Posted on: 2014-01-18
Elizabeth Bennet surreptitiously watched the restaurant entrance. Her date was now fifteen minutes late. She cursed herself for being here in the first place. It had all started a month earlier.
Elizabeth's mom was constantly trying to set her daughters up with young men. Having five daughters, ranging in age from 22 to 29, Mrs. Bennet made it her life's mission to see them all married. Although she seemed not to be too concerned about Jane (her beauty would eventually attract a wealthy man, she was sure of it), she was deeply concerned with Elizabeth's single status. A month ago, Elizabeth had finally given in to her mom's nagging and allowed her to set her up on a blind date.
One week later Elizabeth had the pleasure of being escorted to dinner (at McDonald's) and a movie (at the discount theater) by none other than Bill Collins. She could swear the man was an octopus. If she wasn't leaning forward in her chair so that his arm was not draping across her shoulders, she was conveniently picking up her drink to avoid having him hold her hand. By the end of the evening he was ready to propose marriage, and she was ready to never see him again. She did not understand why her mom thought she would be interested in a man that still lived in his mother's basement.
Although her mom was offended at Elizabeth's description of Bill Collins, it did not deter her. She was determined to set her daughter up with any young man should could find until one of them stuck with her. After an argument (that Elizabeth was ashamed to admit was not entirely uncommon), her mom finally agreed that Elizabeth did not have to go on any other dates that she set up, as long as she promised to go on at least one date a month. Relieved, Elizabeth agreed, then promptly went home and set up an account on an online dating website. Although she had no great hopes of meeting the man of her dreams online, she rationalized that there should be enough men registered that she would be able to finagle 12 dates a year.
Glancing at her watch one more time, she made eye contact with her friend Charlotte, standing behind the bar. Charlotte and Elizabeth had been friends since kindergarten, when Henry Long had pulled Charlotte's braid, and Elizabeth promptly punched him in the eye. They attended college together, where both majored in Business. They worked their way through school at a local bar and grill. Fresh from college at the age of 22, they decided that instead of working for others, they would start a business of their own. Their boss overheard them talking about their plans. They had been excellent employees, and he had no doubt they would succeed if given a chance. He had been contemplating expanding his business, and offered them a partnership in the new location if they were to run it. The last five years had been difficult, but they were finally at a point where they thought they could breathe. Charlotte enjoyed working the bar, so oversaw the wait staff. Elizabeth's role was much less visible as she spent most of the day in the office in the back.
When Elizabeth agreed to her first meeting with a man from the online dating sight, she could not think of anywhere safer than the restaurant where she employed everyone. Charlotte agreed to work the bar to keep an eye on the situation. Before the date began, they had agreed on a signal that Elizabeth could give to Charlotte, asking her to give her a call so she could make up an excuse and leave.
Another glace at her watch told her that George Wickham was now 25 minutes late. Considering the fact that Elizabeth had arrived (well, come out of the back) ten minutes early, she had now been sitting at this table by herself for over half an hour. She would give the man five more minutes.
Four minutes later, a man was shown to her table. When George's head was turned, Elizabeth rolled her eyes at the hostess who had shown George to the table, and got a wink in return.
Without giving any excuses for his tardiness, George immediately began his campaign of flattery. Apparently, Elizabeth was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, as well as the most graceful and most intelligent. Elizabeth bore his compliments well, until she felt his shoeless toe running up the length of her thigh. Thus began the leg shuffle. After the third time Elizabeth moved her leg to get it out of George's reach, she tried to signal Charlotte at the bar. Unfortunately, she was in the midst of a seeming serious conversation with a customer, and did not see the signal. By this time, George had started making suggestions about the next activity for the evening. It was clear he hoped that anything else they would be doing would take place in the privacy of one of their apartments, or a cheap motel. Exasperated, Elizabeth finally excused herself to use the restroom.
On her way to the restroom she made a quick stop to talk to Eric, their waiter, promising a generous tip if he would spill a drink in her date's lap. Laughing that it would be the easiest money he ever earned, he promised to bring another round of drinks as soon as Elizabeth made it back to the table.
As Elizabeth made her way back to the table, she was finally able to catch Charlotte's eye. Thankful that a call would soon be coming, Elizabeth returned to her seat, leaving her legs to the side of the chair. Almost immediately her phone rang.
"Excuse me, but I need to take this," Elizabeth said, opening her phone. "This is Elizabeth."
So, the date's not going well then?
"I'm so sorry. That sounds miserable. Is there anything I can do?"
I heard from Eric that you asked for a drink to be spilled in the man's lap, so I think you have probably done enough. Have you thought of your excuse yet?
"I can't imagine the gall of some people. I'll be right over."
Well, you may need to leave the restaurant first. He might find it a little suspicious if you go through the doors marked 'Personnel Only.'
"Don't worry. I know just want to do to cheer you up."
You always do. Now, Eric will be on his way with those drinks in just a sec. Be ready to act surprised.
"Don't worry about anything. See you soon."
Elizabeth pressed end on her phone, then turned back to George.
"I'm sorry, but I need to go. My sister has just had a horrible evening and she needs a little girl time."
"That's too bad," George replied. "I had hoped the evening was just beginning. Is everything okay?"
"She'll be okay, she just needs some time to blow off steam. She went out on a first date tonight, also. Apparently, after her date arrived incredibly late, he then tried to do everything he could to get in her pants. When he wouldn't take any of the hints that she tried to give him that she wasn't interested in that kind of relationship after only one date, she had to become blunt. My sister is the sweetest girl I've ever met. The man must have been a real lecher if she resorted to slapping him in public."
"That's a shame," George replied, drawing back. "Well, maybe another time then."
Although both knew that would never happen, Elizabeth simply replied with a, "Perhaps."
George was just pushing away from the table when Eric arrived with the drinks. He did a masterful job of making it look like he accidently tripped into the George's chair as he moved away from the table. Elizabeth thought it might have been overdoing it just a tad when she saw that there was a Bloody Mary on the tray. It would be incredibly difficult to get that stain out.
William Darcy was frustrated with himself. It had been a couple of months since his friend, Charles, had dragged him to this Bar and Grill. It was definitely not up to his normal standards, but one of the guys from the mailroom had recommended it to Charles, and Charles convinced him to come along. He was having a horrible time, until he saw Her come out of the backroom.
It was clear she worked at the restaurant. Beyond the fact that she came from the backroom, she greeted all the servers by name, asking how their evening was going. She had walked to the bar, had a quick conversation with the woman behind the counter, then disappeared in the back again. He was captivated. He could not completely explain the attraction, but was pretty sure it had something to do with her fine eyes.
He went back to the Bar and Grill at least twice a week, hoping to catch a glimpse of her. Although, he was not always successful, he had seen her more often than not. One afternoon he had gotten lucky, and she covered the bar for half an hour while the bartender on duty took her lunch. He had feasted his eyes on her the entire time.
When he arrived this evening and saw that she was sitting in the dining area, he was thrilled that he would be able to watch her again. Soon, though, he realized she was waiting for a date. That did not thrill him in the least.
As time passed and her date failed to show, he alternated between being glad he would not have to watch her with another man and distress that she was being stood-up. He could not understand what manner of man would miss a chance to share an evening with such a woman.
Then her date was shown to her table and his blood ran cold.
He knew he was in no position to intervene, but he determined he would watch them as long as necessary to make sure she would be alright. He would even follow them if they left together. He would not leave her.
At her first look of discomfort, he couldn't help himself. Although he did not approach her table, he did approach the woman he knew to be her friend at the bar. He had never stuttered and stumbled through a conversation so badly in his life as he tried to explain how he knew that the two women were friends, and asking her to do something to extract her friend from the date.
Charlotte looked a little amused as she explained he had nothing to worry about as Elizabeth had already asked her to help if it was needed. She even offered to introduce him to Elizabeth if he wanted to stick around for a little while.
When the waiter arrived asking for the messiest drinks possible as Elizabeth had requested an accident in her date's lap, he couldn't stop the grin that spread across his face. He even enjoyed listening to Charlotte's side of the phone conversation. It was clear Elizabeth was no fool. He should not have worried.
After watching Wickham rant and rave then storm out of the restaurant, Darcy held his breath as Elizabeth approached the bar.
After the two women shared a quick laugh, Charlotte did as she promised, and introduced her to Darcy. As he tried to carry on a conversation, even though he was completely tongue tied, Charlotte filled Elizabeth in on his concern over her choice of dates for the evening. He finally managed to ask Elizabeth to share a drink.
As the evening progressed, Darcy became more comfortable actually talking to the woman he had admired from afar for two months. When he sheepishly admitted that he had been coming to the Bar and Grill to watch her for so long, she had teased him that he could have saved her two miserable dates and an argument with her mother if he would have just spoken up earlier.
When he left that evening it was with Elizabeth's phone number programmed in his cell phone, and an invitation to join her for a meal the next time he decided to stop by. It would not take long for things to progress much further.
At their wedding a year later, Mrs. Bennet was heard to be congratulating herself on giving the push that brought the two of them together. The only person truly concerned about her claims was Mary, who had finally given in to her mother's nagging and agreed to be set up on a blind date.