This week we've reached 100k views! Wow!
I'm planning a new header, some new feats... Will update this blog soon.
Till then, this Darcy and Lizzy are not on their best terms...
As always, if you haven't already, read the story's front page before diving in. Tks.
Stiff upper lip
Saturday, nine in the morning and the silence in his floor at the Manchester’s company building was killing Darcy. He wanted to have people around, to find problems that needed solutions, to make money or plan new ventures. Anything would help distract him from the resentment in his chest.
Obviously, he had been a victim of self-deception and now his anger was fueling his passion more than Elizabeth’s instigating presence ever did. She ran away without a note, a phone call or a text message; his Lizzy had simply disappeared after he admitted he loved her.
Darcy was emotionally drained but couldn’t shut down completely as usual because things didn’t make sense. It was not like her to neglect his contacts. He didn’t know where she was, if she was at home or still in Paris; sick or just escaping him. Of course, she said she was having problems dealing with what she felt for him but he was there to help her through it. Elizabeth criticized him for doing so countless times and she was the one to flee leaving him in the loop.
Elizabeth was even better for him in person than on paper, it was a shame they didn’t meet earlier in life. Were all marriages the same? Would he be as unhappy with her as he was with Anne? He doubted. She was his best friend who enjoyed talking to him, laughed at his jokes, respected his opinions as much as he did hers; she ‘fought in his side’. She brought out the best in him; she had encouraged him to be a better father and even a better husband. How could he understand why she created a storm instead of working with him to calm it?
She was merely confused; his Lizzy would never want to hurt him that bad on purpose.
Darcy’s emotional turmoil was fogging his vision; he was desperately trying to protect himself as well as he could. Elizabeth was wounded around his everyday life in the smallest details: his new haircut, his exercising and dieting, even his passwords. Not to mention the only employee he found wandering the empty hallways that morning.
‘Gardiner.’ Darcy barked in his foulest mood.
The boy jumped almost spilling his hot tea cup, for the first time experiencing the boss’ famous bad temper days. ‘Good morning, Mr. Darcy.’
‘Are you the only one here?’ Darcy frowned and checked his watch. ‘It’s been three hours since I summoned everyone in this floor.’
‘It’s Saturday, sir.’ Ana Gardiner’s son answered. ‘Not everyone checks their e-mails at six in the morning.’
‘But you did.’ Darcy squinted his slanted eyes menacingly.
‘I had nothing better to do.’ The boy shrugged.
“Neither had I since I’ve been dumped.” Darcy thought. ‘I need to back up my personal files. Come with me, Gardiner.’
He had been delaying this boring task for weeks, but it was already something to take his mind from his personal hell.
Half an hour into it, Darcy remembered who the young man was. ‘Gardiner, your mother and I have a friend in common.’ Darcy said cautiously looking across from his desk to the boy who nodded without taking his eyes from his laptop.
‘Bennett.’ He said. ‘I mean, Lizzy Bennett.’
‘Yes. She was your mother’s high school friend, right?’ Darcy asked.
‘More than that, sir. They were neighbors during childhood and most of their teenage years. They lost contact only when my mother moved to Europe.’ Weston raised his head. ‘She is very sweet, even invited me to be her online friend.’ Darcy frowned so deeply that the boy squirmed in his chair. ‘Social networks?’ He asked. ‘We share photos and links… She poached me from my mother’s site… Here, let me show you.’ Weston took his phone from his pocket and loaded his personal profile to find Elizabeth’s page, then extended the device to Darcy.
There she was, smiling with her children, in Paris, in London, their early breakfast on the day they spent the whole night together, her pets… the world he had been dumped from.
‘Is she on line?’ Darcy handed the phone back.
Weston frowned and fidgeted with his phone for a few seconds. ‘No.’ He shook his head. ‘Last activity was yesterday afternoon when she was tagged by someone else. Here.’ He showed Darcy a photo of Elizabeth and Charlotte holding champagne cocktails.
|fashion addicted foodies|
‘#happyHour with #bestFriend @ElizabethWick before #shopping #Paris #familyParty #PhDOnTheMove.’
To a stranger, Elizabeth was smiling but to Darcy, she seemed tense and unhappy.
‘Anything else?’ Darcy tried to be inconspicuous but was glad for the welcomed and unexpected clue.
Gardiner’s son checked every social network he knew his mother had assuming Elizabeth would have as well, but there had been no activity. They heard noise down the hall and Darcy rose to bark orders making everyone work as hard as possible, accosted his directors and vice-presidents as they arrived in jeans and t-shirts demanding reports for that same day, driving everyone into an unnecessary frenzy that matched his inner turmoil.
When Hurst arrived, Darcy asked about the Gardiner boy who was still working in his office. His head of security said the boy was clean, only son of a single mother; bastard child from a father married to someone else, currently without a partner although he occasionally dated other single men his age. ‘The boy is a computer genius who was wasted down at tech, good you found him. He’s safe and loyal.’ Hurst said and Darcy nodded.
He returned to his office and closed the door behind him making the boy jump again. ‘Gardiner, I want to find Lizzy. Hack what you need to, but find her.’ Darcy said seating down on the sofa.
The boy twisted in his chair to look at Darcy and frowned. ‘Excuse me, sir?’
‘Elizabeth Bennett Wickham.’ Darcy said clasping his fingers as he leaned his elbows on his knees. ‘Find her.’
‘I know who she is, but-‘ Weston started saying.
‘She was supposed to meet me for dinner, but she… had a problem.’ Darcy lied. ‘I called her, but she didn’t answer.’
Darcy squinted. ‘You do realize this is strictly confidential and if someone finds out I asked you this, I’ll sue your ass even before firing you.’
‘Yes, of course. I signed a non-disclosure agreement when I was promoted to your personal staff.’ The boy stammered.
Without wasting time, Darcy grabbed the best chance he had to make contact with Elizabeth. ‘Her e-mail is sieved by our server. We also provide her with network security for on line transactions.’ Darcy said. ‘It shouldn’t be a problem for you.’
‘If I had her passwords, it would be easy peasy…’ Weston said unsure if he should be happy to be credited this task by the big boss himself or suspicious of this unusual request to spy on someone who was so kind to him and his mother. ‘I don’t have clearance to access this kind of data, sir. I could hack but it’s against the company’s policy.’
‘Call Hurst and pass him to me, he will clear you.’ Darcy pointed at the phone in his desk. ‘And try King87 as her password. Maybe Prince87.’
All Weston Gardiner could do at that moment was comply and followed Elizabeth’s cyber footsteps. He found out she didn’t use her e-mail accounts since last Thursday, didn’t use her credit card or uploaded anything on her social network profiles. He was loath to lose this chance of making himself useful to the boss and even after Darcy sent him off his office so he could talk in private with his vice-presidents, Weston continued to dutifully spy on Elizabeth.
He called his mother asking her to call Elizabeth and say he had sent her a message – what was not a potential lie. He had in fact tried to contact her fearing she was only avoiding the boss. His mother told him they had talked on the phone earlier that week and that Elizabeth was sorry for not being able to meet this time, but that she could try and contact her friend anyway. That lighted an idea and Weston decided to search airline websites.
Some hacking here, some snooping there, the help of an ex-lover who had experience in finding impossible answers and there it was: by the end of the afternoon, he had something to report. Weston jumped from his desk and ran to Darcy’s office.
Even though his secretary protested, Weston knocked on the door and opened without waiting for an invitation.
‘What is it?’ Darcy barked from his desk where two other hotshots were showing him a big stack of documents.
‘Sir?...’ Weston stammered. ‘I, well, sir…’ He considered if he had been too forward. ‘It’s about your backup, sir…’
‘I told him not to interrupt you, Mr. Darcy.’ Mrs. Clavis said arriving behind the boy and reached for the doorknob still in Weston’ hand.
Darcy felt a sparkle of hope by the look on the boy’s face. ‘Let him in.’ He barked and pointed at the far sofa in his office. ‘I’ll be right back.’ He said to the other men in his desk, raised and walked to the sofa where he took a seat pointing the one in front for Weston. They both leaned in to speak in rushed tones.
‘Lizzy landed safely in Rio de Janeiro a few hours ago, sir.’ He said triumphantly. ‘She took a flight that left Paris Friday evening, had a layoff in Spain and then directly to Brazil. I believe it was a last minute booking, but her name was in the flight’s manifest. She may be at home, do you want her number?’ He asked. ‘Should a make the call?’
Darcy shook his head still with his eyes closed. When he heard ‘landed safely in Rio’ he closed his eyes and cursed low in his throat in a mix of relief and anger. She had really fled! ‘Thank you, Gardiner. Well done.’ Darcy rose and patted the boy’s shoulder. ‘You can go now.’
Darcy returned to his documents discussing business mechanically while his head refused to wrap around the idea that she deliberately left him. He had her home number and could call her whenever he wanted but she didn’t want to talk to him or else she would have answered his calls and texts.
That night sleep evaded him and in the morning, he sent her a heartfelt e-mail before going to work. Sunday was as good a day at the office as any other, he thought. However, unlike Saturday, he didn’t summon anyone and worked alone with clenched teeth and fire in his chest.
Monday, Darcy had a few important meetings outside the office where he only arrived after lunch. Once there, amongst many messages, his secretary said Weston insisted on talking to him. He considered not calling the boy at first, then telling the boy to forget about Lizzy but finally, two hours later, his curiosity won.
‘Sir, her sister Jane posted a picture of Lizzy this morning.’ He said and extended his phone for Darcy to see it. Elizabeth smiling with Jane and the three children at the beach, the subtitles said it had happened that Sunday.
What made him furious again was that she had a normal day while he dwelled on her absence, and that fueled his resolve. ‘Gardiner, put me in tonight’s flight to Rio.’ He said already thinking which business needed his urgent approval before he left. ‘Text me the address of the best toy store on the way to the airport.’
‘Yes, sir.’ Weston said and left Darcy’s office in a hurry.
As Darcy boarded the first class on his way to Rio five hours later, his phone buzzed and irrationally he hoped it was Elizabeth; but it was Weston.
‘Sir, tomorrow is a holiday in Rio. Wednesday, however, there will be a public auction for the biggest oil field in the area. Have a safe flight.’
Darcy decided that he indeed liked the Gardiner boy and that he deserved to be his personal assistant. That kind of help made his life a lot easier.
“… It started out with a kiss, how did it end up like this?
It was only a kiss, it was only a kiss… “