Today is the official release day for Two Days Before Christmas; however, there are many people who have already received a copy of this story. You see, I decided to write a Christmas present for those readers who are on my mailing list. I did it last year and enjoyed it so much that I just had to repeat the experience this year. I would love to make it a tradition, but I am not making any promises.
For those of you who are not on my mailing list and/or haven’t had the chance to read the book, let me share a little bit about it.
First, this is the note that I placed at the beginning of the book:
This story is about a gift — not a gift of gloves or handkerchiefs, though both of those are mentioned in passing in this book, but a gift of love. Darcy has returned home from Netherfield far earlier than he is expected and in a more morose mood than when he departed. Georgiana suspects that his current state of melancholy is due to a lady. She’s right, of course. Her brother’s heart is in danger of being broken by his refusal to accept his feelings for a particular young woman with fine eyes. Having had her own heart saved from a life of utter misery with Wickham, Georgiana is determined to repay her brother in kind and help him avoid a miserable state of existence. The following excerpt shows the love the Darcy siblings have for each other.
Georgiana took four more steps before stopping and abandoning her plan to ignore his summons. There was no need to stir his ire any further; he was likely angry enough with her for her recent behaviour. She had not seen him scowl as much as he had during Caroline and Louisa’s call in a very long time.
“You wished to see me?” she asked from the doorway.
“Come in and sit down.” He leaned back in his chair and waited for her to comply. “Your behavior today was quite disturbing.”
Georgiana bit her lower lip and lowered her gaze to her hands.
“It is completely unacceptable for you to speak as you did — and in front of guests!” He rose and came to stand before her. “It was disrespectful. I expect so much more from you. Where have I erred?”
Georgiana peeked up at him. He was propped against his desk with his arms folded across his chest, looking down at her with such a sad expression that it nearly destroyed her determination to press her point. However, if she truly wished to see that heartbroken look in his eyes removed forever, she must not waiver. Therefore, looking down once again at her hands, which were nervously twisting in her lap, she answered. “Our parents, as well as you yourself, have taught me that a Darcy’s word is to be steadfast. I am to consider promises carefully before I make them because a promise should not be broken save for the noblest of reasons.”
“This is true,” Darcy muttered.
Georgiana lifted her eyes to his. “That is where you have erred. You promised Mr. Bingley that if he leased Netherfield, you would spend the autumn and most of the winter seeing that he had things well-in-hand before Easter, yet you have come home and refuse to return to Netherfield for who knows what reason.” She lifted a brow. “I truly do not believe it is to save him from a lady who is beneath him.”
“None of that explains your behaviour.”
“No, it does not,” Georgiana agreed. “But it is my answer to your question. You have not erred with me. I know my behavior was wanting and drastically so. However, it seemed the best way to capture your attention and get you to listen to me.” She stood and placed her hands on his folded arms. “You are my brother, and I love you with all my heart and hold you in the highest regard. You have cared well for me. You have even saved me from certain ruin. I wish to repay your kindness if only I knew how.”
He pulled his arms out from under her grasp and opened them wide to her in invitation. Gladly, she stepped into his embrace.
“Let me love you,” she whispered. “Allow me to care for you and point out your errors when I see them. I am not the foolish girl I once was.” She lay her head against his broad chest and listened to him pull in a deep breath and expel it in a whoosh.
“We are all fools at times,” he murmured as he squeezed her tight. “If there was a way for you to assist me with my current dilemma, I would gladly seek your help, but I fear there is not.”
“You will not keep your promise to Bingley?” she asked quietly.
He sighed. “Your point was valid. I shall consider it.”
“Are you still leaving?”
His grip on her tightened. “I do not know. I long to leave, to be far away from…” his voice trailed off and the room was silent for half a minute. “I will consider staying, but I cannot promise beyond that.”
“I am sorry,” she said.
“You are forgiven,” he replied.
She shook her head as he released her. “Not just for my behaviour.”
“Then what?” he asked as she moved toward the door.
“That I could not save your heart from breaking.” She smiled a sad, knowing smile at him as she said the words that he had repeated to her over and over again after her ordeal with Wickham. He stood quietly, looking at her as if he was uncertain if he should acknowledge that what she had said was true or false. “It is in your eyes, Fitzwilliam. Your heartache is in your eyes,” she whispered and took her leave.
This idea of love and caring for others is a theme in the book, and there are a few examples strewn here and there throughout the story. There is Georgiana’s gift to her brother as well as some charity work in which Darcy and, as it turns out, the Gardiners are involved. (I don’t want to tell you too much about this plot point as a fairly interesting piece of the story centers around this charity and a particular recipient of Darcy’s charity.)
And then, there is the act of charity in the excerpt below that has sparked an idea for a sequel to this story.
Richard’s left brow rose, and his face grew grim. “Is not that scoundrel in Hertfordshire?”
“He is,” Elizabeth said softly. “I believe that is why Mr. Bingley wishes to have you join his party.”
Richard’s features softened, and he winked at her. “Are you certain it is not to foist his sister off on me?” he asked Darcy.
Elizabeth’s eyes grew wide.
“She has twenty thousand,” Darcy replied with a grin.
Richard paused and rubbed his chin as if thinking, then shook his head. “No, not even for twenty thousand.”
“You are both horrid,” Georgiana interrupted.
“No,” Richard retorted, “Miss Bingley is horrid.”
Elizabeth’s mouth dropped open slightly. Miss Bingley was not her favorite person, but to hear her spoken of in such a fashion was not pleasant. “I would not say horrid.”
“Would you not?” Darcy asked in surprise.
“No,” Elizabeth replied.
“Not even after she attempted to separate your sister and her brother?”
Elizabeth’s eyes narrowed. “Very well, I will admit she is not my favourite person. However, I do not believe it is best practice to speak ill of another, even if that person is arrogant and disdainful, for you may find that you have done so in error.” She cocked a brow at Darcy as her lips curled into a slightly sheepish smile.
He tipped his head, acknowledging he understood of what she spoke. “You are correct, of course.”
“But you are not the son of an earl or a wealthy landowner,” Richard pursued the topic. “You have no idea how disagreeable it is to be pursued by one such as Caroline Bingley.”
Elizabeth tipped her head and studied Richard’s face. “Do you mind it so much?” she asked.
“Yes,” he retorted.
Elizabeth, who was beginning to feel quite at ease, shrugged. “I will allow it to be true.”
“You do not believe me?”
“My belief or disbelief does not prove your words true or false,” she replied.
Richard laughed. “I can see why Darcy is enchanted. You argue very well, but do you not believe that being pursued for your name or fortune is unpleasant?”
“I believe, Colonel, that to be pursued for title or wealth is just as disagreeable as being cast aside for lack of either.”
“I did not say I am casting Miss Bingley aside due to either of those things.”
“No, you did not, but imagine, if you will, being the daughter of a wealthy tradesman. You have a fortune, but your lineage is not what is desirable. Might not those circumstances cause a lady to place herself above others?”
Richard opened his mouth and closed it again, vexation scrawled across his face.
“I may not, at this moment, like Miss Bingley,” Elizabeth said, “but I can attempt to understand her. I have been contemplating such things as of late. It seems my judgments of people have at times been wanting.”
Richard shook his head. “No, I reject your conclusion.”
Elizabeth smiled at him. “Your acceptance or rejection does not make it either true or false.”
Richard shook his head and laughed heartily….
Would you not say it is an act of charity for Elizabeth to be attempting to understand Caroline? I would. And because of this challenge that Elizabeth has thrown down, both Richard and I have been contemplating Caroline Bingley and coming to know her much better as we discover the things that make her who she is. One Winter’s Eve is scheduled to be available in January 2018. I am a good distance into writing this story and enjoying it very much! I look forward to sharing more about it with you next month.
Have a blessed holiday season!
*I now have a Patreon page where readers can subscribe to read my work as I create it and receive a copy of the book once it is ready for publication. One Winter’s Eve is currently posting there.