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Flat 73

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It was cold and rainy the day that Elizabeth Bennet moved away from home. The anticipation of her move had been building for months, but when the day finally arrived, she couldn't bring herself to feel the excitement that she had been saving up. In a particularly inconvenient turn of events, her move had coincided with her younger sister, Kitty suffering a rather nasty case of appendicitis, and with her mother, father, and two of her four sisters preoccupied with taking care of Kitty, Elizabeth was left to move with the assistance of just one companion, her sister and closest friend, Jane Bennet.

Of course, it could have been much worse. It could have been Jane that required constant bed-rest and Elizabeth would’ve had to move in all on her own, as Jane was the only Bennet sister (save Elizabeth) that didn’t look tirelessly for excuses to get out of doing things that they didn’t want to.
The girls worked quickly to get all of Elizabeth’s cardboard boxes into the apartment building, the rain was relentless and Elizabeth hadn’t yet been assigned a parking space, forcing her to park her car in the only available spot that wasn't reserved, one at almost the very back of the lot. The cardboard boxes were quickly turning into mush despite Elizabeth and Jane’s best attempts.

They were about halfway through bringing the boxes inside when a black car with its windows tinted pulled into the parking space directly in front of the building that Elizabeth eyed so longingly every time she passed it carrying a rapidly deteriorating box of her belongings. A young man stepped out of the car, Elizabeth guessed that he was about her age, maybe a bit older. He had ginger hair that had been very successfully styled into a rather impressive pompadour.

As he shut the car door, his gaze caught Elizabeth’s. She imagined how ridiculous she must have looked, brown hair pasted to her face from the rain, and clothing sticking to her body in a decidedly unsexy way. He gave her a sympathetic look and pulled the hood of his jacket over his hair as he walked over to her.

“I assume you’re moving in,” he said cheerfully, the rain obviously having no effect on his mood.

Elizabeth nodded, struggling with the burden of the cardboard box. “Yes, I am. I’m Elizabeth Bennet.” She shifted the box to her hip with some difficulty so that she could hold out her hand for him to shake.

“I’m Charles Bingley.” The grin on his face only grew wider. His gaze floated away from Elizabeth’s face to see Jane walking towards them from the car. Elizabeth watched his face as Jane approached and saw the look of awe that crossed his features.

“Lizzie?” Jane asked, seeking an introduction to the freckle-faced young man before her.

“Ah, Jane. This is Charles Bingley.” She smiled as she looked from her sister to their new acquaintance. She sensed a spark between the two of them and walked away, partly to avoid being a third wheel, but mostly to get her box out of the rain. Based on the weight, she assumed it was books, and she couldn't stand to see her precious novels damaged.

She set the box down beside all of the other boxes they had brought in. Maybe it would be best if we just brought them all in now and carry them upstairs later, Jane had suggested. Lizzie made her way back out to the parking lot. Jane and Charles were both completely engrossed in the other’s company. Elizabeth’s reappearance pulled Charles out of his trance.

“Oh, I’m so rude!” He exclaimed. “Let me move my car so you don’t have to walk so far!”

Before either of the girls could protest, he was dashing back to his car. Elizabeth turned to Jane and shrugged. “I guess I’ll go move the car,” Elizabeth chuckled. “You go stand inside, you’re shivering.” Elizabeth jogged over to her car, shutting the trunk and climbing into the driver’s seat. She noticed Charles’ waiting to pull into the spot that she was about to leave vacant.

As she backed into Charles’ parking spot, she silently thanked him, grateful for the fact that no more of her belongings would be entirely drenched. She got out of the car and began carrying the rest of her things in, Jane and Charles joining shortly after. The three of them made quick work of the task, and after they’d finished they stood in the lobby of the apartment building chatting.

“So what floor are you on?” Charles enquired.

Elizabeth pulled out the copy of the email she’d printed out that morning. “Seventh,” she said. “Flat 76.”

Charles looked disappointed. “That’s a shame, I’m on the third floor,” he glanced down at the floor, fiddling with his keys. He perked up, “But, my friend Will Darcy lives on the seventh floor. Flat number 73! I’m sure you’ll enjoy his company. Pleasant fellow, Will is.”

Jane smiled at Elizabeth. Over the past twenty-three years together, the sisters had perfected the art of communicating without words, which came in handy in the Bennet household where their three younger sisters lived, all of them being very good listeners and incredibly terrible secret keepers. There’s one for you, too, Jane’s eyes said.

Elizabeth rolled hers. I can’t be bothered with one, Janie, she soundlessly retorted. Charles didn't seem to have picked up on their conversation, as he was still going on about his friend. Elizabeth glanced over to the pile of boxes. It was getting late and there was nothing she wanted more than to crawl into bed with a good novel.

“Do you want to start taking things upstairs, Jane?” She asked, gesturing towards boxes, some of which were beginning to cave in after so long in the rain.

Jane snapped out of her daze, and began to pick up a box. Elizabeth followed suit, and unsurprisingly, so did Charles. The three of them crammed about six or seven boxes into the lift, and Charles declared that he should stay with Elizabeth’s remaining boxes while she and Jane took the rest up to the seventh floor.

As soon as the lift doors closed, Jane turned to her sister. The look on her face very evidently displayed the thoughts that were racing through her mind. She sighed wistfully, “I really don't think that I have ever felt as happy as I do right now.”

Elizabeth looked over at her sister, shaking her head and chuckling at her sister’s sudden change in behaviour. “I don't know. You were quite happy when mum let you keep that kitten you found on the side of the road.”

Jane giggled and hid her face in her hands. “He’s so lovely, Elizabeth!”

Elizabeth nodded in agreement as the doors opened on the seventh floor. Her gaze immediately landed on a man, standing in the hallway and waiting for the lift. He stared back at her, his dark green eyes gliding over every inch of her. His eyes landed on their boxes and realizing that their exit from the lift would take longer than he expected, he huffed and headed for the stairs, his curly dark brown hair bouncing slightly as he strode towards the heavy door at the end of the hall.

Elizabeth scoffed, miffed at the handsome stranger’s rudeness. “What an unpleasant man,” she said as she bent to pick up a box.

“He may be having a bad day, Elizabeth,” Jane chided. “Just ignore him, we have more pressing matters to attend to.”

She reached for the closest box and began emptying the lift of her sister’s belongings. When all of the boxes had been placed carefully in the hallway, Elizabeth walked quickly down the hallway to find flat 76.

Her eyes landed on the door and reached for the key in her pocket. As she unlocked the door she heard Jane picking up a box and beginning to walk towards where Lizzie was pushing open the door.

Her eyes darted around the flat. It was more than she had ever imagined. The flat, paid for in part by her aunt and uncle, was fully furnished and Elizabeth struggled to keep her jaw from dropping open. The front opened onto a small entryway and beyond than an open space, the living room to the left and the kitchen to the right. There was a door directly to her right that she imagined led to the bedroom.

She heard Jane’s footsteps behind her and moved into the flat to allow her sister room to pass. She jogged back to the lift, letting out a soft laugh when she heard he sister’s gasp. As she approached the lift, she heard it ding, and the doors slide open. Charles’ had come up with the rest of her boxes. His smile seemed to have gotten wider since she had left him. She wondered if he ever stopped smiling.

“Elizabeth, I just saw Will down in the lobby!” She paled. That awfully rude man couldn't have been him, she thought. “Did you happen to run into him?”

“Dark, curly hair, green eyes, ridiculously tall?” She enquired, praying that the answer would be no.

“Yeah! That’s him!”

Elizabeth smiled and nodded. Pleasant fellow, my arse, she thought as she bent to pick up another box.