Darcy to the Rescue
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Release date May 20th 2016
Elizabeth, unwilling to sacrifice her future happiness with a forced marriage to Mr Collins, decides her only option is to run away. However, she miscalculates the weather and is caught in a raging snowstorm, and when a stranger on horseback begins to pursue her, she flees into the forest. Mr Darcy, acting as a reluctant Good Samaritan, comes to her rescue. But as the storm worsens, they are forced to seek shelter. There, Mr Darcy sets about tending to the unconscious Elizabeth. With Elizabeth’s reputation in tatters, Darcy does the honourable thing and proposes to her. But, will the noble Mr Darcy be able to persuade Mr Collins to give her up, or will Elizabeth have to marry her odious cousin after all?
Elizabeth was fuming. When the door bell rang and Mrs Hill showed in their evening visitor, she had hoped it would only be Mr Bingley. Regrettably, Mr Darcy had seen fit to ignore her advice and walking in behind Charles. She pursed her lips and offered him only a slight inclination of her head in greeting.
Darcy disregarded her snub and gave her a sweeping bow in return. He smiled broadly when she averted her face in an effort to hide the start of a grin, but to no avail. He had seen it. Mrs Bennet bustled forward and started speaking with her usual bluntness.
“Why Mr Darcy how gallant,” and she performed a deep, if slightly wobbly curtsy in return. “And Mr Bingley, how very nice of you to come. I gather the roads are quite passable now. Come and sit beside dear Jane. She has been quite forlorn these last few day, but I suspect that now you have returned we will see an upturn in her countenance,”
Jane blushed furiously at her mother’s open admission that she had missed the gentleman, while Elizabeth discreetly said, “Mama!,” but Mrs Bennet was unstoppable.
“Well, I expect Mr Bingley missed you too Jane, why else would he have returned so soon after leaving? Mr Bingley?” and she looked expectantly at Charles, waiting for him to confirm her assumption.
Seeing his friend flounder at this direct line of questioning, Darcy stepped forward and spoke on his behalf.
“That is indeed the case Mrs Bennet. I am afraid my friend received some well-meaning, but misguided advice, causing him to return to the city. Happily, though, that has all been rectified, and as you can see, he has returned. And, I believe, is now quite determined on his next course of action, is that not so Charles?” and all eyes again turned upon the blushing Charles Bingley.
“Yes, I am now quite sure of my path. Mrs Bennet, might I speak to Miss Bennet for a moment, alone?” he said, stumbling over his words
Mrs Bennet sprang into action with the speed of a lioness rounding up her cubs. They were all ushered out of the room, including Mr Darcy, within a minute, leaving Jane and Bingley entirely alone.
Charles wet his lips to stop them sticking together as he spoke, so great was his nerves. Darcy had explained everything, even the part his sister’s had played in his separation from Miss Bennet. Though he was angry at first, how could he remain so when Darcy had called him back to be reunited with his one true love. He stepped forward and began his address.
“Miss Bennet, Jane, since our first meeting at the Meryton Assembly I have had eyes for only you. There is not one moment when I have been in your company, that I was not filled with joy and happiness. This past week has proved I am not the best judge when it comes to affairs of the heart. But I believe most sincerely, that with you at my side, I could be the happiest man alive. I love you Jane, and wondered, would you consent to be my wife?”
Jane countenance remained motionless for a second, with her eyes downcast and her mouth serene. Slowly, she raised her eyes to meet his, and as she did so, a smile spread across her whole face. Just yesterday she felt the full force of a broken heart, yet now she felt as if it would burst with happiness.
“Yes, oh yes Charles I will marry you. I love you so very much,” she said as she stood up. Bingley rushed to her side and embraced her, sealing their engagement with a tender but meaningful kiss.
Once more Mr Bennet joined the group for the toast. Young Bingley had spluttered his way through a speech asking for Jane’s hand in marriage, and he had ruefully given them his blessing. The prospect of being left with his wife and three of the silliest girls in the land filled him with dismay. But, on the brighter side, he would have two other houses to escape to when he visited Jane or Elizabeth. As the chatter turned to silks and lace and wedding hymns, he retreated to his inner sanctuary for some peace and quiet before dinner.
Elizabeth kissed first Charles and then Jane, saying,
“He adores you Jane and I know you love him. I wish you both every happiness for the future,” and then an impatient Lydia pushed between them saying,
“Why do you take so long Lizzy, we all want to wish Jane and Charles happy,” and she giggled loudly as she used his given name.
Elizabeth stood back from the throng and watched as her beloved sister received the happy ever after she deserved.
“Penny for them?” came a rich voice from behind her. Without turning she knew it was her betrothed..
“You deserve no such attention. Just because you have righted the wrong you created, does not mean I forgive you. Jane has been bereft these last days, and it was all your doing,” she murmured quietly.
Darcy could see it was going to take more than an apology to appease Elizabeth. He looked around and saw an opening through the throng of people. Taking a firm grip on her arm, he steered her through her family and into the hallway. Ignoring her protests, he grabbed his cloak from the stand and propelled her out the front door. Once outside, Elizabeth folded her arms and raised her chin in stubborn defiance, determined not to listen to anything he might say. Darcy took hold of her hand and pulled the protesting Elizabeth behind him. Several long strides took them around the side of the house and away from any overlooking windows or doors. Darcy stopped and put Elizabeth between the wall and himself. Then he shook out his cloak and placed it around her shoulders. With words of protest about to spurt from her mouth, Darcy placed a finger on her lips to silence her.
“I am sorry that you heard my conversation with Charles, although listening at keyholes does seem to be a pastime you favour,” he said playfully trying to lift the mood. Elizabeth’s condescending sigh told him she was not amused. Very well, he thought, I had better come to the point directly.
“Charles Bingley has a perchance of falling in love with a pretty face every calendar month. And every time he tells me he will die if he does not make her his wife. I assumed your sister was just another of his regular infatuations. And when I observed her countenance, she seemed unmoved by his flowery protestations of love and admiration. I was wrong on both counts and admit it freely. I should have come to that conclusion much earlier than I did. Your sister has been the sole object of his affection for nigh on three months,” he exclaimed. When Elizabeth remained unmoved by his admission, he added, “Then there was what Caroline Bingley and Louisa Hurst told me. I must admit that they did help me persuade Charles to leave for town.”
Finally, a reaction. Elizabeth unfolded her arms and demanded, “Caroline Bingley and Louisa Hurst, what part could they have played in this interference?”
Darcy, usually a courteous gentleman in all aspects to the fairer sex, saw no way of concealing the part Caroline and Louisa had played in the separation of their brother from Elizabeth’s sister. If he was to spend the rest of his life, and eternity with Elizabeth, the woman he loved, there must be no secrets between them.
“Caroline, with the backing of Mrs Hurst, told me that your sister preferred the company of the militia to Charles and myself. They implied they had overheard Miss Bennet laughing at the shy advances Charles had made to her in regards to his feelings. As his true and loyal friend, I could not let him commit to such an alliance if the other parties feeling were not also engaged,” he concluded.
Elizabeth was outraged at what she had just been told and wasted no time in venting her anger on Darcy for his part in it.
“They called my sister a fortune hunter and you believed them? Have you been blind these past weeks? Jane loves Mr Bingley with all her heart. She is shy, that’s all. It is not in her nature to parade her feeling before an audience of strangers, she barely shows them to me! If this is an example of city manners then I am glad to be of the country,” and again she folded her arms across her chest.
It was Darcy’s turn to purse his lips now. Had he not just made amends for his actions? Was Charles and Jane Bennet even now reunited and engaged? Deliberating before he next spoke, Darcy decided to change his tactics.
“I do not think you understand how this is supposed to go. I explain my action, then I apologise for being fallible. I eat humble pie, and then you forgive me.” After what seemed an eternity, but was only seconds in reality, Darcy saw a change in her countenance. A reluctant smile crept across her mouth and spread up to her cheeks. He felt himself relax as the tension left his body, relieved that they were no longer at loggerheads.
“No, I cannot condemn you for being a good friend. However, I cannot, and I will not say the same for Mr Bingley’s sisters. Many times I have heard them snigger about my family and our friends. They think they are far above us in all things and have no compunction about showing it. Perhaps they are a little more refined, but not better,” Elizabeth said with some force.
Darcy smiled back at her. He was unaccustomed to making apologies, or admitting he was in the wrong, but seeing the fire in her eyes had been worth his humbling. As they stood in silence, Darcy saw her shoulders tremble with the cold. Stepping forward he pulled her into his embrace, wrapping his arms around her slender body. Darcy felt his heart begin to pound in his chest at her closeness. He longed to kiss her and speak tender words of love to her. No other woman had stirred his feeling as she did, it was as if she had put a spell on him. Last time he had held her in his arms she had questioned his actions and he had withdrawn. This time, he was fully aware of what he was going to do, this time, it felt different, it felt right. Softly, he spoke her name,
Elizabeth’s heart raced almost as fast as Darcy’s. She knew he wanted to kiss her, and whether it is wanton or not, she longed for him to kiss her too. Feeling shy, she lifted her face only a fraction, but could not bring herself to meet his gaze. Sensing this reluctance, he ran a finger lightly down her cheek and tilted her chin up. The smouldering desire he felt was unmistakably visible in his eyes, and suddenly she felt quite breathless. Slowly, he bent his head and let his lips gently massage hers. The sensation this brief caress evoked seemed to spark through her entire body. She raised her face a little more, and Darcy was encouraged to deepen the kiss, savouring her timid response. Her lips were delicious beyond belief, and he wanted to prolong the experience for as long as he dared. He craved to awaken the passion and desire still dormant in her, but he knew now was not the time. With reluctance, Darcy pulled away. Elizabeth was still trembling, only now it was not the cold that made her shake. In an effort to restore a modicum of composure, she tried to catch her breath and calm her body. Having permitted such an intimate embrace before they were married, she realised she would need to be on her guard when in close proximity to Mr Darcy. She enjoyed his kisses far too much!
“Come,” he said, his voice heavy with desire, “We had better return before someone misses us.”
If Elizabeth had offered the slighted resistance to returning to the house, Darcy might not have have had the strength to go against her wishes. Her mouth was soft and her breath was sweet, just as he knew it would be. And as she had clung to him, he almost forgot himself and let his hand wander down further, but thankfully sense had prevailed. Waiting six weeks to make her his bride was going to feel like a lifetime. Tomorrow he would use all within his power to change Mr Bennet’s mind.
Mr Darcy’s Struggle
Mr Darcy’s Struggle
Out now on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com
What if, after initially refusing Mr Darcy’s offer of marriage at the parsonage, Elizabeth finds herself in the position where she is forced to accept his proposal? The proud Mr Darcy has only six weeks to prove himself and make Elizabeth fall in love with him. Taking her reproofs to heart he is determined to woo her and become a better man. Then days before the wedding she receives another offer. Will she meet him at the altar or run to the arms of another?
Elizabeth felt tense as they approached Lucas Lodge. Darcy had insisted that she rode with him and Georgiana. She was pleased with not having to endure the overcrowding of the Bennet carriage, and she must get used to travelling with Darcy, but still, the closeness of him tonight made her uneasy. His dark, penetrating eyes rarely left her face. She had tried to make polite conversation with them both, but Georgiana was too excited at the prospect of attending a real ball, and Darcy was unwavering in his attention and replied only curtly. As they pulled up to the entrance, the footman jumped down to help the ladies out of the carriage, but Darcy brushed him aside and completed the task himself.
Once inside and relieved of their cloaks, Darcy admired Elizabeth’s gown. The under layer was pure white and reached the floor, where her matching slippers peeped out. The sheer over layer was decorated with small silver flowers and leaves, intricately woven into the fabric. Her dark locks were in the Grecian style with silver headed pins holding it in place. She was stunning; and he was under no illusion that he would be the envy of every man here tonight. He glanced around the room, and then frowned; there were too many people, too many men. The prospect of other men coveting his fiancé was extremely distasteful to him. He must also be circumspect over Georgiana. As she was not yet ‘out,’ Darcy should have refused her plea’s to accompany them, but he saw no harm in her attending a small family gathering. Of course, she would not be able to dance with anyone other than Richard and himself, but she was content with this arrangement. Her delicate features glowed with excitement, and it made her look younger than her sixteen years. The delicate gown of lemon, with small green vines growing up from the hem, suited her perfectly. He would have his work cut out this evening, ensuring the wellbeing of both his ladies. As usual, Darcy was dressed impeccably; his waistcoat complimenting Elizabeth’s dress perfectly, being embroidered with a pattern of silver knots.
Sir James and Lady Lucas greeted them; offering felicitations on their upcoming nuptials. Then Sir James bade them enjoy their last night as single people, and he winked at Darcy. It was kindly meant, but inappropriate with two unwed females at his side. Sir James had a tendency to put into words, sentiments that should remain thoughts, but his jolly demeanour showed it was said in jest, and not with malice. Charlotte and Mr Collins welcomed them next, and Darcy’s brow furrowed again. He offered the clergyman the curtest of nods in acknowledgement of his greeting, then swept the women into the ballroom. Elizabeth was mortified that he had let Mr Collins presence affect him so. She alone understood the reason behind his action, yet to others, it would appear as though he had been excessively rude. She would have to remind him that his actions now reflected on her too.
It turned out to be more than the intimate gathering she had been led to believe, but at least most of the guests were friends or family. Spying Colonel Fitzwilliam, she hoped he would ask her to dance, they had enjoyed a warm friendship when both in Kent.
Elizabeth watched as Georgiana gently disengaged herself from her brother’s arm, and went to talk to Elizabeth’s younger sisters, who were now standing with Maria Lucas. She felt a pang of envy at how carefree and happy they seemed, and longed to join them as they laughed and chatted together. Six short weeks ago she could have done just that, she thought ruefully.
Elizabeth and Darcy would be expected to open the dancing, but she knew he did not care for such frivolities. Charles had once told her ‘Darcy never lifts a hoof, even though he is most proficient in all aspects of the dance.’ A sigh escaped her as she realised if Darcy did not take her to the floor, she could accept no other man’s offer. It would be an unpardonable breach of protocol. No, she must resign herself to enjoying it vicariously. Slyly glancing over at her escort, she noted that yes, he was still watching her, only now his piercing stare was accompanied by a smile. As the musicians struck the chords for the minuet, he bowed and asked,
“Miss Bennet, may I have the honour of the first dance?”
Elizabeth was taken aback by his offer, and for a moment, words failed her. Her surprise must have registered on her face, as she stumbled over her reply.
“I did not, that is, I did not think that…. yes, I thank you.”
Darcy raised both brows in a questioning pose and then held out his hand. She placed her hand in his, and mutely, they walked to the dance floor. Uncomfortably conscious that all eyes were upon them, Elizabeth realised every step, every expression would be scrutinised by the people assembled. With Darcy’s intense dislike for large gatherings, or being the centre of attention, she felt more than a little nervous. The music started and they performed the customary salute before meeting, circling, and returning several times as the dance dictated. Fellow revellers slowly joined them, and Elizabeth observed Darcy’s shoulders relax, happier to now be one of many. As the dance continued she realised Charles was right, Darcy was indeed an excellent dancer, and conducted the steps with an easy air.
“Sir you dance with an abundance of style and grace; why do you dislike it so?” She asked playfully.
“You are mistaken, Madam. I do not dislike dancing; I enjoy it a great deal. It is that I find it difficult to secure a partner that meets my standard,” Darcy said honestly. “I recall the first time I saw you dance; it was with the imbecile Collins. He was out of time, and trod on your slipper dislodging a flower.”
Elizabeth remembered how mortified she had been at Mr Collins ineptitude, and that she had to constantly correct him.
“I did not realise you had observed us sir, or that you had noticed the state of my slippers. I am surprised you would concern yourself with such trifling matters. Do I meet your exacting standards, Mr Darcy?” she teased.
As the dance drew them together, Elizabeth caught her breath. Darcy’s gaze seemed more intensified, and she felt as though his penetrated stare had somehow pierced her very soul. Taking both her hands, Darcy held them over his heart and replied with quiet, yet devastating passion.
“From our very first meeting Elizabeth, my eyes have followed only you. There is not one moment when in each other’s company, that I cannot recall the gown you wore, the style of your hair or who your partner was. For every smile, I remember the time and the place. Every word, every glance you have ever bestowed on me, kind or otherwise, they are all indelibly committed to my memory. Not one heartbeat have I forgotten.”
Elizabeth felt spellbound; his words exposed the depth of his love, and they washed over her like a warm embrace. She had longed for such love, a passion that even after possession, it was not sated. They stood motionless while all around them danced.
“Come, Darcy, you must not monopolise Miss Elizabeth in this fashion, I believe she is promised to me for this dance.”
As the fog of emotion cleared, and reality returned, Darcy became aware that the dance had ended, and the musicians were still. They stood alone on the dance floor, being silently observed by the rest of the guests. Realising it was Bingley who had come to their rescue, Darcy turned and muttered,
“Thank you Charles, maybe the next one.”
Without words, but still in possession of her hand, Darcy lead Elizabeth from the ballroom and out onto the deserted terrace. The biting December air enveloped them, but neither felt it. Stopping at the veranda’s edge, Elizabeth took hold of the stone balustrade. The impact of his words still reverberated around her mind. She had read about such powerful loves, in the books of poets and Master Shakespeare, never dreaming she could be the recipient of such herself. She had always professed this would be the only thing that could induce her to marry, but now she had found it, she could not, in all honesty, say she returned the sentiment. Oh, she wanted to, so very much she wanted to, but her feelings were unclear, even to herself. If she professed to love him and it was false, it would mean heartbreak for them both. No, it was better to stay silent until she was sure. Again the immenseness of Darcy’s declaration washed over her, the power of his all-consuming love saturating every fibre of her being, and she began to tremble. She tightened her grip on the rail lest Darcy mistook her shaking for shivering, but too late. He slipped off his coat and draped it over her, his warm hands lingering on her shoulders. Hesitantly, she covered them with her own, and then leant back on him for support.
“I did not know,” She murmured.
His warm baritone voice whispered close to her ear,
“You did not know what Elizabeth? How those months apart were torture for me? How I risked my friendship with Charles in order to reunite him with Jane? Or maybe you are referring to Lydia, and the sacrifice I was willing to make to restore her to her family. That I have openly disregarded my family and society, by choosing to marry for love? Tell me that you know how my heart burns with a passion so violent, that you are the very air that I breathe. Surely you must know Elizabeth; all I have done, I have done for you, only you.”
The anguish in his voice deafened her to propriety, and she turned and sought his lips with her own. She wanted to kiss away all the pain her family had caused him, to thank him for helping Lydia and Jane, and to fill the void of his absent family. And as their lips met, she felt his arms slide around her waist, drawing her still nearer. His acceptance of her imperfect family brought tears to her eyes, and unable to restrain them, they silently slid down her cheeks.
Her kiss was bittersweet in so many ways Darcy thought, as the salt mingled on their lips. This was not the response he had hoped to provoke with his declaration. The uncertainty of what lie behind her actions was nothing short of agony. He longed for her caresses to be given with love, but suspected they were in gratitude. But for now, he would take whatever she offered. Hopefully, she would come to love him in time, for he could not, would not, live without her by his side.
Elizabeth, unable to hold back the sobs any longer, tore her mouth from his and buried her face in his chest. Darcy comforted her with soft words of reassurance until finally Elizabeth managed to regain control of her emotions. Then Darcy lifted her chin to look into her eyes. Beautiful limpet pools of the darkest brown, still glistening with tears. He un-tucked his neckcloth and used the end to dry her eyes, knowing Fletcher would admonish him for it later. Concerned they had been gone too long already, Darcy tenderly stroked her hair, and then her cheek, before offering his verbal reassurance.
“My love is constant Elizabeth. I will wait a lifetime if that is what it takes, but for now, I fear we must return. You are promised to Charles for the next dance, are you not?”
Retrieving his coat from her shoulders, he quickly shrugged himself back into it. He had not meant to cause her such distress, and was heartily ashamed of himself for revealing the extent of his love in such a way. Sighing, he knew there was little hope their actions had gone unnoticed, but they must return.
Elizabeth was also disinclined to return to the frivolity of the dance. Instead, her mind was focused on easing Darcy’s pain, while trying to sort out her own feelings. The last thing she wanted to do was make merry, and engage in meaningless chatter. Darcy’s tender embrace was far more alluring at this moment. Instead, she gave him a weak smile and placed her hand on his arm. Together, they silently turned and walked back inside.
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