By Jennifer Redlarczyk
In the year 1811 the war with France continues to rage, sending many injured men home to England where accommodations are limited. Raising funds to build an additional structure at the London Hospital for the wounded has become a top priority for Lady Eleanor Fitzwilliam, Countess of Matlock. She has not only enlisted members of the ton to assist with her committee, but women who are well-known throughout the trade community. It is within this endeavour that Elizabeth Bennet and Georgiana Darcy first meet through a mutual love of music. In this particular scene, however, Darcy and Elizabeth encounter each other under very different circumstances.
FROM CHAPTER ONE
Tuesday, 21 May 1811
Ballard’s was an eclectic treasure trove of rare first editions and unusual books located on the thoroughfare of Piccadilly. Although it appeared somewhat dingy and dimly lit from the outside, inside the ageing building the atmosphere was inviting, and a vast array of literature beckoned lovers of the written word.
Promptly at one o’clock, Fitzwilliam Darcy entered the bookshop and walked directly towards his favoured section. While paging through a military war journal, he instinctively glanced toward the back of the shop. Even with several patrons milling about the establishment today, Darcy’s eyes were drawn to a young lady who appeared to be examining a small book in the poetry section.
Closing the journal, Darcy ambled over to where the woman stood and began perusing the titles on a nearby shelf. After taking a book in hand, he purposely turned his head towards the young lady. Captivated by her large, dark emerald-green eyes sparkling with mischief, he felt his lips curve into a half smile when she spoke.
“Pray, sir, may I trouble you to hand me the book of Cowper poetry on the upper shelf?”
Darcy nodded. “With pleasure. Cowper is an excellent choice.”
As he reached for the book, she continued, “One poem in particular reminds me of Oakham Mount in Hertfordshire. I find I am rather desirous of its solace today if only through the eyes of the poet.”
Handing her the book, he answered in kind. “I understand your sentiments for I, too, am from the country and have longed to return to Derbyshire.”
Arching an eyebrow in his direction, she inclined her head and said, “I thank you, sir.”
“You are most welcome.”
As she turned the pages of her selection in search of the poem, Darcy heard the young lady gasp when both of her books slid out of her hands and onto the floor. “Oh dear,” she sighed, stooping down to retrieve them.
“Allow me,” he immediately offered. Both reaching for the books, Darcy felt her small, warm hand carefully slip a folded piece of paper into the palm of his own. The young lady had not replaced her glove after perusing her own book, and her skin was soft to the touch. Leaning closer, the faint scent of lavender seemed to strengthen, causing his chest to tighten and his heart to quicken in response.
Feigning innocence, she looked up at him and said, “Again, sir, I am in your debt. Perhaps I should make my purchases before I have another mishap.”
“Permit me to carry these to the desk for you.”
Acknowledging his offer with a slight curtsey, the young lady whispered, “Sir, I think we are being observed.” Then speaking louder, she added, “Thank you again. You are most kind.”
“Your servant.” He bowed. With his senses heightened from being forewarned of impending danger, Darcy spoke softly in return, “How did you come? I would not have you leave here unescorted.”
“There is a carriage waiting, sir. A manservant is nearby and a maid is within.”
“Then leave now and be careful.”
As you can tell from this opening scene, there is a bit of intrigue, not to mention Darcy feels an immediate attraction to Elizabeth when they first meet. Not long after, Darcy is made aware of Elizabeth’s identity, and because of her standing in society is resolved to keep his desires under good regulation. In this scene, however, we see that our hero’s subconscious is equally determined. Enjoy!
FROM CHAPTER SIX
Darcy’s Bed Chamber
The curtains fluttered back and forth as a cool, soothing breeze blew in through the open window. Darcy rolled over and reached for her soft, warm body, but she was not there. The mellow sound of her lovely voice humming a simple tune brought a smile to his lips.
Rubbing the sleep from his eyes, he asked, “Where are you, my love?”
“I am here,” she answered from the balcony of their bedchamber.
Bathed in moonlight, he could see every curve of her silhouette beneath the thin sheath of her nightgown. Tempted by the sight, he stole out of bed and hurried to where she stood gazing at the stars.
“William, is it not beautiful?”
“Beautiful,” he whispered although his eyes were fixed solely on her. Gently wrapping his arms around the one he loved, Darcy inhaled the scent of lavender as he burrowed his face in her long tresses. Then, ever so softly, he placed tender kisses on the side of her neck, continuing down to her exposed shoulder. She willingly turned in his arms and began sliding her hands up his chest until her fingers slipped into his hair, clasping him firmly behind the neck. Her eyes were inviting, and his breath quickened as he lowered his head to claim her lips. In one swift motion, he picked her up and carried her to their bed.
“My darling, I love you.”
“I am yours,” she whispered.
To his dismay, a sudden gust of wind sent a shiver through his body, causing him to feel something was terribly wrong. Studying her face in the dim light, he wondered if the shadows were playing tricks on his vision. Pulling back in fear, he gasped when the woman in his arms leaned forward, allowing him to clearly see she was not his Elizabeth. She was....
“NO!” Darcy sat up in bed, drenched in perspiration. Struggling to be free of the sheets and regain his senses, he exclaimed, “Merciful Heaven, what is happening to me?”
Rising, he groaned while pushing the tangled mess aside and donning his robe. Immediately calling for a bath, he ordered his valet to have the water tepid for, at present, the heat radiating from his body was unbearable. Needing a few minutes, he walked over to a window, gripped the sashes, and breathed deeply. Every night since she was last in his home, he had dreamed of Elizabeth Bennet, and each and every night, the dream had become more vivid. “This has to stop. I shall not give in to this madness!”
Thanks so much to Barbara Tiller Cole for having me as her guest today. I hope all of you have enjoyed these short excerpts from my new book and will let me know how well you think Darcy is controlling his desires in your comments. Feel free to speculate about the other woman who was brazen enough to interrupt his dream. I look forward to hearing from you, and from those who comment, two winners will be chosen in my giveaway to receive a Darcy’s Melody eBook. (International) Good luck! Jen Red ♫
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I am a private music instructor living in Crown Point, Indiana where I teach voice, violin and piano and work as an adjunct music professor at Purdue University Northwest. As a teen, I was introduced to Jane Austen by my mother who loved old books, old movies and old songs. In the summer of 2011, I stumbled upon Jane Austen Fanfiction at a Barnes and Noble store and became obsessed with this genre. From there, I met several talented JAFF authors and devoted readers who were active on social media and eventually became a moderator for the private JAFF forum, DarcyandLizzy.com. It was there that I first tried my hand at writing short stories. I have the greatest appreciation for the creative world of Jane Austen Fanfiction and am thrilled to be a part of the JAFF community.
You can find me at: DarcyandLizzy.com, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and on YouTube. On my Pinterest page you will find inspiration pictures for each chapter of Darcy’s Melody as well as my other books, and on my YouTube channel you can listen to my recordings of all of Lizzy’s songs. ~ Jennifer Redlarczyk (Jen Red) ♫