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Beautiful Celebrations: Part 2

September 12, 2016 02:22AM
Author's note: ladies, thank you so much for the feedback on the previous post! smiling smiley I hope you enjoy this. Nikki: I will definitely do another post that includes one of your suggestions, and Lily, I also promise I'll have Georgie and Tye in the next post! smiling smiley I'm aiming to post again next weekend, or earlier if I can manage it. So far the scenes have been chronological, though I can't promise they all will be. I was planning on writing vignettes, instead of something with a progressive narrative. I have no idea how many of these I'm going to feel like writing.

Also, a note to the archivers: I'm amending the blurb:

New Blurb: Will and Elizabeth Darcy enjoy marriage one landmark at a time. Georgiana Darcy and Tye Bertram learn about love. A Beautiful Friendship piece.

Begin Archiving!

B. Sick Days

Will had a whirlwind day planned: four separate meetings scheduled throughout the morning, a noon lunch with the department head, a deposition scheduled from 2:00 to 5:00.

Will couldn't be sick. He refused to be. He certainly couldn't be sick today, of all days, there was too much riding on him. And so he ignored the sweat on his skin as he tugged off his pajamas that morning. He stubbornly refused to acknowledge the dizzy tilt of the floor as he stepped from the shower. His stomach rumbled as he dressed.

Elizabeth had arrived home late last night. So late, in fact, that he'd dozed off while he waited for her. He couldn't remember the last time he'd fallen asleep on the couch before she'd come home. The later her call time at the opera house, the more determined he usually was about staying awake to greet her.

She'd woken him with a quiet kiss on the cheek when she'd returned. She'd also said something about how he'd felt warmer than usual, and then she'd pushed him off to bed. He hadn't protested.

Now he felt dizzy. Will braced one hand on the bedpost, allowing himself another breath.

Elizabeth was dozing in the center of their brand new bed. While he'd showered, she'd kicked down the sheets. She was clutching a pillow. Her hair had fallen loose from its braid. Her t-shirt had moved while she slept, revealing her soft stomach and the delicate, violet lace line of her underwear.

Might as well enjoy the view, he thought with another shaky breath.

Then his stomach roiled. Bloody hell. Will pushed around the bed, jogging to the bathroom.

He barely reached the toilet in time before his stomach emptied out.

It wasn't long before he heard soft footsteps behind him. Elizabeth knelt, rubbing his aching shoulders. She said nothing while he vomited again. The action left his stomach aching and his head dizzy. When he pushed away from the toilet, he was shivering.

“Mo chroi, you've got some stomach bug,” Elizabeth murmured. She unknotted his tie, slipping it from his neck. Her hand touched his forehead. “You're taking off work today. Tomorrow too, probably.”

“Can't.” He shook his head. “My deposition...”

“It can wait until you're well again. Come back to bed with me. I'll find the thermometer, fetch you something to calm your stomach...”

She led him back to their bedroom. The ache in his head was growing louder, and their bedroom was so still. Maybe this wasn't such a bad idea after all...

She'd already taken care of his tie. Silently, she unbuttoned his white dress shirt, sliding it from his shivering shoulders.

“Cold?” she whispered. “I can turn the heat on?”

“No, I'm--” Will's teeth clicked together, “h-hot. Lizzie, I can...”

“Alright, mo chroi.”

Her fingers slipped beneath his white t-shirt, gently sliding it off him. She unbuckled his pressed leather belt, setting the object aside, then slipped off his newly pressed trousers. Her hands were soft and steady as she guided him into a new pair of pajamas.

Will was sweating by the time she settled him back into bed and pulled up their sheets.

“Close your eyes, love,” she murmured. “I'm getting that thermometer.”

“Lizzie--” he shivered. His eyelids were heavy. He couldn't keep from shutting them. “My meetings--”

“I know where your mobile phone is. I can call your office, Will. Just sleep.”

He exhaled, willing his shivering body to still. He could Lizzie's phone chirp as she turned it on.

“Char? Yeah, it's Lizzie. You know the stomach bug that's been spreading through the opera house like a wildfire? I think Will's caught it. Tell Alistair I won't be able to make rehearsals today. I'm staying with him. Yes. I know. Uh-huh. Could you ask Svetlana or Ksenia to dance Manon tonight? If Sveta ends up doing it, tell her I'll trade her the Monday afternoon matinee, if she wants. That way she can have a three day weekend."

When he woke again, hours later, his head still ached. Elizabeth, sporting black leggings and his old New College sweatshirt, had settled in the chair by the windows. She was reading. Through the panoramic view, he saw the sun hung low in the sky.

His stomach was empty. His body was sore. Noticing his movements, she set her book aside and moved across the room.

“Hey.” She reached for a drink she'd set by the night table. “Have a sip of this. You're probably dehydrated. How do you feel?”

“Like I'm hung over."

“Stomach flu, I'm afraid.” Her smile was soft. “Loads of people in the opera house have had it. I spoke with Anne on the phone during lunch. She said Adrian had the same thing last week, the poor little lad. She told me it lasts a few days.”

“Anne...” he looked down. His shivering had passed, but his cotton shirt was now drenched in sweat. Weary, he sat up and pealed his shirt off. “Weren't you meeting Anne and Emma for lunch today?”

“Canceled. We'll get together next week. All the girls agreed. The last thing I want is little Laura Knightley picking this up from me or from Anne.” She took the garment from his hands. “I can wash this for you. Drink some more water, love. How's your stomach?”

“Better than the morning.”

“Good. I'll go heat up some broth for you. How do a few crackers sound?”

“Not bad.” He rubbed at his pounding temple. “I think a shower would help. I'm going to head there now.”

“Alright. I'm getting you another aspirin. Take your shower. I'll fix your broth.”

They spent the evening on their living room couch. He managed to keep the broth down, though his stomach roiled whenever he stood too quickly. Mostly, Will just dozed, his head resting in his wife's lap. While he slept, Elizabeth read and watched a little television.

When his eyes opened again, his dark brown gaze settled on her. “What time is it?”

“Just past 8:30. Not that it matters. You're not going anywhere tomorrow. Your fever's better, but it's not gone. Hayter and Blakeney are very capable. I'm sure they'll handle things tomorrow.” She brushed his hair. “How are you feeling?”

“A little better.” He hadn't felt this bad since he split that bottle of scotch with Frederick years ago. “What are you watching?”

“A romantic movie. They're broadcasting it on ITV. I haven't seen it in ages.”

He grunted. “It's not that one about the boat, is it?”

“No, it's not the one about the boat. It's the one from the '90s about the rich man and the call girl. Silly." She reached for the remote, clicking the television off. "But I still get soppy over it when she wears the red dress and he takes her to the opera.”

Will released a quiet, tired exhale. "Lizzie..."


"For today...thank you."

"That's how this works, Will. We help each other when we're sick." Her smile was soft. “I'll help you up. Let's go to bed. You'll feel better in the morning.”

C. Birthdays

Elizabeth pushed the door shut, planting the paper bag on the counter. Will was here in the kitchen. She snuck up behind him, wrapping her arms around his midsection. “Happy thirtieth birthday.”

"Thanks." She could hear the smile in his voice. Will lifted his arm, winding her around him until she was between his body and the kitchen counter. “Though I'm twenty-nine for two more hours.”

“Happy last few hours of your twenty-ninth year, how's that?” The words were teasing, but her eyes were kind. She tiptoed, kissing him. “Thirty...it's just a number, Will. It doesn't matter to me one bit, you know that.”

His mouth teased up at one edge. “Easy to claim at the comfortable age of twenty-five.”

“Well, who could blame me for finding an older man so handsome, and dashing, and compelling, and--” Elizabeth squealed as his hands slid, wrapping around her hips and lifting her onto the counter.

“There's no one I'd rather face thirty with.” Will bent, giving her a sound kiss. He touched her knee as he drew back. “I'm glad you're back. Take off your coat."

She shrugged. "I can keep it on until we unpack. We'll have to take the trash downstairs tonight."

"I'll do it after we eat. You shouldn't be out for long in this rain."

She sighed. She'd complained this early March morning of a dull ache in her knees, nothing more than that. “Oh, Will, I'm positively fine--”

“Nope.” He walked to the cabinets, drawing out three plates. “It's my birthday. You've got to listen to me today.”

“Oh, now it's your birthday? I think you have a conveniently fluid concept of time, Mr. Darcy.”

He laughed. “First thing I learned as a barrister. Always know your angles.”

She glanced back at the living room. "What's Georgie up to? Poldark's going to be on TV soon. That's one of her favorites. I was going to watch it with her.

"I already tried talking her out of her room. She seems set on staying in there. I decided not to fight her on it."

"Oh." Elizabeth shrugged, finally unbuttoning her coat. The rainstorm had left the gray wool damp. "Well, we should tell her that supper's finally here."

"Certainly." Will glanced in the paper bag. "This smells amazing, by the way. Is this dim sum?”

“Not just any dim sum.” She hopped down from the counter. “It's dim sum from your favorite Chinese restaurant.”

He popped one lid. “You're kidding? They don't do take-away.”

“Well, you told me you didn't want to go out tonight, so...I talked them into making an exception. Aren't you a lucky boy?”

He grinned. His fingers looped in the belt of her jeans as he tugged her closer to him. “Guess I should settle my delivery fee.”

“Mr Darcy, this is most unconventional. The chef said they only take cash, credit or--” she giggled as he nuzzled her neck, “personal check!”

On his actual thirtieth birthday, she was determined to let him sleep in. Brunch. She could make him that.

The kitchen wasn't empty. Georgiana, now sixteen years old, had made herself the largest bowl of cereal Elizabeth had ever seen in her life. She was slowly eating it while she paged through a booklet of sheet music.

“Morning, Georgie, love,” Elizabeth greeted her.

Georgiana allowed herself a moment to pull out the earphones from her ears. She smiled. Georgiana's feet were perched on the chair next to her. The teen wore a hodgepodge of clothes: a plaid sweatshirt, a tiny green miniskirt that looked suspiciously like one Elizabeth owned, and pale blue heels. There was glitter eye shadow on her eyelids.

Heels and eye shadow. thought Elizabeth, popping bread into the toaster. What had she been into at age sixteen? Sailboats and pointe shoes, mostly.

“Georgie, I'm making your brother's favorites for his birthday,” Elizabeth said. “Lincolnshire sausages, cooked tomatoes, scrambled eggs on toast. We'll have plenty. Would you like some?”

Georgiana was now studying her phone. Frowning at it, actually. Elizabeth pulled the eggs from the fridge. “Georgie? Did you want eggs?”

Georgiana shrugged. “No, thanks.”

“Alright. If you change you're mind, they're no trouble to make.” She hesitated, offering another glance at the girl. “How's your coursework?”

“Fine.” The earphones went back on.

She pulled out a bowl and started cracking eggs, trying to remind herself that beneath the girl's current teenage mood, Georgiana was still as much of a sweetheart as ever.

She and Will had talked, in a dreamy sort of way, about children and the future, and what that might look like for them. Every time she saw Anne and Fred with little Adrian or baby Michael, or Emma and Knightley with Laura, she felt a tug in her own heart. But that tug could wait. At the present moment, sweet Georgiana Darcy felt like enough of a handful.

The call box buzzed. “Mrs. Darcy?”

“Yes. I'm--” Elizabeth hesitated. She'd put sausage on the stove, she had a bowl full of whisked eggs in her hands, and Georgie was off somewhere in Neverland. Elizabeth slid over to the call box. She pressed it with her elbow. “I'm here.”

“The delivery's here. Would you like it parked in front of the building, or in the car park?”

“In the front. Thank you.”

“It's no trouble, Mrs. D. Gunner and I both saw it. Mr. Darcy's gonna be gobsmacked when he finds it.”

She hoped so. It was never easy buying a present for the man who could buy anything. The toast popped up. She poured whisked egg into her frying pan. The coffee was brewing. Miraculously, Will still slept.

“Lizzie?” Georgie asked. Perhaps the smell had compelled Georgie to finally remove her earphones. Maybe she could talk the girl into eating more than cereal. “May I ask you a personal question?”

“Sure, Georgie.” She reached for two mugs, pouring coffee into each. “I'm an open book.”

“Could I have some coffee?”

Elizabeth's own mother would never have allowed her coffee at sixteen. Even though Elizabeth generally frowned on the idea of coffee for a growing teen, birthdays were for exceptions.

“Coffee's not your question, is it?”

“No.” Georgie tucked a brown curl behind her ear.

No, she hadn't thought so. “Cream or sugar?”

“Sugar, please.”

She handed one coffee cup to Georgiana. “So what's the bee in your bonnet? Trouble at school?”

“No. Not exactly, anyway.”

“Trouble with friends?”

Georgiana shook her head. “No.” She bit her lip. “Lizzie, do you remember who your first kiss was?”

She hadn't thought about this in years. Elizabeth moved back to the stove, switching off the burner beneath the eggs. “Stage kiss, or real kiss?”

Georgiana straightened in her chair. “There's a difference?”

“Yes, a big one. I suppose you mean a real kiss.”

Georgiana pushed her phone away, reaching for her coffee cup. “Yes. What was it like?”

"Like most peoples', I expect." Elizabeth picked up the fork, gently pushing the sausage across the pan. "We hadn't an ounce of experience between us.”

“Who was he?”

“A village boy.”

“And how old were you?”

Open book or not, it felt strange to talk about this on Will's birthday, of days. “I was seventeen. He was a friend. He was a year younger than I was.” She gave Georgie an amused smile. “There isn't much to say about it.”

“Was it awkward?”

Elizabeth's laugh was small. “Uh huh.”

Bobby had been the boy's name. He'd been soft spoken. He'd served as her study-mate over the course of the summer, helping her catch up on her coursework before she'd left for Dublin at the end of the summer.

One day in late July, with a chemistry book between their laps, Bobby had leaned in and pressed his lips to hers. She'd been too stunned that shy, quiet Bobby had tried such a move to react to it.

Then she'd heard her brothers talking in the kitchen, and he'd jerked away like a startled deer. Her eldest brother had entered the living room moments later. Bobby had babbled about forgetting a chore for his mum. Then he'd left.

“Georgie, I don't think anyone's very first kiss is the stuff of poetry.” She hesitated. “Well, perhaps for Anne and Frederick it was. But they're the exception, Georgie. They're not the rule.”

“What about stage kisses? How are they different from the real thing?”

“Oh, you're thinking of a hundred things during a stage kiss. Where's your mark on stage? What are the next steps in the pas de deux? What if he accidentally steps on the hem of my dress? It isn't romantic. You're kissing your coworker.”

She thought of another exception to that statement. Jenna Fairfax and Franklin Churchill. They were spouses off stage, free to indulge in their own passions during those stage kisses. Jenna usually usually came out of a kiss with her husband a full five beats behind the music.

“Who was your first stage kiss?” asked Georgiana.

Elizabeth lifted the lid on the sausage, testing the center of it with her fork. Her first stage kiss? She had to think harder about that.

Now she remembered. His name had been Carlo. Carlo....Something. She remembered his face more than she remembered his name. He'd had thin lips, and pale blond hair.

“That was in Dublin, a year later. I understudied Giselle. He was our Albrecht. I was eighteen. He was--” she lifted one shoulder, “older.”

Curiosity brightened her sandy brown eyes. Elizabeth laughed. “Oh, no. Don't think it. I cross my heart, there wasn't a speck of romance in it.”

“How much older was he?”

“Twenty-seven. Those sorts of things are common in the theater. You get paired with a good dancer, not a good age match. Carlo wasn't someone I fancied, Georgie, and he didn't fancy me. There was no feeling in it. It was just acting.”

Both the sausage and the eggs were done. She switched off the burner, set down her fork and slid into chair next to Georgie's.

“I expect Will should wake up soon. Georgie. So if there's something you'd rather not share with him, now might be the time to say it.”

Georgiana's mouth thinned. She started to fiddle with her spoon. “Ewan. He kissed me.”

“With your permission?”

Georgiana gave a small nod. “Yes. Only---oh, Lizzie, it was nothing like---it wasn't---it...wasn't at all.”

“Quite what you'd hoped it would be?” Elizabeth guessed gently.

“No, it was so terribly awkward. Gosh. When I see you and Will kiss, it looks like—like—” She shook her head. “Well, it looks just wonderful. So natural and easy and passionate. The way you get caught up with each other...”

“Georgie, sweetheart...” she said gently, “Will and I are in love. He's my husband.”

“I know. Only I didn't really expect it to be like what I saw with you and Will. Those fireworks, I mean. I just thought it might be...rather pleasant?” Georgiana sighed, scooting lower in her chair. “Lizzie, I like Ewan very much. He's very kind to me, and he's wonderfully intelligent, and when we finally tried to kiss, I just wanted so much to feel...butterflies.”

“How did you feel?” Elizabeth said softly.

Georigana remained silent. She'd felt disappointed, not only with the kiss, but with her reaction to it. She'd wanted Ewan to give her butterflies. She liked his humor, she liked his intellect. And yet...

There were still other boys in school who made her heart race. Jim Thorpe, for one, who was growing more handsome with every passing year. And Marius Pontmercy, the gorgeous French boy. Marius sat across from her in her harmonics course. As fascinating as the subject of multi-tonic systems was, she could stare at Marius for hours.

The worst part was knowing, deep inside her heart, that none of those boys measured up yet to the young man who'd charmed her so many years ago: Tye Bertram.

“I wish I felt more for Ewan than I do,” she said miserably. “I wish I felt less when I get smiled at by boys like Marius Pontmercy. Marius is the biggest flirt in school, Lizzie, I'd be a fool to like him. But he's so handsome...”

“Everyone feels attraction, Georgie,” Elizabeth said softly. “The question is how you react to it. If you don't trust Marius, than listen to those feelings.”

“The thing is, Ewan's more interesting than Marius. I don't want to be superficial. But I don't quite know what I feel for Ewan, either, and I don't want to hurt his feelings. Does kissing get easier the more you do it?”

"Yes. But chemistry's a big part of it, too. You should never feel pressured to be in a relationship anyone—ever, especially at this age. You have the rest of your life to kiss, or be kissed. There's no rush, sweetheart."

“I know. I just wish it was a little easier."

“What's easier?” Will's low voice sounded behind them. “Something smells amazing in here. Again.” He yawned, walking to the pan cooling on the stove top. “Sausage?”

Elizabeth squeezed Georgiana's hand once, then stood. “That, and eggs and toast.”

“All my favorites.” He bent down, kissing his wife good morning. He loved seeing her like this, her raven-dark hair loose and wild. Her skin smelled like shea butter and strawberries. “Have you been up long?”

“Not too long.” Her fingers slid up his chest. “Georgie's been keeping me company.”

“Good. Glad to hear it."

Georgiana smiled at him. “Happy thirtieth birthday, Will.”

“Thank you, sweetheart.”

His gaze sharpened. Were his eyes playing tricks on him, or was there something sparkly smeared on her eyelids?

And what was she wearing? It was an odd mixture of clothes. He didn't have a problem with the plaid shirt, she could wear plaid every day for all he cared. He did recognize that short green skirt. He'd always enjoyed ogling Elizabeth in that, it made Lizzie's legs look spectacular. And was Georgiana wearing a pair of Elizabeth's rarely-worn high heels?

"When did you--" he rubbed his eyes again. "Georgie...where did you get those clothes?"

“Will,” Elizabeth whispered, “not now."

"Oh. Um..." Georgiana blushed. "I didn't think Elizabeth would mind?"

"You know what?” Elizabeth said, taking Will's hand, “breakfast can wait a few minutes. Georgie, stay here with the food, will you? Help yourself to the eggs and the sausage. I have a present for Will, and we have to go downstairs to see it. We'll be back!”

She pulled Will out of the apartment with record speed, closing the door behind him. “Is she wearing makeup and heels?” Will demanded.

“Yes.” She led the way to the lift, pressed her thumb to the down button, then wrapped her arms around him again while they waited.

"And is that your green skirt?"


“She's sixteen. She's too young for that outfit. Do you remember what happened the last time you wore it for me?”

“Yes,” Elizabeth laughed. “It's not my fault that you have a weakness for me in anything short."


"Georgie's feeling sensitive right now, Will. I know you mean well, and I know you're protective, but now isn't the time to make a big deal about her appearance. Trust me on that."

“Did she ask you if she could borrow those things?” he demanded. The lift pinged. The doors opened. Elizabeth pulled him inside.

“No. But we're family, Will. She's sixteen." The lift jolted downward. She looked up at him. "She wants a bigger wardrobe, she wants to feel like a grown woman...”

“She's not a grown woman, she's a teenager playing dress up.”

“Borrowing clothing, it's a rite of passage for a girl. When I was her age, I used to borrow my aunt's clothing all the time. My aunt had these beautiful knit jumpers from France and Germany.”

“Yeah, well, jumpers are sensible. Jumpers are appropriate for a girl of sixteen. Let's buy her a few of those.”

Her arms wrapped around him again. “It's just for one day, Will. She'll be here at the apartment with us for your birthday party, anyway. I'll speak with her about borrowing my skirt later.”

He grunted. "I would have preferred it if you were the one wearing it.”

Both felt the lift stop on the ground floor. “I think what I'm going to be wearing for you under my dress tonight will make up for it.”

His dark eyes warmed. “You're serious?"

"Yes. I bought something from Adelina's just for you."

"Is it too late to cancel this party?”

“Yes,” she laughed again. They stepped into the lobby. “People will start arriving around 7:00. Andie and Richard, the Knightleys, the Wentworths. Blakeney's bringing the beautiful Marguerite. Your football mates are coming. Hayter's finally popped the question to Candy, so...”

He winced. He would have settled for a quiet night alone with his beautiful wife. This was starting to sound like their wedding reception. “I've said it before, but we know too many people.”

“But how grand that they all want to celebrate the big 3-0 with you.”

The doormen nodded to him as Elizabeth pulled him to the front door. She paused at the sidewalk, offering him her loveliest, most charming smile. “So, what do you think?”

“I think your smile could cut me at the knees. Is there something else I'm supposed to be noticing?”

“Yes, Will. Look right.”

He'd been too distracted by the sight of his wife's smile and those Irish green eyes to notice what she was gesturing to.

It was a shining, silver two-seater. A BMW Z-8 roadster. It was a match to the car he'd sold two years ago, days before he'd married Elizabeth. This was a curve-hugging, speed-loving sports car, a quarter-of-a-million pound purchase. He'd traded it in for a four-door years ago, for Elizabeth's sake. Sports cars were flashy. Luxury made Elizabeth squirm---she'd been more comfortable with the four door. And yet, two years later, here it was. If not the same car, than one just like it.

“You bought this back for me?”

“Yes. Though not with the pounds in my piggy bank,” she laughed. “I had to access the shared funds in one of your---our---accounts to pay for this. I know you always say it's our money, Will, but I swear to you I felt dizzy writing a check that big. I know you're wealthy. I know you could have made one phone call and bought this car, or a fleet of cars, over the last few years. But you sold this for me, and I know how you loved it, and I know it's extravagant, but you're only young once and we don't have kids yet, and I thought you might like it, so---”

Will cut off her words, catching her in a heated kiss. Behind them, one of the doormen grinned. The other ducked his head, looking intently at the ferns planted by the door.

“I love it,” Will murmured when his drew back. “I love you. This is nothing I would have done for myself. Want to take it around the block?”

Elizabeth grinned. “Absolutely.”


Emma and George Knightley arrived early. Emma came with quite a few eager suggestions to help Lizzie with the hors d'oeuvres, then begged to see Lizzie's dress for the night. George came with the offer to clear out the apartment whenever Will grew tired of company, and offered to take a stroll around the London block.

“You're a good friend, Knightley,” Will said as the men ambled down the block. “Often a better friend than I deserved growing up.”

“I wouldn't put it like that.”

"I would." Will studied the skyline. "I tested your patience plenty when we were teens."

“Will," George Knightley's serious mouth curved to a grin, "if anyone tested my patience at that age, it was the blonde and beautiful American who's currently talking to your wife. Thirty's making you feel reflective, huh?”

“More than I thought it would.”

Knightley nodded. “Just wait. Kids will do that for you, too. They've done that for Emma and I.”

“Kids..." Will's brow furrowed. “Plural?"

“Yep.” George Knightley grinned. “We found out last week.”

“Wow." Will whistled. "Were you and Emma...”

“Planning on having another baby so soon? Here's the thing," he lowered his voice, "we've both been so busy with work, and Laura wakes us half the night. I don't mind it, Will. But when Emme and I finally do get some time alone together, we don't always remember to...”

“Take precautions?”

“Yeah. So we talked about it awhile back, Emma and I. We both decided that we were ready for another child. Laura's the light of our lives, Will. So we just decided to stop worrying and let whatever happens, happen. And now, what do you know, she's pregnant again.”

“I'm glad for you.” A broad grin flashed across Will's face. “Congratulations. You're a great father, George. You and Fred, both.”

"You would be too, Will, I'm sure of it."

Will laughed. "Knightley, trust me, right now my sister makes me feel like father enough. Just wait till Laura turns sixteen. Georgiana's getting into all sorts of things. Makeup. Clothing. Just wait till she starts talking about boys."

George Knightley chuckled. "Why do you think I'm learning to use the phrase 'go talk to your mother'?"

In the privacy of the bedroom, Elizabeth and Emma were also confiding in each other. Today Emma wore a white blouson dress and matching heels. She'd settled at the edge of their bed. Elizabeth, per her request, was in the center of the bedroom, showing Emma her dress for the evening.

“What do you think?” Elizabeth asked, spinning once. Her party dress was a delicate rose shade. The dress hem fluttered as she spun. It had a short, pleated skirt, and a halter neck that tied in the back. With Emma's help, she'd pinned her hair up in an elegant chignon. “This dress isn't too short, is it?”

“It's plenty short, and Will's going to absolutely love it. He'll get that look in his eyes. Like he's the wolf, and you're red riding hood.”

“Emma!” Elizabeth laughed.

“Well, it's true. You and Will are adorable.” Emma sighed happily. “After seeing you dance in the Nutcracker this Christmas, Laura's now convinced you've sprung out of a storybook. She thinks you're a fairy.”

“Emme, that wee little girl of yours melts me into a puddle.”

“She melts me, too. I hope she likes being a sister by November.”

Elizabeth's eyes widened. “Truly, Emme?”


“Already?” Elizabeth laughed. She moved to the bed, settling beside her. Best female friends, she would later tell Will, really did share nearly everything with one another—if not specifics, than at least the generalities. She'd known for some time that the pair were trying for a second baby. "I wasn't sure how long it would take.”

“Well, we stayed with Daddy at Hartfield in early February, and he always keeps a nanny on staff for us, which means George and I had more time alone together. And anyway, a few weeks of that, and it just...happened. George is moving out of ER work, and into family medicine, and I've started painting at home, and...”

Another friend pregnant. Anne Wentworth had just given birth that winter to a bouncing baby boy, Michael.

“You'll be having a baby in the same year as Anne and Fred,” Elizabeth teased. “Again!”

“I know. Wouldn't it be funny if our children ended up close? Laura and Adrian, or Michael Wentworth and...well, whoever this little one is going to be. I don't know why, but the very thought makes me teary.”

Elizabeth squeezed her hand. “That's just because your pregnant, Emme.”

“Yes. Want to go back to the kitchen so I can cry over the hors d'oeuvres?”

“I'd love to.”

Guests started arriving at the flat around 7:00. Richard Fitzwilliam arrived with a hug for Will on his birthday, and a box of his favorite Virginia bourbon. Andie was currently in the fourth month of her first— and, she swore, her only--- pregnancy. She was having twins. She'd cut her black hair into a bob. As sophisticated as ever, she wore lemon yellow silk with a drop-waist and long sleeves.

Richard was still stationed in Florida, and they'd be remaining there for the duration of the summer, through the remainder of Andie's pregnancy and past the birth. Will's birthday would be their last trip to England before the twins' arrival.

Andie announced herself to be pleasantly tired and settled on the couch. Richard went search of a cork screw for the bourbon.

“Richard, I'll open that." Will moved behind his cousin, pulling a cork screw from one drawer. He was wearing trousers, a pressed shirt and a tailored waistcoat.

“Lizzie, you're looking beautiful," Richard greeted Elizabeth as she moved toward the kitchen. "New dress?”

"You like it?" she asked.

Richard greeted his cousin-in-law with a kiss to her right cheek. "Who wouldn't?"

"Richard," Will spoke up, "My wife has one Fitzwilliam here to flirt with her. She doesn't need two." Will eyed Elizabeth with an appreciative grin, then pulled the cork from the bottle. "Even if you are right about the dress."

She always blushed like a school girl when he smiled at her like that.

“And is this fellow still treating you right?” asked Richard.

“Always,” said Elizabeth. The doorbell rang again. She moved toward the door, hearing bits of their conversation amongst the party chit-chat.

“The bourbon's not your only present," said Richard. "I brought you a cigar, too, Will."

Elizabeth's nose wrinkled. “Smoking, Richard?”

“No, no,” said Richard. “It's to celebrate when the babies are born. Due date's in August.”

The door opened to reveal fair-haired Frederick Wentworth and his beautiful Spanish wife Anne.

“Who's due in August?” Frederick questioned as he stepped into the apartment. Anne followed him with a smile. A bouquet of roses was pressed into Elizabeth's hands.

"That'd be my gorgeous wife, Andie,” Richard called out.

“Lizzie,” Anne gave Elizabeth a warm smile. “You're looking absolutely beautiful.”

“All these compliments,” Elizabeth teased. “Come in, come in. It's the birthday boy who deserves your attention today.”

She felt Will's hand touch her shoulder. His lips were warm against her ear.

“Compliments are offered where they're due,” he whispered in her ear. “You take my breath away.”

More guests entered. Blakeney and Marguerite arrived with a second cake, because Marguerite announced one could never have too many sweets at a party. Candy, Will's assistant at work, giddily confessed the story of how Charles Hayter had finally proposed. Will's football friends arrived, most of them with dates on their arms.

Anne Wentworth settled by Andie De Bourgh-Fitzwilliam. Together they skimmed through photos of little Adrian and baby Michael, and discussed birthing preparations. Richard sat by Georgiana, talking with the young girl until he'd managed to bring a smile to her face.

Fred put on music. The light, playful rhythm filled the space. Couples, including Will and Elizabeth, started dancing. By the time the party wrapped, even Georgiana was laughing.

“Come stay with us tonight, Georgie,” Richard urged Georgiana as he slipped on his leather jacket. Richard and Andie were the last to go.
“We have a hotel suite with an extra bed.”

“Oh, no, Richard. I couldn't. It's--” Georgiana hesitated, “I'm headed back to Bardwell on Sunday night. I don't want to be an imposition.”

“It's no trouble,” Andie confirmed. “We'd love your company for an evening.”

“Exactly. Come on, Georgie,” Richard urged her. “We're staying at the Delshire Grand. Cable and room service. We'll do it up. It'll be a pre-baby celebration.”

Georgiana looked back at Will and Elizabeth. “Would you mind terribly, Will? It is your birthday, after all.”

“Georgie,” Will spoke, “if you'd like to spend some time with Andie and Richard, we certainly don't mind.”

"You're sure?"

"Go have fun, sweetheart.”

“Thank you!” With a small skip of excitement, Georgiana ran for her overnight bag.

Andie pressed a kiss to Will's cheek, a knowing smile on her lips. “Goodnight, birthday boy. Enjoy your time with Lizzie."

"Night, Andie." Will kissed her back, his lips soft on her cheek. Even before her marriage to Richard, Andromeda Yang-De Bourgh had always been a second sister to him.

"Georgiana," Andromeda said, "I'll meet you in the elevator.”

“All set, Georgie?” Richard called out.

“I'm ready. I'm ready!” Georgiana emerged from her bedroom holding up her overnight bag. “Will, I've never stayed at the Delshire.”

“It's a beautiful hotel,” Will assured her.

“With a beautiful view,” Elizabeth confirmed. “Goodnight, Georgie. We'll meet you at the hotel tomorrow?”

They stood by the door and watched the curly-haired teen follow Andromeda into the lift.

“Richard--” Will called out as Richard headed in after them. "Thank you."

The man glanced back, giving the pair a final grin. “Happy thirtieth, buddy.”

At last the door was shut. Will drew Elizabeth into his arms. Her hands slid up his chest.

“Having a nice birthday, Mr. Darcy?” she whispered, touching the buttons of his waistcoat. She started loosening them. Will grinned.

"The best yet." It was all he needed to say before his mouth caught hers.

Beautiful Celebrations: Part 2

BernadetteESeptember 12, 2016 02:22AM

Re: Beautiful Celebrations: Part 2

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BernadetteESeptember 15, 2016 02:43AM

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Re: Beautiful Celebrations: Part 2

LilySeptember 14, 2016 08:16AM

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Re: Beautiful Celebrations: Part 2

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