Time again for my post on Austen Authors, and I’m contemplating what to write about as usual.
Actually, what happened is that I decided a couple of things: to finish the Darcy Versus Series with a collection and to do a giveaway. The Darcy Versus Collection should publish this week with Darcy Vs Bingley, Darcy Vs Lady Catherine, Darcy Vs Elizabeth, and Darcy Vs Wickham.
I had considered writing a fifth one entitled Darcy Vs Mrs. Bennet, but recently I read a new release that revolved around the scenes that I had thought about for MY book and realized it might cause problems if I wrote it. Would love to do one with Darcy sparring with Mr. Bennet, but that has already been done by another author, and I’m not sure I could do one as well. So…I am making the Darcy Versus Collection with four novellas available in a giveaway today.
Enjoy Chapter 1 of Darcy Vs Lady Catherine and comment below by April 15th for an entry. Giveaway is international. Amazon American market winners will receive an eBook, and other winners will receive a PDF copy. Three copies are up for grabs, and winners will be announced April 18th.
Darcy rolled his eyes as his friend Bingley approached him.
“Come, Darcy,’ said he, “I must have you dance. I hate to see you standing about by yourself in this stupid manner. You had much better dance.”
“I certainly shall not. Unless I am particularly acquainted with my partner, I detest dancing. At such an assembly as this, it would be insupportable. I have already danced with your sisters, and there is not another woman in the room whom it would not be punishment to me to stand up with.”
“I would not be so fastidious as you are, for a kingdom,” cried his friend. “Upon my honor, I never met with so many pleasant girls in my life as I have this evening. There are several of them, as you can see, who are uncommonly pretty.”
Looking at the eldest Miss Bennet, Darcy replied, “You are dancing with the only handsome girl in the room.”
“Oh! She is the most beautiful creature I ever beheld! But there is one of her sisters sitting down just behind you, who is also very pretty, and I dare say, very agreeable. Do let me ask my partner to introduce you.”
Glancing over his shoulder, Darcy rolled his eyes as he turned back to Bingley, and said, “She is tolerable but not handsome enough to tempt me. You had better return to your partner and enjoy her smiles for you are wasting your time with me.”
Elizabeth Bennet’s eyes narrowed as she watched Mr. Bingley return to her sister’s side. Not one to ever back down from a challenge, she arose from her chair and approached Darcy.
“Mr. Darcy,” she began, keeping her voice low so as not to attract attention. “Although we have not been introduced, I feel I must warn you about making insulting comments within the hearing of young ladies who might become acquainted with these utterances…that is, inadvertently overhear them and take offense. This is a very close community, and we welcome new residents and visitors as long as they are well-mannered and understand that while we live in the country and are not as sophisticated as those in Town, we are not bumpkins to be insulted and looked down upon by those whose station might be considered higher than ours.” She inclined her head and offered a polite but chilly smile. “We endeavor to be polite to all including those who think they are higher and mightier than those who live here.” All that time, Elizabeth stood with her arms crossed so she would not be tempted to slap his handsome face.
Darcy’s jaw dropped open at her words, and his first inclination was to defend himself against this termagant. But as she spoke, he noted the fire in her eyes, the added color to her cheeks, and her dark curls that bounced as she spoke with determination. And he realized she was lovely, almost as lovely as Bingley’s Miss Bennet.
“Madam, may I apologize in sackcloth and ashes? I spoke without knowledge. Even though I had glanced back in your direction, I did not see the beauty that stands before me now. May I offer as a poor excuse that the summer has been hurtful to one I love, and today I had recently arrived from London with very little chance to recuperate before coming tonight. I am ashamed to admit it when fatigued, I can be…rather grumpy.” Bowing toward her, he added, “I hope you can forgive me, and after I obtain a proper introduction, that you will consider dancing the next set with me. Please.”
Elizabeth uttered a small gasp as he smiled at her and transformed into the most beautiful, nay, the most handsome man she had ever seen, and she was left speechless as she uncrossed her arms.
Seeing his opportunity, Darcy gently took her hand and placed a kiss on the back of her knuckles. Then catching Bingley’s eye, he motioned his friend and Miss Bennet over to where he and Elizabeth were standing.
“Bingley…my friend. You offered to have Miss Bennet introduce me to her sister. It would please me immensely for you to do so.”
Bingley chuckled and turned to Jane. “Miss Bennet, would you please introduce your sister and Darcy.”
“My pleasure, Mr. Bingley. Mr. Darcy, this is my sister, Miss Elizabeth. She is the second eldest in our family. Elizabeth, this is Mr. Darcy from Derbyshire.”
“It is my honor, Miss Elizabeth, to meet you.” Darcy bowed as Elizabeth curtseyed to him. “As the next set is about to start, perhaps we could join the other dancers?”
Elizabeth started to protest, since he had stated he was fatigued from traveling, but the gleam in his eye seemed to indicate his tiredness might have vanished. And who was she to protest dancing with the handsomest man in the room? She smiled, and warmth spread through her cheeks as she softly agreed with him as Bingley looked on in awe.
Turning to Jane, he said, “I don’t believe it, Miss Bennet. He just told me, in the strongest terms, he wouldn’t dance anymore tonight.”
“Perhaps he met a young lady who changed his mind.” Jane smiled at him, and Bingley’s heart melted. He might have thought he was in love before, but it had never felt like this. Putting her hand around his elbow, he held her just a little closer than propriety would approve while she blushed and looked down as they joined the dancers on the floor.
Elizabeth was surprised at how elegant a dancer Mr. Darcy was. His steps were light for such a tall man, and he managed to never step on her feet, which could not be said of some of her partners. The current dance was Tythe Pig, a lively one that meant watching their steps—rather than indulging in conversation—was a must. Her sisters, Lydia and Kitty, also had partners in this set and, for once, were being a little more mindful of their laughter which could become somewhat loud on occasion. She would be embarrassed if her family didn’t behave with decorum this evening as she wished that Mr. Darcy would see nothing to criticize.
After the dance, Darcy delivered Elizabeth back to her friend Charlotte Lucas. Charlotte nearly didn’t allow enough distance as he crossed the dance floor to join Bingley and his sisters before she started quizzing her friend about the man from Derbyshire.
“Lizzy, what was it like to dance with such a man?”
“Shhh. What do you mean such a man?” Glancing over her shoulder, she made sure Mr. Darcy was out of earshot.
“I mean such a handsome and wealthy man.”
“Yes, he is handsome, but the wealth does not matter to me.” She shook her head. “I want a man of character and honesty. I want to love the man I marry.”
With an arched brow, Charlotte said, “Oh, and you don’t think he has character or is honest?”
“No, that is not what I mean, Charlotte. I thought, at first, that he was pompous and proud, and he was not careful about his comments within my hearing. Mr. Bingley was trying to get him to dance, and Mr. Darcy was refusing.” Elizabeth drew herself up, frowned, then continued. “Do you know what he did when his friend insisted? Mr. Darcy glanced at me and said, ‘She is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me.’ I…was insulted.”
Charlotte’s hand flew to her mouth. “Oh, no. That was like waving a red cape in front of a bull.”
“Charlotte, I am no bull.”
“No…but you can charge like one when incensed.”
Blushing, Elizabeth finally acknowledged she had felt like charging over and slapping him senseless, and both young women giggled like school girls at the thought.
“But I did not. I did walk up to him and let him know I had inadvertently overheard his comments. I must admit, I was spoiling for a fight.”
“How did he react?”
“He shocked me by apologizing very humbly to me, and then he asked me to dance.”
“My father introduced our family to him earlier. But had you been introduced yet?”
“No, but he offered to get Mr. Bingley and Jane so introductions could be made. And…I agreed.”
Charlotte cocked her head at her friend. “But he insulted you.”
“Yes, but he explained he hadn’t even really looked at me, just made a comment to get Mr. Bingley to leave him alone. He also said he was a bit fatigued from traveling to Meryton from London.” Elizabeth giggled as Charlotte tugged on her sleeve demanding to know what happened.
“He said he’s a little grumpy when tired.” She paused, gave a little sigh, and then continued. “And when he called me a beauty, my heart fluttered, and when he smiled at me, my heart raced…and I could not refuse to dance with him.”
“And a very good dancer he is. The two of you made a striking couple on the dance floor. But if I’m not mistaken, he is coming this way to beg a second dance with you.”
“Oh, Charlotte, what should I do?”
“Dance with him, of course.”
Elizabeth cheeks pinked as she looked up and said, “Mr. Darcy.”
“Miss Elizabeth, may I request the next dance with you?”
The smile he gave her took her breath away, and his smile grew wider as he noted her reaction.
“Mr. Darcy, she would be delighted to dance with you again.”
Bowing to Elizabeth’s friend, Darcy said, “I promise to bring her back afterwards, Miss Lucas.”
Charlotte just laughed as Elizabeth laid her hand on the arm he extended to her. She couldn’t feel her feet on the floor, and it seemed as if she was floating.
And Darcy was loving every minute of his time with her.
As the couple lined up with the other dancers, Charlotte could hear the whispers start around the room. Mr. Darcy had asked Elizabeth for a second dance, and it had not gone unnoticed.
Remember to comment below by April 15th for an entry. Winners will be published April 18th. 🙂