Charlotte stared at the clock in her office. Could it really be just 2pm? Was this, in fact, the slowest day ever? Could there be any other way to put off typing that report for Ricky any longer?
The phone shook her out of her reverie. She smiled. Yes, apparently there could be.
"This is Charlotte Lu."
"Charlotte. Hello. Good afternoon." Came the voice from across the line.
Charlotte's smile slipped as her eyebrows traveled upwards. Was that -
"This is William Darcy."
"Darcy?" She said incredulously. She cleared her throat. Probably not best to call a major donor by a nickname. "I mean, hello Mr. Darcy. How are you today?
"I'm well." He responded cordially. "And you? I trust things are well over at Collins and Collins."
"They are. Thank you for asking." She replied with the same measure of politeness, rather impressed with herself that none of the puzzlement that she was sure was plastered on her face was coming through the phone. She looked around the office, wishing that there was someone in there she could mouth, "what the hell" to.
She did it anyway, but having someone there with her would've made it seem less crazy.
After a long moment of silence, she said, "Um. Is there...something I can help you with?"
"Yes." Came the clipped replay. He cleared his throat. "It's about Lizzie."
Charlotte felt panic set in for a brief moment. It occured to her that William Darcy, in all his awkwardness and pronounced lack of game, was probably not the type to ask a girl's best friend about tips on wooing. If Darcy was calling her about Lizzie, it was probably something less personal, more worrisome. "Oh my god, did something happen? Is everything alright? Is she ok?"
"'No." He said.
"I mean, yes!" He broke in quickly, sounding flustered. "What I mean to say is that she is fine in that nothing monumentally horrific has occured, in which case you have nothing to worry about, but she is not fine in a more mundane sense of the word, which is to say that she's having a rather miserable day."
"Oh. Ok" She exhaled loudly, confused as ever and a little bit annoyed. She shook her head and huffed quietly, forcing her heart to slow down. "Well, um, thanks for telling me?"
"You're welcome." He paused, then cleared his throat again. "Informing you wasn't quite the reason for my call."
Something in Darcy's voice tipped her curiousity. Was he actually nervous? Charlotte grinned, her tension melting into glee. Looked like he was exactly the type of man to ask a girl's best friend tips on wooing someone. She fought back an urge to giggle. Looks like his game had improved.
"As I mentioned, Lizzie is having a rather bad day. One of the project presentations didnt go quite as planned. She was brilliant, of course, but certain parts that others were responsible for were not. She had a meeting with one of our...more intense board members after that. Howard Zatz, I believe he's on the Collins and Collins board as well."
Charlotte made a noise of sympathy. Intense was probably the nicest way to describe Howard.
Darcy snorted quietly in amusement. "Agreed."
"Poor Lizzie." Charlotte said, her heart aching for her best friend. She'd have to make sure to call later and cheer her up.
"Indeed." Darcy went silent once more as Charlotte rolled her eyes. He certainly took a while to get to the point. She heard him take a sharp intake of breath and could practically see him tucking his chin closer to his neck in nervousness. She'd nearly fallen over laughing when she'd seen Gigi mime it on Lizzie's video a few weeks back. As it was, she had to stifle the laughter bubbling up inside of her so as not to discourage Darcy from whatever inquiry he was building himself up to make.
"Yes, well, I was thinking that since all of you are unable to assist Lizzie on a day such as this, it falls to those of us who are available to help cheer her up. Since you're her best friend, I wondered if you had any...tips on how one might do that."
The grin that had fixed itself onto her face bloomed into a full fledged smile as she looked around the room in glee. She kept herself from fist pumping since mouthing words to herself, smiling widely and also fist pumping in an empty room was just a tad too insane.
"I definitely have some tips for you." She began excitedly, and began to list off the methods which would turn Lizzie's day around.
20 minutes later, Charlotte hung up the phone and leaned back in her chair. The conversation had actually been quite pleasant and almost friendly by the time they had hung up the phone. She had expected him to laugh or at least gently poke fun at some of the things she had enumerated, but all he had done was ask clarifying questions or say "hm" as though what she was telling him was the most fascinating thing he had heard all day.
Which, she reflected, perhaps it was.
One of the last things he had said to her was an earnest, "Thank you Charlotte. This was all incredibly helpful." A pause, then - "Lizzie will certainly appreciate what you've done for her."
Charlotte smiled, hoping that the warmth transferred through the phone. "I'm just a messenger. She'll appreciate what you've done for her. And so will I. Thanks for taking care of her."
A quiet moment, then - "It's my pleasure."
The affection in his voice had been obvious, as was the quiet longing. They had exchanged goodbyes and now here she was.
She stared at her phone, figuring out her next steps. Lizzie was too good at reading her and would know something was up the moment she started asking about her day. Best to do these things over text, where her gentle prodding would be less obvious.
Hey bestie, how's the day going?
A short wait. Then - Awful.
Well, at least you could always count on Lizzie to get right to the point. None of this hemming and hawing that Darcy seemed to be so fond of.
I'm sorry. :( What happened?
Lizzie typed out a two page text that basically summed up what Darcy had already told her, though with slightly more colorful language than he had used. And by slightly, she meant ridiculously. It must have really been quite a day.
Lizzie ended the text with - Sorry to dump on you. This day just really sucks. Wish you were here so we could watch Colin Firth movies and drink hot cocoa or something along those lines.
Charlotte sighed. The living in different cities part of growing up really did suck.
Me too. So promise me you'll do yourself a favor and make sure you don't mope by yourself tonight. Hang out with people. It'll make you feel better.
I don't really have that many people to hang out with here...
Charlotte rolled her eyes.
Yes, you do. You have friends there and people that want to be your friend. Put yourself out there. New year, new Lizzie right?
She clicked send and waited for a reply. She saw that Lizzie was typing back and sent one more text quickly.
I don't want to hear tomorrow that you spent Friday night in your dad's old shirt and your batman boxers, watching some NOVA documentary, eating beef ramen, and feeling sad all by yourself. Being with people will make you feel better. Trust me.
She waited long enough to worry that maybe she had been a tad too forceful with that last text. But, no, there was her phone buzzing with Lizzie's reply of -
It's eerie how well you know me.
Then - I promise I will make an effort to be social tonight.
Charlotte smiled triumphantly.
Good. I fully expect a picture later to show the fruits of your effort.
Ok, promise. :)
Charlotte put down her phone and grinned. It would certainly be quite an interesting night for Lizzie Bennet.