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Deadline - Christmas, 2017

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10:00pm. Thursday December 21, 2017. The Darcy Ski Cabin.

Gigi Darcy was going to have to do something drastic. She’d tried dropping hints. She’d tried leaving bridal catalogs around. She’d tried dragging him into jewelry stores. She’d even found out Lizzie’s ring size from Lydia and gotten their mother’s ring resized. But this was the final straw. “He wasn’t going to bring the ring!” she hissed into her phone. “He told me he was letting things take their own time."

“Seriously?” Fitz responded incredulously. “He didn't bring it?”

“Would I lie to you?” Gigi asked her friend. “Ugh! How can my brother be so super smart, and yet so incredibly dense?” Gigi ranted, momentarily forgetting to keep her voice down.

“With whom are you conversing so energetically?” Said older brother’s voice rumbled from the living room of their ski cabin.

“Nobody! Just, you know, just unpacking and catching up with Fitz!” Gigi unsuccessfully fought to keep her voice from squeaking. One of these days she’d have to work on becoming a better liar. She thought she heard her brother chuckle in the distance. Returning her attention to Fitz she continued, “I told him very pointedly that I could only spend one week at the cabin this year, because I promised Mary and Lydia I’d do the New Year with them in LA, so if he had anything he wanted to tell Lizzie they’d have the cabin to themselves after Christmas.”

“And he still didn’t bring the ring? It’s been almost four years, Gigi D! He’s going to be alone with her in a snow covered cabin. Bing and Jane have been married for a year and a half now! What is he waiting for?” Fitz cried.

“I don't know, Fitz! At this rate, I won’t be an aunt until I’m almost menopausal!” Gigi whispered. She didn’t need her brother overhearing that particular sentiment. Gigi flopped on her bed and sighed. “I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that I have to do all the work this time too.”

Fitz laughed. “Well just be glad I’m not there to be the worst wingman ever.”

Gigi smiled, “How’s Tokyo? You and Brandon eating sushi for me?”

“Of course Gigi D! And it is delicious!”

"What are you doing calling me anyway? Isn't it 2 in the morning or some ungodly hour over there?"

"I have the jet lag. We just got here yesterday. Or I think it was yesterday. It might have been today though. Timezones man!"

“Well, I’ve got to get to work on my brother and it sounds like you should go to sleep. I’m not going to let him pass up this opportunity. He may not have brought the ring, but, as luck would have it, I did. So no more excuses. Talk to you later Fitz. Give Brandon a hug for me.”

“Will do, Gigi D, will do. And you tear it up out there for me, okay? Fitz out!”

Gigi tossed her phone onto the nightstand and walked over to her suitcase. She rummaged around until she found the gray velvet box that held her mother’s ring. Slipping it into her cardigan pocket she walked down the stairs to the living room. As she sat in one of the old leather chairs, thumbing through a book, Gigi tried to act casual, “Hey, William, when is Lizzie supposed to get here anyway?”

“I thought I had informed you, Gigi. Her editor had some pressing questions about the Christmas special episode of Sense and Sensibility. Lizzie had to push her flight back to tomorrow night.”

“Oh, I must have forgotten,” Gigi tried to sound casual, but winced when her voice came out three octaves too high. “You know what’s funny?” She asked, fighting to bring her voice down to it’s usual range. Darcy looked up from his laptop and raised an eyebrow. “We were talking about Mom’s ring earlier, and I just noticed that when I was packing jewelry for the Christmas charity gala, I accidentally grabbed it! How funny is that?” Gigi pulled the gray box out of her pocket and offered it to her brother. When he didn’t take it, she put it on the coffee table between them.

“Gigi,” He was giving her that look. He knew she was up to something. “I do not want you to do any-” he paused, “-scheming with regards to our conversation earlier.” Gigi opened her mouth to respond, but her brother continued, “after last time, you promised to warn me before you tried anything dramatic.”

“William, you’ve been dating her for almost four years. You’ve been living together for three years. She’s probably wondering what’s taking you so long.” Gigi sat back down in the chair, but was unwilling to admit defeat. She looked her brother in the eye. “You do want to marry her, right?”

Darcy closed his laptop and met her gaze. “More than anything.”

“So what are you waiting for?” Gigi tried to keep the frustration out of her voice.

“I-” Darcy paused and fiddled with the chain on his pocketwatch, “I want to do it properly, and I want the timing to be right. I made such a mess of things the first time I tried to tell her how I felt; I owe it to her to make this perfect.”

“Oh. My. God. Dork, you are in a beautiful snow covered cabin in the mountains. There is a fireplace. It’s Christmas. It’s like something from a cheesy movie. It’s already perfect. If you want to do it before Christmas, you can just give me a signal and I’ll clear out right away. The code word can be 'operation'. All you have to do is say that and I’ll totally get out of your way.”

“It’s not that.” Darcy was suddenly very interested in the floor.

“So what is it then? Seriously, am I going to have to do all of the work here for you?”

Darcy tucked his chin to his neck, but made no answer.

“You’re not scared, are you?” One look at her brother’s slowly reddening face gave her her answer. “Oh my god, you are scared,” Gigi squealed. “William Darcy, CEO of Pemberley Digital, skis black diamond slopes, is afraid to ask a girl to marry him.”

“Gigi, you know I don’t always express myself very well. My fears are perfectly rational.” 

Realizing that he was serious, she got up from her chair and sat next to her brother on the couch. “Look at me, doofus, Lizzie loves you. She’s not going to say no just because your phrasing isn’t perfect. Don’t insult her family, and don’t call her decent enough, and I’m sure you’ll be fine.” She gave him a smile to let him know she was joking. She picked up the box from the table again, and offered it to him. This time he took it, put it in his pocket, and gave her a weak smile. “Just think about it, okay?” She asked, standing up and gently squeezing his shoulder.

“I will. But no scheming, is that clear?” He fixed her with a piercing stare.

“I’ll be on my best behavior,” Gigi promised solemnly. “I’m gonna get some sleep. You should think about sleeping too, because I am going to kick your butt out there tomorrow, brother dearest.”

“We will see about that, little sister.” Darcy called after her as she scampered upstairs.

Before she turned off the light, she shot Fitz a quick text. He took the ring!

It wasn’t long before Fitz texted her back: Way to go Gigi D, I knew you could do it.