Whether you are Christian or not, I firmly believe the themes which have developed from the celebration of Christmas bring hope to all humankind. This is my favorite time of year. People seem a little nicer, and the world is a bit prettier with all the twinkling lights and beautiful decorations. For all the ugliness you could say about holiday consumerism (at least in the US), there are people who selflessly give to the less fortunate and needy. I’ve been a recipient of such loving acts before and will never forget the kindness of strangers at such a time.
When I started writing Mr. Darcy’s Miracle at Longbourn, I thought it would be a short story based off a Christmas song or two I liked. I had the (not so original) idea to put them in a time loop. Real life got in the way and I didn’t complete the story until July 2017. I released it briefly for Christmas in July then took it off sale. I planned on releasing it in time for this Christmas but along the way, kept having more ideas to further develop the novella. I ended up writing another 20,000 words. I considered publishing it as a stand alone sequel but so few bought it the first time around that I think it will serve everyone better to read it as a full novel. More importantly, despite the Christmas song as chapter titles and the admittedly wacky time loop, I believe the story very poignantly captures the essence of the Christmas season. It’s all about selfless love, forgiveness, and hope. I hope you find those things this December and I hope you’ll pick up Mr. Darcy’s Miracle at Longbourn.
“Mr. Wickham? Why would you scare me?” Elizabeth felt her body relax and held a hand to her chest.
“Oh, there is really nothing to fear.”
Suddenly, he grabbed her arm, holding it so tightly that she was certain it bruised. He pulled her hard against his chest. One arm snaked around her waist while the one that abused her limb now raked up her shoulder and neck. Taking her jaw in his hand, he forcefully bent her head back to look at him. Madness shone in his eyes.
“I will finally have my revenge.”
Revenge? What revenge? What did he speak of? “Sir, if you will please come back to the house. You are unwell. We can call a physician.”
“No, no. Your words or looks will not beguile me. Tell me,” he said and thrust her chin this way and then that, “do you think you are worth thirty thousand pounds to him?”
To whom? Elizabeth took a shuddering breath. She had no idea what had caused this madness or whom he spoke of, but she had no time to worry about such things. She needed to be free of him. She did not think she could overpower him. Gruffly, he let go of her face and then thrust a hand into his pocket. What he withdrew flashed in the moonlight.
“I think on your knees will be best.”
He shoved her forward, and Elizabeth stumbled to her knees. Instantly, he was beside her, gripping her around the waist again. Then Elizabeth felt the cold, hard steel against her neck and whimpered.
“You will have to be louder than that,” he said and pressed harder against the tender skin. Elizabeth felt a trickle of blood and prayed someone might come outside.
“Look!” Wickham exclaimed.
His breath became ragged in excitement and delight. Every exhale scorched her ear.
“Play nice,” he whispered harshly.
“Miss Bennet?” Elizabeth heard Darcy’s anxious tone come from the direction of the house.
He held no lantern, and it took a moment for her to make out his frame in the increasing darkness.
“Over here, Darcy.” Wickham’s foul breath flew past her ear again. “I believe we can finally talk about the matter of what you owe me.”
“Wickham,” Darcy growled. “I owe you nothing!”
Leaves crunched, signalling Darcy’s approach. Wickham tightened his hold on Elizabeth, earning a whimper from her. The shuffling of feet ceased.
“Elizabeth?” Darcy asked, fear evident in his tone.
“Go ahead, sweetheart,” Wickham commanded. “Reassure him you live.” He laughed. “So long as both of you do as I say, the blade will not slice her throat.”
Elizabeth remained mute. She would not let him gain anything through her. The blade cut deeper, and Elizabeth felt the bile rising in her throat.
“You may have anything you desire so long as you do not harm her,” Darcy said. The previous tone was gone, and he was the Master of Pemberley in command once more.
“And you?” Wickham’s hand around her waist tightened. “Do you agree as well?”
“Elizabeth,” Darcy said calmly, “cooperate with him, and I promise you will return safely to your parents.”
How had it come to this? Wickham was crazed and threatening her life? She had been blind, so blind! No injustice he had faced in life would justify this cruelty.
“Yes,” she said firmly. “I will obey you.”
“Ah, good to see she can be biddable,” Wickham said. “Now, you may approach, Darcy.”
Darcy’s feet moved at a steady rhythm, and soon he emerged from the shadows and trees.
“Our hero,” Wickham laughed. “Or should I say our bait! You see, it was he the others intended for you to meet out here. A lover’s tryst?”
“Wickham,” Darcy said, but his eyes never left hers. They pleaded with her to trust him. “What do you want?”
“What should have been mine! Taken from my father and raised alongside you. I should have been treated as a son!” He spat at Darcy’s boots.
“And so you were,” Darcy said in an eerily composed tone considering Wickham’s words and actions “Many younger sons enter the church.”
Wickham shook his head. “Not a Darcy. Tell me, was your uncle expected to live off a few hundred pounds per annum?”
Elizabeth furrowed her brow. Wickham was not a Darcy, and she highly doubted he would have concealed that heritage or that Darcy would not acknowledge him. She remained mute, allowing the scene to play out.
“Would you like a house? A thousand a year?” Darcy asked and attempted to step forward.
“Get back!” Wickham barked, and Darcy complied. “Thirty thousand pounds—what I would have had if you had not interrupted my plans with your sister—and the estate in Wiltshire.”
Elizabeth bit back a gasp. That would nearly ruin Mr. Darcy. It would take all of Miss Darcy’s fortune. Suddenly, Elizabeth realised that was what Wickham meant. He had hoped to marry her? No, he could never have wanted to act so honourably, nor would Darcy have allowed it. Had he planned on eloping with the young girl?
A tear trickled down Elizabeth’s face. She had been so stupid to believe in anything the man said. And based on what? Her pleased vanity?
“You are running out of time, Darcy,” Wickham said. “Others will look for her soon, and if you do not agree to my demands, they will find you…with her dead body.”
Less than a month after Fitzwilliam Darcy left Hertfordshire, he regrets the decision. Still, stubborn as they come, he will abide by the choice even if his heart freezes over worse than a December chill.
At Longbourn, Elizabeth Bennet rejects the Christmas themes of unconditional love and forgiveness. In her mind, Mr. Darcy deserves neither and not only for insulting her upon first sight. Elizabeth is certain Darcy is behind her sister’s heartache.
Fate has other plans, however, when it throws them together again and again and again. Christmas magic works on their hearts and minds as the calendar refuses to budge from December 23. What will it take to see Christmas Eve? How many lives need to change?
Mr. Darcy’s Miracle at Longbourn is a heart-warming holiday read from Rose Fairbanks, author of Mr. Darcy’s Bluestocking Bride. If you love A Christmas Carol, It’s a Wonderful Life, and Miracle on 34th Street, fill your mug with hot cocoa and buy your copy today!
Mr. Darcy’s Miracle at Longbourn releases TOMORROW 12/8/17 as ebook on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks & Kobo. Print will follow. If you have previously purchased Mr. DARCY’S CHRISTMAS JOY please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so I can give you the second volume at no extra cost.