Welcome back to Austen Authors!
I am almost done with my second book of the year. Go, me! LOL
I’m doing much better than I did last year, when I wrote all of three books instead of my usual five and a half. <3
My current Work-In-Progress (or WIP, as I like to call it) is nearing completion. I made it a Patreon-exclusive story, which means that so far, only my patrons have seen it. (Well, other than Rose and Leenie. LOL) However, today I will give you, my Austen Authors readers, a little taste of it.
In this story, Darcy and Elizabeth meet via Jane and Bingley, who met in London and got engaged there. Old Mr. Bingley passed away a few weeks after he arranged for his son to marry Jane, and the Bingleys travelled to the north to spend their year of mourning with their extended family. Now they have returned, and Bingley has rented Netherfield while the wedding preparations are being made. What you will read now is his first visit to Longbourn, Darcy in tow.
Next month, after the story is complete and published, I will give some copies away, so be looking for that. 🙂
Here’s about 1,000 words from the first chapter, where Darcy and Elizabeth meet. Feel free to leave a comment to tell me what you think.
Darcy followed Bingley into the well-maintained house at Longbourn estate in Hertfordshire. The gentlemen, along with Bingley’s sisters and brother-in-law, had arrived in the area just two hours earlier. Bingley had not wanted to wait longer to visit the home of his betrothed, and had prevailed upon Darcy to accompany him, since his family would not.
“Mr. Charles Bingley and Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy.” The housekeeper, Mrs. Hill, stepped to the side to allow the gentlemen to enter, then curtsied and backed out of the room, pulling the door shut behind her.
“Miss Bennet! How good it is to see you. Thank you for your letters.” Bingley grasped Jane’s hand and did not let go, smiling at her light blush.
“I am happy you enjoyed them. Thank you for your replies.” Jane’s serene smile was contrasted with the shine in her eyes.
“I could not let such delightful missives go unanswered.” Bingley glanced around. “Will you introduce me to your family?”
“Oh! Yes, I will.” Jane turned slightly, as much as she could with one hand firmly clasped by her betrothed, and indicated her mother and sisters with her free hand. “This is my mother, Mrs. Fanny Bennet, and these are my sisters, Elizabeth, Mary, Kitty, and Lydia.”
Bingley smiled at each lady and bowed. “I am happy to meet you all. Please allow me to introduce my friend to you. This is Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy of London and Pemberley in Derbyshire.”
Darcy bowed again. This time, when he stood up, one of Miss Jane Bennet’s sisters caught his eye and attention. What was her name? His mind scrambled to recall. Elizabeth? Yes! That is what it was … Elizabeth. When she smiled at him, he lifted his lips in a quick answering smile but immediately turned his gaze away. However, though he was facing another sister, his entire focus was on Elizabeth. His heart pounded as though he had just completed a foot race. He swallowed and willed himself to calm down.
“Welcome to Longbourn, sir.” Mrs. Bennet and her daughters curtseyed again. “We are delighted to have you here. Please be seated.” She gestured toward the furniture arranged in the center of the room.
Thanking their hostess, Darcy and Bingley chose seats. Bingley settled onto a sofa next to Jane. Darcy took a single step towards the couple, thinking to sit on the other side of his friend, but one of the younger girls took the spot. Looking around, he saw that the only place open was next to Elizabeth.
“You must sit beside Lizzy, Mr. Darcy.” Mrs. Bennet urged him to sit next to her second daughter. “My husband is in a wheeled chair; he and I will sit at the table with Kitty and Lydia.” She gestured toward a table arranged at the end of the seating area and near one of the tall windows.
With a dip of his head, Darcy acquiesced, sitting gingerly beside the young lady who had so captured his attention a moment ago. When Elizabeth smiled at him, Darcy gave her a brief one of his own in return, but for a reason he could not fathom, being this close to her scrambled his senses. He could think of nothing to say. His heart pounded so hard he was certain she could hear it, and he felt a trickle of sweat run down his back under his fine shirt. He swallowed and cast another glance her way. He both avoided looking at her and could not help staring.
Before Darcy was even settled into his seat, he was required to rise again, for the door opened and an older gentleman about the age his own father would have been, had he lived, was pushed into the room by a male servant. Miss Bennet took it upon herself to introduce her father to the visitors.
“I am pleased to make your acquaintance.” Mr. Bennet made a half-bow from his chair. “Forgive me for not standing. My heart is weak and I must remain still, lest it become overexcited and stop beating.” When his wife let out a cry, the older gentleman chuckled before speaking to her. “There, there, Mrs. Bennet. I am well. There is no need to take on so. One of your daughters is betrothed and soon to marry; you should be rejoicing.”
Darcy’s brow creased as he witnessed the Bennet patriarch tease his wife. He did not know what to make of it. He was unused to seeing gentlemen make sport of their spouses to their faces. He did not know what to say, and so remained silent.
“Feel free to resume your seats.” Mr. Bennet gestured to the servant to push him closer to the table, then dismissed him.
“Papa.” The youngest daughter spoke in a loud voice that drew the attention of everyone in the room. “I saw the prettiest ribbon at the milliner’s, but I have spent my allowance. Mary still has some of hers but will not share with me. Make her buy me the ribbon, please?”
“No, Lydia, I will not. Mary’s funds are hers to do with as she pleases. If she does not wish to get you a ribbon, she does not have to.”
“But, Papa, she-!” “Enough!” Mr. Bennet’s harsh word stopped his daughter’s oncoming tirade but sparked his wife’s anxiety.
“Lydia! Do not aggravate your father so!” Mrs. Bennet’s hands twisted her handkerchief into a rope. “If he dies, we will be thrown into the hedgerows by that awful Mr. Collins!”
The housekeeper entered at that moment, distracting the matron. Darcy took a deep breath at the relative quiet that followed the servant’s arrival. He glanced at Elizabeth and was struck again by her fine eyes. When she turned them in his direction, a perplexed look creasing her brow, his heart picked up its pace once again. Struck once more by the unfamiliar stirrings, he looked away.
When Mrs. Bennet finally handed him a cup of tea a few minutes later, his hand shook. Darcy quickly lowered the delicate porcelain to rest on his knee. Elizabeth sat quietly at his side. Though she made one or two brief attempts to draw him out, when he remained silent, she apparently gave up the notion and turned her attention to her sister and Bingley.