This scene was such a brat to not want to come, but now that it is recorded and run through Grammarly, it connects Chapter 1 to the thousands of raw words I have recorded on this story. So be ready for a flurry of chapters on this book posting this week.
This book is a new test for me. For If Mr. Darcy Dared, the PREORDER will be available direct from me through Gumroad, at a discount, AND you will get the book a week before anyone else. The chapters here won't even give the full book before the Reader Supported Preorder releases.
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XOXOXO Elizabeth Ann West
Chapter 2 - If Mr. Darcy Dared
The Meryton inn bustled with activity largely in part to the recent encampment of a local militia. Mr. Darcy paused just inside the doorway of the cramped tavern room to spy a gaggle of redcoats paying their attention and farthings to any pretty face that would listen. Darcy frowned. His nostrils twitched at the smells of stale beer and rotting wood. Furtively, he scanned the room for any signs of his old nemesis, Mr. Wickham.
When he did not immediately spot the man who almost ruined his sister, Darcy walked forward and shooed away the young stable boy that had collected his steed after paying him a pence. Casually walking up to the bar, Darcy waited as the innkeeper finished with one customer and then moved aside to greet the fancy gentlemen. That was when Darcy recognized the soldier he least wished to see in the back corner of the room, amusing two women with scandalously low necklines.
"I have a letter I wish to see posted." Darcy reached into his inside coat pocket to pull the missive to his sister, Georgiana.
The innkeeper named a price, shocking to Mr. Darcy that it cost more to post the letter from the inn itself than the regular collection from Netherfield Park. Darcy did not haggle with the man, as more than a few unscrupulous agents of His Majesty's Post had taken the pence and burned a letter out of spite for a rude customer.
Feeling his anger boil into a rage, Darcy could not help himself from making a snide observation. "Does not Colonel Forster make these men drill? I've never seen such dalliances in the middle of the day."
The innkeeper carefully scrawled the address of the letter into his neatly kept ledger. He tucked the coins from Mr. Darcy into his purse.
"Oh, the lads be not all that bad. Most of them are attending the ball this evening, and I believe the good Colonel saw fit to grant a day of leave."
Darcy scowled and nodded in agreement as he felt rather foolish not to consider Bingley’s ball would be a great highlight of the hamlet’s social calendar. But still, the sight of Wickham carousing in plain view irritated him to no end, and without thinking things through, Fitzwilliam Darcy marched around the bar to confront his old adversary man-to-man.
"I see your habits never change, George. But I expect I shall not see you this evening." Darcy glared at the man still sitting with two women upon his lap.
As the two girls scowled at the man from Derbyshire who had recently developed a reputation for being cold and aloof, Wickham licked his lips and reached forward to grasp his mug of ale. Making the woman on his right giggle as his arm came around her tighter so he could quench his thirst, Wickham slammed the mug down and acted unaffected by Darcy’s accusation.
"I'm afraid a stuffy old ball won't tempt the likes of me when I find there to be such excellent company here in the village." George's fingers fluttered across the rib cages of both women leaving Darcy to leave in disgust at the tawdry display.
He approached the innkeeper and leaned forward to say something privately to the man. When the innkeeper looked over his shoulder at Wickham, George narrowed his eyes.
“You say he’s left unpaid bills in London? That’s a severe accusation there, sir.”
“I am aware. But I could not in good conscience leave your establishment vulnerable to his ways. Keep his custom, but insist he pays the evening’s tab if you don’t want to be short in the till when the militia moves on.” Mr. Darcy touched the brim of his hat as he made eye contact with Wickham while the innkeeper nodded profusely.
Still angry he could do little more than warn an innkeeper about a bar tab, in his frustration he forgot that he had already paid the stable boy once. The young lad handing Mr. Darcy his reins smiled from ear-to-ear when yet another coin flicked his way.
As his errands had taken him very little time to complete, Darcy found himself with a surplus of time he did not wish to spend at Netherfield Park with Miss Bingley on the prowl. Yet, he knew no one well enough to make a social call. As his eyes fixated on the clear horizon, a sunny hillside to the west attracted his notice, and he urged his horse in that direction. He believed the locals called it Oakham Mount, though in his esteem it was likely better named Oakham Hill. Urging his horse on, Darcy inhaled the scents of the autumn and with each furlong of the road behind him, worried less and less about George Wickham. With the man not coming to the evening’s ball, Darcy had nothing to worry about in that quarter for the time being.
If Mr. Darcy Dared
a Pride and Prejudice variation novel
Release Date: January 31, 2018
As Charles Bingley and Fitzwilliam Darcy prepare for the Netherfield Ball, a gentlemen's challenge develops between them to secure their future happiness . . . with the two eldest Bennet sisters! But when things do not go as expected for Mr. Darcy, Hertfordshire society is in an uproar over the pursuit of one of their favorite daughters by such a wealthy gentleman.
Despite being claimed by Mr. Darcy as his future bride, Elizabeth Bennet has no plans to wed the proud and disdainful Mr. Darcy, no matter what her father says! At her sister's urging, she agrees to give him a chance, if only for Jane's sake. But there are others with an interest in breaking a match between Fitzwilliam Darcy and some country miss. . .
The stakes are high and romance strong as two of Jane Austen's most beloved characters dare to declare their feelings, dare to defy family, and dare to trust each other!
If Mr. Darcy Dared is a steamy romance for fans of Elizabeth Ann West's other works, especially those readers who love their drama cranked to a ten!
+ 15 additional Pride & Prejudice variations are available at these fine retailers . . .
Just like on Fanfiction, if you see a typo or snafu, let me know in the comments. I will make changes. 🙂 LOVE YOU ALL!
XOXOXO Elizabeth Ann West