DISCLAIMER: The characters herein are used without permission. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: "I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun." - Mr Darcy, Pride & Prejudice
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To scotangelina[at]yahoo.com

I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look, or the words
By thegirl20


"Ugggh." Noah drops the book he's reading onto the table and puts his face in his hands. "I hate this stupid book."

"Well, it's not my fault you're brainy and insist on applying yourself at school," Charity comments from her place on the couch, watching a cartoon with Johnny on her lap.

"What book is it, love?" Vanessa asks. She's by the cooker, checking on a casserole she put in earlier.

"Pride and Prejudice," Noah tells her, rolling his eyes. "It's daft."

"Oh, I love Pride and Prejudice!" Vanessa says, wiping her hands on a tea towel and coming to sit down with him at the table. She picks up the book and thumbs through it.

"'Course you do," Charity mumbles. "I bet you got all hot and bothered over Colin Firth in his wet nightie, didn't you?"

Vanessa narrows her eyes at Charity, but Noah's looking at her like she's just admitted some terrible secret.

"You like it?" He scrunches up his nose. "Don't you think it's a bit mad that they're all throwing themselves at blokes they've only known for two minutes?"

"Well...yeah...that's...just what it was like in the olden days, isn't it?" Vanessa says, frowning.

"They all died at twenty-five, Noah," Charity puts in. "They didn't have time to be messing around with going on dates and whatever. They had to get a move on back then before the consumption got them." She nods. "Put that in your essay. Top marks, guaranteed."

He looks at Vanessa, who shakes her head slightly. "There were just more rules back then about, you know, courting and that. It was improper for young ladies to...well, do anything, pretty much. Except sew and dance and play the piano. So they practised that stuff so they could get a good man."

"A rich man," Charity corrects, looking over at them with an eyebrow raised. "Not a good one."

"Story of your life, eh babe?" Vanessa says, with an overly sweet smile.

"A book about my life would be much more interesting than that one," Charity says. She winks at Vanessa. "Especially the end where I wind up falling for a beautiful, but impoverished, lady vet."

"Awww," Vanessa says, putting a hand over her heart. "A happy ending."

"Tragedy, more like," Charity says, sharing a look with Noah.

"Oi," Vanessa protests. "And anyway, I've got my own business. I'm a woman of means. I'm a bloomin' catch, I'll have you know. All them Bennets would've been falling over themselves to get a dance off me at the local ball."

"I bet you'd look great in a wet shirt an' all, cupcake," Charity agrees.

"No, but like, look at the two of you," Noah interjects. "You lived in the same village for years and hardly spoke to each other, so it definitely wasn't love at first sight. And now you're more loved up than anyone I've ever seen." Vanessa blushes and Charity rolls her eyes, hiding her smile by kissing the top of Johnny's head. Noah frowns. "How did the two of you even get together? By the time I found out about it, seemed like you'd been together for ages."

Vanessa glances at Charity, who's looking back at her with that challenging glint in her eye that still makes Vanessa's stomach dip.

"We...uh…" Vanessa begins, unsure of how to tell this story. "We were at Finn's funeral at the pub-"

"Well, it's already weird," Noah mumbles.

"And we, kind of, had a little disagreement about something," Vanessa says, deciding not to mention her dad's involvement in what's already not a terribly romantic story.

"Vanessa was telling me to keep my neb out of her business, is what she means," Charity says, with a smile.

"And then your mum said something that I particularly disagreed with," Vanessa continues, ignoring Charity. "And I followed her into the cellar."

"Closing the cellar door with the dodgy lock," Charity says, raising her eyebrows at Noah. "So that I couldn't escape her yakking."

"I didn't know the lock was broken," Vanessa points out. "I just went down there to give your mum a piece of my mind."

"We should probably mention that she was bladdered at this point," Charity says. "Been guzzling cocktails all day. Which are a pain in the backside to make, by the way."

"I wasn't that drunk," Vanessa protests. "Well, not till you opened that bottle of whisky, at least."

"Oh yeah? What was it you said I was? Pathol-pathologi-"

"Anyway," Vanessa says, glaring at Charity. "Basically, we got locked in the cellar and had a bit of a heart to heart. And then your mum kissed me and...well, that was that." Her frown has now melted into a smile.

Noah looks less than impressed. "So you got drunk and had a snog in the pub cellar?" He curls his lip. "I don't know what I expected from this story, but it wasn't that."

"And then, the very next day," Charity says, taking up the storytelling with obvious glee, letting Johnny slide off her lap to go and play with his toys in the corner. "Vanessa came over to see me, to tell me that the kissing had been a...what was it, babe? A huge, monumental mistake that was never happening again?"

"Something like that," Vanessa says, trying to hide her smile at how naive she had been.

"But it did. Happen again." Noah points out. "Obviously."

"Yeah, it did. About two minutes after she'd said that, actually," Charity tells him, grinning. She bats her eyelashes. "I'm just that irresistible."

Vanessa wishes she could dispute it, but it's true. Noah picks up his book and stands, shaking his head. "Well, thanks for telling me that story. Makes the book a little more romantic in comparison." He heads for the stairs.

"If you wanna watch the telly version, I've got the DVD," Vanessa calls after him.

His answer is almost drowned out by the clattering of his feet on the stairs, but it's definitely a negative. Vanessa pouts and stands up, moving over to the sofa to sit with Charity. Before she can take her seat, Charity grabs her waist and pulls her onto her lap. Vanessa yelps in surprise, but settles quickly onto her new perch. Charity's chin comes to rest on her shoulder, arms around her waist. Vanessa covers Charity's hands with her own and leans back into her.

"I think our story's pretty romantic," Charity mumbles against her ear. "Two lonely single parents find love over a bottle of whisky at a funeral? Channel Five would snap that up for an afternoon film, no question."

Vanessa breathes out a laugh, leaning her cheek against Charity's as they both watch Johnny play with his toy Thomas the Tank Engine. "Definitely." She smiles. "And it might not have been love at first sight...but, for me at least, it was pretty much love at first kiss."

This time it's Charity who laughs. "Not that you were obvious about it. Gawping at me with those big Disney Princess eyes every five minutes."

"Hey, you're supposed to say it was the same for you," Vanessa scolds her.

"Oh, it was, buttercup," Charity whispers, pressing a kiss to her cheek. "Even though you were playing hard to get and legging it every chance you got."

"Lucky you kept chasing me then, eh?" Vanessa says, threading their fingers together.

"Mmhmm," Charity hums. "So was I right earlier? Did you have a thing for Colin Firth?"

"Not him, no," Vanessa says, her face heating up.

"Oh, so Elizabeth was another one of your dirty little crushes, was she?" Charity says, tickling Vanessa's side with her free hand.

"What can I say? Seems I've always liked a feisty lady with a pair of fine eyes," Vanessa says, trapping Charity's hand with her elbow.

"Slightly better than Carol Vorderman, I suppose," Charity muses. "Hey, maybe we could do a little Pride and Prejudice role play later? I can be all moody and aloof and you can be a stroppy little madam." She frowns. "Oh, wait, that's just us every night, isn't it?"

Vanessa slaps her hand, but she's laughing. "Speak for yourself, lady." She turns her face to meet Charity's lips, and even at this slightly awkward angle, she still gets that same rush of emotion she did that first time they kissed. She turns as best she can in Charity's lap to make the kiss easier.

Footsteps on the stairs, followed by a heavy sigh finally breaks them apart. Noah's standing behind the couch with his arms crossed. "Get a room." His lips twist into a smirk scarily reminiscent of his mother's. "Or a cellar." He laughs to himself as he continues into the kitchen to grab a bag of crisps.

Vanessa looks at Charity and bites her lip. "We may have made a terrible mistake in telling him that story."

Charity lifts her eyebrows. "Could be worse. We could've told him about our next encounter in the cellar."

Vanessa's face immediately flushes a deep red. Noah looks between them. He shakes his head and covers his ears. "I don't wanna know!"

The End

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