quinta-feira, 18 de julho de 2019

9 ways to live Pride and Prejudiciously - chapter 12_ PART I

hi, there.
I'm making preparations to lauch this story in Portuguese version here in Brazil with minor changes... No, several changes. It'll come out in print and ebook version, as cheap as a subway ticket. 
Don't know if anyone would be interested in having this one here (in English, revised and extended) in print. Would you?
On line it'll always be available here.

I do have a new project coming on, very cute and funny and mysterious and lovely. It'll be available on ebook and paperback before the end of the year. Hopefully.

So, after Williams' dream, we arrive at a very, very special point... Can you guess where?

I am very excited to show this chapter. Not only it is my firt time toying with this Austen classic, but for Bertha and Williams is such a romantic moment!... Hope you like it! *fingers crossed*





Nine ways to live Pride and Prejudiciously
WIP, modern (mostly), adult (you know me...), fun, fluff, heart healing stuff.
read chapter 11 _PART 2
or START from CHAPTER 1

CHAPTER 12
VIII- Lonely Hearts - part 1


Bertha was having a busy morning; the coffee place was alive with students buzzing in because of a lecture about to start at the community college down the street.

Even though she wasn’t needed at the cashier, she managed the long lines and the special requests to get things moving as quickly as possible.

When someone touched her shoulder, she turned ready to answer where to find an outlet to charge a cellphone.

‘Williams!’

‘Morning.’

She knitted her brows. The guy was two days late for the weirdest date of her life and, oh dear, he brooded. ‘Is everything ok?’

‘I didn’t show up.’

She nodded pressing her lips together.

‘Do you want to know why I couldn’t?’

She shrugged. ‘Changed your mind?’
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He took the small bag from his pocket.

‘My belladama!’

‘Belladama, you say.’

‘I’ve been insane trying to find this.’

‘You forgot in my car.’

She blinked, puzzled. Why was the guy in such a funny mood- ‘You drank it?’ Bertha hid her mouth in her hands. ‘Lottie is going to kill me.’

‘I smoked it.’

‘What?’ She shouted.

‘And slept for two days.’

A laugh escaped her. ‘How was it? Did you like it? Why are you so mad?’

‘You were with me the whole time, maybe you can tell me what happened.’

Words left her, heart stopped, eyes dried out. The man standing there in front of her with a frown, stubble in his face, eyes set on her, mouth slightly opened… ‘It’s you…’ She whispered and felt her face redden as tomatoes in spring. ‘Oh my God, now I recognize.’

‘Bertha?’ Someone called her from the counter. ‘Can you help here with this order?’

Both having difficulty breathing, they needed a moment to think straight.

Williams was the first to react. ‘I’ll be there.’ He pointed to a corner. ‘At the last table, I’ll seat there and will wait for you.’

‘I can call you later.’ She swallowed. ‘I have your office’s card.’
He shook his head. ‘I’ll be here. Waiting.’

‘K.’


He had to wait for her for more than half an hour.
‘Ancient wild belladama, very strong, hybrid, uncommon. Gold in leaves.’ Bertha was finishing her explanation. ‘Good to find… Happiness. Not magic per se but when we wake up, we’re the same only different. The hybrid belladama brightens the best side of things.’

‘Still you feel the need to take some time away.’

A shrug. ‘I’m new to this thing. Still identifying the strength, I don't know I have. Maybe I’m just confused.’

Williams was as skeptical as Bertha when she was first introduced to the magical tea. ‘So, we choose a mug; add boiling water, wait, sip, sleep.’

A giggle. ‘There should be some preparation.’ She bit her lip. ‘Anticipation.’ 

‘Prepare anything you want today, tonight we sleep together.’
‘You're mad!’ Bertha laughed. ‘I barely know you, how can I sleep with you?’

‘I have your tea; we'll buy a special mug together and drink. Then we lay down and wait the dream reach us.’

‘At the same time?’

‘Why not?’

‘I don't even know if it can be done this way! And you just woke up from a trip, you shouldn't take another.’

‘Call your friend, ask her.’

‘Oh, no!’ Eyes wide, mouth in an ‘o’, Bertha even heard Lottie's arguing. ‘No way. Maybe she didn't realize I took the bag, if I tell her we'll ride together, she’ll have a fit.’

‘What you mean, take the bag?’

‘My belladama was almost gone; I visited her house back home and saw this bag forgotten... so I took it.’

‘Stole it?’

A frown. ‘I'll tell her.’

‘It's still taking without her knowledge, Bertha.’

She twisted her lips. 

‘So you refuse me today.’

‘Why shouldn't I? You invited yourself to my bed, accused me of stealing, said that I drugged you.’

‘I didn't.’

‘Pretty much. Insulted me in several manners. Only missing is for you to say that I'm the waitress you want to date but your family think is bellow you.’

‘You know it is you and you also know my mother misunderstood what my sister may have told her.’

‘I don't know anything.’

‘I like you. That’s the only reason I can think for having dreamt of you last night and I suspect it’s been so for a while.’ He leaned on the table to get closer to her. ‘Do you dream of me?’

Bertha bit her lip.

‘My sister says that when we think about someone, the person is thinking about us.’

Her ears burned. It was him, she knew it. He was her Mr. Darcy, Mr. Perfect. In times past, in other situations, in breeches, suit, undressed, fighting with her, dancing, making business deals. ‘Maybe.’ She conceded. 

‘Say when, Bertha. And where. Your house, a hotel. Or come to my place, my bed. But I insist on having this tea with you.’

‘I can't miss work after these days away because of the storm, you just had a hell of a ride… how about Friday night?’

‘Fine, Friday.’ Williams nodded. ‘Today we'll go shopping for mugs. Then have dinner.’

‘A date?’

‘Yes. Is it a problem?’

‘Let's not! Please?...’

‘Why, Bertha?’

‘Let's keep almost strangers and get acquainted in the Belladama haze?’ She invited and in her agitation, Bertha reached out to hold his hand over the table. ‘If we do find each other in the dream, I mean. We don't know if we'll meet there…’

‘I'm sure we will.’

‘We can buy a mug Friday afternoon; I leave at five. Maybe I can take one from the shop.’ She pointed the shelves.

‘No, we'll buy it somewhere else.’ He smiled shyly. ‘I'll be here Friday, 4:30pm.’


For days she served him his latte every morning, they exchanged kisses on the cheeks and he left without any other word. 

Friday arrived. Very anxious, Bertha left earlier. Texted him saying she’d be at home and took a good long run to prepare her body for what was to come. To be true to herself, Bertha did think about spending time with him in more ways than just sleeping. 

Even though she felt silly, she prepared a small backpack with a silky black demure pjs with matching sleeping mask. Also, a big toiletry bag with perfume and shampoo, one could never know…

He was at her building's sidewalk a little early, also too anxious to wait in his place until it was time to get her. Williams had had many dates in his life, but never one to drink tea and sleep. 

Embarrassed, they shared a kiss on the cheek that hovered perilously close to the lips; she entered his car - this time waiting for him to open the door for her. She was surprised to hear rock when the radio came to life; the sound had been considerably gentler than the last time she had been there. However, she didn’t comment as they drove to the mall.


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There was a long time spent choosing a mug. It needed to be the right size and print. After agreeing on not agreeing, they chose a simple white tea for one set. The pot fitted the mug perfectly, the two items made a perfect pair. 

'That'll do.' Bertha said.

'Are you sure?' Williams twisted his head to a side like a puppy.

'Positive.'

'The cheapest.'

'The best choice.'

Best choice also had been his place, which she supposed to be bigger and less crowded than her small flat; also less impersonal than a hotel.

There, they brewed the belladama tea together sharing nervous laughs and giggles. As it cooled, they discussed where to take it.

‘My bed.’ He said.

She bit her lip. ‘Never been this forward, Williams.’

‘Say Darrygh, Bertha.’ He proposed.  ‘I'd like to call you Bee.’

‘Cute.’ She thought.  

‘You’re always so busy at the coffeeshop.’

She liked that she payed attention. ‘Dar, then, to match.’

‘My bed, it's more comfortable.’ He pulled the covers he had changed moments before leaving to get her. ‘Pillows for both of us, a fluffy duvet.’ He stopped. ‘Will you change? Should I?’

‘Not sure… both of us in pjs?’ A giggle.

‘You can use this bathroom; I’ll use the one in the hallway.’

Both incredibly embarrassed and deeply excited with the possibility of spending a dream together, Bertha and Williams found themselves in pjs facing the bed and the teapot.

‘We're really doing this?’

‘We are!’

‘Ok.’ She took a deep breath. ‘Here we go.’ And sipped first.


‘Are you sure you want to leave my bed?’ 

His rich voice caressed her ear. ‘Oh, please, stop that, love.’

‘It would be incredibly insensitive of you to leave my bed when I’m here naked wanting to have more of your company.’ He insisted. ‘My fiancée.’

Lizzy turned from the mirror where she dressed to share a big smile with sparkling eyes. ‘No ring, Lieutenant Junior.’ 

‘Jewels are a symbol of status; a new one could never say how much you mean to me. My love.’

‘Still.’ She showed him the finger.

‘Wrong finger, wife.’ Darcy threw a pillow at her.

‘Hey, that’s abuse!’

‘That was you pretending you don’t care for my mother’s ring waiting for you at my sister’s ranch.’ He was serious and could see from her face that she quit the joke. ‘As soon as I get a leave, we’ll visit her to get you the ring, the one my dad gave my mom and she left it for me to give to the right woman one day.’

She kneeled on the bed to kiss his lips. ‘And that one is me.’ 

‘No one other could make me this happy.’ He held her face with both hands. ‘Please, don’t let your parents’ crazy ideas about a big white wedding get to you.’

‘I won’t.’

‘We agreed on something small and intimate.’

‘The beach, sunset, very romantic.’

‘No Hawaii, Thailand, Martha’s Vineyard.’

Lizzy giggled. ‘Chill out, love. My parents are not as crazy as they seem.’

He groaned. ‘Do you really have to go?’ His right hand took her left one towards his abs.

She recoiled as a spring. ‘William!’ In a moment she was on her feet, but her eyes were directed to his very alert sword. She bit her lip. He smiled sideways resting strong arms behind his head. ‘My aunt arrived this morning; she is waiting for me…’ Eyes closed, ears burning, heart racing. ‘Damn you, fiancé.’ A shudder and she left, eyes still closed, hips bumping on his dresser, chair, desk. ‘Ouch, ouch, ouch!’

‘Careful!’ He chuckled. ‘I’ll be there to get you for dinner!’ Darcy yelled, but she was already close to the front door.


Lizzy arrived home still smiling from the incredibly unexpected morning she had had. 
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Earlier when she chose what to wear for a breakfast date with her boyfriend, the very handsome navy officer William Darcy, she hadn’t expected the news he’d have for her. ‘Deployment, Lizzy. In a month.’ He had said in his rich voice holding her hand and she felt that was the only warrant her heart had for not breaking at the spot. ‘Marry me, I ardently love and admire you.’ He continued. ‘Allow me the happiness of leaving with the knowledge that your love is mine.’ She had tears in her eyes, heart in a twist, and the certainty that, without a doubt, he was the man she would ever want for herself.

Parking at the driveway behind her family’s cars, she calculated who would be at home. Sisters Jane and Mary, Aunt Phillipa, mother, her shop’s manager, father, his secretary parked on the curb, a brand new SUV… A busy party to receive her news. ‘Wow!’ She thought. Lizzy waved for the security men posted outside the doors, they waved back and she entered.

As predicted, the house was full and the noise made it impossible for anyone to talk to anyone. She heard her father say something about a dinner party, her mother yell at the lady who helped manage her beauty products’ shop, cousins passed by her dripping the hall floor and her youngest sister Mary hot on pursue. The pool, she understood.

There she found her older sister Jane having drinks with their aunts Phillipa and Gardenia, the dear relative she had been anxious to meet. 

‘Ah, here she is, finally!’ Gardenia stood to hug Lizzy really tight. ‘So pretty! And so long missed! Why haven’t you visited me in Miami, girl?’

‘Because she has a boyfriend that keeps her leash tight.’ Jane sneered.

‘Oh, shut it!’ Lizzy poked her sister and kissed her other aunt.
‘Who is that?’

‘The same, you know him…’

‘A man of the navy, very handsome.’ Phillipa waved her eyebrows. ‘The kind we used to like to date when we were this young, sister. Quite a catch, I’ll say!’

Lizzy smiled. ‘William is just perfect.’ She paused. ‘He just…’
‘Brother doesn’t think much of him, though.’ Phillipa continued.
‘Why is that?’ Gardenia moved her smiling eyes from her favorite niece to her sister.

‘A navy man, really? What is the boy thinking? Wants to be a monk or something?’ She rolled her eyes. ‘His month’s payment wouldn’t cover Lizzy’s tote.’ And pointed to the bag left on the table.

When Gardenia looked back at Lizzy, she found a troubled expression instead of the dreamy enrapture of a moment earlier. ‘Mmm…’ She pointed at the garden. ‘I have something in the car for you, honey. Come with me.’ 

Alone in the front of the house, protected by the watchful eyes of the security men, aunt and niece could talk more freely. ‘You are the daughter I couldn’t have, honey, always said that. When you were born, I threatened your mom to steal you for me.’ The older woman said knowing this tale would make the 19-year-old smile. ‘I know you’re not ok.’

‘Do you know I’m engaged?’ Lizzy raised one eyebrow.

‘What?’

‘Shsh!’ A giggle. ‘He proposed just now, I can hardly believe it.’

‘This navy man?’

‘Lieutenant Junior William Darcy.’

‘One that has been proposed to brings home her fiancé so he speaks to her father while she starts making plans with the women of her family.

‘Sure, that was what happened in 1845.’

‘Lizzy.’ A glare.

A sigh. ‘He’ll be here tonight, everything will be done properly, milady.’ A well-mannered curtsey.

Gardenia shook her head. ‘Why he didn’t come with you? Why are you so… Gloomy? This is not how it’s supposed to happen, honey. When Edgar proposed to me, I was over the moon, danced and laughed; we celebrated, talked to my parents, and started making plans.’ She raised her shoulders. ‘Of course we didn’t know we wouldn’t be able to have children, but we were in love.’ And suddenly a thought occurred to Gardenia. ‘Do you love this man or is he forcing you in some way?’

‘Force me to love a perfect man?’ Lizzy laughed. ‘No need!’

‘But…’

‘But he is to be deployed to Middle East in a month.’

‘Oh, dear!’ Gardenia covered her mouth with her hands. ‘No, no, no…’

‘Can’t something be done, aunt? Some acquaintance of yours? Someone you can call?’

‘Edgar is gone almost ten years already, dear. His friends are still powerful, but I’m not a politician as he was. Your dad could ask around.’

Lizzy bit her lip. ‘Don’t think dad would go to all the trouble, he doesn’t like William.’

‘I can understand my brother…’

‘Aunt Gardenia!’

‘Look at where you come from, honey.’ She waved the big house, manicured lawns, the lush neighborhood, fancy cars. ‘Imagine living in a military base counting on his salary? How much does he make a year? How would you finish school?’

‘He’ll be far for a while, I could keep going…’

‘As a single woman?’ The aunt had sad eyes. ‘What if the worst happens? You’d be a young widow like me.’

‘Oh, dear Lord!’

‘Or learning to handle a handicap. PTSD.’

Lizzy crossed her arms under her breasts. ‘Stop, aunt, please. This is too much insensibility.’

‘It’s practicality, honey. Think straight. There’s no ring on your finger, no one knows of this proposal or they’d tell me the minute I stepped out of the plane and called to say I rented a car.’ Gardenia pointed at the house. ‘There’s time to get out of this.’

‘I love him.’

‘But he is not for you.’

‘I’ll never love another, I love William.’

‘You’re too young, life will teach you. Just don’t choose the hardest lessons.’

---

‘Another promotion, huh?’ The guy sneered. ‘How lucky.’

‘No luck for the enemies on Darcy’s way!’ Another answered.

‘I earned it.’ Darcy said to himself on the mirror contemplating his uniform’s insignias. 

‘Of course you did!’ 

He received collective pats on the back, some more forceful than the others.

‘Whole countries cower in fear of the mighty Lieutenant Commander.’

‘You take too many risks, man.’

‘He’s insane, that’s what he is.’

‘Fucked up.’

‘I am almost ready…’ He whispered to himself.

‘What did you say?’

‘Nothing, forget it.’

---

‘Navy seal?’ Lizzy gasped and held her late mother’s scapular around her neck. ‘But that is too dangerous!’

‘That is damned hot!’ Charlotte, her friend and college at the cable TV station laughed. ‘I met him at a bar last week, we’ve been seeing each other since. Great guy, very handsome, easy to talk to… Has a friend!’

‘Oh, no…’ Lizzy shook her finger. ‘Thanks, but no, thanks.’

‘Come on, there must be cobwebs down there!’

‘You think!’

‘I bet!’

They giggled.

‘I’m single, but not alone.’

‘You are lonely, friend. Everyone can see.’ Charlotte tapped the end of her pencil on the table. ‘The girls are all enthused about this rock festival, want to meet the rock stars, already choosing which ones to pursue and you?’

‘I’m sane.’ Lizzy showed the tongue. ‘My family is here in Miami; dad, sisters, nieces, cousins. I could never take time out for dating…’

‘Ah, so you do want to meet my guy’s friend!’

A groan. ‘Fine. Let’s set up a date.’

‘Great. Tomorrow we’ll meet at that new club on South Beach-’

Lizzy laughed. ‘Stop right there. South Beach, no way!’

‘You’re such a rich snob…’

‘Am not.’

‘Is too.’

‘To prove I am not, I’ll be taking my cousins to Seaworld, Disneyworld and Universal this weekend.’

‘What, Orlando?’

‘Yep!’

‘You’re kidding?’

‘Nope?’

‘What about Black fish?’ Charlotte defied.

Lizzy sighed. ‘There are many other attractions at Seaworld and my cousins have never visited.’

‘Oh, those cousins of different names of yours… so lively they are.’

‘Lively, huh?’ Lizzy twisted her mouth, her friend pouted. ‘They are spoiled, yes. My aunt always wanted to be their best friend, rarely acts like a mother.’

‘How old are these kids? Aren't they too old for them parks?’

‘The girls are 18 and 19. Never heard of anyone over 15 banned from Disneyworld.’  Lizzy teased.

‘Miami has lots of attractions for teens, why go so far?’

‘They asked, my sisters like the idea, we're going.’

‘Huh… what are their double names again?’

‘You enjoy the follies of others, don't you?’

‘Especially rich folks from the other side of the country!’

Lizzy shook her head with a small smile. ‘Lydia Louisa is 19, Henrietta Katherine is 18.’ As her friend pulled a face to repeat the names, she sighed. ‘Just Louisa and Kitty is fine.’

‘You’re nuts. We’re swamped in work for the festival.’

‘I’m an excellent reporter; my job will be done in time.’

‘You’ll be presenting this year!’ Charlotte despaired.

‘Only backstage. I’ll be prepared.’ Lizzy guaranteed.

‘I hope so, or we’ll all loose our jobs!...’

---

A scorching day, the family scattered around the busy park, the only connection they had was their phones. Lizzy walked around with her sister Jane while Mary tried to control her two boys, the nieces were lost.

‘I’m tired. Can we go back to the hotel?’ Jane whined.

‘Alone?’ Lizzy asked. 

The Bennetts regarded the small boys running around the man inside the penguin costume. ‘I can’t stand it anymore. My brats need a bath and I need a sitter. Also my migraine tablets, lots of them. I’m calling it the day and am not afraid to use my favorite apps to call for a ride and a nanny.’

‘You should tag along to help, Lizzy.’

‘And leave the girls to you?’

‘Right, you’d better stay…’ Jane answered miserably. ‘Mary, hire two nannies.’ The youngest sister showed thumbs up. ‘If we were staying at the resort, at least we could wait for them at the pool and send a concierge to take care of the girls, but that awful little place has a tub in the garden!’

‘Oh, come on… It’s a good hotel, comfortable, we can afford and what matters is time spent together with the family.’

‘Blah-blah-blah!’ A sigh. ‘Tell me sincerely that you don’t miss the money we had, not worrying about budget, red credit cards or driving brand new cars.’

‘It was more comfortable…’

‘Dad has to find a way to make good investments again. He can’t keep believing the wrong stock market agents anymore.’

‘He spent too much, Jane, we know that. We all did.’

‘We have an upscale way of life, that is all.’ 

‘My uber is coming. See you later.’ Mary kissed Lizzy and Jane before pulling her sons away as best as she could.

They watched the struggle for a while until Jane sighed, shrugged and pointed the timetable sign. ‘The parrots’ show, it’s time.’

‘The dolphins, you mean.’

‘I love the parrots…’

They shared a smile. ‘Let’s move, I don’t want to stand still forever. Will let the others know where to find us.’

In a few minutes, while the tanned sisters were seated side-by-side waiting for the show to start, chatting, laughing and Lizzy got a new message on her phone.


‘Where r u?’

‘Seaworld, Charlotte. Told u.’ *emoji fish*

‘Yeah, where here?’ *shared location Seaworld Miami*

‘U’re here too! G8! Dolphins! Hurry or u’ll miss!’


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Until the music started, Lizzy twisted and turned her head from side to side trying to find her friend. But when the very hot man in a black diving suit appeared on stage to ask the audience to stand in honor for the military present, she let her eyes feast on his handsomeness. 

It was a customary thing, paying homage to the men and women who risked their lives defending the country overseas, the speakers and screens played the short movie and everyone looked around at the ones standing and saluting. 

That was when Lizzy saw him. Tall, dark and oh-so-handsome. It felt like she was set on fire.

Darcy knew when she saw him because his body alighted. 

~ to be continued ~

quinta-feira, 11 de julho de 2019

9 ways to live Pride and Prejudiciously - chapter 11_ PART II

hi, there.
So, Williams is tripping belladama and we have P&p in reverse. How does it feel? Darcy is vulnerable, and still haughty. Lizzy here has the secret to hide, so she's a little less smiley - do we want to discover what is it?

Yeah, right?!


Here's the last part of HIS SIDE OF THE STORY... Enjoy.



Nine ways to live Pride and Prejudiciously
WIP, modern (mostly), adult (you know me...), fun, fluff, heart healing stuff.
read chapter 11 _PART 1
or START from CHAPTER 1

CHAPTER 11
VII- Head over heels - part 2


The next week, at Charlotte and Collin’s engagement luncheon, Lizzy arrived a bit late ready to spend as little time as necessary. The bride was her longtime friend and worked at Longbourn for years, she had to be there. But knowing the groom’s family, she imagined the menu and imagined it would be a mine field.

As she entered the old farmhouse, the sweet smell of vegetable soup engulfed her. At the first table she found a tall glass with her name pyrocrafted on a charm of rustic wood slice tied to the stem. Cute and highly appropriate to the place. She smiled.

But as she was about to serve herself of the available beer tap, she heard a rich voice advise against it.

‘Better not, Miss Bennett.’

‘I’m sorry, what?’

‘My dad brewed that, this is our brewery.’ The young man gestured widely around them. ‘I’ll fetch you the right drinks.’

She united her brows. One of the brothers, of course, the youngest, what was his name?...

‘Here.’ He filled her a glass with golden beer and showed a paper wrist tag. ‘May I?’

‘What is this?’

‘An identification for everyone who needs special service.’

She nodded. ‘You’re a Mr. Darcy, am I right?’

‘I’m Burgess Darcy.’ He tied the bracelet. ‘Hope you enjoy the party.’

Well impressed, she found her friend to congratulate her and was amused to find Charlotte already a bit drunk.

‘I want to talk to you, Lizzy!’ A tight hug. ‘You and Jane and all our friends!’ Charlotte laughed.

‘I can hear you!’ Lizzy smiled sideways and while waiting for Charlotte to gather the other girls in shouts and giggles, she saw the Warlord looking at her from afar. Handsome, he was, no doubt. A violent tug distracted her and soon she was in a cozy living room with the other women.

‘I brought you here for an invitation!’ Charlotte laughed. ‘A very important one!’

‘Bridesmaids!’ One of the girls laughed as well.

‘Yes!’ They hugged and jumped on the spot together.

‘Why did you wait so long, Char?’

‘Collin didn’t know if he’d invite all his brothers to the altar, and there was this who lives abroad cousin too. Now we know all five men stand with him and I want the five of you with me!’

There was another happy collective hug and the bride took a champagne bottle from the hidden ice bucket.

‘Will you be my maid of honor, Lizzy?’ She asked offering a small mini bottle.

‘Oh, how sweet!’ They hugged. ‘Of course!’

‘Why does she get a special booze?’ One of the girls whined.

‘My future husband’s best man thinks she is a vegan.’ Charlotte shrugged. ‘He took care of special food for her.’

‘The hot chef?’

‘William.’

Lizzy blushed. ‘Thank him for me.’

‘You do it! Show him appreciation by eating what he cooks.’

‘He is an excellent cook!’

‘Oh, my, he is so talented!...’

‘Anyone can see the size of his talent!’

They all giggled like school girls.

‘What are you talking about? The man’s cookery or beauty?’ Lizzy laughed. ‘There is something in the tone of his voice, his address… I don’t know.’

‘She knows! That’s why she hated his food last week!’ Jane giggled.

the vegan company
‘It wasn’t like this. They presented a lousy job, we need to care for our standards.’

‘Blah, blah, blah, the guy moved her.’

Lizzy blushed, sipped her mini vegan champagne bottle and chose not to answer.


During the party, tempted by the friends’ teasing, Lizzy decided to give the finger food a chance. Everything seemed delicious but as she had already eaten, she chose fruits from the side table as appetizers.

‘Hello.’

She jumped, took a napkin and pressed to her lips. ‘Hi!’

‘Fruits have seduced women since the birth of times.’

A moment was necessary for her to understand. ‘The Bible, you mean? Eve and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.’ She asked, the chef nodded beside her. Why would that man bring that up, of all things he could talk to her about?

‘I do not trust my own partiality, but I’ve been told figs are risky for vegans.’ 

She looked at the fruit in her hand, then back at his face, and suddenly the aggravated look made sense. He had overheard her talk to Jane. ‘As delicious as this fruit is, a pity isn’t it? Do you like it?’

‘With prosciutto.’ He said sourly.

‘I’m a vegetarian; and follow a much less rigid diet. The natural enzymes of the plant that consume the insect are a vital process to me. But I prefer to enjoy it without a corpse.’ She raised her shoulders, he didn’t answer. ‘Perhaps you thought I were a vegan because I defended Longbourn’s good name. We can’t always care about arts in my business, Mr. Darcy, at times we need to let go of poetry and focus on mundane concerns.’ She bit into the fig.

‘So ends the emotions.’ William felt a little impatient by her side. ‘There are many form of arts in mundane business, I fancy. In mine, it’s said that poetry is the food of love.’

‘Some say it drives love away.’

‘In any case, poetry is always connected to love.’ He defied her.
‘Poetry is not my business. Since I started working on my father’s legacy I learned that business, more often than not, can’t be always connected to emotions.’

‘I say potato; you say potahto.’

The old song surprised her. ‘You like this and the other, while I go for this and that…’ 

They shared a funny little smile that she considered confirmation of his understanding of her explanations and apology; he, on the other hand, thought it meant she acknowledged her rudeness and the grudge he carried for the disrespect suffered.

‘Maid-oh-honor and Best man together, perfect!’ Charlotte called out. ‘Saves us a lot of time, right, Collin?’

‘Yeah, honey.’

‘You two need to give us a speech!’

‘What?’ Lizzy looked from one person to another. ‘Without preparing anything?’

‘That can’t be so difficult.’ Darcy answered before the bride and groom. ‘I’ll start with a few stories about our childhood and then, in your turn to say something pleasant, you ought to make some sort of remark on the size of the Pemberley estate that inspires our catering business, or the number of people we fed today. Quite a venue it is.’

She nodded. Her polite manners would never allow her to respond to this nitpicking. 

Someone caught his eye attention and William reluctantly averted his gaze from the appealing figure of the rich woman, so pretty with those fine eyes blinking to him in a most unreadable manner. But his cousin was waving, pointing at the very woman, mouthing ‘It’s her!’ . He furrowed his brows. 

In few steps he was close to the distant relative. ‘Lizzy Bennett is who, Wilker?’

‘Lizzy Bennett is the girl who broke my heart in college, remember? I was even jailed because of her, she used me while I kept her amused and when she was through with the poor dude, she kicked me in the head.’

William looked at Lizzy from another perspective, she seemed sexier, prettier, more instigating. ‘You never mentioned her name before.’

‘Bennett from the Longbourn Trust fund who’s here in this paradise of homemade beer and heavenly food without even tasting anything.’

‘I see… She vetoed our catering, for the Institute she runs.’
‘She doesn’t run anything, she only gavottes around in her designer clothes and shoes-’ Wilker sniggered. ‘She must be famished enough, look. She’s eating your excellent food.’

William turned fast enough to see her bite into the tiny Portobello and avocado taco. She was graceful, was having fun with the food and the napkin until… She winced, covered her mouth with a hand, wrapped the taco in the napkin, tossing it in the bin half hidden behind the table and moving to the bar to get a bottle of water out of the ice bucket.

‘Not good enough for her, it seems.’ Wilker snorted. ‘Still the snob beauty I knew. The taco is great, lots of lemon, cousin. Pepper and salt. Perfect for beer.’

Pepper, lemon, salt! William walked directly to side of the table from where she had chosen the taco, took one and atr in one single bite. The deepest shame consumed him, he wanted to disappear. It was inedible.

During the speech, he had no chance to apologize; after it he did try, but a mere glance at his cousin made Lizzy lose the color on his face. In a second he watched her make a phone call and in the other she was gone.
---
Lizzy needed a few weeks to make peace to the visit of her past. A haunting image she wished to never see again took her over. Work distracted her enough to calm her heart.

She was surprised with the request to host an impromptu fashion show with very little advance. Regularly the Longbourn Institute would deny such situations, but both Lizzy and Jane were costumers of the renowned brand, the event would bring them great positive media coverage.

The after party should be of their producing and caught unawares, her regular caterer wasn’t available. Her sister and friend suggested, she accepted the idea of paying what the Darcys from Pemberley asked for the job.

‘They are here, Lizzy.’ Jane said smiling. Standing at the door of her sister’s office, she admired the image. ‘You look so amazing… I wish mom could see you from Heaven.’

A pressed smile. ‘I’ll be right there.’ Lizzy waved her sister off. To herself she chuckled remembering the last time she met the Warlord chef. ‘My father loved to listen Louis Armstrong sing this song about potatos and tomatos, you know which one?’ She asked and the designer’s assistants nodded.

‘Harry Connick Jr. sang that, didn’t he?’ One of the assistants said.
She was still smiling when the door opened again, she heard her cell phone buzz and her table phone rang at the same time. ‘Coming, coming, coming.’ She answered with eyes on her phone to check a last e-mail, stepped into her shoes.

‘Hello.’

The rich voice filled her office and heart. She stumbled to find balance and stood up straight.

‘Funny outfit for a work day!’ William said seriously.

‘Oh.’ Lizzy looked at herself and pointed at the assistants. ‘It’s theirs, I’ll be a model at the fashion show.’

‘Gorgeous.’

‘Thank you.’ Lizzy made a small curtsey making the beige bridal gown that could easily be an evening gown dance around her figure. ‘It’s part of the summer collection.’ Her heart jumped to her throat seeing William’s eyes on her. ‘Hi.’

‘I’m searching the conference room, someone said it was around here.’

‘It is.’ She pointed the door on her left. ‘You can use this door.’ She pointed to the one only for her.

Around the big meeting room table were Collin with Charlotte, Jane sipped fragrant coffee with Brinley by the window waiting William and Lizzy to start discussing business even though they already talked details. The side door opened and they were amused to watch the ones missing walk in together, the pretty girl dressed to be married, the man in jeans and a t-shirt. 

‘Would three Darcys do today?’ Lizzy smiled.

‘For what we came to decide, I think there are too many of us.’ William answered, his brothers shook their heads or coughed.

‘Let’s start then.’ Charlotte tried to call their attention. ‘The luxury brand begged us to host their fashion show, and we accepted for the collateral repercussion. International guests, all the major TV stations and bloggers, beautiful influential people will be here for a night. As it is last minute, our regular crew is not all available. We needed to find a new flower artist, DJ, etc.’

‘And caterer, I suppose.’

‘Of course.’

‘You want my food in your business.’ Williams asked Lizzy directly.

‘If you are up to the task, yes.’

‘Won’t you ask if we are available?’

‘Would you let such an opportunity pass you by?’ She raised an eyebrow. ‘Name your price.’

‘Too valuable to you.’

‘Excuse me?’

‘You can’t afford me.’

Lizzy tilted her head. ‘I don’t want you, Chef Darcy. We need a caterer, so we intent to make business with your firm.’

He shook his head. ‘You can’t afford.’

She looked at Charlotte and Jane with pursed lips, showed her palms and stood. ‘If you excuse me, sirs, I need to tend to urgent calls in my office. This dress being one.’ A nod, a graceful hold of the long skirts and she left.

‘Hi, guys, help me out of your dress, please?’ She said entering her office but before the couturier’s assistants could help, the door behind her opened again. ‘What?’

‘I need to speak to you.’ William said. ‘Alone.’

She could ask him to wait until she got out of the bridal dress, but that would delay whatever silliness he needed to tell her. ‘Would you guys allow me to stay in this divine creation for a few more minutes?’

‘Sure, Lizzy.’ The assistants left.

‘Tell me what’s eating you, Mr. Darcy.’ She smiled sideways.

‘Funny.’

Second times he said that, she counted. ‘Please, I do have several problems to take care.’

‘Excuse me for taking you time, but I need to tell you why Pemberley won’t work with Longbourn Institute.’ He looked her intently, she waited. ‘First, I do owe you apologies for the taco at my brother’s engagement party, maybe it was too seasoned.’

She didn’t know how he knew she had eaten that. ‘It happens.’
‘Mistakes happen; you mean?’

‘Yes…’

‘I noticed you barely tried anything besides fruit and that taco.’

‘Had little appetite, I usually eat before parties because not everyone cares for vegetarian food.’

‘You admit the prejudice. You planned to avoid eating at my brother’s engagement party, he who is partner of a caterer business.’ He endured the humiliation feeling stung. ‘People should apologize, Miss Bennett.’

‘I’m sorry, but I’ve starved in several parties before. You were not obligated to provide special food for me.’

‘Times and times again you imply that I cannot cook to your standards.’

She blinked several times, stood to her height. ‘This is not personal, Mr. Darcy. Your firm offered us vegan food without proof of origins, maybe you thought it necessary to impress me. I can only believe the prejudice is yours believing the choice of veganism is silliness. Correct me if I am wrong.’

He couldn’t.

‘At your brother’s party, my friend’s too by the way, the food I tasted was not tasty to my liking and a caterer has to care for the average of consumers. You can offer seasoning aside; people can choose to use more pepper or lemon or what else but you cannot force me to eat anything.’

‘You didn’t eat.’

She pulled a face. ‘No, heavens!’ Shook her head. ‘And the decisions here are made between me and my sister. It would be enough to impress Jane.’

‘I could present the certificate of origins of all ingredients if only you had asked with civility.’

‘Was I uncivil?’

‘Again, one should apologize for mistakes. That is what we discuss in the family, even outside the firm. My cousin Wilker, you met him at the luncheon, has interesting ideas on that.’ 

She waited. He waited as well.

‘Whatever passed between me and that… person belongs in the past. It is forgotten.’ She said through her teeth.
‘Not for him.’

‘Oh, really?’

‘I see a pattern in you, too squeamish, snob, consider a humble man your servant.’

‘Sorry, I don’t know what you’re talking about.’

‘Wilker was a boyfriend you used in college, Pemberley is a caterer you want to hire when it suits you.’

‘Mr. Darcy, you clearly know nothing about anything. I suggest you leave before any incivility takes place. Please, leave.’ She pointed the door. 


Once freed of the expensive couture dress, breathing still altered, she had her eyes on the computer intent on ordering her printer to work on super speed.

‘Lizzy, let me tell you about the meeting.’ Jane entered the office. ‘We have a problem, but I think I know how to handle-’

‘Not now.’ Lizzy showed her a hand. ‘Stop, go away, don’t want to know.’

‘Wow, why this sweetness?’

‘I am terribly busy, sister. We can talk later.’
She needed just one more print before closing the file and driving all the way to Pemberley Brewery.


William was in his brother’s car when they entered their home and felt a strange pang in his heart when he saw the sleek sports car parked in the driveway. Then she stepped outside, the pretty sexy woman, walked to him, delivered a manila envelope, returned to her car and drove away.

‘What was that?’ Brinley asked.

‘Have no idea.’ William answered opening the envelope.

Next few minutes he wanted to punch a wall.


He had never worked so hard in his life, tried and measured and arranged recipes several times; offered mini dinner parties to friends at home to make sure all the food would be delicious. And then came the fashion show.

William was locked in the kitchen; could only hope she would come to see him. But would Lizzy make the first move? 

When it came to how he felt towards her, vulnerability and insecurity were top of the list, close to much hotter feelings – what proposed an impossible conundrum. His pride hurt, ashamed by what he thought she thought of him, of his shortcomings. It’d be better to be unloved.

But she didn’t visit the kitchen, she wasn’t seen backstage, the gorgeous beige bride’s dress was worn by a model and her pretty face didn’t brighten the party he catered.

When he asked, her sister smiled and avoided answering. His soon-to-be sister-in-law was the one to tell him.

‘She is abroad, William. Lizzy needed to get out of here for a while and there is a Museum in Europe that wants to send us a big exposition. She’s taking care of all negotiations.’

He imagined the real reason for her absence.


During the months until his brother’s wedding, William often returned to the letter Lizzy had included in the envelope with the record of a harassment court case.

‘Mr. Darcy- I believe I can call you William if I am about to give you these documents. I apologize if my extreme care with quality control resonated to you as something personal. It seems to me that you work with emotions more than technic and while it helps me understand your business, it also makes me believe I made the right choice in voting against hiring you.
Had I been insincere and praised your creations, given you a rigid menu to work from, you would have probably made it clear to our upscale customers an inaptitude that would prevent any further jobs. In my opinion, that I gave Charlotte who is to be part of your family, you need to pay attention to formality both in cooking and in management.
But all this could be overseen if the presence of a certain person, Wilker who you just told me is your cousin, hadn’t surprised me at the engagement party. I don’t want to relieve the pain he caused me and tried to inflict on my sister as well, but in case you are misinformed of it – as I suspect you are- Longbourn Institute cannot hire Pemberley Caterers if there is any connection with this man.
This is final.
Certain of your comprehension,
Lizzy Bennett

Sexual Harassment Case Bennett x Wilker
-Complaint harassment
-Testimony of victim Bennett, Lizzy taken at College Campus’ Hospital ER 
-Transcription of electronic communication recognized as threaten to expose intimate content
-Transcription of electronic communication recognized as harassment
-Restraining order against Wilker


 Finally, the wedding arrived. 

debrett's
William was assured Lizzy wouldn’t be present. One of the bridesmaids stood with him during rehearsals, Jane shied from personal comments even though she seemed to be interested in a serious relationship with Brinley, and the bride – turned into bridezilla – had no time to waste.

More interested in guaranteeing the quality of the food he would be serving at the party, William arrived at the church in time with the bride.

‘Where were you?’ She asked in a frown. ‘Go! We’re only waiting for you to start this show.’

‘Wedding is not supposed to be a show, future sister.’ William pulled on his jacket and closed his collar’s button. ‘It’s the beginning of your future life.’

‘Yeah, yeah, Lizzy.’ She waved impatiently making her bouquet loose a few petals. ‘Go!’

Hearing her name, he perked up. ‘Why did you say that?’

‘Don’t stall, future brother, go! I’m already a couple short at the altar, had to dismiss a bridesmaid. Nothing more can go wrong.’

He walked thinking she meant Lizzy who was still abroad, then realized it was his cousin and then he saw her in line giggling with the other bridesmaids.

‘Miss Bennett!’

‘Mr. Darcy.’ Lizzy pressed a smile.

‘Hello, Lizzy. It’s good to see you.’

She averted her eyes, fumbled with the bouquet. ‘William, hi. I heard the dinner menu is superb.’ She felt very embarrassed. The story she had told him in documents was a spot in her past she never talked about simply because deep down, in spite of all the post-traumatic treatment, she still felt unreasonable guilt. As most victims of abuse.

‘No one could tell me if you’d make it, but your meal was carefully planned. Red beet tartare with fresh tomato bruschetta, gazpacho, stuffed butternut squash, Mediterranean grilled seitan and caramel banana bread cake donuts with pecans.’

‘Oh, Lord! That sounds wonderful!’

‘I can guarantee everything is perfectly edible, seasoned to please all tastes, cooked with special care.’

‘I appreciate it.’

‘Hope you didn’t have dinner before arriving today.’

She chuckled. ‘No, came straight from the airport.’

‘Look, Lizzy, I’d like to talk to you later. You gave me a lot to think about and I have to thank you. If you hadn’t shared your history with me, my youngest brother might be in trouble now, he was becoming very close to our cousin.’

She shifted from foot to foot. The first accords of the Wedding March filled the air.

He reached out to hold her hand and marveled at how soft it was, small, flawless. ‘As the only son who inherited his talent in the kitchen, I was spoilt by my father. He taught me his ways with food, encouraged me to be inventive, I believed I was better than anyone. I only saw how selfish and overbearing that was when you crossed paths with me. Such I was and might still be if not for you, dearest, loveliest Lizzy!’

She blinked surprised.

‘Hard lessons I had to learn, over and over. By you, I was properly humbled. I came to that first meeting without a doubt of my reception and found the ugly reality of how insufficient were all my pretensions to please a woman worthy of being pleased.’ William paused to breathe, he had been wanting to say those words to that beautiful woman for a long time. ‘And when I saw you in a wedding dress, I felt deeply greedy because you looked so fine and it was a pity the occasion wasn’t related to me.’

She gasped.

‘I had time to think about what to say to you, there’s more. Please, allow me to explain everything and talk more calmly during the party.’

‘Hey, you two!’ An ugly shout from the bridezilla. ‘You are ruining my wedding!’

William and Lizzy snapped out of their particular haze and realized the wedding procession had already started, the groom was waiting for his best man, all bridesmaids with ushers behind him while the couple talked almost touching faces standing aside.

‘Later?’ He insisted.

‘Yes.’ She smiled sweetly.

‘I’ll be at the altar, waiting for you.’

She blushed.

William walked beside his brother and took his place at the altar. Anxiously he saw his other three brothers walk towards him with bridesmaids on their arms until finally she came, the most perfect, pretty, sexy, appealing woman he had ever met, came walking graciously before the bride.

He had considered their difference in social status, the burden of not being able to be the provider in case they married, but no pressure would prevent him from trying to win her heart.

When she was close enough, he descended one step to offer her his hand, she took it, he brought her to his side and tucked her hand on the crook of his arm. Eye to eye, he could see the promise of a real relationship with a desirable intelligent woman. Being by her side boosted his pride, virility, vanity.

What a vision she was… 

Lizzy raised on her toes to reach his ear. ‘Stop looking at me this way.’

‘A single man of vast talent is certainly in search of a girlfriend.’

‘Me, you mean?’

‘Allow me the chance to win your heart?’


Williams woke up on his living room floor feeling incredibly rested, pleased with himself, contented. As if he had just returned from an extended vacation somewhere very pleasant.

With someone he cared about. 

It was the dream, of course. He remembered it vividly, perfectly. Every detail, sensation, feeling.

cosmic minds
‘Bertha, it was you, my darling… Another name, different hair, an attitude to aggravate me, but you.’ He chuckled holding his chest still laying on the floor.

The morning light filtered directly on the sofa, it must have passed his usual hour. He was late for his date with her!

Williams stood, felt a little groggy as if in a hangover, noticed his friend’s paraphernalia still on his table, his cell phone dead and marched to a shower. When he left minutes later refreshed and famished, his phone already had some power and-

‘Damn it! I slept for two days!’

.
~ continues ~

quarta-feira, 3 de julho de 2019

9 ways to live Pride and Prejudiciously - chapter 11

hi, there.
As I said last week, we're on our way to the end. Not quite there yet... It's time for a meeting, a very special one.

A thing I love in Pride and Prejudice is that Darcy and Lizzy meet again, by chance, twice. Or we think it's by chance. In Kent, during Easter, I do think he was informed she'd be there... Anyway. Both at Rosings and Pemberley they meet again, both times after parting in no-so-friendly terms. Fate keeps giving them chances! 

It's like insistent witchcraft!


So, I give you HIS SIDE OF THE STORY... Enjoy this chapter.




Nine ways to live Pride and Prejudiciously
WIP, modern (mostly), adult (you know me...), fun, fluff, heart healing stuff.
read chapter 10
or START from CHAPTER 1

CHAPTER 11
VII- Head over heels - part 1


‘Finneas!’ Williams called out from the front room of his clinic. ‘Finneas, are you still here? Where is the secretary?’

‘Darrygh?’ A man answered poking his head from a door. ‘She is running an errand for me. Why all the screaming? Is everything ok- Oh, man!’ A chuckle. ‘What the hell happened?’

‘My six o'clock patient was a moron.’ Williams ran his tongue over his front teeth. ‘Fuck up.’

‘Whatever could have happened in a consult for a dentist loose a tooth when he was supposed to be working on someone else's?’

‘I punched him, he punched me back.’

‘What?’

‘Shut up, Chad. Where's Finn?’

Laughing at that point, Chadwick, the dentist, his partner, closed his office's door. ‘Did the guy try to leave without paying? Can't imagine why a DDS would fight with a patient!’

‘Finneas!’ Williams called again.


clube crocs
‘Hey, dude, chill out. You guys try to make me worry your worries, but I'm immune, dude.’ The tall man completely dressed in white but for the crocs sandals, chilli peppers print. 

Williams retracted his bruised lips.

‘Dude!’ A chuckle. ‘How did you chip your central incisor?’

‘A fight!’ Chadwick guffawed.

‘Where?’ Finneas chuckled. ‘You had a full schedule today!’

‘My six o'clock.’ Williams tried to feel the strength of all his upper teeth with a thumb. ‘He's worse. Black eye at least.’

‘Why dude? You're such a peacemaker.’

‘He was rude.’

‘Huh?’ The partners exchanged an amused look.

‘Take a look.’ Williams pointed at his mouth. ‘Prepare me a veneer.’

‘Let me finish my six o'clock, peacefully.’  Chadwick chuckled, Finneas pulled on Darrygh's lip to check out the damage. ‘I'll take a closer look.’

A few minutes later, the dentist made patient with the dentist attending him and the prosthodontist analyzed x-rays. 

‘Incredibly it's a complex crown fracture…’

‘I feel pain; some pulp tissue was damaged.’

‘Luxation? ‘

‘Maybe.’

Finneas searched his pockets until he found a thin cigarette, lighted it and smoked. ‘Here, have some before Chad starts the root canal.’

‘I don't want your marijuana, Finn.’

‘Gonna be in a lot of pain, dude…’

‘Am aware of.’

‘Leave the MMA champion to me, Finn. Go start the restorative work.’

‘Doubt he'll allow me to work on him. His mouth will feel like crap.’

‘Gotta have to. My folks are at some friend's somewhere and I'll have to go get them tomorrow.  Can't show up missing a tooth.’

‘In the middle of this storm?’

‘Hope it thins out until then, here in the city wasn’t so bad.’

‘Imagine if you tell them the reason you fought!’ Another laugh. ‘Because the guy complimented the girl he works with!’
Williams groaned. ‘He was rude to her.’

‘She sells you coffee.’ Chadwick locked Williams mouth opened to start the procedure. ‘The girl is your barista, that is all.’

‘He wants all the warmth she has to offer…’ Finneas smiled puffing smelly smoke. 

The three man smiled, even the one who had lips locked in a mouth opener. 

‘I oee waan too ash e ou.’ Williams mumbled.

‘Right, dude, only ask her out…’ Finneas moved his head slowly as a turtle. ‘Then bring her to your place, ask her to brew you a coffee pot, sip, sip, sip.’

Chadwick guffawed. ‘Go away, Finn! I'm using sharp instruments here.’

‘I'm going, I'm going. But he wants her coffee.’
Williams raised a thumbs up.


The next day, late afternoon when he entered his car to drive the few hours to where his parents stayed, Williams still tried to get used to his new aesthetic. His tongue passed on the smooth tooth every now and then, the sore gum made it even more strange.
Worse still was the memory of the anger building up inside him as the man insulted Bertha. And, as much as Williams thought about it, he could not realize why did he care so much. He had a crush on her, the barista girl who hardly knew he existed. No need to feel so protective of her, so connected. 

Such thoughts, imaginings of some kind of weird bond uniting him to a girl he wanted to date but had no indication would accept him, carried him through miles and miles, two stops to buy icy drinks and when he noticed, his GPS was directing him inside a small town.

What he didn’t notice was that the runner he passed by, the attractive figure in tight running pants was the girl in his thoughts.
Bertha also had no idea that the sleek sedan passing by was new in town or headed to her parents’. The plan was to spend as much energy possible to sleep all the way home avoiding any conversation with the son of her parents’ friends.


get yarn
She only reduced speed one block from home to allow her breathing to slowly return to normal. In front of the house there was an unknown car, black, shiny, new. ‘The son.’ Bertha mumbled. ‘The twin.’ A shake of her head. ‘Come play with us, Danny.’ She said to herself. ‘Redrum. Come play with us forever, and ever and ever…’ She recited the old horror movie.

‘Meeeow!’

‘Oh, Ginger! You do it on purpose!’ 

Chuckles.

‘I believe in you, dear!’ 

‘Don’t give her credit, Gia. She’s the only one who steps on his tail.’ 

‘Because I’m the only one he offers it as a rug, mom.’ Bertha complained entering the living room with a glass of water. Coming from the kitchen where she entered the house, she hadn’t met the son and to her surprise, she knew the guy – at that moment with this mouth wide opened as his father inspected his teeth.

‘Hi, dear, this is Junior, our son. He’s here to pick us up. How soon can you get ready to go?’

‘In a hurry to leave us, huh, Gia?’ Bertha’s father joked.

‘Oh, no! we love it here. But Junior has a busy schedule at the clinic. Just like Darrygh used to be, a day full of patients.’

‘Beautiful job, son.’ Darrygh father said. ‘No one can tell it was ever broken. Enamel restored, need my magnifying glasses to identify the crack line on the palatal wall of the crown, pulp tissue and gum seems healthy.’

‘Finneas and Chadwick are the best in invasive treatments. Post and crown done in record time.’ Williams ran his tongue over his tooth. ‘He closed my diastema without consulting me.’

‘Looks good though.’

‘Yeah.’

‘Junior?’ Gia called out. ‘This is Bertha, the girl you’ll be giving a ride home.’

‘Caffe latte, grande, organic. Williams.’ She whispered. ‘Is that you?’ An amused smile.

‘Hi!’ He smiled back, cheeks slightly colored. ‘You? I mean, hi. Yes, I’ll give you a ride home. Sure.’ Williams paused. ‘It’ll be a pleasure.’

‘Do you two know each other?’

‘He’s a regular at the coffee shop I work at.’ Bertha was still smiling at him. ‘Almost every day he makes the same order, excellent costumer. Caffe latte, grande, organic.’ She told her mother. To him, she added: ‘Can’t help you here.’

‘No need, thanks.’ He smiled back.

His teeth!... She marveled. The gap between the front teeth was gone. How… handsome. More handsome. ‘I’m a little more than a waitress, Gia.’ She added. ‘I serve coffee.’

‘She’s the manager.’ Her mother said. ‘A degree in marketing to work at a coffee shop, a franchise.’ She clicked her tongue. ‘She could apply for a post in the main offices.’

‘I could.’ Bertha broke eye contact with Williams. ‘Going up for a shower. Really quick.’

‘Take your time, Bertha.’ He answered. ‘No hurry.’ However, she was already up the steps.


During the ride, Williams answered his parents, listened to their chat, paid special attention to the road while mostly and constantly observing Bertha. In his car! Singing along with his father’s oldies radio! What a day! If he knew, he’d driven in the storm to spend more time with her, even risking his mother’s watchful eye. He knew she noticed how he stole glances at the mirror because more than once he caught his mother’s eyes after admiring Bertha, both women were side-by-side on his back seat, it was unavoidable. Soon his sister would start calling to ask for details…

When they stopped for gas and coffee, his father smiled, waved his eyebrows, nodded. ‘I like her, good humored, polite, pretty. Her father is a good friend. It’d be nice to share grandkids with him.’
Williams chuckled. ‘In a hurry, old man?’

‘Do I get any younger?’ He defied. ‘Do you?’ A pause. ‘I see your eyes on her.’

‘It’s curiosity. Never seen her out of the uniform.’ He shrugged.

‘I know…’ A smirk. ‘I can seat with your mother and move the pretty girl to the front.’

‘No need, I’ll drive her home when I drop you off.’

In fact, it was a curious situation for people who hardly knew each other. As much as her presence gave Williams a thrill, Bertha had barely changed outfits. From the black running pants and t-shirt, she had on when she arrived home to the dark pink one with a maxi shirt. The apron he used to see covering her was gone, she carried a simple rain jacket always opened and constantly fumbled with the pocket’s content. It was a fine figure.

‘I cooked, Junior, the shrimp pasta you and Giovana like so much.’ 

‘Great, dad.’ Williams said as she navigated their return to the highway.

‘They had this seafood already defrosting; Bertha planned on cooking something but changed her mind.’

‘Not as good as you!’ Bertha chuckled. ‘I would try an omelet. Not much.’

‘Did you enjoy the pasta, though?’

‘Yes, it was delicious!’

‘She’s never been to the Keys, Junior.’

‘Oh, dear, what a pity!’ Gia held Bertha’s hand. ‘It’s a lovely place. Don’t you want to stay at our house?’

‘I already offered.’ Darrygh started a long retelling of their summers in Florida that distracted them almost to their door.

‘Would you two come in for dinner?’ Gia offered. ‘What you’d like, dear?’

‘No need, Gia, thank you. You’ve already been very kind; I can take the train and will be at home in no time.’

‘Absolutely, Junior will take you home.’

‘Of course I will.’ Williams had his eyes on hers through the rear view mirror.

‘You don’t need to, if you want to spend time with your parents, I can manage.’ Bertha smiled.

He shook his head. ‘Where do you live?’

‘South of the river bank.’ She said, he nodded. ‘Close to you? You’re a regular at the coffee shop.’

‘I live around the corner of the coffee shop.’

‘Close, but still you’re not obliged. The train is fine for me.’ A smile.

‘But the train doesn’t reach the river.’

‘Subway.’ Bertha explained. ‘I take the train and then the subway. And walk the few blocks.’

‘Oh, well, you two go ahead.’ Gia decided as the youngsters’ conversation dragged along . ‘I’m very tired, we’re far from home for days, it’d be a lot of work to cook, anyway.’ She waved her hands. ‘Come back another day, let me know what you’d like to eat, dear.’

Bertha blushed, shook her head. Williams held a groan.
Hurried goodbyes said, they proceeded directly to the city, alone then for the remaining 40 minutes of the ride. 

‘Your mom isn’t very subtle.’ Bertha twisted her lips to a side.

‘What do you mean?’

‘They planned a blind date, our moms.’ She blushed and averted her eyes to the window. ‘I overheard them talking.’

‘Shit.’

Bertha chuckled, he joined.

‘My mother is a bit anxious sometimes.’ He said as an apology. ‘But she means well.’

‘It seemed so… I also heard her say that you’ve been advised against dating the waitress you liked.’ A shrug. ‘I am kind of a waitress, was until recently.’

He mumbled something under his breath that hoped she couldn’t understand – and she didn’t. ‘That’s why you said it at your parents?’

‘Yes.’

‘You considered a slight to you.’

‘It was. Kind of.’ Another shrug. ‘You don’t have to pretend to want to ask me out or anything.’

‘Listen; don’t pay any attention to what someone told you about me. Let me talk to you.’

‘Too late. Your mom also said you’ve been alone for a long time, complained actually. Said something about your sister too, but I didn’t quite understand. Then my mom complained about me. No news there, my mom doesn’t need excuses to find faults in my choices.’

‘Giovana, my sister, is married to another woman, Anne. That’s her only problem in my mother’s eyes, even though she adores Anne.’

‘Ah… Now it makes more sense.’

‘And I am single. I mean, without a girlfriend.’ He stopped at a red light and could finally look directly at her. ‘Never been married.’
Bertha waited unsure of how to answer – or even is she needed to. Ok if he wanted to tell her, but he was a costumer whose parents knew her parents. A coincidence. That was all.

She didn’t reciprocate, so Williams smiled with eyebrows raised.
Bertha still waited. ‘The green light?’ She pointed, he started driving again. ‘This radio is great.’ She tried to sound casual. ‘Oldies, classics. I like it.’

‘I guess you have someone.’ Williams concluded. ‘The other manager who visited my office to check on his teeth.’

‘George?’ Bertha even coughed. ‘Good heavens, no!’ She breathed to calm her reactions. ‘He just works with me… Ew!’

‘Good to know.’

‘What? Why?’

‘Nothing.’ He paused. ‘So, single?’

‘Why, feeling obliged to ask me out?’

‘Not if you feel the need to accept.’

‘To please our parents?’

‘Let’s think only of ourselves.’

The shared smiled was surprisingly satisfying. ‘I’d like to afford accepting the offer to the beach house. I need a vacation.’ She sighed. ‘I actually need one of those spas where all you do is toast under the sun and sip a fancy drink.’

‘Problems at the coffee shop?’ He seemed interested.

‘In life, there are these times where we need to decide which way to go. You know?’ Bertha crossed her arms under her breasts. ‘A fork on the road?’

‘Yes.’

‘I have lots of ideas and plans, but can’t seem to find the correct path…’

‘And feel you need to take some time away and relax, think things over?’

Bertha smiled amused. ‘Yep. Maybe try to play around with some ideas, see which ones fit me better!...’

Williams didn’t understand what was so amusing to inspire that smile, but it was nice to see it, to have that girl smiling for him in his car.

‘There, that’s my street.’ She said pointing. ‘But you’ll need to go around the block.’

Suddenly they were in front of her place and he needed to let her go. He got out to open the door for her, but she had already stepped out of the car when she managed to reach her side. 

‘So, this is me.’ She pointed the building. ‘Thanks for the first class ride.’

‘My pleasure.’

‘Well, then…’ An embarrassed smile. ‘See you.’

‘Tomorrow morning, breakfast?’

‘Sure. Caffe latte, grande, organic. Williams.’

‘No, you and me, French toast, in a side table.’

‘Ah.’ She nodded. ‘Fine.’ And took a few steps aside. ‘Good evening, and thanks again.’

He waited until she entered and locked the door.

She went upstairs thinking what kind of silly man sets a date to the place the girl works. If that was a date…

He was so elated with the promised date that only noticed a small bag on his passenger’s seat when she reached his garage. ‘What is this, Bertha?’ Williams took it. ‘Herbs?’ Brought it to his nose. ‘Pot? No!...’

Shaking his head, he took out his phone and sent a picture to Finneas. Not a second later he called back.

“What is that, dude? You’re so strange! Picking up fights, now buying mj?”

“I didn’t!” William chuckled. “It’s hers, my coffee girl. She left it in my car.”

“How was she in your car if you needed a new tooth to pick up your parents?”

“Coincidences of life, man… Now, what is this? Can’t be pot, there’s too much here and she doesn’t seem like a smoker.”

“Smell it.” Finneas ordered.

“Perfume.” Williams answered. “Fruit with perfume.”

“Funny… Where are you?”

“Just arrived home.”

“Wait, I’ll be there in a moment.”


Curiosity moved mountains, also men interested in pretty girls. Soon the two partners searched online trying to find out what the dried broken leaves were. Proactive, Finneas brought along with him an arsenal of instruments capable of jailing a person for a decade.
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‘I say the narghile.’ Finneas held the tall golden pipe. ‘This must be some fancy cigarette the ladies like to say they smoke, but not really.’

‘I’ll give it back to her tomorrow.’ Williams smiled sideways. ‘Then ask what is it.’

‘Let’s try it first.’

‘No!’

‘Yes.’

‘No…’

‘Come on…’

The set up took some time and when it was fully functional, Finneas took the first drag, nodded appreciatively and passed the hose to Williams.

As he smoked, his friend received a call. Somehow, Williams gave in to the tiredness of the road as fast as the third or fourth drag. If Finneas crashed in his place, he didn’t notice.


He had learned how to cook with his father, it had been a family pastime as old as the Darcy family name. Because of this, he cooked from the heart, towel on his shoulder, measurements done by good sense, faith in his accurate taste and smell. There were chefs who worked by the book, measuring and weighing everything; William Darcy cooked using his sensibilities and senses.

He knew Brinley, his older brother and partner at the Pemberley Caterings, if he nervously waited outside the kitchen, pacing incapable of controlling the anxiety, their upcoming moment was really important, a breakthrough: the chance to cater major events of the luxurious Longbourn Institute of Arts.


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The enormous school and museum dedicated to fine arts maintained by the Bennetts, wealthy family of old money, hosted selected events such as an annual gala ball, presidential gala dinners and weddings for the very rich, much more profitable for the institution. The family had a chief executive but enjoyed dealing with important decisions, such as changing caterers.

A chance to be the sole caterer for such a place would assure a steady income to their small business, allow them to hire teams of outstanding professionals and maybe even establish a chain of Pemberley restaurants. 

But, for all that, William needed to forget about Brinley pacing outside the kitchen and finish his presentation menu of fast finger food. Surely the sisters involved on the daily managing of the Institute, including the one said to be a vegan, would be seduced by his baby meatball with spaghetti topping, tiny grilled cheese and tomato soup cup, viking hasselback bite, polenta blini with caramel onion and mushrooms, tapioca pudding. 

Food was indeed important, that was how the Darcys saw it.
He instructed Fitz, his other brother, on how to plate the creations and arrange the trays in a way he believed would please women and added finishing touches. sprinkles of chopped parsley here, salt flower there, he corrected his posture crossing his arms over his chest. Perfect.

Lizzy Bennett listened to her sister Jane sing praises to Pemberley Caterings thinking why were they wasting time with a small family business. Simply because their friend and executive Charlotte had chosen them to take care of her wedding, it shouldn’t be enough for them to consider it an option for Longbourn Institute.

From the corner of her eye Lizzy observed a tall and handsome blondish man pace appearing and disappearing behind the dish pantry’s door. She also noticed how Jane reacted: if he showed up, she perked; when he walked out of sight, she relaxed. 

‘Mmmm… Not good.’ Lizzy thought. 

And finally the presenting troop entered the ballroom where big events took place. The high ceiling, thick columns, gilded mirrors and Italian marble flooring echoed the steps of five men, all different in dispositions, but still, all similar in appearances. Handsome, yes, some more than others. There was a certain something in their air and manner of walking and expressions that called attention. 

The blondish one, the older and pacing brother was also the manager, Brinley who explained the family business that came from their father’s beer brewery from whom they earned the love for cooking, presented the others. Fitz was the smiley one was the pastry sous chef, Collin the most average in height and beauty was the accountant, Burgess the youngest was the host and finally William, the chef. 

All brothers, how curious! Lizzy thought. From the moment they arrived close, her interest was particularly directed to one because of his posture. ‘A warlord.’ Haughty, the chef was the tallest, dark haired and brooding face, arms crossed, legs apart as if ready for war. ‘Fine.’ She smiled. ‘Let’s see what you brought us.’

‘Part of our specials. Small bites for a dynamic party, comfort food to appeal to people’s emotional memory implying happiness.’ William said with confidence. ‘My creations are welcomed by vegetarians, vegans or people with dietary regulations.’

With a raised eyebrow, Lizzy waited as he presented each dish watching her sister and friend taste each of the offerings, all the time she considered if Charlotte was in financial difficulties. Considering such a service for her wedding.

‘Oh, Lizzy!’ Jane pressed two fingers to her lips, mouth full. ‘You have to try this one!’ She pointed the half-bitten blini. ‘Explain again what this delicious thing is, please?’
The lovely smile made the men smile back. 

‘Polenta blini with caramel onion and mushrooms.’ William said carefully.

Lizzy shook her head, lips pressed in the faintest of the smiles. ‘I’d rather not.’

‘Oh, please, don’t be so squeamish!’ Charlotte poked Lizzy’s arm. ‘All vegetables here. Polenta is corn, right? Onions, frog houses; what problem can you find in this food?’

‘Mushrooms are not frog houses, I’ve told you.’ Lizzy sighed.

‘Absolutely.’ William bristled. ‘A delicacy.’

‘So are crickets, scorpions and grasshoppers.’ A shudder shook Charlotte and Jane. ‘But those she wouldn’t eat, because she saves animals.’

‘Please, just taste this.’ Jane insisted.

‘It is safe.’ William used a patronizing tone. ‘I cooked it myself.’

‘And he is the best cook there is. Both normal and vegan people say it!’ Brinley nodded smiling his pride.

‘I see figs here; am I correct?’ Lizzy asked.

‘Yes.’ Still William had the same haughty tone to his voice.

‘Cheese between white bread slices, creamy tomato soup-‘

‘Non-dairy cream was used.’

‘Have you checked the presence of sodium caseinate?’

Silence.

‘It’s a milk-based derivative.’ She shook her head. ‘Potato is cute, but filled with cheese and bacon bits, honey or white sugar in the pudding, meatballs could be soy or beans but taking from the figs and cream, I suspect lard or eggs. Even people who mean well fall for what labels call natural ingredients disregarding that Vegans are very savvy and serious.’ A mixture of sadness and tiredness colored her face. ‘If it’s meat, as it seems to me, I fear to ask the origin.’

‘No one would be as fastidious as you, Lizzy.’ Jane put down the small plate in her hand. ‘In a party here, everyone would at least try and surely love how good this food tastes.’

‘I certainly disagree. I take great care to eat outside of my trusted circle of places, you know I only do when I’m particularly acquainted with the source. The same care should be taken here, people trust Longborn, sister. We just hosted a gigantic symposium about the Amazon Forest’s illegal cattle farms, it had international resonance. Imagine if we served food that could come from similar origins?’

‘You accuse us of using food of low quality?’ Collin asked incredulously. ‘Distrust us?’ 

‘I’m sorry, Mr. Darcy…’ She pressed her eyes and counted silently. 

‘Fourth, Mr. Darcy, the Fourth. It would be insupportable for me to risk the good name of my family on a supposition you used the right ingredients.’

‘My brother gave his word, Miss Bennett.’

‘I wonder if you prepared for this meeting, sirs. I see no certificates or formers contracts you may have had with this kind of venue.’ She moved her index finger gingerly around her own hand. Nodded and took a step aside. ‘Jane, please?’ A move with her head towards the main doors and they walked not ten steps away. ‘Is it a punishment to me to stand here?’ She whispered.

‘No! I dare say this is a very agreeable task, much better than meeting Charlotte’s fiancé in the engagement party.’

Lizzy widened her eyes. ‘Who? The tall chef who can’t tell protein from fruit?’

‘Don’t say that!’
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‘He served figs in vegan food.’

‘So what wasps die inside figs, Lizzy? It was a delicious little serving.’

‘Won’t even answer you.’ Lizzy rolled her eyes.

‘Collin is the fiancé, the shorter one.’

‘Ah!’ She turned round, looked at the table for a moment, caught William’s eye and withdrew her own fast. ‘I am in no humor to give consequence to caterers slighted by other venues. You had better return, thank and dismiss them.’

‘I think they are a good choice. Only need our guidance.’

‘You cannot be serious.’

‘Trust me.’

‘Huh-huh. No.’ Lizzy shook her head. ‘Dismiss them.’ She coldly said and left.

Jane knew it was an order.