Georgiana was distracted as she shared tea with her brother - he was so unlike what Wickham had suggested, that she concluded there must have been an argument or other severe misunderstanding. Knowing this did not make her decision any easier though. Much as she adored her big brother, she knew dear Wickham was right in saying Fitzwilliam would never approve of the match. Though she knew it was hardly the proper thing to do, Georgiana resolved to still keep her rendezvous with Wickham, and proceed with the elopement. As she tried to figure out a way to make it happen, she was startled by her brother's voice,

"Georgiana? Are you listening?" Raising her eyes to meet his, Georgiana felt a flutter of irritation at the bemused condescension in Fitzwilliam's gaze. "Oh, I'm sorry, Fitzwilliam, I'm a little distracted at the moment," she answered.

"What about, Georgie? It must be something wonderful to have you so wrapped up. A new dress, perhaps?"

Though his eyes were now twinkling with good humor, Georgiana wondered if her brother realized she was a young lady old enough to be in love? This moment of questioning was enough to assure her she was making the right choice.

"No, Fitzwilliam," she hesitated, "I am merely looking forward to a small gathering tonight at a friend's home. Not a party," she quickly cut-off Fitzwilliam's interruption, "but a small, select gathering. Quite the fashion in this relaxed seaside society, Brother."

Fitzwilliam smiled, "Ah, I see. Well, I certainly cannot fault you for that–young ladies do love chances to meet with their friends. And it's good practice for when you enter society in a few years." Tapping his chin thoughtfully, he soon continued, "and I shan't feel so bad about leaving you again, now I know you've got pleasant company and occupation. I have a business meeting this evening, with an old acquaintance, but we shall spend the day together tomorrow, and discuss my return to London."

Georgiana sighed in relief, her escape to meet Wickham just got much easier. Later that evening, Georgiana swore her maid to secrecy and had her slip a small portmanteau into the carriage, while she herself went down to see her brother off.

"I hope your business goes well tonight, Fitzwilliam," she smiled, knowing what his surprise would be in the morning.

"And you enjoy your gathering, dear," Fitzwilliam smiled, pleased to see his little sister so grown up. "I hope your friends are all in as festive a mood as you seem to be."

"I expect they are," she laughed gaily, and impulsively gave him a quick kiss on the cheek, just as he walked out the door.

Following Fitzwilliam's departure, Georgiana was handed into her own carriage, and with a quick peek under the seat to see her bag stashed there, looked forward to her evening. She was still a little nervous, but also very excited. Just before she reached the Corwins' home, she saw a tall figure on the sidewalk and signaled the driver to stop. "Wickham!" she beamed in surprise.

"My dearest," he whispered, quickly ducking into the carriage and grabbing her hands. "I didn't think you would come–I heard Fitzwilliam's in town, and thought..."

"No," she stopped him, squeezing his hands, "I was confused, I confess, but I love...I have agreed to elope with you, and I will." She smiled, seeing the relief flooding across her beloved's face.

"Oh, Georgiana," he sighed. "Shall we leave now, and skip the gathering? If we get a head start, it will be harder for your brother to stop us."

Georgiana hesitated a second, then smiled. "Of course, why not?"

The carriage stopping nudged Georgiana awake, and she lifted her head sleepily, blushing to realize she was tucked in the crook of Wickham's arm. "Where are we?"

"We've just arrived at an inn, we'll stay here tonight and continue in the morning," Wickham replied, brushing a stray curl out of her face.

"Oh," was Georgiana's only reply, too sleepy to think of any other. As Wickham handed her out of the carriage, and led her to the door, Georgiana began to wake up more–and consider what she was doing. Was she really ready to go through with this?

"Good evening, Georgie! What brings you here?" Georgiana started at the sound of her name, glancing around quickly to see who knew her. Wickham's laughing reply pulled her attention to a tavern wench.

"‘ello, Lucy, I'm here for a room for the night, and some of your master's fine ale," he smiled broadly, as the girl–Lucy–favored him with a toothy grin.

"Right away, sirrah, and why've you been away so long? Did you manage to find that little heiress you talked about?"

Georgiana's nose crinkled, and she felt herself blushing scarlet–though with humiliation or anger, she couldn't say. Wickham's hand on her back guided her into view, and Lucy chuckled,

"Aha! So you did find her. And now, Missus Wickham, what do you think of your fine husband? Or as he made it done yet...I wager not, seeing your blush. La, no need to be so red, nothin' wrong with what you're doing. We've all been there, haven't we, Georgie?"

"Come now, Lucy, I don't know what you mean," Wickham attempted to smooth things over, seeing Georgiana's growing displeasure.

Lucy just gave a wolfish whistle and muttered "Dontcha now, I say you do, and I say you come running back again, I do," as she moved to get Wickham's drink.

"Come, my dearest Miss Darcy, let us get a bit of refreshment and then retire for the night," Wickham led Georgiana to a table near the fire.

"Mr Wickham," she began, toying with her gloves in her lap, "what is the nature of your relationship with...that woman?"

"Oh, I've known Lucy for years, I often stay here on my travels," Wickham replied lightly, watching Lucy go about her duties and missing the spark that ignited in Georgiana's eyes.

"I see." Something in her tone caused him to look closer at his companion, and he began to speak, only to be cut off. "Mr Wickham, I do believe you've led me here under false pretences. Furthermore, I believe you are not, nor have been, telling me the entire truth this whole summer."

Leaning back slightly, Georgiana watched carefully as thought after thought crossed Wickham's face. Her heart ached within her, for she had fallen in love with him, but something - her Darcy pride, most likely - was helping her keep her head up and find answers.

"You're right."

She startled at his admission.

"I did lead you here with less than perfect motives. While you are a charming young lady, and not without certain...appeals...I am in dire need of funds, and your dowry is quite an attractive asset, milady. Furthermore, I'd like to be able to reclaim my connections with the Darcy name."

Georgiana blinked, unsure what to do with such a frank admission. As everything began realigning according to this new truth, she realized she had two options: leave Wickham now, and face potential ruin, or go along with his fiendish plan, and still face potential ruin.

Faced with such an alternative, she took another moment to think, then decided to:
A.) Leave Wickham in the inn and return to face Darcy
or
B.) Agree to join forces with Wickham