"I will give you twenty dollars to go get the coffee."
"Get you out of Sunday dinner with my mother."
"Very, very tempting, but this is just too comfortable."
"William," she moans, curling fingers around his bare bicep. His chuckle rumbles through his chest and shifts her cheek against the skin over his heart. He traces lines up and down her naked spine as she sighs, inches herself closer to him, fans a hot sigh over him. "Please. It smells amazing."
"If we took the pot off timed brewer, this wouldn't be a problem."
"And then what incentive would I have to get up on weekdays?"
"Your job isn't incentive enough?"
"Not at six in the morning, it isn't."
"Just go back to sleep."
"But it's Tanzanian Peaberry."
"It smells like productivity and sunshine."
"I think we have some of those market scones left over from brunch yesterday, too."
He groans, pulls her naked form flush against his. "Am I not enough for you anymore, Lizzie Bennet?"
She yawns into his shoulder and tucks their clean covers up over her shoulders.
"Cranberry scones, Will."
"Crushed as I am, I see how it is." He hugs her tight a moment before letting her go, rubbing his eyes. "Enjoy your tryst with breakfast while I wallow in disappointment."
"Would you please get the coffee?"
"Now you're just being lazy." He rolls on his side, away from her. "Get your own coffee."
"Will, no," she mewls and scoots to his back, tucking her body against his, framing him like a parenthesis. "The bed is too comfy."
"And you picked this one out, so my sympathies are limited."
She weaves an arm over his chest, molds herself closer to him.
"How can I bribe you?"
"I'm a sensible man who won't succumb to treachery," he mumbles. "No dice."
She grazes his shoulder with her teeth. "Really awesome sex?"
Though she can't see his face, she knows he's got a half-sleep grin.
"Already have that."
"Hm. What if I threaten to withhold said awesome sex?"
"You haven't the willpower, Lizzie Bennet," he notes through a yawn. "May I return to sleeping now?"
"I can totally go without sex."
"For a day, possibly."
She smacks his arm. "I was kidding before, but now you never know."
He rolls back over, gathers her in his arms, and attaches that skilled mouth of his to the sensitive hollow by her collarbone. She gasps, arches into him, but he pulls back in a moment, smirks, and gives her a peck on the cheek.
"I do know," he says.
"Well that was rude," she sighs, collapsing onto her back.
"I did spare you my morning breath, though. Because I'm a gentleman."
"A very chivalrous one."
He sighs his assent, eyes closed, and as his chest rises and falls more steadily, Lizzie watches him, gnaws her lip.
"So chivalrous," she says, "that you'd do anything for a lady."
He opens one eye to glare at her. She grins.
"Coffee, coffee, coffee!"
"Let the coffee sit, let the coffee rot." He throws an arm over his eyes.
"William Darcy, my kingdom for a cup! My heart! My undying devotion! Pleasepleaseplease!"
He groans, moans, pushes himself up by the heels of his hands. Sitting up and running a hand through his bed head, he glances down at her.
"The floor will be cold."
"You've got slippers."
"And I'm decidedly sorer from last night's excursions."
She reaches out to trace the curve of his hip. "Absolutely worth it though, eh?"
"Hm, quite." He leans over, kisses the crown of her head. "It is some solace knowing that you are sorer than I, though."
She grimaces. "Not even gonna contest that one."
He leaned back against the head board.
"Lizzie Bennet, it's six on a Saturday morning. Do you really want me to go and get your coffee from the kitchen?"
She smiles, bites her lips, and buries her face giggling in the flannel sheets as William sighs again.
"You are impossible."
"I'll get it next week, I promise."
"Liar," he says, swinging his legs over the bed. And the flannel envelops her as she listens to the sweet thuds of his feet trudging to the kitchen where clean mugs will brim with hot ambrosia and stale scones will pour off the plate like so many fish and loaves. As the sharp scent of coffee in her nose fails to negate the embrace of the mattress, Lizzie Bennet wonders for a moment how she got to be so lucky, how she fooled a good and headstrong man into choosing her as the person to fill his mornings and evenings and more fortunate dinner engagements. Heady bright wonderful morning, this one, and as the footsteps approach she almost doesn't open her eyes for fear this might actually just be a waking dream, one that comes in early hours and feels all the more tangible for it. But then the mattress dips, pulling her towards his width and warm skin. Eyes crack open and she finds William Darcy laden with a tray of common delicacies.
"My hero," she purrs, stretching out her arms to him, but he holds the tray just out of reach. She sees steam curl from its center.
"Lizzie Bennet," he says as she shifts to sit up. "You get coffee if you answer one question."
"Anything, anything at all. I'd give you the head of John the Baptist at this point."
He chuckles, and the tray shudders in his grasp, and her stomach twists in anticipation.
"Will you marry me?"
She blinks at him, leaning back on her elbows. He's naked on his knees with a tray of forgotten fare and she searches his face. He's too calm.
"Yes?" He smiles, much wider than he ever does. Always a little self-conscious about that unguarded smile, but she was a fan of it. Sloppy suited him from time to time.
"Then I guess you can have your coffee."
And she smiles soft as he settles back into their plush nest. They break the scones in silence and she puts her cream in her coffee while he drinks his straight. And nothing is too stale, too bitter, too strange. This quiet communion doesn't last too long, just the while it takes to fill themselves with the fortitude to talk and laugh again.
"When were you thinking?" she asks after draining the last drops from her not small mug.
"Certainly not soon," he says, wiping crumbs from his mouth. "It's best if you're quite established at work first. And we wouldn't want to steal any attention from that impending nephew of yours, either."
"He'll be your nephew, too." It sounds a bit bitter in the air, but in her gut it isn't at all. She imagines William Darcy lifting a boy in his arms and teaching him chess or cello or just making him laugh. No, that idea deserves no bitterness.
William smiles down into his mug. "Bing will like that."
She rubbed a thumb over her wrist, debating where to lead the discussion.
"Two years from now, maybe? Three?"
"Honestly, I haven't thought about dates," he says, resting his mug back on the tray. His eyes find hers and she can't suppress a small, warm smile when he stares at her with so little shame. "I just wanted to know that we want the same things. For later. Down the road."
She takes his empty hand in hers. "I'm really glad you asked me."
He leans over, kisses her with sealed lips. Not the wet, fast kiss of the evening prior, but the kind of kiss where proximity alone inspires confidence and intimacy. His fingers brush her jaw, her smile presses close to him.
Then she pulls back quick, raises a hand.
"You get to marry me on one condition, William Darcy."
His eyebrows are raised, his hand still hanging in the air where her cheek just was.
"You cannot buy a huge preposterous engagement ring for what amounts to a down payment on a house."
He laughs, pushes the tray to the other end of the bed, and pulls her back to him. "I would never."
"Oh, you so would, Mister It's-okay-I'll-just-buy-you-a-car-for-our-anniversary."
"You loved that car," he says into her hair.
"But I didn't need it, nope." She crosses her arms.
"I learned my lesson. The car is back at the dealership, you're allowed to pay for dinner, and I never intended to buy you a ring."
"Oh, what a modern man! No engagement ring! Aren't we as trendy as can be."
"Mh, I never said no ring, dear."
She looks for whatever that means in his tight smile, but he isn't budging.
"Have you already bought one?"
"No, no," he says, and then smiles all white teeth down at her. "I might, however, have visited the family safe deposit box."
She twists to look at him full on.
He raises his eyebrows.
"Will Darcy, you didn't."
He squeezes her hand, stands, and strides to his side of the bookshelf. Lizzie wrings her hands, uncertain of how she feels about this development. When he returns with a small, leather ring box, she is still. Her lungs find no breath, her hands no will to move.
"Lizzie, we're not getting engaged right now, so you don't have to put it on," he says, opening the box. And perched in velvet folds is a moderate-sized sapphire wreathed in very small diamonds and very small pearls mounted on very pale gold, a design that speaks of antiquity and impeccable taste. Lizzie reaches out and touches its careful curves, finds she is smiling. Then she looks at him instead of the tiny star.
He nods, and her hand slips from the box to his wrist, pulls him closer.
"Thank you, Will," she breathes onto his cheek. "It's beautiful."
"It'll probably have to be resized. I hope you don't consider that an excessive touch."
She shakes her head, presses her forehead against his.
The sapphire receives another awed glance before going to hide behind books again. The midcentury finance section. He knows her too well.
Heady bright wonderful morning, this one. They dress very slowly, they speak not too much, though the moment they've both brushed their teeth she kisses him better, getting the taste of him stuck in her teeth again. Hopefully for the rest of the day. Probably for the next fifty years.
"How long before we tell anyone?" she asks as she twists her hair out of her face.
"Nothing's official. And we both know, so what really matters beyond that?"
She shoves the last pins in her hair and watches him tie his tie.
"Do we actually have plans for today?"
He pauses in his knotting.
"You know," he says, dropping his hands. "I can't remember making any."
She laughs, leaning onto the sink and smudging her eye makeup when she touches her face.
"We can plan the rest of our lives but not our afternoon."
"Aren't we something."
She turns to him, pulls the tie from his collar altogether.
"What if we just avoid everyone we know for today, hm?"
"Intriguing," he answers, pulling her closer by the waist.
"We can just walk around the city or go for a drive or hell, just strip down again and stay in. When's the last time we did that?"
In lieu of answering, he recaptures the soft crevice of her neck. She draws a sharp breath, drops his tie, and lets him walk her back against the wall.
What did I do to deserve this man? How did I stumble into this life with him? Hands roam and breath grows wet. Nails dig. Lungs fill and drain. And Lizzie Bennet is lost in a haze of William Darcy with only one thought rooting her to the tile below – I get to keep him. We can do this till we die. Together.
When it's done and they've laughed at themselves he goes to the kitchen to make more coffee and she finds herself in front of the bathroom mirror again saying over and over under her breath a million new versions of her name, their name.
"Lizzie Darcy. Elizabeth Darcy. Elizabeth Bennet Darcy."
"Elizabeth Darcy, your coffee is done. And there is only one scone left, so you'd best hurry."
She's not sure how she likes the ring of it, but she loves that it's both of them, that lines are blurred and syllables married. And she'll be damned if he gets the last scone.
Well, maybe they can split it. Maybe.