The Sweetest Ruin.doc
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The Sweetest Ruin
It surprised nobody, least of all Georgiana Blake, when Virginia's telephone call finally came. That,
however, did not soften the blow any as Georgiana listened to her older brother's personal assistant
quietly inform her that William had been rushed to the hospital with a possible heart attack.
Georgiana had calmly called her husband, Jeremy, and her Aunt Cate then drove to the hospital where
she was directed to a lavish private room. Nothing but the best for William Darcy. She grit her teeth
as she put her hand on the door and pushed. She hated hospitals and she hated the fact that her
brother was just beyond this door. She had been telling him to slow down for years, knowing that
something like this would happen. So angry she could hit him, Georgiana took a deep breath before
He was in his bed, his skin a pasty shade of white, with a tube in his nose and an IV in his arm.
Virginia had already brought fine silk pajamas because God forbid William Darcy be reduced to
wearing a paper hospital gown.
"Damn you," she growled.
"I'm not asleep, Gee."
William opened his eyes, smiling tenderly at the worry lines around his sister's eyes. She only scowled
"Don't do that, you plank."
"Do what?" He asked dryly.
"Oh, hell. I don't know. How about almost dying?"
"They aren't even sure what is wrong yet, Georgiana."
"Don't patronize me, William! What if it's something bad? You're thirty-two bloody years old! I'd like to
keep you around for a few more years."
William closed his eyes against her unending tirade. He had heard it all before but she proceeded to
scold him about the hours he worked and the vacations he didn't take. She accused him of not having
a life outside of D&B, but what Georgiana had never understood was that Darcy & Bingley
Investments was his life. She moved onto the 'gaining a hobby, making friends and doing something
out side of work' part of the speech. Occasionally, to avoid her nagging, William had tried, but it never
lasted. Social niceties had never appealed to him and he wasn't about to just sit around and relax. No,
William Darcy didn't sit on the sidelines. William Darcy played the game.
There was a soft knock on the door and, after Georgiana bade admittance, Caroline poked her head in.
"Look, Will, Carrie brought you flowers."
Caroline blushed slightly, embarrassed at being noticed it seemed and set them on the dresser in the
corner of the room. She put her purse next to it and, with a deep breath, faced William. Gingerly, she
took his hand, calming only when he proved corporeal.
"You have officially scared the hell out of me," she whispered, her green eyes full of worry.
"I'm sorry," he responded gently as he squeezed her hand. He leveled his gaze at both of them and
said: "It wasn't as if I had this on my calendar today."
Huffing, Caroline scowled at him. "This isn't funny."
He squeezed her hand again, let go, and stared at the television remote that was built into the bed.
He wanted to watch the evening financial reports, but was slapped sharply on the hand for his efforts.
With a glare at his sister, he rubbed the back of his wounded paw.
"What?" He asked again.
"No work. That's what got you in here in the first goddamn place. Carrie, help me out here."
Caroline's wide bright green eyes stared at him intently, invoking the guilt that Georgiana had failed to
inspire. His hand fell to his stomach as he glared at her. She had always had the innate ability of
bending William to her will with a mere glance. He groaned.
"Using those big eyes of yours is unfair, Caroline."
She leaned forward, brushing a soft kiss across his cheek. "But if it keeps you alive I consider it a fair
Suddenly tired, William sighed. And, it was at that moment, that Jane bustled in. Her blonde hair was
in a severe bun, no doubt accomplishing its mission of restricting the oxygen flow to her small, socially
aware brain. What Charles had seen in Jane William was sure to never know. There seemed to be no
two people more mismatched on the planet than Jane and Charles Bingley.
He had to stifle the chuckle that bubbled up when he saw Georgiana and Caroline's matching scowls.
Neither of them cared much for Jane. The blonde in Burberry swooped down on him like a hawk on a
field mouse. Her fingers glided over his cheek like she was checking for fever and her eyes full of
feigned concern. William was half her meal ticket after all.
"Hello, Jane," he mumbled.
"William, William, William!" She cried. "What were you thinking? Do you know how utterly terrified we
all are? Why Charles is flying back from St. Petersburg this very moment!"
"I'm sorry to have put a crimp in anybody's plans, Jane."
"Oh, darling, nevermind that. You just get better."
"Jane dear, why don't we leave Will and Gee alone?" Caroline asked, her eyes flicking toward
Georgiana to inform her of her heavy debt. "Will is probably very tired and he doesn't need us
bothering him so."
Quickly, Caroline ushered her sister-in-law out of the room, leaving the Darcy siblings to themselves.
William cocked his eyebrow, expecting Georgiana to resume her lecture, but she didn't. Instead, she
pulled a chair close to his bed and took his hand.
"I don't want to lose you. If you leave me alone and I have to deal with Jane, I will resurrect your ass
faster than you can say 'Lazarus.'"
"You won't lose me."
"You can't say that, especially not after today. There are no guarantees in this life, Will." She looked
down at their joined hands and braced herself. He wasn't going to like what she had to say next. "I
"Dammit, Georgiana! Didn't the doctors inform you that I was to avoid stress?"
"Yes, and Aunt Cate is going to help me."
William snorted incredulously. "How the bloody hell is she going to do that? The old bat takes delight
in telling us what is wrong in our lives."
"No, William, she delights in telling you what is wrong. She approves of my lifestyle because I have a
life outside the walls of my company."
He sighed heavily, realizing he was trapped in a no-win situation. It was an unusual feeling for him.
William Darcy did not like losing, but as he took in his sister's truly worried face, he understood a little
what his episode had cost her. Besides Catherine, he and Richard were the only family she had left.
Tenderly, he reached for her cheek and wrapped his fingers around, holding her by the neck, bringing
her face down a little.
"I am sorry that this happened, sweetheart. Don't be scared, okay? I'll get better and everything shall
be fine." He pulled her down, his lips skimming her smooth cheek.
"Hey, I thought when I married you that we'd agreed not kiss other people."
They looked up to find a tall, handsome fellow with perpetually messy brown hair. Whether he was in
a suit, like now, or a soccer uniform, Jeremy Blake's hair could not be tamed regardless of the
products used on it.
"I didn't think my brother counted," Georgiana replied, her perfect brow curving as her lips followed
suit. She approached her husband and pressed her lips to his. "Hello."
"Hello." Jeremy smiled that smile that only appeared when Georgiana was near. He glanced at his
brother-in-law and shook his head. "I had a game tonight. You always know how to get more
attention, you arse."
"I could still fire you, you know. I'm not dead yet."
"Don't say that!" Georgiana cried. "Don't even think it!"
His dry humor besting his sense of decorum, William leveled a gaze at her then Jeremy. "Could you
please become a rotten husband so she'll stop nagging me?"
He merely smiled.
Finally, after more banter and a lecture given after Georgiana found Jeremy discussing work while
she'd been in the restroom, Virginia arrived, followed by Caroline, who had managed to convince Jane
to wait for Charles at home.
"Hell, hell, the gang's all here and bossy as ever," William moaned miserably after another attempt at
checking the stock reports failed.
"I have cancelled all your appointments for the next week," his assistant began, relishing the look of
abject horror on his face. She could barely contain her laughter at Georgiana's triumphant grin. "You'll
be in for tests all week, sir. You won't have time to tend to business. Mr. Bingley can handle what
needs to be taken care of. The rest can wait."
"Virginia, I beg your pardon, but Mr. Harrison will only deal with me and I had a meeting with him first
"And now I have a meeting with him," Jeremy said. "D&B will go on and we'll do fine until you get
back. Till then, Will, you might as well quit fighting us. You should save your strength for when Aunt
A nurse slipped into the room to inform them that visiting hours would soon be over.
"Miss Wyler," said Georgiana, looking at the nurse's nameplate, "My brother desperately needs his
rest. Is there anyway to disconnect his remote control to remove the temptation of watching cartoons
William's face grew red, but nobody could tell if it was embarrassment or anger and the nurse paid no
"Yes, Mrs. Blake. I can take care of that."
"What about what I want?" William whined.
"Shut up," came from a chorus of voices.
The nurse chuckled and unplugged the wall-mounted television then left before the rich man could fire
"I'm taking you out of my will," William grumbled.
"Okay," Georgiana replied. "As long as you're eighty or so before I find out you disowned me."
She bent and kissed his forehead, waited for Jeremy as he shook William's hand, and they left,
Jeremy's arm wrapped around his wife's small waist.
"Virginia, now that my sister is gone, would you please plug the television in?"
"I'll fire you."
"With all due respect, sir, Mr. Bingley would only hire me back."
"Gin-" he warned.
With a deep breath that might have been interpreted as acquiescence, she stood, but a moment later
she was gathering her coat and briefcase. She smiled sweetly at him. "Goodnight, sir."
"You're fired," he grumbled.
"I'll see you tomorrow."
"No, you won't because you're fired."
"I'll see you tomorrow."
William looked at Caroline helplessly as Virginia walked out of the room. She shook her head, smiling
"Carrie, what's wrong?"
Gently, she touched his chest, willing his heart to be better.
"All my life you've been there. Do you have any idea how scary it is for me to think of a world without
you in it? You're more than my brother's best friend, Will. You're family. I depend on you as much I
depend on Charles. You can't leave me."
The desperation in her voice was not lost on him. Between Georgiana's worry and Caroline's utter fear
he was forced to submit. He couldn't ignore the feelings of the two women most important to him, so
he would let them have their way. For now.
"I don't suppose-" he began, glancing at the television.
"Not on your life, you horrible man."
"I love you, Carrie, you know that right? I will always take care of you."
"I know, Will, but first you need to take care of yourself." She leaned down, kissed him briefly, and
went home, shaken and unbearably frightened.
"So, I'm fine?"
"Well, I wouldn't go so far as to say that," Dr. Jensen said, looking at William over the top of her
tortoise shell glasses. "This anxiety attack was severe. You still need treatment."
"But my heart is alright?"
"For now," she replied cryptically.
"It's either fine or it isn't, Eve."
"Who's the doctor here, Will? I said 'for now' and I meant it. You keep up these stress levels and you
could do some serious damage. I'm prescribing bedrest, complete bedrest, and an antianxiety
medication. And because I know you, I've already spoken to Gee about your treatment. There will be
no getting around me this time, William."
With a glare, William sank back into his pillows and crossed his arms over his chest like a petulant
child. His sister had become his keeper. He wondered if she had already moved back into the
"As it stands you may go home. Gee is waiting outside, ready to see that you follow my advice."
"For how long?"
"I want to see you back here for tests in six weeks."
"William, fight me on this and I'll make it eight."
"Do you know what will happen to my company if I'm not there for six weeks?"
"It will go on. Charles is very capable of running things and Jeremy is no slouch." Eve leaned down,
touching the tip of her finger to William's nose. "You didn't any arguments with me when we dated.
You aren't going to win them with me now."
"You see now why we didn't last," he hissed as she straightened.
"No, I think we didn't last because I met my husband."
As if on cue, her husband appeared, followed by Georgiana. Laying a kiss on her cheek, Richard
Fitzwilliam threw a glance at his cousin then looked back at Eve.
"This bloke giving my beautiful wife fits? I'll gladly pummel him for you."
"No need. I think he's going to be beaten down enough in the next few weeks. We are here to break
his spirit after all."
William grumbled something unintelligible except for the words 'horrid' and 'family.'
They gathered his things as he disappeared into the bathroom to dress. Eve gave Georgiana her
instructions and told her what time her shift ended in case she was needed.
"I'm not on tonight, but I want you to call me if he causes you any trouble. I have no problem getting
Georgiana smiled appreciatively. She dreaded getting William home, knowing that he was going to be
anything but happy upon seeing that Catherine was going to be his caretaker. There had been nothing
else she could do. She had a new shop opening in Los Angeles and Jeremy's workload increased with
William's absence. Caroline was in school and her term wasn't close to being up. She couldn't inflict
Jane on him. Catherine was the only choice they had.
"Want to go really fast?" Richard asked as William settled into the wheelchair that he'd insisted on.
There was a glimmer in his eyes that soon turned to disappointment when William adamantly
responded in the negative. "You have no sense of adventure."
"Last time you and I shared an adventure I ended up with a tattoo and a broken rib," William replied
dryly. "And I don't believe I received them in that precise order."
"Didn't you also get a raging case of herpes?"
"Eve, tell your husband to leave me alone."
"Richard, be nice to William. He's very sick after all."
"I am not," he whined.
"Shut up," replied the party in unison.
"Is that my nephew?" Catherine's voice echoed through the halls of the old townhouse. "William?
"What about me?" Richard muttered. "That old bat has always thought I was chopped liver."
"I heard that, Richard," Catherine said, coming around the corner. She was dressed in pale pink
jogging pants and a loud yellow rainslicker. She was carrying Macintoshes in her hand.
"Aunt Cate, it isn't raining outside," William pointed out.
"I know that. Do you think I'm a fool? I was just giving Reggie his bath."
William sighed, rolled his head and shoulders to release tension, and delivered an angry glare at his
sister. Not only was Catherine in his house, but she had brought Reginald, her outrageously stupid
and hyper Yorkshire terrier, whom William couldn't stand.
"Wait a minute. If Reggie is here, where is Wellington?"
"Oh, that beast? He's in the yard. He scared poor Reggie to pieces."
"Aunt Cate, my dog is not going to be kicked out of his own house by your tiny mutt," he growled. He
stomped past the party, intent on letting his Boxer eat his aunt's terrier if he so desired.
"Well, being ill certainly hasn't made him any more agreeable," Catherine muttered. "Are you sure this
is the right thing to do?"
"We have no choice, Aunt Cate," Georgiana replied. "He won't take care of himself if left to his own
devices and nobody else can stay with him."
"Well, I could," said Richard. "I am a useless layabout, but I'm busy doing that."
Catherine tapped Richard's shoulder gently as she admonished him. He, in turn, bent and kissed her
"I shall be by as often as I can to keep him occupied, Aunt Cate," he told her. "Though I may have to
occupy you occasionally too. William can be a bastard when he's cranky."
"You don't say," she muttered wryly.
A moment later William and Wellington appeared, glared at his relatives, and went upstairs.
Richard smirked. "Oh, yes, a bastard indeed”.
Catherine set her teacup down and looked at William sternly. He was watching the television with
Wellington curled up on the couch at his master's feet snoring loudly. William was listlessly flipping
through channels and more than once Catherine had just started to get interested in something when
he changed stations.
"Would you make that dog stop that racket?"
She sighed. "We have four more weeks to spend together, William. Could you at least try to make an
"Aunt Cate, I feel perfectly healthy and yet I have been exiled from my office for no good reason.
Also, I'm a grown man who doesn't need a babysitter, yet nobody feels comfortable enough to leave
me alone. Frankly, I'm shocked that you haven't started sleeping on a rollaway in my room."
"Don't be vulgar. We're trying to do what is best for you. You may feel fine, but it's the stress of your
job that brought all this about in the first place. Do you not understand that?"
"I thrive on the stress," he muttered, his lip sticking out in a pout without his realizing it.
"Nobody thrives on that much stress, William," she pointed out.
William shifted uncomfortably. For two weeks solid, he'd barely been in his house without every
person he knew, including Jane, buzzing around like he was about to die. It was grating on his already
thin nerves and Catherine's presence, while possibly not really as irritating as he made it out to be,
just exacerbated his frustration. He looked down at Wellington, who had laid his head across William's
calves, and counted backwards from ten, trying to keep his anger in check.
For as long as he could remember, William had been in charge of his own destiny and to be told, to be
ordered into passivity was unacceptable. Suddenly, something flashed through his mind and the
corner of his lip involuntarily curled minutely. It was perfect.
"You know, Aunt Cate, you're right. Stress isn't good for anybody. I'm going to be a better patient
from now on."
Catherine eyed him suspiciously. "Why the sudden change of heart?"
"I shouldn't take it out on you. It isn't your fault that you were the only one available to nurse me."
Her lips pressed together, not quite believing that he was sincere, but, after two weeks of fighting with
him to eat properly, relax, and enjoy life a little, Catherine was more than a little tired and decided
that her nephew was worth taking at his word.
"We love you, William. You know that, right?"
Even with his aunt's rare utterance of those words, William refused to give into guilt about the
newborn plan that took root in his mind. Instead he smiled at her and leaned over to pat her hand.
Wellington stirred at his feet.
"Aunt Cate, there's nothing in this world that means more to me." Except my freedom. He stood,
Wellington instantly awake and at his side, and dropped a kiss on the old dowager's forehead. "I think
I'm going to go take a nap."
Catherine nodded and patted the hand he placed on her shoulder momentarily. She was snoring
soundly when he slipped out the front door.
Elizabeth moaned and threw her head back. Her frustration was evident as she rolled her shoulders,
tossed the napkin onto her plate, and pushed it across the table.
"I hate financial aid," she grumbled. "I hate it with the fire of a thousand suns, Thad. Couldn't you just
blow it up for me?"
Thad Harmon smiled and covered her cheek with his long fingers. His smile was brilliant, his eyes full
"No, my darling girl, I cannot. It would simply ruin my new Prada shoes."
Elizabeth rolled her eyes. "You might want to work on that. You don't sound gay enough."
"Well, the fact that I sleep with men covers that so I'm good. They won't kick me out of the gay mafia
just yet. Anyway, back to the task at hand. How much are you getting next semester?"
"My financial aid is about $800 and that doesn't even cover my stupid tuition let alone my books. I
would have been fine had I not gotten that damn raise. Who would have ever thought I'd complain
about making too much money?"
"You could always just marry me and be my fag hag for life. I'm loaded."
"You're a whore," Elizabeth muttered.
Thad leaned back in his seat. "You know I love to see you bitchy. It gets me all hot and bothered, but
there's no need to take your anger out on me, love. We'll get through this, just like everything else.
Now, be nice."
"I'm sorry. You aren't a whore, though Damien keeps you rolling in it." Elizabeth smirked and Thad
leaned in to kiss her cheek.
"Doesn't he though? I think I might keep him."
Elizabeth's eyes lit up. "Are you serious? Are you going to ask Damien to marry you? Oh, Thad!" She
threw her arms around her friend, excited beyond words.
"Whoa! Slow your roll, junior! One step at a time. Not marriage, not yet. I do, however, think I want
him to move in with me."
Thad had been her best friend for almost five years. He'd been a TA teaching one of her freshman
courses and they had just clicked instantly as some people tend to do. She thought about this as she
sat back and chewed her lip while she studied him thoughtfully. He had just gotten out of a bad long-
term relationship when they'd met and had only started dating again a couple of years ago.
"Damien really loves you. Don't you know that? I can see it in the way he looks at you. If a man
looked at me like that I think I'd melt on the spot."
"I look at you with love all the time," Thad replied, winking.
She wrinkled her nose. "Not quite the same thing, my darling boy."
"I suppose you're right. You won't be happy until some schmuck off the street makes a grand
entrance and sweeps you off your feet."
"You think you know me so well," she muttered, sipping her iced tea.
"Lizzy, when was the last time you went out on a date with a man who actually yearns for the touch of
A guilty look passed over her face as she sat the drink down. "Hey, you try finding a guy in a town full
of queens and male dancers. Anyway, I've been busy."
"Too busy, Elizabeth. I'm going to find you a nice straight male and you're going to go out on a date."
"No. Thad, the last time you set me up with a 'nice straight male' we shopped for shoes all night."
"How was that a bad thing?"
"Thad! The stilettos were for him!"
"Okay," Thad replied, his voice laced with resignation, "He was a cross dresser, but he was straight."
She sighed. "No dates, Thad. I mean it. I have too much on my plate right now anyway."
Thad picked a tiny puff of lint from his linen trousers and frowned. Despite his best efforts, he could
never convince Elizabeth that she needed somebody. In his opinion, his dearest friend was entirely too
dependent and focused. She needed somebody who would give her everything she deserved;
somebody who would reawaken the passion that had gone dormant inside.
"Fine, but next time your horny do not ask to borrow my vibrator."
Elizabeth just hung her head and laughed.
It was an airport like a thousand other airports in the world: full of tired, cranky people who just
wanted to get where they were going. What struck him though were the few garishly dressed people
that seemed to float through the crowd like polyester pantsuits on an haute couture runway. Honestly,
after all his travels he knew that bad taste was universal, but these people went beyond poor taste
and right into fashion accident.
There was the man in the pale blue leisure suit with the black and silver satin shirt glaring beneath it
and the woman with the pleather clothing that was at least three sizes too small. He shook his head,
helpless to say or do anything, at the tall, lanky young woman who nearly toppled on her five inches
stilettos while walking in her ankle length mermaid skirt.
After seeing the clothing tragedies around him, he became satisfied that he'd definitely picked the
right place on which to exact his revenge. William moved over to the baggage claim and waited on his
luggage, relieved when it showed up. He would have hated having to buy clothes here in this town.
For a moment a twinge of guilt nibbled at his conscience, but he quickly pushed it away. He was a
grown man, after all, simply taking the vacation that his family had urged him to take. Of course, he
was taking it in the vilest place he could think of: Las Vegas. His stodgy British sensibilities told him
that to come to a place this tacky and obnoxious would teach his family to wish he'd take more
After claiming his bags, William went to the rental car counter where he smoothly talked the chatty
girl behind it into giving him a Jag for the price of a Volkswagon then he drove around the city, unable
to help being slightly awed by all the bright lights in the middle of the desert.
Finally, William found his hotel, a large, luxurious sprawl that was as elegant as anything he had ever
seen. He had heard rumors of the palace-like Venetian hotel, but he had not expected something so
mammoth. Of course, he thought, it would be mammoth. The bloody thing had an actual Venetian-
style canal in it.
He checked in and was taken to his suite, where, upon seeing the huge, thick mattress on the bed,
jetlag immediately set in and William Darcy, his escape finally getting the better of him, gave in and
took a nap.
The one good thing about being a server in the high-roller rooms was that you didn't have disgusting
drunks pawing you like you did down in the slots. The disadvantage was that most of the time the rich
guys didn't paw, they just assumed. Over the years, Elizabeth had had few incidents with richies that
couldn't take no for an answer, but they had been few and far between. Most of them usually ignored
her after she rebuffed them firmly, but some of them just couldn't let a sleeping dog lie.
Like this guy who was currently standing in her way.
"Come on, sweetness. You ought to let me buy you a drink. If I like you enough, I could take you
away from all this," the heavyset man with the comb-over and onion breath crooned. He ran a finger
down Elizabeth's arm.
Glancing around for Lewis or Phil, the room's security guards, and not seeing them, Elizabeth scowled.
What the hell good was security if they were never around? She rolled her eyes, making a note to
taunt Phil about liking Superman over Batman later.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Dooley, but it's against hotel policy for me to accept gifts from patrons. You
"Quit your job, honey. You're too good for a joint like this."
Elizabeth bit her lip. Her job paid well and she didn't have to wear a skimpy outfit like those poor
shlubs down at the slots. It wasn't as if she planned on being a cocktail waitress for the rest of her life
"Mr. Dooley, please let me by. I think Mr. Victor is ready for another gin and tonic." Elizabeth craned
her neck, pretending to look at Hugo Victor, her favorite patron. He was kind and tipped well and he
reminded her of her grandfather.
"Oh, Victor can wait for his damn drink. I won't let you go until you say you'll come out with me
She sighed heavily then felt a hand on the small of her back. Looking to her right she met a broad
expanse of chest in a dapper navy blue suit. Gazing upward she saw a devastatingly handsome
gentleman with dark brown hair and warm cocoa-colored eyes. He was smiling gently at her, both
hands now at his sides.
"Miss, would you mind showing me to Tony Vito's regular table? I can't seem to find him."
"Certainly, sir. Mr. Dooley, if you'll excuse me," Elizabeth said politely. She stepped away from him,
leading the handsome man into another of the private rooms off the main area where she'd been
"Thank you for that," Elizabeth said, smiling.
"You're welcome, but you have to promise me something, miss."
Her eyes narrowed. "What?"
"Don't let him trap you again. If I have to keep rescuing you I'm going to have to come up with more
creative excuses and I'm afraid I...
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