This is just a little bit of fluff I wrote while on mental health holiday from Faraduen. Enjoy!

Chapter One

Monday the 16th
Today I went for coffee at $tarbucks. I don't really know why I do this to myself, espresso is the devil. I'm either jittery or sick after I drink it. But the smell lures me in every time. Damn my non-existent will power. On a good note, this is the third morning in a row that I've seen His Royal Hotness at the newspaper stand on my block. He goes for The Wall Street Journal, I stole a good look this time. He still hasn't looked at me, or up for that matter. I'm wearing the Manolo pumps tomorrow. Give him something more interesting than year old gum and stock reports to look at.

Monday, May 16th

One good thing about this god-forsaken hole, they sell the Journal at the corner newspaper stand, though I have to trudge half a block to get there at great personal peril. If I were to sum up Bingley's taste in real estate in one word it would be an ugly one with no view and even less class. I still can't believe he dragged me along. Damn my inability to say no. Nonetheless, I have the Journal and Boeing is up three and a half. And there was the girl at the stand. She's almost cute. First decent girl I've seen in a week. Bad taste in reading materials, though- no paper, just some gossip rag. Nothing like a shallow mind to put me right off.

"I am so sorry!"

Of course she was sorry. They were always sorry. Oh, please forgive me for spilling my scalding hot coffee on you. Here, let me wipe that up, and oh my, is that your multi-million dollar wallet or are you just happy to see me.

"Its alright," William Darcy muttered under his breath as he set the girl aright without really looking. It was the fact that she didn't stay aright, but wobbled unsteadily that drew his full attention. As he watched her face morph from friendly appreciation to snarky disdain, he realized that he, himself, was scowling.

"Oh, did my breaking a heel inconvenience you terribly? I do apologize again. Shall I bow before you to make it official?" she snapped while gaining her balance.

"No, actually. It was the second degree burns I just received on my chest that did it," he replied, not missing a beat.

"Oh, man. I'm sorry. Here, let me fix that," she said as she sought an open space to set down her coffee and tried to dig through her handbag at the same time.

"Its fine, really," William grumbled as he pulled a few crisp bills from his pocket and moved away from her to pay for his paper. Just as he had expected.

"But it must be expensive. The tie, I mean. Here, I insist," she said firmly as she grabbed his arm to stop him.

This drew William up short. He knew the game, and she was probably an expert. By the quick feel of his arm she would be able to tell the price of his suit to the penny. A demure dip of the eyes would appraise his Italian leather shoes, and with a subtle inward swoop to whisper in his ear she would catch a healthy whiff of the cost of his cologne. His jaw clenched in anticipation.

"Take it. And if the dry-cleaner can't get it out, I'll buy you a new one, and the shirt, too. I see a spot there," she said, pointing to his chest.

William would have looked where she was directing if the money she held out before him hadn't kept him so riveted. This woman was seriously holding out a fist-full of dollars. To him. Unreal.

"Hello? I don't have all day. Take it," she grabbed for his hand and tried to push the money into it. William snatched it back as if bitten.

"I don't need your money," was all he could think to say.

"Of course you don't, Bill Gates. But when I make a mess I clean it up. Now, look, take the money. I have to hobble home and change these shoes, and I'm already late for work."

"Then go, please. I really don't need your money and I'm sure it wouldn't be enough anyway." It wasn't what he had meant to say or how he had meant to say it, and he regretted it as soon as the words left his mouth.

"You know what, buddy. Forget it. These shoes aren't cheap, either. Manolo Blahnik! Broken! You are some kind of bad luck, let me tell you. My favorite lucky shoes, demolished within seconds of running into you. I swear, people these days…" she barked at him before spinning on her one good heel and limping away as fast as she could manage. She only got as far as the curb, where she began waving down a cab. One by one, yellow and black bullets whizzed past her without a single flash of a brake light. It was obvious she was getting more flustered by the second.

William hesitated, torn between helping her and walking away from this disaster forever. Walk, his mind screamed at him. Walk now!

His sharp whistle made her jerk in surprise, but he ignored it as well as her startled glare. With a commanding wave of his hand, William got the attention of a passing cab.

"I don't need your help," she snapped defensively.

"Of course you don't, Gloria Steinem. Get in the cab. I owe you an apology."

Against her better judgment, and definitely against the anger she felt compelled to hold against this stranger forever, she got in the cab.

"Where to?" the cabbie asked as they settled in the back of his car. William gave a questioning look to his new companion, as she was the one calling the shots on this trip. Her mouth opened in automatic response, but she pulled herself up short and seemed to think for a moment. She took a quick glance at the slim watch on her wrist, then, with an anxious look said "270 Park Avenue, please."

The address struck a familiar chord with William, but he couldn't remember why. He sat quietly for several minutes, trying to sort it out until her voice broke his train of thought.

"You said something about an apology."

"Yes, well. Your shoe, that's unfortunate," he said flatly. His main goal had been to help get her a cab without damaging her pride any further. Now that he had succeeded, he wasn't sure what to do with her.

William watched her eyes narrow, and she inhaled a concentrated breath that he was almost certain would come back out in the form of a world-class berating. He braced himself.

"Far more unfortunate than you know," was her only reply. Once again, she had done the unexpected. And because of it, William found himself drawn deeper into a situation that he would normally have walked away from without another thought.

"William Darcy," he offered his hand in truce as well as introduction.

"Elizabeth Bennet," she responded, taking it hesitantly.

He held her hand for too long, he knew it was true. William was in big business, he pressed the flesh on a daily basis. And with the string of social obligations that came with his standing in society, he had dated more than his share of women. There was no possible way he could count the number of hands that had been in the exact spot that hers now occupied. But this felt different and he held on a little longer than was polite, trying to decide if the sensation was good or bad.

"I will need that back, please," Elizabeth quipped shortly, finally pulling from his grip. "And don't think that I'm so easily swayed by a handsome face and firm handshake. You insulted me when I was trying to make nice, and you have yet to produce the promised apology."

William gave her half of a smile, his eyes crinkling slightly as his cheek dimpled with amusement. They were locked together for the duration of this trip, and he was determined to draw some familiar response out of her, to prove to himself she was just like every other woman he had ever met. Why not, he thought, he would never see her again.

"How did I insult you?" his voice was as smooth and dark as chocolate.

The effect was not the one he had hoped for.

"Are you for real?" she asked in astonishment. "Or is your short term memory shot. I distinctly remember the words 'wouldn't be enough anyway' passing from those lips. When someone offers to make amends for an honest mistake, its generally good form to at least respond to said offer with a little graciousness. Or did they not teach you that at Pretty Boy school?"

This ruffled his feathers, to say the least. He knew that he had been wrong to say that, but Pretty Boy school, indeed.

"I hardly think I need etiquette lessons from someone who gets their world news from the pages of a gossip rag," he threw back caustically.

"Oh, that's rich! Judgmental much? Can't give a girl the time of day, but you can sure keep track of what she's doing wrong. I'll have you know that I buy that magazine for… oh no!" a look of horror passed over her features as her hand flew up to cover her mouth. Her sudden swing in focus threw him completely off balance.

"What's the matter?" he asked, confused.

"I didn't get it. I'm late, I didn't get the magazine and my shoes are ruined. I don't think this day could possibly get worse," she sighed as she closed her eyes and rubbed her fingers across her forehead in irritation.

Before William could speak again, the cab pulled up before the JP Morgan Chase building. Realization struck him full force as the familiar address Elizabeth had given the cabbie became the very building the he himself had been destined for later that morning. He had thought they had been taking her home to change her shoes, and he could not fathom what business this unusual woman could possibly have at one of America's leading financial institutions when she was already late for work. Unless she was someone's secretary?

Elizabeth reached into her handbag, took out some of the bills she had so recently waved before William's face, and shoved them at the cab driver. William made to protest, after all the cab had been his doing and he would not stick a lady with the bill even if she did irritate the hell out of him. But there was no time to pursue the issue. Elizabeth had popped out of the cab and was hobbling toward the steel and glass monolith before he could draw breath to speak.

Slowly, William exited the cab. He smoothed his coat, straightened his tie and squared his shoulders before following in the footsteps of one seriously mind-blowing woman.