Intentions and Insinuations
Disclaimer: Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice do not belong to me.
Author's Note & Synopsis: AU. My first modern renditions of Austen's Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice. I have the utmost respect for JA's works, so I will try to do her justice. The way that I have the story set up is alternating it between the present and then flashbacking eight years into the past. Hopefully, it won't be too confusing. However, I just want to let the readers know that I will be taking some liberties with the sequence of events and the portrayal of certain characters. (Those who have read some of my other Crossovers will be familiar with this.)
An-Mei Lee is the modern equivalent to JA's Anne Elliott, who broke up with Frederick Wentworth over cultural differences. Along with a diverse cast featuring, but not limited to Liz Bennett, Georgia and William Darcy, Richard Fitzwilliam and Auntie Su Hin as the modern equivalent to JA's Lady Russell, this is a story about finding love, losing it and treasuring it.
Intentions and Insinuations
My love for you - that is my only sin. -- William Shakespeare
CHAPTER 1: Moving In
The sound of her heels against the tile floors echoed behind her. In her hand, she clutched a piece of paper with an address on it, and in the other, was a carry-on bag and a luggage carrier. When she found the right door, she gave herself a satisfied nod before reaching into her pocket to replace the piece of paper with a set of keys. After the second try, the door opened to reveal an unoccupied apartment. When she closed the door, she found that her roommate had in fact, left a welcome note along with a brief apologetic explanation for the absence. She smiled at her roommate's thoughtfulness before proceeding in the direction of her new room. She had made arrangements for most of her furniture ahead of time. Today was her official moving in day with the last of her belongings. Though it wasn't her first time moving out on her own, it had been the first time without the influence of her Aunt.
There was no time to dwell on that note, as the phone interrupted the previously silent apartment. She was surprised to heart the familiar voice of her roommate, "Ann! You made it. Sorry, I couldn't be there to greet you."
"That's ok, Elizabeth. I did get your note, so don't worry about it."
"How many times have I told you to call me Liz, Miss An-Mei Lee?"
"Alright Liz, point taken."
"Listen Ann, I am going to be grabbing some take-out on my way home, so do whatever you have to do and I'll see you later."
The two girls then exchanged goodbyes, before Ann hung up. She smiled at her roommate's forwardness, but she was not bit offended by the nickname that Liz had insisted. Ann was considerably easier to say than An-Mei which was her full Chinese name.
On her way to her closet for a change of clothes, An-Mei caught her reflection in the mirror. Short midnight coloured hair stood in contrast to her pale complexion and petite lips. A pair of onyx eyes stared back at her from behind her Anne Klein frames. From the time that she was little, she never really cared much of her appearances, though her 5'4 figure only accentuated her slender waist and graceful body that had been chiseled through the many years of competitive swimming. Still, An-Mei was convinced that beauty went to her older sister, Faye-Ping.
Faye was older by four years and her greatest dream was to marry rich. Vanity was her greatest asset and folly, but she did match it with a top-notch private school education along with various tutors who gave her lessons in ballet, violin and French. She perfected herself in the limelight and knew how to direct a conversation to boost a man's ego. She was her father's daughter.
Kai-Wing Lee had two regrets in life. One was the death of his wife and the other was An-Mei, but neither of them was within his control. He came from an immigrant family to the United States, but he had lofty ambitions and the will to make them happen. He became an entrepreneur, opening various cuisines before venturing into real estate. He made a profit from buying run-down houses below the market value, fixed them up before reselling them again at a higher price. A portion of his profits went into the blue chips stock market, where they compounded annually.
The death of his wife to cerebral aneurysm came suddenly, when Faye was twelve and An-Mei eight. It was little known that it was his wife who had the sensibilities in the marriage, so Kai-Wing was eventually lured by quick money though gambling, betting on horse-races and card games. Several years of swindling his self-made fortune, Kai-Wing realized that he could not lose face and declare that he was in financial crisis.
So, under the subtle persuasion of his sister-in-law, Su Hin, he had sold some of his more lucrative real estates, and rented out others. Faye by now, was twenty, well passed the age where she still needed private schooling or one-on-one tutoring, she was content with travelling to business functions and social parties with her father. Without reservation, An-Mei at the age of 16, went to live with her Auntie Su Hin.
In the eyes of Kai-Wing, the greatest disappointment was that An-Mei wasn't born the much-hope-for son. However, his wife cared not and loved her youngest with the deepest of affections. She was "Mei-Mei," the beautiful child. There was an impenetrable connection between mother and daughter. They were compassionate and loving who dreamed wonderful castles in the sky. Still, Kai-Wing could not be criticized of providing less, materialistically for his youngest. An-Mei had the whole nine-yards, down to the last personal swimming coach and prestigious girls-only private school uniform.
Family was at the central core of the Chinese culture, so after the death of her beloved sister, Su Hin took on the motherly role. She was determined to steer her niece to a prosperous future, settling for nothing less than the absolute best. Though years of private school had provided an extensive academic background, Su Hin felt that An-Mei needed to be more outgoing. She took it upon herself to enroll An-Mei into Upper Cross Secondary School, a public high school in up-scale Chicago, for An-Mei's junior year.
Su Hin really had the best intentions in mind, so it was a shock to her when An-Mei announced that she was going to pursue a degree Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Her niece was smart enough to be a doctor, A-average, with past experiences as a volunteer at the hospital. She had the extra-curricular as an avid swimmer, singer in the school choir, and working at the local community pool teaching kids with Down Syndrome how to swim. However An-Mei was adamant that she did not want to spend eight more years in post-secondary education. She felt that she could contribute more as a nurse, rather than a doctor.
Hence, her current move to New Jersey into a new apartment with one Elizabeth Bennet, who insisted upon their first meeting that she would be called Liz. An-Mei had been a registered nurse for two years after finishing her degree at the University of Illinois. She had job experiences in labour and delivery, and then pediatrics. For the last three months, she took a temporary position in the Critical Care Unit which proved to be an eye-opener. She realized then, that she was too emotionally attached to her patients. She felt responsible for each death and was despondent that she could not do more for a patient who was medically brain dead.
At the age of 26, she felt that she needed a change in scenery. Though her nursing manager was sad at her departure, An-Mei was given a contact number for New Jersey's Memorial Hospital which had a few openings. Though she loved her Aunt, she knew that she had branched out from the protective wings of those with good intentions, to discover herself.
Seeing that her niece was indeed striking out on her own, the least that Su Hin could do was to provide the plane tickets and helped out with moving out and settling in. An-Mei was scouting for apartment buildings and condos, when she discovered Liz's ad. Liz was desperate for a roommate to pick the second half of the rent, as her fraternal twin sister, Jane Bennet who originally lived there, was moving in with her fiancee.
At the thought of Liz Bennet, the phone sounded once again. She called to say that she was coming home earlier than planned. An-Mei realized that she was spent all that time daydreaming and quickly jumped into the shower and then a quick change of clothing. Most of her stuff was already unpacked, except for the luggage that she brought in today. However, those could wait.
About half an hour later, a knock sounded outside the apartment, An-Mei went to open the door and revealed Liz Bennet with a box of pizza in one hand and a plastic bag filled with movie rentals in the other.
As far as outward appearances went, Liz did not appear her stated age of thirty. Standing at 5'7, she had the body of a model with her rich auburn curls and turbulent blue eyes. She had a sultry laugh and a mind of her own. She had no qualms with expressing her opinions. It didn't take much to believe that she had been the captain for her high school debate team, the editor-in-chief for her university's newspaper, before landing in Harvard law school. Before graduating as an honour roll student, she was already offered a job from a law firm based in New Jersey.
If Liz was being honest to herself, she had questioned taking An-Mei on as a roommate. She loved her twin sister dearly, though day and night they were. Jane Bennet should have been a model, with her gold-spun hair and innocent baby blues. She was kindhearted and gentle natured. She pursued a double degree in English and Classical Languages before becoming a teacher. While doing her masters, she met and fell in love with Carson Brighton who had majored in English and History. However, Liz found An-Mei to be just as sweet as her Jane, though shy. In fact, An-Mei spoke with just as passion about nursing and the patients that she took care of as Liz herself, about politics. Through Jane, Liz developed a curiosity for different cultures and tried to get An-Mei to teach her Chinese.
An-Mei had unsuccessfully hold back her laughter at Liz's attempt to pronounce her Chinese name. "It's fine. You just have a funny accent, Elizabeth."
"I'm jealous at your accent-less English. Well now, I just have to call you, Ann from now on. You can call me, Liz. Only my mother ever calls me, Elizabeth and that's when she's trying to set me up with some guy."
"Let me guess, she tells you not to settle for anything less than a rich man who is either a doctor, lawyer or an entrepreneur."
"Yes, almost in that exact order. How did you guess?"
"My Aunt tells me that all the time, 'You deserves nothing but the best, An-Mei. I want to see you happy who can provide for you financially, physically and emotionally.'"
From what little that Liz knew about An-Mei, who from now on would be known as Ann, mothers were a sore point. It was always best to change topics.
Liz had set the pizza on the kitchen table, while Ann loaded one of the DVDs that Liz had rented into the machine. They picked at the pizza and enjoyed the movie, before Liz proposed a toast. "To my new roommate, Ann whose full name I can't pronounce properly."
Ann laughed at Liz's humour and raised her glass, "To my new roommate, Liz, who has a fetish for nicknames that are three-letters long."
End of Chapter 1
i) On the Chinese names: ie. Su Hin or Kai-Wing Lee. Yes - I do know that I am mixing the spellings for Cantonese and Mandarin pronunciation. It is mainly for aesthetics, sorry if that offends anybody. Also, I have written them with the first and middle name followed by the family name. In more correct form, Chinese names are spoken and written with the family name first, so it really should be Hin Su, Lee Kai Wing or Lee An Mei.
ii) Also, I made up the names of Memorial Hospital. I don't know if it actually exists in New Jersey.
iii) If anybody knows where that Shakespearean line comes, please let me know. All I know is that Shakespeare wrote it, but I don't know if it comes directly from one of his plays / sonnets.