Darcy and Elizabeth Collection Half Price Sale

Darcy and Elizabeth Collection Half Price Sale

Before Darcy Chooses was just a gleam in my eye, I wrote two Prequels to the main novel: Attending a Ball and Darcy and Bingley. And what is a prequel? Prequels are short stories or novelettes that introduce a future novel. In the case of Attending a Ball and Darcy and Bingley, they both ended in a coach accident that involved Darcy, Elizabeth, and Elizabeth’s friend, Melanie Farrington. In putting together the Darcy and Elizabeth Collection, I decided to include The Women of Longbourn that is a collection of Elizabeth’s journal entries which depict the personalities of all the woman at Longbourn including the servants, as well as the servants duties. Beginning approximately two weeks before the coach accident, Elizabeth mentioned the accident and also the fact that Fitzwilliam Darcy is now in Meryton with Charles Bingley.  Attending a Ball is included, and Darcy and Bingley has now become the beginning of Darcy Chooses. The latter part of the Collection is the novella, Elizabeth’s Choice. 

At the moment, the Darcy and Elizabeth Collection is available at half price through April 15th. I hope you love learning a little bit more about our wonderful couple. Enjoy the following excerpt from Darcy Chooses.

 

Longbourn

23rd May

 

My dear Caroline,

I’m sorry you missed my news before departing. It is so exciting. My friend Charlotte’s brother, John Lucas, offered for me and I accepted. It has been a number of years that I have had a tendre for him, and now my heart is complete that my love will be fulfilled in marrying him. We will wed in November. If you decide to return to Netherfield, perhaps you and your family could attend the wedding. Mama is already making plans especially for the wedding breakfast, and it would be delightful if you could come.

This letter is much too brief, I fear, as there are lots to do before that wonderful day arrives. My best wishes for you and your loved ones. I will miss our friendship.

Sincerely,

Jane Bennet

 Charles paled and sat at the table in shock when Caroline told him of Jane’s betrothal. “Are you sure that is what she meant?”

“Oh, yes, Charles. Would you like to read the letter?” said Caroline innocently. She knew he would not. Actually reading the words would hurt too much, and she was not oblivious to Charles’ feelings for Jane. She just didn’t care what his feelings for her were and would not let them interfere with what she desired: more status, a wealthy husband and losing the stigma of trade. If it hurt her younger brother, she cared not a whit; he’d get over it as he had with all of his other angels. She had no concept that her sibling had given his heart away and would never be able to get it back. Even if she had known, she wouldn’t have cared.

“Jane has been in love with John Lucas for a number of years. She has just been waiting until he was in a position to support a wife, and he apparently offered for her as soon as he was able. Maybe that is why she had not married before now. My goodness, she was nearly on the shelf.” Caroline tittered at her witticism, but no one else joined in.

Louisa glared at her sister and then brought her eyes back to her plate. She was enough under her younger sister’s thumb she wouldn’t mention anything to Charles, much less that the whole thing was a ruse, but she felt more than a twinge of guilt as she could see the news hurt Charles. She just hoped it was only a little hurt.

White as a sheet, Charles stood. “I must be excused as I don’t feel very well.” He shook his head and stumbled away from the table and headed upstairs to his bedchamber. Once there, he headed to the brandy decanter in his sitting room and drank himself into oblivion with tears rolling down his cheeks.

After three days of not leaving his bedchamber, Louisa sent word to Darcy asking him to speak with Charles. She was worried about her brother as these actions were not normal for him. He never drank to excess because one of their cousins had been a drunkard and killed himself with drink. Darcy came immediately.

“Bingley, open the door.”

“Go…away.”

“No, I won’t go away. Open the door.”

“Go…” and the rest of what he said was garbled.

“I will not go away. Unlock the door or I will get the key from your housekeeper and unlock it myself.”

“Darcy, I’m not fit for humankind.” His words were slurred and more mumbling was heard from the depths of his room.

Darcy was getting worried and began pounding on the door. “Bingley, open this door, NOW!” Using his master of Pemberley voice finally did the trick, and the door slowly opened.

Darcy gasped in horror at his friend’s appearance. Bingley had not changed clothes in three days, not bathed, not shaved nor hardly slept as well. He looked as if someone had died. His eyes appeared as red sockets, yet their redness was not due only to the brandy he had consumed but also the tears he had shed.

“My God, Bingley, what happened?”

“No Jane, she’s forever gone.” His lower lip trembled as he spread his arms wide and just shook his head slowly.

“Gone, where has she gone?”

“No Jane, no Jane.” Bingley went back and slumped in the chair he had occupied for most of the last three days. Hanging his head, several tears hit the floor in front of his seat.

With concern, Darcy knelt by his friend’s side and tentatively asked, “Are you telling me…she is dead?” He hoped that was not the case because he knew Charles was hopelessly in love with Miss Bennet.

“No, not dead…just gone and dead to me.”

It took Darcy a quarter-hour before he got the whole story that Jane had been offered marriage by a neighbor, and she had accepted and would be married in November. There would be no wedding between her and Bingley. Darcy sat back on his heels and pondered the state of his friend and debated about calling his physician.

“I’m sorry, my friend. I would never have thought Miss Bennet would lead you on. My concern for you and your feelings was why I questioned her interest in you. I’m truly sorry this has happened.”

“As…am…I.”

Darcy had never seen his friend in the throes of depression before. Bingley was always happy and smiling and felt everything was right with the world. His positive outlook was his best attribute and had made a difference in Darcy’s life on more than one occasion. Darcy was worried because he had seen depression of this sort only one time in the past, and that person had committed suicide. He was determined to pull his friend out of his black pit and give him something better to look forward to.

“Bingley, my friend. I go back to Meryton in four days. Come with me, and let’s see if we can find the right of this.”

“Darcy, there is nothing that can be done. She is engaged, has a fiancé, and will be married in November. I’m never going back to Netherfield. I couldn’t bear to think of anyone else holding her in his arms…I wanted her at Netherfield Park, to make it my permanent home, to have her be the mother of my children…but it won’t happen…not now…and I can’t bear it.”

“Bingley, where is your valet?”

“I’m here, sir. I’ve kept watch over him for all three days. I’m sorry about the door. He wouldn’t allow me to unlock it.” Bingley’s valet didn’t look much better than Bingley.

“No matter, Davidson, I’ll take over now. You go get some sleep, and I’ll see to Bingley.”

“Thank you, sir. I’ve just dozed, afraid to sleep soundly not knowing when he might need me.”

“Your loyalty is appreciated.”

Bingley looked like he was in a stupor and uncomprehending of anything around him. At Darcy’s words, he stirred, looked at Davidson and whispered, his voice hoarse, “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome, Mr. Bingley. I hope you feel well soon.” And Bingley just nodded.

“Oh, Davidson, would you have the servants heat some water for Mr. Bingley’s bath before you retire?”

“I’ll let the housekeeper know immediately.”

“Thank you.”

“Darcy…I don’t want a bath.”

“Bingley, you smell. You need a bath, but you can get shaved later.”

His friend cackled and said, “Do you think I care if I stink or not? Go away.”

“No, I won’t go away. We are going to care for you, and you are going to care for you as well. Get up.”

“No.”

Without another word, Darcy grabbed him under both arms and lifted him to a standing position and started stripping his clothes off. Bingley slapped at his hands, but that didn’t deter Darcy. He stripped him down to bare skin, then put a dressing gown on him until his bath was ready.

The knock at the door proved to be the housekeeper with a tray containing water, coffee, and dry toast to occupy his friend as well as hydrate him and start him on the road to sobriety. Following her were two footmen with buckets of hot water. At Darcy’s quizzical look, she informed him they had prepared for this by having hot water available for the last two days, and Darcy said, “Ah!” He was not the only person in the townhouse who was concerned about his friend. Bingley’s amiable nature endeared him to anyone who came to know him, and his staff was intensely loyal.

Bingley grudgingly drank all the water and then started on the coffee. The housekeeper had obligingly included enough coffee for both of them. Bingley balked at the toast but finally took a few bites then sighed deeply and said, “She’s gone, and my heart has gone with her.”

“Come with me to Netherfield.”

“No, I can’t face her. I was too late. I should have asked her sooner.”

“Bingley, my friend, she may never have been yours to wed if her heart was elsewhere.”

“Yes…I know.” His lower lip quivered, and Bingley sighed again in resignation.

Darcy’s heart hurt for his friend because he couldn’t mend that type of anguish but only help with his outside appearance. That, he thought, wasn’t enough.

Bingley fell asleep in the bath, and Darcy hesitated to wake him but did so of necessity as the water was getting cold. His friend belonged in a bed until he could recuperate from this binge. Getting a footman to help him, they clothed him in a nightshirt and tucked him under the sheet. Bingley was instantly asleep.

Darcy stayed the night sleeping upright in a chair, keeping watch over the best friend he ever had. Bingley’s exclamation of, “Darcy, whatever are you doing here?” awakened him.

He took a deep breath, shook himself and replied, “Watching over you, my friend. Making sure you were all right.”

Red suffused Bingley’s face as he felt shame because his friend had felt the need to come. He had an inkling he had made a cake of himself the last few days but wasn’t quite sure because he couldn’t remember what had occurred. And, then he remembered about Jane and blinked back the tears. Putting a smile—which was a bit twisted—on his face, he said, “I am better…I think. At least, I will be better…eventually.” He plucked at the counterpane, then wadded a portion of it in both fists, closed his eyes, heaved a great sigh then softly spoke. “Yes, I will be better…eventually.”

“And I will be here as well, my friend. Always for you.”

Bingley tried to smile but couldn’t quite achieve it. Then he reclined again and said he thought he would sleep a little while longer. This time, Darcy noticed he seemed to be a little more at peace.

Darcy said a prayer that his friend would be well and he would know what he should do to help him. He hoped it would prove to be enough.

***

Once he felt Bingley was on the road to recovery, Darcy went back to his townhouse to finish his business and make preparations to return to Netherfield and Elizabeth. When Georgiana asked about Bingley, he just told her Bingley had been ill but was nearly well and should be fine in a few days. Georgiana was glad as she really liked his friend and always enjoyed his summer visits at Pemberley. Darcy hoped his encouraging words to her were true and that Bingley would soon be all right.

The next day saw him at Bingley’s townhouse. The man looked like he hadn’t slept in a month but was recuperating. Two days later Darcy went to see him and was relieved his friend was doing much better but with an air of sadness and resignation about him. Bingley refused to return to Netherfield and debated about contacting the agent concerning the lease. In the end, he told Darcy he would simply allow it to run out without going back.

Darcy would stay at Netherfield for a short while then would make arrangements for the servants to close it. He had promised to pay the servants their wages, and Bingley agreed to reimburse him on his return to London.

Hurrying through the last two days, Darcy’s anxiety about seeing Elizabeth again was mounting. He hesitated about telling her that Bingley was not returning, but he understood his reasoning. He would never have taken Jane Bennet for a flirt, especially one who would break his friend’s heart. Darcy didn’t know what he would say to Elizabeth and eventually decided to say nothing unless the subject came up. He was undecided as to whether or not he wanted to hear her views on the topic. Her razor sharp wit was known to many, but he also knew her sarcasm could be just as sharp, and he feared he might become the object of it.

***

The first morning back at Netherfield, Darcy headed out on Windstorm to join Elizabeth on her ramble. His need to see her, talk to her, and hold her was great; he found her near Oakham Mount.

Dismounting, he asked, “Miss Elizabeth, are you and your family well?”

“Yes, and you?” He noted Elizabeth’s response was a little cool rather than the warm welcome he expected.

“I too am well.

Neither spoke for a few minutes as they walked, then Elizabeth inquired, “Did Mr. Bingley return with you to Netherfield?”

“Uh, no, Bingley has been ill the last few days but is recovering and still in London.”

“Oh? Do you know if he plans on returning in the near future?”

Darcy’s face reddened and he said, “To my knowledge, he is not planning to return.”

“I see.”

Elizabeth’s face wasn’t visible due to her bonnet and her looking forward, and Darcy wondered how she had taken his news. Her reply was softly spoken, but he could hear the note of anger beneath it.

She had expected to have privacy for her walk this morning and, at first, was pleased when Darcy appeared until he confirmed that Bingley was not coming back. Perhaps it is just as well. If he did return, it would be like another knife to sweet Jane’s heart.

“I daresay Miss Bingley must be pleased her brother is staying in Town and has other pursuits than those in Meryton.”

“I wouldn’t know as I haven’t spoken with Miss Bingley except for a few minutes the other day. She and her family do seem pleased to be back in Town with the theater and various entertainments which are not available in the country.”

“Yes…I’m sure there is much more to pursue in London than in our small town of Meryton.”

Darcy felt there was an underlying message in her comment, but for the life of him, he couldn’t figure out what.

“So, will Netherfield be closed down?”

“Bingley asked me to care for the servants and then to have them close the house in four days. He decided to allow the lease to run out without renewing or purchasing the property.”

“I see.”

The picture in his mind—of a bad-tempered pet in a snit—was not a complimentary one, but he felt like that was what he was dealing with in talking with Elizabeth this morning, and he was very much in fear of being bitten. He wasn’t going to introduce the topic of Jane’s betrothal and wondered if Elizabeth would; he was disappointed when she did not as he would have liked confirmation and more information if possible. But it was not forthcoming as she was doing as little talking as possible.

“And how is your eldest sister?”

Elizabeth stiffened with the question and refused to tell him exactly how heartbroken she was due to Mr. Bingley’s treatment of her. “My sister has been…ill for the past few days but is now doing better.”

“I’m glad she is better as I have felt you and your sister are fine gentle women.” Darcy was not sure with Jane’s betrothal if he still felt the same way about her but decided to stay with his former opinion for the moment.

“Thank you, Mr. Darcy.”

Silence reigned for a while longer, then Elizabeth spoke again. “Mr. Darcy, did you ever have any objections to Mr. Bingley’s friendship with Jane?”

It shocked Darcy, to say the least, to have her ask him such a question. He was unsettled further because she continued to call him Mr. Darcy instead of William. Should he tell her the truth? “Uh, there were times…I got the impression that your sister, although liking Bingley, did not express any special favor towards him. She seemed to treat him…as any of the other gentlemen of her court.”

“Of her court?” With this sharply stated question, Elizabeth turned and glared at him. “What do you mean her court?”

“Elizabeth, I was not trying to insult your sister but simply referring to the number of young men who showed interest in her. After all, she is a very beautiful and eligible young woman.”

“And did you point out to Mr. Bingley that my sister didn’t seem to particularly favor him?” Elizabeth’s color was high, and she spoke brusquely as she quizzed him. He also noticed both hands were fisted at her sides but refrained from commenting on them.

“I…cautioned him to be careful and to ascertain her feelings toward him before pursuing her in earnest. He is my best friend and deserves a love match, and I didn’t want to see him marry someone who was not in love with him. Yes, I told him I felt your sister was indifferent to him and asked him to act wisely.”

All the while as Darcy spoke, Elizabeth’s anger increased. She felt he’d been the one to come between Bingley and her sister. And why? Apparently, because he wanted Bingley to marry his sister, Georgiana. She was not so angry as to voice her thought aloud, but she also realized she could not marry a man who was responsible for breaking Jane’s heart.

As they approached Longbourn, she stopped and faced Darcy and told him she was ending their courtship as she didn’t feel they suited.

“Elizabeth, I love you, please don’t do this.” Darcy was desperate and, without thinking, grabbed her by both arms. He wasn’t rough, but it surprised Elizabeth, and she twisted away from him exclaiming loudly, “Mr. Darcy!”

John came running to her aid and yelled at Darcy. “Take your hands off her.”

Darcy turned and looked down at the young man and asked, “Why are you following us? Miss Elizabeth is my fiancée.”

“John, I’m well. However, I’m not his fiancée anymore. And Mr. Darcy is just leaving.”

“Elizabeth, I need to speak with you.”

“Miss Elizabeth to you,” she said with fire in her eyes.

Darcy sighed. “Miss Elizabeth, is this all the reply which I am to have the honor of expecting? I might, perhaps, wish to be informed why, with so little endeavor at civility, I am thus rejected…But it is of small importance.” He didn’t comprehend what was happening, but he understood Elizabeth was not open to any argument, at least at this time. He hoped in the near future the situation could be rectified, and he would call on her again before he left Netherfield. Hopefully, he could determine what her source of irritation was if she would at least listen to reason.

“Forgive me for having taken up so much of your time, and accept my best wishes for your health and happiness.” Darcy bowed to her, turned and mounted Windstorm, hesitated and then headed toward Netherfield as John and Elizabeth watched him go.

“Miss Elizabeth, are you truly all right?”

“Yes, John. Mr. Darcy would never hurt me physically. Only my heart is hurt…Thank you for being there for me.”

“Yes, Ma’am. Your papa would take a whip to me if I allowed anyone to hurt you.”

Elizabeth merely smiled and wiped away a tear and headed for the front door of Longbourn. Upon entering, she headed upstairs to the bedchamber she shared with Jane and lay on top of the counterpane for the rest of the afternoon. Later, when Jane entered the room, she found Lizzy’s pillow was tear-soaked, and her face showed the tracks of numerous tears as she slept. Jane didn’t know what happened but was determined to find out later. Elizabeth would talk to her about this morning. Jane wouldn’t accept silence from her.

***

Darcy stayed at Netherfield for ten days instead of the four he had indicated to Bingley. Each morning he would look for Elizabeth on her ramble but only found her one of those mornings; she refused to speak with him. Each day he traveled to Longbourn to visit and was told Miss Elizabeth was not receiving that day. By the ninth day, he knew his endeavors were useless. She would not speak with him no matter how long he stayed. So, he made arrangements to leave the morning of the tenth day.

That morning he took Windstorm out for a short ride and went to Oakham Mount. Although seeing Elizabeth in the distance, he paused and just watched without approaching her. Apparently, her mind was completely closed at this point, and he knew not what could open her heart again. Bowing his head in resignation and sighing deeply, he turned Windstorm and headed back to Netherfield Park to shut it down. He would have Bingley reimburse him only for the first four days. The rest would come out of his funds. At this point, he felt like Bingley had looked part way through his binge, and he wondered if his heart would ever heal. He suspected the answer was ‘no.’

Be sure and get your copy of the Darcy and Elizabeth Collection by April 15th. ENJOY!

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8 COMMENTS
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Jean Stillman
Jean Stillman
April 17, 2022 7:59 AM

Loved this excerpt! I look forward to reading this coolection!

DarcyBennett
DarcyBennett
April 13, 2022 12:19 PM

Enjoyed, thanks for sharing!

cindie snyder
cindie snyder
April 11, 2022 7:48 PM

Oh I hope Jane and Bingley get together and Lizzy and Darcy!

J. W. Garrett.
J. W. Garrett.
April 11, 2022 10:39 AM

Oh, my heart hurts… for Charles, Jane, and ODC. I hope you string Caroline Bingley up by her pretensions. GRRR! I may need a mouthguard when I read the rest of this. I hate it when D & E misunderstand each other and walk off to sulk. GRR! Ouch… my jaw hurts from gritting my teeth. LOL!

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