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A Sensible New Year's Resolution

January 01, 2018 01:53AM
Blurb: A difficult New Year's Eve leads Nora Dashwood and Ed Ferrars to make some sensible New Years resolutions.

If you’d asked Nora Dashwood where she wanted to be at midnight on New Year’s Eve, the emergency room at the University of Mansfield hospital wouldn’t have even crossed her mind as a place that she could or should be. But that all changed when her sister left Will and Elsa Darcy’s wedding reception to go to a party with Grant Willoughby.

Nora had a bad feeling when Marianne decided to leave the “boring” Darcy Wedding Reception, so Ed Ferrars put Nora’s phone in his pocket so he’d know if anyone called her. She thanked him for humoring her, but he told that it wasn’t a big deal. “I can dance with a phone in one of my pockets. I can even dance with phones in two of my pockets.”

That had been funny at nine-thirty. It wasn’t funny when her phone rang at eleven-fifteen with the news that her sister had been in a car accident and was being rushed to the emergency room. Mercifully, Ed had no qualms about abandoning the reception to take his friend to the hospital.



The thirty-minute drive to the hospital was mostly silent until Ed asked an important question as he exited the freeway to enter Mansfield. “Was Grant with your sister?”

“Huh?”

“Was she driving her own car or was she with Grant?”

Nora shook her head. “Mom didn’t say. I didn’t think to ask. Given how long it’d been since she left the Longbourn, I just figured he must have been there.”

Ed squeezed her hand. “I’d bet anything that he was.”



“I hate this place,” Nora muttered as they pulled into the hospital parking lot.

Her friend nodded. “You have good reason. I can’t imagine you have many fond memories here.”

“I met a lot of good people here, but it’s not really a place that I remember fondly. And I hate the smell.”

“It’s a repulsive smell,” he agreed. “I remember from when my dad died.”

Although they’d known each other since their freshman year of college, Nora and Ed had really grown close when her father was diagnosed with cancer four years earlier. Ed had been seventeen when his own father died of cancer, and his memories of that time (along with a job offer from George Knightley) had motivated him to move to Highbury to be with Nora and her family during James Dashwood’s final months.

“It’s too clean,” she replied. “I like clean things, but hospitals are too clean.”

“Are you ready to go in?”

“That doesn’t matter. We’re here. My mom needs me. My brother needs me. My sister needs me. I have to go in.” She paused as she closed the car door. “You know that you don’t have to stay.”

“Elinor Jane, everyone else in your family needs you. You need to need someone. So, I’m here. I’m not going anywhere. I’ll be here as long as you’re here.”

“You don’t have to…”

“Please don’t start that. I’m your friend, and we’ve been seeing each other for a little-.”

She interrupted him with a slight sigh. “Ed, we’ve only been seeing each other since October.”

“And we were friends for ten years before that. I’m staying because that’s what real friends do.”

“Edward, you really don’t….”

He came to stand in front of her. “Nora, right now it doesn’t matter what you think I have to do or don’t have to do. I’m going to stay with you. This is where I want to be.”

She looked up at him. “If you want to stay, I guess that I can’t stop you.”

He smiled. “I’m glad that I’m so welcome.”

Nora playfully punched his arm. “I’m glad you’re here. I just don’t want you to feel obligated to be here.”

“Let’s go, Nora Jane.”

She smiled at him weakly before starting towards the emergency room doors.



Upon crossing the emergency room threshold, Nora suddenly found herself grateful for Ed’s presence. She had lost her bearings almost immediately, and he’d quickly wrapped an arm around her and stepped up to the counter to find out where her sister was and how to get there. She vaguely heard him say something about a boyfriend, but she was too busy trying to breathe evenly to really focus on what he was telling the nurse. She heard him repeating something-probably the nurse’s directions, and she held his hand firmly as he led her down the hallway to a waiting room. Before they entered, he stopped and looked at her. “Your mom and James are in there.”

She took a deep breath and nodded. “Give me a minute?”

He hugged her. “You’re going to be fine.”

Nora clung to Ed for a moment longer than she wanted to admit before whispering, “Don’t leave me, Ed. I don’t think I can do this alone.”

He pulled back without releasing her and looked her in the eye. “I’m not going anywhere.”

She nodded, and they went into the waiting room. Her mother was nervously pacing the length of the room while her brother sat hunched with his elbows on his knees and his
hands over his face. James saw her first and jumped up. “Nora! You’re finally here.”

She let go of Ed and hurried to her brother. “I’m here. Now tell me what happened.”

“She was just going to a party with Grant,” Mrs. Dashwood began as she joined her children. “And you know how he likes to drive.”

Nora didn’t miss the dark looks that flashed across both her brother’s and Ed’s faces. “How many cars were involved?”

“Just theirs,” James answered.

Nora did her level best to keep her voice calm. “And how is she?”

“Badly broken right leg and arm as well as a broken rib with potential lung damage and plenty of superficial stuff,” her younger brother spoke in a choked voice.

“And Grant?” Ed spat.

“He walked away.”

Nora realized that she’d never really seen Ed angry until that moment. His voice sounded far more like a growl than anything to which she was accustomed. “Do the police have him?”

“Thank heavens for small favors,” James said.

“Now James,” his mother began. “We don’t have all the facts.”

“We have enough facts, Mom. Stop defending him; he’s not worth it.”

“So we just wait now?” Nora asked.

Her brother nodded. “She’s with the doctors, but they’re trying to get us regular updates.”

“So we just have to settle in and get comfortable?” Nora asked.

“As best you can in that ball gown,” her brother replied.



The navy blue dress that the newly-minted Dr. Elspeth Bennet-Darcy had allowed her bridesmaids to pick out may have flattered Nora’s figure, but it was not intended to be worn comfortably in a cold waiting room or in a stiff chair. She shifted back and forth as she read the outdated tabloid magazines that were scattered around the waiting room. Ed had given her his suit coat at some point, but that didn’t do much for the fact that she really wanted to be at home in her own bed in her pajamas. And she desperately wanted her sister to be anywhere but in the hospital.



Word finally came that Marianne was resting in a room around three in the morning. By that time, Mrs. Dashwood was looking through the tabloids her daughter had abandoned, James was working on crossword puzzles, Ed was reading Sports Illustrated, and Nora had fallen asleep with her head on Ed’s lap with her wool coat as an uncomfortable but serviceable pillow.

“I don’t know how she can sleep right now,” Mrs. Dashwood remarked baldly.

Ed shrugged and passed a long hand over Elinor’s hairspray hardened hair. “She has had a very long day. I’m glad she’s asleep.”

“Did you two have fun at the wedding?”

He nodded. “It was a great wedding. I’m so glad they’re finally married.”

“Did your mom come? I didn’t see her, but it was crowded.”

He shook his head. “She said something about not feeling like traveling up here. She’s at a resort somewhere with my siblings and their families.”

“She missed her nephew’s wedding? I can’t imagine.”

“My mother hasn’t been close to Will since his parents died.” He paused before continuing. “To be honest, I’m not sure that I can expect my own family to show up at my own wedding.”

“Do you expect to get married soon?” Audrey Dashwood queried.

He shrugged as he played with one of Nora’s hairpins. “I don’t have any immediate plans, but…”

She nodded. “It doesn’t seem like something that would happen if you were to get married.”

Edward replied with a bluntness that was quite out of the norm for him. “Unless my mother undergoes a massive personality change, I’m not sure that I would want her at my wedding.”

“I can’t imagine not wanting to be at my child’s wedding. Jack might only be my stepson, but I would have been heartbroken to have missed his wedding.”

“You and my mother are very different people.” He had managed to work a pin out of Nora’s up-do, and he looked at it for a moment or two before continuing. “And for the sake of my relationship with your daughter, I’m really grateful for that.”

“Your relationship with my daughter?”

“Based on my relationship with my sister, I suspect that it would be hard to be friends with a woman who had been raised by my mother or another woman like her.”

“How did you end up so normal?” James inserted.

“Will,” Ed replied quickly.

“Will?” Audrey repeated.

Ed nodded. “My cousin and I are the same age. We grew up together. I spent more time around his house than my parents’ place. I’m closer to him than I am to Rob or Anne.”

“I thought you guys got to be close after your dad died,” James remarked.

The older man shook his head. “We were always close. We were like twins growing up. Losing my dad, going to college, and then losing his parents-all of that only cemented a bond that had existed from infancy.”

“Were you close to your dad?”

Ed looked at James. “I wasn’t as close to my dad as you were to yours; that was more like Will’s relationship with my Uncle George. But my dad was a good bean, and I was really fortunate to have in my life growing up. He was the only person in my family who really got me.”

“I’ve heard your cousin say that before, about you,” James replied.

“When my dad died, I was like a ship,” he began.

“That had lost its anchor,” Nora sleepily finished from his lap.

“Nora?” her mom queried.

“I’ve heard him say that before. I met him less than a year after his dad passed, and he really was a ship without an anchor. It took him a while to find his way back to smooth waters.” She was sitting up awkwardly, and sleep still lingered in the edges of her voice. “Any news on Marianne yet?”

The doctor’s entrance interrupted the conversation before Audrey could answer Nora. “I’m Dr. Cleveland. I’ve been taking care of Marianne.”

“How is she?”

“We set the broken leg and arm and did what we can for the ribs,” she said. “The lungs are fine, thankfully. She is a bit scratched up, but she’s sleeping now.”

“Can we see her?” Audrey interrupted.

“You may,” the doctor answered calmly. “She’s sleeping now, and I suspect that she will be until morning. But you’re welcome to stay with her this evening. She should be able to go home tomorrow or the next day.”



“You don’t have to stay,” Nora told Ed as they stood outside her sister’s room.

“I know,” he replied. “But I have a feeling that you’re going to need someone to rely on for a little bit here.”

“Ed, I have no clue how long I’m going to be here.”

“Nora.”

“My mom needs me.”

He sighed. “Okay, then I’ll take James home and get you some more comfortable clothes.”

“Nora,” her mother interrupted them. “Go home and get some rest. I’ll be alright here alone.”

“Are you sure?”

Audrey Dashwood squeezed her daughter’s shoulder. “I’m stronger than you think, Nora Jane.”

“I know, Mom.”



Somehow, Nora convinced Ed that she had gotten more sleep than him and therefore ought to be the one to drive home. She dropped James off at their mother’s house and then headed to her own apartment with Ed still sleeping in the passenger seat that she’d occupied on their way to Mansfield. She parked the car in the lot behind the triplex where she lived and leaned over towards her passenger. “Ed,” she whispered.

He didn’t respond.

She smiled before shoving his shoulder. “Edward, wake up.”

There was still no response. She rolled her eyes. Ed could be so difficult at just the wrong moments.

She climbed out of the car and went around to the passenger side. Then she opened the door, unbuckled his seatbelt, stuck her face close to his, and hissed, “Edward Gregory Ferrars, wake up or I’ll lick you.”

His eyes opened, and she sighed with relief. She really didn’t want to lick him.

He grinned at her. “You’ll lick me?”

She shrugged. “Let’s never find out. In the meantime, we’re at my apartment, and this is your car.”

“Can I sleep on your couch?”

“Ed, you live right down the street.”

He shook his head. “No, I moved. I live with George now.”

“You live with George?”

“Yeah, my roommate got married today. Well, technically it was yesterday. But my roommate got married. You might have heard about it.”

She snorted. “George lives ten minutes from here.”

“It’s four in the morning, Elinor Jane.”

She sighed and rolled her eyes. “Okay, you can sleep on the couch. And if you’re nice, I’ll feed you breakfast when we’re both awake.”

“You’re not going to treat me to breakfast at the Knit Wit?” he asked her while he climbed out of the car.

Nora laughed as they started walking towards the house. “The KW is closed still.”

“Still?”

“Anne and Elsa closed until the second so that Annie and the staff could enjoy the wedding.”

“How long is Elsa gone for?”

Nora stopped unlocking her door and stared at him. “Will’s your cousin, right?”

“Yeah.”

“And you two lived together until he got married?”

“Yeah.”

“And you were in the wedding.”

“We did walk down the aisle together.”

She rolled her eyes. “And you don’t know how long they’re gone for?”

“I don’t remember?”

She laughed as she opened the door. “They’re gone for a week. And she’s put herself on the schedule for her first morning back.”

“I know that she’s my cousin’s wife, but that woman is nuts.”

“I think that’s why your cousin likes her,” Nora replied as they made their way to her second floor flat.

“I don’t have anything against Elsa,” he replied. “But I have to say that a more mild disposition suits me better.”

“You’re not going to ask a girl to marry you by asking her to fight you for the rest of your lives?”

He smiled. “No, no; that’s not really my style. I am not my cousin.”

“You look alike but don’t act alike?” Nora was pulling blankets out of a cupboard in her living room.

“He might look like my twin, but I’m a middle child while he’s an oldest child.”

Nora smiled. “There’s something really beautiful about being an oldest child.”

“Are you a true oldest child?”

“You mean Jack?”

“You two grew up in the same house.”

“I guess I’m just my mother’s oldest child.”

Ed shrugged. “Don’t worry about it. Just go to bed.”

She smiled and left the room.



Nora woke up several hours later to the pinging of a text alert. It was her mother telling her that Marianne was doing well and expected to be able to come home the next day. “Her lungs are fine after all. Her body is strong. Come see her when you’re up to it.”

Nora wandered out into her kitchen and began making coffee as quietly as possible. She didn’t want to disturb Ed who was stretched out on her couch with his long legs dangling uncomfortably off the couch. Most of his body was covered by the blankets she normally kept on the back of her couch, but his bare arm was folded on top of his chest and his stockinged feet stuck awkwardly out from under the blankets. She smiled and shook her head. Ed had always been long and lanky. Now, at thirty, he was able to present himself with a slender elegance, but when she’d met him at eighteen, he’d reminded her of an awkward chicken.

She opened the refrigerator to take out the milk while the coffee brewed. She put it on the wooden counter and went to get cereal from the pantry. When she turned around, Ed was standing there with a mug and the coffeepot in his hand. “Coffee?”

The sight of Ed wearing only his boxers and the white dress shirt he’d worn for the wedding was apparently too much for Nora who squeaked and threw the cereal box in the air.

“Suit yourself,” he replied as he poured coffee into the cup. “That just means more for me.”

She sighed as she picked up the box of Wheaties from the floor. “Edward, you startled me.”

“You knew I was here.”

“I thought you were asleep!”

“How could anyone sleep? That coffeemaker of yours is loud enough to wake the dead.”

Nora sighed. “Give me coffee or give me death.”

“You’re starting to sound like Elsa.”

“Coffee,” she barked.

He grinned as he handed the mug over. “You’re adorable when you’re sleep-deprived.”

“What time is it?” she asked after taking a sip of coffee.

“Ten-thirty,” he answered as he poured his own cup. “Do you want to go see your sister?”

“I need to get my car from the Longbourn, and I’ll go see her. But you don’t have to come.”

He nodded. “Fine by me, but let me know if you need anything.”

Nora grabbed a bowl and started pouring cereal. “She’s coming home tomorrow.”

“Nora, I know how you feel about your family.”

She looked at him and sighed.

“So, let’s make a deal. You spend a few hours at the hospital and then come home and let me make you dinner.”

“You’re going to cook?”

He put his hand on his hip and sighed. “You know perfectly well that I’m a good cook. I’d better be considering who taught me.”

She smiled. “You were so cute. You were eighteen, and you could barely boil water.”

“I could too boil water! You have to boil water to make boxed mac and cheese.”

“But you can do far more than make boxed mac and cheese now,” she replied.

He grabbed the cereal box from her and tapped her nose with his long finger. “And that is entirely due to your tutelage. So, you call me when you’re on your way home from the hospital, I’ll run over to Weston’s to get ingredients, and then I’ll meet you here and make you dinner. And then, we’ll drink beer and watch football.”

“You can watch football at home with George.”

“But I want to watch it with you.”

“Uh, no.”

“You used to watch it with me in college!”

Nora took a bite of cereal and pointedly avoided Ed’s blue-gray eyes when she answered. “I watched it then because I had a crazy crush on you and I was desperate for any excuse to hang out with you.”

“Fascinating,” he replied. “So, you don’t have a crazy crush on me now?”

“I wouldn’t say that, no.”

“So what would you say? I mean, we’ve gone on a fair few dates over the past few months, and you’re the first girl I’ve allowed myself to be serious about since Lucy. And I did tell the nurse in the ER last night that I was your boyfriend.”

She spat a mouthful of half-chewed Wheaties out just then, hitting Ed’s white shirt with the sort of accuracy that her high school tennis coach must have wished she’d show on the tennis court.

He pulled at his shirt and raised his bushy eyebrows. “That might leave a stain.”

“You said you were my boyfriend?”

“What? I may be a nice guy, but I don’t take just anyone to see her sister in the hospital at midnight. Nora, I may not be the best with words or relationships, but I’m pretty serious about you.”

She pressed her palms down on the counter. “You’re serious about me?”

He smiled. “I’m serious about you.”

“How serious?”

“I mean, I’ve only ever had one serious relationship and that ended because it turned out that she’d been cheating on me with my brother for months and was pregnant with my brother’s kid, so I may not be very good at this stuff.”

“That was an anomaly. How serious are you?” Part of her was enjoying watching the usually composed Ed Ferrars squirm.

“Marriage and babies serious,” he said softly.

“Marriage and babies?” she repeated.

He nodded. “I know we’re not ready yet, Nora, but I fully intend to get down on one knee and beg you to marry me. And if you say yes, I’m planning on having a host of book and math nerd babies with you.”

“Define a host,” she answered.

“Three to five?”

She put a hand on top of his. “I’m in. I’m all in, Ed.”



Ed took Nora to the Longbourn where she’d left her car the previous night before heading to home to rest and work on getting settled into his new home. Nora went to the hospital with the promise to let him know when she was on her way home.

That phone call finally came around five-thirty. “Hey, I’m on my way home.”

“How’d it go?” he asked.

She sighed. “I’ll tell you when I see you.”

“That good, huh?”

“Ed, I just…”

“I got it. I’ll get ice cream and wine.”

“And a real meal too!”

“Frozen pizza?” he teased.

“You can do better than that.”



Ed’s silver sedan was waiting when Nora pulled into her parking spot. “So, do you want to tell me now or should we wait until we’re inside?”

She looked at the man holding two bags of groceries. “Let’s go inside. I think you’ll do better with this inside.”

“Sounds good.”

“Do you need any help?”

He adjusted the bags in his arms and shook his head. “I’m good.”

She smiled. “Let’s go in.”



“Okay,” Ed said as he began to unpack the groceries. “What’s up?”

Nora looked at him. “So, when I tell you this, I need you to remember that this is the first time that I’ve said this out loud, and I’m still not thinking clearly.”

“Okay.”

“So apparently, my sister doesn’t think that the accident was Grant’s fault. And she still considers him her boyfriend.”

“I’m sorry?”

“So Grant was drunk at the time of the accident, which is why it happened. They were arguing, and they’d both been drinking, and one thing led to another.”

Ed finished filling a pot with water and put in on the stove to boil before he responded. “None of this surprises me. But why does she want to be with him?”

Nora shook her head. “Search me. He’s hot? He says the right things to her? He makes her feel good about herself? I’ve never understood their relationship.”

“So he almost kills her and she still wants to be with him?”

“Which is great because the police are pressing charges for driving drunk, and my mother is defending him on that score.”

Ed began chopping an onion. “Please tell me that you’re kidding.”

“I wish.”

He turned towards her. “You know, this might sound weird, but I don’t wonder where your sister came from.”

Nora laughed slightly. “No, that’s true. She definitely is my mother’s daughter.”

Ed threw the chopped onion into a pan of olive oil before putting his hands on Nora’s shoulders. “Nora, I have a proposal for you.”

“I’m not agreeing to marry you today.”

He laughed. “I’m going to try to not take offense at that.”

“Oh hush, you weren’t going to ask me to marry you anyway.”

“Not yet at any rate, but seriously,” his voice took on a serious note as he continued. “It’s New Year’s Day, and I have a proposal for you.”

“What’s that?”

“This year, you’re going to love your family, but you aren’t going to let their problems destroy your world. If your mom or your sister is making dumb decisions, you can advise them and support them. But you can’t let that ruin your day or week or whatever.”

She smiled. “That sounds like a good deal to me. It won’t be easy, but I think that I need it.”

He stirred the onions. “Just know that if you need someone to talk to you, I’ll be here. I’m going to support you. And maybe you can support me in trying to be more open with my feelings? Does that make sense to you?”

“It does.”

He mixed ground beef in with the onions. “Then we have a resolution.”

She smiled. “We have a resolution. This year, we’re going to work on our feelings.”

“You’re going to work on not letting your sister and mom influence your feelings.”

“And you’re going to work on better expressing your feelings.”

Ed smiled. “I like this plan.”

“So do I,” she replied.

“Happy New Year, Nora Jane. I think that this will be a good year for us.”

“I think it will be our best year yet.”


SubjectAuthorPosted

A Sensible New Year's Resolution

CeciliaJanuary 01, 2018 01:53AM

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