Welcome back to Austen Authors!
I’ve been hard at work on a new story. Titled, Darcy’s Unwanted Bride, this tale is a bit darker than what I usually write, but I have to say it’s been refreshing. I’ll share an excerpt below, but first, there are a couple things I wish to share with you about the story, things that may answer some questions you may have:
- Darcy and Lizzy are younger and closer in age in this story. Darcy is not quite 21 and Lizzy has just turned 17.
- Darcy’s father is alive and he is mean. He has no real reason behind it. He’s just mean. Some people in real life are. He’s also very controlling.
I had hoped to be finished with the story by now, but I hit a wall this past Saturday and Sunday, which meant I had to take a few days to think about the next scenes. I have company coming this weekend, and then some things to do on Monday and Tuesday of next week, so it will be two days after this post goes live before I can write again. That’s fine, though, because it gives my brain more time to marinate the story. I’m excited to see how what I have in my head for the next part plays out as I write. <3
I have no set completion date for this story. I hope to publish it sometime in March.
For now, enjoy this small bit that came out of the first chapter of the story. Please, do let me know what you think of it in the comments.
Fitzwilliam Darcy stood rigidly at the altar of the church, his mien stoic and resolved. Beside him stood his bride, a young lady he had only met the day before. He glanced at her as he listened to the rector begin the service.
Elizabeth Bennet’s cheeks were red. Indeed, her entire face was brightly burning. Like Darcy, her posture was stiff. Her jaw clenched; he could hear her teeth grind together periodically.
“Wilt thou, Fitzwilliam George Darcy, have this woman to thy wedded wife, to live together after God’s ordinance in the holy estate of Matrimony? Wilt thou love her, comfort her, honor, and keep her, in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all other, keep thee only unto her, so long as ye both shall live?”
Darcy’s attention snapped back to the rector. He swallowed. He could feel his father’s gaze drilling into his back. He closed his eyes. “I will.” His eyes opened once more and he focused them on the wall behind the clergyman.
Mr. Pound nodded and turned to Elizabeth. “Wilt thou, Elizabeth Rose Bennet, have this man to thy wedded husband, to live together after God’s ordinance in the holy estate of Matrimony? Wilt thou obey him, and serve him, love, honor, and keep him, in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all other, keep thee only unto him, so long as ye both shall live?”
For a long moment, there was only silence from Elizabeth. Darcy heard Mr. Bennet’s throat clear behind them and he turned his head to look at her.
“I will.” Elizabeth’s voice was clipped and full of defiance. Darcy could see angry tears forming in her eyes.
A few moments later, Darcy was called upon to take Elizabeth’s right hand with his. Through his gloves and hers, he felt a jolt travel up his arm. He gasped at the same moment she did. Their eyes met and locked. They remained that way until his attention was called to the ring, which his father, serving in the office of best man, carried.
Darcy and his bride stood side by side through the remaining prayers and sermon. They retained the feelings of anger, resentment, and resolve that had carried them through the first part of the ceremony. Now that they were not touching, the spark that had struck them was nearly forgotten.
At the end of the ceremony, after they had signed the register, Darcy offered his arm to Elizabeth. Struck again by the shock of feeling when she curled her hand around his elbow, he remained mute as they strode down the church aisle and out the door. He escorted his new wife through the small crowd of well-wishers, handing her into the open carriage and seating himself beside her. The driver slapped the reins, putting them into motion. The trip to Longbourn was short – no more than five minutes, at most – and before Darcy could think of something to say to this stranger he had married, they were pulling to a stop in front of the house.
Darcy was the first to disembark. He then turned and reached a hand out to assist Elizabeth down. That same frisson of feeling shot up his arm, making him breathless. His new wife’s eyes darted at him briefly, but when she had both feet on the ground, she moved quickly away. Darcy shook out his hand; his fingers continued to tingle.
Elizabeth headed straight for the front door, nearly at a run. Darcy hastened to catch up, his longer legs allowing him to do so easily. Once in the house, he followed her into the drawing room, stopping nearly in the middle of the space when she did the same. When she wrapped her arms around her middle, Darcy searched his mind to find something to say that might comfort her. As he opened his mouth, Mrs. Bennet rushed into the room, shrilly calling for a servant. He cringed at her loud tone and brash words.
“Hill! Hill! The guests are about to arrive; where is the bowl of punch?” Longbourn’s mistress noticed her daughter and new son-in-law standing in the center of the room. “Lizzy, what are you doing? You and Mr. Darcy must stand over here, by the door. You have to greet the guests when they enter.” She urged Elizabeth to move, positioning her just so, then smiled brightly at Darcy. “You must stand beside her. There. Like that.” She stepped back and clasped her hands in front of her. She sighed. “What a handsome couple you make.”
Darcy cleared his throat. “Thank you, madam.” He looked at Elizabeth, who remained silent.
Mrs. Bennet frowned. She moved closer and shook her finger in her daughter’s face. “Do not behave all high and mighty, Miss Lizzy. You will greet those guests with a smile on your face and a kind word on your lips. You are very well settled, and far above anyone of our acquaintance. You should be grateful for this blessing. Do not make me speak to your father about your disrespect.”
Elizabeth’s jaw clenched, her teeth grinding loudly. She inhaled through her nose. “Thank you, Mama.”
The rest of Elizabeth’s family began to filter into the room, and without another word, her mother fluttered away, her attention drawn to her youngest and most beloved child.
With a roll of her eyes, Elizabeth huffed. Her arms came up once again to wrap around her.
For all his anger and resentment at the circumstances in which he found himself, Darcy felt a spark of compassion light inside at Elizabeth’s situation. He was aware that she had only learned of their betrothal the day before, on her seven and tenth birthday. He had known about it for two years, since the day he turned eight and ten. Time had smoothed the roughest edges of his feelings, enabling him to see past his own emotions now. He leaned down to whisper to his wife.
“I am sorry. I tried to convince my father to speak to yours and allow us to meet before today, but he denied me.”
Elizabeth turned her face to stare into his eyes. Her brows drew together, forming a crease. “You could not refuse to go through with it?”
Darcy shook his head. “I am not of age. Even if I were, my inheritance rests on this marriage, and on producing an heir.” He glanced toward the door as the number of voices in the entry hall increased, the sound filtering into the drawing room where he and Elizabeth stood. He looked at his wife again. “If this were next year, I would be able to fight it. I have a small inheritance from my grandmother set aside for me, so losing Pemberley would not be a hardship, though I do love the estate. I am every bit as stuck as you, though.”
Elizabeth said nothing, though her lips flattened. The elder Mr. Darcy entered the room with Mr. Bennet, approaching her and her new husband.
“Congratulations, Mr. Darcy, Lizzy.” Bennet bowed to his son-in-law and daughter, then made way for Mr. George Darcy to do the same.
“Congratulations to both of you.” George Darcy smirked. “You should enjoy the breakfast while you can. We will need to leave to return to London soon.” With a shallow bow, he turned to follow Bennet to the refreshments table.
Other guests followed, and Darcy had no further opportunity to speak to Elizabeth, though he had watched a look of loathing briefly cross her face as his father walked away. Trust me, he thought. I know how you feel.