“A young woman with the distinction of being crossed in love was unlikely to be so easily consoled.” – Something to Think Of, Chapter 16
It feels as if I’ve had more ‘working’ covers for my upcoming release, Something to Think Of, than any story I have ever written. Remember these?
Maybe it’s a consequence of the story’s lengthy writing phase. I started working on the story as early as September 2020. But here’s happy news. I finally have the cover I feel I’ve wanted all along and just didn’t know it.
Here’s more happy news! Something to Think Of is available for pre-order on Amazon, Apple Books, Nook, and Kobo. Its release date is July 29, 2021. The paperback edition (226 pages) is also ready for a July 27th release date.
Miss Elizabeth Bennet is suffering something akin to regret having refused Mr. Darcy’s proposal because of his interference in Jane’s relationship with Mr. Bingley. Indeed, her sister has a new love interest—the charming Mr. Hemmingsworth. Moreover, Mr. Hemmingsworth has a brother—an identical twin. Will a second chance at love for Jane lead to a second chance at love for Elizabeth too?
I have shared several excerpts of Something to Think Of on Austen Authors as the story unfolded:
It’s only fitting that I share one more excerpt with you before the story’s official release date. Recall the last excerpt featured Mr. Bingley meeting his competition for Jane’s affections. In this excerpt, it’s Mr. Darcy’s turn to see the woman he loves on the arm of another. Enjoy!
Chapter 5 ~ Excerpt
Concerned about what could be keeping Jane, Elizabeth had also escaped the party. The lobby was more crowded than she had expected. She did not wander about long before espying Mr. Darcy. She only caught a glimpse of him, for he was heading to a different part of the theater. A single glimpse was all it took, for Elizabeth would have recognized his noble mien among a thousand men.
This was but the second time seeing the gentleman since refusing his offer of marriage. It was the first time seeing him since suffering something akin to regret. Would she have refused him had she known what she now knew having committed his letter to heart?
The two offenses she accused him of she had by now forgiven him for. What was there not to forgive? In separating Jane and Bingley, he had been acting in service of his friend. In confiding his family’s harrowing secret, he had proved Elizabeth’s former favorite, a Mr. George Wickham, to be the scoundrel he indeed was. But the cold, ungentlemanly manner in which he offered his hand and the stern criticism of her family—he had done nothing to assuage her dislike in either of those two respects. She could have no reason to think he ever would.
Still, Elizabeth could scarcely deny having longed to see the gentleman upon first returning to London from Kent. She had hoped to see him in company with his friend Bingley—calling on Jane in Cheapside—as his way of making amends for his interference.
He never came.
“Miss Eliza Bennet? Is that you?” Elizabeth heard someone ask.
Elizabeth turned to identify the speaker. She forced a smile to her face. “Mrs. Hurst, Miss Bingley,” she said, curtseying.
“Well—well, it is you! For a moment, I thought my eyes were deceiving me,” said Miss Bingley, the younger and the most pernicious of the two Bingley sisters.
“You act as though it surprises you to see me here in London. It is not as though you were unaware of Jane’s being here. She told me she visited you soon after she arrived in town.”
“Yes, well, that was ages ago. I surely thought our dear Miss Bennet would have returned to Hertfordshire by now. Is she here tonight as well?”
Trapped in an awkward engagement with two of her least favorite people in the world was not exactly Elizabeth’s idea of how she ought to be spending her time that evening.
“She is indeed,” Elizabeth said. “If you will pardon me, I am looking for her.”
“Pray do not hurry off on our account, Miss Eliza,” said Miss Bingley. She seized Elizabeth’s arm in hers and silently coaxed her sister into doing the same. “I say we join you in looking for Miss Bennet. No doubt a lovely reunion awaits us all.”
The ladies did not walk far before being arrested by none other than Mr. Darcy. The Bingley sisters released Elizabeth’s arms and snatched his without a second’s hesitation. He not too subtly wrenched himself free.
“Miss Elizabeth,” he said, bowing.
“Mr. Darcy,” Elizabeth said.
Not to be denied her fair share of Mr. Darcy’s attention, Miss Bingley said, “Is this not a lovely surprise, Mr. Darcy? We have not had the pleasure of Miss Eliza’s company in months.” She looked at Elizabeth. “Did I not promise you a lovely reunion for us all? A long overdue one at that, for our Mr. Darcy only recently returned to town himself.”
“Oh?” Elizabeth heard herself ask.
“Indeed, Miss Elizabeth. After I left Kent, I traveled to Somersetshire.”
“At this time of year, during the height of the London season, no less. What on earth were you thinking of staying away from all of your friends for so long?” Miss Bingley cried.
Mr. Darcy flashed an annoyed glance at Miss Bingley. “After my stay in Kent, I needed some time away from everything.” He looked longingly at Elizabeth. “Not that it made a great difference. And you, Miss Elizabeth—how long has it been since you took your leave of Kent?”
“A few weeks,” Elizabeth said, a bit confused by his gentle tone. Perhaps he was not as disappointed in her as she thought he would be—not that it mattered if he were. She was just as much an injured party as he was, after all. Her uncivil refusal was perfectly in keeping with his insulting proposal.
That harrowing evening’s events still lingered in her mind. Mr. Darcy spoke well, but there were feelings besides those of the heart to be detailed, and he was no more eloquent on the subject of tenderness than of pride. His sense of her inferiority—of its being a degradation—of the family obstacles which had always opposed to inclination, were dwelt on with a warmth which seemed due to the consequence he was wounding but was very unlikely to recommend his suit.
As much as she did not wish to dwell on the past, there was one part of his proposal that accompanied Elizabeth to sleep each night.
You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.
Elizabeth could not repress her heart’s whispering, Does Mr. Darcy still love me?
“Kent!” Miss Bingley exclaimed. “Do you mean to say the two of you were together in Kent?”
Before either Elizabeth or Mr. Darcy could fashion a reply, Mr. Mitchell Hemmingsworth joined their party.
He offered Elizabeth the beverage he was holding.
“Thank you, sir,” she said, accepting his proffered drink. “How did you know I was in need of refreshment?”
Tucking both hands behind his back, the handsome gentleman stood straight and tall. “Part of the joy of becoming better acquainted with you these past weeks is learning to anticipate your needs, Miss Elizabeth.”
Elizabeth lowered her eyes and raised her glass to her lips. She took a long sip. Mr. Hemmingsworth, you are positively incorrigible, she thought but did not voice aloud. The last thing she wanted was to have Mr. Darcy believe she was flirting with some other gentleman on the heels of rejecting his proposal because—because…
Elizabeth raised her eyes and gazed into Mr. Hemmingsworth’s. His eyes shone with amusement. Mr. Darcy cleared his throat, summoning Elizabeth’s attention as well as Hemmingsworth’s.
“Friends of yours from Hertfordshire, I presume?”
“Yes,” Elizabeth began, “well, actually, no.” A bit flustered, she said, “Allow me to introduce you.” Gesturing to the elder of the three, she said, “Mr. Darcy, Mrs. Hurst, Miss Bingley, this is Mr. Hemmingsworth.”
Before anyone could muster the usual civilities, Elizabeth said, “Mr. Darcy’s friend, Mr. Bingley, resides here in town—that is to say he was, or he is, my neighbor in Hertfordshire. His estate abuts my father’s. Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley are Mr. Bingley’s sisters. They also reside here in town.”
Hemmingsworth said, “Mr. Darcy, Mrs. Hurst, and Miss Bingley, it is my pleasure. From all I have heard about Hertfordshire, there is much to entertain. I am looking forward to discovering it all for myself.”
“I am sure you would find it to be a lovely place,” Mr. Darcy said. He looked at Elizabeth and continued, “I am sure I shall cherish my time spent in that part of the country for the rest of my life.”
His words drew Elizabeth’s eyes to his. Neither seemed capable of looking away. For Elizabeth’s part, what she saw in Mr. Darcy’s eyes was admiration—perhaps even love.
You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.
Was she only seeing what she wanted to see? How could that be? Why would that be?
“How could you not?” Mr. Hemmingsworth asked, directing his inquiry pointedly to Mr. Darcy. “I shall consider your words as a wholehearted endorsement.” The gentleman extended his arm to Elizabeth. “Shall I escort you inside the theater? My mother and your sister must not worry over our long absence.”
A quarter-hour after Mr. Darcy finished his cognac, his friend Charles Bingley waltzed into White’s looking equally downtrodden. He headed directly to Darcy’s table and pulled up a chair.
“It appears the play was not to your liking either,” said Darcy, signaling the waiter.
“The play?” Bingley asked.
“Yes—the play,” Darcy began, “the one the two of us attended earlier this evening.”
When the waiter approached, Bingley ordered a double whiskey. Before the waiter had gone away, he said, “On second thought, bring the whole bottle, please. Make that two bottles!”
“Charles, what on earth has gotten into you?”
“Oh, Darcy! I believe this has been the worst night of my life. You will never guess who I saw at the theater this evening—on the arm of another man.”
“Miss Jane Bennet?”
“How did you know? Did you know my Jane was going to be there on the arm of another? Is that why you were so easily persuaded to accompany me?”
“No—I would not deliberately subject you to such harsh treatment. Despite what you must be thinking of me, I have never meant to cause you any harm.”
“Then how did you know I was speaking of Jane?”
“I saw Miss Bennet’s eldest sister at the theater.” He silently scoffed. Is that what Elizabeth and I are to each other now? he considered. She is Miss Bennet’s eldest sister, and I am merely Mr. Bingley’s friend. He tightened his grip on his glass in remembrance of the nonchalant manner of her earlier introduction to her gentleman acquaintance. “Miss Elizabeth,” he said. He tossed back his drink, thinking how prescient of Bingley to order two bottles. She too was on the arm of another man.
“If you could have seen Miss Bennet and the pompous gentleman who approached us while we were in the middle of our conversation and purposely swept her away as if she were his,” Bingley complained.
“Perhaps you imagined things, Charles,” said Darcy, as though he were trying to convince himself that the gentleman who swooped in and swept Elizabeth away was no more than a casual acquaintance.
“If only that were true. I fear I know Jane too well to suppose the gentleman meant nothing to her. He had the audacity to say the business of his life was anticipating her needs.”
Darcy almost choked in remembrance of hearing words of a similar vein himself. “Part of the joy of becoming better acquainted with you these past weeks is learning to anticipate your needs, Miss Elizabeth.”
Darcy scoffed. “Did the man actually say that?”
Bingley nodded. “He further insinuated his plans to acquire property in Hertfordshire.”
Darcy frowned. The disturbance of his composure was increasing by the second.
“From all I have heard about Hertfordshire, there is much to entertain. I am looking forward to discovering it all for myself.”
The similarities between Darcy’s chance encounter with Elizabeth and Bingley’s chance encounter with Miss Bennet were too unsettling for his taste.
“Then he led Jane away with some excuse of not wanting his mother to worry,” Bingley said.
This was too much. “Did this gentleman have a name?” Darcy asked.
Bingley ran his fingers through his hair. “I believe it was Hemsley—no Hemsworth—no Hemms—”
“Hemmingsworth?” Darcy interrupted; his brow arched.
Bingley shook his finger in the air. “Yes—Hemmingsworth. But—but how could you possibly have guessed? Do you know of a Mr. Hemmingsworth?”
“I do now,” Darcy said.
“Yes. As of tonight, to be exact. Miss Elizabeth and I were standing together, having a reunion of our own—of sorts, when a gentleman approached us from out of nowhere. She introduced him as a Mr. Hemmingsworth.”
“Who is this man?” Bingley asked, slamming his glass on the table. “Where did he come from? And most importantly,what is his connection to the Bennets?”
So, what say you? Can Mr. Hemmingsworth turn Elizabeth’s head, or will she only have eyes for Mr. Darcy? I welcome your comments.
Other New Release News!
Wait for Love – The short story setting is Hunsford on the night of Mr. Darcy’s proposal. Imagine if Darcy offers his hand in a more gentleman-like manner. Imagine if Elizabeth is more attracted to Mr. Darcy than she cares to let on—that is before she learns about his part in separating her sister and his friend. Will he stand a chance of winning Elizabeth’s heart?
Forever, for Always, for Love – FEATURING Every Appearance of Composure, Expecting His Wife, Pride and Sensuality, and Wait for Love. Check your library! If one or more of these delightful Pride and Prejudice variations is not there, add Forever, for Always, for Love to your collection today, and settle in for a sensational succession of romantic escapes. You’re sure to fall in love with Darcy and Elizabeth all over again.
Somebody Else’s Gentleman – 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 was 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?
What’s a new release celebration without a giveaway contest, right? 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 Thursday, July 29, 2021.