Netherfield Prep

By: Elizabeth Stevens

A Modern Reimagining of Jane Austen's 'Pride and Prejudice'

Chapter One: Lily

It is a truth universally assumed that a stupidly rich boy must be in want of a girlfriend.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a girl who has just travelled half a world must be in want of a bed.

Sadly, neither was on the dance card this evening.

I rubbed my eyes. “So, we’re done for now? Crisis averted? You are now test ready?”

Gemma smiled at me, her brown eyes and olive skin glowing. She looked over the page in front of her. “Thank you so much. Yeah, I think so, we just-”

“Oh my God!” Kate squealed.

“Oh my God, what?” I sighed, looking at her blonde hair and pale skin pop up from behind a bookshelf. I once again marvelled at the contrast between the three of us.

Kate brought a blue and red backpack over to us, and waved it in my ridiculously tired face. “Do you know who’s this is?”

“I’m sure lots of people have that bag,” I replied.

“Lily, this is Austin Cooper’s bag!”

Even in my verging-on-passing-out-in-exhaustion state, I was intrigued. Austin Cooper was apparently the hottest guy in school. Well, apparently one of the two hottest guys in school, given he was one of identical twins.

“How do you know it’s his bag?” I asked, packing up my books.

I turned and smacked my leg into my suitcase. I winced. I had literally just arrived and been called to an emergency in the library by Gem and Kate, I hadn’t even had time to find my dorm room.

“Because Kate only drools over him all the time,” Gemma giggled.

“Why would he leave his bag in the library?” I asked, heaving my suitcase aside.

“Oh, mad idea!” Kate cried, earning a shush from the people around us.

I could totally believe it, coming from her. And, I was way too tired for whatever it was.

“I don’t want to know. You guys can do whatever you want, I’m out. I just want to find my room and sleep through next week.”

I shuffled around in my backpack, looking for my welcome pack so I could get the map to my dorm. I turned around to find Kate shoving the backpack into my suitcase.

“What the hell are you doing?” I hissed, anger and tiredness warring inside me. My brain felt like it was wading through quicksand.

“Shush, Jax is coming!”

I turned around and saw six-foot-plus of heavenly, ash brown-haired man-boy walking towards us in pale jeans and a white t-shirt. Under normal circumstances, I might have batted my eyes and said something witty when he stopped in front of us, but I’d just flown half a world from Australia and I hadn’t slept in about… God, I didn’t even remember how long. So, all I could do was appreciate his fine form in some foggy recessed part of my brain while glaring at him.

“Hi ladies.” He smiled as he stopped in front of us. I heard Gem and Kate titter at his very posh accent. He gave them a wink with his blue-grey eyes. “I was just wondering if you’d seen a lonely bag around here? My arse of a brother seems to have wandered off without it again.”

I opened my mouth and Kate nudged me quiet.

“No, no sorry, we haven’t,” she said. If she was trying to hide her smile, she was doing a terrible job.

“Not to worry, I’m sure we’ll find it.” He smiled, his glance raking over me, no doubt taking in my dishevelled I’ve-just-travelled-half-a-world appearance. “See you later.”

He turned and walked away. Gemma and Kate watched his backside retreating. Then, if there was a physical action for swooning, they did it marvellously well.

“God, he’s gorgeous!” Gemma sighed.

I loved my stepsisters, God knew I did, but I so didn’t have the energy for this. I pulled the backpack out of my suitcase, pulled on my own and dragged my case after the retreating form of the ridiculously long-legged Jax.

“Jax!” I called, sighing. “Hey, Jax!”

He disappeared and I stopped short as he reappeared in front of me.

I blinked; no, it was my tired eyes playing tricks on me. This Jax had longer hair that fell in front of his eyes and brushed his collar. This Jax wore different clothes – dark jeans, a maroon button-up shirt open over a charcoal t-shirt – and had faint tattoos visible up his arms under his rolled up sleeves. This Jax woke up my foggy brain somewhat, but then promptly sent it back off on vacation.