“The Magic Bullet! The personal, versatile, counter-top magician!”
Lizzie couldn’t sleep. It had been the same for about a week now—long hours spent in front of the television or walking around the block in the dead of the night, her eyes dry and puffy but wide open, and her muscles aching in exhaustion. But still, even though she’d give her right arm over for a couple of hours of good rest, nothing. Nothing but laying here on the floor next to Jane’s sleeping form, watching infomercials about miniature blenders and ultra-fine makeup at a low volume, watching the lights flicker across the screen and light up the darkened room.
Sometimes Lydia would sneak down and lay beside her and curl up with her, sometimes Lizzie would tip-toe up the stairs and lay on her mother’s meditation mats and watch the fish and seahorses in the aquarium flit through the water, but mostly…mostly she’d just stay awake, trying to figure out some way to pass the time until the world woke up again and she’d restart her day—exhausted and sad.
She was heartbroken. That’s all there was to it. When she’d first gotten home the month before, her sadness and distress had been from the situation with Lydia and trying to mend the relationship with her beautiful baby sister. When Lydia had started smiling again and Lizzie could see some of that energy light up her eyes, it was becoming more and more difficult to ignore the pit at the bottom of her stomach that told her her sadness didn’t just have to do with Lydia.
In fact, it wasn’t until an infuriating conversation with Charlotte over Skype that Lizzie finally gave voice to what was bothering her so much.
It begins with a D and ends with an Arcy.
Lizzie sighed and rolled over, pulling the pillow over her head and vying for one last desperate bid to fall asleep. She counted until thirty-two before she grunted in annoyance and sat up, pushing her hair out of her face and grabbing the remote to turn the television off—taking sadistic glee at watching the kitchen full of happy, go-lucky people oohing and aahing over a three-minute omelet cut to black.
Squinting at the numbers flashing on the VCR, she saw that it was 5:23 am—looked like it was going to be another day of running on nothing but coffee and the blues.
Bing had come back a couple of weeks prior with Darcy in tow, and while she was thrilled to see Bing get on his knees and beg for Jane’s forgiveness—which she gave with tears in her eyes and a smile on her lips—she was undoubtedly saddened at the fact that Darcy had barely looked at her the entire time he was in her home. It only put proof to the doubt swirling in her mind since she’d left Pemberley…he no longer cared for her. She’d missed the boat.
No. She hadn’t missed it. She’d kicked it away with a scowl on her face, only to realize when it was a mile away that it was something she had actually wanted to be on.
She frowned as she filled the coffee pot and turned it on, taking mental refuge in the gurgling sounds filling the kitchen. If there was one thing she’d learned in the last year it was the awareness of her own stupidity.
Lydia had been right under her nose for twenty-one years, fighting to be seen by her sisters as something more than a nuisance and Lizzie had cast a blind eye over her.
Everybody had told her to just give him a chance, that he was just shy and didn’t know how to talk to people, but the terse sounds of “decent enough” in a low voice had taken ahold of her ability to hate and ran like the wind, enjoying each and every time she put on that bowtie and newsie cap and portray him as something that he just…wasn’t.
Grabbing a mug out of the cupboard, she filled the coffee to the brim and took a sip before sitting on the stool at the island and turning her body towards the window—where she proceeded to let out a squeak and drop the hot liquid right onto her lap.
“Shit! Shit! Shit!” Lizzie ran over to the sink and grabbed a paper towel, dabbing lightly at the wet spot on her thighs in a failed attempt to get the coffee out of her pajama pants. She grimaced lightly at the sting of the hot coffee hitting her skin before turning back around and walking slowly towards the window, tossing the paper towel on the floor where the coffee had splashed onto the floor along the way. She kneeled on the floor and poked her head up to watch the man of her saddened nightmares—if she could only sleep, that is—pacing furtively in front of her house in a pair of jeans and a dark sweatshirt.
What the hell is he doing here?!
He would stop for a second, look towards the house and almost start walking towards hit before turning back around and resume the pacing.
Lizzie stood abruptly, realizing how ridiculous it was to be kneeling at her own window in her own house and grabbed the cup of half-spilled coffee, quickly refilling it, before slipping on Jane’s flats and walking out the door, shutting it softly behind her.
She took a deep breath to calm her nerves, breathing in the fresh, cool morning air, and began walking quietly towards him. At the creak of the wood on the third stair Darcy whipped around and his eyes widened at seeing her.
Lizzie paused for a second, wishing she had at least thought to brush her hair or dab a little concealer under her eyes before throwing the notion out the window. It was too late now. He’d already seen her. She resumed her pace and within five feet of him came to a slow, holding out the cup in front of her for him to take. “Coffee?”
“I, uhh…yes. Thank you,” he said as he accepted the cup gingerly and took a small sip. “Mmm.”
She waited until he swallowed before speaking in a soft and utterly confused voice. “Darcy?”
“Yes?” he said quickly as he looked at her over the rim of the mug. She noticed he had shut his eyes briefly when swallowing and she had to wonder how long it was that he’d been out here, in the cold morning air with nothing but a sweater.
“What are you doing here?”
“I…well, that is to say…I couldn’t sleep.”
Lizzie let out a small smile. “Me neither.”
“I’m sur…you’re shivering.”
“Huh? Oh, I’m fi-fine,” Lizzie replied, cursing for the small stammer near the end that proved that she was in fact shivering from the chilly air.
Darcy frowned for a second before handing the mug back to her and stripping his sweater off when his hands were free. She caught a brief glance of the skin of his, what appeared to be, very defined stomach before she diverted her eyes and felt a blush rise to her cheeks. She looked back up when she felt something soft touch her forearm and saw him trying to hand her his sweater, taking the mug off her hands when he did so.
“Put it on.”
“But…won’t you be cold?”
His lips quirked into a small smile and she saw his eyes soften. “I have your coffee. Please.”
She nodded once and slipped the sweater on, taking mental note of how soft the fabric was from being worn so often and the smell of pine and spices and man enveloping her senses. She shook her hair out and looked back up at him, catching him running his eyes intensely down her form and back up again.
He met her eyes boldly before murmuring, “It looks good on you.”
Lizzie blushed again and rubbed the fabric of the sleeves between her thumbs and forefingers before taking a deep breath. “So, you were going to tell me what you’re doing pacing in front of my house at five-thirty in the morning?”
“Yes. I was going to wait until a more respectable time to come by but I found myself unable to sit still for even a minute longer.”
“Caroline called me.”
“Ahh.” Lizzie looked down, finally figuring out exactly why it was he was pacing in front of her house at such an ungodly hour. Caroline Lee had called her last night. The conversation, other than coming from out of nowhere, had been sickeningly sweet and pleasant in the beginning before turning into a fierce argument very quickly. She had called, or so she’d sad, to welcome Lizzie back into her life since Bing was back with Jane and to have lunch when she was in town. The conversation had quickly moved onto Darcy and Caroline, in no uncertain terms, had stated explicitly that Lizzie never had a chance since apparently she and Darcy were meant to end up together and she wouldn’t have Lizzie sullying that or sullying Pemberley Digital.
No way, she had said, would she stand for the company or the Darcy name to be besmirched in such an uncivilized manner—a sister with a nearly leaked sex tape and a family in crippling debt. She had actually tried to get Lizzie to promise to never see, speak, or get together with Darcy ever again.
She’d received an earful; that was for sure.
“I believe the conversation had the opposite effect that Caroline was going for.”
Lizzie nodded. Yeah, you could say that again. Caroline had spoken so viciously when Lizzie had refused to make such a promise that she’d worried the poor phone would just freeze and break off in her hands from the coldness in Caroline’s voice.
“I came here to find out if you meant it.”
Lizzie looked up. “I rarely say things I don’t mean.”
“Then,” he said in a low voice as he stepped towards her once, twice, three times until he was practically towering over her, “you must let me tell you that I am still absolutely in love with you, Lizzie Bennet, and can’t bear to be without you for another second. If you still feel as you did on Halloween, then I will step away forever and never bother you again…but you have to tell me to go. I’m afraid I just can’t do it on my own anymore.”
Lizzie stared straight up into the most beautiful blue eyes she’d ever seen and smiled at the warmth she saw there. He was here. He was actually here and she hadn’t lost her chance.
The boat had come back around for her.
She lowered her gaze and took the cup from his hands, kneeling to set it on the driveway, before stretching back up and capturing his lips in a soft kiss, reaching up to thread her fingers in his soft, rumpled hair—sighing at the feeling of him wrapping his arms around her in turn.
There really no words to describe the feeling, she thought as she moaned softly at the way he would suck lightly on her bottom lip, so she stopped trying. She just gave herself over to the moment and let whatever was happening take her away.
Distantly, since the way he pulled her tight against his body and threaded his large hand in her hair was admittedly distracting, she heard birds chirping and realized how sleepy she actually was. Slowly, not entirely wanting to end the moment just yet, she tapered off the kiss and stepped back down on the balls of her feet.
She trailed cool fingers down the sides of his face and watched his eyelids droop as he turned slightly towards her open palm.
“You look tired.”
He smiled softly.
“Come on,” she said before grabbing his hand and leading him back towards her house.
“What about the cup?” he asked as he looked behind them at the bright orange coffee cup sitting alone on the dark asphalt.
“We can get it later. I want to sleep.”
Slowly, sure to not wake anyone, they made their way through the house and up to her room. She grabbed a couple of blankets and pillows off of the floor of the den along the way and made a comfortable nest in the meditation room that used to be her sanctuary, laying them both down on top of one of the mats with nothing but the sounds of the aquarium and the early morning sun filtering through the windows to disturb them.
Darcy, or William as she had secretly started calling him in her head, pulled her against him as he lay back and wrapped an arm around her, letting it rest warmly on her hip. She found a very comfortable spot in the nook of his shoulder and rest her head over his heartbeat, listening to it thud rhythmically against her ear. And it was all for her.
“You’ll be here when I wake up?” he asked softly, not wanting to disturb the moment.
Lizzie smiled. She looked up and kissed him softly on the chin. “I’m not going anywhere.”
“Okay,” he said sleepily before they both fell promptly to sleep—letting the exhaustion and elation and comfort and whatever else it was that they were feeling carry them away.