Elizabeth Bennet paced the courtroom with control and deliberation. As she passed the jury she made a point to look each and every one of them in the eye. She had handpicked this jury and she was damn well going to get them to see it her way. Not just because it was her job, but because it was what she loved to do. She did not have long before the judge would grow impatient, but she knew the plaintiff's attorney was already growing restless. Attorney Lucas simply didn't have a case and she had not realized it until Elizabeth had placed two key witnesses on the stand as her case-in-chief. Normally, as a defense attorney such miraculous finds did not simply fall into her lap. Certainly not when her client was in fact liable, but this time she had been handed an easy one.
Charles Bingley was not only the picture of innocence he was actually not in the wrong. He also just happened to be her older sister's boyfriend and a financial wizard. His boyish good looks and his winning smile had surely won over the predominantly female jury. Then there was the sheer fact that Mr. Bingley was always on the straight and narrow in his business dealings which didn't hurt either.
"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury," Elizabeth began as she stopped pacing and turned to face them. "The man you see before you has been accused of underhandedness and shady dealings. But the evidence we have presented to you today speaks of an honest, trusting man who is always careful when he signs a contract. You have seen for yourself what went on behind the scenes of this major deal and it is clear that Mr. Bingley upheld his side of the bargain." Elizabeth went on for some time waxing poetic about the importance of honoring contracts and the good, upstanding character of the Defendant. "So ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I ask you to look at this man," she pointed at Charles, "and make the decision that you know in your guts and your hearts is correct. Your honor," she nodded to the judge and returned to her seat.
"The jury is now dismissed to deliberate, bailiff?" The judge nodded to the uniformed man standing to the side of the bench and he moved to escort the jury out of the courtroom.
Elizabeth hated this part the most. No matter how carefully she had screened the jury, no matter how persuasive her evidence and her argument were, there was always a chance that a rogue existed. There was always a chance that someone in there was more persuasive than her. She hated the waiting. Normally, she would be sweating bullets at this point, but not this time. She glanced at Charlotte to see how she was taking it. Her face was clouded over and she looked ready to spit nails. She did not look afraid of hearing the verdict. She, like Elizabeth, knew what the verdict would be and she was pissed. Elizabeth knew she would hear about it later, but for now she simply enjoyed the pleasant sensation of winning that was starting to engulf her like a downy blanket fresh out of the dryer.
After a short twenty minutes the jury filed out of the meeting room and took their seats. The foreman handed a slip of paper to the bailiff who delivered it to the judge. The judge read it and then turned to the jury.
"What is your verdict?"
"Your honor the jury finds that Charles Bingley is not liable for any damages."
Elizabeth heard Charles make a slight celebratory noise under his breath and a look of relief flood his features. She smiled to herself, careful not to make a show of her victory in front of her best friend and opponent. She would celebrate later with Charles and Jane after dismissal.
"Let the record show that the Court finds for the Defendant on all counts. Court adjourned."
Elizabeth began packing up her stacks of papers while Charlie jumped to his feet.
"I'm going outside to call Jane," he said happily.
"I'll be out in a minute," Elizabeth replied. Out of the corner of her eye she could see Charlotte talking to her client about the appeals process. When her client had scurried from the room Elizabeth walked over to her longtime friend and said, "You really think you have a chance on appeal?" It wasn't said spitefully, just curiously.
"Of course not! We weren't top 10 of our class for nothing Lizzie. I have to say something to him now. Later, when he's rational, I'll lay out his chances."
"Of course," Elizabeth smiled. "You wouldn't be interested in coming out with us, would you?"
"No, I've got to get back and explain to the partners how that bitch Elizabeth Bennet just pulled the rug out from under me." Charlotte smiled wryly to show she didn't really mean it and the two of them left the court room together. When they reached the courthouse steps they found Charles on the phone and he quickly hung up when he saw them approach.
"Great job in there Charlotte," he was quick to say as he extended a hand to her.
"Thanks Charles. I knew someone as nice as you couldn't possibly be the con artist my client was trying to paint you as. But I have to do what the higher ups tell me to do."
"I understand. No hard feelings then?"
"Not at all. Now if you'll excuse me I have to get back to the office. Congrats, Liz. Bye Charles."
"Bye Charlotte. All right then Ms. Lizzy let's get you to a bar to celebrate!"
"Jane is meeting us there and I hope you don't mind, but my sister and my best friend were really worried so I told them they could join us."
"Of course I don't mind! This is just as much your celebration as it is mine. Even more so."
"Great! I can't wait for you to meet Darcy, he'll be so excited to meet you. He's just finishing up his first year in law school."
"That's great! I can't wait to meet him."
When they got to the bar, Lizzy let Charles go inside while she made a quick phone report to her office. Her managing partner was pleased and gave his blessing on the celebration, giving her the afternoon off. With a lighter step she went into the bar and found her friends gathered around a table near the back.
"The conquering hero!" Charles called out to her. "Here let me introduce you. Lizzy this is my oldest friend Will Darcy, Will this is Elizabeth Bennet, the saver of my hide."
"Nice to meet you Will," Lizzy said as she held out her hand.
"And you Ms. Bennet," Will replied shaking her hand.
"Lizzy this is my twin sister Caroline," Charles said turning her attention to a female version of Charles only with harder features.
"A pleasure," Caroline Bingley said grasping her hand lightly in a weak sort of shake.
"I like the play on names. Charles and Caroline. Very cool," she said enthusiastically.
"What do you mean?" Caroline asked confused.
"The name Caroline is the female version of Charles. It's why we have North and South Carolina. They were..." her voice trailed off when she realized that Caroline was gaping at her with something akin to disgust, Will Darcy had a look of boredom on his face, and Charles was suppressing a smile. "Sorry. I go on sometimes. It's a habit."
Charles assured her it was fine just before Will engaged him exclusively in conversation and Caroline worked extra hard to be included. That was Lizzy's cue to talk to Jane.
"Janie!" she said as she embraced her favorite sister. "It's been ages since I saw you last. How have you been?"
Jane smiled and nodded. "I've been great since yesterday. Charles said you were excellent in court today."
"Charles made it very easy for me. It totally helps that he is the picture of innocence. Not to mention the fact that he was innocent."
"Lizzy? What can I get you? It's on me," Charles interrupted.
"I'll take a Stella, but next round's on me. I might just make partner soon thanks to you my friend."
"I'll drink to that," he said as he went to the bar.
"So Will, I hear you've just finished your first year at law school. Got a summer internship lined up?"
"Not at the moment, no."
"Oh, that's too bad. Well, at least you should celebrate. First year is the hardest."
"That's what I hear," he said to his drink. Lizzy felt a distinct chill coming off of him and decided to turn back to her sister.
"How's the shop?"
"It's great. I just got a bunch of orders in for some very interesting cakes. You won't believe what one groom wants me to do." Lizzy loved hearing tales from her sister's cake shop. She owned a very high profile place that was infamous for its elaborate theme cakes. "He wants a scale model of the Millennium Falcon for his Bachelor party."
"That's awesome! Take a picture for me before they destroy it!"
"One Stella and one sprite with peach schnapps." Charles plopped the drinks down on the table.
"How can you drink that Jane? Too sweet!"
"Like her," Charles said kissing her neck. Jane giggled and sipped her drink.
"It tastes like...senior year, Lizzy."
"Ugh, I hated senior year." Lizzy stuck her tongue out at her sister and took a swig of her beer. "We didn't toast!" She raised her glass and the others imitated her. "Here's to Charles's good nature and straight dealing!"
"Here, here," Jane said laughing.
"Here's to Lizzy's smooth talking," Charles responded.
"I'll drink to that," Jane smiled. The five of them tipped their drinks before falling into a pensive silence.
"Aren't you awfully young to be made a partner, Lizzy?" Caroline said loudly.
"Well, young and old is a relative idea. Young perhaps compared to the senior partners, but..." her voice trailed off when she looked around and realized that once again she was blabbering. "Sure, Caroline. I guess you could say that."
"I think it's fabulous!" Charles chimed in.
"Charles, she's only making partner because she brought in a big name client. She made it rain and now she's being rewarded."
"Thank you for that perspective Will," Lizzy said wryly before taking a swig. "He's right though. I certainly made it rain today." She lifted her glass in Charles's direction.
"Lizzy, my reputation was on the line. I wouldn't have gone to you if you weren't one of the best contract litigators in the city."
Lizzy felt her cheeks flush red with the compliment and decided not to reply.
"Will, Lizzy here graduated top of her class. That firm of hers snatched her up almost immediately," Jane said smiling at her sister.
Will and Lizzy shared a look that seemed to go on forever before he finally broke it.
Later when they had had a few more drinks Lizzy and Jane watched Charles and Will whispering frantically as Caroline danced by the jukebox having had one too many glasses of wine.
"He likes you," Lizzy said as Jane and Charles shared another meaningful look.
"I think I might love him," she replied as color spread over her cheeks.
"Wow, that's pretty quick. It's only been a few months."
"I know, but love doesn't work on a schedule. It just hit me the other day."
"Well, if he makes you happy I wish you both all the best. I'm glad to see you in love again."
"I'm not sure I should tell him, though."
"Afraid the l-word will scare him away?"
"Yeah," Jane nodded sadly.
"Why don't you play this one by ear? See how it goes and if the time feels right, go for it."
"That's a good idea. I think I'll try it that way this time." Jane'd had her heart broken on a previous occasion and it made her wary of giving away the game too soon.
"He definitely likes you a lot. Anyone could tell that," Lizzy said sipping her drink.
"Speaking of boys, how's your love life doing?" Jane raised a perfect blond brow at her sister.
"Died on the table. I've been too busy 'making it rain'," she made air quotes around her words. "I need a new drink. BRB," she called to her sister.
Lizzy made her way to the boys to see if they needed a refill when the sound of their urgent talking made her stop. She wasn't in the habit of eavesdropping, but curiosity and several drinks overcame her.
"Go be with your angel, stop trying to torture me."
"I don't think asking you to engage in conversation with Jane's beautiful sister is torture!" Lizzy blushed to hear herself be complimented but then registered what was going on.
"Beautiful? Maybe, if she weren't wearing that hideous suit. Come on, you heard her earlier, she sounds boring! What was all that nonsense about your name?"
"Fine, if you want to sulk into your beer on your own I'll go keep my lovely girlfriend and her brilliant sister company. I don't know what's gotten into you lately, but it's not becoming."
"Go be with your angel. I'll be fine."
Lizzy, realizing that she was about to be discovered, walked up as if she had never stopped and said, brightly, "Another round boys?"
Charles smiled and Will looked away. "Sure, Lizzy. Will, why don't you help her get the drinks?"
Will glared at his best friend before hesitantly nodding and standing up to walk with her. They were silent as they stood at the bar aside from Lizzy ordering the round. He refused to make eye contact with her and she didn't force him to talk. His comment about her being boring still stung and she didn't want to give him any more ammunition for his criticisms. Boring? Boring! No one had ever called her boring before. At least not to her face. They made their way back to the table where Charles had joined Jane. He was whispering something into her ear that was making her smile. Lizzy looked at them fondly before glancing at Will to see his reaction.
He was constipated. At least he looked that way. Lizzy shrugged before setting the glasses down.
"So, Will," Lizzy began sipping her beer thoughtfully. "If you're interested, we had a summer intern back out at the last minute. I could arrange an interview with my partner if you want."
"Wow, that'd be great Lizzy!" Charles spoke up. "Wouldn't it Will?" he looked at his friend.
Will paused for a moment, considering her silently. "Sure, I would really appreciate that," he said with a faint smile.
"Here's my card," she handed him a small rectangle of cardboard. "Fax me your resume and I'll make sure that he gets it and we'll be in touch."
Will took the card and slipped it into his shirt pocket. "Thanks Ms. Bennet."
"Please, it's Lizzy," she said with a wry smile.
"Thanks Lizzy," he said sharing her smile.
Will finished his drink before bidding everyone goodbye. Caroline followed him out of the bar quickly, stumbling slightly at the threshold. Through the window they saw her grab his arm and walk to his car. Clearly she had gotten a ride home with him.
"Is he okay to drive?" Jane asked Charles.
"I think so. He wouldn't drive otherwise."
"I should get home as well," Lizzy said throwing back the last of her drink.
"Are you okay to drive?" Jane asked with a maternal tone in her voice.
"I am, but I left my car at the courthouse so I'll be calling a cab anyway. I'll pick it up in the morning," she said pulling out her phone and dialing information. Fifteen minutes later a yellow cab pulled up outside of the bar and Lizzy was on her way home.
Home was a condo in downtown Orlando that overlooked Lake Eola. This had been her first major purchase after having paid down a good deal of her student loans. It was fairly new, but she had spent the first two weeks of living there making it home. Each room had a signature color that was bright, without being obnoxious, and themed very slyly. Her own bedroom was a bright shade of blue with grayish undertones. Instead of using a border or traditional stripes she had found stencils of Kanji characters and used a shiny clear paint on them. You could only see the figures in the right light. The curtains were a shiny silk Oriental pattern with hints of the same blue on the wall in the roman style with white sheer curtains beneath. Her mattress rested on a black wooden platform and the dresser and chest of drawers matched. The only art hanging was a series of pictures in black frames hanging on the wall over her chest of drawers all complimenting the furniture and the shade of blue on the walls. Specifically there were several prints and cells of Walt Disney's famous Sleeping Beauty wearing her blue dress which hung over a collection of trinkets all featuring the princess in her blue dress.
Lizzy Bennet had been fixated on that particular princess since she was a little girl and felt very strongly about the blue dress being the best version of that dress. Finding collectibles of Princess Aurora in that dress was difficult and she snapped up whatever she could find and displayed it with pride. Admittedly she had friends, like Charlotte, who were enablers of this habit and Jane who always knew what to get her for Christmas and birthdays.
Lizzy wandered into her bedroom and began to remove her suit. As she tossed the black skirt suit into the bag that would carry it to the dry cleaners she thought of Will Darcy. He had called it hideous. If only he knew how far from her personal style that suit was. She pulled on a white tank top and a pair of running shorts before moving into her en suite bathroom to remove her make up and take down her hair. When her face was clean and her red-gold locks free of their prison she pulled a ratty old Barry Law sweatshirt on and went into her lilac living room.
This room was her favorite as it tied the whole place together. The color wasn't true lilac, but a bit darker with the same gray undertones as the bedroom and in fact all of the other rooms. Her black and white checked couch was flush against a wall that held her feature piece. She had taken squares of wood and arranged them in a 3-D effect, each one was painted a different color and each color had been used in the various rooms around the house. There were the grayish-green from the guest room, the blue of her bedroom, the yellow of the bathroom, the deep pink of the kitchen, and black. The rest of the living room furniture was black and opposite the couch hung a large HD flat screen TV. Her second major purchase after the condo. She collapsed onto the most comfortable couch she had ever been on and then reached for the portable phone on the end table. After placing an order for delivery at the local Vietnamese restaurant, she flicked on the television and began scrolling through her recorded programs. She was well into a new episode of Family Guy when her food arrived and she ate herself into a coma and awoke with a start at 1:00 am before dragging herself to bed to finish her night's sleep. But not before setting her iHome alarm clock so the dulcet sound of her iPod would wake her in time to get her car on the way to work.
Lizzy Bennet fell asleep knowing that she was a success, definitely not boring, and feeling vastly superior.