Chapter 22 The Word is Out

Caroline left directly after lunch. She took Will's car and left for the airport while everyone else sat at the dining room table making lists. With Caroline gone, the tension in the house left as well. The wedding ideas flow like wine without censoring. Lizzie creates a list of things to do before the end of the weekend. They need to call a caterer, a florist, locate a runway, buy twinkle lights, decide on the wedding cake, bridesmaid dresses, order Jane's dress, show shopping, hair appointments, order a tent, find DJ, gift registry, bridal shower, figure out the invitations.

"Oh My God Jane! The invitations! Those need to go out as soon as possible."

Jane's face pales.

Georgiana notices, and quickly speaks up, "It's ok. Actually the invitations are typically sent out six weeks before the wedding. It's a bit late for save the date cards, but we could make some up this weekend – on the computer or something."

"The computer? My save the date cards will not be made on the computer!"

Georgiana shrinks down in her chair. Lizzie shoots her a look and then turns to her sister. "Of course not, but it's something that we could do this weekend." She holds up her hand. "Give Georgiana and I the chance to create something spectacular this afternoon while you and Charlie finalize the guest list. You can send the boys on errands too and we'll get more accomplished that way. Let's see, you boys, can track down local caterer and wedding cake designers. Foods to ask about are stuffed mushrooms, baguettes, and anything else specific Jane requires. Just see what they have to offer, get menus, and pricing options. For the cake, chocolate square tiered cake with colored ribbon running the bottom of the tiers. Georgiana and I will go to a craft store and then create cards in the Conservatory. Questions?" No one says anything. "Alright. If you're done with your job let me know. There are plenty of others." Lizzie taps the notebook. "Let's go, G."

They get into the car. "You were kinda of bossy in there."

Lizzie laughs, "A Bennet trait. Sometimes, someone just needs to take control of the situation and order people around. It's not often me, but I can get the job done. Plus Jane's too close to be barking out orders. She nearly took your head off for suggesting computer cards."

Georgiana cringes at the memory.

"Don't let it get to you. She's just stressed. She wants to get everything in place before our mother can ruin anything."

Thirty minutes later, they step out of one of Charlie's car. Jim drove in a black Hummer, which Lizzie adored. Plus, it made Georgiana feel safe, without everyone staring at her. Lizzie led the way into Michael's, picked up a basket, and made her way into the paper crafting aisles.

"I could spend hours in the store. I really love it here." Lizzie comments. "But for the sake the Jane's sanity, let's just get what we need and get back to the house." She tosss cards into the basket and headed for the stamps. After look at the wedding ones, she and Georgiana decided on a dress stamp. "We can use this on white cards with a black background and a save the date stamp. Plus we can use tulle and create a wedding veil look"

Georgiana nods. "That will look elegant."

"Of course it will. And it's handmade. The combination is quite deadly."

Georgiana giggles. Lizzie finds a "Save the Date" stamp and then dumps in an inkpad. She added an enormous amount of black paper, black ribbon, and metal tags large enough to encompass the "Save the Date" stamp. They decide on tulle and then Lizzie announces, "I think we're good."

Georgiana quickly agrees, but as it was her first time in a craft store, it's hard for her to understand. Lizzie smiles, "I know, this place is awesome isn't it? We'll come back when we have more time. And you can look around and find something fun to create."

They go back to the house, find Will and Richard out, and Jane and Charlie in deep discussion over the guest list. Lizzie hates to interrupt, but she sticks in head in the room. "How's it coming?"

Jane sighs, "Not well. This wedding is turning out to be huge. I had no idea we'd have to invite business people." She gives Charlie a glare, "I thought it was going to be a small but elegant affair with just family and friends. I don't even know half the people on the guest list."

Georgiana steps forward, "I know it seems extravagant Jane, but in Charlie's line of work, you can't slight an associate. It's just not done. I understand that you might not want these people at the wedding, but really there's no way around it."

"Well, I don't want people to feel slighted." She sighs, "Alright, you just better make sure they dance." She jabs her pointed finger at the groom to be.

His eyes widen, while Georgiana and Lizzie laugh. "Our mission was a success. We're off to make some samples. That will probably take about an hour."

Jane waved us off as though she was a queen. Georgiana's still laughing, "Did you see his face?"

"Priceless."

"She was kidding though, right. I can't imagine some of those people dancing."

"I don't know, it's hard to tell these days. I know I'll be dancing as will you. I hate to ask this, but where are we going?"

"The kitchen has a small table, that's not used that often."

Lizzie follows Georgiana. We enter the kitchen through white swing doors, similar to those in the My Fair Lady movie, but taller. The large room has plenty of sunlight, leaving the room glowing. The walls are tinted a soft, but light darker blue. The cabinets are wooden, adding to the cozy feeling. An island stood in the middle of the room. Georgiana moved to the left, where a medium yellow table stood. Bar stools surround the table. Georgiana sits down. Lizzie stands for a moment longer, surveying the room. She is greatly impressed with the richness and wealth of the house, yet creating such a cozy feeling.

She sits down and pulls out everything from the bags. "You know, I didn't think to buy a paper cutter. How are you with scissors?"

"Okay, I guess."

"Well, that's a relief because I'm horrible." Georgiana laughs. "It's true I flunked scissors usage in kindergarten."

Georgiana shakes her head. "Ok, well, you just let me know what you want me to. I'm new at this, obviously."

"Obviously, you've never even been in a craft store before. And I keep forgetting that we're not back at home. Any idea Charlie might keep some scissors and maybe a ruler? I did buy some glue dots and an inkpad."

"I might be able to dig some up. Let me take a look around, if not, I'll have ask Charlie." She grimaces, "Let's hope I find something."

With Georgiana off searching, Lizzie take a hold of the cards and the black paper. She starts putting together her idea more completely in her mind. She started stamping some paper, mostly waiting for Georgiana to return.

When Georgiana returns, they get down to work. Lizzie explains what she wants and they make up three different possibilities.

"This one is my favorite," Georgiana said, picking one up.

Lizzie smiled, "Mine too. Let's hope its Jane's as well. I don't really think we'll need the others but it's nice to have options. Let's go see what she and Charlie think."

Back in the Conservatory, Jane and Charlie were much more happily occupied. Lizzie glanced at Georgiana, both trying not to giggle. Lizzie clears her throat and the couple come up for air. The couple look up, both red faced.

"Um, we were just…"

Lizzie waits for minute, but it was quite clear to everyone. She smiles, "Glad things are going well here. What do you think of these?" She hands her the happy couple their creations without commentary. She wants to know their honest opinions without her judgments. Jane looks pleased, but it was Charlie who first comments.

"Lizzie, these are amazing. You just whipped these up? They look professionally created."

She smiles at the compliments, "I'm glad you like them. Do you have a favorite?"

He looks at the three one more time. "Well, I like them all, but I think this one is the best. What do you think Jane?"

"You girls do nice work. I think your right Honey." She holds their choice out to Lizzie.

"Perfect, it's the one we liked the best too. Did you decide how many you'd need?"

Jane sighs, "At least 250."

"Sorry?"

"I'm afraid so. Is that going to be too many to create?" Charlie asks hesitantly.

"Not at all," Lizzie assured him. "But we better get started straight away. You two will be working on further details?"

"What else needs to be done Lizzie?"

"Well, now that the guest list is out of the way, we need to talk about food. Are the boys back yet?"

"Haven't seen them, should I give them a call," asked Charlie. Jane nods and he excuses himself.

"Jane, you're also going to decide about the music – a band or DJ and then come up with a play list. Also you need to come up with the first few songs for the special dances."

When Lizzie mentioned the dances, both girls teared up. "I can't believe Dad isn't here to walk me down the aisle and dance with me."

"Oh, Jane, I know. It's just so…."

Neither girl can say anything. They just embrace until finally Jane pulls away and dabs at her eyes.

"Jane, I know no one could ever take Dad's place, but what about Uncle James? He could walk you down the aisle."

Her sister smiles, "That's a good idea Lizzie, why don't I call him and ask him?"

Lizzie's eyes widen, "Don't you dare! You haven't told mom yet. Imagine if she finds out that you asked him before even confiding in her. You'll never hear the end of it. No, focus on other details and wait until after tomorrow night when you've called mom."

'You're right, I wasn't thinking."

"I know." Lizzie sings in an annoying voice. "We really need to get working on these. Come with us and we can talk more while we work."

The three sit down at the table and get to work with Lizzie bossing both girls around. Charlie comes back in the room and reports the boys' progress; they re still working and would be back before dinner. Then he takes Jane away to work on the list of songs they absolutely want played. Hours later, Lizzie and Georgiana finish up the Save the Date Cards. Addressing the envelopes will have to wait.

By the time dinner rolled around, no one speaks much. Everyone is thoroughly exhausted. Will and Richard try to speak up about their findings, but Jane holds up her hand.

"Enough for today. We'll talk about that tomorrow. We made excellent progress, let's take the night off."

"Good idea," Richard chimes in, who in actuality had done the least amount of work possible.

"What should we do?" asks Georgiana

No one had any ideas; but finally suggestions were tossed out. See a movie, play a game, go their separate ways…

Secrets Lizzie wants to take a bubble bath and read. Will didn't care what he did, as long as he spent time with Lizzie. Richard leaned towards video games or a game of pool. Georgiana liked spending time with the sisters, relishing in the girl time. She realized she'd been missing that her whole life. Jane thought about calling her mother with her big news, but decided against it. She didn't have the energy tonight. Charlie finally suggested after dinner drinks by the pool.

Everyone gravitated toward their rooms to change into swimsuits. Lizzie was the first to arrive by the pool. She settled into a lounge chair and opened her book.

"I hope you don't think you're going to be reading much."

Lizzie jumps at the noise. "God, don't sneak up on me like that."

Will chuckles. "If you weren't so engrossed with your book, you would have heard me."

He takes off his shirt and tosses it into the chair next to Lizzie. She can barely keep herself from staring at his chest. He catches her watching and sends her a wink. A blush spreads across her cheeks, and she attempts to bury herself in her book. A splash makes her look up a few seconds later. She'd missed Will's perfect dive into the pool. He comes up and finds her eyes immediately upon him.

"Come on in."

"No, that's ok. I think I'm going to sit here a while."

"What? Why?"

She bit her lip. "I don't know how to swim."

"You've never been before?"

"Not really."

"Why do you have a bathing suit then?"

"I've been to the beach before, on vacation, but mostly I've just sunbathed on the beach."

Will hauls himself up out of the pool. He comes over to her, sits down on the chair next to her. "It's not hard." He takes the book from her hand, "I'll show you."

Lizzie makes noises of protest, but Will has her by the hand. He leads her to the steps. "You're not afraid are you?"

Lizzie flashes him a smile, "No."

For a split second, Will could swear there is something lurking behind that smile. But before his brain can register anything, it was gone. He has her sit down on the steps to get her acclimated to being in the water. He was showing her how to put her face in the water, when Charlie and Jane came out.

"Will, what are you doing?"

"Teaching Lizzie how to swim."

Charlie laughs, but tried to cover it up.

Will becomes defensive, "Charlie, not everyone had a pool in their backyard growing up."

When Jane laugh-coughed, Will knew something wasn't right. He glances over at Lizzie who smiles innocently.

"What does everyone else know that I don't?"

"Well, that could be any number of things: the top selling Teen books, the song Charlie and Jane are going to dance to first, how G is going to bankrupt you with buying craft supplies." She giggles and got out of the pool.

She walks around to the diving board. Will's face goes white. Before he can say anything to stop her, she climb up and dives off, perfectly. He stares at the diving board dumbfounded, not knowing what happened until he feels a tug at his ankle and goes down in the water. He comes up sputtering and stares at her.

"You can swim."

"Of course she can. Lizzie was the best swimmer on her swim team in college," explains Jane.

"I don't understand. Why did you say you didn't?"

"Let me guess," Jane said laughing, "She was reading. You were swimming. You bugged her to come in the pool."

"How did you know?"

"Lizzie hates to being interrupted when reading. She vows to get you back when that happens"

"Plus, you scared me!" Lizzie protested, trying to keep a straight face. It was impossible, she doubles over laughing. "You should have seen your face when I walked to the diving board."

Will chuckles, good naturally as he leaves the pool, "This means war Bennet."

Lizzie waves him off and swam the length of the pool a few times. Georgiana joins her. The two chat quietly at the deep end of the pool after swimming laps. Everyone hears Georgiana laugh.

"You interrupted Lizzie when she was reading? Are you daft?"

"Who's daft?" asks Richard, who just appeared.

"I am apparently."

"No question there, mate."

Lizzie climbs out of the pool when the drinks arrived. She towels off and snags a margarita. "Sorry, Will. After that crack about reading, it was just too hard to resist," she adds with a smile. She leans over and gave him a kiss on the cheek, whispering in his ear "I'll make it up to you later."

They talk and giggle by the pool until they all drag themselves off to bed, only to start again in the morning.

Will knocks softly on Lizzie's door. "Lizzie, are you awake?"

"Hmmmm…"

He decides that meant yes and pushes the door open. Glancing towards the bed, he's surprised to find it empty. A frown crosses his face as he pushes the door open further. "Lizzie…"

"Hmmmm."

He smiles and walks over to the window. "I should have known you'd be here, but I was told it was possible you weren't awake yet."

"Hmmmm…"

In one swift move, he steals the book from her hand. When she begins to protest, he captures her lips with his own. She surrenders but quickly ends the kiss. She looks up at him with her eyes narrowed.

"Gimme my book back."

"Or else what?"

She grins evilly and stands up. "Two can play that game."

Will doesn't have time to process her statement before she reaches her hands up and pulls him in for a kiss. Immediately, his arms encircle her. The book goes behind her back. Her lips keep Will occupied while she reaches behind her, pulls the book from his hand and ends the kiss. She pushes Will backwards, where he falls against the bed – dumbfounded.

"That's not something I'd recommend in the future." She says with her hand on her hips.

"It got your attention – finally."

A look of guilt crossed Lizzie's face. "Sorry, Will. I just get caught up in reading. It's nothing personal when I ignore you, I promise." She might have said more, but Jane talking loudly from the hallway stopped her. She listens as Jane came closer; knowing that Jane was speaking to their mother and the news was out.

Jane pushed to door open, surprised a little to see the picture inside the room. She hadn't pictured Will there and not on the bed. It occurs to Jane that she needs to uncover details about her sister's relationship with Will.

"No, Mom, I can't take time off this week. I have to work…. Yes, I know you want to help plan the wedding….Yes, Lizzie's here."

She hands the phone to her sister, who looks back at Jane with wide eyes and shakes her head. Jane thrusts the phone in her hands and flops down on the bed.

"Hi Mom," Lizzie holds the phone out to avoid the screeching voice of her mother.

"Why didn't you make Jane call me first thing? She's been engaged for a week. A WEEK! It took her that long to tell me – her own mother!"

"Mom, calm down."

"Don't you tell me to calm down! It's very distressing news to hear that your own daughter doesn't want to tell you she's engaged."

Lizzie rolls her eyes in Jane's direction. There was no stopping their mother when she was ranting. "I think it came as a shock to her. She just wanted to make sure it was the right choice before she spread her happy news."

"Of course it was the right choice. Don't you know how much he's worth?" Lizzie cringes at her mother's choice of words – especially since she knew Will can hear every word, whether he meant to or not.

Lizzie said "Mom, did she tell you all about the wedding itself," determined to change the subject.

Jane paled as her mother screeched further, "No, why does she have a plan? She didn't tell me anything about the wedding at all. She just barely told me about it and passed the phone to you. Put her back on."

Lizzie mouthed her apology to her sister as she hands back the phone to her sister. Jane sighs, "Hi Mom."

"Lizzie tells me you already have plans for the wedding. But you don't even know the best dress shops. Oh, Jane. I do wish you'd called me sooner."

"Well, Mom, I just….I didn't want to overwhelm Charlie and scare him off. I thought we'd go slowly into talking about the wedding." She winks in Lizzie's direction, who gave her a thumbs up in return. "He seems a little skittish when we start talking about details. I thought if I eased him into it, he'd be more apt to want to make decisions."

"You're so smart, Jane. That was a good plan. So tell me what you're thinking." With her mom understanding, she nods at her sister and Will and walks out of the room to explain her desired day.

"That went better than expected," Will comments.

"It's not over yet. She's going to deal with a lot of arguments for what she wants. My mother isn't easy to please."

"Are any of the Bennet women?"

She tosses a pillow at him. "Sorry, you're in for a rough road." Her cheeks colored when she realized the implications of her words. They'd never really discussed their relationship. She didn't want to make any assumptions. She stood up quickly. "I'm starving. Guess I better go get some breakfast."