quinta-feira, 25 de julho de 2019

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

hello, there.
Persuasion.
How about that?

I confess that I was very (very, very) unsure about playing around with Ms. Austen's 'serious novel', but ah... isn't Wentworth one of her best men?

And, isn't it a lovely dream to dream together?

Bertha and Williams have stepped into such a heartwarming ride!... Still hope you like it! And still have my*fingers crossed*





Nine ways to live Pride and Prejudiciously
WIP, modern (mostly), adult (you know me...), fun, fluff, heart healing stuff.
read chapter 12 _PART 1
or START from CHAPTER 1

CHAPTER 12
VIII- Lonely Hearts - part 2


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. But only when the homage ended and he relaxed that he allowed his head to turn to where she was. Pretty and sweet and tanned.

Her heart broke again when his downward mouth showed his reaction at seeing her.

His heart broke again when he noticed she still lived well after destroying him 8 years before.

Still shocked with his presence, Lizzy returned her eyes to the stage on the back of the dolphins’ tank feeling panic take over. Her nostrils flared, her breathing accelerated, sweat started to damp her hands. William! After 8 long years! At that place, of all places in the world! … 

‘I'm gonna-’ She pointed the general direction of the exit and climbed down the bleachers before her sister could answer anything. But at the stadium door she met her cousins entering in a hurry through a fit of giggles and altered as she was, allowed them to drag her back.

‘Let's stay in the splash zone.’ Lizzy suggested pointing to an area very far from where she had been with her sister.

‘Oh, no! I spent an hour doing my hair this morning, Lizzy! Even burnt myself with the curling iron.’ Kitty showed a finger. ‘As far from water as possible.’ 

‘We should have chosen Desertworld instead of SeaWorld then!’ Louisa laughed. Her sister showed her the tongue, Lizzy whined to herself. ‘There's Jane!’ The girl waved back.

‘And that friend of yours, Lizzy, from work.’ Kitty pointed as they climbed closer. ‘Charlotte, isn't she? Producer of your interview show?’

‘I guess…’

‘Who are those with her?’ Louisa lowered her sunglasses.  ‘Damn, how hot are those guys?’

Maybe I could faint. Lizzy thought. 

‘Finally!’ Jane berated them when they arrived. ‘You almost missed the dolphins.’

‘We were the last ones to enter, had to dodge the hostess like ninjas!’ Louisa made a kung fu move.

‘In training, girl?’ Charlotte joked.


fit as a ninja
‘I'm a ninja, ninjas never relax.’ Louisa and Kitty joined their hands and ankles to lower their head in a bow.

At that, both men put a fist to a palm and bowed in return. 'Osu!' They said.

Charlotte chuckled.  ‘These are true ninjas, Henri-’

‘Louisa, Charlotte!’ The girl stomped a foot.

‘Sorry.’ Charlotte shrugged as means of apologizing, looked at Lizzy and then, on noticing her friend's countenance, frowned.

‘Do you fight ninja?’ One of the girls asked.

‘We both practice martial arts, it's part of our training.’ One of them said.

‘And it's fun.’ The other added smiling sideways.

‘Train for what?’ Kitty asked curiously inspecting their shape.

‘We're navy officers.’

Charlotte leaned closer as if to share a secret. ‘They are seals.’ At the same time, the sound exploded, handsome people in diving suits appeared on stage, one dived and was thrown out of the water by two dolphins.

‘What?’

‘We came for the seals!’ The tallest one shouted smiling.

Presentations were done as best as possible and Lizzy hoped they'd forget about her drowned in all the noise and confusion in her chest. 

‘Of course, my friend Lizzy, the culprit!’

She felt a hand on her shoulder. 

‘She's the reason we're here.’ Charlotte was speaking close to the men's faces, but already so near her, Lizzy could hear everything.  ‘These are Capt Fitzwilliam and Capt Darcy.’

‘Hello!’ One man said. 

‘Hi.’ The other groaned.

Lizzy pressed a smile, blinked charmingly, pretended not to be melting inside.

From the spectacle of trained animals, she barely saw anything. She kept her fingers on the thin scapular’s chain, mind agreeably engaged revisiting the past, the happy year they dated until he proposed. Darcy had been handsome then, but almost a decade older he was irresistible. Would they still be together? Would there be bitter regret between them? Would it had been a happy marriage? They could be fighting for child custody…

‘Hello!’ A giggle.  ‘Earth to Lizzy, do you copy?’

‘Huh?’

‘Let's go!’ Jane pointed the rest of the group already far ahead. ‘The show is over.’

‘Oh, yes. Right.’ Lizzy stood. ‘It was great, wasn't it?’

‘A little shorter than before, maybe because of all this politically correct patrol complaining about the wonderful things they do here.’

‘Maybe…’

‘Where to, now?’ She asked.

‘Back to the hotel?’ Lizzy smiled. ‘Mary and the boys are alone.’

‘Are you crazy? Not even 2 pm!’ Louisa shook her head. ‘My old maid of a cousin wants to call it the day.’ She complained to the others. ‘But I want the fast rides; you promised you’d ride the free falls and coasters with me, Lizzy!’

‘You did, Lizzy.’ Kitty frowned. ‘And simulators too. I'm not standing in line for silly frozen penguins, I want adrenaline!’

‘Are you afraid of roller coasters?’ Darcy sniggered.

‘Kinda…’ Louisa pouted.

‘I'll be your chaperone.’

‘I'd love that!’ She took his arm and they started to walk in the direction of the big scary ride.

If for Lizzy it was heart wrenching see her ex, it was an even bigger massacre to witness his attentions to her cousin who as 19, the age she had been when she broke their engagement.  

‘Are you ok?’ Jane linked arms with her as they met at the roller coaster shaded line. ‘I lost you in the crowd twice during the walk.’

‘It's pretty hot today, isn't it?’

‘It was hotter earlier, actually...’

‘Too sunny.’

‘This the Sunshine State after all!’ Jane giggled.

‘I think I'll try to find a smoothie.’

‘I want one too, Lizzy.’ Kitty cried. ‘Please?’

‘Well bring refreshments for everyone.’ Jane decreed. ‘Guys, what can we get you?’

‘I'm fine, thanks.’ Darcy answered without looking directly at them.

‘No need, fine lady.’ Fitzwilliam smiled. 

As the sisters gained distance from the group, Lizzy started to breathe normally again. And think. ‘What was that about?’ She poked Jane. ‘Playing waitress for strangers.’

‘Oh, how gorgeous they are! Can you imagine how they look in uniforms?’ A smirk. ‘Charlotte, huh, dating two guys at once!’ A giggle.

‘I wonder what Charles Bingley would say about this enthusiasm of yours.’

‘Hopefully he’d be so jealous as to finally propose after seven years together?’

‘He is too good for such petty feeling.’ Lizzy joked as they stopped in line for the beverages. ‘Is it right that men forget frustrations in love faster than women?’ She asked out of the blue.

Jane was filled with terror. ‘What did Charles say to you? Why didn't you tell me right away? When did he call you?’

‘Calm down, there's nothing to do with you. I was just wondering.’ 

‘Because your friend has two and you have none?’

‘Charlotte is dating only Fitzwilliam, the shorter.’

‘Oh, what a pity... the other is such a catch.’

‘You think?’

‘Yeah.’

‘Don't you remember him?’

The sisters exchanged a long complicit look.



Darcy had had time to prepare, he anticipated the day he'd finally meet her again after so long. Still, his jumbled feelings and thoughts were as unpredictable as guerrilla behind enemy lines. She looked prettier, hot but aged. Her face showed trouble contrasting with his memory of a sweet careless babe with bright ideas and a sharp tongue. 

The reason why she changed so much was none of his business, they were acquaintances.  He barely remembered details of their time together, the imported chocolate bar she preferred, what kind of knickers she used or how she liked to be kissed. Those were faded memories. ‘They are taking too long. Do you think they need help?’ He asked casually. 

‘My cousins?’ Louisa averted her eyes from the phone. ‘If they do, they'll call us.’ She raised her hand. ‘A selfie!’ 

Darcy was taken by surprise, but smiled as the girl glued faces with him. ‘Don't post this on social media, Louisa, please.’ 

‘Why?’ She whined.

‘Work.’ He pressed his lips. 

She pouted so prettily that he caved in. ‘Cut off most of my face, let me show you how.’

Watching the scene, Charlotte groaned silently.  ‘Men are such fools.’ She said, both Fitzwilliam and Kitty looked at her. ‘We only have to play our charms and you're done.’

‘Still you don't rule the world.’

Both women frowned. ‘What about England?’

‘Germany?’

‘Chile?’

‘New Zealand!’

‘What about those countries?’ He challenged.

‘All governed by women!’

Fitzwilliam rolled his shoulders. ‘Governing isn't ruling.’

‘How many women do we have today in Congress?’ Charlotte rose to the challenge. 

‘I'll check right now.’ Kitty took her phone from her pocket.

‘Women are emotional, think with their hearts.’ He smiled.

‘And men with their weenies.’ She pulled a face.

They laughed. 

‘Men easily put personal troubles behind and move on to act as needed, that's what I'm saying. Proactiveness.’

‘I don't know…’ Kitty paused.  ‘Uncle Bennett seems to always miss his late wife; he talks about her, built a shrine in the garden.’

‘Lizzy told me about that.’ Charlotte went serious. ‘She was very sad when she returned from that inauguration, even with the priest's words and the family together.’ 

‘Uncle did everything so perfectly, so formal…’ Kitty agreed. ‘Remember, Louisa, we needed to buy new clutches because ours didn't match our cocktail hats?’
chic as a royal lady

‘And the fascinator Jane used on her hair, the feathers and veil.’ Louisa posed her fingers over her head to better exemplify.

‘Lovely.’

‘It was… Aunt Gardenia managed to find an haute couture suit to match Aunt Bennett’s best pillbox hat. What a thoughtful homage… no easy feat, but she did it even though she was so busy arranging Lizzy’s new condo close to her place.’

‘What did Lizzy wear?’ Darcy asked and blushed when all eyes zeroed on him. He shrugged.  ‘You give so much importance to hats, I'm curious. I do wear hats most of time. Right, Fitzwilliam?’
‘Yeah, dude. Caps, visors, garrison.’

‘Lizzy was in black…’ Kitty bit her lips. ‘We all were, of course, it was another funeral. But I mostly remember her boyfriend holding her close.’

‘Me too!’ Louisa smiled.  ‘Mom and Aunt Gardenia were certain he was about to propose. We even joked about a wedding topping a fake funeral.’ 

‘Right!’

The sisters giggled.

‘Did he?’ Darcy asked. ‘Propose, married her?’

‘She's single, not divorced…’

‘Incredibly enough, with all the hot guys she interviews for the show, both in bands and crew. They think I’m the one refusing to give her personal phone number, but she rarely dates guys from work.’

‘So, it's not incredible she's single, it's understandable.’ 

‘Incredible how she resists. Only women can do that, men fall for any flirt.’

‘Not true.’ Fitzwilliam shook a finger.

‘Yes, true!’ Charlotte insisted, chuckled when he got closer, shared a quick kiss.

‘Oh, they are coming back. Please, don't mention the funeral or the shrine.’ Louisa asked in rushed tones.

‘It’s that the house is on the market. Jane gets so upset…’

‘Lizzy too, even though she moved out years ago. A decade, I think, but it's still her mom's house. To think of it sold to a stranger...’

‘Is it a big place?’ Darcy asked, eyes on the prettiness of the woman he had once loved as she walked back to him - to where he stood with her friend and family.

Charlotte snorted. ‘Talk about city palaces…’

‘Big, a mansion! Six bedrooms, don’t know how many bathrooms, three living rooms, pool house, wine cellar, billiards room, home theater, gym, golf simulator room… what else, Kitty?’

‘Guest cottages on the lawn. Something about how many football fields would fit in the park… Do you remember, Louisa?’

‘It is a palace!’ Charlotte whispered. ‘I've been invited to a weekend. Needs a bit of renovation, like removing the snobbish owner.’

‘Help, help, help!’ Jane offered the three cups she was holding. ‘Frozen fingers!’

Lizzy also carried three and blushed when Darcy's big hands held the cups for her. ‘Thanks.’

‘No problem.’

She took hers and a very red one. He was left with an orange green frozen juice. But all the women had one. ‘And this?’

‘Orange, pineapple and kale.’ She said. ‘Right?’ Then, by the look on his face, she considered how tremendously stupid her idea had been. ‘Still like it?’

‘Sure.’ He simply averted his eyes removing the lid carefully so the straw wouldn't drip on him. ‘Thanks.’ It had been years since he had had that juice, but it tasted wonderful. 

The line moved, they inched closer and closer to the ride and Lizzy couldn't find a way out of that situation.  She started to plan that when they entered the coaster, she'd escape somewhere else and go back to the hotel. Once safely far from the view of Darcy's attentions to other women, she'd text to let her sister know where she was. Jane would understand. 

It was a coward's plan, but a possible plan. The only problem was she couldn't escape. Darcy himself pulled her in front of him to enter the ride and took the seat behind her besides Louisa.

‘You'll need to hold my hand.’ Lizzy heard Louisa say. ‘I get too scared.’

‘Of course!’ He chuckled. ‘Give me your hand, pretty lady.’
Security belts and locks in place, their feet left the ground, the seat gyrated backwards and they were ready to fly as superman.

‘Shit.’ Lizzy said. But it was too late.

The ride of free falls, turns, twists and climbs was exhilarating, adrenaline pumped inside her; she grinned and only noticed a reassuring hand holding her elbow from behind when speed slowed to an almost stop. She tried to turn or look behind her, but she was too trapped.

Darcy had never heard his ex-girlfriend curse, and it amused him more than the coaster. Sure that falls and twists turned his insides, but the pretty woman in front of him screaming dirty words at each abrupt movement made him laugh loud. Terrorized she must have been, so he reached out to hold her.

When they left the ride, grinning and chatting, he still kept his distance for her in spite of the turmoil inside him. If only…

‘Oh, no!’ Lizzy stopped in the middle of the crowd. ‘No, no, no!’

‘What?’

‘Please, God, no, no!’ She started to panic, look around her, put her hands in her pockets, held her breasts. 

‘Are you hurt, sister?’ Jane frowned.

‘I'm going to die!’ Lizzy held her neck. ‘Mom's scapular, I lost it!’

‘What was that?’ Fitzwilliam exchanged a funny look with Darcy.

‘A necklace, long, with a pendant in each side.’

‘Was it a jewel? Gold or anything?’

‘Gold!’ Lizzy blinked misted eyes. ‘But it could cost a penny, the real value was my mother's inheritance.’ 

‘Sure.’

‘We'll find it.’ Jane decided. ‘When was the last time you noticed it around your neck?’

‘The smoothies bar, as we talked, I fingered it.’ Lizzy blushed making an effort not to look at Darcy because he had been the subject.

‘Let's return there. You guys can look around here.’

As soon as Jane and Lizzy were out of hearing range, Louisa pouted. ‘I'm not wasting my time looking for an old necklace. Let's try the waterfall, Kitty?’ She smiled.

‘Better help Lizzy, she needs to find it.’

‘No, it may be too late… Darcy?’ 

‘Sure, in a moment.’

‘Now!’

Louisa held his arm pulling him to the right, he tried to resist but she stepped on a stroller passing by, lost her balance, fell over the baby taking the mother with her in an awful fall.  

A catastrophe! The baby cried, the mother suspected an attack, Louisa whined miserably.

The tears she had been holding in her, Lizzy let flow when she got a text from Kitty saying they were on the way to the hotel because of the accident. The photo showed Louisa with bruised knees, elbow, hair in disarray but comfortably ensconced in Darcy's arms as he carried her.

---

Sun, sorrow, shame had a too strong hold of Lizzy. 

At the hotel, after visiting her snoring sister and nephews, then her cousins' room to make sure the girl was ok, she decided it was best to retire to her own domain without much explanation. 

In the crowded hotel room, Louisa had a battalion watching over her: Jane already showed her mistrust on the girl's pain, Kitty reinforced her sister’s suffering, Darcy hovered around, Charlotte and Fitzwilliam offered to visit a drugstore for ointments and bandages. Lizzy considered her presence unnecessary. 

Cold shower helped, she tried to convince her heart that losing her mother's heirloom was worse than meeting her handsome past head on. The suite had a fairly comfortable couch conspicuously resembling a sofa bed that was close enough from the kitchen where she put a bowl of frozen soup in the microwave.  But tiredness won over the slow revolving of the dish and she dozed off.

Darcy was sent for ice, one of the women said it would relieve the sore areas around the angry reddish wounds; he'd do anything to get out of that ridiculous situation. At the corridor he sighed, ruffled his short hair. Scrapped knee, what could be more juvenile? He asked himself. And heard a beep. 

Frowning he searched left and right. Again the beep, faint. And he noticed the door left almost closed, but not locked. A third beep. Someone could be in trouble - real trouble - he convinced himself knocking softly on the door immediately aside the one he had just left. It could be hers, it was a wild guess, invasion of privacy, many misdemeanors or felonies or… Lizzy, his former Lizzy sleeping with her legs tucked her, on the couch, as the pretty woman she was.

Eight years was too long to a wait, not all instincts worked properly when faced with such a temptation. He silently walked closer, kneeled before her and touched his lips to hers. A very sweet caress, the faintest of touches, but skin on skin.

Her eyes opened slowly, she smiled, her hands moved to hold his face. ‘Hi.’

‘Hi.’

‘I missed you.’

‘Me too.’

They held each other's eyes in silence. 

‘Best dream I've had in years…’

‘Eight?’ He asked. ‘Or less?’

The tone of his voice hit her in the gut; she blushed furiously, felt hot all over. It wasn't a dream, he was there! In her dreams, he was always sweet and loving, in real life he surfed the edge of rudeness with her. ‘Oh.’ She swallowed, let go of his face. ‘I'm sorry.’ A series of blinks. ‘I thought I was-’

‘Dreaming of me?’

‘Yes.’

‘Do you do it often?’

‘Yes.’ Lizzy had no guile to lie, he was there!

‘And you always smile so prettily when I'm around? Is it to seduce me again?’

No answer.

‘You dream I follow you again, give you my heart, and then what?’
‘Darcy, after all these years, that was not what-’

‘Then you stay by my side or let someone else in your family decide your life?’ He accused as much as asked. ‘And what is my answer, Lizzy, do I let you go over and over?’

‘Wait!’ She asked holding his face again. ‘Let me-’

There was too much inside him to wait a single moment. He leaned on her and captured her in a kiss, a real passionate, invasive kiss. The yearning for her. He held her waist and legs. The heartbreak. The remorse that ate him alive. He almost laid on top of her. All the possible what ifs.

‘Wait!’ She tossed her head back. ‘Wait, love, let me breathe!’

‘Don't call me that, I'm not your love.’

The pang of pain was hard to take. ‘You must think you are something to me!’ Tired, emotionally drained, and then, aggravated. ‘Entered my room without invitation, found me asleep alone and stayed, woke me up, kissed me. You changed, Darcy, a lot!’

He stood to fight back, but she was right. ‘I apologize, I got carried away.’ Defeated, he sat beside her. ‘There were beeps, I thought that maybe someone was having a medical emergency, came in just to check and found you here.’

‘Beeps.’ She was still frowning. What did he mean by that?… ‘My soup!’

Lizzy jumped to rescue her dinner. Tasted and realized it needed reheating. 

‘Soup in a hot day as today?’ 

‘It’s calming, spinach and asparagus.’ She didn't see the disgusted expression he pulled because she was facing the oven. ‘I didn't eat much today and there's a freezer full of frozen meals in the lobby.’ He was silent, so she turned to make sure he hadn't left. 

‘Funny you are, Lizzy Bennett.’

She pursed her lips.

‘Never thought I'd meet you in a hotel like this. The one I chose is far better.’

‘Stayed in worse.’ She shrugged. ‘On tours, working as TV interviewer for rock concerts and all.’

‘I've followed your career, watched you on line.’

‘Oh.’ The oven beeped calling her attention and saving her from facing him. ‘I love my work, but I'm not proud of everything I've done. They've sent me to some awful concerts.’

‘And you didn't quit? Your father or aunt didn't persuade you to search for another job that was up to the Bennett's standards.’

She chose to ignore the jibe. ‘My aunt was the one who got me this job when I needed to move away from home, she’s friends with the network owner. That’s why I moved to Miami. My dad and sister think I should leave the music cable network for a major channel, but until I can start my own documentary production studio, I'll stay put. I like what we do.’ A pause. ‘My mother’s passing still hurts, my dad is not the same; he has been through a few rough times.’ She turned back bringing the hot bowl with care. ‘Financially and emotionally.  He is trying to deny his own depression.’

‘Never realized he was so dependent to your mom.’

‘Was, especially because she managed the expenses, made sure we didn't lose track of reality.’ 

‘He is broke, is that it?’

She nodded sipping gingerly from the spoon. ‘Almost. We have our trust funds, not much money but enough for a safety net. For me, at least. My sister can spend that amount in a month.’

He mumbled something she didn't quite understand.  ‘Is that why you're so different? Fidgety?’

She stopped with her spoon on the way to her mouth. ‘From what you remember?’ He nodded. ‘I'm not 19 anymore, Darcy.’ 

‘No, you're not.’ He meant as a compliment, she understood as a pejorative observation. ‘Sad, forlorn.’


mom's heirloom
He eyed her like a hawk, it made her terribly uncomfortable.  ‘Today was a very bad day for me. I lost my mom's jewel.’ Her eyes filled with unshed tears again. ‘Don't know how could I be so foolish.  Now I'm lost, alone.’ Her hand touched her neck and chest where the scapular used to rest. ‘It's all kinds of awful.’ The soup seemed inedible, she pushed it aside.

‘What can be done? What can be attempted, to recover your necklace?’ He stood holding his waist. ‘Is there nothing you could take, to give you present relief? A glass of wine, bold red Sirah.’ He sniggered humorlessly. ‘The kind you used to like. Shall I get you one?'

‘I still like it.’ Although she felt a bit warmed with his remembrance, the pain was too strong to make her smile. Nothing can be done; I know that. Before leaving the park I left a complaint in the visitor's office. But what could be done? It's thin Italian chain with medals the size of a thumbnail. It'd difficult as finding a needle in a haystack.  How are they even to discover it? Someone may have found it, saw how lovely it was, took it…’ Tears rolled down her cheek. ‘I don't have the smallest hope. It is every way horrible.’

He nodded. ‘Well, I am afraid you have been long desiring to be rid of me, and I don't have anything to offer.’ He pointed with his thumb over his shoulder. ‘I was supposed to find ice for Louisa's knee.’

‘Of course.’ She sniffed, cleaned the tears with her fingers. ‘Go, she's waiting.’

Darcy spent a few moments with uncertainty until he realized his disposability. ‘Bye.’

‘Bye.’ She whispered.  ‘Again.’

---

‘I have the right to be in his apartment, he gave me the key!’ The twin said opening the door. ‘I'm his little sister. If he is in trouble, I’m the one to help, he has helped me before. If not for him, I don’t know what could have happened…’ She paused. ‘He never answers my phone calls anymore I have to check if he needs me to pay back the favor.’

‘But he's an adult, Giovana. What if he's with someone?’ 

‘Junior would have told me if he was seeing someone, Anne.’ 

‘He doesn't have to tell you all his secrets-’ Anne prepared herself to help her wife rooted to the floor on the door of her brother's room. ‘What?’

Giovana held a smile between amusement and wonder. ‘They are asleep!’ She whispered.

‘Who?’

‘Junior and a girl…’

Giovana and Anne watched Bertha and Williams slept on their sides, each on a corner of the bed, facing each other and holding hands.


they really do...
‘We better leave.’

‘Yes…’ Giovana let her wife pull her by the hand. ‘How cute they are?’ 

‘Lovely.’

‘I should take a picture, wait a moment.’

‘Don’t  think it’s a good idea, too big of an indiscretion, Gio….’


---
~ to be continued ~ 

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