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 It wasn't a car. It was a work of art. The tiny, sleek Jaguar roadster sat in the parking space like the
  Hope diamond. The fluorescent lights above caught and bounced at every angle. It gleamed like a
                    gem to firelight. The platinum paint job was smooth, flawless.


  But, while the car was a beauty to behold, it did not change the fact that it was parked in William
Darcy's spot. What good was running an empire if it could not guarantee him a parking spot in his own
  company garage? He grumbled to himself while he trucked along searching for a space that could
 accommodate his massive, custom Land Rover. Glancing at the dashboard clock he saw that it was
                                                8:27am.


                               He was officially very late for his meeting.


 At 8:39, his car sat cockeyed in two spots that were at least five minutes from the lift. Ten minutes
   after that, William burst into the reception area of his office. His secretary, Laurelen, gave him a
                                            mock-stern look.


 "Good morning, sir," she said as she stood. She approached him with her eyes narrowed. Reaching
 out, Laurelen straightened his tie. "Honestly, you'd think Clara never bothered to look at you before
                                         you leave the house."


William pursed his lips and raised an eyebrow. "If she knew you were my secretary, she might not let
                                           me come to work."


  Laurelen, a tall, leggy blonde who could've made movies instead of memorandums, pushed a grey
ceramic mug into William's hand. "Hmmmm, pity then. Perhaps I should call her. I could get so much
                           more done around here if you never showed up."


 He took a sip of his coffee as Laurelen informed him that Georgie had canceled their lunch date, but
                                           Richard had called.


                                    "So what am I doing for lunch?"


                                "Eating with Richard at the Hedgehog."
                                 William groaned. "I hate that place."


                        "I know. That's why I suggested it," Laurelen grinned.


             He narrowed his eyes. "You know, one of these days I'm going to fire you."


    "Promises, promises. Now, get in your office. Your eight o'clock has been waiting since 7:50."


Glancing at the clock behind Laurelen's desk, William cursed quietly. An hour. He was an hour late for
 his meeting. What an impression to make on that poor girl! He let himself into his office, apologizing
              as he entered. He rushed to his desk to set down his coffee and briefcase.


       "Please, forgive me, Miss...ah, Bennet. Had a bit of trouble in the garage this morning."


                                "You realize my time is very valuable?"


"Again, Miss Bennet-" Will stopped himself as he looked at her for the first time. He wasn't sure what
he'd been expecting but the woman who sat before him was absolutely not what he'd had in mind. He
noticed her legs first. They were long and shapely. She had them crossed elegantly, sitting in the chair
  as if it were a throne. She was svelte in her light blue suit. Her hair was a most unusual shade of
auburn, not seeming to settle on one color. Her eyes were the color of dark chocolate and they stared
                                          at him impatiently.


                                "Mr. Darcy? Are you listening to me?"


  "Oh, yes. I'm sorry. It's just that, you know, when one thing goes wrong everything else seems to
follow. I think I'm having a day like that." He gave her a grin that should have been charming, but her
         face didn't soften, her body didn't relax. She almost looked like a cardboard cutout.


                                     "Can we talk business now?"


      "Right," William, seeing that he would not be allowed an inch, decided against any further
pleasantries. If she was going to be unfriendly there was nothing he could do about it. "Let's get down
                                             to business."


                     "Finally," she muttered softly, thinking he couldn't hear her.
   William ignored the comment. "Let me introduce myself properly. I'm William Darcy. My friends,
                                        however, call me Will."


               He'd try one more time to extend the olive branch. It was her turn now.


                      No deal. "Elizabeth Bennet. You may call me Miss Bennet."


 William nodded. For all her beauty, she had a very ugly demeanor. He switched gears into "business
 mode" and sat down at his desk. She leaned back in her chair elegantly and waited for him to begin.


  "Miss Bennet, I am looking for a designer who can take on a massive job that may last months. As
     you know, there is a manor house in Derbyshire that has been in my family for generations.


 "My sister and I have never lived at Pemberley but we would eventually like to put it to use. Many of
the rooms have fallen into disrepair. We want to keep everything as original as possible while updating
                                           here and there."


                           "Is there anybody there now? Is it inhabitable?"


                                      "We employ a caretaker."


She nodded slowly as if considering something. "It won't be as much of a challenge as Ballycraighead,
                            but I suppose it would be an interesting job."


  William sat back in his chair, aghast by her snobbery. She was smug and overconfident. He nearly
                                     ordered her out of his office.


    "If you don't want the job, Miss Bennet, I have heard that Madeleine Avery has expressed and
                                               interest."


 "That bloody hack! I have more taste in my finger than that Princess Diana plate hanging troll has in
                                           her whole body."


                              William remained silent and unconvinced.


 Elizabeth stood, leaning on his desk. "I am not the most likable person you will ever meet. But I am
 the best. I have the qualifications and the talent. I will make Pemberley so grand the Queen herself
 will envy you. If you want second-rate by all means hire Madeleine Avery. You will have more plastic
                        flowers that smell real than you know what to do with."


                          "You make a good case for yourself, Miss Bennet."


 She remained silent, waiting for his answer as he considered her. Slowly, he took another sip of his
 coffee. She was the best interior designer in all of England. She had turned Charles' droll flat into a
palace. He wouldn't have to endure her for more than a week after all. She would work at Pemberley.
                                        He would be in London.


                           "Miss Bennet, I believe you have yourself a job."




                                                 ***




Elizabeth slipped into the comforting leather seat of her vintage platinum Jaguar convertible roadster.
  It had been her father's car and sometimes she thought she could still catch a trace of him in it. In
     those moments, she missed him so much that she nearly choked on the pain of losing him.
 Sometimes she wasn't sure she'd ever recover, but, as Lydia had reminded her time and time again,
 she was supposed to live and by living her life as best she could, she honored the memory of both of
                                             their parents.


She turned the key in the ignition as her eyes settled on the wall before her. She groaned heavily and
  read the blatant sign. Mortified and humbled, she leaned her head against the steering wheel and
groaned loudly. Briefly, she wondered how she could have missed it then mentally kicked herself again
                                               and again.


                             'This space reserved for William Darcy, CEO.'


She was the reason she had been so completely rude this morning! She'd never been good at holding
 her tongue and, obviously, this morning's meeting with William Darcy had been no exception. There
  had been that moment when she knew she was in danger of losing the most important job of her
professional life, but, fortunately, Elizabeth Bennet thought quickly on her feet. She'd won it back from
   Maddy before Maddy even knew it was available to steal. Because Madeleine Avery was a hack.
 Because someplace with a history like Pemberley should belong to Elizabeth. In her heart of hearts,
 Elizabeth knew she was destined to bring Pemberley, the grandest estate in Derbyshire, back to life.
          After all, it had been the house that had spoken to her soul those many years ago.
"Christ, Lizzy! Good thing you didn't wear the pointed toe shoes. Those might have been painful while
            kicking your own ass," she muttered to her reflection in the rear view. "Idiot."


 She, however, knew now that she'd have to make amends with Pemberley's master. Being sociable
    had with anybody but her sisters and parents had never been her strong suit and, even then,
      sometimes, that was difficult. Some of her more distant relations even found her aloof and
 condescending. She just preferred inanimate objects of beauty to people. Though she was loathe to
admit it, she was painfully shy, unlike her other sisters. Jane and Kate both enjoyed people immensely
  and Lydia could be found onstage from time to time, either singing or acting. It was only Elizabeth
        who froze and nobody was quite certain as to why, except, perhaps, Elizabeth herself.


How could one compete with such an outgoing family? Her father, perhaps the quietest of the rest of
  the bunch, was the only one Elizabeth had really understood. Franny Bennet had been a talented
 singer and most of her daughters had inherited her thirst for recognition. Jane, a schoolteacher, was
 used to being noticed simply because of her angelic looks. Mary was less of a people person, but she
  had no trouble giving lectures to classrooms full of students and fellow academics. Kate, with her
           multi-colored hair and eccentric style of dress, practically screamed 'look at me.'


  Strangers brought out the worst in her so she tried to stay quiet when she was among people she
didn't know. If she could, in most situations, Elizabeth would just observe, doing her best at shrinking
 into the wallpaper. The only time she truly came alive was when she was asked about her passions:
architecture, antiques, design. When broached about preferring Gothic over Georgian, Elizabeth flared
     to life. She lived for the numbers and angles and fabrics and sixteenth century bric-a-brac.


   She'd been so nervous about meeting the famous William Darcy that she'd barely slept the night
before. She had seen photos of him in Lydia's magazines, but the photos did not come remotely close
to the real thing. Dark curls, dark eyes, confident stride. William Darcy was beyond gorgeous. He had
 an easy grace and a light in his eyes that seemed to know everything she was thinking. He took her
    by surprise and threw her off her game, which people didn't normally do. As a quiet observer,
    Elizabeth was used to pegging people as soon as she met them, but his fame had clouded her
judgment and colored her vision. She was sure he would be an arrogant, unfriendly businessman, the
                    type she had met before. The type she knew how to deal with.


    But he was not what she expected of a man worth millions, possibly billions, of pounds. She'd
                                   expected a shark and got a guy.
 So shocked by him that she'd almost thrown the most sought-after job in England down the toilet. It
 was one of the grand old houses of England, built in the middle of the seventeenth century by Liam
  Darcy. Gossip about the renovation of the manor had begun when talk of Will Darcy marrying his
  longtime girlfriend, Clara Ludlow, arose. Decorators were chomping at the bit to get to Darcy. Any
  designer who tackled Pemberley and got the Darcy seal of approval would have buckets of money
                   thrown at them if they even thought of offering to redo a home.


 And Elizabeth had one weapon in her arsenal that many other designers did not. Before she'd gotten
    her design accreditation, Elizabeth had studied and received a degree, with highest honors, in
 architecture. She didn't just know about molding and marble. She knew how to build them into the
             work. On a project like Pemberley the degree was her most valuable asset.


  So she got the job. Elizabeth returned to her office, grinning from ear to ear. She sat down at her
 desk to continue working from the blueprints of Pemberley that she already had, the blueprints that
 she'd had for years, the blueprints that had changed her life all those years ago when she'd become
obsessed with what many called 'the grandest house in Derbyshire.' Forget Chatsworth. It was nothing
                  compared to Pemberley, or, at least the potential Pemberley had.


 So what if a few rooms had been ruined by a fire? Who cared if there were rooms that were rotting
and molding and would be the most challenging rescue projects of her career? It wasn't the challenge
                                 that she wanted. It was Pemberley.


   Soon, Elizabeth, surrounded by her design books, her pencils, her rulers, her research books on
seventeeth century interiors, lost all sense of the now. In this world, where her blood was on fire and
her eyes already danced upon the finished product, she was mistress. In this world she was a goddess
                                      of imagination and beauty.


                          It was hours before she came back to the present.
                                             Chapter Two




"A bloody ice queen! I couldn't have been closer to freezing to death if I had camped out naked at the
 North Pole!" William exclaimed as he pierced a sprig of asparagus. "I wonder if Charles found her as
                                              abrasive."

"Not likely," Richard replied. "He thinks Jack the bloody Ripper destroyed tags on mattresses. Not that
                              the old boy is dim mind you. Just...optimistic."

 "Too say the least." Will choked as he laughed. He was glad he'd not stood Richard up because he'd
              chosen to eat at this dreary hovel. Richard could always make him laugh.

The Hanging Hedgehog was one of London's many ancient pubs. Richard had discovered it sometime
 during college after leaving the flat of a particularly amorous encounter with a girl he'd just met. To
this day, Richard couldn't remember the girl's name, but he never forgot the wonderful fried fish that
  the Hedgehog served. Of course, many of Richard's friends refused to be seen in such a place, but
                                 William couldn't refuse; he was family.

"Why did George desert you today?" Richard asked, taking a swallow of Guinness. William gave him a
                                         look of disgust.

   "Really, a man of your wealth and position. You think you could drink something more sensible."

                               Richard ignored him. "Where's George?"

  "She told Laurelen that she and Jeremy had to meet with a florist. She's running around like she's
                               insane. I may be forced to commit her."

"That wouldn't prevent the wedding. In fact, I think your dear sister would marry anybody to get away
                                 from you," Richard said, grinning.

                                          "Not funny, Richard."

He looked at his plate as he chuckled. William was overly sensitive about his sister. When the wedding
    finally did happen, it was very likely going to kill William Darcy to have to part with his beloved
 Georgiana. He'd fought to give her the kind of home he thought his parents would have given her. A
 home filled with love and laughter and happiness. Richard wagered that he a succeeded more than
 any other man in his position might, but it had as much to do with Georgiana as it did with William.

    Georgiana Darcy had grown up into a beautiful young woman. She was poised on the verge of a
 brilliant career as a photographer and she was engaged to the man she'd been dating since she was
 sixteen. George and Jeremy were as much in love as any two people could be and you could feel the
      devotion, the connection they had just by standing near them. William, despite being fiercely
                         protective, wouldn't have given her up for anybody less.

                            "I'm sorry, Will. I know you're happy for her."

                                                 "I am."

                              "Will Pemberley be done by the wedding?"

  "Most of it will be. I was thinking of suggesting that Georgie get married there. What do you think
                                                she'll say?"

 "Let's see, if I were a girl in my early twenties who had an older brother offer the family's obscenely
       fabulous ancestral home as the sight of my blessed nuptials I think I would say 'I dig it.'"

             William looked at him archly. "Thank God you aren't a twenty year old girl."

                   "I'll drink to that!" Richard said, raising his glass. "How's Clara?"

 "Busy. She's working on a new book. Something about Viking history and the discovery of the New
                                            World."
       "Sounds boring. I assume that you she hasn't ventured into the light of day for weeks?"

                     "She's fine, Richard. We're fine. We understand each other."

                                         "Sounds charming."

                                   "You should talk, Henry Higgins."

 At that Richard slammed his fork down and pushed his nearly empty plate away. "I don't know what
 to be more appalled by, Will. The fact that you called me a character out of "My Fair Lady" or that I
                           know it was a character from "My Fair Lady."

            Will shook his head, laughing again. His bad day now seemed so much better.



                                                 ***



"Lizzy, didn't you have that meeting with William Darcy today?" Lydia asked as Elizabeth shrugged out
  of her jacket. She'd changed from the ice blue suit of this morning to a tee-shirt, jeans, and tennis
                                        shoes; her usual attire.

                        She eyed Lydia suspiciously. "How did you know that?"

 Lydia bit her lips, suddenly realizing that she was trapped. She cursed herself momentarily for not
 choosing to live with Jane. The truth was likely to get her a lecture and no phone privileges, but no
   good lie would come to her. Lizzy had no secretary, just an office answerphone and she never
      changed the message to indicate where she was. That was why she carried a cell phone.

               "Uh, I may have sneaked a very small peek at your engagement book."

             "Lyddy!" Elizabeth closed her eyes, grumbling. "What am I to do with you?"

"It isn't like I stole a nuclear secret. Besides, I knew something was odd when you looked so nice this
   morning," Lydia pushed her little bow of a mouth into a pout while trying to look sincere with the
                                  compliment she'd paid to her elder sister.

                                         "You're impossible."

 The younger Bennet smiled as she saw Elizabeth relax and the familiar twinkle spark her eyes to life.
 She cursed herself for her earlier curse. She'd chosen wisely and, while Elizabeth was often frustrated
  by her, she knew it was only out of love. She was aware just how special her elder sisters were for
   taking on their younger sisters when they were still so young themselves. Jane had just started
teaching when Thom and Franny Bennet were lost in a plane crash. Elizabeth had still had a year to go
                                             on her studies.

 There had never been any question, however. The Bennet girls would not be split up. They all lived
 nicely from their parents' estate, although they by no means rivaled the Queen or Richard Branson.
  But they did well enough for all the girls to go on to college. Kate, who lived with Jane, and Lydia
 weren't in college yet, but Mary, who lived with Aunt Maeve, was studying something that only Mary
                                               would study.

"Was he handsome?" Lydia asked, following Elizabeth into the kitchen. She pulled down teacups from
                        the cupboard while Elizabeth put on the water.
                          "Devastatingly," was Elizabeth's miserable reply.

  "What happened? You don't sound happy." She nibbled at a tea biscuit as she awaited Elizabeth's
                                            reply.

                    "I'm afraid Madame Impervious reared her ugly head again."

                 A deep groan floated up from Lydia's throat. "Oh, Lizzy. You didn't."

                                                "I did."

Lydia had nicknamed Elizabeth's demanding and snobbish defense mechanism years ago when she'd
learned the word during a vocabulary test. The entire family, impressed with her, adopted the name
                                      on a permanent basis.

                 "Did William Darcy throw you our on your ear like he should have?"

                                    "No. Incredibly, I got the job."

For a moment, Lydia sat there. She'd heard Lizzy talk about Pemberley incessantly since the rumours
                began. She knew how much the Darcy job meant, what it meant.

                       "This is grand!" Lydia threw her arms around her sister.

Elizabeth extracted her body from her younger sister's grasp. Her face was calm, a cool smile spread
                                          over her lips.

                   "I think Madame Impervious got the job, not Elizabeth Bennet."

Lydia playfully punched Elizabeth's arm. "Rubbish. You got the job because your Elizabeth Bennet of
 Bennet Building and Design and you're fabulous. Now, you're going to let me have a holiday from
                            classes to come see this house, aren't you?"

"I wouldn't count the chickens just yet, Lyddy," Elizabeth replied. "Mr. Darcy has yet to see any of my
                                         ideas for Pemberley."

         The younger girl looked smug. "What day would be best for me to take off classes?"

                                            Chapter Three




The next meeting that William Darcy scheduled with Elizabeth Bennet took place in the afternoon. He
wasn't taking anymore chances. He ate lunch in his office that day and prayed that she just wasn't a
 morning person. He wanted to believe that somebody that gorgeous, that elegant had a soul or, at
 least he hoped, there was a softer side to the diamond than he'd previously experienced. More than
 anything he wanted to believe that she was capable of being civil. He was of the friendly, outgoing
  persuasion and it would be so much easier if she could at least pretend to like him. He was a bit
 worried that he would spend her entire employment trying to get in her good graces simply because
                      he didn't like to think there were people who disliked him.


He stood in the door frame of the conference room just off his office. She was already there, arranging
numerous blueprints and sketches and looking incredible in a dark grey a-line dress with a scoop neck.
  She wore a simple stand of pearls at her neck. A pale pink sweater was draped over one of the tall
leather chairs. Her chameleon like hair was pulled back into a loose ponytail that hung at the nape of
  her slim neck. Again, he noticed her legs. The thought occurred that a man wouldn't be truly alive
                            unless he noticed Miss Elizabeth Bennet's legs.


She looked up and caught him staring. He didn't even bother to blush or look away sheepishly. He just
  strolled into the room like a king entering his court. And she was a loyal subject. Elizabeth quickly
                      looked back down to the table, trying to check her temper.


  "I was early," she said. Her voice hung coolly in the air like a crisp autumn night. "I thought I'd go
                                           ahead and set up."


  "Thank you." He was casually graceful, as though it took no effort for him to move. He just merely
                                              swept along.


 Unconsciously, Elizabeth rose from her seat as he chose the leather covered chair next to hers. She
            reached over to pick up the sketch she wanted to show him, avoiding contact.


                          "Miss Bennet, I don't bite," he said when she stood.


  She pushed the drawing in his direction. He was her punishment. Punishment for all those family
 gatherings that she'd spoiled by her refusal to talk, for not participating in class discussions thereby
alienating her classmates, for all the dates that Jane had sent her way that went badly. William Darcy
was put on earth simply to punish Elizabeth for being herself. She swallowed hard while she stared at
                                  the shoes she borrowed from Lydia.


  By force she would learn about his tastes, his moods, his humor. She had to remember quirks and
   oddities. Indeed, by the time this would be over, Elizabeth was afraid she would know Will Darcy
  better than she would've liked. Designer's Rule Number One: Know your client and you know your
  house. If she were going to return Pemberley to its former splendor, she would have to know Will
 Darcy. For a moment, Elizabeth wondered if even the prestige and recognition that Pemberley would
                      bring her was worth the trials and tribulations of its master.
"I would not presume to think that you do, sir," she replied. Her voice was surprisingly even since her
throat suddenly felt like it had been stuffed with cotton. She slowly moved to a water pitcher and the
                  clear liquid sloshed into the glass, splashing her a little. "Damn!"


                                "Miss Bennet, let me get you a towel."


"I'll be fine. It's only water," she muttered. She caught him looking at her, bemused. "This is funny to
                                      you, is it?" She demanded.


                                 "I'm not laughing," he replied gently.


                            Elizabeth shook her head, frustrated by it all.


 William stood then retrieved a towel for her from the bar. Carefully, he handed it to her. She looked
down, suddenly contrite as she checked her temper. She was no where near close to having made up
     for their first meeting so she swallowed her irritation. Meeting his eyes, she offered a weak,
                                          embarrassed smile.


  "It's my younger sister's dress," she said softly. "She saved her allowance for a month to buy it."


              "I understand. I have a younger sister too, but I don't wear her clothes."


She glanced at him, saw the twinkle in his eyes. Elizabeth couldn't help but give him a shy smile while
                           she blotted the water from her borrowed dress.


                          "You know, sir, you really are an incorrigible flirt."


William looked about himself as though somebody had just pointed out that his suit was on backward
 and inside out. The wonder in his brown eyes looked as real as the massive cherrywood table they
                                             stood beside.


             "So I am! I am an incorrigible flirt. To think all this time and I never knew."


She rolled her eyes. Her eyebrow traveled up into a perfect arch almost reflexively. She turned back
 to the table. "I don't suppose we could get down to business. Pemberley is big and there is a lot of
                                           work to be done."
He moved up next to her, his gaze suddenly serious and concentrated. William surveyed the mountain
of papers on the table before him, not quite sure what to make of it all. He realized it was a large job,
but he had had no inkling that she would have so many ideas or that it would all look so complicated.


                      "It is all preliminary, sir. Obviously nothing is set in stone."


  "Stop calling me that," he told her, pulling a drawing of the library toward him. He studied it for a
moment. It was finely detailed, down to the very last leaf on a potted lemon tree. The single window
in the library had been expanded almost double its original size. With that one simple step, the whole
   room was transformed from the stuffy library he remembered as a child going to Pemberley on
  daytrips with his father to a lighter, more airy and inviting room. She had removed the dark oak
       coloring and replaced it with a blonder version of the wood. The room was magnificent.


 "The library?" She asked excitedly, peering over his arm. When he glanced at her he could see the
 pride in her eyes. "I also toyed with the blueprint so I can show you where the climate control and
  security systems are going to be. I hear that some of the Pemberley collection is quite priceless."


                     He stared at her, amazed. "When did you get to Pemberley?"


       She was confused and it played over her round face. "I've not been to Pemberley, sir."


            "Stop calling me that. How did you capture it so wholly if you've never been?"


Elizabeth shrugged her shoulders slightly, almost imperceptibly. She had studied Pemberley for years.
  She knew every nook and cranny of the place, every room. She could tell you every detail of the
    place, but she had never actually managed to get there. Pemberley was like a dream to her.
Something that didn't seem quite real, but thrived in the recesses of her mind. Pemberley had always
                                        been in Elizabeth's heart.


                      "I've always been a fan of the house," she simply replied.


                                  "You've never been? Unbelievable!"


Her cheeks flushed a dark shade of scarlet. Shy and unassuming, Elizabeth had always blushed easily.
                                      It was something she hated.


                    "What are you doing the rest of the day?" He asked suddenly.
  Her brow crinkled when she looked at him. "I was just going to go back to my office and continue
      working on the sketches you liked most. Maybe pick up some swatches of material. Why?"


                                     "We're going to Derbyshire."


       With her arms crossed over her chest, Elizabeth just stared at him. "You aren't serious."


  "Very. Miss Bennet, you have an incredible eye. I want you to see Pemberley now. I can clear my
  schedule. I own the company, after all," he grinned. "Please, Miss Bennet. Come see Pemberley."


Dizzy, Elizabeth slipped into the closest chair. She could see Pemberley. His house. Her house, the one
she'd dreamt of all her life. The house that had made her become an architect. It was her inspiration.
                                        How could she say no?


                                               "Yes, sir."


                                "Stop calling me that," he said again.


            Elizabeth called Lydia as William went to clear his appointments with Laurelen.


She raised an eyebrow. "You and the gorgeous brunette that humbled you in such a fantastic manner
                  alone at your decrepit country manor house. I'll make a note, sir."


                                  "Someday I'm going to sack you."


    "It won't be soon enough, sir, I assure you," Laurelen replied dryly. "And what if Clara calls?"


                                        "Tell her where I am."


   "Sometimes you make being bad no fun." She pouted and cleared his calendar with a few simple
                                              keystrokes.


    William gave her a winning smile and returned to the conference room. Elizabeth had finished
gathering her sketches and blueprints and had carefully placed them in a large leather portfolio. They
                                           walked to the lift.


"What level are you on? I'm afraid I rode in the limo this morning and the driver won't be back until I
                                        call. I'll pay for petrol."
 Her stomach lurched. It was inevitable that he would find out what type of vehicle she drove but she
had wanted it to be much later in the job. When she was entrenched and it would be much harder to
                                               be sacked.


        "Well, I- level four," she admitted, defeated when a good lie would not present itself.


 He punched the number. When the doors opened he followed her toward the same beautiful Jaguar
  convertible that he'd seen the day he met her. She opened the trunk, deposited the portfolio then
  stood at the driver's side door, her mouth twisted guiltily. He remained a few feet away from the
                                            passenger's side.


      "It was me," she said plainly. "I'm sorry. It's just I get very paranoid about where I park."


                                 William only nodded. He didn't move.


            "If it makes you feel any better I didn't see your name on the spot until I left."


                 He gave her a funny little smirk. "Then I guess I need a bigger sign."
                                              Chapter Four




  Once on the open road, away from the congestion of London's crowded streets, Elizabeth Bennet
drove the platinum Jaguar convertible like it was meant to be driven. Hard and fast. The top was down
                  and the early spring sun rode beside them, joyfully keeping pace.


 She'd stopped by her office before heading out of the City. There was no way that she was going to
 Pemberley dressed like a princess. She would see the house the way she would work on the house.
 The Cambridge sweatshirt she'd had since her first year of school, and a pair of well-worn jeans. Her
gym shoes were a thousand times more comfortable and practical than the heels she'd worn. Her long
      hair, which had looked so elegant in a French twist, was now captured in a firey ponytail.


 William watched her as she expertly moved the speeding machine around sharp curves and over the
hills. The car obeyed every slight movement of the hands upon its steering wheel. It was obvious that
  she loved the care and knew its every nuance. Elizabeth and the Jaguar looked like a matched set.
Even dressed plainly, she was elegant and graceful. Her hair snapped crisply as the wind rushed them
                                                  both.
He felt overdressed now that she had changed into more comfortable clothes. He had not known that
 she was going to change or he would have followed suit. Instead he was trapped in his Saville Row
                          purchase, envying the carefree spirit beside him.


                        "Where did you get this beautiful car?" William asked.


 Even though the sun was bouncing off of her rosy cheeks, there was no mistaking the shadow that
   suddenly played over her features. He was beginning to regret asking when she replied: "Addie
                                        belonged to my father."


He nodded, unwilling to pursue the subject any further. She was hard to talk to, hard to read. There
  wasn't any way for him to gauge how she might react because he didn't know her. And she didn't
        seem to want him to try. But, an outgoing person by nature, he couldn't stay quiet.


                                  "It handles well," he replied softly.


"Like a dream. Did you see how she cornered in the City?" She seemed to light up as she spoke about
                                                the car.


                                  "You called it Addie," he ventured.


Elizabeth cast a glance at him, a small, sheepish smile spread over her lips. "Yes, I did. And don't let
                         her hear you call her an 'it.' Addie is very sensitive."


                William chuckled and his brow wrinkled. Elizabeth's stomach lurched.


"Papa called her Addie from the moment he met her. He used to tease Mama that Addie was his one
true love. Of course, Mama played along, but the she bought Adam, the Aston Martin that she bought
                                             in retaliation."


   He laughed. "Your family must love their cars a great deal. What does your father drive now?"


     Her eyes returned to the road and he saw her swallow. He'd said something wrong. Again.


 "My parents died a few years back. Papa left Addie to me and Mama left Adam to my sister, Jane."


                                      "I'm sorry," he said, softly.
                                  "It's fine, sir. You couldn't have known."


He let the 'sir' slide this time. It wouldn't be good to reprimand her after broaching a painful subject.
                       He didn't need years of boarding school to tell him that.


Suddenly, Elizabeth began to brake. The car slipped to the shoulder of the road and she gently guided
    the gearshift home. Her head turned toward him so that he couldn't see her eyes behind her
                          sunglasses. There was a crooked grin on her face.


"Do you want to drive her?" She asked. Somewhere in the back of her mind Madame Impervious was
clucking her tongue in dismay, but Elizabeth couldn't help herself. She couldn't concentrate one more
moment on driving if she had to continue inhaling his scent. She could no longer deny that she had an
         attraction to this man, which wasn't a good thing, but who said it had to be all bad?


               "Are you serious?" William asked her. "Of course, I want to drive her."


  Madame Impervious had been praying that William would say no while Elizabeth silently longed to
  hear him say yes. If he drove the car perhaps she could get off the hook for her faux pas from the
   other morning. That and she wanted to see him drive. She wanted to see the man in the finely
                           tailored suit drive an automobile that suited him.


 She didn't doubt that he had exquisite cars of his own. In her experience, wealthy men usually had
                  amazing collections of incredible cars. The men who had hired h...


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                                      Twilight of the Abyss.doc (271 KB)
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                                       Through The Fog.doc (35 KB)
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