Well, the best-laid plans of mice, men, and authors. I had originally planned to publish Elizabeth’s Choice April or May 2017, but Darcy vs Bingley intruded and demanded to be written first. Then I planned to publish this long-awaited sequel to Darcy Chooses in December, after becoming a full-time indie author, but it will be February instead. Among other things and not feeling 100% from illness last summer, I am behind…again. It’s always fun to play catchup…yeah, right!
At any rate, I have a fair amount written and a fair amount to go and thought you ladies and gents would appreciate an excerpt as well as a giveaway. To enter the giveaway, please comment below and let me know what you think. Darcy and Elizabeth will have a fun and exciting time traveling to and seeing the sights in the land of the Irish. And I hope my readers will enjoy the journey also.
Foreshadow of Things to Come
Fitzwilliam Darcy grabbed his wife’s elbow and pushed her in another direction from where they had been walking. Moving quickly, he steered her into an alley then grasped her hand and quietly ordered her to run.
As they sprinted down the alleyway, he removed his tall beaver hat and tossed it into a rubbish bin behind one of the shops. Elizabeth’s mouth dropped open, and she started to question their mad dash but stayed quiet and decided that her husband knew what he was doing.
Still running, he led them between two buildings, across a street then into another alley. Finding a deep doorway, Darcy pushed Elizabeth into it and whispered, “Trust me, sweetheart.” Elizabeth found herself assaulted by her husband’s lips and hands and her eyes got as big as saucers.
“Any idee where they went?”
“No, just keep looking.”
The two men who had been searching for them appeared at the end of the alley as William turned slightly to hide his wife from their view. As the men came near, they saw what the couple was doing and guffawed.
“Hey, Benji. Will ye look at that.”
The two rough-looking characters continued to snicker and make ribald comments as Darcy began lifting Elizabeth’s skirt with one hand as his wife blushed to her toes. With his other hand, he waved the men away while he and Elizabeth ardently hoped they would get the message and leave. But, they did not.
Elizabeth’s chocolate curls lay across the pillow as she slept. With a slight smile, her husband watched in wonder and thought about the night he had just spent with her. He had never realized how lonely he had been until he met Elizabeth and couldn’t believe the joy he felt in seeing her repose. Fitzwilliam Darcy had thanked God before for finding her, and he thanked Him again for his Elizabeth. As his love for his wife swelled his breast, he grinned and placed a gentle kiss on her hair trying not to awaken her. Even so, Elizabeth stirred and opened one eye.
“Shhh, go back to sleep, my love.”
That turned out to be a useless admonition, and the two were not seen for three days by anyone as they learned more about each other and climbed the heights of passion and plunged together. Darcy was grateful for the discussion he and his cousin Richard had had in the Netherfield library concerning his wedding night. But, most of all, he was glad he and Elizabeth had waited and not anticipated their vows. Their wedding night would forever be special to them.
Mrs. Reynolds smiled at the laughter coming from the other room as she set the table for the newly married couple. With tears in her eyes, she delighted in the fact her boy was truly happy for the first time in years and that Elizabeth had brought so much joy to Pemberley. Her master had smiled rarely after his father died a little over five years earlier. And after the troubles at Ramsgate, he had been even sterner for far too long.
Darcy had informed Mrs. Reynolds of Wickham’s attempted elopement with his sister, Georgiana, so she could watch over his sister when he had to leave for London. Darcy’s sibling had been so melancholy after Wickham’s abandonment that he worried about her state of mind. Shy before, she was more withdrawn until she made Elizabeth Bennet’s acquaintance. Now, everything was changing for the better, and he loved his wife even more for the love she had shown toward his sister who was now beginning to blossom into a beautiful, happy young lady.
Mrs. Reynolds looked at Darcy and his sister as her own as she had never had any children after marrying Mr. Reynolds, the Darcys’ butler. Lady Ann Darcy nee Fitzwilliam had died not long after Georgiana’s birth bringing great sorrow to Gerald Darcy from which he never recovered. He had endured his grief until he finally succumbed to heart problems, and his son took control of the estate at the young age of only twenty-three.
Darcy took very seriously his responsibilities to the estate and the many servants and tenants who were dependent on his good oversight. Honest, trustworthy to a fault, Darcy worked diligently to keep the estate prospering and in caring for the many duties for which he had been trained. It was understandable that he was less inclined to smile than most people.
Yet, Elizabeth Darcy nee Bennet had him smiling and laughing, something Mrs. Reynolds had not heard him do in several years. She would be forever beholden to Mrs. Darcy for the wonderful changes she had wrought in Fitzwilliam Darcy. He was like a new man.
The couple had spent three days in the dower house after their wedding and had chosen to see no one except Mrs. Reynolds who had prearranged times for their meals. She would set the table in the connecting parlor to their room then knock on the door to let them know their meal was ready. Quietly and quickly, she would leave the room closing the door behind her giving them privacy.
“Are you hungry, Elizabeth?”
“I’m starving, William. I could eat a cow about now, hoofs and all,” his wife said with a smile.
He just looked at her, grinned and then gave her a kiss that warmed her to her toes. Although Elizabeth was more than willing to continue with pleasant pursuits, she wasn’t willing to eat cold food. Scrambling out of their bed, she quickly dressed while eluding her husband’s hands and laughing the whole time. His attempts to catch her were only half-hearted as he had quite an appetite as well. In a few minutes, both were seated at the dressing room’s table and partaking of a meal of five delicious items prepared by their housekeeper.
When they had their fill, at last, both gave a sigh of contentment.
“Where would you like to go on our trip?”
Elizabeth looked up in surprise. “Our trip? I didn’t know we were going to take a trip.”
Standing and picking up his adorable wife, Darcy set her on his lap and proceeded to kiss her senseless.
“If you keep that up, we’ll have to go back to the bedroom.” She giggled, and he waggled his eyebrows at her.
“We will, but first I need to know where you would like to travel for our honeymoon. I’ve been thinking about where we could go for about a month.”
“A month? But, William, the estate…”
“My steward is already aware that we will be gone for at least a month, and he and I have made arrangements for any contingency. Also, Lord Matlock can help in an emergency.”
“Oh. If the estate is being cared for, a trip sounds lovely. Where would you like to go?”
“Elizabeth, I asked you first.” Darcy couldn’t help smiling at his wife, and she smiled back.
“But, William, I’ve only been to London and the Lake District. I’m not sure but…perhaps, Bath?”
“I was thinking about traveling a bit farther than just Bath. If it was earlier in the year, we could go to Heather Glen, my estate in Scotland. But it can be rather cold in November, so I thought we might visit Dublin, Ireland, for a fortnight then travel on to Cork for the remainder of the trip. There are a number of castles, cathedrals, and other sights for us to enjoy.”
Elizabeth grinned and laughed aloud. “I would love to go to Ireland. The Irish brogue has always fascinated me. And I understand the country is beautiful.”
“’Tis Ireland then.”
“Oh, but won’t it take too long to travel from Dublin to Cork?”
“No, my dear. We will travel first a little over a day to Liverpool. I have a Baltimore clipper ship docked there which we will take to Dublin. It’s faster than the packet ships, and if we leave early from Liverpool, it will take less than a day to reach Ireland. After our stay in Dublin, we’ll take the clipper to the Port of Cork, hire a carriage, and continue our travel through the city. I have friends there to whom I would like to introduce you. We will also stay about a fortnight before returning to Liverpool then back to Pemberley.”
“It sounds wonderful, William. I’ve always wanted to travel and see far-away places.”
“And I want to show you those places as well. We will finalize arrangements on the morrow and prepare to leave in two days. That will allow me time to contact the captain, so his crew can prepare for our journey. In the meantime, though, I have other plans for today.”
Darcy kissed her senseless then said, “Yes, I do.” And Elizabeth didn’t object at all.
The next morning, both arose early, and Darcy told Mrs. Reynolds they were returning to the main house to help prepare for their trip.
The dower house was only about a mile from the Darcys’ large home, Pemberley, and was a little over a quarter hour walk. Both arrived exhilarated by the exercise and looking forward to leaving in two days.
“Oh, William,” exclaimed Elizabeth.
“Are you pleased, my dear?”
“I love the dresses, but…three trunks full of new clothes. How…when…where?”
“The day we went shopping in London for your trousseau, I did some shopping of my own. Do you remember what you did when we went to your uncle’s warehouse for fabric?”
“I chose the ones I liked best, and the ones that would complement my skin.”
“Did you choose all you liked best?”
“Well…no. There were so many beautiful ones my uncle had just received…and I didn’t want to appear greedy. Besides, I don’t need several wardrobes of clothes.”
“Oh, but my darling Elizabeth, as Mrs. Darcy, you do need a larger, in fact, a much larger wardrobe than you would as a gentleman’s daughter. Not only will we be entertaining fairly frequently at Pemberley and London when necessary, you need a much warmer one for Derbyshire’s frigid winters. We quite frequently receive snow and ice for two to three months most winters. That’s why I included two fur-lined coats, fur-lined boots, and gloves as well. Brocade and velvet fabrics have been used for some of your dresses because they will be much warmer. You have several fur hats and muffs also. Have you seen them yet?”
“No, but William, I’m overwhelmed. When did all this come about?”
“Come and sit, my love.” Darcy gestured to his lap.
When Elizabeth was settled with her head against his chest and his strong arms around her, he continued his story.
“Do you recall when I went back into Mr. Gardiner’s warehouse while you and Georgiana waited for me?”
“Mmm…yes. We were so excited about the fabrics, I didn’t question you at the time and forgot about it later.”
“Well, I went back after making note of all the fabrics you had returned to the shelves and told your uncle to put them aside for you. I couldn’t give them to you since we were not married yet, but I could buy them and have the modiste make them up in the latest fashions once she had your measurements. I instructed your uncle to send them to Mrs. Lamont and spoke with her the next day about what I wanted to do in regard to your wardrobe. She has also included everything that you will need: morning, day, walking, and tea dresses, plus dinner and evening gowns and all the accessories with…uh any undergarments as well.” With this last comment, Darcy blushed bright red as Elizabeth laughed with delight.
“William, we are married now. We can speak of such things, can we not?”
“Elizabeth, I may never be able to speak of some things. I could not with Georgiana, and I’m not sure I can with you either.”
“My dear husband, you begin to sound like my father.” And she giggled when he huffed to be compared to Mr. Bennet. “He cannot abide to speak of ribbons and lace and runs to his library when the subject arises with my mother or sisters.”
Darcy just sighed and decided he’d rather do something else than speak of family. And he proceeded to kiss his wife most ardently.
About that time, Elizabeth’s maid walked in then very hurriedly tip-toed out the door. Neither Darcy nor Elizabeth noticed her entrance or her rapid exit from the room.
Later, when Darcy left to attend to business, Elizabeth spent the rest of the afternoon determining which dresses and accessories she would have packed for the trip. To her surprise, Mrs. Lamont had done such an outstanding job with just her measurements, there was little that needed to be altered. Those few dresses would go to the modiste, Mrs. Barkley, in Lambton with whom her husband had made arrangements beforehand.
However, they found they needed an extra day to finish preparations before leaving for Liverpool. Darcy was glad that he had alerted his ship’s captain, Robert Lowery, that they might be a day or so later if they were delayed. Captain Lowery was paid handsomely for being at Darcy’s beck and call and would reserve several days for their arrival. Darcy had warned him a month in advance that he was getting married and to expect to make a trip to Ireland before winter set in. And Darcy was delighted that his wife looked forward to their Irish adventures as much as he did.
Ah, I can hear the questions now. Why were two men chasing Darcy and Elizabeth, and how will the couple save themselves? And what are some of the sights the two will see on their honeymoon? Will it be a journey to remember? You will have to wait and see. 🙂
BTW My daughter and I have decided on the three covers for this series. Attending a Ball was the prequel to Darcy Chooses, and Elizabeth’s Choice is the sequel to Darcy Chooses. I still haven’t determined if the cover for Darcy Chooses was the best way to go or not. However, it has sold more than any single book I’ve written. Anyway, here are the three covers we designed for the Darcy and Elizabeth Series. Haven’t decided, but there might be a fourth to end the series. Let me know what you think.
In the meantime, comment below to be entered in the giveaway for two ebooks. Elizabeth’s Choice should be available on the 21st of February.
Entries will be received until midnight EST, Friday, January 26th. Winners will be announced on February 3rd with the ebooks being gifted on publication.