Beginning, Section VJump to new as of June 26, 2011
Posted on September 3, 2009
Elizabeth snuggled against Will as well as she could at the kitchen table, as they slowly nibbled on their bagels. They hadn't emerged from her room until nearly 9:30. As soon as their meal was over, Will would leave for his home to squeeze in a few hours of work, and she... She had to do laundry and go shopping, not to mention the other household chores. Oh, Saturday... Well, for now she had Will's arm around her waist, and she'd enjoy it while she could.
"Lizzy!" Jane seemed to appear out of nowhere.
"What's up?" she asked, still a bit dazed.
"Becky, Brad and I were trying to web-conference so I'll be prepared for a big presentation Monday; Becky can't make it, so I have to go. It's why I had to bail after our chat yesterday. Anyhow, we all lost our VPN connections, and can't get back on.
Elizabeth sighed. "All right, I'll go take a look at it." She grabbed her coffee cup and refilled it, then headed for the door before stopping suddenly. Quickly she turned and walked over to Will before placing a little kiss on his cheek. "Sorry, sweetheart. I hope this will be just a few minutes." She then disappeared down the hall.
Jane glanced guiltily at Will, and shrugged her shoulders. "Sorry," she mumbled.
"It's okay." He tried to be polite, though it was impossible to completely conceal his displeasure. "I certainly get my share of work calls."
They chatted about nothing in particular for a few minutes, but when it became apparent that Elizabeth wasn't coming back right away, they both commented that they had work to do, and Jane left.
Will rinsed his plate and coffee cup before grabbing Elizabeth's half-eaten bagel and taking it up to her.
He stopped in the doorway of Elizabeth's room, but she didn't even notice. He stayed put, watching her for a couple of minutes, her eyes shifting between two monitors as windows opened and closed on each.
When he did enter, and placed the small plate on the corner of her desk, Elizabeth started, then smiled as she looked up at him. "Thanks."
"You're busy. I think I'm going to head home," he said quietly.
She stood quickly and leaned into his chest so that his arms instinctively wrapped around her. "I love you," she whispered.
"I love you too." He kissed the top of her head. "I'm missing you already, and can't wait for you to get to my house this afternoon."
"Me either." She lifted her face until their lips met; and while their kiss was passionate, it was short lived.
Will grabbed his overnight bag, and they each offered sad smiles and small waves as Will walked out the door. As soon as she heard him on the stairs, Elizabeth resumed her seat and turned her attention back to her computers.
A good twenty minutes later, the problem was resolved. Elizabeth stood up and stretched, then went to find Jane and give her the news. That was actually more interesting than I expect the next few hours will be. she sighed to herself as she returned to her room for the laundry basket.
Finally, about 3:15, she let Hamlet into the back seat of her car and headed off to Will's. She listened to WMGK and sang along with Bon Jovi as she drove. It was turning into a lovely afternoon.
Once at Will's, as she was letting Hamlet out, she was surprised to see her love bounding out the front door. He seemed very happy about something.
"Liz! I'm so glad you're here." He bent down for a quick kiss and took her bag from her, shouldering it before he took her hand and led her into the house.
"As I was driving home this morning, I realized you'll need someplace to setup your computers."
Elizabeth nodded. She had thought of this too, but figured they would address it eventually – she wasn't actually moving in for a month.
"I have a couple ideas, but you could really have almost anyplace you want." He started to lead her up the stairs.
She followed quietly until they were about halfway up. "I could set them up in your study…"
Will stopped, then turned and looked at her, his expression confused. "I… suppose…' he said slowly.
Elizabeth began to laugh. "You'd seriously let me crowd you out of your own study?" She held his hand down as she ran up three steps to be level with him. "I don't deserve you, Will Darcy." Then leaning forward she kissed him.
"Now, seriously," she tried to control her teasing grin, "what do you suggest?"
They continued up the stairs. "I considered the reading nook." He pointed to the open loft that overlooked the living room. "I thought you'd like the openness, with the skylight and being able to see most of the house; but there wouldn't be a lot of extra room, and we'd have to move some of the bookshelves.
"Then this room." He opened a door just to the left of the top of the stairs. "It's just a guest room now, but it's close to our bedroom, and the nearest upstairs room to the study." He led her inside with a proud smile. "Of course, you're welcome to choose any other room or find a place you prefer. You could even have the basement. It's bigger, but has no natural light – Georgie doesn't really need to have her own 'hang out' room down there…"
Elizabeth turned and pulled herself into his arms. "I think this room is wonderful. It has a lovely view of the backyard." She looked around, trying to visualize where to put things. "Perhaps some new paint…"
"Sure, anything you'd like." Will grinned. "We could call an interior designer if you'd like. I was even thinking it might be nice to take out these windows and put in French doors and a little balcony."
Pulling back, Elizabeth looked curiously at him. "Will... That's sweet of you, but totally unnecessary. The room is fine as is. I'm not asking you to make major modifications to your house; and I certainly don't need a decorator to set this up as an office."
"But it's really not a problem. I'd be happy to do it; or whatever it takes to make this room the way you want it."
"I'll tell you what..." She looked seriously into his eyes, but then a grin broke out. "I'll let you hire an electrician to put in a ceiling fan... if you will agree to help me paint."
Will looked at her for a long moment, then looked around. "You want us to paint the whole room?"
Elizabeth grinned, trying to hold back a silent laugh. "Oh, you have led a charmed life." She shook her head and smiled up at him. "It's easy. You'll see."
"All right," he said quietly, fighting the urge to pout.
"Good." She smiled and gently pulled out of his embrace. She went over to one of the windows and looked out, and then around the bed, into the far corner, and turned to face the door. Her eyes swept across the room. "This'll be perfect." Her eyes sparkled. "Thank you, Will."
Only able to grin broadly himself, Will answered, "You're welcome." He eased backward a couple of steps to the door, reaching back to shut it quietly. His eyes then met hers with a much slyer look.
Somehow, it seemed to take only a heartbeat for Elizabeth to find herself hanging from Will's neck, her legs wrapped around his waist. Their lips devoured the other's hungrily. Moments later, they collapsed upon the bed and continued their amorous activities.
As Will's lips worked their way down Elizabeth's neck, and she had a brief opportunity to catch her breath, she remarked, "You know, there won't be room for a bed in here with all my equipment."
Will stopped; then looked up at her. "Guess you'll have to settle for a sofa." He then returned to kissing her mouth, ending all conversation.
Posted on September 19, 2009
The process of Elizabeth's moving in began after dinner that night, when Will retrieved her large suitcase from the trunk of her car. Henceforth, she would have at least a few outfits in her closet there, and her own toiletries in the master bath.
The following morning, she took the next step, trembling a little as Will held her hand. She knew there was no real reason to be nervous, but showing up for church with him at 7:30, well, it was pretty obvious where she had spent the night.
She held her head high and smiled politely as they stepped inside the building. It's all right, she told herself as Will introduced her to the greeters, and she felt her shoulders begin to relax as they walked down the hall.
When they entered the chapel, Will directed her to a pew five rows from the small pulpit, and Elizabeth looked around, taking in her surroundings. It was abundantly clear why Will preferred this service. She felt warm and comfortable, and when the minister began speaking, there were perhaps 35 people in all.
Sitting straight, she listened intently to the entire service, as did Will, and her hand rested in his nearly the entire time. As they stood and raised their voices in song, they were accompanied not by an organ or choir, but merely a piano. It was all so... Will.
Afterwards, they spoke with the minister as they exited the chapel and briefly with a few others, then were soon on their way back to his house.
"So, how was it?" he asked.
"Not nearly as intimidating as I had feared," she teased. "Your minister's an excellent speaker too. I think I could easily adapt to this." Her smile shone as she leaned her head against the headrest.
They only spoke briefly thereafter, and on generally lighter subjects as they arrived home and changed into more casual attire.
"If you don't mind, I'd like to check my email and such for a while," Elizabeth said.
"Sounds like a plan," Will replied. "I probably have a few things to check myself. Shall we go downstairs?"
"Sure." She grabbed her laptop, and accompanied by the pair of large dogs, they went down to his study.
As had become her routine, Elizabeth pulled her bare feet up on the sofa and opened her computer. Thus, she was a bit surprised that Will only sat at his desk for a minute before moving to sit at the other end of the sofa and turning to place his feet by hers.
"You make this look so comfortable," he said. "I had to try it out for myself." He opened his laptop and smiled over the screen at her.
Elizabeth grinned back, then slid her eyes back down to the screen. His proximity was a distraction, but she wasn't about to complain. She read an email, then tickled Will's ankle with her toes.
The rest of the morning proceeded as such, mostly attending to their business – or internet interests – with only occasional diversions. Finally though, Elizabeth copied two fanfic updates into email and sent them to herself for later offline reading, then put her computer into stand by and slowly pressed down the screen.
Though the clasp made only the tiniest noise, the room was quiet, and Will looked up at Elizabeth suddenly. Noticing her mischievous grin, he quickly typed something, clicked a few times and started a shut down sequence of his own. He turned and placed his computer on the table beside the sofa, leaving it open to finish its processes. He then smiled tauntingly at the woman on the other end of the sofa.
Elizabeth wasted no time accepting his challenge, and before he had time to react, she was straddling his lap, wrapping her arms around his neck and kissing him.
Responding with an unexpected need, Will couldn't avoid the fleeting thought of how they had spent stolen moments in exactly this spot only a month before. Were his lips not more agreeably engaged, he might have smiled.
Unlike those days, there was no one waiting for them to emerge, and Elizabeth… well a lot had changed since then. There was no need to hold himself back. Dragging his hands slowly down her back, he slipped one under the elastic waistband of her shorts. When she moaned, he knew he was lost.
Soon their clothes were piled by the sofa as they made love hungrily, desperately. And afterward, sated, Will moved so Elizabeth could snuggle beside him, and they lay there quietly, only occasionally whispering endearments for some time.
Finally though, they rose and dressed, then headed to the kitchen. Will opened the back door to let out the dogs, and noticed Maggie was in the pool. Not wanting to bother her, he simply waved when she looked up, and closed the door.
They checked the fridge and found bowls of potato salad and tuna, so Will made sandwiches while Elizabeth served the potato salad and poured glasses of iced tea.
As they ate, he asked if she had come up with any ideas for her new office. Elizabeth grinned as she admitted that she had. "Maybe, if you don't already have something else in mind, we can go to Home Depot this afternoon and look at paint colors and such."
Will was a bit surprised by the suggestion at first, but agreed, so when they finished stacking their dishes by the sink, they quickly got ready and headed to King of Prussia.
They looked at the different sections of paint swatches, and while considering several options, she found herself drawn to the mauves and roses. She took several swatch cards and then led Will to the lighting department, where they looked at ceiling fans, both liking some of the choices from Progress Lighting. Taking a pamphlet from the company, she reminded Will that there was no rush, so she wanted to check out the company's website and to shop around online before making her final decision.
Will nodded, thinking this was not the way he would have handled things, but accepting it if Elizabeth was happy. They left the store with a huge pack of AA batteries being their only purchase.
At home they went swimming and cooked dinner, then settled back on the study sofa to read. Will picked up a biography of General von Steuben, while Elizabeth opened her laptop, opting to read online.
"So, are you going to tell me about what you're reading?" he asked.
"It's really just some amateur stuff," she answered. "I guess you can say they're mostly romance stories, but they're a nice diversion from reality." She smiled and lowered her eyes to the screen.
"And is this what you write too?" he asked.
"Yeah..." She blushed. "I try. Mine is far from the best, but it's fun making the effort."
"Am I ever going to get to read one of your romantic stories?"
She slowly shook her head no, but eventually looked up and replied quietly, "Maybe someday..."
Posted on October 4, 2009
Will and Elizabeth watched Charlie and Jane on the train over the next few days, noticing that the couple seemed to have resumed their old habits. They sat together, talking quietly the whole time, and smiled fondly at each other as they greeted each other and departed.
On Thursday night, as the train pulled out of Malvern, Elizabeth moved to sit beside her sister. "So things seem better between you two."
Jane smiled. "Everything seems back to normal. Now that we are clear about being only friends, it's all so easy." Her grin broadened. "I'm even looking forward to going to the shore again."
"That's wonderful!" Elizabeth squeezed her hand, trying to hide her reservations. "I feel like I spent the last month worried about you. Now we can just think about what we need to take with us!"
Thus the primary topic of the remainder of their commute, and much of the evening, were their plans for the shore.
Will showed up about 8:30, and as they sipped iced tea in the kitchen, his conversation with Elizabeth seemed to pick up where Jane's had left off. He told her a bit about his house in Cape May, that the beach was right across the road, and all of the front rooms had a view of the bay. He laughed as he told her how Hershey loved to run and play in the water.
After letting Hamlet out for a few minutes and rinsing their glasses, they went up to Elizabeth's room. Will sat on the bed as Elizabeth turned to her computer desk. "I have to check one thing quickly," she said, leaning over the chair as she pressed a few keys. "Oh good," she remarked, happiness evident in her voice.
When she stood straight and backed up slightly, she was surprised to find Will right there, wrapping his arms around her waist and kissing her ear.
"All done?" he asked.
"Uh huh," she answered absently as her body relaxed against him.
"So, have your chosen your colors?"
Elizabeth started at Will's unexpected question, but when she opened her eyes and looked at the paint swatch cards line up along her desk, she laughed and shook her head. "Yeah, I think I have." She handed him two of the little cards.
He pointed to the lighter colored one. "It's... pink."
"Yes," she replied. "But it's a very subtle shade. It's not Bubble Gum Pink. It won't look like a Pepto Bismol bottle exploded. Okay? It'll be warm, comfortable." She smiled. "I bet you'll like it when it's done."
"All right." He nodded slowly, setting the cards back on her desk. "I'll trust you."
Turning to face him, she asked, "Do you think we could paint on Saturday? The smell should be gone before Georgie gets here, and..." She dropped her gaze a moment. "We could start moving my stuff in there the day she goes home."
"We could start now." Will leaned down and kissed her.
They remained thus engaged for a minute or so before Elizabeth leaned back. "What are you going to wear when we're painting?"
Will scrunched his brow a little. "Clothes? I don't think we'd get much painting done if we were naked."
That could be interesting... She shook her head slowly. Focus!Most people wear old clothes they don't mind getting paint on. You know it can get messy, right?"
He nodded. "I can probably find something; or Maggie might."
"Oh, Will." She started to sigh. "I'd give you something, but I doubt I have anything big enough to fit you." Then she giggled and pulled out of her arms. "I do have something!"
She opened the bottom drawer of her bureau, and pulled out an old, huge, thin, lilac nightshirt with Tinkerbell on the front. "This would fit you." She grinned broadly.
Will closed his eyes for a moment, but couldn't hold back his laugh for long. "I think I'd rather wear my best suit than that... thing." He grabbed it from her hand and tossed it back toward the drawer, then pulled her back into his arms and began kissing her again, putting an end to further conversation for the night.
Will selected an older, but still perfect, pair of jeans and a white undershirt Saturday morning, while Elizabeth donned jeans and an old Windows 2000 t-shirt that had seen both a fair amount of wear – and paint. After breakfast, they drove up to Home Depot. They returned nearly an hour later with cans of paint, drop cloths, brushes, rollers and everything else they could possibly need.
Charlie was in the kitchen, talking to Maggie and devouring apple pecan pancakes like he hadn't eaten in a week. He waved with his fork as he finished chewing, then greeted, "Hey guys!"
"I didn't expect you for at least another hour," Will teased his friend.
Charlie took another bite and almost didn't finish it all before replying, "And normally you wouldn't have, but Carrie bugged me all night, wanting me to cancel my plans so she could take me shopping this afternoon, then go to some exclusive" - he made quotation marks with his fingers - "party tonight and set me up with one of her friends.
"I know she's seldom up before ten, but she knows I'm usually up by 8:30, so I left the house before eight, just in case." He grinned proudly, then shoved another forkful of pancakes in his mouth.
"All right, but I'm putting you to work. You can't spend all morning harassing Maggie and eating me out of house and home," Will threatened.
"Fine. Just let me finish what's on my plate, and I'll do whatever you want."
Will and Elizabeth went up to the guest room they were changing over and discussed what to do with the furniture. The bureau could go in another room, a table downstairs, a lamp that she'd keep... the bed, which would have to be taken apart and moved to the attic.
When Charlie joined them, they started clearing out the room, and it was devoid of furniture by the time Jane arrived.
Wasting no time, Jane had Charlie help her to lay down drop cloths while Elizabeth explained the next steps to Will. Soon a ladder was acquired, and Jane was brush painting the top edge of one wall.
Meanwhile Elizabeth helped Charlie and Will get started on the vertical edges, and laughed to herself as she observed their techniques. Charlie's brush strokes were almost haphazard, while Will was meticulous. As long as Charlie didn't leave any drops to run, either method would do.
When the others finished, Elizabeth directed them to the next wall, and she took the roller to the rest of the first wall. They repeated this process on the other two walls getting Arizona Sunrise.
As she finished rolling out the paint on the third wall, Elizabeth turned to find the other three laying on the floor in the middle of the room. She was about to lay her roller in the tray, when she noticed that Will's white shirt was still pristine. "That's disgusting, Will," she said.
"Hmm?" he responded, just as the paint roller landed on his chest. "What was that for!" he challenged in surprise.
"No one stays clean when they paint!" she replied. "It just isn't done!"
Jane and Charlie were unable to restrain their giggles, and while Will and Elizabeth were still staring down each other, Charlie grabbed a brush and poked Jane with it. From that point, a small-scale war ensued, but all were careful not to take it to the point of serious splattering.
They cleaned up and went outside for sandwiches and lemonade by the pool, then spent most of the remaining afternoon swimming and relaxing in the yard.
At six, Elizabeth checked the paint, and declaring it dry, felt it safe to paint the "feature wall," which would be behind her computer desk. She called out the window to the others, and changed back into her painting clothes. When the others joined her, she was taping the edges with blue painters tape.
Will opened the can of Berries and Cream while Elizabeth grabbed the brushes, handing one to Jane.
Seeing Charlie's willingly extended hand, though, Elizabeth shook her head. "Not this time, Chuckles. With the contrasting color, every defect will show. I'll do it." She gently shoved him away.
"Fine, I know when I'm not wanted," he replied, not sounding hurt, but the others looked at each other questioningly when he walked to the door and said, "See you guys later," then disappeared.
Will, Jane and Elizabeth all looked at each other, realizing there was little to be done, so they focused on their work.
Forty minutes later, they were surprised when they heard the doorbell ring, and Charlie's voice in the hall downstairs. Jane ran out and didn't return. Elizabeth was so close to finishing, though, that she and Will didn't notice.
As she declared the job finished for the day, Elizabeth grinned. She was pleased with the end result, and while it was still a bit pink for Will's tastes, he had to admit it gave the room warmth. Assuring him that he'd like it when she was done, she suggested, "And if not, you don't ever have to come in here." She winked.
He was tempted to remain in the room at that point, but the lack of furniture and curiosity over the goings on downstairs, Will restrained himself, and set to cleaning up.
It didn't take long, and they quickly made their way to the back of the main floor to find the others. Maggie, Charlie and Jane were all in the backyard, beers in hand and pizza boxes on the table.
"It's about time you joined us," Charlie greeted them.
"Thanks," Will and Elizabeth both muttered, but smiled as they sat down, to spend the evening in the enjoyable company of friends.
Elizabeth woke Thursday morning when she felt the bed move as Will got up. She didn't open her eyes though, as she heard Hamlet's tags jingle and listened to Will padding his way across the room. He pressed the power button on the monitor and tapped the keyboard a few times, then turned off the monitor and walked away from the desk. She smiled as he climbed back into bed and snuggled against her. "Not early then?" she asked.
"Nope. Looks like I should get to the airport about 6:30."
She glanced at her clock then turned around to face him. "So we have almost half an hour?" she asked, kissing his shoulder.
"About that." He kissed her temple and began tracing imaginary designs on her side.
"Much better idea than sleep," she murmured against his chest as she slid her hand down to his hip.
Twenty minutes later, they were rushing. Will made his way quickly to the shower, while Elizabeth let out Hamlet and poured a cup of coffee for herself and a travel mug for Will. She toasted a bagel, and met Will in the front hall, much like the first time he'd spent the night there.
"Thanks, hon. We'll pick you up in Paoli tonight."
"Sounds like a plan." She smiled.
Then after a kiss that took longer than it probably should have, he was gone.
Practically the moment Elizabeth's feet landed on the platform at Paoli station, she felt as though she'd been tackled. She wrapped her arms around her attacker and exclaimed, "It's good to see you too, Georgie!"
Releasing Elizabeth's shoulders and grabbing her arm, Georgiana began to lead the way to Will's car. "It's great being home and finally getting a couple weeks off. And I'm so happy to see you again!"
"Me too. Did you guys have a good day?"
"As much as I saw of him, I did. We stopped for breakfast at Nudy's on the way home, but once we got back to the house, he locked himself in his study." She forced a frown for a moment before resuming, "But I suppose if it means he'll relax and enjoy himself next week, I can deal." A warm smile reappeared as she climbed into the back seat, allowing Will and Elizabeth to greet each other.
They then set off, Will mostly just listening as the ladies chattered away. They seemed so comfortable with each other, and he couldn't have been happier.
He joined in more as they ate at Kooma in West Chester, and at Georgiana's prompting, even told Elizabeth about Carrie Bingley's one and only visit to the Cape May house. After a week of locking his bedroom door and trying to avoid the sharp, angular body displaying skimpy orange bikinis and just barely there halters, he swore she'd never return.
After their meal, they decided to leave the car in the lot and walk to Rita's Water Ice,just down the block, and Elizabeth began talking about her last trip to the shore. She'd gone to Atlantic City with her Aunt and Uncle Gardiner the summer before to help watch over her young cousins. After spending the whole afternoon at the beach, they had walked along the boardwalk, playing a few carnival games and stopping in nearly every store, at least it had felt that way, until six year-old Sophie fell madly in love with Jimmy the iguana. She had been ready to set up camp in the shop, but eventually agreed that she'd miss her family. Needless to say though, 'Jimmy Jr.,' the $14.99 iguana, was thriving at the Gardiner household.
Finally they took Elizabeth home. Georgiana was quick to jump out of the back seat to hug Elizabeth good night, then slid promptly into the now-vacant front seat. "I have to text Ryan," she said. "Take your time; I'll hardly notice.
Glancing back from time to time, Will and Elizabeth strolled hand in hand to the front door, then slipped inside. They only allowed themselves a few passionate kisses.
"Not enough," Will whispered against her lips.
"They'll have to do," Elizabeth forced herself to say, stepping back to put a safe distance between them.
Their eyes met, and she had the feeling he was thinking the same thing she was: Thank goodness things will be changing soon..
Elizabeth rolled over and looked across the room at her sister, softly snoring in her own bed. If only sleep would come so easily for me! She sighed.
It had been a long day, packing in the morning, driving down with the dogs in the Jeep, getting settled into the huge house. She was tired, and the bed was comfortable. She should have been asleep long ago.
Will! she thought, knowing how much she missed him, even though his room was right across the way. I wonder if he's faring any better than I am. She turned back to face the wall, and wished she had brought Will's pillow, or something of his to snuggle.
Why, when we had the chance, didn't we make love this afternoon! Though she felt this way now, she knew that when Charlie, Jane and Georgiana had left his house before them that afternoon, there were other things to think about and do, and the mood just wasn't right then.
She frowned to herself and wondered if, perhaps, she could sneak over to Will's room; but Jane was right there, and she'd have to walk past Charlie's. Besides, Georgiana and Tiffany were right downstairs, and she and Will had agreed to wait until she had actually moved into his house before they "officially" shared a bed.
A low, rumbling snore from the floor beside her bed interrupted her reverie and she sighed again, wishing sleep would claim her soon.
Thankfully, not much later, it did, and she felt refreshed and awake when she rose in the morning. She showered and dressed, and was not surprised to find Will at the kitchen table reading the paper and talking to Maggie, who was, of course, making pancakes.
Even as they finished their breakfast, it seemed no one else was up, so Will and Elizabeth decided to take the dogs for a long walk up the beach. It was cool, but sunny, and there were few people around. Hershey eagerly led the way, and in no time was trying to pull Will into the waves. Hamlet, however, was a bit skeptical. He let the water brush his paws a few times before trying to pull Elizabeth away from the water. Will and Elizabeth couldn't help smiling at the differences.
When they arrived back at the house, they found everyone else up and eager to get started. Georgiana and Tiffany were already in their bikinis, eager to go lie out on the beach and catch some rays, and were trying to convince Jane to join them. She waffled a bit, but once Charlie decided to go, she quickly agreed.
As soon as the others were gone, Will and Elizabeth settled on the front deck with their laptops, needing to check their email at minimum, and Maggie later joined them with a book. They didn't interact much, but all enjoyed the warm sunshine and the salty breeze off the bay.
Eventually Maggie got up, declaring it was time for her to fix lunch, and Will and Elizabeth both immediately offered to help, quickly shutting down their computers. Maggie tried to say it was unnecessary, but was overruled, and found herself accompanied and aided by the couple.
Thus, less than half an hour later, Will was packing a large picnic hamper while Elizabeth and Maggie changed to go down to the beach, and join the others.
They were surprised that Georgiana had not claimed a spot directly across from the house, and scanned up and down the beach before spotting Jane and Charlie in the distance. As they approached, they noticed Georgiana and Tiffany sitting on their towels and talking to a young man and woman about their age.
"Will!" Georgiana called out and waved as she spotted them. "Do you remember the Conroys?" Pointing to a guy sitting beside her she said, "Jamie and I were in the same class in high school." Then tipping her head toward the girl beside Tiffany, added, "And Jenna was two years before."
Elizabeth and Maggie started passing out the sandwiches and sodas, but before unwrapping her own, Elizabeth stretched out on her towel. "This is a perfect day for the beach." She closed her eyes and smiled.
Will lay on his side beside her, unable to disagree, and thoroughly enjoying the image she presented before him. He couldn't help but think how much he wanted her… her smiles, her presence, forever.
A short while later, as Will and Elizabeth were finally eating, a couple came toward them from the water. Jamie introduced them as his elder brother John and his wife, Tammy, as they sat down among the group.
The rest of the afternoon was spent playing volleyball, relaxing, chatting, and swimming in the mild bay waves. While they were packing up, John invited everyone to a party at his house, just a little further up Beach St. from where they now were, later that night, and Will agreed they'd go.
Back at the house, everyone cleaned up before helping to get dinner ready, not allowing Maggie to do very much at all. Then afterward, they walked up the street to the Conroy's party.
The music was loud, but not obnoxious, and there were many people, but everyone seemed to be getting on well. As in most group situations, Will mostly stayed beside Elizabeth, but even he found someone he could talk shop with while Elizabeth chatted away with a fellow geek. When a slow song played, Will and Elizabeth danced. All of their party seemed to be having a good time.
Finally, about 10:30, Will and Elizabeth decided it was time to go, Maggie having left about a half hour before, and Tiffany and Georgiana agreed. When they finally found Charlie and Jane, who were sitting in the backyard with full glasses of wine, Will was getting anxious. Charlie and Jane, however, were quite comfortable, and decided to remain.
Tiffany and Georgiana walked ahead of Will and Elizabeth, and as soon as they arrived at their house, the girls excused themselves for the night. Taking this as their opportunity for some time alone, Will grabbed a couple bottles of Flying Fish, and he and Elizabeth snuggled on the sofa. They talked, and kissed, but mostly just relaxed and enjoyed their proximity.
As it neared midnight, they decided it would be best to turn in, so Will led Elizabeth upstairs and to her bedroom door. He pulled her close and they kissed, much more passionately than they had downstairs, but eventually he pulled away. They said their goodnights and I love yous, and Will kissed Elizabeth's temple before she slipped into her room.
Once she closed the door, Elizabeth rested her palm upon it and didn't move. She listened. It seemed Will had stood by her door for nearly a minute before walking over to his own room. Once she heard his door click though, she set to getting ready for bed.
Grabbing her computer, she climbed into bed ten minutes later. It bothered her that Jane wasn't back yet, so she picked up her cell and called her.
"Don't worry, Lizzy. I'm fine. Charlie and I are just walking on the beach. We'll be home soon." Elizabeth thought she detected a bit of a slur, but Jane seemed happy, not distressed, so there was really nothing to be done.
With a sigh, Elizabeth booted up her computer. She checked her email and started reading a story update. She could feel her eyelids growing heavy, but tried to stay awake.
She must not have succeeded though, for she felt herself jolted awake, alert and alarmed when she heard the front door SLAM!
Posted on October 7. 2009
Elizabeth quickly shut her eyes again as the computer screen flashed on. She felt disoriented and her heart was beating madly. What's going on?
Everything came flooding back then. Jane! She listened carefully, and discerned footsteps on the lower stairs. Several tense seconds later, she heard Jane giggle.
"Shhhh!" It had to be Charlie, not being very quiet himself.
Then two pairs of feet were on the steps to the third floor, and Elizabeth, while she could not make out what they said, heard Charlie and Jane's "whispering" voices.
"Shhhh!" Jane admonished, then giggled again.
"Oh goodness!" grumbled Elizabeth, mentally preparing herself to not be upset with her drunk sister, but to merely help her to bed.
She heard a bump in the hall, and Charlie's "Sorry, Janie," then nothing.
Quickly, she jumped out of bed and raced across the room. Her hand was inches from the door knob when she heard Charlie's door shut loudly.
Grabbing the knob, Elizabeth yanked her door open, but there was no one in the hall. She frowned. What am I going to do now? she thought, looking over at Will's door, wishing deep down that he'd appear.
With a heavy sigh, she returned to her bed and sat, pulling her legs up and putting her head down on her knees. Should I try to get her out of there? Would she be mad at me if I did? Or if I don't? Her head began to throb.
Suddenly she became aware of the sounds in the room next door, and her face flushed. Oh God! She could hear them better now than when they'd been in the hall. God I hope they don't freak out in the morning. She shook her head and closed her eyes, wishing she could shut her ears too.
After a couple unsuccessful minutes, she decided the noise was not likely to cease or diminish in volume, and she had to get out. Looking down beside the bed, she noted the large, snoring dog. "You're supposed to have such good hearing, why doesn't it bother you?" she grumbled.
The dog lifted his head quickly and gazed blankly up at his mistress.
"Let's go," she grumbled and grabbed her laptop. "Shhhhh! she whispered, and they slipped out the room. At the top of the steps, she paused, looking at Will's door, then grabbed Hamlet's collar, muffling his tags, and tiptoed down the steps.
When she reached the front hall, she was surprised to see the door was unlocked, but once she stepped outside, she understood why. Over in the corner sat Georgiana, visible only by the light of the full moon and the small light on the book she was reading.
The girl looked up. "Oh, hi!" She grinned. "Couldn't sleep?" she asked before quickly lowering her eyes and setting aside her book and light.
"Something like that," Elizabeth replied with a small hint of a laugh as she sat down in the chair next to Georgiana. "So, whatcha reading?"
Kasey Michaels. Have you heard of her?" When Elizabeth shook her head, she asked, "Do you read romance novels at all?"
"Not really," Elizabeth replied. "Though some of what I read online likely qualifies for the genre." At Georgiana's inquiry, she told her a little about her interest in Jane Austen fan fiction, though she didn't own up to writing her own. They then continued on to other books they had read and made plans to trade a few books when they were back in Pennsylvania, never noticing the time that passed.
Finally, during a short lull, they sensed a calmness in the air. There was a light breeze making no noise of its own, perhaps only helping the soft waves on the beach to be barely audible. The girls smiled at each other, and Elizabeth looked at her watch, 3:15. "Wow!" She felt suddenly compelled to yawn, but fought the urge. "I suppose we should go in and try to get some sleep."
"Yeah," Georgiana agreed with a real yawn. She picked up her book and light and followed Elizabeth to the door. "All things considered," she pointed upstairs with a tip of her head, "I think I'm going to curl up on the sofa down here."
"You sure?" Elizabeth asked, not really able to think of any reason she shouldn't.
"Yeah, I've fallen asleep on it before. It's pretty comfortable... And you know, Elizabeth, even if I were to go back to my room, it's right below Charlie's." She grinned slyly. "I'd never know if you somehow ended up in Will's room."
Elizabeth looked at her blankly. "I... I'll remember that."
They hugged, and Georgiana scratched Hamlet's ears before Elizabeth started leading him up the stairs. Elizabeth was only on the third step when Georgiana added, "Oh, and Elizabeth? I love the colors in your new home office." The younger woman smiled broadly and waved her fingers.
"Uh, thank you," Elizabeth tried not to stammer. "Good night." She continued up the steps, trying to be quiet, and tiptoed along the second floor hallway. Upon reaching the third floor landing, she looked at each of the three bedroom doors. Her heart told her one thing, her mind another.
Finally reaching a compromise with herself, she slowly went to her own door. Opening it, she looked around to find the room dark and uninhabited. She plugged in her computer and returned to the door, gazing across the way. Nodding, she grabbed Hamlet's collar again and crept over to Will's room.
She tapped lightly a few times, but heard no response. Slowly she reached down, and wrapped her fingers around the knob. Closing her eyes, she turned her hand, and the knob went with it. She exhaled softly as she eased the door open and when she gazed upon the sleeping figure of Will, she smiled.
Hershey's tags jingled as he looked up, so she let go of Hamlet. "Go lay down," she whispered, and he obeyed.
Elizabeth then turned and carefully shut the door, holding the knob, then releasing it slowly, so there was no sound at all.
Will had not stirred, so she padded softly to the bed and slipped under the sheet, making as little movement on the bed as possible as she slid her body next to his.
She almost startled a moment later when Will's strong arm suddenly wrapped around her and pulled her closer. "I love you, Liz," she heard, followed immediately by a light snore.
"I love you too," she whispered, though she was certain he didn't hear. It took only a moment for her to snuggle quite comfortably in his embrace. With a smile on her face, she closed her eyes and was instantly asleep.
"What are you doing here?" Elizabeth felt Will's sleepy whisper against her ear as much as she heard it.
"Mmmmm," she moaned softly, snuggling against him as she drifted into some form of consciousness. "I, uhmm…" She said the first thing that came to mind – the simple truth, "I needed to have your arms wrapped around me."
He kissed her neck. "God knows how I've missed you." He pulled her closer as his lips continued their attention to that spot just above her shoulder that drove her crazy.
When she could take no more – her whole body aflame – Elizabeth turned to face him and began placing hungry kisses on his chest. She slid her fingers along his firm torso, pausing only to raise her arms so Will could remove her top.
Their movements were deliberate and sensual as their hands slipped lower. Even so, it took little time for her pajama shorts to end up on the floor.
When their desires could no longer be sated by touch alone, they made love, at the same slow pace, whispering their endearments and desires to one another.
Afterward, Elizabeth smiled contentedly and sighed as she laid her head on Will's chest. "I love you so much, Will," she whispered.
As Will began to respond in kind, he felt her breathing change and looked at her softly closed eyes. It amazed him how quickly she had fallen back to sleep. He smiled and closed his eyes, breathing deep – he loved the way she smelled.
Though he thought himself not tired, he must have fallen asleep again, for the next time he opened his eyes it was 8:23. He lay there for some time, enjoying the way she felt in his arms, but he was now wide awake. He wasn't ready to leave her though, so he considered their current situation. Despite the number of people in the house and the rules he and Maggie imposed on Georgiana and Tiffany, he really wanted Elizabeth to stay in his room, in his bed. Perhaps he would discuss it with her today.
When his mind began to wander to work issues, he decided to get up. After carefully moving Elizabeth's head to her pillow, he slipped out of bed and pulled on a pair of shorts and a shirt, the dogs intently watching his every movement. He smiled and whispered, "Come on, boys," then led the dogs downstairs. As he passed the living room, he was surprised to notice the curtains were drawn, but it was no major concern and his two companions had already trotted ahead, eager to be let out the back door.
Will resisted the inviting coffee aroma until the dogs were out, but once the door was shut, he made a beeline for the kitchen. As he entered, he was surprised to see Maggie sitting comfortably at the table, reading the newspaper and sipping a cup of coffee.
She looked up and smiled. "I knew it had to be you," she greeted. "I don't expect anyone else to be up for at least another hour."
He looked at her questioningly. "Why's that?" He thought it unlikely that everyone would be abed until nearly ten.
Maggie tilted her head as she met his eyes and responded evenly, "I don't think anyone got much sleep last night…" Noticing his continued look of confusion, she quickly added, "Well, except you, perhaps."
He looked down. Not expecting sleep to come easily, he had taken a prescription sleeping pill the night before. "Why didn't someone wake me if there was a problem?" he asked tersely.
"There was nothing to be done," she answered. "I was pretty sure they managed to wake everyone, though I only heard Lizzy and Georgie going downstairs."
"Would you please just tell me what's going on!"
"Get your coffee and sit down," she suggested, then she began to relay all she knew.
Will was shocked to say the least. He would never have expected such behavior from Charlie or Jane. "I guess I'll have to talk to him," he said resignedly.
"Maybe." Maggie shook her head slowly. "But give him a chance. With clearer heads, they'll probably be embarrassed. And the two of them really need to talk."
Nodding, he admitted, "You're right, as usual." He stood up, then bent down and placed a light kiss on her cheek before refilling his cup. "I think I'm going to go back upstairs and check my email," he said as he walked toward the door.
"Okay," she replied. "But don't do too much work, Fitzwilliam. You're on vacation."
"Yes, ma'am." He gave her a bright smile and walked out.
Elizabeth was still asleep, so he quietly retrieved his laptop and sat on the bed, back against the headboard, where he could glance down at Elizabeth's sleeping visage.
He had just sent his second email reply when he noticed Elizabeth smiling up at him. "Good morning," she said when their eyes met.
"Good morning." He reached down and touched her cheek. "I'm glad you got some good sleep." His eyes dropped, as did his voice. "Maggie told me about what happened."
Elizabeth sat up beside Will, and he handed her his cup of coffee as he placed his computer on the nightstand. She took a few sips, then snuggled against him as they talked and finished off the cup.
Maggie proved right, as they entered the kitchen just after ten, and found Tiffany to be the only person at the table. "Georgie's up too," Maggie announced as she mixed a bowl of batter at the counter. "But she went right upstairs to shower before breakfast."
Will, Elizabeth and Tiffany each traded off sections of the newspaper, and Georgiana joined them just as Maggie placed a plate of waffles on the table. Everyone ate as though famished. Charlie and Jane were never mentioned, nor did they appear.
While everyone was eating, Charlie lay on his side in bed, looking at the beautiful blonde sleeping peacefully beside him. He thought about how she had affected him since the first time they'd met, and all the mistakes he'd made since then. Still, he knew he was a lost man.
He reached over and brushed a lock of hair back from her cheek. "I love you, Jane," he whispered. "Please forgive me… God, please don't hate me when you wake up."
Jane knew something was not right as her mind drifted to consciousness. Her head was throbbing, and she knew opening her eyes would only make it worse; and moving, that wasn't close to being an option yet. Where am I? Not at home… She then realized it was Will's shore house, but something still wasn't adding up. There was a party, and Charlie and I were drinking… She had just recalled their walk on the beach and Did we really kiss? when she felt fingertips on her cheek, sliding toward her hair.
Ohmigod! She hoped she didn't flinch and give herself away. And then she heard him speaking…
She forced herself to remain still as she thought on what she had heard. Was she hearing things? No, she knew she wasn't; and she knew he was watching her. Her mind raced; amazingly that didn't seem to hurt. Finally, she knew.
Jane took a deep breath, then spoke clearly. "I love you too, Charlie."
Posted on October 10, 2009
Charlie finally exited his room around 11:30, slipping downstairs quietly, blushing as he apologized profusely to Maggie, and returning a short while later with a tray of toast, tea, Vitamin B Complex and Ibuprofen. Neither he nor Jane was seen again until nearly dinnertime.
Elizabeth was in her room getting dressed after spending the afternoon at the beach when Jane walked in. She looked at her sister uncertainly, asking, "Is everything okay?"
Jane was suddenly hugging Elizabeth. "Everything's wonderful. He loves me, Lizzy. He really does." She pulled back and grinned broadly.
Though truly happy for her sister, Elizabeth couldn't help but think of the embarrassing situation they'd created. "That's great, Jane!" She hoped it didn't sound forced.
In an instant, Jane's smile dropped and she blushed crimson. "I'm so sorry! We were drunk, and..." She sat down on her bed. "I'm sorry, Lizzy."
Elizabeth sat beside her and wrapped her arm around Jane's shoulder. "It's all right, sis. I'm really glad you two worked things out."
For most of the next half hour, Jane told Elizabeth how she and Charlie had spent most of the day talking about their 'relationship,' of their pasts, and all the possibilities for the future. By the time they went downstairs to join the others, they were laughing and teasing each other.
Later that evening, both sisters moved their belongings from their shared room.
Will and Elizabeth both woke early Tuesday – well, early for people on a relaxing shore vacation. After enjoying each other's company for a while, Will took the dogs downstairs, returning a few minutes later with coffee. They then spent the next hour sitting side by side on their bed, reading email, checking in with work, and perhaps surfing the web.
As they joined the others, both felt compelled to keep an eye on Charlie and Jane, though everything seemed fine. The new couple was never more than a few feet apart, even as they remained in company most of the day. Their only time alone was when they chose to sit by themselves on the ferry to Lewes, Delaware, where the entire group went to spend the afternoon touring historic houses and to dine at The Buttery.
Wednesday began much like Tuesday. After letting out the dogs and bringing back coffee, Elizabeth settled beside Will with her computer. As soon as she logged into work, she discovered a small problem; fortunately she was able to fix it in a few minutes, spending the rest of the time answering emails from friends and checking for story updates.
The remainder of the day was spent lazily around the house and at the beach. They even opted for pizza delivery that night, just to keep Maggie from preparing a feast, since no one else felt up to cooking.
Thursday, however, did not start off so well. Will hadn't been on his computer ten minutes before he grabbed his cell phone. A moment later, his laptop was set aside, and he began pacing as he spoke in an agitated tone for several minutes. Finally, he said, "Goodbye," and sat down on the bed suddenly, dropping his head as he began to feel a headache coming on.
Elizabeth quickly set her notebook on the nightstand and scooted behind him. She began rubbing his shoulders, trying to relieve his evident tension. "Is everything okay?"
"Yeah, I think it is now," he exhaled, nodding his head slowly. He leaned back into her hands, her kneading working effectively to loosen his muscles.
After a minute or so, he whispered, "I love you, Liz," and turned his head to capture her lips with his own. "You're wonderful, my love."
Their passions ignited, and the last of Will's tension dissipated in the surest method.
Needless to say, it was rather late when they descended the stairs. They could hear Georgiana practicing her piano, but there seemed to be no other activity within the house. A note on the kitchen counter explained that Charlie and Jane had driven up to Wildwood and Maggie and Tiffany had gone shopping.
The note also said to check the oven, and Elizabeth wasn't surprised to find still warm muffins covered with a towel inside. She pulled them out and set them on the table while Will refilled their coffee cups. As they ate, they perused the morning paper and discussed how to spend the day, deciding upon a visit to the Bird Observatory.
They were just heading back upstairs to get ready when Will's phone rang.
"Darcy," he answered it. Then after a couple "okays" and a few very short responses, Will said, "I'll call you back in five." He pressed the end call button and released a big sigh.
Stepping in front of him, Elizabeth slipped her arms under his and wrapped them around his waist. She rested her head against his chest and said, "I think I'll take the dogs for a walk up the beach." His arms tightened around her, and she was pretty sure she could feel him nodding. "Call me or come find me when you're done."
"Thank you, Liz." He kissed the top of her head. "I love you."
She pulled back enough to look up and face him. "I love you too." She then drew up her right hand and stroked his cheek. "I won't tell you not to work too hard; I understand." She kissed his lips lightly. "Now go, so you can get it over with."
He kissed her once more and headed up the stairs.
Elizabeth frowned as she watched him go, then she headed to the back door where Hamlet and Hershey greeted her eagerly. She scratched their ears and spoke in a happy voice. "Yes, I love you guys. You're my good boys. Wanna go for a walk?" Their tails lashed furiously.
A few short minutes later, they were walking along the beach, Hershey playing in the water as much as Elizabeth would allow and Hamlet tolerating the wet sand, as long as the water didn't come to get him.
They had made it a good half-mile up the beach when Hamlet's tail began whipping Elizabeth's leg. She followed his eyes and saw an older lady walking along the water toward them with a small dog pulling anxiously at her lead. When the leash was nearly tugged from her left hand, she knew Hershey was just as excited.
Elizabeth smiled at the woman as they closed the distance, and the woman smiled back. As soon as they reached one another, the small dog ran under Hamlet, effectively tangling him in her leash, and tried to jump on Hershey.
"I hope you don't mind," the lady said. "Caitlin loves big dogs."
Laughing, Elizabeth answered, "Not at all." Trying to point at her two dogs as she spoke, she said, "Hamlet and Hershey don't seem to mind at all."
"Thank you. Yours is quite cute too. What breed is she?"
The lady's face seemed to light up. "My Caitlin is a pretty girl." She grinned down at the dog, who almost seemed to smile up at her mistress for a moment. "I have pictures of her on everything." She slid her finger along her necklace until she held the charm out for Elizabeth to see. "I just got this pendant with my precious little Dandie Dinmont Terrier on it."
Elizabeth had leaned in a bit to look at the necklace when she froze with surprise. She lifted her gaze and almost stared at the woman for a moment. "I... I know a lady online who has a Dandie Dinmont named Caitlin... but she lives in California." She hated the sound of confusion in her voice.
"Dandiefan?" the lady asked.
"That's me," she replied. "Mary Ostrand. It obviously wasn't a Dandie site, and you're probably not a Santa Barbara Mac Lover. Are you a Jane Austen fan?"
"Yes!" Smiling warmly, she nodded. "I love your comments! I'm Lizzy, LizzyBee."
Elizabeth was a bit startled to find herself suddenly in Mary's embrace. "It's great to meet you, Lizzy. Your 'Kellynch Diaries' is a wonderful story. Have you posted an update this week? You really left us hanging, leaving Anne and Frederick alone like that."
"No, I've been a bit busy lately," Elizabeth laughed. "And thank you. I really should work on the next chapter."
Not used to talking about her writing with anyone, she looked down at the dogs. Hershey was lying in the sand, Caitlin's front paws on his side while she and the still-tangled Hamlet met nose to nose. "It's a good thing my boyfriend isn't here right now," Elizabeth said as she tried to untangle the leashes. "I'm not sure what he'd think of his dog submitting so easily."
"It's a sign of his good nature," Mary said. "He should be pleased." She petted Hershey's head as he sat up.
Elizabeth tried to brush the sand off one of his ears before she bent down and kissed it. "Yes, Hershey is a sweetie." She then scratched her own dog's long neck. "And my Hammie's a big lug."
"So what brings you to New Jersey?" Elizabeth asked.
"I took Caitlin to a dog show near Baltimore last weekend, and she did very well. But an old friend of mine is now at Princeton, and she invited me to stay a few days so Caitlin could enjoy the beach before we go home. Caitlin misses our long walks when we travel, so we drove the Dandievan up and accepted her offer."
"Oh yes," Mary replied. "Caitlin and I go everywhere in my Dandievan. It's a Honda Odyssey with a painting of a Dandie on it. I even have plates that say D-A-N-D-I-V-N."
Elizabeth somehow felt safe teasing her. "I knew you were obsessed."
"Isn't everything worth enjoying worth obsessing about?" Mary teased in return.
Telling Mary she was staying in the direction Mary was heading, they began walking down the beach together. "So tell me," Elizabeth had to ask, "you remember that dog story a couple years ago? Did you really read it aloud to Caitlin?"
"Of course I did. We always read it right when we got home from our walk on the beach. She loved it! It's too bad her new story is too explicit for Caitlin's delicate ears; though I must admit I'm enjoying it. Are you reading it?"
"I am," Elizabeth admitted, not adding that she was reading the 'PG-13' version.
They discussed other favorite stories and authors as they strolled along the beach, allowing Hershey to play in the water while Caitlin and Hamlet dodged the gentle waves each time the water threatened their paws. They had just switched topics to Mary's love of helping kids as a math tutor when Hershey suddenly tried to run ahead, giving his leash a hard tug.
Elizabeth looked up and saw a familiar figure in the distance. Knowing it was against the rules, but with so few people around, she let go of his leash and said, "Go get Daddy," and Hershey started running directly toward Will.
Mary laughed, and as they continued walking, Elizabeth explained that she had been walking alone with the dogs because Will had been detained by work. A couple minutes later they met up, Hershey having already been reunited with his master, eager to see his canine friends again.
"All done?" Elizabeth asked.
"Yes, finally. They should be able to go on now." He shook his head slowly. "I'm sorry I had to leave you on your own."
"I know." She frowned. Then glancing toward Mary, her expression cheered. "Fortunately, things worked out well." Turning fully, she continued. This is Mary. The boys and her little Caitlin were eager to play, and we started talking, only to discover we've known each other online for a couple of years, never expecting to meet in person."
"Will Darcy, nice to meet you." He offered his hand to shake – perfectly polite, but oh so stiff!
Mary accepted it with a warm smile. "I can tell you're a dog lover. Are you a fan of Jane Austen too? I just love Lizzy's story."
Elizabeth blushed as Will looked at her before taking her hand. "I've enjoyed the couple books I've read," he answered. "But Elizabeth hasn't talked much about what she's writing."
"Oh, I thought you knew. I'm sorry, Lizzy."
"It's all right." Elizabeth smiled up at Will, then at Mary. "He knows I write for fun. I've just been a bit shy about showing him." She squeezed his hand. "Will tends to read biographies and serious novels, not poorly-written silly fluff like I post."
"Don't believe her," Mary told Will. "Her writing's very good; and what's wrong with a story about young people in love?"
Will instantly warmed up to her. "I would like to see it, but I'll wait till she's ready."
The three of them talked for several more minutes while the dogs got their leashes completely tangled again. Once they were freed, Will used Elizabeth's digital camera and took pictures of Elizabeth, Mary and the dogs, then invited Mary and her friends to join them for dinner that evening or the next.
She said she would mention it to her friend, but she was pretty sure they had dinner plans for that evening already, and she would be leaving early in the morning.
Elizabeth and Mary hugged, then while Mary said goodbye to Will, Hamlet and Hershey, Elizabeth squatted low so Caitlin could put her paws on her legs while she petted her. "It was a great pleasure to meet you, Caitlin. You have a very special mom."
Posted on November 23. 2009
Will and Elizabeth rose early Friday morning, and took the dogs for a long walk on the beach. As they returned, they saw Mary and Caitlin getting ready to leave in the Dandievan, and stopped to wish them a safe trip.
Back at the house, they relaxed on the front deck with their laptops until the rest of the house got up for their last full day at the shore. Everyone met at the breakfast table, discussing their plans as they ate Maggie's breakfast casserole.
With the lack of work interruptions, Will and Elizabeth were able to go to the Bird Observatory, along with Jane and Charlie, while Tiffany and Georgiana went over to the ocean side beach with Jamie and Jenna Conroy. And in the evening, everyone regrouped for dinner and to enjoy their last night together.
Late that night, as Elizabeth was nestled in Will's arms, she pressed her back closer to him and quietly said, "I've had a great time here this week. I almost don't want to go back."
"I know," Will answered. "I've never had a better time here." He kissed her cheek. "Part of me would love to stay longer; yet I can't wait to get home. I just want to get you moved in so we can always be together."
Elizabeth turned over to face him and smiled. "I can't wait either." She stroked his cheek with her hand before kissing him passionately.
Saturday morning afforded one last long walk along the beach before everyone's focus shifted to packing and making sure everything made it back into one of the cars. Charlie offered to take Jane home, and Georgiana was happy to squeeze in with Maggie and Tiffany, especially after Tiffany suggested stopping at Cowtown.
As they drove home in the Jeep with the dogs curled up together in the back seat, Will asked, "What would we have to do to get all your stuff moved tomorrow?"
Elizabeth gazed at him a moment, surprised, but not shocked by the question. "Well, most of my books are packed, and my winter clothes are all stored in plastic tubs. I'd have a few things to pack, but not much. The biggest issue would be that the top of my computer desk is six feet long, and we'd need a truck."
"You're not bringing any other furniture?"
Elizabeth shook her head. "Most of the furniture is Jane's. I considered bringing the den sofa, but it would leave her without one in there, and I'm not sure it'll fit through the door to my office…"
Will glanced at her quickly from the corner of his eye. "You should check. It would look good in there. Besides, it has sentimental value."
"Why?" Elizabeth laughed. "Because it's the first place we slept together?"
"Yeah." He reached over and took her hand. "Though I think we'd do that a bit differently if we put it in your office."
Elizabeth grinned mischievously. "I'm sure we would." She squeezed his hand and they enjoyed a few minutes of companionable silence. A short while later, she took out her Blackberry and started adding some notes to her moving task list as she thought of them.
Normally she would have considered calling Chris to help out, since the desktop and sofa would fit in his truck, but she was afraid that it would be awkward given Jane's new relationship with Charlie. She couldn't think of anyone else with a truck or van, and she wasn't about to let Will hire movers for so few belongings, so by the time they got to the house, she had decided to find a rental truck. She called U-Haul in Malvern and found they could get a small truck the next day.
Once she had that settled, she started to unpack her bags. One had only dirty clothes in it, and as she started to grab it to take to the wash, she realized she had never seen the laundry room. She frowned, but took her bag and headed downstairs. "Will?" she called at the bottom of the steps.
"Yeah, hon?" he called back from the kitchen.
She walked back to meet him by the kitchen door. "I wanted to wash these clothes, and I realized I don't know where your washer is… or if Maggie would mind…"
Will smiled, emitting a slight chuckle. "I'm sure anything's fine with her - though I'm sure she'd be happy to do it for you." He took the suitcase from her hand and led her to the basement stairs. Noticing Elizabeth's expression, he quickly added. "You're welcome to do your own, but I'd suggest you pay attention to your times. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to find her finishing anything she thought left too long."
Elizabeth nodded as he set her bag on the dryer, understanding completely. She promptly set to loading the washer, while Will waited in the doorway, a content smile on his face. When she was done, she turned, but was unable to exit the room, so chose the obvious option of walking up to Will and wrapping her arms around his waist.
"Mmmmm," he groaned as he leaned down to kiss her. "I think I like living together."
After church and a lively breakfast, Elizabeth measured the width of her office doorway, then she and Will picked up the moving van and drove out to her and Jane's house, followed by Georgiana and Tiffany.
Jane coordinated the moving of boxes, while Charlie determined that the sofa would fit with the feet removed. He and Will then carried it out to the truck. Meanwhile, Elizabeth began shutting down and disconnecting computers. An hour later, she began loading them in the back seats of Will and Jane's cars, not entrusting the task to anyone else.
Everyone kept busy until shortly after noon, when pizzas magically appeared (thanks to Charlie once again). They ate and talked and laughed at the table in the backyard, and though no one was terribly eager to get back to work, the guys were soon carrying out the pieces of Elizabeth's desk.
Tossing in Hamlet's bed, Elizabeth stated that she was pretty sure they were done. She wandered back inside to look around and make sure.
Ten minutes later, Will found her standing in the doorframe of her bedroom. He walked up behind her and slid his arms around her waist.
She leaned back into him and sighed. Neither said anything or moved for a minute or two, then Elizabeth turned around to return his embrace. "Thank you," she whispered. "I'm gonna miss living here. She looked up and smiled. "But I'm going to love living with you." Moving her hands up to his shoulders and standing on tiptoe, she kissed him.
Posted on December 28, 2009
"Yes, Mom… Yes, I know." Will heard Elizabeth's voice as he climbed the stairs Monday night. He stepped into the doorway of her office and looked around. She was lying on her back, on the floor in front of her desk, her eyes closed, as she twirled the end of a patch cord in one hand and dug her toes into the thick green carpet.
"Okay, Mom. I'll talk to Will tonight." He glanced at her face, before his eyes went back to her feet, where they traced their way up her shapely calves and back down her thighs to where they were hidden by her shorts. He suppressed a groan and forced himself to look up, around the room.
All of her computers were lined up under the desk and appeared to be powered up, so she had to be nearly done. The cream sofa fit nicely along the near wall. He had to admit, her color choices had worked well. The room was warm and inviting – especially when he looked at Elizabeth again…
"Yes, Mom. I promise. I'll call you tomorrow, okay… All right… I love you too. Bye." She pressed the disconnect button and her hands dropped to her sides as she released a huge sigh.
"You okay?" he asked, making Elizabeth start.
She sat up quickly, reaching up to set her phone on the desk. "I didn't hear you come in." Taking a deep breath, she looked up to meet his eyes. "It was just my mom. She's…" Elizabeth shook her head slowly.
Will walked over to her and held his hand down to help her up. "She's not giving you a hard time for moving in with me, is she?" She was barely on her feet when he somehow managed to sit on the sofa and pull her into his lap.
Leaning into him, she nestled her head on his shoulder. "Not at all. She's very happy for us." 'Oh! This is so wonderful! Whatever it takes to get that ring on your finger!' Elizabeth almost had to repress a shudder. "Just now, she's trying to invite herself over here… And I know it's only so she can snoop around and assess your lovely home and fine furnishings." She began nervously wrapping the patch cord around her left hand.
"It's all right," Will assured her, kissing the top of her head. "Invite them to dinner this weekend."
"But, Will, you've met my mother. You've seen how she is, and she'll be so much worse if she comes here." She twisted the looped cord around her hand. "I'll be so embarrassed… and you'll…"
"Liz." He reached and slipped his fingers under the cord, slowly pulling it off her hand. "Do you really think we can go through the rest of our lives and never invite her over?" When she shook her head slowly, he continued. "Then why not get it over with? I'm sure we can manage." He tossed the cable on the floor and wrapped her hands in his. "Let's just do it."
"Okay." She nodded as her fingers intertwined with his. "But just my parents."
Will was about to reply when she continued. "And I'll cook, and we have to give Maggie the night off… maybe see if she can go out."
"Maggie?" he asked, surprised. "I suppose we can ask her. But why?"
Elizabeth tried to turn her head enough to look up at Will. "Because I know my mother. I can just see her praising you for having help and she'd be all… she'd… I just can't do that to Maggie."
Will nodded. "So just a theoretically quiet evening with us and your parents." He kissed her forehead. "I think we can do that."
Seeing his encouraging smile, Elizabeth tried to put on one of her own as she squirmed and turned so she could face him. "Have I told you how much I love you, Will Darcy?"
"You have." He grinned mischievously. "But I was hoping you'd show me."
An hour or so later, the house was quiet and dark as Will went downstairs to let the dogs out for the last time that evening.
Elizabeth called her mother from the office early Tuesday afternoon, hoping to keep the call short; and for once, it worked. Her parents would be coming for dinner Saturday night.
She and Will discussed the plans and arrangements for the dinner on the train ride home, and were happy to put the topic to rest for the time being. Georgiana was only there for two more days, and they were much more interested in enjoying her company.
They spent little time at the house before Will was putting a large picnic hamper in the trunk of his Audi and trying to tell the ladies to hurry up, as he was ready to leave. It took another ten minutes, but eventually Maggie shooed Georgiana and Tiffany out the door. Elizabeth quickly joined them in the back seat, leaving Maggie no choice but to sit in front.
It was probably a good thing they left when they did, for traffic on the Schuyllkill Expressway was bad, even heading toward Philadelphia, and it took more than an hour to get to the Mann Music Center.
There was still fifteen minutes before the show when they found a place on the lawn with an excellent view of the stage. They sat down on the large blanket Georgiana brought, and began to extract their dinner from the basket.
A few minutes later, they watched as members of the Philadelphia Orchestra began filing onto the stage and began warming up. Elizabeth noticed Georgiana's grin, already beginning to understand how the younger woman truly loved musical performances. She then smiled at Will, who had also been watching his sister.
Soon, Bernadette Peters was introduced and the performance began. Elizabeth watched with nearly as much attention as Georgiana through the first two numbers, before leaning against Will, relaxing as he wrapped his arm around her.
After a while though, it was clear that the light breeze was not enough to compensate for the hot August air, and Elizabeth moved again, this time so that very little of her exposed skin touched anything – well except for the hand that immediately intertwined with Will's. She doubted it would ever be too hot for that.
They all enjoyed the performance, and slowly packed up their belongings afterward. Knowing the parking lot would be jammed, they were in no rush to depart – and when they did make it to the car, they had an easy exit and a quick drive home.
The next evening was easy for Will to predict. With Georgiana heading back to California, and not coming home until Thanksgiving, there was little doubt in his mind that Maggie would spend the whole day cooking Italian food.
Knowing there would be no shortages, Will invited Charlie and Jane, and Rich Fitzwilliam invited himself, joining the couples on the R5 at the end of the day. He was also not surprised to see Brian's car in the driveway when they arrived home.
The dinner table was already set when they walked in, and little time was wasted in adding the hot foods. Soon everyone was seated and passing around bowls of pasta and conversing freely.
As Elizabeth shifted from talking to Brian about his thesis and his post-grad plans, to listening to Jane's kind praises of Maggie's cooking, she paused. As her eyes quickly drifted from one person to another, a small smile formed on her lips. This was exactly what she had always wanted. No matter who was present or not, and no matter the occasion, such harmony had never been achieved at the Bennet dinner table.
She looked toward Will, and realized he was watching her. As soon as their eyes met, he grinned with such warmth. In that moment, she knew, absolutely, she was home.
Posted on February 3, 2010
Elizabeth pulled into the driveway Thursday evening and pressed the button to open the garage. She couldn't help laughing to herself; Rich was such a character! It hadn't been as funny at first last night when he made a big scene presenting her the remote from Georgie's car before he drove it home, where he was going to keep it. At the time, she had blushed and wished he'd just leave. But Will had wrapped his arms around her, and Georgiana giggled, and it wasn't really all that bad.
Driving into the garage, she was disappointed, but not surprised, to see Will's empty space. He and Maggie were not yet back from the airport, so she had the house to herself for a while. She sighed and got out of the car, only taking a couple steps before she heard the heavy footsteps and breathing on the other side of the inside door. At least she wasn't alone.
"Yes, I'm home, fellas," she announced as she turned the handle and stepped into the hallway where she was eagerly greeted by Hamlet and Hershey. "Oh, it's good to see you guys too." She scratched both of their heads. "Did you miss me? I missed you."
They all went out to the backyard for a few minutes; then back inside, the dogs followed Elizabeth dutifully upstairs to her office.
Elizabeth sat at her desk and checked www.foodnetwork.com for recipes for dinner Saturday night. She printed them out, then started an ingredient list in Excel; Maggie probably had most of what she needed, but she might as well have everything organized when she heard both dogs' heads pop up. She strained to listen, but heard nothing.
Hershey suddenly launched himself out the door and ran down the stairs. "Are they home?" she asked Hamlet, who began whacking the wall with his tail. It was then she finally heard the garage door. "Let's go down and greet them." She smiled and patted her dog's head as they went to follow Hershey.
She met Maggie in the hallway, followed by Will, carrying a box of Chinese food, and stood on her toes for a moment to kiss his cheek as he went by. Then closing the door behind him, she followed to the dining room, where they sat talking for more than half an hour after finishing their meal.
When Will noticed the time, he excused himself to finish some work, and with a quick kiss on Elizabeth's cheek, he left the room.
Elizabeth helped Maggie to clear the table and put away the leftovers, then ran upstairs for her printouts.
Maggie showed Elizabeth where each of the ingredients on hand were, and pared the list down to three items, and then suggested a modification to one of the recipes.
With a smile, Elizabeth thanked her for everything; then apologized for any inconvenience this dinner with her parents would cause.
Maggie laid her hand on Elizabeth's arm. "I don't mind in the least, Lizzy." She quickly decided not to tell her that she'd have gladly cooked and served, and tolerated whatever Mrs. Bennet might have said - Elizabeth's presence and Will's happiness were worth it. She simply smiled and added, "I'm very much looking forward to visiting my niece and seeing her little one."
Elizabeth then went up to her office, and after quickly checking her email accounts, began writing. She had a wonderful idea for a scene with Anne and Lady Russell.
It was nearly eleven when she finished the chapter and noticed the time. With a sudden frown, she saved and closed her file, then went downstairs to find Will.
He didn't look up when she walked into his study, even as Hershey trotted over to greet her and Hamlet. Will's gaze was glued to his computer monitor.
"I've lived here for four days, and already you're more interested in the computer than me," she teased.
Will looked up as soon as she started speaking. "No!" He stood up quickly and started walking to her, meeting her halfway as she moved to him. "Oh, Liz, I'm so sorry." Pulling her against him, he continued, speaking quietly. "Having spent most of the day with Georgie, I just had a lot to get caught up on. I lost track of time."
"Shhh." She looked up to him and kissed his lips lightly. "I did too, but it's late…" Sudden inspiration struck, and a mischievous grin spread across her face. "And now I'm lonely." She tried to pout, but had little luck.
Before she realized what was happening, Elizabeth found herself lifted into Will's arms. She looked up and saw the ravenous look in his eyes.
"That's a much bigger problem than the Albuquerque budgets," he said before his lips seized hers and he started walking toward the door. He turned enough to flip the light switch, then slipped out the door and headed for the stairs. In no time, it seemed, he was closing their bedroom door.
Posted on February 19, 2010
Will set the dinner table neatly with the everyday plates and flatware while Elizabeth was finishing the dinner preparations. When he was done, he started to walk into the kitchen, but stopped in the doorway to watch her. She seemed so natural and comfortable, like she belonged. He grinned.
Elizabeth was just putting the Cornish game hens back in the oven when she noticed him and smiled back. She closed the oven door and tossed the hot pads on the counter. "Right on schedule," she said, turning to Will.
When he stepped into the room, she melted into his embrace, wrapping her arms around his waist. "Now if the rest of the evening would only go so smoothly."
Will held her close and kissed the top of her head. "It'll be fine. I'm sure."
Neither could say how long they stood that way, but the sound of barking in the back yard interrupted their peace. "That's Hershey. They must be here." She left the comfort of his arms and started toward the kitchen door, but did not make it far.
Will reached for her and grasped her wrist, pulling her to him again. When her eyes met his, he whispered, "No matter what, I love you Elizabeth Bennet." Then with a quick kiss, he released her.
"Thank you," she replied with a quick glance back as she walked out of the room and toward the front of the house.
She opened the front door to see her father's car in the driveway, and by the time she made it half the distance, she was trapped in a bear hug by her mother.
"Lizzy! Oh this is wonderful! What a lovely place! And this house!" With a big, noisy kiss to Elizabeth's cheek, Fran Bennet continued gushing, "Of course, I did expect his house to be bigger, but still, this is much better than I ever hoped for you. Oh Lizzy!" She squeezed again before finally releasing Elizabeth.
By then, her father was at her side. "Lizzybee!"
"Daddy!" She hugged him tightly, but took a small fraction of the time she had spent in her mother's arms.
He kissed her quickly on the cheek. "So, missy, where's your young man?"
Elizabeth turned toward the door. "He must be… There he is." She smiled at Will as he stepped through it.
Will shook hands with Mr. Bennet, and had no more than released the elder gentleman's hand when he found himself embraced by Mrs. Bennet.
"Oh Will, it's so good to see you again! I don't understand why Lizzy is keeping you to herself so much!" She patted his back as she released her grip, then turned back to her daughter. "You really need to come over more, and bring Will with you!"
"Yes, I know, Mom." She didn't try to hide the disdain in her voice, and her mother didn't seem to notice as they walked into the house together, letting the men follow behind.
"My! Look at this entryway!" Mrs. Bennet proclaimed the moment she was in the door. "That chandelier must be impossible to clean! Oh, Lizzy, you have to show me the whole house!"
Elizabeth closed her eyes for a moment and fought to repress a sigh. "We have plenty of time, Mom. Are you sure you wouldn't just like to sit down with a glass of iced tea until dinner?"
"No, I want to see everything!"
Elizabeth started with the living room, and while her mother was impressed with its size, it lacked ornamentation.
Mrs. Bennet leaned close to Elizabeth, and presumably dropped her voice, though everyone could still hear her clearly. "You should change a few things in here once you get the chance. Maybe a Tiffany lamp on that table or a couple Fabergé eggs on the mantel there. And then the drapes..."
Elizabeth forced a smile and nodded compliantly, then turned back toward the front hall, only to see matching smirks on the men's faces. She shook her head slightly as she walked past them, out of the room.
Will's study held little interest for Mrs. Bennet, but while she made a cursory pass about the perimeter, Mr. Bennet rubbed his fingers along the walnut shelves and scanned the many titles. "Impressive." He seemed not to notice his wife standing by the door tapping her foot impatiently as he pulled out a volume. "First edition?" he queried.
When Will walked over to him to also look at the book, Elizabeth realized they would be just fine on their own, and while she'd have been quite content to remain, she turned to her mother. "I think we've lost them. Shall we go on?"
Glancing at her watch, Elizabeth led her mother upstairs, showing off her office, which was decreed in definite need of ornamentation. The guest room by the master suite was declared acceptable, and while Mrs. Bennet was impressed by the size of the master suite, it was entirely too masculine.
Just as they stepped into the hall again, Elizabeth's phone started beeping. She pulled it out and pressed a couple of buttons, then put it back in her pocket and looked at her mother. "Timer. Dinner's ready." She began walking toward the stairs.
"What about the rest of the tour?" Mrs. Bennet asked.
"Well, that's Georgiana's room." She pointed back at her door. "And well, they're just bedrooms up here. I'll show you the rest of the downstairs after dinner." Biting her lip, she started downstairs, afraid to look back to gauge her mother's expression.
For once, Mrs. Bennet could find nothing to complain about in the kitchen, and gladly helped Elizabeth to get the food on the table. When everything was ready, they had no trouble finding the gentlemen, needing only to follow the sound of the clicking billiard balls. "Can we interrupt your game for dinner?" Elizabeth asked, standing in the door to the game room.
"Most certainly, my dear," Mr. Bennet answered, setting down his cue. Then wrapping his arm around Elizabeth and stepping out the door, he said over his shoulder, "But you have to promise I can come back and teach this young man to play pool afterwards."
Elizabeth laughed and tried to look back at Will, who walked behind with a smile. "I think that can be arranged."
They all sat down to dinner, and after Mrs. Bennet assessed the room and commented on the tableware, she began talking about all the young men who were so interested in Kitty and Lydia, and lamenting that she could not get Jane interested in dating. "It's sad, but I guess things will never work out with Chris. Do you remember Jack Lawler? I ran into him the other day, maybe I could set her up with him…"
Elizabeth looked at her plate, blushing and trying to think of a diversion. She was surprised when she felt Will's hand cover hers, and raised her eyes. His eyes were on her mother, with that look… the way he looked at the baseball game or the gala… like he was listening, but not engaged. She nodded her head slightly, suddenly calmer.
"I think Jane should decide for herself, Mom. How have things been with the Ladies Auxiliary at the church?" At least it should be a safe topic, if not an interesting one.
When the meal was over, Will helped Elizabeth clear the table, and then they all went to the game room, where the men quickly resumed their game.
The ladies did not remain there long, as Mrs. Bennet had little interest in billiards, darts, video games or the bar. Instead, Elizabeth led her mother out the sliding glass door.
The door was not open two inches before two black noses appeared. "There are my boys," Elizabeth said as she stepped outside and began petting both dogs.
"Oh, you have two dogs now," Mrs. Bennet said disdainfully.
"Yes," Elizabeth replied with a smile as she still played with the dogs. "This is Will's dog, Hershey, and he won't bother you any more than Hamlet does."
They walked around the yard, Mrs. Bennet actually enjoying herself as she named all the various flowers in the gardens. "Oh, these delphiniums are just lovely!" Elizabeth relaxed and smiled to herself. While her mother talked no less, she was neither complaining nor trying to arrange people's lives.
When they finally made it around the whole yard, Mrs. Bennet took Elizabeth's hands in hers and spoke earnestly, "Lizzy, I don't know how you did it, but this place is wonderful. You need to marry him right away, dear."
Elizabeth had to bite her tongue for a moment, a well honed skill, having grown up with such a mother. Deep breath. She gently squeezed her mother's fingers. "I love Will, Mom, but I am not ready for that yet. I can't tell you how much I hope we'll get there; but not yet. End of subject."
Still holding her mother's hand, Elizabeth led her back into the house. As they walked through the door to the game room, Elizabeth said, "Have you beaten Will enough yet, Daddy?"
Both men smiled. "I suppose I have, Lizzybit." He again grabbed Elizabeth before Will could, and sat down on the sofa with her. "I've had a very nice evening here – dinner was excellent, my dear, and your Will is quite a gracious loser." He winked.
"I'm glad to hear it, Dad." Then as Will and Mrs. Bennet sat, Elizabeth mentioned how much her mother had enjoyed the gardens. This gave Elizabeth a chance to talk to her father for a few minutes.
When Mr. Bennet noticed that Will's attention was waning, he suggested it was time to head home. While his wife agreed, it still took half an hour to make it to the front door, where Mrs. Bennet gave big hugs to both Will and Elizabeth.
Both couples walked out, and as her parents got in their car, Elizabeth backed into Will's arms. As the car headed down the street, she turned around and relaxed completely against him. "Thank you, Will, she murmured.
Will held her close and rubbed her back. "I know it wasn't easy on you, love, but I think it went well... I actually had a pretty good time with your dad."
"I'm glad." She wrapped her arms snugly around his waist. Then after a moment, she asked, "Exactly how many games of pool did you let my dad win?"
"Just one," he laughed. "And I'm pretty sure he knew."
Posted on March 2, 2010
While on their way home from church on Sunday morning, Elizabeth's phone began playing Fooling April. She answered it quickly. "Hi Jane."
Every time he glanced at her, Will noticed her nodding her head as she spoke to her sister – yeah, dinner had gone okay, they'd talk about it when she got back, she loved her and told her to take care. He was just pulling the car into the driveway when she ended the call, and as soon as he slipped the shift into park, he looked at her curiously.
"They're on their way up to see Charlie's aunt in New York. Apparently she fell yesterday, and was taken to the hospital. They released her and she says she's fine, but Charlie wants to check up on her."
Will shook his head and released a small laugh. "That must be Aunt Lil in Scarborough." When Elizabeth nodded, he continued. "I'm sure she'll be just fine, but she's had some problems lately, and I'm glad he's going up. I'll have to send him an email and tell him to take as long as he needs."
They got out of the car, and Elizabeth looked at him with a sly smile. "Of course, that means they won't be coming over for Labor Day tomorrow."
Will caught her expression, and ginning back, said, "I guess we'll just have to improvise." And improvise they did, starting a few minutes after heading upstairs to change from their church clothes, and a few more times over the next day and a half.
Elizabeth and Jane chatted online a few times over the next few days, mostly talking about dinner Saturday night and how Jane liked Charlie's Aunt Lil.
When Charlie and Jane returned to work on Thursday, little time was found to catch up. Elizabeth finally caught Jane in the hallway at work. "Hey, Sis, I was wondering if you'd like to come over Sunday while the guys are at the game. I'll make lemon gingersnaps and mojitos, and we can lay by the pool and talk."
"Sounds great!" Jane replied with a broad smile. "I've missed our 'sister time' a lot lately."
Elizabeth was in the kitchen shortly after 11:00 when the dogs alerted her to the new arrivals. She called up to Will and walked out front to greet Charlie and Jane. She had to pause for a moment as she told herself she truly wasn't surprised by Charlie's Eagles helmet, green zebra pants and green Brian Dawkins jersey. "No face paint?" she couldn't help but inquire.
"I have to draw the line somewhere," came a deep voice from behind her. "I told him years ago I wouldn't take him if he wore makeup or a cheesesteak hat."
Elizabeth turned around, noticing Will in his light cargo shorts and black David Akers jersey, and suddenly wishing for a moment that it was just Will, her and the jersey he filled out so well. Hoping she was not too obvious, she smiled at him before turning back to Charlie and Jane.
Will slipped his arm around her as he stopped at her side, and the foursome chatted for a few minutes. Finally declaring it was time to go, he kissed Elizabeth on the cheek, told Jane to have a lovely afternoon and climbed into the passenger seat of Charlie's T-bird.
Charlie very quickly followed suit, and the ladies stood out front until the car disappeared around the curve.
Elizabeth grabbed Jane's hand and pulled her into the house, where they were greeted eagerly by the dogs. It took a couple minutes of play, but she was finally able to drag her sister to the living room sofa. "So spill."
"Why me?" Jane laughed. "You're the one who just moved into this big house with the man of your dreams!"
"True," she answered. "But it's not like you've been sitting around the house doing nothing! Besides, I asked first!"
Jane's skin seemed to turn a shade pinker as a smile slowly spread across her features. "I'm so happy, Lizzy! Charlie's moved in with me for all intents and purposes; we haven't spent a night apart since the shore. I am completely in love with him!"
"That's great. I'm so happy for you," Elizabeth replied with genuine warmth. "So you guys are staying at the house?"
"Yeah," Jane nodded. "Charlie knows how much I love it, and this way he can let his sister stay at his house." She shook her head slowly. "Though at the moment he's having second thoughts about that; she's driving him crazy, calling his cell at all hours of the day and night." She frowned, tears nearly welling up in her eyes. "I think she's just upset at the sudden change." She wiped at her cheek and forced a smile.
Elizabeth took her hand, but Jane gave her no chance to speak, shifting immediately to happier thoughts. "Charlie bought a new couch, and we've been thinking… if it's okay with you…" Jane met her sister's eyes. "We'd like to redo the master bedroom… so it's not yours, or Chris', but ours." A sweet smile crossed her face and was reflected in her eyes.
"Oh Jane," Elizabeth laughed. "You know you don't need my permissions. It's always been your house more than mine." Then excitedly she asked, "So do you have any plans yet?"
They laughed and teased for nearly an hour before Maggie appeared, asking if they were ready for lunch. It sounded like an excellent idea, so they promptly agreed, and joined her at the kitchen table for chicken salad.
Eventually the sisters made their way to the backyard where Elizabeth turned on the Eagles game and set the volume low before lying back on a chaise by the pool. She talked for a while about getting settled in and about some of the routines they were establishing such as an early morning walk or run – carefully omitting the alternative forms of exercise that sometimes interfered – and how they spent most of their evenings together, whether they were working or relaxing.
When the focus shifted back to Jane, she talked about her visit with Aunt Lil. She had taken instantly to the older woman, and was so pleased to have been able to help her for a few days.
They swam and sat in the hot tub, and perhaps had one too many mojitos, but thoroughly enjoying their sister time. They only remained aware enough of the football game to know that the Eagles were winning handily, so both were surprised when Jane noticed the post game show was on. With that realization, they went inside to get dressed and start dinner.
Despite a few bouts of the giggles, and a kind offer from Maggie to take over, the table was set and a decent Chicken Chasseur was ready to be served when Will and Charlie walked in.
At first all the guys wanted to talk about was the Eagles' 38-3 win over the Rams, though more topics were introduced in the course of the meal.
Afterwards, the couples went to the backyard, and Jane proposed another round of mojitos – which Charlie passed on since he would soon be driving "Jane" home. The guys passed a football back and forth for a few minutes, while the dogs seemed to suggest tennis balls were a better choice. Fortunately for them, Jane took up their cause and entertained them until Elizabeth returned with their drinks and another plate of lemon gingersnaps.
They all sat back with the dogs at their feet, simply enjoying the company until Elizabeth noticed how Jane's eyelids were fluttering as her head rested on his arm. Without a word, she directed Will's gaze to her sister, and finally catching on, Charlie suggested it was time to leave.
Even though it wasn't really late when they watched the red T-bird drive down the street, Elizabeth suggested they might turn in.
Will was a little surprised, but not disappointed by the suggestion, and gladly let her lead the way to their room, where Elizabeth eagerly removed his shoes, shorts and every other article of clothing but his Eagles jersey.
Posted on March 9, 2010Will gazed out his office window unseeingly. I really should be flying out tonight. He couldn't do it though. Elizabeth, of all people, would understand, but he'd made plans for the one month anniversary of her moving in with him, and he couldn't bear to cancel them.
He reached into the breast pocket of his jacket and pulled out a small gold and diamond ring, his grandmother's engagement ring. Something had compelled him to open the safe this morning and remove this particular ring.
Is it too soon? She'd said it a couple of times before, but usually she was speaking to her mother.
He slid the ring on his left pinky, and it stopped on the first knuckle. He then held his hand up so the diamonds caught the light, and stared at it for a long moment before turning around and pushing her speed dial button on his phone.
"Hey hon." Her voice seemed to fill the room.
He smiled, despite his mood. "I have bad news… I have to go to San Francisco."
"Tonight?" He could hear the disappointment in her voice.
"No, tomorrow morning. We're still on for tonight."
"Oh good." Her relief was obvious. "How long will you be gone?"
"Just till Friday… Unless… Is there any chance you can take a few days off and go with me?"
"No," she replied quietly. "I'm finishing the setup of a new app, and will be running a training class on Thursday."
Will frowned, but then realized her exact words. "What about Friday? You could fly out and we can make a long weekend of it."
"Uhm, let me look at Outlook." There was a brief pause, and Will closed his eyes. "I probably can, but I have to check with Bob to see if it's okay."
"All right. I'm just about to go into a meeting, so call Joanne and let her know. She can book your ticket."
"I can do that, you know."
Will laughed. "I'm sure you can, but she'll already be making mine, and I thought it might be nice if we sat together on the way home."
"All right." He heard her sigh, but could tell she wasn't truly disappointed. "I'll call her in a few. Love you."
"I love you too, Liz." He turned off the speakerphone, then looked at the ring again before sliding it off his finger and putting it back in his pocket.
A few hours later, it was still safely ensconced there as he sat beside Elizabeth on the 4:08 train. Her head was resting on his arm as she told him about her day. Just as it should be, he thought. A small grin graced his face.
He'd only ever thought of marriage as something to be addressed in the distant future, but this was right. He could think of nothing he wanted more than to have Elizabeth as his wife.
"…to Will… Earth to Will." Elizabeth was waving her hand in front of his face. "I guess my day wasn't all that interesting, but…"
"I'm sorry, sweetheart. I was just thinking."
"Looked like pretty happy thoughts."
"Very happy thoughts." He leaned down and quickly kissed her temple. "And I promise I'll share them with you soon."
Sensing it would do no good to tease him, Elizabeth just returned her head to his arm and enjoyed her own pleasant thoughts.
At home, they took their time greeting and playing with the dogs, then took them for a walk. Having left work early, they even found time to sit in the hot tub for a little while before going upstairs to get ready for dinner.
They showered together, though it was debatable whether they saved any time or water by doing so.
Will dressed quickly, and with a light kiss, he left Elizabeth to finish her toilette… and to muse.
It was hard to believe she'd really lived here for a month. It hardly seemed more than a week, yet she felt completely settled – like she belonged here. Her life here seemed perfect, a dream.
She stared past her reflection with a faraway smile until overcome by a wry chuckle. Some dream! She thought back to the argument they'd had last weekend, scarcely able to recall why they had been at odds, but their tempers had flared. Eventually, however, cooler minds had prevailed… and the making up…
Looking in the mirror, Elizabeth noticed how her skin was flushed. Smiling and shaking her head, she told her reflection, "Yeah, things are good."
Setting her focus back to preparations, she dressed quickly and headed down to find Will.
The moment she stepped in the study doorway, Will jumped to his feet. "Elizabeth!" He eyed her head to toe, taking time to appreciate that her yellow sundress left most of her back bare. "You look beautiful… but I'm not sure I can handle taking you out in public like that."
Elizabeth laughed. "I have a wrap, but I can't promise to keep it on all night." She winked coyly.
Will frowned and tried to sound resigned as he walked towards her. "I guess I'll just have to scowl menacingly at anyone who looks at you then."
Meeting him halfway, Elizabeth stood on her toes and kissed him. "You do that."
Unable to let her go easily, Will ensured their kiss lasted a lot longer. When he'd caught his breath afterward, an "Oh!" escaped. "I can't forget this." He stepped over to a bookshelf and picked up a single long stem red rose, then turned and handed it to her. "For the first of many wonderful months in our home."
After another kiss, they went together to put the flower in a bud vase, and when setting it on the table, Elizabeth noticed the kitchen clock. "Oh, the time! We should get going,"
"I don't care how late we are; we are not leaving without that wrap," Will said playfully. Fortunately, they were only a couple minutes late for their dinner reservation at the General Warren Inne.
After ordering and taking a few minutes to enjoy the view of the gardens, Elizabeth asked Will about his trip.
He answered, explaining a little about the reasons he had to go, but soon, knowing Elizabeth had never been there, he directed the conversation to sightseeing and some of the things they could do in their two and a half days together in the city.
They held hands and locked gazes often throughout the meal, and if Will patted his breast pocket a time or two, Elizabeth didn't notice.
As they shared a slice of apple pear cranberry crumb pie, Elizabeth suddenly flinched. When she met Will's questioning gaze, she answered, "Mosquito. System problem." She frowned as she reached for her phone. "I'm sorry, Will."
She pressed several buttons and read the message on her phone. Smiling halfheartedly, she said. "It's not a mission critical system. It'll be fine, but I probably should check it when we get home."
Will took a quick sip of coffee. "We should probably get going anyhow. I have an early morning tomorrow, and I still have to pack."
Elizabeth nodded. "Yeah, we should."
They scarcely talked as they drove home, but held hands most of the way. As soon as they arrived, they quickly greeted the dogs, then headed upstairs, to different rooms. Will set out his suit for the morning, moving all his pocket contents from the one he wore before changing to something more comfortable. Maybe it's for the best. I'm sure I'll know when the time is right. He then retrieved his suitcase and garment bag and began packing.
It didn't take her long to figure out that she wouldn't be able to resolve the problem remotely, but was relieved that it was a minor server and could wait. If it had to be something, I suppose this might actually be better. Now I can get back to Will.
She quickly shut down her connection, and turning off the light, left her office. As she walked toward the open bedroom door, she saw Will packing his suits into a garment bag. She padded quietly behind him and slid her hands up his back.
"Uhmmmm," he moaned, turning to face her. "All okay?"
"It can wait." She kissed him. "But I was just thinking that since we're coming home from San Francisco together, maybe I should drive you tomorrow. Then I can head straight in to Center City and tackle that server."
"Are you sure? I need to be at the airport about 5:30."
"Should be perfect." She slid her hand along his shoulder. "Now, how much more packing do you have to do?"
"Just a few more things." He slid his hand down her bare back, pausing at the edge of her dress before continuing over her skirt to rest on her behind. His lips pressed against her temple and slowly moved to her lips. After a languorous kiss, he pulled back. "Why don't you let the dogs out, and I'll finish up." His head dropped, placing a kiss at the base of her neck. "Then we can call it a night."
Posted on March 23, 2010
Elizabeth forced herself to take a relaxing breath as she rode the shuttle bus from the parking lot to the airport. You haven't forgotten anything – at least not anything major. She looked over at her suitcase, then patted her computer bag. The parking ticket was in that little pocket, and her keys were in the other one. Her notebook was fully charged, and she had packed the charger. It's okay.
She pulled open the flap on the front of her computer bag, very aware of the Velcro's noise, and pulled out her boarding pass, still unsure how she felt about the first class seat assignment. It was a luxury she would never afford herself, but she had promised herself not to make money an issue with Will. Why can't you just enjoy it, Lizzy? she chided herself , hoping to get it out of her system so she could do just that.
Next she fished in her jeans pocket, and pulled out her driver's license and a tip for the driver. All set! Certain that everything was in order, she smiled, eager to be on her way to Will and their weekend plans.
Nearly an hour later, she realized the benefits of first class as she settled into the comfortable seat while the flight attendant brought her coffee. She read the Inquirer until the plane began to move away from the gate.
Even though she was quite aware of the safety instructions, she listened attentively. Then, when they were over, she shifted her gaze to the window, watching the other planes queuing for takeoff. Fortunately, they didn't have to wait long, and she was soon looking over Essington and Eddystone as the plane ascended.
When she could no longer recognize the streets below, Elizabeth allowed her mind to wander to her story. Her next chapter was the wedding. She had checked a few sites, and was pretty sure she could describe a Regency wedding well. As she thought on the characters, though, she suddenly wondered if Sir Walter would express his opinions on Anne's wedding clothes. He certainly would have no compunction about outshining the bride, but would he make demands that she not degrade him while on his arm? She snickered at the image.
Finally she heard the announcement that electronic devices could be used, and she eagerly extracted her laptop and her Creative Zen. While her computer booted, she put in her earbuds and selected a Seether album. She then opened Word and began to type.
Elizabeth only paused in her work while breakfast was served, and to occasionally look out the window and take pictures of the patterned prairies and the Rocky Mountains, as she'd never traveled this far west. When she finished her chapter, she started on the next. Six hour flights are good for something, she mused.
When she heard the announcement to turn off electronic devices, she was typing rapidly, and was disappointed to have her momentum stopped. Still, she couldn't complain, and, in fact, she grinned. That much closer to Will…
After she put away her computer, she stared out the window as the plane descended over the bay, and grabbed her phone the instant she felt the wheels touch down. Though probably less than a minute, the wait until receiving permission to turn it on seemed interminable. She pressed the power button and stared at the screen impatiently as it booted up, and went immediately to text messaging.
On ground at SFO. Miss U. Love U.
In less than a minute, she had her reply.
Love you too. Car 2 meet you per Js email. Meet you at hotel at 1
Very soon, Elizabeth discovered another benefit of first class travel: she was one of the first to exit the plane. Easily finding her driver, she was escorted to a black Towncar and on her way into the city. As she rode in the back seat, she watched the houses and shopping centers along the highway, not terribly different from those in any large city, except perhaps for a few color choices she was sure she'd never see in Pennsylvania. Then, sure enough, they were downtown with the congested streets, taller buildings and rows of shops and restaurants.
A few minutes later, she was stunned to realize she was looking at the Transamerica Building up close. They drove around it, and a couple minutes later, came to a stop in the driveway of the Hilton Financial District.
Will had made all the right arrangements, so she had no trouble getting a key card, and was on her way to the 25th floor. Her jaw nearly dropped when she opened the door, realizing that she should have expected the roomy suite instead of a typical hotel room.
After a quick walk around the suite, she checked her watch, still nearly an hour until Will would get there. Her first priority then was to get online. She checked her email accounts and sent her new chapter to her beta, then downloaded a new story update to her phone, though she didn't expect a lot of reading time.
That done, she unpacked her bag and considered what to do with the remainder of the time. Will had suggested she might get lunch, but she wasn't really that hungry. Checking the fridge, she helped herself to an orange and a bottle of water, then went to sit by the window and take in the view of the bay.
She was still sitting there when she heard the door unlock; but was on her feet in an instant and facing the door as it swung open. There was her Will.
Their eyes locked, and it seemed a long moment before either reacted, but then, before they seemed to know what happened, Elizabeth was hanging from his neck in a tight embrace, in the doorway.
They kissed eagerly, unaware of their location for several seconds – a problem easily remedied when Will took two steps forward, allowing the door to close behind them. "God I've missed you, Elizabeth!" he murmured as he trailed kisses down her neck.
"I know. I missed you too." In no time, her fingers were fumbling with his necktie and freeing his shirt from his trousers. And if anyone were to ever ask what happened to their clothes or how they'd found the bed, neither could answer.
After a quick shower, they dressed in comfortable clothes, then walked uphill to Grant Ave., Chinatown. They spent the rest of the afternoon looking in the windows of several jewelry stores, and impressed by the ornately carved tusks, explored a few antique stores. Finally, before they left the neighborhood, Elizabeth pulled William into one of the many souvenir shops to buy gifts for her sisters and friends before returning to the hotel.
Despite having awakened at 4:15 AM in Philadelphia, Elizabeth didn't feel the least bit tired, so at 7:30 Pacific Time (10:30 Eastern), they were seated for dinner at St. Francis Hotel.
They chatted and held hands through the meal, and though Elizabeth noticed Will seemed a bit distracted, she didn't inquire why. She did, however, wonder why he insisted they ride the hotel elevator before they left. She followed willingly though, and as they ascended, gazed out at the city lights through the glass walls, while Will stood behind her, feeling the ring in his pocket.
"It's beautiful," she said finally as they stopped at the top floor. Will stepped back, holding the door open to prolong her view (and not much minding his view either). Just as he stepped back in, he heard a man's voice cry "Hold on!" He reacted instinctively, catching the door for the couple that was approaching. Once they reached the elevator, he returned to Elizabeth's side, and he slid his arm around her as they began their descent. "That was neat," she said when they reached the lobby. "Let's do it again!"
The next morning, they got off to an early start. Despite being up until nearly midnight, their bodies refused to sleep past 9:30 Eastern, and they were out the door within an hour.
As they had planned to be on their feet most of the day, they decided to tackle the most ambitious hike first. They headed north on Kearny, and even though Will knew they would pass shops and clubs they'd rather not see, the shortest distance between two points was still a straight line, especially when the last couple blocks were near vertical steps.
At the top of Kearny they were met by… more stairs, though even ones with handrails. As they continued upwards, Elizabeth's legs seemed to be asking if this was a good idea, even though she worked out regularly. Of course, there really was no choice but to continue further up Telegraph Hill to Coit Tower; and it was definitely worth it, she decided as she leaned back into Will's chest, his arms snug about her waist as they looked out over Alcatraz and Angel Island, the Golden Gate Bridge to their left and the Bay Bridge to their right.
They talked a bit about what they could see on this trip, and what they could plan for on a future visit, but after a few minutes, they just stood quietly, letting the cool breeze blow over them. I could do this forever, Will thought to himself. Maybe… He loosened his arms as he considered fishing the ring out of his shorts pocket.
Having noticed only one other group of visitors in the area, Elizabeth turned around in his relaxed embrace and kissed him lightly on his lips. "This is lovely." Then stepping out of his arms, she took his hand and started to walk away. "Let's go look at that statue down there."
Since Coit Tower itself wouldn't be open for another forty-five minutes, they descended Telegraph Hill to the west, taking Stockton St. down to Fisherman's Wharf to continue their sightseeing.
They spent the rest of the day doing all the typical touristy things like photographing the sea lions at Pier 39, watching street artists, grabbing lunch at In-N-Out Burger (a must according to Georgiana), touring the vessels on the Hyde Street Pier, eating Ghirardelli chocolate ice cream (and buying candy to take home), and finishing with a cable car ride back to Washington Street. They laughed and held hands and enjoyed themselves all day, but were pleased to return to their hotel room, where they lay on the bed to relax until it was time to get ready for dinner.
When Will awoke, it was dark outside, and something told him it wasn't just past dusk. He placed a light kiss on Elizabeth's cheek, a gesture so natural to him now, then turned away from her to read the clock. 3:27 AM. He suppressed a groan and wrapped his arm around Elizabeth again, but realized a short time later that he was really awake.
He remained still as long as he could, but his racing thoughts finally convinced him to get up. He carefully slipped away from Elizabeth and slowly rose from the bed, but made it no further than the bathroom door when he heard a groggy "Will…"
"Shhh…" He returned to the bedside. "We missed dinner," he whispered. "Sleep more if you want."
She nodded her head slightly and remained, but a short while later she was up too.
Since it was too early for room service, Elizabeth started a pot of coffee and grabbed a couple of apples from the fridge, before settling with her computer on the bed beside Will. They remained thus, working and emailing, and in Elizabeth's case, posting her chapter, until they noticed the sky getting lighter.
Will suggested they move to the window where he wrapped his arms around Elizabeth's waist and they snuggled as they watched the sun rise over Oakland.
They showered and dressed, then ordered breakfast and packed. When they were ready, they checked out and went downstairs to pick up the car Will had rented for the day so they could visit places outside the heart of the city.
The Golden Gate Bridge was their first stop, where they walked halfway across the span. Will took a picture he was certain he'd put on his desk – she was so beautiful with that smile and the wind teasing her hair as it did. Were it not for the number of people or the momentary fear of some freak accident causing him to drop and lose his grandmother's ring, he might have proposed right then. You'll know when the time is right, he assured himself.
He wrapped his arms around her and kissed her temple while she took a few more pictures, then they headed back to the end of the bridge. They then walked below, to tour Fort Point, where they learned the history and significance of the location.
When they got back to the car, Will put the top down, and they drove across the bridge and up to Muir Woods. They walked a few different trails amongst the redwoods, taking pictures of the huge trees and thinking how the dogs would have enjoyed it (though they wouldn't have been allowed were they there anyhow). They'd definitely have to take the boys hiking on Valley Forge Mountain when they were home next weekend.
They finished their tour by returning to San Francisco for a drive through Golden Gate Park, and a short walk along Ocean Beach, for Elizabeth couldn't return to Pennsylvania without having at least dipped a toe in the cold Pacific Ocean.
Their last stop was dinner at Celia's in Daly City, which had been highly recommended by the director of Darcy Inc.'s San Francisco office, and they had to agree that Mexican food like this was just not found on the east coast.
They laughed and chatted as they drove to the airport afterwards, and Elizabeth couldn't help but thank Will for inviting her to spend the weekend; it had been an experience unlike any other.
He, of course, pled that his motives were purely selfish, and they teasingly argued the point until they arrived.
As for their flight home, Elizabeth spent most of it curled up against Will, scarcely taking advantage of her own first class seat.
An hour after landing, Will and Elizabeth arrived at his office. As soon as the door closed behind them, she fell into his arms, still somewhat weary from the short night.
"I know what will get you going," he said, and easily picked her up and carrying her into the bathroom. There he stripped her, then himself, and pulled her into the steaming shower.
The warm water and his amorous attentions did, indeed, do the trick, and by the time she was dressed, Elizabeth was ready to start her day. She stepped out of the bathroom into Will's empty office and frowned. Where could he have disappeared to?
Spying the full coffee pot behind his desk, she walked over and poured herself a cup, then remained standing by the window, gazing up at Billy Penn and the rest of the visible skyline. Not hearing Will's return a minute later, she was surprised to feel his presence directly behind her. She leaned back and felt his arms circle her waist. "I love the view from here," she said, "and as nice as it was visiting San Francisco, I'm glad to be home."
Home. In Philadelphia, in his office, in his arms. "Liz," he whispered just behind her ear.
"Hmmm?" she responded sweetly.
He took her hand and gently turned her around, and when she smiled at him, Will dropped to one knee. "Elizabeth Bennet, will you do me the very great honor of becoming my wife?"
Posted on March 30, 2010
When she repeated the motion without any other movement or sound, Will spoke slowly in his most rational voice; "I know my heart. And I know my mind…" Sure that her eyes met his, he added, "And I know I want to spend the rest of my life with you, Liz."
Her head nodded slightly, and he could see the shimmer of tears in her eyes. "I'm not saying we have to rush into a marriage, though I am certain enough of us that I would get us on a plane to Las Vegas today if that's what you wanted."
She blinked again, and he saw a tear run down her left cheek. At this, a quiver may have entered his voice; he wasn't sure. "I just can't imagine a future without you by my side. Please tell me you feel…"
Somehow Elizabeth's arms were around his neck, and they were kissing. "I love you, Will," she murmured between kisses.
As their passions calmed, Elizabeth rested her head on Will's shoulder. It was then that he realized she was on her knees now too. "I was so shocked… I'm… I know I'm not ready to get married yet." She felt him tense and tightened her arms. "Everything with us has been quick, but marriage is too big a step to rush. However, my love, when I imagine my future, it is with you as my husband, so yes, Will, someday I will marry you."
A smile formed on Will's face as he held her close and stroked her hair. He should have expected this. With a light kiss above her ear, he replied, "I love you, Liz."
When they finally separated, Will rose, then helped Elizabeth back to her feet. He then reached in his jacket pocket and extracted the ring he had carried for the last week. Both smiled as he slid it on her finger, and found it fit perfectly.
"It's beautiful!" she whispered, turning her hand so it captured the light. "An heirloom?"
"My Grandmother Darcy's," he answered quietly, taking her hand. His eyes fixed on the ring, he continued in a faraway voice; "I don't recall her ever not wearing it… Then the last time I saw her – the night she passed away – she slid it off her finger and closed it in my hand. She wanted to be buried with her wedding ring and the cross her parents had given her as her only jewelry. All the rest was to go to Georgie… but this…"
Elizabeth could see the tears forming in his eyes.
"This I was to keep until I knew exactly what to do with it." A single tear escaped.
Pulling her hand free, Elizabeth wrapped her arms around Will's waist and rested her head on his chest. "I think she'd be very proud of you right now," she said as his head came to rest on her shoulder.
They remained thus until Elizabeth noticed that Will's shirt was wet. "Oh, Will, I'm so sorry!" She began brushing at it.
Will caught her hands. "It's all right. Don't worry."
Elizabeth smiled. "At least I didn't stain it with makeup."
He laughed. "Indeed." He raised her hands to his lips and kissed them. "Anyhow, we should probably eat and get to work." He inclined his head toward his desk. "I ran downstairs and picked up some Le Bus pastries."
"Mmm… What a lovely treat for this morning." She stood on tiptoe and kissed him quickly. "I love you," she whispered, then went over to his credenza to refresh their cups of coffee.
They sat on the sofa as they ate, touching, talking, holding hands and sometimes feeding each other. When it was time for her to leave, Will walked Elizabeth to his door. "Je t'adore, ma fiancée," he said before one last long kiss.
"Moi aussi, mon fiancé." She grinned wickedly and placed a quick kiss on his cheek. "I'll see you at three."
"Three," he whispered as he held the door for her, and both wore inconcealable smiles.
About an hour later, Elizabeth was at her desk, reading her email when she heard a light rap on the door frame. Right on time. "Morning, Sis."
"So how was your weekend?" Jane walked in and sat down. "Was San Francisco all you expected?"
"It was wonderful. We went everywhere. I haven't downloaded my pictures yet though. How was yours?"
"You'll never guess what happened yesterday!"
"What!" Elizabeth looked straight at her sister.
"Mom called the house… and Charlie answered."
"Oh wow," Elizabeth uttered, her eyes wide. "And?" She wrung her hands for a moment before settling for the long story with her right hand supporting her chin and her left hand wrapped around her right elbow on her desk.
"Well, I had no choice but to tell her about us." Jane shrugged. "She was really upset, saying she'd expect it of you, but never me, and that you what's that! She reached across Elizabeth's desk and grabbed her sister's hand. "He proposed! Oh, Lizzy, that's wonderful. Where? The Golden Gate Bridge? The Top of the Mark?"
Elizabeth grinned, but shook her head slowly. "It was just this morning. In his office."
"His office?" Jane looked confused.
Nodding, Elizabeth explained. "Will had run downstairs for pastries, and when he returned I was standing by the window, looking down at City Hall. I said something about being happy to be home, and after I accepted him, he told me that my remark so mirrored his feelings that he had to ask then." Color continued to infuse her cheeks as she smiled at Jane. "It was wonderful."
"Oh Lizzy, I'm so happy for you." She raised Elizabeth's hand to take a closer look at the diamond ring. "Have you started to think about your wedding? When, where, how big?"
Elizabeth sat back, her hand sliding out of Jane's. "You're sounding like Mom now, Jane. There's no reason for us to rush. I'm only twenty-five, and we've only known each other for four months. I really just want to savor this phase for a while. So tell me more about Charlie and Mom."
Jane shrugged, but took the hint, and talked of their mother's complaints, until, of course, Jane let it slip that Charlie was CFO at Darcy, Inc. It hadn't taken long from that point for all to be forgiven. "I even ended up giving the phone back to Charlie, and he talked to her for half an hour.
"I was so embarrassed, but he seemed to laugh it off." Her color rose. "Though he said I would have to pay later; but that's another story."
Elizabeth held up her right hand. "I'll pass on that one. So all is okay with Mom now?"
"I think so, but we're going over for dinner tonight – there was no way to get out of it."
"That doesn't surprise me. You need to be firmer with her, Jane. Not that you could get out of it, but you could put her off for a few days or find someplace else."
"It's okay. Though I was hoping you and Will might want to come too."
The air was still and silent for several seconds. "Jane, you know I'd love to help you, but we've had a long weekend, and only six hours of sleep on the airplane, if that. Will and I really just want to go home and unpack and relax tonight. At most we'll share a bottle of bubbly before crashing.
"If she'd wait until the weekend, I'd consider it, but I know you can handle it. I'm sure you're not so beautiful for nothing, and you've caught yourself a fine man. You'll be okay, but if you want, we can sit together on the train tomorrow morning, and you can tell me all about it, all right?"
"Okay. Thanks, Sis!" Jane stood, and walked around Elizabeth's desk to hug her. "Congratulations," she whispered before disappearing out the door.
As planned, Will and Elizabeth left Center City Philadelphia just after 3 PM, and after sharing the news with Maggie and calling Georgie, they ate a light dinner and retired at seven.
They didn't go to sleep right away, and they did enjoy a bottle of Perrier-Jouët as they relaxed in the comfort of their own room. And as they fell asleep, entwined, Will's left hand cradled Elizabeth's, his thumb brushing against her ring.
Posted on: 2010-04-22
Elizabeth smiled as she clicked the "Post Message" button, then released an audible sigh. There was something so fulfilling in completing a story… yet she would miss her Anne and Frederick and their happily ever after.
She was startled from her reverie by a large head landing in her lap. "Hey, Lug." She rubbed between his ears. "Time to go see what Will and Hershey are up to, huh?"
Big eyes stared up at her.
"Yeah, let's go find them."
Hershey was easy, since he came trotting out of the media room, and Elizabeth rewarded him with a brisk neck rub.
She let the dogs out, then went to find Will. Not surprisingly, he was sitting on the sofa in the media room, feet on the ottoman and a thick stack of papers in his lap.
"Baseball?" she asked, noticing the television.
Will looked up and smiled. "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em," he replied. "The playoffs are bigger news than the election right now, so I might as well keep up."
Elizabeth laughed. "Yeah, it seems to be all anyone talks about at my office too." She sat down next to Will, who quickly set aside his reports and pulled her close.
The next night, both of them settled in the media room with their laptops as the Phils won again. They watched many of the successive games as such. On Sunday, they had Charlie and Jane over for dinner and sat out around the television in the backyard as the Phillies eliminated the Habs game.
Shortly after Will and Elizabeth arrived home Tuesday, Georgiana called. "Will! Thanks for all the Phillies stuff!" she gushed. "I've already hung up the pennant, and I absolutely love the Chase Utley jersey, though I'm not any more likely to wear it in public here than I am to wear the Dodgers shirt Ryan gave me!"
Will choked back a laugh as he walked into Elizabeth's office with a box. "Well, you can wear it in your apartment, and certainly when you come home."
Elizabeth looked up when she heard him, and accepted the box as he handed it to her.
"I'm just giving Elizabeth hers now. I'm putting you on speaker."
"Hi Elizabeth," came Georgiana's voice from the phone.
"Hey Georgie," she answered as she opened the box. "A Werth jersey?" she asked curiously with a smile as she held up the article.
Will grinned. "I thought you could wear it to work when they win."
Elizabeth laughed, then looked surprised as Georgiana asked, "And what did you get yourself?"
Georgiana gasped and Elizabeth's jaw dropped for a long moment before she said, "You? Not wear a suit and tie to work?"
With a laugh, he replied, "Yeah, that was the initial reaction at the office too, but once the shock wore off, the response was incredible."
"What about Charlie?" Elizabeth voiced before she even realized it.
Georgiana giggled. "You'll have to set some rules, Will."
"You're right, I'd better talk to him tomorrow. I wouldn't want the CFO ruining it for everyone else."
The trio continued for another half hour, and the next night the Phillies defeated the Dodgers to become National League champs. Thursday's casual day went well, ending with a promise of another should the Phillies win the World Series.
Philadelphia was electrified through the next two weeks. The color red was everywhere, signs appeared in every shop window, and even the morning train seemed abuzz with chatter.
Will and Elizabeth watched all the games, and were as stunned as the rest of the city as Game 5 was finally suspended after the top of the sixth inning. They were glad they had, since it seemed all anyone could talk about the next day, even many of Will's colleagues across the country.
Wednesday night, Charlie and Jane came over, and after dinner, everyone, including Maggie, settled in the media room for the remainder of the game, and all watched attentively. Charlie declared the Phillies' win as the bottom of the eighth began, and demanded that Will turn off the television audio and turn on the radio. He was adamant, and Will finally conceded. Despite the sound being out of sync, they enjoyed listening to the local announcers, especially as Lidge struck out Hinske, and Harry Kalas cheered, "The Philadelphia Phillies are 2008 World Champions of baseball! And let the city celebrate!"
Everyone in the room cheered and hugged, and moments later Georgiana called to join in. Will put the phone on speaker, and the room was unusually loud and festive. She remained on the phone through the presentation of the trophy.
Just after Will hung up, they heard someone drive down the street, honking their horn. All eyes immediately turned to Charlie.
Everyone else cracked up, and when he was able, Will finally said, "Just making sure you weren't getting any ideas!"
Will and Elizabeth wore their jerseys to work again the next day, and they were far from alone.
Having heard of the celebratory parade the next day, Will's first order of business was to issue a memo to the entire office. It would be up to each person whether they worked from home or came into the office, and those who came in were expected to wear red! He also declared that the office would be officially closed during the parade so that everyone could feel free to go down and watch it.
Elizabeth, however, was expected at the office on Friday, so Will also decided to go in with her. They both wore "World Series Champions" shirts that Maggie had acquired for them.
All Thursday night, the news anchors recommended taking SEPTA into the city, so expecting a larger than normal crowd, they left the house early Friday morning. The heavy traffic as they approached Paoli Station consumed almost their entire buffer, and they were surprised to find that even their monthly permit parking lot was entirely full and closed.
With no other options, both sighed as they continued slowly down the road. The car crawled over the bridge, and when they could see down to the platform, they were amazed at the number of people standing there as two trains sped past. They looked at each other, and made their decision without words. When they finally reached Lancaster Avenue, Will took a left, and headed back home.
Elizabeth called into her office as they drove, and Will sent an email to his when they got home. They both spent a couple hours working, but when the impulse struck, Will went upstairs to seek out Elizabeth.
He quietly entered her office and stepped stealthily behind her chair. Once there, he bent down and wrapped his arms around her, bending low to kiss her ear and whisper a suggestion of how to spend the rest of the morning.
With a warm kiss, she accepted his offer, and they were not seen again until noon.
Maggie, of course, was completely prepared, with lunch set out on the table in the backyard and the parade coverage on the television. The crowds were huge, and 6ABC estimated it to be well in excess of a million people. Their presentation was excellent, and continued through the ceremony at Citizens Bank Park.
The early news that followed mostly covered the event - if there was other news this day, it apparently did not affect Philadelphia. Traffic cams showed few cars speeding along nearly empty highways, then switched to an overflowing Suburban Station. As Will turned off the television and led Elizabeth upstairs, he could not complain about how the month of October, and most especially this last day, had turned out.
Posted on: 2011-05-22
"So you and Will will be coming for Thanksgiving."
Elizabeth gritted her teeth and grasped her phone tighter. "No, Mom. Will usually spends Thanksgiving with his aunt and uncle, and since Jane's invited all of us to dinner on Saturday, we'll see all of you then."
"But Thursday is Thanksgiving! Everyone will be here. You've always come home."
"Everyone that will be there on Thursday will be at Jane's on Saturday. Mary will be home, right?"
"Yes, yes, she'll be home Wednesday. If you're so eager to see her, you should come. Maybe I can serve dinner a little later, and you can do both."
Elizabeth took a deep breath, trying to keep her mother from hearing it. "The Fitzwilliams live forty-five minutes away, in the opposite direction, and there'll be lots of people there to see and meet. We'll see you on Saturday."
Mrs. Bennet tried for another twenty minutes to change her daughter's mind, but Elizabeth held firm. She was saying goodbye when Will and the dogs walked into the room.
"Okay, Mom. We'll see you Saturday. Love you. Bye." She quickly hung up and placed the phone on her nightstand, petting the dogs who had rushed to her side. "Yeah, I love you guys too." She kissed each on the top of the head. "Now go lay down."
Will settled into the bed, and Elizabeth collapsed into his embrace. "Persistent, huh?"
She nodded. "Yeah, but it's done. She'll have to deal with our absence, and I'll," her voice suddenly dropped, "be meeting your entire family."
Will laughed and stroked her hair. "Not really. Aunt Catherine's out of the country." Otherwise we might not be going. "And you know Rich…" He shook his head. "I mean, I know he has issues, but how bad could his family really be?"
Elizabeth giggled. "They're not all like him, I hope!"
"They aren't insane – they're actually pretty normal. Uncle Earl is an oncologist at Fox Chase, and Aunt Ellen does volunteer work with organizations like ConKerr Cancer and Alex's Lemonade. David, Jack and Suzy are all married with kids. Sara's only a few months older than Georgie, and still in school. They can be lively – loud even – but Rich is one of a kind."
His descriptions helped soothe her anxiety for a few days, but by Thursday morning, Elizabeth was all too aware of the butterflies in her stomach. She tried to hide it, but wondered if Georgiana had picked up on it, as the younger woman spent the entire ride to Bryn Athyn recounting childhood memories.
As soon as Will put the car in park, he reached over and took Elizabeth's hand, raising it to kiss her fingers. "They're going to love you, Liz."
They were barely out of the car when Rich appeared. "Georgiebear!"
"Richie!" Georgie squealed, running to him and giving him a bear hug. "How's my car?" she asked.
"I've taken good care of it, I promise. Maybe we can take it for a joyride after dinner."
"Yes! I've missed her!"
Everyone laughed, but Rich answered, "You'd have missed 'her' just as much in Will's garage as in mine; but I did drive it here today just for you." He kissed the top of her head. "But right now, Sara's eager to see you; just too busy playing Barbies with the twits to come out."
"You're a mean uncle," she said, then quickly kissed his cheek and ran to the house.
Once she disappeared, Rich nodded at Will, then wrapped his arm around Elizabeth's waist and led her to the house. "I see my dour cousin hasn't told you all the Fitzwilliam horror stories and scared you off." When he caught her grin, he continued, "Hopefully he did give you some warning though."
Inside, he walked her straight into the large living room, not even allowing her to remove her jacket. She noticed that every head in the room turned to look at her, and she smiled shyly as he led her toward an older couple.
"Mom, Dad." He nodded and grinned as he spoke. "I'd like you to meet the love of my life," a small gasp came from behind them, "Elizabeth Bennet."
"Uh Rich," Will started to speak as he tried to push his cousin out of the way.
Rich kissed Elizabeth on the cheek quickly, then conceded and stepped aside. "Sadly, Will met her first, and you know I don't stand a chance with him around." He dramatically held his arm up to his brow.
A man spoke up from across the room. "Perhaps if you grew up a little someday, Richie!"
The older woman stood, shaking her head. "Please forgive Richard and David." She looked pointedly at each of them. "I thought I had raised them better."
Will's arm claimed Elizabeth's waist as he stepped beside her. "Elizabeth, I'd like you to meet my aunt and uncle, Ellen and Earl Fitzwilliam."
Ellen took Elizabeth's hand and looked quickly at the ring, then promptly embraced the younger woman. "Welcome to the family, Elizabeth! I'm so glad to finally meet you."
"Very much so," her husband added, kissing Elizabeth on the cheek, then stepping away, allowing his wife to take charge again.
She introduced each of her children and their spouses, and gushed over her youngest grandchild, gurgling in his mother's arms. "And my youngest is downstairs with the rest of our grandchildren, and apparently my niece, who barely stopped for hugs on her way through."
Will bristled. "Aunt Ellen, I'm sorry. I'll…"
"Oh relax, Will. Georgie hasn't seen Sara and the girls in ages. She doesn't need to be cooped up here with the stuffy old adults!" She patted him on the arm. "Now go hang up Elizabeth's jacket, then you can talk to your cousins while I have a nice chat with your fiancée."
After a moment, realizing he had really been dismissed, he stuttered, then turned to help Elizabeth remove her jacket. Meeting each woman's eyes briefly, he started back toward the front hall while Ellen reclaimed Elizabeth's hand and guided her to sit on the loveseat beside her.
"I really have been looking forward to meeting you," Ellen began. "It isn't very often that Richard seems so impressed with a woman. I almost believe his introduction," she teased, patting Elizabeth's hand. "And I've heard wonderful things about you from Will and Georgie too."
Elizabeth blushed, but started answering questions about her work. They were interrupted briefly as Earl handed a glass of white wine to each lady, but Ellen quickly regained control of the conversation. Soon they were talking about how well Elizabeth was settling into life at Will's house, growing more comfortable all the time.
About a half hour, or maybe a bit later, Ellen glanced at her watch. "Dinner should be ready soon," she announced to the room. "I'll check on it and tell the kids to get ready." She smiled at Elizabeth and patted her hand again before rising and leaving the room.
Her seat was not empty a minute before Will sat down beside Elizabeth. "Have you been waiting to pounce?" she teased.
"I suppose I have. While I do like my cousins, they are not you. It did look like you were having a nice conversation though."
Elizabeth smiled reassuringly. "We did. I think I can see where Rich gets his personality, though she's much more restrained. I like her."
"I'm glad," he answered, squeezing her hand.
Suddenly realizing how quiet the room had become, they both looked up, realizing they were the center of attention. "Nice job, Elizabeth," one of the men said. "You've got old Will good and caught. I never thought I'd see this!"
The others seemed to crack up at that, and after a moment, despite their heightened color, Will and Elizabeth joined in. They were glad, though, that distraction soon entered the room in the form of Georgiana carrying a small blond boy, with another young woman, obviously Sara, and four other children skipping behind.
The rest of the afternoon passed comfortably, if not quietly, and Elizabeth felt completely included. The men did abandon the women after the meal to watch the Dallas-Seahawks game, grumbling at the division rival's win, but rejoined them for dessert afterwards. Then the entire clan squeezed into the family room to watch the Eagles beat the Arizona Cardinals on the big screen.
Will managed a sofa seat, quite pleased with himself as he pulled Elizabeth into his lap. Most of the other guys sat or lay on the floor. A few barbs were thrown his way, but he deflected them with a smile.
It was nearly midnight when they left, hugging everyone that was still awake. Georgiana was asleep before they reached the Turnpike, and Elizabeth was fighting to repress her urge to yawn.
"So did you enjoy yourself?" Will asked.
"Very much," she replied. "They really made me feel included… and you know…" She paused long enough that Will glanced at her, noticing her sparkling eyes looking off in the distance. "Not a single person harassed me about our wedding plans."
Posted on: 2011-06-06
"You look beautiful," Will whispered in Elizabeth's ear as he came up behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist.
"Thank you, my love," she answered, fastening her earring. She tilted her head from side to side, then leaned back into his chest.
Both looked happily at their images in the mirror. Elizabeth spoke quietly, "I still don't know why Jane wanted us to dress tonight; we never had fancy dinners… And Charlie… Well, I've seen how his tastes run. I guess it's his family."
Will leaned his head forward and kissed her cheek. "Must be. I guess we'll figure that out when we get there. Are you ready?"
Elizabeth nodded, and they walked downstairs together. Once Georgiana was ready, they climbed into Will's car and left.
They arrived at Jane's house exactly on time, and were surprised to see the truck from Charlotte's catering business was the only vehicle in sight. Shrugging at each other, they exited the car and headed for the front door.
Before they were halfway up the walk, Charlie emerged. "Oh good, you're here!"
Will couldn't help replying, "But we seem to be the only ones. Did we get the time right?"
"Yes, yes." Charlie nodded as he held the door for them. "We asked you to come early. We have a favor to ask. But take off your jackets and make yourselves at home first."
The living room furniture had been moved around to accommodate a large dinner table, so they went to sit in the den, and Jane promptly appeared, hugging Elizabeth and then Georgiana. She began speaking right away, and with a little help from Charlie, explained their plans for the evening.
It took several minutes for Will and Elizabeth to comprehend, but with further assurances, they agreed to play their parts. Thinking it all a grand scheme, Georgiana also promised not to spoil the surprise.
It was only a few minutes later, when the next group arrived, that they realized how late they had been admitted to the conspiracy. Charlie went to answer the door, and returned with his sister, Louisa and her husband, Gil, a professional photographer, both carrying camera bags. A minute later, they were introduced to Charlie's Aunt Lillian, supported by Gil's brother, Rev. Gordon Hurst.
Louisa was so excited for her 'baby brother' and 'Janey Dear,' and her husband patted her hand and shook his head. "Only Charlie!" he laughed.
The next eager conspirator emerged from the kitchen. "Everything's ready, so I get to join the party now! Lizzy!" She practically skipped over to hug her friend. "Oh, Lizzy, you should see the cake!"
"In due time, Charlotte," Jane said. "In due time. I am glad you're going to join us though. You know I never expected you to work!"
"Oh, Jane, how could I not?" All the women smiled and laughed, while the men watched, not quite seeing the humor, but glad that the ladies were all pleased.
Charlie saw that they all had drinks, and everyone seemed to settle in to comfortable conversation. Charlotte and Louisa appeared to become fast friends, and Aunt Lillian was eager to get to know 'Sweet Jane's' sister.
When the doorbell rang a short time later, they were nearly all surprised. "We should probably go up front; the rest of the family should all be arriving now," Jane suggested before going to answer the door.
Will held Elizabeth's hand a little tighter than usual as they walked to the front of the house, but when they heard a small cacophony of young voices, Elizabeth squeezed gently. "That would be my cousins. I think you'll like my aunt and uncle."
Jane, carrying a young Danny Gardiner, handled the introductions of the adults, while Elizabeth was being hugged by Sophie and David. Will couldn't help but watch and smile at the image.
"My youngsters do adore their cousins." Ed Gardiner smiled, paying more attention to them as he held his hand out to Will. "Good to finally meet you."
"Yes, sir," William answered, shaking the older man's hand. "Elizabeth speaks of you often." He seemed to relax, but his hand quickly found Elizabeth's again, though he held it loosely.
Ed leaned forward and kissed Elizabeth's cheek. "I doubt she talks much about us old folks, but with all the pictures my wife puts on Facebook and the emails and chats, I wouldn't be surprised to hear our Lizzy's overwhelmed by these rugrats." He bent down and patted David, who was still attached to Elizabeth's leg, on the head.
Elizabeth laughed. "I could never get too much, Uncle Ed."
As they spoke, Maddie Gardiner and Jane collected the children and took them back to the den. A moment later, when Elizabeth glanced toward the front door, she wondered if they hadn't left on purpose – and why they hadn't invited her!
Will was still speaking with her Uncle Ed and hadn't noticed, but she must have stiffened or changed her grip, because he suddenly turned his head to her. Seeing her eyes, he followed her gaze to the stick figure in orange walking directly towards them.
Carrie smiled when she met his eyes, though it was neither warm, nor inviting. "Oh Will, it has been an age." She came right up to him and kissed his cheek – he stepped back, but she hardly noticed. "I am so glad you're here. I was so afraid it would just be that Jane's people!"
He heard Ed clear his throat and felt Elizabeth stand taller and start to step forward. Squeezing her hand, his voice was ice. "Caroline, I believe you know Jane's sister, Elizabeth… And this gentleman is Jane and Elizabeth's uncle. You had best realize…" he trailed off as a loud voice drew all eyes to the front door.
"Oh, Charlie Dear!" Mrs. Bennet effused as she pulled the young man into her embrace. "You are so good to have this lovely dinner. Where is my Janey?"
Every head in the room was pointed toward the scene – at least it seemed to Elizabeth – as Mrs. Bennet swept into the room a moment later. "Jane?" she called out. "Oh how lovely! Ja…" Her eyes found her second eldest. "Lizzy! Just look at you!" she gushed as she walked towards her. "You look beautiful! So grown up; so ladylike!"
Elizabeth had no chance to reply, but could feel her cheeks were fully aflame as her mother grabbed her left hand.
"I just love looking at this ring. It's so elegant." She looked up at Will for a moment and smiled broadly. "You're such a dear, Will."
Her focus then returned to her daughter. "Now, when are we going to sit down and start planning your wedding?"
As Elizabeth tried to evade her mother's questions, no one noticed as Louisa pulled the ashen orange-clad figure away from the group and out of the room.
"Fran, let the girl breathe." Mr. Bennet's voice came from behind as he placed a hand on her shoulder. "They have plenty of time to think and plan. Besides, this is Jane's party, so let's just enjoy the evening as she intended."
"Yeah, but what are her plans?" came a petulant voice from behind him. "We're all here and dressed up, and where's Jane?"
Elizabeth shook her head. "Lydia," she mouthed to Will.
"Everybody's here, great." Jane's crystalline voice rang from the doorway. "I'm so glad you all could come." She smiled brightly, then faced her youngest sister, never breaking stride. "Lyddie, you look lovely, and we'll explain after we enjoy a nice family dinner. Today seemed like the perfect opportunity to get everyone together, given that Aunt Lillian is down from New York and Mary and Georgie are both home from school. So if we're all ready, let's sit down."
Will took advantage of the distraction as people began to move to lead Elizabeth around the table. She was surprised to find Georgiana, Kitty and Mary together. Mary and Kitty had never gotten on well, despite being the closest in age of the sisters, and Elizabeth doubted they had much in common with Georgiana. Still, here they stood, whispering amongst themselves like the dearest friends.
"Lizzy!" Mary exclaimed, stepping away from the others to hug Elizabeth. "What a collection of people. We've had quite a time observing you."
"Yes," chimed in Georgiana, "I wondered if I should rescue you from Carrie, but before I had a chance, well, Mrs. Bennet did the job." Kitty and Mary laughed, though Will and Elizabeth seemed to miss the humor.
"Oh, big sis," Mary teased. "I feel for you, but I must say this is a lot more fun than making up cryptic names for nonexistent formulae." She winked. "Besides, I wanted to see you."
"And I'm glad to see you too, Mary. And you, Kitty." She held out an arm inviting her into the hug, an offer gladly accepted.
When the sisters separated, Elizabeth introduced Mary to Will, and after a few polite greetings, they all sat down at the table. Elizabeth watched the others take their places and was pleased to see that her mother sat between Mr. Bennet and Aunt Maddie; that would certainly help with her nerves. There were still two empty seats. She scanned – Carrie and Louisa were missing.
A young man and woman entered and began placing platters of food around the table and uncovering others. Elizabeth smiled at Charlotte, noting their efficiency, and within a few minutes they were gone. Mr. Bennet said grace, and everyone began to serve themselves and eat.
Carrie and Louisa slipped in quietly at some point, and the meal was enjoyed by all. Of course, Mrs. Bennet and Lydia couldn't be completely repressed, but their occasional exclamations seemed subdued.
When it was announced that dessert would be delayed, however, Lydia could no longer contain herself. "Well fine! Then what's this big deal tonight?"
Charlie looked at Jane and she nodded. He stood, then helped Jane to her feet. Grinning, he looked at everyone around the table, then announced, "Jane and I are getting married!"
"Oh! That's wonderful! An engagement party! I knew you could not be so beautiful for nothing! And at least you'll be more cooperative than Lizzy! I almost wonder if she even wants to get married the way she avoids discussing wedding plans!"
While everyone else must have been watching Mrs. Bennet, Elizabeth's eyes were downcast, and her face was flushed. Yet she couldn't hide the smirk she wore. She squeezed Will's hand under the table. Just wait, Mom.
Jane apparently didn't suffer the same affliction as her sister, and spoke up. "Mom, I think you misunderstand. We're… Mom, Charlie and I are getting married tonight." She glanced at Gordon Hurst, then at Charlie. "Now, in fact."
"What is this nonsense, Jane? You can't get married now! You need a dress, and a church, and we have to invite all our friends!"
"No, Mom," Jane spoke firmly. "We need a license and a minister, which we have. And we have our closest family and friends here."
"Are you pregnant?"
"No, we're not. We are getting married because we love each other, and it's what we want to do, and how we want to do it. If you can't understand it, you don't have to stay. I love you, Mom, but you are not going to ruin my wedding, so decide now."
Mr. Bennet was patting his wife's shoulder, while Maddie whispered in her ear, trying to calm her. As her breathing slowed a little, Mr. Bennet looked up to his eldest. "Are you sure about this, Jane?"
She smiled. "Never more certain, Daddy."
He took a deep breath and looked to his wife, then back up. "All right, Janey, Charlie. Do I still get to give you away?"
Jane released Charlie's hand and rushed around the table to hug her father. "Of course you do."
With that drama over, Elizabeth looked around the table. Mrs. Bennet was whispering to Maddie, and Louisa had her arm around a shocked, but silent, Carrie, whispering in her ear. Everyone else seemed to be happy, if still surprised, at the proceedings.
Gordon Hurst stood. "Well, I suppose there's no time like the present. Shall we?"
"Oh yes," Jane replied with a broad grin. "Let's do it."
Gordon walked over and stood in front of the fireplace, and was quickly joined by Charlie, Will and Elizabeth. There was no formal procession, but Mr. Bennet held back Jane and walked her over slowly. Gil Hurst went almost unnoticed as he wandered about the room snapping pictures.
The ceremony was quick, and Jane absolutely glowed with happiness as she recited her vows.
Almost as soon as Charlie and Jane were pronounced husband and wife, a young man appeared with a tray of champagne flutes, and the couple was promptly toasted. Most everyone then moved from the table and mingled, each taking a turn to congratulate the happy couple. Louisa remained at Carrie's side, and Maddie at Mrs. Bennet's. Lydia still made the occasional loud remark, but was mostly ignored.
No one noticed when Charlotte disappeared, but everyone looked as she returned with her catering staff and a small, but beautiful three-tier wedding cake. The celebration continued for some time, and it was nearly eleven when Charlie and Jane finally had their house to themselves.
Georgiana chatted and giggled most of the drive home, but headed straight for her room when they got there.
Will and Elizabeth let out the dogs before heading up, but were also soon climbing into bed.
"Would you want to get married like that?" Elizabeth asked.
Will pulled her closer and kissed her ear. "I think I'd prefer something more traditional – a church, flowers, invitations and all that, though I did like the intimacy. I'd rather not have a huge wedding, but I'll agree to whatever you want. As long as you're there, becoming Mrs. Darcy, I don't care when, where or how many people there are."
Posted on: 2011-06-10
The first Saturday of December was spent getting the house in a festive spirit. Elizabeth and Maggie eagerly sorted through the boxes as Will brought them down from the attic. Several of the decorations had stories, which Will and Maggie were happy to relate. Eager to hear of Will's Christmases past, Elizabeth encouraged them. No one minded the work, especially as they admired the results, relaxing with cups of eggnog by the living room fire that evening.
After work on Tuesday, Will and Elizabeth took a cab to Old City for the Philabundance Food Drive by Geeks Who Give at National Mechanics. Not having been there before, they were interested in checking out the bar and restaurant, though Will admitted he was not sure about meeting and greeting the Geeks.
They arrived just before six, making a large food donation and finding seats at the bar. Elizabeth recognized a few people and chatted a bit. She introduced Will to some of them, and while he was polite, he retained his quiet reserve.
When one young man came up behind Elizabeth and wrapped his arms around her waist, Will tightened his grip on her hand. She, however, freed her hand and turned to hug the man, while Will had to fight every possessive impulse to draw her back. His restraint was rewarded a moment later as she introduced her former school friend, John Something or Other, and then identified Will for the first time as her fiancé, giving him the most endearing smile and slipping her hand back in his.
Overall, the evening went well, and when they got home, Will and Elizabeth each went to their offices.
Will turned on the Flyers game and watched for a few minutes as he made his VPN connection to work, but it was soon in the background of his consciousness as he read his messages and composed responses. He was scanning a report about an hour later when the game's final horn sounded, then ended abruptly. Looking up, he saw Elizabeth, sporting a mischievous grin and standing by the television, wearing one of his hockey jerseys – he scanned her from head to foot – and quite possibly only his jersey.
His report quickly forgotten, he was at her side in a heartbeat, pulling her into his arms and kissing her neck. He slid his hands down her back, and his suspicions were confirmed. He squeezed her buttocks and whispered in her ear, "To what do I owe this surprise?"
Elizabeth pulled herself closer and slid her hands under the waistband of his trousers. "Well, I know the gathering tonight was not your cup of tea, so I wanted to thank you… and we can celebrate the Flyers win." Leaning her head back, she saw the unbridled passion in his eyes. Needless to say, they did not leave his study for some time.
The next day, Elizabeth's boss announced that they were canceling the company's holiday party. Though they were a small, independent fund manager, the news of the economy and the problems with large investment bankers had caused them to consider options for maintaining, or possibly improving, their image. All monies set aside for the event were to be donated to CityTeam, and they encouraged their employees to donate food, clothes or time. While several employees were disappointed, Elizabeth liked the idea and looked into how she could help.
Will grinned, but shook his head, when she told him about the situation. "I wish I could do that, but our company party includes customers and managers from some of our other East Coast offices. How I'd love not to have to shake hands and make speeches all night!" He did, however, take the opportunity to tell her that his office was collecting donations for Operation Gratitude. They continued their discussion for some time, addressing the various charities they supported, and which ones they would make holiday or year-end contributions to.
A little more than a week later, Elizabeth stood in the Bartol Atrium of the Franklin Institute, wearing a new crimson cocktail dress. She could still feel Will's hand on her back when Rich hugged her, but even more interesting was the concerned expression on his date's face.
After he introduced her to Will and Elizabeth, Rich moved on to Charlie and Jane. "Congratulations, Mrs. Bingley." He lightly kissed Jane's cheek. "Our Charlie Boy is one very lucky man."
Jane's smile was luminous as she thanked him, but Elizabeth's eyes again drifted to Rich's date. She couldn't help thinking this poor girl would be in for a very long night if she was going to worry about every woman Rich greeted.
A slight change to the pressure on her back drew Elizabeth's attention back to Will, and she smiled up at him, a gesture he returned as they stepped a few paces away to greet another couple.
They spent an hour and a half slowly wandering between the Atrium and Franklin Hall, Will introducing her to his fellow board members and several customers and employees of Darcy, Inc. Elizabeth was warm and friendly with everyone, and was pleased to see that Will, whose left hand was almost always on her back, seemed friendlier and more approachable than he typically did at large gatherings. I suppose he should be, this is his party.
When it was time for dinner, Will led Elizabeth to a large table where Jane and Charlie sat, along with three other couples Elizabeth had met that evening. He helped her into her seat, then took her hand, squeezing it lightly before placing a kiss on the back of it. "Wish me luck."
She smiled up into his wide brown eyes. "Luck." He turned, and her expression fell a little, but her eyes remained fixed on him as he walked toward the small stage.
"He doesn't need it," the older lady to Elizabeth's right said.
Elizabeth turned. Sandra Nichols, wife of a board member.
"Just listen." She patted Elizabeth's arm and pointed to the stage.
Will stood at the microphone wearing a small grin as his eyes scanned the room. "Thank you, everyone, for joining us for our little celebration tonight…"
Elizabeth listened to every word, but had to nod her head when she realized Mrs. Nichols was right. Will appeared to be perfectly comfortable standing before the large crowd, without notes, summarizing the changes in the company during the year, mentioning some of their bigger projects and recognizing several employees and clients, pointing them out easily from where he stood. She was certain everyone in the room was listening just as attentively.
Even as he closed with, "Enjoy your dinner and have a safe and enjoyable holiday season," it took her a moment to realize he was finished. Most of the room was already applauding when she joined in.
"See what I mean?" Mrs. Nichols' voice came from beside her. "Will's been able to do that since he was a child." Elizabeth nodded, dumbly she felt, but the lady continued before she could come up with a response. "What I enjoyed tonight was watching you two through the meet and greet. I've never seen him so comfortable; but maybe that's because all he did was introduce you, and let you do all the talking."
Elizabeth tilted her head, but then had to smile. That was exactly what had happened!
"From what I've seen, you two balance each other very well. I'm happy for you two." Mrs. Nichols patted Elizabeth's wrist, but then looked up and grinned at Will as he arrived back at the table. "Lovely speech, as always."
"Thank you," he replied as he sat, grasping Elizabeth's left hand in the process.
The rest of the evening passed uneventfully. Everyone at the dinner table seemed to converse easily, accepting Jane and Elizabeth fondly into a group of people who had known each other for years. Will and Elizabeth danced a couple of times and mingled a bit more.
They were very happy when the evening came to an end. Glad for the short distance and the above freezing temperature, they walked with Jane and Charlie around Logan Circle to the Four Seasons Hotel, where they were to spend the night, not wanting to tempt the late hour with one too many drinks.
Once in their room, it didn't take long for Will to remove Elizabeth's crimson dress, and almost as quickly, his expensive suit joined it for the night on the hotel room floor.
Posted on: 2011-06-16
The windows were just starting to brighten as Elizabeth slipped out of Will's embrace and turned off the alarm clock. When he did not stir, she frowned; he usually started to awaken by this point. Yet he continued to sleep soundly, so she got up and went to the bathroom.
A few minutes later, she emerged, and noticing Will's still unmoving form, decided to grab her robe and go let the dogs out.
"Leaving without your Christmas present?"
She turned, and with a mischievous impulse, slipped back under the covers beside him. Her hand slid down his chest as she leaned over and kissed him. "Uhmmm… I've never gotten one of these for Christmas before," she purred.
Will pulled her to him and kissed her. "Perhaps a new Christmas tradition for us both." He pushed her shoulders back slightly. "However, that's not what I meant."
Elizabeth tilted her head and gazed at him questioningly as his left hand reached under his pillow.
"This is your present." Even in the dim light, she could see he held a fine gold chain with a shiny floating heart on it.
"It's beautiful," she whispered.
"Just like you." He opened the clasp and held up the necklace for her.
Leaning forward, she whispered "Thank you," and kissed his cheek while he fastened the chain behind her neck. When his hands relaxed, her lips moved to his. "I'll have to think of some way to show my gratitude."
"I'm sure you'll come up with something."
They remained abed for some time, but their privacy ended when they heard a knock on their door. "Wake up sleepyheads. Santa's been here, and we're getting impatient!"
"We'll be down in a minute. Let the dogs out when they come down," Will called back.
"Okay, okay. I'm going down now. But don't go getting all distracted. We have presents to unwrap and places to go!"
"All right, Georgie. Enough. We'll be down in a couple."
With the mood completely destroyed, they quickly donned their pajamas and warm robes, opened the door for the dogs, and headed for the stairs.
They were met in the front hall by Tiffany. "It's about time! Grandma's bringing coffee, so get in here so we can open prezzies!" Following her, they entered the room just as she sat down on the floor next to Georgiana at the base of the tree. With only a little light from the windows and the fire in the fireplace, the tree sparkled beautifully. The Bing Crosby Christmas carols playing softly in the background completed the scene.
Elizabeth knew she was smiling, but could say nothing with the tightness she felt in her chest. As Will led her to sit on the sofa, she could imagine similar scenes playing out in future years.
"Merry Christmas, Will, Lizzy!" Maggie called cheerfully as she entered the room with a tray of coffee, hot chocolate and biscotti. "From the looks of things, we'd best let the girls get started."
"I know. I know," Will grumbled, but he couldn't keep a straight face. As soon as Maggie set down her tray and took her seat, Will nodded. Gifts were handed to them and paper began to fly over by the tree.
The girls made quick work of the ribbons and tags, boxes and bags, and everyone was thrilled with their presents.
"Unfortunately, kiddo," Will addressed his sister, who was playing with her new iPhone, "you don't have time to set that up now. Aunt Ellen and Uncle Earl will be waiting for us."
"You think I can take my notebook and do it there?"
"You'll probably be able to, but your cousins come first."
"I know." She still grinned broadly as she popped up from the floor. "Thanks, guys." With a quick hug for Elizabeth and a peck on her brother's cheek, she headed for the stairs. "I'll be ready in a few."
Though it was tempting to do otherwise, Will and Elizabeth wasted no time getting showered and dressed, and half an hour later, Will pulled his car out of the driveway.
The trip started out quietly, with music from WMMR's Christmas Marathon as the only diversion.
Georgiana seemed to be nodding off in the back seat, until her cell phone chirped. Eyes suddenly wide, she began tapping away at the keypad.
After several minutes of incessant chirping and tapping from the back seat, Elizabeth asked, "Who is so interesting and talkative this early on Christmas morning?"
"It's Mary," Georgiana replied. "No one else there is up yet, and she's so excited about you guys and your parents sending her to the Rose Bowl." Will grinned and glanced over at a smiling Elizabeth. "I was telling her that my roommate, Tracey, will be happy to show her around since her boyfriend will hardly be free, and I'll have band practice every day leading up to the parade."
"Her boyfriend?" Elizabeth asked.
"Yeah, Jeremy is on Penn State's football team; I thought you knew."
Georgiana resumed her tapping as Elizabeth replied, "I knew she was tutoring him, but not that they were dating."
"Really?" It was Georgiana's turn to sound surprised. "They've been going out for more than a year…" After a little more tapping and another chirp, she added, "She doesn't want your mom to know. I guess I can see." She stopped abruptly, dropping her head and biting her lip.
Elizabeth nodded. "I'm sure. You should have heard her when she found out about Will – or I'm glad you didn't."
"Well, at least she had a bigger distraction than you guys last night with Jane's big announcement… Are you excited about being an aunt?"
"Not nearly as much as my mother is about being a grandmother, but yeah, I'm happy for them. Surprised – I'm going to have to have a talk with her about all these surprises she's not shared with her closest sister first – but happy."
They soon arrived at the Fitzwilliams', and were scarcely out of the car when they were met and hugged by Rich and David. The guys helped them carry in the packages from the trunk; and once inside, Aunt Ellen greeted them anxiously, encouraging them to remove their coats and steering them into the warm and cheery living room.
The Fitzwilliam home looked much like their own had: a fire burned, the tree was brightly lit, and Christmas carols played softly from hidden speakers – though the tree was nearly twice the size of theirs, and the music was provided by Frank Sinatra. The most marked difference, however, was the number of people, and the knowledge that there were more to come.
After greeting everyone, Georgiana went to sit by the window with Sara while Will and Elizabeth helped themselves to coffee and squeezed in together in the corner of the large sectional sofa.
"They're here!" Sara called suddenly, and Rich and David were out the door.
"Wonderful!" exclaimed Aunt Ellen. "Why don't you make sure everyone upstairs is ready and Georgie can distract the twins and help them with their coats."
Elizabeth watched as the girls jumped up and left the room. She was amazed by Ellen Fitzwilliam's management of the household. It was 9:10, and the only child she'd seen was Baby Jacob, sleeping in his daddy's arms.
A couple Elizabeth hadn't met at Thanksgiving entered the room and were quickly introduced to her before adding their presents to the piles around the tree. They had hardly begun when loud childish voices were heard in the front hall.
"Just another minute," Uncle Earl called. "Santa's been here, but Uncle Joe and Aunt Kathy brought more." He watched as the young couple stood and headed to a pair of chairs at the side of the room. "Ready?" When they nodded, he grinned broadly and raised his voice, "Merry Christmas, little ones! Come and get 'em!"
Nine young children, followed by Georgiana and Sara, entered the room, making a beeline for the tree. The older girls helped the littlest ones find their presents, then began passing boxes to the adults.
Elizabeth couldn't help watching the children. Their excitement and fascination was the true joy of Christmas. She held an unopened gift on her lap and leaned her head against Will's shoulder. His arm immediately wrapped around her and pulled her closer, and they just watched for a minute or so. She almost started when she heard him whisper, "Not right away… but someday." Not sure he had even meant to speak or was addressing her, she nodded and continued to watch the children.
Once the presents were all distributed and unwrapped, the day progressed much like Thanksgiving – friendly banter, a huge meal, football, and a sense of belonging. Georgiana must have managed to get her iPhone set up, as she spent the entire ride home with earbuds in her ears and fingers tapping away at the screen.
Early the next morning, all the ladies of the house left in Will's Audi, much to his chagrin, to shop the day away. It wasn't Elizabeth's ideal, wandering amongst the crowds at the King of Prussia Mall, but she did enjoy the company, and found a couple of bargains.
That evening, Mary joined them as they feasted on leftover turkey, prime rib, ravioli and octopus salad*. For a house that had hosted not a single holiday dinner, there were plenty of leftovers. After dinner, Mary opened her new Apples to Apples game, and everyone played together. They called it a night about 9 PM, since Georgiana and Mary had an early flight to Los Angeles in the morning.
The remainder of the last week of the year passed quietly. Will and Elizabeth had both taken the time off work, but still managed to get some done and resolved a couple crises here and there.
Will would have preferred to spend New Year's Eve at home, but in thanks for his large donation to the American Association for Cancer Research, he had been given tickets to the New Year's Eve Philly City Gala, and Elizabeth wanted to go. When he saw her descend the stairs in her new dark blue evening dress, he was tempted to ask her to stay, but he didn't.
They spent the last hours of 2008 shaking hands and conversing civilly with people they barely knew. The rooms were beautiful though, and the buffet magnificent; and they were supporting an excellent cause.
As midnight approached, they took to the dance floor, swaying slowly together, arms around each other. Elizabeth's head was resting against Will's shoulder when the music stopped and the countdown began. "Will?" she whispered and stood on her tiptoes to peck his cheek. "Do you want to hear my New Year's resolution?"
"Six. Five." Everyone else was counting, but Will quietly said, "Sure."
"I resolve to be Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy by the end of the year."
People were blowing horns and shouting "Happy New Year!" but Will's first action of 2009 was engaging his future wife in a loving kiss.
* Growing up Protestant in Southern California, I was quite unfamiliar with the tradition of The Feast of the Seven Fishes, which is celebrated by many Italian Catholic families here in the Philadelphia area.
With the late night before, Will and Elizabeth did not emerge from their room until nearly ten. They were glad to see that Maggie had not put a great effort into breakfast, but had left bagels for them to toast. As they ate inside the warm kitchen, they watched the dogs romping happily together out in the frozen yard.
Just after eleven, Will and Elizabeth, followed closely by Hamlet and Hershey, entered the media room, carrying their laptops. Maggie was already seated comfortably with her sewing, watching the preliminaries for the on HGTV, as Georgiana had suggested, since it was one of the few networks that showed the marching bands instead of commercials.
Though none of them had routinely watched the parade before, they enjoyed the floats, bands and equestrians. When the USC band finally appeared, they watched closely. Ryan was easily found with his trombone in the front rank, but try as they might, they could not spot Georgiana with her piccolo. Will even rewound the DVR, but they had no luck.
After the parade, they ate lunch, and went about the rest of the day like any other quiet afternoon at home. They reconvened in the media room at 5:00 with hot wings and chips to watch the Rose Bowl game. While they officially had no preference for Mary's Penn State or Georgiana's USC, they were disappointed when USC scored 24 unanswered points, clearly dominating their opponent.
Georgiana was not seen during the halftime show, but a pan over the band during the third quarter finally showed her. Will kissed Elizabeth's cheek with a loud smack when she pointed her out.
Afterwards, Will switched the channel to watch the Mummers Fancy Brigades, and Elizabeth snuggled beside him, glad that Will also seemed to enjoy this Philadelphia tradition. Halfway through, Elizabeth poked Will and pointed over to Maggie nodding off in her chair, despite the loud and lively music from the television. Will grinned at the sight and held his finger up to his lips, mouthing a silent "Shh."
By the time the show was over, Maggie was awake again, and was the first person up, collecting bowls to take back to the kitchen.
"We'll help too," Elizabeth said as she slowly rose from the sofa. She watched as Will also got up, reaching toward the ceiling, stretching his back. "I know," she said, twisting from side to side, "I don't recall the last time I sat and watched so much television in one day."
Will nodded his head and bent to kiss her cheek. They took the last of the plates and glasses to the kitchen, let the dogs out for a few minutes, then slowly climbed the stairs to their bedroom.
Both Will and Elizabeth worked at home on Friday. Via text messages, they learned that the Penn State football team was spending the day at Disneyland; and not surprisingly, so were Georgiana and Mary. They shared and enjoyed the texts and MMS pictures sent by their sisters that day, and throughout the rest of Mary's visit to Los Angeles.
After nearly two full weeks off, Will and Elizabeth had mixed feelings about returning to their offices, but nonetheless, they easily returned to their routine. In her bits of free time during the day, Elizabeth found herself looking at wedding idea websites.
When Will and Jane were both unavailable for lunch on Wednesday, Elizabeth grabbed a sandwich and closed her office door before calling Charlotte. They chatted about the usual stuff for several minutes before Elizabeth turned the conversation.
"So, Char, I actually had a reason for calling. I have a couple of questions for you."
"If I wanted to hire your catering company – but not you – what would I have to do?"
There was a short pause before Charlotte answered. "Well, I guess the first questions are when and where?"
"I don't really know yet. That's kinda why I'm asking you."
"Okay, so what kind of event is this… Omigod! You're actually going to marry your gorgeous piece of beefcake!"
Elizabeth laughed. "Yeah… that's the plan; though we haven't really talked about it much yet. I'm just trying to get some ideas."
"There are lots of great places in the area. You'd probably like someplace like the Chester County Historical Society. Or perhaps Mr. High Society might prefer the Radnor Hunt Club. I can send you some links."
"That's great, Char."
"Have you thought about any of the rest of it? Are you going to try doing everything yourself, or will you hire a wedding planner?"
"I have no idea."
"I already know who I'll use to plan my wedding. If only I could find the groom!"
"Charlotte!" Elizabeth teased.
"I know. But seriously, I do work with a lot of good wedding planners, and there are a couple I think you'd really like. Of course, I'm sure you can find tons of info online if you want to do it yourself. I'll go ahead and send the names though."
"So, what's the other thing you wanted to ask?"
"I wanted to see if you'll be one of my bridesmaids."
The more Elizabeth thought about weddings in the next few days, the more she began to wonder. Will never mentioned it. She began to wonder if he was having second thoughts… but then, he'd been as attentive and affectionate as ever.
On their way home from the Flyers 4-1 defeat of the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night, Elizabeth watched Will as he drove. Finally, she decided to ask. Reaching over, she turned off the radio, and Will glanced over at her serious expression.
"What's wrong, my love?" he asked.
"I've just been wondering… Since New Years… you haven't said anything about getting married. I was just…"
Will reached over and took her hand, bringing it up to his lips while keeping his eyes on the road. "You made me very happy when you said you wanted to get married. It's been on my mind almost constantly." He smiled and kissed her hand again. "I've told you I will marry you whenever and wherever you want. I guess I haven't said anything because I don't want to jinx it."
"Seriously?" she gazed at him.
He didn't answer immediately. "Elizabeth, there's nothing I want more than for you to be my wife. But I don't want to pressure you."
"But don't you want to be involved in the planning?"
"I'm sure I'll be happy with whatever you want, but I would like to plan with you."
Elizabeth grinned. "I'd like that. Maybe we can talk to Rev. Johnston after service tomorrow morning?"
Will squeezed her hand. "I love you, Liz."
"I love you too, Will."
Posted on: 2011-06-22
After service early Sunday morning, Will and Elizabeth spoke to the pastor about their plans, and made arrangements to sit down with him on Monday night. Before they left, he recommended that if they had not already, they should be prepared to discuss the type of service they wanted, the location and the date.
As they drove home, it was immediately concluded that both wanted a traditional service, and as much as they liked the intimate little chapel, they would have to opt for the main sanctuary to accommodate family and the closest of friends. The answers to other issues were not quite as obvious.
They sat together checking out wedding planning websites, quickly agreeing on many aspects, while opting to consider others later. Time quickly accosted them though, and soon the computer was put away as they needed to get ready for Charlie and Jane and a few other friends to arrive to watch the Eagles playoff game against the Giants.
They found little more time to discuss wedding plans afterwards, or on Monday for that matter. Still, they felt confident as they entered the church just before 6 PM.
"I am so pleased for you, Will, Lizzy," Rev. Johnston greeted as he shook their hands. "Marriage is a big step, and should not be entered into lightly. That said, I think you will do well."
He went on to explain the church's requirements that they meet with him twice more and that they attend several of the couples meetings during the Education Hour on Sundays. They then discussed the various issues Will and Elizabeth had agreed upon.
"What about the date?" the minister asked. "Do you have something in mind?"
"We're not really..." Will started to say before he felt Elizabeth's hand on his arm.
"I was thinking June… unless everything's booked then," she said, glancing between the men.
Rev. Johnston looked at Will, who nodded and smiled, adding, "Elizabeth knows I would marry her tomorrow. I suppose I can wait until then."
"Then let us check the calendar," the minister replied, withdrawing a planner from his desk and opening it to June. "It appears the 6th and the 27th are completely free. Or…" he considered for a moment, "we could fit you in late afternoon on the 13th, depending on how much time is needed for flowers and decorations. Or were you thinking of a Friday night?"
Elizabeth looked at Will, her eyes sparkling as she smiled, then turned back to Rev. Johnston. "Saturday the 6th it is."
They stayed for the 7PM Bible study, but as Will drove home, Elizabeth texted Mary and Georgiana, then called Jane. "I hope your calendar's free…" she teased her sister, sharing all the details.
Over the next several days, Will and Elizabeth began making arrangements. Elizabeth began using WeddingDetails to organize her plans, and Charlotte helped her to contact potential places for the reception. In a short while, she began to feel like the pieces were coming together.
The biggest remaining problem was that she still had not broken the news to her mother. Finally, nearly two weeks later, Elizabeth drove out to spend Saturday morning at her parents' house. Her parents' reactions were quite predictable: Mr. Bennet was glad to have as little trouble in the business as possible, while his wife was terribly upset with her daughter.
While she was thrilled with her eldest child's marriage, she lamented having been denied involvement in Jane's wedding. Now Elizabeth was proposing to do her no better. She was most upset that Elizabeth had chosen to wed in her new church rather than theirs, but Elizabeth had not been swayed.
Using her notebook, Elizabeth tried to show her parents the arrangements she had made, but Mr. Bennet was soon bored, and returned to his study. Without his presence, Mrs. Bennet became more emotional, though she could not find fault with Elizabeth's choices, try as she may.
Mrs. Bennet continued to press her daughter, and eventually convinced her to visit a nearby bridal shop together the next weekend.
While not eager for the experience of shopping with her mother, Elizabeth knew that Mrs. Bennet had a good sense of quality and value, if not style. She would have to make it work.
After lunch with both parents and Kitty, Elizabeth returned home, and immediately sought out Will. Not surprisingly, she found him in his study, and in moments was curled up in his arms. She smiled to herself. As long as she always found her way back here, everything would be fine.
Posted on: 2011-06-26
Elizabeth pulled up before the Sweetheart's Bridal Shop just before one the next Saturday, and paused to collect herself before turning off the engine. She would have to keep her wits about her. She took a few deep, calming breaths, then turned the key and pulled it out. Just then, she heard an insistent tapping on her window. Taking one more breath, she turned.
There, peering in her window, was her youngest sister, Lydia. As her heart seemed to plummet in her chest, she forced an awkward smile and raised her hand in a sort-of-wave as she reached for the door handle. I can do this/ Elizabeth told herself. "Hey, Lyddie."
"Oh, Lizzy, I'm so excited!" Lydia exclaimed as she stepped back from the door. "When Mom told me about this, I just had to come along! You know I know all about the latest fashions. I can help you choose your dress! And the bridesmaids' dresses! I'm going to be a bridesmaid, right? Mom said I can have a new dress!"
Elizabeth held up both palms. "Slow down, Lydia." She tried to conceal a sigh in her exhale. "Mom may buy you a dress, but you will not be a bridesmaid. It is going to be a small wedding, and only Jane, Charlotte and Mary will be in the wedding."
Lydia turned to their mother, who stood a few feet behind her. "You promised! I want to be a bridesmaid!"
We haven't even entered the shop… Elizabeth closed her eyes for a moment, then opened them, looking sternly at the other two. "This is not open to discussion. Shall we go inside?"
They were greeted immediately by the saleslady, and while they spoke, Lydia wandered off, returning moments later with a heavily beaded, and certainly very expensive, wedding gown. The woman frowned and took it from her, hanging it up nearby.
She had just led them over to a desk and let Mrs. Bennet and Elizabeth sit when Lydia returned with another dress – what there was of it… "I love this one!" Lydia exclaimed. Elizabeth blinked. She couldn't imagine wearing, let alone being married in something cut so low… or so high.
"It's lovely," Mrs. Bennet answered evenly, taking the dress, giving it a quick look and handing it to the saleslady, "but you know we are here for Lizzy." Noticing Lydia's pout, she continued, "You know your tastes and Lizzy's have nothing in common. You may look at wedding dresses, but you cannot try them on, and do not bring them over here to bother us and this nice lady who's trying to help us. Okay?"
Lydia crossed her arms and frowned, but did not answer.
Mrs. Bennet forced a smile and touched Lydia's arm. "And don't forget, sweetie, I said I would buy you a dress. Since you apparently won't need a bridesmaid's dress, you can look for one for the Valentine's dance or the prom. Okay, Lydia?"
Lydia's face lit up, "Okay, Mom," and she wandered off again.
Elizabeth had closed her eyes and reverted to her deep breathing techniques until she felt her mother's hand on hers. "It's all right now, Lizzy. Let's get back to discussing what you want."
Nodding slowly, Elizabeth looked at the saleslady. "I'm sorry," she said quietly.
"Don't you worry about it," the lady answered sweetly, a bit of a southern drawl suddenly apparent as she met Elizabeth's eye and smiled. "Let's get back to your dress, hon."
One last deep breath. Elizabeth smiled. "I know strapless gowns have been fashionable for a while now, but I don't think I can wear one."
"Oh, but Lizzy, you would look so lovely in one of those. It would certainly display your assets to best advantage."
Caught for a moment, trying to recall the last time her mother had called her lovely, or anything so complimentary, it took a moment for the latter remark to catch up to Elizabeth, but when it did, she suddenly blushed crimson. "That's actually one of the reasons I don't want one, Mom," she whispered.
"There are many different types of strapless bodice. Would you consider trying one on? Or is it completely out of the question?"
Elizabeth flipped through some of the pages of the display book in front of her, all full of beautiful women in strapless gowns. She looked up, replying, "I don't think so."
"Oh, Lizzy!" her mother muttered.
"That's fine," the lady said softly. "It does limit our choices a bit, but there are a couple of designers who have some lovely dresses, and I'm sure you'll find something you like." She pulled out a large book from behind her, and they looked through it, narrowing down Elizabeth's choices.
Eventually they had a short list, and the saleslady looked up their stock in the computer. "This one," she said, pointing to a picture of the one with the most lace and beadwork, "we only have in a 2. I can show it to you, but we'd have to order one for you to try it on."
"We'll keep that option open," Elizabeth said, quickly glancing at her mother, who had encouraged her to consider it.
"We have these two that should fit you, and this one is a bit larger – you can still try on, to get an idea how it looks, even if it is a little loose." Elizabeth nodded. "Only one of these is out here right now. I'll get one of the girls to bring out the others, while we start with the one already out."
Elizabeth liked the cut of the first dress, but was not really pleased with all the lace on the bodice. Her mother, however, could barely contain her praises.
The next one was Elizabeth's initial choice. It was simple, but beautiful with buttons running the whole length of the back. Even with the lady's expert tucking and pulling, dress was obviously too large, but Elizabeth still liked it.
Once she tried on the final dress, she knew it was the one. Elizabeth turned to see every angle, and posed, and grinned. Mrs. Bennet could find no fault, surprisingly. Even the fit was nearly perfect – well, except for the length, but that came as no surprise.
Mrs. Bennet then wanted to discuss bridesmaid dresses. Elizabeth took a moment to collect herself, then told her mother that Jane, Charlotte and Mary would be involved in that choice, and as none of them were there, she would not be dealing with them today. She then suggested her mother go find Lydia.
Once Mrs. Bennet walked away, the saleslady took Elizabeth's measurements and led her back to the desk, where she began filling out the order form on her computer. They also discussed scheduling an appointment with Jane, Charlotte, and maybe Mary, if she could make it; then they would all need one in May for final fittings and alterations.
They were just finishing up when Lydia flounced over. "Oh, Lizzy, I got the best dress ever! Katie Wilson will be so jealous!"
Their mother appeared behind her, carrying the dress bag. "Are you about done with the paperwork?" she asked.
"Almost," the lady answered. Elizabeth answered a couple more questions, and the lady began to explain the payment options.
"No, no, no!" Mrs. Bennet interrupted, holding out a credit card. "I'll pay for it all now. Lizzy's not to pay anything."
Elizabeth looked up to her mother in surprise. "What…" she started to phrase a question.
"You have insisted on making most of your arrangements, Elizabeth Bennet. The least you can let your father and me to do is to buy your dress. I will hear no arguments from you either. This is a done deal. Understand?"
Elizabeth nodded mutely.
As they walked out the door a few minutes later, Elizabeth hugged her mother. "Thanks, Mom. I love you."
Posted on: 2011-06-30
Will dropped a quick kiss on Elizabeth's cheek. "It should be fun. I hear Lindsey's a great instructor." He held her hand firmly as they walked toward the "bunny slope."
Even with the Poconos so close, Elizabeth had never been skiing. Will loved the sport though, so she knew she had to try. In the last couple weeks, they had discussed it, and she had watched several instructional videos online. They had also gone through Georgiana's old equipment and found a pair of boots and a snowsuit - it was pink - that fit. So now she was ready. At least that was what she told herself as she gripped his hand tighter.
They had no trouble finding her instructor, and after introductions, Will wished her luck and departed, promising to be back by the time her lesson was over.
Equipment and safety were the first issues, and Lindsey was pleased to see that Elizabeth had done her homework. Quite soon, Elizabeth was on her skis, learning about stances and how to use the poles. She was pleased to think she understood it all, and was surprised how eager she was to put this knowledge to practice.
The payoff was immediate: she loved the feeling of the cold air brushing her cheeks as she pushed off and gained momentum. Turning was not as easy as she thought it would be, but she would get it, she assured herself. Stopping, however… well that didn't work at all. She stuttered and stumbled… and ended up with her butt in the snow.
Elizabeth, of course, was not one to give up easily; no sooner had she fallen than she was up, making her way back to the top to try again. With new tips and advice (like relaxing her legs more as she leaned in to change direction), each pass got easier - except for the stopping.
She was sitting in the snow for the fourth time when a child no bigger than seven turned beside her, executing a perfect stop while showering Elizabeth with snow. "You okay, lady? Did you break anything?" the little girl asked.
"No, I'm fine," Elizabeth replied.
"Okay!" Then popping off her skis, the girl went running off through the snow.
"Happy bleeping Valentine's Day, Will!" She remained seated, crossing her arms and grimaced. This was not how she envisioned spending their first Valentine's Day together. But then, the day hadn't been totally bad either. The drive up to Eagle Rock had been nice with the dogs in back and the lovely scenery. The cabin, if you could call something so comfortable and homey a cabin, was lovely. And then, despite the early hour at which they rose, Will had done a superb job of waking her up and seeing that she started off the day with a smile… She was smiling now, and she could do this. Pushing herself up, she declared she would master this, and determined to do so.
Later, as she was preparing for her last run, she spotted Will and waved. "Let's get it all right this time," she told herself. Taking a bit longer before she pushed off, she had fun with the short run, executing a rather good, if not perfect, stop at the end of it. She looked up to the top of the hill to see Will clapping, and she grinned.
Her lesson over, she walked up to him and was swiftly embraced. "So, how was it?" he asked.
She relayed the high points as they walked to the lodge, and when she asked, he told her about the 'blue' and 'black diamond' runs he had done.
Inside, they managed to get a table near the fire in the dining room, where they had hot sandwiches and coffee as they relaxed and readied themselves for some more skiing.
They spent a good portion of the afternoon together on the easier green slopes, working their way up in difficulty. When Elizabeth tired, Will suggested they go back to the cabin, but she encouraged him to do a few more difficult runs while she got a hot cocoa in the lodge.
It was just after five when they returned to the cabin. They let the dogs out to play in the snow, and when they went inside, Elizabeth was surprised to discover an arrangement of red roses on the dinner table. "How did you get those there?" she asked.
Will came up behind her, wrapping his arms around her waist and kissing her neck. "You can't expect me to divulge all my secrets, can you?"
"I guess not," she murmured, leaning into his embrace. "So what now?"
It took little effort to answer her inquiry. He led her to the hot tub, where they relaxed and recovered from their activity, and thoroughly enjoyed the companionship.
They wrapped up their evening with a drive into Hazleton for dinner at The Library Elizabeth was a bit surprised by Will's choice as they drove up and parked in front, but as they entered, she was impressed by the décor, and even more so as they were led to a private dining room. Both were quite pleased with their meal and returned to the cabin quite content that evening.
Much of Sunday and Monday were spent on the slopes or in the lodge, but they made sure they had plenty of time on their own too. They returned home Monday night tired, but well satisfied with their long weekend away.
A few days later, Elizabeth was sitting in her office when Jane came in and closed the door. She handed her a small strip of paper with a dark image on it. Elizabeth knew that Jane and Charlie had been to the doctor that morning, and that the paper was an ultrasound image, but she was at a complete loss as to what it showed.
"Twins, Lizzy!" Jane exclaimed.
"Twins?" Elizabeth repeated. "Congratulations!"
Jane went on for some time, gushing about how excited she and Charlie were and sharing all their plans.
Elizabeth grinned and nodded, overwhelmed, but truly happy for her sister. Thus it took a moment to catch up and register what her sister had just said. Her tone had changed: "I can't be your maid of honor."
"I'll be huge by then. And don't get that look. The doctor said that by then I shouldn't be standing so long, and then there's all the picture taking and the reception. It'll be too much."
"We can get a chair for you. You won't have to stand… And we can make it so everything else is not so taxing."
"Oh, Lizzy," Jane sighed in that big sister way of hers and started to stand up.
Elizabeth held up her hand and jumped from her chair, immediately taking the chair at Jane's side and leaning in to hug her.
"I know we always planned to be side by side on our wedding days. And I will be there - probably taking up most of the first pew - but I won't be stressing the babies or my back. Besides," she poked Elizabeth's side, "I'd just as soon not have hundreds of pictures in a tent-ified purple dress." She took her sister's hand. "Just ask Charlotte. The color will look lovely on her, and you've been friends forever. You know she'd do anything for you. And I promise I'll be there."
"Okay, Jane. I'll ask Charlotte." She raised her head suddenly. "But then I have to get another bridesmaid!"
"Ask Georgie, or your friend Melissa."
Elizabeth nodded, but pouted. "Okay. But it won't be the same without you."
"I know, little sis, but it will still be an amazing day. And with all your planning, it'll be a perfect wedding."
Three short weeks later, Georgiana was home for spring break. She spent the first few days at home, and Elizabeth went with her for her bridesmaid dress fitting. She loved the soft lilac color and the design Elizabeth had chosen.
The latter part of the week, she spent up in the cabin in the Poconos with friends. Will and Elizabeth joined them on Friday night, and they all went out to dinner at Top of the 80's to celebrate Will's birthday.
The group spent most of Saturday on the slopes, splitting and reuniting often as they skied different runs. Will and Elizabeth weren't always together, but she was never alone, and she had a great time with Georgiana's friends.
That night, Georgiana and her young companions headed home, as she had to fly back to California on Sunday. Will and Elizabeth were pleased to have the cabin to themselves again, and took every advantage of the situation.
But when Sunday morning arrived, Will wondered if they had done too much, as Elizabeth wanted to sleep in, which he found quite unusual. He even offered to stay and cook breakfast and tend to her as necessary, but she insisted he go skiing, just to make sure he returned by one for lunch.
He arrived back at the cabin right on time, and was surprised as he entered it. The air smelled of roast beef, so he followed his nose to the kitchen.
"There you are," he heard her say as he rounded the corner. But the sight his eyes took in captured his full attention. There, in a short silk nightie, a small white apron and heels was Elizabeth. "Happy birthday, my love."
Amazingly, the roast didn't burn and their late - very late - lunch was delicious. As for the rest… Will had a very good birthday.
Posted on: 2011-07-04
With less than two months until the wedding, it seemed as though there was never enough time to keep up with both normal life and wedding preparations. Kitty helped out by addressing the invitations in her neat calligrapher's hand, and surprisingly, Lydia agreed to help stuff the envelopes. With a quick inspection of their work, Elizabeth mailed the invitations mid-April.
Will did his best to make sure Elizabeth didn't get overwhelmed, and also made sure she took time for herself, and them.
One evening late in the month, he told Elizabeth he had made plans for her birthday in two days, and asked her to select a nice outfit for going out. They would drive into Center City in the morning, and at five, she could come to his office to change.
That evening, Will was awed by her beauty when she emerged from his office bathroom. How does she manage to look lovelier every day? They drove in traffic to Society Hill, where they dined at City Tavern, with its superb food, lack of electric lights and employees in Revolutionary Era garb. Elizabeth would never admit to surreptitiously admiring the men in breeches, but then again, she felt sure that Will would look better.
Before they could give it much thought, they were into the month of May. R.S.V.P.'s for the reception were arriving daily, and everything that could be arranged was. All they had left was to hope that should something go wrong, it would be minor.
Georgiana arrived home after finals. She had enough credits to earn her BA in December, so she opted to forgo the summer sessions. She was excited about her brother's upcoming wedding - an event she thought might never occur before Elizabeth entered his life - and made sure both Will and Elizabeth knew she'd do anything to help.
Charlotte, Mary and Georgiana went with Elizabeth for their final dress fittings. There was much teasing and laughing, and it was infectious even to the staff. At one point, as Mary and Georgiana were admiring themselves in their matching dresses, Charlotte, in her darker one came up behind them. "The best part is you can shorten it and wear it again!" she exclaimed.
"So true!" Mary and Georgiana replied in unison, before the trio started giggling uncontrollably.
They were just beginning to calm when Elizabeth emerged from her dressing room. "What's so funny?" she asked.
All three turned, still unable to break their silly grins. But their expressions changed when they saw her. "Lizzy, that dress is amazing!" Georgiana exclaimed. "Will's eyes are gonna pop!"
"That's the plan!" Elizabeth laughed, blushing at the same time.
They used Elizabeth's camera to take pictures of themselves - mostly silly ones - to show to Jane and Mrs. Bennet - and perhaps others after the wedding.
Afterwards, they went to Guo's Garden for dinner, and had been seated only a few minutes when Jane walked up behind Elizabeth. "Gee, sis, thanks for inviting me." When Elizabeth stood up to hug her, she explained, "Charlotte invited me, knowing I wouldn't want to miss out. So how did it go?"
She sat down and they chatted as only sisters and dear friends can, and before the evening was through they had shared many laughs, and Will and Elizabeth's happiness had been toasted with cups of jasmine tea.
Thursday was the last day Elizabeth worked before the wedding. She stayed busy all day, trying to make sure everything possible was done to prevent her receiving calls while on her honeymoon. Thankfully, there were few crises. Shortly after the Market closed at four, she was called for an emergency in the investment center. With a quick sigh, she jumped up and nearly jogged across the office.
"Congratulations!" was called out as she entered the large room. She looked around to see almost everyone there. They had cake and champagne, and everyone took a few moments to wish her well. She enjoyed herself, and thanked her boss afterwards, but had to rush back to her office to quickly wrap up the last few things and to catch the Flyer home.
Will was glad to see her, and eager to get home. His cousin (and groomsman) from England, Emerson Darcy, and his family were staying at the house, and had arrived earlier in the day. Their presence was obvious from the moment Will and Elizabeth arrived home. As soon as Elizabeth opened her car door, childish giggles and barking could be heard from the backyard. Will eagerly led Elizabeth around the house to meet them.
They had barely turned the back corner when a small blond boy of about five ran up and hugged Will tightly around his legs. A few feet behind him, a smaller blonde girl stood frozen for several seconds before turning and running to her mother.
Will introduced the boy to Elizabeth as Brandon, and the child smiled up to her. "Very good to meet you," he said.
"Very good indeed." Elizabeth grinned. She was then introduced to Emerson and Marianne, while little Melanie peeked from behind her mother's legs. He was as tall and dark as Will, a few years older, and though she could even see a bit of a resemblance, he wasn't quite as handsome. She was a petite blonde, a couple inches taller than Elizabeth, but slim and lovely, and nearly as pretty as Jane. Elizabeth could easily envision them as the picture of a perfect family on a magazine cover.
The greetings were warm and affectionate, and both couples and Georgiana sat around the table to talk. Brandon was soon off with the dogs, and to everyone's surprise, Melanie was in Elizabeth's lap before they had finished discussing their flight.
Dinner, of course, was one of Maggie's signature Italian feasts, with more food than they could possibly eat. Still, they tried, as conversation shifted from current events to Georgiana's school to wedding plans.
By the time the meal was over, Melanie was asleep in her father's lap, and Brandon was telling everyone about their plans to go to Disney World. As she listened and watched, Elizabeth decided that little blond kids with British accents and spaghetti sauce all over their faces were some of the cutest things in the world.
The children were soon put to bed, and the adults, even the ones who didn't start on British Summer Time, didn't last much longer.
Not surprisingly, Friday started off early. Maggie greeted everyone with chocolate chip scones and made omelets for anyone who wished for something heartier. Emerson's family was going to the Please Touch Museum, and Will and Elizabeth had plenty to do.
They started with packing for their honeymoon, though Elizabeth complained that Will refused to tell her where they were going. She tried everything she could think of to bribe him, and he still denied her.
She pouted as she looked through her closet. "Bring mostly comfortable clothes - shorts and jeans - at least one light jacket, a dress, a swimsuit or two - but don't go crazy, we're not going to be lying around a beach or pool the whole time." Those suggestions still gave her no clue, so she filled her suitcase with the recommended attire.
Then there were last minute phone calls. Elizabeth verified that the cake and the flowers were both set to be delivered the next morning, and by noon, she was pleased that all was in order. She checked on Will, who was busy in his study, so she went upstairs and made sure she had her jewelry and makeup… something old, something new, and everything else she'd need in the morning was in order.
That evening, after the wedding rehearsal at the church, the wedding party and Reverend and Mrs. Johnston went to the Embassy Suites Valley Forge for a dinner and pre-wedding celebration with all their out of town guests who were staying there. It was the first time Will and Elizabeth met some of the other's friends and relatives, and they were happy for the opportunity.
Mrs. Bennet entered the room eagerly, and Elizabeth almost wanted to turn and leave, but somehow, nothing serious transpired. She could hear her mother's voice from time to time, but she every time Elizabeth looked her way, she was with Mr. Bennet or Maddie Gardiner and other people they knew well. Part of her was sorry that the Fitzwilliams had opted not to attend, but she was secretly glad that her mother would not meet them until the reception tomorrow. Perhaps she'll be talked out by then. Yeah, perhaps…
As the night wound down, they made their farewells. After their argument earlier in the week, and her adamant refusal to spend the night at her parents' house, Elizabeth feared her mother would make a scene about her going home with Will. For once, however, Frances Bennet seemed subdued as she and her husband kissed Elizabeth good night and Mr. Bennet shook Will's hand. Elizabeth would certainly have to thank her father tomorrow morning.
Saturday morning dawned brilliantly. The temperature was cool, but the skies were sunny and clear. It felt like the perfect day for a wedding.
Elizabeth had hardly been up before Georgiana was telling her it was time to leave. They did manage to grab a muffin and a cup of coffee, but soon they were on the way to Georgiana's hairdresser, where they met up with Mary and Charlotte. Georgiana had booked the salon, and they were getting their hair and nails done together.
Though she had been warned, she did not really expect them to be there the full two and a half hours they had allotted. Any other day, she'd have complained about the time, but the company was great, and this day was very important… she did want to be her most beautiful when Will first saw her in the church. And in the end, she was pleased.
They drove straight to the church, and were met by Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. They assured them that all was clear, and led the way to the Sunday school rooms set aside for them to dress. Mr. Bennet kissed his wife and Mary on their cheeks, but held firm to Elizabeth's hand. "I will be waiting for you, my little Lizzybee."
"I know, Daddy." Tears were welling in her eyes. She kissed his cheek. "I love you." He released her hand and she slipped into the room, closing the door behind her.
The next hour passed in a blur. Somehow she had managed to put on her dress, and Georgiana touched up her makeup. Mrs. Bennet chattered non-stop, but it didn't matter. She could hear activity upstairs in the sanctuary and outside in the hall. They would not be in here much longer, and in a very short time she'd be married - to her Will. She smiled and nodded her head to whatever her mother was saying.
It was only a couple minutes later when they heard a tap on the door. "It's time," Mr. Bennet announced. Each woman hugged Elizabeth and made some personal comment before taking their bouquet and leaving. Mrs. Bennet was the last to hug her daughter, and when it seemed as though she would not release their daughter, Mr. Bennet tapped her shoulder and helped pull them apart. Blotting tears already, Mrs. Bennet took her cue and left.
Mr. Bennet gently touched Elizabeth's cheek. "It seems like only yesterday that you were a babe in my arms. And then my lively little tomboy. Little did I know then what a beautiful woman you would become." He paused a moment and bit his lip. "You're all grown up now, Lizzybee… And even if you are becoming another man's wife, you'll always be my little girl."
"I know that, Daddy." She smiled comfortingly.
"Okay. As long as you understand that." He looked up the hallway. "Shall we?"
Elizabeth picked up her bouquet. "Yes, let's do this." They walked upstairs arm in arm, and as they reached the church foyer, Mr. Bennet nodded, and the back doors to the sanctuary were opened. Georgiana made a little wave and started up the aisle, followed momentarily by Mary. Charlotte looked back and smiled, then disappeared inside.
Elizabeth gripped her father's arm tighter as the music changed. "Last chance to escape," he whispered.
She laughed. "Sorry, Dad, I'll pass."
They stepped slowly inside and made their way up the aisle. It took a moment for Elizabeth's eyes to find Will, even though he stood right at the front of the aisle. His eyes shone and his gaze never left her. She had never loved him more, and wanted nothing more than to be at his side, but it was taking so long to get there.
Eventually they made it though, but her father seemed to take his time releasing her hand and kissing her cheek before giving her hand to Will.
The familiar words were heard and spoken. She promised to love, honor and cherish Will, and he did as well. There were hymns, prayers and a communion, but finally the minister said the words she was most anxious to hear: "I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride."
It was a brief, sweet kiss; and then Rev. Johnston turned them to face their guests. "Ladies and gentlemen, may I present Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy."
Elizabeth learned about their honeymoon plans when Will handed her the airline tickets in the car. They would be spending a week in England at the old Darcy family estate: Pemberley. Emerson's family lived there now, and ran it as a holiday resort. They would be staying in the family accommodations while their relations continued their visit in America.
They took full advantage of their privacy in that first week of marriage, but still found time to drive up to the Lakes, and to visit other historic places in the region. Knowing by now his wife's addiction, they spent their last night in London, and visited Jane Austen's House in Chawton. They had a lovely time on their "holiday" and agreed to return someday.
Back in Pennsylvania, they settled into the routine of a happily married couple. They continued to hike, swim and ski, and supported all the Philadelphia sports teams (especially the Flyers!).
Jane delivered healthy twin boys in July - Shane and Chase - and Georgiana earned her Bachelor of Music from USC in December. She continued to pursue her Masters there.
In the next few years, Tiffany married Brian, and Mary married her football player. Charlie and Jane had a daughter, but Will and Elizabeth had yet to present Mrs. Bennet with a grandchild!
No such event was announced until just after the Darcys' fourth wedding anniversary, and in February 2014, Elizabeth fulfilled her mother's wish.
Ben was joined by a brother, Robert George, two years later. The Darcys never had a young Moon Unit, but Cassandra Jane was their third child.
And finally, two short months after the loss of Margherita Rosita Leonetti Reynolds, Will and Elizabeth's youngest daughter was born: Margaret Rose.
It wasn't a simple happily ever after for the Darcys, but there were many more good times than bad; and Fitzwilliam Darcy III never regretted his choice to commute on the R5.