"There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living."
Four Days Later:
"Dary. Legendary!" Charlotte cried as they drove up to Castle Hill.
Lizzie was impressed that Charlotte actually remembered to say that once they arrived here, and agreed with her sentiments whole heartedly. The hotel was absolutely beautiful, but Lizzie couldn't help but feel a little sad. Darcy had practically disappeared two days ago after the fifth ceremony where Emma was eliminated. There had been some emergency at work and apparently he was the only one who could fix it. The situation had been eye opening. They were both busy people, and it just confirmed her theory that a long distance relationship wouldn't work.
She was brought out of her thoughts when her and Charlotte entered the room they would be staying in. The room, like the rest of the hotel, was stunning. But of course Charlotte didn't give her time to enjoy it.
"Come on, Lizzie. You should start getting you ready for tonight."
"I don't think so. Will won't be arriving for another three hours."
"That gives you just enough time. I know for a fact you haven't shaved your legs since he left."
Lizzie swatted Charlotte's hand away from her legs. "Fine!" Lizzie groaned as she brought her toiletries into the bathroom. "But only because I'll be on camera tonight and I don't need my mom yelling at me when they show the footage."
"Don't forget your bikini line either! I'll pick out your dress and lingerie while you're showering."
Lizzie quickly poked her head out of the bathroom. "I'm not wearing lingerie tonight."
"Damn, Lizzie. Going all commando. That's brave-"
"Uhm no," Lizzie huffed at her stubborn friend. "Pick something cotton and unflattering."
Charlotte stomped her foot and pointed her finger threateningly at her friend. "I'm picking something lacey and hot. You'll thank me later!"
They were still arguing about Lizzie's undergarments when Bingley knocked on their door two and a half hours later. "Richard will be here in about 30 minutes, Lizzie."
"Thanks!" they both yelled as Charlotte finished with Lizzie's hair. "Lizzie, I don't understand why you won't give Darcy a chance. I know you like him."
Lizzie sighed and looked in the mirror at her best friend. "Do you remember what happened with Frank?"
Furrowing her eyebrows, Charlotte walked to stand in front of Lizzie. "You're making decisions now based on what happened with your college boyfriend?"
"He cheated on me! I didn't date for a long time after that. What if the same thing happens with Will? And it would be a lot easier for him to hide it if we did decide on a long distance relationship. It would hurt me," Lizzie admitted, staring down at her hands as she confessed her fears.
"It's not the same situation, Lizzie. One, unlike Darcy, Frank was a really good liar. Two, he was a total asshat. And three, I never liked him. The last reason should've been proof enough for you not to date him. It should be a law that women can only date people that have the 'best friend seal of approval.' Also, did I ever tell you that I loved how you handled that breakup?"
Lizzie smiled bitterly at the memory. "His car certainly didn't love how I handled it."
Charlotte laughed and continued her speech. "And it's unfair to compare Darcy to that douchebag; they're nothing alike. I know you don't like to admit it, but men are often intimidated by you. Darcy isn't. You should give him a chance."
Teary eyed, Lizzie looked up at Charlotte. "I couldn't stand to see him become indifferent to me."
"For once in your life don't play it safe. Put on the clothes that I picked out for you, go out there, and talk to Darcy without thinking about tomorrow."
Lizzie nodded, unconvinced, and went to change. Richard knocked on the door shortly after and Lizzie followed him to a garden outside where Darcy waited.
Dinner was awkward, to say the least. Despite Charlotte's encouraging words, Elizabeth still couldn't decide if she wanted to pursue a relationship with Darcy. Her hesitation was showing through her inability to have a decent conversation. Although Darcy was normally the reserved and quiet one, this time he was the person attempting to force small talk. Their role reversal was not conducive to a comfortable environment, and even the cameramen wanted to escape.
Darcy, frustrated and confused, decided it was time for confrontation.
"Did I do something to offend you?" he asked, reaching over to take her hand.
Yes, you made me like you. Lizzie gently slipped her hand out of his before shaking her head. "No, nothing's wrong. I'm tired from the flight. I'm going to head back to the room to get some sleep."
Lizzie stood up and walked away before she could see Darcy's disappointed expression. She never had to emotionally distance herself from somebody before; it was an odd feeling. However, she felt it was for the best. If she eventually quit her job and moved, she would resent him for it. In the end, they would hate each other. In her opinion, it was better to think, "what if?" than know.
The next two days dragged by slowly. Lizzie was on her way to becoming an excellent spy, if being an excellent spy meant ducking a lot and humming the "Mission Impossible" theme song. Darcy had searched for her a couple of times the morning after the dinner, but she knew that if he talked to her she would cave. Therefore, she hid behind trees, chairs, and any other convenient object when she saw him walking around. She once even hid behind a behemoth of a man. He gave her a weird look, but didn't stop her.
Eventually the day came where Darcy was to choose between the two last candidates. Lizzie and Charlotte were lead to a small lake located near the hotel. Lily pads floated on top of the pristine water surface, and two plum trees in full bloom arched over where they were standing. Lizzie stood behind the cameras as Darcy took Charlotte's hand and gave a little speech about how, while he cared for her, he didn't have any romantic feelings.
Everybody watching covered their mouths to suppress their laughter once Charlotte exploded into fake sobs. She dramatically covered her stomach and wailed, "What about Willy Jr.?"
Darcy jerked his hands away. "You people have got to stop saying that!"
Charlotte's face scrunched up until she looked like she was in pain.
Darcy backed away in fear. "Why are you making that face?"
Rolling her eyes, Charlotte's face went back to normal. "I was trying to cry. There's a reason I' m a cop and not an actress."
Richard's laughter stopped suddenly. "You're a cop? Do you happen to have your uniform here? I'm always into a little role-"
His sentence was cut short as Lizzie flicked his ear. "Perv."
Bingley sighed teasingly. "I guess that's all we're getting out of Charlotte. Lizzie, it's your turn to talk to the bachelor."
Lizzie walked up to Will, holding her breath and releasing it slowly. She half expected him to take her hands, so imagine her surprise, and then her total and complete shock, when he instead lifted his hand to reach inside his jacket pocket and removed a ring. It was a princess cut emerald, set in a silver band studded with tiny white diamonds. Despite the beauty of the ring, Lizzie felt herself hyperventilating a little.
Okay, a lot.
He was going to ask her, and she was going to have to say no. It was too soon, way too soon-
"Lizzie, I'm not going to ask you to marry me. Please calm down."
She removed her hand from her chest and quieted. "Why are you showing me a ring, then?"
"To convey how serious I am about my intentions. I don't know why you've suddenly decided to pull away, but I know I would regret it if I let you leave without telling you how I feel."
Lizzie glanced away from the ring and towards his pleading face. Nobody who saw him at this moment could ever doubt his honesty. "I love you, Elizabeth Bennet. I think- no, I know that if you gave us a chance, it would work. I've never been this sure about something in my entire life. I normally plan and think and organize every possible outcome before I make a decision, but you make me want to dive headfirst because I know everything is going to be fine. I love your dedication, your laugh, the way you refuse to back down from an argument, the way you never let anybody intimidate you. I love you."
It's funny. I used to believe his eyes were cold and unfeeling. Now all I can see is warmth and love. And with this thought, Lizzie realized something. Would it be so hard to say yes? Even if they did live far apart, wasn't it worth the possible heartbreak and pain if it did work out? When did her job become more important than the people in her life? He was intelligent, handsome, kind. But it was more than that. Will respected her. He supported her. He understood her. He was… perfect for her.
And with that revelation, Lizzie set her shoulders back and stepped away. Darcy looked hurt at what he thought was her rejection.
Lizzie slipped into a faux business demeanor. "Three phone calls and one skype date a week. And you have to visit me once every two months. We will discuss my relocation in one year."
Darcy fought a smile and stepped forward. "Two phone calls and two skype dates a week. You also have to visit me during the months I won't be visiting you. Relocation will be discussed in six months."
Lizzie grinned widely. "Deal."
Her new boyfriend held up his hand for her to shake. Lizzie pushed his hand away, standing on her toes to place her lips on his.
Charlotte leaned over to whisper in Richard's ear. "You lost."
Richard groaned as he remembered their bet. "I've made a huge mistake."
Author's Note: Expect an epilogue to arrive sometime in August, 2015!