I've been procrastinating in posting because of the lame feedback... It takes a lot of work to post! There's so much to do with the approaching release of '45 dias na Europa com Sr. Darcy' and even though I love the Prince so very ardently, this chapter is probably the next to last I'll be posting. I originally intended to post all three books but the third and the last chapters of the second won't be made public before the publishing.
Till then, this Darcy and Lizzy are thriving...
As always, if you haven't already, read the story's front page before diving in. Tks.
Sous le ciel de Paris
If turning 40 was a nervous-wrecking moment for Elizabeth – especially for the waves the year brought her, she outright feared her 41st birthday.
Still anxious about the situation where her friendship with Darcy was set; she boarded the plane for another module of classes in Paris two days before her birthday feeling her heart flutter sadly. Jane was her all time companion and being older than Elizabeth had been always present in all her birthdays, Wickham since they started going steady, after the children were born, it became more an event to please them. This year, Elizabeth was going to be alone.
Of course there were acquaintances or not-so-intimate PhD friends with whom she was planning to have drinks and go clubbing, but…
As soon as she approached the arrivals gate’s sliding doors at Charles De Gaule, she saw her usual French chauffer waiting. Elizabeth considered dismissing the service, it felt weird to take advantage of Darcy’s money but he surely was aware she still used it - probably even wanted her to have it, otherwise he would have pulled the plug. Darcy’s presence always lurked around her; the man himself was distant in spite of the low-key texts they shared once or twice a week.
She asked to be delivered at the university and her large luggage at the studio where the ghost of her last stay awaited her. Instead of facing her guilt for the affair that cost her royal friendship, Elizabeth plunged into the loads of documents to catalogue, preliminary research results her advisor approved of and gave her excellent tips of how to conduct the next phases. They had a quick lunch at the university bistro and by the end of afternoon, Elizabeth walked to the studio feeling content about how swiftly her PhD were moving.
It was still summer and no one could resist a sunny afternoon in Paris – especially not Elizabeth. With no hurry to arrive at the empty studio, she slowly walked window-shopping along the way. Maybe she should change shower curtains as Jane suggested, she thought at an exquisite housewares shop before calling her sister and inviting her (again) to come to Europe so she could complete her design, it had been over a year since they last traveled together. Elizabeth’s next module of classes had a presentation in Paris and more than a week in London giving Jane very little chance to turn down the offer.
Elizabeth continued her slow walk home babbling through expensive international long distance mobile connection and turned a corner taking care not to bump into any of her favorite bistro’s sidewalk tables. Even after an eleven hour’s flight and the warm weather, she felt good in a classic knee-length fitted dress with a wrap neckline that in itself didn’t say much but it was peppermint green. Usually she wore black and white because it was easier to compose outfits when in a hurry but Jane had chosen this dress for her and Jane had excellent taste in anything; Elizabeth only had to add stylish sunglasses and a thick caramel belt to be elegant and comfortable.
She chuckled at what Jane said watching her step and looked up to see the most exciting sight she could think of: Darcy in sunglasses, bearded, sipping from a small espresso cup and seated at the last bistro’s sidewalk table.
It was clear for both when they saw each other. Time stood still for a moment and everything else blurred. It only lasted a second, a millisecond, not long enough even to be a pivoting scene in a romantic movie but it was enough to overdrive their systems.
Jane babbled for the long moments Elizabeth took to walk the thirty meters from the corner to where Darcy’s table was and incredibly enough, hung up saying she had another call as Elizabeth stood in front of him not believing her eyes.
Darcy didn’t sit up when she arrived close to him, even though his heart pumped blood everywhere in a frenzy. Seeing her looking so sexy in a summer afternoon made him think all kinds of mad fantasies at once. But he kept his legs crossed in front of him taking a good part of the sidewalk, pressed his lips in a smile and extended his hand for her to hold.
Elizabeth returned the subdued smile afraid her lips would tremble if she didn’t take care.
Darcy took her hand and brought it to his lips for a kiss. ‘Care for a birthday toast or is it too early?’ He asked and twisted his other arm to check his watch. ‘Seven hours left.’
As his lips surrounded by a beard touched her skin, the hairs on the back of her neck rose. ‘Almost ten. I was born at forty five past ten pm, that’s three forty five in the morning here. I already did the math.’ Elizabeth squeezed his hand.
‘Ah!’ He nodded. ‘That is very important because it determines which planet runs your house, correct?’
‘Fuck the planets. They have been screwing me lately.’ She smiled a little bigger.
“I hate when we part. Stay forever.” Darcy smiled back.
‘Isn’t it too early for drinks?’ She asked raising one eyebrow.
He shrugged, her hand still in his. ‘We can toast with coffee.’
‘You’re having coffee?’ She asked raising her eyebrows. ‘Pas de l’eau chaud?’
Darcy shook his head. ‘They’re out of leaves here.’
She chuckled and leaned in to kiss his cheeks.
Darcy knew it was a common Brazilian greeting but it still surprised and delighted him as her perfume’s trace invaded his nostrils.
‘Coffee then.’ Elizabeth said and took a seat beside him.
Hungry for each other, they strived to rebuild their bond as if their friendship hadn’t suffered from the months of estrangement. They talked about mundane things, laughed and teased each other for hours.
‘…So, I posted a silly comment like: ‘cute boyfriend’, ‘you look cute together’ or something like it and like… five seconds later I was notified someone answered my comment.’ Elizabeth said and clicked some invisible button in the air. ‘I clicked there and it was Gardiner saying: ‘boyfriend question mark, exclamation mark, question mark, exclamation mark...' Elizabeth said and Darcy raised his brows pressing his lips together. She was talking with her hands excitedly and he was happy she was happy with him. ‘I thought: ‘oh shit! Didn’t she know?’ And I clicked on ‘private message’ to send a note to Weston but then I thought better and when I returned to the post, my original comment was deleted!' She said laughing and he chuckled. ‘Another minute and the whole post was deleted! I was so mortified!' She balled her hands over the table, still laughing. 'No one knew he was gay? Wasn't it obvious? Your rats know, right?’
Darcy gave her a smug smile. ‘He is one of the rats, Lizzy.’
‘Oh my God! You corrupted the kid!’ She accused and he laughed. ‘I don't know why he didn’t block me after this fiasco!’
“I know why.” Darcy thought.
‘I’m embarrassed to even like anything he posts now!’ She laughed.
Darcy was still chuckling. ‘I'll talk to him.’
‘No!’ She cried and held his arm. ‘Don't!’
He covered her hand with his and she smiled sweetly at him. She missed spending time with her friend so much these last months, it felt nice to have him with her for a chat. And the beard gave him a mysterious air, like someone she had just met. It almost felt like a clean slate.
‘I never saw you bearded before...’ She said smiling.
He shrugged. ‘Do you like it?’ He brought her hand to his lips for another kiss.
‘It suits you.’ She smoothed his obviously carefully trimmed beard with the back of her fingers, dying to caress it around his lips. ‘There's white in it.’
He smiled with pressed lips.
‘Why you let it grow?’ She asked lowering her hand.
‘I had to have something unrelated to you, Bart, or else I would go crazy.’ He answered seriously.
“… Yeah, I’m tangled up in blue, You can call me your fool,
I only wanna be with you… “