Happy Monday! I hope everyone had an amazing weekend. I thought I’d give you something fun to start your week off–a sale! From today throughs April 14th, Confined with Mr. Darcy is only 99¢. I’m going to post an excerpt below for you to enjoy. If you already own and love Confined with Mr. Darcy, don’t forget my new modern, That Perfect Someone.
As soon as William Darcy’s foot hit the pavement, he paused. “What am I doing?” He shook his head and strode towards the front steps of the old Victorian home in London. Before his foot landed on the first step, he pivoted sharply on his heel and started back to his car, turning right back around before he stepped from the kerb. “Gah!” he growled, making a woman stare at him as though he had three heads and smoke coming from his ears. The woman pulled her little girl closer and quickly passed almost bumping into a ground floor window box, its daffodils and hyacinths basking in the March sun. The child continued to skip happily, oblivious to his ranting and raving. “Obviously, I’m going mental,” he muttered.
He’d told her sister Jane he’d do this, so he had to, right? He had an obligation. He’d tied himself into it. Who was he kidding? He was really doing this due to his not-so-stalkerish obsession with her sister. He’d turn back twenty times on his trip to Pemberley if he didn’t ensure Elizabeth was at least okay. He’d only been in love with her for a year or so. A painful, dragging hot needles across your skin year.
Darcy jogged up the steps and stopped at the door intercom system, reading down the list of names: Newnham . . . Oliver . . . Deaton . . . However, before he reached the name he searched for, a woman exited the door and he scooted inside, running up the flight of stairs to the first floor. He rounded the bannister and the flat stood directly in front of him. Music filtered into the corridor from her flat, so he knocked loudly in order to be heard and held his breath. The music softened and he knocked a little harder, as if the noise needed emphasis.
“Darcy?” She must’ve checked through the peephole first, her voice muffled by the door until it opened. When she appeared in the doorway, her dark eyes wide, he shifted on his feet. Lord, she was beautiful, even in that ratty, oversized hoodie and leggings. “Has something happened with Charles and Jane?”
He swallowed hard. Standing in front of the woman who’d owned a starring role in his every fantasy for the past year as well as every nightmare for the last month was hard enough without summoning the courage to speak. “No, they’re fine. Bingley managed to sort out two seats on the next flight home to England. They’ll land in Manchester in a few hours.” With the Greek sun, a seaside view, a pool, a hot tub, and the woman of his dreams, Darcy wouldn’t have been too keen to travel in a cramped airplane for the five- or six-hour trip, but Bingley and Jane had obviously had their reasons for wanting to return to the U.K.
“Thank goodness,” said Elizabeth, all breathy and pressing her hand to her chest. He could think of a million ways he’d love to hear that voice, but this wasn’t one of them.
He cleared his throat and shoved his hands into his pockets. “I’ve offered Bingley and your sister the use of the old gamekeeper’s cottage at Pemberley to quarantine and to continue their honeymoon for the next few weeks. I’m leaving for Pemberley directly. Since you work from home already, I thought you might prefer to be in the country, and closer to Jane at the same time.”
The words had rushed out in one long, rambling mess. He couldn’t speak and behave normally around this woman! He shoved his hands further into his pockets, his shoulders hunching around his ears. Could he be any more awkward?
“You’re inviting me to Pemberley?” The words were slow and evenly spaced. If he couldn’t gather her disbelief at the way she spoke, her jaw hung slightly lax and her high eyebrows screamed volumes. “If this pandemic continues as some are predicting, I could be there indefinitely.”
“I understand that, but Pemberley is large enough that you can hide in your rooms for the duration if you want. When I spoke to Bingley, Jane said you couldn’t work at Longbourn because of your younger sisters. You’d have peace and quiet when you need it at Pemberley as well as the ability to walk outside whenever you want without running into half of the city.”
She glanced back over her shoulder before shaking her head. “What about my cat? I can’t just leave Tilney here by himself for all that time. I also can’t ask my neighbour to feed him for that long either.”
“So bring him with you. I’ll help you pack anything you want. He can wander the house, or if you’re more comfortable, you can have a suite of rooms to yourself so he’s easier to find.” They’d never had a cat in the house at Pemberley. Hopefully, he didn’t shed too badly else Mrs. Reynolds would have a right fit about cleaning up the hair.
Elizabeth opened and closed her mouth two or three times. After her scathing refusal of his invitation for a weekend in Paris during the Rosings Book Festival last month, he knew she didn’t think much of him, but he’d emailed her that evening to explain their misunderstandings. Perhaps his words had held more venom than he’d thought. Would she really prefer remaining in London? Boy, he felt like an arse right now.
“I apologise for bothering you,” he said quickly. “If you’d like to join us, you’re welcome at any time.” He ran a hand through his hair as he turned to make his escape.
When he pivoted back around, she stood in the hallway. “I don’t mean to sound ungrateful. You surprised me is all. I’d prefer to be in the country and near Jane, but I need to pack. I also have food that could spoil from my last delivery. Since I can’t write at Longbourn, I’d planned to hunker down for as long as possible.”
“We can bag up your groceries and bring them with us, or you can give them to a neighbour.” Her teeth scraped her bottom lip, making him fist his hands at his sides. If she had any idea of how that tiny habit turned him on, she’d keep her teeth clenched together all of the time.
“I don’t know how we’re going to fit everything in your car.”
“I’m driving the Range Rover. Pack whatever you need.”
~ * ~
Elizabeth sat as rigid as a Maypole in the passenger seat of Darcy’s Range Rover while she watched the motorway in front of them. She’d agreed to spend however long this pandemic would take at Pemberley—at Pemberley with him. No, she hadn’t really wanted to be cooped up in her flat for a month or more while they “flattened the curve,” but did she really want to spend that time with Darcy?
Jane had insisted all along that he wasn’t as bad as Elizabeth thought, but the man knew how to press every button she possessed—no, strike that—punch the bloody hell out of every button she possessed. She glanced at him, studying his profile for a moment, until he started to turn and she whipped her gaze back in front of them.
“Are you cold?”
“Huh?” She jerked her head to face him. “Oh, no. I’m fine. Thank you.”
“I appreciate you helping me pack some clothes for Bingley and Jane.” When he learnt she had a key to the couple’s flat, they’d grabbed a few warmer clothes for the two of them. The shorts and bikinis Charles and Jane had packed for Santorini wouldn’t work very well for spring weather in Derbyshire.
“It was a good idea,” she said. “I’m sure they’ll be chuffed to bits that you considered it.”
“We can stop by the cottage on the way up to the house and drop off the bags. I brought him a work laptop from the office as well.” His eyes turned back to the road.
“I’m sure he’ll appreciate it.”
“He wouldn’t be Bingley if he didn’t.”
She chuckled, but it came out as the tensest sound she’d ever heard. “He’s a very cheerful bloke.”
“He’s been that way for as long as I’ve known him.”
“He said the two of you met at Cambridge.” She rubbed her sweaty palms down her leggings.
Darcy checked his wing mirror. “We had a lot of our classes together.” Rather than watch his face, her gaze had migrated to his broad shoulders and further to where his biceps pulled his sleeve taut.
“Don’t you have a little sister?” she asked. She was going to hell. She was checking out his body and asking about his little sister. How depraved could she get?
“I do. Georgiana’s sixteen. You’ll meet her when we get there.”
Elizabeth trained her traitorous eyes on his face. “She’s not in school?”
“Her college is allowing her to take her classes online because of her asthma. Mrs. Reynolds is bringing her home as we speak.”
“I’m sorry, but who is Mrs. Reynolds?”
He smiled and took a quick peek at her. “She’s the Pemberley housekeeper, but she’s more like a mum to us most of the time. And don’t be sorry. You haven’t done anything wrong.”
She dropped her head back against the seat and stared at the road ahead. She’d agreed to this so she could get out of London and have the ability to eventually see Jane. If only things weren’t so uncomfortable between her and Darcy! After all, she hadn’t seen him since the Rosings Book Festival. Ugh! She’d said such nasty things to him too. She wrapped her arms around herself. How was she ever going to apologise?
“Are you sure you’re not cold?”
“No,” she said, shaking her head. “I promise.”
He adjusted the temperature anyway before he returned his attention to the road. That was when silence fell once more—awkward, painful silence. How long could making a vaccine possibly take?
And don’t forget…