As many of you undoubtedly know, for the 2010 holiday season my publisher, Sourcebooks, released an anthology of Pride and Prejudice focused novellas titled A Darcy Christmas. Included in the anthology were short stories by Amanda Grange, Carolyn Eberhart, and me! Fortunately for Darcy fans everywhere, A Darcy Christmas remains in print. In fact, the anthology can be purchased in paperback and eBook, and additionally each individual novella can be purchased in digital formats for 0.99 cents.
My offering was titled “A Darcy Christmas” – the finale to the book and hence the name for the anthology. Keeping my Darcy Saga series in mind with my beloved characters intact, I take the reader down the passage of time with ten individual snippets of the evolving Darcy family celebrating. Beginning on the Christmas Eve after meeting Lizzy Bennet, Mr. Darcy is a man tortured by visions and emotions he is unable – or unwilling – to deal with. Thereafter follows a succession of Christmas Eves and Days with Mr. Darcy as a happily married man surrounded by his wife and an ever-increasing family, giving glimpses of their future.
For images to accompany the story, including characters, visit my A Darcy Christmas Image Gallery.
~Exquisite Excerpt of A Darcy Christmas by Sharon Lathan ~
Lizzy stared out at the spitting of snow falling from a sky dotted with pale-gray clouds. She frowned and bit her lip while absently fastening the lacings of her thick wool coat. Years living in Derbyshire had given her a sense of typical weather conditions so she was fairly certain the weak clouds would disperse once they squeezed the last drops of moisture into the frigid air, leaving behind a cold but clear day. Traveling to Matlock over the frozen roads should be easy and the sturdy coach packed with seven bodies would remain warm. Yet they had decided it best to leave their youngest child, Thomas, not quite two and recuperating from a minor respiratory affliction, in the care of Mrs. Hanford for the day rather than expose him to the winter chill. It was a wise decision, Lizzy knew, but it was always difficult to leave her children behind.
“We will only be gone for the day,” a deep voice interrupted, the speaker divining her thoughts. She nodded, turning toward her husband where he sat on the nearby bench assisting Audrey with her gloves and fur-lined bonnet. He wasn’t even looking at her or the weather outside, focusing instead on his youngest daughter’s accessories for proper placement to protect against the bitter cold, continuing without a pause, “And I assure you the storm, if it can be called that, will pass within an hour. We will be home before dark and Thomas will not even miss us.”
“Are you sure the snow will not worsen?” Darcy glanced up then, lifting one brow and delivering a you-must-be-joking look. “Well, someday you may be wrong in predicting the weather, Mr. Darcy! What if today is that day and we are stranded at Rivallain?”
“I am not wrong. We will not be stranded at Rivallain. We will be home to celebrate our family Christmas Eve with all the children. And Thomas will remain largely oblivious to the fact that we were away.”
“Will we bring his presents back home, Papa?” Audrey’s question halted Lizzy’s sharp retort, Darcy chuckling as he again focused on his daughter.
“Of course we will, princess. You can help him open them tomorrow. He is too young yet to accomplish the task alone, nor is he old enough to be fully aware of the festivities surrounding him.”
“He loves to look at all the decorations. He laughs and tries to touch everything. Yesterday he escaped Nanny Lisa and climbed onto the table while we were mixing the dough and fell face first into the bowl! He was covered with flour and molasses. Oh, you should have seen him, Papa. It was very funny.”
“I heard about it. Another reason to keep him here rather than running amok at Rivallain. Here he will be safe, warm, and happily playing with his toys between naps and meals.”
She nodded her agreement, but then stayed his hand with a gentle clasp of her delicate, gloved fingers. “But you are wrong, Papa. He will miss us.”
Darcy flashed a warning glance to Lizzy while answering. “Perhaps a little, but it is the wisest decision.” Lizzy snapped her lips shut, knowing he was correct but remaining disturbed at the idea. “His grandpapa and Uncle George will dote upon him while we are away. And then we shall make it up to him with an abundance of kisses and hugs when we return. How is that?”
“Ow! It is too tight! You pinched me on purpose!”
“I did not. And you wouldn’t have been pinched if you would just hold still!”
Darcy engaged his wife’s eyes for a brief reaffirming exchange, Lizzy smiling and nodding before rolling her eyes and indicating he deal with the squabbling duo. With a smile of relief that his wife was appeased followed by an exasperated sigh at the bickering Noella and Michael, he rose from the bench. “Enough, you two. Michael, help Nathaniel with his coat. Here, Noella, let me button that.”
“He did do it on purpose, Papa. Is my neck red?”
“Not in the least. Flawlessly beautiful, as always.”
“Good,” she said, lifting her chin so Darcy could finish clasping her bonnet, “I must look my absolute best.”
“And why is that?”
“Hugh will be there.”
“Ah, yes. Young Mr. Pomeroy. Still sporting a crush on your cousin, are you?”
“Papa,” she sighed, piercing him with her patented longsuffering look, “Hugh is not my cousin, not really. And I do not have a crush,” her tone clearly conveying her derision for that definition.
“Of course not,” he smiled, brushing her cheek with a soft kiss. “How foolish of me.”
“I intend to marry him.”
Her announcement was firm and completely matter-of-fact, Darcy stammering slightly in a combination of amusement and surprise. “Do you now?” He finally managed, noting Lizzy’s attempt to refrain from bursting into laughter. “And is Mr. Pomeroy aware of this arrangement? After all, he may not be so pleased at betrothal to an eleven-year-old.”
“I will be twelve tomorrow,” she informed him flatly, as if that made all the difference in the world, “and will tell him eventually.”
“Perhaps I should break the good news to him,” Alexander interjected dryly. “He may need the next eight years to prepare for the concept. Bolster his fortitude, practice the proposal speech, save up for the ring, and so on.”
But instead of erupting into a tirade, as they all expected— Michael dying to chime in on his opinion of poor Hugh’s bleak future—Noella merely shrugged and calmly pulled on her gloves.
“Well, since I do not foresee any of my children becoming engaged in the next day or so, I say we put the topic aside and get into the carriage so we can arrive at Rivallain for breakfast as planned. Mrs. Darcy?”
Mr. and Mrs. Darcy wish you a very Merry Christmas!