Chapter 1: The Bennets
It is a truth universally acknowledged that, when a player manages to own all of the orange and royal blue properties in Monopoly, that same player generally turns out to be the winner.
As Mr. Bennet completed the masterful trade that would make him the proud owner of Boardwalk, a mischievous gleam shone in his eye as he promised not to build any houses on it to his wife and three daughters. Such a promise had been made countless times before, and usually broken within the next two turns, much to the annoyance of his wife.
Not willing to prolong the inevitable, Mrs. Bennet turned to Kitty, her youngest, and scolded, "Now you've done it. Why in the world would you allow him to get Boardwalk? We might as well give up now."
"I had no other choice, mom," 17-year-old Kitty retorted and rolled her eyes. "I only had fifty dollars and all of my properties are already mortgaged. Why didn't you complain when Jane gave him New York Avenue before? That gave him a monopoly too," she pouted.
Jane Bennet was the oldest daughter at 28, and undoubtedly her mother's favorite. She could do no wrong in the eyes of Fran Bennet, even if it was her initial trade that had enabled their father's eventual triumph. "Well, Jane said she didn't realize that he had the other two orange ones when she traded. Besides, it's just a game. Don't take it so seriously."
The extreme and perpetual contradiction in Fran Bennet's character was not lost on either her husband or Elizabeth, her middle child. While Elizabeth usually grimaced at the inadequate, and often times exasperating, explanations offered by her mother, Tom Bennet enjoyed coaxing further clarification from his wife in pursuit of a good laugh.
"My dear Fran. Are you saying that Kitty is the source of your defeat? From my position over here, it seems that all of your properties are mortgaged as well, and you haven't taken a turn since the trade."
"Of course she is!" Mrs. Bennet cried more animatedly than was necessary. "The game wasn't over, but now that you have Boardwalk I don't see the point of playing any longer. I have no desire to waste the evening watching you drain us all of our hard earned monopoly money. Besides, the Kardashians rerun will be on soon." With that, she tossed her cards in the box, grabbed the remote and flicked on the television set.
Elizabeth almost decided to point out the two un-mortgaged monopolies and four railroads that sat proudly in front of her on the carpet, but thought the better of it and simply added them back to the game board box. She then gave Kitty a sidelong glance to make sure that she wasn't too injured by her mother's misplaced blame. Kitty had already moved on from the conversation, face aglow from the light of her cell phone, evidently texting something from her look of concentration. Satisfied no damage control was needed this time around, she rose and said, "I'll go make the popcorn."
Elizabeth sighed as she headed towards the Kitchen. Running her fingers through her shoulder length dark hair, she wondered if Sunday night game night would ever end with a game actually being brought to its full conclusion. A recent family tradition formed when Elizabeth had moved out into an apartment with Jane three weeks ago, Elizabeth shook her head at the thought that it already was not going well. Last week, Clue had been conveniently cut off when her mother had "accidentally" knocked the case file folder onto the floor, revealing whodunit to both Jane and her father. The week before that, Scrabble had gone only three rounds before she complained about her words being constantly questioned and the fact that Mr. Bennet had the nerve to resort to a dictionary to prove her wrong.
"I'm at an unfair disadvantage," she moaned. "You all know English is my second language."
And so it was. Francisca Montez-Castro had been born in the Dominican Republic and brought to the United States at the tender age of 5. Growing up in a widely Caucasian suburb in North Carolina, she had early learned to value assimilation and did whatever she could to blend in. At age 8, she made sure all of her Barbies had blonde hair and blue eyes. At age 12, she stopped speaking Spanish unless it was at home with her mother. At age 15, she dyed her dark hair a light brown and added blonde highlights, a color she maintained obsessively with frequent salon appointments. And at age 22 she had married Thomas Bennet, a blond haired, blue eyed, capable man with no idea of his ethnic heritage, effectively ending the existence of Francisca Montez-Castro and introducing the world to one seemingly very American Fran Bennet.
Seeing her marriage as her full induction into mainstream society, and therefore, the completion of her life's goal, Fran Bennet then aspired to forming the perfect American Family. With this goal in mind, her first foray into motherhood could not have gone better for her. Jane Bennet was a classic beauty. Slender, classy and graceful, with her father's blonde hair and blue eyes, Jane became the cherry on her mother's sundae. It didn't help that wherever she brought Jane, other mothers would stare and wonder at what a beautiful child she was. As she grew older, the stares continued and grew in number, as a number of boys were added to her list of admirers. Being a gentle and kind soul, Jane took the attention in stride; since it seemed everyone thought well of her, it was not difficult for her to think well of everybody also.
As well that she perceived her first attempt at motherhood had gone, it should be no surprise that Fran expected the same for her second pregnancy, in spite of her misguided ambitions. When Elizabeth was born three years later, her mother's disappointment was palpable. Where Jane was fair, Elizabeth was dark: dark espresso hair, long dark lashes, and eyes that could only be described as deep hazel. Where Jane was serene, calm and well-behaved; Elizabeth was fiery, passionate and challenging. Elizabeth had captured her mother's Latina figure, petite with a full bust and curvy hips that jutted slightly to the side with every witty commentary or pointed remark. In short, Elizabeth represented everything her mother had sought to leave behind, and her presence was a constant reminder to Fran that although she may have successfully masked her Latin ancestry, it was never far behind her. This realization did little to help endear her second child to herself, and more often than not, it was the source of a large divide between them.
Happily, although the two sisters looked nothing alike, their dispositions were perfectly suited to each other, and they quickly became the best of friends in spite of the negative comparisons made by their mother. Jane had a way of being the only one able to calm her sister in her most irate moments, especially during those years of teenage angst when mothers and daughters already do not get along. She also knew how to approach sensitive topics without sparking her sister's irascible defensive nature. Lizzy was Jane's backbone, able to balance her older sister's naiveté with a shrewd outlook that ensured no one took too much advantage of Jane's untiring kindness, and giving her sister strength and courage to stand up for herself when otherwise Jane might have preferred to focus on other people's comfort rather than her own.
And what Elizabeth lost with her mother, she more than made up for with her father. Fran Bennet's looks were what had spurred their hurried relationship, and subsequent marriage, on; even with her rather infuriating psyche, Tom Bennet still appreciated his wife's exotic beauty. Lizzy had captured this beauty in full, but added to it a true intelligence and wit that were the rival of her father's. Mr. Bennet recognized and valued this in his second oldest, doing what he could to further her education and develop her into an incredibly clever and independent woman. Although he wanted the best for all of his daughters, he cherished Elizabeth the most, and saw her becoming the most successful of the three.
Katherine Bennet was the afterthought, being a full eight and a half years younger than Elizabeth. At a time when Fran thought she was done having children, Kitty surprised them all with her arrival ten months later. In short, she was a girl who left much to be desired. Blonde with dark eyes, average height and looks, and very much a follower in temperament, Kitty fell very short of the charms her two older sisters possessed. A high school senior, she was spending her final year of public school life attempting to figure out what she wanted to do next; a concept that changed almost weekly. Last Sunday, she had been discussing culinary school; this Sunday, she had been talking about the benefits of taking a year off and backpacking across Europe. It was obvious that this latest idea had been sparked by Nick, her boyfriend of two weeks, whose family planned yearly hiking trips to foreign lands.
It was a wonder that the Bennets had made it thirty years together collectively. With few similarities between them, and unending family bickering, Jane and Elizabeth were grateful the domestic structure was still intact. Surprisingly, there was one topic which brought this family together, weaving a thread of commonality between all of them: celebrities. The Bennet's indulged in all things celebrity – gossip magazines, reality TV, talk shows, award shows, etc. - albeit all for different reasons. Mr. Bennet and Elizabeth had a number of inside jokes pertaining to different famous people, and gleefully added to their collection at any opportunity. Mrs. Bennet was admittedly star struck, jealously admiring what they wore, or what their house looked like, or who they were dating. Kitty found the information she gleaned from these sources useful for the conversation during lunch period, and Jane simply enjoyed it because it was the one thing that brought solidarity to an otherwise disjointed family life.
And so they sat on the large family couch, fresh popcorn in hand, at peace with each other for the first time all week, as the Kardashian's crazy home life flashed on the screen in front of them.
This is my first attempt at fanfiction, a foray I have taken on at the encouragement of my husband.
Being that this is a work in progress I welcome your input, whether it be to tell me what you like or to discuss what you think can be improved. I promise to be polite and hope to make many friends here. Please know that I am not the best at getting back to people quickly; I'm not ignoring you, it just takes me awhile most times.
I tend to update one to two times per month, although I hope to be able to post more frequently than that. My goal for this story is to strongly develop the characters and provide motivation and background that isn't really provided in the original story. Although outcomes at times are similar, there are a lot of modern twists ahead.
And of course, I do not own Pride and Prejudice or it's characters, and can only hope to do credit to the magnificent Jane Austen. Thank you for taking this journey with me.