Beginning, Section IIJump to new as of March 7, 2014
Posted on: 2014-01-02
Disclaimer: Beginning in this chapter, this story uses the names of real professional baseball players. Up to this point in the story, I have been able to avoid using real people in this story. However, I feel that the best way to depict the baseball games is to reference real athletes. I will, however, not be incorporating them into the story beyond that point.
In Will's opinion, the best part of the four days that Gina spent in Detroit during the summer of 2012 was the amount of time that she was able to spend with Anne Eliot-Wentworth. After the stressful car ride home from the airport, Will thought that Anne's quiet disposition would be better for Gina than his own blunt nature.
Gina went to every single one of the Tigers' games during her visit to her brother. Anne managed to convince Eliza to go to three of those four games as well. Gina and Eliza each brought a book to read with them to the first game. Gina brought her copy of Brideshead Revisited while Eliza had The Fault in Our Stars. But neither brunette found herself actually getting much reading done. Instead, the two bonded over a mutual love of reading. Neither of them paid much attention to the baseball game. "But that's okay today," Gina said. "If my brother was pitching, I'd feel bad. But I don't feel bad ignoring Ed's start. I don't know him."
"Don't feel bad about that," Eliza replied. "I just come to the games to keep Annie company."
"Annie's good people," Gina said with a slight smile. "Will likes her. He says that she's a good match for Eric."
"They suit each other well," Eliza agreed. "But they always have."
"Will said you knew them in high school."
Eliza nodded, twisting her dark brown ponytail as she spoke. "I've known Annie since kindergarten. We grew up together. She's almost like another sister to me."
"How many sisters do you have?"
Gina smiled with evident longing in her soft blue eyes. "I've always wanted a sister. Don't get me wrong; I love Will. But I've always wanted a sister."
"Sisters can be great. I'm closer to someone of my sisters than to others. But they're not always ideal."
"Nobody is." Gina spoke flatly in a tone that evidenced a slight trace of disgust. "Nobody is perfect."
"Has anyone ever told your brother that?" Anne asked, suddenly tearing herself away from watching Miguel Cabrera tag Joe Mauer out at first base.
Gina snorted. "Will is well aware that he isn't perfect. Our parents made sure of that from the day he was born."
"What does that mean?" Eliza queried.
"According to my parents, it was really clear that Will was unusual from a very young age. Dad tells this story about going to the river with Will once when he was like six or so and seeing Will throw a rock all the way across a pond. He was six, and he threw that rock all the way across this big pond. That was when Dad knew that Will was going to be something. So they worked to make sure that he learned humility."
"What do you mean?" Eliza's curiosity was getting the best of her. She desperately wanted to understand Will Darcy despite the fact that not much more a month earlier she had sworn she would never marry him-or even consider dating him. But getting to know his sister, there was something about Will Darcy that intrigued her.
"Will's chore list growing up was designed to keep him humble. He had to clean the bathrooms and wash the dishes by hand even though we had a dishwasher and things like that. He had to work hard. She knew that he was smart and he was athletic. Life would be easy for him in many ways. And it has been. But our parents wanted him to understand that life isn't always easy and that there are amazing rewards for hard work. They wanted him to understand the value of suffering."
"And for the most part, their plan has been relatively successful," Anne remarked.
"There was that little blip with Amanda two years ago," Gina snipped. "But other than that, he does pretty well for himself. He's a pretty decent human being."
"You didn't like Amanda then, I take it?" Eliza asked.
Gina snorted. "She was just Will's rebound girl. And everyone knew it; I think even she knew it. He was never going to be serious about her. She was just for fun while he tried to get his head screwed on straight after things with Natalie went so wrong."
"What happened there?" Eliza knew that for someone who claimed to be uninterested in Will Darcy she was, well, very interested in him.
Gina shrugged. "They started dating in high school, and things were fine then. Then they both went to Old Dominion, and they kept dating in college. She became almost a part of our family. Mom and Dad loved her. She was almost like a big sister to me. Her family adored Will. Everything was perfect."
"Until it wasn't?" Eliza asked.
That elicited another shrug from Will's little sister. "At some point, they just seemed to fall out of love with each other. After college, their lives started going in different directions, I think, and they were just together out of habit. About three or four years ago, Natalie wanted to marry Will because it was their only real option other than breaking up. Breaking up would be quitting."
"And Natalie wasn't a quitter," Anne said. "Eric told me that."
"Anybody who met her more than once could tell you that," Gina replied. "She didn't want to be a quitter, and she didn't want to hurt my family. And she liked the lifestyle that Will could give her. But my brother wasn't ready to commit to forever. He loved her, but he didn't think he was mature enough to promise someone 'forever' yet."
"Why did they finally break up?" Eliza asked. "Is it true that he cheated on Natalie with Amanda?"
"No," Gina said flatly. "Natalie left him for another guy. She's married now."
"Natalie is married now?" Eliza repeated. "But she and your brother only broke up two years ago."
"Natalie wanted to get married. My brother wasn't ready, so she found someone who was. Natalie isn't what people like to make her out to be."
After Will and Natalie's break-up, fan blogs and even a few sports journalists had painted Natalie Reynolds as an innocent victim who had been abandoned by her scumbag boyfriend in favor of a younger, more attractive swimsuit model.
"People act like my brother dumped Natalie when he met Amanda because Amanda was young and pretty and more interesting. But that's not what actually happened. Really, Natalie left Will over a month before he even met Amanda"
"Why doesn't your brother defend himself?" Eliza was full of questions.
"I'm not sure," Gina replied slowly. "I think that it's mostly because somewhere he still cares about Natalie and he doesn't want to do anything that might hurt her."
"Even if that just means being honest?"
"I guess." Gina's face was thoughtful as she sat in silence for a few moments. Her gaze shifted from Eliza to the baseball field. She watched as Ed Benoit hit a four-run home run to his team's delight. "My brother is, by nature, a kind person. He doesn't always live up to that, but by nature, he is kind. He doesn't see the point in telling the truth about the end of his relationship with Natalie because in his heart he knows that he did the right thing. As long as he knows that and our parents know that, he doesn't care what other people know or believe."
A question came into Eliza's naturally suspicious mind just then that should have occurred to her earlier. "Who told you the story of how Will and Natalie's relationship ended? Is that just your brother's version of the story?"
Gina shook her head. "No, Natalie told me. Once rumors started flying around, she thought that my parents and I had a right to know what happened. My brother only ever told us that the relationship was over, and he needed space to process it."
Although she spent time around Gina, Eliza never spent time with Will during Gina' visit. For one thing, Will wasn't particularly keen on sharing his sister with anyone else away from Comerica Park. And for another, Eric Wentworth was holding firm to his promise to keep Will and Eliza out of one another's paths as much as possible until they told him that they were willing to be around one another again. They wanted space from one another, and he was willing to give that to them.
Eliza went to three of the four baseball games during Gina's visit. She brought a book with her each time, but she never got much reading done. Gina Darcy became a friend during those long hours spent at the ballpark. They may not have confessed their deepest, darkest secrets to one another, but the two young women discerned several mutual interests and bonded over them.
"So you're going to Brussels for the rest of the summer?" Eliza asked Gina. It was Monday, Gina's last day in town. The next morning, she would fly back to Virginia and spend her last twenty-four hours in the U.S. with her parents. Then, on Wednesday, she would leave for Belgium.
"Six weeks, so I'll be home in early August," Gina replied. "I've been gone longer before."
"But it's still a big deal?" Eliza asked.
"It's always a big deal," Gina answered slowly. "I love traveling around the world and I love the learning experiences I have in my internships. But I don't like leaving my family behind especially now."
Eliza furrowed her brow. "Why especially now?"
Gina sighed. "I'm graduating from college next spring and that means that I'll really and truly be an adult. And that scares me. I'm looking forward to being an adult and having a real job, but in some ways, I'm also a little afraid of not being a kid anymore. I'm comfortable where I am and I'm a little afraid of moving outside my comfort zone."
"That's true for everyone," Eliza said in what she hoped was a reassuring tone. "I've never been a big fan of change, but that doesn't mean that change has to be a bad thing for me."
"I suppose. But here's the thing. Will is the brave one in the family. I'm just his little sister."
Eliza wasn't entirely sure how to respond to that one. Although she didn't know him terribly well, Eliza did know that Will Darcy was brave. He was a strong man. And, based on what she had learned about him from his younger sister, he was a good man. He was a far better man than she had ever given him credit for being.
"I want to tell Will," Eric told his wife firmly. "He's like a brother to me."
"But he's not your brother," Anne replied just as firmly. She leaned back against the headboard of their bed and sighed. "You've told your brother. You've told your sister. You've told your parents. I told my family. And that's it for now. We can tell more people later."
Eric sighed. "Annie..."
"No, Eric," she said flatly. "We told our families, and that's it for now. We'll tell other people later."
She shrugged. "August, probably; I'll have to make some big decisions in August."
"Good decisions," he replied before kissing her cheek. "Exciting decisions."
Will drove Gina to the airport on Tuesday morning. The car ride there was silent as neither of the Darcy siblings was much of a morning person and Will had pitched a complete game the night before. "I'm going to miss you, bug," he told her as they stood just outside of the security lines.
"We've been separated before," she replied softly. "Actually, we've been separated more than we've been together over the past thirteen years."
"I know, but I still miss you. And it's harder to stay in touch when you're in Europe and I'm on the road constantly."
"We've always stayed in touch before, Will."
"I know," he said again. "But isn't an older brother allowed to worry about his younger sister?"
At that Gina smiled. "Of course he is. And Will? You're the best big brother a girl could ask for."
"I love you, kiddo," he replied, giving her a hug. "Stay in touch, you hear?"
She hugged him back. "Of course I will. And I'll see you in August. I'm coming up for a week after Belgium and before I go back to school." After pulling away from him, she readjusted her purse and carry-on bag. Before heading into the security check-in, she gave her brother one last hard look. "William, listen to me. Eliza is a good people. Give her a little more time to get her stuff together, and then try again. I have a feeling that you can make things work with her still."
"Get out of here, bug," was all the reply her brother gave her. But it must be noted that despite his harsh words, he was smiling as he spoke.
"Eliza, you need a boyfriend," Emma Woodhouse-Knightley informed her friend over drinks one evening in early July. Anne hasn't been able to join them due to previous plans with Eric, Marisa didn't want to go out for drinks with Emma now that she was pregnant, and Elinor was out of town for the week.
"No, Emma," Eliza replied with a sigh, wishing not for the first time that she had an ally in this conversation. "I don't need a boyfriend."
"But you're lonely," Emma persisted.
Normally, when Emma said things like that, Eliza got angry with her. But for the first time, Eliza saw something different in that comment. Emma hadn't been single since she was eighteen years old. She didn't have the real life experience that Eliza had. She didn't know that it was okay to be twenty-seven and single. She had no real world experiences to tell her being unmarried at the age of twenty-seven didn't mean that a woman was friendless and well on her way to being a cat lady.
"Emma, don't worry about me," Eliza said gently. "I'm sure that I'll find someone soon."
"But what if you don't? What if you end up alone?"
"Then I die alone, and hopefully my sisters and friends will take care of me."
Emma sighed. "I wish you would just get over it and marry Will. Then I wouldn't have to worry about either one of you."
Eliza counted to ten in her head and took what she hoped would be a calming breath before saying, "Emma, that's not a good reason to get married. We would need more of a reason to get married than just to save you worry."
"Honey, trust me. He's perfect for you. Just marry him. You could quit your job, and your life would be great."
At that moment, Eliza sincerely regretted letting Emma drive her to the Delaford Pub. But before Emma could get another word out, Will Darcy strolled into the restaurant with his parents. "Eliza!" Kathy Darcy called out as she hurried over to the girls' table. "Eliza, dear, how are you?"
"I'm doing pretty well, Kathy," Eliza answered as she stood up to hug Will's mother. "How are you?"
"I'm great. Gina said she had a great time getting to know you when she was up here a few weeks back."
"She's wonderful. You've got a great daughter." Eliza glanced at Emma who looked terribly uncomfortable. "Kathy, do you know Emma? She's married to George Knightley."
"Oh, Emma, of course!" Kathy replied with a warm smile. "How are you? How is George?"
"We're both good," Emma said. "It's nice to see you again, Mrs. Darcy."
"Call me Kathy, please," was the immediate response. "Well, don't let me interrupt you girls. I'll get back to my boys."
"No, it's all right. Why don't you and your family stay with Eliza and I'll get going? I think Eliza and I have run out of things to talk about, and I'm sure that you and your family would love to catch up with Eliza."
"If you don't mind," Kathy began.
Emma stood up and waved a hand. "Don't worry about it. Eliza, I'll talk to you later."
"Let me just talk to the waitress, dear," Kathy said to Eliza. "I don't want to confuse things for them."
The waitress didn't mind as it happened-especially when Kathy offered to pay for Emma's tab. So Eliza went from drinks and an interrogation with Emma to a quiet family dinner with the Darcy family. And while she might not have wanted to admit it out loud, Eliza Bennett found that she quite enjoyed the Darcy family dynamic.
Posted on: 2014-01-06
Although she had previously spent time around Will, Gina, and Kathy before, that dinner in early July was the first time that Eliza had ever really spent time around Richard Darcy, Will's father. And she quickly realized two things about him. Firstly, he was where Gina's quiet, mild nature came from, and second, while she loved her own father, she really wished that she could have grown up around a family more like the Darcy family. Richard and Kathy were warm, friendly people. Eliza's own father, Joseph Bennett, was a kind person himself, but he had long ago decided that he didn't know much about raising girls and so he handed those responsibilities off to his wife. Richard, on the other hand, had taught himself about the things he didn't know about.
"We knew nothing about baseball until Will came along," Richard told Eliza. "We aren't like Eric's parents who had grown up around sports. We weren't sports people. And then we had this son who was amazingly gifted athletically, and we didn't know what to do. We knew nothing about sports."
"So what did you do?" Eliza asked.
Will chuckled with a flash of his eyebrows. "You're going to like their answer, Eliza."
"We got a book out of the library about how to play baseball," Richard said.
Eliza laughed. "Are you serious?"
Kathy nodded. "We didn't know what else to do. And it seems to have worked pretty well for us."
"Cy Young, MVP, I think we're doing all right with this one as far as baseball goes," Richard added, patting his son's hand. "But there's always room to grow and develop as a human being, William."
Will smiled and squeezed his dad's hand. "I know. And I'm trying."
George Knightley was the starting pitcher for the Tigers' first game after the All-Star break. They were playing the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field in Cleveland. Everything was going well until the bottom of the sixth inning. Asdrubal Cabrera was at the plate with two men out, and Knightley had logged two strikes against Cabrera already. On Knightley's third pitch, Cabrera made contact with the pitch and the ball flew back to the mound where it hit the pitcher in the head. Knightley was pulled from the game to be assessed for a concussion, and reliever Drew Smyly took over the rest of the game. The Tigers won the game 4-3.
The Tigers' trainers as well as an emergency room doctor determined that Knightley did in fact have a concussion, and he was put on the disabled list. He ultimately missed three weeks of the season due to that one fluke hit. To his credit, Asdrubal Cabrera apologized profusely to George. For the three weeks that George was on the disabled list, the Tigers brought up prospect, Henry Tilney, from the Toledo Mud Hens to replace Knightley on the roster.
Coincidentally, work obligations forced Emma to return to Arizona in mid-July, right after the All-Star Break. She would be there until at least the middle of September. Anne was very polite and tried to seem like she would miss Emma. And Eliza felt that she would miss Emma at certain times. But while they would miss George, none of the guys were really sad to see his wife leave.
Henry Tilney was twenty-four when he joined the Tigers in the summer of 2012. The Tigers had drafted him two years earlier after he graduated from the University of Michigan. His father, Dr. Oliver Tilney, was not pleased with his son's decision to become a professional baseball player. Baseball had been fine as a source of exercise and entertainment in high school, and it had paid for most of Henry's college expenses, which was grand in Dr. Tilney's eyes. But it was a young boy's game. Now, his son was an adult with a degree in exercise physiology from the University of Michigan. Now, according to the doctor, his son ought to be doing something useful and practical to make his way in the world. But instead, Henry was defying his father by pursuing a career in professional baseball.
A year earlier, Henry Tilney had married his high school girlfriend, Catherine Morland. Catherine was a nurse at the University of Michigan hospital. At one level, Dr. Tilney approved of her career, but he did not approve of the fact that her career was more stable than her husband's. And he decidedly did not approve of the fact that as things currently stood Catherine intended to keep working even after she and Henry had children.
Doctor Tilney went to none of the three baseball games in which his son played during July. And when his son told him that the Tigers would probably be calling him back up to the majors in late September to create the 40-man roster for the playoffs, the father told the son to grow up and get a real job.
After the impromptu dinner with his parents in early July, Will and Eliza began to form a tentative friendship. It started as a simple willingness to be in the same places at the same times, and it gradually evolved into something more. By the middle of August, they were actually meeting up together of their own volition and hanging out without any of their other friends.
"So, have you started cross country practices yet?" Will asked Eliza on a Sunday evening in mid-August. He was driving her to Eric and Anne's house after a game. Anne had driven her to the game, but now Eric was driving Anne home, so Will offered Eliza a ride to keep her from being the third wheel. She accepted the ride not just to avoid being the third wheel but also because she enjoyed Will's company.
"Last week," she replied as she stretched out her legs.
"So when does school start?"
"The day after Labor Day, but the girls have their first meet the Saturday before Labor Day."
He nodded. "Eric and I were talking about possibly coming to one of your meets this fall."
Eric and Annie had come to two of her team's meets the previous year and would have come to states if it hadn't been so close to their wedding. "The girls would love that."
"And how would their coach feel about that?"
Eliza laughed. "She'd like it, but she would hope that it wouldn't distract the girls too much from their running."
"Then I'll come to a race some Saturday. Keep me posted on when and where your races are."
"Absolutely," she replied with a shy smile. "Now, on a different note, Anne said that Gina was coming to visit soon?"
"Tomorrow," Will said with a grin. "She'll be here until the following Wednesday."
"Aren't you guys on the road next weekend?"
"In New York," he replied. "She'll probably come with me."
"Are you scheduled to pitch over the weekend?" Eliza still didn't like baseball or even really understand it, but she was starting to pick up a few things. She understood that there were five starting pitchers on every team who worked on a five-game rotation. She knew that the Tigers had Will Darcy, George Knightley, Eric Wentworth, Ed Ferrars, and Anibal Sanchez. Anibal, from her experience, was a really nice guy, but due to various social and cultural differences, he didn't socialize much with the other pitchers. George, Will, and Anibal were the three best starters. Eric and Ed were groundball pitchers, and while Eliz didn't exactly know what that meant, she knew that people preferred strikeout pitchers like Will, George, and Anibal.
"Nope, my next start is Thursday against the Twins, and then I won't pitch again until the following Tuesday."
"So you can just relax and have fun with your sister in New York?"
Will grinned. "Yeah, doesn't that sound like fun?"
Eliza laughed. "I hope you guys have a great time. And I hope I get to see Gina while she's in town."
"I'll make sure of it." Will paused for a moment and then spoke again. "I'm an idiot."
"Bwah?" Eliza turned from looking out the window to look at her companion.
"My parents are coming to town after we get back from New York, and they'll definitely want to see you while they're in town."
Eliza grinned. "Yes please! I love your parents."
"And they love you."
"Do you think they'd consider adopting me?"
Will chuckled. "Knowing my parents, they'd consider it."
She smiled. "You're really lucky, you know."
"In my family?"
She nodded. "Yeah, you know that your parents love you."
Will didn't have an answer for that. He had never met Eliza's parents, but he had heard about them from Eric. He wasn't impressed with what he'd heard about either of them. It was bad enough that her mother played favorites, but her father's refusal to intervene in the situation wasn't any better from his perspective. To be entirely honest, Will actually wanted to meet Joseph and Susan Bennett so as to better understand them.
Ten minutes later, Will pulled into Eric and Anne's driveway. Eric and Anne had bought a new house with four bedrooms and three bathrooms shortly before Christmas. It was fifteen minutes from St. Benedict's, ten minutes from Will's house, and four minutes from Eliza's apartment.
"Ready to go in?" Will asked as he turned off the car.
Eliza nodded. "I can't wait to find out what the big announcement is."
"You don't know what it is?"
Eliza climbed out of the car. "Nope, but I do have an idea."
"What's your idea?"
"Why do you want to know?"
"I was thinking we could place a friendly wager on what it is," Will replied with a smirk.
Eliza snorted. "We probably have the same idea. I mean, there's only so many things that it could be. They're married. They bought a house. He's not getting traded. I mean, what do you think it is?"
"It's something big. I mean, they've only invited you and me."
"So it's something important."
"You know what it is, don't you?"
Eliza shrugged and rang the doorbell. "Wait and see, Will Darcy. But if I'm right, I think that it's news that you'll like."
A moment later, Eric opened the door. "Come on in."
"Are you getting a puppy?" Will asked as they walked in. " I think you're getting a puppy. You need a pet."
Eric rolled his eyes. "Would you completely enter a house before you start making all sorts of ridiculous postulations about our news?"
"He can't help it," Eliza remarked. "He's naturally curious and can't handle suspense. As a child, he found what all of his Christmas presents were a week early."
"Hey now, it was only five days, not a week," Will protested.
Eliza laughed. "I was just making that up."
Will grinned. "But you were right."
"She's a smart one," Anne said as she came into the room. "Now, come and sit down."
"What's the big news?" Will asked.
Eric shook his head. "You are ridiculous. Sometimes, I think you're really about five years old at heart."
Will grinned. "You've got me."
"We will tell you our news at dinner," Anne said. "Now come sit down."
"Does this mean that you're not getting a puppy?"
Anne rolled her eyes. "Do you see the cats adapting well to that situation?"
Will shrugged as Ollivander, one of the Wentworths' cats meandered around his legs. "Probably not, now that you mention it," he admitted. "But if you aren't getting a puppy, what is your big news?"
"Will," Eric sighed. "Sit at the table."
Will Darcy managed to behave himself and carry on a civil conversation throughout dinner without referencing the "surprise" once. So, as soon as the dinner plates were cleared, Eric suggested that they move to the living room.
"Now you two are probably wondering what big news we have to share with you," Anne said as she settled herself next to her husband on the loveseat.
"Well, I still think you should get a puppy. I'm sure that Ollivander, Minerva, and Ginny would love some canine companionship," Will said from his seat on the couch. Minerva, a patched tabby, was curled up next to him on the couch, blissfully getting her head scratched.
"Well, Will, that may be, but Eric and I are expecting some changes in our lives over the next several months," Anne began. "And those changes will be hard enough on the cats without adding a dog into the dynamic."
"Are you saying what I think you're saying?" Eliza asked, leaning forward.
Will turned to Eliza. "What is she saying? I'm confused."
The brunette turned and looked at him. "Will, think about it. There are big changes coming, and they'll be hard on the dog. They want to see the two of us alone."
Will blinked. "I don't get it."
Eliza smiled. "Okay, Will, look at Annie. Look specifically at her hands and Eric's hands. What do you think they want to tell us?"
As he looked first at Eliza and then back and forth between Eric and Anne, recognition dawned on Will's face. He mouthed a word slowly and then grinned. "Baby!" he said as his smile grew. "Baby, you're having a baby. Eric, you're going to be a dad. And Annie, oh my goodness, congratulations. That's the best news ever."
Eric was beaming, a rare sight from the stoic pitcher, and holding his wife's hand. "Thanks, man."
"Oh, Annie," Eliza said as she hugged her best friend. "I'm so happy for you guys. This is the best news ever."
"When are you due?" Will asked.
"January 29," Eric said.
"Wow, that's only five months away," Eliza said. "You guys waited a long time to say anything."
Eric shrugged. "It was what Annie wanted."
"I wanted to be sure I was well out of the first trimester before I said anything. I didn't want to get everyone all excited and then have everything fall to pieces," Anne explained. "And the team was on the road for most of the past two weeks, which delayed things a little bit since we wanted you two to be the first people outside of our family to know. And we wanted to tell you two together, which wasn't easy to arrange because of your schedules."
"Hey, it's your choice when you make that announcement," Will said. "I'm just amazed you could keep blabbermouth here quiet."
Anne laughed. "He wanted to tell you two months ago, Will. And I already promised him that you could be the first person out side of our families to find out the baby's sex. Eliza, you'll be right after Will."
Will grinned, but before he could say anything, Eric spoke. "And that brings us to the reason that we asked the two of you to be here tonight. You guys are our best friends. You're both basically family to us. And so we want you two to be the baby's godparents."
"Are you serious?" Eliza asked.
"We want you guys to be Auntie Eliza and Uncle Will for the baby," Anne said with a smile.
Will shook Eric's hand. "I'm honored."
Eliza nodded. "Annie, Eric, this means the world to me. Thank you."
"Liza, you've been Annie's best friend since kindergarten and mine since high school," Eric replied, squeezing Eliza's hand. "And Will, you're like a brother to me. You two were the only choice for this"
Eliza hugged Eric. "I'm so happy for you two."
"Thanks, Eliza," he replied. "You know that this means we'll be expecting you to help out with babysitting and decorating and all sorts of things?"
"Naturally," she said. "I wouldn't expect anything less."
"Annie, are you going to keep teaching after the baby comes?" Will asked.
Eliza was more than a little surprised that she hadn't thought to ask that question herself and was very eager to hear her best friend's answer.
"At least this year, yes," Anne said. "I've already talked to Mr. Shaughnessy, Eliza. I'll take about eight weeks of maternity leave after the baby comes, and then I'll come back to work until the end of the year. And after that, we'll reassess how things go."
"Will the baby go to day care when you're at work and Eric is playing?" Will asked.
Anne nodded. "But if you want to help out where you can, we won't complain."
Eliza was a bit surprised at the grin that lit up Will's face. She had never seen any interest in children in him before, but then, she had never seen him around children before. "I'd be glad to do anything that I can."
"Do you ever feel like you're a fraud?" Will asked Eliza as he drove her home later that evening.
"What do you mean?"
He shrugged. "Sometimes, I feel like I'm a fraud when I say that I'm an adult. I feel like I'm just a kid pretending to be an adult."
"Why do you say that?"
That just elicited another shrug, then a sigh. "Eliza, I'm thirty-one years old. I'm not married, and I'm not any closer to getting married than I was at twenty-nine. I get paid to play baseball. Now yes, I'm doing well financially. Yes, I try to use my money and my time to make the world a better place. But the fact remains that I'm a thirty-one year old grown man who makes his money playing baseball. Meanwhile, my baby sister is working on a degree in international business and has an internship in Brussels at a prestigious bank. Eric is twenty-seven, and he is married with a baby on the way. I don't feel like an adult. I'm an underachiever."
"You're not an underachiever," Eliza said. "You're an incredibly successful athlete, a good friend, a good soon, and a good brother."
"But have I made enough of an impact on the world? Is that enough?"
"Will, I haven't known you for that long and I don't know if I really know you that well yet. But this is what I do know. Your sister adores you. You are her hero."
"But why?" he asked as he pulled into the parking lot at Eliza's apartment building.
"I don't know," she sighed. "And I don't know if it even matters. All that matters to me is that you're a good person. You're a good friend, brother, and son. That's all that matters to me. You're going to be a great uncle to Baby Wentworth when he or she is born this winter."
He smiled at her. "And I can't wait for that. But I want a family of my own too."
"You'll get one in time," Eliza replied, squeezing his hand. "I promise."
Posted on: 2014-01-14
Gina arrived in Detroit on Tuesday although she and Eliza weren't reunited until Wednesday. Eliza spent most of Tuesday and Thursday at work, getting ready for the upcoming school year. But she negotiated her schedule so that after a morning run with her cross-country team, she could go to an evening baseball game at Comerica Park.
When the two were reunited, their delight at being together was loudly evident to the world. Their hugging and squealing led Anne to cover her ears over her hands. "Good gravy," she sighed. "It's like you two are long-lost twins or something."
Eliza laughed as she kept an arm wrapped tightly around Will's little sister. "But Annie, Gina's back!"
"Yeah, I saw her yesterday, and I'll see her tomorrow."
"Well, I hadn't seen her yet."
Anne smiled. "And whose fault is that?"
"I'm not prepared to discuss that yet."
Anne rolled her eyes and Gina chuckled.
Gina didn't pay much attention to the game that day. Her brother wasn't pitching; Anibal was. And while Anibal was a good pitcher, he wasn't great in that particular game. He allowed the Twins' only run and was pulled from the game during the sixth inning. So instead, Gina told Eliza about Brussels where she had a quiet and educational summer. "It was all academic," she said. "Nothing personally exciting happened. As you can imagine, that has thrilled my brother to no end. I almost think he wants me to end up as an old maid."
Eliza just laughed.
The Tigers ultimately won the game. "Your brother won't go to bed a grouch tonight," Anne told Gina after the game.
"Thank the good lord," Gina replied. "I hate when he lets baseball get to him."
Eliza smiled. "So what is the postgame plan?"
"Home and bed for us," Anne said. "The team is leaving for New York tomorrow night, so Eric wants to get a good night's sleep tonight."
"Are you going with them?"
Anne shook her head. "Not with school starting in a week and a half, I don't have time."
"Gina, are you going?"
Gina nodded. "It's free bonding time with the big brother in the Big Apple. It's my dream."
"That sounds awesome," Eliza replied. "I'm kind of jealous of you two-and not just the sibling New York trip. I wish that I was as close to my siblings as you two are."
"You're close to Gen, aren't you?" Gina asked.
"Yeah, but I don't know. We were best friends going up, but we've kind of grown apart as adults. Her job is just so consuming of her life, and I feel like she doesn't always have time for me. I'm jealous of certain elements of your relationship with Will. You guys live far away from each other, but you always seem to have time for one another."
Gina shrugged. "He's my big brother, and he's my hero. I can't explain it beyond that."
"I get that," Eliza replied. "I don't know what it is about your relationship, but there's something about it that I'm jealous of."
"Maybe you just want a big brother?" Anne proposed.
"Maybe that's it."
"If it is, you could probably convince Eric to be your big brother. He'd love it."
Eliza smiled. "I'd love to have Eric as my older brother."
"He's already your best guy friend," Anne said. "Just make him your honorary big brother too."
"I'll have to run it by him first."
"He'll go for it."
Eliza went straight home after that game since she had cross-country practice at eight o'clock in the morning. The following evening, Anne called her and invited her to spend the weekend at her house. "I don't like being in this big house without Eric. It's lonely and kind of scary."
Eliza readily agreed. "You guys have a better TV for watching chick flicks anyway. I'm camping out in your bed the entire time that I'm here."
Anne laughed. "I'll tell Eric you said that. I'm going to tell him you're trying to push him out of his own house."
"Go right ahead. He won't believe you. Also, I'm more interested in the super-comfortable bed and huge flat-screen TV than the actual house. He can live in one of the other bedrooms."
"Uh, no, Eliza," Anne replied. "As his pregnant wife, I'm not going along with that plan. You can go home on Sunday night, and he can sleep in his own bed."
"Why do you have a bigger TV in your bedroom than you do in your living room?" Gen Bennett asked Anne. Anne and Eliza had invited Gen over for a movie night on Saturday night.
Anne shrugged. "I don't know. It's what Eric has always done. He had things set up like this before we restarted dating. I think he just likes to be comfortable while he's watching baseball."
"Because the couch in the living room isn't comfortable?" Eliza asked.
Anne shrugged again. "Mine is not to reason why. Mine is just to redecorate the first bedroom on the left into a nursery."
"I'm so excited for you to have a baby," Gen oozed. "You're going to be the best mommy in the world."
"Well, Eric will be a great dad too."
Eliza squeezed Anne's hand. "The other night, Will and I agreed that this baby is the luckiest baby in the world. He or she will have the best parents on earth."
Anne smiled. "Eric will be an amazing dad. I can't wait to see him with a baby-with our baby."
"What do you want?" Gen asked.
"A boy, a little Eric," Anne replied without pause. "But Eric wants a girl."
"He doesn't want another Frederick Alfred?" was Gen's question.
"He does eventually, but I think he wants a girl first. That's what his parents had, after all."
Gen shrugged. "I could see him being a good dad to a girl, I guess. And I've always seen you as the mother of girls."
"Really?" Anne said. "I've always wanted at least two boys."
"Hey, you could do like Fred and Tricia and have a girl first and then two boys," Eliza suggested.
Anne grinned. "I could live with that plan. And anyway, it's not like wondering about or worrying about the sex of the baby is going to make any difference. It's already been determined, and when we find out, we'll be happy with whichever it is. As long as it's a baby and not an octopus, I'll be happy."
"I'm pretty sure that humans can't produce octopus offspring," Eliza replied.
"I know, but Marisa told me once that her greatest fear at all of her doctor's appointments was that they would tell her she was carrying an octopus."
"Thus far she seems to be carrying a human girl."
Anne smiled. "I'm glad. I really want them to have a baby girl."
"Yeah, the other day, I was talking to Will about it and he seemed to think that Ed needs to start out with girls."
"You were taking to Will about other people having children?" Gen queried. "Tell me more about this conversation."
"Oh, well, he was driving me over here for dinner with Annie and Eric after a baseball game."
"Hold it. My sister goes to baseball games now?" Gen threw her hands up in the air. "What is this world coming to?"
"I like hanging out with Gina and Annie," Eliza replied flatly. "They go to baseball games. So, I go to baseball games to hang out with them."
"So it has nothing to do with what Will Darcy's posterior looks like in baseball pants?" Gen asked with raised eyebrows and sparkly eyes.
Eliza sighed and rolled her eyes. "I like hanging out with his sister. She's good people."
"She's good people?" Gen repeated. "So you're telling me that you have absolutely no interest in Will Darcy."
"He's my friend, Gen. It's nothing."
Gen raised her eyebrows. "I'm sure."
"So how was New York with your brother?" Eliza asked. Gina, Will, and Eliza were at Eric and Anne's house late on Sunday night. Gina, Will, and Eric arrived home from New York around nine o'clock, and they had somehow decided to have a movie night despite the fact that Eric was exhausted and Eliza had to go to work in the morning.
Eliza was curled up on the couch with Gina and Will. Now, reader, before you get any ideas into your head, Gina was in the middle, leaning against her big brother. Eliza was leaning against Gina with her legs hanging over the arm of the couch.
"Remember that your brother is right here, Bean," Will said. "And I have the ability to push both you and Eliza off the couch if I don't like your answer."
"Oh shut up," Gina replied, swatting at her brother's face. "I'm not afraid of you."
"Well, you should be," he replied as he started pushing her off the couch.
"William!" she yelled as she grabbed at Eliza who was sliding off the couch headfirst. "William Richard Darcy, you stop that right now. Stop it, dork face!"
Will pulled Gina back onto the couch, and Eric grabbed Eliza before her head hit the floor.
After he settled his sister on the couch, Will's hands flew up over his face. "Oh my gosh, Eliza, I'm so sorry. I'm sorry. Are you all right?"
Eliza pulled herself back up onto the couch with Eric's help and nodded. "Yeah, I'm fine."
"Are you sure?" Will asked, leaning over his sister to look at Eliza.
Eliza rubbed the back of her neck. "Yeah, don't worry."
"Are you sure? I feel really bad."
"Well, in that case, I believe that I have sprained my dignity, and I shall require a bowl of chocolate ice cream to help me recuperate."
Will smiled. "I'll see what I can do to help with that."
"We're out of chocolate ice cream," Anne inserted. "We ate it all this weekend."
"Well, that explains my food baby," Eliza said as she jokingly rubbed her bloated belly.
"Oh, please," Anne sighed, resting a hand on her own slightly rounded belly. "You'll lose all of that by the end of your morning run tomorrow. I, however, am stuck with my baby belly until late January."
"Be that as it may, I feel fat right now."
"You're not fat, Eliza," Anne replied.
Will looked at Eliza over his sister's gangly frame. Eliza wasn't overweight by any means. But looking at pregnant Anne and then at Eliza's "food baby" made him wonder what it would be like to look at a woman and know that she was carrying his child.
Will didn't see Eliza gain until Thursday. Between meetings and cross-country practice, work was consuming Eliza's life. But Will's parents were in town and they wanted to see Eliza. So after an afternoon game at Comerica Park, Will and his family went to meet Eliza for dinner.
From the outset, Will knew that his parents and sister were trying to push him towards Eliza. They kept "accidentally" leaving him alone in rooms with her. They "accidentally" forced the two to sit next to one another at dinner. They coerced them into doing the dishes together after dinner.
"Do you feel like they're trying to do something?" Eliza asked Will when they were alone in the kitchen.
He smiled. "They think they're being sneaky."
She snorted. "I don't mind the time alone with you, but I don't know if this is really going to have the desired impact."
"Why not?" he asked.
"You're going to spend most of September on the road, and the same goes for October. And once the baseball season is over, you'll go back to Virginia for the winter."
"That doesn't mean that we can't stay in touch while I'm out of town."
"No, it doesn't. And I hope we do stay in touch," she replied with a warm smile. "But the thing is that I'm really busy during the school year. And I'm not just saying that so I can avoid you. I really am very busy. I don't want to get your hopes up and then dash them to pieces when I ignore you for days on end because I'm busy with work stuff."
"I understand," Will replied with a curt nod. But the truth was that he didn't understand. His job kept him plenty busy, but he had always made time for Natalie or Amanda, whomever he had been with at the time. He didn't understand why Eliza couldn't try to rearrange her life just a little to try to squeeze him in. He wasn't asking for much, just a small space that could hopefully grow with time.
"Will," she said, putting a small hand on his large one. "I need you to understand something. I do want to be your friend. I know it might not sound like it, but I do."
"Then why do you keep insisting that you'll be too busy during the off-season?"
Eliza sighed. "Will, I teach six classes per day, I coach cross-country and track, I try to maintain relationships with my friends and family, and it's a lot. Sometimes, it all gets to be too much and I just end up accidentally pushing people out of my life because they don't fit. And I just want to warn you. I don't want you to be hurt."
He smiled. "So we'll email or text?"
"Yes," she replied.
"And if you're not responding or you seem too bogged down by work, I'll do my best to pull you out of it."
Eliza smiled. "Sounds good."
A moment later, Will's smile matched Eliza's. "So, friend, are you ready to start school on Tuesday?"
"I don't know," she replied. "Part of me is, and another part of me definitely isn't."
"Why do you say that?"
"Well, I'm looking forward to seeing the kids, but I'm not looking forward to getting up at five in the morning."
"I have to admit that one of the perks of being a professional baseball player is that I don't have to get up at five o'clock pretty much ever."
Eliza rolled her eyes. "You can go away now."
He laughed. "Not a chance, I have to help you finish these dishes."
"Oh fine," she sighed with a soft laugh.
"So, where do you stand with her?" Gina asked Will after Eliza left. The siblings were sitting in the living room watching a movie after their parents had gone to bed.
He shrugged. "We're friends."
"Really? That's it?" Her tone clearly implied that she thought that Will and Eliza ought to be more than just friends by now.
He nodded. "That's it. She says that she's too busy for anything else right now. Heck, Gina, she thinks that she might be too busy for friends right now."
"She has a lot coming up at work," Gina admitted.
"Do you know about that?"
"Well, she works crazy long days normally, and it gets worse during running seasons. Ask Anne about it; she knows more than I do."
"So I should try to help her relax rather than trying to push her to be emotionally available when she feels overwhelmed?"
"Well, I feel like that's obvious, but yes."
"How am I supposed to know when she's overwhelmed?"
Gina smiled. "Check in with her. Send her a text message or call her. Just pop in gently to see how she's doing and if she needs anything."
"Make sure that she knows I'm thinking of her?"
"Bingo, and remember that chocolate is always useful."
Will smiled. "Thanks, Bean. You're a good sister."
"I try," she replied. "But I should confess that I really want Eliza to be my sister-in-law and I'll do whatever I can to help you to that end."
"You're ridiculous, Bean, absolutely ridiculous."
Posted on: 2014-01-18
September flew by. Before anyone knew what had happened, it was October and the playoffs had begun. Eliza was wearing long sleeves constantly-even while running. Anne was looking decidedly pregnant. Marisa felt like she was going to explode. Elinor was suddenly spending all of her weekends in Michigan or wherever the Tigers were just to be with her man and with the spirit of the team. Emma was always with the team. September had been busy, but October would be crazy.
And October started off with a bang. On October 6, 2012, in the middle of the American League Division Series, Adeline Marie Benoit was born in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. She had a head of thick, dark brown hair and dark eyes. Four days after Adeline was born, the Tigers won their ALDS. And two days after that, the Tigers went on to the American League Championship Series where they faced the New York Yankees. The Tigers won that series in four games and went on to face the San Francisco Giants in the 2013 World Series. The Tigers lost in four games. And with that, the baseball season was over.
But on Saturday, October 20, the Saturday in between the ALCS and the World Series, Will and Eric were able to come to one of Eliza's cross-country meets. From Eric's perspective, it was difficult to tell who appreciate Will's presence more-the girls on the team or their coach who couldn't stop grinning the entire time Will was there. "Mr. Wentworth, you have to make sure that Coach Bennett keeps Mr. Darcy around," one senior girl said after the race. "I've never seen Coach Bennett this happy before."
"She even let him put his arm around her shoulders at one point," another senior girl said.
"I think she likes him," the first girl, McKenna, said.
"Like really likes him," Olivia, the second girl, added.
Eric just shook his head. "I can't tell you more than what you see."
"I think he likes her too," McKenna remarked.
"Yeah, you can see it in the way he looks at her," Olivia said.
Eric shook his head again. "I'm not going to tell you anything."
"You're no fun, Mr. Wentworth," McKenna said.
"I'm okay with that."
McKenna sighed. "Just make sure that Coach Bennett marries Mr. Darcy, Mr. Wentworth. I think they're good for each other."
"And they look cute together," Olivia said with a toss of her blonde hair.
Eric shrugged. "We'll just have to wait and see what happens, girls."
"Boring," McKenna replied.
Anne joined her husband and the two girls just then. "Hi. Mrs. Wentworth," Olivia said.
"Mrs. Wentworth, do you guys know if you're having a boy or a girl yet?" McKenna asked.
"They're having a girl, Kenna," Olivia replied before Anne could say anything. "Mrs. Wentworth told us that in AP Lit like a month ago."
"Uh, Liv, I'm not in AP Lit. I'm in regular lit with Mrs. Olivier. How would I know what Mrs. Wentworth told you in class?"
"I don't know. Maybe you list when I talk?"
Anne sighed. "All right, girls, that's enough. Yes, McKenna, I'm having a girl."
"That's so exciting. Can we have a baby shower for you at school? Please?"
Anne laughed. "Of course you can."
"Sweet, I'm going to tell my mom," McKenna said. "She'll totally help us plan it. Come on, Liv. We have to talk to my mom."
After the girls took off towards McKenna's mother, Eric looked at his wife. "Will her mom really help them throw you a baby shower?"
Anne nodded. "Oh yeah, I've told you about Julie Coffman, haven't I?"
"It sounds vaguely familiar."
"McKenna is Julie's youngest kid, but I've taught three of her four kids."
"Oh, I know who you're talking about. Wasn't her son in love with you or something? I feel like Eliza told me that once."
Anne laughed. "Oh yeah, Ryan Coffman, he was something else. He's a great kid."
"Do you have any contact with him anymore?"
"Why are you jealous?"
Eric snorted. "Me? Jealous of your former student?"
"Because I still see him occasionally," Anne said. "If the girls make it to states, he'll come to that. He came to regionals and states last year. Eric, he's a great kid. I really liked having him as a student, and he's a good big brother to McKenna and Madeline."
"I just think it's weird that he had a crush on my wife."
"Well, I wasn't your wife then for one thing. And for another thing, I still have students who have crushes on me. And thirdly, Eric, Eliza has it way worse than I do."
"I just think it's weird when students have crushes on their teachers. I never had any crushes on any of my high school teachers."
"That's because all of our high school teachers were over forty, Eric. There was no way you were going to have a crush on Nick Porter's mom. It's totally different for my kids when they have twenty-seven-year old teachers who look like Eliza Bennett."
Eric snorted. "Eliza may be beautiful, but you are far lovelier."
"You just have to say that because you're my husband," Anne teased.
Her husband laughed. "No, I'm just saying that because it's true. I could have asked Eliza out in high school, but I didn't."
"That's a really good thing," Will said as he joined the two of them. "You and Eliza never would have worked out."
"Nope," Anne said. "They would drive each other nuts."
"No, mostly she'd drive him nuts. I think he would entertain her," Will commented. "But it wouldn't work anyway because she doesn't like baseball and he couldn't stand being married to someone who didn't like baseball."
"Truth," Eric remarked.
"But you wouldn't mind being married to someone who didn't like baseball?" Anne asked.
"I'm related to Gina. I'm used to it."
Anne and Eric both laughed.
On Saturday, October 27, 2012, the girls' cross country at St. Benedict's Catholic High School of Longbourn, Michigan won their regional championship and qualified for the state championships the following weekend. As Anne had predicted the previous weekend, Ryan Coffman did come to watch his baby sister's race. Since neither of them was scheduled to pitch that evening in the Tigers' game against the Giants, Will and Eric also came to the race with Anne.
And once again, Eliza's students and her former students observed some sort of connection or chemistry between their Spanish teacher and her professional baseball-playing friend. "Miss Eliot, sorry, Mrs. Wentworth, can't you just tell Miss Bennett to marry that guy?" Ryan Coffman asked. "He really likes her, and she seems to like him too."
Anne laughed. "Ryan, I can't tell Miss Bennett what to do in that area of her life. That's an area where each person has to make his or her own decisions. You of all people should know that well."
Ryan sighed. "You're right."
"I know I am," Anne replied with something that could have been mistaken for a smirk if it hadn't been on the face of Anne Wentworth. "I remember when Miss Bennett wanted you to break up with Caitlin and start dating Maggie."
"And she was right," he said with a sigh. During Ryan's senior year of high school three years earlier, he had been dating a girl from Longbourn High School named Caitlin. She was a nice enough girl, but Eliza had seen a connection between Ryan and his female best friend since kindergarten, Maggie Sullivan. Without any direct help from Eliza (although she had given plenty of subtle hints), Ryan broke up with Caitlin the summer after graduating and started dating Maggie about a year later.
"So how is Maggie anyway?"
"Good, really good," he replied. "She was busy this weekend, but if Kenna goes to states next weekend, Maggie is going to make sure that she can be there."
"Good," Anne said. "I'd love to see her."
"She told me to tell you and Miss Bennett that she said hello."
Anne smiled. She knew, largely from other teachers' comments and from parents' comments, that she was one of the most popular teachers at St. Benedict's. She knew that kids argued long and hard with Mrs. Page, the registrar, to be able to take a class from Mrs. Wentworth. But it still took her aback a bit when her former students wanted to sit and talk to her like Ryan was now or when they sent her greetings via one another. Having been well liked but not popular in high school had not prepared her for being one of the most popular teachers in the school as an adult.
The Tigers lost the World Series the day after Eliza's girls qualified for states. The game ended late at night, and Eliza didn't learn the results until the following morning when she saw the text message that Anne had sent her. She also had messages from Gina, Will, and Eric. The guys had both just texted her to tell her that they had lost, but Gina's message was a bit more informative. "My brother is a bit of a mess, E. He's sticking around the D until after states. Keep an eye on him please."
So after a grueling cross-country practice in the rain that Monday, Eliza called and offered to take him out to dinner. They found themselves at Palm Palace, a local Middle-Eastern restaurant they both loved. "So how are you?" she asked after they were seated and had ordered their drinks.
He shrugged. "I slept in until like one o'clock this afternoon just because I could."
"That sounds nice."
"It was nice. But it's also weird."
"Because you guys lost?" Eliza asked timidly.
He shrugged again. "Because we came so close and lost; it hurts, Eliza."
She nodded. "I can imagine. Two years ago, I got the girls so close to winning states and then they lost."
"But they won last year," he offered. "We haven't won since 1984."
"Before last year, St. Ben's hadn't won states in close to thirty years."
He nodded. "It's hard, isn't it?"
She nodded. "It's really hard to come so close and not get what you want."
"Yeah," Will said. "I know that there's always next year and stuff. But we'll never be exactly the same. And fans are rabid. I can't believe the crap that they're saying on the Internet. They're calling for Skip to be fired and talking abut how we should trade George since he didn't get the W last night. It's really hard, Eliza. It's stressful. I thought that baseball was just supposed to be a game."
Eliza reached across the table and squeezed his hand. "I'm sorry, Will. I'm really sorry."
"Thanks," he said dully.
"And you're totally justified if you feel frustrated or angry or sad."
"I just want to win. It's the World Series, Eliza. I want to win it. The other awards, the MVP, the Cy Young-they're all nothing to me without the World Series. They're nice, but they're not the World Series. I want to win the World Series."
"I know," she replied, still holding his hand.
He sighed and squeezed her hand. "Eliza, why didn't we win?"
She shook her hand. "I don't know. Will, you know that I know nothing about baseball."
"Maybe that's why I'm asking you," he said. "I'm hoping that you have some sort of outsider insight."
"That doesn't even make sense, William," she replied with a shake of her dark brown curls.
He smiled then. "Can you call me that more often?"
"What? William? Yeah, sure, but why?"
"I don't know, but I like it."
"I thought your mom said that you didn't like being called William because it made you feel like you were in trouble or something."
He nodded "Normally it does, but with you, I don't know. I like it when you call me William."
She smiled. "Then I'll keep calling you William."
Will and Eliza had a nice evening together. After a dinner of chicken shawarma for her and beef shish kabobs for him, they went back to his house and watched The Avengers together while Eliza graded vocabulary quizzes that Will claimed he wasn't smart enough to help with. Eliza rolled her eyes and playfully swatted at him, but then she let him be. And after the movie was over and she had made Will promise to call her if he needed anything, she went home.
"You're going to her kids' race on Saturday, right?" Gina asked Will. It was Wednesday night and the Darcy siblings were having their regularly scheduled weekly phone call.
"So do something after that," she replied. "You're leaving for Virginia on Monday and you probably won't be back in Michigan until January. You have to make sure that you get out of the friend-zone before you leave. You don't have to make her your girlfriend, but you have to make sure that she knows that you view her as more than a friend."
"And what do you suggest, Professor?"
"Something simple but elegant," she replied. "Will, she likes daisies, but she hates watermelons. I know that much."
"She doesn't hate watermelons, Bean; she's afraid of them."
"Which is super weird and random," Gina said.
"It's whatever," her older brother replied. "So she's afraid of watermelons. I'm sure she has a good reason for it."
"Oh Will," Gina sighed. "You're adorable."
"Shut it, Bean," he said.
Saturday morning found Will, Eric, and Anne in Brooklyn, Michigan at the Michigan International Speedway for the 2012 MHSAA Boys and Girls Cross-Country Championships. St. Benedict's girls' team was scheduled to run at eleven in the morning, but Eliza had to be there several hours earlier.
Knowing how Eliza felt about early mornings, Will brought her a large thermos of coffee. That earned him a hug and quick peck on the cheek when he delivered them.
"I knew she was in love with him," McKenna Coffman whispered to Olivia Russell.
"Well, duh," Olivia replied. "Okay, he's not as hot as Mr. Wentworth, but he sure is nice to her."
"He is a sweetheart," McKenna agreed.
"Girls, cut it out," Eliza chimed in. "And Kenna, go tell Nina Porter to stop flirting with her boyfriend. I need her focused."
"You got it, Coach," McKenna replied before scurrying off to yell at a junior girl who could be one of the team's best runners-as long as her boyfriend didn't distract her. She had been a problem for Eliza for similar reasons the previous season. In fact, Eliza vaguely remembered venting to Will about her once or twice the previous fall.
Eliza's girls won the championship. When she saw the final results confirmed and she knew that her girls had won, she almost screamed. She definitely squealed with delight. Then she hugged each of her five starters-McKenna, Olivia, Nina, Madelyn, and Catherine. "I am so proud of you," she said to each of them. Two of them, McKenna and Madelyn Russell, were named all-state.
After talking to her entire team and then their parents and arranging for the team to reconvene for lunch at a restaurant off of I-94 on their way home, she finally made her way to Will, Eric, and Anne.
She hugged Anne first. "You'll have to bring Baby Girl Wentworth again next year," Eliza said, rubbing her friend's belly. "I think she's our good luck charm this year."
"We'll see how things go," Anne replied, hugging Eliza again. "I'm not dragging a baby out here next year if it's this cold again. But for now, I'm so proud of you and of them."
"We're going out to lunch in Dexter," Eliza said. "You guys should come with us. The girls would love to have Mrs. Wentworth and her hot husband there."
"Sure thing," Anne replied. "That sounds like fun."
"Congratulations, Eliza," Eric said as he hugged his friend and kissed her cheek. "You did an amazing job."
"It was all the girls. I just yelled at them."
He laughed. "Well, that yelling paid off. They were great, Coach Bennett."
"Thanks, Eric. I'm so proud of them."
"As you should be," he said.
And then she was face to face with Will. He started to hug her and opened his mouth to congratulate her, but anything he might have wanted to say was stopped on his tongue because before he knew what was happening, she had wrapped her arms around him and pressed her lips to his. And then his arms were completely around her and he was kissing her in return.
Posted on: 2014-01-25
"You kissed me," Will said flatly after pulling away from Eliza. He didn't let go of her however.
She nodded. "I kissed you."
"Can I ask why?"
She nodded again. "I figured something out."
"What did you figure out?"
"You like me a lot."
He smiled. "What makes you say that?"
"You stayed in Michigan to come to a high school cross country race on a cold, rainy Saturday morning just because I was their coach."
"You could be in Virginia right now where it's warmer and you wouldn't have had to come all the way out here just for a race."
"But I'm here."
"Because you like me," she replied with a smile. "And then I realized that I like you too."
"So you kissed me."
"So I kissed you."
Will smiled. "Well, now I'm going to kiss you."
"I think I can handle that."
"So what are we right now?" Eliza asked. They were at her apartment on Saturday after returning from the cross-country meet.
"Friends," he replied before kissing her ear. "With a few benefits of course."
Eliza blushed. "William, I want to do this properly."
"We will," he said. "But that doesn't mean that I'm not going to have a little fun while I can."
She sighed and leaned against his chest. "I want to go slowly, please. I haven't really been in a relationship since your cousin and that was almost four years ago now."
Will nodded. "We'll figure things out together."
"William Richard Darcy, you could train in Michigan for the winter. You don't have to train in Virginia," Gina said when her brother called her on Monday night to let her know that he was back in Virginia. "I would like nieces and nephews sooner rather than later."
"Bean, I already have arrangements for the winter here. I don't have time to rearrange things now."
"But what about things with Eliza?" she asked.
He grinned. "Well, about that..."
"William, what did you do?"
"It's not what I did," he began.
"Oh gravy, what did she do?"
"She kissed me."
"Yes, way, Bean," he replied. "She kissed me on Saturday. And then I kissed her. And then we went out to lunch with the girls on her cross-country team and their families. And then we had dinner together back at her apartment. And then we spent most of the day together yesterday. And now I'm home again. "
"And when will you be back in Michigan again?"
"Not sure yet," he replied. "But I'll want to see her at least once in December. And then I'll have to go to the Winter Caravan and Fan Fest. And I'll have to go at least once before my, no, our goddaughter is born."
Gina laughed. "I like how you have this all planned out."
"Shut it, Bean," he replied. "It's all Eliza. She's a planner, and I like that."
"Of course you do," his sister said simply. She knew, as few other people did, that her brother had been labeled as ADHD around the age of five or six. He had never been medicated because their mother had successfully managed to work with him on behavior modification, which had actually led to him playing baseball. But focus and routine were both incredibly important for Will. He needed people to help him to maintain structures in his life. Once upon a time, Natalie had served that purpose. Eric had often aided Will in his pursuit of structure. And now Eliza was doing it.
The Saturday after Will's departure, Eliza and Anne had lunch with Emma, Elinor, Marisa, and Adeline. Emma and Elinor had come into town for the weekend with their respective significant others because on Sunday baby Adeline would be baptized. Will wasn't coming due to a family commitment; his grandmother was turning eighty and he needed to be in Virginia for that.
After spending every Saturday for the past two months with her cross-country team, Eliza found it refreshing to be with real adults. And she adored the opportunity to spend time with baby Adeline.
"You're a natural with babies," Emma said as she watched Eliza with Adeline.
"I love them," Eliza said as she snuggled a sleeping Adeline in her arms.
"And they seem to love you," Marisa said. "Addie sleeps far more for you than she does for me. Ed went so far as to say that we're not going back to Florida this winter. We're just going to stay in Michigan to be as close to the Baby Whisperer as we can."
Eliza laughed. "When you have three younger siblings who were all born when you were at least eight years old, you get really good at handling babies."
"Your younger sisters are that much younger than you?" Emma asked. "I always figured that since you and Gen were so close in age the younger three had to have come right after you two."
Eliza shook her head. "Nope, after I was born, my parents decided to 'lay off' on having kids for a while. Mom was really young when Gen and I were born, and I think Dad wanted her to grow up a little and get more life experience under her belt before they had any more kids. So they waited until I was in third grade before they had Maria. Kat was born when I was in fifth grade, and Lydia was born when I was in seventh grade."
"How old was your mom when Gen was born?" Emma asked.
"Twenty-two," Eliza replied. "She had just graduated from college."
"But your dad was older, right?"
"Yep, Dad was a grad student when they met. He was thirty when Gen was born and forty-three when Lydia was born." Eliza's father was born in Rome, Italy as Giuseppe Antonio Benedetto and had come to the United States after finishing his bachelor's degree to get a doctorate from the University of Michigan. Somewhere in the process of completing his degree, he had legally changed his name to Joseph Anthony Bennett to make it easier for others to say and spell his name. Whenever he needed to spell his name for people, he always added "Like your Tony Bennett."
Emma nodded. "I always liked the idea of a big family. I have a feeling that George and I won't have a big family, but I like the idea of one."
"Why do you say that?" Anne asked, resting her hands on her burgeoning belly.
"George doesn't want more than four kids, but he'd rather top things out at three. He's always felt that way."
"Well, you're both from families of only two kids, so that kind of makes sense."
"How many do you and Eric want?" Emma asked.
Anne smiled. "Four, probably; it all depends on how this one goes. We might decide we want a smaller family in the end."
"You're going to have big babies inevitably with that man," Marisa remarked.
"And don't I know it?" Anne replied. "I want my children to have siblings, but beyond that, I'm open to anywhere between two and four children."
"Will Darcy wants three," Emma said. "I know that."
"But that man is destined for large babies," Marisa said. "I pity the woman who bears his children."
"If he's smart, he'll marry a tall woman with a frame built for carrying big babies," Elinor agreed.
Eliza blushed. She was neither tall nor built for carrying large babies. She and William had determined once that he was fifteen inches taller than her. And while she wasn't a twig, her body probably wasn't built for carrying ten-pound babies to term. But she couldn't say anything to this group of friends, not yet. She hadn't told anyone other than Anne about things, and that was partially because Anne and Eric had been there for the kiss.
"If he's smart, he'll marry a woman who loves him," Anne replied firmly. "And Will Darcy is a smart man."
"Anne, I'm sure he'll marry for love," Emma said. "But come on. He has to think about the possibility of children when he gets married."
"Emma, we live in the twenty-first century. We have doctors and all of that. It's perfectly safe for a petite woman to carry the children of a very tall man," Anne replied. "I should know after all, shouldn't I?"
Anne herself was only five-foot-five inches tall while her husband was exactly a foot taller than her. Looking at Anne, Emma nodded. "I suppose."
"And haven't you said numerous times that Will and Eliza should get married?" Anne asked. "We all know that Eliza is much, much smaller than Will."
"I hadn't considered children when I suggested that."
"But if they're a good match in all other ways, why should anything else matter?" Marisa asked, taking up Anne's tack.
"Fine," Emma sighed. "Will Darcy can marry a woman who isn't built to carry large babies. Are you happy now?"
"Yes," Anne said, stroking baby Adeline's foot.
"I suppose," Marisa said, shooting a wink at Eliza.
Eliza rolled her eyes and then looked down at baby Adeline. "Adeline, always remember to choose your friends wisely."
The baby just snuggled closer to Eliza. "I wish Will could see you now," Anne whispered mischievously in Eliza's ear.
Adeline Marie Benoit was baptized the next day. Anne and Eric were her godparents, and Eliza noted a pleasant look of contentment on Eric's calm face as he held his goddaughter. He was a natural with the baby, and he liked holding her. While Ed Ferrars did everything he could to avoid holding the baby and Ed Benoit looked like he was afraid of breaking his daughter, Eric looked happy holding the baby.
"He's ready for January," George remarked at the post-baptism lunch. "I'm glad I'm not him. I wouldn't be ready for it in his place."
"But you will be someday," Ed Benoit said. "When it's your turn, you'll figure it out."
"Maybe," George replied. "But we're not going to have any kids for at least a year or two yet. I just want to enjoy being married to Emma for now. Kids can come later."
"Speak for yourself," Ed said as he stroked his daughter's head. "Being a dad is pretty darn amazing."
Eric grinned. "I'm looking forward to my baby girl."
"Girls are amazing," Ed replied.
"I wouldn't know what to do with a girl," George said. "I grew up in an all-boy world."
"Emma knows what to do with girls," Eric said, bouncing Addie in his arms. "And besides, you figure things out as you go."
"But I like to be prepared."
Ed shrugged. "There are some things in life for which you can never really be prepared. Sometimes, you just have to dive in and swim where you land."
"So how was the baptism party?" Will asked Eliza when he called her that evening. "Did you feel like a seventh wheel?"
"No, not really," she replied. "I just spend as much time with Addie as I could."
"How is the little darling?"
"Wonderful," she said with a wistful sigh.
"Eliza, is Addie giving you baby rabies?"
Eliza giggled but said nothing.
Will snorted. "Elizabeth, tell the truth. Are you developing baby rabies?"
"I don't like that term," she replied flatly.
He laughed. "Do you want a baby, dear Eliza?"
"Yes," she said unequivocally. Then she sighed before continuing, "Will, I desperately want a baby. And soon, I really want to have a baby soon."
"Before I'm thirty," she replied.
"You'll be twenty-eight in July, right?"
"I'll keep that in mind."
Eliza giggled. "Will, we're not dating."
"Correction, Elizabeth, we're not dating officially. But we are talking on the phone on a regular basis and you are planning on coming to Virginia for a week over your winter vacation."
"True story," she replied.
"So basically, I would say that we're almost dating."
She laughed. "You're ridiculous, Will."
"And you thoroughly enjoy ever minute of it."
"You're entertaining," she replied.
"You need more of that in your life," he told her. "You need to laugh more."
"Yeah, well, you're the one who keeps turning me into a giggling mess."
He snorted. "You're the one doing all the giggling over me."
"But by the same token, you're the one making me giggle."
"Oh, Eliza," Will sighed. "This is why I like you."
"You like me because I giggle when I talk to you?"
"I like that you relax when you're talking to me and I get to see a more carefree version of you."
Eliza laughed. "Don't ever tell anyone I said this, William, but you're good for me. You bring out a less serious side of me."
"Anne, I really like William." It was the Friday after Thanksgiving, and instead of shopping, Eliza and Anne were sitting on the couch at Anne's house watching Sherlock on Netflix.
"When did you figure that out?" Anne asked with a smile.
"I don't know. I was in the middle before I knew what had happened."
Anne laughed. "Man, wait until you see his house in Virginia. If you like him now, you'll fall in love with him then."
"Well, I'll see it in December."
"You will love that house, seriously love it. If it were in Michigan, I would have wanted to buy it."
"I like your house," Eliza replied.
"Oh, we have an amazing house. But Will's house is gorgeous. You will love it. In fact, you might love the house more than you like its owner."
Eliza snorted. "I doubt that. It's just a house"
"No, it's just a beautiful house."
"Yes, but it's a house, and William is a person."
Anne smiled. "And people do tend to be better than houses."
"Usually," Eliza replied with a smile. "Now, speaking of houses, how is the nursery coming?"
"You mean my husband's off-season project? It's amazing. It's like he took all of my Pinterest-inspired dreams and merged them together into one baby's bedroom."
"Is it really pink?"
Anne grinned. "It's this lovely pale pink that I adore and he says isn't too overwhelming"
"William said he wants photographic evidence of this situation."
Anne laughed. "He wants to see Eric painting the bedroom pink?"
"Ha, Eric would never allow that. Besides, he's done with the painting part anyway. Now he has to work on the crib and everything else. And a lot of that has to wait until after the baby shower."
Eliza smiled. "I can't wait to see that nursery all decked out with a little baby girl Wentworth inside of it."
"Part of me can't wait," Anne replied, resting her hands on her belly. "But another part of me is really willing to wait for this little girl to finish cooking."
"Do you guys know what you're going to name her?"
"Yes, but we're not telling anyone."
"We don't want to listen to other people complaining or criticizing. We love the name, and it will make sense to people when they hear it. But we're keeping it a secret so people don't complain about it."
"Like Emma's comments on Adeline's name?"
"That was what made up our minds for us." Emma Knightley had not approved of Adeline Marie Benoit's name. She thought that Adeline was a "grandma name" and thought that Ed and Marisa ought to name their baby something more "modern" like Avery or Addison.
"Marisa said that she now feels completely free to criticize whatever Emma and George end up naming their children."
Anne smiled. "I don't know if Emma is going to like our name, but I don't really care."
"Is it a family name?"
"I'm not telling."
Eliza sighed. "I'm going to be her godmother."
"I'll tell you this, Godmother Elizabeth. You will like the name."
"Will the godfather like it?"
Anne nodded. "He will. You have to remember that he's more old-fashioned than people might think."
Eliza smiled. "I can't wait to see him with the baby."
"After seeing Eric with Addie, I can't wait to see him with our baby."
"Who is more ready for Christmas break, you or the kids?" Will asked Eliza during one of their now-weekly chats a little more than a week before Christmas. The pair had deiced that weekly phone calls on Sunday evenings were a good routine for them.
"Me," she replied. "I'm ready to get away form them for two weeks."
He laughed. "Are they driving you insane?"
"You have no idea. Break is all that they want to talk about. It's like they don't have to be in school for the next week and I'm not giving a test on Thursday."
"A test on two days before break?" Will repeated. "Man, Senorita Bennett, you're mean."
Eliza laughed. "It would be on Friday, but I have a bunch of kids who are going on a field trip on Friday. So instead, we're having a fiesta the day before break."
"Aren't fiestas the point of Spanish class anyway?"
"Oh, shut up, William."
"You know you love me."
"You're ridiculous, William Darcy."
"And you love it."
Eliza just sighed.
Posted on: 2014-02-01
The day after Christmas, Eliza left for Virginia. She was planning on spending a week with Will. She would definitely spend time with Gina and the Darcy parents while she was there, but the primary purpose of her visit was to get to know Will in a new and different way. Eliza liked Will. She found him attractive. She enjoyed his company. But she wanted to get to know him as a romantic partner rather than as a friend. She wanted to know what kind of boyfriend or even husband he could be.
Will met her at the Richmond airport and drove her to his home. The house was amazing. First of all, it was enormous. And secondly, it was on the most amazing five acres of beauty she'd seen in a long time. "It's almost as beautiful as the Upper Peninsula," she breathed as she climbed out of the car.
"You like it?" he asked.
"I love it."
Eliza almost laughed when she saw the smile that lit up Will's face at that comment. He looked like a kid on Christmas morning. "Wait until you see the inside," he told her. "It's amazing. And my mom made me get a cleaning service to come in and make it presentable before you came over."
Eliza smiled. "I love your mom. She's amazing."
"Yeah, she's kind of the greatest mom in the world."
"When do I get to see her?"
"I thought you came to visit me, not hang out with my mom."
Eliza bounded up the steps to the front door. "Oh, I'll visit you too, but really, I'm just using you as an excuse to see your mom and sister."
"Sometimes, Eliza Bennett, I don't know what to do with you."
"Love me," she replied blithely as he unlocked the door and let her into the house.
Will's house was beautiful. Eliza could imagine marrying him for this house. She would never really do something so mercenary, but there was a small part of her that would do anything to live in this house. It was large but not uncomfortable. The only things that the house really lacked were a library and a woman's touch to make the house a bit more of a home.
"I can see why Annie loves this place," she said as she followed him up to the room that would be her bedroom for the next week.
"She asked me last winter if it could be moved to Michigan so that she and Eric could live in it."
Eliza laughed. "I think that the house they ended up buying is more suited to Anne's personality than your house is. And this house is more your style than it is Eric's."
Will smiled. "I love this house. The only problem with it is that I feel like I'm always rattling around it since I live here alone."
"Who takes care of it during baseball season?"
"My parents and Gina," he replied. "If Gina ends up staying in Virginia after college, I've offered to let her life here full-time."
"That would be awesome for both of you."
"I know, right? Now, this is your room, Eliza."
Eliza smiled. The room was large with light blue walls, a queen-sized bed adorned with blue bedding, and an adjoining bathroom. "I love this room," she said as she flopped on the bed. "It's so cozy."
"Check out the view from the window."
Eliza popped off the bed and went to stand next to Will by the window. She grinned as she looked over the snow-covered backyard down to the edge of a lake. "It's beautiful. I can't imagine what it must look like in the summer."
"It's gorgeous," he replied. "But I rarely get to spend time here in the summer. I just get to see pictures my family send me."
Eliza had learned that the life of a baseball player wasn't always easy. Sure, baseball was a game as Will had said before on multiple occasions. But it was their job, and it was a job that demanded that they spend much of their lives on the road. They were always traveling except during the off-season. They didn't get to stay home and enjoy nice summer views from their patios while grilling for their families on a Saturday afternoon.
"That stinks," she said, putting one of her small hands on Will's arm.
He smiled at her. "Oh, it's all right. I'll be thirty-two in February, and I figure I've got about eight more years of baseball in me, maybe nine or ten if I'm lucky. Then, I can retire, and after I retire, then I can enjoy this view in the summer."
Eliza looked up at him. "What do you want to do after you retire?"
"Honestly?" he asked.
She nodded. "Yeah, of course."
He smiled and shrugged. "I'm not sure, which makes me feel kind of dumb sometimes. Knightley wants to work in the front office, and Ferrars wants to teach high school. Eric wants to work as a coach or a manager. And I don't really know what I want to do."
"I think you could be a really good sportscaster," Eliza suggested.
He shrugged nonchalantly. "I'm not sure that I want to do that. I think I'd rather coach or manage. I like telling people what to do."
Eliza laughed. "I think that's typical of oldest children, especially oldest sons."
"It's also true of children who were only children until the age of nine," he said. "I was a little prince until Gina came along."
"That explains so much about you."
"Oh, shut up."
Will loved having Eliza staying at his house. It felt comfortable and normal to come downstairs and find her perched on his kitchen counter wearing flannel pajama pants and a purple Grand Valley State hoodie while eating leftover chocolate cake from the night before and drinking coffee out of his navy blue Tigers mug.
"You're adorable," he said to her on her first morning in Virginia.
"Me?" she said with a snort. "I'm not adorable. I'm a hot mess. Look at me."
He laughed. She was wearing her pajamas, her glasses obscured her dark brown eyes, and her curly hair was threatening to fall out of a messy French braid. "I am looking," he replied. "You're darling."
Eliza blushed as she shook her head. "William, you're very sweet, but I'm not adorable in the morning. I need makeup and real clothes to look adorable."
He smiled. "We're going to have to agree to disagree here, Eliza. I think you're adorable right now, and that's all I can say."
She shrugged. "Pour me another cup of coffee and we'll agree to disagree."
Will laughed as he refilled her cup.
While the lady in question was in the shower, Will sent a text message to Eric. "Liza thinks she doesn't look adorable unless she ahs makeup on."
A few minutes later, Eric responded. "It's conditioning, dude."
"Conditioning? In her hair?"
"No, moron, psychology. In her brain."
"Oh, that makes sense."
"Yeah, blame the media."
Will laughed as he read Eric's final text. After he ended things with Amanda, his mother had sat down and explained to him how girls like Amanda create unrealistic image expectations for girls like Gina. She had informed him sternly that girls like Gina did not need to have that image (Practically a Human Barbie) shoved down their throats when it was hard enough to be a woman in the twenty-first century already. In general, Will wouldn't call his mother a feminist, but he would freely admit that Kathy Darcy was a very strong proponent of healthy body image for women. This had been her main (but not only) reason for disapproving of her son's relationship with the 2010 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition Cover Girl. She didn't think that Amanda Ferguson promoted healthy body image and she didn't approve of that.
On the other hand, she did approve of Eliza Bennett. Eliza looked healthy according to Kathy and behaved in what Kathy called a "respectable manner." She also dressed more modestly than Amanda (although that wasn't saying much) and was friendlier. Eliza may not have believed herself to be adorable without makeup, but the fact that she was willing to appear outside of her bedroom without makeup was a redeeming quality in Kathy Darcy's book. Further adding to Eliza's good qualities in Kathy's book was that she did not, as Gina had once said of Amanda, "Make Will dumb, like really, excruciatingly dumb."
"You realize that you brought a nerd to Virginia," Eliza said to Will when he asked her what she wanted to do with the day. "We're like two hours from the nation's capitol and an hour from Williamsburg. There's so much we could do."
"And it's cold outside," he replied.
"It's in the thirties, you baby," she sniped back. "Where I come from, we call that balmy."
He snorted. "So you want to do something that involves being outside?"
She nodded as she fiddled with the ends of her sweater sleeves. "I want to see things, Will. This is my vacation."
"So, what do you want to see?"
"Museums," she replied with a smile.
Now, it wasn't that Will had any specific objections to going to the Smithsonian or Ford's Theater (which, it turned out, Eliza really wanted to visit) or all of the major presidential and war monuments/memorials they could see. He didn't have a problem watching her gaze adoringly at the Washington Monument or looking on as she pressed her hands against the Michigan section of the World War II memorial. (It turned out that Susan Bennett's father, Frank Marlowe, had fought in the Second World War and his brother, Max Marlowe, had been killed in the Pacific theater.) He didn't mind those things; truth be told, he actually enjoyed them. But at the same time, he'd never dated a girl who was interested in them. Natalie found museums and memorials boring, but that was at least in part because she had grown up in Richmond and she had seen the capitol on at least two school field trips per year growing up. And Amanda just hadn't been interested in the past. "It's over and done with," she told him once. "Who cares anymore?"
But Eliza wanted to go to the museums. She wanted to look at historical artifacts and paintings and dinosaur skeletons. So that was what they would do. They would eat freeze-dried ice cream (or whatever the heck that stuff was) at the Air and Space Museum.
Will quickly decided that dating (if that was in fact what they were now doing) a smart girl was actually fun. For one thing, she didn't have a tinny giggle, and for another, she didn't particularly enjoy grabbing his arm just to compliment his muscles. Instead, she wanted to explore D.C. and see things. She wanted to go to Arlington and see the Eternal Flame and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Eliza was fun to be around. She was warm and cheerful. Even though he'd already seen most of the things they were visiting, Will thoroughly enjoyed watching her take in new sights and places. When they were at the World War II Memorial, it started snowing lightly and Eliza was delighted. She threw her arms open wide, leaned her head back, opened her mouth, and spun in circles while giggling. Watching the skirt of her black coat twirl around her and the contrast of her dark purple hat, mittens, and scarf against the stark colors of the memorial, Will had to laugh. It was like watching a child enjoy winter. Then he pulled out his phone, snapped a quick picture of her, and sent it to Anne with the message, "Is this how all Michigan girls react to winter?"
Anne's response was quick. "Ha, no, that's just Liza."
Will laughed before replying, "Well, she's darling."
Eliza stopped twirling and came to stand next to him. "What are you doing?"
"Nothing," he replied with a smile and a flash of his eyebrows. "Absolutely nothing."
"Oh, come on, William," she said. "You don't actually expect me to believe that."
"Fine," he sighed before showing her the picture.
Eliza took the phone from him and looked at it. "Man, you're a good photographer."
"And you're adorable."
"I'm not going to fight you there," she said as she gave him back the phone. "I like that picture."
"I sent it to Anne."
She laughed. "And of course she loved it because she is feeling very loving and maternal these days."
He smiled. "She loved it because it is of you and you are adorable."
Eliza shrugged. "If she were not eight months pregnant, I would agree with you. But right now, Anne is in this mood where she's just very happy and loving and maternal towards everyone and everything. Like, you could send her pictures of cockroaches, and she would think they were adorable. So, your argument is invalid until the baby is born."
"I concede the point."
"Thank you, Mr. Darcy," Eliza replied.
"My pleasure, Miss Bennett."
Will and Eliza had dinner at his parents' house twice during her visit. Richard and Kathy obviously adored their son's "probably girlfriend," as Gina called Eliza. And she loved being around them. "I feel at home here," she told Kathy as she helped clean up the kitchen after her second visit.
Kathy smiled. "I'm glad. We, Richard and I, want you to feel comfortable here."
"Thank you for that," Eliza said. "I love your house and your family."
Kathy wrapped an arm around Eliza's shoulders. "And we love you too. You are always welcome in our home."
The younger woman leaned her head against the older woman's shoulder. Not for the first time, Eliza noted how safe and comfortable she felt with Will's family. She liked the simple quiet and comfort of this close-knit family.
"Marry her, William," Richard Darcy told his son as they built a fire in the living room fireplace while the women cleaned the kitchen.
"Eliza? We're not officially dating yet, Dad."
His father rolled his eyes. "I know that, but listen to me. She's good for you. She makes you better. Don't let that slip through your fingers. You let Natalie slip away."
"She broke up with me."
"Because you weren't ready to give her the commitment she wanted," his father said firmly. "I know that, Will. But I also know you. I see the man that you've become. I see the man that you become when you're around Eliza. She brings out something in you that you tend to avoid on your own."
"Eric says she makes me smarter."
Richard laughed. "Well, that's a rather blunt way to say it."
"But it's true. It's okay, Dad. You can say it. I know it's true."
"It's not that you're unintelligent, Will."
"But I don't always make the best decisions?"
Richard smiled. "I like Eliza more than I've liked any of your previous girlfriends."
"And that's saying something because you liked Natalie."
"I loved her like she was my own daughter," Will's father replied. "I was very disappointed in the way that she ended things with you. But that's over and done with."
"Thank goodness," Will said.
"In the end, I don't think she was right for you."
"No, she wasn't. We didn't want the same things out of life."
"But you and Eliza do?"
Will nodded. "I think so."
"Good, I like her."
"So do I, Dad."
Richard smiled and clapped his son on the shoulder. "Your mother and I are proud of you, Will. You do know that, don't you?"
"Yeah, you've always been the most supportive parents on earth," he replied.
The father nodded. "I just wanted to be sure you knew that we care."
On Eliza's last night in Virginia, she found herself having a conversation that she hadn't expected to ever have in front of Will's sister. It was a Friday, and the three of them had gone out to dinner. After dinner, they had come back to Will's house to watch a movie. It wasn't until the movie ended and Gina noticed that Eliza was sprawled out on the couch, leaning against Will's chest that this conversation had begun. Will had his arm wrapped around Eliza and was playing with her hair.
"Good gravy," Gina laughed. "You two are absurd."
"What? Why?" Eliza mumbled as she lifted her head slightly from Will's chest.
"Look at yourselves," Gina replied.
"We can't, brainless," Will said. "Look at us. We can't see ourselves without a mirror; that's a basic fact of life."
"Okay, fine," Gina sighed before taking a picture of the pair. She showed them the picture with a smile. "Look at yourselves."
"We look comfortable," Eliza said.
Gina sighed again. "You look like a couple."
"We're friends, really good friends, Bean," Will replied flatly as he tightened his grip on Eliza.
"Dude, you guys are ridiculous. I have guy friends. I have really good guy friends. This is not how we act. You guys are acting like you're dating."
Eliza sighed. "We aren't dating. We live in different states, and we won't live in the same state again until April."
"You guys act like you're a couple. And if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck and talks like a duck, then we have to at least consider the possibility that it is a freaking duck."
"Look, Bean," Will sighed. "We're interested in each other. We're good friends. I think we're both attracted to the other."
"Yep," Eliza agreed.
"But here's the thing. We live far away from each other."
"So what?" Gina replied, frustration oozing from her voice. "You two talk on the phone at least once a week. You text constantly. You spent a week together pretty much just the two of you. You cuddle whenever possible. You've kissed at least twice that I know of. You are a freaking couple. Just admit it!"
"You're a major pain in the backend, you know?" Will replied calmly.
"We had a plan for the off-season," Eliza said. "We were going to be friends, and that would be it. We've managed to mostly avoid the whole DTR conversation for the past week."
"And then you waltz in here and demand that we DTR here and now."
Gina shook her head. "I'm just asking you guys to admit to what is as plain as day in front of me. You two are a couple."
"Fine," Eliza said. "We're a couple. Are you happy?"
"She probably won't be happy until we get married and give her at least two nieces or nephews."
Gina rolled her eyes. "I'm really not trying to force you two into anything. I'm just saying that it looks like you two are in a relationship and I don't understand why you say that you're not if you are."
"Mostly it's the distance thing," Eliza admitted. "It feels weird to say that we're 'together' when we are hundreds of miles apart physically."
"I mean, we aren't dating," Will pointed out. "We don't go on dates. We talk as much as we can, but don't get to spend that much time together."
Gina nodded. "I understand that."
"So, yeah, maybe we are a couple," Will continued. "But we have to figure out what that means for us."
"It means that you're together. It means that you have serious feelings for each other. You're interested in each other. You want to be together. So be together. Make things official."
Eliza smiled. "But what does that mean for us until April?"
"What do you mean?" Gina asked.
"Tomorrow, I'm going back to Michigan. Your brother will be in Virginia until early February when he'll go to Florida. He'll be there until the beginning of April. And that's when we'll be reunited. And that's four months away."
"Three months," Will said. "April's the fourth month of the year, Eliza, but it's three months away."
"I knew that."
"I know you did. You're just tired and overwhelmed."
Gina shook her head as she watched her brother and Eliza. "Call yourselves what you want. I don't care. I just want you two to be happy. And if you're going to sit around and pretend that you're not a couple and you're going to repress your feelings for each other just because you won't see each other again until spring, well, I think that's stupid. Enjoy the time you have together. Kiss each other if that's how you feel right now. Sleep together if that's what you want. Do what makes you happy. Don't make yourselves unhappy for no real reason."
"When did you become a philosopher?" Will asked.
"When you were busy 'not dating' Eliza and not paying attention to your favorite little sister," she replied.
"Sassy pants," he grumbled.
"You know you love me."
"Love you, yes, but that doesn't mean that I understand you."
Gina sighed. "Just take my advice and move on."
As the Darcy siblings bickered, Eliza just burrowed closer to Will's chest. He was warm, and she was tired. So as the siblings quibbled over their relationship, she fell asleep on Will's chest.
Posted on: 2014-02-16
Eliza left Virginia on Saturday morning, the first Saturday of 2013. Will kissed her before she went through airport security and made her promise to call him when she landed in Detroit. Of course, she did, and then they had an hour-long conversation that ended with an argument over who should hang up first.
She arrived home to discover that her sister, Gen, had started dating a guy she met through online dating named Alex Michaels.
Anne was four weeks from her due date and tired of being pregnant. St. Benedict's had found a long-term substitute for Anne who was ready to start whenever she was needed. While Anne's due date was January 29, she pessimistically suspected that her baby would not be born in January. "She seems perfectly happy in here," Anne told Eliza on Monday after school.
"What does your doctor say?"
"That the baby seems healthy and strong, she'll probably be nine or ten pounds at birth."
"Eric's daughter for certain," Eliza replied.
"Oh yeah, she is definitely Eric's daughter," Anne said rubbing her belly. "She's always moving, and my back is killing me from carrying this huge belly around. I haven't gotten a full night of sleep since November. She thinks my bladder is a soccer ball. And she's big. I mean, look at me. I'm all belly."
Anne was right. She hadn't really gained weight during her pregnancy except for her belly.
"And you look amazing," Eliza replied. "I would kill to look that good when I'm thirty-six weeks pregnant."
Anne laughed. "You're a runner, Eliza. You'll probably be in just as good of shape when you're thirty-six weeks pregnant."
"Ha, you've clearly never seen pictures of my mom when she was pregnant with Gen or me. When she was pregnant with Gen, she gained like seventy pounds. And since I was an accident and came along like fifteen months after Gen, she hadn't lost all of that weight yet, and then she put on another fifty pounds with me."
"And let me guess," Anne said. "She blamed it all on you."
"Of course, she's Susan Bennett. What else would she do? She told me that I made her fat. She complained about how 'fat' I was at birth. I mean, okay, yeah, I was a chubby baby, but look at me now. I'm in great shape. I didn't grow up to be an enormous couch potato like she was always predicting I would."
Anne snorted. "You never sat still long enough to be a couch potato. Even in elementary school, you were always moving. Sure, you have a healthy appetite, but I've never thought there was any reason to worry about your weight."
"Well, you know how my mother is."
"Just ignore her, Eliza. That's all you can do."
Two and a half weeks later, Will and the majority of his teammates were in Detroit for the Tigers' Winter Caravan and Tiger Fest, three days that the Tigers spent rallying their fans and getting them excited for the upcoming season.
The guys would be "on tour," as Eric called it, Thursday and Friday before coming back to Detroit for Saturday. The wives and girlfriends were welcome to come but didn't have to. Emma chose to remain in Arizona to avoid the absurd cold of Michigan. Elinor came to Michigan because she wanted the opportunity to see as much of Ed as she could before he went off to Florida. The pair had gotten engaged on New Year's Eve. "Part of me really wants to be annoyed with him for proposing on such a clichˇd night," Elinor told Eliza at a pre-caravan dinner hosted by ostensibly by Eric and Anne, but really by Eliza, Eric, and Will. "But I can't be mad at him when it's taken us so long to get to this point. At this point, I can't make myself care about clichˇs. I'm just happy that I'm finally going to marry the man of my dreams."
Eliza smiled. "I don't know Ed that well, but he seems really warm and genuine. I really like what I know of him. And William always has good things to say about him."
Elinor grinned. "He is wonderful. I love him. I've loved him since we were in college. It's just that it's taken ages to get through all the crap and make things work."
"But now you have each other," Eliza offered.
"And no one can stop us," Elinor said firmly. "His family tried, and they failed. We're getting married, and we don't care how they feel about it."
"How long have you two been dating?" Eliza asked.
"Officially dating, three years," Elinor replied. "But we've known each other for ten."
The couple had met through mutual friends as freshmen at Fresno State University and had developed a fast friendship. Love had come quickly, but the wealthy Ferrars family had not chafed at the notion of their son dating a girl whose father hadn't gone to college. But in the end, Ed had decided that he didn't care what his family though and if he wanted to be date (and eventually marry) a high school science teacher, then that was his choice, and he was going to do what he wanted.
"Do you know when the wedding will be?" queried Eliza.
"Next December," Elinor said. "I've always wanted a Christmas wedding."
Eliza smiled. "San Francisco at Christmastime, that sounds lovely."
"It does, doesn't it? It's been my dream since I was a little girl, and now it's coming true. But really, Eliza, I don't care that much about the details of the wedding. As long as I marry Ed, I'll be happy. Flowers, dresses, whatever, I don't really care about the details; I just care about marrying Ed."
Eliza grinned. "That sounds like a good wedding plan."
"Do you have a dream wedding?"
"Not really," Eliza said. "As long as I marry the right guy, that's all I really care about."
"Do you think Will is the right guy?" Elinor asked.
"I hope so," Eliza replied simply. "I really hope so."
Elinor smiled. "I think he is."
On Saturday evening after the Fan Festival at Comerica Park, Will and Eliza went out for dinner. "Our first official date as a couple," Will told Eric.
For that first official date, Will took Eliza to dinner at the Meryton, a classy restaurant in Eliza's hometown of Longbourn, Michigan. It was a classy enough establishment that Eliza had to wear a dress, something that Gina had suggested to her older brother.
"I love this place," Eliza said when Will pulled into the parking lot.
"Anne told me that you would."
"You asked Anne for advice on where to take me?"
Will nodded. "I wanted to take you somewhere perfect."
She grinned. "You're delightful."
"She also told me that I shouldn't bother getting you roses because you don't really like them. She said that I should try for gerbera daisies."
"Very true," Eliza replied. "I love daisies. I think roses are clichˇ."
"You're full of surprises, Elizabeth Bennett."
She smiled at him. "I do my best."
"Okay, explain something to me," Will said over dessert.
"Almost anything," Eliza replied.
"The fear of watermelons, what's the deal there?"
She laughed. "It's about the seeds."
"The seeds? You're afraid of watermelon seeds?"
She blushed as she nodded.
"Why? I mean, there has to be a story there."
"There is," she replied. "But it's embarrassing."
"If you tell me, I'll tell you something embarrassing about myself."
She bit her lip. "All right, fine, but you have to promise that you won't laugh at me."
He smiled. "Tell me."
"When I was in second grade, the day of my First Communion, Gen challenged me to a contest to see which one of us could eat more watermelon. And I've never met a challenge I didn't like. So I agreed. But I ate too much watermelon too fast and ended up choking on the seeds. And then after my dad dislodged the seeds from my throat, I threw up all over my pretty white First Communion dress. And I haven't been able to look at watermelon since then."
"That's a sad story," he replied. "I'm sorry that happened to you."
She shrugged. "I recovered. But it left me scarred for life on the watermelon front."
"Completely understandable," he replied as he squeezed her hand.
"Now you tell me your something embarrassing," she said with an impish grin.
Will laughed. "When I was ten and she was about sixteen months old, I dropped Gina and she hit her head on an end-table in my parents' living room, but I always told them that she walked into it."
"That's not nearly as embarrassing as watermelon vomit on a First Communion dress."
"I don't know if I can match that. I mean that is epic. I'm not sure that I've ever done anything that epic."
She rolled her eyes. "Watermelon vomit is not epic. It's awful."
"It's epically awful," he replied flatly. "But it doesn't change the way I look at you."
"Well, that's a relief."
Anne's due date was Tuesday, January 29, 2013. But the day came and went without any sigh of Baby Girl Wentworth. It wasn't until Saturday, February 2, 2013 that the baby decided to put in an appearance. The baby was born in a fashion that was fitting to Eric Wentworth's daughter. Anne went into active labor around eight in the morning and went to the hospital with her husband. Her daughter was born in a relatively smooth and easy birth around noon that day. Josephine Sophia Wentworth entered the world at twenty-two inches long and nine pounds, four ounces. She had thick dark brown hair and dark eyes that would eventually reveal themselves to be decidedly brown.
That Saturday, February 2, would prove to be one of the most important days of little Josephine's godfather's life. Standing in the hospital room late that afternoon with his girlfriend, William Darcy knew once and for all that he needed to be a father. Seeing the look of pure joy on Eric's face as he held his tiny daughter in his arms, Will wanted to know what that felt like. He wanted to know the joy that he saw on Eric's face. He wanted to be a father.
And then he saw Eliza holding baby Josephine. "She looks like a natural," he whispered almost reverentially to Eric. "She looks like she was born to be a mother."
"She does and I think that she was," Eric replied softly. "I think that Eliza Bennett is very good at a good many things, but I believe that her primary purpose on this earth is to be a mother."
"I want her to be the mother of my children."
"Well, don't let me stand in your way."
Will smiled. "I won't. Trust me, Eric; I will never let you stand in the way of my relationship with Eliza."
"And I would never try to stand in your way to begin with. I want to see the two of you together because I believe that you are each the other's best chance for happiness in this life."
For Eliza, Josephine's birth confirmed a few things that she had suspected previously. For one thing, holding the child of her two best friends showed her that she definitely wanted to be a mother. She wanted to get married and build a family the way that Eric and Anne were.
"Can I hold her?" William asked as Eliza stood staring at Josephine.
Eliza smiled at her boyfriend and reluctantly held the baby out to him. "I suppose so."
As soon as baby Josephine was settled in her godfather's arms, Eliza's reluctance fled. Will was a natural with the baby, and the baby clearly adored him. "You were born to be a daddy," Eliza breathed as she stroked both Josephine's head and Will's hand.
Will smiled and looked into his girlfriend's eyes. "I want one, Eliza. I want one of our own, and I want one soon."
She nodded. "Okay."
"Okay?" he repeated. "You're okay with having a baby?"
"I'd like to get married first, but I'm okay with marrying you and having a baby relatively soon."
Will cuddled little Josephine closer to his chest. "Don't be surprised if I propose soon."
Eliza smiled up at him before kissing his cheek. "As you wish, my dear, but I also won't hold my breath waiting for you."
Will smiled. "It won't be before the start of the regular season, but that's just because I'm leaving for Florida in less than ten days."
True to his word, Will left for Florida three days after Josie Wentworth's birth. Eric followed tow days after that and then Anne went with little baby Josie. "Spring training is a little lonely for me this year," Eliza told Will over the phone a few days later.
"We'll be back in six weeks."
"Yeah, well, right now that feels like an eternity."
"I know," he replied. "I'm with you on this one. I'm just trying to make you feel better about this."
She laughed. "Thanks, darling. That's much needed."
"I wish you could come visit me while I'm down here."
"I know," she sighed. "I do too. But you know how my schedule is."
"Your schedule sucks."
"Tell me about it," Eliza replied. "If I didn't have a meeting on the fifteenth, we'd be golden at least for that weekend."
"You could always fly down some Friday night after school and come back on Sunday night," he suggested.
"I wish, but with Annie gone, I'm in charge of the musical."
"Oh, right, you have set construction on Saturday, don't you?"
"Every single Saturday in March," Eliza said flatly.
"I know. I hate how much time we spend away from each other."
"I know," Will said. "I wish I got to spend more time with you."
"You'll be home in six weeks," Eliza replied firmly. "Hold on to that."
"You called Detroit my home," Will remarked.
"Well, it's my home," Eliza offered shyly.
He laughed. "I like it. I like the idea of my home being where you are."
"If my heart is here, what does it matter where I live?" Eliza quoted.
"At the risk of sounding sappy, I like the idea of my home being wherever my heart is."
"Are you saying that you love me?" Eliza said coyly.
Will chuckled as he imagined the flash of her dark eyebrows that must have accompanied that comment. "I suppose that if I'm being honest I must confess that I love you deeply and truly."
Eliza blushed, secretly glad that her boyfriend couldn't see her red cheeks. "And I suppose, William, that I must confess that I love you too."
He grinned. "Oh, Eliza, you are wonderful. You are thoroughly delightful."
"You're pretty darn spectacular yourself, William."
"How is Josie liking Florida?" Eliza asked Anne during a late February phone call.
"Well, I think you might have some competition for your boyfriend's attention."
Anne chuckled. "Yes, my daughter adores your boyfriend. Every time we give Josie to Will, she just stops fussing almost instantly and goes to sleep. I'm not entirely sure that we're ever going to go anywhere without Will again."
Eliza laughed. "Your daughter has just learned that Will is a very charming man and she adores him."
"I'm just telling you, Eliza. You have competition for Will. And since Will can get my baby to sleep when no one else can, I'm going to have to side with Josie over you."
"Then I'm going to deny you the honor of being my maid of honor when I marry Will."
"But I'm your best friend."
"Not if you're siding with Josie over me," Eliza teased.
Anne laughed. "She's my daughter. From now on, she will always win."
"As she should," Eliza said. "But in the end, I will win with my boyfriend."
"Then you'll have to share him with my daughter."
"I'll see what I can do about that. Just remind your daughter that I am her godmother and I had him first."
"Well, you can try talking to her about it when I bring her back to Michigan in a few weeks."
"I could do it today using the phone," Eliza retorted. "I need to make things crystal clear to her."
Anne chuckled. "I'd love to see and hear that conversation. My daughter is pretty darn devoted to your boyfriend."
"Hey, now, that's just because darling Josie doesn't have me around to remind her over my virtues and benefits. When she and I are reunited, she will be willing to share my boyfriend with her."
"I hope so."
"I know so."
"Well, Eliza, I hate to end this, but Josie-Posey just woke up and I need to go play mama."
Eliza chuckled as she heard the baby's wails. "Go, little mama. Give the Posey and Eric my love."
"Not Will?" Anne teased.
"Nah, I'll take care of that myself."
"He misses you, Eliza."
"I know. I miss him too."
"April can't come soon enough for the two of you."
Posted on: 2014-02-28
William Darcy was reunited with Eliza Bennett on Sunday, March 31, 2013. It was Easter Sunday, and Eliza was on spring break for the week, which meant she could spend as much time as she wanted with her boyfriend. Anne and Josie were with the team, and now it was Will's turn to compete with little Josie for his girlfriend's attentions.
"She's taken over your place as the baby whisperer, man," Eric told Will on Tuesday afternoon as they watched Eliza cuddle a sleeping Josie on the other side of the room. Tuesday was an off-day for the Tigers, and the two couples were spending the day together.
"I know, and I have to admit that I'm jealous."
"Of both of them," Will replied.
Eric snorted. "You're in love, William Darcy."
"You say that like it's a bad thing."
"It's not a bad thing; it's just amusing. I've never seen you like this before. You were never this expressive about your feelings for Natalie. And now you're head over heels for our charming Elizabeth."
"She's wonderful." Will's face turned strangely serious. "Eric, I'm going to ask her to marry me."
"I'm not exactly sure yet," he replied. "I was thinking I would wait until June, but I'm not entirely sure why I want to do that. And I don't know if I can make it until then without jumping the gun."
"Just ask her," Eric said. "She loves you. She wants to marry you. And as I can tell you from experience, when you have the right girl, just go with it. Don't waste time, Will. Marry the girl."
"I fully intend to," Will replied firmly. "I plan to marry her as soon as I can. I want to start a family with her too."
"You'll have to negotiate with her about children."
"I know," Will said. "She wants four or five and I only want two or three. But I think we can work out a compromise on that score. Your daughter is teaching me to love children."
"Elinor and Ed have scheduled their wedding for Saturday, December 21," Anne told Eliza.
"That's awesome," Eliza replied. "I'm glad that they're finally getting married."
"Me too," Anne agreed. "Everyone deserves a shot at real love and true happiness."
"Do you think that Will might be getting close to popping the question?"
Eliza shrugged. "It's hard to say. The day that Josie was born, he told me that he is going to ask me to marry him, but he also told me that the actual proposal wouldn't come until after the season started."
"Well, the season started yesterday."
Eliza blushed. "I know. And as soon as he asks, I'll say yes. But first, he has to actually ask."
"You could ask him."
"No," Eliza said firmly. "That's not in my nature."
"Then you just have to wait for him to make his move."
"It's my penance for disliking him without any just reason."
Anne smiled as she watched the men across the room, lost in their own private conversation. "He will ask you soon. I'm certain of it."
Josie was baptized on Saturday, April 6 after a five o'clock Mass at the church where her parents had been married less than eighteen months earlier. After the baptism, her parents and godparents went out for dinner with a few other friends.
"You look gorgeous this evening," William said to Eliza as she sat in the restaurant holding little Josie.
"Is that compliment for me or for the baby?"
"The baby is adorable," he replied with a smile. "You, darling Eliza, are gorgeous."
She smiled at him and kissed his cheek. "You don't look too shabby yourself."
"That's all you can say for me? I don't look too shabby."
"You clean up pretty nicely," Eliza replied sweetly.
"You're such a tease, Eliza."
She laughed. "William Darcy, do you want to me to say that I think you're the sexiest man alive and no matter what the female fans think, you'll always be a million times hotter than Eric Wentworth to me?"
He kissed her. "That is exactly what I wanted to hear."
"I love you, Will," she whispered in his ear.
Before he could respond, Anne came up next to them. "Behave yourselves, kids. That's my baby there. I don't want you to scandalize or traumatize my poor baby."
"Anne, you are aware of where your baby came from, aren't you?" Will asked.
"Yes, the stork brought her."
Will and Eliza appeared to agree that the only possible response to that remark was laughter.
On Monday, April 15, the Tigers had an off-day, so Will Darcy chose to relax by spending the day with his goddaughter. After working out in the morning, he spent most of the afternoon at Eric's house. Around three-thirty, Eric suggested taking Josie over to St. Benedict's. "Anne wanted me to bring the baby to musical practice, and you can see Eliza at track practice."
"You can twist my arm," Will joked.
Eric laughed. "I knew you'd be up for it."
"I'm always up for seeing Eliza."
"You're a man in love," Eric teased. "Speaking of which, you might know this. How was Eliza running track practice and musical practice while Anne was on maternity leave? She can't bi-locate, can't she?"
Will chuckled. "No, she arranged scheduling for two weeks such that track practice started first. She got the girls started and then left the practice in the hands of her assistant. Then, she went inside and ran musical rehearsal. Halfway through, she gave the musical kids a break and she would go back to track practice to wrap things up. And after she sent those girls home, she finished up musical practice."
"Whoa, that sounds insane," Eric said.
Will nodded. "Every single time I talked to her, I wondered how she wasn't going out of her mind. If I was in her shoes, I would have."
"But that's why she's a teacher and a coach and you're neither."
"You think so highly of me."
Eric shrugged. "I'm just being honest with you."
Will rolled his eyes. "I appreciate your honesty, but sometimes I'd like it if you were a little more gentle with me."
"It makes me wonder if you don't like me."
Eric laughed. "You're my best friend, Will. I just like to give you a hard time. It's part of my personality."
"You're a goofball."
Will shook his head. "Sometimes I wonder how Anne puts up with you."
"She has the patience of a saint," Eric retorted. "But then the same could be said of Eliza putting up with you."
"Personally, I think I'm a saint for putting up with her."
"Dude, any woman who puts up with the life of a professional baseball player is a saint. We travel constantly, and we're almost never around when they need us. We spent six weeks minimum at spring training. We go on ten-day road-trips. We barely allow ourselves any chance to have real lives. Every time we go on the road, I miss part of my daughter's life. It sucks, Will. And my wife is a saint. Every baseball wife or girlfriend is a saint."
Will had to admit that he couldn't really argue with that logic.
"Can I take Josie to see Eliza?" Will asked Eric and Anne. "I know that Eliza would love to see the baby, and I would love to see her."
"But I want to snuggle my baby," Anne said.
"You're supposed to be running rehearsal right now."
"And Eliza is supposed to be running track practice."
"Please, Annie? Eliza would love it."
Anne sighed and held her daughter out to Will. "Take good care of her, William."
It was raining, so track practice was in the gym instead of being outside. The girls were running around the elevated track while Eliza timed them. Eliza's face lit up when she saw her boyfriend walking towards her carrying their goddaughter. "Josie, my darling," she cried as they drew near. "William, hello."
Will kissed her cheek in greeting, knowing that she didn't want to be overt about their relationship in front of her students. "Hey, honey, I convinced Annie to let us borrow her baby for the afternoon."
"That may be your second best decision of the day," Eliza replied.
"What was my best decision?"
"Coming to visit me," she said with a smile before taking the baby from his arms. "As insanely sappy as this sounds, I love this baby, but I love you more."
Will smiled. "I love you too, babe. And yes, I sappily love you more than I love our goddaughter."
Eliza laughed. "You know what, William? You're pretty much perfect for me."
He grinned, but before he could say anything, McKenna Coffman came up next to them. "Hey, Mr. Darcy, how are you? It's good to see you."
"Hey, McKenna, I'm good. How are you?"
"Great," she replied. "Oh my gosh, is that Mrs. Wentworth's baby? Can I hold her?"
"Mr. Darcy just gave her to me, Kenna. Go practice your sprints for a while. I'll let you hold Josie in a bit."
"Okay," McKenna sighed before rubbing Josie's chubby leg. "See you in a little bit, sweet pea."
As McKenna walked away, Eliza smiled. "She's such a great kid."
"She seems pretty great. How long do you have left at practice?"
Eliza laughed. "Honey, you just want to get me alone."
"Dinner would suffice, but yeah, I want time with you."
"And yet you brought Miss Josie Posey with you when you came to see me."
"I knew that the baby would make you happy."
Eliza shook her head. "Honey, seeing you is enough. But you're not going to get my undivided attention if you bring Miss Josie along."
"Okay, if I'm being honest, I wanted Josie here."
"I figured," Eliza replied. "I know that you love our goddaughter."
Will stroked Josie's head and smiled. "She's amazing. I want one of my own. Maybe I want more than one of my own."
"How many of your own do you want?" Eliza asked. "I'm just curious."
Will looked at his girlfriend holding their friends' baby and smiled. "I'm not sure anymore. I used to think I wanted two or three at absolute most. But I don't know now. I think I want to start with at least three, but I might be open to four kids under the right circumstances and with the right woman."
"With the right woman?" Eliza repeated.
"And I think I might have found the right woman," Will added.
Eliza smiled at him. "That's the right answer, Mr. Darcy."
He laughed. "So does that help you with anything?"
"Nope," she replied flatly.
"It doesn't help you with anything at all?"
She shook her head. "Nope."
"Because I was never worried in the first place," she said. "You want two or three kids; I want three or four. I figure that we'll come to a conclusion on that with time. I'm willing to bring my number down for you if you want. I can be adaptable, Will. I never was worried about how many kids you wanted."
"I think you once thought I wanted eight kids."
"I was joking."
Will laughed. "I know. I just thought it was funny."
"Yeah, well, I still think it's kind of funny that you own eight cars."
"Nine," he replied.
"Nine?" she repeated. "You own nine cars?"
"Yeah, remember when I bought the Lamborghini this winter?"
"Oh, yeah," she replied with a sigh. "Where are you going to keep all of those cars?"
"I'm not sure yet."
"And when we get married, where are we going to keep my car if you already have nine cars but you have an eight-car garage?"
"I may have to add on to the garage?" he suggested hesitantly. "Come on, Eliza. You know I love cars."
"I know that you do, but I don't understand it one bit."
He shrugged. "I don't know how to explain it. They're just fun."
"Okay, but Will, I have a serious question for you."
"When we get married and have kids, what are we going to do with them? We can't put car-seats in any of your cars."
"We could put them in your car. My cars are for fun, and your car is for being useful."
Eliza sighed and adjusted Josie on her hip. "Listen to me, Josie-Posey. Uncle William is never going to grow up completely."
"But that doesn't mean that you shouldn't love him," Will told the baby.
The baby gurgled and grabbed at Will's face, and he kissed her hand as she laughed.
Eliza loved having Will in Detroit, but all good things must come to an end. On Thursday, April 25, he left town again for ten days on the road. "That's the hard part of dating a baseball player," she told him over the phone one night. "You're on the road so much. I miss you when you're gone."
"And I miss you when I'm gone. But you can come on the road with me during the summer if you want."
"Maybe," she replied coyly. "I'll come if you're going someplace interesting."
"Like Boston or New York?" he asked.
"Actually, I was thinking Kansas City sounded like fun."
Will laughed. "Well, we're going there the weekend before the All-Star Game."
"But I'm going to spend the weekend before the All-Star Game in New York with Gina celebrating her college graduation and her new job."
"And that means that you won't get to go to Kansas City," Will replied.
"Dang, I was looking forward to it."
"Yeah, well, you'll just have to settle for a romantic weekend in Los Angeles or Toronto instead."
Eliza laughed. "I guess I can do that. But really, I just miss you."
"I'll be home on Sunday night. And I'll be around for a whole six days."
"And then you'll be gone again for ten days."
"Before I come back for four days, don't forget that."
"And then you're leaving again for a week."
"Oh, Eliza," Will sighed. "I don't like this any more than you do, but I'll be in town for a good chunk of June and a decent chunk of July."
"And I'm looking forward to that like you wouldn't believe."
"You're probably about as excited as I am," he replied.
Eliza laughed. "Oh, probably. William, I kind of just want to marry you and have a baby and take time off from teaching so I can raise the baby and spend more time with you."
"Would you really want to leave teaching?"
"At least while the kids were little," she said. "If you're going to be on the road all of the time, I want to be at home so our kids have some continuity in their lives. And I'd also like to be able to take the kids on the road with you if that seemed like a worthwhile idea."
"Eliza, this is a conversation I'd rather have face to face," he said. "I like what you're thinking, but I don't want to commit to anything just base don a phone conversation."
"Fair enough," his girlfriend replied. "But know that I am serious about this. If we're going to make this relationship work, I'm willing to make sacrifices to be with you and to build a life with you."
May was a busy month for Eliza. Even with her boyfriend out of town most of the month, she had regionals for track and all of the events surrounding graduation to keep her out of trouble. "It's insane, but I love it," she told Anne the day of regionals. With the promise of free baby-wrangling assistance from McKenna Coffman and her siblings, Anne had brought Josie with her to the competition to support her students and help calm Eliza down.
"You thrive under pressure," Anne said. "I don't."
"I just find this fun," Eliza replied.
"Whereas I find tech week for theater to be overwhelming and absurd," her best friend said. "I'm happiest when my life is calmest."
"Calm is good, but this is just fun."
"See, I'm having fun today, but it has nothing to do with the competition. I'm just enjoying watching you have fun and cheering on the girls."
"And pawning your baby off on other people," Eliza teased.
Anne laughed. "Here's how I see it. My husband travels a lot. This leaves me home alone with my baby a lot. Now, I love my baby, but sometimes, it's nice to have a conversation with a real adult. And if McKenna and Olivia want to entertain my baby and that means that I get to have that precious adult conversation, everyone wins."
"I think McKenna's mom has your baby right now."
Anne shrugged. "Julianne has four kids. I trust her with Josie."
Eliza laughed. "I think that she's having fun."
"Josie or Julianne?"
"Both of them, really."
And when Anne looked over at Julianne Coffman and little Josie, she had to agree with Eliza. It was hard to tell who was having more fun-the baby who was being bounced and tickled or the fifty-something mom doing the bouncing and tickling.
"I think Julianne is kind of itching to be a grandma, Eliza."
"Well, Ryan just graduated from college, and I think that he's planning on asking Maggie to marry him," Eliza replied.
"But that doesn't mean that they'll be making Julianne a grandma any time in the immediate future," Anne said. "But in the meantime, she can practice on Josie for a day."
Eliza smiled. "As long as I can practice on her too."
"Of course I'll let Will and you practice on Josie. I want to encourage you to give her some pseudo-cousins."
Eliza shook her head and laughed. "We're working on it."
"I'm expecting him to propose to you soon."
"I'm going to ask Ryan how life post-college is treating him."
"You're evading my questions, Elizabeth."
"Annie wants to know when we're going to get married," Eliza told Will during their near-daily phone call the next day.
"Of course she does," he replied with an exasperated sigh. "I'm sick of people asking me when we're going to get married."
"Who asked you now?"
"Emma," he moaned. "Twice today alone, if you really want to know."
"Dang," she said. "I just figure that you love me and you know that I love you and you'll ask me to marry you when you're ready."
Her boyfriend laughed. "The way I see it, I should propose when you're not expecting it so it's a surprise."
"And you'll have to do it in person, so it could be a few weeks before I get the proposal."
"I'm really sorry about that, Eliza."
She laughed. "Don't worry about it, babe. I know that you'll ask when you're ready and then I'll say yes. I'm not worried."
Will laughed too. "I love you, darling. I love you so much."
"I love you too," she replied. "And I can't wait to see you again soon."
"Wednesday night," he said.
"Wednesday night," she repeated. "I can't wait, babe."
"Love you, Eliza."
"Love you too, William. Crush the Sox tonight."
"I'll do it for you."
Posted on: 2014-03-07Will returned to Detroit at the beginning of a very busy weekend in Eliza's life-graduation weekend. "It's bittersweet," she told him on Thursday night over dinner at his house. "At one level, I'm happy to see them graduate and move forward with their lives. And some of them, I won't miss one bit. But then, there are some of them who I really will miss."
"Like McKenna and Olivia?" he asked.
She laughed. "I'm going to miss both of them so much. They were such good captains for both track and cross-country."
"And McKenna was kind of like a little sister to you, from what I could see."
Eliza shrugged. "I loved teaching Mark and Julianne's kids. They were such great kids. I still have Olivia's little sister for another two years, and then there are two more Russells after Madelyn. But I'm done with the Coffman kids, and that's hard. I'm going to miss them." She sighed before adding, "And I'm going to miss Julianne's banana bread at Christmastime."
Will laughed. "You could probably ask her for the recipe."
"It wouldn't be the same thing," Eliza replied. "And we won't get her spinach salad for teacher appreciation day anymore."
"Again, you could probably get the recipe."
"Nah," Eliza replied. "We told McKenna how much we liked it, and she told her mom. So Julianne emailed me and told me that she will keep sending in the salad for teacher appreciation day."
"See, you'll live," Will told her.
"It has to be romantic," Will told Edmundo. "It just has to be."
Ed sighed. "No, it doesn't, Will. We're talking about Eliza. It should be simple."
"We're talking about a marriage proposal. Those are supposed to be romantic."
"Will, we're talking about Eliza. I'm pretty sure that she'd say yes if you gave her a ring pop."
Will sighed. "I get that. But I want it to be special. I'm asking the love of my life to be my wife. I want this to be special."
"Daisies," Eric said as he walked into the room. "It's Eliza, so you need daisies."
"Yeah, you need daisies and a ring pop," Ed said.
"Ed, how did you ask Marisa to marry you?"
"I went over to her apartment, she made me dinner, and I told her how I felt about her and asked her if she would marry me. Why, were you romantic or something?"
"He wrote Anne a letter detailing his feelings for her," Will said. "And he had Eliza give it to her. And then he made dinner for her and asked her to marry him during dessert."
"Fancy," Ed remarked. "But Will, I'm not sure that you need to propose."
"What do you mean?"
"Okay, you guys have already agreed that you're going to get married, right?"
"Doesn't that make you basically engaged to her already?"
"Natalie," Eric said.
"Huh?" Ed looked at Eric with complete bewilderment in his eyes.
Will explained. "Natalie and I had basically decided to get married, but we weren't engaged. And then we broke up. I need to make this concrete for myself."
"So the proposal is more for you than it is for Eliza?"
Eric shook his head, and Ed laughed. "Will, I'm pretty sure that as long as you put a ring on her finger, Eliza will be happy. She doesn't need much to make her happy. She's a very simple person."
"The ring should be simple," Eric said, continuing Ed's strain of thought. "The proposal has to be simple."
"She won't like it if it's fancy."
"Well, I'm not going to just chuck the ring at her and say 'marry me.'"
Ed snorted. "She might actually like that."
"She'd think it was funny," Eric added.
"You two are useless," Will sighed.
"We know," Ed said.
Saturday night, Will went over to Eliza's apartment after his game. She had gone to the game, which the Tigers had won, so instead of cooking, they just ordered take-out from their beloved Palm Palace. In the middle of sorting out the food, Will turned to Eliza and said, "Okay, I've tried to think up all sorts of romantic ways to do this, and Eric said that I had to have daisies here for this, and I know he's right, but I don't know how to be romantic, and that might have something to do with why Natalie left me, but that's not the point. Here's the point. Will you marry me? Please?"
Eliza just started laughing.
"Please, Eliza," he said. "Please marry me."
"Of course," she replied. "Of course, I'll marry you. I love you, and I want to be your wife."
He dropped the bag of bread on the table and pulled her into his arms. "I love you, Elizabeth Bennett, and I cannot wait to be your wife."
"Then marry me next weekend."
"You'll be in Seattle next weekend."
"What about the weekend after that?"
"Will, are you serious?"
He nodded. "Yeah, why not just get married? We love each other. We want to spend the rest of our lives together. What else do we need to know?"
"Where are we going to live?"
"My place," he replied flatly. "There's more room there."
"What about during off-season?"
Will shrugged. "I just figured we'd live in Virginia."
Eliza sighed. "Will, I've signed a letter of intent for next year. It's not a legally-binding contract, but I've basically told St. Ben's that I plan to be back next year."
"Oh," was all that Will said.
"And I want to go back next year," Eliza said. "I know that as your wife I wouldn't have to work, but I like my job. And if I'm going to leave my job to start a family, I want to have one last year that I know is my last year. I want my Mariano Riviera season as a teacher at St. Ben's."
"You made a baseball reference," Will said.
"Yeah," his girlfriend said flatly. "What of it?"
"I'm so proud of you."
She rolled her eyes. "Okay, but what do you want to do? Do you want me to put in my resignation at St. Ben's so we can move to Virginia or are you willing to live in Michigan just for the next year so I can teach one last year at St. Ben's?"
"I mean, I love Virginia," he began. "But I love you. And Michigan is your home. And it's just for one year. I could find someplace to practice and train for the winter if you want to stay here."
"I really want to," she replied. "And it would just be for the year. We could move to Virginia after the 2013-2014 school year."
Will smiled. "Are you sure about this?"
"If you're willing to stay in Michigan for one year, then I'm willing to move to Virginia after that year."
"So you'll marry me next weekend?"
Eliza sighed. "William, can't we wait until after the school year ends? I don't have time to get married."
"And I'm out of town for most of June after you're done with school," he replied as he pulled his phone out of his pocket. "What about July 6? It's a Saturday, and we don't play until four, so we could get married in the morning."
"William, my mom is going to kill us if we do this. My mother will kill us if we get married without letting her turn it into a party."
"I thought you weren't that close to your parents."
Eliza shrugged. "I'm not, but that won't matter to my mom. All that she'll care about is the fact that I got married and didn't invite her. And if you think about it, your parents and Gina won't be thrilled if they miss our wedding either."
"Can't we just elope now and have a reception later? Can't you just call Fr. Jack, and ask him to marry us?"
Eliza laughed and hugged him. "I'll talk to Fr. Jack on Tuesday, but I can't make any promises."
"I just want you to be my wife."
She smiled. "I understand, William. I just want to be your wife."
"So we'll elope?"
"With Eric, Anne, and Josie as our witnesses," she said. "I can't imagine getting married without them there."
He smiled. "We'll have them. The five of us, we'll go and have the wedding and then we'll go out for lunch. And we'll be married, you and me."
She kissed him. "We'll be married. I'll be Mrs. Elizabeth Darcy."
Will kissed his fiancˇe and laughed. "You'll be Mrs. Elizabeth Darcy, my wife."
"July 20," she said. "It's better than July 6. You don't have a game until 7."
He grinned. "You're going to be my wife."
Eliza kissed him. "I can't wait."
Eliza was absolutely right that Susan Bennett would not be happy if she wasn't involved in the planning of her least favorite daughter's wedding. "You're my daughter. I have the right to plan your wedding."
"Mom," Eliza sighed. "I don't want a big wedding. I've never wanted a big wedding. I just want to be able to call Will my husband."
"But I've always planned your wedding, Elizabeth. You were going to get married in early April, and your reception would be at the Meryton Open Hunt at sunset. You would wear a stunning gown with a beaded bodice, and your bridesmaids would wear floor-length dusky rose gowns."
"Dusky rose?" Eliza repeated with a furrowed brow. "Really, Mom?"
"Your color scheme should be dusky rose and a delicate gray."
"Mom, you know that I hate pink."
Susan rolled her eyes. "You want to get married in the chapel at St. Ben's with fewer than twenty people there, Eliza. You don't want a proper wedding dress; you're just going to wear a plain white sundress."
"That I'm buying especially for my wedding," Eliza said firmly. "It's what I want."
"You want boring old daisies for your flowers," Susan continued as though her daughter had never said anything. "You just want to have dinner at the Longbourn for your so-called reception. Elizabeth Marie Bennett, how on earth are you my daughter?"
"God alone knows the answer to that question," Eliza replied. "But you're going to have to save that wedding for one of your other daughters because I'm going to have a simple wedding. I just want to be Will's wife and I don't need any fuss for that."
"I'm throwing you a big wedding reception at the Open Hunt in November."
"Fine," Eliza said. "William and I are fine with that idea. But we want the wedding itself to be small."
Her mother shook her head. "Have it your way if you must."
So, Will and Eliza were going to get married on Saturday, July 20, 2013. The only witnesses would be Kathy and Richard Darcy, Gina, Joe and Susan Bennett, Eliza's four sisters and the Wentworth clan. Fr. Jack Coffman, the chaplain of St. Benedict's, agreed to officiate at the wedding. The Darcys weren't unhappy with their son's "near-elopement," as Gina named it; they were just happy that Will and Eliza were finally getting married.
Posted on: 2014-03-18
The weekend before the All-Star Game, and incidentally a week before her wedding, Eliza went to New York City with Gina. "It'll be your bachelorette party," Gina told her future sister-in-law.
Eliza laughed. "I don't need the whole bridal experience. I've never really wanted it."
"Fair enough, but I want us to have this one weekend to really celebrate and enjoy ourselves before you become my brother's wife. You need to enjoy being a single lady one last time."
Eliza only laughed more at that comment. "I'm not the partying type, Gina."
"Then let's just have fun in New York. It'll be just the two of us without my crazy brother."
"That is a plan I can agree to."
"I'm marrying Eliza in a week," Will remarked to Eric as they ate lunch on July 13.
Eric smiled. "Are you excited?"
"I can't wait. I don't even care about the All-Star Game. I just want to marry Eliza."
"You, William Darcy, don't care about the All-Star Game?" Eric said. "I'd say that you are ready to get married."
"It might make me sound like a lovesick girl, but I don't care. Eric, she's everything that I've ever wanted."
"I know that feeling."
"I never thought I'd feel like this, Eric. Natalie, Amanda-I never thought that I would feel about anyone the way that I do about Eliza."
"I'll be honest, Will," Eric said. "When we first met, I never saw you as the marrying type. She's changed you for the better."
"She makes me a better man." Will looked at Eric. "I mean that. I know that I'm still not perfect, but I also know that when I'm with Eliza, I am a better man."
"The best feeling in the world," Eric replied.
"Are you ready to marry my brother?" Gina asked Eliza over dinner their first night in New York.
Eliza laughed. "Part of me says I'm absolutely ready, and part of me is a little bit terrified."
"What terrifies you?"
"My mother," Eliza replied flatly. "Who knows what crap she's going to try during the wedding?"
"The idea of spending the rest of your life with my brother doesn't scare you?"
Eliza shook her head. "Not one bit, your brother exactly what I want out of life."
"I'm glad," Gina said. "But I always think it's funny when you say that my brother is what you want out of life because I'm so accustomed to him being my obnoxious older brother and the idea of anyone wanting to marry him is a bit odd to me."
Eliza shrugged. "I can't speak from personal experience, but I have to think most younger sisters must feel that way about their brothers' weddings. I suspect that it might be easier for sisters to see their sisters get married rather than their brothers."
"Are any of your sisters married?"
"Nope," Eliza said. "Gen has a boyfriend, and I think they're pretty serious. But my other sisters are too young to think about getting married. I mean, Maria is twenty, Kat is eighteen, and Lydia is sixteen. It's a lot of estrogen for one family."
"And now you're acquiring another younger sister."
"And I'm thrilled about that."
Gina smiled. "I've probably said this before, but I'm really glad that you're going to be my big sister and not Natalie or Amanda."
Eliza laughed. "Well, I'm also glad that I'm going to be your sister and neither of them will. But I have far more selfish reasons for feeling that way."
Gina squeezed Eliza's hand. "Well, I'm probably selfish for preferring you as a sister to either of them, but I don't care. You're going to be my sister, and that's all that I really care about. Well, okay, that and the fact that you make my brother ridiculously happy."
"And he makes me happy."
"I want to be an aunt," Gina pronounced at Saturday afternoon as she and Eliza wandered through a store. "And I want to be an aunt soon."
Eliza laughed. "We want to have a baby soon. We're going to start trying right after the wedding."
"Right after?" Gina repeated. "Literally?"
"What do you think?"
"I don't really want to know."
"Then don't ask," Eliza replied. "But yes, we're going to start working on giving you a niece or nephew as soon as we're married."
"I want a niece."
Eliza laughed. "I'll remember that. I think your brother will want a son."
"And what do you want?"
"To be able to get pregnant easily," Eliza stated flatly.
Will and George arrived in New York on Sunday evening. Needless to say, the engaged couple was thrilled to see one another. "Sometimes, they're a little annoying," Gina remarked to George as they stood in the hotel lobby.
"You'll understand when you're married," he replied.
"When's Emma coming to town?"
"Tomorrow morning," he said. "And I'll be very happy to see her."
"Well, make sure that I'm not around. I'm not into mushy crap."
George laughed. "Someday, you'll fall in love and you'll understand."
She shrugged. "I have a feeling not even love could make me into a sappy, emotional person."
"You seem like a reasonably happy person."
"I am a happy person," she replied with an edge of annoyance in her tone. "But I don't like romantic crap."
"So you're like Eliza."
Gina shrugged. "I suppose that I am in some ways."
"She and Emma are very different people. They're both extroverted, but beyond that, they're very different."
Gina nodded. "That's for sure. Emma is a far more cheerful person than Eliza."
"But I think your brother loves Eliza in part for her cynical nature."
"I think that you're right."
George looked at Will and Eliza, a mere five days away from marriage. They looked content together. Yes, she was fourteen inches shorter than him, a fact that bewildered George at times, but they looked happy and comfortable together. Eliza fit into her fiancˇ's arms. Will and Eliza were each the other's match in every way that he could think of.
Saturday came too slowly, or at least that's how Eliza felt about it. To her, Friday night was the longest night in the world. But finally, it was Saturday morning, and she was going to marry William Darcy. Before the day ended-well, actually before lunchtime, she was going to become Will's wife.
"Are you ready for this?" Gen asked as she zipped up the back of Eliza's knee-length white sundress.
The bride laughed. "So ready for this, you have no idea."
Gen grinned. "He seems like a really great guy."
"I love him more than anyone else in the world, Gen," Eliza replied.
Her older sister hugged her. "Then you have to marry him."
"That's what I'm doing. That's the whole point of today for me."
"How are you feeling?" Richard Darcy asked his son as they dressed for the wedding.
"Fine," Will said with a smile. "I'm ready."
His dad smiled. "Good," he said before his face turned suddenly (and uncharacteristically) serious. "William, I don't tell you this nearly enough, but I am so proud of you. Your mother and I, we love you so much, and we are so proud of you. Especially today; today, we are very proud of you."
"Thanks," Will said. "And I mean that. Thank you for everything that you and Mom have done for me. You've made me who I am."
"You're a good man, Will," his father replied. "And you're marrying an amazing woman."
"She's almost too good for me."
"You two are a good pair. You are one another's equals in every way."
Just then, Eric came into the room with his daughter on his hip. "You ready for this, Darcy?"
Will shook his head and grinned. "I was born ready for this one. Let's do this."
"Go get him, tiger," Eric replied.
Eliza married Will in the chapel of the school where she worked. It was a small, simple Catholic wedding. Eliza, as mentioned earlier, wore a knee-length dress, and her new husband wore a simple beige suit. Eric was Will's best man, and Anne was Eliza's matron of honor.
After the wedding, the group went out for lunch. Over the course of the meal, Susan Bennett dropped no fewer than six hints that she was expecting grandchildren immediately. Kathy Darcy, on the other hand, kept her opinions to herself. "They'll have kids when they have kids."
"Which will hopefully be soon," Susan persisted.
Eliza sighed. "I knew that my mother wouldn't be satisfied to see me married. She wants the whole enchilada."
"It'll come soon," Will replied. "We'll have the whole enchilada soon."
"Marriage, kids, and the World Series," Eliza added.
"I love you, Elizabeth Darcy," her husband said before kissing her.
After the wedding and the family lunch, there was a baseball game; the Tigers played the Indians. Eric pitched, and the Tigers won. Despite being invited out for celebratory drinks with his teammates, Will and Eliza chose to go home as soon as they could. "I want to spend time with my wife," Will told George.
George laughed. "As is good and proper; have a fruitful evening, my friend."
Eliza thought to herself that it almost looked as though her husband was blushing. But he quickly laughed and said, with a flash of his eyebrows, "We'll do our best."
George just laughed. Then he hugged Eliza. "Congrats, kiddo. I'm so happy for the both of you."
"Thanks," she replied. "I'm so happy."
"I bet. I'll see you soon."
"Maybe even tomorrow," she said.
Will came up next to his wife. "Are you ready to go, Mrs. Darcy?"
She smiled as she took her hand in his. "Absolutely, Mr. Darcy."
He laughed. "Don't wear him out tonight. We need him to pitch tomorrow."
Eliza laughed, but Will blushed at that comment.
"We're married, really and truly married," Eliza sighed blissfully when she woke up the next morning.
Her husband made no response except to capture her lips in a firm kiss. When he finally pulled away from her, he smiled. "Good morning, wife. I love you."
"And I you," she replied. "You have bewitched me body and soul, and I love you more than anyone else in this world."
"You're stuck with me for good, Eliza Darcy," Will said.
"Thank goodness. I may not have always liked that plan, but now it's all that I want."
Will just smiled.
Posted on: 2014-04-05
The Detroit Tigers Trade Pitcher, Ed Ferrars, to the Washington Nationals
December 3, 2013
It has been confirmed that the Detroit Tigers have sent right-handed pitcher Edward Ferrars and minor league pitcher Henry Tilney to the Washington Nationals in exchange for utility man, John Laurence, and two prospects, Ray Roberts and Alex Suarez. Laurence will fill the gap left in the infield by Prince Fielder's November departure.
No further details were immediately available at the time the Detroit News went to press.
Right-Handed Pitcher George Knightley Signs with the New York Mets
November 25, 2014
He's won the Cy Young Award. He helped the Detroit Tigers to the World Series in 2013. But now, George Knightley's days in Detroit are over. Knightley's contract with the Tigers ended after the 2014 season, and he entered free agency. While the Tigers expressed interest in signing Knightley to a long-term contract in February, Knightley wanted to explore the free agency market. And the Mets appear to have been willing to put forward money for Knightley that the Tigers either could not give him or (more likely) were not willing to give him.
Speaking with reporters this morning, Knightley said, "The city of Detroit has been very special to my wife, Emma, and myself. We have loved the time that we have spent here and the people we have known here. But we are eagerly looking forward to New York and our next adventures in life."
Detroit Tigers Are Moving Edmundo Benoit to First Base for 2016 Season
February 15, 2016
After spending the past six seasons behind the plate, the Detroit Tigers have decided to move Edmundo Benoit to first base to better protect him from injury. Despite an excellent career as a catcher and as a batter, Benoit has been hit in the head several times over the past six seasons and has suffered two concussions. "We feel that it would be best for everyone involved if Edmundo moved to first base," manager Jack Gardiner said.
"Ultimately, my first priority is my own health and safety," Benoit added. "I have three children to worry about. I can't afford to ruin my brain just because I like catching."
William Darcy Announces Retirement after Eighteen Years in the Game
November 8, 2021
Longtime Detroit Tigers pitcher William Darcy announced his retirement today after weeks of speculation. The forty-year-old right-hander has outlasted many of his peers. But after losing in the World Series to the San Francisco Giants, Darcy felt that it was time to retire. "I've had a good career, but now I think that my body is ready for retirement. And I know that my wife and children will be happy to have home on a more consistent basis."
The Tigers announced that Darcy would be transitioning to a position in the front office as Vice President of Player Relations. "William wanted a more stable job, a job where he could put his kids to bed at night and not have to worry about missing school concerts," team general manager and president, Dave Dombrowski, said at the press conference this afternoon.
Dombrowski also announced that the Tigers will be retiring Darcy's number, the legendary #35, at the beginning of next season. "We'll give the boys their American League Championship rings and retire #35. Darcy will be on the wall with Gehringer, Greenberg, Kaline, Newhouser, and Horton. It's where he belongs."
He also belongs in Cooperstown, but that day will come.
The Tigers drafted William Darcy in 2003 after he graduated from Old Dominion. He came up to the majors the following year and remained a mainstay of the starting lineup for the entirety of his career. Over the years, Darcy pitched five no-hitters and two perfect games. He was named Cy Young Award winner five times, American League MVP four times, and won numerous other awards. He won the World Series twice-first in 2013 and second in 2018.
Darcy married Detroit-native Elizabeth Bennett in 2013, and the pair has four children. Isabelle Katherine was born in 2014, Miles Richard in 2016, Madeline Regina in 2018, and Stella Anne in 2020.
"Detroit is a very special place to our family," Darcy said at the press conference this afternoon. "My wife grew up here. I played here for eighteen years. And I am absolutely thrilled that I will be moving in the Tigers' front office so that I can stay in Detroit long-term and raise my family here."
When asked if that meant that the Darcy family would be selling their eight-bedroom house in Darcy's native Virginia, the pitcher laughed. "Actually, that's the plan. We haven't used it as much since Belle started school, and with this job keeping me in Detroit full-time, we won't really need an enormous house in Virginia anymore. We will be living in Detroit year-round now. It's what Eliza and I want for our family."
Eric Wentworth Announces Retirement after Twenty Years in the Game
November 20, 2024
Detroit Tigers pitcher and southeastern Michigan native Eric Wentworth announced his retirement from professional baseball today. Wentworth is thirty-nine years old. The Tigers drafted him out of Our Lady of Consolation High School in Kellynch, Michigan, and he made his major league debut at the age of 19 in 2004. While Wentworth's stats were never as exciting as his former teammate Will Darcy's, Wentworth will be remembered for his consistency and his leadership both on and off the field.
Wentworth was also hugely popular with fans because of his local roots. He was born and raised in Kellynch, Michigan where he first attended St. Dominic's Elementary School and then Our Lady of Consolation. In 2011, he married his former OLC classmate, Anne Eliot, with whom he has three children, Josephine, Michael, and Caroline. The family lives in Longbourn, Michigan year-round.
When asked this morning about his post-retirement plans, Wentworth grinned. "You might expect me to start my own fishing-guide business, but I'm actually planning on finally going to college and becoming a teacher. It's something that I've thought about for a long time and I feel like it's the best decision for my family and for myself."
Former Pitcher Will Darcy Hired as Detroit Tigers' New General Manager
November 9, 2030
Nine years after he retired from professional baseball and started working in the team's front office, William Darcy has been named as the new general manager of the Detroit Tigers replacing outgoing GM Tom Bertram who will be taking over as an assistant to Major League Baseball's Commissioner, Dave Dombrowski. Darcy has always been a fan favorite, and the immediate reaction to his hiring seems to be very favorable.
"My wife and I are incredibly pleased by this," Darcy said at the press conference announcing his hiring. "The Tigers have always been an important part of our family, and this only cements our connection both to the team and to the city."
After his retirement nine years ago, Darcy became Vice President of Player Relations for the Tigers. In 2024, he became President of Player Relations. In 2027, after completing a Master's in Business Administration at the University of Michigan, Darcy became the Assistant General Manager and Vice President of the team. "William is a great fit both of this organization and for the city," team owner Christopher Illitch said. "Both he and his family care deeply about the Tigers and this city. We are hoping to maintain this connection for many, many years to come."
When asked what his first moves as GM might be, Darcy laughed. "Well, I'd love to lure Eric Wentworth out of teaching high school math and get him to work as my assistant GM, but that isn't likely to happen. Other than that, I'd simply like to continue to work on the same trajectory that Tom was taking this team on."
Darcy was also asked how his wife and children felt about this new position, and that elicited another laugh. "I think my kids are hoping this means that we'll spend more time in Florida during February and March. And I think Eliza is just hoping that I can still be home for dinner three or four nights a week."
When Eliza Darcy was asked the same question, she simply said, "When I married William seventeen years ago, I went in with my eyes open. I knew what the life of a baseball wife would be like. And while baseball adds some complications to marriage and can make our lives a little crazy at times, all good marriages are work and at the end of the day I know that Will loves me and he loves our kids. And he does everything that he can to put us first. And I'm happy with that."
"And at the end of the day," William Darcy added. "I know that she's the boss."