Mr. Darcy Faces Wickham – The excerpt

For my post this month I’m returning to the tried and true failsafe of an excerpt from My Darcy Faces Wickham, book four in the Elizabeth Said, Darcy Said series. The story concern’s Darcy’s confrontation with Wickham in Meryton as told from Darcy’s point of view. I’ve tried to justify his actions and, in the process, make him less heartless. The man has a tender side that I want to expose earlier in the story.

In this excerpt, Darcy is in Meryton looking for Bingley so they can go to Longbourn together. Bingley is across the street buying some candy for Jane when Darcy happens upon Wickham getting friendly with Lydia.

 

Half of the way back to the stable he caught his friend leaving the town grocer, a pair of apples in his hand. Bingley did not see him, so Darcy hurried to close the distance between them. “That looks nothing like a confectioner’s place of business,” he said, his jest bringing Bingley to a stop as his head swung from side to side trying to locate the source of the comment.
With two quick steps he came up behind Bingley and placed a hand on his shoulder, the gesture startling the man as he jumped and twisted to the side.
“Darcy,” he said, his eyes opening wide, “you frightened me.” A nervous laugh escaped his lips, which he tried to cover with a smile. “I expected to see you at the Bennet estate. Are you here for a special reason?”
With a chuckle, he leaned forward to whisper, “I came for sugar sticks. This confectioner’s candies are better than any I’ve tried in London, in my opinion. You should buy some for Miss Elizabeth. She would appreciate your thoughtfulness.”
Darcy laughed and shook his head as he fell into step with his friend. “I didn’t come for sugar sticks, or drops, or any other type of candies. The groomsman told me you planned to stop for more of those bribes you give Mrs. Bennet, so I decided to find you and ride to Longbourn together.”
“Bribes?” Bingley said, his eyes widening in concert with the barely upturned corners of his mouth. “I would not dream of trying anything of the kind with Mrs. Bennet. They are tokens of my esteem, nothing more.”
“Those tokens are the main reason she is so much in favor of your efforts to secure her daughter’s hand in marriage,” Darcy said and laughed, his mirth infecting Bingley, who tried in vain not to join him.
“Am I that obvious?” he asked through the laughter that escaped his best efforts to conceal. “All I want is to work myself into her good graces. Her opposition to my attempts at winning Miss Bennet’s hand is a problem I don’t need.”
Darcy’s brows rose as he stared at his friend, his eyes widening in concert with them. “Opposition?” he asked, his voice rising as if in amazement at the man’s claim. “Mrs. Bennet is so anxious for your proposal she’s almost ready to go down on one knee and ask the question for you. If you don’t take matters into your own hands, you are going to one day find yourself already engaged when you show up to call on her.”
Bingley’s answering laugh sounded a trifle worried, to Darcy’s satisfaction. The man needed a push, or his romance was doomed. Miss Bennet liked him, that much anyone with eyes could see, but she needed confirmation that he returned her affection or she might tire of his lack of commitment and turn him away.
The man cast his eyes about, desperate for an excuse to change the subject, Darcy guessed. “Give me a minute,” he said, his gaze fastening on the confectioner’s shop with an intensity he displayed only on rare occasions. “I want to make a few purchases.”
Halfway across the street, he turned back to Darcy, whose smile grew as he waited for the denial to his friendly poke. “And sugar sticks are not on my list today. Miss Bennet mentioned her love of licorice, so I am going to buy some for her. If she wants to share some with her mother, I won’t object, but I am getting the candy for her, not Mrs. Bennet.”
With that, he faced the other side of the street and strode purposely to the shop in question, opening the door and going inside without another glance at his friend.
Darcy continued in their original direction at a saunter while he waited for Bingley to reappear. He walked past one merchant, then another then stopped where a lane led from the street around the rear of the buildings. This seemed a good place to stay until Bingley returned.
Resisting an urge to dirty his clothes by leaning against the building, he involved himself observing the people hurrying about their business on both sides of the roadway.
“I’m not that kind of girl,” a familiar voice said from somewhere in the lane behind him. The girl laughed and continued. “I can’t stay more than a minute or two. My father thinks I’m upstairs in my room, so I have to get back before he notices.”
“A minute is all I need to turn you into that type of girl,” said a too familiar voice in reply, “and two to make sure you aren’t tempted to regret the improvement.”
Visions of Georgiana’s treatment and her submission to what he assumed were those identical promises drove Darcy into the lane at a run, afraid of arriving too late to save this foolish girl from ruin.
He passed between the buildings, crowded close enough to admit only a wagon with no room for a person to walk alongside. Reaching the corner he paused and, looking both directions, found Miss Lydia backed against a wall a few feet from where he stood. Wickham was pressed tight to her body, his hands roaming freely over the front of her dress and lingering on parts that no man should be touching any young girl, and certainly not one of Miss Lydia’s tender age.
“Let her go,” he demanded, his hands closed tight enough to force the blood from his fingers as he fought the urge to satisfy his need for vengeance upon the man in front of him.
“Why?” Wickham responded, his leer provoking a giggle from Miss Lydia. “We are only having some innocent fun. Mind your business and leave us alone.”
“What you plan on doing to her is my business,” Darcy said, reaching out to take a firm grip of the girl’s arm and pulling her from his enemy’s grasp.
“You’re coming with me,” he said as he dragged a now struggling Miss Lydia to the street, where his temper at last broke the limits of control.
“Go home,” he snapped, throwing her to the other side of the street. He turned back toward Wickham, following a few steps behinds with a condescending grin plastered on his face.    From the corner of his eye, he noticed Bingley emerging from the confectioner and hoped luck would shine on him, prompting Bingley to take control of the wayward young girl.
Darcy pushed his anger down and took a breath, followed by another, before he considered himself calmed to a point where he might manage a rational conversation with the other party to this public display of depravity.
Wickham, though, seemed determined to make this goal as difficult possible. He leaned against the wall just inside the lane’s entrance and crossed his arms, adopting the same insolent pose he used in their childhood whenever Darcy took him to task for his too frequent rebellious acts.
“Why did you interrupt us?” Wickham sneered, then laughed. “If you wanted your turn with her, I would have shared. She would probably welcome the attention from two men. I know she has from me and, according to what Denny said, other members of the regiment.”
“Be careful what you say next.” Darcy spat the words at the other, a red mist descending over his vision while he unconsciously set his feet in place, steadying his stance.
“Calm yourself,” Wickham replied. “It’s not as if this is Miss Darcy who, as I recall, you kept from experiencing the joy of becoming a real woman, too. How is she? Has she gotten over the disappointment of losing the opportunity to find out what a real man can do for a woman?”
Darcy shook his head, the power of speech eluding him in the face of Wickham’s insults. He wanted to reply, but to do so was sure to destroy the last remnant of control he possessed. Saying nothing allowed him to focus his attention on keeping his hands securely at his sides, instead of where he wanted to place them, fastened around Wickham’s neck and choking the life out of him.
“I’m going to return to Derbyshire so I can finish what I started with your sister. That will have to wait until I’ve satisfied all the beautiful women in Meryton, but I don’t think she’ll mind. The anticipation can only make our eventual meeting more memorable for her.”
Darcy felt the pounding of his heart forcing the blood through his veins. Each beat came as a dull thump in his ears, the noise drowning out all sounds except for Wickham’s continuing taunts. Did the man not understand the danger his words put him in, or did he just not care?
“And I promise to pay special attention to Miss Lydia’s beautiful sister before I leave Hertfordshire. Of course, when I am finished with her she won’t give you the time of day. You are interested in her, aren’t you? From the looks I saw you giving her the other day in Meryton it appears you have designs on her. I think she’s my next conquest, once I’m done with Miss Lydia, that is.”
Darcy met this final taunt with a fist planted in Wickham’s mouth, crushing his sneering lips and sending his head back to bounce against the wall he leaned on. He watched with satisfaction as Wickham slumped to the ground, where he lay motionless looking up at Darcy.
Placing his boot on Wickham’s chest to keep him from rising, he said, “My advice is to reconsider your plans. If you try anything I’ll have the constable arrest you for transport to London or take you myself so you can’t escape the justice you owe the citizens of Derbyshire.
“You’ve killed him!” Darcy heard as a flurry of fists struck him from behind. He looked down at Wickham, who remained at his feet, but had closed his eyes, no doubt to gain sympathy from Miss Lydia, who continued to hit him. Added to her assault, however, was a string of curses no well-bred young woman should be acquainted with, although coming as they did from this girl did not shock him.
“Control yourself,” he demanded and pushed her into Bingley’s arms, grateful his friend followed close behind the wild girl.
She responded with a fresh attack and another string of curses, course enough to make a sailor blush. Her new onslaught, combined with Wickham’s nonsense, proved too much for Darcy and he grabbed the girl, intending to put her over his knee and deliver a well-deserved spanking, despite the consequences sure to follow.
“Darcy, let her go,” Bingley demanded, tearing Miss Lydia from Darcy’s grasp, and pushing her to the side, only to have her launch herself at him, this time with her fingers extended as if to scratch his eyes out.
“Enough!” he yelled and pushed her away once more, which she answered with yet another round of cursing. Darcy advanced on her, his patience spent. The time had come to put this girl permanently in her place. She needed to learn respect and if her father refused this most basic instruction, Darcy was ready to fulfill that function.
Bingley’s arms went around his shoulders, stopping him from completing his task. Darcy felt himself spun around and forced against the building’s wall, where Bingley held him.
“Let me go so I can finish this,” he demanded, fighting to free his arms in order to push the man away. Bingley, however, refused to comply, which served to stoke the fire consuming him. He tightened the grip holding Darcy away from Wickham and urged him to reconsider his intent.
“Darcy,” he pleaded, the gasps punctuating his words revealing the fatigue taking over and sapping his energy, “get hold of yourself! You’re making a spectacle of yourself and fools of us both.”
Putting the palms of his hands against Bingley’s chest, Darcy put all his strength into forcing his friend back and freeing him from the captivity of the restrictive embrace. The success of his maneuver appeared to catch Bingley off guard, as he did not move to regain control over his former captive.
Freed to move again, Darcy advanced on a prone Wickham. “Somebody stop him, before he attacks again,” he heard Miss Lydia’s panicked scream. “He’s going to make sure his attempted murder was successful. Do something, before it’s too late!”
Wickham was in no danger of Imminent death, Darcy knew. The single blow he landed was not even enough to knock him out, so why did he continue to lie in the lane?
He watched as an eye opened, but not fully and a faint smile stole across the man’s lips then disappeared. Wickham must be playing a sympathy game, hoping to convince Miss Lydia and the crowd gathered because of the commotion that Darcy tried to kill him.
This understanding of Wickham’s ploy flooded him with fresh indignation and Darcy advanced on his nemesis. “You’re a dead man,” he declared, past caring what people thought of his threat. “The next time I catch you doing this I’ll finish what I started. This ends here, for you or for me, I don’t care. Do yourself a favor and leave Meryton and Hertfordshire.”
A gasp from behind brought a groan from him as he turned to see Miss Elizabeth standing in the lane’s entrance, her mouth gaping in shock and her eyes open wide in horror.

Below is the first draft of the cover, which is undergoing a lot of changes. The actual cover will feature these two men, but their positions will be changed. I hope to release this in early October, although with recent health issues that might honestly be difficult. All I can do is try.

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7 Responses to Mr. Darcy Faces Wickham – The excerpt

  1. Great excerpt! Am looking forward to a more complete look at the Darcy-Wickam relationship. Darcy, while sensitive, is rarely shown as self aware or eloquent about his feelings until time passes and he first goes through the intellectual/logic based analysis. But somewhere in there, there must be the confused and betrayed 9-11 year old who has lost his mate, his friend, and must let address that pain.
    Wishing you better health and healing!

  2. I do hope Elizabeth doesn’t join Lydia in blaming Darcy? He needs to tell her of Lydia’s behaviour with Wickham which started it and Wickham’s threats against her and his sister. Surely Elizabeth isn’t stupid enough to not realise who’s at fault? I certainly hope so.

  3. Cliffhanger. Whew! I actually broke out in a nervous sweat. Goodness. I’m not sure I can catch that breath I just lost. That was amazing. I hope Elizabeth will understand. Dang… that Wickham. The SBRB [scum-bag-rat-bastard] will play the victim up to the hilt. GRRR! I hope Darcy is able to convince Mr. Bennet [and Elizabeth] of Lydia’s behavior that started the whole thing. Hopefully, Elizabeth saw or heard something prior to this [in her opinion] unseemly behavior displayed by Darcy. She’s never seen him like that before. It had to be a shock. Thanks for sharing. I’m looking forward to reading it. Blessings on its completion.

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