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!
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?”
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.”