Saturday, August 10, 2013

THE HOTNESS: A Modern Teen Pride and Prejudice (chapter fifty: familiar faces)

Chapter Fifty
Familiar Faces

    Above the din of the crowd, Paige saw the top of a blonde head and heard a familiar voice.  
    “Yeah, I miss the sun too,” the boy said.
    It was unmistakably Darcy: taller, more handsome, sun drenched and certainly louder than he’d ever been. He’d been working on his grandfather’s cattle ranch during his vacation, which is how he got sun drenched. Yes, it was definitely Darcy Donovan.  Darcy had his back to Paige in the crowded room and she wasn’t sure what to do. If she ignored him, he’d likely not see her.
    Darcy got his drinks from the bar without looking over, then took his seat behind Paige with two friends, one of whom was Ryan Bingley.
    She waited for her change hugging her coat around her pensively when the familiar voice said.
   “Paige Bennet?” 
    There was no avoiding him. Paige swung around.
   “Darcy Donovan?”
    “Shiloh is in LA.”
    Ryan, who smiled at Paige, looked completely deflated. Darcy knew Ryan had emailed Shiloh, but Shiloh never responded.  
     Darcy hesitatied, then attempted small talk.
     “My college is competing in the debate finals.”
     “Mine too.”
     “What a surprise.”
     “Not really.
      Darcy paused.
     “Can’t we just be friends? Forget high school. Start new? We were just kids then. Now we’re two foreigners in a strange country… legally adults.”
    “Mmm,” Paige said, “I guess we’ll be seeing each other.”
     Darcy toasted Paige’s cider, “Here’s to being friends then…”
    “And rivals,” Paige said under her breath.
     “That too,” Darcy said unexpectedly.  
    Everyone re-introduced themselves and behaved almost like adults. Even Darcy made a huge effort to introduce everyone and told people about his great-aunts ‘old’ house in in Oxfordshire situated in exquisite countryside not far from where they were.
   “Really?” Paige remembered.
   “We call it the Donovan mansion,” Ryan joked.
    Paige suddenly felt uncomfortable.
   Paige vaguely remembered people saying Darcy’s extended family lived in some great mansion in England.  Nevertheless, the group ordered lunch and Darcy insisted on including Paige and Coco and paying for everyone. By then, Darcy had joined the tables and seated himself next to Paige.
   “So, I had no idea you would be here for… the debate championships?”
    Paige shrugged, speechless for the first time.
   “Sunrise must have won the Nationals.”
   “Yes.” Paige said proudly.
   “My school did too, but then Australia has a far smaller population – just over twenty million as opposed to three hundred million where you’re from, so yours is the bigger win.” 
   “Right,” Paige said, she wasn’t used to this far humbler Darcy.
   “So, you’ll get into somewhere amazing like Harvard Law School.”
   “Maybe. I’m studying at UCLA, it’s pretty amazing.”
   “I know. After Oxford… I really want to go to film school there.”
    “Wow… I mean, you should do what you want but… this place takes my breath away. How could you ever leave?”
    “I know. It’s a pretty amazing university.” 
   Paige looked around her and the spiral architecture of the pub. Again, the entire place was like an enchanted medieval town.
     “Mmm… It is pretty remarkable.” Darcy leant in closer, “I gotta say though, I’m one of only six Aussies at the college we’re staying in. The other students, most from England, some of them are serious snobs about ‘colonials’ if you know what I mean. They rub it in any chance they get that they’re beating us in cricket, for example.”
    “Cricket?” Paige thought this was funny; Darcy getting a taste of his own medicine. She had no idea that cricket was a national sport played in England and Australia (and most other commonwealth countries), but she googled it under the table after they’d finished speaking.
    “Well, I think English people are very polite and the place is… out of this world.”
    “Before debate finals, we should go out… for a picnic. You should see the meadows around here. I’ll arrange it.”
    Paige hesitated. She couldn’t believe this new Darcy was real. He’d matured so much and was acting like less of a jerk and more of a man.
     “Okay,” Paige said. Perhaps she had been wrong about Darcy so long ago. It was certainly time to give him another chance.
      When she texted Shiloh about it after, Shiloh replied. ”I wish I’d stayed in touch with Ryan. I’ve never met any boy I liked even half as much.”