L.L. Diamond

News, Blog, and Stories

Hi, everyone! As you may remember, the wicked-talented Andrea Aguirre illustrated a fun cover for Confined with Mr. Darcy, and since then, the cover won the Cover Wars Cover of the Week and now has been selected to compete for the Creme de la Cover contest at InD’tale Magazine.

This contest is a bit different than Cover Wars in that only one vote is allowed per person and they must have a log in to vote. I do hope you’ll consider voting for our cover! Andrea and I would greatly appreciate it!

Click here to vote!

 

Don’t forget you can purchase Confined with Mr. Darcy on Kindle, paperback and Audiobook!

PCS (Permanent Change of Station) is something military families know well. We’ve PCSd 6 times in 16 years, which is actually not a lot. Since tech school, we’ve managed a minimum of 4 years at each station. That can depends on whether a military member has dependents, rank, job, as well as other factors.

PCS during Covid can only be described as an unpredictable cluster**** of epic proportions. Am I exaggerating, I don’t think so, but someone might tell me differently. We’ve had complications with housing on this side of the move, so I could be biased, but when you factor in everything, it’s stressful.

Every PCS starts the same way, with orders! Every move and assignment has orders. When you live overseas, you hand carry copies of those orders as well as leave paperwork on every vacation just to make sure you can get  back home when having to re-enter your host country. Even on school trips, my daughters had to take copies of my husband’s orders. Everything is dependent on orders.

We received orders before the UK locked down in March, but we were unsure of how that would effect the move. One of my good friends had been set to move about a week after lockdown and was frozen in the UK until the military opened back up those travel channels. All of her household goods were packed up and on the way to South Korea, her car was shipped, and she was in limbo.

The military began moving people again in late May. My friend left out right at the end of May but required paperwork at certain spots as they made their way to their new base. Thankfully, I had another friend already stationed at that base, and I’d introduced them via Facebook in the event my PCS friend needed groceries or was in a bind during the mandatory quarantine upon reaching South Korea.

We were initially told our move would be pushed back to October, then it was on hold, then it was back in July. We weren’t absolutely positive of anything until they packed up the house in June. My husband managed to get our travel dates approved fairly early so we could call the pet shipper and arrange for our fur babies to travel as well.

Did you know one of the biggest issues with military family PCS right now is pet travel? At this moment, one airline (British Airways) is shipping pets out of the UK, so multiple US bases and DOD/civilian employees moving out of England are having to almost vie for places on flights. We arranged for me and my daughters to fly out on the 15th with my husband and son flying out the 18th while we prayed, we’d get (16 July) for the pets. On Friday the 10th, we’d learned we didn’t get the 16th and began to panic. Then, first thing Monday morning, we finally received the call that they’d the pets for travel on Friday the 17th July. Not everyone has been so lucky—especially people with snub nose cats and dogs.

We packed up, sold some belongings we didn’t need or couldn’t use anymore, and gave away others. We’d lived off-base for part of our time in England, so we had UK (220V) appliances we couldn’t use in the US, transformers for some of our US appliances, etc. We shipped my car on 30 June since it’s road tax was due on 1 July and my husband’s car shipped the day before he flew out so we didn’t have to rent a car.

Other than that, we said our see you laters. In the military, you make friends and then hope you are stationed somewhere near them again. Sometimes that’s easier than others, but it’s definitely something we all hope for. I think we all ignored the Covid rules on hugging for that. Every going away picture I’ve seen lately has everyone hugging. It’s honestly hard not to!

On Wednesday the 15th, my husband drove us to Heathrow. Terminal 5 was virtually empty. He parked in short-term parking and came inside to help us check in our suitcases. We get more weight and we’re allowed 2 suitcases per family member. He wanted to make sure we didn’t have any problems. We hugged him goodbye just before TSA, and made our way onto the train to reach the part of the terminal where our gate would be. We didn’t have a gate number yet. They don’t assign those until about 30 minutes or so before boarding.

Masks were mandatory in Heathrow, so we were thankful we’d brought plenty. I’d also bought some carbon filters that fit inside a pocket in the mask or that we could just put inside the mask. Our flight was on British Airways, which I had to say did a great job. We were given a little package with a disinfecting wipe everyone used to wipe down their seats, tray tables, and TV remotes as well as a small package of hand sanitiser. We had plenty of both on us, but the gesture was appreciated.

Our flight attendant was friendly and helpful. He had what resembled a phone that gave him the reservations and with how empty the flight was, let us know how many rows we could use that allowed us to space out. During the flight, the flight attendants wiped down the insides and door of the toilets what appeared to be every hour, so they were doing an amazing job to help keep it clean. We even arrived in Chicago early!

After we cleared customs, we collected our bags, and ran the Covid temperature check gauntlet. We picked up the mini-van we rented (with 5 suitcases between 3 people we needed it!) and settled in at the hotel to wait for the pets.

 

Coming next . . . The second half of the trip (I think!)

 

I mentioned in the author’s notes in Undoing that I was inspired by a scandalous story of the Duke of Cumberland. I’d toyed with the idea of calling him the Duke of Cumberland in the book, but due to a real life Darcy connection to the Duke of Leeds, I swapped over to that title. I did not use the Duke’s story per se, but a situation in the story gave me an idea that created Thomas. I thought you might find him as interesting as I do.

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t read Undoing yet, the following might be a spoiler of sorts, so you might want to decide whether you read this now or after you read Undoing. 

Prince Ernest Augustus, The Duke of Cumberland (and later the King of Hanover) was the fifth child of George III and Charlotte of Mecklenberg. He fought against France in the Hanoverian army, which caused him to have disfiguring scars on his face as well as the loss of his sight in one eye. In time, he also gained a rather notorious reputation.

The duke’s most famous scandal was the 1810 death of his valet, Joseph Sellis. In the early morning of 31 May, cries of “Murder! Murder!” came from the bedchamber of the Duke of Cumberland.

Supposedly, between 2 and 3am, someone intruded in the duke’s bedchamber, picked up the duke’s sabre, struck the duke multiple times while he slumbered. When his page, Neale, entered the room, the duke had 4 wounds from the attack, including one to the head, which was said to have split through his skull, using the flat side of the blade. The room was empty and a door left open, giving an escape route to the murderer.

After obtaining a physician to help the duke, the staff searched St. James Palace only to discover Sellis, the duke’s valet, was missing. He was found in his locked room, his throat slashed. Oddly, they’d found Sellis’s slippers in the Duke of Cumberland’s closet.

Several stories of Sellis’s past were revealed during an investigation into the events, including that Sellis had left Corsica years ago a thief. In the end, it was decided that Sellis, in a fit of madness, was the one who attempted to murder the Duke of Cumberland and then slit his own throat.

With the determination being suicide, why would it be scandalous? There are a number of reasons historians and society of that time had other suspicions. One reason, aside from the slippers, was the nature of Sellis’s wound, which was so deep, his spine had been the only thing keeping his neck from being completely severed. The razor used to kill Sellis was also across the room, but was claimed to have been moved from its original position. Regardless, how did one slit their own throat so severely with a razor?

A companion to Princess Charlotte wrote in her journal that there were some circumstances that threw doubt upon his guilt. The slippers were old, and the name written in them appeared to be in French whereas Sellis was a Piedmontese, and there were reasons for supposing it was a greater person who had counselled the crime. According to the companion, Sellis was left-handed, and the physician who examined Sellis after his death, claimed the wound could not have been made by someone who was left-handed.

“The wash basin was in the stand, but was half full of bloody water! Upon examining Sellis’s cravat, it was found to be cut. The padding which he usually wore was covered with silk and quilted; but what was most remarkable, both the padding and the cravat were cut as if some person had made an attempt to cut the throat with the cravat on, then, finding the woollen or cotton stuffing to impede the razor, took it off in order more readily to effect the purpose.” – from the newspaper

In an odd and morbid turn of events, Sellis’s room and body became fodder for the public, and the palace allowed a few people at a time to come view the room like it was a drawing room in a National Trust home.

After that fateful morning, theories abounded as to what actually happened that night. Sellis’s wife claimed Neale (the duke’s page) had been messing with the duke’s expenses. One paper hypothesised that the Duke of Cumberland and Sellis were lovers until Neale arrived and replaced Sellis. When Sellis discovered the duke and Neale together (Excerpt from paper -“A short period before this dreadful catastrophe, the Duke had been surprised in an improper and unnatural situation with this Neale by the other servant, Sellis, and an exposure was expected.”) Sellis wounded the duke in a rage, and the duke retaliated by having Sellis killed. In another variation of this theory, Sellis discovered the duke and Neale together so Cumberland killed Sellis to keep him quiet and wounded himself so he could claim Sellis attacked him. Neal was bribed to disappear. The queen’s companion wrote in her journal, “The duke gave a pension to his Irish page, and dismissed him. This man had a brother who had a good appointment in Windsor Castle, and a family, but he resigned, and went away.”

Cumberland sued the journalist who printed the rumour of the love triangle for libel and won, jailing the man for fifteen months. The rumours, however, persisted and were dragged back into the limelight after the husband of one of Cumberland’s lovers died in much the same manner as Sellis, only adding further fuel to the rumour mill.

 

 

Undoing is out on Kindle, Kindle Unlimited, and audiobook! Check out what the duke’s story inspired.

Narrated by the amazing Stevie Zimmerman!

 

 

 

Sources:
https://www.historyextra.com/period/georgian/the-duke-of-cumberland-and-his-valet-a-bloody-tale-of-attempted-murder/
Rictor Norton (Ed.), “Scandal Involving the Duke of Cumberland, 1832”, Homosexuality in Nineteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 27 May 2012 <http://rictornorton.co.uk/eighteen/cumber1.htm&gt;.

Hello, all! I’m so excited to tell you that Undoing is now on Audiobook at Audible and Amazon. Stevie Zimmerman did an amazing job narrating the characters and breathing life into their words. I even have a sample for you to listen to!

I can’t wait for you to hear the book in its entirety!

I have some codes for a free Undoing audiobook. Just leave a comment below to enter. I’ll pick two winners on Sunday. Please make sure you specify whether you use Audible US or UK 🙂 so I know which code to send you.

 

Every year, the Harry Potter tour in Leavesden decorates for Christmas. The Great Hall is decked out in its Christmas finery and the model of Hogwarts is dusted in snow. We’ve toured the studio before but not for about 5 years and not during the Christmas season.

Most of the weekends had been completely booked by October, but fortunately, we found a Monday the children had free from school and had an opening, although a 2pm opening.

Since our last visit, we knew the tour had added a Platform 9 3/4 as well as the Hogwarts Express, so we were eager to see the new additions and enjoy some of the new experiences offered.

We drove to Leavesden, which isn’t too far into the London area for traffic and easily found the car park. Upon entering, you wait in a large lobby until your scheduled time when you pass through a hall in a long line to enter a theatre where you watch a short film.

From there, the tour starts. The first room, The Great Hall, is only for a specific time so they can shuffle in the next group but once you enter the main portion of the tour, you can walk as leisurely as you wish through to see everything. It’s definitely not something you want to rush since there are objects and props stacked and displayed everywhere. The hallway to the Leaky Cauldron might be on one side of the room and in the middle might be the clock from the tower and on the opposite Dumbledore’s office. It’s so much that you will miss something on that first walk through. I don’t know how to avoid it, which is why I suggest walking slowly and making sure you try to cover as much as you can.

The first half of the tour is mostly props and sets before you reach a cafe area. We were impressed we could find gluten free and vegetarian options available for lunch and each had our obligatory cup of Butterbeer.

On the second half of the tour, you start with the set for Privet Drive and the Hogwarts bridge, which are outside with a few other props. We had some fun recreating photos from the last time we were there, our kids laughing harder than usual at their younger photos.

Platform 9 3/4 and the Hogwarts Express were great. It’s a bit of a queue to get inside and files through which doesn’t give you much time to really look for long. A cabin for you to sit and take photos as opposed to just look would’ve been nice, but unfortunately, wasn’t there.

The second half of the tour also boasted several new items. You can be Dobby while a computer interprets your movements for a screen. Gringotts and a hologram of the dragon escaping the vaults is in another room. They’ve also added a wonderful walk through the Forbidden Forest.

As always, the last part of the tour is the enormous model of Hogwarts, which is dusted in snow.

Whether you’ve been before or not, touring during Christmas is definitely worth it! The Great Hall is amazing decked out in trees with the flaming Christmas puddings on the table. The little touches throughout the tour are wonderful as well, including the cake at The Borough with the skating penguin on top. I definitely recommend going when you have the chance!!

 

Next up…The Anatomy of a Military Move (The end of my Expat days-for now hopefully!)

We spent the following day after Sagrada Familia simply walking around Barcelona, specifically searching out architecture by Antonio Gaudi. Gaudi not only designed Sagrada Familia, but a number of buildings around Barcelona, which still stand today. He was one of the first architects to design in the Art Nouveau movement.

Casa Batlló

We started by walking to Casa Batlló, bedecked in tile with Gaudi’s unusual curved style present on the exterior. The building had a crowd of people waiting in line to get inside so we didn’t tour the interior, but instead continued walking down that same road, which boasts several Gaudi creations.

Our next find was Casa Milà, which like Casa Batlló was obviously a Gaudi creation. Gaudi didn’t always use these curves and almost sci-fi or fantasy-looking conventions on his exteriors, but these works were reminiscent of that style.

After Casa Milà, we continued until we reached the next buildings. Casa Vicens is one of Gaudi’s earlier works, still showing his unusual style, though not as curvilinear as what followed.

 

We stopped for Sangria, which we enjoyed often while touring the city and with our dinner each evening. Unlike what we usually do, trying new restaurants all of the time, we found one with great service and food that was happy to help us with the gluten free we needed so we ate there every night.

 

Our last full day in Barcelona, we made the crazy trek out to Tibidabo. An amusement park on the peak of Mt. Tibidabo (Yes, Friends fans, there’s actually a Mt. Tibidabo.) The tram was out of commission when we went, so we took the train and the bus as far as we could before we had to hire taxis to get to the top.

We had a fun day and enjoyed the amazing view. Our only issue was that it’s really more geared toward younger kids, so our teenagers enjoyed bits of it, but weren’t crazy impressed overall. We did enjoy the view of Barcelona below as well as walking up to the church right at the entrance and even check out the view from that platform as well. The lower level is older than the top, which is much newer.

Overall, we adored Barcelona and would return whenever afforded the opportunity.

 

Next up…Harry Potter Tour for Christmas!

I know! It’s a lot, but there’s a lot going on with me right now.

So, let’s start with the latest news. Confined with Mr. Darcy is not only doing well, but I have someone who’s agreed to narrate the audiobook! Hopefully, we’ll have an audiobook version soon, so keep an eye out!

Not only is Confined with Mr. Darcy being made into an audiobook, but so is Undoing! Stevie Zimmerman has begun narrating. I’ve listened to a couple of chapters tonight and they’re spectacular. I can’t wait for you to hear it!

 

 

Now, the winners of A Matter of Chance giveaway! 

Congratulations

PEdmisson, cyndyhenry, sheilamajczan, Lis Batten, and Sue Beatson!

I’ll be getting those out to you as soon as possible!

 

Lastly, thank you so much to everyone who has purchased, read, and reviewed Confined with Mr. Darcy! I am excited about the reviews and I do hope everyone is enjoying my little bit of fluff. Remember that every sale results in more money for Jane Austen House Museum! Confined with Mr. Darcy makes a great gift for the JAFF lover you know. Let’s help give them the boost they so desperately need!

And because y’all have been so amazing, I’m giving everyone another chance at the giveaway! If you left a comment on my Austen Variations release day/giveaway post, you have one chance at the giveaway! Comment here and you get another 🙂 So tell me anything about today’s post. It can be about one of the audiobooks, how amazing Stevie Zimmerman is, or your favorite thing about any of this post.

Just a reminder about the giveaway.

So, what do we have? Well, in the main giveaway, you get:
1 Talk Darcy to Me Mug
1 set of Mr. and Mrs. Kit-Tea tea infusers (Isn’t it cute hanging from the mug) They’re food-grade silicone.
1 bag of Yorkshire Gold Loose leaf tea
1 Pride and Prejudice Postcard, which was probably bought at Jane Austen House Museum
1 pair of Jane Austen SockSmith socks
and 1 Sense and Sensibility book bead bracelet

It’s a fun giveaway. You can put on your JA socks and the bracelet and make a cup of tea for while you read

I also have two extra bracelets to giveaway!

Just tell me in the comments which giveaways you want to be entered into!!

 

 

We’re wrapping up May and while things have remained busy, I’m still cleaning out, which means another giveaway. Today, I have 5 copies of A Matter of Chance for you! All you have to do is comment for a chance to win a signed paperback. Sorry, but I need to limit the giveaway to the US and Europe. I’ll pick a winner next Thursday and make the announcement after I’ve contacted the winners.

Also! Don’t forget to preorder your copy of Confined with Mr. Darcy! Release day is almost here and it will be on Kindle, Kindle Unlimited, and Paperback! Half of the first month’s royalties are being donated to Jane Austen House Museum’s Covid-19 Survival Appeal, so please give it a read. Also, if you have a bit to spare, please consider donating to the survival appeal.

Also! I’ve started a podcast! I’ve been considering it for a while, but in the first episode, I just talk about JAFF and how I got into writing it, what I read, and there’s a bit about this project. I hope you’ll check it out!  https://www.podbean.com/ew/pb-b9dz9-dde03f

Okay! Back to A Matter of Chance!  I’m posting a short vignette I wrote after A Matter of Chance. This short was based on something that really happened in our house. My daughter had this crafty kit that allowed you to make different animals from puff balls. The children are fictional versions of my own. Our dog Layla was young, and well, you’ll see. This was something that was written quickly and never truly edited, so it’s definitely not perfect, but entertaining.

 

A Funeral for Lobsty

Elizabeth and Darcy have been married for 9 years, Melly is 12, Ella is 7, Andrew is 4

 

For a late Sunday morning, Longbourn wasn’t any noisier than it was usually.  Lizzy Darcy relaxed in bed with her morning cup of café au lait and her laptop, browsing through the online stores for Christmas present ideas for the children.  Her husband of nine years, William was propped up on pillows beside her while he poured over something for work on his own laptop.  She had just taken a steaming sip when her seven-year-old daughter, Ella, came running into the room with a four-year-old Andrew following close behind.

“Look what Layla did!” she exclaimed, pushing her cupped hands filled with red fluff and pieces of pipe cleaners in Lizzy’s face.  Layla was their nine-month-old Springer Spaniel puppy that they’d adopted from a rescue organization, and she was always getting into something.

Lizzy stared at the pile intently, attempting to figure out what the mass of trash was in her daughter’s hands.  “What is it?”

Ella gave an exasperated exhale.  “It’s Drew’s lobster!”  Her hands thrust forward a bit with each word in an attempt to emphasize scope of the tragedy.   The puppy then came trotting in and plopped down beside Ella, panting and looking like she was grinning widely.

She turned back to the mess and looked again, finally seeing the resemblance to the craft project she and her son had made a few months ago.  She looked up into his face and smiled softly in sympathy.

“I’m sorry, sweetheart.  We’ll have to break out the craft kit and make you another animal.”

Drew looked at her sadly.  “I want to make another Lobsty.”

“But we can’t,” she began carefully, “there aren’t any more red puffballs and pipe cleaners in the kit.  If we find the directions, then you can pick out a new design, and we’ll make that one.”

Little Drew’s face reflected his skepticism of that idea, and Lizzy fought a smile.  Suddenly, Layla made a jump for the mass of fluff, and Ella raised her hands to keep it away from her.  “Why don’t the two of you go throw what’s left away before Layla finds it again and eats it.”

“I think that’s a good idea,” came William’s voice from behind Lizzy.  “We wouldn’t want her to get sick.”

That was when Ella’s face perked up.  “We can have a funeral for him!”

Lizzy was sure her eyes widened, but she tried to behave unfazed.  “A funeral?” she asked, the doubtful tone that was in her head coming through in her voice.

“Yeah!  Let’s go, Drew!”  The two of them bounded out of the door, where she could hear the pounding of their feet as they ran around the upstairs.

She looked to William.  “A funeral?”  He only smiled widely, shrugged, and went back to his work.

Looking back at the monitor, Lizzy began browsing once more while she listened to the voices outside of her door.  She was sure she heard the word casket, but most of the time the kids sounded like they were in Drew’s room.  Maybe twenty minutes later, Ella and her brother came running back into the room.

“Daddy!” they yelled, “look at the casket we made!”  Lizzy’s head shot up to see what looked like a short tray made out of Legos with Lobsty’s remains perched on top.

“That’s nice, but it’s not really a casket,” explained William.  After that, she really didn’t hear what her husband was saying since she was too busy staring at “The Casket.”  She hoped that he was attempting to straighten out their idea because she was worried they would want to bury the thing.  The last thing she wanted to do was to have to dig it up later when Drew wanted his blocks back.

The children disappeared again, but reappeared about fifteen minutes later.  “We’re ready for the funeral, come on!” Ella and Drew called out from the doorway.

“Really?” she asked, regarding William warily.

“Really,” he responded before kissing her quickly on the lips.  “Let’s go, Mama.”  Her husband pulled her out of bed and laced his fingers with hers as they followed the children down the stairs to the kitchen.  There were three barstools set up a few feet in front of the pull out that contained the trashcan, and Mrs. Reynolds was already seated in one of them. Melanie, who’d thus far been absent from the lobster saga, was standing beside the cabinet with the “coffin” carrying Lobsty in her hands.  Ella and Drew joined her, the latter wearing a Jedi tunic made out of brown felt that he’d gotten at a friend’s birthday party.

“What’s with the Jedi robes?” asked William, chuckling.

The real Layla

“Funeral clothes?” ventured Lizzy.  She felt something soft brush her foot and looked down to see their older Springer, Maisy, lay down next to her foot.  Layla was standing beside Melanie, waiting for Lobsty’s remains to fall at her feet. One would’ve thought she was holding a steak the way the puppy was sitting and staring at the cotton fuzz.

Ella seemed to wait patiently until they were all comfortably situated, and she raised some pages torn out of an old composition notebook that were covered in a purple crayon handwriting.

“First we will have a speech, then Melanie will dump him, then there will be a prayer.”

Lizzy couldn’t hold it in any longer.  The absurdity of it all combined with what her daughter had just said made her erupt in a fit of laughter.  She wasn’t alone.  Mrs. Reynolds and William were both laughing, and when she looked up, the children were laughing as well.  Once their chuckles were back under control, Lizzy apologized.

“I’m sorry, but when you said that Melanie would dump him, I couldn’t help it.”  She could hear William beside her now fighting to control his chuckles as Ella raised the papers and began again.

“This lobster was very special to me and my brother, Drew.  Lobsty was the best lobster I’ve ever seen.  My mom and Drew built this lobster from puffballs, pipe cleaners, and glue.  That’s my vulnerable speech.”  Her husband snorted from beside her, and she grabbed his hand, squeezing it gently.

“Do you mean venerable, Ella bean?”  Her daughter shook her head and furrowed her eyebrows.

“Did you really mean vulnerable?” asked William.  She smiled widely and nodded before turning to face her sister.

“Now, Melanie will dump Lobsty,” said Ella in a very official tone as she opened the cabinet.  Their oldest turned the tray over into the trashcan, and the mass of red fluff dropped into the white plastic bag, covering whatever Mrs. Reynolds had put in there last.  Once the cabinet was closed, they all turned back to Ella.

“Now for the prayer.”  She flipped a page and produced a new page also written in purple crayon.

“It was once a pile of puffballs, and a little boy came along.  He put the puffballs together, and made a lobster.  And then a dog came along and chewed it all up.  And that’s what brought us here today.”

During the “prayer,” the three adult spectators couldn’t control themselves any more and began laughing again.  By the time Ella had read it all, Lizzy and Mrs. Reynolds were laughing so hard they were crying, and the children had joined them.

Lizzy stood and kissed and hugged each of her children.  She looked over her son’s head as she embraced him, seeing William wiping his eyes as he hugged Ella.  Beside her daughter, on the counter were the sheets of paper with the purple crayon writing.  Lizzy picked them up and read them, finding the actual speech and prayer from the funeral written out on them.

When the hugs were passed all around, Melanie went off to read the latest book she was engrossed in, and Ella and Drew returned to the Legos to his room.  Lizzy quickly pocketed Ella’s papers and returned upstairs with William to lounge around with him some more.

When they were once again comfy in the bed, Lizzy called Jane and described the entire event to her, including reading the speeches from Ella’s notes.  Jane was giggling madly by the time Lizzy had recited the entire episode.

“They’re so creative,” her sister gushed.  “Just like their mom.  “You’ll have to scan those pages and email them to me.  I want to tell Charles, but it won’t be the same if I don’t have the words right.”

“I can type it out and email it quicker, if you want.”

“That’ll work.  Thanks, sis!”

“You’re still coming over this afternoon to grill, right?”

“Oh yeah, we’ll be there,” responded Jane.  “Jacob and Sarah are so excited.  You know they love playing at Longbourn.  Apparently, Netherfield just isn’t as cool.”

Lizzy laughed.  “I don’t know about all that.  I happen to think Netherfield is a neat house, but I should get going so I can get some work done before y’all come over.

“Okay, Bye Lizzy.”

“Bye,” she said and hung up.

“What did Jane say?” asked William as he closed his laptop and scooted closer to her.

“She said that they’re so creative… just like me.”

“She’s correct, you know.”

Lizzy rolled her eyes.  “I think they’ve got some of my intelligence along with you’re massive brains, and we’re going to be lucky to keep up with them.”  She felt William’s hand caress up her leg as he leaned over to kiss her softly on the lips.  He dipped down, and she felt his soft lips brush her neck.

“I’m thinking that perhaps we should begin working on another.”

Her eyes widened as he lifted up and looked down at her.  “Another?” she squeaked.  His hand roamed up to stroke her stomach, and she squirmed.  “William, the door is open.”  She heard and felt his low chuckle.

“Then perhaps you should go close and lock it.”

The words and the “prayer” came directly from the composition notebook pages my kids wrote from Lobsty’s funeral. I still have them packed away somewhere.

 

Okay! So, we have 5 copies of A Matter of Chance! Leave me a comment below and you’ll go into the draw.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, while patience is a virtue, there are times I’m just not patient at all! I have a cover for Confined with Mr. Darcy and I just can’t wait for you to see it. Andrea Aguirre is amazing and put so many little detailed touches into the cover that I was just amazed when I saw it finished. I hope you love it as much as I do! The Andrea’s artwork made it so easy to just add the font and go.

Without further ado, here’s the cover!

Confined with Mr. Darcy copy

Now that we have a cover, I’m going to be working to get everything up and running for preorder.

How about another preview! If you missed Chapter 1, you can read that here!

Here’s chapter 2! Just remember to leave me a comment! I’d love to hear what you think!

Elizabeth stretched her feet languorously towards the foot of the luxurious bed. One thing about Pemberley, Darcy’s mattresses were light-years better than the lumpy, bumpy thing she’d moved with to London. A loud purr rattled the large cat on her chest, making her smile and open her eyes. “Good morning, Tilney.” He scooted up and ran his damp, cold little nose down her cheek while she giggled. “You’re such a little lover boy. Maybe I should’ve named you Willoughby instead.” The hefty Maine Coon rubbed his nose and cheek down the other side of her face, pretty much ignoring what she’d said, but that wasn’t anything new. He was always more concerned with loving than he was what she had to say.

“Are you hungry?”

He hopped onto the mattress when she sat up. She grabbed a pair of muted pink joggers from the foot of the bed and pulled them and the matching cardie on while she clucked at him. Mrs. Reynolds, the Pemberley housekeeper, had given her an amazing suite, but feeding a cat anything but dry kibble in the opulent rooms made her cringe. He always made such a mess with his food. The last thing Elizabeth wanted was for him to drip wet tuna dinner on the posh Persian rugs.

“Come on,” she called, patting her thigh.

When she opened the door, he hurried past her and trotted ahead down the hallway. After a week, she’d be willing to bet what little she owned that Tilney knew the vast house way better than she did. He kept to their suite during the night, but during the day, he usually slept in front of the large windows in the breakfast room, soaking up the warm sun.

He led her down the stairs, through the hallway of the family wing, and further until they entered Mrs. Reynolds’s domain, the sizeable, homey kitchen.

“Good morning, dear,” said the lady herself while she chopped onions. “Did you have a nice lie-in?”

Elizabeth glanced at the clock on the wall, which read ten-thirty. “I hadn’t realised how late it was. I hope I didn’t ruin whatever breakfast plans you’d made.”

“Oh, no. Ana always has a lie-in on Saturdays, and William is working in the breakfast room. He’s still drinking his coffee, but he was up with the roosters this morning. He always is.”

“He’s working on the weekend?”

A chuckle bubbled from Mrs. Reynolds. “Unless his sister drags him from it, yes. That young man needs a life other than that company of his, but I do worry how he’ll find one when he never stops long enough to draw breath.”

Elizabeth pressed her hand to her forehead and sighed. “Last night, I suppose I got bogged down in reading the latest news online—all the different viewpoints now that Boris Johnson has locked down the country. I must say that I thought he would’ve shut it down before yesterday.”

“A lot of people thought the same.” Mrs. Reynolds rinsed her hands and dried them on a towel. “Now, enough about that. You and that little monster of yours need breakfast.”

Elizabeth smiled and looked over at Tilney, who rubbed back and forth against a cabinet while he meowed, waiting for his morning can of food. “I’ll take care of him, and if you’ll point me in the direction of the bread, I can make some toast. It looks like you’re already busy with lunch.” She grabbed the cat food from the pantry and dished it out while Mrs. Reynolds shook her head.

“It’s no trouble. I thought I’d make a nice stew for this evening, and I like to get everything chopped good and early.” She put up a hand. “Don’t worry. I’ve found a vegetarian stew recipe online for you. I’m also prepping some brussels sprouts. William and Ana love them with their stew.”

The woman was amazing. After asking some of Elizabeth’s preferences that first night, Mrs. Reynolds always ensured a vegetarian option was available for her. “Thank you. I hope you know I never expected you to cook dishes only for me.”

“Oh, tosh! It’s not an imposition at all. I love cooking, and I’ve had to alter recipes to accommodate other guests. Your stew calls for nearly all of the same vegetables. I just plan on adding a few cooked lentils to yours for a bit of protein.”

“It sounds wonderful,” said Elizabeth. “May I ask if the brussels sprouts are going to be in the stew?”

“No, on the side. Do you not like them?”

Elizabeth grimaced a bit. “They’re one of the few vegetables I can’t even force myself to eat. My mother would always make me eat them at Christmas until one year I was sick at the table.”

“Well! We can’t have that!”

“I’m sorry. I probably should’ve mentioned it when we first spoke.”

“Don’t you fret about it. I’m just glad you told me before I did include them in something. They aren’t exactly a mild flavour. Is there anything else you don’t eat?”

“Not as far as I’m aware,” said Elizabeth lightly.

Mrs. Reynolds clasped her hands together. “Good! Now, I have some quick oats in the pantry. I thought I’d make you some caramel apple porridge.”

“That sounds incredible, but I truly don’t want to be a bother.”

She waved off Elizabeth’s protest. “It’s not all that complicated, and you should know by now that I never let people fend for themselves in my kitchen. You commented that the vegan protein powder you brought is gritty, so I looked for ways to use it that you might enjoy.”

Elizabeth raised her eyebrows. “It’s a great idea. Thank you.”

“Enough of that. Go join William. I’ll bring your food when it’s ready.”

With a smile and a shake of her head, Elizabeth made her way into the breakfast room where Darcy wasn’t glued to his laptop as usual, but frowned at a document he held front of him. He wore his usual posh trousers and a button-down cotton shirt, but without a tie, his chestnut brown hair curling ever so slightly over the collar.

“Hi,” she said as she sat in the chair opposite.

The paper twitched before he shifted it to the side. “Good morning.” He set it beside his plate and relaxed into his chair. “I hope you slept well.”

“Yes, thank you.” She scraped her teeth along her bottom lip. “I really appreciate you letting me stay here. I think I would’ve eventually gone stir crazy if I’d remained in London. It was really good of you considering how awful I was to you at Rosings.” She crossed her arms over her chest. “I’m very sorry for that, by the way.”

He grabbed the handle of his teacup. “I’m sorry for how I worded things that evening. I shouldn’t have insulted your family.”

“My family is far from perfect. It’s why I can’t live there. I might murder Lydia with my bare hands.” His low chuckle vibrated through her, and she squeezed her arms tighter across her chest. Since he’d convinced her to join him, little things like this kept happening. Certain looks sent a jolt down her spine, and his laugh seemed to touch every part of her. When their hands accidentally touched at dinner the other night, a current surged through her and she’d nearly dropped the bottle of wine all over the pristine white table cloth. She’d barely finished her glass and reached for a refill when he’d apparently reached for the bottle at the same time. Fortunately, he’d caught it before the red wine could cause any damage.

Mrs. Reynolds bustled in and placed a French press on the table next to her cup with a small pitcher of oat milk. “There you are.” After she returned to the kitchen, they sat quietly while Elizabeth prepared her coffee.

“Morning!” echoed off the walls.

They both nearly jumped out of their seats at Ana’s loud greeting.

“Morning, sleepyhead,” said Darcy with a soft smile. He only ever wore that expression when he interacted with Ana, which was about the sweetest thing Elizabeth had ever seen.

His sister dramatically plopped into her chair, making Elizabeth smile. No matter the teenage girl, they always had a certain amount of melodrama about them. “I thought I saw the lovebirds walking down by the river from my bedroom window. Do you know what they’ve been doing—other than each other, that is?”

“Georgiana!”

Elizabeth almost spit her coffee all over Darcy before she managed to swallow and laugh without choking. Of course, Elizabeth now knew that Darcy was the sole person in this world who dared to call his younger sister Georgiana. Elizabeth also knew that the sixteen-year-old, in fact, despised her name, but then Ana was the only one who called Darcy by his given name—Fitzwilliam. Whether it was a form of payback, Elizabeth had yet to discover, but she did hope to know before she moved out.

“Bingley logged-in to the work server a few times last week, so he’s working,” said Darcy with a frown. “I needed him for some tasks with the move to at-home offices and employees.”

“Sorry,” said Ana, with a bit of a giggle. “I’m just chuffed to bits that he’s married and taken. Do you know how many times his sister told me what a great ‘match’ we’d make?” She pretended to gag herself with her finger. “I mean, eww! He’s old enough to be . . . to be . . . well, to be my brother.”

Darcy pulled himself straight as a pin while Elizabeth pressed her lips tightly together to keep from laughing. “Are you saying I’m old?”

“Well, not exactly. But too old for me.”

“I suppose I can’t argue with that logic.” He refilled his tea while he shook his head.

“Breakfast is served!” Mrs. Reynolds hurried in and set a bowl in front of her and Ana, then watched while they picked up their spoons and tucked in.

A moan came from Ana. “This is phenomenal, Mrs. R.”

The housekeeper winked at Elizabeth. “I’m glad you like it, dear.”

Elizabeth managed to keep her face neutral. A conspiracy to improve Ana’s eating habits had been afoot at Pemberley for some time. Since Elizabeth’s arrival, Mrs. Reynolds had slipped several healthier options into the teenager’s diet without her discovery. This was just one more.

Mrs. Reynolds glanced around at each of them. “Now, does anyone need anything else?”

“No, thank you,” said Elizabeth. After the siblings both shook their heads, Mrs. Reynolds dashed away to the kitchens.

“So, are you writing anything exciting at the moment?” While she took a drink from her tea, Ana watched Elizabeth with wide eyes.

“No, nothing really. A few weeks ago, I finished the final edits on my newest release, so I’m trying to decide what comes next.”

“How do you do that?”

When Elizabeth caught Darcy’s eye, she cleared her throat. “I suppose what catches the interest of my imagination. If I start daydreaming the story, then that’s what I write, but I think too much has been occupying my brain the last two weeks to let a new idea take over.”

“That’s so cool. I would love to be able to do that.”

“Georgiana, you hate writing a thank you card. What makes you think you would want to write a novel?”

She huffed and set her forearm against the edge of the table, her spoon held aloft. “Those are completely different.”

“But in essence the same,” said Darcy.

Elizabeth glanced back and forth between them. “I think you’re wicked-talented musically. I could listen to you play cello all day.”

Ana’s cheeks pinked a little. “Thank you.” She took another bite of her porridge, but the conversation didn’t die. Instead, they spoke of more trivial topics until Darcy ran off to his study to take an important call and Ana disappeared into the music room to practice.

When Elizabeth rose, Tilney rubbed against the doorframe as he meandered in from the kitchen. He dropped onto the floor in the middle of a sunny patch and began to meticulously clean his paws and his face.

She peeked her head into the kitchen. “Thanks for breakfast, Mrs. Reynolds.”

“You’re welcome, dear. Has everyone left?”

“Yes, I’m the last one. Well, if you don’t count Tilney. He’s in the sunbeam having a bath. Do you want me to take him up?”

“Oh, for Heaven’s sakes, no. Leave him be. He won’t be a bother.”

Elizabeth grinned as she waved and let the door close. Mrs. Reynolds didn’t speak poorly of Tilney at all, but more as though he wasn’t part of her job or her concern; however, Elizabeth had found a piece of dried salmon in his bowl two mornings ago. She suspected the woman not only spoiled the humans in the household, but she was willing to spoil any pets that came along as well.

She took her time wandering back through the corridors and up the stairs, passing the portraits of Darcys long gone while she took the scenic route to her rooms. Generations of Darcys immortalised on canvas adorned the walls of the stately old pile, but it was a specific portrait that had made her walk this path almost daily since she’d arrived.

After she rounded the corner, there it was, in pride of place—the only portrait to hang on the opposite wall. The portrait gallery contained two older paintings, one Regency period and one Georgian that was dated approximately 1750.

According to Ana, both “masters” of Pemberley were important for their contribution to either the wealth of the family or the prosperity of the estate. They were joined by Ana’s grandfather, father, and of course, her brother, who stood in the lone portrait that drew her to this room. Why was that? What was it about his face that made her seek it out?

She stood and stared for about five minutes before she sighed and returned to her suite. Once she’d made herself comfortable on the sitting room sofa, she opened her laptop and stared at the empty document. What was in her head? Whose story was begging to be pulled one word at a time into a romantic adventure?

“Should I?” The idea was the only one she’d had in two weeks. The problem was she didn’t know if it would have a happy ending. She’d never written a romance that didn’t have a happily ever after. Would her fans even buy it?

She bit her thumbnail and took a fortifying breath before putting her fingers to the keys. As she furiously typed, she blew out the exhale. “They say to write daily no matter what. I suppose here goes nothing.”

I have to say that I was looking forward to Barcelona, but I hadn’t expected it to be one of my favourite places. It was also cleaner than some of the other European cities we’ve visited.

We arrived in Barcelona, and after a bit of confusion, figured out the subway, which we took to the metro stop near Sagrada Familia. The flat we arranged for our stay was a short walk from Sagrada Familia and was an amazing bargain, considering the location.

Our first sightseeing expedition was Sagrada Familia. We had pre-booked our tickets, which was definitely the way to go. We skipped the longer line and were inside in a matter of minutes.

Sagrada Familia was designed by the great Antoni Gaudi. The first corner stone was laid 135 years ago, and the work still goes on to complete it today. Known for the amazing details on the exterior as well as the interior in a neo-Gothic design, Gaudi worked on the cathedral one bit at a time until his death in 1926. He is buried in the crypt of the Expiatory Temple of the Sagrada Família. Construction on Sagrada Familia still continues today. The plan is to finish in 2026, the two-hundredth anniversary of the laying of the first cornerstone.

When I studied Sagrada Familia in art history class, I can’t say I was particularly impressed by the detail and the overall design. Gaudi, after all, is far from a typical architect. However, standing inside that cathedral, the light coming into the stained glass was one of the most incredible things I’d ever seen. I would love to return and sit in the seats down the center of the structure all day and watch how the light and color changes as the sun crosses the sky.

The exterior has so much detail, you could spend a lot of time walking around to see it all. There is a marked difference between the newer pieces of the cathedral as opposed to Gaudi’s original portion of the cathedral. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to walk completely around because of the scaffolding. That’s another thing I would love to do one day.

Despite the continued construction, Sagrada Familia is certainly a marvel. The area around the cathedral, while touristy, is lovely and was an amazing place to stay. I definitely recommend it! I’ll go into more detail on that next week 🙂

I hope everyone is weathering their time safely. Stay healthy!

 

 

Coming soon! Barcelona continued…

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