Well, I am finding that my best ideas either come before I go to bed or just when I wake up. The middle of January I woke up with a wild idea, wrote it down, and published it on FanFiction.net as a one-shot. The first thing that happened is reviewers not only loved it but they decided I needed to expand it into a story. I agreed and began to see where it would go. So far, I’m very pleased with how it’s coming together.
This book will be a stand-alone, no sequels, and it will be a novella rather than a full-length novel.
‘Elizabeth’s Choice’ will be the sequel to ‘Darcy Chooses’ and should publish sometime in April. However, I’m working hard on ‘Darcy vs Bingley’ with plans to at least have it on pre-order the latter part of March if not sooner.
And, yes, I’m giving away two e-book copies of ‘Darcy vs Bingley’ to two individuals who comment below. Also, included in this post is Chapter 1 that I hope you will enjoy.
Summary: Instead of insulting Elizabeth at the Meryton Assembly, Darcy has found himself attracted to the young lady, enough so that he might be willing to go against his family’s expectations and pursue a courtship. And Caroline has attempted a compromise that failed miserably. Will it cause future problems?
Fitzwilliam Darcy had traveled from London that day and was informed on his arrival that Charles Bingley expected him to attend the assembly in Meryton that evening. Having spent the last few days in completing all his affairs before coming to Netherfield Park in Hertfordshire, Darcy had planned on relaxing for the rest of the day and retiring early as he was rather fatigued. Instead, he indulged his friend and attended the assembly where he was introduced to a family with five daughters.
Wincing at the comments as he, Bingley, Bingley’s two sisters, and his brother-in-law arrived, Darcy expected to despise the evening. He was surprised to find that congenial atmosphere and especially the ‘fine eyes’ of the second eldest daughter caught his attention, enough so that he asked her to dance. Bingley’s raised eyebrows indicated his shock that his friend readily joined the country dance with Miss Elizabeth Bennet when he usually had to be coerced into doing so.
Caroline Bingley, Charles’ younger unwed sister, glared at the couple as they went through the moves of the lively dance. Unknown to Bingley or Mr. Darcy, Miss Bingley was determined to wed Darcy by hook or crook. Compromising him did not deter her one bit. When she saw the smile on his face as he danced with Elizabeth, she was determined that a compromise it would be, and she planned it for the middle of the night.
“Thank you, Mr. Darcy. I enjoyed having you as my partner.”
“Miss Elizabeth, it was all my pleasure. Ordinarily, I don’t enjoy dancing with someone with whom I’m unacquainted. However, this evening I’m delighted to have had this dance with you and wondered if I might have the last one as well.”
Elizabeth paused. Her first impression of Darcy when he and his friends arrived was that he disdained being there and was haughty and proud. However, she discovered on accepting his request to dance with her that he was not only extremely handsome, he was charming, intelligent and had a most engaging smile. For him to ask for a second dance left her speechless, but not for long.
“I would like that very much, Mr. Darcy.” She curtseyed, and he bowed, and they separated until the last dance after he accompanied her back to her sister, Jane.
“Lizzy, what did you do to attract Mr. Darcy?”
“I don’t know, Jane, but I’m not displeased. He’s not like anyone I’ve met before.”
“And you like him, don’t you?”
“Yes, I find I do like him very much. He’s also asked for the last dance.”
Jane reached over with a smile and squeezed her sister’s hand. She also liked the time she spent with Mr. Bingley finding him very amiable and likable. Being the eldest child in her family, she wanted the best for her siblings as well. I wonder if Mr. Darcy will be the one for Lizzy? I’ve never seen her as interested in a young man as she seems to be with him.
Glancing at Lizzy, Jane watched as her sister gazed around the room until she spotted Mr. Darcy who was looking back at her. Her younger sister blushed and looked away as Mr. Darcy grinned.
Caroline Bingley, however, scowled as she noticed the object of Darcy’s interest. Definitely, I need to compromise him tonight before that country chit gets her hooks into him. That will not happen!
After the last dance with Miss Elizabeth, Darcy asked if he could call on her the next day. “Yes, you may, Mr. Darcy. I look forward to it.” The light flush on her face made her look almost beautiful, and Darcy was pleased. If he continued to find pleasure in her company, he would consider asking for a courtship. But for the moment, he would just continue pursuing her acquaintance.
Taking her hand, he brushed his lips across the back of it as her blush deepened. “The morrow cannot come too soon, Miss Elizabeth.”
As they parted company, both looked forward to meeting again and learning more about the other.
Jane and Elizabeth were quiet on the way back to Longbourn as their mother exclaimed how pleased she was that both young women had danced twice with the men from Netherfield.
“Just think, girls, Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy are such eligible young men. Mr. Bingley has £5,000, and Mr. Darcy has £10,000 per annum. Oh, the carriages and the pin money you both will have. I couldn’t ask for more for my daughters. We won’t starve in the hedgerows after your father dies.”
“Mama, don’t even say that. Papa is very healthy and should live for many more years. Jane and I don’t have to marry this instant or any time soon.”
“Lizzy, you set your cap for Mr. Darcy. A man in his position and with his wealth will never take you seriously if you don’t. Jane, you too, need to be very amiable toward Mr. Bingley. He had his eye on you all evening. I think he would have danced more than two with you if propriety would have allowed it.”
“Oh, Mama,” Jane exclaimed in embarrassment.
“Mama, Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley said they would call on the morrow. Please give Jane and I time to get acquainted with them before you push us to the altar. She and I both would like to have love matches and not marry for wealth alone.”
“You listen to me, Lizzy. You might want a love match, but money is important as well. It’s just as easy to fall in love with a rich man as with a poor man. You mark my words, Lizzy.”
All this time, Kitty and Lydia were giggling and whispering about the militia that would come in the next fortnight. They were also amused by their mother’s comments to their older sisters. Mary just shook her head at her younger siblings for their silly and hoydenish ways. Nobody noticed when she rolled her eyes at them as well.
Arriving at Longbourn, the young women disembarked the coach and headed upstairs after giving their outer garments to Mr. Hill. Nobody wanted to listen to Mrs. Bennet rant about them marrying and saving everyone from starving in the hedgerows. And they were exhausted after a lively evening at the assembly.
Jane and Lizzy stayed up for a while and discussed the merits of the two men from Netherfield. And when they finally slept, both dreamed pleasant dreams of the morrow.
Darcy was pleased. Instead of experiencing a horrible evening with those beneath him, he found the company more than tolerable especially Miss Elizabeth. He was dazzled by the twinkle in her eye as she teased him, and she made him laugh for the first time in a long while even since before Ramsgate and the devastating event of his sister’s near elopement with George Wickham. The dastard had convinced her she was in love with him. His poor sister had still not recovered from Wickham’s declaration that he was only after her £30,000 dowry.
Then he smiled when he thought of Miss Elizabeth. Her liveliness was such that if they did marry, she would be good for Georgiana, and he might get his sister back.
Exhausted from his travels that day and the assembly that night, Darcy stripped and fell into bed and immediately succumbed to sleep unaware that he would have an early morning visitor.
Caroline Bingley quietly tip-toed down the corridor to the guest wing, and soon arrived at Darcy’s door. Turning the knob that she had oiled earlier, she silently moved to the opposite side of the bed from where she surmised Darcy slept. Stripping off her nightgown, she slid under the covers and touched Darcy’s bare back.
For a moment, nothing happened except for Darcy’s continued light snores. Then they stopped, and he catapulted out of the bed. “Who’s there?” Half asleep, he staggered toward the chair with his banyan knowing he was as naked as the day he was born. In the process, he banged his knee on the chair which made him swear profusely as he covered himself.
“Mr. Darcy. Come back to bed,” Caroline crooned.
“Mr. Darcy. Can I help with anything?” Darcy’s valet came out of the dressing room where his cot was placed. The light of his candle illuminated part of the room, and when Caroline saw him, she screamed.
Bingley—who couldn’t sleep—and was heading down to his study for a nightcap when he heard his sister’s scream. Running to Darcy’s door, he threw it open and demanded to know what was going on.
“I believe, Bingley, that Caroline has tried to compromise me.” Turning to Higgins, he said, “I don’t want one word mentioned about this, do you understand?”
“Mr. Darcy, I never saw a thing.”
“Good man. I knew I could rely on you.”
“Caroline, what’s the meaning of this.” Bingley’s eyes grew wide. Shocked, he demanded, “Are you naked?”
His sister pulled the sheet up higher as she blushed a fiery red.
By this time, Darcy’s fury had risen to the point that he would put a stop to Caroline’s machinations forever. Glaring at her until she dropped her eyes, he moved until his knees touched the bed. He remained silent until he felt like he could refrain from throttling her if she opened her mouth. Then he opened his mouth.
“Miss Bingley. Is it your desire to marry me?”
“Oh, yes, Fitzwilliam. I have long wanted to marry you and become the mistress of Pemberley.”
“Why?” Darcy ignored her using his Christian name, but only for the moment.
“I love you, of course.”
Darcy laughed and continued to laugh until Caroline got the point he thought she was ridiculous.
“If you truly did, I would handle this differently. But since the only things you love are my money, my status, my home, and yourself, I will say what will happen to you if we did marry.”
“Oh, Mr. Darcy, I know you would make me an excellent husband.”
“You think that, do you?”
“Oh, yes.” Smiling and fluttering her eyelashes at him, she tried to make the best of a situation that was going awry rapidly.
“Well, let me apprise you of how it would actually be should we marry. First of all, there would only be a small wedding before a parson with a special license. I have no interest in bragging about marrying you.”
Bingley’s sister gasped at the sarcastic note in Darcy’s voice.
“Second, I will own you, and you would stay at Pemberley. No trips to London, no seasons, no fancy dresses, nor anything connected with the ton. If I have business in London, I will go alone.”
And Bingley shut up. In a moment, he began to realize what Darcy was doing.
“Third, your dowry of £30,000 will go into Pemberley’s account for the benefit of the estate and the tenants and servants connected with it. You’ll not see another farthing of it.”
Caroline was livid and yelled at him, “You can’t do that.”
“Oh, yes, I can. I will be your husband, and I will tell you what you may do.”
By this time, tears began to flow down Caroline’s cheeks, and she was beginning to understand that what she started, Darcy was going to finish.
“Fourth, you will receive only £100 pin money.”
“A quarter?” Miss Bingley asked.
Caroline’s mouth dropped open as she just stared at him.
“Fifth, you will not be allowed to make any changes at Pemberley. The running of Pemberley is set in stone as far as you are concerned. Mrs. Reynolds does a marvelous job of handling the affairs of my house. You will not be allowed to redecorate, change the furniture or anything in my house except for your own quarters which I will never enter. And you will not be allowed in my rooms either.”
“I did not give you permission to use my Christian name, Miss Bingley,” Darcy roared.
Even though she quailed at his shout, Caroline stiffened her spine. “But you will need an heir for Pemberley.”
“But I don’t need you or a male heir,” Darcy spat. “Pemberley is not entailed, and I will leave everything to Georgiana should anything happen to me. Should the worst happen, you will have to move back with Bingley or the Hursts.”
“No buts. Sixth, if you ever create a problem for Georgiana, I will divorce you. I will survive it, but I’m not sure your reputation will.”
“Divorce? You would divorce me?” she squeaked.
“In a heartbeat.” Darcy’s scowl left nothing to Caroline’s imagination. She knew he meant it.
Bingley just stood on the sideline and tried not to smile. He had a small twinge of conscience, but he knew his sister deserved this. For several years, Darcy had been his best friend and treated the Bingley family well. For his sister to do his friend this way was abominable. So, he appreciated what Darcy was saying.
“Lastly, married or not, if you ever mention any of this to your sister or her husband or anyone else, I will be apprised of it. My aunt, Lady Matlock, knows everything that goes on in London. She will find out, and she will apprise me as well. And I will inform all the ton of everything you did this night, every single detail.”
Caroline blanched at this as she knew details of this night’s debacle would definitely ruin her as far as society was concerned. She also knew she had lost the battle as well as the war for mistress of Pemberley. It would never be no matter what she did.
“So, if you insist on marrying me, I will make your life miserable.”
“No,” she said with a sigh. “No, I will not insist, and Charles will not either. I didn’t realize you disliked me so much.”
Softening his tone, Darcy said, “I didn’t intend to dislike you, Miss Bingley. But I do dislike your cattiness and disdain for others. I do hate your selfish attitude and your bullying of Charles and your sister. And I despise the fact that you will act in an unloving manner to get what you want no matter how badly you must act or whom you must hurt. I had known you not even a month before I realized that you were the last person on earth I would ever marry.”
Bingley and Darcy both hoped when all was said and done that Caroline would learn a powerful lesson and become a better person. Only time would tell.
Pulling herself together, Miss Bingley asked that the men give her some privacy so she could dress and return to her bedchamber. And they complied.
After she left, Bingley turned to his friend. “Darcy, you did what you had to do. I hope my sister takes this to heart.”
Darcy just nodded then closed and locked the door when Bingley left the room. Going to the dressing room, he started to thank Higgins when the man instead said, “Do you wish for me to sleep in front of the servant’s door in case she comes back?”
“Perhaps, that would be best.” Darcy sighed. He was not a cruel man, and he wished this night hadn’t been necessary. However, Bingley’s sibling had surprised him, and he wouldn’t allow that to happen again.
The more he thought about Elizabeth Bennet, the more he wanted to know about her, and he could picture her at Pemberley as well.
Darcy took off his banyan and crawled wearily under the covers wearing nothing but a smile and had the most pleasant dreams he could ever remember about a pretty lady and her very fine eyes.