This is the last stop on Jeanna Ellsworth's blog hop and I am excited to share with you the last excerpt of chapter 1 of Mr. Darcy's Promise.
Darcy knocked again at Georgiana’s door for the third time. She was calmer, he could tell, but still sniffling. “Please do not turn me away again, Georgie, I want to know what happened to make you so distraught!” He calmed his voice and took the deep timbre out once again and spoke as calmly as possible. “Was it something Miss Elizabeth said or did?” He dearly hoped not, but he knew the spirited nature of Elizabeth and feared for his timid sister. He leaned against the door and wondered if it was right in introducing Georgiana and Miss Elizabeth. Miss Elizabeth was so full of life and vigor it could almost be considered contagious! But was she too much for his shy sister? He had felt her influence in his own heart. He hadn’t had this much joy in his heart for years. Not since his mother’s passing, in fact. But he also had never known this much confusion, torn between what his heart wanted and what he knew of duty! He was contemplating Elizabeth and the joy she brought into his heart every time she smiled, or laughed, or gave him one of her impertinent looks, when the door flung open and he found himself confronted with a red-faced Georgiana.
“How could you say such a thing?” she bellowed.
What had he said? “Georgie!” He entered the room and embraced her and barely got a chance to kiss her forehead when she pushed him away. Hurt and confused, he again wondered what he had said to convince her to finally open the door.
“Elizabeth is the most wonderful person I have ever met! And you think so too! Do not you try to deny it; I see the way you look at her!”
Darcy was keenly aware that Miss Bingley could be very near and listening. He closed her door behind them before turning sternly to Georgiana. He lowered his voice and said, “You must not say such things, you forget yourself.” Her tears started again and he reached for her, “I am sorry, dearest, I am just trying to understand what happened. Will you not tell me?” He wanted to divert the accusation that he had feelings for Elizabeth, because that was not a conversation he wished to have with himself— let alone one with his young sister!
“You like her, do you not?”
Sighing, Darcy appeased her, “Yes, I like her . . .”
“Georgie, what is this about? I think Eliz . . . Miss Elizabeth Bennet is a fine lady.” With beautiful eyes, he thought, one who has bewitched me beyond words!
Her eyes lit up and a small smile came to the corners of her mouth, “And does a fine lady deserve a fine gentleman?”
Getting a little suspicious, he warily said, “Yes, I am sure someday she will meet a fine man.” The thought of her married to someone else troubled him deeply. “But as for my feelings for her . . . wait . . . you . . . tell me again why you came to surprise me at Netherfield?”
It all came out in a rush. How after she got his letter talking of Elizabeth she knew she had to come. She told of how he had never written to her about a lady before and how she so badly wanted to meet this intelligent lady who teased her brother and was lively and full of wit. She hurried said all this, then said how she was sure that he was in love, and how she wanted to meet her future sister.
His countenance dropped as she spoke but he couldn’t let her go on like this. “Georgiana, I must stop you there. There is no possible way that I could ask for Miss Elizabeth Bennet’s hand in marriage. I have a duty to you and our family to marry well. Miss Elizabeth just is not right for me, for us! She may be a very charming young lady who has most definitely impressed me but I cannot marry her. You saw her mother at church! By gads! Could you imagine introducing my mother-in-law to the ton?”
“But if you love her . . .”
“No. Just no. And we are not having this discussion.” He turned on his heel and left the room but Georgiana’s words kept ringing in his ears, “But if you love her . . .” He needed to think and grabbed his riding gear and hat. He heard Bingley calling out for him as he opened the door.
“Do not worry, Bingley, I am not going to Longbourn!” His heart was beating far faster than it should for not have even gotten on the horse yet. Could he offer marriage? She had no fortune but that was hardly a concern. He reached the stable and saddled his own horse. There was no use waiting on a groom to do it when he had been raised in this knowledge. Yes, those problems— of horses and finances and managing Pemberley— he could manage very well on his own.
He tightened the last loop and with one fluid movement was up on Calypso, stroking her mane and giving her a gentle kick. Yes, his horse knew him too well, a gentle kick and off she went! He groaned as he felt the horse respond to each well placed foot and pull. If only the heart was like this horse! Tell it to go one way, and off it goes. Tell it to stop, and just for emphasis, he reigned in Calypso and came to a complete stop . . . it stops. “See? It is not so hard is it?” “But if you love her . . .” He groaned loudly.
“Go Calypso! Run!” He gave her a hard kick. She took off fast and hard. He took her up the hills and down even into the small stream getting his pants wet above his boots. Yes, if only the heart could be turned like this horse. The wind feeling cool on the wet legs seemed to calm him some. He had felt completely in control of his heart and body just one month before! He knew what he wanted in life and how to get it. It was simple: hard work and fortitude. Except now he didn’t know what he wanted. No, that wasn’t true, he wanted her. Just her. If he was truthful with himself, he didn’t care for the ton or society when she was at stake.
But it wouldn’t work! This was not as simple as riding Calypso or appointing a new parson. Offering marriage was much more complicated than that. But he could think of nothing else. He could smell her fragrant toilette water as she danced with him, smiling and laughing. She had enjoyed it, hadn’t she? He could almost taste the scent now. He wondered if his imagination had gone wild. No, this would not do. He could not let his heart nor imagination run free without reins. Seeing he was in a field of lavender he now understood why his imagination was so keen. Lavender. That was what she smelled like. Fresh linen and lavender.
Out of pure need to control something, anything, he pulled hard to the right, firmly prodded Calypso on the left and pulled hard to the left. First one way, then the other. He sped up, and then halted. He kicked Calypso again and took off hard and fast. He then leapt over a fence, and then landed hard, leaning far too forward to control the horse. “Whoa, Calypso. That fence almost did us in, almost.” He righted himself and slowed the horse. Fences were not hard to jump; he had done it many times. Most fences were there to keep sheep and goats in check, but not him. He could jump just about any fence. “But if you love her . . .” Now there was a fence he feared he could not jump.
Sighing, he leaned forward and thanked Calypso. She liked these hard rides just as much as he did. He got off the horse and led her to a stream, the same stream that had cooled his legs. He was sweaty and hot now. Yes, he could marry Elizabeth, but would his love be enough? Could he look past her relations: the relatives in Cheapside, the silliness of Mrs. Bennet, the ridiculous younger sisters? He realized that all his previous objections to her family and lack of connections seemed somewhat ridiculous now that he had considered his true feelings for her. She was a gracious and lively woman, and he could not ask for anything more than that. Her relations would be over one hundred miles from Pemberley. It would be difficult, but that was merely another obstacle on his course. He might be willing to jump that fence, if only because, and he said it out loud this time, “I love her.”
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