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The Netherfield Dilemma

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“Hey Darcy, are you coming down for dinner?” Bing popped his head around the corner of Darcy’s room. Darcy looked up and then back to this laptop screen. “I’ll be down in a few minutes,” he answered Bing, continuing to type his report. He heard Bing head towards the rooms where Jane and Lizzie were staying. He had been living under the same roof as Lizzie Bennet for almost a week and he wasn’t altogether certain how he felt about that.

Darcy had felt a mixture of excitement and dread when Bing informed him that Lizzie and Jane would be staying with them a few weeks at Netherfield. The house was large, surely he would not spend that much time with her. He was already more attracted to her than he liked. Lizzie spent a good deal of time in her room (what did she do in there for so long? She was not in school over the summer, and she normally read downstairs in the lounge) and he spent several hours each day telecommuting in his room so he didn’t see her that frequently. But somehow her presence pervaded the house. He would catch glimpses of her in the halls or grabbing lunch in the kitchen, hear her voice and her laugh, and usually they ate dinner together and would all hang out in the lounge in the evening. She unsettled him, somehow. The formerly half-empty house felt crowded at times.

Time passed more quickly now that Lizzie was here, and he pushed aside the suspicion that he looked forward to seeing her each day. He saved his report, closed his laptop and headed downstairs. When he came into the dining room, Lizzie had just finished setting the table. “Lizzie,” he said, somehow feeling a rush seeing her in the flesh after thinking about her the last several minutes (and intermittently throughout the last several hours), “Do you need any help?”

Lizzie looked up quickly. “No, thanks, I’m just about done.” She headed back to the kitchen calling out something to Jane. Bing entered the room with his customary cheerfulness. “Jane volunteered to cook dinner tonight as its Marie’s day off. She refused to tell me what was on the menu, so I just brought up a couple of different wines.” Lizzie entered the room again carrying a large salad, followed by Jane with a steaming pasta platter. Darcy’s eyes followed Lizzie as she carefully set down the salad. Her blouse was light and sleeveless, and he could not help noticing her shoulders. When she looked at him again, he saw how the color of the blouse deepened the blue in her eyes. “Where’s Caroline?” Lizzie asked.

Bing answered. “She just went upstairs to freshen up.” Once Caroline swept in, they sat down to eat. Jane’s pasta dish was delicious, and Bing complimented her until she became embarrassed. Bing was obviously smitten with Jane, but Darcy could not tell how Jane felt about him. She smiled at him often, but she smiled readily at everyone. She rarely frowned and Darcy had never seen her look angry. Lizzie, on the other hand, registered a myriad of emotions often; anger and annoyance were displayed as frequently as amusement and affection (the latter always directed at Jane). Lizzie jumped passionately into discussions about books, movies, pop culture, and just about any topic that came up. Very little escaped her and her quick wit was apparent. Darcy soon found himself in a discussion with her on Greece’s fiscal issues and its problems with the EU. They were interrupted when Bing spoke to Jane, “Are you sure you’re feeling okay?”

Jane looked a little flushed. “I am feeling really tired. And my throat is scratchy. I’m sorry, maybe I should go up to my room and rest.”

Lizzie jumped up. “I’ll come up with you, just as soon as I’ve cleared the table.” Bing insisted on taking care of the dishes, and Jane and Lizzie headed upstairs. Darcy felt disappointed. He doubted Lizzie would come back downstairs tonight. He chastised himself inwardly. He’d admitted to himself weeks ago that he found Lizzie striking. Her intelligence, wit, and lively personality captivated him. However, the differences between them were far too large for Darcy to start a serious relationship with her, and Darcy was not about to date Lizzie casually. It would be cruel to cause their feelings to deepen when it could not go anywhere. He headed into the kitchen to help Bing pile the dishes in the dishwasher, ignoring a pang that he was missing something.

Lizzie brought Jane some cold medicine and a glass of water. “Do you need anything else?” she asked as Jane crawled under the covers of her bed.

“No, I’ll be fine. Go back downstairs, Lizzie and enjoy yourself. You don’t need to take care of me.” Jane smiled up at her sister.

“That’s okay. I’ve already reached my quota of Darcy conversation for the day. You’d think just once he would relax a little and talk like a human being. Or smile. Or show some miniscule bit of emotion on his condescending face.” Lizzie rolled her eyes.

“I think you show enough emotion for the both of you,” Jane’s voice sounded a little hoarse.

Lizzie looked contrite. “Sorry, I’ll quit complaining and leave you to get some rest.” She said good-night and left, heading to her own room. Darcy still rubbed her the wrong way, but what else was new? Lizzie needed to quit worrying about him and his stubborn opinions and enjoy her summer break.