7/2/17 Dear reader, P&P How Darcy Met Elizabeth was my first fully completed Jane Austen story. The story is up on Amazon, if you would like to check it out the link is on my profile page. I am posting chapters here weekly for those who have written expressing an interest in reading it on FFN. I try to post every Friday. I have always appreciated the awesome community of fellow Jane Austen fans here. Thank you again for letting me share my story with you all. Best regards...Janie(mj)
Chapter 1: Miss Elizabeth Bennet
Elizabeth motioned for Jane to keep walking, "You're doing great, just keep coming this way. Remember, you're a beautiful young woman. You have a fantastic job, a luxury apartment and the guy of your dreams just asked you out. You're today's woman. You can handle anything," she said as she continued snapping photos. It was the perfect afternoon for their photo shoot, not a cloud in the sky with only a small breeze to cool the stifling air.
Jane laughed. "Oh, Lizzy if only that were my life," she said as she moved forward.
Elizabeth loved the way these shots were coming out. The urban backdrop of the city stood in stark contrast to the elegant wedding gown Jane was modeling. Just as she was about to take another series of photos a gust of wind came up and blew Jane's veil out behind her. Elizabeth captured the moment perfectly. She didn't mind the wind, for her, it only added to the shot. "Oh, that's perfect," she said just as the battery light on her camera went off. "Alright, Jane that's it for today. You did a fantastic job; we got some very nice shots."
"Good, because I'm exhausted," Jane said as she yawned. "I'm going to go change and catch up to you in a few minutes."
Elizabeth finished up with her assistant before she grabbed her camera gear and packed up her equipment. She was just putting her camera in her backpack as Jane came back out and called to her. "Lizzy, do you have all the shots we need or do I have to come early again tomorrow morning?"
Elizabeth laughed. "No, we're all done. We got some great stuff, so you are free to sleep in tomorrow."
Jane came up and hugged her. "See, that's exactly why I asked the agency that you do the photo shoot. The last photographer they got took four days, and there wasn't one decent shot in the lot of them."
"To be fair Jane, Mum may have had something to do with that, don't you think?" Elizabeth asked, arching her brow.
"Yes, I'm sure she did," Jane told her. "When you're not the photographer Mum insists on coming along with me. She harasses everybody; she's always critiquing how things should be done. Most of my shoots take so much longer than they need to all because of her. But when you do the photos she doesn't interfere quite so much.
"I don't think Mum thinks my work is any better than any other photographers," Elizabeth said. "She's just as critical of my work as she is anyone else's. I promise as soon as I get home she will say she must go over each photo before I can give them to the client. She always insists on seeing the proofs; then she endlessly criticizes them. There is always something she finds she doesn't like. "I just ignore her comments and do what I want with the photos, which makes her crazy. But I don't care."
Jane laughed. "She does have a tough time bullying you, Lizzy. The other photographers do whatever she says to pacify her."
"I've learned from years of practice to block her out. When she goes off on one of her fits, I pretend that I can't hear her. After a while, I can tune her out completely," Elizabeth laughed as she put the last of her gear away.
Jane was just about to leave but then stopped and asked, "Lizzy, you do remember that Charles is coming to the Lucas's party tonight? You will be able to come, right?"
Elizabeth looked down at her watch, it was already past two-thirty, and she still had another appointment to get to. "Oh, Jane is that tonight?"
"Yes, I'm afraid it is. It was the only night Charles could get his friend to come out from the city. He wants me to meet his friend, and I want you to meet Charles," she said as she wrapped her arm around her sister's shoulder.
Elizabeth sighed, "I do want to meet Charles, but couldn't his friend come another time? Does it have to be tonight?"
"Mr. Darcy has a very busy schedule. According to Charles his friend only has time to come out this evening. I wouldn't ask you to come except Mr. Darcy and Charles are best friends and I want to make a good impression," she told her. "Plus, Charles is going to bring his sisters with him, so I need you there. Please, Lizzy, this is so important to me."
Elizabeth could see her sister was nervous about meeting Charles's friend and family. She glanced down at her watch again. "Alright, I will come for your sake. But I already don't like this Mr. Darcy. I bet he's one of these very rich men who thinks the world revolves around him."
"Well if he is, our mum will love him and will spend much of the evening trying to set one of you up with him," Jane teased her.
"On second thought, maybe I should feel sorry for Mr. Darcy," Elizabeth laughed. She knew all too well how difficult her mother could be when it came to matchmaking attempts.
"I'm so glad you're finally going to meet Charles. I've wanted the two of you to meet for a while now. I really like him a lot. He's such an amazing guy. But I'm worried that after he meets our dear sweet Mother, and the rest of the family that..." Jane hesitated for a moment then finished saying. "I just hope that he likes me as much as I like him."
Elizabeth was always amazed at how little self-confidence Jane had. "Jane, you're seriously the only fashion model that I know who doesn't realize how gorgeous, witty, charming, intelligent and amazing she is. Of course, he likes you. I bet he adores you even more than you realize," she assured her.
Jane shrugged her shoulders and bit her bottom lip. "Yes, well I can't help but wonder how Charles will feel about me once he meets the rest of the Bennet family," she mumbled. She thought about some of her past boyfriends. "Lizzy, we both know most guys don't stay around for very long once Mum starts talking about marriage and money."
Elizabeth smiled and tried to reassure her. "I promise to keep Mum busy and away from the two of you as much as possible, how does that sound?"
"That would be amazing. You're the best sister ever!" Jane hugged her before she turned and headed off to her car. "See you tonight."
Elizabeth watched her sister as she drove away. Of her four sisters, Jane was the most beautiful, with brilliant blue eyes, long curly blond hair, and the perfect figure. It was no surprise that their mother got her into modeling as soon as she was old enough. Jane was not as enthused with their mother's career choice for her, but she went along to keep the peace. She was always so obliging to their mum's schemes and didn't really have the heart to resist her. By the time she turned thirteen, their mother had hired Jane, an agent, and her career in modeling began.
Elizabeth was more like her father. She had very little patience for her mother's constant emotional outbursts. Manipulation was her mother's middle name. Fanny Bennet was every bit a spoiled child who never grew up. She always demanded things go her way. When she didn't get what she wanted, she resorted to emotional hysterics until she did. Unlike Jane, Elizabeth wouldn't tolerate their mother's behavior, and that made her Mrs. Bennet's least favorite daughter.
Elizabeth let out a small sigh as her thoughts turned to her father, John Bennet. She often felt sorry for him. If only he had a son? Then he might have taken more interest in his family. Having a son meant a great deal to her father. He came from a long line of Bennet men, and it broke his heart to know that his family's name was coming to an end. For the past four hundred years, a Bennet had owned the estates of Longbourn, and now that would all be over. Thanks to her grandfather's will, when John Bennet died the estate would be passed on to a distant cousin, William Collins.
Elizabeth's thoughts returned to her mother. Although a selfish woman, she did truly love her daughters. She wanted to see them married to wealthy husbands. Mrs. Bennet was always so fearful for them. She worried constantly and talked about their need to be taken care of. It was sad that she had no real confidence that any of her daughters might be able to take care of themselves as they grew into adult women. Elizabeth wondered if it was her mother's lack of self-confidence that caused her to think her daughters so incapable of accomplishing anything in life.
She recalled a time when her mother was going through one of her emotional outbursts. Mrs. Bennet had been crying and carrying on about how their family home would go to a distant cousin when their father died. She told Jane and Elizabeth that she always felt like a failure to their father for not being able to give him a son. When they tried to reassure her that they would all be fine, she cried even more. It was important to Mrs. Bennet that her daughters marry wealthy men and have expensive things. She wanted to know her daughter's futures would be secure. She told them if only they would all find nice, rich, men to marry she could die a happy woman. For Elizabeth, that wasn't her ideal life. She wanted to find love. Elizabeth wanted someone she could respect, someone who would respect her in return. She made up her mind when she was still very young that she would never marry a man just because he was wealthy. If she married, it would be for the man himself, not his name or his income.
Elizabeth's thoughts returned to Jane. She knew her sister wanted to make a good impression on Charles's family and his friend. She wished she could say that Jane's fears about their mother were unfounded, but sadly that was not the case. Her mother and younger sisters had a way of embarrassing themselves every time they went out in public. Thus, more than one boyfriend was scared off by their mother's behavior. Most people in their neighborhood knew their mother well enough just to ignore what she said but Charles, his sisters, and Mr. Darcy would not.
Elizabeth could tell that Jane liked Charles. Even though they had only been dating for several weeks, Jane already cared for him very deeply. She knew from Jane that Charles came from a wealthy family. He inherited his father's business after Charles's father died, leaving everything to him. He had two sisters, Caroline, and Louisa. Both women were older than Charles by several years, but only Louisa was married. "I wonder what your friend is like…" Elizabeth mumbled as she grabbed her iPhone and searched the internet for any information she could find.
Several pages came up when she typed in his name. She discovered Mr. Darcy was a graduate of Cambridge and that he held a degree in business finance. He was the head of Darcy Industries with holdings in computer security software, communications, computer technologies, real estate, and manufacturing. She was shocked to find that he was worth millions. She scanned the article and read out loud, "After his father's untimely death, William Darcy inherited his father's business. He was only 21 years old at the time. In the year after he took over for his father, the young Darcy grossed £152 million ensuring the future of Darcy Industries."
"So, what do you look like Mr. Darcy?" Elizabeth said out loud. She searched for more personal information about Darcy but found that harder to come by. It seemed that he guarded his privacy very closely. As she continued reading, she learned that his late father made him guardian over his younger sister. She was nine years younger than Darcy was, and he worked diligently at keeping her out of the press. She also found that he owned several homes around the country, with the two most well-known being Hillcrest, in London, and Pemberley, in Derbyshire. After several more searches, she found a picture of Darcy. The photo was recent, it was taken only a few months ago, at the opening of a new art gallery. He was dressed in formal attire and looked a bit uncomfortable. "Clearly he doesn't want to be there."
As she looked at the picture, she had to admit he was very handsome. He was tall, with dark, wavy hair, and deep brown eyes. She wondered what his opinion would be of her and her family. She hoped for Jane's sake that he would not be as stuffy as he looked in his picture. It was the sound of her alarm going off that reminded her of her meeting. "I'm so going to be late," she mumbled as she tucked her iPhone in her pocket. She got on her motorcycle and rode off heading toward the coffee house.