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I Saw Her Standing There

Chapter 5


As Christmas approached, so too did the Holly Hop, Longbourn's annual holiday semi-formal dance held just before the school break. Every girl at Longbourn was encouraged to ask a date to the dance. The main topics of conversation all across campus were 'What are you going to wear?' 'How are you going to wear your hair?' and, most importantly of all, 'Who are you going to invite?'

It was a foregone conclusion Jane would invite Charles to the dance. That they were deliriously in love was no secret, judging by the blissful looks and dreamy glances they exchanged. As a favor to some of her dateless girlfriends, Jane asked Charles to drum up a few of his acquaintances to be much needed blind dates. Jane's first thought being Will, she offered to find Lizzy a date, but Caroline beat her to the punch, and unexpectedly, Will had accepted her invitation. Lizzy thanked Jane for her concern, but assured her she was planning something on her own.

At first Lizzy didn't know whom she was going to ask. There just didn't seem to be anyone out there that thrilled her - a veritable dearth of 'dream dates.' Why couldn't Lydia's "Mystery Date" board game be real? she mused. Unconsciously or not, Lizzy avoided one obvious person, one who made it clear he was eager to be her man. George Wickham. He had called a few times, asking Lizzy for dates. She couldn't make up her mind about him, and each time he asked, Lizzy found an excuse to say no. He was certainly handsome, but there was something about him she couldn't quite pinpoint. He seemed a little 'dangerous' to her. However, with the Holly Hop fast approaching and Lizzy still dateless, a feeling of desperation enveloped her. George Wickham was looking better and better. He'd certainly cut quite a figure in tie and jacket, and she couldn't help feeling a slight nervous thrill at the prospect of going with him. He does kind of look like a Beatle, she thought reflectively. She finally decided to ask George, and give him a chance for that date he kept asking for.

Lizzy felt nervous phoning him, it went against the grain for her. She was taught to wait for the boy to call you. She could hear her mother's litany of do's and don'ts in the back of her mind. "Boys never go with girls that call them! Wait for them to call you." But what else could she do? Since the Holly Hop was Longbourne's event, she couldn't very well wait for a date to call her. Tapping her fingers fretfully on the receiver, she waited for him to answer the phone, nearly hanging up after the fourth ring. When he answered, it seemed sudden.

"Hello?"

"Hello, George? This is Elizabeth Bennet, I hope...um... you aren't busy or anything," she said nervously.

Today was payday and George had been about to leave his flat en route to a poker game with four co-workers from Korvettes, a pimply crew of green rubes he was certain to take for all they had.

"Elizabeth," he lied smoothly, "I'm never too busy for you."

If she hadn't been so desperate - yes, she had to admit it - she was desperate for a date, Lizzy would have rolled her eyes at the absurdity of his obvious lines. Is he for real? Although she was gratified he sounded interested, he also sounded much too smooth for her own taste. With no choice but to forge ahead she got to the point. "I'm glad to hear that. I wanted to ask you something..."

"Ye-es?" he said, leadingly.

Heart beating wildly, she asked all in a rush, "We're having a dance Saturday night, it's a semi-formal, and I was wondering if you wanted to come with me as my date?" She held her breath waiting for his answer.

"Next Saturday?" George had to think quickly - was there a poker game that night? It didn't matter. He'd been trying to snag the delectable Elizabeth Bennet ever since he met her, but so far his efforts had been unsuccessful. Maybe this is just the opening I need.

"I'd be honored to go with you." With his answer, she closed her eyes as relief spread over her. Yes! I have a date!

"Thank you!" Enthused by her success, she proceeded to give him the details of the dance and when it began.

"It sounds wonderful, Elizabeth, I'm really looking forward to it." George said as he eyed the clock. "But, as much as I relish the sound of your voice on the phone, I must go now. I was just on my way out."

"Oh, that's all right." She was still too excited and relieved to notice his smarmy tone. "I'm sorry to keep you," she said apologetically. "I'll see you next week."

"Yes, thanks for inviting me." His voice dropped as he put on the charm. "I'll be thinking of you... until then, Elizabeth." Later, when she had time to review their conversation, it struck her as artificial. Now, that she had him as her date, a tiny feeling of doubt crept into her brain, but she pushed it away, convinced it was her overactive imagination getting the best of her.

"Good night, George. Thanks again!" She hung up the phone, thrilled that she got a date all on her own for the Holly Hop. She ran down the hall to tell Charlotte and Jane her happy news.

***

With so little time before the dance, Lizzy nearly gave up finding just the right dress to wear. Fortunately, with Jane as her advisor, she found what she was looking for in time: a shimmering deep red dress, perfect for the holiday season, with a low round front neckline, close fitting bodice, and a plunging back. A delicate overlay with tiny iridescent beads cascaded over the very full skirt with tucking at her sides beneath the waistline, which gave the shimmering skirt a draping effect. The color set off her dark hair and pale skin beautifully. Jane planned to do Lizzy's hair, piling it on top allowing a few curls to escape, creating a romantic and seductive picture.

Jane's dress, elegant in its simplicity, was a silver-blue silk chiffon, a gown fit for a princess. Filmy and strapless, cut close in the bodice, it accentuated Jane's trim waist. Flaring out at the hips, it appeared to float over layers of crinoline. Her pearl necklace and matching earrings would complete the graceful look she hoped would please Charles.

***

George Wickham was pleased with what he saw before him. He ticked off the attributes mentally, Attractive, stylish - check. Good build. Teeth - straight. Hair - perfect. Satisfied, he adjusted the lapels on his jacket and glanced at his reflection in the store front window one last time before entering the formals shop.

"No! No, that won't do at all!" A loud, grating voice came from the rear of the store. "It has to be just right." The voice continued snootily, "Will Darcy expects nothing less than perfection. It has to be taken in more!"

George's ears perked up at the mention of his nemesis. Curious to hear more, he casually strolled toward the back of the store, nearer to the voice that captured his attention.

"Yes, ma'am," was the obedient reply from behind the dressing room door.

"Watch it with those pins!" screeched the voice. George raised his eyebrows with a smirk. Whoever she is, Darcy deserves her!

He took his time perusing menswear until a tall, heavily made-up, self-important looking young woman exited the dressing room in too much of a hurry. She gave George a fleeting glance on her way to the sales counter. George turned his back to her, feigning interest in the dinner jackets on display.

"This has to be ready by Saturday." The woman told the sales clerk in no uncertain terms. "I have a very important event to attend that evening. I must look my best. My date for the Holly Hop is Will Darcy," adding importantly, "the heir to Darcy Pharmaceuticals."

George stole another look at her, sizing her up. Her manner said she had money, but no style or grace. He was incredulous. What was Will thinking? George found it hard to believe Will's standards could drop so considerably as to let him be seen with such a person. The Darcy family was one of quiet dignity, never flashy or obvious like this minx before him. He looked at her critically while her back was to him.

He bided his time, waiting for the young woman to leave the store before leaving himself - without a purchase. In light of what he had just learned, he made a decision. There would be no need for formal wear.

***

Finally, the day of the dance arrived. Jane, Lizzy, Charlotte and nearly every girl at Longbourn primped and prepared all day long for the big night. Lizzy and Charlotte were both nervous. Lizzy was edgy, thinking of an entire evening with the attractive and dangerously thrilling George Wickham as her date. Charlotte was jumpy for a different reason. She was anxious about her blind date, one of Charles's friends from Princeton. While not the most attractive girl at Longbourn, Charlotte tried her best to make the most of her looks. Practical, she admitted freely to herself and her closest friends that all she wanted in life was to get married and have a family as soon as she graduated, if not earlier.

At about three o'clock, when the girls were just about to begin their preparations, Lizzy heard her name called from down the hall; a phone call for her. Surprised, Lizzy looked at the clock. Who could be calling now?

"Hello?" she said cautiously.

"Elizabeth?" said the muffled voice. "This is George." Between coughs he croaked, "I'm afraid I have some bad news." Lizzy nearly gasped when she recognized George's voice and the words he said registered.

"George?" she said worriedly, a sinking feeling growing in her stomach. "Are you okay?"

"I've been sick as a dog - a stomach thing. I won't be able to go to the dance tonight." As she heard the words all the air went out of Lizzy's lungs.

"Oh!" was all she could manage to say at first. "I'm so sorry."

"I hate to do this to you, but it came over me so suddenly." He apologized, "I would have let you know earlier, if possible. I hate to think what a spot this must put you in."

"I understand." She was numb, but wished for him to feel better, even though all she wanted to do was hang up the phone. "I better let you go." She could barely muster any compassion for George at that moment; she felt miserable and overcome by disappointment. "You better get back into bed, George, don't worry about me."

On the other end, George hung up the receiver and turned to his companions. "All set. I'm back in the game."

Lizzy trudged back to her room, where Jane and Charlotte were waiting.

"Who was that on the phone?" Charlotte asked, noticing the crestfallen look on her roommate's face.

"That was George. He can't come tonight. He's sick with a stomach flu." Lizzy plopped down on the bed, utterly deflated.

"No!" Jane and Charlotte said in unison. Jane put her arm around Lizzy's shoulders, comforting her. "Don't worry, Lizzy, you'll still be able to go tonight. I'm certain Charles will find you a date."

"Who?" Lizzy asked glumly. She didn't want a blind date. She had been looking forward to going with George - and, deep down - she wanted to see Will Darcy's reaction.

"I'm not sure, but I'm certain he'll be very nice," Jane reassured Lizzy. Lizzy didn't like the idea, but having no choice she went along.

***

"Oh, Lizzy!" Jane said breathlessly. "You look absolutely gorgeous!" She was delighted with the way Lizzy turned out; her date would flip when he saw her - whoever he was. Lizzy had to admit she was very pleased with how well she looked. The reflection in the mirror didn't even feel like her. I hope he likes it...whoever he is. Will Darcy's face flashed before her for a fleeting moment. Briefly, she wished he were her date. Then she remembered with distaste he was going with Caroline. There was no love lost between them - ever since the weekend at Netherfield, she and Caroline ignored one another whenever they crossed paths on campus. To Lizzy's amusement, Caroline pretended Lizzy didn't exist. A senior like Caroline Bingley would never give the time of day to a lowly freshman, especially if that lowly freshman was in the dubious position of being at the top of Caroline's hit list.

The dance began at seven o'clock, and as the girls finished their last minute preparations of lipstick and perfume, the phone rang. It was the desk downstairs telling them their dates had arrived. Apprehensive, Lizzy grabbed her wrap and purse and made her way downstairs with Jane and Charlotte.

The dormitory lobby was already crowded with young men, corsages in hand, waiting for their dates. Amidst the sea of dinner jackets and evening attire, four particular gentlemen stood in front of the rest at the foot of the grand stairway. As each group of elaborately dressed girls came down the staircase with chatter and laughter, all of the young men looked up in anticipation. A collective sigh would emit from below at the wondrous site before them as the girls appeared in their finest gowns.

When Lizzy saw Will standing at the foot of the stairway, she felt a sudden lurch in her stomach as she was instantly reminded - again - that he was not her date. Her stomach refused to cease its somersaults when she saw the shy smile on his face and the noble expression in his dark eyes. She couldn't miss the look of admiration he gave her. She couldn't help but return it, as she noted how handsome he looked in his silk tie and dark suit. His hair was neatly combed for the evening, not the unruly mop of curls Lizzy was accustomed to seeing. In his hand, he held a box with a corsage in it. The sight of that corsage hit her, bursting their little cocoon of intimacy. It's not for me. It's for Caroline. Determined not to let him spoil her evening, she reminded herself of his haughtiness and arrogance. He and Caroline deserve each other.

Although William thought he was prepared for the moment when he would first set eyes on Elizabeth again, he was overcome by the sight of her. Completely unaware of Jane or Charlotte, Elizabeth had his undivided attention as the threesome came down the stairs. His eyes were only for his Elizabeth, forgetting the minor detail that she was not his that evening - nor any other evening for that matter. He caught his breath at the sight of her, slowly exhaling in awe of the beauty before him. His eyes widened as he noticed the pleasing display of cleavage her dress afforded. She was brilliant in her alluring red gown. It accentuated the smallness of her waist and curves of her body, and she appeared taller with her glossy, dark hair worn up. He unwaveringly smiled up at her, taking in every inch of her as she continued her descent.

Lizzy gave him an arch look as she walked past him to approach Charles and the two other men beside him. Charles immediately greeted Jane, complimenting her appearance before he introduced Lizzy and Charlotte to their dates. Charlotte's date was Maxwell Saunderson, a shy looking young man who was a little short in the height department. He seemed somewhat tongue-tied, but anxious to please.

Lizzy's date was not exactly what she'd hoped for. Bill Collins was an awkward, lanky young man, who was a definite devotee of the "greasy look." Pushing up his thick black tortoise-shell glasses, he stepped forward and bowed clumsily before her.

"It is an honor, Miss Bennet, or may I call you...Lizzy?" he asked, bowing. With him bent before her, Lizzy fought the urge to gag as she stared at his hair in horror. He stood up, grinning, then realized he was forgetting to give her the corsage he was holding, and held it out to her.

"Is this for me?" she asked, still incredulous that this was her date.

He was a bit nonplussed, but remained polite. "Yes. I hope you like it."

"Oh, yes, thank you." It took every ounce of self control for her not to turn around and run away screaming. Out of the corner of her eye she saw from Jane's face that she felt terrible about Lizzy's lackluster date. Dumbly, Lizzy pinned the painfully garish evergreen corsage onto her dress. A Christmas tree corsage? Happy thought, indeed. She made a note to herself to misplace the thing as soon she could manage it. As she finished arranging it so it wasn't too noticeable, she realized someone silently approached and was standing beside her. She looked up and saw Will gazing down at her, with kindness in his dark eyes, as if he knew what she was thinking.

"You look very lovely tonight, Elizabeth," he said quietly. Lizzy hated herself for blushing at his compliment.

"Thank you," she said, determined to keep her head high.

A hush came over the group as Caroline began her grand entrance down the staircase.

Lizzy looked up scornfully, half-expecting Caroline to say, 'I'm ready for my close up, Mr. DeMille.' Caroline outdid even herself. Rumor was that her dress had been made especially for her at one of the chicest couturiers in New York. No doubt started by the woman herself. Lizzy thought. Who else would create such a ridiculous story? The dress was a stunning black and white satin strapless evening gown that Caroline wore with long black opera gloves; her hair coifed to perfection. At her ears were glittering diamond earrings which matched her diamond necklace. Her eyes looked especially large. Probably those fake eyelashes. Lizzy smirked. Caroline regally advanced on the group.

"Will, darling!" Holding out her hand, she waited for him to take it. He noticeably gulped and pulled at his collar.

Lizzy was momentarily amused - and distracted - from the unpleasantness of her date as she watched the spectacle before her.

Will was resigned. I have made a pact with the Devil. He took his overdressed date's arm and led her towards the ballroom. If this is what I have to do to be near Elizabeth, so be it.

The ballroom was decorated in holiday themes of gold, red and green, making it look especially festive. A large resplendently lit Christmas tree stood in one corner of the room while a bar and a refreshment table were set up in another. The large dance floor in the center of the room was the main focus of the evening; with music blasting and lights dimly lit, it was oddly reminiscent to Will. It was in this very room that he and Elizabeth had first met.

Bill Collins could not be more pleased with his date. He did not hesitate to ask Elizabeth to dance two dances right away. Assured that his expertise in the art of dancing would impress her; he believed she would immediately recognize his magnificence and jump at the chance to dance with him as much as possible. He would also try his best to live up to the reputation of a 'Princeton Man' and was confidant she would be awed that he was a member of the ultra exclusive Ivy Club.

Lizzy was not looking forward to dancing with him. She allowed him to lead her to the dance floor as an especially lively song was playing. Holding his hand, much less dancing with him made her cringe inside. It's going to be a long evening.

It was torture. Bill was one of the most outlandish dancers she had ever seen. Mortified to be with him on the dance floor, she wished that floor would open up and swallow her whole. How am I going to get through this? Arms flying and legs moving frantically, he wasn't even keeping in time to the beat. At some points, he seemed to be completely unaware of his partner, so engrossed was he in his own movements. She stood back from him, trying to hide her horror. Her only thought was to finish this dance and get away from him as soon as possible; her moment of release would be ecstasy.

Will watched the scene before him with a glint of amusement in his eyes. He gave Caroline his usual, "I don't dance" line, freeing himself to observe. He shook his head at Bill Collins. What a character. He couldn't help but feel sorry for Elizabeth. She looked as uncomfortable as a person could be, but he admired the grace and poise she exhibited in spite of her dancing partner. As the final bars of the second song came to a merciful ending, he watched relief spread across her features as she dashed away from the source of her torment.

Will had been apprised earlier of Elizabeth's unexpected need for a blind date. Jane had told Charles that Lizzy needed a date because hers, George Wickham, had become sick and could not attend. Will had blanched at the name. That good-for-nothing reprobate. He couldn't bear the thought of her with him - dancing with him. Better a fool like Collins than a slippery eel like Wickham. How fortuitous he backed out at the last moment. Will was sure the stomach excuse was a sham.

A little later in the evening, Lizzy and Charlotte found a moment to talk and compare.

"Are you enjoying yourself?" Charlotte asked. Lizzy rolled her eyes.

"What do you think, Charlotte? At least, I don't have to dance with Bill for a while, I told him I was tired - he is exhausting."

"Will Darcy looks at you a lot, Lizzy. He definitely likes you."

"Probably just finding fault with me," she said, trying to convince herself more than anything. "I wish he weren't here, he only makes me feel uncomfortable." Lizzy looked around to see if she could see him before adding, "I'm convinced we'd never get along."

"I wouldn't write him off too quickly, if I were you, Lizzy." Looking beyond Lizzy she added, "Here he comes."

The opening riffs of a new song came on. Will would not take "no" for an answer. He watched Elizabeth dance with that fool long enough. Now that she was talking with her friend, and Collins was nowhere in sight, he seized his chance.

Lizzy turned in surprise just as Will came up to her with a determined look on his face. His dark eyes never wavered from hers as he took her hand, pulling her toward him. Lizzy was speechless. A familiar jolt of electricity ran through her fingers as he pulled her out onto the dance floor. Standing across from him, her astounded eyes were riveted to his.

Click here to hear song

How dare he drag me out here, without even asking me! she thought resentfully, though the song was irresistible. I'll show him! Grinning up at him, she grabbed her skirt, hiked it up provocatively and began to twist to the music. Her eyes dared him to follow.

Well, shake it up baby now (shake it up baby)
Twist and shout (twist and shout)
Come on, come on, come, come on baby now (come on baby)
Come on and work it on out (work it on out)

Will grinned back. "Is this a contest?" he shouted to her over the music, matching her twists. His eyes never left hers as he followed her movements. I can match you easily.

Well work it on out, honey (work it on out)
You know you look so good (look so good)
You know you got me goin' now (got me goin')
Just like I know you would (like I knew you would)

She laughed out loud at him. "You want a contest, Will Darcy?" she yelled back, with an impish grin. "You're on!" She let loose enthusiastically, daring him to follow her.

Well, shake it up baby now (shake it up baby)
Twist and shout (twist and shout)
Come on, come on, come, come on baby now (come on baby)
Come on and work it on out (work it on out)

Will kept up with Lizzy, taking her dare. They continued to twist as the music controlled their actions. The rest of the room disappeared.

You know you twist, little girl (twist, little girl)
You know you twist so fine (twist so fine)
Come on and twist a little closer now (twist a little closer)
And let me know that you're mine, woo (know you're mine)

Will leaned closer and closer to Lizzy, their faces inches apart.

Ah, ah, ah, ah

His heart beating rapidly, he thought if he got any closer to her, he would kiss her. Will nearly got his wish.

Suddenly realizing how close they really were, Lizzy lost her bravado and her footing, and stumbled slightly. As she tripped forward, their lips practically met but for Will's quick reflexes. He reached out, breaking her fall. Pulling her close to his chest, he delighted in the feel of her in his arms. Their eyes met and both felt the intimacy of the moment. Time seemed to stop. The music reached its crescendo. As if on fire, Lizzy jumped back, carrying on with the song, afraid of what may have happened had she not come to her senses. Savoring the brief moment and wishing it were longer, he followed her lead and let it pass, continuing to dance energetically.

Yeah, shake it up baby now (shake it up, baby)
Twist and shout (twist and shout)
Come on, come on, come, come on baby now (come on baby)
Come on and work it on out (work it on out)

It was exhilarating twisting up, twisting down, meeting the other's moves.

You know you twist, little girl (twist, little girl)
You know you twist so fine (twist so fine)
Come on and twist a little closer now (twist a little closer)
And let me know that you're mine (know you're mine)

Breathless, they worked themselves up, bodies in perfect rhythm. There was no denying it - they were good together.

Well shake it, shake it, shake it, baby now (shake it up baby)
Well shake it, shake it, shake it, baby now (shake it up baby)
Well shake it, shake it, shake it, baby now (shake it up baby)
Ah, ah, ah, ah*

Having thoroughly enjoyed every minute of their dance, Will guided an out of breath Elizabeth over to the refreshment table. Her face was flushed and excited, her eyes sparkled, and with a feeling of déj vu, Will grabbed a Coke for her, popped off the cap and handed it to her, all the while grinning.

"Now," he said smugly, "aren't you glad you didn't come with George Wickham?"

Lizzy froze at his words. A feeling of alarm descended upon him as she gave him an icy stare.

Oh no, not again. There was no doubt in his mind what she was thinking.

*Twist and Shout performed by the Beatles, written by Russell/Medley (c) 1960 and 1963 Screen Gems-EMI Music Incorporation, USA. EMI Music Publishing Limited, London WC2. All Rights Reserved. International Copyright Secured.

Chapter 6

Oh no, not again. William winced at the angry look in Elizabeth's eyes.

"You really know how to spoil a moment, don't you," Lizzy spat out bitterly. "I suppose you want to gloat that my date couldn't make it?"

With a short laugh, Will blurted out, "Stood you up, more like." As soon as he said it, he wanted to kick himself.

"You arrogant ass!" she cried without thinking. "You think you know everything, don't you?"

Will folded his arms, looking down at her, his regret quickly forgotten. "He doesn't deserve your sympathy, Elizabeth. He's a louse and a loser."

She rolled her eyes. "You really have no consideration for the feelings of others do you? No thanks to you he has to work his way through college!" Will's eyebrows shot up, and he wondered what kind of lies George was telling her. "I knew it was too good to be true..." Lizzy began. "You're just - you're just - " Searching for the right word - a name - anything bad enough to call him, she stamped her foot. Hateful man! What is he doing to me? Frustrated, and not a little bewildered by her unexpected burst of anger, Lizzy nonetheless felt a heady exhilaration battling with Will. The palms of her hands tingled and she couldn't think straight when she was with him.

Will could not help but think how beautiful she looked when she was angry. Her eyes were sparkling, her face was vibrant. He knew she couldn't remain angry with him for long. There was chemistry between them, surely she couldn't deny that. But his curiosity was piqued by her words.

"What was too good to be true?" He wanted to hear this.

"That we could actually be civil to one another!" Lizzy laughed shortly. "Well, at least we managed to until your giant ego came into the picture!"

"So you think we're good together?" he said, smiling. Now we're getting somewhere!

Lizzy was infuriated with him and it didn't help that the smirk on his face showed off his dimples in the most disconcerting manner.

"Stop it!" She looked away from him. This is getting too dangerous! She was losing ground. She felt he was forcing her to say things she didn't want to say. Feeling desperate, she began to walk away, but he grabbed her hand, not ready to let her go. A sudden jolt of electricity shot through her arm. She pulled at it, and looked him in the eye.

"Let me go," she said levelly, acutely aware of the pressure of his fingers on the palm of her hand.

He shook his head. "Not this time. I'm through with having you run away from me," he said, not willing to let her run off again.

"Well, did you ever think that maybe it's your own fault?" she said, trying to get loose from his grip. "Or is that impossible for the great William Darcy?" she added sarcastically.

"Elizabeth, where is this coming from?" he questioned her, giving her his most charming smile. "Don't you think we should put an end to this cat and mouse game between us?"

"I'm having trouble making you out," she answered. "One minute we're dancing and having a great time, and the next, you say or do something like a jerk!" At her words, the smile left his face and he relaxed his grip.

Coldly, he said, "Pardon me. I would hate to ruin the rest of your evening." He let go of her hand. With nary a glance, she hurried away, anxious to be as far from him as humanly possible. Angry and frustrated he felt like smashing his fist against the wall. Again, that creep has ruined things for me. Why did I have to mention Wickham's name?



For Jane and Charles the Holly Hop was a bittersweet evening. The very next day Charles was leaving for Europe to visit his parents in Oslo for the Christmas holidays. He planned to remain abroad, having been accepted to the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London. He would be away for five long months. On this their last night together they intended to dance every dance in each other's arms.

As much as Jane wanted to be radiant with a brave face, inside she was devastated. She focused on the feel of Charles's arms around her as they danced, and his warm smile as he looked into her face. She was never lovelier. The delicate gossamer of her silver blue gown had an ethereal effect, further increasing Charles' belief that Jane was an angel. He couldn't take his eyes off her all evening. Her bare shoulders were tantalizing; it was all he could do to stop from kissing them as they glided across the dance floor.

"I'll miss you so much, Janie." His eyes said all that he left unspoken.

"Oh, Charles, please let's not talk about it," Jane replied softly. "We're here to have a good time tonight. It won't do either one of us any good to dwell on the inevitable," she said, making a valiant effort to look cheerful.

"You're right, my sweet Jane." He held her close, burying his nose in her hair, breathing in the clean scent that he loved.

Click here to hear their song

Close your eyes and I'll kiss you
Tomorrow I'll miss you
Remember I'll always be true
And then while I'm away
I'll write home every day
And I'll send all my loving to you

Jane couldn't help herself; as soon as she heard the words to the song she couldn't fight back the tears. So much for being brave, she thought. Burying her face in his chest, she wrapped her arms tightly around him. She didn't want him to see her cry.

I'll pretend that I'm kissing
The lips I am missing
And hope that my dreams will come true
And then while I'm away
I'll write home every day
And I'll send all my loving to you

Charles knew what she was going through, he saw the pain in her eyes before she tried to hide them - how could he not? It was tearing him apart. He hated the thought of leaving her, but he had to. Studying abroad had been in the works for too long, his family was expecting it of him. No matter how much he wanted to, he couldn't change things now. Tilting her chin up, he sought out her eyes to see them fill with tears.

All my loving, I will send to you
All my loving, darling I'll be true

Jane's resolve crumbled as she choked out, "Oh, Charles, I know I should be stronger, but I just can't!" She broke down, giving in to the tears she had tried so hard to prevent. "I love you! I can't let you go!" Aware she wouldn't want to be seen crying, he quickly guided her off the dance floor and led her out of the ballroom. He looked for the nearest place - somewhere - anywhere where they could be alone. Behind them, they could still hear the heart-wrenching words of the song:

Close your eyes and I'll kiss you
Tomorrow I'll miss you
Remember I'll always be true
And then while I'm away
I'll write home every day
And I'll send all my loving to you

Finding a nearby bench, Charles gently sat Jane down beside him, holding her and trying to comfort her, kissing the tears away as she sobbed in his arms. His lovely, dear Jane. It was killing him to see her so upset.

All my loving, I will send to you
All my loving, darling I'll be true
All my loving, All my loving
Woo, all my loving, I will send to you

"I love you, Janie," he whispered in her ear, trying to reassure her. "I won't be gone forever." Kissing her hair, he murmured words of comfort. "I promise I'll come back to you." He longed to make her feel better. "I'll write you everyday," he said in between kisses. "Believe me." Her tears began to subside as she sniffed and hiccupped, giving him a small smile.

"I know, it's just me being silly, I guess." She dabbed at her eyes with the handkerchief he handed her. "When I heard the words of that song, I couldn't stop myself."

"I know what you mean," he agreed, sighing deeply. "I feel the same way too." He continued to hold her until her crying stopped completely.

Gazing down at her meaningfully, Charles simply said, "Let's go." Jane looked at him in complete agreement. She sniffed one last time, wiping at what she was sure were mascara stains under her eyes.

"Yes. Let's go."



After her most recent and trying altercation with Will, Lizzy made her way to the Ladies' Lounge. Muttering as she entered, "The nerve of that conceited -," she stopped short when she realized who was there already. Caroline.

"Well, well, look what the cat dragged in," Caroline scoffed, spotting Lizzy. "Isn't it strange that we always seem to be meeting here?" She turned to Lizzy and looked her up and down. "Tsk tsk, poor girl. Hiding from your date?" Caroline asked, barely suppressing a laugh.

As the image of Bill Collins loomed in the front of her mind's eye, Lizzy contained the mortification she felt at Caroline's petty remark.

"No, Caroline, I'm not hiding from my date, in fact," she said innocently, raising an eyebrow, "I was just dancing with yours."

Dancing! He said he didn't dance! Caroline's face briefly showed her displeasure, but she recovered quickly. With a condescending air she parried. "He's more than just my date, Eliza. He's my fiancé"

Lizzy thought it was high time that she and Caroline had it out. She'd been itching for a fight ever since she found out the truth about Caroline and Will, no matter what she happened to think of him at the moment.

"Yes, I've heard that one before, Caroline, remember?" Lizzy said, stepping closer to her. "But since then, I've learned a few things."

Caroline didn't like the way Lizzy was looking at her. This chit was too self-assured.

"Well whatever they are, I really couldn't be bothered." Caroline tried to brush her off with a bored tone. "I'm leaving."

Lizzy called out. "Not so hasty, please. I think you might be interested in hearing what your fiancé thinks about you." Caroline stopped and slowly turned to face Lizzy.

Lizzy was just warming up. "Yes, your fiancé. Will Darcy? Funny, I heard you two weren't remotely close to being engaged. In fact," Lizzy paused, pretending to think aloud. "What was it? 'Darcy engaged to Caroline? Not in a million years. She'd like that, but it will never happen if Will has any say.'" She finished with a triumphant smile, remembering Charles's words back at Netherfield.

"No doubt from my brother," Caroline said mockingly and decided to change the subject before Lizzy could dispute her lies any further. "I wouldn't believe everything he says, if I were you - or your sister, for that matter." Lizzy looked up sharply at the reference to Jane. Any arguments about Darcy's betrothed status were quickly forgotten.

"I hope you realize my brother is going to dump that 'Tweety bird' sister of yours as soon as he gets to Europe," she stated in a bored manner, leaning forward, primping in the mirror again.

If Caroline's intent was to get Lizzy furious, she succeeded. When it came to Jane, Lizzy's loyalty was as fierce and protective as a tigress with her cubs.

"And what makes you so knowledgeable?" Lizzy asked.

"I know my brother." She stood back from the mirror, viewing herself. Shrugging, she turned to Lizzy with a superior look. "I've seen him do this 'love 'em and leave 'em routine' countless times. Your sister is just one on a list of many."

She turned dismissively, brushing against Lizzy's shoulder roughly as she passed her, intent on ending their conversation. Lizzy was having none of it.

"Oh, no you don't, missy," Lizzy said menacingly, reaching for Caroline. "I should have done this long ago."

Caroline let out a screech as Lizzy grabbed her and whirled her around. Lizzy had every intention of slapping the snooty look off Caroline's face, but Caroline evaded her swipe and Lizzy inadvertently caught the edge of Caroline's bodice instead, yanking it down and revealing all.

Caroline's face nearly turned purple as she looked down horrified. She quickly clutched at her gown, pulling it back up - but not soon enough. Lizzy had gotten a good look at Caroline's 'paltry assets' that had been cleverly enhanced behind the gathered silk of her bodice. Lizzy couldn't hide a triumphant smirk at the view. As soon as Caroline recovered from the shock, she managed to spit out a venomous, "You'll regret this, Eliza Bennet." Holding her head high, she readjusted her gown, took one quick look in the mirror and stormed out of the lounge as Lizzy remained behind laughing out of sheer giddiness and an adrenaline high. She was amazed she had the nerve to actually unmask the witch.

After a few moments to compose herself, Lizzy left the lounge in search of Jane, hoping she wouldn't run into Will. Unfortunately, she ran into her date instead. At this point, Lizzy wasn't sure which was worse.

"Lizzy, I've been looking for you. They're playing our song!" Bill said, making a move to lead her to the dance floor.

"Bill, I'm sorry, I can't right now. I have a headache," she said tersely, feigning illness. "Would you mind asking someone else? Maybe my roommate Charlotte is free," she offered. Bill looked put out at first, but then brightened at the idea of Charlotte and left to look for her.

Good, got rid of him. Lizzy thought, scanning the floor, looking for Jane and Charles. She was on a mission.



Will was not a happy man. Leaning against the increasingly familiar wall in which he had found so much solace in the last time he was at Longbourn, he nursed a stiff drink, necessitated by Lizzy running off - again. Indulging in a bout of self-pity, he ignored everyone around him. Here I am, stuck at this dance, Caroline as my date, and once again, Elizabeth is angry with me. To make matters worse, he realized it was his own fault. He rolled his eyes heavenward. Could life get any worse?

At that moment, Caroline sidled up to him.

It just did, he thought wearily, and downed his drink in one gulp.

Taking hold of his arm possessively with her spider-like fingers, she viewed the rest of the room dispassionately.

"I bet I can guess what you are thinking," she whispered to him in what she thought was a sultry voice.

"I doubt it," he said shortly, studying his empty glass.

"You are thinking how insipid and beneath you this dance is and how you wish to leave. Am I right?" she guessed, leaning towards him conspiratorially.

"Not exactly, Caroline," he replied.

Unhappily aware that he did not find her now extra revealing décolletage as fascinating as she hoped, she decided to broach a subject that would catch his attention.

"I just heard a very interesting conversation between Miss Eliza Bennet and that roommate of hers in the ladies' room," she said, while absently running her hand over Will's shoulder. His eyes quickly lit up at the mention of Elizabeth's name. He was suddenly interested. I'll show you, Elizabeth Bennet! she thought triumphantly. "I overheard Eliza tell her friend what her sister really thinks about Charles, and it wasn't very nice."

Will faced her, interested in what Elizabeth had to say, but he knew it was rude of Caroline to have listened to their conversation.

"Caroline, you know it's not polite to eavesdrop."

"Well, if you don't want to know..." she started moving away, confident of Will's reaction.

Of course he wanted to know. "What did she say?"

"She was saying that Jane was planning to break up with Charles while he's studying in London. She wanted to be free to date others while he was gone." Shrugging, the lies tripped easily from her lips. "I'm not surprised, a gold-digger like that, probably looking for a bigger fish to land."

Will found it hard to believe that Jane Bennet was the mercenary type Caroline was describing. He didn't know Jane very well - or her family, apart from Elizabeth. Thinking it over he remembered Charles had described their mother a few times. A matchmaking mama if ever there was one. For all he knew what Caroline claimed to have heard could be true, and because of it he was concerned for Charles. He knew how much he cared for Jane.

"Are you sure about this?" Will asked.

"Oh yes, I heard Eliza say it myself." Caroline said blithely. At the mention of Elizabeth's name, Will thought about what she had said to him and anger pulsed through him. She called me a jerk. In his alcohol befuddled mind, he didn't want Charles to go through the sort of punishment Lizzy had given him.

"Maybe we should encourage him to forget about her while he's in London. He'll probably meet someone else there, anyway," he suggested thoughtfully, hoping to save Charles from certain misery. "In the long run, it would probably be better for him to forget her."

"I agree. It would most definitely be better in the long run." She nodded her head, certain her plan was working.

Out of the corner of her eye, Lizzy saw Caroline beside Will. She was hanging all over him, while he stared down into his glass, looking a little worse for wear. Curious what Caroline might be saying to him, she was a little worried she might be telling him about their altercation in the lounge. Drawing nearer, she heard them unobserved.

"Maybe we should encourage him to forget about her while he's in London. He'll probably meet someone else there, anyway." In a menacing tone he added, "In the long run, it would probably be better for him to forget her"
Lizzy's eyes widened, her mouth agape at what she had just heard. They're talking about Jane and Charles!
"I agree. It would most definitely be better in the long run." Caroline nodded her head furtively.

"You know how Charles is, he's always meeting a new girl and falling in love wherever he goes."

"Yes, I know. Would you talk to him before he leaves, anyway? You're his best friend after all."

"Yes, I think that's a good idea."

Lizzy couldn't bear to hear any more. She ran off blindly in the opposite direction feeling powerless. What could she do? Had she not heard it with her own ears she never would have believed it. Will and Caroline in cahoots? Encouraging Charles to break up with Jane? She expected such behavior from Caroline, but Will? How could he do this to them? She was crushed. Once again, she felt she was seeing the real Will Darcy and he was worse than she thought! Her mind was filled with questions: Does Charles really fall in love all the time? Maybe what Caroline said in the bathroom was true! Her mind was dizzy at the thought. This had to be the night from hell - first Will was a complete jerk about George, and now Jane was facing the biggest heartache of her life - all at the hands of Will and Caroline! She had to do something to stop it. How? Charles was leaving the next day. She looked around for them, but they weren't to be found anywhere. With a sinking sensation, she realized, it was too late. They must have already left. Understanding took hold of her as she knew she would not be seeing them again that night.

*All My Loving performed by the Beatles, written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney (c) 1963 Northern Songs. All Rights Reserved. International Copyright Secured.

Chapter 7

The Christmas holidays weren't easy for Jane. She missed Charles terribly. The day after the Holly Hop he had flown off to Oslo with Caroline to spend Christmas with their parents. From there he would go to London until he completed his graduate studies in architecture in May. Amid a tearful farewell he had promised to write her. She missed him as soon she said goodbye to him for the last time, waving incessantly as the red tail lights of his Mustang disappeared into the night.

Once Lizzy and Jane were home, the bustle of the holidays helped take Jane's mind off Charles a little. She immersed herself in Christmas shopping and decorating the Bennet house in its traditional Christmas finery. Lizzy was thankful she had something to take her mind off Will and Charles as well. She didn't know how to broach the subject of what she'd overheard Will and Caroline discussing. What if they didn't succeed? She didn't want to plant any doubts in Jane's head that Charles would drop her as soon as he was in Europe if their plan didn't work. Should she warn Jane of the possibility, knowing it would only alarm her if it didn't come to fruition? Lizzy was in a quandary, and thinking about it only made her head ache.

Adding to her headache was a pain in the neck: George Wickham. The more she thought about him, the more she doubted he had told her the truth the night he canceled. Will's words came back to haunt her, "He doesn't deserve your sympathy, Elizabeth. He's a louse and a loser." She wondered about him. Did he make it up? Was George really sick? She tried to convince herself not to believe Darcy, but it just wouldn't stick. If George called, she planned to tell him she'd never go out with him and not to call again.

Unfortunately, that was only part of Lizzy's man troubles. There was another one that was interested in her - Bill Collins. Ucch! She shuddered. Ever since the Holly Hop he was convinced they were an item. He asked her to go steady the night of the dance. At first she was polite and tried to let him down easy, but he wouldn't take no for an answer. When he persisted and called her over the Christmas break - long distance from his house on Long Island - she had to draw the line. She told her sisters that in no uncertain terms, if Bill Collins should call again, she was not at home! Eventually, he stopped calling, and she was grateful he had finally seemed to get the message.

Her woes of the masculine kind had one more annoyance - the fact she couldn't get the arrogant, yet irresistible, Will Darcy off her mind. Though she told herself she hated him and he was far worse than she could have ever believed possible, she couldn't forget what it felt like to be with him. In her weakest moments her mind would replay their dance together: the way she had stumbled and fallen into his strong arms; the feel of them around her, the smell of his aftershave; the way his lips curled up when he smiled, revealing those dimples. Her breath caught when she remembered the magnetic look in his eyes as they twisted on the dance floor. "Ooh!" she cried out loud. Why does he have to be so tempting?

As was their tradition every Christmas Eve, the Bennet family's good friends, Edward and Madeline Gardiner, with their three children came to visit for the holiday. They lived north of the Bennets in New York's Westchester County. Thomas Bennet and Edward Gardiner attended college together at Dartmouth and remained great friends, although the two could not have taken more diverse paths. After Dartmouth, Thomas married his sweetheart, Fanny Worth, and they settled in Fanny's hometown of Meryton. Thomas chose a career in education. Edward Gardiner went on to Harvard Business School, then married his wife, Madeline, and became very successful on Wall Street in investment banking.

After dinner, Madeline drew Lizzy aside and asked her if she would be interested in being their "Mother's Helper" for a month that upcoming summer on Fishers Island, where they owned a house.

"I'd love to!" Lizzy answered.

"Good, then it's settled." Madeline was pleased; her children would be rapturous having Lizzy at their disposal for a month on the island. Lizzy was delighted too; this would be a great summer job and a chance to get out of Meryton for a month. She loved the Gardiners and couldn't think of a better situation. Lizzy had never been to their summer house, but she heard a great deal about it. Fishers Island, off the coast of Connecticut but officially part of New York State, was small, and home to the bastions of Eastern high society. To get there, one had to take the ferry from New London, Connecticut or fly in on a small airstrip that the island provided for private aircrafts. Many came from the 'old guard,' names that conjured up elevated wealth and privilege. The Gardiners, though not as wealthy as most of the residents on Fishers, came from an old family line and had summered on the island for generations.

Lizzy felt much better now that she knew she had a summer job. At the same time, she couldn't help but see how sad Jane was growing as the Christmas break went by. She still had not received any mail from Charles, and she had no idea where to write to him. He had told her he would write to her with his address. Lizzy was tempted to tell Jane what she knew. It now looked obvious to her that Caroline and Will's plan had worked; otherwise she was sure Jane would have received a letter from Charles long before now. Hoping for the right time to break the news, she finally decided to wait until their Christmas break was over and school had started again.

Adding to the emotional sadness of Jane's loneliness, Lydia was unwittingly rubbing salt in the wound by constantly playing one particular Beatles song that seemed tailor made for the way Jane was feeling.

Click here to hear song

There must be some mail today
From my girlfriend so far away
Please mister postman look and see
If there's a letter, a letter for me

Jane unconsciously substituted the word boyfriend for girlfriend, just like the earlier version by Martha and the Vandellas, as she absently sung the lyrics to herself - while staring out the window. Why hasn't he written? She couldn't believe it had been two weeks since she had last seen him. Maybe he got the address wrong, she thought, hoping a letter would come any day.

I've been standing here waiting Mister Postman
So patiently for just a card
or just a letter
Saying she's returning home to me
Please Mister Postman

Lizzy could see all too well what the song was doing to her beloved sister.

"Lydia! Do you have to play that song over and over?" she pleaded to the younger one.

"Yes, I love it!" Lydia retorted. "Besides, it's Christmas Vacation. I can do whatever I want." She turned her back to Lizzy and went back to reading her 16 magazine. Lizzy was tempted to pull the plug out of the wall, but decided against it.

So many days you passed me by
See the tears standing in my eye
You didn't stop to make me feel better
By leaving me a card or letter

Lizzy was bitterly certain Caroline and Will Darcy were behind Jane's sadness. They had obviously succeeded in convincing Charles to end his relationship with Jane. She was sad for Jane, and disappointed that Charles had been so easily led. She had hoped he had more substance than that.

You gotta, wait a minute wait a minute oh yeah
Wait a minute wait a minute oh yeah
you gotta, wait a minute wait a minute oh yeah
you gotta, wait a minute wait a minute oh yeah

Once school was back in session in January, Jane was resigned to the idea that Charles was not going to contact her. She hadn't received a single card or letter from him and she had no idea where she could reach him. She had been certain she would have heard from him by now. Seeing the pain her sister was experiencing, Lizzy knew it was time she told Jane the truth.

"Jane, there's something I haven't told you because I wanted to be sure, but now it looks like that something I was afraid would happen has."

Jane looked up from her sociology book, surprised at the seriousness of Lizzy's tone. "What are you talking about, Lizzy?"

"It's about Charles." Lizzy nervously fidgeted with her hands, hating what she had to tell her sister.

Jane waited serenely for Lizzy to continue, although Lizzy could see the interest in her eyes.

"I overheard Caroline and Will Darcy talking the night of the Holly Hop about you and Charles."

Jane, ever the watchful older sister, chastised her, "Lizzy, you know you shouldn't eavesdrop."

Exasperated, Lizzy rolled her eyes. "I know, but don't you want to know what I heard them say?"

"About us?" Jane was surprised at Lizzy, who was obviously upset. She couldn't imagine what would have her so worked up. "What was it? Was it something bad?"

"Yes." Lizzy said stoutly. "They were planning on breaking the two of you up. I heard them scheming together." Once Lizzy started, she let loose the floodgates. "Caroline asked Will to talk to Charles and convince him to break up with you while he was in London." She saw the look of hurt on Jane's face and felt awful for what she was telling her. "I even heard Will say that Charles was always meeting someone new anyway, and it would be better if he were rid of you."

Jane couldn't believe such a thing coming from Will. He had always been so kind and pleasant to her. Caroline too had always been pleasant to her, albeit a snob, but she had never given her any cause to believe she didn't want Jane to date her brother or didn't like her.

"Are you sure about this? I find it incredibly hard to believe." Jane looked at her doubtfully.

"I know what I heard, Jane. There's no doubt in my mind. Caroline has always looked down her nose at us. The case is this: we are not rich enough or grand enough for them."

"I think you're exaggerating. Frankly, I find it hard to believe that Caroline could talk Will into anything. You must have misunderstood them or misheard."

"She talked him into going to the dance with her, didn't he?" Lizzy pointed out, without mentioning how that thought had still rankled deep down inside.

"Yes, that's true, but we don't know what the whole story is there either. Charles was very vague about it when I asked him about it." Jane remembered her surprise upon learning Will was Caroline's date to the dance at Longbourn. She still could not quite believe it.

Charles wouldn't listen to Caroline, though. They were hardly close.

"You think his sister has so much influence over him that she could convince Charles to forget about me?" Jane asked.

"Yes, with his friend Will's recommendation, I do." Lizzy said folding her arms, determined she was right.

"I can't believe it. Why would they try to influence him? I'm sure they only wish his happiness; and if he is in love with me, no other woman can make him happy."

"Jane, you just refuse to believe that some people can be mean and devious. Not everyone looks to make other people happy, you know." Lizzy said shaking her head.

"That's not all true. But I refuse to believe someone is guilty until proven so, and Will Darcy has never done anything to make me believe he would do such a thing to Charles and me. He's always been a true friend, he encouraged Charles to date me - at least that's what Charles told me."

Lizzy refused to believe, but let it rest. If Jane wanted to walk around with her head in the sand, refusing to believe the truth about Caroline and Will then let her.

A few days after their talk, Jane began to have second thoughts about what Lizzy had told her. Especially when she bumped into Caroline at the school bookstore and Caroline was less than enthusiastic at their impromptu meeting. She made it clear to Jane that she did not intend to pursue any friendship between them. Caroline's coldness on campus seemed to be the final nail in the coffin. Charles has dumped me. While she began to believe Caroline capable of duplicity, she could not believe it of Will. He was too good and too much a gentleman to behave the way Lizzy described. He and Lizzy may have their misunderstandings but he had always been a friend to her.

She tried to throw herself into her studies, but it was hard. She couldn't forget him, she loved him! There was also the niggling worry that he had dropped her for the more glamorous girls he was probably meeting in London. Jane couldn't help but envision him dancing and living it up. He probably hadn't given her another thought since he left her that night. Counting the days on the calendar since she had last seen him, she bit her lip, worried; wishing she had done things differently. If only...



"It's so good to be back at school again, isn't it?" said Charlotte merrily. "I really missed it!"

Lizzy looked at her roommate, somewhat surprised at her demeanor. If she didn't know better, she'd say Charlotte was hiding something from her.

"You're awfully chipper, Char, what gives?" Lizzy asked her, raising an eyebrow. "Are you keeping something from me?" Charlotte blushed and then looked up and grinned.

"I have a boyfriend, Lizzy!" she said joyfully, "Can you believe it? I'm so happy!"

A broad smile lit up Lizzy's face. She was floored! At the same time she was delighted for her friend. Charlotte finally has a boyfriend? She wondered when it happened and with whom?

"When? How did this happen? Tell me all about it!" Lizzy assaulted her with questions as they curled up on their beds, ready for a good girl talk.

"Oh, Lizzy, he is so wonderful, and it was such a surprise!" Charlotte said dreamily.

"Is it someone you met back at home?" Lizzy asked, curious about whom the mystery man was.

"Yes, he lives near me at home, but he goes to school here." She blushed again and looked down at her hands, suddenly embarrassed.

"Here?" Lizzy was puzzled. Who could it be?

"I hope you don't mind, but he was your date from the Holly Hop. Lizzy eyes widened in surprise.

"Do you mean your boyfriend is Bill Collins?" Lizzy asked slowly, in disbelief.

"Yes!" she jumped up from the bed and twirled around. "He is so wonderful!"

Lizzy was stunned, but did her best to hide her disgust from Charlotte who was so obviously happy.

"I'm very happy for you, Charlotte," she said warmly. "Tell me how this all happened."

"Well, it turns out that Bill lives nearby me on Long Island. I live in Hunsford Village. It's just the next town over from his. One night, my girlfriends and I went out bowling, and who do we run into but Bill with some of his friends! He recognized me right away and came over. One thing led to another and we all wound up hanging out together for the rest of the Christmas break."

"Charlotte, it sounds great. So, now that you two are back down here, you're definitely going steady?" Lizzy asked, still finding all of this hard to believe, and not a little worried that Charlotte might be rushing things.

"Yes - look! He pinned me!" She pointed to the pin she was wearing on her sweater. It was small, orange and black with a "P" on it for Princeton.

Any reservations she had disappeared as she saw how joyful her roommate was. So what if it was Bill Collins? If he made Charlotte happy, that was all that mattered. Lizzy gave her a big hug and kiss.

Lizzy felt a proclamation was in order. "I think this calls for a celebration. How about we go to Bond's and get some burgers and Awful Awfuls?"

Bond's was the local hamburger hang out, famous for their super big milkshakes called Awful Awfuls.

"You're on! But only this one time, I have to watch my figure!" Charlotte replied, and they both laughed and headed on out.



"Well, well who do we have here?" a deep voice said from behind.

Lydia turned around and a great big smile spread across her face. "George!" she cried out. Lydia had hoped she would run into the Paul McCartney look-a-like salesman at Korvettes, and her wish was granted.

George had been relaxing with his co-workers, Denny Grubb and Alex Carter, before finishing up for the day, when he noticed Lydia saunter into the record department. It had been a while since he'd talked to her sister, Elizabeth. That one's a lost cause. He realized in hindsight it had been an error in judgment to leave her in the lurch the night of the semi-formal, but at the time he had no choice. There had been more important matters to deal with that evening. Attending some dull college dance, with barely the chance of a quick feel and some necking - and that was if he was lucky - or heading to a high stakes poker game where he could win a bundle of money in poker? Hmm, not a hard decision to make - money definitely won out. And there was always the need to avoid a Darcy.

Now, here was her sister, who looked as eager as ever. This could be interesting. He ignored the warning in the back of his head that said Jail Bait and sauntered over, approaching her from behind. What was her name again?



A lone, melancholy figure appeared in the moonlight. Slowly he walked to the iron railing in front of him. Leaning against it, he stared into the dark, frigid water of the Thames. His only thoughts were of the girl he loved. He sighed as he remembered the words of his best friend. How could she do this to me, especially after our last night? He would never forget her. He had thought he knew her feelings, he would have sworn she loved him back. He was brokenhearted.

Click here to hear song

The world is treating me bad
Misery

I'm the kind of guy
Who never used to cry
The world is treatin' me bad
Misery

Embarrassed to find a tear had fallen down his cheek, Charles wiped it away, fearful of anyone seeing his vulnerability. He shook his head, still puzzled over how it all happened.

I've lost her now for sure
I won't see her no more
It's gonna be a drag
Misery

I'll remember all the little things we've done
Can't she see she'll always be the only one
Only one

As his mind wandered he painfully thought of all the happy times they'd spent together.

Send her back to me
Cause everyone can see
Without her I will be
In misery

Charles knew he'd never be the same without her. He found his true love but here he was, miles away from her, helpless.

I'll remember all the little things we've done
She'll remember and she'll miss her lonely one
Lonely one

Send her back to me
Cause everyone can see
Without her I will be
In misery
**

Sadly, he wiped his eyes again, squared his shoulders and headed back across the bridge named Waterloo towards his lodgings.

*Please Mr. Postman performed by the Beatles, written by Dobbin/Garrett/Garman/Brianbert (c) 1962 Jobete Music Company Incorporated, USA. Dominion Music Limited, 127 Charing Cross Road, London WC2. All Rights Reserved. International Copyright Secured.

**The Beatles, "Misery" - performed by The Beatles, written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. (c) 1963 Northern Songs. All Rights Reserved. International Copyright Secured.

Chapter 8

Charlotte and Bill Collins became a bona fide couple and Charlotte was in seventh heaven. Lizzy was happy for Charlotte in spite of her own feelings about Charlotte's choice of partner. Philosophically she thought I guess there's someone for everyone in life, I wonder who will be mine, or if I'll even find someone. Will Darcy's face loomed in her thoughts with his handsome lips and dark curls. She shook her head, scowling at the memory, trying to clear him from her brain, "Why do I always have to think of him?"

As the Easter break approached, Charlotte invited Lizzy to come with her to Long Island for a week. It was an easy train ride from Princeton to New York City, and then out to Long Island. Elizabeth agreed, although she knew she'd feel like a third wheel most of the time, since Bill would be there as well.

Jane was still trying to be brave by throwing herself into her studies at Longbourn, but Lizzy could see through her determination to get straight A's this semester. At least something good has come of losing Charles, Dad will be glad to see her grades are up.

Saturday morning, Lizzy kissed her parents and a somber Jane goodbye before boarding the train from Princeton Junction. She would travel from here to New York's Penn Station where she and Charlotte would connect to the Long Island Railroad. Lizzy had never been to the North Shore of Long Island where Charlotte lived. From Charlotte's description, it sounded beautiful, with lots of grand mansions and estates, though its denizens, the affluent society types who flaunted their wealth, did not impress Lizzy. Caroline Bingley and her crowd, she thought disgustedly. All the same, she was admittedly curious to see some of the great estates that Charlotte talked about.

The ride to New York was uneventful, but once they arrived at Penn Station it turned chaotic. The great New York landmark, Pennsylvania Station, was undergoing demolition that made it difficult for the two girls to find the correct train to Locust Valley, the closest stop to Hunsford. After a mad dash to find their gate and catch their train, they were finally able to relax and sit back in their seats. Lizzy watched from her window as the train passed by Shea Stadium and the World's Fair campgrounds in Flushing Meadows. After an hour on the train, they arrived at their stop where Charlotte's father met them, giving his daughter a big hug and offering Lizzy a warm welcome. He helped them with their bags, putting them in the trunk of the car, while Lizzy absently looked around her. Noticing a charming bandstand on a hill nearby, she appreciated her surroundings; this part of Long Island was picturesque and beautiful and Lizzy knew right away that she would enjoy her visit here very much.

Charlotte's father took great pride in showing Lizzy the sights of Hunsford and its neighboring towns on the drive home. Many homes were hidden from the winding roads they traveled, but once in a while Lizzy would glimpse a grand looking estate set far back from the road. Charlotte reminded her that many of the great estates they passed could only be seen from the water. Lizzy's eyes widened as they drove down a beautiful lane of sycamore trees that ended in front of a particularly grand edifice - a huge Tudor, immaculately kept, with mature plantings and sprawling grounds.

"Who lives there?" she asked.

"That's Rosings Park, the DeBourgh estate. Catherine DeBourgh and her daughter, Anne, live there," answered Mr. Lucas.

"Only two people?" she said, amazed that only two people lived in such a huge house.

"Oh, yes, it's been in the family for a long time, Miss Anne DeBourgh is quite the heiress." Mr. Lucas replied.

"Bill's father, Reverend Collins, is her pastor. That's his church right there." Mr. Lucas pointed to a beautiful stone Episcopal Church across from them. "She shows a great interest in church affairs and is Reverend Collins's biggest benefactor." Charlotte piped in. "The DeBourgh family donated those enormous stained glass windows." The windows were indeed very grand looking; Lizzy could easily appreciate the value of such a gift.

"I didn't realize Bill's father was a minister. For some reason I always thought his father was...uh..." she stammered to a stop, unsure exactly how to put it. Bill always looked so puffed up and full of himself that Lizzy had been sure that he came from a loftier background.

Charlotte seemed to understand, "I know what you mean. Mrs. DeBourgh made it possible for him to go to Princeton. She's on the board there or something like that and was also very helpful in pulling a few strings and getting him into Ivy. His family owes a lot to Mrs. DeBourgh's kindness and generosity."

"I'm sure they must." Lizzy thought it was no wonder Bill acted like he was some big shot.

Eventually, Mr. Lucas's little tour came to an end and they drove up to the Lucas's home, a white clapboard colonial, attractively set far back from the road, with a huge front lawn. Once Charlotte showed Lizzy her room and they got settled, Charlotte called Bill to see if he was home and to make plans for the evening. Lizzy could tell Charlotte was anxious to see him again and Bill let them know that there was a dance for the younger crowd at the nearby country club that same evening. He assured the girls that it was bound to be a lot of fun. Lizzy was grateful she brought a party dress with her, and the girls promptly set about getting ready. Lizzy dressed in one of her favorites, a short sleeveless, peg dress in a light blue shimmering silk. Belted, it came down to her knees with a slimming effect as it hugged her curves, narrowing at the hemline.

Charlotte exclaimed when she saw her friend, "That dress looks great on you! You'll knock the boys dead!" Lizzy thanked her and tried to figure out what to do with her hair. The sea air was causing it to be especially unruly and no amount of brushing would straighten out the long curls. Charlotte recommended she wear it up off her neck and helped her pin it up. With a matching ribbon woven through it, she looked spectacular. They were ready.

"I can't wait to see Bill again; it's been three whole days since we've seen each other." Charlotte was clearly eager to see her boyfriend.

Lizzy kept her mouth shut. She had promised herself she would not utter a single word ever to Charlotte about her true feelings in regard to Bill Collins - no matter how much of a boob she thought he really was.

"Can you believe we're seeing him tonight - our first night here?" she continued enthusiastically, unaware of Lizzy's thoughts. She nodded and smiled, in spite of her reservations of being with Bill for the evening. If it made Charlotte happy, then so be it.

Bill picked them up and drove them to the country club. As the threesome entered the ballroom, the grandiose surroundings caused Lizzy some nervousness. She did not relish the fact that the only one she knew there was Bill Collins, besides Charlotte, of course. The music was popular for the most part, and the floor already crowded with dancers. As Lizzy watched Charlotte and Bill walk to the dance floor she couldn't help but remember how embarrassing it was to dance with him at the Holly Hop. Thank goodness I don't have to worry about that tonight. She was more than happy to let Charlotte dance with Bill every dance for the entire evening. Lizzy casually observed the people dancing and noticed a few young men glancing appreciatively her way. Their scrutiny made her self-conscious and she made her way over to a group of girls and stood nearby, hoping she might blend in with them.

At the insistence of his Aunt Catherine, Will agreed to attend that evening's dance at the club, but inwardly he rebelled at the idea. As a guest at his aunt's home for the Easter holiday break, Will felt obligated to indulge her wishes, but had no intention of actually dancing. Fortunately, he was not alone on this foray. His cousin, Richard Fitzwilliam, on leave from the Marines, was with him. It was just the two of them. Anne, Catherine's daughter, did not feel up to going to the dance and stayed at home with her mother. As the two good-looking men entered the ballroom, many eyes came to rest upon them as they were alone and seemingly free of any female companionship. Will scanned the crowd with a detached look, careful to avoid meeting anyone's eye. Making note of the balcony upstairs that overlooked the ballroom, he decided to head upstairs and observe the crowd from above. There he could remain alone and away from the coquettish debutantes who, no doubt, would be in attendance. Richard, ever the charmer, made a beeline for a group of girls, eager to strike up an acquaintance with a pretty one or two.

With a sigh of relief Will found refuge on the balcony. Drink in hand, he looked down upon the dancers wistfully. His thoughts turned to one particular girl he would do anything to dance with again. He shook his head, trying to clear the painful thoughts away. His eyes lit upon a couple dancing the Watusi on the dance floor that looked familiar. He did a double take at the fellow's dancing. Is that Collins? He smirked, remembering how outrageous he was the last time he had seen him dancing. With Elizabeth. He scowled remembering the rest of that evening at Longbourn and the argument he had with her that night, the last time he had seen her. With Charles in London Will had no contact with Elizabeth's sister; and no excuse to see Elizabeth. She had made it clear she did not want him to contact her, so he had stayed away though it had been torture for him, knowing she was so close, yet unable to see her. His mind wandered as he thought of her. He watched Collins dancing, and then recognized his partner. Isn't that Elizabeth's friend? His heart beat faster. This was too coincidental. Could Elizabeth be here too?

***

Out of the corner of her eye Lizzy noticed the nice looking young man coming in her direction, but she was surprised when he approached her of all people. After all, she was still next to the group of girls as she felt less conspicuous that way. She had been on her own ever since Charlotte and Bill had left her to dance. As he came up to her, she admired his easy good looks and graceful stride. Tall, with a muscular build and a sandy brown crew cut, he had a decided look of confidence about him. His smile was his most noticeable feature, lighting up his tanned face as Lizzy waited for him to approach.

"Hello, gorgeous, what's your name? I'm Richard." His teeth were dazzling against his tan.

It was hard not to roll her eyes at him, but his charm and manner were too difficult to ignore, and the sparkle in his blue eyes made her laugh. He was irresistible.

"Hello there, yourself. My name is Lizzy." She smiled back at him archly, "Do you always come up to girls and introduce yourself and call them gorgeous?"

"Only the gorgeous ones. So, what's a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?"

Now Lizzy really did roll her eyes and responded laughingly, "Oh, please! You can't be serious with that line. Does it really get you results?"

He feigned injury; "I'm hurt and insulted!" he smiled boyishly at her, "You mean I can't get you to come away with me after that one?" Lizzy giggled, in spite of his attempts at obvious pick up lines, she found him charming and amusing; she liked him at once.

"No, really, I'm serious. Are you from around here?" he asked.

"No, I'm here with a friend, she lives nearby."

He noticed her foot tapping to the music and asked her to dance. "This music is nice, would you care to dance?"

"Yes, I'd love to." She took his arm and he led her to the floor. He continued to flirt outrageously with her and she let him. He told her that he was a Marine, expecting to graduate from Officers' Basic School in Quantico, Virginia. He anticipated going to Vietnam in the near future. Lizzy was horrified to hear this, especially since he seemed so eager to go.

"Are you sure? Isn't that awfully dangerous?" The look on her face was stricken.

"Yes, but I'm well trained. I know what to expect." He added, "I'm a Marine." he said confidently, waggling his eyebrows at her.

She looked at him doubtfully. The little she had seen of Vietnam in the news looked pretty grim. She didn't like the idea at all. She may have just met him, but she hated to think of the danger he would be involved in over there.

***

Will's eyes darted around the ballroom looking for Elizabeth. From his perch in the balcony it was easy for him to view the entire floor below him. He scanned the crowd, looking for a girl with long dark hair. His heart thumped loudly in his chest. He could barely breathe at the thought that she might be there and he was unaware of it. As he perused the many dancers and heads from above, he saw his cousin, laughing, obviously enjoying himself on the dance floor with a shapely brunette. Will nearly glossed over them, but his heart stopped and he peered down at them more closely. Is that her? Is that my Elizabeth? He held his breath, waiting for them to turn so he could see her face. She had glossy dark hair, tied up with a ribbon - a ribbon! The couple turned and there she was! It's her! He was in no doubt. Richard is dancing with her! Hot, furious, jealousy overcame Will as he watched the two of them appear to have a great time together. Elizabeth was laughing, throwing her head back, her arms wrapped around Richard's shoulders. How dare she, he thought indignantly. She never danced that way with me! He couldn't bear to watch them together any longer. He was only too well aware what kind of a charmer his cousin could be. He had to stop this; Elizabeth could already be falling in love with him! he thought crazily. Stumbling down the stairway, he nearly collided with another couple as he rushed to reach Elizabeth and Richard.

As he made his way closer he shortened his stride and tried to relax. He didn't want to appear too flustered and give himself away to Richard. Always in competition with one another, all Richard needed was an inkling of Will's feelings for Elizabeth and he would run with it. He hadn't even thought about what he would say to her when she saw him. Making his way through the crowd, he saw them together. They had just finished their dance and were walking off the dance floor.

All the old feelings came rushing back to Will as he neared; the very vision of her assaulted him. She had never looked lovelier in his eyes. Why deny it? He was still hopelessly in love. He took a deep breath and from behind tapped her on the shoulder.

"Hello Elizabeth. It's good to see you again."

She'd recognize that deep voice anywhere. Will! What's he doing here? Lizzy turned around. Alarmed at suddenly seeing him, her heart started pounding furiously. She looked up at him, concealing her unease, "Hello, Will."

"I hope your family is well and school is going all right for you?" he asked politely.

"Yes, thank you, my family is well," she answered coolly, regaining her composure, "Although my older sister, Jane, has been out of sorts," she added meaningfully. Will tried not to read too much into what Elizabeth said, but he couldn't help feeling a twinge of guilt over his part in separating Charles from Jane. Why is she looking that way at me, as if she knows something?

"I'm sorry to hear that." He cleared his throat, "I saw your friend... um... dancing with Collins...over there." That's right, impress with your eloquence, you fool. Frustrated by his lack of conversational skill, all he managed to do was stare at her.

"Yes, I'm here with Charlotte, my roommate. She lives up here." Lizzy paused before adding in a low voice, "Bill is her...um...boyfriend." She couldn't help feeling embarrassed at the memory of being his date at the Holly Hop - and the fact that Will was there to witness it. She felt her cheeks burning under his gaze.

Richard watched the two of them curiously, with some amusement. Raising an eyebrow he wondered, What's this? She's blushing? Richard thought it was time to investigate.

"How do you two know each other?" Richard asked with an innocent look, a look which wasn't lost on Will.

"Will and I have met before, down in Princeton." She said, eyeing Will with amusement, "As I recall, on the night we were introduced, he made a derogatory comment about a particular young lady."

Will looked uncomfortable, even though he knew Elizabeth was teasing.

"Ha!" laughed Richard, "I'd love to know how my cousin behaves when he's at parties!" Richard egged Lizzy on, knowing how it would affect Will.

"It wasn't how it seemed." Will said quietly, his dark eyes never wavering from Elizabeth.

Cousins! They're cousins? "He left quite an impression," Lizzy said, on her guard.

"I'm not surprised by that." Richard knew Will only too well. "He can be quite the stick in the mud, I daresay. I bet you couldn't get him near the dance floor either." Richard grinned, noticing the changed expressions on both their faces. Aha! Struck a nerve, didn't I? Richard went in for the kill, "Isn't it about time you got out on the dance floor, Will?" he slapped him on the shoulder in a friendly gesture, "How about breaking your rule for Lizzy?"

"Maybe he's afraid to," Lizzy said, her eyes dancing.

"I am not afraid of you," he said smilingly.

Click here to hear song

Oh yeah, oh yeah,
oh yeah, oh yeah,

Wasting no time, he ignored the raised eyebrow and pert expression of her lips and took her hand in his. He wrapped his arm about her waist, aware of the silky softness of her dress as he pulled her body close. Easily guiding her in a mini-waltz step with a rock 'n roll beat, he rejoiced in the sensation of holding her in his arms. This was the first time they had danced together so intimately. Not willing to appear rude in front of Will's cousin, Lizzy hesitatingly placed her hand upon his shoulder and let him take the lead.

Imagine I'm in love with you
it's easy 'cause I know
I've imagined I'm in love with you
many, many, many times before

It's not like me to pretend
But I'll get you
I'll get you in the end
Yes, I will, I'll get you in the end
Oh yeah, oh yeah

Will smiled at the words of the song. How propos. He looked down into Elizabeth's eyes, nodding in rhythm to the song. Could she guess what he was thinking?

I think about you night and day
I need you and it's true
When I think about you I can say
I'm never, never, never, never blue

So I'm telling you, my friend
That I'll get you
I'll get you in the end
Yes, I will, I'll get you in the end
Oh yeah

I don't like that look in his eye. Elizabeth knew he was enjoying every bit of this little charade. A quick glance at his face had her nearly cringing at the roguish smile upon his lips. He looked devastating. The words of the song didn't escape her, she knew all too well what he was thinking - and she didn't like it!

Well, there's gonna be a time
When I'm gonna change your mind
So you might as well resign yourself to me
Oh yeah,

Lizzy felt caught in a trap. Her insides were in turmoil - her stomach turned somersaults as he pulled her closer. The old feelings she had for him were wreaking havoc on her senses again; she tried not to dwell on the fact his hand was holding her waist so provocatively, but it was impossible not to. Not only that, did he always have to smell so good too? Swallowing, she didn't dare look into his face again. Every time she saw those dimples of his, her legs turned to jelly. It was hard enough for her to appear cool and collected while she was in his arms, but the heat of his body next to hers was overwhelming. She closed her eyes, resisting the urge to hold him tighter and lose herself in his deep brown eyes.

Imagine I'm in love with you
it's easy 'cause I know
I've imagined I'm in love with you
many, many, many times before

Will could see the effect he was having on her, a whole range of emotions crossed her face, and he felt more confident. He smiled, licking his lips, thinking about kissing her. Should he? Her lips were so tempting!

It's not like me to pretend
But I'll get you
I'll get you in the end
Yes, I will, I'll get you in the end
Oh yeah, oh yeah
oh yeah oh yeah
oh yeah

Will didn't let her go after the song ended, they remained standing on the dance floor, both a little dazed by their thoughts. Lizzy was only too well aware that it was dangerous to be too close to him. What is it about him? She found him nearly impossible to resist when he was this charming and magnetic.

She excused herself, using the powder room as an excuse. Sidestepping the door to the powder room she found a set of French doors that led to a patio overlooking the golf course. There were other people - mostly couples enjoying the moonlight, and Lizzy took advantage of the darkness to collect herself and take a few gulps of much needed air. Her thoughts were confused, she was undeniably attracted to Will Darcy, but she couldn't trust him - I hate him! Then she remembered how it felt to be in his arms, the tingle she got when they touched, the way his eyes would draw her in, as if he could read her mind...

"Penny for your thoughts."

Lizzy whirled around, the deep voice behind her startling her out of her reverie. "You!" she cried in relief as she recognized Richard in the dim light. "You nearly scared me to death!" she said, clutching her stomach, "Didn't your mother ever tell you to never sneak up on someone?"

"I must not have been listening if she did. Sorry if I scared you," he apologized smoothly, with that same boyish smile. "It wasn't my intention, believe me."

"All right, I believe you." Lizzy smiled, relieved it wasn't Will who had snuck up on her.

Although glad to see her smile again, Richard was still curious about this vivacious girl and his cousin. He could see that this would need further delving into.

"My aunt likes to have tea parties every Sunday, how would you and your girlfriend like to join us tomorrow afternoon?" he asked.

"Your aunt?" Lizzy echoed, hesitating, wondering if Darcy would be there too. "That would be very nice. I'll have to ask Charlotte, of course, she has a boyfriend whom she may have plans with already." "Bring him too! The more the merrier, my aunt always has loads of food."

"Thank you, I'll pass on the invitation - you're sure it's all right?" she asked, a bit skeptical.

"You don't know my aunt. Believe me, she loves holding court. She welcomes everyone - as long as they agree with everything she says."

Lizzy raised her eyebrows, "Well, in that case, I better be on my best behavior." she said impishly.

"I hope not," he said waggling his eyebrows at her, grinning. She rolled her eyes at him for the third time that evening and gave him a smirk.

"You're incorrigible!" she said, smiling. She really did enjoy his company.

"Thank you. I take that as a compliment." he responded. He took her arm in his and began to lead her back inside, "Shall we go back in? I think it's getting too chilly for you out here." Lizzy nodded in agreement and the two returned to the ballroom.

Will saw Elizabeth and Richard return through the French doors and ground his teeth in consternation. Damn Richard! He strode over to them, intent on breaking them apart. But as he came nearer he realized it wouldn't do him any good to appear in a jealous fury in front of Elizabeth. After their last dance he felt he had made some inroads with her and didn't want to lose those precious points in his favor.

He slowed his gait and appeared to stroll up to them.

"Ah, Will," Richard said with a mischievous glint in his eye, "I've invited Lizzy and her friends to Rosings for tea tomorrow!"

Rosings! Lizzy's eyes shot open at the realization of who Richard and Will's aunt actually was - Mrs. DeBourgh!

Will smiled with inward satisfaction, delighted with the news. His cousin was turning out to be a godsend. He continued to watch Elizabeth's face as the words of the song they had just danced to, repeated in his head. He was hopeful.

It's not like me to pretend
But I'll get you
I'll get you in the end
Yes, I will, I'll get you in the end
Oh yeah, oh yeah
oh yeah oh yeah
oh yeah*

*The Beatles, "I'll Get You" - performed by The Beatles, written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. (c) 1963 Northern Songs. All Rights Reserved. International Copyright Secured.

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