Time stretched on, one long, quiet minute after another. Elizabeth shifted in her bed, attempting to get comfortable. The pain in her head and leg made the task somewhat difficult, but her mind made it nearly impossible. Mrs. Darcy. The words echoed in her mind over and over. She was to be married to the man she despised. There was no hope of avoidance of the fact. She was alone with him in a cabin somewhere near Netherfield, dressed only in his shirt — she closed her eyes in mortification — which he had put on her. How was she to accept such a fate? How was she to accept such a man? She drew in a deep breath and released it slowly. Perhaps after a good rest, her head would not hurt as much, and the spinning would stop. Then, possibly then, she would be able to reconcile herself to her fate. (chapter 4)
Waking to Mr. Darcy is set just before the succession of rain that leads up to the Netherfield Ball. Mr. Wickham has arrived in Hertfordshire, as has Mr. Collins. Aunt Phillips has hosted her card party, giving Wickham time to discuss Darcy with Elizabeth. Nothing that has happened in the story has done a bit of good in convincing Elizabeth that Darcy is anything less than an arrogant, disdainful man. In fact, Wickham has begun to do a credible job of strengthening this opinion.
There is a law in science that says an object in motion will tend to stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force. I would dare to say that this principle is not only true of objects but of attitudes and opinions as well. Often, the attitude or opinion of a person about something or someone will continue on its path of either approving or disapproving of that thing or person unless something happens which causes the person to reevaluate his or her attitude or opinion. Sometimes that outward force will strengthen the opinion held, while other times it will weaken it or even completely reverse it.
At the beginning of Waking to Mr. Darcy, Darcy is considering leaving Netherfield to restore a sense of peace to his life — a sense of peace that the presence of the lovely Miss Elizabeth Bennet threatens to destroy — and Elizabeth is set on her path of continued disapproval of Darcy. However, fate will intervene in the form of a clap of thunder and a patch of slippery mud, throwing them together and causing each to reevaluate the other in an attempt to gain a happily ever after.
That is the focus of this short novella. It is a journey of acceptance and approval that both Darcy and Elizabeth must take. Darcy’s reversal of opinion comes rather quickly since he has already begun to suspect he is in danger of falling irreversibly in love with Elizabeth, but Elizabeth’s journey will take a bit longer. She must travel from dislike to acceptance to love.
In writing this story, I chose to keep that focus narrow. I evaluated each option of where this story could progress and cut the things that drew focus away from the inner workings of our dearly loved couple. That’s not an easy task! There were many tangents that could have been explored. A furious Aunt Catherine could arrive. Caroline or Wickham could attempt an interference. Mr. Bennet could have disapproved of the match and forced an alternative. Mr. Collins could have…well, he does try something, but he’s really too ridiculous to be a real threat (as is Mrs. Bennet). I could have explored more of Jane and Bingley’s relationship or the lives of any of the other Bennet sisters. All of these things would have been entertaining, but they would not have kept the focus where I wanted it. This story is not an external journey of events. It is an internal journey. It is an awakening to what is true and best. And so, every outward event had to have a purpose in relation to the inward journey without cluttering and obscuring the view.
The results of this careful plotting of scenes is a short and sweet story of discovery…
“Mr. Darcy,” she called after him.
He turned toward her.
“Do you forgive me for my foolishness in listening to Mr. Wickham?”
He smiled. “Can you forgive me my words from our first meeting?”
Her brows furrowed, but a smile played at her lips. “I believe I can.”
“Then we shall begin anew — wiser for our foibles.”
Elizabeth watched him leave. He appeared different to her. His shoulders were not so rigid, and there was a certain softness to his movements that had not been there before. Mr. Wickham’s words came once again to her mind. “Among those who are at all his equals in consequence, he is a very different man from what he is to the less prosperous.” She shook her head. She had not changed in consequence. She was now as she always was, the daughter of a gentleman who, though of good standing in Hertfordshire, was far less prosperous than Mr. Darcy. Her mother had not changed nor had her aunts and uncles. They were still from trade, and yet, Mr. Darcy seemed at ease with her now. She had, she assumed, breached the wall and entered the circle of those with whom he felt comfortable. She smiled and shook her head again. To think that being the friend of Mr. Darcy suddenly pleased her so! It was, she knew, due to her growing understanding of him. He was not as she had contrived. It was on his character and reviewing his actions in this new light of understanding that she was still thinking when he returned. (chapter 5)
Mr. Bennet coughed, and Elizabeth was nearly certain it was an attempt to cover a chuckle. He knew what she did — she and Mr. Collins were a most ill-matched pairing.
“Quarreling and debate are not the same things,” muttered Darcy.
“Quite right, Mr. Darcy,” said Elizabeth with a smile. She paused for a moment and tilted her head as she looked at him. A rather pleasant fluttering of excitement started in her stomach and spread through her chest and arms before causing her head to spin slightly. (chapter 7)
There was something deliciously sweet in his chiding, concerned tone as it wrapped itself around her heart. How had she been so blind to what she wanted — to what she truly felt? “I will not sit in the house with that man when the man I wish with all my heart to be with stands in the garden thinking I care for another.” (chapter 9)
As it turns out, this story was not only a journey of discovery for Darcy and Elizabeth, for along the way, I met Mary — a fascinating Mary who will be getting her own short and sweet tale. For those who have not read the chapter that is included in the back of Waking to Mr. Darcy, you can read it on the Writer’s Block Forum. (<– click the link, it will take you there) I hope to have that novella completed and ready for Christmas reading.
Now, we can’t have a book begin it’s published life without a giveaway, can we? (Well, I guess, we could, but what fun would there be in that?) Waking to Mr. Darcy is published as a stand-alone novella and also as a part of a book pair called A Dash of Darcy Duo 1 (the other book in that pair is Finally Mrs. Darcy). To be entered to win your choice of an ebook copy of A Dash or Darcy Duo 1 or Waking to Mrs. Darcy, leave a comment below and include your preference. Contest closes at midnight EST on Friday, September 30, 2016.