Disclaimer: I do not own Pride and Prejudice or "Burning Love."
Prologue: A very fatigued Charles Bingley sat across from his friend in a restaurant of Darcy's choosing, the Ox. Despite the fact that they were there during lunch rush on a weekday, the upscale restaurant was relatively quiet. It was for this reason that Darcy chose it. He liked peace, and knowing Charles as he did, he didn't want to end up in some place where the waiters had to shout because children were running around or everybody was too peppy. Happy people annoyed him most of the time; the obvious exception sat on the other side of the table, nervously tapping his fork against his plate.
Darcy was not the most observant man. Nobody had ever accused him of being attuned to people's feeling. But Darcy did start to notice things about Charles that were very different than the norm. His usually energetic friend had a lethargy about him that was disconcerting, to say the least. The effects of stress were clear. Charles's eyes had large bags underneath them and the smile that was plastered on his face was wilting. Darcy missed the bubbly Charles, the man that had rainbows coming out of his ass and a smile that could cheer a prisoner on death row. Darcy was accustomed to the numerous pressures of work, but Charles was obviously not.
Charles finally broke the silence that was weighing around them like smog. "Darcy, I have a very big favor to ask."
William Darcy looked up in expectation. "Anything, Charles. You know that."
Bingley shifted uncomfortably. "You know my job is everything to me. I believe in this show. It could make or break my career. Just keep these things in mind."
Darcy nodded slowly and Charles felt encouraged to continue, taking a deep breath. "The network is thinking about canceling the show. The bachelor we had canceled because of a family emergency."
Darcy looked at his friend in pity... and a little confusion. "I thought your ratings were fantastic?"
"They've been steadily declining over the past couple of seasons."
"So what do you need me to do?"
"Basically, I need to find another bachelor. One who's attractive and rich, preferably."
Darcy pulled out his phone. "Okay, I can look around. I mean how hard would it be to..."
Darcy trailed off as he saw the look on Bingley's face. It was his puppy dog look. His wide eyes and trembling lower lip were at odds with the manipulative side that Darcy felt was lurking beneath his innocent exterior.
"Please don't make me do this."
"There's another thing..."
"What?" Darcy questioned with a sense of doom.
"They cut some of the funding. We don't have anywhere to shoot it. Usually we shoot it in a very nice mansion..."
"Let me get this straight. You want me to star in your show and use my house. Why, Bingley, why?"
"You know what this show means to me, Darcy!"
Darcy held his head in his hands and rubbed his temples. "Damn you, Charles Bingley. I'll do it, but I refuse to be happy about it."
Elizabeth Bennet sighed as she looked at the caller id. In big bold print the word "Mom" was sprawled across her screen, accompanied by the music from the Psycho shower scene. She pressed accept and held the phone a couple of inches from her ear.
"Elizabeth Artemis Bennet!"
"Have you been ignoring my calls?"
Elizabeth denied the accusation while nodding her head and raising her eyebrows. "I have not-"
"Never mind. That's not the reason why I called."
Elizabeth stared at the phone in shock. Her mother actually getting to the point? Only bad things could happen.
"Elizabeth, are you familiar with the show 'Burning Love'?"
"No, mother. I've been living under a rock."
"Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, Elizabeth. But I have great news."
"I know I'm going to regret asking, but what is it?"
"I sent in two applications. One for you and one for Jane. They accepted both of them! They start filming in a month. The casting director was very excited to have you two on the show."
Elizabeth responded with as much sarcasm as she could possibly muster. "Oh, that's great news Mom! Of course I'll leave my company for an extended period of time to be on a reality show filled with fake bimbos and air-headed men!"
Elizabeth then lowered her voice to convey her seriousness. "Mother, listen to me carefully. I refuse to go on a reality show to find love. The idea is ridiculous! I do have some self- respect. And despite what you may or may not believe, I am perfectly capable of finding a husband on my own."
"Do you want me to die without grandchildren? I knew you were going to be stubborn! That's why I'm prepared to make a deal."
Elizabeth pressed the phone closer to her ear, curious as to what her mother could offer her.
Mrs. Bennet's southern drawl was subdued as she turned on her negotiating voice. "If you go on the show and actually try," here she dramatically paused, "I will never mention your love life again."
Elizabeth did not contemplate this decision for very long, or at all. "Deal."
Author's Note: The title of this story is from the Yahoo web series, "Burning Love" which is a parody of "The Bachelor." Even if you don't follow this story, I hope you watch the series because it's hilarious!
So please follow/favorite/review, and if you have any questions don't hesitate to PM me. The next chapter is almost finished, so hopefully I'll be posting it next Friday. Have a good weekend!