Chapters 21- 24 of Darcy & Lizzy: A Modern Pride and Prejudice Romance


Hope your weekend is full of love and happiness, and of course some sunshine and springtime blooms! To aid in your enjoyment, here are a few more chapters of Darcy & Lizzy!

Chapter 21

Lizzy awoke in Darcy’s arms and tried to think of where they were when the scent of the barn penetrated her exhausted brain.
She rose quietly and crossed the floor to check on her patient. She smiled as the mare nickered at her and took a bite of the apple Lizzy held out. The filly was a beautiful copy of her mother and Lizzy delighted in her prancing steps around the stall.
Rays of the morning sun slanted across the space and it would be at least an hour before anyone arrived at the clinic. Lizzy tiptoed past Darcy, stopping to pull the blanket around his shoulders.
She left the barn and walked into the back of the clinic. Lizzy needed coffee and lots of it. She went to the break room and checked that task off her list. There were miraculously two blueberry muffins left on the table from yesterday.
She took one and grabbed the coffee as soon as it stopped brewing. She wondered about their patient load for the day and went to the front desk to flip through the appointment book.
Tuesdays were usually light and they had two open appointments for emergencies. She hoped for an easier day but knew never to count on such a thing.
She wandered back to the barn with her bag and slipped into the shower. She sighed as the warm water eased her further awake, the strong spray releasing the last of her tension. Thoughts of the night before filled her head and Lizzy regretted having left on foot without a word to anyone. Poor Georgie likely rued the moment she brought up the L word during their massages.
Darcy was sitting on the bale of hay sipping a fresh cup of coffee when she reappeared. “Did you save any water for me?” He asked as he admired the glow of her skin.
She stepped toward him and he stopped her. “Stay there, don’t move.” She glanced around expecting a collision with a wriggly puppy, a buzzing mosquito, or her love-struck cousin.
Darcy walked around her, nodding his approval and whispering sweet words as he went. The man had clearly gone mad over her. He paused his inspection and gazed into her eyes.
His eyes strayed heavenwards and Lizzy followed his lead. The sun was streaming through the skylight and she laughed when she realized the joy on his face was about the sun in her curls.
“It’s not the way you planned it, I’m sure, but the ends justify the means don’t they Darcy?”
His eyes flashed with passion and he pulled her into his arms. The tender man from last night was gone and his lips demanded hers. Lizzy felt lightheaded at this kiss, it was stronger and demanded more than before. Georgie knew her brother and she was certain he was in love with her.
Lizzy broke the kiss but Darcy shook his head and pressed her against the wall, his body pinning hers in place. Lizzy was lost in the stormy green of his eyes and gave in to the emotions he evoked with this virile display. His hands swept gently across her body and Lizzy’s heart raced.
She wished they were far from here, somewhere tropical in a darkened cove with waves crashing around them as they lay upon the sand learning the way to love one another. She allowed her hands to tangle in his hair, her need matching his.
Voices carried across the parking lot and Lizzy parted from him with the tender aching between them a living thing tearing at her heart.
She turned to face the mare and Darcy reluctantly left her with a whisper as her assistants came into the barn. Lizzy left them there after a quick once over of the mare and her filly.
She drove to the Bingley place before the clinic opened and took Augie for a long walk. He was as rambunctious as ever but Lizzy noted his improved willingness to follow her commands and smiled at his progress. Maybe she’d still come over twice a week after Char returned to keep the sweet dog on his training schedule.
She returned him to the maid reluctantly and made her way back down the winding hill. She wanted to call her father and crow about the mare. He’d understand how much the foaling meant to her but he’d also tell her she’d had it in her all along.
Instead she parked and walked back inside her clinic, prepared for the day. Georgie was up front greeting their first patient and Lizzy smiled shyly at the young woman she’d left confused last night by her actions.
Darcy was in her father’s office on the phone and Lizzy lingered by the door, the comforting strength of his voice providing an anchor to her day.
At lunch time, she sent Georgie out to lunch with the assistants and sat on the phone in her office talking to Mr. Bennet.
“How’s the slow lane daddy? Mother’s driving you crazy no doubt.”
Mr. Bennet chuckled before voicing his agreement. Lizzy had been away since he returned home and he felt as though he needed to book an hour with her just to see her every evening. They always closed the clinic together and it was his favorite time of day.
“Mother’s too busy arranging a luncheon for those ladies of the garden club. I’m sitting here at the dining table driving myself batty with this crossword puzzle. What’s a five-letter word for anxious? Ends in a Y.”
Lizzy shook her head and considered his question. “Daddy, is this for the puzzle or are you trying to tell me something? Either way, try antsy.”
Mr. Bennet spelled it out as he wrote it down and Lizzy winced at the boredom in his tone.
She wished she could leave for the day but they’d all spent some part of the night before with the mare. She wouldn’t feel right leaving now.
“I’ll see you tonight for dinner, I promise. I hope to sleep in my own bed too.”
Her father grew quiet while she recounted the foal’s arrival and the way they all pulled together until she was safely delivered.
“It was so strange, daddy. You know you’ve always been at my side for these cases, except when I was still in school at AU, and I kept glancing around to catch sight of you.”
He sighed into the phone and Lizzy regretted her moment of weakness.
“I’ll be back before too long, Lizzy. It’s good to know you did just fine without me.”
Lizzy bit her lower lip and swallowed the tears that threatened.
“Yeah, but a girl still needs her daddy at her side once in a while, even when he thinks she’s strong enough to carry the load on her own.”
Mr. Bennet made a noise in his throat and Lizzy’s heart melted. If she hadn’t heard the receptionist checking her next patient in she might have fled to Longbourn Lane and sat with her father doing crossword puzzles.

Chapter 22

Lizzy was eager to leave the clinic once the last patient drove out of the parking lot, but Darcy called her into her father’s office closing the door behind her.
She wondered at his serious demeanor and sat in the chair beside the desk watching as he paced before the lone window. She could see the barn from her seat and made a mental note to check on the mare before she left for the day.
Darcy turned and stared at her. Lizzy had a feeling he wanted to say something and it wasn’t going to be anything like the sweet nothings he’d whispered in the barn that morning.
“I’ve been going over the inventory and ledgers for the clinic today and found several areas we can improve. I’ve carefully considered them and wanted your feedback.”
Lizzy bristled in her seat and forced herself to hear him out. She’d known this moment was coming and had allowed herself to allow her attraction to Darcy to go too far.
He crossed to the desk and arranged three invoices so that she could see them as he began addressing the first one.
“This invoice is for the company that supplies the various feed required by the clinic. After a bit of research, there are several other suppliers that offer far more competitive pricing and benefits your current supplier does not.”
Lizzy watched his lips move and knew the fault rested in none but herself. Her father had only been thinking of a way to lighten her burden for the day he stepped aside. Darcy had only been thinking of having his sister nearby and working in a successful practice where she could become part owner one day, a reasonable expectation Lizzy understood.
She had been the one to think she could play games with Darcy and keep his mind off the business side of the Bennet Animal Clinic. His obvious attraction and subsequent wooing kept her blind to the reality. The one she knew would come the moment she stepped on the porch the night of that business dinner and found him to be the man standing with her father.
She listened as patiently as possible to his talk of profit margin and business theory, the numbers and the inevitable changes that would come but she wouldn’t agree to them.
He stopped talking and sighed as he held up the third sheet of paper.
“Lizzy, I know these changes might seem drastic or difficult, but…”
Lizzy stood and placed her hands on the desk, leaning closer to his face.
“It isn’t that at all, Darcy. The changes you suggest are ill-informed and made without understanding the type of practice my father and I have worked hard to establish. You aren’t a veterinarian so of course you can’t apply the reasoning behind our methods when you review the business decisions we’ve made.”
She turned to walk out of the office when he met her at the door.
“I know you don’t believe anything needs to change in the clinic and I could say that self-serving notion comes from your lack of understanding of business principles.”
Lizzy’s eyes flashed in anger as she stood eye to eye with the man. She wouldn’t back down and he could forget about changing any of the issues he’d proposed.
“You don’t know a thing about me, Will Darcy. And you certainly have no grasp of how a business that is built on customer satisfaction and appreciation runs. We deal with people and the companions they love as much as their human families, sometimes more. The suppliers and support chain we have in place work perfectly. We make a handsome profit without cutting corners on quality and service. It’s not broken and we’re not fixing it because you want maximum profit.”
Darcy swept a hand through his hair and Lizzy crossed her arms.
“I know plenty about you Lizzy Bennet and I should have known better than to let myself think we could have a romantic relationship. You despise the fact that I am about the profitability of any given business. You are stuck in some misguided notion that improving the business side of this clinic means quality suffers. Has quality suffered since my sister came on board?”
Lizzy pushed past him and marched down the hallway, her anger propelling her forward. Darcy called after her but she kept going. How dare he bring their relationship into the discussion? And the worst part was that she knew it was her fault. She could have easily kept him at an arm’s length but his interest in her had colored her judgment.
She crossed the parking lot and threw her duffel in the back seat and sped out of the parking lot without a glance in her rearview mirror. She would return later and check on the mare before she went to walk Augie. Char would be back by Friday and Lizzy dreaded fielding her questions about Darcy.
Halfway home the strobing lights of a cruiser caught up to her and Lizzy knew if it was Billy she might end up in jail before the day was done.
He sauntered to her window and stood staring at her. “You know dang well you were driving too fast, Lizzy. I’ve been behind you since you peeled out of the parking lot.”
“Look, Billy, now is not the time. Trust me. Give me the ticket or let me go. I’m not in the mood to be the highlight of your day.”
Billy pulled out his ticket book and wrote slowly, grinning as cars passed them slowly. “Everybody in this town thinks you’re so sweet and innocent. The noble veterinarian with the rich boyfriend. Well, judging by the look on his face as you drove away I’d say he’d not your boyfriend anymore.”
Lizzy snatched the ticket from her cousin and yelled at him to hush. “You can rest assured your days with Georgiana Darcy are numbered. Darcy doesn’t want some hick sheriff climbing into the family tree, especially not one as annoying as you.”
Billy laughed and Lizzy balled up the ticket and threw it on the floor of her Rover. “Looked to me more like he doesn’t want to deal with a spiteful, angry woman anymore. Man like him could have his pick.”
Lizzy turned on her blinker and checked for traffic before pulling away and leaving her cousin on the side of the road. Char and Jane, and even Georgie, were welcome to their romantic goals. Lizzy was through with men.
She parked next to her mother’s old caddy and hurried inside to see her father. She wanted nothing more than to watch a baseball game and drink a beer with him until dinnertime.
She messaged one of her assistants to have them check on the mare before they left the clinic and promised a Saturday off if they would walk Augie afterwards.
Her father was indeed watching the game and Lizzy slumped on the couch next to his recliner. Mr. Bennet glanced at her from his seat and she noted the lemonade in his hand, a reminder of his recent scare. He cleared his throat and glanced her way. Mr. Bennet was shocked to find his tough as nails daughter crying silently, the tears highlighted by the flickering light from the television.
He rose slowly from his chair and went to sit beside her. Lizzy swiped at the tears, disgusted with herself and the emotions that pulled at her heart.
Mr. Bennet placed an arm around her and sat quietly until she was ready to talk. Lizzy breathed deeply to calm her nerves. She hadn’t wanted to bring this mess home to her father and dump it in his lap. Yet, being in the same room with him always grounded her, helped her find her center.
“I’m afraid Darcy and I had a terrible argument this evening. He wants to change things at the clinic but daddy, he hasn’t the first clue what he’s talking about.”
Mr. Bennet sighed deeply. He knew it would come to this. Mr. Darcy was a business man. He dealt in facts and figures and not in the less concrete variables of dealing with life and death.
“He called before you pulled into the driveway, Lizzy. He wanted to apologize for hitting you with all those facts and figures right now. From now on, he and I will discuss those issues with Ellis.”
Lizzy stood from her spot on the sofa and paced before the television. She tried to remain calm with her father. He only wanted the best for her but having Darcy make changes that affected the level of care and the excellence of their customer service was the entire problem, not that he’d discussed it with her.
“Any ideas put forth that would change how we do business should be run by me. I’m not upset with him for discussing his ideas, half-baked as they are, I’m upset that he thinks we can cut corners and compromise our record for the sake of profit. I won’t stand for it, daddy. The sign out front says Bennet, not Darcy.”
Mr. Bennet patted the sofa and encouraged her to tell him all about Darcy’s plans for the clinic.
“We do have a business deal but he doesn’t hold the deciding vote. He can’t change a thing Lizzy, unless we agree with him. I would never have put the clinic in that situation.”

Chapter 23

Lizzy drove slowly to the Bingley place the next morning. Her head hurt from one beer too many when the baseball game ended in extra innings. She didn’t regret it. Sitting with her father cleared her head in a way she’d missed since he’d been away from the clinic.
She parked and picked up her phone just as a text from Char came through.
Be home tomorrow!
Lizzy tapped out her reply and hit send.
Augie will be so happy, me too!
She put her phone away and hurried to give Augie his workout before beginning her day at the clinic. When the maid opened the door, Augie ran to her happy to see his walking buddy. Lizzy clipped on his leash and led him across the driveway and down the hill instead of their usual uphill route. She didn’t want to risk meeting Darcy so early in the day.
Augie whimpered at the change in plan but soon adjusted when the scent of a squirrel distracted him. The morning walk soon became a jog and Lizzy was drenched in sweat by the time the Bingley drive came back into view.
Darcy was there with Lola and Lizzy halted her steps. Had he walked his sister’s dog this far in hopes he would meet her on neutral ground?
She held Augie’s leash firmly as he wriggled and barked at the sight of their unexpected visitors. If she’d only been a few minutes earlier she could have avoided him for the rest of the day. As it was she followed Augie to his side.
“Good morning, Lizzy. I hoped I might find you and Augie out early this morning.”
Lizzy nodded but avoided his eyes.
“He’s doing so well I think I might continue our walks at least once a day even after Char returns.”
Darcy held Lola gently and bent to ruffle Augie’s ears. The lab melted like butter at his touch, rolling over and offering his tummy. Lizzy sighed at the display. Dogs could not be counted upon to hold a good grudge.
Darcy stood and turned to her, his eyes warm and inviting. Lizzy glanced at her watch and turned to take Augie inside. She’d need a shower after their morning exercise.
Darcy stepped closer and she held up one hand.
“I don’t want to start my day this way. I need time to think. Let it sit for now, we can talk about it later.”
Darcy waited until she’d gone inside with Augie to release the breath he was holding. He knew they were going to continue to lock horns over business. He should’ve known to keep his heart out of it but it was far too late for that. He turned and took Lola back up the hill, his mind unsettled by the distance between them.
Lizzy showered quickly and ate breakfast with the maid. Char would be home tomorrow and the woman was busily dusting and cleaning the already spotless house. Lizzy watched her move abut the kitchen with grace and ease.
“Thank you for breakfast,” she said as she placed her dishes in the sink. The maid smiled at her shyly and Lizzy turned to Augie. He was happily chewing on a rug by the back door.
“I’ll take him with me today, if you don’t mind,” she told the maid whose sigh of audible relief made Lizzy laugh.
She leashed Augie and led him outside, hoping Darcy wasn’t lurking nearby. He obviously wanted some kind of truce between them but she decided keeping her distance for the time being was the best option.
Lizzy stopped for a coffee and snagged a treat for Augie before gliding into the parking lot of the clinic. She winced when she saw Billy’s patrol car by the front door wondering what on earth he was up to now. She took Augie’s leash and let him loose in the run.
Lizzy noted the red sports car parked in her father’s spot and hurried her step to enter the side door. Richard was in the hallway and Lizzy smiled a genuine smile for him, it wasn’t his fault his cousin was on her naughty list at the moment.
Richard followed her to the break room and Lizzy offered him a cup of coffee. She wondered why he was here so early in the day and decided he was hoping to see Georgie in action, he was as proud of her as Darcy, or he was keeping Darcy company. She was wrong on both counts.
“Lizzy, I’m here because Jane sent me. This fight between you and Darcy last night got a lot further than Bennet Clinic.”
Lizzy stared up at him, her green eyes stormy with emotion.
“There was no argument because each side has to have a point and he didn’t have one that made sense. End of story.”
Richard tried to hide the smile that played at the corner of his mouth but failed miserably.
“Sounds more or less exactly like his side of the story over dinner.”
Lizzy turned her back on Richard and studied her schedule for the day.
“If you’ll excuse me, I’m busy this morning and your cousin and I have agreed to disagree for the time being.”
She grabbed a warm apple fritter that must have been another of Georgie’s creations and left the room before he could say another word.
At lunch, she sat alone in her office after refusing to go with Georgie to the cafe around the corner. She pleaded a headache instead. It wasn’t too far from the truth.
She could hear the deep, masculine voices drifting from her father’s office and wondered at their conversation. Probably discussing the blasted argument again. She got a glimmer in her eye and rose to move quietly down the hall to eavesdrop. She almost turned back at the last minute but their words pulled her forward.
Darcy was laughing and Lizzy couldn’t believe the words she heard fall from his mouth like so much malarkey.
“I don’t think she’s a suitable match for you, Richard. Her sister keeps me on my toes and it gets a bit exhausting if I’m honest. But Georgie does adore her so that’s a huge plus. You might find a better match outside Meryton and your mother would be happier without a flighty personality wandering in and out of her home.”
Lizzy couldn’t believe her ears! How dare Darcy counsel Richard on his feelings for Jane? And she was exhausting? Indeed!
He might be devastatingly handsome, completely irresistible, and have more money than God, but he didn’t have a lick of sense when it came to her business. It dawned on her that the self-centered, all-important, insufferable college boy had never left, not truly.
She stomped away from the door not caring if they heard her. She left her last three charts for the day with the receptionist and asked her to call them to reschedule.
She stormed out the front door instead of risking a run-in with Darcy. She let Augie out of the run and left the parking lot on foot since her keys were still inside.
“Let’s go home boy, I know there’s bound to be ice cream at your house.”
Darcy rose when he heard footsteps outside the office and decided it must be Lizzy. He wasn’t eager to confront her during her work day. The last thing he wanted was a repeat of yesterday’s stormy goodbye.
“As I was saying Richard, Lola’s sister is far more high-strung, if you can imagine, and she is not the dog for you or your mother. Perhaps you ought to wait until you see where your relationship with Jane is headed before you commit to a dog.”
Richard nodded, his expression thoughtful.
“I guess I’ve been itching to get a dog ever since I saw that sweet little lab of Bingley’s, he’s more my style.”
Darcy nodded.
“Bingley will be back tomorrow. Augie is Char’s dog but I bet she wouldn’t mind if you took him to the park a few times to get a feel for the breed.”
Richard stood and glanced at his watch. He had a lunch date he didn’t want to miss.
“Jane’s meeting me for lunch in a few, do you think Lizzy might join us? I have a feeling the two of you need supervision until this argument is cleared up.”
Darcy sighed and followed his cousin into the hallway. Lizzy’s office was empty and the receptionist told them she had left for the day. Darcy’s brow furrowed and he asked after Mr. Bennet.
“Is her father well? Maybe I should go by there to be sure.”
The receptionist shrugged her shoulders and turned the pages of the appointment book.
“He’s supposed to be back next week for the afternoons only and Mrs. Bennet called this morning to make sure I didn’t book him too heavily.”
Darcy frowned and thanked her before leaving the clinic with Richard.

Chapter 24

Lizzy left Augie in the Bingley backyard and hurried inside the only refuge she could think of. Her father would wonder why she wasn’t at the clinic if she went home and her mother would pepper her with questions over Darcy. Staying at the clinic and facing him wasn’t an option either.
The maid was out, likely shopping or picking up dry cleaning, and Lizzy helped herself to the gourmet ice cream selection in the freezer.
A pint of strawberry cheesecake as she sat before the afternoon offering of cable TV did little to soothe the anger in Lizzy’s heart. She was mad at herself as much as Darcy.
One disagreement, one argument, and he was cautioning his cousin about becoming involved with her sister and dishing on her as though she were high maintenance.
Nothing could be further from the truth but that fact didn’t ease the sting of his words. She wanted to speak with her father and persuade him the Darcy siblings were not a necessity at the Bennet clinic. But she adored Georgie for her work ethic and her personality. It wouldn’t be fair to penalize her because of her jerk brother.
She’d stay put until the clinic closed and then head home. Lizzy didn’t really want to upset her father’s business deal with Darcy but she wouldn’t continue to work with the man after today. Either he stayed away from the clinic or the whole deal was off. And she’d warn Jane about Richard too.
She grabbed her phone from the end table and sent a message to her sister.
Darcy not to be trusted. Maybe not Richard either.
Lizzy’s heart sank at the words on the screen and she bit back the tears she’d known would come. Jane answered right away and Lizzy wished she’d gone in search of her instead of holing up alone.
Where are you? Having lunch with Richard and Darcy. He wants to know why you left the clinic.
She ought to have known Jane would be seeing Richard as much as possible before either of them left Meryton on another trip. Lizzy thought for a moment and decided to return to the clinic and grab her car while they were busy with Jane.
Can’t talk about it now. I’ll see you later.
She carried her ice cream carton to the trash and grabbed Augie from the fenced backyard. If they hurried, she could get her things from the clinic without even seeing Georgie. Lizzy’s conscience bothered her at that thought. Georgiana Darcy was the opposite of her brother. Maybe there was a way to keep her while shoving Darcy aside?
Lizzy knew better in her heart, the siblings were far too close for her to never see Darcy again. But what would it matter? Any relationship they might have pursued was lost now. She had no intention of allowing her heart to win this argument with her head.
She and Augie entered the back door of the clinic ten minutes before the lunch hour was done. She heard Georgie’s voice drifting from the waiting room and hurried into her office pulling Augie along. He jumped up and barked as Lizzy grabbed her keys from the desk.
She shushed him and closed the door to her office. Augie heard Georgie’s voice in the hallway and scrabbled at the door, a low whine that built into a howl giving away their position.
There was nothing for it after that display and Lizzy laughed in spite of herself. She ought to have left him in the run before sneaking in for her keys.
Georgie knocked on the door and Lizzy opened it with one hand while she tried unsuccessfully to keep Augie by her side. Georgie bent to receive the copious doggy kisses and glanced at Lizzy, her smile reminiscent of the one her brother sported.
“I thought you’d gone for the day. The receptionist gave me your last three patients and I was excited to be the only vet this afternoon.”
Lizzy didn’t want to appear rude but she stepped into the hallway as Georgie stood and pulled the office door closed behind her.
“I’m sorry, Georgie. I don’t want you to think this is something I do often. I just have to leave this afternoon and I figured you’d be fine on your own. I should have spoken with you first.”
Georgie took Lizzy’s free hand in hers. The expression of gratitude on her face made it increasingly harder to lie by omission.
“I’m ready for this, Lizzy, truly. I’m so happy to be able to fill in for you. Please, enjoy the afternoon and don’t worry about me. This is what I’ve been wanting. You’re the most amazing mentor a young vet could have.”
Lizzy hugged the young woman quickly and nodded.
“You can do this, Georgie. I know it. I have to run, but I’ll be here tomorrow and you can call me after work if you want to talk about how your afternoon works out.”
Georgie waved to her and Lizzy hurried out the back door, her eyes peeled for the little red sports car. She hurried to her Range Rover and wrestled Augie into the back.
She wanted to message Jane to meet her but she’d wait until she got home. She backed out of her parking spot and took the alley exit behind the clinic. As she checked her rearview, Darcy’s car turned into the parking lot and she pulled into the alley before he might see her.
Pleased with herself for avoiding him instead of engaging in what would be a horrible fight, she turned up the radio and cruised slowly towards home. Hopefully her mother would be out and she’d have time alone with her father before the rest of the family came home.
She knew RFGB wouldn’t be happy over the split with Darcy before they’d even gotten serious and if Jane and Richard came to naught, she’d be blamed for that too.
Her father was in the porch swing when she pulled into the driveway and Augie barked and thumped his tail against the rear window. Lizzy shook her head at his exuberance and thought how she’d miss the silly mutt once Char returned home. She thought back on the past two weeks and knew she’d make time for Augie in her schedule. She truly was his Auntie Lizzy now.
Her father stood and walked to the edge of the porch, his face a study in concern.
“Lizzy, what are you doing home this time of day?”
She let Augie out and watched as he ran to her father. He bent and ruffled the fur between Augie’s ears.
“Come sit, boy,” he said and Augie followed him much to Lizzy’s surprise. He sat at her father’s feet and placed his head on his front paws. His clear, brown puppy eyes drooped and he was asleep before Lizzy set her foot on the bottom step.
“Daddy, we have to talk about this business deal with Darcy. It isn’t going to work.”
Mr. Bennet patted the seat beside him and shook his head. He’d known his most headstrong daughter was going to disagree with Mr. Darcy once they were made to work together and he regretted it had happened so soon.
“Both myself and Ellis will be back in the clinic come Monday and I will call Mr. Darcy this afternoon and ask that he refrain from coming in the rest of this week.”
Lizzy played with the strings to her scrub pants and chewed her bottom lip, a sure sign there was more to tell than the practical disagreement between them. Mr. Bennet took one of her hands forcing her to drop the strings.
“Spill the beans, young lady. This is more than the argument you two had yesterday.”
Lizzy sighed deeply and her voice trembled as she told him of the conversation she’d overheard earlier in the day.
“He had no business interfering with Jane and Richard simply because he and I had a difference of opinion.”
Mr. Bennet wondered at Lizzy’s recounting of the event, he did not approve of eavesdropping as a rule but he knew his daughters were well versed in the art of such nonsense.
“Mr. Darcy has a practical, acerbic side to be sure but I have a hard time believing he would speak of you and your sister in such a manner, Lizzy. And in the clinic too? Why would he and his cousin discuss you and Jane within earshot?”
Lizzy stood and leaned against the porch railing, her hand going to her hair. She gathered it slowly in her hands and pushed it back into the hairband on her wrist.
“Darcy has another side, daddy. One I witnessed first hand in college and should’ve kept in front of me despite his charm. That Darcy would say exactly those words.”
Mr. Bennet rose from the swing and patted his leg while clucking his tongue to a now awake Augie. The pup stood at attention and glanced from Lizzy to her father, his face a comical blend of confusion.
“I’ll speak with him about your concerns. The clinic can’t run properly without you and there’s no pressing need for him to come in every day. I do strongly suggest you approach him about the conversation you overheard and allow him to defend his actions before you wash your hands of the man.”
Lizzy took his place on the porch swing as her father turned and opened the screen door with Augie at his heels. All she needed was for Darcy to disappear from her life at the clinic. She didn’t want his explanations or excuses for the words he’d carelessly spoken to his cousin.

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