He took my hand and gave me a firm handshake. He let go, reached for the door handle to the circular room and opened it for me.
I walked into the room with him following behind. I had lost my seat next to Father because Charles and my uncle occupied the seats on either side of him. They were red in the face and were giving each other toasts. I went over to take my bag then moved to occupy Charles’ original seat, which was… next to Darcy.
A selection of desserts arrived at the table and everyone started picking at them and singing praises. I reached over to take a spoonful of what looked like some sort of fruity concoction, and tasted it. It was pretty good and everyone was tucking in to their own mini tasting plate, except Darcy.
“Not having any dessert?”
‘No. Not if I can help it.’
The eating concluded and more wine was poured, more glasses clinked and laughter filled the room. I liked seeing everyone so happy, although all seemingly glossy-eyed and pink in the face. However this was also slightly (okay, maybe extremely) marred by the storm that brewed in the person sitting next to me.
The bride to be and her party took their leave first. The rest were engaged in happy tipsy conversation and Father looked at me from across the table and mouthed ‘Fifteen more minutes.’ I nodded.
Again, I thought to make conversation with Darcy but I glanced over and saw that he was preoccupied with whatever it was on his mobile device, with half-closed eyes indicating that he was either bored, or falling asleep or annoyed, or all of it combined. It was probably better not engaging in conversation.
I was glad that I had brought reading material. I took my book out of my bag and resumed reading from I last stopped.
Wholly immersed in my book, it was interrupted by his voice.
‘Is that Raymond Carver?’
I lost my train of thought and looked at him, he was still scrolling away on his phone. I rolled my eyes.
“Excuse me?” I decided to say.
‘Raymond Carver? Your book?’
“Yes, that’s right.”
‘So you enjoy his writing?’
“This is the first of his books I’ve purchased. I am enjoying the simplicity of it.”
‘Doesn’t it seem a little ordinary though?’
“Well, perhaps so. But it opens up so many possibilities too. And only you would set the limits on what those possibilities are and/or could be, no?”
‘Good answer.’ He looked up and smiled at me. I was at a loss of what exactly to feel:
I was annoyed at him for being so impolite and so dreadful during this dinner.
I was impressed that he noticed my reading material.
But. The kicker: the fact that he had such a nice smile.
I shrugged my shoulders in response.
‘Charlotte, I’m ready. Say goodbye to Charles.’ Father had walked over and picked up my bag for me.
As I hugged Charles and thanked him for having us over for such a lovely meal, I whispered, “You owe me an explanation for your choice of guest this evening”, before pulling away.
Charles laughed, ‘Yes, Charlotte, I’ll text you. Send my love to your mother.’
Father was already waiting outside of the circular room so I made my way toward the door.
Before I could reach for the handle, Darcy stood up, reached for it and pushed the door open for me.
‘Goodnight, Miss Charlotte.’ That intense gaze again.
“…Goodnight Mister Darcy.”