Hello, there! Yes, I know this is such an old sitch. "Oh, P&P retold, again?" is what you're thinking. I know. Try my version. That's all I ask. If you don't like it, you don't have to come back.
Disclaimer: Jane Austen's been dead for almost 200 years, but the characters are still copywrited. Damn.
"Good morning! Time to get up!"
Elizabeth Bennet spun from side to side in her swivel-chair, using her half-removed sneaker to propel her back and forth. She spoke into the microphone, her lips curved up in a cheerfully teasing grin, even if her listeners to the MKW 101.3 morning show couldn't see it. She'd been up since five, and had been at work for over two hours now. If she had to be awake, so did they.
"I know, I know. It's early." Privately, she basked in the fact that she didn't have to dress up for work, like some people did. She was in jeans, a sports bra, some tube socks, and an over sized T-shirt. She'd brushed her teeth, gotten a huge cup of coffee, and then headed to work just as the sun had started to turn the horizon a pale, baby blue. "But hey, since when did anybody's boss care about waking people up early? I've been here since six. It's now…8:02, so you'd better be at work, or at least on your way. How about this? I'll play you one by The Bengals, and you just concentrate on your driving, okay? After we get back, I may just have a surprise for you."
Lizzy switched on the track of Manic Monday—unfortunately apt—before she took off the ear-phones, pushed back the desk, and peered through the glass window at her producer and best friend, Charlotte. 'Is he here yet?' she mouthed through the glass. Charlotte nodded, which made her long brown ponytail bob in back of her head. With a smile added, she jabbed her thumb toward the door and nodded suggestively. 'He's hot!'
Manic Monday faded out to be replaced by the more recent song by U2, Vertigo. The door to Charlotte's little work space opened to admit a blond, muscular—but not too muscular—young man who was, at most, in his early thirties. This was not what Lizzy had been expecting. She'd been expecting a balding, bloated forty-something year old with the face of a dried prune. This guy was not a prune. This guy looked as good as chocolate. In fact, if this guy had been a piece of chocolate, he would have been made by Godiva.
Lizzy's initial friendly, welcoming smile broadened into one of real interest and a little appreciation for physical beauty while the man—on the memo she'd received, it said that his name was C. Bingly—shook hands with Charlotte in the producer's box. He then turned to look across the studio to where Lizzy stood, waiting for her interview. He returned her bright smile with one of his own as Charlotte opened the door that connected her space to the main room where the DJ's did the broadcasting from. Although his smile was dimmer in the flirtatious aspects, no one could claim that it wasn't open and friendly.
"Hello," he greeted Lizzy, extending his hand to shake. "I'm Charles Bingly, from D&D Inc. It's very nice to meet you, Miss Bennet."
She smiled at his thick Southern accent that, she was sure, would taste like the butter they put on popcorn at the movies. "It's nice to meet you, too, and please call me Lizzy."
"Liz!" Charlotte called from the control room. "You're back on in fifteen seconds."
Elizabeth thanked her, and showed "You can call me Charlie" how to use the guest headphones and mike. Lizzy put her own headset back on and situated herself in her chair, with one faded blue denim-clad leg folded under. Charlotte's voice came through the speakers in her earphones, "You're on again in 3, 2, 1."
"Hey, welcome back everyone," Lizzy greeted her listeners. "I promised you a surprise, and here he is. For weeks now, the rumors have been flying that MKW was being sold." She let out a dramatic sigh. "Alas, it's true. Everyone take a moment to think good thoughts about Mr. Barnes, who, after over forty years, is retiring.
"The station is now owned by D&D, Incorporated. You've never heard of them, you say. Neither have I. Here with me today is," she picked up the memo about her guest and read off, "the Chairman of Public Relations, Charles Bingly."
Lizzy silently motioned for him to say something, adding an encouraging smile. Like all first-timers, Charlie blushed a little, and leaned too close to the microphone, as if that would make him any clearer. "Um…hello."
"So Charlie, I'm still going to have my job next week, right?" Lizzy teased.
"Oh, yes!" Charlie assured her, quite serious. "We don't have any plans on firing anyone. As far as I know, the two co-presidents of D&D are more than pleased with everyone and everything that this station has to offer. That is, after all, why they made the decision to buy it."
"Ah, but buying a company, promising that hardly anything, if anything at all, will change, and then firing most of the employees in order to hire new ones that never worked under the old regime is common practice in the business world, isn't it?"
She'd caught him off guard with that one. Lizzy tried to soften it with a smile, but Charlie still looked taken aback. "W-Well, that may be true, but I can almost guarantee that won't be the case here."
"Well, I hope not." Lizzy took pity on him and changed the subject. "How about you tell us about D&D, Inc. Like I said, most of us in Massachusetts have never heard of you."
Charlie warmed back up to this topic and introduced the Atlanta based company to the people in the suburbs of Boston. D&D, Inc had been founded in 1906, had survived the stock market crash, and was looking toward the future. The company had started out in textiles, then converted the factories into steel mills during each World War in order to make weapons and tanks, and was currently branching out into cybernetics, microtechnology—
"And radio stations, apparently," Lizzy added.
A grin brightened Charlie's face. "And radio stations. Along with a TV station in Maryland and two other radio stations in New York and Philadelphia."
Charlotte came over the headset again and reminded them that they had twenty seconds to wrap up the interview.
"Alright, looks like we're going to have to cut this one off. It was nice having you in, Charlie. I look forward to maybe seeing you around."
"I hope so, too."
"Thanks. And here's a word from our sponsors." Lizzy rolled the commercials. She took her headset off and nodded for Charlie to do the same. Both stood. "Well, Charlie, it really was nice meeting you."
They shook hands again, but before Charlie could say a word, his stomach growled loudly at him. He flushed. Lizzy giggled and tried to look sympathetic. "I skipped breakfast," Charlie explained. "I usually have something to eat, but today…with this…and then I have a meeting right after to settle the lease on the building we're going to put the Merriton offices in…I just didn't have time."
"It's fine. Everybody's stomach does it at some point," she excused him. A second later, her eyes lit up when a thought occurred. "What side of town is your meeting on?"
"Over near the west edge," Charlie told her. "We're leasing Netherfield Manor for the company offices. In fact, that's also where I'll be living during my stay here."
"My sister owns a café on the west side of town, down on Maplewood Street," Lizzy plugged. "She has great coffee, and what I'm convinced are the world's best muffins. Around eleven they start selling lunch specials. You could stop in there before or after your meeting."
He gave her his sunshine grin again. "I may just do that. It was very nice meeting you, Miss Bennet."
"Lizzy," she reminded him.
"Lizzy," he agreed. They shook hands a final time, and then Charlie went to do the same to pay the same respects to Charlotte. In another minute, he was gone.
After the door shut behind him, Charlotte craned her head into the broadcasting room. The look on her face—mouth hanging open, eyes closed in imagined ecstasy and then opened wide in excited shock—extracted a similar one from Lizzy. They shared the sounds, for no lexicographer would accept those as actual words, that two females make when confronted by an attractive male.
"Oh my god, he is so hot!" Charlotte exclaimed. "And you just sent him over to your sister."
Lizzy's smile faded. Maybe recommending Jane's hadn't been the best move.
For those of you who've read the book one or two too many times and noticed that Merriton is in fact spelled "Meryton", I can say that I didn't mean to do that, but that "Merriton" looks like a more American spelling of, anyway.