Mabel Elizabeth Darcy was insatiable. She loved moving to California, adored her “Prince Daddy” as she affectionately called her long lost father, and just had to learn how to write out her complete name even though she wouldn’t go to kindergarten until the following Autumn. Georgiana adored her niece and begged Elizabeth for the honor of beginning to teach the precocious four year old how to begin to form her letters, and Elizabeth was only too happy to let her new sister (for really, in Elizabeth’s mind, G was her little sister) bond with her niece. The home, which had a full back yard and swing set, was full of scraps of paper, with colorful lettering of “MaBEL DaRCY” written boldly across them. Darcy was only too thrilled with his precious princess’ progress and proudly hung every one of her attempts up on the walls of the kitchen and the playroom (yes, Mae had her own playroom, which was separate from the den and the game room; Elizabeth thought she would never get used to such decadence – who had a game room, anyway?). Darcy even had her first successful attempt (complete with the misspelled “Elisabett” as a middle name) framed and placed on his desk proudly at Grendel Studios.
Darcy, with his eager zeal in the workplace, had already been promoted to CEO and was scheduled to take over the full company within the next fiscal year, having proved how invaluable he was to the board over the months he was in New York, where he had managed to exceed all expectations anyone could possibly have had for him, even though he was three thousand miles away with his new family.
And everyone at Dreamweaver and Grendel knew—or at least thought they knew—all about his new family. Fitzwilliam Darcy had been rather famous for his lack of interest in anyone—male, female, straight, queer, sculpted by plastic surgery, or somehow perfect through a tiny thing called nature. Most of the board believed that he had a serious stick up a particular piece of anatomy and that he thought too well of himself to even spare a single glance for mere mortals. There weren’t even hints of partying ways, of women (or hot boys) on the side in hotel rooms, nothing. He was completely and one hundred percent squeaky clean. And this had scared everyone.
Nearly to death.
It’s not that his subordinates and coworkers hadn’t tried to entice him into a liason. The name of Fitzwilliam Darcy was so well known in L.A. (I mean, he was a hot, single, a billionaire, completely unattached, and orphaned, to top it off) that the poor man couldn’t go to the grocery store without fear of assault from an admirer.
Caroline Bingley had been the worst. Fortunately, she was usually too hung over to scope Darcy out at the local marker and the conscious businessman and trust fund stud wouldn’t be caught dead at any of the social gatherings where she might be. She was famous, however, in certain circles, for her unwavering pursuit of the man. Of course, she was also laughed at behind her back as it was clear to everyone except Carrie Bings that Fitzwilliam Darcy, frankly, just wasn’t interested.
Then, just as suddenly as he had disappeared for a brief two weeks in New York City (that had somehow expanded into over a month), Darcy had appeared again. His austere office, which had only previously had a photograph of his younger sister and an odd sketch tucked into a locked drawer of a girl in jeans and a tank top that his secretary had only accidentally briefly glanced at two years earlier, was transformed. Darcy had walked into the office, impeccably dressed with briefcase in hand, and oddly had a cardboard box under one arm. There had been no forewarning of his presence and everyone just stopped work, staring open-mouthed at him as they noted with astonishment that Fitzwilliam Darcy, the Fitzwilliam Darcy, appeared to be smiling to himself.
The day became even more astounding when he had tossed his briefcase happily into a chair, had actually taken off the coat of his suit, and had proceeded to unpack the box. An excruciating half an hour later, those who walked by the office which oddly had the door left partially open, saw that Darcy had meticulously placed up several drawings that had clearly been created by a child, as well as various photos of himself with alternating women—one with long golden hair tinged with strawberry highlights, happy and healthy; the second woman was drawn though happy with short brown hair that tufted—and a child with his stunning eyes and chocolate curls. A few days later, after the secretary snooped after hours, the gossip mongers knew that the two women in the photos were actually the same person, only altered. To make things even more interesting, by the following Friday, the mysterious woman waltzed into the office, gave her name simply as “Elizabeth” and she was hurriedly issued into his office to actually wait while he finished a meeting. As soon as the V.P. appeared, he had kissed her softly, his hands on either side of her drawn though happy face as he gazed adoringly down at her. The couple then went for a rather long lunch.
It was official. Fitzwilliam Darcy was off the market.
Richard Fitzwilliam, his cousin, was walking around like he was on cloud nine and he was overheard teasing his dour relative at the end of meetings, asking him how “married life” was coming along, and whether fatherhood was everything Darcy had thought it would be. The executive only smiled good humoredly, and reminded his friend that he was engaged, but that he frankly couldn’t wait to carry off his Elizabeth into the sunset like she deserved.
All of the female employees (and some of the male) thought they had somehow traveled to the twilight zone.
By the end of April, everyone knew that little Mabel, who had been seen skipping into the office with Georgiana Darcy and “Elizabeth,” was in fact Darcy’s biological daughter and that the strange and yet ethereal woman was her mother. Who was she? Where had she come from? How had she and Darcy gotten together and why were they ever separated when they were so clearly devoted to one another? And why was she the lucky bitch when she clearly had little going for her after her rather bizarre transformation?
It should also be noted that several people lost bets that had been secretly placed over the years.
Elizabeth was slowly healing. She had her own study and slowly worked on her children’s book—The Forgotten Prince—constantly rewriting it and sketching for it. She had never really thought herself artistic though during her childhood in her long hours locked either in her room or those horrible nights when she had stepped out of line and was thrown into the cold, dank basement, she had often sketched when she had finished her work. Nothing special, really. She had no formal training, had never taken an art class and although she loved the illustrations of children’s books, would hardly call herself an expert when it came to drawing herself. She nonetheless began to develop her own, unpretentious style, and Darcy would encourage her with a smile, a gentle kiss in her hair, or an affectionate squeeze of her hand. Elizabeth would smile up to him and knew that she had never been so loved.
Of course, Mabel picked up on her artistic’s zeal. As soon as they family moved in and Mabel learnt that, yes, this was their house and it wasn’t being rented, she decided singlehandedly to redecorate the kitchen with her paints. Darcy could only smile and stare. Georgiana couldn’t stop laughing for half an hour straight after seeing her brother’s reaction. Elizabeth had to serve as disciplinarian. It was clear that Mabel had her father wrapped around her little finger.
The kitchen probably was going to need to be repainted.
Then just as quietly as Darcy had appeared that day in his office with the box under his arm, he disappeared again. At first his subordinates (except for secretary who, frankly, could keep a secret) thought that he was sick. After a few days a few of the female employees thought that perhaps he was really ill and started getting worried. Others believed that perhaps he had had a row with Elizabeth and was taking time to lick his wounds in quiet before returning to his esteemed position of wealthy-quiet-stoic-billionaire-eye-candy. If that Elizabeth had had a chance then surely one of them could help him get over his heartbreak.
Richard Fitzwilliam, they soon noticed, was in far too good of a mood, though, for either of these possibilities to be true. Then, about two weeks later, Miss Georgiana and floated into the office with party bags and the little girl with curls in tow. With the help of a teenager who looked an awful lot like a cuter, younger version of Elizabeth, the three began to decorate Darcy’s sacred office with banners that screamed “Congratulations” in large letters and “Welcome Home, William and Lizzy.”
A day later a nosy intern noticed a few new framed photographs that were placed on Richard Fitzwilliam’s desk of Elizabeth in a wedding dress and Darcy beside her in a tuxedo, holding a smiling Mabel. By that afternoon it was official. Fitzwilliam Darcy was not only off the market but he had slipped off and tied the knot.
Hearts broke in the office, even the most stoic could be seen wiping tears away from their eyes (whether they were from joy or sadness was a matter of opinion), and a few days later, a smiling Darcy waltzed back into the office, glowing with a tan and happiness.
Some women, notably including Caroline Bingley, believed that it was all a fluke. But as the years passed and Elizabeth blossomed into a stunning woman with waves that fell to shoulder of reddish gold, society at large gave up all hope. Fitzwilliam Darcy was married and was married for life. Failure and divorce were not in his vocabulary, and anyone who saw him with his wife or their daughter could never doubt that his heart was taken until the day he died.