Does anyone else feel like they have been repeating themselves a lot in the past year? Not like Groundhog’s Day or anything supernatural, but more of a “Didn’t I just say/do this?” Last month my topic was Never Say Never and I am already having to pull my foot out of my mouth.
As many of you might remember, my latest writing project began with a short scene that had popped into my head but I had NO intention of writing. That was before Ashton Fitzwilliam, eldest son of the Earl and cousin to Fitzwilliam Darcy, overtook what was to be my last chapter and demanded his own book. So what does this have to do with a scene about Phillip Fitzwilliam, younger brother to Ashton? Well, his brother’s demands sparked his own and, while attempting to find Ashton’s story, Phillip pushed his way to the forefront and that little scene will most likely be the opening chapter of the third book in this series. (These demanding characters are making my life much harder and lengthening the time it takes to write a book.) I have informed the Colonel that he will have to wait until his brother’s story is written and he has agreed to be quiet for the time being.
With all these distractions, this month’s blog snuck up on me so I am sharing another excerpt from the first book in the Defying Propriety Series, As a Proper Lady Would. Young Masters Darcy and Wickham are at Eton College and Wickham has just gotten into a scrape due to his friend’s inattention. Enjoy and watch for information coming within the next month on the release of this book.
“You are correct, of course. I have never liked speaking to people I do not know and, perhaps, I have used Mother’s death as a reason not to do so.” Fitzwilliam Darcy returned to his seat. “How do you do it, George? How do you just start talking to people you don’t even know? What do you say?”
“I don’t know.” George Wickham shrugged. “I just say what comes to mind at the time. It depends on where we are or what is happening.” He laid his hand on the other boy’s shoulder. “You just have to pay attention.”
“You make it sound so easy,” Fitzwilliam shrugged off his friend’s hand. “When I open my mouth, nothing comes out. Sometimes I can’t even remember their names.”
“You … well, you have to make people comfortable. Talk about them. People love to talk about themselves. Ask them a question and then just listen to them talk.” He pointed a finger in Fitzwilliam’s face. “But you have to pay attention to what they say. You can’t stare at them while they talk and not listen. Then you ask them another question based on what you heard.”
Fitzwilliam huffed and slouched in the chair. “But what they say doesn’t interest me.”
“How do you know until you hear them?” George put his hands on his hips and leaned over his friend. “Just because you’re the centre of the world at Pemberley, doesn’t mean you’re that important everywhere else.”
A knock on the door stopped George from getting another bloody nose. Before either boy could answer it, the Fitzwilliam brothers entered.
“Murray’s gang isn’t looking for more blood,” Phillip declared as he flopped down on Fitzwilliam’s bed. “What made you ignore a Scot, Fitz? They’re just waiting to fight.”
“I didn’t hear him,” Fitzwilliam muttered.
“Well, I recommend you listen for him in the future,” Ashton said, leaning his back against the door.
Phillip sat up and eyed the younger boys suspiciously. “What were you talking about?”
When Fitzwilliam didn’t answer, George sighed. “I was trying to teach Fitz how to talk to people.”
“Very well,” Phillip crossed his arms and studied his cousin. “Let’s see what you’ve learned.”
“What?” Fitzwilliam asked as he looked between the other boys.
Phillip stood up and held out his hand. “How do you do? I’m Phillip Fitzwilliam, and you are?”
Fitzwilliam laughed nervously, but the others waited for his reply. Finally, with a sigh, he shook his cousin’s hand. “Fitzwilliam Darcy,” he muttered.
“Say it with pride, Fitz,” Ashton demanded. “Hell, you’re richer than half the earls’ sons here. Darcy is a name to be proud of.”
The boy rolled his shoulders and stood taller while shaking his cousin’s hand with more strength. “Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley in Derbyshire,” he said a bit firmer.
They all stared at one another until George nudged his friend. “Ask him a question,” he said out the corner of his mouth.
“Um, where are you from?”
Phillip hesitated, then shook his head before answering. With the others prompting Fitz through the conversation, they finally reached the end and then Ashton stepped forwards with his hand extended.
“Not again,” Fitzwilliam moaned. “Haven’t I practiced enough?”
“No,” the brothers said in unison.
The evening progressed in this manner, with Fitzwilliam slowly becoming more at ease. The conversations had ranged from dull to eccentric until Ashton placed a hand at his brother’s elbow and took his hand.
“Mr. Darcy, may I have the honour of presenting my sister, Lady Philippa?” Ashton asked in a haughty manner.
Phillip fluttered his eyelashes at Fitzwilliam causing guffaws to burst from the younger boys.
“You insult my sister, sir?” Ashton leaned forwards and glared at his cousin while Phillip pretended to burst into tears.
“No . . . I . . .” Fitzwilliam stuttered.
“You should have warned him,” George said as he regained his composure.
“Can I just focus on men for now?” Fitzwilliam asked, returning to his chair. “I’m not going to meet any girls here.”
“Don’t be so sure,” Phillip said. “Families sometimes visit, and your classmates will introduce you if you are near. Especially if they have a sister they want you to marry.”
“Never too young to start making those connections,” Ashton said in his father, the earl’s, voice. “Aunt Catherine is already telling everyone that Aunt Anne wanted you to marry her daughter.”
“Anne?” Fitzwilliam asked with disgust. “Mother never told me she wanted us to marry.”
“Because she probably didn’t,” Phillip stepped in. “The problem is Aunt Anne isn’t here to stop her sister from saying it. Face it, Fitz, you aren’t an earl’s son, but, like Ashton said, you’re richer than most of them. People are going to want to make a connection with you. Like Murray. He knows you’re from up north . . .”
“Not that far north,” Fitzwilliam muttered.
“Still, it’s closer than London,” Ashton replied.
Fitzwilliam shrugged. “Can I study now? I do have real work that needs to be done.”
The brothers exchanged a glance with George and all three nodded. “As do we,” Ashton agreed, and he and Phillip moved to the door. “But,” he said before they left, “you must continue to practice.”
With a reluctant nod, Fitzwilliam agreed, and the brothers left the younger boys to their studies.
Am I alone? Can’t you see Darcy’s cousins trying to teach him how to be more social?
Until next month, take care and be safe!