The Summer of Austen
For the Ridiculously Happy OneShots contest
- Must be a one shot – over 2500 words – must be a het paring – must be ridiculously happy (no angst, hurt/comfort) – phrase 'for the Ridiculously Happy OneShots contest in the summary – any rating – category Fiction -- Romance – POV of either guy or girl – must use irony – the girl must be significantly shorter than the guy, and he should make at least three comments about this (ideally a foot of difference in height) - Submission starts on April 20, ends May 11
Check out Annoyance's profile for details on contest and voting!!!
Summary: He would walk in—the man of my dreams, that is—when I was up to my elbows in horse shit. Literally. I bet even Jane Austen couldn't have even dreamed of writing this scenario. For the Ridiculously Happy OneShots contest.
Note: Yayy, contest entry. Thanks to Annoyance for inviting me. For the record, this is far from one of my best pieces, and it's hard getting back into the swing of romantic one shots (especially with the precedent of Impulse). Hopefully this upcoming summer will see lots of awesome new fics (cross your fingers!). Also: I do not claim rights to Pride and Prejudice or House M.D
I knew my day was going to be bad from the beginning. But I didn't know it was going to turn out this bad.
Waking up with jet lag, having to drag myself out of bed and bang repeatedly on the bathroom door until my friend's little sister finally got out, getting ready for work—on my first day back, nonetheless—nearly getting hit by a car on the way in and then finding one of the horses to be sick was only the start of it.
Because then he walked in.
And I decided that yes, my day could—and just did—get worse, and that he would walk in—the man of my dreams, that is—while I was up to my elbows in horse shit. Literally. Oh, this was just peachy.
"Good morning, can I help you?" I heard one of my co-workers and very best friends, Liz, say as she waltzed towards the front of the barn where the two customers had walked through, beaming the entire way.
For the moment I hated her. Her and her bouncy blonde curls, delighted face and most of the lack of horse-feces. Compared to me and my flat brown hair, obviously un-delighted hazel eyes and current situation with the horse-feces.
So caught up was in my envy of her cleanliness that I missed the guys response. All I heard was Liz say, "We can absolutely help you with that…" she paused, tilting her head to the side the slightest fraction of an inch.
"Charlie," the one on the right said, grinning brightly as he held out his hand. His bright green eyes were wide and completely focused on Liz, even as he jerked his head to the side to his companion. I would admit to being slightly jealous of the attention he gave her. "And this is Dar. Sorry," he corrected at his friends scowl, "Darcy."
I repressed a snort as my eyebrows climbed my head, taking in Darcy's appearance. He—and Charlie as well—looked to be about my age, if not a little older, and he had dark, wavy locks that curled slightly at his ears. He was fit, I could tell that from this distance, partly because of the dark shirt he wore that clung to his body. His blue eyes looked hard and guarded, and where his friend was smiling brightly, his lips formed a straight, unemotional line.
"…find a horse, and Jane over there can help Darcy," I heard Liz saying, and I looked up to meet her eyes. She grinned widely at me, her eyes widening in our trademark oh-my-god-this-guy-is-so-amazingly-hot look. I had no time to respond or warn her off as she was already dragging Charlie away by his arm and Darcy was already walking over towards me.
It was hard not to flinch when he was standing directly in front of me, looking down at me with a mixture of curiosity, expectancy and probably a little disgust, what with my current situation. Instead I forced a smile and greeted him with a mildly cheerful, "Hi, how can I help you?"
I watched as one of his dark eyebrows raised. "You're American," he said bluntly.
And at that moment, a little bit of me felt crushed. While he said it in an amazingly sexy British accent (which I will admit is one of the reasons that draws me back here every summer, besides my love for this country), it was completely not something Mr. Darcy would say, from Pride and Prejudice. Which, I feel embarrassed to admit, was kind of how I had been imagining him since he had walked in the door, especially since he had been introduced by Charlie.
"And you're a genius," I retorted sharply.
He simply grunted in reply.
I sighed. "Give me a sec to clean up," I said, holding up my gloved but filthy hands as I got up from where I had been kneeling on the floor, making my way over to the sink in the back of the barn. I heard him follow me and rolled my eyes. He obviously couldn't be the man of my dreams anymore, which had been one of life's brilliant jokes, I'm sure, so now he was resolved to be an annoyance, huh? Lovely.
"So why are you here?"
I raised my eyebrows at the question. "Money. And I love horses."
I could almost hear him roll his eyes when he sighed. "Not here as in this barn, here as in this country."
"Ah," I said, stripping off my gloves and throwing them off to the side before delving my hands under the stream of cleansing water. "I spend every summer here, if I can. I fell in love with it when I was a little girl."
He made no response, and I turned around to face him as I dried my hands off with a towel. "So. Darcy. First name or last?"
He narrowed his eyes at me, as if sensing where this conversation was going. "Last."
"Figures," I snorted. "And don't tell me your first name is Will or something?"
"No," he said, standing straighter, even as I turned around to toss my towel across the sink. "Is your last name Bennett?"
So he had known where I was going with this. Kudos to him, he slightly redeemed himself. "Nope. Tucker. Your turn."
Darcy paused, then relented. "Edward."
"You're shitting me," I replied, eyes wide. He glared and shook his head. "Your last name is straight out of a classic Austen romance novel and your first is straight out of a popular youth cult book."
"And you wonder why I go by my last name?"
"The fact that you understand the reference frightens me," I told him instead.
Darcy leaned forward, a smirk twitching across his lips. The air felt thicker for a moment as he intruded my personal space. "The fact that you made the reference makes me wonder if you're not a die-hard fan in secret."
"Hardly," I replied, turning away from him and heading down the rows of stalls. "So what are you looking for today?"
"No shit, Sherlock," I retorted, sending him a glare. Liz, standing nearby with Charlie, who was stroking the nose of our beautiful bay mare Stargleam, gave me a sharp look that made me wince, and I looked back at Darcy with a forced apologetic expression. "I mean…," I gritted out, "What type of horse."
"Well I'm assuming you're an experienced rider…"
"What makes you think that?" he interjected, and I stopped in my tracks momentarily before continuing down the rows. What had made me think that? Watching to many P&P movies. Whoops…there I go again.
"Never mind. Are you?"
I turned around, stopping short and nearly causing him to collide with me. "Experienced?"
Because of my abrupt stop, he was now once more invading my personal space, looking down at me with his dark, handsome eyes. I watched as they danced in amusement and his lips curled into a half smile. "Depends on what we're talking about," he drawled, his voice low and…well, British. Damn him.
His smirk widened. "You're cute when you're angry."
Rolling my eyes, I ignored him and made my way to Rusty's stall. A young stallion, Rusty was one of our most rowdy horses, and right now I was really tempted to pair him up with Darcy. Just for kicks.
"Especially since you're so short."
He raised his eyebrows at me, as if to say, you heard what I said.
"I'm not short," I said, taking a step towards him, looking him up and down. I realized I had to tip my head back a little too far to look at him. I poked him forcibly in the chest. "Just shorter than you."
He grunted, and I growled.
"And for the record it's not nice to call people short. What if I told you my grandmother had dwarfism?"
"I'd ask if your grandfather was a dwarf too."
I narrowed my eyes at him. "No, he wasn't."
He grinned as I took the bait. "How'd that work then? The sex, I mean. What did he do, lay her flat and spin her?"
"Oh ha-ha, very funny," I snapped. "Like I haven't heard that one before Dr. Gregory House. Episode ten, season 3, Merry Little Christmas. Nice try," I paused a moment before adding sardonically, "And so very respectful of you."
His eyes flashed in what I took to be as amusement at my retort. "Good taste in books and television."
For some reason, his tone made me simmer. "Yes, well," I replied lamely, and I walked away, knowing he would be smirking. I paused in front of the door of Rusty's stall, and glanced back at Darcy. "And how often do you ride, Mr. Darcy?"
The humor dropped from his face at the title, and the fact that he realized I was likely not going to drop it. "Not often."
I looked at Rusty, a diabolical plan forming in my mind already. Which was, of course, cut short by Liz, who shot me a reproving voice with a hiss of "Jane, no." I pursed my lips, and she glared, and I finally conceded, moving a stall forward.
"Your horse, Mr. Darcy," I said, gesturing to Sonya, our sleek, but passive mare. "Do you approve?"
He stepped up behind me, so that his body was nearly brushing mine, so that I suddenly felt all tense and uncomfortable. "He'll be perfect."
And the atmosphere de-tensified—which should totally be a word—with that one sentence. "He," I said, bristling as I opened the stall and stomped in, "Is a she, and her name is Sonya."
He put his hands up defensively as I slipped a bridle over Sonya's nose, leading her out into the stables to get her a saddle. "I apologize, Sonya, the female horse," he said, and I shot a glare over my shoulder. "And while I'm at it, I apologize for the comment about your grandparents. It was insensitive of me."
We locked stares over Sonya's back as I secured the saddle on her. For a moment, I wanted to spurn him, but I finally mumbled, "Apology accepted." There was a moment of silence as I secured and checked Sonya's equipment. "Do you know how to mount?"
Darcy's eyebrows raised and before he could say anything I amended, "A horse. Mount a horse."
He looked as if he wanted to say something, but finally just said, "Yes, yes I do."
"Good. She's all yours," I said, holding the reigns and stepping aside as he swung himself into the saddle. "And just in time too, it looks like your friend is ready."
Darcy nodded and raised a hand at Charlie before looking down at me. "Come with us," he said.
I snored. "Haha, funny."
I gazed up into his eyes. There was no mockery or laughter behind them, and they were scarily enticing. "I can't."
Raising my eyebrows, I looked pointedly at the stable surrounding us. "Work?"
"Take a break."
"Because going for a ride isn't really a break, it's taking the rest of the day off. Besides," I said, jerking my chin towards the doorway. "Liz won't let me."
Unfortunately for me, my timing was horrendous, as Liz took that exact moment to come bounding over to me, wide eyed and blushing. "Jane, you'll never believe it, Charlie's invited us to go riding with them. You game?"
I heard Darcy repress a chuckle behind me, coughing to cover it up. Bastard.
"Who's going to watch the stables?"
"Faith just came in, she said she'd take care of it." Liz grasped my hands, squeezing them tightly. "Oh please Jane, it'll be fun. Promise."
It took a moment before I reluctantly conceded, and Liz went scurrying off to the back of the stables to retrieve her favorite horse. I looked up at Darcy, who was looking down at me with amusement. Smirking, he extended his hand down towards me. "Well?"
I looked at his hand suspiciously. "And what do you want me to do with that?"
"Take it, of course."
"You want me to ride with you?"
"Of course. You'll fit perfectly. I'll even be able to see over your head."
My eyes narrowed. "I can manage on my own."
"But it would be more fun this way."
"I can manage on my own," I repeated sternly, walking away to emphasize my point. Not much emphasis I could make, really, since he was ultimately getting what he wanted. And little did I know that this day, this meeting…was only the beginning.
"Oh come on, how can you not see it?"
"I see what you're looking at but I don't see how you think it looks like a ship when it's clearly a cow."
It was now several weeks after our first meeting, and Darcy and I were sprawled out on our backs in the meadow, our horses grazing contently nearby. After that first ride out, where we wound up losing Liz and Charlie who had gone off on their own, Darcy and his friend had been coming weekly for rides (sometimes multiple times a week), always taking us girls with them—though we always went in separate pairs. It had taken a while to get used to the idea, it seemed too intimate and I still wasn't fond of one Mr. Edward Darcy's behavior and attitude.
But I had to admit, over time I felt myself warming up to him…perhaps too much. He had recaptured my heart as he had the first minute he walked into the barn, and the poor boy didn't even know it. And I certainly didn't want to feel it. I was certain he didn't feel the same way, and would only be a heartbreaker.
"No, look at it from this point of view, here," I heard him say, and felt an arm snake around my shoulder and drag me closer, his hand then cupping my head to pull it onto his shoulder as he pointed with his other finger, directing my gaze skyward. "See, if you look at it from here, and tilt your head to the side a little…"
I felt my breath catch in my throat from this strange contact. We had never so much as brushed fingers over these past few weeks as I had repeatedly denied his assistance to mount and dismount, and the feeling of his palm against my arm, my cheek against his shoulder—it fit snugly into the crevice created there, what with our height differences that he never failed to mention—sent electricity tingling through my body.
"Do you see it? Jane?"
"Yeah?" I answered breathlessly, and immediately regretted answering at all.
He must have heard it because he asked, "You okay?"
"Fine." I replied, but he didn't seem to believe me, since he turned his head painfully to the side so that he could see my face, and the close proximity and the feel of his breath brushing lightly against my skin made me take a sharp, involuntary intake of breath. I looked away hastily, and tried to roll away from him. His hands held me steady.
"Jane," he repeated my name, and I felt my heartbeat pick up. He twisted his body slightly and I felt his fingers brush my face, grabbing my chin gently. "Jane, look at me."
I had lost all will power to resist him, and raised my eyes to meet his. They were serious, for once, and they seemed to be searching mine, to be searching my face.
"Jane, I…" he started, and his voice was a low whisper.
I panicked. Muttering something incoherent, I shoved myself away from him and bolted. Literally bolted. (Because I don't have enough embarrassing moments around him—i.e. first meeting.) Running fast, I headed towards the trees with an otherwise unknown destination or plan. I heard Darcy curse behind me and struggle to get up, and it wasn't long before he was giving chase, shouting my name.
And then before I knew it, he had caught me, just as we reached the forest he had caught my arms and spun me around so that I could face him.
"Why did you run?" he demanded, panting slightly from the chase.
"Why do you care?" I countered, and I watched as his expression seemed to drop for an instance before he took a step towards me. I took a step back.
"Jane," he said, his tone warning. I took another step back as he matched it with one forward. I felt something hard collide with my back, knew it to be a tree and knew myself to be trapped. His eyes had a victorious gleam as he stepped forward, placing his hands on either side of me, caging me in.
"What?" I whispered, my voice breathless again, and not just from running. And I think he knew that, by the way he closed the distance between us.
He chuckled, but it was dry, humorless. "How can you not know what?" he asked, his voice low, and slightly husky. That coupled with his amazing accent nearly had me buckling at the knees. "How should I put it Jane? Ah, here…" he made sure that my eyes were fully concentrated on him as he leaned closer still and nearly whispered to me, "In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you."
My breath caught, and my senses were dazed and a swirling mess of confusion. I slowly began to shake my head, and he raised his eyebrows at me. "No?"
"But that's wrong…I…you're supposed to say that to Elizabeth, not me and…I…that's not how it happens, you…"
He seemed to take amusement in my being flustered, and the tenseness in his arms dissipated slightly. I could have run again if I wanted to. But then I couldn't, as he dipped his head.
"What're you…" I whispered.
"Shut up for a second Jane," he growled, seconds before his lips crashed against mine. For a moment, I felt myself go stiff with shock at the unfamiliar sensation. But Darcy—being such the egotistical know-it-all like he is—only took this as incentive to attempt to relax me, as his hands moved to cradle my head, tipping it back as he pulled me closer to him. That was all I needed to tentatively, and then more assuredly, respond, wrapping my fingers in his shirt as he smirked into the kiss.
I don't know how long it was before I had to rip my mouth from his, turning my head to the side to gasp for breath. Darcy rested his forehead against mine, his hands now wrapped around my own where they were still attached to his shirt.
"Jane?" he asked, sounding unsure—something I considered highly uncharacteristic. I shook my head, too out of breath and too in shock to even attempt to form words. His hands gripped mine tightly. "I know that you've been prejudiced against me from the start…you expected me to be some dream guy of yours, or the Mr. Darcy straight out of the book, but I'm not. I know I'm not. But, God, Jane…" he closed his eyes, twisting his head slightly against my forehead, "I can't help it, I think you've bewitched me," he paused, smirked, then added, "Body and soul."
Ironic. I closed my eyes and repressed a laugh of hysteria. That's what this was…ironic. This whole course of events, my being…prejudiced against him. And now look at us, nearly straight out of the book. I may have dreamed but never would have expected…
"But you are," I whispered, and he pulled back his head to look at me curiously.
"Mr. Darcy," I replied, lifting my eyes to meet his. "You're my Mr. Darcy."
"I am?" he asked, looking hopeful. Vulnerable, even. I'll admit to being surprised at this second side of him I was seeing now.
I smiled up at him encouragingly. "You are."
He laughed awkwardly in relief, squeezing my hands. "How's that for your fairytale romance?"
"I'd say good…but there's no kissing in Austen."
A grin stretched across his face. "No, there's not, is there?"
I shook my head.
"Should we fix that?"
Grinning, I nodded.
Darcy dipped his head down and paused. "This would be much easier if you were taller," he murmured. I scoffed, and he placed a finger over my lips. "Easier, but not as fun," he amended, slipping his hands down my back as he stepped forward, lifting me off of the ground and pressing me against the tree so I was at his height, wrapping my legs around his waist as his lips fluttered across mine again.
For a moment, a sense of contentment washed over me, and the feeling that I was living an impossible life, a life written straight from the pen of Ms. Austen herself.
"Just so you know," Darcy murmured with his face centimeters from mine.
"The first time we met, as much as I thought you were an amazingly interesting creature…you reeked of horse shit for half the day."
Before I could protest or reprimand him, his lips crashed against mine, and my body responded greedily. But the feeling that my life was from an Austen novel had already disappeared, because I was pretty sure—especially with the way Darcy's lips were roaming from my mouth and down my neck in a way that would make the eighteenth century novelist blush—that Jane Austen couldn't have written this.
My life was straight from my own heart and luck. No one else's. And that was just the way I wanted it to stay. And hopefully Darcy would continue to be a part of it.
(Did I ever mention that I love England?)
Woot, finished. Like I said, not one of my favorite pieces by far, but cute enough. (I'm holding myself to the standard of Impulse too much). And the line he says when he tells her he loves her is what Mr. Darcy tells Elizabeth in the book, and the bewitching line is from the 2005 movie. The House line is from the episode she mentions...oh House. :)
Anyway, I hope you liked it! Feel free to let me know. Constructive criticism always welcome. (Except, I will say this, I already know that it is probably too fast paced and likely not character developed enough.)
Thanks for reading!!