Saturday, August 10, 2013

THE HOTNESS: A Modern Teen Pride and Prejudice (chapter fifty-eight: space cadets)

Chapter Fifty-eight
Space Cadets
    Paige wondered what planet he was on, but made excuses on account of his age.
Was it her imagination or did Lord Darcy actually pat her knee under the table as he slurped his Eton Mess pudding?
   “Pass the cream, dear,” was all he said as he licked his lips.
   This was like a horror film.
   It got worse, then Mackenzie arrived and sat in the seat on the other side of Paige.
   “Hey Paige, what a surprise.” Mackenzie leant in, “I got therapy, found myself in Mexico,” she said, “I’m not saying it fixed me but I’m better than I used to be, not nearly so jealous since I’ve owned myself. By the way, my modeling career is going well…”  Mackenzie talked on as Paige inched towards her and away from Lord Donovan who’d started snoring at the table.
    After dessert was served (or ‘pudding’ as it was called in England) they all (Darcy, Blair, Mackenzie and  Ryan – who’d just arrived to pick them all up and go back to town), burst into fits of giggles.
   “Paige, Blair tells me you play piano,” Lady Donovan gestured towards the grand piano in the corner of the dining room. “Let’s see how good you are.”
  “Oh, I haven’t played keyboards for a long time.”
   “Well, that’s not what Darcy said. He said he loved hearing you play when you both went to school in LA,” Blair said.
   “Yes, play Paige,” Ryan added.
   “Oh play,” Mackenzie agreed, “anything to drown out the snoring,” she added under her breath. Paige got up tentatively and walked over to the corner, sat down and played. She played an acoustic version of a pop song her youngest sister, Rebel liked.
   Then Blair reluctantly got up at her great-aunt’s urging and smiled as she sang along to Paige’s fairly hesitant playing. All the while Darcy Donovan lent in the corner and worried about the effect his difficult family would have on Paige. The music, to informed ears, was tuneful but average, but to Darcy’s ears it was perfect.
    “That’s how music sounds when the one you like performs it, even if it is out of tune and harsh, it is a welcome sound.” Blair assured him afterwards.
   Lady Donovan noticed Darcy’s look. It was admiring. At first she thought he was merely paying attention to the girl, so as not to hurt his sister’s feelings but then Lady Donovan noticed his gaze rested firmly on Paige Bennet. Lady Donovan knew she needn’t consult the family’s ancestry specialist. Paige Bennet was not part of their society. She wasn’t upper class or middle class… she wasn’t even English. She was American.
    Lady Donovan did not want her grandson going all the way to America – Australia was bad enough – but they had links there, that in itself was a worry to Lady Donovan who was becoming slightly hysterical at the thought that Pemberly could one day be taken over by Miss Paige Bennet. After all, who was her father? Who were her family and relatives? Of course, many would think this form of social snobbery no longer existed in this day and age but it was alive and well in the Donovan family.
   When the girls finished playing their song, Lady Donovan spoke up.
  “That was lovely Blair. Paige, you are right, you are not a musician to my ear.”
  Ah, that’s what I tried to tell you, Paige thought, instead, giving way to age over beauty, Paige smiled. She’d be out of the house soon enough and if Shiloh were here, she’d never make a fuss.
   Darcy looked over at Paige, horrified by his great-aunt’s rudeness.
   “Paige doesn’t want to be a musician, Aunt. Paige is going to study International Relations and maybe go to Law School...”
   “If I get in,” Paige said.
   “You will, I’m sure of it,” Darcy replied.
   “I’d like to work in human rights and be an advocate for the disadvantaged.”
  “Oh, you have a lot of those in America do you?”
   “No more so than here, Lady Donovan, if the streets of London are anything to go by,” Paige answered quickly.
   Paige had decided to fight fire with fire. Blair and Mackenzie were enjoying this.
   “Aunt, London is not like Oxfordshire and your country estate,” Darcy assured his out of touch great-aunt.
    Lady Donovan scrunched up her nose and rang the bell for tea.
   “I suppose you would like coffee, Paige, that’s very American, isn’t it?”
   “Tea will be fine, Lady Donovan.”
   Lady Donovan raised her eyebrow and when the servant was slow to arrive said, “Oh well, I’ll go and find the maid, now where is she?”
    Ryan grabbed his car keys.
   “Don’t you think we’ve had enough, Darcy? It’s almost nine?”
   “Of course,” Darcy grabbed everyone’s coats. “Let’s get out of here.”
   Darcy’s great uncle had the final say of the night.
   He spoke as if Paige had already left, as if the evening hadn’t gone badly enough.
  “Good pair of hips on that girl, Darcy. Good for breeding. Have you found out if she’s interested in marrying you yet? You know, no point in having an estate if you remain a bachelor…”
   Darcy wondered what planet he was on.
   Blair started laughing out loud but Darcy froze.
   Paige also froze as she collected her coat. It was impossible to pretend she hadn’t heard.

  When they arrived back at the college, Paige spoke first.
 “Is that true, what your uncle said?”
 “It is, sort of. He’s kind of… touched… in the head. I take no notice. I intend to make my own way in the world and not be reliant on any of my relatives.”
 “Oh,” Paige said.
 “Great gene pool, huh?”
 “I’m not sure your family would ever accept an outsider.”
  “My great-aunt already has someone lined up for me to marry, but it’s kind of a joke because, well, my sister and I have decided we don’t care if our relatives don’t leave us the houses and the businesses. I mean, there is no way my sister is ready to marry anyone… and neither am I.”
  “Oh,” Paige said. It was pretty clear Darcy had run hot, then cold. Suddenly the whole estate didn’t seem so beautiful anymore.