L.L. Diamond

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The theme for the writing challenge was to write a “Meet Cute” which is where an accident or misunderstanding brings about the meeting of the couple.

 

William

William Darcy sat on a bench in City Park on a warm summer day. He had specifically selected his spot because it was shaded and had a picturesque view of the lake. The day was glorious; the sky was a beautiful shade of blue, birds were chirping, and the sound of children playing was coming from a nearby playground, but he heard none of it.

 

His mind was too busy contemplating where he had gone wrong with his life. How had he wound up so alone? His mother had died of cancer when he was fifteen and his father had died three years ago of a heart attack. They had not deserted him, but his best friend, Charles, and his sister—well, those situations had been different.

 

If he had only kept his mouth shut when Bingley had met the woman he married. Darcy was concerned that the woman was marrying his best friend for money and made no secret that he disapproved. Why had he done that? He had not even met—what was her name—Jane? As a result, he had not heard from his friend for the last few years.

 

Now there was Georgiana. His baby sister, who was 5 years his junior, had left, eloped, with none other than George Wickham. He had told her that their father’s godson was using her, but she would not heed his warnings. She actually had the nerve to tell him that he would be alone for the rest of his life unless he learned to trust people. He sighed. His sister received her trust fund today. He doubted he would hear from Georgiana again.

 

As he stared at the view in front of him, some movement to one side drew his attention. He turned to see what it was, but there was nothing there.   Maintaining his gaze, he started when the face of a little girl appeared around the trunk of a nearby Oak tree.

 

She was a pretty little thing with brilliant blue eyes and strawberry blonde curls bound in a ponytail. She wore a bright blue dress with a matching bow in her hair. He watched as she peered around the tree, eventually stepping completely from her hiding place. She smiled as she seemed to study him.

 

“Bethy!” A woman’s voice called over the breeze. The girl giggled as she turned to run back from where she came, and Darcy turned back toward the lake.

 

She returned a short time later. Only to this time, she came to stand before him.

 

“What is your name?” she asked.

 

“William,” he responded.

 

She watched him curiously for a moment before the same lilting voice rang through the trees, “Bethy!”

 

“I’ll be right back.” She ran back into the trees. As he watched her run off, he was reminded of his sister when she was little and a tear ran down his cheek.

 

Bethy returned before long; she smiled as she came to the bench. In one arm, she had two juice boxes and in the hand of her other arm, two cookies wrapped in a white paper napkin. She set the juice boxes down on the seat next to him and pulled herself up to sit beside him. A box of apple juice was placed in his hand, and when he turned to see her, she was handing him a cookie.

 

“Why are you so sad?” she asked before taking a bite of her treat.

 

Darcy regarded the little girl incredulously. Where were her parents, nanny, or baby sitter? Who was supposed to be keeping an eye on her?

 

“What makes you think I am sad?” he asked, genuinely curious.

 

“At first, I thought you were mad, but then I saw you crying.”

 

Darcy’s attention was drawn away when a beautiful young woman appeared around the trees. She had a brown shade of hair with what appeared to be natural copper-colored highlights and deep brown eyes.

 

“Bethy! I told you to stop running off!”

 

Elizabeth

Elizabeth Bennet was happy to be treating her niece to a day at the park. She periodically took a day off of work to take her god-daughter and namesake for a special day, just the two of them, and today was one of those days. A picnic and the afternoon playing on the playground was the itinerary and Bethy had been talking about it for the last week.

 

Bethy picked a nice spot under some trees and Lizzy hummed as she spread the blanket on the grass. She pulled the basket over and looked up to find her niece gone.

 

“Bethy!” she called. The sound of Bethy’s giggle came through the trees just a moment before her little blue dress was visible. “Bethy, you need to stay where I can see you, honey.”

 

“Okay, Aunt Lizzy.”

 

Elizabeth could not resist the little smile her niece gave her before she turned to unpack their lunch. Once everything was spread out on the blanket, she looked up once more to find Bethy gone again.

 

“Bethy!” Frantically searching the trees, her niece appeared a moment later. “Bethy! You need to stop running off like that.” implored Elizabeth. You scared me.”

 

“I’m sorry,” Bethy replied. Lizzy took her hand, led her to the blanket and they sat down. She placed a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on a napkin in front of the little girl and they began to chat while they ate.

 

“My friend, William, is sad,” Bethy eventually explained.

 

Her niece was always coming up with new imaginary friends, so Elizabeth did not think too much about the statement, chalking it up to the little girl’s imagination.

 

“Why is he sad?”

 

“I don’t know,” Bethy shrugged.

 

“Maybe you should ask him.”

 

When they finished, Elizabeth brought out the cookies and more juice boxes before she picked up the trash to put in the basket. She sat back, looking around to find Bethy gone.

 

“Not again,” she groaned. Elizabeth stood, deciding to find out where the mischievous disappearing little imp kept going. She walked into the trees. “Bethy!” she called. As she walked around the last oak, she found her niece sitting on a bench next to a strange man.

 

“Bethy! I told you to stop running off!” she exclaimed, worrying who the man was and what had been happening with her niece.

 

“But Aunt Lizzy, you said I should ask my friend why he is sad.”

 

A sudden realization hit Elizabeth and she paled. “I thought…”

 

 

William

He saw the young woman pale, and although he could not understand why, he wanted to reassure her somehow.

 

“Your niece has only been here three times. This is the first time she has sat down.”

 

Aunt Lizzy nodded and stood there staring. “I am sorry. She said she had a friend named William who was sad. I just assumed you were one of her imaginary friends.”

 

“She asked me my name the second time she came around,” he replied. “I did not do anything to encourage her. I apologize . . . “

 

“Please . . . I don’t expect you to apologize. I can imagine what happened. What is odd is that she normally doesn’t approach strangers.”   Aunt Lizzy seemed to look at the two of them appraisingly before she came to stand closer to her niece. “Bethy, we need to go back to our blanket.”

 

The little girl stood and looked at her aunt with forlorn eyes. “But Aunt Lizzy, William is sad. Momma always says when someone is sad, we should try to cheer them up.”

 

The young woman smiled. “She does say that, doesn’t she?” Aunt Lizzy looked up at William, as if she was studying him.

 

“Would you care to come share dessert with us? I have plenty of cookies, which, personally, are a favorite of mine when I am sad.”

 

“I would not wish to intrude,” William objected.

 

“It would not be an intrusion. Bethy has already finished her cookie and will be playing on the playground.

 

Bethy turned around. “You can talk to Aunt Lizzy while I play!” she said excitedly. “She always makes me laugh when I am sad.”

 

William felt one side of his lips involuntarily curl into a small smile.

 

“Please do not feel that you have to,” Aunt Lizzy interjected. “If you would rather be alone . . . “

 

He studied her expression and could see that she was in earnest. He needed to begin trusting people, that much was certain, and she was obviously willing to trust him.

 

“I believe I spend too much time alone,” he said as he stood. “Miss Bethy, would you do me the honor of escorting me to your picnic.” He delivered the lines in the most stately voice he could, reminding him of the times Georgiana would have him play the king in her make-believe games (He could not be the prince after all).

 

She giggled and took his hand, leading him through the trees to a blanket set under a large oak tree within view of the playground.

 

“Thank you, milady,” he said as he bowed over her hand.

 

She giggled again and turned to her aunt. “May I go play?”

 

Elizabeth

Lizzy studied him intently as he sat on the bench. While she knew looks were not indicative of someone’s mental stability, she did not think he appeared insane. He was well dressed in what looked to be an expensive suit and well-groomed. He had short, dark brown hair, not to mention the most beautiful sea blue eyes she had ever seen. They were in a busy portion of the park, so it was not as if he could pose a threat to her with all of the other families in the area.

 

“Would you care to come share dessert with us? I have plenty of cookies, which, personally, are a favorite of mine when I am melancholy.”

 

“I would not wish to intrude,” the man objected.

 

“It would not be an intrusion. Bethy has already finished her cookie and will be playing on the playground.

 

Bethy turned around. “You can talk to Aunt Lizzy while I play!” she said excitedly. “She always makes me laugh when I am sad.”

 

Lizzy saw one side of his mouth try to smile. He was truly a handsome man and the expression only improved what was already there. She could only imagine how he looked when he really smiled.

 

“Please do not feel that you have to,” she quickly interjected, second-guessing her earlier decision. She did not think she had, but she did not want to offend him. “If you would rather be alone . . . “

 

He seemed to stare at her for a moment and began to stand. “I believe I spend too much time alone,” he said. “Miss Bethy, would you do me the honor of escorting me to your picnic.”

 

She watched as her niece giggled and took his hand to lead him back through the trees. Following close behind, she heard his princely thank you before Bethy turned and asked to play.

 

“Of course, squirt,” she replied with a smile.

 

She took a seat on the blanket and looked over to William, who had yet to sit down.

 

“I promise I won’t bite,” she quipped. He looked down as he tried to smile again and took a seat beside her.

 

“If you ever wish for me to leave, please feel free to tell me. I won’t be offended.”

 

Lizzy took a long look at him. He was clearly in earnest, but she could not get over how depressed the man looked. If her niece saw the same expression, Lizzy could understand why she was so adamant to cheer him up. He had said that he spent too much time alone. How on earth did this man come to be so lonely?

 

“I don’t mind having company,” she responded. “Perhaps we should find something we can discuss while she is playing. Do you like to read?”

 

Lizzy’s question spurned a conversation that would span several hours while her niece played. They discussed various books until the subject of their families was mentioned. Lizzy described (without names, since she did not really know him) her family and William did the same. She realized as he spoke how alone the man really was, and her heart ached for him.

 

“You and a friend should have a guy’s night out?” she suggested with a smile. He grimaced and she realized that too was a sore subject. “I’m sorry,” she backpedaled.

 

“No, your intentions are good. I have a cousin who is like a brother, but he is in the military and stationed overseas. I am afraid I ruined the relationship I had with my best friend a long time ago.”

 

“Have you tried apologizing or would he not give you the chance?”

 

“Oh no, he was always very forgiving. I guess I was too determined that I was right and I let things go on for too long.”

 

“If he was always forgiving, perhaps it is not too late. Maybe you should try.”

She watched as he nodded and his brow furrowed. Her cell phone chimed and she looked down to find a text from her sister, Jane. ‘Don’t forget Beth’s nap time.’ Lizzy backed to the main screen to check the clock, and started when she saw the time.

 

“Oh my, we need to go. Bethy has her nap. My sister will be upset if we are late.”

 

“Thank you for the company,” said William with a small smile.

 

“I enjoyed our conversation. I hope you call your friend.”

 

He seemed to stall for a moment as he shuffled his feet. “Do you think we could meet for coffee sometime? I really enjoyed talking to you.”

 

He was so handsome and the uncertainty he was displaying was sweet. “I don’t see why not,” she responded. “Today is Thursday, so perhaps Saturday at nine. We could have coffee and pastries?”

 

“I would like that.” While the smile he displayed was not wide by any means, she was happy to see what was probably the largest and most genuine smile he had displayed that day.

 

She called Bethy, and once they had packed up their things, they said farewell to William, who left the park shortly after they did.

 

William

He departed the park in better spirits than he had entered. When he had seen Lizzy, he had thought she was lovely, but her personality was so outgoing and kind. She was intelligent too. He did not know how it happened that he had opened up to her so quickly. He had confessed the majority of the argument with Charles, although he had only told her was that he was estranged from his sister, he did not wish to reveal too much of himself personally to someone he had just met.

 

His experience that day became a catalyst to change his outlook. Lizzy had not looked at him with avarice in her eyes. She did not see a wealthy man; she just saw him. As a result, he decided not to assume with everyone as he had in the past—with the exception of Caroline Bingley, of course. That woman would never change.

 

Friday came and he decided he needed to work. He could not sulk and hide himself away from the world forever. Deciding that Lizzy was right, he asked his assistant to find him the contact information for his friend, Charles Bingley. By that afternoon, she had come back with the information, but his courage faltered and he did not make the call.

 

When Saturday dawned, he woke in a better mood than he had in a long time. He dressed quickly and arrived early to the coffee shop where he and Lizzy had agreed to meet. He felt so unlike himself as his heart jumped whenever the door chimed and someone entered until she finally did come through the door. His heart beat a little faster when she saw him and smiled. He watched her move to the counter to order her coffee and continued to keep her in his sights until she sat down at the table across from him.

 

Conversation came easily, and they had a wonderful time chatting until she asked if he had phoned his friend.

 

“No,” he replied. “I lost my nerve when I went to dial the number.”

 

She acquired a determined look upon her face. “Well, you will never find out if you don’t call. Call him right now. I will hold your hand if you have the need.”

 

He chuckled as he looked around. He did not want to have the conversation in a public setting, but there was no one sitting close by, so he took out his phone and dialed. When he hit send, she took the hand he was not using to hold the phone and gently squeezed. A current flowed up his arm from where she touched him, and he inhaled at the sensation.

 

When Charles answered the phone, William could hear his surprise, but he listened to the entire apology. Even on the phone, William could tell that Charles was a bit hesitant to forgive him, yet he did. Rather than have a long phone conversation, they agreed to meet up for drinks, so they could talk things out.

 

William pressed the end button and released the breath he had not realized he was holding. He looked up to find Lizzy beaming at him.

 

“It went well?”

 

“We are meeting for drinks,” said William. “I am sure I am going to have to earn his trust back.”

 

“Maybe it won’t be as hard as you think,” she replied with a grin.

 

He smiled and they talked for a while longer. When it was time to depart, they exchanged cell phone numbers and William promised he would call her.

 

Elizabeth

Elizabeth was ecstatic. William was going to call her. Handsome, sweet and sensitive, William—at least to her he was. She smiled when she remembered the jolt that traveled through her arm when she held his hand for the phone call.

 

She went home to clean, hoping to hear from him soon. She was not disappointed since he called every night that week. They spoke about many things, still keeping things pretty general, but the happiest phone call was when he informed her that he had been invited to his friend’s house for dinner. She was so thrilled that he was able to reconnect with his childhood friend.

 

William asked her to go as his date, but she declined since she had already accepted an invitation to Jane’s for that evening. She could hear the disappointment in his voice, but she promised she would make it up to him another day. She beamed at how happy he sounded as a result.

 

Saturday night rolled around and Lizzy arrived at Jane’s at the appointed time. Her sister, brother-in-law, and niece all hugged her before she stepped into the kitchen to catch up with Jane.

 

“So why is the good china out? Are you expecting company?”

 

“An old friend of Charlie’s is coming for dinner tonight,” replied Jane. “Apparently, they lost touch about seven years ago and he just called Charlie out of the blue last weekend.”

 

“That’s nice,” Lizzy replied.

 

“So what is this about a guy calling you? You practically hung up on me the other night to answer his call.”

 

“Oh, he is just a guy I met at the park last week,” she deflected.

 

“You mean when you brought Beth?” Lizzy looked up to find a serious expression on her face. “Are you picking up men when you take care of my daughter?”

 

Jane looked angry and Lizzy began to panic. “No! I did not pick him . . .” She heard laughter and looked up to find Jane laughing.

 

“You should have seen your face!” laughed her sister.

 

“I hate it when you do that!” Lizzy exclaimed.

 

The doorbell rang and Jane and Lizzy filed into the living room to meet Charlie’s mysterious friend. Lizzy thought the deep voice coming down the hall was familiar, but she shrugged it off until her William came through the door. He stopped short when he saw her and they both began to smile.

 

Charlie stepped forward to make the introductions, but when he reached William and Lizzy, William replied. “Actually, we have met. Lizzy is who talked me into calling you.”

 

Her brother-in-law gave the two of them an incredulous look. “Lizzy was the woman you were telling me about?” William nodded and smiled.

 

“You must not have told him how we met, because he would have figured it out pretty quickly if you had,” Lizzy laughed.

 

“No, I hadn’t told him that much.”

 

Charlie laughed. “He did not even tell me your name. Will always did like to keep things to himself. I was amazed when he told me as much about you as he did.”

 

“I am surprised you didn’t tell your sister, since her daughter was the reason we met.”

 

“This is the man you met in the park,” exclaimed Jane as Lizzy blushed.

 

“I think we have our dinner conversation,” Charlie laughed.

 

They all chuckled as Bethy came into the room. “William!” she called as she ran up to him.

 

William took her hand and bowed. “Milady.”

 

A surprised look appeared on Charlie’s face, and Lizzy knew he must have been seeing a side to William that he had never been witness to before that night. She smiled as Jane offered wine. They soon sat down together and everyone had a wonderful night. Little did they know at that time, but it would be the first of many evenings spent in that manner. Especially once William became Bethy’s Uncle William.

 

© 2013  L.L. Diamond

4 thoughts on “Consequences of a Day in the Park

  1. Christine says:

    I love this story!

    Like

    1. Thanks so much, Christine!

      Like

  2. Dung says:

    This is such a adorable story… too bad Georgiana eloped with Wickham!

    Like

    1. There’s a continuation! I’ll have to post it when I get a chance, especially since it’s Christmas themed. She comes around.

      Like

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