Not quite a Fantastical Austen post I suppose, but we’re dressing up for a Halloween Gala where our dear couple meet in 50 Shades of… Jane? Well, do you remember the assembly? How does this compare?
For those who haven’t been on this little adventure since it started unfolding in random order, here’s the links to the rest of the posts 🙂 The Perverseness of Mischance, Ladies’ Night, A Tempting View, The Effects of Well-Fitted Breeches.
Darcy glared around the crowded costume-clad ballroom and groaned to himself. Why did he agree to attend charity events? The question never failed to cross his mind at functions such as this and the answer was always the same: it was good for business. Not that he didn’t feel the cause was important—hospice was a godsend when his mother died—but photos of him in the news generated positive publicity for Darcy-Fitzwilliam, which was always good for the company.
“William! I’m so glad you could make it!”
He turned to face Charlotte Lucas-Fitzwilliam, chairman of the St. Mary’s Hospice board and organizer of this year’s Halloween Hospice Gala. Nothing like the lure of dressing as your favourite character and doling out an obscene two to five thousand pounds a plate for charity. At least this fundraiser didn’t have a bachelor auction! He shuddered.
Without pause, he leaned forward and kissed Charlotte, or should he say Harley Quinn on the cheek. “Charlotte, you look…great. Where is your other half?”
She gestured to the bar where Richard stood to one end dressed as the Joker. “He’s procuring a glass of merlot to calm my frazzled nerves.” With a sweeping look up and down, she grinned at his attire. “I should have known you wouldn’t dress for the occasion.”
As he held out his suit jacket, he looked down to the off-the-rack suit his assistant procured for him. “I’ll have you know I put a great deal of thought into my costume.”
Charlotte rolled her eyes as she accepted her glass of wine from her husband. “I’d bet my first-born you wore that suit to work today.”
He swallowed a mouthful of scotch as Richard began to chuckle and winced. It was a shame his cousin’s wife knew him so well. “I didn’t want to carry a garment bag to work, and I knew I would have no time to return home before the party. I did change my underclothes before I left the office.”
Charlotte eyed Richard with her lips pursed and her nose crinkled. “I have no desire to hear about your pants, so forget I criticised.”
With a huff, William set his tumbler of scotch on a nearby table, loosened his tie, and began to unbutton his shirt.
Richard quickly stepped forward and began to tighten his tie. “We don’t need to see your knickers. Whatever you say you’re wearing under there, we will believe you.”
He slapped Richard’s hands away. “Stop being such a prat.” He pulled open the front of his shirt to reveal a large red “S” on a dark blue background. “Oh! I almost forgot.” Before Charlotte and Richard could comment, he fumbled through his suit jacket and pulled out a black-rimmed pair of glasses. He should get some credit for this. The cape was ridiculously difficult to hide without giving him a bubble for a bum, and the crotch was riding against the boys in a most uncomfortable fashion.
When he turned to face his relations, Richard’s eyebrows shot up. “Brilliant! Well done! I thought you would dress as James Bond or something just as unimaginative as you usually do, but this is actually pretty good.”
A grin erupted upon his face. He had the worst luck at costume parties. Either no one understood his costume, or he wore a tux and claimed to be some well-dressed movie character—like James Bond. This year, Ana persuaded him to try this.
Charlotte tugged at his tie and the collar of his shirt. “Leave your shirt unbuttoned and your tie loose. The costume is much better this way.” She made one last adjustment before her eyes strayed to his left.
“Lizzy! I’m so glad you could come!” Charlotte rushed by him and hugged the young woman who’d just arrived.
“You’ve never met Lizzy have you?”
William glanced to his cousin and back the sexiest Elektra he’d ever seen. Daredevil! The comic had been his favourite as a child. Why had he not thought to dress as Matt Murdock? All he would’ve needed was a suit, which he had a closet full, and a white stick.*
His eyes roved the curve of her pale waist where it disappeared under the rich red of her skin-tight trousers. Her dark chestnut hair was straight and silky as it flowed down her back and brushed at her waist. His line of sight followed the edge of her top as it curved around her side, traced the laces up the centre, and between her breasts to her face where two of the most amazing eyes glared in his direction. Bollux!
He grasped his drink from the table and downed the rest while he walked towards the bar. What was that?! He was William Darcy. Women didn’t care for him. They wanted his money and the social scene that accompanied it. His current habits suited him just fine. He would not fall prey to any woman!
With one last glance, he spied Elektra’s well-proportioned bum following Charlotte to—Oh Lord! Charlotte was introducing her to the rest of the hospice board, which included his Aunt Catherine.
Wait! Where was Aunt Catherine? She and his cousin Anne were supposed to attend, but he had yet to find them.
He surveyed the tables near the front where Aunt Catherine would be seated, but she wasn’t there. Perhaps she was ill. Then a familiar face between two over-large buns caught his eye. He squinted. No. No, no, no. She wouldn’t… would she?
He took the new glass of scotch from the bartender and crept closer through the throng of guests until he could clearly see those at the board’s table. When he made out his aunt’s tell tale hooked nose, his eyes bulged until they hurt. His aunt dressed as Princess Leia?
He rubbed the heel of his free hand to his eyes. He’d only had two glasses of scotch. He was surely not seeing things… was he?
Another look confirmed his initial findings. His aunt was dressed in a flowing white gown and wore a wig with two enormous buns on each side of her head. Her cane had apparently been discarded for the evening and in its place she held a laser gun.
He took a large gulp of his drink.
“Good evening, William.” He jumped, almost spilling the contents of his glass down his suit.
“Hello, Anne.” His cousin didn’t react or smile, but peered where his open shirt revealed his Superman costume.
“Interesting choice.” She cocked her head to one side. “I thought you would have been Christian Grey or James Bond.”
Christian Grey! Why would he dress as that tosser? And what right did she have to comment? His dull cousin Anne wore a Star Trek costume, pointed ears, and a Spock wig. On second thought, most days, Anne exhibited the same amount of emotion as a Vulcan, so perhaps the disguise was appropriate.
“Mother will be quite displeased if you do not say hello.”
His head darted back around to his aunt. Thank God she had not worn the gold bikini! Elektra held out her hand to greet his aunt. Now, Elektra in a gold Leia bikini—”
A throaty growl came from beside him. “Well, if you are going to be so dull,” chided Anne, gesturing to Poison Ivy standing at the bar. “I am going to speak to Belinda Harding.” Anne leaned a hair closer. “I heard she came out last month. I’ve always found her attractive, but in that costume…”
The sip he just took scalded his windpipe, and he began to splutter and cough. “Anne?”
“Richard said the two of you discussed the possibility a number of times, so don’t act shocked.” A man approached Poison Ivy and Anne slapped his arm. “Time to find out if the rumours are true. Don’t drink too much. Charlotte will never forgive you for getting pissed tonight.”
He stared in morbid curiosity as Poison Ivy rebuffed the man and Anne approached. Within a matter of minutes, Anne was seated beside the ginger-haired woman and ordering a drink.
“Sod it!” He lifted his glass and downed the last of the amber tonic, guaranteed to help him survive this evening and Elektra, whose pleasing figure taunted him from across the room. When he approached the bar, he slammed down his glass, ordered another, which he drank in one gulp, and then ordered yet another.
After procuring his latest scotch from the bar, he began to stride towards his aunt’s table. The room gave a strange tilt, and he paused for a moment. Once he shook his head, all was right again, so he continued until he was a few metres away from where his aunt spoke with her.
He was to greet his aunt, but oddly, he never saw his aunt’s face. Instead, his eyes were trained on the soft curve of Elektra’s luscious bum.
As he took another sip of his drink, a hand to his shoulder halted him in his tracks. “You’re swerving a little there, cousin. Let’s get you some coffee.”
His head jerked until he saw Richard’s face, and he blinked hard. Why did he have to stand so close?
“I’m fine. I don’t want any coffee.” His glass was removed from his grip and a damp, cold bottle replaced it. “Then drink some water. When was the last time you ate?” The room tilted again and Richard’s hand clamped down on his other shoulder.
When had he eaten? He gazed at Richard’s shirt as he tried to remember. Lunch? No, he’d had a meeting. “Toast and jam with fruit.”
“Breakfast?” Richard’s voice was incredulous. Why was he so surprised? Richard knew how busy his schedule was. “No more scotch. Drink your water.”
“I don’t want water.”
“Too bad. Because I want you to start drinking.” Richard shook his head. “I was going to introduce you to Lizzy, but I certainly won’t while you’re pissed.”
His eyes darted to Elektra and back to his cousin. “Her?”
Richard’s eyes narrowed. “Yes, Lizzy. She’s one of Charlotte’s dearest friends, but she has lived in America for the last few years, working for a design company. She was brilliant and designed all the banners, the tickets, and the rest of the promotional materials for tonight. She waived her fees as well.”
He looked Elektra up and down. “You want me to meet her.”
“Yes.” His cousin’s voice was wary and slow. “Lizzy is bright, she’s witty, and I think you would enjoy her company.”
He managed to hold his cousin’s eyes for a moment. This was a set up! Well, he’d put a stop to that once and for all!
“What would I have in common with a designer? I suppose if she was pretty, I could tolerate a conversation with her, but really Richard, what is the point?”
An incredulous bark of a laugh came from Richard. “You are such a wanker.” He shook his head. “After that remark, I would avoid my wife for a while. She just sent you the glare that kills.”
William rolled his eyes and took a long drink from the bottle of water. “Ugh! I thought I said I didn’t want this.” Before Richard could step away, William thrust the bottle of water against his cousin’s chest, turned, and strode right into the path of—Oh shit!
Before Caroline could greet him, he scarpered around her and down the hall. At the toilets, he entered, pushed the door closed, and locked it tight. Both hands against the door, he panted as he waited. Hopefully, she didn’t follow.
“What do you think you are doing?!”
His feet didn’t want to cooperate as he turned and fell back against the door with a thud. “Elektra?” he exclaimed in a high-pitched squeak.
“I said, what do you think you are doing? This is the ladies, you daft prick!”
Sinks, stalls—why would his head not cooperate? Where were the urinals? He put his hands to his face. Good Lord, he had indeed entered the ladies.
Elektra strode forward and pushed him out of the way. “Move, so at least, I can leave!” Delicate fingers turned the lock, but the knob just rotated continuously without the latch releasing.
“You broke it!” She grasped the door handle and began shaking it back and forth. “Help! We’re stuck in the ladies! Help!”
His head was spinning and that water he’d drank was swishing in his gut. He groaned.
Wide eyes turned to him. “Oh no! If you’re going to be sick, you’d best do it in a toilet!”
An excess of saliva made him swallow, but no sooner had he done so, than his mouth filled again. Something rose in his throat.
A hand grabbed his arm and yanked him through the door of a stall, pressing his head down toward the bowl. His knees gave way and—Well, that unpleasantness doesn’t need to be described!
Once his stomach was empty, he fell back upon the cold marble of the floor. Elektra stood against the wall near the door with her hands over her face. As everything faded black, he heard, “You better thank God that you didn’t get sick on me, asshole!”
His head pounded as though it were simultaneously being pummeled by a battering ram and squeezed into a vice. He licked his dry lips and stuck out his tongue at the taste in his mouth. What was that? Old sweat socks? The insoles of his trainers?
With a moan, he lifted his head and dropped it right back down, causing a pain to rip through his skull as his head hit the hard tile floor.
It took a great deal of effort to prise his eyelids open, and even once he did; everything around him was blurry and spun. He gulped as a figure that loomed overhead jumped back. “Don’t you dare get sick on me!”
He covered his eyes with his hands and rubbed. Would that thudding in his brain never cease?
Richard laughed. “We won’t think about that right now. The car is being pulled around and a few guys from the security team are going to help get you to the car. Rather brave of them under the circumstances.”
He scrunched his face. “What about the gala?”
With a snort, Richard reached down and with the help of another man, hoisted William to his feet. “I wouldn’t give that another thought, though I’d steer clear of Charlotte for the next twenty or so years.”
“Elektra?” The man holding his other side burst into laughter.
“Oh, I don’t think you need worry about her. If she had any thought of forgiving you for your earlier insult, I doubt she will ever speak to you again after being locked in the ladies with her.”
Once he was inside the car, Richard joined him and gave the driver instructions. William roughly rubbed his face with his hands, dropped them to his lap, and everything went again went dark.