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Lofty Dreams. Ch. 22-23. Complete!

April 19, 2015 05:59PM
Chapter 22

On Saturday morning, I woke up thinking about what Janelle said. I wanted to find out first whether or not Will was responsible for Marcus Henderson taking on Dee's case. I decided to text him a message: "Thx for MH." I sent it, and waited to see how he would respond.

I went to the laundromat that morning, and was almost done folding clothes at about noon when I heard my phone beep. I pulled it out of my pocket and saw that I had a new text message from Will. I read: "Ur welcome." So I took a deep breath and wrote back: "Btw I rly rly like u." Then I thought I should send an additional message, "Not just bc of MH."

A few seconds later, my phone rang. "Do you mean that, Liz?" Will asked as soon as I answered.

"I do, I really do," I replied.

"When can I see you?"

"How about now?"

"I'll be there in about 45 minutes."

I threw the clothes in the laundry bag and hurried home. Our apartment was quiet, because Janelle was working, Ma and Dee were out shopping, and Daddy was snoring in his chair in the living room.

I dropped the laundry bag on my bed and ran to the bathroom. I was so nervous and excited I could barely think clearly. OK, my hair. I grabbed the flat iron and plugged it in. I brushed my teeth twice and applied some mascara and lip gloss. I ran the flat iron through my hair, twisting at the bottom to curl the ends. I also rubbed lotion on my legs several times to make sure there was no ash anywhere.

When I was ready, I sat down in the living room, but I couldn't sit still. I kept getting up and walking around, and checking my cell phone to see what time it was. Finally, my phone rang again.

"Liz, I'm outside," Will said. "Can I come up?"

"Uh, sure. I'll buzz you in."

A minute later I heard a knock on the door. When I opened it, I was so happy to see Will's handsome face that I pulled him inside, shut the door, threw my arms around him and kissed him.

To my surprise, he pulled back. "You're not going to go off on me again afterward, are you?" he asked tentatively.

I giggled, remembering the aftermath of our last kiss. "I won't, I promise!"

With that, he smiled and took me in his arms, kissing me gently at first and then more deeply. My arms slipped around his neck and I moved closer; I wanted him to forget the past and understand how much he meant to me here and now.

When we finally stopped kissing, Will looked at me with a huge smile on his face. "I guess you do really like me!" I laughed, and he held out a bouquet wrapped in pretty cellophane paper that had gotten a little crushed by our embrace. "Here, these are for you."

"Thank you," I said a little shyly as I took the bouquet from him. Other than the corsage I'd received from my prom date, no one had ever bought me flowers. I opened the paper a little. Inside were a dozen red roses surrounded by baby's breath.

"I think we have a vase in the kitchen," I said.

As he followed me, he spotted Daddy stretched out in his chair. "Sorry, Liz, I didn't realize your dad was sleeping."

"It's OK," I said, as I knelt to look under the sink for the vase. When I found it, I filled it with water and then took the roses out of the paper and started to place them in the vase.

"You should cut them," Will said. "The stems, I mean."

"OK. How?"

He asked me for a sharp knife and showed me how to cut the bottom of the stems off at an angle. Then he placed the roses in the vase for me and placed the vase in the center of the small kitchen table.

"They're beautiful," I said.

"So are you," Will answered.

I looked down as my face grew warm. I felt Will put his arms around me. I hugged him tightly, listening to his heartbeat and feeling my own against his chest.

"Do you want to go out somewhere?" Will asked.

I nodded and pulled away from him. "Let me write my parents a note," I said.

I locked up our apartment, and Will took my hand as we walked down the stairs. Ashley and Marquis, two of the little kids who lived in my building, were sitting on the stoop outside. "Is that your boyfriend, Liz?" Ashley asked as we passed them.

Will squeezed my hand tighter as I looked at him and smiled. "Yes, it is," I answered.

When we reached his car, a new SUV, Will held open the passenger door for me. "This is the car you got for graduation?" I asked, after he climbed in and put his seatbelt on.

"This is it. So where would you like to go?"

"The Meryton City Festival is going on today. What about that?"

"That sounds like fun."

In the car, I thanked him for arranging for Marcus Henderson to defend Dee. "My parents are so grateful," I said. "They don't know it's because of you. They think it was just good luck."

"Please don't tell them, Liz," Will said. "I don't want credit or anything. I just didn't want your family to be hurt by George the way my family has been."

We had to park a few blocks away and walk to the city park where the festival was being held. We were both hungry when we arrived, so we visited the food area first. After purchasing plates of food and bottled water, we sat at a picnic table to eat babyback ribs, potato salad and fruit salad.

Will kept staring at me, which was a little embarrassing, given that ribs are a rather messy food to eat. "Can you stop looking at me until we're done?" I asked.

Will laughed. "No, I can't. Do you know how long I've been waiting to be with you like this?"

"How long?"

"I've liked you since I the first time I saw you, Liz."

I looked at him with surprise. "You're kidding!"

"I'm not. I still remember when I first saw you, standing near the bottom of the stairs at Chuck's house. You were looking at me. You were checking me out, weren't you?"

I made a face. "Yeah, I was," I admitted.

"I remember thinking, 'Hey, she's cute," and then you turned away and started laughing because I'd caught you staring. Then I thought, 'She has a sense of humor. I like that, too.' I was about to come down and introduce myself, but I was intercepted first."

I smiled as I remembered that girl Candy who'd been all over him at Chuck's party. Then I paused. "Will, if you've liked me all this time… I mean, for a long time, it didn't seem that way."

Will winced. "I know. I felt like every time I had a chance to meet you or get to know you, something didn't go right. There was Candy at the party, my mom being rude to your mom at the dinner, and then seeing you with George at the dinner. And it didn't help that you and George started laughing at me that night. After that, I was embarrassed just to talk to you. Then when we were paired up at the first LOFTY meeting and you started laughing again, I thought that maybe George had said something about me. I didn't react very well, but I think it was because I was interested in you."

I wiped my hands on a towelette and placed one hand over his. "What I was laughing about the night of the LOFTY meeting was Chuck and Janelle being what we shared in common."

Will slipped his fingers between mine and grinned. "OK, your turn. When did you first like me?"

"At Hunsford. You really grew on me that week!"

"I thought you hated me there."

"I did! But I also liked you. That's a pretty confusing situation to be in, when you both like and hate a guy at the same time."

Will shook his head, chuckling. "I knew you had kissed me back!"

We both laughed as I nodded to admit that I had. "It was actually a great kiss," I told him. He leaned toward me and touched my lips with his to remind me of that fact.

"So when did you stop hating me?"

"The same day I turned you down, when I heard that you'd stood up for me and Anna. And when I got your email the next day and realized how wrong I'd been about you."

Will stroked my hand with his thumb. "That Sunday was kind of a painful day for me. First you rejected me, and then when you were done, Sheila took what was left of my ego and smacked it around. You could have wiped up the floor with me after that."

"Are you serious?" I asked, shocked. But then I remembered being on the receiving end of Sheila's disappointment, and I understood.

Will laughed. "Unfortunately, yes. Sheila had you and Anna in one room, and me in another. She let me know just how much I had been screwing up. You know what? I don't mean unfortunately. She was right. I was a coward, Liz. I cared too much about what other people thought of me. And because of that, I really hurt you."

"Is that why you were late getting back to the bus?"

Will nodded. "I had a lot to think about."

I squeezed his fingers. "After the things I said to you that day, I'm glad you didn't give up on me."

"First of all, I said some pretty harsh things to you that day, too, things I wished I could take back right after I said them. And second," Will said, his voice dropping, "you were worth it."

When I saw the tender look on his face, I knew at that moment that I loved him.

We stayed at the festival until it closed at 9 PM, riding carnival rides, playing games and eating. During the last half hour, we sat on a grassy lawn listening to a band that played old school R&B music. Will sat behind me with his hands resting lightly on my shoulders. Toward the end, as I leaned back against him, he whispered in my ear, "The sun is setting."

I looked up and exhaled at the sight. Even amid the lights and sounds of the city rather than the tranquility of nature, it was gorgeous. "You wanted me to watch this with you at Hunsford, didn't you?" I realized with regret.

"Well, yeah," Will answered softly, laughing a little and brushing my cheek with his lips, "but this will be the first of many."

When we finally left the park, I knew it had been the absolute best day of my life. We had forgotten all about the driving lesson, but I didn't care.

It was dark when we arrived back at my street and Will pulled over to the curb. I knew he was going to reach for me as soon as he turned the car off. As we kissed each other passionately for what had to be at least ten minutes, I felt an intense desire for him like nothing I had ever felt before. It both thrilled me and scared me a little. Finally, I broke away from him and said, "I should go in."

Will nodded. "Let me walk you."

Outside my apartment, he hugged me tightly. "I don't want to let you go," he said.

"I know; I feel the same way. Listen, would you come over tomorrow, maybe for dinner? I want you to get to know my parents."

"I'll be here," Will said with a smile. He kissed my cheek, and we both said goodnight.

I went inside and found myself face-to-face with my angry father. "Where have you been with this boy all this time?" he demanded.

"We went to the festival, Daddy. We were in public the whole day."

"How come you didn't answer my calls?"

I pulled my phone out and saw that I had several missed messages. "It was loud there. I guess I didn't hear it."

"Liz, those are some serious flowers in there, which means this boy has some serious feelings about you. You're starting school in a few weeks. We've already been through Janelle getting caught up in a relationship at the expense of her education. I don't want you going through that, too. And isn't he the one that did all those things to Geo?"

"Daddy, Geo lied to us. I would think after how he treated both me and Dee, you'd realize he can't be trusted."

"You may be right, but that doesn't mean I can trust this boy either."

"I trust him, Daddy. I love him."

My father placed his hands on my shoulders. "I'm not saying he's not a good person, Liz. But I was an 18-year-old boy once, in love with a beautiful young woman, and it's a hell of a thing to try to keep your hormones under control."

I hugged him. "I know, Daddy. I hear what you're saying. Right now, succeeding in college is the most important thing to me. I'm not going to let you down."

Chapter 23

"Liz, did you hear me? I just asked if you had finished the story yet."

I snapped out of my daydream and looked at Karen, my boss. "I'm sorry, my head was somewhere else."

"Are you all right? You don't usually act this way."

"Yes, I'm fine. I'll get to that story right away."

It was Monday afternoon, and I was having the hardest time keeping my mind focused on work. I kept thinking about Will. We'd had a great time with him at dinner the night before. Afterward, Daddy had taken Will downstairs and they were outside for about 45 minutes before Will came back up to tell me goodnight. I was dying to know what they had talked about.

I turned my attention back to the article I was writing. I was almost done when Karen stopped by my desk again. "There's a woman from the LOFTY Dreams program here to see you. I told her she could meet with you in the conference room."

I gritted my teeth. Sheila had told us that she and Paul would pay visits to all our internship sites. Normally I would have welcomed her visit, but today my game was so off that I didn't want to see her.

When I entered the conference room, I was shocked to see Mrs. Darcy. "What are you doing here?" I asked. "Why did you lie to my boss?"

"I don't have a lot of time, so I'll get right to the point," she said in her clipped tone. "I want you to stay away from my son."

"Excuse me?"

"You heard me. Don't come near my son anymore. Don't call him, don't email him, don't see him."

"Um… your son is eighteen. He can choose who he wants to associate with."

"I don't care how old he is, he's still living in my house and I'm still his mother."

"He won't be in your house much longer. And you may be his mother, but you're not mine. You can't tell me who I can or can't spend time with."

Her cold expression turned vicious. "You listen here, missy. I have worked too damn hard to give my kids a better life than I had. I'm not about to watch some little whore from Longbourn City get herself pregnant and derail my son's college and career plans!"

I was so stunned that it took me a minute to respond. "How dare you! You don't know anything about me! I'm not sleeping with your son, not that it's any of your business, and I have my own college and career plans I'm thinking about."

"How long do you think that's going to last, when my son is in love with you? You can take a girl out of the ghetto but you can't take the ghetto out of the girl."

"I guess that's true of you, huh?"

"You're DAMNED RIGHT!" she shouted. I looked around, hoping there was no one near the conference room who could hear her.

Mrs. Darcy went on. "I will take you down, if I have to. I know you and some other little tramp got into a fight over my son at the retreat. I know your sister got arrested with that little creep George. You already have strikes against you, and you better believe that after I talk to the folks at LOFTY Dreams, you'll be out of that program so fast your head will spin!"

I was so angry I could barely breathe, but I tried to keep my voice level. "You're a sad woman if you're so threatened by a teenage girl that you have to act this way."

"I do what I have to do."

I stood up and turned toward the door.

"I'm not finished yet!" Mrs. Darcy yelled.

"No, you are," I snapped. "You're done. Goodbye."

I exited and tried to walk as calmly as I could to the restroom. I was shaking and on the verge of tears. I didn't think she could cause trouble for me with the LOFTY program, but I wasn't sure. And would she keep Will away from me? As I splashed water in my face, one thing she said came back to me: "my son is in love with you." If I could hold on to that, maybe I could calm down enough to get through the rest of the day.

I somehow made it through until five o'clock. When I got home, I told my parents I wasn't feeling well and went to my room to lie down. I hadn't been there long when I heard my phone ringing on the dresser.

I picked it up and saw Will's ID. "Hi," I answered, a little nervously.

"Liz, are you at home? I need to see you." He sounded upset. "I'll be there as soon as I can, OK?"

"I'll be here."

Will called me when he arrived and asked me to come downstairs. When I opened the front door, he stepped in and hugged me. "Can we sit outside and talk?" he asked.

As we sat on the stoop of my building, Will put his arm around my shoulder and I leaned into him. People were hanging out up and down the street while music blared, one of my neighbors repaired his car, and Ashley and another girl played jacks on the sidewalk.

"My neighborhood is so much quieter than this," Will observed.

We held each other for several minutes before Will spoke again. "I know my mother went to see you, Liz."

I didn't know how to respond.

Will lifted my chin with his hand so he could look me in the eyes. "I'm so sorry she said what she said to you. She had no right to say those things."

"I wonder how she knew about the fight and about Dee," I said.

"I think she learned about the fight from Mike's mom. As for Dee, my godfather called her. He thought she should know that he was taking on a case that involved George. He said he was doing it as a favor to my girlfriend, and my mom wanted to know what girlfriend he was talking about."

"Why would Mike's mother talk to her about what happened in Hunsford?"

"Because…" Will looked down. "Mike and I got into a big conflict there, and we weren't speaking to each other for a while."

"Why?" I asked. And then it hit me. "He's the one who couldn't understand what you saw in me."

Will didn't answer, but his face gave it away. Some of the hurt I had felt that last Sunday in Hunsford came back. "When you first told me you liked me, Will, why did you repeat what Mike said?"

Will shook his head. "I'm sorry I said that, Liz, and I've regretted it ever since. To be fair to Mike, I think he thought he was defending Anna. But he did it by putting you down. I was so mad at him that night, I almost hit him. Still, I was nervous and unsure about whether you liked me, so in the back of my mind, I wondered if he was right."

"Was he?" I asked sharply.

Will placed both his hands on my face and looked at me with his gorgeous eyes. "No, not at all, Liz! No, you were right about me. I was arrogant and conceited, and I really didn't have a right to be. The things you said, and what Sheila said to me, made me face that for the first time."

"Some of the things your mother said to me really hurt, Will," I said. "She thinks I'm going to bring you down."

Will caressed my cheek. "Liz, my mother grew up around here, and she had a rough childhood. You already know that both her brothers are in prison, and her sister has three kids by three different men. Mom is the only one who finished high school, and she worked her way through college. She feels like she barely made it out, and has this fear of ending up back where she came from. That's what scared her so much about what happened between George and Jenny. I told her that you're not her, your family is not her family, and that I'm a better person because of you."

"She doesn't want me to see you."

"I don't care. She told me about her threat, too. I told her that if she ever did anything to hurt you, I would cut off my relationship with her."

I sat up and looked at him. "Will, you don't mean that!"

"Yes, I do. There's nothing she can do to me. I have money of my own, and college is paid for. But she would never want to lose me, so I know she's not going to do anything to you. Thank you, by the way."

"For what?"

"For standing up to her. I know she can be intimidating. I don't usually stand up to her very well, but hearing how you did gave me the courage to do the same thing."

I smiled a little. "Your mother said something else, Will. She said you're in love with me. Is that true?"

"What do you think?"

"I hope it's true, because I'm in love with you."

Will grinned. "I thought it was obvious."

I smiled back. "It would still be nice to hear you say it."

Will looked at me with such warmth in his beautiful eyes that it took my breath away. His hand still caressing my cheek, he said, "I love you, Elizabeth Bennet. I love you very much."

I kissed him. I know what my mother is always saying about acting that way in public, but at that moment I didn't care. I heard Ashley say, "Ooh, Liz, you're kissing!" Will and I both started laughing as we let go of each other.

"So," I said. "What did you and my father talk about last night?"

"I can't tell you. Man to man stuff."

"Oh, come on! I really want to know!"

"Nah, you don't need to know!" Will said teasingly.

I tried to give him a sweet, pleading look and he burst out laughing. "That's not going to work, Liz! I'll just tell you this: he knows I love you, and he approves."

I put my arms around his waist, and he squeezed me tight. "I love you, too, William Darcy. And I think you and I are going to be striving to reach our lofty dreams together," I said.

Will leaned his forehead against mine and kissed me. "Definitely."


Author's note: I would love some comments!

Lofty Dreams. Ch. 22-23. Complete!

Amy A-NWApril 19, 2015 05:59PM

Re: Lofty Dreams. Ch. 22-23. Complete!

IasApril 26, 2015 05:06PM

Re: Lofty Dreams. Ch. 22-23. Complete!

Amy A-NWApril 27, 2015 03:29AM

Re: Lofty Dreams. Ch. 22-23. Complete!

JacqlynApril 26, 2015 04:11AM

Re: Lofty Dreams. Ch. 22-23. Complete!

Amy A-NWApril 27, 2015 03:29AM

Thank you, and answers to questions

Amy A-NWApril 22, 2015 12:13AM

Re: Lofty Dreams. Ch. 22-23. Complete!

Adelaide not signed inApril 21, 2015 02:33PM

Re: Lofty Dreams. Ch. 22-23. Complete!

ShannaGApril 21, 2015 02:30AM

Re: Lofty Dreams. Ch. 22-23. Complete!

RoxeyApril 20, 2015 02:06PM

Re: Lofty Dreams. Ch. 22-23. Complete!

MarthaApril 20, 2015 06:00AM

Re: Lofty Dreams. Ch. 22-23. Complete!

Rita kApril 20, 2015 10:12AM


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