“In answer to your earlier question, no, I don’t think it would be completely crazy.”

J.D. glanced over at Tyler. All joking aside, they had been best friends since grade school and normally he put more weight in Tyler’s opinions than pretty much anyone else’s. But things had changed in the past couple of hours.

“It’s not that simple anymore,” he said. “Actually, it wasn’t simple before, and now it’s even less so.”

“Why? Because of Chase?” Tyler asked.

“In part because of Chase. It certainly suggests I misinterpreted things.”

“You don’t know jack-shit about their relationship. Who knows how long they’ve been dating? Or whether she’s even into him? Chase might be nice, but I don’t see Payton with him for the long haul.”

“It’s also quite possible she still detests me.”

Tyler dismissed this with a wave. “You’re going to let a thing like that stop you?”

“I was thinking intense despisement might be an obstacle in pursuing her, yes.”

“No, see, that’s what makes it all the more interesting,” Tyler said. He adopted a grandly dramatic tone. “ ‘Does our fair Ms. Kendall truly loathe the arrogant Mr. Jameson as she so ardently proclaims, or is it all just a charade to cover more amorous feelings for a man she reluctantly admires? ’ ”

Up front, the cabdriver snorted loudly. He appeared to be enjoying the show.

“Psych 101 again?” J.D. asked.

Tyler shook his head. “Lit 305: Eighteenth-Century Women’s Fiction.” He caught J.D.’s look and quickly defended himself. “What? I took it because of the girls in the class. Anyway, I see a bit of a P and P dynamic going on between you and Payton.”

J.D. didn’t think he wanted to know. Really. But he asked anyway. “P and P?”

Tyler shot him a look, appalled. “Uh, hello—Pride and Prejudice?” His tone said only a cretin wouldn’t know this.

“Oh right, P and P,” J.D. said. “You know, Tyler, you might want to pick up your balls—I think they just fell right off when you said that.”

Up front, the cabdriver let out a good snicker.

Tyler shook his head. “Laugh if you want, but let me tell you something: women go crazy for that book. And even crazier for men who have read it. If I plan to bring a girl back to my place, I might just so happen to leave a copy of it sitting out on my coffee table and, let’s just say, hijinks frequently ensue. And you know what? It’s not a bad bit of storytelling. I like to put on a nice pot of Earl Grey tea, maybe a slice of almond biscotti, and—yeah, that’s fine, keep right on laughing, buddy, but I bet I’ve gotten laid more recently than you.”

“Hey—not that I’m not thoroughly amused at the thought of your little tea cozy and you wrapped up in a blanket reading your book—”

“I didn’t say there was a blanket.” Tyler paused. “Fine. Sometimes there may be a blanket.”

“—but my question is, were you going anywhere with this, or is it just some sort of weird sharing moment?”

Tyler had to think. “Where was I going with this . . . ?” He snapped his fingers. “Oh, yeah—Pride and Prejudice. Women and the whole Darcy complex. For Payton, that’s you.”

“I thought Darcy was the ass**le.”

Tyler smiled fondly. “You know, he really kind of is.”

“Great pep talk, Tyler. Thanks.”

“But he doesn’t stay the ass**le,” Tyler said. “See, you just don’t understand women the way I do, J.D. They want it all: a career, apple martinis, financial independence, great shoes; but at the same time—and this they’ll never admit—they are drawn to patriarchal men who are dominant and controlling. That’s the essence of the Darcy complex. He may be an ass**le, but he’s an ass**le that gets the girl in the end.”

J.D. rolled his eyes. This entire conversation was just so ridiculous.

But still.

“And how does he accomplish that?” he asked.

“Oh, it gets a little complicated,” Tyler said. “See, Lizzie has this troublesome younger sister who runs off with the guy she originally thought she liked—wait, back up—to really understand, I should start with the visit to Pemberley, because it actually starts with the aunt and uncle, see—her uncle loves to fish and Darcy asks—”

J.D. held up his hand, very, very sorry he asked. “The short version please. We’re already at your stop.”

Tyler looked out the window and saw that the cab had indeed pulled up in front of his building. He turned back to J.D. “Okay. The short version, the very short version: he gets the girl by being nice to her.”

J.D. waited. “That’s it? He’s nice to her? That’s so . . . lame.”

“Look, if you want to win Payton over—”

J.D. stopped him right there. “Hey, we’re only speaking in hypotheticals, okay? I haven’t decided that I want to win anyone over.”

“Oh. Then my advice is that you should start there. Figure out what you want.” With that, Tyler got out of the cab and darted through the rain into his building.

Great. Thanks for the help. J.D. gave the cabdriver his address. He stared out the window as the taxi made its way the six blocks to his building. When they arrived, J.D. reached through the divider and handed the cabdriver a twenty and told him to keep the change.

Tags: Julie James Romance
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