Many happy Pride and Prejudice news here. An all Brazilian musical and pics from the set of Pride, Prejudice and zombies...
And of course, another chapter of my new P&P fanfic... Buckle up, the ride starts to pick up speed NOW.
As always, if you haven't already, read the story's front page before diving in. Tks.
Time after time
‘She is influencing you!’ Graham Fitzwilliam said in an ironic smile and handed the menu back to the waiter. ‘A salad with grilled fish?’
‘Are you on a diet or something?’ The older cousin asked.
‘Yes. My pants are already fitting better.’ Darcy raised his brows.
‘And you bought a rowing machine.’ Graham said as if listing clues to an enigma.
Darcy nodded. ‘My personal trainer said–‘
‘You have a personal trainer?’ Graham asked in a mocking tone.
‘Is she a vision in spandex?’
‘Hardly. He is as male as both of us.’
Graham frowned and twisted his lips adding another clue to his enigma.
‘Anyway, the guy said it would be nice to have some exercise during the holidays. Lizzy suggested running, she loves to run, but with all the snow we are having at Pemberley this year, I’d need a treadmill. I prefer rowing.’
Graham Fitzwilliam nodded slowly and stared at his cousin. The waiter brought them their beverages – a beer for Graham and sparkling water with a side of lemon juice for Darcy. ‘You do look better.’
‘Why, thank you, my Lord!’ Darcy mocked.
‘You are in general good mood; smiling, making jokes… don’t tell me you are content with yourself.’ He pursed his lips under his heavy beard.
‘I sleep better, less insomnia.’ Darcy mixed the juice in his water glass. ‘And I’m not desperate for the next meal either.’ He sipped his water and winced at the sour taste. ‘I also cut back on the booze; I drank mostly out of habit anyway. Anne always have wine served at dinner and when alone I sometimes had beer-‘
‘Oh, that is a nice fight!’ Fitz chuckled. ‘She hates to have her careful planned meals tempered with!’ He smiled. ‘I love doing it to her!’
Darcy chuckled. ‘By the way, please watch out her dress code next time she invites you. Please don’t ruin another holiday for me.’ He said miserably and Graham laughed delighted. ‘Anne complained about your manners the whole night and the next morning with her mother. I had to hide from them to have some peace.’
‘I’ll do it for you, cousin. Next time your wife invites me in, I’ll wear a tuxedo.’ Graham joked.
Darcy shook his head. ‘It’s a pity that now I only have alcohol on the weekends.’
‘No more booze, light meals… How did you manage on the holidays? The food was anything but salads and grilled meat.’ Graham licked his lips.
Darcy shook his head. ‘That’s why I rowed.’
They sipped their drinks in silence for a while. Darcy checked his watch and Graham thought his cousin had an important appointment waiting for him at his office and their London lunch in would be cut short. But Darcy was really calculating what time it was in Rio de Janeiro and New York wondering why neither Lizzy nor Georgiana called him to say what they had planned. His sister lived alone in a big apartment; he could barely monitor his sister who traveled more than stayed at home so Lizzy could help him while having her girls’ only vacation. During the holidays, he discussed the idea with Georgiana and she loved it. In fact, Georgiana was curious about Elizabeth - the friend her brother talked so much about - and when he asked her if they could stay in the big studio she had in TriBeCa, she agreed instantly.
The women were supposed to have arranged schedules yesterday but neither told him what was settled.
‘Did she tell you to lose weight?’ Graham deadpanned stunning Darcy.
‘Lizzy. The hot Brazilian.’ Graham said. ‘Did she tell you to lose weight?’
‘No…’ Darcy frowned and lowered his eyes to his glass on the table. ‘Of course not. She is much too generous for that.’ He pressed his lips together. ‘She looks a lot younger than her years, not only the four she’s younger than me. You should meet her, Graham. Bloody hell.’
‘Very hot… Let me see her again.’ Graham extended his hand to Darcy demanding his phone. During the Holidays they had escaped the women and spent hours travelling down memory lane, listening to their taped radio transmissions. Darcy read Elizabeth’s letters and studied her photo on his phone, the selfies she took of them both. Christmas Eve, when Darcy called her, Graham popped in the video to exchange a few words with the friend from the past.
Darcy fished his phone from his pocket, fidgeted with it for a while and extended it to his cousin.
‘Holy cow!’ Graham said reaching for Darcy’s phone that showed a picture of Lizzy on her balcony, tank top and skirt, legs curled under her, smiling and holding a beer. He looked over the phone to Darcy who nodded and then back at the picture. ‘Are there others?’ He asked. Darcy nodded again.
While he perused the pictures until he reached Pemberley’s pure blood horses, an idea occurred to Graham. ‘Are you falling, man?’
‘Are you having an affair with her?’ Graham pressed.
He shook his head ‘no’ but Elizabeth’s voice over the phone came to Darcy’s mind: “Have you ever heard of the expression ‘emotional affair’?” ‘She is also married, we are friends. I just like to talk to her, she is sunny. She doesn’t sound like an old nag, we laugh, share kids’ problems, ideas – mostly we try to convince each other of our view of things… much like when we were teens. We don’t have any bad blood between us. No dead weigh dragging us down. We have fun together.’
‘Sounds like an affair to me.’ Graham sipped his beer. ‘Fuck you! Now I feel guilty for having this.’ He put the glass down and waved for the waiter to order a diet soda.
Usually, George Wickham had the loving company of his beautiful wife as soon as he landed in Rio’s Air force base. After working aboard a hospital ship for three weeks at a time, all he wanted was the comfort of his family and his wife’s kisses.
A handsome man that knew the power of a uniform, Wickham had opted for the Navy right after med school and didn’t repent. He had had trouble adjusting to the hierarchy but once he made friends, he started building a nice career.
He planned to open his private practice when he retired from the Navy taking advantage of the good reputation he was building working the most unusual cases on the Hospital ship. He even studied the option of working abroad for a year joining the Peace Corps stationed in Haiti. But until he made a decision if it would actually improve his professional reputation, he wouldn’t share his plans.
Wickham ran a hand over his short hair and smiled to the lady officer talking to him at the Air base’s reception. He tried to remember when he had had a night with her but he couldn’t, it must have been very dull. He was concerned if this woman would cause him any headache when Elizabeth arrived to pick him up.
He hated taxis and as she worked a few minutes from the Base, he scheduled his flights so she could give him a ride home. That way they could chat before the kids demanded his attention exclusively. Once or twice he had managed to get an early flight and they stopped at a motel to rekindle their love even before arriving home.
The woman was smiling flirtatiously at him, adjusting her hair and shifting from foot to foot inside her uniform. If she only knew that uniforms were a weapon he used for seduction not to be seduced… Anyway, she could try almost anything and wouldn’t top the vision of his beautiful wife arriving with a smile on her cute face.
Her appealing figure clad in a black pencil skirt, fitted baby blue button down shirt, a black scarf around her neck, black high heels, delicate golden accessories; she was a vision for his sore eyes. He was proud that his wife was such a beautiful woman.
The moment he saw her, he tuned out the lady officer and turned to the door from where Elizabeth was coming, his cap under his arm.
‘Hello, Babe.’ He said when she got close.
‘Hey, George.’ She smiled and held his arm. ‘Welcome home.’
Wickham hugged her trim waist and kissed her lips lightly, careful not to make a show - one of his biggest traits was discretion – introduced her to the officer talking to him, said his goodbyes and left carrying his duffel bag in one arm and wife in the other.
She gave him the car keys, he took the wheel and they headed home. Elizabeth knew she would be picking him up so she was using his car that day, a midsize sedan that he loved. Wickham relaxed behind the wheel and maneuvered the evening traffic until they entered the highway.
As Elizabeth told him what had happened these last weeks, Wickham basked on the pleasure of holding her knee as he drove, feeling her gentle touch on his neck, learning about his children’s last exploits and hearing her melodic voice. Talking about another man.
Since she discovered this jerk online, she had been obsessed with him and their teenage years. Wickham remembered the guy perfectly from that eventful school convention in Peru, how haughty he was talking before the crowd of teenagers and his face when he knew Elizabeth wasn’t going to show up. At the time, Wickham thought the guy decided to leave early because she wouldn’t be coming and that propelled him to ask her out. How long since he had heard that name spoken?
‘What else happened, Babe?’ Wickham asked, not bothering to disguise his tone of voice.
‘Besides Fitz’ sister offer to host us in New York next month?’ Elizabeth asked. ‘Or besides my week away with Jane?’
‘Both.’ He said checking his side mirror to change to a faster lane.
‘Mmmm… Nanda is almost giving up the pacifier, at last. Fitz sent Tom that build-your-own dinosaur kit he wanted so badly.’ Elizabeth smiled. ‘He was static when he got the box!’
Fitz, Fitz, Fitz. If he heard that name one more time he would be sick. With jealousy. His wife was not enough; he had to pounce on his son too. ‘Which toy?’ He asked.
‘That one I bought him last year when he aced his first math test, remember?’ She said and babbled about his son but Wickham didn’t know what she was talking about.
He believed Elizabeth pampered the boy and he’d like Tom to be raised as he had been, careless and free to play soccer with friends whenever he’d like. When he was at home, he took the boy to the beach all the time to let the kid do as he pleased.
‘And what about your PhD? Any news?’ He changed subjects pushing this matter for later.
He would deal with that later.
“… Friends will be friends
When you’re in need of love they give you care and attention…”