It’s that time of year again, when we haul boxes out of attic or basement, dump the pile of mouse poop off the tops of them, and pull out all the pretties within to decorate our houses. This year, that has not gone so well for me. LOL
It’s a long story, but the short of it is that I did not get the house cleaned before Halloween, and I bought a new and taller Christmas tree that took a lot longer to prep than the old one did. And, I ran out of garland before I ran out of tree. Oops.
Anyway, I wanted to write a Christmas story this year, and so I’ve got one started. I hope to have it completed and edited before Christmas, but we’ll have to see. If I can at least get it done and posted on darcyandlizzy dot com, I’ll be happy. 🙂
I’m learning a new way to structure my stories, called the Three Act Structure. Leenie walked me through it (the woman is a genius, I’m telling you) and I thought up what would fit my story and that structure both at the same time. Basically, I have four crises that happen. Not all of them are big. Most are smallish, but they are stumbling blocks for ODC; things that they must conquer together to move forward toward a wedding. The last one is the big one, the one that makes you worry that things will come out ok. (Which, it will. I’m not into writing death and destruction of Darcy, Lizzy, or their relationship.)
I’m learning this because the story began to be boring. Rose and Leenie both told me there was no tension, no hint that anything bad could happen. My first thought was, “Well, duh! It’s a Christmas story!” But, since I do want to write the best books I can, and books that will keep readers interested beyond the first paragraph, I asked them what they suggested. That’s when Leenie explained how this method works. Now, I have a nice list laid out and I know about where in the story I should be when I have resolved each issue. It’s much easier to write at this point.
There is so much more I could say about this story and why it has taken me so long to get to this point with it, but a girl likes to have her secrets, so I won’t share. 😉 I will say that Lady Matlock in this story was inspired by Mrs. Ferrars in the Dan Stevens version of Sense and Sensibility. You just stew on that one for a bit, mkay? 😉
Because the book is not far enough along that I can say for certain it will be completed this month, I won’t offer it for a giveaway. But, I will give you an excerpt of it. If a title pops out at you, feel free to share it with me.
Fitzwilliam Darcy looked out the window of his slowly-moving carriage at the rush of shoppers on Bond Street in London, snow swirling around them. It was cold for early November, and everyone, himself included, was wrapped up in coats and scarves. Distinguishing the features of most was difficult, because the majority of shoppers were keeping their heads down against the cold wind. Suddenly, Darcy’s attention was arrested by a lady who stood out from the crowd.
The girl looked young, perhaps nineteen or twenty, well-dressed in a fashionable gown of blue, with a matching pelisse and bonnet. Chestnut curls peeked out from under the headgear to cover her neck. What made her stand out was that, instead of tucking her head down to avoid the weather, she had her face turned up to it, smiling and laughing at the flakes that landed on her cheeks and lips. The gentleman with her said something to her, and the young lady looked at him with a grin. Darcy felt his heart lurch at the sight. Oh, to be the recipient of that smile, he thought.
Though not given to impulsiveness, Darcy lifted his walking stick to rap on the roof, signaling his driver to stop. His eyes never left the couple or the door they disappeared through. Feeling the coach come to a halt, Darcy leapt out before the footman could jump down and pull the step out. He called out to the driver to pull over and wait, and then swiftly made his way to the shop door.
As his hand moved toward the knob, Darcy’s usual caution surfaced. What are you doing? She might be married. Maybe she will not appreciate a stranger imposing himself upon her. The gentleman she was with appears much older than she is, but large age gaps between spouses are not unusual. Darcy struggled with his thoughts for a long moment and almost turned to walk away, but just as he began to give in to the doubts, he saw her through the window. He felt his heart begin to pound harder and without further thought, opened the door and stepped through.
Glancing around, Darcy saw that this was a bookshop, one he had visited on two or three previous occasions. The owner was known for being able to locate hard-to-find older editions, and his shop was filled with previously-owned—and loved—books. Darcy relaxed just a bit at being in the relatively familiar surroundings of the shop. He felt a tiny shot of delight run through him at the hope that the as-yet-unnamed young lady enjoyed reading. Taking a deep breath, he removed his hat and held it in the hand his walking stick hung off of. Then, he stepped forward.
“Excuse me for interrupting you,” Darcy began, nervousness making his insides shake. When the lady and her friend turned around, Darcy was snared by the twinkle in her eyes and the bright smile on her face. He bowed, “I am Fitzwilliam Darcy, of Pemberley in Derbyshire. I noticed you while you were walking outside and my spirits were lifted by your joy. I could not ride on without thanking you.”
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 the 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 the seat 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 and 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.
Thoughts of Bingley’s father led to remembrances of Darcy’s own. Though he had been gone for five years, Darcy could still hear his parent’s advice in his ear.
Life is difficult, Son, and the management of Pemberley will drain your spirit at times. Find someone to love; it will ease your burdens to have a loving wife to sit with at the end of a long day. I loved your mother, you know, and she loved me. She made the responsibility bearable…
Darcy sighed as he recalled that conversation. His mind conjured images of his parents holding hands as they strolled the gardens, and holding each other when he entered the dining room unexpectedly. The warm feeling that had surrounded him as a youth spread out inside him once more, and he smiled.
Turning his thoughts again to Elizabeth, Darcy sighed another time. His smile turned into a grin, and he realized that, underneath the rapid heartbeat and sweaty palms he suffered in her presence, that same warm feeling filled him. “Perhaps my search is over, Papa,” he murmured to himself.