Work in Progress
In Miss Bennet and the Beast, Elizabeth and Darcy mirror our favorite couple from the classic fairytale, Beauty and the Beast.
However, this tale is a traditional Regency JAFF story and will contain no elements of the paranormal or magical powers beyond the magic of falling in love when you least expect it. Darcy will behave in a beastly manner while Elizabeth finds herself drawn to him in spite of his gruff exterior.
The Gardiners, Georgiana Darcy, and a dashing Lord with rakish ways will also join the fun.
Coming December 2017!
Excerpt from Miss Bennet and The Beast!
Summer rains came to Derbyshire the next afternoon as softly as kitten’s paws on an expensive Persian rug. Elizabeth had been standing on the terrace of the library looking out across the expansive lawns of Pemberley when the first drops fell upon the stone balustrade where her hand rested. Miss Darcy was upstairs with the modiste from Lambton having the woman alter a favored gown for dinner with the Geste family in three days’ time.
Mr. Darcy had made a stiff, almost forced apology for his insult at dinner the night before but Elizabeth did not think it sincere. It was likely the threat made by Miss Darcy to have her dinner brought up to her room that forced his hand.
Moving inside as the rain grew insistent against the stone terrace, Elizabeth wandered the room in search of a book. Mr. Darcy had gone out riding and so her refuge should prove secure for a time. Selecting a book of sonnets, for she did not wish to be called away by Miss Darcy in the midst of an exciting romantic novel, Elizabeth curled happily into one of the soft leather chairs before the empty fireplace.
She wished for a moment it was Autumn or winter with a cozy fire her lone companion. But you shall not reside at Pemberley after the summer, she thought with a sudden pain in her heart. It was sharp as a new needle, that feeling. Elizabeth pushed it away and opened the small, leather-bound volume. The worn, supple feel of it brought memories of her father’s study at Longbourn. A thought occurred to her and she wondered whether Uncle Gardiner had written of her position at Pemberley and what her father might say if the news had reached him.
Mrs. Bennet would think it a grand stroke of luck. Elizabeth gave a small chuckle to imagine her mother arranging a visit with Lady Lucas to boast. Jane’s marriage to Mr. Bingley had assured Mrs. Bennet all her daughters could marry at least as well.
As her eyes returned to the pages of her book, Elizabeth traced along with the words, her finger moving easily upon the heavy, expensive paper. The fresh scent of rain hit her nose as the library door swung suddenly open. Mr. Darcy strode in and Elizabeth jumped from her seat. The small tome fell from her hands and Mr. Darcy turned her way, as startled as she and dripping wet.
His riding breeches accented the strength of his muscled legs and Elizabeth forced her eyes back to his face. The trip was not an easy one nor made in haste for his shirt was the purest white and much wetter than necessary. Though the sight of him took her breath, Elizabeth managed to squeak a very unconvincing pardon me before bending to retrieve her book. Mr. Darcy must think her terribly clumsy.
In a moment he was beside her, his hand reaching for hers to help her as she stood. “Miss Bennet, please forgive me. It was not my intention to barge in while you were happily reading.”
“But Mr. Darcy, this is your home. I shall take my book of sonnets and retire to my rooms.”
Elizabeth stepped quickly aside and forced her feet to follow the commands of her brain. Mr. Darcy would not hear of her scurrying away. He caught her arm before she was clear of his reach and held it gently. “I have heard from my sister and the servants of your love of books. I beg you stay and return to your chair.”
His eyes implored more successfully than his words and Elizabeth was startled by the tenderness displayed there. “Tis true. I am a great lover of books and your library is the grandest I’ve ever known. I would not intrude, sir, even for a book.”
“Then you have my blessing, Miss Bennet.” He stepped back and made a grand sweeping gesture that brought a smile to her lips. “Whenever you wish to dwell amongst the shelves or read without interruption, you have the run of this place.”
Elizabeth’s eyes glowed with delight as she tested the man on his word. “If I shall wander here in the dark of night when sleep cannot be found, I may search for a good book or recline upon the sofa with the comforting smell of aged leather?”
Mr. Darcy’s countenance fell and he stepped closer. “Do you not sleep well, Miss Bennet? I shall instruct Mrs. Reynolds to have a warm drought of milk sent to your rooms each night.”
Elizabeth had not expected her question to elicit such concern. “I sleep quite well, sir. It was only a question meant to tease you.”
Mr. Darcy took her hand as his lips parted in a smile. “Ah, I see. You do not think me kind or compassionate? I cannot fault your opinion of me, Miss Bennet, for I have been less than hospitable where you are concerned.”
Placing her free hand on top of his, Elizabeth’s brow furrowed with concern. “Mr. Darcy, you hands are so cold! You must change out of these wet clothes.”
“And you must not worry so for me. I am a strong man with a hardy constitution. Though it is summer still, a small fire would not go amiss..”
Elizabeth left him and hurried to the fireplace. She was not ignorant of how to make a fire and Mr. Darcy was in need of warmth. She had the start of a ravenous flame in moments, its greedy tongue easily consuming the dry kindling left from the spring.
Mr. Darcy moved swiftly to her side and pulled her to her feet. “Miss Bennet, there are servants to do such work! You must not.”
A bright flame gave light to the gloom that had settled about them and Elizabeth gazed into his eyes. He was standing so close she could touch his face if she so desired. And she did, most desperately. Fighting against such scandalous thoughts, she looked down and drew in a deep breath. The confusion of their attraction left her nearly senseless and without words to break the spell, she was lost in a moment she wished would last a lifetime.
Mr. Darcy whispered her name, his voice deep with emotion. “Miss Elizabeth, I am a man tortured...”
Elizabeth raised her head and dared to search his face again. His lips were parted and he brought them to rest against her cheek, softly but with an urgency that revealed his desire. Pulling away from his tender grasp, Elizabeth gave a small strangled cry at the pain such parting brought.
She dimly heard Mr. Darcy’s pleading for her to stay, to listen to his apology. But she did not want such words to mar that perfect moment as she hurried to the open library door. If she never saw him again, if they were to part forever when Autumn came, she wanted this memory to hold in her heart. Any man who might offer for her in the future must be capable of bringing such intense joy with only his lips upon her face or she would go gladly to her grave a spinster.