Welcome back to Austen Promises!
I’m pretty sure I have screwed this story up at this point, so I’m going to have to re-read it (again!) and fix my mistakes.
This post is a few hundred words from the end of Chapter 8. It’s all I was able to get written today. Remember that I’m only sharing excerpts of this story.
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“Terribly crowded, is it not?” Mr. __ ___ spoke from beside Darcy, where he had stopped on his stroll around the room.
Darcy glanced at Bingley’s friend, his expression severe, before turning his gaze toward Elizabeth’s position once more. “Indeed, it is. Bingley invited all the prominent families of the area and seemingly half of London.”
___ chuckled. “I am not at all surprised. Our friend does love a good party.”
Darcy tipped his head in acknowledgment. His gaze never wavered from its focus.
___ followed Darcy’s gaze, noting his stare at a vivacious young woman with dark hair. “There are many uncommonly fine ladies in attendance. Who knew the wilds Hertfordshire harbored such beauty?”
Darcy stiffened slightly, pulling his eyes once more from Elizabeth to his companion. “I will admit it was a surprise, but it is true. There are many handsome women in the area.”
“Bingley seems to have settled on one.” ___ tilted his head in their friend’s direction. “He tells me she has four sisters and that we shall call upon them tomorrow.”
Darcy gritted his teeth. He wished in that moment he had not agreed to keep his engagement a secret. He wanted nothing more than to keep Elizabeth from ____’s notice. However, he had promised. He breathed in through his nostrils and exhaled softly, then replied. “He said the same to me.”
___ gave Darcy a __ look, as though trying to see into his mind. With a shrug, he looked back out at the line of dancers. “I look forward to it. If they are all as handsome as Bingley’s choice, perhaps I may find myself equally enamoured with one.”
Darcy did not reply, and after standing next to him in silence for ten minutes, ___ finally walked away.
Near the end of the ball, Darcy finally found Elizabeth alone as she came out of the retiring room. He was soothed to learn she was as frustrated as he was at the manner in which the ball had played out.
“I am so sorry I have been unable to dance with you.” Elizabeth clutched her hands together in front of her after nearly forgetting herself to grasp his. “My mother has followed me around all night, foisting me upon any local gentleman willing to dance.” Elizabeth’s tone was bitter. “She has not behaved as her normal wont at all. She has chased after my youngest sisters, as well. She must be exhausted from the sheer amount of unusual activity. Usually, Mama is sitting all night with the other matrons on the side of the room. I do not understand her behaviour tonight.”
Darcy’s fingers itched to soothe her with caresses. “I am sorry.”
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