This month’s Friday Feature is actually two book in one — for the price of one! This weekend, December 15-17, 2017, A Dash of Darcy Duo 1 will be on sale for just $2.99 (regular price is $4.99). As with other Friday Features, this is a Kindle only sale.
There is a meme I have seen that says: I like short books, and I cannot lie… Ok, that’s not how the meme actually reads, 😉 but it is how it needs to read if it is to be true for me. I simply love well-written novellas or short novels. In fact, I go looking for novellas. For me, a novella is just the right length to be started and finished in one sitting. Since I tend to write what I like — short and sweetly diverting tales–, this love of well-done quick reads spurred me to start my Dash of Darcy Stories Collection as well as my Dash of Darcy Companion Stories Collection.
My Dash of Darcy stories range from about 20,000 to 25,000 or just slightly more words and answer the question “what if Darcy and Elizabeth’s story took a different path to happily ever after?” Each story in this collection will depart from the original work, Pride and Prejudice, at some specific point in that story’s timeline, and while some parts of the continuation may mirror the original, most will not because these tales are reimaginings and not retellings.
I have paired my first two Dash of Darcy stories in this first duo. Because this book is actually a pair of books, this post is going to be a bit long. I will begin by sharing a short description and an excerpt from Finally Mrs. Darcy and follow that with the short description and an excerpt from Waking to Mr. Darcy.
Remember that this book will only be priced on Kindle at the cost of one of the books, $2.99, for this weekend, Dec 15-17, 2017. After Sunday, the price will return to its regular price.
Finally Mrs. Darcy
After being separated for years, it takes very little time for Darcy and Elizabeth to come to an understanding and for Elizabeth to discover the true reason for their separation. Is a complete restoration of relationships possible, or will their happily ever after always be tainted by separation?
EXCERPT FROM Finally Mrs. Darcy:
She shook her head in disbelief. How could he say such a thing? She had hoped that he had helped Lydia for her sake, but then, when Mr. Bingley had returned to Netherfield alone and said his connection with Mr. Darcy was at an end, her hope had faded. It was as she had first feared, he wanted nothing to do with a family who was so shamefully tied to Mr. Wickham.
“Why?” The question would not go unasked. “Why would you think so highly of me, and yet not…” She turned away. “Why did you not return?” She closed her eyes and attempted to prepare herself for whatever excuse he might give. She did not have a wish to hear his reason. It was something far more demanding. It was a need. She needed to know the truth for good or for ill.
Darcy watched her wrap her arms around herself and take one step away from him. “I spoke to Bingley shortly after Miss Lydia married Wickham.” He closed the distance between them. “I attempted to confess all that I had done to separate him from Miss Bennet, but he only heard half before he refused to listen further and stormed from my home.” The dirt on the path crunched lightly as he dug his toe into it.
“It was not because of Lydia?” It was a shocking thought, for she had never considered any other possibility.
“No,” Darcy replied firmly. “It was because of me. Bingley has had no contact with me since, other than to return my letters unopened and request that I not contact him or any of his family. By that time, you were included in that group, since he and your sister were married. So, I stayed away hoping that by doing as he requested, he might, at some point, forgive me. I continue to wait.”
“He speaks of you.” Elizabeth gave a quick glance over her shoulder. “Since Papa died. You may not have much longer to wait.”
“I have waited for an eternity, Elizabeth, and it has cost me dearly.” The depth of the pain in his words pierced her heart.
“When you did not return with Bingley, I thought it was because you did not wish to be associated with a family tied to Mr. Wickham or such foolish girls as Lydia — and who could blame you?” She turned to face him. “It broke my heart. I refused to attend assemblies for nearly a year. Mama thought it was because I missed Jane, but it was you I missed.” She took one of his hands. “Eventually, I could no longer refuse to attend, and I met Jack. He was a pleasant man. He smiled much and spoke well of all he met. I believe he was constitutionally incapable of being disagreeable. He respected me, and I was happy, but he was not you.” She squeezed his hand. “I loved him, but not as I love you.”
“You love me?” Darcy stood perfectly still. His breath caught in his chest as he waited for her reply. The thought that his affections might be returned threatened to make him embarrass himself by either causing him to weep or shout or, heaven forbid, both.
“For these five long years, I have loved you. I have tried not to, but it is impossible. I fear I shall always love you.” A breeze tugged a wisp of hair free, and she brushed it away from her face. “It is why I have told my uncle I do not wish to marry again — not that he will hear of that, but it was not fair to Jack and would not be fair to another to give him only part of me.”
“You love me.” Thankfully, his delight only spread across his face and did not express itself with any more exuberance than that.
“Are you certain you will never marry again?” He stepped closer to her, looked into her eyes and brushed that wayward wisp of hair from her cheek.
“Never.” She drew the hand she held around her waist. “Unless it is you.”
“You will marry me?” Again, the happiness of his heart wished to be released in a cry of victory, but he would not allow it.
“If you will have me.” She smiled up at him as his arms pulled her close.
“You will marry me.” He bent his head to kiss her softly. “My feelings and wishes have never changed. I love you now as I loved you then, most ardently.”
Elizabeth drew his mouth back down to hers. These were the kisses for which she had longed. The kind of kiss that sent fire racing through her body from her lips all the way down to her toes. The kind of kiss that caused her to long for greater intimacy.
“Elizabeth,” he whispered near her ear as he pressed kisses along her neck. “When? When will you marry me?”
She sighed and held him tightly to her. “This very moment if it were possible.”
“I shall acquire a special license. One week,” he claimed her lips once again, “one week, and you shall be mine.”
Waking to Mr. Darcy
A sudden clap of thunder, a downpour of rain, and an injured Elizabeth in desperate need of care conspire to force a marriage between Elizabeth and Darcy. Although it is a situation for which neither wished, can they happily accept their fate, or will their pride and prejudices get in the way?
EXCERPT FROM Waking to Mr. Darcy:
“You will not be able to get help tonight,” Darcy said finally. “Perhaps in the morning.” He rose from his chair, placed his glass on a table near the couch and went to check on Elizabeth. Her cheeks were flushed, and before he had placed a hand on her forehead, he knew that she was feverish. He dipped a cloth in the water basin that remained in the room and, then, placed the cool, damp cloth on her forehead.
“Miss Elizabeth,” he spoke as if she could hear him. His physician had always claimed that it might be possible for a person to hear even when senseless, and Darcy, unwilling to challenge the notion to the detriment of the invalid, had subscribed to the practice. “Your clothes are drying nicely by the fire. I was not able to remove all the stains, but perhaps when you return home, your servants will have better success than I. I am not skilled in tending to laundry, I am afraid.” He drew a small, wooden, straight-backed chair near her bed and sat for a few minutes. “Bingley will go for help in the morning. It is still raining and travel would not be safe as the moon is hidden.” He leaned forward, propping his chin on his hands as his elbows rested on his knees. “You will be well soon.” He hoped that she believed it, for he was not certain he did. But his mood was rather dour, so things might not be so dreadful as he feared. After watching her sleep for a few moments and trying not to let his spirits become any lower, he removed the cloth from her forehead, rinsed it, and replaced it. “I will return,” he said. He exited the room but left the door open.
“Help me carry this chair into her room,” he said to Bingley, indicating the chair Darcy had reclined in before the fire. “She has a fever,” he said in answer to Bingley’s lifted brows. “I might get a bit more rest in this chair than in the wooden one in there.”
“If you are certain,” said Bingley.
“I am certain of very little,” Darcy admitted.
Instead of picking up his side of the chair as Darcy expected him to do, Bingley leaned on the back of the chair impeding Darcy’s progress. “You have done what was needed.”
“She will hate me for it.” He smiled tightly at his friend.
Bingley shrugged one shoulder and tilted his head. “She may for a while, but you are not without your charms.”
Darcy shook his head and rolled his eyes. “I do not have an ounce of charm.”
“Sit,” said Bingley. “She will be well for a moment.”
Darcy eyed the chair and then the door to the bedroom.
“Seriously, man, sit down,” said Bingley. “I shall not help you move this chair until you do.”
“I see there is a bit of Caroline in you,” grumbled Darcy with a smile as he took a seat.
Bingley laughed. “Thankfully, only a bit.” He paced in front of Darcy. “Tell me, why do you fear her hatred?” Arms folded across his chest, he turned to face his friend.
Darcy did not know what made him fear Elizabeth’s displeasure so very much. It was more than likely his traitorous heart causing the confusion. While he was confident he did not yet love her, he was equally as certain that he cared for her. He was never at ease when he made a friend unhappy. A stranger, a meddling relative, a business associate who refused to see reason — these he did not give two figs about if they were put out with him, but a friend? He shook his head; that was a different thing altogether.
“I will tell you,” said Bingley dropping into his chair. “It will unsettle your very organized and orchestrated life. You will finally be doing what you wish in breaking that sham of an engagement to your cousin. Your uncle will finally stop badgering you about doing your duty, and your sister will have a sister that will do her good. Not to mention, my sister will, at last, be put in her place instead of drawn along by your dashed proper gentlemanliness.” He chuckled. “Oh, it will bring some raised voices and censure, perhaps, but, in the end, it will bring happiness. How could it not? You have been smitten with her since…well, since after that assembly.”
“Happy with a woman who hates me for forcing her into marriage?” Darcy scoffed. “It matters not what I feel for her if she despises me. In fact, should I fancy her above all others, that shall only make my misery that much greater when my affections are not returned. And then, there is the matter of her relations.”
Bingley cleared his throat and glared at him.
“They are boisterous. You know how I do not like cacophonous gatherings — and what else shall they be?” He blew out a breath. “And I shall be removing her from them. While I might not appreciate them, I am sure she loves them.” He stood. “It is no good. You have tried, but I will not be appeased until I have her forgiveness.”
“Only hers?” Bingley’s left brow rose slightly and his lips curled in a hint of a smile.
“Do you not desire your relations’ forgiveness?” Bingley steepled his fingers in front of his chest.
Darcy started at the question. No, he had not thought to even seek it. He only truly cared for their acceptance — of her.
“And what of her father?” asked Bingley. “I am certain her mother will not require any apology seeing as you have ten thousand a year.” The smirk on his face grew as he said the last bit in a high, ladylike voice.
Darcy chuckled. How could he not at the ridiculous sound? “I suppose I would wish for his forgiveness.”
“But it is hers above all that you seek?”
“Yes.” He rolled his eyes at the smug look on Bingley’s face. “I admit I care for her as I would care for any friend.”
“Of course.” Bingley stood and took his place at the chair to help move it. “However, I believe it is something a bit deeper.” He held up a hand to forestall the denial. “Do not give me some lecture on love, Darcy. We both know I am more well-versed in matters of the heart than you are — although I have only recently discovered what it is to be truly in love.”
“Yes, about that,” said Darcy, taking small shuffling steps and glancing over his shoulder to see his way. “Are you sure it is not infatuation?”
“Do not begin again with me, Darcy. I have already told you that it is not, and her connections are improving. I hear her sister is to marry a wealthy gentleman with an uncle who is an earl. An earl!” Again, he adopted the high, ladylike voice.
“Shhh,” cautioned Darcy with a grin. “She is sleeping.”
As quietly as possible, they placed the chair near Elizabeth’s bed. Then, after obtaining an assurance from Darcy that he would call for assistance if needed, Bingley left the room.
“I shall be keeping you company tonight,” Darcy said to Elizabeth as he changed the cloth on her forehead and made note of how warm her skin felt. Then he settled into the chair and rested his head against the wide wing. “Please poke me if I begin to snore.”
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