Welcome back to Austen Promises! After not being able to write for most of a week, due to various things going on in my life involving preparation of the house and yard for winter, I have mostly finished the first chapter of this story. Woohoo!! 😀 This poor story needs a title … I’ll happily entertain any suggestions. 🙂 Did you know that for a monthly pledge of as little as $1 at Patreon, you can have early access to all my blog posts, including my Thursday ones? Patrons also get a free copy of each of my books once it is complete. For the next few weeks, they are getting a patron-only story that the rest of the world will have to wait to see until it’s nearly published. Click the link to check it out!
The girl blushed, the red in her cheeks spreading over her entire face. Despite her obvious embarrassment, she curtseyed and smiled. “You are welcome. I am happy to have done such a good deed.” Darcy’s attention was fully on the lady. The fineness of her eyes captivated him, along with the twinkle that appeared as she looked back at him. Hearing her companion clear his throat, Darcy mentally shook himself, took another deep breath, and inquired after her name. “I am Miss Elizabeth Bennet, of Longbourn in Hertfordshire.” Turning to the gentleman beside her, she continued, “This is my uncle, Edward Gardiner of Gracechurch Street.” Momentarily surprised by Gardiner’s direction, Darcy blinked, but he bowed and continued his conversation. “I am pleased to meet you both.” He glanced around the room, as he had when he first entered, and then commented, “I see that you enjoy old books.” Elizabeth’s eyes brightened. “I do! My father does, as well. I am looking for something that he does not already have to surprise him with when I go home.” Home, Darcy thought. I hope it is not too soon! “How long will you remain in town?” “About a month, I think.” Elizabeth turned to her uncle. “Or perhaps later?” “Probably a week or two longer than that. I had thought we would go the Saturday before Christmas. That will give everyone time enough to recover and get the household in order.” Elizabeth smiled but said nothing. Darcy saw a flash of sadness come and go in her features and his heart clenched as he wondered what her family was recovering from. It would be impolite to ask, however, so he did not. Instead, he inquired as to her success in finding a tome. “I have not,” Elizabeth replied with a grin. “We had only been in the shop for a minute or two before you introduced yourself.” Darcy was relieved to see the twinkle return to Elizabeth’s eyes, and he smiled back at her. “Perhaps I might assist you? I have a large library at my home in Derbyshire, and another one at my home here in town. What does your father like to read?” “He adores ____. I was hoping to find an early edition, though as my uncle said earlier, they are thin on the ground.” “This is true, but the proprietor here is one of the best, as I am certain Mr. Gardiner already told you. If anyone can find the book you want, it will be he.” Darcy spent a happy half-hour with his new acquaintances, searching the shop’s stock. Though they did not find the title they were searching for, they did find another book that Elizabeth thought her father might enjoy. Darcy enjoyed the glow in her fine eyes and the broad smile that covered her face when she discovered it, hugging it to her bosom. As they three stepped out into the cold and snow outside the shop, Darcy was gripped with the urge to see Elizabeth again. For the second time that day, he acted impulsively. “I have not enjoyed a visit to a shop so much in a long time. I am happy to have made your acquaintance. Might I be so bold as to call upon you tomorrow?” Darcy’s words came out in a rush, and he held his breath as he waited for her reply. Elizabeth glanced at her uncle, who gave a small nod, then turned back to Darcy. “I would be happy to receive your call, sir.” She smiled warmly, her expression matching the tone of her voice. “I have very much enjoyed meeting you, as well.” Darcy’s heart began to beat again with a thump. He exhaled, then took another deep breath, as an answering grin spread over his mien. “Thank you. I look forward to our visit.” After inquiring as to the house number on Gracechurch Street, he bowed and, with a lingering look at Elizabeth, ascended into his carriage once more. Darcy settled into his equipage and knocked on the roof. As the coach lurched into motion, Darcy peered out the window, quickly locating his new friends. He watched them walk down the street, Elizabeth laughing at something her uncle said. When he could see them no more, Darcy sat back and thought about their meeting and how much he enjoyed their company. Elizabeth had been his main focus, but Darcy had been impressed with the manners and conversation of Mr. Gardiner. Darcy had a friend, Charles Bingley, whose father had been a tradesman. Darcy had met the elder Bingley only once but had been similarly impressed. He knew Mr. Bingley had been the grandson of an earl, and he wondered if Mr. Gardiner had a similar background.
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