AN: Hey guys, sorry about the huge delay in updating this! I haven't forgotten about Lizzie. We were burgled a while back and laptops were taken, etc, which was a right pain, so it's taken me a while to get E&E up and running again. I hope you enjoy this chapter though…I have been doing a tonne of planning for this story though! Check out some of my other fanfic work too if you can, and, as always…REVIEW!
"Is he amiable?" –Mrs Bennet
It was a week after the party at Longbourne; Jane and I were safely back in London away from the dangerous proximity of our mother and the annoyance of Will Darcy (whom I had had to endure a further three times during our stay because of Jane wanting to see Charlie Bingley).
I had promised Chaz, my best friend, that we would both meet when (slash IF) I returned from my trip to my mother's. I had known Chaz for about ten years, from the time I was in secondary school. The first time I saw him (when we were something like 14), I knew that we would be best friends. Chaz was wearing...well...I don't quite know what he was wearing, but velvet, brothel creeper shoes and the colour yellow were involved. His fashion sense has slightly died down a bit now - but only a little...today he wore pink knee length shorts... Another reason why I loved Chaz so much was because of how strong he was as a person. Being gay as a teenager in a school where most other boys are very, very straight, had been really tough for him. But no matter what any of them threw at him, he always managed to pick his head up and throw something back at them. Even after we left school and he went to university to study fashion and I went to train to become a teacher, we still kept in contact. I don't know what I would do without him, to be quite honest.
We were at our favourite coffee shop in London, on a little back street. The shop was called Bean and it was where we usually went for a coffee.
Chaz had just come back with my ice coffee. After handing it to me and sitting down on the opposite chair, he said, "Okay, so tell me all about him then."
"Oh, I thought I had, he's called George, he was the bartender, he's completely dreamy and -"
"No, no," said Chaz. "Not him. Tell me all about Darcy. You were obviously attracted to him."
I spluttered into my coffee, ending up choking on it. After coughing to clear my airways, I stared at my friend. "What?"
Chaz shrugged. "You don't normally care about people being grumpy shits. You are a grumpy shit. So therefore, I conclude that you are just upset that he was so standoffish to you because you thought he was hot."
My jaw dropped. "What?" I repeated, but quieter this time. "I mean, he was good looking, I guess, but that doesn't mean I was attracted to him, does it?"
Chaz kept on pressing me for more information, which made me squirm in my seat. Now that I really thought about it, I suppose I did find Will Darcy quite attractive. However, I didn't like to tell Chaz that he was right (his head is already big enough) and I didn't really want to admit it to myself.
"Hey, look!" Chaz suddenly said, making me jump out of my own thoughts. "Look, it's Georgie!"
I turned my head to look in the direction that Chaz was pointing and saw, indeed that it was our friend Georgie, who I had known since my school years. We were pretty close, although admittedly not as close Chaz and I were and are. We waved her over. "Hey Gee," I said. "What are you doing here?"
"I was shopping down the road in this little boutique. Stopped in here for a cold drink - it's boiling out there."
"God, I know. Deodorant was used but I'm still a little damp," said Chaz. I stared at him for a moment, wondering if he was joking. I wasn't sure.
"Anyway," said Georgie, moving on briskly. "I'm glad I ran into you. I was going to call you later anyway to ask you both to dinner tomorrow. My brother has just come back from a long business trip and I thought you could both come over to meet him. There'll be a few others there and it'll be quite casual."
Georgie gave us some more details about the next evening and then rushed off, saying that she had to relieve the babysitter. Georgie had the cutest little son, who must have been about two or three now. He had the same blonde hair as his mother and was an absolute angel. Chaz and I waved Georgie goodbye as she hurried out of the café. She had always been quite scatter-brained, so I wasn't surprised when she came rushing back because she'd left her glasses on the coffee table in front of us.
I picked up my phone to stop the incessant beeping that was my ringtone. "What are you wearing?" Chaz asked me, concerned, down the telephone. Seeing as it was the first thing he had said to me, I wasn't sure if his concern was in regards to himself, not wearing appropriate clothes, or if the concern was for me and that I wasn't wearing the right clothes.
"Er, just a white dress. Nothing showy. Why?"
"Just wondering if I had to colour co-ordinate with you. I'll be there in twenty minutes. I'm driving. I don't want a repeat of last time." Last time I had driven Chaz to an event, I had accidentally crashed into a dustbin while parking. I still claim that there was no way I could have seen the bin due to the angle it was at to my mirror. Claim. "See you soon, Liz." Ben hung up. Honestly, that boy confuses me sometimes.
By the time I had brushed my hair as best I could (waves make it super tangly, damn it) and put on a little make up, Ben was knocking on my door.
"I've got it!" called Jane up to me from the sitting room downstairs.
"Thanks!" I yelled back, feeling wonderfully unladylike. "I'll be down in two seconds Chaz," I called, reaching for my phone to put into my purse.
I picked up a pair of brown leather sandals and slipped then on my feet. I was always quite sceptical about those sandals because my toes were literally exposed to the world, the amount of times I had stubbed my toes whilst wearing them. But the words of my mother came back to haunt me: "There is no gain without pain." Ugh. How vile.
Slinging my bag over my shoulder, I skipped down the stairs. "I'm not sure when I'll be back, so don't wait up for me, Janey." I kissed her goodbye and then went outside with Chaz to fire up his car. Which, by the way, was a Ferrari. I mean, no big deal or anything. IT'S A FLIPPING FERRARI I ALWAYS FORGET HOW AMAZING IT IS. Ahem.
"Do you know where you're going?" I asked Chaz, as he fired up the engine.
He paused and looked at me. "Yes," he nodded very seriously. "I know exactly where I am going. I don't need any help from you at all." Okay, so I have a teensy tiny admission to make: I am the world's biggest backseat driver. Ever. This is why, although I am terrible at driving, Jane lets me drive anyway. I can't help it - it's probably part of my DNA, because Mum does it to me to. Lord help anyone driving me and mother anywhere together.
We arrived at the house in about fifteen minutes, although we could have been there about ten minutes earlier if Chaz had listened to MY instructions. We knocked on the shiny black door, waiting for it to open.
And when it did, I almost dropped the bottle of wine that I was holding.
"Are you following me?!" I screeched, in a high pitched voice. Because, there standing right in front of me was the man who was probably haunting me. Will Darcy.
Chaz looked at me with some concern. "Are you okay?"
I put the hand that wasn't holding the bottle of wine over my eyes, then took them off, hoping that it was all just a horrible dream. It was, Darcy was still standing there, the smug bastard that he was. "That's the one I was telling you about," I said to Chaz, waving a hand distractedly at him.
Georgie's voice echoed through the halls. "Will? Aren't you going to let them in?" I heard footsteps coming closer to the door. Georgie pushed past her brother and greeted us. I thrust the bottle of wine at her, still in too much shock to say anything.
"I see you've met my brother. This is Will and this is-"
"We've met," Will cut her off sharply.
"Oh..." Georgie seemed a bit put out.
"We met him when Jane and I went to stay with our parents. He was at Netherfield with Charlie Bingley," I said weakly, still not meeting that insufferable man's eyes.
Georgie led us into her house. "You didn't tell me that, Will," she said.
I saw him shrug out of the corner of my eye. "I guess it just never came up in conversation," he said. Was he blushing?! Ugh.
Then Georgie's son, Ben, came running into the room, wearing some dinosaur pyjamas. His father, Georgie's husband, Hugh, came jogging after him, a pained expression on his face. "I couldn't stop him," he said breathlessly, to his wife. He wanted to come and say hello to Chaz and Lizzie."
I bent down to the toddler's eye level and gave him a big hug. "Hey Ben!" I said.
"Hello Lizzie," he said, the z's of my name coming out as th's because of his child's lisp.
"Are you supposed to be in bed?" I asked him seriously.
He bit his lip, unsure what to say. "Yes..." he finally muttered.
I looked at Ben and at his dad, feeling more than a little sorry for the man, and back to the kid who was running circles around his father. I waited a beat before saying, "First one to run to your bedroom wins!" I let the little boy have a head-start before galloping after him. "I'm gonna catch you!" I shrieked up the stairs, which made Ben screech with laughter and run even faster.
I tucked him up in his bed, like I used to do for Lydia. I clicked the door shut quietly behind me, because the little boy was already half asleep.
Back downstairs, Hugh poured me a glass of wine. "Thank you so much for that," he said to me, gratefully. "It's definitely the terrible twos...he just won't do as he's told."
I shrugged. "When you've seen some of the kids that I've had in my class, your Ben is like an angel."
Hugh chuckled. "You missed it earlier - he made Will play with him while he was in the bath. That's my shirt Will's wearing now - he was completely soaked when Ben had finished."
I snorted and Will glared at me. He really needs to lighten up, I thought.
There were a few other of Georgie and Hugh's friends there too, so I chatted for a bit with them, while we waited for Georgie to finish the dinner preparations. I tried to stay as far away from Will Darcy as I could...but dinner was just awful.
"Okay, if you all want to sit down at the table," Georgie said, beckoning us all into the adjoining room, where there was a table set out and laid. "I've put some name cards on each of the places, so if you just find your names, that's should make it a lot easier."
My eyes searched for my name on the little white cards next to the wine glasses, hoping that I was at least next to someone that I knew. I knew them alright. I found my name. And it was only next to Will Flipping Darcy's. I sighed and met Chaz's gaze pleadingly, silently asking to swap places with me. He pretended not to see my pleas...boy was he in for it later.
I sat down, with a sinking feeling in my stomach. I cheered up a lot more when the food was bought out - food has that effect on me. And anyway, it wasn't as though I actually had to talk to him. We had a starter of smoked salmon something (I don't care what it is as long as it's edible), which kept me quiet for a while.
Then, Georgie, who was sitting next to me, tried to start up a conversation with both me and Will. I mean, that could only end badly. "So, Lizzie, Will tell me how you met again, I don't think you said earlier."
Before Darcy could cut in with his (wrong) version of events, I said, "Oh, he just basically tried to run me and Jane over in his car."
I could see Georgie analyzing my face, as if trying to see whether or not I was joking. "He did?"
This time, Darcy decided to have his two pennies' worth. "Actually, Elizabeth was driving slower than a geriatric snail, and wasn't even using her indicator light when she was trying to turn into the drive."
"Erm, excuse me!" I began, "Firstly, I think you'll find that I most certainly was using my indicator light! I'm a very good driver." I think I heard Chaz snort at this point, but I tactfully ignored him - yes, you heard right - tactfully - and continued, "Secondly, no one is allowed to call me Elizabeth unless you are my mother. And even then, you're pushing it. Last time I checked you are most certainly not my mother."
"No, and I wouldn't want to be that crazy old bat," he muttered loud enough for me, Chaz and Georgie to hear. I stood up sharply. As much as my mother gets on my tits sometimes, she's still my mum and I love her. So Will Darcy was so not going to get away with that.
"How dare you," I hissed darkly. For the first time that evening, I met his eyes, which met mine evenly. Damn you lawyer training. I could feel myself begin to shake with anger. "How dare you say that about my mother, in front of me. You are quite possibly the rudest, most immature and pathetic little man that I have ever met. You have no right at all to say that when you barely even know my mother. And the little that you do is only good - she let you into her house!"
Darcy stood up too. "She may have let me into her house, but why? Because she was trying to pair up Charlie with your sister and me with you! I heard her talking to her pious friends. And then when you went off with that bartender," he that out as if it physically tasted vile on his tongue, "She almost died and went to heaven. I mean, how desperate must she be to get rid of you if George Wickham was all it took her to get excited."
Now, I am rarely ever one to cry. I hate crying - your eyes sting and go all puffy and whatever make up I have on my face just dribbles. But I couldn't help the tears from welling up when I heard him say that, because, to tell you the truth, that's what I think sometimes, when my mother tries to pair me off with yet another bloke: that maybe she's just trying to get rid of me.
Thankfully at that moment, both Chaz and Georgie jumped to my aid, meaning that I didn't have to choke out another retort through my tears.
"Shut the hell up," said Ben, at the same time as Georgie hissed, "That's enough!" My eyes flicked up to see the whole table staring at me with wide eyes. A breathy sob escaped me and I ran out the room. Not only was I now thoroughly miserable, but I could feel my face burning with embarrassment. I lent against the wall of the hallway, after having picked up my purse. I took a couple of deep breaths. Georgie and Ben came out to the hallway too and Ben pulled me into a big hug.
"Do you want me to take you home?" he asked kindly.
"Oh Ben, yes please, if you wouldn't mind. I don't want to drag you away though...I'm sorry if I've ruined your evening," I said to Georgie.
She shook her head firmly. "You haven't at all, don't be silly. I will be having extremely strong words with my idiot brother tonight. I'm so sorry about that - I'm so embarrassed." Good to know I wasn't the only one.
I kissed Georgie on the cheek and hugged her briefly. Chaz fired up the car and we drove home.
Will Darcy couldn't quite believe what had happened earlier that evening - it was as though the words had just slipped off his tongue. He didn't even realise what he was saying until it was too late. And then he had seen the tears welling up in her eyes and he felt like the world's biggest bastard. Hell, he was the world's biggest bastard. His sister's few choice words about how Lizzie one of the sweetest girls he would ever meet and how she was so ashamed of him had had the desired effect. He felt terrible and just didn't know what to do about it.
After all, the girl couldn't know how he felt about George Wickham, the man who had had an affair with his fiancee just days before their planned marriage. He had walked in on them, felt sick and promised never to set eyes on his former best man or fiancee ever again. And then he had seen him at Mrs Bennet's party. He wasn't sure what to feel and had snuck off into a secret garden. Lizzie's mother wasn't even that bad, now he came to think of it. It was probably because Darcy, himself had grown up without a mother and wasn't used to mothering ways.
He couldn't bring himself to apologize to her though - he had too much pride for that. Egotism has its price to pay after all.