Welcome back to Austen Promises!
Today’s post is another scene I wrote to go with the ones I gave you the last two weeks. I think it will go ahead of the scene with Mrs. Bennet, but I can’t be 100% certain. I also think this is not going to be the first scene in the book. I feel like I need to go back even further than Jane being ill at Netherfield, so it’s possible that when I write that, I will combine it with the Mrs. Bennet scene and make that the first chapter, or a prologue. I hesitate to make it a prologue, because I know that many readers skip prologues (for some reason that has and will always remain unfathomable to me.) Anyway, this is a separate scene and takes place at Netherfield. I hope you enjoy it!
Oh, I should tell you, before I forget that I think I have decided to post only parts of chapters. My Patreon patrons will get entire chapters (likely two or three a week, based on how much/fast I write.)
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.
“Oh,” Fitzwilliam Darcy cried as he ran into someone, reaching out to grab the person’s arms to prevent her from falling. “I apologize. I should have watched where I was going.”
Darcy realized the identity of the lady he had nearly run over just about the time he understood that his hands tingled where they held her arms and that the tingle was darting up towards his heart, and that he should have already let go. He stared into Miss Elizabeth Bennet’s eyes as his brain attempted to force his hands to drop to his sides, something they did not want to do. He was a gentleman, however, and as such, he was not one to either touch inappropriately or where it was not wanted. Though he did not see rejection in Elizabeth’s features, he did not see welcome, either. If he had to label the expression, he would call it wary. When she stepped back, Darcy finally let go, his hands dropping to his sides.
“No apologies needed, sir,” Elizabeth stammered. “I should have checked the hall before I rushed out the door.” She blushed a deep red, clasping her hands in front of her.
Darcy could think of nothing to say. Nothing intelligent, anyway. He was unaware that his countenance had turned grave and forbidding. After a long moment of uncomfortable silence, he managed to find words. “Not at all, Miss Elizabeth. You could not expect someone to come charging around the corner in the manner in which I did.” Darcy stopped and swallowed. “I am grateful I did not hurt you.”
Elizabeth looked up, eyes wide. “Oh, no, I am not hurt at all.” She swallowed, too, and suddenly dipped a curtsey. “I will just be on my way. My sister has need of some broth and tea.” She scurried away, back stiff.
Darcy sighed, sagging against the wall. Looking down, he puffed his cheeks out with air, then let it out. He straightened and continued on to his chambers.
When Darcy entered his rooms, his man was in the dressing room, laying out the clothes Darcy would need for a bath. Silently, the valet, Smith, helped Darcy remove his boots, riding coat, and waistcoat. He turned to supervise the footmen filling the tub while Darcy slipped behind a screen to remove the remainder of his clothing and pull on a robe. Once the tub was full and Darcy had stepped in and washed his hair, Smith poured water over his head to rinse out the soap. He bowed and turned, exiting the room at his master’s command.
Finally alone, Darcy first washed and rinsed. Then, he leaned back against the side of the tub, allowing the water to cover as much of him as possible. He allowed his mind to wander to his dilemma.
Darcy was attracted to Elizabeth Bennet far more than he thought wise or prudent. He had been raised with certain expectations as to his future wife: she would be accomplished and well-bred, and of his social class. She would be graceful and demure.
Darcy’s aunt, his mother’s sister, Lady Catherine De Bourgh, had insinuated for years – ever since his father died – that Darcy would marry her daughter, Anne and that his mother and she had planned the union when their children were in their cradles. The elder Darcy had never mentioned it, and so the younger, who had no memories of Lady Anne Darcy ever speaking about it, chose to ignore the issue. He had determined to choose his own wife. His cousin was not appealing and had no desire to marry him, anyway, so his conscience did not bother him.
Darcy’s paternal relatives were few and untitled but they were just as class-conscious as his maternal, titled, ones. His Uncle Darcy was a judge, and his aunts had married into wealthy families, and they sent him frequent letters reminding him of his duty to marry well and produce an heir.
“What would they think of Elizabeth?” Darcy murmured. Lady Catherine’s response he knew, and it made him cringe. The rest he was certain would object, especially once they had made the acquaintance of Mrs. Bennet and the younger daughters. He tried to imagine his extended family and Elizabeth’s family all at the same gathering at the same time. He shuddered. “They would shred her and her family to pieces.”
Even as thoughts of his family’s objections filled his brain, one small part of himself asked, “Who would you be marrying, Elizabeth or her family? Would you be living at Longbourn? Who says you must house Mrs. Bennet at Pemberley when her husband is dead?”
As the conflicting thoughts whirled around in his mind, Darcy was left with one thought: that he was head or heels in love with Elizabeth and did not know what to do about it.
What do you think? Feel free to leave a comment for me! <3