Elizabeth Bennet is a veterinary nutrition researcher who might innovate the horse food industry by creating new formulas that improve the animals' speed, height and strength.
Fitzwilliam Darcy is owner and CEO of Pemberley Ranch, the world's premiere horse breeding facility.
She and her research team need his grant to get the patent that would make her work self-sustainable. He needs her expertise to increase his horses' potential.
This is how they meet.
©Carla Roel de Hoffmann
Elizabeth Bennet arrived late to her office. She was in her filthy jeans, with dirty boots and a stained T-shirt. She’d been detained at the outdoors lab getting the latest results of her new horse food formula. Her “trial subjects” were doing better than expected: more muscles and less fat. They were alert and healthy and ready to run faster than ever.
She was proud of herself and her team, but now she was in a hurry. The Dean had finally pushed her to make an appointment with Mr. Darcy.
He was the owner of the best horse breeding ranch in the world, whom would be able to give the money the University needed to make the final tests on Lizzy’s new formula and get the patent they were yearning to be self-sufficient and prosper. Life would change for the best for their School if Lizzy had anything to say about it.
Earlier that day, she had left a nice, elegant, light blue dress with all the right accessories at her office to change as soon as she got the latest data. If not for Cool Night Dash’s difficulty to get into the scale, she would have been ready by now.
She Wi-Fi the new document with her latest data she was giving to Mr. Darcy as part of her presentation to print, when she heard a knock. Damn it! I won’t make it if the Dean comes by to chat, she thought as she said, “Enter!”
The door opened and a tall, handsome man came in. He was dressed in a dark suit with a golden tie and a white crisp shirt. His black shoes were impeccably clean and polished. His eyes fell on Lizzy.
“I am looking for Dr. Bennet, do you know where I could find him please?” He said arrogantly.
Just another chauvinistic pig, as if women did not have what it takes to have a Ph.D. Lizzy thought but replied, arching an eyebrow, “And you are?”
“I am Fitzwilliam Darcy, and I have an appointment with Dr. Bennet. I hope you are able to get your mentor here on time, as he is not here and we have many things to discuss.” He answered in an emotionless tone of voice.
Lizzy lifted her chin proudly, squared her shoulders as if she was wearing the designer dress she intended to, held out her dirty hand to him and said, “Good morning Mr. Darcy. I am Dr. Elizabeth Bennet and as you can see, I am on time for our appointment.”
Mr. Darcy looked uncomfortable for a moment and then extended his hand to shake hers, “I am sorry, I was expecting somebody completely different…”
“Yes, I understand. We women are not capable of holding high academic degrees and be successful in our field. Do not worry Mr. Darcy, I am used to deal with men like you. Please have a seat.” Now and again, Lizzy was treated as if, because of her gender, she was less in her field. She had worked hard to make a name for herself and get where she was.
“Miss Bennet, if you would…” Fitzwilliam said.
Lizzy opened her palms dismissively, interrupting him and exclaimed, “It is Dr. Bennet to you sir, and I know your time is precious, so please, let us forget anything else but the purpose of our meeting. Here,” she said handling him the stack of papers she prepared ahead, including the newly printed new data that made her unable to change, “may I get you anything to drink before we start?”
* * *
Fitzwilliam Darcy woke up early, excited about the prospect to finally meeting the elusive Dr. Bennet. He took care of his appearance and finally arrived at the University of Merryton early in the morning. He had an appointment with a Dr. Bennet.
He thought himself lucky because, according to the Dean, Dr. Bennet rarely met with entrepreneurs, so dedicated he was to his laboratory and its tests.
He had read about the Dr.’s success in horse food technology. As owner and CEO of Pemberley, the most recognized horse breeding ranch in the world, he wanted to know this person and get him on board so his horses would be even faster on the tracks.
Horsemen from around the world praised and coveted his horses. They had won all Racetrack Derbies and Classics. His horses’ blood went way back to the fastest horses in history and maybe, just maybe, Dr. Bennet’s food formula would improve their performance.
He got out of his gray Aston Martin and walked to the building that housed Dr. Bennet’s office.
We walked the long corridors until he got to the door that held the sign:
“Dr. E. Bennet
He knocked the door and nobody answered. He was able to listen to the sound of someone working inside. A printer maybe? He knocked again and he heard a strong, impatient “Enter.”
Cautiously, he opened the door and took a peek inside. He found a young woman with no make-up, her hair held in a ponytail, her dirty, informal attire made her look young, and showed her curvaceous body in full glory. Putting some papers inside a folder, she turned his way and stared at him.
Her fine eyes and the lovely face they were set in, took his breath away. His treacherous body getting aroused at the sight before him.
Trying to disguise his arousal and shifting from side to side to alleviate the pain he experienced, he said, “I am looking for Dr. Bennet, do you know where I could find him?”
The beautiful woman before him narrowed her eyes and wrinkled her nose before answering, “And you are?”
Fitzwilliam was surprised by the harsh tone of her voice. She certainly was one of Dr. Bennet’s interns. The kind that took care of the mentor they worked for and worshiped the floor he stepped in. Maybe this dirty vision - but vision nonetheless - was protecting this genius from interference. He replied, “I am Fitzwilliam Darcy, and I have an appointment with Dr. Bennet. I hope you are able to get your mentor here on time, as he is not here and we have many things to discuss.”
The lady arched her brow and a glint of mischief crossed her eyes. She stood straighter and walking towards him, she extended her hand and replied, “Good morning Mr. Darcy. I am Dr. Elizabeth Bennet and as you can see, I am on time for our appointment.”
Fitzwilliam was embarrassed beyond anything he had felt before! Why had he assumed that Dr. Bennet was a man? Did he read it in some of the food engineering magazines he devoured? No, not that he could remember, but he was positive that in none of the extensive material he had gone through, he had seen a picture of this beautiful, intelligent woman before him. He shook her small, warm hand and said, in a low voice, “I am sorry, I was expecting somebody completely different…”
Dr. Bennet interrupted his apology, anger changing the look in her eyes, “Yes, I understand. We women are not capable of holding high academic degrees and be successful in our field. Do not worry Mr. Darcy, I am used to deal with men like you. Please have a seat.”
Fitzwilliam needed to apologize, to make her see that he did not dismiss her success because of her gender, that it was an honest mistake, no discrimination on his part, “Miss Bennet, if you would…”
She put her hands on her hips and tapping impatiently her right foot, she looked at him as he was beginning to apologize and raising her hand to silence him, she sputtered, “It is Dr. Bennet to you sir, and I know your time is precious, so please, let us forget anything else but the purpose of our meeting. Here,” she said pushing forward a green folder filled with papers, and asking brusquely, “may I get you anything to drink before we start?”
Fitzwilliam shook his head in the negative and took the seat she indicated while she sat behind her desk.
While she conducted the meeting effectively, he was having a hard time concentrating. Not ever had he been so moved by a woman and he had never been so ashamed as well.
He knew he had insulted Dr. Bennet, but it had been impossible for him, so far, to apologize to her. She had interrupted his attempts and now was talking about her chemical discoveries in the mixing of grains and soy to increase the muscle mass on horses and how her trial results came to be, depending on the type of horse and the activity they were expected to do.
Quarter Horses were faster and stronger, those horsemen using Dr. Bennet’s formula exceeded in every competition, no matter if it was racing or barreling.
The warmblood horses were doing better in their timing and the height they used to jump, obviously, they were stronger as well. He knew for a fact that the Olympic champion used the food mix developed by the woman before him.
The results on Race Thoroughbreds was simply amazing. All of her trial subjects were able to improve their speed index significantly. He could not believe how much difference her food formula made.
He could feel her eyes on him as she explained how she came to the current formula and how she measured the success in each type of horse.
If he could get her to work with him on Pemberley horses, he would be able to change forever the world of race horses. He knew he had the best bloods, but the sheer muscle power this food formula brought, was overwhelming.
Dr. Bennet’s care for detail was amazing! The dark haired beauty before him was the best researcher he had ever encountered. Not even the genetic genius he had hired for Pemberley was as meticulous as she, and Fitzwilliam was sure Dr. Bingley suffered from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in the highest degree, though he was not complaining.
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