How about a first look inside my upcoming release? It’s Somebody Else’s Gentleman and it will be available soon. I chose the following Jane Austen quote as the epigraph for the story:
“Seldom, very seldom, does complete truth belong to any human disclosure; seldom can it happen that something is not a little disguised or a little mistaken.” —Jane Austen
Indeed, in this story, there’s a little disguise and a little mistake or two at play.
Here’s the working blurb:
By all appearances, Mr. Darcy is the rightful property of a wealthy young lady in London. Why else would he remain silent on the subject if it were not true? What happens once he arrives in Hertfordshire and lays eyes on the bewitching Miss Elizabeth Bennet? What if the young lady from town is Miss Caroline Bingley, and she befriends Elizabeth?
In the ensuing game of love, which young lady will end up in Mr. Darcy’s arms?
Caroline and Elizabeth as friends–what could possibly go wrong? Enjoy the first part of Chapter 1*:
Hertfordshire, England – September 1811
The pond was the picture-perfect setting. A tranquil body of water of some natural importance, it proved a welcome respite from the chaotic pace at Elizabeth’s home. Here, she might sit and contemplate the goings-on without interruption. She treasured the idyllic spot.
Elizabeth lifted her hand and she shielded her eyes, protecting them from the bright sun. Her gaze drifted over the water. She could easily find some modicum of tranquility at the pond mere footsteps from the manor house in Longbourn Village. Gliding swans, their wings rippling, quacking ducks bobbing up and down, and flocking geese calling out abounded. She found the quiet solitude of the isolated pond on the outskirts of the estate more to her liking.
Elizabeth took a deep breath of the fresh air, composing herself. She opened her arms wide, closed her eyes, and inhaled deeply. She repeated this exercise several times, taking in the fresh air and allowing it to fill her soul with its restoring properties.
After she had taken in her fill, she opened her eyes and began her rumination.
The need to seek refuge from the hectic pace at home was undoubtedly a trait she inherited from her father, Thomas Bennet. His solace was being alone in his library with his books. Although, it had not always been that way. He used to enjoy long outings at that very spot Elizabeth now cherished as her own little piece of paradise, usually with Elizabeth in tow. There, he spoke to her of distant places, different languages, and diverse cultures while they watched the tiny sailboat he had made for her floating on the water—the same toy boat she had earlier tethered to a low-hanging branch and cast adrift on the pond. Her father was a fountain of information. Even as a young child, Elizabeth was always eager to take it all in.
That was years and years ago. Now, Mr. Bennet hardly bothered doing anything that required a modicum of exertion. Not paying attention to his family was his most egregious offense. No, he would much rather make fun of them.
Elizabeth sighed. She had her father’s penchant for mocking her mother as her excuse for being at the pond that day. Her mother, Fanny Bennet, had been going on and on about Netherfield Park, the estate that abutted her father’s, and its being let at last. She spoke of its new occupant being a single young man from the North and how he must be in want of a wife—preferably one of her five daughters.
All her father had to do was consent to her mother’s request to call on the young man, which in Elizabeth’s opinion was perfectly reasonable. Though she did not always agree with her mother’s matchmaking antics, in this case, her mother was right. If Mr. Bennet did not visit the new neighbor, then none of them could do so.
Mrs. Bennet was not the only one excited because a new eligible gentleman had arrived in their midst. Elizabeth had to admit to being a little intrigued, too. There was no security to be had in living in an estate entailed away from the family’s female line.
Say what one will about my mamma; she is keenly aware of the perils, despite my father not caring. But then again, such perils would only come to be once my father was to pass away, at which point his earthly concerns must indeed cease.
And if none of my sisters or I should marry before such time as my father’s demise, what might become of us? Why would Longbourn’s new owner not toss us into the hedgerows as my mamma fears?
It was a hot late summer day. The deep coolness of the water looked so refreshing—half tempting Elizabeth to wade a short distance into the pond. While she was certain her mother would frown on such indecorous behavior, with no one else around, who would know? She was rather tired, however, from not having slept very well the night before. Her youngest sister, Lydia, upended the entire household’s night with constant complaints of feeling poorly.
I am sure I would not be so worn out had Lydia not made such a fuss, but alas, when Lydia is miserable, everyone is miserable.
Elizabeth decided it best to sit on the bank and dip her feet into the water. She rid herself of her shoes and stockings. It felt good. Through the years, she had spent so many hours sitting on that bank, watching her little toy sailboat float idly. Thoughts of one day sailing across the water often drifted through her mind.
What must it be like to visit faraway places?
Elizabeth’s wont to read fueled her desire to visit other parts of the world.
In truth, Elizabeth knew her future husband would not ride in on a white horse. She knew he would not show up on her wedding day dressed like an outlandish knight in shining armor and take her away. He is far more likely to come riding on a little grey donkey, a farmer perhaps, and take me away to some small village. Perhaps we might settle down in a quaint house with four or five little children.
Her eager imagination sometimes got away from her and envisioned grander things—a house in town, many fine carriages, fancy jewels, ample pin money, and not to be forgotten—an estate with lakes and streams, and a large manor house backed by wooded hills.
It would indeed be nice if I were to marry a gentleman capable of providing such things, but it will never happen. She knew it. Yet and still, it is just as easy to dream of a grand manner of living as it is to dream of a more modest means. I posit my time is far better spent dreaming of the former.
In that vein, Elizabeth wondered what the supposed gentleman would look like. Would he be handsome? How handsome would he be? Would he be of noble blood? She wondered what kind of things he would do to her. Would he treat her well? Would he love her—treasure and adore her?
Having recently celebrated her twentieth birthday, another thought came to mind. What is taking my knight so long to come riding in to take me away?
A strong breeze blew across her and blew some loose hair out of Elizabeth’s face. Yawning, she outstretched her arms above her head, clasping her hands. Perhaps it is time to return to Longbourn.
Elizabeth stood and smoothed her skirt. Shielding her eyes from the bright sun, she pored over the pond reflecting the sun’s rays. How vexing! Amid her musings, she had lost sight of her toy sailboat.
She plainly saw the string used to tether her boat dangling from the leafy branch, but somehow the boat had broken free.
At length, she glimpsed its tiny sail reflecting the sunlight. The boat drifted farther and farther away from her.
Retrieving the tiny boat was essential for sentimental value, if nothing else, being that her father had handcrafted it for her when she was but a child.
I have kept it all these years. I shall not part with it now.
Her shoes and stockings, she had earlier discarded.
Now everything needs to go—that is everything except my chemise, she thought, while undressing and tossing her other clothing to the ground.
Elizabeth had no choice despite echoes of warnings instilled in her since her youth not to swim alone. She could not lose one of her most cherished possessions. Besides, she always considered herself a decent swimmer, and she did not know what the harm would be.
She waded into the pond, the water creeping up and up her ankles until she was knee-high in the pond, and then she began swimming. For a moment, she lost sight of the boat entirely. She swam on.
When Elizabeth could see the toy sailboat again, she then contemplated the rest of her way. How upsetting. She had swum even farther into the pond than she had thought she would have to. She had never swum so far alone. It was deeper than she thought, and the pond no longer looked pleasant and inviting. She pondered the dangers of the murky water, its density, its subtle currents, and its temperature.
Not that any such thoughts mattered. Elizabeth had come too far to turn back empty-handed, and she was closer to the boat than she was to the bank, anyway.
Stroke by stroke, she swam toward the toy sailboat until she was near enough to reach it with her fingertips. Gently, she pulled the sailboat to her and clasped it to her chest. She was about to swim back, but a sharp pain arrested her leg—utterly excruciating pain.
Oh, no! This cannot be happening. I—my leg is cramping!
Unable to swim, she released her grip on the sailboat and clutched her calf instead. She reacted in horror—her head sinking just beneath the choppy surface. The more she panicked, the greater her peril. But what was she to do? The pain in her leg was debilitating. Submerging below the surface, frantically bobbing to the top—there was nothing but water as far as her eyes could see.
Floundering, Elizabeth screamed out as loud as she could. Her movements grew sluggish. Then her head submerged under the water again, and she struggled to hold her breath.
I—I am drowning…
Struggling, thrashing, she could not save herself. She cried out in terror, desperately aware of the perilous water and the helplessness of her situation.
A scream ripped from her throat as her head went under the water. She struggled to break the surface once again. Disoriented, panicked, she could not breathe. Elizabeth was not sure where she was. Gasping for breath, she struggled to get her bearings.
She tried to scream, but she could not. There were more bubbles, and then she was sinking in water—water that was entirely black.
No one is coming for me. No one…
I do not want to die…
*Subject to revisions and final edits
Available on September 9, 2021
Read the second part of Somebody Else’s Gentleman Chapter 1 for FREE on my Patreon page. Click here now.
Speaking of new releases and book blurbs, here’s the new blurb for my latest new release, Something to Think Of:
Today’s post marks the start of my new release celebrations, which means it’s giveaway time! Comment for a chance to win a $5 gift card from Amazon.com. One winner will be selected. If the winner is not eligible to redeem a gift card from Amazon.com, one P. O. Dixon eBook will be awarded instead—winner’s choice. The giveaway contest ends Tuesday, August 31, 2021.