Below is an excerpt from my upcoming Modern Pride and Prejudice Variation, President Darcy, which should be released in about a week or so. If you want know when President Darcy is released, please sign up for my newsletter, “Dispatches from Pemberley,” and I will notify everyone on the mailing list when it is available. Here is the blurb for President Darcy:
President William Darcy has it all: wealth, good friends, and the most powerful job in the world. Despite what his friends say, he is not lonely in the White House. He’s not. And he has vowed not to date while he’s in office. Nor is he interested in Elizabeth Bennet. Although she is pretty and funny and smart, her family is nouveau riche and unbearable. To make it worse, he encounters her everywhere in Washington D.C.—making it harder and harder to ignore her. Why can’t he get Elizabeth Bennet out of his mind?
Elizabeth Bennet enjoys her job with the Red Cross and loves her family, despite their tendency to embarrass themselves. When they drag her to a White House state dinner, they cause her to make an unfavorable impression on the president, who labels her unattractive and uninteresting—words that are immediately broadcast on Twitter. Now the whole world knows the president dissed her. All Elizabeth wants is to avoid the man—who, let’s admit it, is proud and difficult. For some reason he acts so friendly when they keep running into each other, but she just knows he’s judging her.
Eventually circumstances force Darcy and Elizabeth to confront their true feelings for each other, with explosive results. But even if they can find common ground, Darcy is still the president—with limited privacy and unlimited responsibilities—and his enemies won’t hesitate to use his feelings for Elizabeth to hurt his presidency.
Can President Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet find their way to happily ever after?
The scene below is Elizabeth Bennet’s first encounter with President Darcy–at a broom closet in the White House:
“However, the next door opened easily, revealing a closet full of mops, brooms, and buckets soaked in the stringent odor of cleaning supplies. What a mundane thing to find at the White House. Elizabeth hurriedly stepped inside, taking care not to knock over any of the brooms, and pulled the door closed behind her.
The interior was completely dark except for a golden strip of light under the door. Her ragged breaths were harsh in her ears no matter how she tried to quiet them. She hugged herself around her waist as if that could keep her still, but her hands trembled violently. Finally, holding her breath, Elizabeth strained her ears for any sign of discovery.
Firm footsteps echoed on the wooden floors—at least two sets. “We really shouldn’t enter this way,” said a male voice. “Everyone expects a grand—”
The second man’s voice was deeper and tinged with irritation. “I’m late, Bing. I’d rather slip in unnoticed.”
The shaking of Elizabeth’s body intensified, and sweat trickled between her shoulder blades. One of the men was Charles Bingley, the president’s chief of staff and widely considered the second most powerful man in the White House. Shit. Shit. Shit. He was the last person she wanted to find her in the presidential broom closet.
Bingley’s tone was soothing. “You have a good reason for being late—”
One of the mops chose that moment to topple over with a thump. I hope that was quieter outside the closet than inside.
“What was that?” the second man asked. His voice was vaguely familiar.
“Something shifting in one of the closets,” Bingley said, unconcerned.
“Kinski wouldn’t want us to ignore it,” the second man said with a rueful laugh. “You know ‘constant vigilance is everyone’s duty’?”
“Yeah, all right,” Bingley said with a good-natured laugh. “We’ll send a Secret Service agent back to investigate.”
Yes, Elizabeth tried to convince the other man telepathically. Listen to Bingley. Send someone back.
“To investigate a closet?” the other man asked incredulously. “It’ll only take a few seconds.”
“You’re not supposed to—”
Footsteps rapidly approached the closet. Elizabeth was no longer trembling; now she was frozen, rooted to the spot—and all her perspiration had turned icy. Even her teeth chattered. What will they do to me? Please don’t shoot me on sight. Please let me explain.
The door opened, flooding the closet with light. Elizabeth blinked in the sudden brightness and then blinked again at the person before her. She’d been wrong, she realized. Bingley was not the last person she wanted to find her in the closet. He was standing in front of her.
She stared into the face of President William Darcy.
President Darcy’s head jerked back, and his mouth dropped open when he saw who was in his broom closet.
Television doesn’t do him justice. In person, he was far more attractive. In person, he was breathtaking…with those gray-blue eyes and dark, almost black, hair falling in soft waves over his forehead. The lines of the tuxedo accentuated his broad shoulders and lean, muscular physique. The features of his face were classic and patrician, almost like a Roman statue come to life. But his lips were sensual, soft and full, contrasting with the clean, straight lines of the rest of his face. I bet he’s a good kisser with lips like those. And the intensity of those eyes…
Which where glaring at her.
What am I thinking? I’m staring at the president. And thinking lustful thoughts about the president. Instead, she should be explaining. Talking her way out of the situation. At least making her mouth move. “Um…hi?” She gave him a little wave and what she hoped was her most nonthreatening smile.
“Who the hell are you?” he barked.
“Shit! There’s someone in there?” Charles Bingley’s blond head appeared over the president’s shoulder. He was the same age as the other man, but his shaggy hair and relaxed surfer dude smile made him seem younger.
Elizabeth rattled out an explanation—before they shot her. “I’m Elizabeth B-Barnett…no…B-Bennet. I’m a g-guest at the party—you know…the state dinner thingy. And my sister ran off and I had to find her and then you were coming, and I knew I shouldn’t be here…and so I hid,” she finished lamely. Jeez, the explanation sounded ridiculous even to her ears.
President Darcy took a moment to stare at her like she should be under psychiatric care, which, to be fair, was a reasonable assumption under the circumstances. “Is your sister in there, too?” He peered into the closet’s depths.
“No. She, um, went back to that really big room—” God, what was the name of it? She couldn’t think coherently when the President of the United States was glowering at her. Go figure. “You know, with the tall drapes and stuff.” Good one, Elizabeth, that probably described every room in the White House.
“The one with the state dinner thingy?” he asked with a raised eyebrow.
He’s mocking me. Does that mean he believes me? A presidential assassin would probably be way smoother and less confused.
The president gave Bingley a sidelong glance. “Maybe we should call the Secret Service.”
Elizabeth grabbed the doorframe. Please, no.
Bingley sighed. “She obviously isn’t carrying a weapon, Darcy.”
The president scrutinized Elizabeth from head to foot—his gaze lingering over every curve in her long black gown. It wasn’t particularly revealing, but it was form-fitting enough that she couldn’t have concealed anything bigger than a tube of lipstick.
He cleared his throat. “I suppose not.”
What a monumental embarrassment to her family if she were arrested at the state dinner. “I’m so, so sorry! Please don’t have me arrested or audited or drafted or anything!” she babbled. Elizabeth clapped her hand over her mouth before she said anything stupid. Stupider.
A corner of the president’s mouth quirked upward. “Well, I promise not to have you audited or drafted.”
“All the guests were vetted by the Secret Service, Darcy,” Bingley pointed out. “Perhaps we can skip the arresting this time.”
The president regarded her seriously for a moment. He really did have the most amazing blue eyes, like a storm at sea. And…wow…was now an inappropriate time for that thought!
“An arrest would not be an auspicious start to the state dinner,” Bingley warned.
Elizabeth held her breath as he deliberated. Profiles of the president portrayed him as being very charismatic when he chose to be, but some people described him as aloof and cold. He must have chosen otherwise because the temperature of his glare was glacial—as if showing up in a White House broom closet were tantamount to murder. Elizabeth wanted—very badly—to forsake his presence immediately.
Finally, he threw his arms up in the air. “All right. But if we find you doing anything else…unexpected, I will have the Secret Service arrest you.” With one arm across his chest, he pointed an accusing finger at Elizabeth.
She nodded eagerly. “That’s great. Thanks. That makes sense. Yeah, the next time, go ahead and arrest me.” His eyes narrowed. “Not that there’s going to be a next time.” She held up her hands. “Absolutely no next time.”
He snorted in disbelief. What a jerk!
With a slight shake of his head, the president extended his hand to her. She stared at it. Why…? Oh, he’s offering to help me out of the closet. Clearly, her brain had gone offline since entering the White House. Releasing the doorframe, she stretched out her trembling hand, which he engulfed in his warm, firm grip.”