She'd never met any of the Darcys but Alex knew them. He'd graduated in the same class as William Darcy. Her father had also known the late Mr. and Mrs. Darcy and had invested in Pemberley Digital very early on. So, you could say they ran in similar circles. She was bound to run into one of them sometime. And, she thought, it was better that it was Gigi Darcy than her brother. She was surprised, however, to see the tall blonde with the swimmer's body that Gigi seemed glued to. The grapevine she was tapped into had not mentioned Gigi having a boyfriend. Yet, clearly she did.
She was also glad she was away visiting possible schools to transfer to and that Alex wasn't with her like they'd originally planned. It meant he wouldn't feel obligated to introduce her to Gigi. Alex was acquainted with her, after all, and he was polite to a fault. He would've insisted on saying hello. But tonight Emma was in the mood to observe. She'd heard so much about Gigi. Hopefully Gigi knew less about Emma than Emma knew about her. Emma sighed and camped out on a barstool. College keggers weren't really her style, but she'd been invited by one of the sororities on campus and felt obligated to show up. If she did choose to transfer here then she didn't want to make anyone feel like they were snubbed. She did want to make friends, after all. Besides, she thrived in a social setting. She could make this kegger work to her advantage.
She craned her neck when she realized she'd gotten distracted and lost track of Gigi. She didn't see her anywhere.
"You don't have a drink," a voice said suddenly from the stool next to hers. She turned to see the swimmer Gigi had come in with sitting next to her. "Not a fan of parties?" He asked with a disarming smile.
"No, I love parties," Emma told him. "I just typically prefer a little less beer and a little more clothing at mine," she said as she motioned to the football quarterback as he stripped down to his underwear and jumped up on a table.
"I know what you mean," he said as he smiled easily at her. "I typically prefer something a bit…cozier."
On the word "cozier" he leaned toward her and placed an arm across the bar in front of her. He gently took her hand and placed a kiss on the back of it. "George Wickham at your service, m'lady."
He was much too charming and "cozy" for Emma's comfort. She did a quick scan for Gigi and couldn't find her amongst the other party goers. Shouldn't he be looking for his date?
"Emma," she said quickly as she pulled her hand from his. She didn't know why she left out her last name, but something told her he'd recognize it. And she didn't think her father's influence would be a good thing in this situation.
"Well, Emma, it's a shame you're over here all alone. A girl like you should have men falling all over her," George told her as his gaze swept over her legs. "I mean you've got me, but I expected more competition."
He leaned even closer and she warily backed away. "Didn't you come here with someone?" She asked.
"I did, but she had to head out. Her brother called," he said with a roll of his eyes. "I think I'd much rather be talking to you anyway."
"I'd much rather be talking to someone who didn't have a girlfriend," Emma stated flatly.
"Who? Gigi?" He said with a scoff and a shrug. "She's just a little…project. It's not serious."
Emma felt a chill and she was certain it had to do with how calculated George's gaze appeared in that moment. "Does she know that?"
"She knows what she needs to," he said vaguely.
Her hands fisted and she felt a surge of anger on behalf of women everywhere. This is why she didn't date that often. For every one Prince Charming there were five evil poisonous frogs and she'd just stumbled across one. During the few moments she'd gone silent George had gotten her a beer.
"Here you go, Peach," he said with a wink as he pushed the beer toward her. "Live a little. Life's more than fine wines and gourmet food."
Her eyes narrowed on the red solo cup. Mr. Charming wasn't fooling her. But poor Gigi. She took the cup from him and then promptly poured it on him. She smirked triumphantly as it soaked his shirt and dripped downward. He looked at her in shock with his mouth agape.
"What the hell!" He exclaimed as his shock turned to anger.
"Find yourself another plaything, Peach," She said with a flick of her hair and a wink. She left the party and never looked back. She would definitely not be attending this school. She didn't think this crowd was quite what she was looking for. Before tonight she'd been toying with the idea of giving up dating completely. Her list of expectations was so long that no one would ever be able to fulfill them all. What was the point?
And George Wickham had just made her decision for her. He was the straw that broke the camel's back. She'd yet to be in love and maybe that was best. A man would just tie her down. She didn't have time for the Wickhams of the world. Her dreams were bigger than that.