This story is flowing so well and I dearly love my Lizzy and Darcy! Are you thirsty for more this Thursday? Here you go! Thank you for reading.
Lizzy pulled into her parking spot at the clinic and smiled when she noticed Georgie exiting the little red sports car beside her. Augie bounded out of the back when she opened the door and ran to greet the youngest Darcy. She laughed and bent to welcome the wriggling mass of labrador glee.
“Good morning! Ready for a few hours slaving away with me?” Lizzy asked as she clipped on Augie’s leash.
Georgie walked with her to the front door of the clinic and nodded her enthusiasm.
“Am I ever! I’m like a kid in a candy store this morning. Lola’s going to be a jealous girl when she smells my scrubs later. I’m so happy you gave me this chance.”
Lizzy held the door open and eyed her young protege.
“I forgot to warn you yesterday but sometimes our furry friends are less than friendly. They become frightened, are truly ill, or it might be their reaction to the other animals around them, or their owner’s stress. All that to say you can be bitten, clawed, and scratched. Cats are the hardest to assess for body language. Just remember that and you’ll do fine.”
Georgie stopped in her tracks and a terrified expression crossed her face.
“I’ve never had that happen in clinicals.”
Lizzy sighed to see the young vet react in fear. She’d hoped she might be able to let Georgie cover Saturdays in the months to come.
Georgie dropped her look of horror, and her act, and laughed.
“Will still thinks I should have become an actress.”
Lizzy took it in stride, determined to be on her toes around this young, talented lady.
“That’s a relief! I ought to have known you were pulling my leg.”
Lizzy dropped Augie’s leash once the front door swung closed behind them. She would let him stay in the waiting room as long as he behaved. Georgie flipped on the lights and turned the phones over from the answering service.
“I’m excited about the cook out this afternoon. Richard is supposed to be making a dish to bring while my brother works in his office. I don’t see that turning out well.”
Lizzy laughed and showed Georgie her texts from Jane.
“He’s already done with his baking, I believe. I’m sure he’ll try to pass those pies off as his own.”
Georgie laughed, her cousin was a dashing gentleman with tech savvy, brains and brawn, and enough money to do whatever he wished for the rest of his life but being a baker was not in his list of accomplishments.
The two continued their preparations for the five patients they would see before the clinic closed at noon. Lizzy had given the receptionist and her assistants the weekend off since Georgie was shadowing her. There wasn’t much they couldn’t handle together in the space of a few hours.
Lizzy turned on the radio and moved the dial to the country station her receptionist hated with a passion.
They worked steadily until the noon hour when Billy arrived with his canine counterpart, Roman. Lizzy sighed when she saw him standing in the waiting room flirting with Georgie. She crossed the room and bent to offer treats to the gorgeous german shepherd who had to share his day with Billy. She always felt sorry for the poor dog.
Roman loved Billy though, it was obvious, and the two were always together. She stood and watched as her cousin took Georgie’s hand. Augie bounced around Roman, trying to play with him, but the police dog ignored the puppy’s antics.
The blush on Georgie’s face horrified Lizzy in ways her cousin’s behavior couldn’t have. How in the world was a young woman as sweet and kind, not to mention intelligent, as Georgiana Darcy enjoying the attention of Billy Collins?
Lizzy walked him to the door and shoved him outside.
“Is there something I can help you with?” she hissed, aggravated by his wave to Georgie.
“I just came to tell you I’ll be at the cook out.”
Lizzy pulled him towards his cruiser and sighed.
“Don’t you have to work today?” she asked gesturing to his uniform and to Roman.
“Only for another hour. Skip’s covering for me, he needs the extra hours this week.”
Georgie opened the clinic door and smiled at them with Augie straining on his leash as she held it steady.
“Billy, would you mind bringing Roman to the cook out, if you can?”
Billy smiled as Georgie stepped out into the sun with Augie.
“I don’t know if Lizzy would like that,” he said and shot his cousin an irritating smirk.
Lizzy barely stopped herself from punching him in the arm and turned to Georgie.
“Of course Roman is welcome,” she said, purposefully leaving Billy out of her statement.
Georgie went back inside with Augie and Lizzy lit into Billy.
“She’s not in your league, Billy. I doubt Darcy would appreciate your interest in her and I certainly don’t.”
Billy opened the back door of his cruiser and Roman hopped inside.
“Let’s see. He’s the one you were all over that night at Lake Mistake, huh?”
Lizzy rolled her eyes and stomped a foot.
“I’m warning you Billy, stay away from Georgiana Darcy.”
Billy opened his door and turned to his cousin before leaving.
“What are you going to do, Lizzy? If I recall correctly from psychology class, the more you push someone away from something they want the harder they fight for it.”
He laughed as he sat and closed his door.
“See you later, cuz.”
Lizzy kept her fists at her sides willing herself not to bend and snatch up a rock and hurl it after him. She’d let Darcy handle him later at the cook out. She hurried back inside the clinic to close up and let Georgie go.
“I’m sorry if my goofy cousin made you uncomfortable with his attention, Georgie.”
A pretty pink blush crept across her cheeks and Georgiana Darcy shocked Lizzy with her reply.
“He’s handsome Lizzy, and such a gentleman. Not at all like the boys I’m used to fending off in college. I like him.”
Lizzy drove home with Augie secured in the back of the Rover, her windows down and the radio blaring. Thoughts of seeing Darcy in a few hours sent chills of excitement across her body and she thought of which bikini she ought to wear.
The turquoise one with the crochet maxi dress or just a plain bikini top with her denim cut offs? With Georgie and Richard present, not to mention Billy, she decided on the turquoise with the chic maxi dress. She didn’t want to encourage Billy’s jokes at her expense.
She heard the music as she turned down Longbourn Lane and saw she was not going to be parking in her usual spot today. She pulled past the mailbox and leashed Augie before letting him jump to the ground.
Lydia and Kitty ran screaming past as three more teenagers chased them with massive water guns. Augie jumped and barked at the excitement and Lizzy handed him over to Mary with a warning.
“Don’t let him in the pool.”
Lizzy hurried inside to the kitchen and smiled at Jane’s organizational skills. The counters and the island in the middle of the room were loaded with food. She leaned out the back door to peer across the deck and saw the coolers full of ice and drinks at the ready. The huge grill was fired up and the amazing smell of barbecue made her stomach growl. The pool was crowded with teens and music was blaring.
Jane pulled her back inside and led her from the kitchen.
“You go get out of those scrubs and into something fun. Mother is at the hospital with daddy and our back yard is about to be overrun in five more minutes.”
Lizzy hurried to her room to change and at least set up lawn chairs for Jane. She emerged not ten minutes later, her hair up, and stopped at the mirror in the living room. Not bad, not bad, she thought as Jane whistled at her.
“Darcy better be on his toes. No doubt about it. Wonder if he’s ever had to compete for a woman’s attention?”
Lizzy blushed and took in Jane’s lovely long legs under the gauzy fabric of her sarong.
“I could say the same for Richard. Unless, of course, he wins your heart with his mad baking skills.”
Jane laughed and steered her sister to the kitchen.
“I managed to persuade three of our guests to set up the long tables and the canopy and Kitty’s friends are bringing out the lawn chairs. I had Mary put Augie in the run for now.”
Lizzy nodded and Jane went to the back door and called for Lydia.
“All that’s left is to carry out the food.”
Lizzy grabbed two platters and bustled past Jane.
She stopped on the deck and turned her face up to the sun. She felt all of fifteen again when two handsome bikers took the platters from her. She winked at them and turned to make her way back to the kitchen.
The broad chest that blocked her way made her heart skip a beat and she shaded her eyes before glancing up into his eyes.
Darcy smelled of sunshine and a light spicy tangerine cologne. She fought the urge to lay her head square on that chest and take a deep breath.
Georgie appeared at his side and Lizzy took the two pies she held. She glanced around for Richard and Georgie stepped aside.
The man was as handsome as Darcy but his smile came easier. He held four stacked boxes of pie in his large, capable hands. Lizzy nodded to him and they walked to the canopied tables.
“You must be Richard, the tech guy with baking skills who is also handsome enough to crush on my sister.”
Richard laughed and Lizzy found herself instantly at ease in his presence. She was choosy when it came to giving her thumbs up to her sister’s beaux, but Jane had to be crazy to play hard to get with this man. They placed the pies on the dessert table and he took Lizzy’s hand in his.
“I’m terribly confident, although my cousin would call it arrogance. Hopefully Jane finds me irresistible.”
Lizzy decided he and Darcy shared some swoon worthy DNA as she glanced at his eyes. She and Jane would be up late tonight talking about why she’d been holding this man at arm’s length.
Lizzy walked with him back to the deck and sent him to the kitchen with an aside that he would find Jane there. The women at this party would be all over Richard if Jane didn’t stake her claim soon.
Darcy caught her hand as she tried to follow Richard. She allowed her eyes to travel the length of his strong body. His shirt fit that broad chest too well and she’d never seen a man look that good in khaki shorts and sandaled feet. His legs were long and well muscled and Lizzy suddenly held an odd attraction for his feet.
“I take it the lady approves,” he said and pulled her closer.
Lizzy smiled up at him, noting the strong arm about her waist. With Darcy she felt confident and sexy in a way she hadn’t in past relationships. The desire in his eyes left her weak in the knees.
She arched her body against his and shivered as a cold spray of water hit her back. Lydia hurried to her side with a towel.
“Sorry, Lizzy, I was aiming for Mary.”
Lizzy turned and removed the water gun from Lydia’s hands. Her irritated expression caused her youngest sister to pout and stomp off. Lizzy called after her and handed the water gun to Kitty.
“No one on the deck wants to play in the water. One more soaking and the teen part of this party is over.”
Kitty took the watery weapon and stomped off in her own bad mood.
Mr. Darcy had taken the towel and his large warm hand on her shoulder grounded her as he patted her back dry.
“I can’t say I miss Georgie being that age,” he whispered near her ear and Lizzy turned and pulled him toward the kitchen before her defenses were further weakened.
Jane and Richard moved quickly apart and Lizzy stopped abruptly causing Darcy to bump against her as he entered the kitchen. His hands landed on her hips and if the kitchen had been empty she would have turned and melted into his embrace, all composure lost.
Jane handed Richard two bowls of pasta salad and grabbed a tray of fruit. She held out one hand as she passed her sister, ignoring the smirk on her face.
“Mr. Darcy, how lovely to see you again.”
Darcy let go of Lizzy and took Jane’s hand.
“Likewise, I’m sure. Lizzy tells me you and Richard work closely in the same nonprofit.”
Jane glanced at Richard and nodded.
“We’ve known one another for a year I think. His support has been wonderful.”
Lizzy watched Jane’s face as she spoke and knew her sister wasn’t playing hard to get any longer. Richard’s eyes on Jane confirmed her suspicion. She knew they had either just kissed or were about to when she and Darcy walked in.
Lizzy crossed to the counter as Jane and Richard left and picked up another tray. Darcy stood behind her and bent to place a kiss on the nape of her neck. He growled low in his throat and rested a hand on her hip once more. He took the tray from her with the other hand and turned her to face him.
“I’m not afraid of anyone seeing this,” he whispered as he dipped his head and caught her lips in a sweet slow kiss.
The hardness of his body against her soft curves combined with his killer kissing technique transported her from the kitchen on Longbourn Lane and she buried her hands in his hair, returning his kiss with abandon.
There was no thought for their surroundings as she strained against him, hungry to become one. The loud, booming voice of Billy Collins was like a bucket of cold water dashed on her fevered body.
She pushed Darcy away and breathed deeply. Billy stood on the deck with his back to the door and Georgie in his sights.
Lizzy furrowed her brow in frustration and handed Darcy the last two bowls as she grabbed the platter she’d held moments earlier. She growled out her words and Darcy hid his smile at her temper.
“He ought to be at work.”
She marched from the kitchen onto the deck and promptly handed Georgie her platter.
“Could you take this to the tables? I’d like a word with Billy.”
Georgie nodded and cast a flirtatious eye to her cousin. Lizzy pulled the big oaf to the side and stuck a finger in his face.
“Don’t embarrass me Billy. And don’t mess with Georgie Darcy. She’s not like the women you usually chase. She’s beautiful, smart, and too young to know better about men like you.”
Billy frowned at Lizzy and stepped around her.
“You know, there’s no love lost between us but I am family. You may think I’m not good enough for her but maybe you’re the one who isn’t good enough for her brother. Maybe that’s what’s bugging you, cuz.”
He sauntered off with Roman at his heels and Lizzy wanted to follow him across the lawn and drag him back to his car. Darcy appeared at her side and nodded at the man’s retreat.
“You really don’t like him, do you?”
Lizzy sighed and shook her head.
“He’s like the big brother I never had and never wanted.”
She watched him approach Georgie again, her frustration mounting. Darcy took her hand and led her to the grill. His smile and the twinkle in his eyes as he pulled her along eased her anger with Billy.
“Would Jane mind if we took over for her?”
Lizzy glanced around and saw her sister sitting with Richard beside the pool.
“I don’t think she’d notice. It seems your cousin has won her heart. Let’s just hope Georgie’s isn’t as vulnerable.”
Darcy took the tongs from her hands and turned the meat, placing a delicious pile of medium stakes on a platter with several burgers.
“Something tells me we’re going to be busy feeding these folks for a while.”
Lizzy noted his avoidance of the Georgie/Billy topic and shook her head.
“At Bennet cook outs, the men take turns on the grill. Those two bikers over there will push us out of the way soon, trust me.”
Lydia and Kitty passed by and Lizzy sent them inside for more of the marinating meat in the refrigerator.
“We’ll fill up the grill again and hand it over to our biker friends. Then I can go check on Augie.”
Darcy bent and kissed her on her forehead.
“And then you can check on me.”
She laughed and gazed into his eyes, careful not to linger there.
“I’ve been watching you since you arrived Will Darcy. You’re fine.”
He slowly looked her up and down, a devilish grin forming and one hand tracing across her shoulder.
“The fine one here is you, Lizzy Bennet. I’ve felt like a lovestruck teenager since I rounded the corner and saw you in this.”
His finger snagged in the crochet of her dress and Lizzy fought the urge to push him back into the kitchen for another kiss. Her sisters interrupted with the meat for the grill and she helped Darcy finish their task.
He took her hand and walked slowly with her past the pool and across the lawn to a shaded area near the edge of the property. Augie barked as they approached, his tail thumping happily against the metal of the dog run.
Lizzy hurried forward and unclipped his leash from the door where Mary had left it. She slipped the door open with ease and stepped inside. Augie tried to wiggle past her but she caught his collar and snapped on the leash.
Darcy held open the door of the run as Lizzy stepped out with Augie. She brushed against him as Augie pulled her away toward the noise of their guests and no doubt the aroma from the grill. Darcy strode to her side as she put the excited pup through his paces.
“I’ll never understand how Charles and Char manage to keep him from destroying the house,” Darcy said as he watched Lizzy expertly handle the rambunctious animal. She shared her thoughts on the gorgeous bundle of energy at the other end of the leash.
“He needs lots of exercise and training, his breed requires it. If he’s properly cared for, he’ll be the best companion as he gets a bit older but he’ll not lose his love for chewing shoes or acting like a big baby even once he’s full grown.”
Darcy found himself enjoying the sight of Lizzy in her element. Her confidence drew out the side of him that thrived on challenges. In his professional life, he never showed a hint of weakness but Lizzy Bennet made him vulnerable in so many ways. He wondered if she realized her effect on him.
She took his hand and flashed a beautiful smile his way. In that moment, he knew he wanted her by his side always and the strength of that conviction scared him a little.
He moved closer and kissed her forehead before Augie could pull her away again. He stared into her bright green eyes and was lost in emotions he’d never felt for any other woman. What would it be like to provide for her and protect her, to be the father of her children? Darcy glanced at her luscious, full lips and bent to kiss them but Augie wouldn’t wait a moment longer.
Lizzy’s laughter as they ran across the yard with Augie would be the highlight of his weekend. Getting to know her now, as a grown woman with her own career, made him ashamed of his dismissal of her in their college days. He wanted to show her he was different too, he was a man now and he knew something he wished he could go back in time and tell his college self. This is the girl of your dreams, don’t let her go.
Lizzy turned Augie over to Kitty and Lydia and came back to stand beside him.
“Would you like a plate? We’ve got plenty of food and I, for one, am famished.”
Darcy gave her the smile that stopped her heart and walked her to a table in the shade.
“You wait here and I’ll get plates for both of us.”
Lizzy found herself pleased as punch at his willingness to pamper her and sighed as he walked away. Will Darcy was taking over her heart, little by little, and she tried to list the reasons why he shouldn’t. The one that sat in her mind and refused to budge was the memory she held of their brief college romance. He’d chosen someone else and left her to mend her broken heart. To go through that now, all these years later? Not a chance.
That’s what her head knew but her heart tried to block it out. They were older and wiser now it whispered and cajoled. He’d done nothing but pursue her since the night of their business dinner with her parents her heart reminded. And you can’t deny that you want him to love you, the traitorous core of her being finished its argument with triumph.
Will Darcy was the man she wanted to spend the rest of her life with and it was too late to follow reason and logic now. She’d thought she was only playing games with him, enjoying his attention while it lasted. Now she knew the man walking towards her with two plates held her heart in his hands.
Lizzy awoke late Sunday morning, her head a little fuzzy from her Saturday that ended in Darcy’s arms slow dancing on the lawn in the twinkling light of the paper lanterns her younger sisters had strung when dusk appeared.
She hugged her pillow and smiled like a goofy teenager at the memory of being romanced by the man she had admitted to loving. She hadn’t told him yet, there would be time for that, but the argument between her head and her heart while she waited for him to return from the tables full of food yesterday proved it was true.
Jane walked out of her bathroom again, steam from the shower billowing into the room behind her. She toweled her freshly washed blonde locks and flopped on the foot of the bed. Lizzy smiled at her and nudged her with her foot.
“What was that in the kitchen yesterday with Richard? I thought you were stringing him along.”
Jane blushed and handed Lizzy the hairbrush she’d grabbed from Lizzy’s vanity before sitting down.
“It was the pies, I think,” Jane said and Lizzy snorted as she sectioned her sister’s hair before brushing the spun gold mass gently.
“I can’t argue with that logic, can I? Darcy brought my plate yesterday and in the time it took him to get it I figured out that my plan to have a casual fling with him was such a dumb move.”
Jane turned, her eyes full of concern, and took Lizzy’s hand.
“How could you say that? It’s clear as a sky blue day you both love each other.”
Lizzy shook her head.
“That’s why I said it was a dumb move. I know his charm and my weakness for it. I ought to have known I couldn’t resist him now.”
Jane sighed her relief and smiled at the expression on her favorite sister’s face.
“I don’t think you’ll regret loving him this time, Lizzy. This isn’t like before and he’s not a college playboy now. Richard was amazed at the Darcy he saw beside you yesterday. He asked me if you knew he’d be putting a ring on your finger before too long.”
Lizzy tried to hide the way her face lit up at Jane’s words but it was useless to try and keep her emotions from the person she was closest to in the world.
“That’s both thrilling and terrifying. If Richard is right, am I ready for a commitment that serious? If he’s wrong, how do I face a second rejection?”
Jane turned away and Lizzy brushed her hair again, the silence between them comforting. A wedding to Will Darcy played in her head, everything perfect and beyond romantic. And then the wedding march screeched to a halt and she imagined Darcy walking away, her dreams shattered.
Jane heard the heavy sigh as Lizzy finished with her hair and bounded off the bed, pulling Lizzy along behind her.
“Shower, breakfast, and then some girl time at the spa in town. Then we’ll go see daddy and you’ll shake these crazy, confusing emotions. If not, we’ll stop by the ice cream shop on the way home for good measure.”
Two hours later she sat with Jane and sighed happily at the pampering of the spa staff. It had been far too long since she indulged in such a treat with her sister and today was the perfect day.
Jane put her magazine aside and turned to Lizzy.
“Do you think Georgie has an attraction for Billy? They seemed quite content to ignore the rest of us yesterday.”
Lizzy scowled at Jane. Just when she thought the day was perfect Billy’s name caused her to bristle.
“I warned him to leave her alone. She’s too good for the likes of our small town sheriff cousin who thinks he’s still the high school jock all the girls couldn’t resist.”
Jane frowned at Lizzy. She knew Billy and Lizzy had butted heads since they were young. He’d been like Jane’s little brother until Lizzy was born and the two of them vied constantly for her attention. Still, the thought that Georgie was too good for Billy rubbed Jane the wrong way.
“Listen, Lizzy. I love you and I understand your concern about Billy, but he isn’t a bad man. Full of himself, yes. On your case at every turn, yes. Not good enough for Georgiana Darcy? That’s taking things too far.”
Lizzy stared at Jane and shook her head. How on earth could Jane not see Billy the way she did?
“You’re only saying that because he has always preferred you over me. You don’t see his mean streak like I do. Besides, Georgie is probably only infatuated with him because of Roman. He is a beautiful dog.”
Jane picked the polish for her toes and laughed at Lizzy.
“Roman is a handsome fellow but Billy is too. Why do you think the ladies of Meryton still fall under his spell? He’s tall, dark, and handsome and his high school physique has only improved with age. And he wears that uniform with ease and confidence. Billy Collins might be the bane of your existence, Lizzy, but he’s one of the good guys a girl can find herself in love with after the first hello.”
Lizzy decided not to argue the point further with her sister and instead focused on Richard.
“Speaking of a girl finding herself in love, give me the scoop on Richard. Don’t hold back either because I’ll know. Start with the kiss in the kitchen.”
Jane tried to act innocent and nonchalant but Lizzy wouldn’t buy it.
“Jane, this is me. Just be honest. Who else knows you like I do? You know you want to talk about him.”
Jane giggled like a schoolgirl and admired her toes while Lizzy waited for hers to dry.
“He’s probably perfect for me. We share the desire to make the world a better place and he cared enough to ask about my favorite pie. He’s not wrong for being so handsome other women want him. But, I want him too. And I’m afraid once he knows that he’ll lose interest.”
Lizzy nodded and wondered how her gorgeous older sister who traveled the world and never wanted for friends, the attention of men, or the blessing of a sweet personality that rivaled her beauty could feel insecure about her ability to have a lasting love.
“I think you have to face that fear Jane, if you truly do want him. How else will you know if his interest will turn to more if you don’t give him a chance? Besides, when mother finds out about him you’ll be poring over wedding magazines and meeting with caterers and picking out dresses.”
Jane arched an eyebrow in response and Lizzy laughed.
“Better you than me!”
They left the spa an hour later and spent the afternoon with Mr. Bennet. He would leave the hospital the next day and Jane assured him she would be there to bring him home. Lizzy shook a finger at him, reminding him to stay far away from the clinic.
“You won’t see me tomorrow until work is done. I have strict instructions in place with everyone to turn you away if they see your face near the clinic.”
Mr. Bennet sighed.
“Lizzy, that’s not fair and you know it. I’ve worked my whole life in that clinic just like you.”
Jane took up the cause.
“Daddy, you’ll return to the clinic when you’ve completed your therapy and even then, you’ll take it slow. Mother is already worried and can’t concentrate her efforts on getting her eldest daughters down the aisle. How can you be so heartless?”
Mr. Bennet nodded his head in agreement, though there was a heavy-hearted sigh included.
“Just know the minute I can get through those doors without a fight from everyone Lizzy is taking a break.”
Jane led her sister from the room before she could argue the point with their father. Lizzy still wanted the ice cream on the way home and Jane obliged. As they sat outside in the waning rays of sun with their cones, Jane thought about Lizzy’s words of advice on her fear of falling for Richard.
Never being one to miss a great opportunity, she decided she’d let him in slowly. But what if she had been wrong about him? Maybe his adult life had been about women and conquests, but a person could leave all that behind when they found the one they couldn’t imagine being without.
Jane wanted to be that to Richard but it was too early to tell. Why didn’t men come with meters on their foreheads that let you know whether they were running hot or cold for you or only at the thrill of the chase?
She rose from the bench and wiped the last of the melted ice cream from her hand, the words of Jane Austen buzzing in her brain.
“A lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment.”
Jane begged to differ. A gentleman’s imagination was very rapid; it jumped from admiration to lust, from lust to conquest in a moment.”