In an odd way, life seemed destined to work in pairs. Two peas in a pod. Two sisters. Two best friends. A two-way intersection. Two dented vehicles. Two unfathomably angry opponents. Two complacent, mildly flirtatious sidekicks. Two pigeons observing this whole fiasco from a couple of power cable lines across the street.
"You see these two fists?" Elizabeth Bennet asked sweetly. "These two fists are about to embed themselves in your pretty face if you don't step off."
"Are you threatening me?" demanded Will Darcy. He was all suit, strong jaw and icy blue eyes.
"I don't know, I thought it was pretty obvious," she shrugged theatrically, then wheeled around. "About as obvious as my left turn-signal, you jackass!"
"Maybe if your windows weren't tinted twice the shade of the legal limit—!" Darcy glared.
"Those were a gift!"
"Charlotte's gifts totally reflect that her father was in the CIA," Jane, her sister, nodded solemnly. "It's a little shady."
"Shady," the ginger man beside her laughed. She grinned at him and he smiled back and up in the sky, two cherubs decided to clink halos and sing in heavenly chorus.
Lizzy took the opportunity to stare, open-mouthed, at her sister. Jane was magical. She could pick up guys at an accident scene in the middle of bumblefuck Pennsylvania. Props had to be awarded. A pageantry ribbon and a crown, perhaps. Jane's strawberry blonde hair would look good with some sparkle.
"Charlie, would you stop flirting, this girl has totaled my car."
"Oh, it's only a scratch."
"Then where the fuck is my fucking right headlight?" Darcy demanded.
"Up your ass, clearly!" Lizzy shouted.
"It's over there," Jane smiled politely and pointed to the shiny Mercedes headlight lying in a circle of debris just under the traffic light.
"Oh, that's perfect."
They had been bickering for a solid fifteen minutes. What had started as the scramble for safety with the standard "Are you okay?" and "I'm so sorry!" and "I'm so glad we're not hurt!" took a turn for the angry and presumptuous when Will Darcy decided to accuse her. Then it became ridiculous.
"It was your fault!" insisted Elizabeth. "Just own up to it. It's Saturday morning and this street is deserted and you have no witnesses to back up your web of lies."
Charlie shuffled his feet awkwardly.
"No offense," she said.
"Don't worry about it," he waved his hand.
"Ask anybody! You didn't have your turn signal on," Darcy argued, "and I obviously had the right of way."
"What state regulations are you living by, Suit Boy, these aren't the dirt roads of Uganda!"
"Are you insinuating that I'm stupid?"
"Thank goodness we're all alive. It's so nice out today, don't you think?" Jane asked Charlie, burying her hands in the pockets of her jeans.
Charlie squinted up at the sky, "It truly is. You know, I hear there's a meteor shower tonight."
"Oh, really? I love astronomy."
"Do you get off on being this pompous?" asked Elizabeth, standing up on her tiptoes to imitate his posture. "Miss, are you fucking blind? I demand your insurance information. This is unacceptable. Full retribution!"
"I did not say that," Darcy scoffed.
"Bro, you kind of did."
Darcy turned back to the brunette. "No, to answer your question, I do not get off on being this pompous."
"You then proceeded to insult my appearance," Elizabeth crossed her arms tightly over her chest.
"Dude," Charlie shook his head solemnly.
Darcy gave her the casual once-over. "OK, to your credit, you're prettier up close. But at first glance it's nothing but skinny jeans and university sweatshirts and the ponytail and do you ever let your hair down?"
"No, because keeping it tied back makes me more aerodynamic when I kick your ass."
Darcy pinched the bridge of his nose. "I am never going to get to Netherfield on time."
"I can kick you in your nether regions on time, if you'd like."
"Lizzy honey, we can do without the assault charges," cooed Jane.
Charlie was laughing so hard that he had started to wipe back tears. Darcy glowered at him. "Thanks for having my back."
"Oh man, sane people would have just exchanged insurance card information by now and called 9-1-1."
"What an excellent idea!" Jane clapped her hands in delight. "Lizzy, give these two young men your insurance information, s'il vous plait."
"I'll give you my card," Darcy muttered, reaching inside his blazer pocket and procuring a crisp white business card.
Lizzy took it from him and examined it with a critical eye. "William Darcy, Asshole Extraordinaire and Badass M.C."
"What?" Darcy looked over her shoulder. His expression crumpled in distaste. "Ha ha, you're hilarious."
Lizzy smirked and wrote down her phone number and insurance company on the back of his card. Will wrote his information on the back of an old Victoria's Secret receipt.
"5 for $25 Panty Sale?" Charlie lifted an eyebrow.
"It was a good day at the mall," Jane shrugged.
After contact information had been exchanged, Will Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet proceeded to glare, tight-lipped, at each other.
"Is this eye-sex or intimidation?" Charlie asked breezily.
"Is there a difference at this point?" Jane muttered.
"You'll be hearing from my lawyer," Darcy said to Lizzy.
"You won't be hearing at all once I'm through with you."
"Lizzy sweetie, can we not rack up a list of charges, that would be so much better this time around," Jane soothed, squeezing her sister's shoulder.
"Are you a bounty hunter, by any chance?" asked Charlie. "You just seem particularly tiny but ferocious."
"She's actually a Kindergarten teacher."
Darcy snorted. "Sculpting the minds of America's youth! They'll all be brainwashed sociopaths by the time you let them out."
"If I let them out," Lizzy said unpleasantly. Darcy stopped smiling.
"She's scary for such a small person, I understand," Jane nodded.
"Yeah well, I bet you're some corporate honcho who pisses on dreams and cripples souls," Elizabeth accused.
"That's almost accurate," Charlie grinned.
Darcy scowled, "You don't know me."
"I know you don't abide by traffic laws."
"Can we discuss this somewhere else, perhaps?" he said, exhausted. "I've already missed my appointment."
"I have a lunch reservation at Cesarino's," Charlie checked his watch and looked up, gauging their reactions. "Does one o'clock sound okay? I'm sure they can extend the reservation to four people."
"That sounds lovely!" Jane smiled.
"I am not going anywhere with this suited asshole yuppie—" Lizzy flailed her hands.
"I'm hungry," her sister whined. "Spin class leaves me famished."
"Wait, who's driving?" Charlie asked.
"Whose car sucks less?" Darcy sighed, resigned.
The four of them whirled around to inspect the damage. Darcy's black Mercedes was dented at the hood and yes, missing a headlight. Lizzy's Honda Accord had a beautiful shiner near the trunk and left tire but was otherwise maneuverable.
"Satan's Kindergarten Teacher."
Lizzy rolled her eyes and took her keys out of her purse. "Fine. But you need to call somebody to tow your ride."
"On it," Charlie had already gotten out his cell phone.
She sighed, "Come on, then."
"I call shotgun," Darcy said smugly. "It's the least you can do."
"Well, you better buckle up, Suit," Lizzy smirked.
"Or what?" he arched an eyebrow.
"Or you might just accidentally rocket out of the windshield."
Jane laughed out loud and then sobered instantly. "I'm sorry. That's not funny at all, is it?"
Darcy stared at her.