the ribs and asked, “Isn’t that your Aunt and Uncle? Oh, and Brent? I wonder what they could be doing here.”

Darcy suppressed a smile. “Suppose we go find out. Shall we?”

They crossed the lobby and found not only the Fitzwilliams, but Darcy’s sister Georgiana as well.

As Elizabeth hugged the girl who would soon be her sister, she said, “I’m so glad to see you Georgie! What on earth brings all of you to Vegas?”

Georgie was about to answer when she caught sight of her brother standing behind his fiancé, shaking his head vehemently. She’d almost forgotten the surprise! “Uncle Max and Aunt Barb wanted to come and see Barry Manilow… and they didn’t want to leave me under the care of,” she pointed to Brent, “this reprobate, so they brought us along.”

“Gee, Georgie,” Brent quipped, “I’m feeling so loved here!”

Darcy laughed, “You are a reprobate and you are well aware of that fact! All the same, it’s great to see you.” He turned and greeted the rest of his small family, “It’s great to see all of you.”

Uncle Max coughed and said, “Plenty of time for a reunion later! Right now, there’ll be hell to pay if I don’t get something to eat. With all the money you pay to fly these days, you’d think the airlines could afford to give a man a decent meal or at least something edible! We’ll see you two lovebirds later on, after my stomach stops rumbling.”

Darcy’s family headed to the restaurant while Elizabeth tried, unsuccessfully, to pry information out of him. “You didn’t seem all that surprised to see your only living relatives in the whole world here at the very same hotel that we just happen to be staying at on the other side of the country. Is there something you wish to tell me, Fitzwilliam?”

He loved how since the morning they’d come clean about their feelings for one another she’d taken to calling him Fitzwilliam. Darcy had never cared for his name, finding it rather stifling formal and overbearing. Yet somehow it was entirely different when he heard his name like a caress from her lips. He was thinking about how his name had sounded coming from her that morning when they had lingered in bed when his reverie broke because her fist contacted his arm as she sharply said, “Darcy!”

Darcy rubbed his arm and guiltily smiled. “What?”

“Why is your family really here?”

“You heard them. They’ve come for Barry Manilow. It’s very tragic… you see, my aunt suffers greatly from Fanilow Fever.”

Elizabeth rolled her eyes and tried to repress her smile. “Fitzwilliam, be serious! Are you telling me they really came all the way here to see some aged musician sing Copacabana?”   

“Shh! Lizzy, never, ever disparage Barry! His fans get pretty rabid about him… if they heard you, it could start a riot!”

She laughed as they entered the elevator. “Fine! Have your secrets.”

“I’ll never have any secrets from you. My family, if you must know, has come to town to see a wedding.”

“But they barely know Charlie and they’ve never met Jane.”

“True. But they do know us.”

“Us?”

Darcy nodded. “Right. Us. As in you and me… we… us. Together… legally and forever. What do you say, Lizzy? Marry me now, marry me here, marry me today?”

She wanted to say “yes” more than anything, but she couldn’t. She refused to be the one to ruin her sister’s big day by usurping the attention Jane deserved. Her mother would never forgive her! Drawing a deep breath, she prayed he’d understand, “Would tomorrow be too late?”

He crossed his arms and leaned against the elevator handrail. “Yes.”

“Why?” Elizabeth pleaded, “Don’t you understand? I can’t take Jane’s special day away from her… I can’t do that to her!”

Seeing that she was well and truly upset, he pulled her into his arms and stroked her hair in the way he knew always calmed her. “You’re not taking anything away from Jane. In fact, I have it on the very best authority that she’ll be very angry with you if we don’t do this today.”

He wasn’t making any sense to her. “What do you mean by that? What authority are you talking about?”

Just then, the elevator door opened to their floor where Jane was waiting with a garment bag in hand. Jane yelled, “Surprise!”

Elizabeth’s hands flew to her face as happy tears ran down her cheeks. She looked from Jane to Darcy and when they both nodded in response to her unasked question, Elizabeth threw her arms around Darcy and said, “Yes! I’ll marry you now, here, today!”

“Thank God! Now, I’m going to leave you,” he nodded to Jane, “in your sister’s very capable hands and I’ll see you at the chapel in just a little while. I love you, Lizzy.”

Elizabeth replied, “I love you, Fitzwilliam.”

They shared a kiss good-bye before they went their separate ways. Darcy and Bingley had a few last-minute details to go over while Jane explained to her sister just how they had come to share their wedding day.

“So, Darcy was whining.” Jane told her story as she tamed Elizabeth’s hair into a dramatic up-do, “Charlie swears he was whining, that you and he would have to wait months before you could manage to get everyone together and have everything organized to get married. Then Charlie said it was a shame we all couldn’t share the same day. I guess the more they thought about it, the better it sounded. They asked me and, of course, I said ‘yes’. As a bonus, everyone but Mom knows. There’s still time to get some action on just what her reaction’s going to be. Odds are favoring a fainting spell, but I think she’s going to shout about her nerves.”  

“Just how long have we been in Vegas? Listen to you- action and odds, indeed!” Elizabeth could hardly believe her good fortune and had to ask once more, “So, this is all really okay with you?”

“I wouldn’t have this day any other way.” Jane, with a twinkle in her eye, then added, “Besides, if one’s going to practically elope, what better place is there to do it besides Vegas?”

Elizabeth defended their actions. “We’re not eloping… we’re just marrying suddenly.”

“Easy! I didn’t mean to offend you. I have to laugh though, Lizzy, because there’s absolutely nothing sudden about you and Darcy. You two are great together and I know that you’ll be very happy together.”

She fought more happy tears in an attempt to not ruin her makeup. “And I know you and Charlie will be, too.”

That afternoon, in front of all the people who mattered most to them, Jane Bennet married Charles Bingley in the same ceremony that forever joined Elizabeth Bennet to Fitzwilliam Darcy. As time went on, the Bingleys were sickeningly sweet in their shared marital bliss, often making those around them slightly nauseated. Nine months after their tropical honeymoon, they expanded their family when they welcomed their first son into the world. The Bingley’s made excellent, if indulgent, parents and they were proclaimed to be the nicest family anyone could ever imagine.

The Darcys were a slightly different matter. Whenever two passionate, headstrong individuals make a conscious decision to conjoin their lives, there will always be some difficulties to overcome. Things were not always easy between Elizabeth and Darcy, but they knew and remembered that, above all things, they loved (and ***trusted) one another. The Darcys also added to their family and, as different as their opinions varied about many things, they were of one mind when it came to raising children. They spent many happy, wonderful years together as man and wife.

It was obvious to all that Elizabeth loved her husband just as fiercely as he loved her. But on those occasions when he was more Darcy than Fitzwilliam, she often teased him that she had to have been on drugs when she said she loved him. He couldn’t deny it, and they would share a good laugh about their auspicious beginning knowing that their ending would be happy-ever-after.

The End!

 

~Home~ 

 
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Dedicatedly Medicated by michchick aka Jennifer Hickling is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


Thrills

~or~

Never Listen To Your Mother’s Advice

 

Elizabeth had been warned about the first time.

Others had tried to explain the invigorating feeling, the pure adrenaline rush which she was now experiencing, but they had all been wrong.

It was all that and so much more!

She and Darcy were climbing what may have been their third peak, she couldn’t remember, she’d lost count. The anticipation was almost more than she could bear. Elizabeth shut her eyes tightly and just enjoyed the thrill of the slow ascent, that feeling of freedom and flying which seemed to transport them to another time and place.

As they crested the peak together and picked up speed, Elizabeth’s screams joined Darcy’s loud cries. At last, they descended from their euphoric heights and came back down to earth. Though they had finally stopped moving, their pulses were still racing fast and Elizabeth felt like her heart was in her throat.

Elizabeth couldn’t help herself. She began to giggle. She was positive this was not the most mature response to such an experience, but she was so giddy that there was nothing else she could do.

Darcy was not at all offended, but rather amused by her laughter. “I take it you enjoyed yourself then Elizabeth?”

“I have to admit that I did, much more than I thought I would,” Elizabeth smiled. “It wasn’t at all like I thought it would be. I should have never listened to my mother.”

That she had chosen to listen to Mrs. Bennet’s advice on anything at all surprised Darcy. “I don’t understand why you did in this instance anyways. Your mother is hardly a roller coaster aficionado.”

“No, she’s not,” Elizabeth admitted. “I’ve learned my lesson. I’ll just trust you implicitly in all things.”

 He laughed. “See? I knew we should have left the ‘submit to your husband’ bit in our vows. I suppose it’s too late now though.”

“Funny man, you are. Now, what other thrills do you have planned for me today? What’s next, the Spine-Bender or the Whip Lash?”

“Neither. As much as I love coasters, they’re over too soon. The thrills I have planned for us will last substantially longer than two minutes.”

“While this was thrilling,” she gave him a wicked smile, “I do like the rides at home much better.”

Darcy heartily agreed. The still-newlywed Mr. and Mrs. Darcy then proceeded (as quickly as possible!) to head for the privacy of home. There they found endless amusements, thrills and excitement not only that day, but for the rest of their lives.

~Home~

 

 

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Thrills ~or~ Never Listen To Your Mother’s Advice by Jennifer Hickling aka michchick is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


Even the Losers

Lyrics by Tom Petty, re-imagined by michchick

 

Well, it was nearly summer; we sat on your roof.
Yeah, we smoked cigarettes and we stared at the moon.
And I’d show you stars you never could see.
Baby, it couldn’t have been that easy to forget about me.

   

Will hadn’t expected much when he arrived in the hick town of Meryton. It was true he’d heard the rumors that there were an exceptionally high percentage of pretty girls in the town, but, as usual, Will had other, much more serious things on his mind when he’d arrived in town. Initially, he hadn’t even found Lizzy attractive. By comparison to her older sister Jane, Lizzy was really nothing at all. Yet once Will had begun to spend time with the second Bennet sister, he found himself to be rather infatuated.  

 The night Will realized his infatuation was possibly something more happened one night after a simple dinner gathering. Lizzy had all she could take of her obnoxious younger sisters and ridiculously overbearing mother and escaped through an upstairs dormer window to sit on the roof and have a smoke in peace. Will had been concerned by her disappearance and sought her out. He climbed out the window and joined her, much to her unhidden dismay.

Will couldn’t believe his great fortune. He had finally found an opportunity to be alone with her, and in a romantic setting to boot! The moon appeared full, but when Lizzy mentioned it, Will corrected her, explaining that it was, in actuality, a waning gibbous moon. Will took her apparent interest in the heavens as an opening and then began to point out the varying constellations, explaining the mythologies behind them. This began a pattern for the summer. When everyone would get together and Lizzy needed to get away from it all, Will did his best to keep her company.

When Will thought back to those early days when he first knew Lizzy, he still didn’t understand how she’d come to feel the way she did. She had to like him, if even a little.

Baby, time meant nothing, anything seemed real.
Yeah, you could kiss like fire and you made me feel-
Like every word you said was meant to be.
No, it couldn’t have been that easy to forget about me.

Will still thought often of those days. Somehow he’s missed something that he couldn’t seem to comprehend. He reviewed their conversations in his mind and felt certain, even now, that Lizzy had indeed been flirting with him! She had listened to him earnestly and whenever she spoke with him, it had been in such a teasing way that could leave no room for misinterpretation. Yet he had done just that!

True, when he kissed her that afternoon when he confessed his feelings for her, Lizzy slapped him; but the fire in her eyes, the passion that he’d incited in her held such promise for the future! Time was all that Will needed; time for her to see that she was mistaken. He tried to be angry with her for her refusal of his affection, but all he had to do was think about the beauty of her hazel eyes and he was lost again.

Will was positive that if anyone could change her fury into fervor, it was him.

  Baby, even the losers get lucky sometimes.
Even the losers keep a little bit of pride.
They get lucky sometimes.
 
Will knew he wouldn’t beg for another chance with her. She had called him, right to his face, a loser! Generally he was of a disposition to remain unaffected by harsh criticisms, but a man had to keep some of his pride! He had already put himself out there, made himself vulnerable, and he was not in a hurry to do it again. For the moment, he would just bide his time until he could figure something else out.

  Perhaps she would realize her great mistake and come crawling back to him, begging for forgiveness. Even losers get lucky sometimes!

Two cars parked on the overpass.
Rocks hit the water like broken glass.
I should have known right then it was too good to last.
God, it’s such a drag when you’re livin’ in the past.

Will had waited for her on the bridge’s footpath. He knew she walked five miles every day and her path always brought her the same way and so he skipped stones to while away the time until she arrived.

Lizzy nearly turned the other way when she saw him lying in wait for her, but realized it would be rude and even he didn’t warrant such harsh treatment. Lizzy met Will and listened as he briefly made his case one last time. He was less arrogant the second time around, but she was still unmoved. Her feelings and wishes remained unchanged and Will knew it was time to cut his loses once and for all.

Once he realized he ought to live in the present instead of his idealized past, it didn’t take long for Will to shake off his melancholy and get over Lizzy. In fact, it was only a matter of days before he believed himself to be in love all over again.

Yes, in the end Will Collins found happiness with Lizzy’s best friend Charlotte.

After all, even the losers get lucky sometimes!

The End!

 

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Even the Losers by Jennifer Hickling aka michchick is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


Someone You Need

P&P songfic based on the Howard Jones song Someone You Need.

 

A cold November night, sometime after 2am, on the streets of Meryton.

Darcy

~The streets here are empty, all the people went home.~

Has it really come to this? I’m walking around your neighborhood in the dead of night, hoping for… what? That you’ll peek out of your window, see me in the street and rush into my arms? That’s not very bloody likely, is it?

~Well, I was just wondering if you’re alone.~

Have you moved on? Well, it really wouldn’t be moving on now, would it? That would mean that we’d actually been together. I have no rights… you never led me on. I was a right bloody fool for seeing what I wanted to see. I know that you won’t be alone forever, but I really hope that you’re alone right now. I know that’s terrible, and incredibly selfish of me, but the very idea that someone else might be holding you, kissing you, loving you- when it should be me– would just kill me. But then again, that may be just precisely what you wish for…

~So how you’ve been lately?~

Had I not been such an arse, such a colossal prick, I could just pick up the bloody phone and give you a ring. I can’t even do that now. What is wrong with me? Instead of telling you that I love you and think you’re perfect, I insult you in every way imaginable and then had the gall to ask why you turned me down! What I would give to know that you’re alright…

~I hear you’re a little down and do you think maybe I could come around?~

…but instead I have to rely on second-hand information. Charlie says that Jane told him that you seem melancholy since the last time we met. I wonder what you would think if you knew that I’ve changed. That I’m working hard to be a man who might be someday worthy of you? To think, I thought myself above you- what a presumptuous, arrogant bastard I was! If you knew I was trying, would you wish to see me? Would you want my company? Would we be able to hold a conversation without fighting? Or is it too late to even try to make a new start? I know the last time we saw each other, we managed not to argue, but is that enough to form a friendship on? Would you even wish to?

~I could be someone you need.~

I know that you said I was the last man in the world who could ever interest you… but as wrong as I was, you had some wrong information too. Did you believe me? Has that made a difference? Or was I so terrible that it doesn’t matter? If your opinion has changed, do you now see what I do? That your strengths compliment my weaknesses and mine yours? Oh Elizabeth, will you ever see, ever understand, that I need you? Might you possibly need me too? 

~Wrap you in blankets on dark winter nights.~

That night we spent at Charlie’s- where we were both so stubborn- is one of my fondest memories. You were cuddled in that arm chair by the fire, bundled up in that woolen afghan, trying so hard to stay warm. I tried to bring you another blanket, but you were being so fiercely independent that you refused. How I wanted to sweep you in my arms and keep you warm myself! I realize now that while I thought you were being coy, you were most likely hoping I would just go away. Still, that night was the seed of one of my favorite fantasies… I envision you and I snuggled under blankets together on a settee in the library at Pemberley where we talk about everything and nothing. My favorite person in my favorite place… how much I long to make that a reality instead of a dream!

~Be your best confidante, pay the right compliment.~

The last time we met, I could have sworn that things were a little bit better between us. Or was that just my imagination seeing things that I wish to see? God knows I’ve tricked myself into thinking I understood you before and I really couldn’t have been more wrong! But the more I think on it, the more I begin to think that I’m not just seeing what I want to see. I never before cared for anyone else’s good opinion… until I lost yours. Did you know that I was even jealous of my cousin? You two always seemed to have some secrets or such that you were sharing and I dearly wished that I could be your confidant. That I could be the one who you’d whisper your inner-most secrets to and I would share everything with you too. I have never been an eloquent man and since you usually leave me speechless, I’ve never managed to say more than a coherent sentence or two in your presence. If I could make speeches, if I was not so tongue-tied each time I was near you, I would have long ago told you how beautiful you are, both in body and spirit. I would say that the sun is never as bright as your smile, the birds could never match the sweet song of your laughter and that God Himself surpassed His artistry when He in His ultimate wisdom created you. Instead, when I finally spoke to you, it was not only my courage that I had screwed up! No wonder you hated me.

~I could be someone you need.~

So now I’m stuck. Stuck in this interminable hell of my own making. I know that sounds melodramatic and all, but that’s the reality nonetheless. I’ve had more than enough time to think on the matter and I’ve come to realize that I want more. Prior to meeting you, I’d always assumed that I’d eventually marry someone and she’d be the consummate wife and attend to all the needs of my life- kids, hostess, smile pretty before the public and never disagree or have a difference of opinion. Seems I was looking for a Stepford wife or some other soulless creature. How wrong I was! I need you… and the more I walk these lonely streets, the more I think you might, just maybe, even need me, too.

Elizabeth

~We had coffee on 3rd street and talked for a time.~

You used to be so easy to hate. It was so simple- I was right and you were wrong… what could be simpler than that? The truth. I thought that I was so brilliant and clever when I decided to hate you, but I wasn’t really brilliant or clever, was I? No, just very incredibly stupid! When I bumped into you at the café, the last thing in the world I ever expected was civility from you, let alone you buying me a cup of coffee. It was so strange sitting there and chatting as though nothing had ever happened between us, that we’d never argued or uttered the hurtful things we said to each other. It should have been awkward between us, yet it wasn’t. I wonder how that can be? Obviously, you were showing me that you’re the bigger man, as it were, by being nice to me when I didn’t warrant any notice from you at all. I wonder if you know now that I no longer hate you… I just can’t. I tried, oh, believe me, I tried to continue to hate you… your attitude, the way you come across as being above any and everyone, drove me mad! But then I began to understood that wasn’t what you were doing at all, was it? You’re just absurdly awkward and a bit shy, aren’t you? When we met and had coffee that afternoon, I could see that I had been so very wrong about you. You are the clever one… you have a wicked sense of humor and are rather witty too. Why did I insist on hating you for so long? Because I am doomed to revel in my allegedly brilliant cleverness even when I’ve been rightly proven wrong.

~I still have your letter, I know every line.~

When we met that afternoon, I was surprised that you didn’t mention your letter. But that’s just like you, isn’t it? Refusing to dwell on things that are in the past and instead moving on with the future. I suppose that’s one of the things that I’ve come to admire about you. Yes, I said it, I admire you… and yes, I understand the terrific irony of choosing that particular word. Had I any clue what you thought or felt before that afternoon… well, I suppose I ought to adopt a bit of your philosophy here and try to not dwell. But your words- “You can have no idea how much I admire and love you”- were so true! I was truly dumbstruck! I honestly thought you hated me with at least as much passion, if not more, than I hated you. Oh how I wish now that I could take back some of what I said! I was horrible to you… and even if I had been correct in my assertions, there’s no excuse for the manner in which I spoke to you. To say that I was surprised when I received your letter which explained what I had willfully misunderstood would be a gross understatement! Would it shock you to know that I know it now by heart? That I have read and re-read it so often that I could recite it back to you in full? Through your letter, I finally had clear insight into your character for the first time in the entire time I’ve known you and then, just when I was beginning to understand you, it seemed our acquaintance was at an end! How different you were when we met again… or was it just that you seemed different because I have this new knowledge of you? I can no longer tell! I am so confused and no longer know what to think! That’s not entirely honest though… I do know what I think… I think that you are a remarkable man and I think that I regret that I’ll never have the chance to get to know you better. I think that of all the people I’ve met, in all the things that matter, it’s you who would suit me most perfectly of all. Why did I not see it before? That’s right! Because I was being foolish in my pride and stupidity! What a grand idiot I’ve been…

~I hope this ain´t coming from way out of the blue cause I got to thinking and I thought of you.~

I cannot believe I’m out wandering the streets at o’-dark-thirty thinking of you and what might have been! Oh how my friends would laugh if they knew! Or, for that matter, if you knew, would you laugh? What would you think, William, if you knew that I was out prowling the streets because I’ve turned into a raging insomniac because of my lack of good judgment where you’re concerned? I imagine you’d admonish me and scold me with a lesson about personal safety. In the past, I’d have railed that such a declaration was a prime example of you being bossy when, in reality, it’s just you being responsible and looking out for the well-being of those you care about. Would I still be among those that you care about? I hope so… but I somehow doubt it. I think I burned that bridge pretty well, don’t you? What was it that you said? Oh yes, it was something like ‘my good opinion once lost is lost forever’ or something to that extent. I believe I’ve done a right admirable job of losing your good opinion, don’t you? How could you ever still care about, let alone love, someone that called you the ‘most abominable man who ever walked the face of the earth’? I know, I know… you’d ask why it matters now and I’d try to find some clever thing to say… but the truth is that I’m all out of clever things to say. All I could give would be the honest truth- that you are the best man I know and I’ve come to love you now that all hope is in vain.

~I could be someone you need.~

I just feel so wretched! Why have I been so blind? For that matter, why were you so blind? Why didn’t you shake me, or yell at me, or even just kiss me for God’s sake? Maybe then I would’ve clued in sooner! Instead, I’m doomed to singleness and you’ll probably come to believe that you nearly made a colossal error in loving me and throw yourself into a relationship with some society doyenne and while that’s probably what you should do, I think that would be a colossal error! You should be marrying me! You would be miserable in a ‘yes dear’ relationship! You need someone…well, you need me! And damn it! I need you!

~Keep you from burning in hot summer sun.~

As stubborn as you are, unless you were with someone who could be equally stubborn, you’d find yourself in trouble. You can be so contrary, you know that don’t you? You might think it’s being noble, or stoic even, but it’s a pain in the arse when you won’t listen to sense because someone else came up with an idea instead of you! Remember that time at the beach house? Everyone else had sense enough to put sunscreen on- but did you? No, of course not! You said you’d be fine and that you never burn. Ha! I remember at dinner that night you were wearing that white button-down shirt and you could barely move because you were burnt so badly! Instead of asking for help, you insisted that you were fine and it didn’t hurt! I wonder if you’d let me help you… would you let me apply sunscreen to your shoulders? To your back? Your very well-muscled back? This isn’t helping you any Elizabeth Bennet and it’s time you started thinking about something else besides shagging the one man you can’t have!

~Roll you in clover, a coat for your shoulder.~

I keep thinking about that afternoon we spent picnicking at your Aunt’s in Kent. Your cousin was blathering on and on about, well, something and my cousin was agreeing wholeheartedly- probably without understanding what was even being said! Charlotte was asleep and you were staring off in the distance, playing absent-mindedly with some clover you’d picked. You were twirling the stem between your thumb and forefinger and I remember thinking, and this was not even the first time, that you were a very handsome man. I think I liked the idea that you seemed as bored as I was and were struggling like the rest of us to stay awake in our tedious relation’s presence. Now, I look back at all the times when I was alone with you then and I think of all the wasted opportunities! Oh William, you would be scandalized if you only knew the wicked thoughts I’ve had about all those meetings we had back then! Like that time I was sitting in the clover field reading and you came and spoke to me… I’ve changed that meeting in my mind and relived a thousand different outcomes- none of which involve me ever finishing that book! Have you imagined the things that I have? Good Lord! I can’t believe I’m blushing at the very thought that you might have dreamt up the same scenarios as I have! See? Now what must you think of me? I’ve imagined you and I having a very private picnic of our own in the clover- one without your well-meaning cousin always interrupting you! Seriously, what is his problem? He followed me around like a lost puppy, always demanding attention! No one would ever describe you as a puppy, that’s certain! I wonder if we’d have possibly come to understand each other better had he not always inserted himself into every conversation. I guess we’ll never know now, will we?

~I could be someone you need.~

The more I think on it, the more I am certain of it! You need me! What’s even more astounding is that I’m pretty certain that I need you too. Even when I didn’t like you…okay, even when I thought I hated you… I always cared about what you thought about me. Your opinion always mattered to me whether I liked it or not. I always thought you were gorgeous and definitely the finest specimen of what a man should look like. I can admit it now… I was crushed. When I overheard you tell Charlie that I was nothing special and barely ordinary, it hurt. I know that I played it off that I didn’t care, but I did. You once said to me that neither of us perform to strangers… yet that was exactly what we each did, wasn’t it? You put on the façade and pretended that you were some unaffected big shot when the reality is you’re not like that at all. In fact, if only I’d taken the time, as my sister suggested I should, to look beneath the surface, perhaps I’d have not cost me my entire future happiness! Jane always thought well of you… there’s some more irony for you! You two are actually quite alike in demeanor and can be easily misunderstood. That’s why we’d be so right for each other I think… we’re complimentary opposites.

~You need someone there when the world isn’t fair or its all just too good to be true.~

I was so wrong… I don’t think I could ever apologize enough for misjudging your character so! You are in fact one of the kindest, least judgmental people I’ve ever met. In truth, I’m the one guilty of being judgmental and for that, I’m so very sorry! Looking out for your friends and family like you do… helping out my moronic sister without being asked- just because you felt it necessary when it really wasn’t! You are always there for everyone else William… who is there for you? Did you have anyone to turn to when your sister had her moment of stupidity? Who was there for you when you lost your parents? Who do you turn to when you’ve simply had a rotten day and enough is enough? I would give anything to be that person. I would love to be the one to help you share your burdens and help lighten your load. I long to be able to celebrate the little things, those small victories, that make life worth living. I would love to share your life, the good, the bad and the ugly. I believe you’ve gone it alone for far too long William.

~Someone to care for you, issue a dare to you.~

I know you have your sister, and she’s a dear sweet girl, but she’s growing up. Besides, the care of a sister who loves you like a father  is hardly the same as someone who loves you as I do. What have you done to me William? I was once a rational woman. I seem to have lost my senses as my father would say! That’s what you’ve done to me… I care for you, I love you, and I long for you. Remember that evening at Charlie’s when I dared you to despise me and you said you’d dare not? I think you need someone to dare you more often… you need me to dare you more often. What a pair we are! I guess that’s not right though, is it? It’s like we belong together… but can’t manage to be in the same place at the same time to be an actual pair. Funny, isn’t it, that they call the halves of pairs mates? Oh William… what am I going to do without you?

~When the moment comes you need to fly, fly.~

Of course, the last few times we met you didn’t stay long, did you? What did I expect? That you’d been hoping to spend lots of time with the woman who told you to sod off? I didn’t think so. You were so polite though, so gentleman-like. That’s incorrect. You’re not like a gentleman, you are a gentleman and you always were one. It’s only that I was too blind to see it. Of course as soon as you could, you left my presence. Truth be told, and there is no point in lying to myself, I don’t much like my company right now either. If only I could have had the courage to tell you, to show you that I’ve changed. That I know I was wrong and that you are the best of men. Could you ever forgive me I wonder? I know that there’s no hope that you could ever love me again… I’m not that naïve… but I hate the idea of you being out there, alive in the world, and thinking badly of me.

Darcy and Elizabeth

 ~I could be someone you need.~

“What on earth are you doing here?” she asked at the same time  he questioned, “What brings you out at this time in the morning?”

Unsure if she was imagining him, she said, “I haven’t been sleeping well and find that my head clears better when I walk. And you?”

“Much the same.” He stammered, still reeling that she was standing before him, he had no idea what to say. “Uh, how have you been Elizabeth? Have you been well since I saw you last?”

She gave a small smile. “Since two days ago? Yes, William, I am well. How are you?”

He tried to answer with a cheerfulness he didn’t feel. “I suppose I’m well…” Looking into her eyes, he found he couldn’t fake it. “No, I can’t do this. I just can’t.”

“Of course not,” once again, she misunderstood him and was crushed. “I understand. Good-bye then,” she turned and began to walk away from him, tears glistening in her eyes.

He called out, “Elizabeth!” and she stopped. Stepping quickly, he was in front of her in mere moments. She stared intently at the pavement, refusing to look into his eyes for fear of finding herself disappointed. When he saw she would not look at him, he whispered, “Elizabeth,” and lifted her chin gently with his hand, forcing her to see what the truth was. “I cannot look you in the eye and say that I am well when I am not. I am not fine… I haven’t been fine or good or well or, for that matter, happy in many months now. I will not, cannot lie to you Elizabeth. To you, I must tell the absolute truth.”

“Oh,” she gasped. “I thought… well, no matter. I was wrong again, as usual.” She hung her head and sighed, “I’m always wrong it seems these days.”

He hated seeing her like this. “That can’t be true. What could you possibly be wrong about?”

She realized it was now or never. “You. I was wrong about you…”

He had never been so surprised in all his life. He realized the implications, but instead of trusting his instincts, which had led him wrong before, he asked for some clarification. “You were? How so?”

Drawing on what little courage she had remaining, she confessed all. “You, William Darcy, are the very best of men and I know now that I love you. I was wrong to think anything otherwise.”

Still positive that he was imagining everything, he asked, “And you’ve been not sleeping well and needing to clear your head why exactly?”

She could not help but chuckle and shake her head at him. “You insufferable man! Because of you, William, I haven’t been sleeping well because thoughts of you haunt me day and night. Is that what you want to hear? That you’ve made me as miserable as I’ve made you? There, your revenge is complete now.”

It was now his turn to shake his head at her and smile. “You impertinent woman! Revenge is for enemies. I have no wish to be your enemy Elizabeth… I wish to be your friend.”

“Friend?” she said, unable to conceal her disappointment. “If that is all you wish for, then friends we shall be William.”

It nearly broke his heart to see her tears. He was still standing quite close and therefore was he was very easily able to kiss them away as he said, “No, Elizabeth. I wish to be so much more than friends. For so long, friends was the most I dared hope for with you. Do you really, honestly love me now, my dearest Elizabeth?”

Still reeling from the touch of his lips against her cheek and the words that had caressed her heart, she managed to somehow speak, “Yes, William, I do. I really, truly, utterly and completely love you.”

He pulled her into his arms and held her tight. “And you wouldn’t mind being with this insufferable man for, say, the rest of your life then?”

“So long as you wouldn’t mind being with this impertinent woman for the rest of yours.”

He gave her a very rare, dimpled smile. “I can’t imagine anything else I’d like more.”

She met his smile with one of her own. “I can.”

“And what would that be?”

“Kiss me William.”

That I can do,” and to prove his point, he did just that. When they were finished, they walked on and spoke of many things. They cleared the air about all their misunderstandings, their fight and how they thought they would best face the future together.

It began to lightly snow and they decided it would be best to continue their discussion inside. They were now closer to William’s than Elizabeth’s and so to William’s home they went.

~Wrap you in blankets on dark winter nights.~

It was now after four in the morning and as much as he wanted to scoop her into his arms and take her to his room to fully express all that he’d long felt for her, he knew it wasn’t the right time for that just yet. He instead showed her into his library and had her sit down while he lit the fire in the grate. She watched as he worked diligently to warm the room, all the while thinking that if only he would hurry they could share the blanket she was now under.

As he stood and turned around, he paused for a moment to take a mental picture of the scene before him. She, his Elizabeth, sat before him on the settee under a woolen blanket waiting for him to join her. It wasn’t exactly how he envisioned it at Pemberley, but this was so much better as this was real. He grabbed an extra blanket from a nearby trunk, just in case, and proceeded to join her.

 ~Be your best confidante, pay the right compliment.~

 Snuggled up together, they spoke until well after the sun came up. She learned that he was all she hoped he would be and so much more. He was thrilled that while she had not loved him nearly as long as he loved her, she was every bit his equal in fervent devotion. It was decided between them that there would be no happier couple anywhere, their friend and sister included.

~I could be someone you need.~

*The End*

 

~Home~

 

Creative Commons License
Someone You Need by michchick aka Jennifer Hickling is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


This is a de-lurker award for Cubs fan Betty Jo. If we make Elizabeth a  Cub’s fan, what’s more natural than Darcy being a Chi-Sox fan? 

Take Me Out to the Ball Game   (for Betty Jo)

September 2009, Chicago, Illinois

Elizabeth Bennet was ecstatic and was radiating happiness.

“I’d ask why you’re so giddy, but I don’t really want to know do I?” Darcy asked.

“The schedule came out today!” she replied in a sing-song voice.

He groaned. “Really?”

“Really!” She began to dance around and sing, “June 25th, 26th and 27th! We’re gonna win! We’re gonna win! June 25th, 26th and 27th! We’re gonna win! We’re gonna win!”

“Elizabeth, please!” Darcy begged. “You cannot be serious, can you?”

Still twirling about, she replied, “Inter-league play, baby! My Cubbies, your dirty-Sox… what could be better?”

Darcy mused that the stereotype that only men could be obsessed with sports was blatantly untrue.

Thinking she must “Did you perhaps forget that we have plans for that weekend, dearest?”

She had forgotten, but his question reminded her of the event in full force. Sheepishly, Elizabeth asked, “No… but can we not make some tiny alterations to them?”

“You cannot be serious?” he sighed, knowing all the while she was.

“Please William? For me? Pretty please?”

“After everything we’ve been through to get to this point, you’re really, truly serious about this?”

She bit her lip and nodded.

Darcy slumped in his favorite chair while he considered what she was asking. Elizabeth had long since learned that he had moods and since it was her fault he was in this one, she decided to just let him be for the moment.

Elizabeth remembered something that might help her with her plea and so said, “I’ll be in the library for a moment. I need to print a few things and I’ll return shortly.”

He just gave a dismissive wave of his hand. She smiled when he did. How complicated she had originally thought he was! He was in actuality very simple. He loved her, he loved his sister, he loved his job and he loved the Chicago White Sox. He was not always the best at communicating his thoughts, but once you understood the four things those thoughts centered on, he was very easily understood.

Darcy watched her walk down the hall and just sat in wonder. How had he, a Sox fan, fallen in love with a Cub fan? Moreover, how had they managed to schedule their wedding for the same weekend where they played each other? And she was really only joking when she said she wanted to alter their wedding plans, right?

He was still in his chair, casually leaning back with his head thoughtfully resting in his hand when she returned.

She waited for his attention before she spoke, “I know you’re not keen on the idea of spending our wedding weekend at Wrigley field.”

Darcy agreed. “No.”

“Did I forget to mention that the series this year is at U.S. Cellular? I did, didn’t I?” she teased as she handed him the freshly-printed schedules.

He brightened. “Truly?” he asked as he began to shuffle through the papers which verified it was so.

Darcy reached his hand out and Elizabeth came forward to take it. He pulled her into his over-sized baseball leather chair. She wrapped her arms around his neck and made herself comfortable in his lap.

He put his hand on her knee and asked, “You really want to do this? Arrange our wedding and surrounding festivities around baseball?”

She laughed. “Do you know how lucky you are? Jane can’t stand baseball!”

“Oh, please do not mistake me, my dearest, loveliest, most infuriating Elizabeth! I know exactly how lucky I am. It’s only that when most couples share a sport, they share a team too.”

Making like she was going to get up, she teased, “If that’s what you want, Carrie’s still available… she’ll root for whoever you tell her to.”

“No you don’t!” He pulled her closer. “You, my pretty, aren’t going anywhere! I don’t want anyone else but you and you very well know that by now!”

“William, I do know that. I’m not saying we have to move the wedding.”

“If we don’t how will we get married? You don’t wish to miss the game… wait! No…. you don’t really mean it?”

“Why not?”

He protested, “It would be a circus! That’s why! Surely you see that?”

She played with his hair, twirling the curls at the back of his neck. “It was going to be a circus anyways. At least if we do it this way, we can be the ringmasters instead of your aunt and my mother.”

“You do have a point.”

“I usually do!”

They both laughed and begun to discuss the merits of using a different kind of diamond for their wedding.

June 2010, U.S. Cellular Field

The Friday night game served as both bachelor and bachelorette party. Beer, peanuts, cotton-candy, hot dogs and soda flowed freely as Elizabeth and Darcy shared the joy of their upcoming marriage with thousands of fellow Chicagoans.

Saturday dawned bright and clear. It was a spectacular day for a wedding. The groom wore a traditional black cut-away morning coat. His vest was, of course, white with black pin-stripes. The bride wore a traditional gown which was everything lovely. Her hair was trimmed with orange zinnias and blue delphiniums and she carried a bouquet of orange and blue roses.

They were wed at home plate prior to the singing of the National Anthem. William’s family shrugged it off as another one of his eccentricities while Elizabeth’s knew better. Included in their vows, along with the traditional for-better-or-worse, sickness-and-health, till-death stuff, was a promise to never gloat about whose team was superior. Mrs. Bennet could be heard loudly lamenting that her heedless daughter at least had the good fortune to marry a man that didn’t seem to care that she was a senseless tomboy.

After the wedding, the newly-minted Mr. and Mrs. Darcy took their seats behind home-plate and proceeded to begin their marriage by sharing in America’s favorite pastime together. Elizabeth and William were rooting for opposing teams, of course, which was not surprising for anyone who happened to know the headstrong couple. When the game was over, they each were grateful for the addendum to their vows as it would do no good to begin their honeymoon by taunting the other mercilessly.

Still dressed in their wedding clothes, they attended a small reception with their families at Harry Carey’s. It was William’s great concession to Elizabeth, since the games were on his home field, the reception was in hers. That Harry Carey’s had some of the best steak in town didn’t hurt much either. They celebrated with their loved ones until the wee small hours of the morning and then made their way home where they continued their celebration in a much more private manner.

While attending the Sunday game, for the first time either could recall neither of them was able to pay much attention to the game itself. The distraction that each created for the other was too strong and for the first time, they left without knowing the final score.

Epilogue

The Darcys did continue to be rabid baseball fans throughout their lives. Darcy always rooted for his Chi-Sox and Elizabeth for her Cubbies. They did still tease each other often about their preferences. She would dig and call them the dirty Sox which always prompted Will to, yet again, rail that Shoeless Joe was framed and he would annoy her with accusations about how they hadn’t had a decent player since Ernie Banks in the sixties. Despite this age-old battle, the Darcys lived with unusual felicity in their marriage.

They even found common ground and began to root for the same team. William still loved his Sox, and Elizabeth still adored her Cubs, but the Darcy’s new favorite team was the Seattle Mariners.

What had caused this change in team loyalty? The new pitcher for the Mariners was Andrew Darcy, their eldest son. Andrew had a very successful baseball career, even winning a World Series near the end of his career. He played for many teams, but would never entertain any offers from either the Sox or the Cubs. He could never do that to his parents.

Happily, the Darcy’s teams each eventually had the ultimate in success. William was able to cheer his Sox on to a Series win in the 2020’s. It took Elizabeth’s Cub’s a bit longer, they didn’t make it until 2031 but she believed it was worth the wait.

In the end, as long as William and Elizabeth remembered it was only a game, everything worked out well and for the best. They, like any other couple, or perhaps even more so, still fought and argued. Yet they knew that the love they shared for one another was strong enough to weather any storm, even a bad baseball season.

The End

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Take Me Out to the Ball Game by michchick aka Jennifer Hickling is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.


 A short while ago, I ran a contest to see if anyone knew where the phrase ‘first step into a larger world ‘ came from and Alanna repsonded with the correct answer- Obi-Wan Kenobi says it to Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: A New Hope. As her reward, she got to pick a short of her choice. She chose a Star Wars theme and this, for better or worse, is the result. It’s the cast of characters from Resolution and Resignation. It is pretty Star Wars-centric, but a huge knowledge of Star Wars isn’t necessary. I’ve posted pcitures of some of the costumes below.
 

First Step into a Larger World- a Resolution and Resignation continuation

October 29th, 2012 

Getting ready…

“I cannot believe you got me to agree to this,” grumbled William Darcy as he adjusted his utility belt.

Elizabeth Darcy laughed. “You need to undo one or two more buttons. Han is a hunk, remember?”

Will & Lizzy's costumes.

Exasperated by both his costume and the idea of being seen in public like this, Darcy whined, “Remind me why we’re doing this again?”

Lizzy helped untidy his shirt a bit more. “Because Charlie is our friend and brother, we love him and support him, that’s why.”

Looking for assurance, Will asked, “That other Leia costume…”

Lizzy whispered, “Will be worn, just for you, after the party.”

He gave a small bow and kissed her hand. “Thank you your Worshipfulness.”

She was impressed that he finally was beginning to play along. “And I thought Charlie was the Star Wars geek.”

Will shrugged, “He’s made me watch the DVDs with him often enough. I suppose it just sinks in. I still can’t believe he’s throwing a Star Wars Halloween party.”

Aiden and Adrianna Bingley's costumes.

Lizzy laughed. “It’s the thirty-fifth anniversary! And you know Charlie’s always looking for any excuse to throw a shindig. He’s even talked Jane into dressing the twins in costume. Adrianna is an Ewok and poor Aiden going as a Jawa.”

“We really don’t have to go, do we? Elanna and Grace are so young… are you sure it’ll be safe to leave them for the night?”

“Elanna will have so much fun toddling around after Georgie’s puppy and Grace is now two months old. I guarantee they will both be much happier if their mother is taken out for an evening by her handsome father and left in the care of their wonderful aunt for just a few hours! I need to go out tonight Will. I need to go out and speak with other grown-ups about something other than feeding times and changing diapers and what age goes with what milestones.  Please Will; can you do this for me?”

Will nodded and apologized. “I know I can be selfish sometimes. I’m sorry. I’m not looking forward to this and hadn’t considered that you’ve been cooped up here for such a long time now. We’ll go out, we’ll dance, we’ll chat with our friends and family and I’ll be every bit the charming rogue that I’m supposed to be.”

“That’s all I ask Will.”

“Sure thing, your Highness.”

At the party….

Charlie and Jane's costumes.

Charlie and Jane had greeted everyone with their usual cheerfulness. Gatherings like this were something the Bingley’s thrived on.

As they entered the hall, Will whispered to a giggling Lizzy, “I have a bad feeling about this.”

 Having overheard his friend and seeing Will’s discomfort, Charlie said, “You know, Obi-Wan once told me that I’d taken my first step into a larger world. At the time, I had no idea just how large a world he meant!”

Even Will got this one and felt pleased that he remembered his cue, “That wizard is just a crazy old man.”

Charlie chuckled and slapped Will on the back to show his approval, while Will silently wondered if he’d survive the night at all.

Lizzy was slightly befuddled. “I get that you’re supposed to be Luke Skywalker. It’s clear enough. White kimono-thingy and the pants, boots, lightsaber and all, it makes sense and I get it. But Charlie, if you’re Luke, who the heck is Jane here? I can’t believe you’d dress Jane as a secondary character!”

Jane shook her head and laughed. “While I’m not a primary movie character, I’m a primary universe character. I’m Mara Jade!”

Darcy looked to Lizzy who in indicated she had no clue either. Will asked, “Mara who?”

Charlie, with all his fan-boy boisterousness, explained, “Mara Jade! She was the Emperor’s Hand and had natural force abilities. She was supposed to kill Luke for the Emperor back on Tatooine at Jabba’s Palace but she never had the opportunity. They shared a lot of adventures together and eventually fell in love. Mara and Luke married and helped rebuild the New Republic together.”

Lizzy laughed at that. “Jane, you are married to the biggest geek ever.”

Jane Bingley beamed. “I know. Isn’t it wonderful?”

Will looked around the room. Aliens and strangely dressed people were everywhere.  “I hear the twins are in on the act too. Where are they?”

Erick Hurst's costume.

Jane answered, “Louise and Randy have them around here somewhere. Aiden and Adrianna love playing with their cousin Erick. Little Erick is dressed like Yoda and is the cutest little thing! Too bad you two didn’t bring Elanna and Grace.”

Lizzy chuckled at that. “As what? It sounds as though all the good ‘little’ costumes are spoken for!”

Will was about to say that he’d never been to a more ‘interesting’ party when the band started up.

Musician's 'Cantina' alien masks.

 Instantly, everyone’s attention was drawn to the dais and the crowd’s reaction was a loud cheer and thunderous applause. The band was dressed in black and they all wore very large, bulbous masks with huge onyx eyes that made them look like the band from the Cantina in the original Star Wars movie. People began to make their way to the dance floor and Will realized he needed to make good on his promise to Lizzy.

“Your Worshipfulness, you wouldn’t want to dance with a space jockey like me, would you?”

Wookie costume.

She laughed and took his hand. “I suppose it would be better than dancing with a Wookie.”

They began to dance and just enjoy spending these moments together in each other’s arms. It had been far too long since they’d had an opportunity like this. Darcy was in the middle of a long trial that had gone on for five weeks already and despite technically being on maternity leave, Lizzy was still doing nearly the same level of work before, but just without the benefit of her office.

“This isn’t so bad now, is it?” Lizzy asked.

He kissed the top of her head. “I was just thinking that very thing.”

She sighed in his arms. “I love you.”

“I know.”

“I tell you ‘I love you’ and you tell me ‘I know’? What is wrong with you William Darcy?”

“I am Han Solo, captain of the Millenium Falcon and you, my dear, seem to have forgotten that you are Princess Leia Organa, formerly of the planet Alderaan.”

She laughed at that. “So Charlie has turned you into a great big nerd too? Oh my!”

He teased her back. “Said the woman who gets referred to as Lizzy-Wan Kenobi.”

Lizzy held up a hand in defeat. “Alright, I should know better than to question the right, honorable Judge Darcy.”

Will’s eyes twinkled. “Yes, you should!”                       

Knowing she’d lost her case but that he was always fair when it came to punishments, at least for her, she said very seriously, “Yes, your Honor.”

With a wink and a grin, Darcy leaned in and said, “No Lizzy, I’m not your Honor. Tonight I get to be a rogue! Did I mention that the Falcon is the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs?”

Dinner is served…

Richard and Charlotte's costumes.

Seated across from Will and Lizzy were Richard and Charlotte Fitzwilliam. The Fitzwilliams had come dressed as Padmé Amidala and Anakin Skywalker.

Lizzy poked Will and said, “Aren’t you going to say ‘hi’ to my mom and dad?”

Darcy laughed while Richard frowned and said, “You behave there with my daughter Han, or I’ll Force-choke you!”

Will rolled his eyes. “Very funny Mannequin.”

Richard corrected him. “That’s Anakin, thank you.”

Darcy leaned forward and said quietly, “I was referring to your terrible acting in the movies.”

“Elizabeth Darcy, what on earth have you done to my cousin? He makes jokes now? I suppose next you’ll tell me it wasn’t even difficult to get him to dress up tonight!” exclaimed Richard.

Lizzy admitted, “It took a bit of bribery, but, no, it wasn’t overly difficult.”

Their conversation was interrupted when Anne DeBourgh, dressed as a bounty hunter, teased her cousin. “Taking bribes now Darce?

Anne DeBourgh's costume.

 You better hush that up before the next election!”

 Darcy feigned insult. “Bribes? No. Favors? Definitely. At least from Lizzy.”

Lizzy blushed which was all the more noticeable because of the contrast with her all-white costume.

Anne was pleased with both Darcys. Watching their marriage, as well as the Bingley’s and the Fitzwilliam’s, gave her hope that not all unions were doomed to end in her office.

With a smile, Anne teased, “Seriously Elizabeth, what have you done to my dour cousin? Rich and I were remarking that he’s nearly unrecognizable these days! And before you go rushing to his defense, let me assure you that it’s a good thing!”

Charlotte’s glass needed to be refilled and as Richard was pouring from the pitcher, the beverage seemed even bluer somehow than it did before.

“Bingley!” cried Richard. “Where on earth did you get this, this stuff that you’re making us drink?”

Blue Milk (aka Bantha milk)

“Actually, not on earth at all!” Charlie proudly proclaimed. “It’s a beverage you should well know, seeing as you’re Anakin! It’s Aunt Beru’s blue milk of course.”

Richard nodded to Darcy, who was trying his best not to laugh, and said, “Oh, of course.”

Charlie, a bit defensively, explained, “Yes, of course! Anakin, dear father, you are from Tatooine just like I am and should appreciate having this imported beverage from home.”

Jane watched everyone’s reactions as they examined their cups more closely. “Oh grow up! It’s just blue kool-aid with thickener in it. You guys are all worse than the twins!”

As Jane Bingley was usually the quiet one, no one knew at first what to say after her outburst.

Darcy, who’d become fast friends with his favorite sister-in-law, laughed first. “Jane, I think you’re taking being a red-head too seriously tonight!”

For a moment, Jane stared back at Will blankly until she recalled her costume was completed by a long cascade of flaming ginger locks. The moment recognition dawned on Jane’s face, everyone at their table burst out in merry laughter.

Highlights from the evening…

The rest of the evening passed by in the same fashion that any grand party thrown by the ever-gregarious Bingley did. There was more dancing, there was more food, there was more of, well, everything.

Charlie had arranged for some fencing masters to come and give a demonstration on the finer points of using lightsabers. There were acrobats who showed how one might be able to move when the Force is strong in you. Big screen monitors were set up with gaming systems where guests could play games and be their favorite characters.

Jabba the Hut costume.

Through the night, highlights from the saga were projected up on the various screens about the room. There was a costume contest and one of Bingley’s business partners won for dressing as a very convincing Jabba the Hut.

Everyone remarked that this was one of Bingley’s best soirees yet, and that, based on the amount of parties Charlie threw alone, was a very great compliment.

 Eventually, it was time to break up the party and everyone said their good-byes and headed for home.

 

Home again….

The Darcys navigated their way home safely, having avoided all bounty hunters and Imperial starships. Upon arriving home, Will and Lizzy checked in on their daughters and found them to be peacefully asleep. After thanking the nannies for their diligent care of Elanna and Grace, the Darcys bid everyone good-night and retired for the evening.

The moment they left the nursery, Will’s face showed an eager grin of anticipation. Yes, he’d had a great deal more fun at the Bingley’s than he’d previously thought possible, but as much as he’d changed through the years, he still preferred a quiet night at home with his wife above all other things,

And now he would receive his reward.

Lizzy's 'other' costume.

It is a truth almost universally acknowledged that one costume stands out above all others in the Star Wars saga for men of a certain age: Princess Leia’s gold bikini. It matters not how many times the movies have been seen, or whether a man would classify himself as a fan-boy like Charlie or a casual fan like Will, the image of Leia in her slave garb, tied to Jabba, in Return of the Jedi was burned into every adolescent boy’s brain.

When the theme of the party had been announced, Lizzy had brought home a wide selection of costumes. As they worked out what would be best to wear, she had noticed Will’s reaction to the gold bikini and knew she had her inducement to participate. It was decided that Will would be the handsome Corellian rapscallion and Lizzy would be the Princess who tames the untamable.

As the evening drew closer and Will’s complaints grew louder, it was then that Lizzy explained that not all the costumes had gone back. Lizzy then made a plea bargain. In exchange for Will’s full cooperation, she’d wear the costume when they got home from the party.

Will was not a huge sci-fi fan by any means. Strange worlds and fighting amongst the stars with alien races just seemed total nonsense to him. Then he went to the movies with Richard during the tenth anniversary re-releases of the movies. He was enthralled more than he’d ever admit to anyone, even his wife. There was something wonderful about the simple tale of good-versus-evil, the little guy trying to get out from the oppression of the big guy that really appealed to Will even as a kid. Of course, his eye had been caught by a certain captive in the third movie, but he could never admit to it. To do so would show that he had something in common with that lowlife George Wickham and that would never do. No, Will Darcy had to live to a higher standard. He was a Darcy.

Yet his Lizzy had known. And now she would wear that outfit and he would be a very happy man. At the party, the guys all nearly broke their necks searching to see if anyone had worn it. Disappointment ran high that no one had dared it. Then Richard joked that maybe it was a good thing. It was clearly not an outfit that everyone could do justice and, after all, Will was all about justice.

Will was waiting on their bed for Lizzy to get ready. She had teased that what would take the longest was getting her hair out of those ridiculous buns she’d worn. Will didn’t want to be rude, but her hair was the very least of things on his mind at the moment.

Finally, he heard her ask if he was ready.

“All night,” was his reply.

He still couldn’t see her, but he heard her. “Then I’m sorry to have kept you waiting flyboy.”

She turned on some John William’s music and finally came into view.

Will already found his wife to be far and away more gorgeous than any other woman but tonight, she was more than that, she was his fantasy too. He finally caught his breath and rose to receive her.

He enveloped her in his arms and pulled her close. She shivered with his warm touch against her cold skin.

Lizzy recognized that look in his eyes as he said, “Your Highness.”

She couldn’t resist teasing him. “I thought I was supposed to be a slave.”

Will shook his head and told her the truth. “No, Lizzy. I have, and will always be, your slave. I love you.”

She gave him a wink and replied, “I know,” just before she kissed him.

Precisely nine months later, Adam Darcy joined his sisters Elanna and Grace in the nursery.

May the Force be with you all!

The End…..

~Home~

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First Step into a Larger World -a Resolution and Resignation continuation by michchick aka Jennifer Hickling is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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