Ellie had been hiding from the rain for the best part of an hour. She’d been dashing about running errands, paying bills and dropping off dry cleaning when the heavens had opened sending rivulets of water running down the side of the road, splashing knee high off the pavement. Wearing nothing but a Monsoon maxi dress and a pair of fuchsia flip flops she had two choices, run for the car-park two streets over or nip into the library to wait it out. The Maxi had cost nearly a week’s wages and her mother had said it flattened her cleavage to almost normal proportions, so she wasn’t ready to lose it just yet. She opted for the library, it was closer.
The little coffee bar was on the ground floor with just a few cluttered tables set out facing the large glass frontage. Ellie had only ever known it as a library but she remembered an old school project years ago that said it was once the assembly rooms. Parties and dancing, meetings and court cases had all been part of a long forgotten past. It was a shame it had all gone Ellie thought as she tapped her fingers on the pretty china coffee cup to the beat of the rain dropping off the canopy outside.
She trailed her hand over a couple of books someone had left on the table. She looked up, but no one was about, just the old grey haired tea lady filling the cake stand and licking a conspicuous dab of chocolate icing off her lip. Ellie looked back at the books, the first was large & grey with a heavy bold font ‘Electrical Instraments in Hazardous Locations’ no, she didn’t think so. She moved it to the side, underneath was a smaller book, thinner and wrapped loosely in a faded green sleeve ‘Pride & Prejudice’ oh yes that’s more my cup of tea she thought to herself as she opened the front cover and settled in to read.
She was so engrossed in her reading she didn’t hear the cough at first. Then it became louder, more determined and she looked up quickly and gulped. Her mouth fell open and an unfamiliar pang of fear hit her chest, or she supposed it was fear, it was making her feel queasy at any rate. He stood above her, his left eye brow raised just a touch and a glint of exasperation was edged on his forehead. He was tall and broad shouldered with a well-defined jaw that even from this angle appeared clenched and tense.
“It appears this is the only spare chair, would you mind if I sit” he gestured to the empty seat. Ellie looked around, when did the room fill up, she hadn’t noticed. She thought there must be a convention on somewhere. There were couples of all ages milling around, wiping rain soaked hands over heavily laced dresses that sashayed to the floor. Men in tight fitting trousers, with long polished boots that rose past their calves, sauntered around pulling out chairs and generally preening. Ellie laughed a little too loud and the handsome stranger shot her a look that could have killed a full herd of cattle.
“Are you quite all right?” he asked leaning in. She wanted to move away to draw back from the heat that seemed to radiate from his body. This close his eyes were as dark as the aura that surrounded him. She gulped again.
“Looks like a good party” she gestured towards the crowd trying to keep her voice steady and light. God, I hope he doesn’t think I’m after an invite, she thought eyeing his impassive features. He continued to stare, and she felt a blush rising up her cheeks. Bloody great, now I’ll look like some sort of desperate virgin.
He looked to the ground then back to her, his eyes focusing solely on her face “May I ask your name?” She gulped again and kicked herself for being so pathetic. “Ellie” she answered slowly, then not really sure why, she decided to give her Sunday best, pretending to be sophisticated name, “Actually it’s Elizabeth, but everyone calls me Ellie” he smiled and tipped his head slightly to one side and answered “It’s a pleasure to meet you Elizabeth. I am Darcy, Fitzwilliam Darcy”.
Ellie grabbed the side of the small wooden table for support. From the corner of her eye she caught the grey haired tea lady’s smile from across the counter. A smile so brilliant Ellie could have sworn that a star twinkled in the old woman’s eye. And the last thought that passed through Ellie’s mind as she fainted to the floor was “Oh my God, Colin Firth didn’t do him justice”.