As Elizabeth opened the front door to Jane and Charles’s house, the aroma of home-baked pizza surrounded her, awakening her appetite with a vengeance. She stepped into the living room and saw Jane and Georgiana rushing to greet her, the air around them crackling with anticipation.
“What did she tell you?” Georgiana asked in a breathless tone.
Elizabeth smiled, glad to have good news to share. “Edmund Darcy is your legal and biological father.”
“Really?” Georgiana grabbed Elizabeth’s arm, her eyes huge. “And Aunt Catherine was sure about that? Really, really sure?”
“Yes, she was really, really sure. In fact, she was annoyed when I asked that exact question.” Elizabeth donned her haughtiest expression and imitated Catherine’s strident voice. “‘Young woman, if I say something, you may be assured that it is the truth.’”
Jane chuckled as she led the way into the living room. Georgiana sank onto a sofa. “So I really am a Darcy,” she murmured, as though to herself.
Elizabeth wasn’t sure what expression she had expected to see on Georgiana’s face, but it definitely hadn’t been a perplexed frown. “Are you okay?” she asked.
Georgiana nodded slowly. “I think so … I’m just ….”
Jane sat beside Georgiana and put an arm around her shoulders. “News this important can be overwhelming; it may take a little while for you to process it. But I’m so happy for you.”
“Yeah ….” A tentative smile flitted across Georgiana’s face. “Yeah, me too. ‘Cause it means Will is really my brother, not just halfway.” She paused. “And I really belong in the house … that’s good, even though sometimes I hate it there.”
“We’ll see what we can do about that once we get home,” Elizabeth said, squeezing onto the sofa with Georgiana and Jane.
Georgiana didn’t seem to hear Elizabeth’s remark. “Until a couple of days ago, I kind of wanted Wickham to be my dad, but I guess I was being stupid.”
“You weren’t being stupid,” Elizabeth said. “He’s very good at manipulating people. Remember what Aunt Maddie said: he fooled all of us.”
“Yeah, I guess.” Georgiana fell silent.
Elizabeth was about to speak, but she intercepted a pointed smile from Jane, accompanied by a little shake of her head. Jane was right; it was best to let Georgiana think things through at her own pace.
Finally, the girl spoke again. “But I don’t understand ….” Her voice trailed off.
“What is it?” Elizabeth asked, no longer able to keep silent.
“Well ….” Georgiana licked her lips, staring at her lap. “I … I don’t know how to ask this. I mean, it’s kind of ….” She winced and her glance flicked over to Elizabeth. “My parents weren’t … together anymore, so how …?”
Elizabeth nodded. “I know what you’re asking, and there’s a good explanation.” Inwardly, she did some wincing of her own. This was one part of the story she had to tell carefully.
A beeping sound issued from the kitchen. “The pizza’s ready,” Jane said. “Why don’t we talk more while we have lunch.”
Elizabeth had always loved Jane’s kitchen; somehow, entering the room felt like receiving a warm hug. She glanced around at the gleaming hardwood floors and the warm maple cabinets, accented with copper pots hanging over the large center island. Light streamed in through French doors leading to the deck, and the scent of baking bread—actually, Jane’s delicious pizza crust—filled the air. Jane had a talent for making a room welcoming and homey, yet also elegant and stylish, something Elizabeth hadn’t the slightest idea how to accomplish. Perhaps it was just as well that she and William were living in a house that wouldn’t require—or even allow—her to redecorate.
They sat at the large kitchen table and ate pizza while Elizabeth told the rest of the story—at least, the parts she was authorized to tell—in a softened form. She summarized the Darcys’ estrangement and Wickham’s entrance into Anna’s life, and then reached the critical section. “So it’s true that your mother and Wickham were attracted to each other and were definitely good friends,” she said, “and apparently they did some flirting. But your mother was serious about her wedding vows. She was faithful to your father.”
“But he wasn’t, right? I’ve overheard stuff about him and other women, but of course when they see me coming they shut up right away.”
Elizabeth sighed and nodded. “Catherine said he … kept company with other women after he and your mother grew apart, and William told me the same thing. But your mother didn’t do that.”
“So how did I … how did they ….” Georgiana sighed and shrugged, a pained expression on her face. “You know what I mean.”
“They still saw each other from time to time, so they had a chance to talk. In fact, from what Catherine said, I think maybe your father still loved your mother, at least a little, but she was so angry with him for not letting her continue in opera that he hid his feelings from her.”
“Yeah, it really sucks that he made her quit singing. Will told me about it.”
“I know.” Elizabeth had been about to take a sip of her beer—Anchor Steam, of course—but she set down the bottle. This was approaching dangerous ground. “Your father wanted his wife to focus on her social obligations. If she’d continued in opera, she would have been traveling constantly, like William does.”
“But he was okay with Will being a pianist.”
“Actually, no, he wasn’t. That was one of the things that caused problems. He wanted his son to follow him into the business. But your mother insisted that William should be a professional musician. I’m sure that some part of her dedication to that idea was because she’d been denied her own musical career.”
“And, by the way, your grandmother sided with your mother and William. Without her help, it’s possible William wouldn’t have his career.”
“Does anybody want another slice of pizza?” Jane asked. Both Georgiana and Elizabeth answered in the affirmative. Once Jane had served them and was seated again, Elizabeth continued the story.
“Despite all the trouble between your parents, they had something in common: they both wanted another child. Your mother was especially hoping for a daughter. Your father wanted someone to take over the business when he was gone, and everyone realized William was headed in a different direction.”
“Yeah. Will would hate that kind of thing.” Georgiana turned to Jane. “Charles hated all that business stuff, too, right? I think I heard Will telling Richard about it once.”
Jane smiled. “He’s so much happier now, working for the symphony.”
“William helped him to get that job,” Elizabeth said, feeling a little frisson of pride. Then she remembered that he’d done it in part to make amends for his role in separating Jane and Charles. “But back to your parents. They were still married, so they decided to have another baby.”
“Why didn’t they just get divorced and have kids with people they liked?”
“Catherine said your mother didn’t believe in divorce, and she also didn’t want to risk losing her children in a custody battle.” There was no need to get into the prenup issue.
“Then why did people think Wickham was my father?”
“Well, after you were born, as you know, your mother spent most of the summer in the Hamptons. I didn’t know till today that she stayed at Catherine de Bourgh’s estate. Wickham spent a lot of time there with her, and people were watching. The three of you together—Wickham, your mom, and you—looked like a family to some people.”
“So they didn’t know anything; they just decided to gossip.” Georgiana rolled her eyes. “Rude.”
“Yes, it was,” Jane said in a soothing tone, touching Georgiana’s arm. “But I guess the people who knew your parents would have had the same question you did: how would they have had another child, when they’d been apart for so long? And then, when they saw your mom with another man ….”
“Plus,” Elizabeth said, “your name was so close to Wickham’s. That made things worse; it seemed to some of them like you were named after him.”
Georgiana nodded. “Mrs. Scofield said something about that, but I was named for my great-grandmother.” She frowned for a moment and then glanced up. “Wouldn’t Gran have known all this stuff? Why didn’t she tell us, so we could stop wondering?”
“Actually, she didn’t know about your parents’ agreement; they didn’t tell her about it.” Elizabeth paused; she wanted to answer without suggesting that Rose had harbored any doubts. “But she must have assumed that they’d reconciled briefly, and it didn’t work out.”
They were silent for a while as they finished their pizza. Elizabeth was pleased that the conversation had gone well, and that she hadn’t stumbled into revealing anything that might hurt Georgiana unnecessarily.
Finally, Georgiana said, “Okay, I think I understand everything. It makes sense, and it’s cool to know that Mamma and my father both wanted me. But you said my father wanted a kid who’d go into the business.”
“Does that mean I have to?”
“No,” Elizabeth replied. “But you could, if it’s something you’d like to explore.”
“I never really thought about it.” Georgiana gazed across the room, biting her lip. “Do you think Gran would like it if I did that, or do you think she’d say a lady shouldn’t go into business?”
“I don’t know,” Elizabeth said, “but I think you should choose what you want to do, not what you think she wants you to do.”
“It’s just that, now that she knows for sure that I’m really her granddaughter, maybe she’ll finally love me. And I wouldn’t want to mess that up by doing something she didn’t like.”
“She already loves you; she’s just really bad at showing it. But I understand why you feel that way, and I’m so sorry. I know how much that hurts.” To Elizabeth’s surprise, tears sprang to her eyes.
“What’s wrong?” Georgiana asked. “You’re crying.”
Elizabeth didn’t answer, trying to regain equanimity. During the pause, Jane laid a gentle hand on Elizabeth’s arm, her eyes warm with understanding. “Are you thinking about Mom?”
Elizabeth nodded and wiped her eyes. “I’m sorry, Georgie. I didn’t mean to make this about me.” She glanced at Jane, who nodded. “My mom and I didn’t really understand each other when I was younger. Sometimes I used to try to think of things I could do to make her love me. I didn’t understand till later that she did love me, in her own way; I just couldn’t see it.”
“What do you mean?” Georgiana leaned forward, propping one elbow on the kitchen table and resting her chin on her hand.
“Well, I wasn’t a girly girl. I hated wearing dresses, and I loved running and climbing trees and playing baseball with the boys. She wanted me to be more ladylike, but ballet was just about the only thing I did that she considered appropriate for a girl. She was probably embarrassed by how messy I looked all the time, too. If you’re familiar with the Pig-Pen character in the Peanuts comic strip—the little boy always surrounded by a cloud of dust—that was me. Except I was a girl, which made it even worse.”
“Come on, Lizzy, you weren’t anywhere near that bad,” Jane said.
“She called me by that name one time.” Elizabeth hadn’t thought about it in years, but the memory still hurt. “Anyway, she tried to make a lady of me. But when she’d push me in that direction, it felt like she disliked me and was ashamed of me. I tried to do better, at least a little. But Jane’s hand-me-down dresses didn’t fit because I was too short and too fat. And I kept falling down and skinning my knees, and the Band-aids showed if I wore a short dress, and ….” Elizabeth shrugged and sighed. “It didn’t matter anyway, because I knew I could never be perfect, like Jane was. And that was what Mom really wanted.”
Jane shook her head and grasped Elizabeth’s hand. “I can’t let you talk that way about the best sister anyone ever had. Don’t listen to her, Georgie. You are so lucky she’s going to be your sister-in-law.”
Georgiana looked directly into Elizabeth’s eyes, smiling. “Actually, my sister, not sister-in-law, right?”
“That’s right.” Elizabeth felt her eyes growing damp again. She took a deep breath and blinked back the tears; it was time to change the subject. “Now, is there anything else you want to know about my conversation with Catherine? Or would you like to talk to her yourself to get confirmation? She said she was willing to do that.”
“No way! She’s scarier than Gran.”
Elizabeth laughed. “Yes, she is. But she was a dear friend of your mother’s and supported her through some very difficult times. Some day you might want to know more about that.”
“And speaking of friends of your mother’s, we’re having dinner with one tonight.” Elizabeth glanced at Jane. “Did you tell her our plan for the rest of the day?”
“We talked about what to do this afternoon, but I didn’t mention dinner.”
“Anne de Bourgh is going to join us. She knew your mother, and she’s become a friend of ours.”
Georgiana scoffed. “But she never says a word. She just sits there and stares at the floor.”
“I think you’ll be surprised,” Jane said. “Anne is different now—at least, when her mother isn’t around. And she loved Anna. I’m sure she has all sorts of stories to share.”
With lunch finished, they headed out to explore the city. Jane and Elizabeth had agreed in advance that some distraction would be good for Georgiana, and Elizabeth found herself needing it just as much. Her emotions were too close to the surface, threatening to emerge again at an inopportune moment, as they had done in Jane’s kitchen.
They rode a cable car, disembarking across the street from the Fitzwilliams’ building on Nob Hill. Elizabeth wished she had a key so they could see the view from the penthouse, but they had to content themselves with taking a peek at the lobby. Next, they wandered through Chinatown and then walked to Caffe Trieste for a break.
“William and I came here on his first weekend in San Francisco,” Elizabeth said, after they seated themselves at a table near the front windows. “We spent the whole day driving around the city. And then the next day, we went for a drive along the coast.”
“That sounds cool,” Georgiana said with a sigh.
“William and I will bring you back here someday.”
“You say that,” Georgiana retorted, “but Will promised he’d fly me out to visit last fall, and he didn’t.”
“I guess the time passed faster than he expected. But we’ll do it. Maybe this summer, and if not then, we’ll come for sure after Jane has her baby. You and I need to see our new niece or nephew, right?”
Georgiana rolled her eyes. “I’m not the baby’s aunt.”
“Yes, you are, if you want to be,” Jane replied.
Georgiana studied her coffee cup in silence, but Elizabeth saw a smile on her face.
Anne de Bourgh met Jane, Charles, Elizabeth, and Georgiana at Foreign Cinema for dinner. Jane had suggested the restaurant and Elizabeth had agreed, hoping that Georgiana would enjoy the quirky addition of films being screened on the restaurant wall. As they seated themselves, Georgiana breathed, “This is so cool. Watching movies in a restaurant.”
“We brought Richard and Sonya here last fall when they came to San Francisco,” Elizabeth said. “They’re even showing the same movie.”
The conversation was general at first. Georgiana answered Charles’s questions about her afternoon with an enthusiasm—and loquacity—that astonished Elizabeth. When he heard that they had been to Nob Hill and had seen the Fairmont Hotel, Charles shared the tale of his excursion to the Tonga Room with William. By the end, he had Georgiana giggling helplessly at the image of William getting smacked in the nose by the fruit skewer in his third mai tai as he attempted to drink it.
“We climbed Telegraph Hill this afternoon, too,” Jane said.
Charles eyed Jane, frowning, and patted her hand. “Wasn’t that a lot of exertion for you, babe?”
“It was fine, Charles.”
“Fine? Are you kidding? She was the first one of us to make it to the top of the stairs.” Elizabeth spoke in an intentionally jovial tone. Jane had sounded as mild and gentle as always, but her smile had looked forced. Apparently, Charles’s protective instincts had gone into overdrive.
“Did you see any of the wild parrots?” Anne asked.
“Yeah,” Georgiana replied. “We saw a couple flying overhead and then a few on a tree branch.”
“You and Will climbed Telegraph Hill last August, didn’t you?” Charles asked Elizabeth. “That night at dinner, he mentioned the view.”
“Yes, we did.” Elizabeth hadn’t told Georgiana the story of William’s climb to the top of the hill, and apparently William had omitted some details when telling Charles about it.
“It was a nice view,” Georgiana said, “but this morning, Jane took me to see another great view. We walked there from the house, up a steep street.”
“We walked up toward Presidio Heights,” Jane said. “Remember when we went up there, Lizzy? And we picked out houses we’d buy if we could afford to live there?”
“Right. And I still think ‘my’ house, with all the ivy covering it, was the nicest one, even if yours was more expensive.”
“It sounds like you saw quite a lot today, Georgie,” Anne said softly. “I’m glad.”
“Yeah, and Lizzy said she and Will are going to bring me back, maybe after Jane has the baby.”
“Come anytime!” Charles said, leaning back in his chair, his arm draped over Jane’s shoulders. “We’ll take all the free babysitting we can get!”
“Pay no attention to him,” Jane said, shooting an indulgent smile at Charles. “We’d love to have you visit. He’s just being funny.”
“Or at least trying to be funny,” he said, leaning over to plant a kiss on Jane’s cheek.
“I wish I were going to be here to babysit,” Anne said, “but I guess I won’t.”
Jane inhaled a quick breath. “You heard from the schools?”
Anne’s face lit up in a way Elizabeth had never seen before. “I got into all three of them.”
Jane, Charles, and Elizabeth joined in a chorus of excitement and congratulations. Then Elizabeth turned to Georgiana. “Anne wants to get a Ph.D. in Math. She applied to three programs back east, and she got into all of them.”
“That’s fantastic, Anne,” Elizabeth said. “Have you decided where you’re going to go?”
“Harvard. I loved Boston when I went there for my interview last month, and one of my former math professors from Stanford is out there now. He said he’d work with me, so that’ll make it easier to get started.”
“How long will it take?” Charles asked.
“Probably five years.”
“What did your mother say about it?” Elizabeth asked.
“I haven’t told her yet,” Anne said, wrinkling her nose. “She knows I applied—I had to tell her that when I went out for the interviews. She told me not to do it, but I’m hoping she’ll accept my decision eventually.”
“We’re going to miss you, but this is wonderful,” Jane said. “When will you move to Boston?”
“In mid-July, I think, to get settled before school starts.” Anne smiled at Elizabeth. “I thought I might go up there after your wedding and find an apartment.”
“Boston and New York aren’t that far apart; we’ll have to get together now and then. What does Roger think about this?”
Anne hesitated before replying. “He’s happy for me. I’m sure we’ll stay in touch, but, really, I haven’t seen that much of him lately. We’re just friends.”
Charles rose from his chair, extending his beer glass. “I’d like to propose a toast to the future Dr. Anne de Bourgh.” The others, except for Anne, joined him on their feet, also holding their glasses. Georgiana, after a moment’s hesitation, grabbed her water glass. “All happiness and success to you, Anne,” Charles continued. “We’ll miss you, but I know you’re destined for great things.”
The arrival of their meals, almost immediately after they resumed their seats, temporarily interrupted the flow of conversation. After several minutes of tasting and commenting on dishes—and occasionally swapping bites of something especially delicious—Elizabeth said, “Georgie, like I said this afternoon, Anne is a good person to talk to about your mother. She was just a little younger than you are now when your mom died.”
“And I’ve missed her ever since,” Anne said. “I wish you could have known her.”
“Me, too.” Georgiana stared at her plate.
“She was so warm and loving. She gave the most wonderful hugs; I always loved it when Aunt Anna hugged me.” Anne paused to take a sip of wine. During the brief silence, Elizabeth wondered if Anne had ever gotten a hug from her own mother. “And she was always so honest and open about her feelings. If she was happy, she’d be almost dancing around, a huge smile on her face. When she was sad, I remember even as a little girl wanting to hug her and promise her it would be better soon.”
Georgiana glanced up. “Was she sad a lot?”
“Sometimes. But having you made her so happy. I still remember the first time she let me hold you.” Anne’s face lit up. “She stood close to me and never took her eyes off you the whole time. And occasionally she let me take you for short walks in your stroller, but she didn’t like being away from you for long.”
Elizabeth stole a glance at Georgiana. She had set down her fork and was ignoring her dinner, her attention focused entirely on Anne. The girl’s wistful expression touched Elizabeth’s heart.
“And she loved to sing, of course, and she had the most gorgeous voice.”
“I know. Will has a couple of recordings of her and I play them sometimes.”
“Good; I’m glad you’ve heard her. I remember her singing you to sleep while she was staying at my mother’s house in the Hamptons. She sang to you almost every night.”
“Sometimes they were in Italian; I didn’t recognize those. But the one I remember best was a popular song. Have you heard, ‘True Colors’ by Cyndi Lauper?” (View a lyric video with Lauper’s recording)1
Georgiana shook her head.
“It came out that summer, and I guess something about it really spoke to her because most nights that’s what she sang to you.”
“It’s a wonderful song,” Elizabeth said. “I remember when it came out; I played it over and over and sang along. It’s about being yourself, not hiding who you are, because who you are is beautiful.”
Georgiana licked her lips and nodded, her expression solemn.
Anne continued with other stories, including her occasional experiences in the kitchen with Anna, and how those lessons had left her with a love of cooking. But Elizabeth could tell that Georgiana would fall asleep tonight dreaming of her mother singing to her. She caught herself humming “True Colors” under her breath and smiled.
Elizabeth, comfortably swathed in her nightshirt and a cozy robe, entered the kitchen and found Jane removing a steaming kettle from the stove. “Would you like some tea, Lizzy?”
“Yes, please. Where’s Charles?”
“Watching basketball, so it’s just the two of us.”
They proceeded into the dimly-lit living room, cradling their mugs of fragrant peppermint tea. Elizabeth settled onto the sofa with a happy sigh. It was the first time she had felt comfortable since Georgiana’s drama had begun. “This is just like old times in our condo.”
Jane nodded and smiled. “I’m so glad you’re here.”
“We’ve been so busy all day, I was afraid we might not have a chance to sit down and talk.”
“I know. I admit, I wasn’t unhappy when Charles said he wanted to watch the NCAA tournament.”
Elizabeth eyed her sister. “You look fantastic; I think pregnancy is starting to agree with you.”
“I feel wonderful, and it’s amazing to think that I’m growing a human inside me. I can’t wait to meet him, or her.”
“You really don’t know the sex? I thought you were just holding out on me.”
“I don’t want to know quite yet. I’ll probably ask the doctor soon, though. Charles is dying to know.”
“Well, at least I can finally see the evidence! You’ve got a little baby bump now.”
“I need to be careful, or the bump will be more than just the baby,” Jane replied. “Now that the morning sickness has ended, it seems like I want to eat everything in sight.”
Elizabeth had been glad to see Jane’s increased appetite at dinner; during her first trimester, she’d had difficulty eating as much as she should. “Are you still running?”
“Absolutely. Charles wants me to stop, but the doctor says it’s fine. And I’m feeling so much better now, I’ve been able to increase my distance to where it was before I got pregnant.”
Considering how much Jane loved to run, Elizabeth could easily imagine her running with a huge belly; she could understand Charles’s concerns. “Well, I know you’ll take good care of yourself and the baby. I’m so sorry I’m not going to be here with you through all of this. I miss you so much.”
“I know. I miss you, too. But when you were living out here during the winter, you missed William all the time. How is he?”
“Sleepy; I woke him up. But I’d promised to call when we got back from dinner. I just hadn’t expected it to be so late.” Charles had driven across the Golden Gate Bridge after dinner, stopping at the overlook on the far side of the bridge to show Georgiana the view of the city, its lights twinkling from across the bay.
“Yes, that took some time, but I think it was worthwhile; Georgie seemed to really enjoy it.”
“William and I have to bring her back here after the wedding. I wonder if things would have been different if he’d brought her out last fall like he planned to.”
“Why didn’t he? You kind of sidestepped the question when she asked.”
“He planned to bring her when Richard and Sonya came in October. Unfortunately, by then she’d adopted a very combative attitude. William took it personally; he assumed that she was mad at him and wouldn’t want to come, so he didn’t even ask.”
“Which just made her more upset with him, I suppose.”
“And I have to admit, although I didn’t discourage him from bringing her, I didn’t encourage him either. Our relationship wasn’t at all solid back then, and although it was selfish of me, I didn’t want to share him with a snarky teenager.”
“It’s understandable that you felt that way, Lizzy. Things between you and William were so uncertain. And teenagers can be difficult.”
Elizabeth snickered. “As my early teen years certainly demonstrated.”
“But Georgie was wonderful all day. From what you told me, I was expecting to have trouble talking to her while you were gone this morning, but nothing could have been further from the truth. She does have a touch of—well, to use your term, snark—but nothing she’s said has been hurtful or unkind. She’s just sarcastic and kind of funny.”
“What did you talk about?”
“She asked me some questions about inheritance and so on, in case Wickham was her father.”
Elizabeth nodded. “I told her you’d be a good person to ask. He threatened to take control of her trust funds.”
“Even if he’d been her biological father, I don’t think there was anything to worry about. Edmund’s will would have designated trustees, and it would have taken solid evidence of malfeasance to get them removed. There was probably more risk of her giving him money herself, if she had any assets not controlled by the trustees.” Jane paused and sipped her tea. “But I was wondering. Do you think Catherine’s story was the whole truth? Or could she have intentionally painted Anna’s behavior in a positive light?”
“I think it’s the truth, mostly because of some things I didn’t tell Georgie. I don’t think even Catherine is twisted enough to invent the story she told me.”
“Really?” Jane was never one to invite gossip, but she paused with her mug of tea halfway to her lips and stared at Elizabeth with an expectant air.
Elizabeth briefly explained why Anna had proposed her bargain, and why Edmund had agreed.
“Oh, my,” Jane breathed. “To have a child with Edmund in order to save William?” She shook her head. “Do you think such a radical solution was really necessary? Don’t you think Edmund could have been convinced that military school would be harmful to William? After all, this was his only son. Even if he wasn’t demonstrative, he must have loved William, and certainly he wouldn’t have wanted any harm to come to him.”
“I don’t know if he loved William or not; Catherine made it sound like he was mostly ashamed of his son’s ‘defects,’ and William almost never talks about his father. At any rate, Anna and Catherine thought the bargain was necessary. But I can’t imagine voluntarily having sex with a man you detest … and more than once, too.” Elizabeth grimaced. “Poor Anna.”
They sat quietly drinking their tea until Jane asked, “How was your session with Dr. Walker?”
After her meeting with Catherine, Elizabeth had spent an hour with her therapist. “It was great, and I really needed it; I was lucky she had that last-minute cancellation and could fit me in. But she yelled at me for not following up on the referral she gave me to a colleague in New York.”
Jane’s smile came very close to a smirk, and her eyes twinkled. “If only someone else had given you that same advice, several times.”
“I know, I know,” Elizabeth retorted, rolling her eyes, but she was smiling. “You were right.” Her smile faded. “I had a flashback on the train, on the way back to New York. I was so angry at Wickham, especially about some of the things he said about William, and I was scared of how Wickham might hurt us, and I started to panic, and ….“ She shuddered. “I pulled myself out of it, but it wasn’t easy. I really thought I was fine until then, that I didn’t need any more therapy.”
“What did the doctor say?”
“First she pointed out that I did succeed in pulling myself out of the flashback, and that I should be proud of myself, and not be so impatient for a miracle cure.” Elizabeth sighed. “She’s right, of course. But it was the first flashback since … well, it’s been at least a few months.”
“You’ve been through so much the past several days; I bet all that stress contributed to it.”
Dr. Walker had made that same comment after hearing Elizabeth’s story. “It’s helping so much to spend time with you, Jane. You and William are the two people who can make me feel … grounded, and peaceful, I guess.” Elizabeth leaned over, resting her head on Jane’s shoulder.
After a short silence, Elizabeth sat forward and reached for her tea. “What’s going on with Roger? I got a weird vibe from Anne when I asked about him.”
“He’s met someone new, and he seems … I’ll use an old-fashioned word and say he’s smitten. He and Anne always insisted that they were just friends, but I think for her it was a little bit more. I think he was the first guy she ever really dated, not counting dates her mother arranged for her.”
“Like with William.”
Jane nodded. “Roger helped her to step out of her mother’s shadow; without his friendship, I don’t think she’d be heading to Harvard. And I think her friendship helped him, too, to get over a … a difficult time.”
“Getting over Charlotte, you mean; I suppose it did help. Anyway, I’m sorry for Anne, but I’m not surprised. She never seemed quite right for him.”
“I think she’ll be fine, and they do seem to want to stay friends. I’m glad about that.”
Elizabeth yawned. “I hate to say it, but we should go to bed. Our flight is so early in the morning. You know, we could call an airport shuttle; you don’t have to get up to drive us.”
“Not a chance. The drive down there gives me a little more time before I have to say goodbye to you again.”
They took their tea mugs to the kitchen. As Jane rinsed them and placed them in the dishwasher, Elizabeth said, “Thank you so much for everything. There’s no way I can express how much this meant to Georgie and me.”
“Anything you need, Lizzy, any time, all you have to do is ask. But you know that already.”
“I love you, Jane.”
The sisters embraced and then climbed the stairs together to their waiting beds.
1Cyndi Lauper has a quirky style and a unique voice, and she knows how to use that voice to say powerful things in her music. But my favorite recording of “True Colors” is by Eva Cassidy, an amazing singer who died long before her time (hear her recording on Youtube). Also, just in case anybody’s checking the details, I’m aware that the song was released a little too late for Anna Darcy to have heard it (in fact, it was released the day she died). But the song is so perfect for the situation that I decided a little time cheat was okay.
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