The Thin Line between Love and Hate
A Pride and Prejudice- story
Summary: A modern P&P with a Shakespearean twist. He said she wasn't pretty enough and she threw punch at him. After 12 years Darcy is back in Meryton and Lizzie still hasn't forgiven him.
Disclaimer: I do not claim to be Jane Austen and most definitely not Shakespeare. I just borrow their work as an inspiration to this story, loosely basing it on Pride and Prejudice and Much Ado about Nothing.
Author's note: Sorry. It's been ages, I know. I want to take the time to thank everyone that has been PMing me, urging me to continue and all the reviewers. We have actually moved to a house, in a new city and therefor I have a new job. One that is not as forgiving for writers than my last. I have also kick started my career as a writer of my own fiction, have a novella out in stores now. Yey! It's been a turbulent year to say the very least. But it's been fun! Hope you enjoy this chapter and keep with the story till the very end. I know I intend to!
Chapter 44: This is going to be a Good Night
William did his best to shake off the uneasy feeling. He knew he was of an anxious mind, always thinking too hard and analysing too much before taking action, but this time he hadn't. Though he was sure this was going to have the desired effect, he wasn't entirely sure this wasn't going to reflect back on to the family business. Then there was the whole other thing that made his stomach churn with nervous butterflies. Proposing to Elizabeth. What had he been thinking?
His hand flew up to the inner pocket of his jacket and he patted it vacantly. What if she said no? The thought brought a new flutter to his stomach and he drew in a deep breath to steady himself. She was going to say yes, he was pretty sure of it. In any case it was too late to get cold feet. The plan was in motion. But first they were going to have to get through a night with both Caroline Bingley and Cathy de Bourgh present.
William was caught up with the gleefulness of the others, but there was still a twitch of nervousness in his stomach. Whether it was because of bringing down Caroline, the oncoming ball or the proposal, he wasn't really sure, but he wasn't completely at ease as the others. He had a mental pep talk with himself and persuaded himself that all was going to go as planned.
He had another glass of champagne in the limo, trying to calm his fluttering stomach down. Elizabeth was eyeing him suspiciously, but never said anything. She did however smile encouragingly from time to time and squeezed his hand whenever she got the chance. By the time they arrived at the venue, he felt more relaxed than before. There was little he could do to change the outcome of the evening. William was however determined to enjoy himself and not let the pre-proposal-jitters get to him.
"You do look great, you know," he whispered in Elizabeth's ear as they entered the vast space.
"I know," she whispered back, "it's because I'm next to you." He chuckled slightly at the compliment.
Before long they had arrived at the venue and hung their coats in the wardrobe and entered the great hall where the party was going on. They stood still awe for a moment, taking in the vast space that was beautifully decorated with flowers, flowing fabrics and lots of candelabras.
"Think what you will of Caroline as a person," William commented, "but she does have a knack for party planning and decorating." Elizabeth nodded in agreement. The room was transformed from what they had seen on the tapes.
Waiters in black and white milled around in the sea of formally dressed guests, serving champagne and hors d'oeuvres.
"I think I could get used to this," Elizabeth murmured as she took a sip of her champagne. He snaked his arm around her waist and kissed her cheek.
"Mm, you better."
Elizabeth was amazed by the size of the venue and didn't really know where to look first. She clung to William's arm and tried to keep her mouth from dropping. It was a hard task. She found herself being all 'oohs' and 'aahs' without being able to stop herself.
"As much as it hurts me to say this, one must acknowledge the fact that Caroline sure knows how to throw a party," she said to William.
"That she does," William agreed. "Let's roll, shall we?" He steered her toward Mr and Mrs Bingley to begin the social round. He said hello to people he passed on the way. Elizabeth realised just how important the Darcys were in Boston. William seemed to know everybody there. She felt smaller by the second and it was only the warm smile of Mrs Darcy that kept her from running toward the door. William seemed totally in his element, though she knew for a fact he wasn't fond of large gatherings, he didn't seem to let that affect his behaviour. Elizabeth was downing the second glass of champagne when they suddenly stopped their little procession through the crowd.
The slim, regal looking, elder lady that stood before her had such haughty air about her that Elizabeth was sure that this was indeed the infamous Mrs Cathy de Bourgh in the flesh. Even though she was a slightly shorter than Elizabeth she still managed to look down at her. Elizabeth felt a shudder go through her body and she instinctively drew closer to William. His hand squeezed hers and she felt a bit more secure.
"Mrs de Bourgh," William said with a smile and took her outstretched hands. "How good to see you." He moved in for an air kiss on each side of her cheeks.
"William, it's been too long," Mrs de Bourgh replied with a smile and Elizabeth thought her face would crack with the effort.
"Let me introduce my girlfriend, Elizabeth Bennet," William said and brought Elizabeth forward.
"Mrs de Bourgh, a pleasure," Elizabeth said, fought the urge to curtsey, and held out her hand instead.
"Miss Bennet," said the older woman and her face grew frosty. "I have heard so much about you." Elizabeth felt her body go rigid and wasn't really sure what to answer.
"Nothing too bad I hope," she finally managed to squeeze out. She was happy that her smile stayed in place.
"Well, the reports have been inconclusive," Mrs de Bourgh said with a dry smile. Elizabeth could only imagine who she had been talking to. Anne for sure would mostly have positive things to say, but Caroline could poison any mind to think whatever she wanted them to think.
"Okay," Elizabeth looked down, trying to hide her rolling eyes. She really had hoped to be proven wrong, but Mrs de Bourgh was acting just as high and mighty as she had feared. "How is Anne?" She could see Anne and Bill hover in the background.
"She is very well, thank you," Mrs de Bourgh answered with a glance toward her daughter and Bill.
"I heard she had been ill?" William cut in. "I do hope she's feeling better."
"Oh, yes," Mrs de Bourgh replied with a dismissive hand gesture, "that was weeks ago. She's quite fine, as you can see." She gestured toward her daughter. "I'm sure she would love to have a word with you." Elizabeth and William took that as their cue to leave.
"So, she found them out, did she?" Elizabeth commented, nodding toward Anne and Bill.
"They don't look to sad, though," William answered, eyeing the couple.
"No, perhaps she had a change of heart?"
"Maybe, I'm sure we will find out soon enough." He took her hand and steered her toward the couple who were now smiling at them and walking toward them.
"Anne!" Elizabeth smiled. "I'm so glad to see you. With Bill, too!" She looked between them. "Has everything worked out for you guys?"
"Quite," Bill said with an affectionate smile toward Anne.
"Yes, my mother seems to have changed her opinion rather suddenly," Anne said, smiling brightly.
"I'm so happy for you both," Elizabeth said.
"Yes, she finally realised that she cannot dictate whom I'm to date, and that we don't live in the 19th century anymore."
"Hear, hear!" Elizabeth cheered, holding up her glass.
The evening was turning out to be quite the night in the aspect that the guest kept giving and bidding on the objects up for auction. It was really a great night for Bingley Corp and William was really starting to relax and enjoy the evening. The food was excellent, the wine superb and Caroline kept out of their way. He wasn't sure if either one of them could take a confrontation just now. Just now and then did his stomach twitch with anticipation, and he would seek out Elizabeth's dark head and smile at her if she was not next to him.
Elizabeth seemed to blend in fine with the Boston socialites and didn't seem out of place at all. She had the perfect outgoing personality that worked at events like these and he could really see her being a part of his future in the company, both in Boston and in Meryton. She really did compliment him perfectly and he realised that he enjoyed himself more when she was around. Perhaps events like these wouldn't be so tedious in the future with her by his side. His stomach fluttered at the thought.
"I'm just going to check on Charlie," William said, kissing Elizabeth on the cheek. "Are you going to be okay?"
"Don't worry, I'm going to be just fine," Elizabeth answered. "I'll just hang here with Bill and Anne for a while." She smiled. "But please be back soon because I hear that the band is going to start playing and I'm not really the wallflower type." She winked.
"I don't think you need to worry for the lack of suitors," he smiled, eying the people around him. He had noticed that Elizabeth had been the target of several of the gentlemen's attention.
"Maybe, but there's nobody else I would rather dance with than with you." He grinned.
"I''ll be back," he said with his best Arnold Schwarzenegger impression. She laughed.
"I changed my mind! Go! I'll be fine." She ushered him away.
He grinned as he made his way through the crowded floor and out into the lobby in search of Charles. He was sure he was distributing the cards by now. He did indeed find him, Jane and Georgiana fiddling with the goodie bags.
"Will!" Georgiana grinned. "This was an excellent idea. Nobody will suspect a thing since I volunteered to the hand these out."
"How are you holding up?" Charles asked. "Got everything under control?"
"Yeah, I think so," William smiled and patted his breast pocket and his stomach lurched in response. He swallowed.
"It's gonna be fine," Georgiana said and patted his shoulder.
"What exactly are you doing?" Jane asked. William realised she didn't know, but before he could say anything Charles cut in.
"It's kind of big, you know," Charles said. "I'm so proud of you." Charles too patted William on the shoulder.
"Oh, stop it," William huffed. "It's not like I'm the first man to propose." This made Jane squeal with delight.
"Yes. Tonight, before we see the video on the jumbotron." Jane flung herself around him and hugged him close.
"I can't believe it! She'll be so surprised!"
"So you approve?" Jane nodded. "You don't think it's too soon?"
"The heart wants what the heart wants," she said, grinning and threw Charles an excited gaze. "Who am I to stop you?"
"No, but we actually never thought you would be the proposing type," Charles said as a matter of fact.
"Yeah, I know. I'm chocked as you are. But here we are." William shrugged.
"And you have all of our support," Georgiana assured him.
"Thanks, I think. But please, let's keep it to ourselves, okay?" They nodded in confirmation and William hoped that Jane could keep from spilling the beans to her sister.
The cards were soon placed in the bags and they made their way back into the ballroom. The band had started playing and the room was a sea of moving bodies.
Elizabeth was actually enjoying herself. After she had gotten over the initial awkwardness she was her usual outgoing self and made a ton of new acquaintances and learned much about charity work and how events like these were planned and executed. Once in a while she caught Caroline's eyes, but kept out of her way. She really didn't want to get into anything with her at the ball. That would ruin everything. She was happy to see that Bill and Anne looked so happy and contented, and that Mrs de Bourgh was finally accepting that her daughter was old enough to choose her partner for herself.
Bill proved to be mildly funny and intelligent. Elizabeth tried to lure out of him about their supposed kinship, but Bill hadn't really much to say on the subject apart from a profound want to get the two families together again. Anne and Bill took to the dance floor and Elizabeth was left to fend for herself. She found herself to the bar and had just ordered a fresh drink when William's arm snaked around her waist and a kiss was planted on her cheek.
"Everything okay here?" he asked.
"Yeah, totally." She smiled at him. "How were things out there?" She nodded toward the lobby.
"Great!" She took a sip of her drink. "Not long now before the shit hits the fan." She grinned.
"About that dance…"
Elizabeth was willingly whisked away out on the dance floor. The plan was all set, everything was prepared and ready. Caroline was keeping her distant and Mrs de Bourgh hadn't been half a scary as she had imagined. So Elizabeth allowed herself to finally relax completely and just enjoyed being there, in William's arms, not really wanting it to ever stop.
They twirled slowly around the floor, nodding to familiar faces, meeting smiles and thumbs up. Elizabeth caught a glimpse of Mr and Mrs Darcy in the crowd, dancing and waving happily as Elizabeth and William passed them. Mr Darcy even smiled at Elizabeth. She concluded that this was going to be good night, what ever may happen after midnight. Because that is another day.
Author's note: Please don't kill me. Post your complaints below.