You know what makes me happy? When the literary agent you want to represent you is willing to read your full manuscript a third time! A sunny day in the middle of winter! And of course, when a fanfic given up for lost gets updated! So because I have had some good news today, I thought I'd spread it around
Rick was whistling to himself, a bit of Tchaikovsky mixed with Beethoven's Fourth to the rhythm of a Latin Cha-Cha. It was not a catchy tune by any means, but it served to calm him when he was nervous. At the moment, nervous was an understatement.
This was to be his first big date with Anne. The kind where he had used the phone to call her and ask her to go out with him. He had done that days ago and he had sweated throughout the entire conversation. And now a tee-shirt and jeans kind of a guy was wearing khaki pants and the only tie he owned. He had worn it to the prom too. He patted his hair down again, yes, this was a big deal.
He was halfway up the stairs to Anne's apartment when she came out of her door quickly, shutting it behind her, "Rick! You're here."
"And so are you!" He said a bit confusedly, "Why are you outside?"
She didn't answer until she had nimbly picked her way down the stairs to stand beside him, "My roommate Emma is home."
Rick's eyebrows creased, "Is she? And?"
Anne bit her lip, Emma was in one of her elitist moods, meaning anything that didn't fit into that particular category was being lambasted. Elizabeth had fled hours ago. And Rick was anything but elite. The moment Emma looked him over and she would too-from head to toe-she would have him pegged. The right eye would twitch, and she would attack, "She's a bit, uh…." She fluttered her hand a bit, "You know. I didn't think it would be a good idea for you to meet her today."
"You make her sound a bit like an exhibit at the zoo."
Anne barked a laugh and pulled him that much quicker down the stairs.
"Uh…" Rick started, by Anne interrupted,
"You have a car? I didn't know that. Are we driving somewhere?"
Emma was all forgot as Rick smiled down at her mysteriously.
Suddenly the purse on Anne's arm began to shake violently. Anne muttered to herself as she began to dig around inside it. She pulled out a bright purple and very expensive looking iPhone. It didn't really suit her. "Hello Auntie," her voice sounded surprisingly chipper for someone who looked so annoyed.
"I'm heading out right now Auntie." She covered the receiver to let out a loud sigh before she continued, "I'm sorry it took so long to answer….No I'm not trying to be petulant…Yes, I know all about the Simmons girl…Yes, I will…That too…Yes Auntie…" Up went the hand again for another loud sigh, "You too Auntie. Yes…Bye!"
She sighed again as she looked at the innocent contraption, fiddled with it for a moment before finally returning it to her purse.
Rick was confused, "Auntie?"
"My mother's sister, she looks out for us. All of us, my father, my younger sister and me."
There was something about her tone, "Is everything alright?"
"Perfectly," she smiled tightly, "Now where are you taking me?"
"It's a surprise," Rick finally admitted.
"Oh!" Anne's smile was no more genuine, "Surprises are nice."
He wasn't beaming 10 minutes later when Anne's new iPhone began to ring a loud and obnoxious version of Carol of the Bells. "Hello Auntie." She was calling again?
"Yes I know I have a lecture tomorrow, it isn't until 10 though…No I…No, you are perfectly right, the younger generation should know their place…Yes sleep is important…I will Auntie….But…Yes, Aunt…I'm sorry," Only Rick saw how she blinked in pain, "Me too Auntie. Goodbye." She closed the phone and sighed, but this time she didn't drop it back into her purse, instead it sat on her lap, dark and quiet.
"Calls a lot does she?"
Anne shook her head, "No, not really. Well I mean maybe lately it's been more, but I'd had the phone for a few days before she called the first time. She told me she had sent it so it would be easier for us to keep in touch. Apparently she is worried that my roommates haven't been passing along my messages."
"Been passing on my messages," Anne finished, "I thought they had. She used to call three times a week pretty regularly."
"That's odd isn't it? That's it more though? Trouble at home?"
Anne frowned, "No. No trouble. Or she doesn't mention any, I should say. I guess it is odd. She does ask," Anne suddenly turned bright red, "She likes me to talk about you."
Both of Rick's eyebrows flew up to his hairline, "Me?"
"Yeah, she wanted to know all about you," she fairly mumbled, "I haven't da...dated much since I've come out here for school." Anne looked away from him after her confession, her hands tightly fisted in her lap.
Rick didn't know what to say, knowing that his experience obviously far surpassed hers. He didn't want to make her feel bad. So instead of speaking, he took one of her hands in his gently, relaxing the fingers and intertwined them with his own. He raised them to his lips and placed a light kiss onto the knuckles. He heard her sigh again, this time in what he hoped was pleasure. His heart did flip-flops when she finally turned to him, her eyes glowing at him, "You're a charmer Rick."
"Only for you Anne."
The rest of the drive, 50 minutes in all, the iPhone didn't ring and Rick was on top of the world. Anne had not let go of his hand the entire time, and now it was resting softly on the top of his knee. And Anne was still smiling at him. Rick parked in downtown Denver near Blake Street, inhaling the night air lustily as he led his girl to his favorite restaurant.
Golden lights shined out of the windows and into the darkening night, welcoming diners. Anne looked up at the hand painted sign, "Vesta? I've never been here."
"Their Korean Buffalo is the best."
"They have Buffalo in Korea?" Anne's look was entirely innocent but there was a small twinkle in her eye.
Rick laughed, "You'll love it."
They had just been seated when Anne's phone rang again. The brief respite was over, "Hello Auntie," Anne answered, "We just sat down to dinner…It looks like a really nice place…No!...I mean of course not Auntie…I'm sorry…Yes…I know…I know…Me too…Bye Aunt…" She closed the phone, her face crumbling as she closed her eyes painfully.
Rick reached across to touch her hand, "Did you fight?" It wasn't really a question because he already knew the answer.
"She just…she said something mean but…I shouldn't have yelled at her."
Rick's eyes flashed, this Auntie of hers sounded like a sociopath, "You didn't yell!"
Anne cringed away from his anger but his grip tightened on her hand, "I'm sorry, I'm not angry at you, but I don't understand why she's offended. You didn't do anything wrong."
Anne's chin dropped to her chest. Rick moved to her side of the booth, "Anne?" He lifted her chin, his eyes imploring, "You didn't do anything wrong," he repeated. "She's been calling all night. Making you upset. Maybe you should turn the phone off."
Anne was already shaking her head, before he'd even finished speaking, "NO! I can't do that. She told me I had to keep it on at all times. In case there was is an emergency!"
The possibility of an emergency suddenly surfacing after the third call Auntie placed to her niece in so few minutes seemed highly unlikely, but Rick kept his mouth shut. Instead he smiled tightly and changed the subject.
Vesta wasn't known for its punctual service, but Rick liked it because it allowed its patrons space and privacy to dine in. It was intimate and romantic and just before the waiter arrived, Rick had Anne smiling happily again.
Appetizer's came with their selected dipping sauces, and Anne exclaimed over the chutney and the spicy ginger, "This is wonderful!"
Rick grinned as he watched her lick sauce off of her fingers. And then Anne's phone rang again and his lips turned down, "Don't answer it," even as Anne placed her finger over the select button.
"But if it's an emergency!"
Rick shook his head, "Then she'll leave a message. You can check it later. After you finish eating at least." Come on Anne, you can do it!
"She'll be so upset."
Rick shrugged his shoulders, "She'll get over it. You are an adult. She needs to know that."
Anne shook her head as the phone continued to ring, "But what if…?"
He took the phone from her, placing it out of her reach, "You know how my father wanted me to be a rancher like him?"
Anne eyes flew up from watching the phone.
Rick kept talking, "The day I told him, we had a horrible fight. He threatened to cut me off. Not like we had much, but he could have helped me get into college, at least given me the money for food and books and such. Instead at 18, I had to make my own way. I came here, to Denver I mean. I worked 3 jobs." He ticked them off his fingers, "One was a stock boy in the mornings. Then there was Vesta, I was a busboy, or a waiter if they were busy. And finally I pulled a shift as a security guard at an office complex at night."
"When did you sleep?" Anne asked in an awed little voice.
"In the afternoons," Rick smiled at the memory.
"It took me two years but I finally saved up enough money to quit all but one of them. I hadn't talked to any of my family during that time. My last shift as a security guard, I was so tired, I was literally dragging myself back to my dingy apartment. I didn't see them until I almost stumbled over them. My mother AND my father had come down for a visit. She hugged me tightly, I thought she might have cracked a rib! Then she pushed my father forward, he himed and hawed for a bit. Finally he apologized."
"I think he probably only did it for my mom, at first. I was so happy to see them that I took them inside and showed them a shoebox full of money that I had been saving. My father isn't usually a man of many words, but he said something that day that I will never forget, 'I guess you proved that you can be an adult. From now on you can make your own decisions and even if I'm not happy with them I won't interfere.' And even though I'm a bit old to be an undergraduate, I'm happier here than I would ever have been staying at the ranch."
He twiddled his fingers around for a moment, "Thing is, you've got to prove to your Aunt that you can be an adult. So don't answer her call. Listen to her message if she leaves one, and call her back when you have the time. The world won't end, and you'll be happier."
Anne's eyes had teared up a bit as she listened to him, effectively pouring out his soul to her. He handed the phone back to her. Deliberately, she turned the phone off and pushed it back into her purse.
It wasn't like Will Darcy was going out his way to run into her, though that's not how Elizabeth interpreted things. It had been a tough week, her first test in Dissection had not gone well. Emma was having some major drama.
And now it seemed that wherever she went, Will Darcy was! He would always keep his distance, never approach, as if he knew that was what she wanted. But there was something in his eye that reminded her of the time they had met at Five Guys. Like he was actively judging her. And harshly too. She found herself often rubbing surreptitiously at her nose, wondering if she had a spot of ketchup on it again or something.
Finally she'd had enough when he cornered her in her favorite tucked-away seat on the 2th floor of the Morgan Library. No one came there unless they needed to. And it was obvious by the way he was looking at her, he didn't need to be here.
"Well hello Will," the words were courteous but the tone was not.
He gobbled for a moment.
"Doing some research then?"
"Uh, yes!" He managed to spit out.
"Germans from Russia eh? I thought Darcy was French?" She raised a solitary eyebrow at him.
His head jerked around him looking at the archives on either side of him, "Oh is that?…I just…oh…"
She smiled softly at him. He mistook that smile, and plopped down into the seat beside her, "Do you come here a lot?"
That sounded very much like a pick-up line? Was it a pick-up line? What kind of game was he playing, "No," her eyes twinkled even through her lie, "I don't come here often. Do you?"
"Are you hitting on me?"
Her head flew back and she just held off grinding her teeth in annoyance, "Excuse me? Am I what?"
"'Do you come here often?' It's that pick-up line." Something about his face was really disturbing now!
"You said it first," she insisted.
He frowned, "No I didn't. I was just making conversation. You were…" he waved a finger at her… "You were doing something else."
She shook her head, "Wow." Completely surreal.
"What?" he was suspicious.
"No, just wow! With that much ego crammed into you, you should be taller."
His eyes narrowed. She had never so blatantly insulted him before, "I am Will Darcy." He finally said.
She turned away again, pressing her lips together to stop from laughing out loud at such arrogant pride. What a piece of…well a piece of something, but she wouldn't say what.
If she didn't live with Emma, she would probably have already lost her temper. What Will Darcy and Emma Woodhouse both needed was to be brought down a peg or two. She had already given up on Emma. Especially after today.
But Will Darcy? THE Will Darcy? He was prime for the picking, "Well good for you!" She slapped him on the arm, rather roughly too, he thought, "It is a beautiful name is it? A very powerful name I assume. Will Daarccccy. Rolls right off the tongue. With the right emphasis, Willll Darrrcy it could even promote fear and envy. Wwwwillll Dahrceee. Yes, it is very nice." She nodded at him. If he'd known her better he would have already assumed the fetal position. "Very nice," she practically spat at him. "And soon you'll be one of the most powerful men in the world. Am I right?"
He nodded, but it was a tiny motion because she was starting to make him uncomfortable, "Among the thousands of other rich pompous men, all of you looking for a way to discredit each other, climb over the competition, like a bunch of farrow pigs after a bone. Charming future really." And then the coup de grace,
"Eventually though, probably sooner than you would like or expect, you'll be in a small wooden box under a large concrete tombstone and fertilizing the daisies, and it will read, 'He used to be important once, if only we could remember his name!'"
She got to her feet, nearly braining him as she slung her backpack over her shoulder, "And just so you know, perhaps the only reason you're getting asked," she deepened her voice to a decent imitation of the male drawl, "'If you come here often' is because other people, namely me, are trying to avoid ever meeting you again!"
See? A bad day…
I have a new reviewer from Sudan-So exciting!
And I've kept an insomniac interested! I am a better read than the dictionary. Alright.