Mr. Darcy’s Present: A Pride and Prejudice Holiday Vagary from Regina Jeffers is currently on sale until January 5, 2020. Enjoy the excerpt below.
Genre: Classics; Regency Romance; Austenesque; Christmas Romance
When we care more for another than ourselves, the seeds of love have an opportunity to blossom.
What if Mr. Darcy purchased a gift for Elizabeth Bennet to acknowledge the festive days even though he knows he will never present it to her? What if he suffers a terrible accident and cannot tend to his duties personally? What if, during his recovery, the gift is posted to the lady by his servants and without his knowledge? What if the enclosed card was meant for another and is more suggestive than a gentleman should share with an unmarried lady? Join Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, for a holiday romp, loaded with delightful twists and turns no one expects, but one in which our favorite couple take a very different path in thwarting George Wickham and Lydia Bennet’s elopement. Can a simple book of poetry be Darcy’s means to win Elizabeth’s love? Only time will tell.
Darcy turned to view his sister holding the card from her gift. Her eyes were filled with tears. “Do not fret, my girl,” he said as he scooped her into his embrace. It seemed to him since the incident with Mr. Wickham that Georgiana cried often. “I did not mean for my card to
bring you unrest.” He turned his attention upon the earl. “I will escort my sister into the hall. We will return in a moment, once Georgiana reclaims her composure.”
“Such dramatics!” Lady Catherine grumbled.
In the hall, he turned Georgiana so she faced him. Lifting her chin with his fingertips, he wiped her tears away with a handkerchief. “My sweet girl, I am grieved to have upset you. I thought the circlet would please you.”
“It does,” she insisted. “A girl could not ask for a finer gift or a better brother.”
“Then what brings on your dismals?” he said with a smile of encouragement.
“It is…it is just…” A new round of tears ensued.
“Georgiana,” he said with emphasis. “I cannot correct of what I am ignorant.”
She shoved the gift’s card into his palm. “I know I am foolish,” she sobbed. “But this…this is something…you write to a stranger.”
Darcy tucked her into his shoulder, so she might have her cry while he brought the card to where he could read it. To a woman who will always claim my admiration and respect. “Bloody hell,” he growled beneath his breath, although shouting the curse would have proved more satisfying. He turned Georgiana to him. One step at a time, he told his racing heart. “Georgiana, this card was meant for another. Your card spoke of the pride Lady Anne would know with your debut into Society. Mrs. Guthrie and one of the maids wrapped the gifts because I could not. Somehow the cards and the parcels were mismatched.”
“Truly, William?” she asked through tear-rimmed tones.
“You are the most precious gift our mother could share with me. I think only of your pleasure.”
“I thought I disappointed you,” she confessed. “And you were simply reassuring me of your love while still despising me for what occurred at Ramsgate.”
“I feared for you,” he explained, “but never despised you.” Before more could be said between them a shriek of joy from Lady Catherine told him his worries were far from over. “I have an uncomfortable feeling the card intended for you has been located.” He caught Georgiana’s hand and returned to the drawing room and the confrontation he had anticipated.
“Ah, Darcy ” Lady Catherine gushed upon his entrance to the room. “I now understand why you spoke of not having a wife. You meant to propose to Anne as a surprise to us all!”
Darcy glanced to the Matlocks to determine how they would take his rejection of Anne, but neither the earl nor the countess displayed any emotions. Swallowing his anxiety, he announced, “Your assumption comes from a misunderstanding, your ladyship. It is not my intention to propose to anyone today.”
Lady Catherine held up the card from Anne’s gift. “How else is my daughter to interpret a card that reads Lady Anne looks down upon you and smiles. You were always meant to be a Darcy?”
“Such is the reason for Miss Darcy’s tears,” he explained in more calm than he felt. “The cards for the gifts were knocked to the floor when the fairings were wrapped on my behalf by one of my maids. Fearing she would be sacked for her clumsiness, the maid placed the cards in the prepared parcels, but the girl knows not her letters and made an egregious error.”
“So Georgiana’s card was in Anne’s presentation and vice versa?” his lordship clarified.
“Yes,” Georgiana agreed before he could respond. As it was best he did not mention the fact Georgiana’s card was meant for Elizabeth Bennet, he permitted the tale to stand. His sister knelt before their cousin. “I am grievously sorry, Anne,” she said in comforting tones.
Darcy knelt beside his sister to catch Anne’s fingers in his hand. “It was never my wish to harm you in any manner. We have been dear friends since our youth. I cherish the memories of us together in the nursery and later the schoolroom. Of sharing books and learning to dance. You were my first partner. Do you recall how often I stepped upon your toes?” Anne smiled weakly. “Yet, that is not enough for a tolerable marriage. You deserve someone not so…”
“Moody,” Anne supplied in the softest of tones.
Darcy smiled upon her. “I have been called impossible upon a rainy Sunday afternoon.”
“Impossible,” Anne repeated as if she enjoyed the characterization of his personality.
“Will you be well?” Darcy asked. He did not want his cousin to suffer because of his stubbornness.
Anne shot a glance to her scowling mother. “I believe I feel a headache coming on. Thank you for the music box. I shall cherish it as one of my most precious memories.”
Darcy nodded before standing to extend a hand to Georgiana. He turned to speak to the earl. They were at Rosings, but Lord Matlock was still the head of the Fitzwilliam family. “I should never have attempted to claim the Christmas celebration so soon after my injuries. I have made a bungle of this family tradition and caused my dear cousin to claim her bed once again. I beg you to forgive my vanity in thinking my presence was required this day. Miss Darcy and I will take our leave, so you may continue your reveries without the specter of my foolishness overshadowing your joy.”
“But it is Christmas,” the countess protested.
“Which means no one will be upon the road to delay our return to London.” Before his relatives could lodge another objection, he said, “Come, Georgiana. We must claim the daylight.” He led her from the room with the sound of Lady Catherine’s avowals trailing behind them.
Later, as he assisted Sheffield with the packing, he knew his trials were not yet over. If Mrs. Osborne received the greeting meant for Anne, and Anne received the one meant for Georgiana, and Georgiana received the one meant for Elizabeth, then Elizabeth received the one meant for Sarah Osborne. I learned so much of myself through you. I pray the wedding bells you desire will bring you joy. He must find a means of explaining away how he thought to send an unmarried woman a gift and if not, discover a means to convince Elizabeth Bennet to marry him.
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Regina Jeffers, an award-winning author of historical cozy mysteries, Austenesque sequels and retellings, as well as Regency era romances, has worn many hats over her lifetime: daughter, student, military brat, wife, mother, grandmother, teacher, tax preparer, journalist, choreographer, Broadway dancer, theatre director, history buff, grant writer, media literacy consultant, and author. Living outside of Charlotte, NC, Jeffers writes novels that take the ordinary and adds a bit of mayhem, while mastering tension in her own life with a bit of gardening and the exuberance of her “grand joys.”
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You Tube Interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzgjdUigkkU