Here is the latest. I know there are tense issues but rest assured and editor is on the case. What I'm looking for are tips about pacing and if the story interest you?
Thanks for popping by to read it 🙂
Mary jumped from her chair and faced Henry. “Follow me and I’ll show you to your new office.” She beamed.
“Mary!” Elizabeth hissed under her breath.
“What? You expect me to be rude?” She glared at Elizabeth before returning her mega watt smile to Henry.
Elizabeth looked at Darcy who’d not moved more than a foot when he stepped out his aunt’s way.
‘They’re trying to take your job. He thinks love and marriage can be found by putting starred rankings under pictures…or…or. Swiping in one direction or another.” Elizabeth felt heat rush into her cheeks. She stepped closer to him. “If this were a virtual matchmaking world, I’d swipe left.” She made the motion that matched her words.
“This isn’t personal,” he said and stared down his nose at her. “It’s my job to look after my aunt’s financial interest. She’s interested in maintaining a stake in your business, but for it to earn to its potential things have to change.”
Elizabeth crossed her arms and snorted. “It may not be personal to you but it’s personal to me. To us.” She hoped her glare was menacing or at the very least intimidating. She pressed her lips together for good measure.
Darcy continued to look at her and appeared unaffected. “Perhaps that is why you have difficulty with objectivity. You should step away from the emotional aspect of your business and look at it in terms of profit and success.”
“Every time we match people and make them happy, we profit and are successful. We’ve had over one hundred matches and a ninety percent success rate. Point to me the flaw in that?”
“Shall I introduce you to your bottom line—“
Elizabeth snorted and repressed the urge to stop her foot like a petulant child. Instead, she gave her head a quick shake. “Love isn’t about the bottom line. We’re about more than falling for someone’s profile picture. We’re about spiritual, intellectual, and emotional connections. It’s the right person. Mr. Darcy. A soul mate. Neither of those are plural. In fact—”
Henry stepped between them, his hands making the time out sign. “Truce. Let’s all take a breather. It’s understandable why you are upset Miss. Bennet, I would be as well. Let’s separate, regroup, and meet back here this afternoon to go over all the options. I promise then you’ll have sufficient time to rail at us. Until then, Darcy, Anne, let’s follow Mary here and get situated. Please excuse us, ladies.” He looked between Elizabeth and Jane.
“Sure,” said Jane quietly. She hadn’t moved.
After the newcomers left the room, only Bill remained with them.
“I’m sorry. I really am.” He stuffed his hands into his pockets. “The Colonel is right, though. No one should make any sudden decisions or moves. We have time—“
“Not that much Bill,” Jane said.
“I could probably come up with half of it by taking a second mortgage and cleaning out my retirement accounts.” Elizabeth slid into a chair and sighed.
“No!” Jane said. “We will not do such a thing.”
“This is what I mean. Don’t run out and sell your house just yet. Let the dust settle. Let me talk to Lady Catherine. There are so many more solutions. I could buy into the business, we could find other investors—”
Elizabeth snorted. Not likely.
Bill continued. “We need to pause and catch our breath.”
Elizabeth sprung from her chair. “I need air. I can’t just sit here and do nothing. I need a plan.”
“I do as well but I need time to consider the options.” Jane stood slowly. “ I agree with Bill. Let’s go in our office and start talking options.”
Elizabeth shook her head. “I can’t work here. Not yet. I feel as if my privacy has been invaded and I’m too angry to see clearly. Let’s go somewhere else. Let’s go to Lottie’s.”
Jane nodded. “You go ahead. I’ll grab a few things and meet you there.”
Elizabeth twitched to leave but in doing so made her feel as if she were abandoning her sister. “I’ll help you.”
“No, go. I can tell you need to get out. Go with her Bill and make sure she’s OK.” Jane squeezed her arm. “It’ll work out Lizzy. I promise.”
Elizabeth wanted to believe her. She wished she had Jane’s optimistic outlook but in this situation was very difficult to not feel as if they world was falling apart around her. And she was helpless to do anything about it.
Knowing tears were close she swiveled on her heel and rushed from the room. She had no option but to pass by the office the others were now sharing. Mary was carrying her computer and her calendars toward Elizabeth’s office.
Not wanting to show them that they’ve reduced her to tears and running away, Elizabeth paused outside the door to gain her composure. Eavesdropping was not her intention and she really wished she hadn’t heard what she did.
“This is a nice town,” the deep gritty tone belonged to Henry.
“Small, very country. If one likes that sort of thing.” Darcy’s voice was muffled as if he was turned away from Henry and the door and his head was down.
“The sisters seem nice. Pretty too.”
This time Darcy’s voice was clear. “The oldest one, yes. But the younger sisters. No.”
“Come on, man. Elizabeth is very pretty and Mary, well.” He coughed.
Darcy snorted. “Elizabeth is tolerable but not pretty enough to tempt me. I’m glad to see she doesn’t seem to believe she can use her feminine wiles on me,” he said in a lazy drawl.
“As if that would work,“ Henry said drolly.
Magically, her tears dried up, replaced by disbelief. Who was this man? How dare he come in to their business, tell them to change, and then insult them while he was at it? At least the country people from her town had far better manners than he did. Arrogant cock.
Bill came out of the office and bee lined for her. Without a second thought she rushed passed the door, through and out into the lobby. Not pausing to say anything to Kitty she continued her flight out the front door only slowing when she was half a block away.
Bill caught up with her. He didn’t even look winded. “Come on, Lizzy, don't let this get to you. Take a moment and think about it. Take a deep breath and don't let this freak you out.”
“It's hard not to, Bill, when I'm staring at losing everything. Who is he coming in saying that we underperformed? We're doing great. We’ve steadily made money. Granted not buckets of it like he expects but enough for us.”
“They have different expectations that we do.”
Elizabeth glanced at Bill. “I noticed you keep putting yourself on our side. I’m kind of surprised. Lady Catherine is like family to you. It could get awkward, don’t you think. Not that I mind you being on our side.”
Bill pushed his bangs from his head, his mouth quirking to the side. After a quick nod he said, “She is family. But so are you all. I happen to believe we are a society that’s too tech dependent. I also happen to believe, like you, that love requires something more than algorithms to assist it. Besides, on a purely selfish level I enjoy working at Meryton. I don’t want to be replaced by a computer.”
Elizabeth nudged him with her shoulder. “Thanks, Bill.”
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