Two years ago while Austen Authors was going strong and in the midst of our Pride & Prejudice 200 project, I wrote a Valentine’s Day themed scene. Inspired by the Darcy Saga, of course, I created a scene that fits in perfectly with my series. Obviously this scene will never make its way into my novels since it takes place in the February after Mr. Darcy first met Elizabeth Bennet in Hertfordshire and before he proposed while at Rosings. But, in keeping with my “Month of Love” I thought it would be nice to share it here.
Now, enjoy my romantic scene!
Darcy Comes to a Decision
Darcy closed the door behind him and did something he rarely did: He collapsed against it and released a loud moan of relief.
“What a horrendous afternoon,” he muttered. He ran a hand through his hair before grasping the knot of his cravat and tugging. Futilely as it turned out. “Damn! He would choose today to bind me with some new fangled tying technique.”
As if my cravat is the deciding factor in whether a woman will find me appealing. Stupidity!
He pushed away from the door with a grunt and crossed directly to the sidebar. Something strong was needed to scorch the taste of tea and repugnance from the back of his throat.
“What a horrendous afternoon,” he repeated, this time with a growl. “What was I thinking?”
The question was rhetorical so he felt no need to answer himself. Thankfully. Have I so unraveled that I have now resorted to talking aloud? He clamped his lips shut before the answer slipped out audibly.
He finished the glass, finally feeling a measure of calm even though his neckcloth was still choking him. He had tried. At least he could say he had given the matter considerable thought and explored all reasonable options.
After the hell that had been Christmas with Elizabeth Bennet invading his every waking moment and creeping into his dreams, Darcy had been so desperate for anything to divert his attention that he had agreed to accompany his aunt and uncle to Sir Cole’s annual Twelfth Night Masque. Normally an agony of socializing that he avoided like the plague, this year he had practically leapt across the room to pen his acceptance to the invitation. Furthering his surprise, he had enjoyed the evening more than typical and largely that was due to Amy Griffin.
He had not seen the youngest daughter of Sir Griffin of Alveston Hall in Derby for four years or more. She had grown, as young ladies are wont to do, and he had felt an instant interest. Attraction, to be honest. Immediately he recognized why she appealed to him: She bore similarities of temperament and physique to Elizabeth Bennet. Yet rather than annoying or discomfiting him, it was a thrilling prospect.
Perhaps, he had wondered with an inner voice that hinted of a prayer, my infatuation with Miss Elizabeth was merely to prepare me for finding Miss Amy. The latter woman, after all, was utterly more acceptable than the first. With relief he figuratively girded his loins and for a month waged an internal war he was determined to win decisively as it should be. Logic and rational facts engaged the enemy that was emotion and wild impulse. The intelligent, cultured, beautiful daughter of a wealthy landowner with an impeccable pedigree had the battle advantage, so the victory was assured. Right?
Apparently practical tactics were no good when it came to matters of the heart. Today had cinched it. Sitting in the parlor of Alveston Hall sipping tea and nibbling on sweet cakes while struggling to keep up his end of the conversation, halt the infernal comparisons to Elizabeth, and not bolt from his chair to run for the nearest exit when she casually commented about it being Valentine’s Day – How could I have forgotten that? – while batting her lashes at him, Darcy had finally admitted defeat. It defied everything he knew to be sensible but at the end of a handful of social encounters Miss Amy had lost the battle to the woman who continued to brutally ram into his head.
A knock on the door interrupted his thoughts, and since they had already started to veer into areas he wasn’t quite prepared to embrace in the light of day, he answered it gladly. It was a servant of the inn in Derby delivering the day’s post. Darcy lifted a brow in surprise, having not anticipated receiving any mail since he only planned to be here for a week, maybe two tops – although after today that was unlikely – when he left Town six days ago. There were only three letters and as soon as he saw his Aunt Catherine’s familiar scrawl it made sense. Mrs. Smyth, his housekeeper at Darcy House in London, would automatically assume that any correspondence from the great Lady Catherine de Bourgh of the utmost, critical importance! Darcy hardly agreed but considering the timeliness of preventing him from dwelling on the memory of Elizabeth Bennet’s fine eyes, superb figure, lush hair especially as it fell in a tousled cascade down her back, flushed cheeks, warm hands, intoxicating scent….
He shook his head violently, inhaled deeply, and ripped open the letter. God! Please be a long letter droning on about the boring activities of your corgis or how your tenants fawned over you when you last condescended to visit them! He started reading while still standing in the middle of the room. Ah! Excellent! Mr. Collins! Yes, talk of him will do!
How wrong could a man be?
It started off well enough. Several sentences about the horrible substitute reverend she had endured while Mr. Collins was away –Could he truly be worse than the sniveling Collins must be as a preacher? – followed by a whole paragraph detailing the report she had written to the archbishop – I’m sure he loved that!
Then she turned to the subject of Mr. Collins recent marriage, beginning with claiming responsibility for his matrimonial state. She went on to write that it was she who encouraged him to seek a wife and listed all the various reasons – Terrific, just what I need to be reminded of now – one of which was the logic in picking from one of the five Bennet daughters.
All the blood drained from his face and he threw the parchment pieces onto the floor. He couldn’t breathe and the pain slamming through his chest was excruciating. He had been there, at the Netherfield Ball, his eyes following Elizabeth Bennet everywhere she went no matter how hard he had tried to stop himself. Anger born from a jealousy he had refused to acknowledge had noted every one of the men who danced with or even talked to her. He had wanted to strangle every last damn one of them! So of course he had noticed how the pathetic Mr. Collins had dogged her steps and danced too close to her. Although somewhat amusing at the time, only a fool would not have seen that he was paying special attention to her. Darcy was not a fool – Well, maybe a little – and although not as irritated at Collins as he had been some of the other, slightly handsomer gentlemen who occupied Elizabeth at the ball, now it was all too clear.
Suddenly it wasn’t himself he was envisioning in loving, passionate moments with Elizabeth. He felt truly ill and stumbled to the nearest chair. Would she have married Collins? He shuddered and again tore at the constricting neckcloth, managing to loosen it a bit, not that it helped. A tiny part of his brain not throbbing with pain admitted that his aunt’s logic was sound. And aren’t you the King of Logic? The thought was laced with bitter irony. Look where logic had gotten him. The woman he loved – Fine! I said it! I love Elizabeth Bennet! – was probably married to that man and beyond his reach.
He snatched the papers off the floor. He had to know. It may well kill him, but he had to know. Rapidly he scanned the sentences. His aunt’s words had never in his life elicited such a welter of emotions. In a matter of minutes he ran the gamut from despair to giddy relief, finally emitting a whoop of joy.
It was Charlotte Lucas who married the imbecile! Elizabeth had refused him! The day after the Netherfield Ball, in fact.
The question hit him square in the chest. Dare he hope that she had refused Collins for more than just that the man was ridiculous? Might she have been thinking of me? Granted their interactions didn’t precisely fall under what anyone would consider courtship-like, but he knew she enjoyed debating with him. Surely that meant something. Besides, he had far more to offer her than Collins! Refusing that man’s proposal only increased her worth in his eyes.
As quickly as it came the pain eased. I love her. Strangely, it was remarkably easy to say. The fight was gone. The search was over. The debates were done.
“I love Elizabeth Bennet,” he said aloud and did not feel at all silly in doing so.
He jumped up from the chair invigorated. Plans would be made once back in London. For now he just wanted to leave Derby and get closer to Hertfordshire. Closer to her. He smiled brightly and started gathering his belongings. And, yes, he was whistling.