It was a Wednesday, when Elizabeth Bennet and William Darcy first met, and it wasn’t exactly the stuff of romantic fairytales.
“See you later!” Elizabeth awkwardly acknowledged the barista’s goodbye as she struggled to balance the brown bag dangling from her right hand, the satchel digging into her left shoulder, her coffee and IPhone 4; over which her mother was still speaking, with opening the door. The handle slipped from her grasp but she managed to wedge one foot into the gap before the door shut again.
When she was shoving it open, someone barrelled through the gap. A gesturing fist struck Elizabeth in her left shoulder, the satchel smacking into her cup, making her spill mocha over her new suede boots. The man didn’t glance in her direction even as she let out an curse; instead he made a beeline for the counter, still speaking loudly into his phone. She turned to confront him for her ruined boots, when she received a text from her sister Kitty. Lizzy where do u keep keys? Can’t get in. Office phone keeps ringin’. Help!!!
Her mother was in the middle of her rant about Elizabeth and her sisters’ love lives, and so Elizabeth sent a text back. Keep calm K. C u soon x
K came back, closely followed by OMG huge news. NP Let. Hot guy new tenant. Liddy told me. Mum freakin’ cos you ain’t talkin’ 2 her.
Elizabeth lifted the phone, and nearly get deafened “Can you hear me? Lizzy!!! Hello!!!”
She winced, pulling the phone away again. “Well I could hear you,” her phone beeped with another message, this time from one of her informants. BL, I’ve left a stack of info on desk. Photos, names, dates. Thx 4 beer. C U l8. TH.
She smelt Todd Hartley long before she heard him moving about in the second floor apartment. The musty smell was ingrained within his pores, but he was an useful informant so she had learnt to live with it. She continued on her way up to her detective agency.
Kitty was sitting on the floor, and texting on her bedazzled phone. She only acknowledged her when she saw the state of Elizabeth’s boots. “Lizzy! Those boots were the one cool thing you own.”
“It wasn’t me.” Elizabeth reached into her pocket for her keys. “A total arse bumped into me outside Costa’s.” She huffed “Eighty quid down the drain!”
“You should sue him.” Kitty commented. “Get Lottie to arrest his ass.”
Elizabeth laughed “I reckon you’ve been watching a bit too much Brooklyn 99,” she shoved the door open.
“Actually forget suing him. You need to sue your cleaner!” Kitty clasped one hand over her nose.
“It’s an informant.” Elizabeth grabbed the air freshener she kept in the desk, and sprayed it throughout the room. “Open the window.”
“Already on it,” Kitty coughed. “Why do you let him in? He reeks!!”
“Yeah but he gets info from people I can’t,” Elizabeth dropped the air freshener back into the drawer, “After he leaves each time, give the room a spraying, and you’ll be fine.”
“Right,” Kitty flicked on the computer. “So I don’t have to deal with crazy or smelly people do I?”
“No. Just let the answer machine get it, and then write me a post it.” Elizabeth picked up her coffee and headed into her office.
She had just settled into her chair, when Kitty said “Liddy what’s up?”
Sighing Elizabeth reached for the file on her desk. She spread out the dozens of photographs he had taken. Most of the faces were familiar, but then she saw a blonde, who despite ample curves, didn’t fit with Todd’s usual circle.
She set the photo aside, making a note to ask Todd if he knew her, and then began to sift through the rest of the information. It wasn’t long before she had forgotten about the man who had ruined her boots.
William Darcy climbed the narrow stairs. It wasn’t until the second floor that he smelled it. It rolled out from under the bottom of the door, and filled the staircases, coating the inside of his nostrils and making his stomach roll. The only thing that kept his feet moving upstairs was Georgiana. He narrowly avoided the figure who came barrelling towards the stairs, pressing himself as far into the paint as he could manage.
“Sorry mate.” The figure muttered, and then was gone, rushing out of sight. William rechecked the scrap of paper that held the name of the agency and then continued on his way.
The door of E Bennet Investigations creaked, as he pushed it open, and he found himself in a small office, with just one desk. Behind the desk was a door stencilled E. Bennet. A brunette was rummaging through the drawers. “Where is it?” she muttered, completely unaware of his entrance. “Damnit Kit.”
“Excuse me?” William allowed the annoyance he felt at being reduced to coming to such a place to colour his voice.
Her head shot up, and rather than the deference he expected, he saw frustration glinting in her eyes. “Yes?” her eyes flickered over him before she smiled, and he had the strangest feeling that he was being weighed, and found wanting.
“William Darcy. I have an appointment with E. Bennet,” he shook off the brief sense of insecurity, and refocused his attention on his reason for being there.
“It’s a private matter.” He had no intention of telling a secretary.
“Oh well, I’m afraid E. Bennet is busy.” She continued to search the desk, for the Miller family’s contact details.
“That’s not acceptable.” He tightened his hold on the scrap of paper, in his frustration. “I need his help now,”
“I’m sorry, but all of our investigators are out at the moment.” She didn’t bend. “You’re welcome to wait, or you can try the investigators in Meryton.”
The thought of returning to the other agency made his skin crawl. “Very well,” he turned on his heel to investigate the bookcase. His eyes were drawn to an collection of Blackstone’s police manuals, with cracked spines.
He ran one finger along the second shelf, noting that it was mostly romantic fiction, but then saw Great Expectations. In an attempt to distract himself from the images that had been running on a loop, he took a seat. His hopes of losing himself in the familiar tale were answered as when he looked up again, it was to see that someone had placed a cup of coffee at his elbow.
He glanced across to the desk, to thank the brunette and was surprised to see that a teenager sat there, she was painting her nails.
“Is E Bennet back?” he set the book down on the empty seat.
“They’re waiting for you.” The amusement in her voice surprised him but he disregarded it as he levered himself to his feet.
“Mr Ben…” his voice trailed off when he was confronted by the brunette from earlier in the day. She was adjusting a picture frame, but turned around as soon as she heard his entrance.