Beginning, Section IIJump to new as of March 4, 2014
Posted on: 2011-11-04
Will looked at the piece of paper where he had noted the name and address of the park and punched the details into his GPS. When the directions appeared he realised that it was situated close to the office where Elizabeth used to work. He arrived at there in good time and parked the car - the place was awash with children in football jerseys of all colours and he had no idea at all how he was going to find Patrick's team. Jenny, however, had been keeping a lookout for him and when saw him standing on the hill looking lost she sent her other son Michael over to rescue him.
"Oh good, you are just in time to see the first game" she said as Will approached. He was dressed casually in jeans and a polo shirt, and was wearing a baseball cap, yet he still managed to turn the heads of the other soccer mums. He settled in the watch the game and was surprised that he enjoyed it and found himself yelling encouragement along with everyone else - he had thought that it would be tedious.
Later on he was at the canteen with the other two children, Michael and Karina. He was lifting Karina up so that she could see over the counter and make her selection
"Are you sure that your mother will let you have that" he asked dubiously as she selected a large lollypop "well ok, but you must have a sausage sandwich as well"
"What would you like Michael?" the boy requested a bottle of cola "Now I know that your mum would NOT allow you to have that! How about a bacon and egg roll - that is a man's meal. In fact I'm going to have one myself"
Liz was standing in the queue for the canteen when she noticed a tall man wearing a baseball cap struggling to juggle a young girl, food, and money "typical, men just cannot multitask. Mums have to cope with this sort of thing everyday in the shops" she smiled to herself.
Will put Karina down while he attempted to carry the food and Liz watched as the girl giggled and started to run away. "Cheeky monkey" thought Liz. The man turned sideways, thrust the food into the hands of the boy who was with him, and set off in pursuit of the little runaway. Liz froze in shock as she recognized him - WILL. What is he doing here? And who were these children - was he hiding a secret of his own?
She should walk away but Liz found herself rooted to the spot. She watched as Will caught the girl and tossed her over his shoulder in a fireman's hold - he then started walking back in her direction with the little girl squealing in delight 'put me down, put me down'. Will put her down but held on tightly to her hand so that she could not escape again and he relieved the boy of some of the food that he had been holding. It was then that Will turned and saw her - LIZ. What was she doing here?
Neither of them said anything and then of course they both attempted to speak at the same time "Will" "Liz"
"Please, you first" volunteered Will
Liz was still shocked but she managed to say "Will, what are you doing here? You are the last person I expected to see today"
"Likewise. I am here to watch my nephew play soccer" He saw Liz glance at the children "oh, this is another nephew and this" he said swooping Karina into his arms "is my niece. They are my sister's children. How about you?"
"I'm here to watch my son"
"Oh yes, of course. Which team does he play for"
"Logansford" answered Liz "and your nephew"
"I have no idea" he admitted "they wear blue and white, that's all that I can tell you"
There was an awkward silence before Will spoke again "and how are you?"
"I'm fine thanks. You?"
"Good, good. I hope that you had a nice Christmas and New Year". Obviously he did not know that that time of the year was terrible for her, so she just said "yes, it was enjoyable"
Karina was on the ground again and was attempting to break free of his hold. "Well, I must be getting back to the others. It was nice to see you again" Will seemed reluctant to leave
"Yes, nice to see you too. Take care"
Will hurried away with the children, trying to steal a glance back at Liz without seeming obvious. Liz watched him go and realised that she was not actually breathing so she forced herself to take deep breaths. Wow, she thought, he did look good, even with the baseball cap. He was so friendly and polite too; she had expected him to be frosty if they ever met again, (not that she did think that they would), so maybe she had misjudged his reaction to the news that she had revealed at their last meeting - after all she never did give him a chance to comment on the fact that she had children, she just ran away with her dog.
There was still the matter of his behaviour at the Benefit but maybe that was out of character as he had said. And he was just fantastic with his niece and nephew so that showed that he at least liked children - so why did she assume that he would not like hers?
Will held tight to Karina's hand until they were back with Jenny, lest she should run away again "here you are. I wondered what you had got up to" Jenny remarked. She then spied the large lollypop in Karina's hand and told Will that he could deal with her when the sugar rush hit.
The soccer match had finished and the team was progressing to the next round. "Who do they play next" Will asked casually "is it Logansford".
Jenny said that she wasn't sure and asked him why he wanted to know
"Oh, I just heard that they were good - canteen gossip" he hoped that he sounded nonchalant
"Uncle Will" Karina suddenly piped up "who was that lady that you were talking to at the shop?"
Jenny's antennae went up "what lady" she enquired
"Oh, just someone who was waiting in line as well"
"What was her name" Karina continued in that innocent way that children have
"You know, I didn't ask her" Will hoped that Jenny did not notice the blush that he was sure was showing plainly on his face, but she was occupied with moving their chairs and bags so that they could watch the next match. Imagine what would happen if Jenny knew that Elizabeth Bennett was here!
Even though there were many people at the park Liz could still pick out Will. She watched as he helped to move their chairs and bags and hoped that the two teams would not play each other - that could be really awkward especially as the little girl might recognize her from earlier. Liz was thinking about that and not concentrating on the game when she missed her son scoring a goal. Everyone was cheering and clapping and she joined in too hoping that no one, least of all David, had noticed that she had not actually seen it.
Will could also spot Liz in the crowd. She was wearing the floppy hat that she had donned when they met at Mackenzie Park and that made it easy to see her. He noted that she appeared to be with a group of other mums and dads and was talking and laughing with them - was one of the men the children's father he wondered. Patricks team unfortunately lost their next match and that meant that the day was over for them. As they were packing up to leave Will suggested that he buy them all ice-creams at the local fast food outlet - Jenny was very surprised by this as usually Will could not wait to get back to the peace and quiet of his home. In fact she thought that he would have left long before now. What was going on?
David's team lost their next match which meant that they also were finished for the day. Liz packed up her things, said goodbye to the other parents, and called to her children that they were now going home. She could no longer spot Will in the crowds and had assumed that he must have left. Sherie had met up with some friends who were also at the park and she asked if she could stay there with them a bit longer. Liz was hesitant but thought that Sherie was getting older and should be spending time with her friends.
"Ok" she replied "be home by 5 o'clock, no later. Send me a message if you want me to come and pick you up". The girl said that she would and came up and gave Liz a kiss on the cheek. That was more affection than she had shown for a while, Liz thought, feeling hopeful that it may signify a change in Sherie's behaviour.
When Liz was later sitting down at home she found her mind wandering to Will. His manner had shocked her, pleasantly so she acknowledged, and once again she had to admit that perhaps she had been wrong about him? Or perhaps he knew that he was wrong and was being extra nice? It seemed that her brain would not allow her to have a positive thought about him without a negative. Anyway, perhaps she should offer an olive branch - she did not want anyone, let alone Will Darcy, to think ill of her. There was only one thing to be done; Liz picked up her phone and typed a message
'Hi Will, was nice to see you today. Hope that your nephews team did well. Take care Liz'
It was short and to the point. Not too personal but not impersonal either. It left things open for him to reply if he wanted to but Liz did not hold out any hopes on that score. It was soon 5 o'clock, the time that Sherie was supposed to be home. Liz was expecting her to walk in at any moment but when the time drew nearer to 5.30 she became annoyed that she had trusted Sherie and had given her some responsibility and it was being abused. When Sherie did not answer her phone Liz's annoyance started to turn to anger 'she will be in so much trouble when she arrives home'.
Will had not been home for long when he received Liz's message. He had been thinking about the day and how much he had enjoyed it. Maybe it was being out in the sunshine; maybe it was seeing the children enjoy themselves as they ran around the soccer field, not realizing that they were learning valuable life lessons; maybe it was spending time with his family; and maybe, just maybe, it was because he saw Liz again.
Even though a fair bit of time had passed since their meeting at Mackenzie Park, Will had assumed that he was still angry with Liz for not telling him about her children, so he was surprised to find that that was not the case. Their meeting today was very pleasant - they had both been a bit awkward but that was to be expected. Liz could have snuck away without him seeing her but she had not. And now there was her message - what was meant by that? Was she just being polite or was she hoping for a response from him?
Will had a very analytical mind, which served him well in business but not always so well in personal matters. Not for the first time in his life he wished that he could just go with the flow and not think about things so much. It took all his resolve, and went against his better judgment, but he knew that he had to ring Liz - he just needed to ask her outright to explain what was going on with the children and their father etc. Yes, that is what he would do; ring her to thank her for her message and then if that seemed to come across ok then he would pry deeper. He had not yet formulated how he would do this, and what he would ask.
It was now close to 6.15pm and was starting to get dark and still Sherie was not home. Liz had rung and messaged her a number of times but the girl had not answered and now Liz's anger was turning to panic. She had no idea where Sherie was or even who she had been with - just some friends from school. Finally at 6.30 Liz's phone rang and, trembling she picked it up without even looking at who was ringing "Hello" she said.
"Hi Liz, it's Will" said the familiar voice on the other end. "I just wanted to ring and say how nice it was to see you too"
"Oh, Will, sorry I can't speak with you now. My daughter hasn't come home yet. Sorry, I need to go" Liz blurted out
"Good God, is there anything that I can do?" this was a stupid question he realised, but it just slipped out
"No thanks. It's fine. We will look after it. Goodbye". With that Liz hung up, not even really sure of what she said or how she said it.
Will stared at his phone for a while - ok, now he knew that Liz had at least a son and a daughter. She had seemed very abrupt with him but he realised that she was probably very upset. Then there were the words 'we will look after it' - that settled it then, there was another person in her life. Sighing he picked up Susanna York and whispered into her coat "well it looks like it is still just you and me then".
Posted on: 2011-11-09
Just after Liz hung up from Will, Sherie walked in the door - very nonchalantly as if there was nothing at all wrong. Liz ran to her to make sure that she was alright and seeing that the girl was fine her facial expression turned from worry to fury. Sherie noticed the look on her mother's face. "What?", she said petulantly.
Liz tried to keep her voice calm but it was impossible under the circumstances. "Where have you been?", she shouted. "You were supposed to be home an hour and a half ago!".
"I told you that I was going to hang out with my friends. I was at Jasmine's house", she answered sulkily.
"I have rung you and messaged you. I was worried sick".
"Phone battery died". Sherie offered by way of explanation.
"You were supposed to be home by 5pm. Why weren't you?". Liz was not going to let her get away with anything.
"Like I said, phone battery died. I can't know the time if there is no battery. Not really my fault".
Liz had had enough of this and was on the verge of exploding. "Doesn't anyone have a watch or a clock? Didn't the fact it was dark outside ring any bells that it was past 5 o'clock?. I have been beside myself with worry that something had happened to you. And who is this Jasmine anyway? Who else was there - were her parents there?".
Sherie was unmoved and unrepentant. "Yes, her parents were there. But they were leaving us alone - they are cool, unlike you. Nobody likes you. None of my friends like you - they are always telling me how mean you are. And I hate you!".
She was hoping that this would stop her mother in her tracks and reduce her to a sobbing mess, but Liz knew that Sherie did not really mean what she said. She had been a teenager once and whilst she had never told her parents that she hated them, she had none the less said some pretty horrible things. Liz could cope with the vicious tongue, but she could not put up with the disrespect shown by not coming home at the agreed time.
"Go to your room", Liz managed to say calmly but firmly. "You will not be allowed to socialize with your friends outside of school hours for the next two weeks. You are not allowed to use the computer except for schoolwork - no facebook, no You Tube etc. I will be taking your mobile phone so you will not be able to message or ring anyone. You will also not be able to watch TV".
"That is all so unfair", sobbed Sherie, "it was not my fault that I didn't know what the time was. You may as well send me to prison as that is what it will be like! What am I supposed to do after school? What am I supposed to do if I am kidnapped and cannot ring you because I don't have a phone".
"I will cope with that when and if it happens! You can study and do your assignments. I am expecting some A's this term so that will help you on your way. Go to your room now please".
Sherie continued protesting but Liz held firm and the girl finally stomped off to her room and slammed the door behind her.
Liz turned around and saw David standing there. He had witnessed the whole scene and was upset that the two people who he adored most in the world were arguing. Liz went to him and put her arms around him, "I'm sorry that we were yelling", she said. "Sherie made me mad by not coming home on time. I thought that something had happened to her and was very worried".
"But… but… she said that she hated you", David's lip was quivering as he tried to hold back tears. "I would never say that I hate you. Why was she so mean?".
"Because, sweetie, Sherie is a teenager and that is what teenagers sometimes do. They think that they are all grown up and don't have to do what they are told".
"I won't be like that when I am a teenager", he said confidently.
"Maybe you will and maybe you won't", Liz sighed. David was different in temperament to Sherie so perhaps he would be more easy going. Liz saw that the time was now 7pm and dinner had not been started and the uniforms needed to be ironed for the next day. Once again she thought how hard it was to do this on her own!
Sherie did not come out of her room for the rest of the night. When Liz told her that dinner was ready the girl said that she wasn't hungry, so her food was left uneaten. Later in the night Liz knocked on her door - not getting a response she opened it up and there was Sherie, still in her clothes, asleep on the bed. Liz pulled the covers over her and kissed her cheek. "Goodnight sweetheart", she whispered, "I have to be cruel to be kind". Sherie muttered and stirred but did not wake, and Liz then left the room.
The next morning Sherie entered the kitchen with a scowl on her face. She poured herself some cereal and juice, snapped at David for some imagined problem, and did not speak a word to Liz. When she had finished she collected her school lunch and bag and stormed out the door. "Goodbye" Liz called brightly after her.
After Liz had dropped David at school she had time to reflect on the night before. She was annoyed with herself for losing her temper - she should have been more in control of the situation. Her quick temper was one trait of Liz's that John used to complain about. She resolved to try and control it more, especially when dealing with Sherie. Liz then remembered that Will had called at some stage - she guessed that it was before Sherie had come home. Yes, it was coming back to her now….she was in a panic and had muttered something to him and then hung up. What must he think of her!! She would have sounded like a lunatic. Not only that, but no doubt he now thought that she had an uncontrollable daughter!
Will did wonder what had happened with Liz's daughter. Should he contact her? It was an awkward situation - he did not know anything about her daughter, or where she had been, and he didn't want to seem like he was prying, and Liz might not want him to know either. Although he assumed that the girl was a child, she could well have been an adult - he figured that Liz was old enough to have an adult daughter. And what if something was actually wrong? What would he say then? No, best to leave it - and so he did, but he found himself often thinking about Liz. It was disappointing that she appeared to have 'someone' in her life. He had hoped that perhaps there may have been a chance with her, but not now he figured.
One day when he arrived at his office his secretary told him that he had a female visitor. The lady had told his secretary that Will was expecting her so she had not asked for any further details. Will did not have any appointments with anyone as far as he was aware, so he went into the waiting room wondering who it could be. The lady had her back to him and was looking out the window, and although he could not see her face he recognized her. It had been many years since he had seen her but there was no mistaking who it was - Rebecca!
The lady turned around and saw him, her smile revealing perfectly white teeth. "William", she gushed, "so nice to see you again".
She moved towards him and went to kiss him on the cheek. Will's instinct was to recoil in horror but as she leaned in she whispered "Darling, the help are watching. Do play along".
"Hello Rebecca", he said through gritted teeth. He was aware that his employees would probably be trying to see what was going on and who he was with and he did not want to give them too much to gossip about. "How are you".
With that he guided her into his office where he could speak freely. "What are you doing here?", he demanded.
"Come William", she purred, "is this the way to treat an old friend?. I am back in town and was just coming to say hello".
"Firstly, I don't consider us to be friends and secondly, you have never just wanted to say hello! There is always an ulterior motive with you!". Will wanted to find out the reason for her visit and then get her out of the office as fast as possible.
"I don't want to talk in your office. There is a little coffee shop that I spied below the building so why don't we go there for a chai latte. Come on".
With that Rebecca opened the office door and started to walk out and Will had no choice but to follow. Word of the mysterious woman had spread around the office and his employees all seemed to suddenly be there, feigning that they were carrying out some task or other in that vicinity so that they could catch a look at her. After they had left the office gossip started - Who was she? She was very elegant. About time he found someone etc etc. All could not be further from the truth.
They arrived at the coffee shop and Will selected a booth tucked away in the corner away from the rest of the diners. Much to Will's embarrassment Rebecca clicked her fingers to get the waiters attention, barking at him, "Two chai lattes. Soy milk". No please or thank you - nothing had changed, he noted. "No", Will interjected. I will have a black coffee - strong thanks". It was not his usual drink but he felt that he would need the caffeine shot to get through this.
"So Rebecca, what is the real reason for your visit?".
Rebecca pouted in what she hoped was a cute way - it had always worked with Will before. "Why do you keep insisting that I have a motive? I am back in town after a long absence and am catching up with people again. I am not planning on leaving soon so I'm just doing the rounds and letting everyone know".
"Oh", Will said, "I would have hoped that you came back to spend time with your son. How is he anyway - do you even know his name or age?".
"Yes….of course I am here for him as well - what sort of mother do you think I am?", Rebecca pretended to be sulky. "His name is Daniel and he is….16….yes, he's 16. He is at boarding school and is apparently doing well, so I won't disturb him too much".
Will wanted to say exactly what sort of mother he thought she was, but he didn't like to swear in front of women, even if it was Rebecca. "That must drain your finances", he said sarcastically.
"Oh, mummy and daddy have insisted on paying for him to go to that school. It would be difficult having a child with my lifestyle", Rebecca tried justifying.
Will winced as her heard her refer to her parents as 'mummy and daddy'. He used to think that her baby talk was endearing but now he realised that it was just grating. "Yes, but you have returned now so there is no excuse". Will said with a twinkle in his eye - he was not going to let her get away with anything.
"So, back to you - are you seeing anyone at the moment?". Rebecca attempted to steer the conversation in another direction.
Will assumed that Rebecca had made enough enquiries about him to know whatever was public knowledge about his personal life, so he answered her last question confidently.
"Yes, I am. Her name is Susanna". He held off saying what he really wanted to which was that Susanna was much more affectionate than Rebecca had ever been and gladly shared his bed each night, but he didn't want to say too much lest she realise that he was, in fact, talking about his cat.
After lots more questioning and idle chitchat from Rebecca Will finally managed to get away by telling her that he had a conference call to make. When he arrived back at the office he could tell that everyone had been wondering who the mysterious woman was, but as he was the boss they dared not ask him. Will was convinced that this would not be the last that he saw of Rebecca - she was up to something and would continue until she got it.
It took a few days, but finally Sherie got over her huff and started talking to Liz again. She even sort of apologized for her behaviour, hoping to get her ban lifted or at least shortened, but Liz would not bend - if she gave in at all now then she would have no hope of any control in the future.
Liz was still not actively looking for work - she was really enjoying volunteering at the local community centre and in addition to helping out with at the crèche she was also now assisting the elderly with their shopping. With that and the kids school and sporting commitments there really did not seem to be enough time to fit in working as well, but the financial implications of that were beginning to have an impact so Liz knew that she had to take action to sort out her affairs.
She had not spoken to nor had any contact with Will since the night of the incident with Sherie. Liz supposed that he was probably scared off by her being on the verge of hysteria and she could not blame him for that. She could have rung him or sent him a message to say that everything was ok but, she reasoned, he hadn't contacted her either so that would indicate a degree of disinterest on his part. Two wrongs never make a right in these sorts of things. Shame, even though she had not been looking for someone special it would have been nice to have him as a friend.
As mentioned previously, Liz had not been entirely happy with the solicitor who was looking after her compensation claim so she asked around her acquaintances to see if anyone could recommend a solicitor or company who may be able to assist. She was given the name of a young practitioner who, she was informed, was very honest, competent and knowledgeable - his name was Nick Morton. Liz resolved to ring and make an appointment to see him.
Rebecca was happy with the way that her meeting with Will had gone. Of course, she told herself, secretly he had never stopped loving her or wanting her - why else would he have not married by now? Well, perhaps she could do something about that. She just had to find out more about this Susanna person so that she could formulate her game plan. Rebecca reached the destination that she was looking for and walked up the steps - yes it was as she remembered. She rang the bell and waited and the door was soon opened slightly.
"Hello Mrs Darcy. So nice to see you again" she said sweetly.
Posted on: 2011-11-15
Greta Darcy peered through the gap between the door and the security chain and saw that there was an elegant young lady standing there - well at least she seemed young to Greta. The lady looked familiar to her, but she couldn't immediately put a name to the face. She was spared from trying to remember who she was as the lady spoke again "Hello, it's Rebecca. Remember me?".
"Rebecca, of course I remember you! Come in, come in", Greta opened the door wide and ushered Rebecca inside. "We'll sit in here", she said as they entered a lounge room. "I'll just put on a pot of tea". She didn't think to ask Rebecca if she wanted to come inside and have a cup of tea, but Greta Darcy believed in making her guests welcome.
Rebecca looked around the room after Greta had gone - it was furnished with expensive but dated pieces - probably the same items that were here 20 years ago, Rebecca mused, but spotlessly clean. Yes, from what she remembered about Greta Darcy not even a speck of dust would dare enter her house!
She noticed some framed photographs on a side table and went over to have a look at them. There was one of Mr Darcy, and Rebecca knew that he was deceased; and one of Will with his mother that must have been taken a few years ago as Will's hair was quite dark in it, not with the light sprinkling of grey that it now had. He was dressed in a tux and she in an evening gown. She found the last photo especially interesting - it was Jenny, looking older than she remembered, with a man and three children. Was this 'little Jenny' and her family? The man was ok looking, Rebecca thought, but not handsome enough to tempt her. And as for having three children - well she had to be kidding right?
Greta came in then carrying a tea tray and saw Rebecca looking at the photos. "Admiring my family? Aren't they a handsome lot".
Rebecca turned around, embarrassed to have been caught snooping, "Oh, sorry", she apologized.
"Nothing to apologise for. I would have pointed them out to you anyway. I'm afraid that I always bore my visitors with those photographs".
"Not at all", responded Rebecca, "no doubt you are very proud of them. Is this a photo of Jenny and her family?".
"Yes, that is fairly recent. Her husband's name is Nick and she has Michael, Patrick and Karina".
"Quite the doting grandmother it seems", Rebecca gushed, "I can't believe how grown up everyone is. They must make you so proud". This was so sickening that she wanted to puke, but she knew that Greta would lap up the attention. This was a correct assumption as the woman talked about the children and how she enjoyed visiting them in moderation, even though they were loud and bad mannered as children were these days, and how nice it was to go home again afterwards.
"You should meet up with Jennifer - I am sure that she would like to see you", Greta continued.
"That would be nice, I would love to see her again", Rebecca replied, although she had no intention at all of seeing Jenny. She was only interested in those who might assist her with her cause, and she very much doubted that Jenny would be even civil to her let alone anything else.
Time was getting on and the old lady showed no intention of ceasing her chatter, telling Rebecca about her church going (she was surprised to hear that Will occasionally accompanied his mother to church), her Bridge Club, her charity work - Rebecca was getting bored with it all and wanted to advance the discussion to her topic of interest - WILL.
"I saw Will yesterday", she interjected when Greta gave a slight pause, "I went to his office and he was extremely happy to see me. We went and had coffee and talked and talked. I must say, I am surprised that William has never remarried after we…broke up".
"Yes that has surprised me too". Said his mother "Of course there have been lots of eligible women after him, and he has gone out with a few, but he never seems to be interested in anything more. He is a good uncle to Jennifer's children and I would think that he would want a son of his own, as most men do. Here dear have another biscuit".
Rebecca smiled and declined the offer. She had eaten one out of politeness but you didn't keep a figure like hers eating biscuits.
"Will did tell me that he was seeing someone special though. He said that her name was Susanna"
"Susanna!". Greta exclaimed. "I have never heard him mention a Susanna. Oh, his cat's name is Susanna, how silly of me to forget. He was probably just trying to be funny. No, I don't know that he has been seeing anyone. He did take a partner to the Black Tie Benefit - her name was Elizabeth Bennett. I remember because it was so strange that he would meet someone with that name. I am sure that was not her real name and I told William so. Anyway as far as I am aware he has not seen her since".
Greta continued on. "I could not attend the Black Tie Benefit myself due to ill health, but I was reliably informed that the supposed Elizabeth Bennett was a stranger to all of our acquaintances . I'm not surprised that he did not see her again - one really has to try and keep within one's social circle".
Rebecca had no idea what Greta was talking about in respect to Elizabeth's name, but at least she found out that Will was not presumed to be currently seeing anyone special. His cat did not count. She had found out what she wanted to know and now stood up to take her leave.
"Well, I really must go. It has been lovely to see you again Mrs Darcy and I hope that we can meet again soon".
"Oh, yes dear, that would be lovely. How long are you staying for?"
"I am not sure at the moment. I have come to spend some time with my son. He is at boarding school and I miss him so much, but I think that it is the right thing to do to give him the best start in life". Rebecca hoped that she would appeal to Greta's maternal side.
As she had hoped, Greta fell for her ruse. "Yes, William went to boarding school too. I know that it is hard on us mothers but it is for the best. Jenny says that she has no intention of sending her children away to school, but she is one of these 'modern mothers' who like to make things difficult for themselves!".
"Well, she must be a saint having three children. Goodbye Mrs Darcy"
"Goodbye - and please call me Greta. Do come again soon, I have so enjoyed our little chat".
Rebecca assured her that she would visit again, though in truth she had no intention to. She had gained enough information for the time being.
The day had arrived for Liz to see Nick Morton and she allowed herself what she thought would be sufficient time to get to his office. Parking proved to be a nightmare and Liz was forced to park several streets away and then walk (or run) so that she could make the appointment on time. When she was in the foyer of the building she stopped and steadied her breathing and checked her hair in a mirror that was there. She also made sure that she had her portfolio with all of the documentation that was needed - it would not have been good if she had left it in the car! Right, all seemed to be in order and she could now proceed.
Once a week, when the children were at school and kindy, Jenny worked at her husband Nick's office. It gave her a chance to do something other than be a mother, (although being a mother was her favourite thing to do of course), as well as keep up her skills for the future. Today she checked the appointment book to see which clients would be coming in - most of the names were familiar but a few were new clients, and one name in particular caught her eye - Elizabeth Bennett!
She checked and rechecked the name in case she had read it incorrectly. Could this be the Elizabeth Bennett that Will had talked about; had taken to the Benefit; had met with a few times; had caused him grief when he found out that she had children? No, surely not. It was not an uncommon name she reasoned. Still, she would be curious when the lady arrived.
Jenny did not have to wait long for Liz - soon she was there, grabbing at the door handle whilst trying to keep hold of her portfolio. Jenny noticed that she was having difficulty holding on to everything and she got out of her chair to go and help, but Liz laughed and said that she was fine. Once inside she made her way to the reception desk and said "Hi, I'm Elizabeth Bennett. I have an appointment with Nick Morton".
"Hello Ms Bennett. Please take a seat - Nick won't be long. Would you like a tea or coffee?".
Liz declined and sat down on one of the chairs. She opened her portfolio and started checking papers and whilst her head was down Jenny had a chance to look at her. Yes, average height and weight, around 35 - 45 years old - shortish hair - dressed in smart casual clothing - no obvious makeup. Not the usual type that Will would go for, which was not a bad thing of course. Liz looked up then and smiled nervously at her, and Jenny hoped that Liz had not seen her staring.
Shortly after a man came out of one of the offices and walked up to Liz. "Hi, I'm Nick Morton", he said, holding out his hand so that she could shake it. "Please come this way".
Nick pointed to a chair in his office and invited her to sit down. He then walked around to the other side of his desk and sat in his own chair. "Right, Ms Bennett. What can I do for you?".
"Please call me Liz or Elizabeth", Liz invited. "I am here because I need to have a compensation case settled. I have been dealing with another solicitor and am not satisfied with their handling of my case. I have been recommended to you by some of your clients so I hope that you can assist".
"Ok, lets start at the beginning". Nick was always cautious when new clients came in for compensation cases - people wanted to claim for every conceivable thing these days and often there was no case to answer. Clients could become very angry and upset when he had to give them the disappointing news that they may not get a settlement and would be up for considerable costs. He hoped that this would not be the outcome for Liz.
She told him all of the details about John and the accident that had killed him. It was very upsetting for her to go through all this again and Nick was mindful not to ask too many questions that would distress her. Even though the appointment was only scheduled for half an hour Nick was confident that he had heard enough in that time to satisfy himself and Liz that there were indeed grounds for considerable compensation. Liz left him with the portfolio of papers and agreed to meet with him the next week, after he had had time to peruse them and make enquiries.
"Liz, it was so nice meeting you". Nick shook her hand as she rose up to leave. "Please be assured that I will do everything that I can to obtain a maximum compensation payment for you and your children. I will see you next week - please see Jenny on your way out to arrange a suitable time".
Jenny arranged for the next meeting to be on the same day the next week so that she would again be in the office. As soon as Nick had a break Jenny hurried into his office.
"So", she asked eagerly, "is it her?".
"What are you talking about?". Nick was clearly puzzled by this strange question
"Is it the Elizabeth Bennett who Will knows?".
"Again, I do not have the slightest idea what you are talking about", he replied, exasperated with the obtuseness that Jenny sometimes displayed.
Jenny could see that she would have to explain the whole thing - in her haste she sometimes forgot that Nick was a male and males usually aren't concerned with details. "Remember how Will met up a few times with a lady named Elizabeth Bennett? He even took her to the Black Tie Benefit".
Nick shook his head. Jenny almost screamed before lowering her voice. "How can you not remember? Anyway, he did go out a few times with an Elizabeth Bennett and when she finally told him that she had children Will freaked out and has not, as far as I know, seen her since. Could this be her?".
Nick said that he didn't know. "Well", Jenny continued, "What was she like? Why did she come to see you?".
He answered, "Elizabeth appears to be a very nice, intelligent woman. You know that I am not at liberty to say anything about her personally or why she was here. I will say, however, that if she is the lady whom Will knows then he does not need to be concerned that she is 'after him'".
This was not very satisfactory and the last sentence was very puzzling to say the least, but Jenny knew that there was no point in asking Nick any other questions about her - his professionalism forbade him from discussing his cases. Not even Jenny's 'female charms', which she used when she wanted something from Nick, would work here. Nick decided that he would also make sure that Liz's file was kept away from Jenny - he would arrange for his other secretary to type up any notes and send out any letters. He knew that she would be like a dog with a bone over this and didn't want to arm her with any ammunition.
Although Will made sure that he phoned his mother regularly he did not go and visit her in person often, relying instead on seeing her at the Sunday family lunches that Jenny hosted about once a month. So, when he found himself near to his mother's house after a client meeting ended earlier than expected, he decided on a whim to call in and visit her unannounced.
He had stopped and bought his mother some flowers and a box of her favourite chocolates - he assumed that she would be home as any outings that she made were usually in the mornings. It was strange walking up the front steps and knocking on the door - when you are an adult you still consider that your parents home is your home, yet you would not presume to just barge in. Will rang the doorbell and after waiting a short while he heard the sound of footsteps approaching. His mother opened it cautiously and was very surprised to see Will standing there. After fiddling with the chain she was finally able to open the door wide and usher him in.
"Hello William," she said, offering her cheek for a kiss, "I was not expecting you was I? I get so forgetful these days."
"No", he replied, "I was in the area on an appointment and as it finished early I decided to come and see you". He gave her the flowers and chocolates, "Here, I bought these for you. Glad to see that you are finally using the chain on the door".
"Thank you - they are lovely. I will just put the pot on for a cup of tea".
This was the standard thing for someone of her generation he mused - a cup of tea would make everything right. His mother continued speaking to him whilst she was in the kitchen and he half listened as she talked about how her friend Marjorie had been in hospital and the goings on at the Bridge Club…"and I was very surprised to see her - she hasn't changed much but then Rebecca always was very stylish".
"What?". Will said loudly before lowing his voice. "Sorry, what were you just saying?".
"That Rebecca came to see me". His mother entered the room carrying the tea things and Will reached out and took them from her and out them on the table. "Yes, it was very nice of her to come and visit".
Will's mouth had dropped open and he hurriedly closed it. "Why was she here?" he enquired. He spoke calmly despite the rage that he was feeling.
"She just came to say hello - she always was a thoughtful girl. She admired my photographs and was surprised to see that Jenny was married and had three children". Greta paused to take a sip of tea. "Rebecca told me that she had seen you and that the two of you had talked just like the old days. She did wonder why you had never remarried…and she never remarried either".
Will sat there silently fuming while his mother prattled on. "You two were such a good match. We were all surprised that it didn't work out but you were both so young. Isn't it strange that you both have never found someone else. For some reason she thought that you were going out with your cat!".
He could see where his mother was heading so needed to set things straight right away. "It didn't work out because Rebecca cheated on me. it didn't work out because Rebecca became pregnant to another man whilst she was married to me. What other reasons do you need?".
"Oh, that was ages ago. And there are always indiscretions, but they can be hushed up - look at the Royal family. Really Will, I hardly think that anyone would remember or care about what happened in the past. People have short memories - they only never forget if you owe them money. Society has always been the same; people have always been the same, it's how you manage such things that counts. And you and Rebecca make such a suitable couple - you did then and you would now. I know that she is interested. And I think that she should still be able to give you a son - she is a few years younger than you and the doctors can do so much these days! She would make such a good mother".
"She…a good mother?". Will could hold it in no longer. "What about the son that she has - why the poor boy has probably never seen her more than a dozen times in his whole life".
"You don't understand what it is like for someone like Rebecca to be saddled with a child while you are still young and carefree. I do understand".
Will was absolutely dumbstruck. How could his mother even think like this. How could she forgive Rebecca - she always appeared to be so pious and devout, but this now all seemed like a façade. How could she think that he would even contemplate getting back with Rebecca…have a child with Rebecca…no, not even in his wildest dreams. Will stood up, finished his cup of tea in one swallow, and told his mother that he had to go. He gave her a peck on the cheek, opened the front door, and left - he could not risk staying there a moment longer or he may have said things to his mother that he did not wish to say.
He went back to his car and climbed into the drivers seat. It took a few minutes before he felt that he was in control enough to drive.
Posted on: 2011-12-02
Will was happy when he arrived home safely. Although he lived close to his mother the anger that he felt had caused him to drive a bit too aggressively and even in that short trip he had one near miss and had blasted his horn and yelled obscenities (albeit with the window closed) at another driver who pulled out too sharply in front of him. Will was usually an easygoing driver so this behaviour made him feel very guilty.
He sat straight down on the lounge and closed his eyes tight. How could Rebecca have done this?. What had he ever done to cause her to treat him this way - he had his life in order and now she thought that she could just waltz in and he would be interested again? What Rebecca had done had devastated him and even though a lot of years had passed by, the hurt that he had felt was still there under the surface waiting to bubble up. No, he would never forget and he would never forgive.
And his mother!! He knew that she had been upset when their marriage had ended and although she obviously had known what happened, she had tried to downplay the circumstances when rumours starting emerging among her acquaintances. At the time Greta had hinted that it might be best if he accepted the child as his own, but after Rebecca's extortion attempt his mother had never mentioned the subject again - until now.
He knew deep down that Greta just wanted him to be happy and to her happiness meant having a partner. His parents marriage, though at times stormy, had been fulfilling for them both and his mother had been devastated when his father died. But this was unacceptable and he had to assume that perhaps his mother, now advanced in years, was maybe losing touch with reality a bit. If she brought up the topic again he would tell her in no uncertain terms what he thought, but otherwise he would leave sleeping dogs lie and try to forget that it ever happened.
He wondered how much of this Jenny knew. She spoke with their mother a few times a week and no doubt Greta would have told her about the visit. Why hadn't Jenny warned him? Instead of calming down his anger was slowly rising, so by the time that he picked up the phone to ring Jenny he was absolutely seething.
Jenny answered, and Will could tell that she was flustered. He realised that this was not a good time of day for her, however he was not going to be put off.
"Why didn't you tell me?", he barked down the line.
"Who is this?". Jenny asked although she knew quite well who it was.
"Don't joke with me, I'm in no mood for it. Why didn't you tell me?".
"Tell you what? And I don't appreciate being yelled at over the phone", Jenny replied.
"About Rebecca", Will spat out.
"What about her?". Jenny was getting exasperated - she had been trying to prepare dinner when he rang and now the children were clamouring around her. "Look Will, I really can't talk now".
He would not be put off. "How she paid mother a visit - why didn't you tell me?"
"I don't know what you are talking about. I knew that Rebecca was back here - you told me that yourself - but not about her visiting anyone (yes Patrick, dinner will be soon. No you cannot have a biscuit). Sorry about that. She visited mum?".
"Yes. She came to see me in my office about a week ago and then a few days ago she visited mother and somehow ingratiated herself. Mother was going on about how we should get back together and how I should forget everything that happened".
"Oh my gosh. She never mentioned anything to me". Jenny tried continuing the discussion but the continual interruptions by her children made concentrating impossible. "I'm sorry Will, I really do have to go. I'll ring you later ok".
Jenny called him back later on that night after her children had gone to bed. She was shocked at what he told her regarding the discussion that he had had with Greta. What would Will think if he knew about her suspicions regarding Nick's new client - that it may be the Elizabeth Bennett that he knew? Jenny decided not to mention anything to him about it; he was incensed enough that his mother had interfered in his life so she didn't think that he would take too kindly to her doing the same.
His mother had not mentioned the subject again and Will was too busy at work to think about Rebecca, but unfortunately that was soon to change. Two weeks after the incident with Greta Will arrived home and saw that someone was sitting on his front verandah. He was naturally suspicious and approached them cautiously; as he drew nearer he recognized who it was - Rebecca.
"What are you doing here?, he asked roughly.
"Is that any way to greet an old friend?", Rebecca answered. "A hello might have been nice".
"Hello". He responded. "What are you doing here?".
"This looks like a lovely place. You must be doing very well". Rebecca tried appealing to his vanity. "Aren't you going to invite me in?".
The last thing that Will wanted was for Rebecca to be inside his house, but he could tell by the glint in her eye that she would make things difficult if he did not agree to her request. He did not need the neighbours hearing his business, so he opened the door and motioned for her to enter.
Once inside Rebecca surveyed the interior of his house. "Oh yes, very you, very masculine", she declared. "Your taste is suburb of course, but It could do with a female's touch to soften things up a bit".
Will ignored this comment. He didn't want Rebecca to assume that because he had allowed her to come inside that he was going to play the host and offer her refreshments. No, he had to keep her mind on the subject, so again he asked "What are you doing here?".
Rebecca then noticed the cat curled up on the lounge. "Susanna, I presume? Really Will, to pretend that you were in a relationship with your cat! Did you assume that I would not find out? I am not a spider trying to entrap you, so it is upsetting that you thought it necessary to lie to me".
"Look Rebecca, I'm tired and I don't want to play this game. You have obviously come here tonight for some reason, so please tell me what you want and then leave".
He spoke more aggressively than he intended to and Rebecca's cool demeanor started to waiver.
"Ok Will, you have found me out. The truth is that I wanted to see you. Your mother told me that you were not involved with anyone as far as she was aware, though she did mention an Elizabeth someone or other". Will was staring intently at her so this gave her impetus to press on.
"I….I….have found myself wandering the world trying to find that special someone but now at the end of my journey I find that I am still alone". Will was still staring at her so she continued, "Imagine my surprise when I returned home only to find that you were all alone as well!". She paused, but Will did not say anything. "We were so good together Will. We belong together, you and I. The fact that neither of us has found anyone else is a sign".
Will was shocked beyond belief at Rebecca's statement. Shocked and furious. How dare Rebecca do this to him. He wanted to grab her by the shoulders and shake her. He did not even try to control his temper as he responded to her. "You have got to be kidding! You and I together? Surely not so many years have passed that senility has crept in and you have forgotten what you did to me. What you did to us".
Rebecca was surprised at his response - she had not expected him to be so angry. Her eyes welled up with tears as she whispered "I have no one Will. No one that I can call my own. No one that I can come home to at night. Yes, I did wrong you but I have paid the price. Since then I have been wronged so many times and I now realise the hurt that I caused you. But that does not alter the fact that we could be good together and don't we both deserve some happiness?".
For an instance he was moved by her plea - his resolve always left him when a woman started crying. But then he remembered that this was Rebecca and he could not be sure if this was an act or not.
"What do you mean that you have no one. What about your parents. What about your son".
"My parents long ago gave up on me. And my son….well my son wants nothing to do with me. When I have visited him he just sits there and barely utters a word. I know that I have not been a good mother to him and it breaks my heart. If only I could turn back time I would do so many things differently". Rebecca gulped back a sob.
"Yes, it is too late to change much of your life," Will said in a softer tone, "but it is not too late to repair the relationship with your son. It will, I grant you, take time - you have wronged both him and your parents, but if you are sincere then they will eventually come around".
Rebecca sobbed again. "Yes, but I have no money and no prospects. I have never had a proper job and have no qualifications. I have relied on my parents and….others….to get by".
She could no longer hold back and tears streamed down her face. Will could not cope with this - he had once loved this woman and had wanted to give her everything; he could not but help be affected by her distress. He went to Rebecca and put his arms around her and she turned and sobbed into his chest.
Will remained holding her until her cries had abated and when she had calmed down he pulled away. Rebecca looked up at him and spoke "Thank you Will. You don't know how I have longed to be held by you again".
"Rebecca, do not get the wrong impression. I was comforting you, nothing more. There will never be anything between us ever again. I do, however, want to help you to get back on your feet".
Rebecca left that night with a smile on her face and a cheque for $10,000 in her bag. Will watched her go - he sincerely hoped that she would use the money to help her reconnect with her son, but deep down he knew that a leopard doesn't change its spots.
Over the next few days Will often thought about Rebecca. He felt that that part of his life was now over and he had worked through the pain and hurt that she had inflicted on him - and he joked to himself that all it had cost him in the end was $10,000. Will also made what could turn out to be a momentous decision; he wanted to meet with Rebecca's son - after all, he did at one stage think that the child was his.
Posted on: 2011-12-22
Will had a compulsive nature and when he decided to do something, whether it be to learn to scuba dive or buy a new couch, he could not really relax until he had accomplished his task. And so it was with meeting Rebecca's son Daniel - this became not a fleeting thought but rather a consuming mission. He wasn't sure what he wanted to accomplish from the meeting, but he was sure that he could bring something to the table - perhaps as a mentor or just another male presence in his life. After all, the boy had been brought up by his grandparents, and whilst they were very loving and respectable people Will felt certain that the boy must have craved more than an elderly couple could give him.
As mentioned previously, Will himself had been to boarding school and he had had firsthand experience of the loneliness that could occur there, especially as Daniel sometimes even had to spend his vacation time there as well. He could not just rock up at the school and ask to see Daniel so he would have to go through Rebecca's parents. He needed to convince them that he was sincere and, of course, did not mean to harm Daniel in any way - he knew that it could seem suspicious that a middle aged man wanted to befriend a teenage boy. Yes, he would ring and ask if he could come and see them.
Liz had some more meetings with Nick, and Jenny always arranged the appointments for days when she would be there. Usually Liz was in the waiting room for only a short time before Nick called her in to his office, but Jenny used these brief interludes to find out more information about her. She learned that Liz had a daughter and a son; that she was not currently working but was spending time volunteering; that she had previously worked in the insurance industry.
Jenny did not, however, find out Liz's personal situation or why she had appointed Nick as her solicitor. She noted that Liz wore rings on most of her fingers, including on her wedding finger, but it did not look like a traditional wedding band, and maybe that was the only finger that it fitted on. She could just come out and ask Liz questions point blank; she could also casually mention that her brother's name was William Darcy and wasn't that a coincidence; but Jenny knew that if she did this and Nick found out, she would probably be out of a job! She had to come up with a way to somehow have Will and Liz at the same place at the same time.
Nick had made sure that Jenny could not access information from Liz's file - whether it was deliberate or not she could not tell - but anything about her on the computer was password protected and Nick kept the actual paper file locked away in his filing cabinet. Jenny was frustrated by this - how dare Nick not trust her!! She tried to convince herself that she was only curious but this was not strictly true of course. However, through careful listening (when she was pretending that she was doing something else), she did manage to hear that Liz would soon be going to court; now she just had to find out when that would be.
Luckily she did not have to wait long. Liz had just finished meeting with Nick and came out to reception to make her next appointment. Jenny attempted to schedule it for the same day of the week, as she always did, however Liz told her that Nick wanted the appointment to be for a different day. This was the clue that Jenny needed - Nick always wanted to meet with his clients the day before their court case. Now she just had to confirm this.
The next day Jenny picked up the phone and rang her office. The other secretary, Marjorie, answered and Jenny responded politely.
"Hi Marjorie, it's Jenny. I was just thinking about the appointments that I made yesterday and wanted to check on the one that I made for Elizabeth Bennett. I'm not sure if I made it for the correct day - Nick wanted it to be the day before her court case. Could you please check and see if it is ok?".
Marjorie looked at the records and confirmed that Liz's case was set for hearing in three weeks time, so the scheduled meeting was correct.
"Oh, thanks," answered Jenny. "I just wanted to make sure. Have a great day".
She hung up the phone feeling very pleased with herself - she had found out the information and now just had to put together the next piece of the puzzle. She only hoped that it would work out.
Although Will was very busy with work he did not waver from his idea of meeting with Rebecca's son. The hardest part would be seeing her parents again after so many years and convincing them of his sincerity. Rebecca's parents, Herbert and Dulcie Donoghue, were good and decent people. Will tried to remember the last time that he had seen them and guessed that it was probably at his father's funeral. The Donoghues and the Darcys had been great friends and his mother still saw them occasionally - they were older than his parents and he had heard from his mother that Dulcie was not in the best of health. He knew that the Donoghues did not blame him for what had happened, nor bear him any ill will, so he hoped that they would agree to see him.
After a few false attempts he finally picked up the phone and dialed Rebecca's parents number. The phone rang several times and Will was just about to hang up when a voice answered "Hello". It was Mr Donoghue. Will was surprised at how he sounded - Herbert had always seemed to have such an authoritative voice but now he sounded like a worn out old man.
Will cleared his throat and said "Hello Mr Donoghue, it's William Darcy", he paused a bit so that the old man could process this. "How are you?"
"Who is it?". The old man sounded suspicious, as if Will was a telemarketer trying to be friendly.
"It's Will Darcy".
There was silence on the other end and then finally Mr Donoghue spoke. "William Darcy. Well it has been a long time. What can I do for you?".
Will had thought long and hard about how to approach this, but now it all failed him and he blurted out, "Yes it has been a long time Mr Donoghue. I…I…just wondered if I could come and have a chat with you and Mrs Donoghue."
The old man was wary. What did Will possibly want with them? Was this about Rebecca - was she causing trouble? He took so long to answer that Will began to wonder if he was still on the line. "Hello, are you still there?" he ventured.
"Yes, I'm still here." Mr Donoghue answered. "Look William, we would love to see you but I must tell you that I don't know anything about Rebecca. I think that she has gone back overseas - it appears that she managed to raise some funds somehow."
This was news to Will - he had hoped that the money that he gave to Rebecca would prick her conscience enough that she would stay for a while and maybe spend some time with her son, but it appeared not to be so.
"No, it is nothing to do with Rebecca. I have a proposition for you and Mrs Donoghue and I would be really pleased if I could come and visit and discuss it with you".
Herbert finally agreed to see Will. He knew that his wife would be pleased to see him - they had very few visitors these days and her health did not allow her to get out much. So they agreed upon a day and time.
Liz was not looking forward to her court appearance. She had never even seen a live court case (she figured that Judge Judy didn't count) let alone one that involved her. Liz was called up for jury duty a few times but had been able to request to be excused as she had young children. The thought of appearing before a judge and having her private details scrutinized was difficult enough, but also having to relive the horror of John's accident, and have someone put a price on his life, was almost too much to bear. But she knew that to get closure, and hopefully be awarded enough compensation so that she and her children would be ok, the procedure would have to be endured.
Nick had been brilliant and a huge pillar of support and Liz was so glad that she had found him. He had carefully outlined what she needed to do, and what she needed to supply for the case. She would be very busy gathering up the information that he required and at their next meeting, scheduled for the day before the court appearance, Nick would guide her through the proceedings and possible scenarios. Nick liked Liz very much and, although he obviously had a vested interest in the outcome, he also wanted success for her sake. He had never mentioned anything to her about the connection with Will (assuming that she was the Liz Bennett that he knew) but he secretly did think that she would be perfect for him. Of course Nick had never mentioned this to Jenny!!
Will parked his car curbside and looked out the window. The Donoghues house was old Victorian - it was once very grand but now looked shabby compared to the neighbouring properties. They were all of the same period but most of the other houses had been nicely preserved.
He hesitated before getting out of the car - was he doing the right thing? Basically he was interfering in something that was really none of his business. He hoped that the Donoghues would be honest with him if they thought so too. Will opened the front gate, which was rusted and creaky. The garden which had once been tended so carefully by Dulcie was overgrown with weeds, some of which were over a foot high. He reached the porch and noticed that the paint was peeling and the gutters were leaking and with a pang of guilt he thought that if he was still their son-in-law he would not have allowed this neglect to happen. Rebecca was not an only child, she had two older brothers so why were they not helping their parents.
It was complicated he knew. By the time that Rebecca was born the boys were already at school - she was the longed for daughter and whilst they doted on their little sister they resented the fact that their parents spoilt her and let her have her own way. As she grew older nothing really changed and her brothers watched as their parents continued to support her extravagant lifestyle and then be forced to bring up her son while their children missed out on much of the grandparent relationship.
Will rang the doorbell and before long he heard the muffled sound of footsteps approaching - his heart started beating a bit faster as the door was opened by Herbert Donoghue. This man had been his mentor and had helped him so much when he was first starting out in business. Herbert had been a tall man but now the ravages of age and the difficulties that he had encountered later in life had taken its toll and he now had a decided stoop. The two men looked at each other for a few seconds before Herbert thrust out his hand and said "Will, it is so nice to see you again. Please, come in, come in".
The two men shook hands and Will followed Herbert inside and down the hall to the sitting room. He remembered this room as the epitome of good taste where guests would gather, but now it just seemed old fashioned and worn out (like the inhabitants Will thought wryly). He caught some movement out of the corner of his eye and turned his head towards it - he saw that it was Mrs Donoghue attempting to raise herself up from the lounge and was shocked at how gaunt and ill she looked. In three long strides he was by her side helping to steady her frail frame.
"Hello Mrs Donoghue, so nice to see you again. Please don't get up on my behalf."
The lady did not need any coaxing - she sat herself back down and offered her hand. In a soft voice she said "William, so lovely to see you again."
He had brought gifts for them both - some exotic tea for Dulcie and a bottle of whisky for Herbert, hoping that their favourite tipples had not changed. They were accepted graciously and Herbert bade Will to sit down.
"Now Will, as we have said it is lovely to see you. How have you been?"
They all talked about many things - the weather, his mother and sister, his work. Will was impressed to see that Herbert's mind had not aged and he was still as sharp as a tack and with lots of intelligent opinions on such topics as the economy and politics. They talked about the grandchildren and Will noticed how Dulcie's eyes shone as she told him about them all, but especially when she spoke of Daniel.
Presently Herbert noticed that his wife was tiring and excusing them he took her off so that she could have a nap. When he returned he sat opposite Will and looked at him with steely eyes. Then in a voice that Will remembered he asked "Now, tell me why you are really here."
Posted on: 2011-12-30
Then in a voice that Will remembered he asked "Now, tell me why you are really here."
Will suddenly did not know the answer to that question - why was he here? Why was he so interested in seeing Daniel? Wouldn't that be taken as an indication that he wanted Rebecca back in his life? NO, surely it could not be a latent desire for that.
The old man continued looking at him, waiting for a response. Finally Will composed himself and answered.
"When Rebecca was recently here she came to my office and tried to pass herself off as being in some sort of relationship with me. She then visited my mother and somehow managed to ingratiate herself; the next time I saw my mother she told me how wonderful Rebecca was and how difficult things were for her and how I should forgive her." He paused and noticed that Herbert now had his head bowed towards the floor. "But, the worst part was when she turned up at my house and begged me to give her a second chance. Said that we belonged together."
Herbert looked up, his eyes filled with tears."I'm so sorry Will."
"No, no, please don't think that I in any way blame you - I have not come to complain about Rebecca's behaviour. Please let me continue. She expressed a desire to get to know her son better and I, foolishly, believed that she was sincere. It got me thinking about things - for a short while, as you know, I thought that the boy was my son. I am 45 years old now and don't have any children and probably never will, so I thought - here is a boy without a father - no offence to you at all - and maybe I can assist in some way with that."
Herbert was puzzled. "I'm not sure what you are talking about."
"I would like to meet with Daniel. Visit him at the school perhaps." He noticed the shocked look on the older man's face. "With you present of course!" he added.
"I know that this seems highly weird that a middle aged man would want to meet with a teenage boy, and naturally you would have concerns about that, but I can assure you that my intentions are all above board." Will waited for some sort of response from Herbert, but receiving none he continued. "You can run police checks or any sort of check that you want on me. You can send along a chaperone - anyone that you choose - to be there whenever we meet."
Still the old man was silent and Will carried on. "As you know my parents were very generous with their time when it came to charitable causes. I of course contribute financially but am at the stage of life where I want to do more than just give money."
"So, are you implying that Daniel is a charity case?" Herbert was getting angry now. "He is not an orphan boy thrown into an institution by his uncaring relatives. Daniel is a very much loved part of our family and it is extremely insulting to my wife and I to suggest anything else. He should not used just to make you feel good."
Will had not expected this reaction and tried to explain himself further. "I am sorry if I seemed to imply that there was some sort of neglect on your part. I can see now that I have come in here all gung ho - what I really meant to explain was how much I appreciate the mentoring that you gave me when I was younger. It helped me to succeed in life and in business and I wanted to be a mentor to Daniel like that, if it would work out. But I now realise that he doesn't need me because he has you."
Herbert softened his tone - yes, Will had been impulsive and probably had not thought things through clearly, but his intentions were true. "Well I guess that we are not getting any younger and sometimes I do feel that Daniel needs company other than us. His uncles don't seem to want to help and he rarely sees his cousins. Let me talk this over with Dulcie and I will get back to you."
They said their goodbyes and Will gave the old man his card - Herbert promised to call him in the next day or two. He watched the younger man leave and realised how like his father Will was. Walter Darcy had always been willing to assist others even if he did not know them.
Liz was growing more nervous and anxious as the date for her court hearing grew closer. She was amazed at the information that Nick had managed to procure to help her case, including estimates of future school and university fees for her children, projections of future earnings and promotions that John may have received until retirement, estimates of earnings that Liz had lost.
She had told her parents and sister and they had assured her that they would attend on the day to provide moral support. Liz had mentioned what was going on to her children - fairly basic to David and more detailed to Sherie, but all that they really seemed to care about was that they would (hopefully) get lots of money! This was not an attitude that Liz encouraged; she told them that the money would not be available to them until they were older but there would be enough now for them to all go on a nice holiday.
David was sweet as ever. He often asked Liz to tell him stories about his dad as he was afraid that he would forget him. Sherie, on the other hand, was becoming more difficult. Puberty was setting in and along with that was the rudeness and defiance that many teenagers get. Liz knew that Sherie missed her father terribly and whilst this was partly behind her frequent outbursts it could not be used as an excuse. If children have a 'favourite' parent then John had been Sherie's whilst Liz was David's. She sometimes felt that Sherie resented the fact that it was her father who was gone and not her mother. Liz hoped that when everything was finalized they might be able to but settle into some sort of normality and she would try even harder to connect with Sherie.
Nick had been busy working on Liz's court case and he was satisfied that it was going along smoothly. He had gained lots of substantiating documentation to support Liz so he just hoped that the judge at the hearing was fair and reasonable - he had been to court numerous times and whilst he conceded that all of the judges acted impartially there were two or three that he found were easier to deal with.
Jenny had been trying to come up with a way to put her plan into action and at last it occurred to her how she could hopefully do so without drawing suspicion to herself. She was aware that when Nick had a long court case he often went out the lunch with the client - well those that he liked anyway. Nick had previously told Jenny that his job did not require him to actually like his clients, and there were several that he disliked very much, but he was obliged to always try his best for them. From what Nick had said about Liz, and from what she herself had observed, it was safe to assume that Liz fell into the 'liked client' category.
Will's birthday was coming up and Jenny wanted to invite him out to lunch with her. She knew the day, time, and place where she wanted to take him, so now it just depended on him being available. Best to give lots of notice she thought, so she picked up the phone and rang his number.
"Hi sis," he answered, "what's up?"
"The sky, silly," she teased. This had been a joke that they used to play when she was very young. "Well, actually I believe that your age will soon be 'up' so to speak - up higher that is."
"Uhh, don't remind me." Will groaned.
"Anyway, I was hoping to take you out to lunch. I have picked the day, time, and location to fit in with my busy schedule and hope that it fits in with your busy schedule."
"Sure, that would be nice - when are you looking at?".
Jenny told him the day and time and waited for his response, biting her lip in anticipation.
"I'll just check my diary…..yes, that should be fine, I'll pencil it in. Where are we going?"
"Well, Nick is always raving about this place that he goes to and I thought that it would be nice to try. It's called the 'Court House Café' located, of course, near the Court House in the city. I figured that is fairly close to your work."
"The 'Court House Café'. I've never been there or even heard of it but that sounds fine. I'll see you then."
They continued chatting about other matters until Jenny's children started to interrupt the conversation. Will was pleased that they would be alone for lunch (or so he assumed) as he wanted to discuss his decision regarding Daniel with her. The Donoghues had not yet come back to him but he knew that they had other things on their mind.
The day of Liz's court hearing arrived and she woke up feeling nauseous and headachy. She had understandably not sleep well the night before and recognized these symptoms were the result of tiredness and nervousness. Liz hurriedly organized her children and sent them off to school; she then proceeded to get herself ready for the day ahead. Liz had met with Nick the previous day, as arranged, and he went over all the proceedings with her, including the order in which matters would be addressed and possible questions that she may have to answer. So, Liz considered that she was as prepared as she could be, but the butterflies in her stomach obviously disagreed.
The court house was in the city so it was easier for Liz to catch public transport than to drive - as well this gave her an opportunity to go over her notes again. She arrived with plenty of time to spare and looked around to see if Nick was already there; she could not see him yet but knew that he had a few smaller matters on that same day so she went to get a cup of coffee and wait for both him and her parents.
Liz had just finished the last of the warm liquid when Nick came out of the court house and headed over to her. He asked her how she was and she replied that she was very nervous. "Don't be," he said, "today you have Justice Callaghan. She is very fair and reasonable and I am sure that she will do all she can to assist you. Let's go in."
Nick held lightly on to Liz's elbow and guided her through the doors, which was just as well as Liz felt like her body would not have moved otherwise. The preliminaries began and Liz sat paying close attention at everything that was said but this first part was, as Nick had warned her, full of legal jargon. Liz would not really be involved until the second part of the hearing, which was scheduled to be after the lunch break.
As they walked out Nick commented that he was pleased with the proceedings so far and he suggested that they discuss what would happen in the afternoon over lunch as he lead her to the nearby café.
"Yes, that's a good idea," Liz agreed. "I am quite hungry, which is surprising considering how nervous I am."
Nick opened the door for her "I'm sure that you will enjoy this place - I come here quite often and the food is great. You can even have a glass of wine if you need to calm your nerves."
Liz laughed, "I'd love to but I really do need to have a clear head for later."
She picked up the menu and noticed the name 'Court House Café'.
"I like the name - shows such originality considering its location!"
The waitress came around then and they busied themselves with studying the menu and making their choices.
It was a pleasant day, sunny but not too hot, so Will decided to walk to the café for his lunch date with Jenny. It took about 20 minutes so the walk gave him a chance to go over things - Herbert Donoghue had rung him the previous day to advise that he and his wife had talked over Will's proposal and had decided that it would do no harm for him to meet with Daniel. Herbert was going to visit the boy the following week and Will had agreed to accompany him. He was looking forward to telling Jenny about it - he had no doubt that she would be pleased that he was doing such an altruistic thing.
Will arrived at the café and was slightly annoyed that Jenny did not appear to be there yet. No formal booking had been made so he settled himself at a table facing the window and was checking his emails when Jenny arrived, panting slightly as she had been rushing.
"About time." Will grumbled good naturedly as he gave her a kiss on the cheek.
"Sorry - busy wife and mother always has something to do just before leaving. Anyway, I'm here now. How are you?"
The waitress was hovering around so they quickly gave their orders before they commenced chatting about work, kids, their mother etc. They were having dessert when Will seized the chance to tell Jenny about his plans to visit Daniel but, rather than being supportive and enthusiastic, Jenny was horrified and voiced her disapproval vehemently.
"Are you kidding me? What the hell would you want to do that for!"
Will was shocked - he had not expected this reaction. "What is the problem with it? I think that I can offer something to the boy….as a mentor or something. I thought that you would be pleased with the idea of me trying to assist, give something back."
"Assist with what? You were not asked to do help out. You are not responsible for the boy. Why are you so interested now? And what will Rebecca make of this? Didn't it occur to you that she will see this as your way of indicating that you want to get back with her - or is that what you hope to achieve?"
Will had seen Jenny upset before but not usually in public. He tried to respond but she would not let him get a word in.
"Don't you think that it is creepy that you want to become involved with a teenager that you have never met - if I heard that about someone else I would immediately think that they had suspicious motives. I thought that the Donoghues were sensible people; I can 't believe that they would actually allow this."
He could take personal abuse but did not think that it was fair that Jenny was now thinking that Daniel's grandparents were not caring. "Be careful there! You can say whatever you like about me, but the Donoghues are good people and I won't allow you to berate them."
"They probably think that all their Christmases have come at once. With a bit of luck you will adopt the boy and then they won't have to worry any more! If you want to mentor someone what about my boys? I can't believe that you would choose a stranger over your own nephews."
Jenny had worked herself up and it was all that Will could do to get her to keep her volume at an acceptable level. She was usually a rational person so he could not understand why she had reacted in such an irrational manner. It flashed through his mind that it was that time of the month, but he knew better than to dare suggest that to her. He sat with his head bowed until Jenny was at last silent - she composed herself and then, picking up her bag, declared that she was running late and was now leaving.
Will was left to stare after her, still wondering what he had said that was so wrong. He was not sure if Jenny had paid the bill (it was supposed to be his birthday treat after all) and he looked around to see where the cashier was. It was then that he noticed another customer who was also settling his account - Nick. Will remembered that Jenny had mentioned that Nick often dined here and he stood up to go and say hello and warn him to beware of Jenny tonight. He then saw that Nick was with someone, a lady, so best not to disturb him.
Will sat down again and watched as they walked out the door. He thought that the lady looked familiar and as they passed by his window Will realised who it was - ELIZABETH!! What was she doing there, and why was she having lunch with Nick? Was she a client of his - if so why was she seeing him? Will's mind jumped around rapidly and came to the following conclusion: Nick was representing her on at court in a custody case - yes, just as he had suspected there was an 'ex' out there and this would be messy. Or maybe not a custody case but a criminal case - yes, thank goodness that their relationship had not proceeded any further.
Human nature being what it is meant that Will could not just walk away without finding out what the scenario was. He confirmed that the account had been paid (at least Jenny had been decent enough there) and then hurried out so that he could follow Nick and Liz, of course keeping a suitable distance so that they did not see him.
The courtroom was crowded but Will managed to get a seat at the back where he could see and hear the proceedings, fairly confident that he was hidden from view of those below. He could see Nick and Liz sitting waiting through the other cases and at last they were called to appear before the judge. What Will heard left him stunned and ashamed - the truth was something that he had never even imagined - Liz was a widow and had been made so due to the most horrendous circumstance. The judge awarded settlement in her favour, with the amounts to be finalized at a later hearing.
He watched as Liz, tears streaming down her face, first hugged Nick and then an elderly couple that he assumed were her parents. As they passed by on their way out of the courtroom Will slumped down so that he would not be seen, but the party were talking and laughing among themselves, oblivious to anyone else. Once he was sure that they were gone Will left the room and started walking back to his office. He could not get the image of Liz's face, with tears of joy flowing, out of his mind - would she have hugged him as well if she had known that he was there?
Posted on: 2012-02-11
After leaving the courthouse Will went back to work but he found it hard to concentrate and so left early, citing a headache. His mind was spinning with all that was going on and as soon as he arrived home he sat down to take it all in and try and make some sense of everything.
He could not stop thinking about Liz and what he had heard. He had judged her harshly and although she did not know what he had assumed about her, he still felt guilty. Even when he saw her going into the court he only thought the worst. Had the fact that he had been stung before and was now often surrounded by those who were only after his wealth made him view everybody through blinkered eyes?
Will wanted desperately to see Liz and explain everything to her even though it would probably mean that she would never want to see him again. He wanted to say how sorry he was for the accident that claimed her husband. He wanted to offer his shoulder so that she could cry on it. He wanted her to see that he was not the snobby, drunken, vain man that he suspected she might think him. Could he ring her? Should he ring her? Liz was obviously a strong woman no doubt now made stronger still by what she had been through.
He also replayed his discussion with Jenny over his decision to meet with Daniel, and he winced as he remembered her reaction. Will had assumed that Jenny would have supported the idea and been pleased that he was being altruistic, but instead she had turned on him. What had he said that was so wrong? Of course he could understand in respect to her own children, but they had a male role model while Daniel did not. This last thought struck him through him and he suddenly realised his mistake - Daniel did have a role model and it was the same one that he himself had had - Daniels grandfather.
How insulted the old man must have felt, yet Herbert had borne it graciously and had only thought about Daniel and what might be best for him. Will had barged into his life again and now wanted to barge into his grandsons life as well - and why? Just to make himself feel good? To have a taste of what might have been? He could bow out and withdraw his offer, knowing that Daniel was no worse off as he probably didn't know about Will's intended visit anyway, or he could at least be a man and stick to his word by going through with the first part of his plan, which was to visit Daniel.
There was also the issue of Rebecca and he had to admit that he had not put her into the equation before. Will was so astute and careful in his business dealings and it was a shock to him to realise that when it came to his personal dealings he had no plan, clue, or idea. Yes, Rebecca could very well use this to her advantage - he know what she was capable of and that was grasping at anything that could possibly give her personal gain. Is that what he subconsciously wanted, Rebecca back in his life? Was he that lonely and desperate that anyone would do? NO NO NO resounded through his brain - if he wanted a relationship or an ease to loneliness he could just pick up one of the sycophants that he met at functions. If his seeing Daniel could in any way cause a chain reaction then he would visit the boy once, just to save face, and never again.
This was a case where Will needed input from Jenny but he did not think that his sister would really welcome his call at the moment - and he was right. Jenny was at home spouting forth to Nick about the 'plans' that Will had to gain a son.
"….and he said that he wanted to visit the boy and be a mentor to him. What about our children? What about him looking after them? What about Rebecca - I bet that he didn't think about her - or did he - is that part of it as well, to get Rebecca back? Well, over my dead body!".
Nick was confused - he had walked in to Jenny banging pots around the kitchen and snapping at the children. Now she had followed him into the bedroom talking nineteen to the dozen and he had no idea what the subject was.
"What are you on about?" he asked.
"I've been telling you. Typical, you never listen. Do I have to repeat myself over and over, just like I do with the kids? Well, as usual you will do nothing about this and will not take my side…..I know….. you should talk to him - perhaps he will listen to you."
"Will you just shut up. For heavens sake I have just walked in the door and you have been at me, not to mention biting the heads off the children. Listen to me….I have no idea what you are talking about and I do not want to know what it is at the moment. I have had a busy day and am hungry. Go and get me my dinner woman." Nick bellowed.
The last sentence was said to try and lighten the situation and make Jenny smile but it just succeeded in making her storm out, slamming the door behind her. When Nick came into the kitchen she thumped his plate of dinner down in front of him. "I hope you choke on it", she yelled.
Jenny calmed down sufficiently to feed the children and settle them into bed, apologizing to them for being grumpy. When Nick felt that the coast was sufficiently clear that nothing would be thrown at him he ventured,
"Sorry for yelling at you before. It's only that I had just come in the door when you started going on about something. As you know, I need some down time when I first come home, just ten minutes or so to get changed, so that I can then concentrate you and the kids."
Jenny was pleased that he had apologized first - even though he was not at fault. It's a female thing to like the male to say that they were sorry as well.
"I'm sorry too." She responded. "It's just that I was so wound up and upset about what he said. Normally he would speak to me and ask my opinion before making such a decision."
"Jenny, I meant it before when I said that I had no idea what you were talking about. I still have no idea. Tell me now, but please make it as uncomplicated and brief as you can."
Jenny then proceeded to tell Nick about her lunch date with Will, not mentioning where they had been to eat - when he asked she said, vaguely, that it was a café near his work. Being a man, Nick did not require more information than that. He was surprised by what Jenny told him about Will's plans, but not shocked.
"What is so wrong about him wanting to help someone?" he asked
"Because he was not asked to. The boy has family already - uncles, cousins, grandparents. A mother for heavens sake. He doesn't need Will as well."
"From what I know, only his grandparents treat him like family. And as for his mother, come on, even a cat is a better mother. Will is old enough and ugly enough to take care of himself. I am sure that he has thought it all through - including about Rebecca. Don't worry, I'm fairly certain that you are still the beneficiary of his will."
"But what about our boys? He could mentor them if he has such a desperate need to mentor someone."
"Now, that's insulting to me. Let him be - if it doesn't work out then you can, and I'm sure that you will, tell him 'I told you so'!"
Liz was buzzing when she left the courtroom. Nick apologized that he had to go back to work and her parents did not want to get risk getting caught up in the commuter traffic, so Liz walked the few blocks into the CBD and perused the shops. She could not really concentrate, and had no intention of buying, but it was fantastic to browse knowing that she would soon be able to afford anything that she saw. She felt a bit like Julia Roberts in "Pretty Woman' - the shop assistants would ignore her until she flashed her credit card.
Liz arrived home just before Sherie and David came in from school. When they were settled Liz announced that they were going out to dinner and could order whatever they wanted. In fact, they may go out to dine every night from now on, she said. The children were extremely surprised and pleased at this announcement, but doubted that it would actually come about and was just another example of their mother's eccentricity.
Once they were seated in the restaurant, and had ordered their meals, Liz explained to the them where she had been that day and what had happened. Of course both Sherie and David wanted to know how much money 'they' would get and what they could spend it on. Liz explained that any monies they received would be for their education costs and held in trust for them until they were older. This was not a response that would satisfy young children, however they were pleased to see that their mother seemed to be so happy - she didn't stop smiling , even when David spilled his drink on the table.
After they arrived home and the children had gone to bed Liz sat down and contemplated the magnitude of what had occurred that day. Once the settlement amounts were finalized she should have enough money to pay the house off, buy a new car, travel the world….and, provided the investment rates were kind, still not have to work if she did not want to. There was the possibility of an appeal but Nick thought that would be unlikely as Liz would not lose and then there would just be more court costs for the other parties to pay. Of course along with this came incredible sadness - at her loss, and the fact that she and John would not do these things together; and guilt - that this was all only able to be achieved because John had died.
Liz lay in bed that night finding it difficult to drift off to sleep. Her mind was still alert and would not shut down; over and over in her mind she replayed the scenes of what had occurred that day, remembering the judges verdict and her own reaction to it. There was also something else - she vaguely remembered seeing a man who looked familiar. Granted, she had only caught a sideways glance but he reminded her of….Will Darcy. Mr Darcy - she had not thought about him in a while. Wonder what he was up to?
The next week passed by quickly as time always does. Will immersed himself in his work, finding that he was thankfully able to keep his mind concentrated on business matters when required to do so. When it came to personal time, however, he was less successful in focusing and found that his thoughts wandered from Daniel, to Rebecca, to Liz and now also to Jenny. He had expected that she would call him in the days following their luncheon - not to offer an apology, although she should (but he knew that she was too stubborn to admit that she was in the wrong) - but to discuss what had happened. It was very unusual for Jenny not to speak to him for a whole week and perhaps he would have to ring and offer the olive branch, much as he was reluctant to do so, for fear of being on the receiving end of another of her rants.
Will thought long and hard about his plans regarding Daniel. He owed an apology to Herbert Donoghue for being arrogant enough to assume that he and his wife would welcome his plan to mentor their grandson. If they had any misgivings then he would urge them to say so and he would step away from the awkward situation. If they still were happy for him to visit the boy then he would have to honour his offer - but no doubt it would be a once-only affair as he could not now foresee any benefits to either party. What a pity that he had not thought this through properly in the first place.
It was with trepidation that he dialled the Donoghues phone number - 'might as well get it over with', he thought.
"Hello", answered a man's voice. Will was shocked; Herbert sounded so much older and frailer than the last time that they spoke - and that was not that long ago!
"Hi Mr Donoghue, it's Will Darcy". He composed himself and tried to sound reasonably cheerful. "How are you?"
"Who is it?" the man asked, before answering the question himself. "Oh, is that you Will?"
Will answered in the affirmative and they exchanged pleasantries. Herbert told him that his wife's illness had progressed and she was now unable to leave the house - Will surmised that this was no doubt the reason why the man seemed to be a bit more vague than he had previously. He approached the situation regarding Daniel with caution.
"Mr Donoghue, do you remember that previously we had discussed the possibility of my visiting Daniel?".
"Of course I do - not senile yet you know!!"
"Well, I feel that I may have overstepped the boundary there. I felt that perhaps Daniel needed my guidance but I did not take into account the fact that he already has you and your good wife as his excellent mentors and role models". Will was really eating 'humble pie' here - a real breakthrough for him!!
"Oh, I understand. You have had second thoughts about it. I must admit that we were surprised that you made the approach in the first place, but decided that you were sincere. It's fine Will. Thanks for letting me know that you have changed your mind".
This was not the way that Will had wanted to appear to Herbert so he needed to convince that he had been sincere. "No, you misunderstand me! I just thought that you may have been insulted. Of course I will visit Daniel if you think that it is a good idea".
"Will, I'll lay it on the line - Dulcie is very ill and I am not able to often leave the house and am not much company for Daniel when I do get to see him. If you could visit the boy even once, that would be a distraction for him and a comfort for us".
And so it was decided - Will would visit Daniel the following weekend. Herbert Donoghue would go as well and his daughter-in-law Cassandra, he was sure, would be able to stay with Dulcie whilst he was away. This was a satisfactory outcome, and Will ended the call happy that he had 'saved face' and sure, as he thought, that he would only see the boy one time - after all, what would a teenage boy have in common with a middle-aged man?
Right, one down. There was not much that he could do in regards to Rebecca and what she would think about him visiting her son. Will had no doubt that Rebecca would find out - she was still in contact with some of her old acquaintances such as Catherine Bingham, and this ensured that nothing concerning him went unnoticed. Catherine seemed to have spies out everywhere. Well, Rebecca could think and assume what she wanted but he would set straight anyone who questioned or asked about his intentions.
Ok, so that was two down. The next one would be Jenny. He was aching to speak to his sister but reluctant to pick up the phone. However it had to be done - so he waited until he was fairly sure that the time would be right for her and dialled her number.
"Hello" answered the familiar voice of Nick.
"Hi Nick, it's Will. How are you". He wanted to add 'had any interesting cases recently'. The two chatted together for a while and then Nick said that he would put Jenny on.
Jenny had been wanting to clear the air with Will but had, as he suspected, been too stubborn to ring him first. Now that she realised that he was on the other end of the line she had been trying to grab the receiver out of Nick's hand. However not wanting to appear too anxious she waited a while before saying "Hi Will, I have been wondering when you would call."
Will noted the sarcasm - Jenny always had to have the upper hand and try to make him feel bad. However, he was not going to fall for it so instead he answered her calmly. "Hi, yes I have been meaning to call but have just been too busy with more important things". He could be just as sarcastic. General chitchat ensued with neither of them wanting to discuss the ill fated lunch. Finally Will, who had run out of other things to say, decided to 'man up' and broach the subject.
Suffice to say that the conversation continued for quite a while, with Jenny getting heated at times. Nick, concerned that poor Will was getting too much of a tongue lashing tried to extricate the phone from her hand, but when this failed he gave up and instead went to bed. From what Nick heard he figured that this was to do with Will's decision to see Daniel and he and Jenny had to fight it out themselves - Nick knew that Jenny could rant and rave all she wanted but at the end of the day Will would do what he thought was best.
Finally Will and Jenny agreed to disagree - Will acknowledged that he had perhaps been too hasty, but would however go ahead with one visit and Jenny conceded that she had perhaps been thinking of her own family and not seen his plans for what they really were i.e. a desire to perhaps help someone.
Will had not intended to mention that he had seen Elizabeth and had attended her court case, but he now found himself blurting this information out to his sister. Jenny tried to act surprised, but had an attack of the guilts and confessed to Will that she knew that Elizabeth Bennett was a client of Nick's and had been due at court that day. When Will did not react she also ventured that she had planned the luncheon to hopefully coincide with the court hearing, but her brother had already concluded as much.
Jenny had not previously been sure that this Elizabeth Bennett was one and the same, but now she knew. She also did not want to reveal that she did not know the nature of Elizabeth's case - it was embarrassing that Nick had kept the details away from her - so she tried to get the information from Will in a subtle way. If Elizabeth was guilty of some sort of criminal act wouldn't he be angry that his trusted sister had deliberately tried to arrange an 'accidental' meeting with her?
"So, what did you think about her case?" Jenny ventured.
"I was surprised to say the least. It is not at all what I expected to hear" Will replied
"Yes, well I guess that we all have our little secrets - does this mean that you are no longer interested in her?".
"You are getting ahead of things. Elizabeth and I were never more than acquaintances and I don't see any reason for that to change. Not that I will probably see her again". Will realised that this last sentence caused his heart to race - what did this mean?
Jenny was not very satisfied with this as it did not afford her with any new information about Elizabeth's case. It was now quite late so the brother and sister said their goodbyes and hung up. Each were then left to their own thoughts - Jenny still frustrated by the lack of information but remembering that Liz was due for a follow up visit to the office so perhaps she could extricate more from her now that the court case was over; Will wondering why his heart had skipped a beat at the thought of never seeing Liz again.
So, that made three down…..and one to go :)
Posted on: 2012-05-02
After his long phone call with Jenny, Will flopped into bed feeling exhausted but sure that he would not be able to get to sleep. Surprisingly he dropped off with little effort, but the rest of the night was spend in restless slumber - blanket on; blanket off; bathroom; drink of water; so that by the time morning came he was still tired. Not a good thing as Will liked to get a decent night's sleep - his employees had better beware today !
Will was also very much a routine person, especially in the morning, so if his sleep put him out of kilter then he was not a happy chappy. First was shower and shave, then into an alluring pair of boxers and a t-shirt for breakfast. On the way he would be assaulted by Susanna, so usually first stop in the kitchen was to fill up her bowl with cat biscuits so that he could dine in peace. Not this morning however - that was the part of the routine that he forgot, so when he sat down to his cereal and cup of tea Susanna launched herself onto the bench and proceeded to stick a paw in his bowl, all the while protesting loudly.
Will jumped up out of his seat muttering expletives "….what is wrong with you!!! Go and eat your breakfast."
A glance at her cat bowl showed him the problem "Blast….what is wrong with me!!!!"
Susanna's bowl was soon filled and as she sat happily munching breakfast Will mused on how easy her life was - eat, have a wash, then sleep in a sunny spot for the rest of the day without a care in the world. He ate his breakfast and then carried out his ablutions, but that was where the similarities ended - select a suit, shirt and tie, put on shoes, grab keys and bag and head out the door. Oh how he wished that he could join her in the sunny spot.
Will glanced at his face in the rear view mirror; he was not a vain man but today his face did seem to look more drawn than usual. Even the fancy cream that Jenny had given him for Christmas had failed to have an impact. As he drove he wondered what mornings were like for other people - he knew that his mother arose early and started the day with a cup of tea as she listened to talkback radio. Jenny was especially busy trying to get her three children fed, dressed and delivered to school or childcare, all the while juggling a load of washing that needed to be hung on the line. He didn't know how she managed it all!
Rebecca used to enjoy a leisurely lie in - which usually lasted for most of the morning. He then started musing about Liz's mornings. She was a single parent, that much he now knew, so would be busy doing everything herself. Perhaps her children helped out? He then realised that he did not even know how many children Liz had - he could remember, following the soccer day, that there was a girl and a boy but maybe she had more. Maybe a whole tribe of children! Of course they were mentioned at the court case but being a male he did not take notice of details like that at the time.
He also wondered how Liz was, how she was coping. Surely it wouldn't do any harm to ring her just to say hello. Surely she couldn't be offended by that? Should he? Would he? This repeated itself throughout the day so by the time Will arrived home that night he had resolved that he had to at least ring Liz or he feared that he would have another interrupted night's sleep. So he waited until he assumed that she would have finished dinner and washing up and assisting the children and dialled her number. Yes, he still had it stored in his contacts list - hopefully it had not been changed.
Liz heard her phone ring and reached for it. When she glanced at the number she realised that it was Will. What was he doing ringing her? She let the phone ring one more time and then decided to answer - there was no harm in being polite was there and besides, if she didn't answer then he may just keep pestering. Will was just ready to hang up, suddenly having cold feet, when he heard Liz's voice.
"Hello, Liz speaking".
"Hi Liz it's…it's…Will Darcy here", he managed to spit out, "How are you?"
Liz could sense that he was unsure about the reception that he would receive so she decided to have a bit of fun with him. "Hi Will, I have not heard from you for a while. Don't you have anything better to do than ring up and bother me?"
Will was caught on the back foot by her statement and could only manage a few 'ums' and 'ahhs' in response. This amused Liz so she continued. "I mean, why am I being singled out by your great self?"
He was glad that she could not see his face as he was sure that it was as red as a beetroot. He remained silent, not knowing what to say. Liz asked if he was still there and he weakly replied that he was, but would hang up if that is what she wanted. The truth was that, even though she felt incredibly guilty about it, Liz was starting to feel a bit like her old self again that that old self was a great practical joker. She realised that Will had not encountered that side of her before and did not know that she was being silly and sarcastic with him.
"Relax", she laughed, "I am only stirring you. But…why are you ringing...what can I do for you?"
Before he had a chance to answer Liz butted in again, "oh wait, don't tell me that you are dying or something".
As soon as the words were uttered Liz realised the inappropriateness of what she had said. She of all people should not have been joking about such matters - what if it were true? Will too was shocked by what she had said and did not know how to respond.
"I…I'm so sorry," Liz apologized, "that was totally uncalled for. Please don't think that I meant it or wished that it were true. I am just surprised to hear from you, that's all".
Still Will did not speak and so she continued, "I do have a tendency to put my foot in it. Again, Will, I am so, so sorry."
He could tell that her apology was sincere so he accepted it. "It's ok, I realise that I caught you off guard. Just for the record I am in very good health and hope that you are too." Liz answered in the affirmative so he continued, "I can understand you being surprised by my calling after such a long time. I was thinking about our last encounter at the soccer match - I have long meant to apologise for not calling to enquire after your daughter."
"My daughter? What about her?" Liz felt a shiver run through her - what did he mean by that.
"Remember, your daughter was missing or something," he ventured, "you rushed off in a hurry."
"Oh that's right. Yes, well, she was a silly little girl who thought that she was older than she was. Suffice to say that hopefully she won't try that again a hurry."
There was once more silence and Liz was tempted to take a leaf from the ball scene at Netherfield and say 'It is your turn to say something now, Mr Darcy. - I talked about my daughter and you ought to make some kind of remark that you are glad that she is ok', but even though Will had admitted to reading Pride and Prejudice she was sure that he would not catch on to her humour and would instead think that she was perhaps, slightly, deranged!
Will realised that he needed to say something, however this was not the right time to bring up the fact that he knew about what had happened in the past. He took a long breath, plucked up courage and blurted out
"Liz, I was wondering if you would like to meet up with me - just for coffee, nothing formal. I know that our last attempt was disastrous, through no fault of your own I might add, but I really enjoyed our time together and would like to have the opportunity to start over again. Just as friends of course".
Where had that come from? Will had not intended to ask her out, only to enquire after her. He could not retract it now. Will let go of the breath that he was holding and waited for her response, sure that she would be quite scathing to him, and rightly so. Now it was Liz's turn to be silent and he wondered if she had hung up on him. At last Liz spoke, only to tell him that she needed a minute to think about it. Liz put her phone down and went out of the room, leaving Will wondering what he should do - stay there or hang up?
Liz was shocked, to say the least, by his question. She had never expected to hear from Will again, let alone him ask her out - for that is what he really was doing. She closed her eyes for a few seconds and then, as she opened them a small smile appeared - yes, the 'old' Liz was slowly coming back and why not have some fun. She was not looking for a relationship but company would be nice. Ok, Will had been a jerk before but everyone deserved a second chance and she would not let him forget that!
Will had been waiting on the line for what seemed an eternity, but was in reality only a few minutes. He jumped when he heard Liz's voice,
"Are you still there Will?" he answered that he was, "Sorry to have left you like that, I just wanted to think things through. I would like to meet up for coffee - just as friends as you said. I am sure that you will be on your best behaviour". Liz could not help adding the last bit.
He was surprised and strangely relieved - he really did not want Liz to only remember him as a boorish insensitive guy. He wanted to show her that it had been a one-off. Due to various commitments on each side they could not meet for two weeks so a time and place was arranged for then.
They both hung up, Will feeling happy whilst Liz was left feeling a bit stunned and pangs of doubt started to creep in. Why did she say yes - she had no interest in Will Darcy, or any guy for that matter, but to change her mind now would be rude and for some reason Liz did not want Will to think ill of her. Anyway, it was not for two weeks and a lot can happen in that time.
Posted on: 2012-08-04
The day had arrived for Will to visit Daniel. He was still hesitant about it and regretting his decision but glad that it would soon be over and he could get on with things, satisfied that he had at least tried to do something altruistic. He had spoken to and seen Jenny a few times since the court fiasco but he had not again brought up the subject of Daniel. Nor had he mentioned the fact that he had arranged to meet with Liz - it was about time that he decided his own fate without the interference of his younger sister.
When Will arrived at the Donoghues house he was surprised to see Herbert sitting on the porch dressed in his Sunday best - he looked down at his own attire, jeans and a polo shirt, and wondered if there was in fact a dress code that he didn't know about. Herbert hobbled down the stairs and eased himself into the car ignoring Will's offer to help him.
"Morning Will, thanks for coming to pick me up"
"Good morning, nice weather today isn't it", Will responded.
He pulled away from the curb and commenced driving down the street, his nerves starting to get the better of him - he did not know if he was more nervous about meeting Daniel or once again going to the school where he had himself been a boarder during what was an unhappy period of his life.
As if he was reading Will's thoughts Herbert said, "I am sure that you are feeling a bit of trepidation at the moment. That is only natural."
Will wondered if this man was psychic or something! "Yes, I must confess that I am feeling a bit nervous about this. Tell me about Daniel".
The journey to the school was not long, however Herbert was in his element talking about his grandson. He said that Daniel was extremely good looking and smart. He waxed lyrical about his sporting ability and manners, and how good he was to his grandmother, and how popular he was. Will expected to meet either a saint or a spoilt brat!!
They arrived and Herbert instructed Will to let him out at the front of the building, so that he could fetch Daniel, and then go and park in the visitors area. He had no doubt that Daniel would be handsome - Rebecca had been very attractive and the boys father was, he had to admit, quite good looking. Will walked slowly back to the main entrance and, drawing in a sharp breath, pulled open the big front doors and stepped into the foyer.
It was just as he remembered. Stunning old joinery and stained glass windows, parquetry floors, school crest and motto displayed proudly on the wall, leather chesterfield sofa. Yes it reeked of money and prestige. Will shuddered as he remembered how much he hated returning to this entrance when he came back after the weekends or holidays - granted he had done very well with the excellent education that he had received, and he was grateful for it, but who knows if he would have done as well somewhere else? Was it nature or nurture that drives someone?
Will was roused from his musings by the sound of footsteps - he turned around to see Herbert and a middle aged man. Herbert introduced him the man, who was Daniel's head of year, and they chatted a while about his school days there. A small movement caught Will's eye and he saw a boy slink into the room, trying hard to blend into the furniture.
"Here he is!!" exclaimed Herbert, and with more agility than he had previously displayed he strode up to the boy and embraced him in a hug.
The embarrassment on the boys face was plain to see, but the old man did not notice - he grabbed Daniel's arm and pulled him over towards Will. "Daniel", he said, "let me present Will Darcy. He is a friend of the family."
Will held out his hand and the boy tentatively shook it with a mumbled "pleased to meet you". With that Herbert declared that he and the middle aged man were going to go into the library and he strode off, his walking stick clacking on the wooden floor as he went. Will felt his heart start to race and sweat beaded on his forehead. His cheeks turned bright red. This was not what he had expected.
Daniel stood gazing at the floor and Will knew that it was up to him to reduce the tension in the room. He cleared his throat, "So" he started, "How do you like being at this school?". Lame, granted, but he didn't know what else to say.
The boy muttered that it was good, all the while not taking his eyes off the floor. "I came here you know", Will ventured. "However I did not think that it was good. In fact, even coming back here now caused me to break into a sweat". He realised that he may be overstepping the mark so he hastily added, "Don't get me wrong - it is a great school and I am grateful that I had the opportunity to come here - it's just that it may not have been the best choice for me. I was very lonely at times".
He noticed that Daniel had shifted his gaze a bit and instead of looking at the floor he now appeared to be examining Will's knees. "Why don't we sit down", he suggested, leading the way to the lounge. Daniel followed along and sat down at the opposite end to Will, hugging the armrest as hard as he could.
Will had a chance to look at him then and was surprised to see that the boy was not as he had expected. His hair was a dirty blond colour, quite thin and whispy. He was tall, but of a slender build. He wore glasses and still had braces on his teeth, even though Will thought that someone of his age would have finished their orthodontic treatment by now. He thought that things must cause him some self-consciousness, especially around girls.* It rather cruelly flashed through his mind that Rebecca , superficial as she was, must be rather disappointed to have such an ordinary looking child.
The silence was palpable and the minutes seemed like hours and Will longed for Herbert to return and save him from this - why had he ever thought that he would be able to make small talk with a teenage boy? But Daniel looked more and more uncomfortable by the second and Will knew that he at least owed him an explanation.
"I guess you are wondering who I am and why I am here?" the boy nodded slightly. "Like your grandfather said, I am a friend of him and your grandmother. I have known them a long time and as they always talk about you I wanted to meet you".
Daniel turned and glanced at him briefly. "Look", Will said, "I'm really sorry about this. I thought that it would be a good idea but I have just ended up embarrassing us both". He sighed and ran his hand through his hair. "If you want to show me to the library I will get your grandfather and we will be on our way".
"How. How. How do you know my grandparents?" Daniel surprised Will by asking.
"I have known them a long time. They were friends with my parents. I consider your grandparents to be some of the nicest and most decent people I know".
"Yes they are". Daniel declared. "But I worry about them when I am here - especially my grandma because she is sick".
The ice was broken and from then on the conversation flowed. Will found out what subjects he was studying, what his interests were, what sports he played, and by the time Herbert returned Will had determined that Daniel was one great kid, with a surprisingly wicked sense of humour, especially when describing his teachers, and he would like to spend more time with him. Herbert was delighted and said that he would make arrangements for Will to visit again.
The "coffee date" with Liz had been arranged for a Friday night when both of her children were preoccupied with functions. This suited Liz as it meant a). that she did not have to ask her parents to babysit (and arouse their suspicions and b). she would need to leave at a reasonable time to go and pick them up. Frustratingly to Will, Liz had insisted on driving there herself and it went against what he thought to be proper gentlemanly behaviour. Besides, he was anxious to see where she lived.
Liz was not sure what to wear - too casual and she looked like she didn't put any effort in; too dressy and it looked like she was trying too hard to make this a date, which she was determined it would not be. In the end she chose black pants, a white top and black cardigan and short boots. Perfectly presentable in her opinion.
Will also had trouble deciding what to wear. Women assume that they have the monopoly in the fashion stakes but he also did not want to appear too casual or too dressy. At last it was settled and he was on his way - setting his GPS to guide him to the unfamiliar venue. Liz had chosen a Club¹ for the occasion and Will was a bit dubious about such places as he associated them with perhaps lower social standing, so he was pleasantly surprised as he arrived at his destination and saw that it was a very large, well lit and modern building. He messaged Liz as she needed to sign him in as a temporary member.
He was waiting in the foyer by the lift for Liz to arrive and was therefore surprised to see that she had come down via the stairs instead. She signed him in with reception and then started up the stairs again, indicating for him to follow. Upstairs it was brightly lit and a band was playing somewhere. Liz sat down at one of the tables and he followed suit.
"Hi Will, sorry to not really greet you properly but I was anxious to come back and claim a table. It is very busy tonight".
"Yes it is, and noisy too", he shouted as the band started on a particularly loud riff.
"It's very nice here - the food I mean. I've already eaten and hope that you have too, so we could have dessert and coffee".
Will had not eaten, but he did not like to mention the fact that he needed more to fill him up. Liz however noticed his face and apologized "Sorry, I thought that we had agreed that it was coffee only. Of course if you want a meal go ahead. The restaurant is excellent or the coffee shop has wraps and sandwiches".
He checked out the coffee shop and decided on a tasted sandwich to go with his dessert and coffee. Liz attempted to pay her share but he insisted settling the account, however she did manage to sneak in her membership card and obtain him a discount. "What did I save - all of $1.00!! Hardly seems worth it". Will remarked. "Not for you, perhaps" answered Liz, "But for many pensioners and low income earners this place gives them a chance to socialize, and saving money is important".
He felt properly chastised and realised that it was not exactly kind to flash around his wealth or look down upon those to whom a discount was important. That was one of the things that he despised about Rebecca and her ilk. Liz had excused herself and had gone to the ladies, so he settled back into his chair and waited for the food and drinks to arrive, and wondered what they would talk about.
*please don't take offence at the reference to glasses and braces. My teenage son is quite tall and started high school with both. He was suddenly very self conscious about how much he stood out - contact lenses assisted him greatly with this. I also wear glasses.
¹ a Club is a social club which is set up by an organisation such as sporting, returned servicemen etc. It is run by members who pay a membership fee. There are poker (slot) machines and other forms of gambling, alcohol and restaurants or bistros, and function rooms. The Clus have social activities as well, such as bingo and outings. Profits are diverted back into the community.
Posted on: 2012-11-06
Liz seemed to be a long time in the bathroom - their orders had arrived and the coffee was getting cold. Will was very hungry and his stomach was growling so he threw propriety to the wind and started to eat his sandwich, sure that Liz would not mind that he had not waited for her. He knew that ladies could take a while attending to their ablutions, but he had not pictured her as one to be touching up her hair or makeup. It did flash through his mind that Liz may have left because there was a sudden emergency at home, or perhaps she had decided that she did not want his company after all. What if she had suffered a sudden illness and had collapsed in the cubicle!
Just as he was finishing his sandwich and plotting his next move Liz returned, smiling as though nothing had happened.
"Oh good, the coffee is here! Sorry that I was away for a bit longer than expected".
"Yes. Well it is probably cold by now!".
Liz was surprised at his sarcastic tone. She had a good reason for the delay and though it was none of Will's business she told him anyway. "Well as I said, sorry. I ran into a friend of mine - his son plays in my son's soccer team - and he is suffering from brain cancer. I had not seen him for a while and wanted to find out how he is going".
"Oh", Will felt very chastised, "How is he?"
"Very poorly. He now walks with a stick and has some paralysis down one side. Unfortunately it is a horrible disease and ultimately he will die from it. He has tried every sort of treatment and endured a few operations in the hope that it will buy him some more time to be with his family and create some more memories".
Liz stopped there as she felt herself on the verge of tears, both for her friend who was fighting so hard to stay alive and for John, who did not get the chance to make any more memories. Will responded that he was sorry to hear about her friend - there was nothing more to say.
Almost in a whisper Liz said, "Yes, life is very transient. You just don't realise how precious it is until it is snatched away from you".
They sat in silence for a few moments, drinking their coffee and savouring the desserts. Will was not sure what to do or say next - he was well aware of what Liz was thinking about but this was not the right time to reveal what he knew. Just then the band returned from having a break. The first riff caught them off guard and they both startled slightly, which caused Liz to start giggling and so the somber mood was broken. She suggested that they move to a quieter area so that they could play the gaming machines.
Will found such machines to be boring and he muttered as much. "Oh come on," Liz responded, "if you don't want to play then sit down and have a drink while I do. I always have a bit of a flutter when I am here".
He looked a bit shocked at this so Liz explained. "Don't be alarmed, I only put in a few dollars". With a wicked grin she added, "I always make sure that I have enough left for a bottle of milk!" and then she was gone. Will was left on his own - he turned around and could not see where she was among the sea of machines, so he ordered himself a drink and sat down in the nearest chair. Best to stay put when he didn't know the venue.
Liz was only gone for about 10 minutes but to Will it seemed like it was ages and he was beginning to think that she perhaps did indeed have a gambling problem. His mind started working overtime - he did not want to associate himself with someone who had an addiction!! Just then he felt someone's hand on his shoulder and their other hand was in front of his face. He jumped and gasped in surprise. He looked up and saw that it was Liz, who was surprised at his reaction - the hand in front of his face was holding a $10 note.
"You startled me!!", Darcy exclaimed.
"Sorry", Liz apologized, "I was just so excited to show you my winnings".
"You won $10", he noted sarcastically
"No, not $10. I started with $5 and I won $5. I always quit when I am ahead", she explained.
Will was not impressed, "Hardly seems worthwhile!".
"What do you mean not worthwhile. It is 100% profit! Whether the outlay is $5 or $5million 100% profit is 100% profit. It just depends on your perspective. I'm going to shout myself to a glass of bubbly as a reward".
Will stood up to go to the bar for her but she waved him away saying that she was fine on her own and it flashed through his mind how different she was to other ladies that he knew - they would have been purring at him to please go and get them a glass of champagne - only the best of course!
When Liz returned they once again lapsed into silence and Will was conscious of the fact that he must appear to be rather dull company. So, desperate to at least appear to be making an effort, he asked a question that he had so far avoided, but one that he was sure would start the conversation flowing, albeit one sided.
"Um, tell me about your children. I don't believe that you have ever discussed them with me".
"Discussed them? I was not aware that this was a parent / teacher meeting!", Liz could not help but joke at his officious manner, however she saw that he was offended and softened her tone. "I'm sorry Will, but it did seem a strange thing to say. But of course I am always happy to talk about my kids - what mother isn't".
"I know that you have at least a boy and a girl", he noticed her puzzled look, "You may remember that I saw you at the soccer match? And you said that your son was playing? And your daughter had disappeared?".
"Oh yes, I do remember that. I do have a girl and a boy - no others except the cat and dog. Sherie is nearly 14 and, like most teenage girls, is a handful. We clash quite a lot. I try to give her some leeway and think back to when I was a teenager but it is hard because they are different now - I would never have been rude or back chatted to my mother".
Liz paused - there was one very obvious difference to when she was a teenager but she could not say that to Will. She also didn't want to paint Sherie in too harsh a light so she continued, "I'm sorry, I sound like she is dreadful and she is not. She is kind and loving and sometimes thoughtful, it is just that it is often so frustrating".
Will did not comment and Liz felt sure that he was shocked. She felt her cheeks redden with embarrassment - she could not believe that she had said such things about her child to him. What must he think of her? Liz did not know what to do; should she apologise; should she pretend that nothing untoward was said; should she excuse herself and leave.
The last course of action seemed to be the best, she thought. Liz was not ready to disclose to him what was probably behind Sherie's behaviour - she did not want to seem to anyone to be the poor single mother / widow who was unable to cope with her own children. No doubt Will would not want to associate with her after this.
Liz was just about to say that she was leaving when will spoke. "You may recall that I mentioned that I have a sister, Jenny. She is a fair bit younger than me and I can remember her as a teenager - she was very difficult and my parents, particularly my mother, despaired. I was often the go-between as I could objectively see both sides - Jenny wanted to do things her own way and my mother thought that her way was the best. They were both just too stubborn to see reason".
"What happened?", Liz enquired.
"Well, they are still the same, still both stubborn. However Jenny is now a grown woman with three children of her own and she realises that our mother is from a different era and her interference, while extremely annoying, is kindly meant. She only wants the best for us and I am sure that deep down your daughter knows the same about you".
Liz was very impressed - Will's words sounded so wise. At his prompting she told him about David and then he told her about Jenny and her brood. He briefly mentioned how Nick was a great father and very tolerant of both Jenny and his mother, but he took care to refer to Nick as 'Jenny's husband' just in case she picked up on anything.
It was time for Liz to leave as she needed to collect her children. As they left she asked Will how he had liked his 'Club adventure' and when he replied that he had been pleasantly surprised she suggested that next time they could go there and play bingo. The look on Will's face was priceless and Liz could not help but laugh, but he was left not knowing whether or not she was serious.
"This is my car", said Liz, pointing to a small red hatchback. "Thanks Will, I had a nice time. And thanks for listening. Goodnight". She took hold of his hand and gave it a friendly squeeze and then leaned up and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek. It was now Will's turn to blush, and he was glad that it was dark and she could not see his face clearly.
"Oh, yes", he stammered, "Thank you also. I, um, will give you a call soon".
Liz drove off with a wave and a beep of the horn and Will was left to stare after her. He noticed that she had personal number plates with the initials 'ER'. Strange, he thought that her name was Bennett. Will then opened the door to his car and climbed into the drivers seat - he sat there for a few moments thinking about what had happened - Liz had kissed him! Granted, it was just a peck on the cheek, and it was an unfortunate thing, in his opinion, that female acquaintances thought that it was acceptable to plant kisses on both cheeks when saying hello or goodbye, but Liz had never before done that. He started the car, turned the music up loud, and drove off in a hurry.
Posted on: 2014-03-04
Liz drove away from the club and headed off to collect first David and then Sherie. The trip was not far and before long they had arrived back home and she commenced the nighttime ritual of getting the children into bed. Their protests to stay up a bit longer, as it was Friday night, fell on deaf ears as Liz reminded them that they had sport the next day. David complied after Liz threatened that he would not get a bedtime story otherwise, and Sherie huffed off into her room muttering away - her mother knew that she would stay up 'talking' to friends for a while but what teenager didn't do that?
As always there was much to do so Liz decided to tackle the ironing basket first. The TV guide showed that there was nothing worthwhile watching so she ironed in silence with only her thoughts to keep her company. Her mind wandered back to earlier in the evening - it had been an indulgence to have dessert and coffee and she had enjoyed playing the machines but she had the feeling that Will had not been at all impressed. He had been quite silent and taciturn and had appeared to have looked down his nose at everything. What a burden to go through life being so negative.
She also thought about Lenny, her friend with the brain cancer. He and John had met on the sidelines of soccer as their sons ran around the field. There had been triumphs and frustrations as the team of little boys chased around the ball and a wonderful friendship had been forged. Lenny had been devastated by John's death and he and his wife Dawn had been a great source of support to Liz. And now perhaps soon she would be able to return the favour to Dawn. Liz envied Dawn in a way - she would get to say a last goodbye to her husband and her children would be prepared for their father going away. Liz would never forget having to tell her kids about John, and how David kept asking how could she be sure that daddy would not come home.
It was not easy being a relatively young widow. Some people avoided her so that they did not have to mention it. Some women became quite possessive of their husbands when she was around - if they saw Liz talking to their man they would be sure to sidle up and put their arm around him, giving her a silent message that he was spoken for. Liz found this somewhat sad as well as amusing; sad because they clearly could not trust their men, and amusing that they thought that Liz would be interested - lets face it, none of them were Gods gift! She and John were not like that - they trusted one another implicitly, and she could not imagine being in a relationship that was otherwise.
Liz wondered whether or not Will Darcy was a man who could be trusted. Is that why his marriage broke up - because of a lack of trust. She remembered the pictures of Will that she had previously seen on the internet - it certainly did appear that he liked the ladies. And if she recalled correctly, some of them appeared to be quite a bit younger than him. It was not fair - men could get away with that but if women tried the same thing they were called cougars.
So why was Will ringing her and wanting to go out with her? He had made it clear that they were not of the same social standing. Surely he wanted to have children one day and he was not getting any younger. It just did not make any sense!! Well, Liz decided that she was not going to devote any more time or energy to the subject - she had a feeling that she would hear no more from Mr Darcy.
Liz's instincts proved to be correct and a few weeks passed without a call or message from Will. In a few days it would be David's 8th birthday and he was not really interested in having a party with his friends. Liz had thrown him a party for his 7th birthday, even though it was only a few months after John had died, and it had been exhausting doing everything herself, so she was grateful that this year at least she did not have to organize one. The three of them would have a quiet family dinner at David's favourite restaurant, and then on the weekend she would invite the grandparents and family over for cake.
Liz was aware that she needed to include John's mother and brothers in the invitation as well, but the thought of contacting her mother-in-law Joan filled her with dread. Joan had not been able to move on since John's death and she was sure to be very maudlin as she opined to all what a wonderful son, brother, and husband John had been. Very nice sentiments, but not what a young boy should have to put up with on his birthday - especially as he would already be missing his father so much.
She spent the next days ringing her parents, sisters and brother and inviting them and their families over on the coming Sunday for afternoon tea and cake. By the time she had finished talking to everyone the event had been changed to lunch, with everyone bringing a plate of food! Liz felt her head spinning with the thought of it all, and how difficult it was to simply arrange anything with her family, but it was David's day and he would be happy to be able to spend the afternoon playing with his cousins. There was one more call to make and that was to Joan - might as well get it over with, Liz already had a headache so it couldn't get much worse!
She rang Joan's number and waited while the phone rang a number of times. She was just about to hang up when the old lady answered.
"Hi Joan, it's Liz" she hoped that she didn't sound too chirpy. "How are you?"
She anticipated the response that she would receive and was not disappointed. "I'm still alive..."
Liz didn't want to get caught up in a long and depressing conversation so she continued,"That's great to hear - wouldn't be much fun talking to you otherwise!". She knew that this was facetious, but it was hard enough for her to get through the day as it was without Joan making her feel worse.
"Um, I'm sure you remember that it is David's birthday soon. I'm having my family over for Sunday lunch and was hoping that you would come as well. We haven't seen you for a while and I know that the kids are missing you". This last bit was not exactly correct, but she wanted to make the lady feel wanted.
"Of course Joel and Jason are welcome as well" she added, referring to John's brothers, "could you please ask them if they can come, and let me know?"
There was a sigh at the other end of the phone and then Joan replied "oh, I guess that I could manage that - I would love to see the children - and your family of course" she quickly added. "I haven't seen much of anyone since the funeral".
And there is was, the mention of John's demise that she seemed to slip into every conversation. Liz could tell that the tears had started. It must be terrible for a parent to have to bury a child - that is not supposed to happen
Posted on: 2015-01-01
Will had been busy in the week following his "coffee date" at the club. He had been involved in several business meetings, including one which had necessitated in him travelling interstate. Late nights and early mornings had left him tired and grumpy, and days became a blur of quick dinners in front of the TV. He never noticed what was on the screen and even Susanna York was pushed off when she dared to try and sit on his lap.
He felt despondent and didn't really know why. Sure, he was tired but it was more than that, and he couldn't quite put his finger on what was wrong. He really had nothing to complain about; a great career, wealth, respect, loving family, enviable lifestyle. And then it hit him - he was lonely. It had been a long time since he had any intimacy - real intimacy that is. He started thinking about things that many others bemoaned - someone telling him to take his shoes off in the house and not slouch on the lounge; kids thrusting drawings in his face as he walked thru the door; weekends filled with sport and hardware shopping, and birthday parties; rushing to get the washing off the line before it was rewet by rain; dogs barking; doors slamming; music blaring.....his head felt like it was going to explode. Then his logical mind kicked back in and he chided himself for letting his thoughts run away in such a manner.
But he did think again about the intimacy issue. Everyone has certain "needs" and he was no different in that respect. But for him need and intimacy were entwined - unlike some men his need could not be satisfied without true intimacy, and by that he meant having a real partner, someone who liked him for him, not for the status that a relationship with him could bring.
At various times Liz crept into his thoughts and each night as he arrived home he pondered on how nice it would be to have someone to greet him, and his dinner waiting for him. He recalled the conversation that they had where Liz talked about her children. She had literally beamed with pride as she described them - even the "devil child" that her daughter seemed to be.
When Will checked his calendar and saw that he had scheduled in a weekend visit to Daniel he thought seriously about cancelling. However he knew that the boy had not had any visitors for a few weeks - he had heard that his grandmother was now gravely ill, and did not want to disappoint him.
Out of courtesy he rang Daniel's grandfather, Herbert, to make sure that it was ok for him to see the boy. Herbert answered the phone, sounding very frail and vague - it took him a little while to process who Will was and what he wanted and after what seemed like several minutes he responded.
"Yes Will, of course that is ok. I'm sure that Daniel will be pleased to see you".
There was silence as Will wondered what to say. He felt awkward asking Herbert how he was, or how Dulcie was doing as he knew the answers to both. He was just about to say that goodbye when the old man again spoke.
"I say Will, would it be too much to ask a favour?". Will muttered that of course it was ok. "Would you be able to bring Daniel to see Dulcie? He has not been here for a while and she would like to see him very much". Will answered that of course he would and a time was arranged for him to bring Daniel around the next weekend.
Will arrived at the boarding school as arranged. He still felt uneasy each time he walked into the great hall and was relieved to find that he didn't have to wait around as Daniel was already there. They greeted each other warmly and then went out to the car to commence the short drive to his grandparents house. Daniel was silent, appearing to be nervous, and Will's attempt at small talk was not reciprocated. They walked up to the front door and rang the bell - after a few minutes they heard footsteps and the door was opened by one of Herbert's sons, Thomas.
"Oh, it's you. Hello Daniel", said the man. It was not said in an unfriendly way, but there was no warmth.
"Uh, hello Uncle Tom", Daniel managed to squeak out.
Will, standing behind, cleared his throat.
"Oh, hi Will, dad said that you were going to bring Daniel ", said Thomas. "Come in".
Just then Herbert appeared. He reached out his arms and hugged Daniel tightly, burying his face in the boys chest. He then looked up and whispered "Thank you" to Will. The two of them set off down the corridor leaving Will standing on the verandah and Tom holding open the door. He moved aside to let Will enter but Will shook his head, saying that he would sit on the verandah. Surprisingly Tom stepped out as well and sat down in a chair.
"Sad business", he said. "Doctor says that it won't be long now"
"How is your father holding out?", Will enquired.
"As best as can be expected. I think that he is in denial that it will be soon. Cass and I have been coming every day, and Peter and Jan as well. We think that it is time that mum was moved to a hospital but dad won't have a bar of it until it is absolutely necessary. The nurse comes every day to clean her and administer medications, so we have to be guided by her and the doctor".
They sat in silence for a few minutes then Thomas spoke again, almost in a whisper, "Rebecca has been advised"
Will let out a sharp breath "Yes, I assumed she would have been. Do you know what her plans are? Is she coming back home?"
"As far as I know she is. Will probably flounce in just in time for the funeral", her brother sounded bitter.
For a fleeting minute Will felt a bit sorry for Rebecca - but then his heart hardened again. She should be here with her parents, she should be comforting her son. As if he had read Will's mind Thomas spoke again
"Thanks for bringing Daniel. I know that it means a lot to my parents. I know too that you have been visiting him and taking an interest in him - I just hope that it is for all of the right reasons and not just to make you feel good!"
Will was affronted at being accosted so. He sat himself upright and stared at the other man.
"I'm sorry Will, and don't mean to upset you. We have known each other for a long time and I just find it unusual that you would take such an interest in a child who I assume is not related to you".
Will caught the meaning of 'assume' and felt his face redden. He wanted to say that he felt that someone at least should take an interest in Daniel, however now was not the right time for hostilities so he softened his answer.
"Well, your father had spoken a lot about him and I could see how much of a burden it was becoming for him to make time for both your mother and Daniel. I have some spare time on my hands and decided that I wanted to help him out. I must admit that I made the offer hastily and regretted it immediately, however your father was so grateful that I could not back out. Of course, when I met Daniel I was impressed and decided that I wanted to continue to get to know him better".
"Yes, I could see why you took a shine to him - if my memory serves me correctly you were a bit of a 'geek boy' yourself at his age", Thomas responded. Will was very surprised by this but instead of making a sarcastic remark he just chuckled and agreed that he probably was.
They sat in silence for a few minutes and then Thomas spoke again. "My boy, Nick, is around the same age as Daniel. Goes to the same school too. But I don't think that they really talk to each other very much - Nick is much more outgoing. I have been trying to get him to come and see his grandmother and grandfather but....he always has something on".
Will could tell by his tone that Thomas was not happy with his son's lack of respect or concern for his grandparents and he smiled slightly - Daniel may be a 'geek" but at least he loved them. A short time later the door was opened and Daniel and Herbert stepped out on to the porch. The two of them embraced each other and then Thomas shook hands with Daniel and Will. Herbert come over and put his hand on Will's shoulder and looked into his eyes. "Thank you again Will. It has meant so much to Dulcie and I".
Will muttered that it was his pleasure and to let him know if there was anything else he could do and then he and Daniel walked down the path to his car. Before he drove off Will turned around and saw the old man still standing there, head bowed and faced lined with sorrow, before Thomas led him back into the house.
They drove off in silence. Will did not look at Daniel but could tell by his sniffles that he was crying and his heart went out to the boy. Rather than go straight back to school Will drove around for a while, instinctively knowing that Daniel would not want to walk into the school with a tear stained face. They came to a fast food restaurant and
Will went into the drive through and asked Daniel what he would like to eat. When they had their order Will pulled up on the side of the road and they ate in silence before again driving off. They arrived back at the school and Daniel opened the door and muttered 'Thanks' before getting out and starting to walk away. Will called out his name and when Daniel turned around Will said softly 'it's ok'. The boy nodded, sucked in his breath, and continued on. Will watched him walk off, sighed, and headed for home.
Two days later he received a call that Dulcie Donoghue had passed away.
Posted on: 2015-09-18
As soon the children were old enough to be trusted to sit reasonably still Liz & John Bennett had made a tradition, each time one of them had a birthday, of going out to dinner as a family and Liz was keen to continue with this. She decided that David's birthday dinner would be on the coming Friday night so she rang and made a reservation for three at Vapys, a family style restaurant which had been a favourite with them. It catered for all tastes and had a large selection from which to choose - fish and chips, burgers, schnitzels, grilled salmon, vegetarian options etc, with desserts to die for.
Liz heard the phone ringing as she was coming inside with a basket of clean laundry, but by the time she had negotiated the basket through the doorway the phone had stopped. It was from a private number and Liz thought that it was probably a telemarketer or charity as they seemed to be the only ones who rang during the day from unlisted numbers. Not long after the phone rang again - still showing that it was from a private number - so she answered with a cheerful "Hello Liz speaking" and was ready with her pre-prepared answers - no, she did not have 10 minutes to spare to answer a survey and no, she had other charities that she was supporting at the moment, but thanks for calling.
However, the voice at the other end was a surprise "Hi Liz, it's Will".
She was quite shocked and did not answer so he continued "Hi Liz....are you there?"
"Yes, I'm here. Hi Will, how are you?" she probably sounded a bit icy, but truth be told Will didn't notice. Dulcie's death had affected him more than he thought that it would - in fact he had decided to spend a few days working from home so that he could take a breather when he wanted to. He had discussed her death with his mother and Jenny, both of whom were of course very sorry to hear the news. Jenny had asked him if he knew whether or not Rebecca would be at the funeral and he lied and said that he hadn't heard anything about her - he did not want to answer the questions that Jenny would no doubt ask if she knew that Rebecca would be attending.
The funeral was to be held on the coming Monday. His thoughts kept turning to Herbert - he pictured the old man pottering around and not really being of any help in the preparations. Whilst he was sure that Rebecca would be of next to no use he knew that her father would be very glad to see her at such a time - he just hoped that Rebecca would realise that she needed to spend her time with him and not with her friends.
Will, however, felt in need of a friend which is why he called Liz. He did not really notice Liz's tone - he just said that he was sorry that he hadn't spoken with her for a while. He was pleasant and polite, asked what she had been doing and what the children were up to. Liz answered as briefly as she could and waved her hand around the air in exasperation - wondering why he was ringing her and what excuse she could give to end the call. Will was trying to engage her in small talk and Liz obliged him for a while, however when he sensed that she was going to say goodbye he took the plunge, and asked if they could catch up again during the coming weekend.
Liz was not prepared for this. She really wanted to put an end to their acquaintance once and for all - nothing was going to come of it as she was not interested in him but he had to come to that conclusion on his own so she answered honestly and told him that it was her sons' birthday and she would be busy organizing celebrations. Will asked if he was having a birthday party and Liz quickly said no, and then hesitated before haltingly explaining further,
"We have a tradition that when it is one of our birthdays, we go out to dinner. And on Sunday my family.....and others.....are coming over for lunch".
"That sounds nice", Will responded, "we do much the same when someone in my family has a birthday. My sister usually also throws big birthday parties for her kids and always invites me - I did make the mistake of attending once or twice but never again - it was like hell on earth".
Liz laughed - she could picture the terrified look on Will's face as he was surrounded by children. "David had a party last year with his friends", Liz responded, "and, yes, it was pretty full on and exhausting. Thankfully he didn't want one this year, but I still have a lot to do with dinner and the family coming over".
"Yes, a family dinner is a nice thing to do. Where will you go?" Will enquired. He would have been surprised to realise that Liz was affronted at this question. Where did he get off asking such information? Her maternal instincts kicked in and she felt like a mother bear shielding her cubs so she answered him a tad frostily,
"Oh, we go to a family style restaurant - you know, with burgers and chips and lots of kids running around. You no doubt would never set foot in such a place", and would look down your nose at it, she thought.
"You'd be surprised", Will answered, "I have been to some doosies with my sister and her brood".
"But did you enjoy them?", she asked
"Weeeellll, ok, I will be honest. I can see the necessity of having somewhere to take children but, I must admit, not my favourite thing to do" he answered.
And then Liz had a lightbulb moment - she realized how to get rid of Will Darcy for good. "Will", she asked in a beguiling voice, "Would you like to join us for dinner on Friday night?".
Will was stunned to say the least - he had not expected this at all. A minute passed as he tried to collect his thoughts. He did not consider himself "good" with children - his niece and nephews excepted - and the thought of meeting Liz's children filled him with fear. What sudden prior engagement could he conjure up? But surely Liz wanted him to come and he could not allow her to think him rude and snobby. He would have to agree to attend.
Liz was smiling as she thought about how uncomfortable Will must be feeling at that moment. The silence on the other end of the phone confirmed to her how shocked he must have been. Surely he would come up with some excuse and then hopefully she would never hear from him again. So it was with surprise and some disappointment that she heard him say, voice softer and a bit shaky "I would love to come to dinner with you and your children".
Annoyed that her plan had been thwarted and no doubt sounding a bit unfriendly Liz said that she would send him all of the details, hastily said goodbye, and hung up.
DRAT!! That hadn't worked out how she had planned. Liz now had to break the news to her kids that there would be a guest at dinner with them. David would no doubt be delighted, but she dreaded Sherie's reaction.