L.L. Diamond

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Good morning! I’m at work formatting the paperback for The Peculiarity of Mr. Darcy’s Mirror, so I’m posting a short I wrote for Persuasion: Behind the Scenes. I will be posting the next chapter of Mr. Darcy’s Mirror on Wednesday at Austen Variations. If you have not read the first three, click the links for Chapters 1 & 2 and Chapter 3. If you have yet to preorder, what are you waiting for? Click here for that!!!

“Sir Walter, his two daughters, and Mrs Clay, were the earliest of all their party at the rooms in the evening; and as Lady Dalrymple must be waited for, they took their station by one of the fires in the Octagon Room. But hardly were they so settled, when the door opened again, and Captain Wentworth walked in alone.”

Upon his entrance to the concert hall, Captain Wentworth paused to survey his surroundings. The gallery was opulent, as was expected, and the many people in attendance were all dressed in their finest, gathered in their respective groups while they likely discussed the performance ahead.

As he began his advance further into the room, his eyes lit upon Anne, who stood with her father and her sister near the far corner. She must have noticed him when he walked through the entry since she continued to observe him as he made his way through the crowd.

Would she attempt to speak with him? If she tried, would her father allow the conversation?

His gut twisted with anxiety as he drew nearer. A small bow should suffice as an acknowledgement, should it not? If Anne wished to speak with him, she would have to approach him. He would not harm her relationship with her family—not that they were worthy of Anne. She was far superior a creature!

Captain Wentworth drew close and she took a small step forward. She was indeed approaching him! He halted when he heard her sweet voice beckon, “How do you do?” He indicated he was well, and when he was acknowledged by Sir Walter and Miss Elliot, he bowed.

Between them both, they swiftly covered all of the niceties of polite discourse: the weather, Bath, and the concert ahead. As their conversation flagged, he began to despair. Could this be all they had to say to one another? Lyme! Of course, he should mention Lyme!

“I have hardly seen you since our day at Lyme. I am afraid you must have suffered from the shock, and the more from its not overpowering you at the time.” Pleasure soared within him as they spoke of their shared experiences, progressing from Louisa Musgrove’s unfortunate accident to her betrothal to Captain Benwick.

Something within Anne’s eyes was disturbed upon the mention of the upcoming nuptials. He had witnessed many emotions cross her face, and had catalogued each within his memory, and this appeared almost a sadness. Could she believe he harboured an attachment to Louisa? Despite the resentment he had carried within his heart for all of these years, he could not allow her to be so affected by a mistaken notion.

“…A man like him, in his situation! with a heart pierced, wounded, almost broken! Fanny Harville was a very superior creature, and his attachment to her was indeed attachment. A man does not recover from such a devotion of the heart to such a woman. He ought not; he does not.”

There! He had given a hint of his innermost thoughts and feelings, but would she understand?

The shadow lifted, but she pressed forward and lengthened their discussion. His keen ears registered the low tones of Sir Walter and Miss Elliot behind Anne, but he paid them no heed. While he maintained Anne’s attention, he would not be distracted by their inane prattle.

“I should very much like to see Lyme again,” said Anne.

How she surprised him! Would she wish to return for the sights, or because the location held memories of him? Oh, how he wished it were the latter!

“…One does not love a place the less for having suffered in it, unless it has been all suffering, nothing but suffering, which was by no means the case at Lyme…”

Could she feel the same in regards to her past with him? If only…

Sir Walter and Miss Elliot gave him a start when with haste, they ripped Anne from him to meet Lady Dalrymple. Captain Wentworth had not even heard her announced, yet when he turned, Sir Walter and Miss Elliot were greeting the newcomer with a condescension not often seen from the baronet and his eldest daughter.

Anne glanced back to him, but in all politeness, could not escape her present situation. Her attention returned to her party, and he ventured on to the Concert Room with the hopes he might be afforded the opportunity to speak with her again before the end of the evening.

Patiently he waited, revisiting their conversation; her words dissected and examined for any glimpse of affection for him. When she entered the Concert Room, he observed her with great care. Her eyes were bright and her cheeks glowed. Her expression was easily discernible to him. She was happy—exceedingly happy.

Her vibrant eyes searched the room and a small wrinkle knit her brow. Could she be seeking him? If that be the case, he could die a happy man!

His heart soared and then just as swiftly plummeted when she was seated beside none other than Mr. Elliot: Mr. Elliot from Lyme, Mr. Elliot from the teashop, Mr. Elliot who would inherit her father’s title, Mr. Elliot who Sir Walter was certain to deem more worthy than a wealthy sea captain with no connexions of significance.

With envy, his gaze remained on his beloved throughout the entirety of the first act. Mr. Elliot showed Anne every attention allowable during the performance, and the two began to speak near the end of the act.

Captain Wentworth’s agony became more and more acute as Anne’s smiles and kindness were directed at Mr. Elliot rather than himself, and he seethed with jealousy as he followed them to the Octagon Room.

He sulked in the periphery, watching Anne as she took tea with her party. It was then that he heard the whispers from behind.

“I hear Sir Walter has welcomed Mr. Elliot with open arms.”

“There will soon be an Elliot wedding. I am certain of it!”

His eyes darted back to Anne as his hands clenched at his sides. He could not remain and watch as she was courted by another! Visions of her marrying Mr. Elliot flooded his mind, followed by one of her holding a child, Mr. Elliot protectively at her side.

Blast! He was too late!

Upon the Elliot’s return to the concert hall, Captain Wentworth took a seat near the back, yet he could not abide to spend the next hour in abject misery. It was not to be borne! He rose and made his way to her.

“I must wish you a good night; I must be going. I should return home as soon as can be managed.“

“Is not this song worth staying for?”

“No!” he replied impressively, “there is nothing worth my staying for;” and he departed directly.

With a set jaw and unsettled mind, his feet carried him with purpose in the direction of the Croft’s, yet he had no idea of his surroundings since he could not cease the tormenting thoughts of Anne.

When he had first laid eyes upon her in Charles Musgrove’s cottage at Uppercross, his stubborn anger had shoved aside the overwhelming urge to take her in his arms, and he had allowed it, a part of him wanting to prove that he had not pined for her during those past eight years.

Rather than ascertain if she had longed for him as he had her, he paid Louisa Musgrove attention that he would not have bestowed under normal circumstances. What a wretched mistake! Now, he would pay dearly for his bitterness of spirit—dearly indeed.

Captain Wentworth halted and looked about in order to discern his location. He took a deep breath in an attempt to steady himself and not lose his composure there on the pavement.

The time had come to relegate Anne to the past and look to the future—to live his life. He would have no choice but to endure her presence on occasion as he concluded his business in Bath, and he would do so with equanimity. Then, he would depart and leave her to her life, because he could not bear to play the part of a spectator as she wed Mr. Elliot.

With any luck, he would be far from Bath when her engagement was announced. He would never lay eyes on Anne Elliot again.

Good morning! It’s the start of another week, and we’re that much closer to the release of Mr. Darcy’s Mirror! The preorder is now available on Amazon, so I hope you’ve clicked on the link and reserved your copy. If you haven’t had the opportunity to check out the first two chapters, I have those posted at Austen Variations!

I’m so excited for you to read what I have been stressing over. Today, we’re going to look at places in the story, most importantly Pemberley. Everyone has their own Pemberley, particularly when you travel to England and tour both Lyme Park and Chatsworth. Some love Lyme Park (Pemberley 1995) and find Chatsworth (Pemberley 2005) more of a showplace than a home (which it was), and some enjoy Chatsworth more.

Personally, I enjoyed the grounds of Lyme Park, but as an artist, I was really drawn to Chatsworth. Yes, a great deal of the tour are the rooms they decked out for royalty, but I like to think of there being a part that is more homey. I certainly wanted to curl up with a book in the library, even if I could only view it from the doorway.

Since Ellie is an art restorer, I did choose to model Pemberley after Chatsworth. When she is first introduced to the great house, she walks into an opulent Great Hall inspired by the Great Hall at Chatsworth and if you look, you’ll find other references that resemble Chatsworth–the cascade, the fountain, the Canova sculptures (like in the sculpture gallery). It was very easy seeing Ellie as an artist being overwhelmed and awed by a Pemberley so grand, yet so in need of lots of work.

Great Hall at Chatsworth
Photo by eHeritage on Pexels.com

I’ve mentioned the Palais Garnier in Paris more than once during the story, and of course, the ballroom is similar, but at the same time, not. In the foyer of the great opera house, there are mirrors lining the wall, giving the feeling that the show is as much about the audience as it is what happens on the stage. Even in Regency times, people went to the theatre to see and be seen. The Hall of Mirrors in Versailles gives a similar feeling. That same sense is what was supposed to be conveyed by this ballroom. However, in my mind, there is one mirror that is larger than the rest, and despite its age, is immaculate. No black in the mirror itself that comes with age, no layer of dust on the frame. Of course, Oliver will assume there is some on the top because how could a 250 year old mirror in a long abandoned house not be dirty? Then Ellie gets a good look at it, and the rest is in the book 😉

If you want to see more of my inspiration for The Peculiarity of Mr. Darcy’s Mirror, check out the Pinterest inspiration page.

Preorder The Peculiarity of Mr. Darcy’s Mirror by clicking below! Release day is Sept. 22nd!

If you haven’t preordered The Peculiarity of Mr. Darcy’s Mirror, you can do that here!!!

One thing I’ve had with editing and proofreading modern or in this case a story with a modern character that takes place in England is questions about slang. I think most JAFF readers are familiar with the -or vs. -our differences (color vs. colour, honor, vs. honour) but there are other spelling differences (traveled vs. travelled, jewelry vs. jewellery, focused vs. focussed) and the -ed vs. -t past tenses (learned vs. learnt). But what about the slang!! That can be the fun part, so let’s go through some of the fun British slang words/phrases and a few just every day British things that you may not be familiar with.

Mental – In most places if you call someone or say something is mental, it’s really offensive. I always heard it used more in terms of things or something that has happened than people, but I have heard someone saying “I must be going mental.” It’s like saying something is crazy or I must be going crazy.”

Barmy – Also can mean mad or crazy.

Bollocks – It can mean a gentleman’s testicles, but in MDM, it’s like saying “Crap!” or “Blast!”

Take the Mick out of – Is to tease or ridicule.

Takeaway – Takeout from a restaurant

Cuppa – cup of tea

Fit – Good looking. I had a friend say my husband is a “fitty.” She was horribly embarrassed when she realised he was my fitty.

Bloke – guy, man

CV – resume

Ribena – So, not slang to start off. Ribena is black current juice. It’s often sold in concentrate like squash and you add water. You can also buy it in juice boxes for school lunches.

Mr. Kipling’s – These are different little cakes and such. They remind me of Little Debbies.

Hobnobs – Are like a flat oatmeal cookie. You can get them with a layer of chocolate on them too.

Victoria Sponge – YUM!!! A double layer vanilla sponge cake with clotted cream and raspberry or strawberry jam between the layers and dusted in powdered sugar.

NHS – National Health Service.

Paracetamol – Acetaminophen/Tylenol

Lovely – So, not slang or something unusual, but one thing an American friend of mine and I noticed when we were both living in England was that prior to living there, we both always used “lovely” sarcastically. It came up in the car ride from picking her up at the Epping tube station to Cambridge. We then spent the day taking turns laughing when the other would use it as a compliment. We went to Wimpole and one of us would breathe “Lovely” at a room or a painting and the other would laugh.

Hope everyone enjoyed my little glossary/fun fact sheet for Mr. Darcy’s Mirror! If you haven’t preordered it yet, what are you waiting for? Preorder it now!!

And if you haven’t read my free short story The Stagecoach, make sure you sign up for my mailing list and claim your free copy!

September 22nd is the release day of The Peculiarity of Mr. Darcy’s Mirror, so I’m gearing up for a release! Ellie Gardiner is an art restorer starting her first real job at Pemberley of modern day. She obviously would know a lot about art, but how much of that knowledge is right on the tip of her tongue. When she finds herself in 1811, she has a few discussions about art. How would she not? So let’s talk about a few of the artists who are mentioned.

John Constable (1776-1837) was an English landscape artist famous for his scenes of his home county of Suffolk. While he only sold about 20 paintings during his lifetime, he is now considered one of the great British landscape artists. His most famous work is The Hay Wain, Dedham Vale, and many of you may know Wivenhoe Park from a book cover here or there.

William Marlow (1740-1813) was an English landscape artist famous for his marine scenes and etchings. Mr. Bennet has Marlow’s View of Legate Street from Ludgate Hill. Originally from Southwark in London, Marlow started with the Incorporated Society of Artists. He showed his work there, at the Free Society of Artists, and the Royal Academy. Due to licensing, I do not have an image of Mr. Bennet’s etching for you. I do have it saved on Pinterest.

Antonio Canova (1757-1822) was an exceptionally skilled Venetian sculptor. By 1800, Canova had patrons from France, England, Russia, Poland, Austria and Holland and also sculpted for several royal families, being one of the most celebrated artists on the continent. Have you seen the sculpture gallery at Chatsworth? If you’ve watched the 2005 Pride and Prejudice, Lizzy looks at several of Chatsworth’s amazing Canovas in that movie. Of course, Pemberley wouldn’t be Pemberley of the future…or the past without Canovas so Fitzwilliam has several from his father’s association with Mr. Canova himself.

There are more artists, but I won’t list them all today 🙂 I’m prepping the preorder for The Peculiarity of Mr. Darcy’s Mirror, so hopefully, you can preorder it soon! In the meantime, for my latest news and fun content, sign up for my mailing list here.



Photo of Canova’s Perseus Courtesy of The Met and CC0

Photos of Flatford, Wivenhoe Park, and The Hay Wain taken by the author.

Captain Wentworth, ecstatic with Anne’s acceptance of his hand, ventures to Camden Place to apply for Sir Walter’s consent…

His footfalls sounded briskly off the pavement as Captain Wentworth strode to the home of the Elliots in Camden Place. With the warm sun peeking through the fluffy clouds, the weather was brilliant and reflected well the overwhelming happiness of his heart at that moment.

Anne had accepted his hand! After eight long years of abject misery, he had won the heart of his love and would once again apply to Sir Walter for his consent.

Awash with anxiety and excitement, he rapped the ornate brass knocker and paused to await the door’s opening. His first application eight years ago had not been accepted with ease or graciousness, and Captain Wentworth began to worry once more as his mind was called back to the disparagement of the self-centred baronet so many years prior.

“You? Anne accepted you? Granted, you look well enough, but where is your fortune? To think one of your inferior birth would have the gall to believe yourself worthy of the daughter of a baronet! It is unpardonable!”

“This connexion should never be—Anne the sister of a curate and wife of a naval officer. What a disgrace to the name Elliot!”

Of course, Anne’s gentle character could not withstand such censure and the persuasion of both her father and Lady Russell, but now that day was long past and long forgotten. Gone was the innocent nineteen year-old who broke his heart, his Anne was now a woman of eight and twenty, a woman who knew her own heart and mind.

The butler allowed him inside and took his hat.

“Captain Frederick Wentworth requests a private audience with Sir Walter Elliot.”

“Very good, sir,” responded the servant. With a polite bow, he passed through the closest set of doors only to return a few moments later. “If you will follow me.” Captain Wentworth trailed behind the man as he returned through the same doorway, pausing just inside. “Captain Frederick Wentworth.”

A quick survey of the room indicated Sir Walter would not grant him the private audience he requested. Miss Elliot stood from where she had been seated at the divan, a pinched, sour expression upon her face, while Anne, dear Anne, rose from her seat with such a glow upon her countenance. She was more beautiful than any memory he had of her—and she would at long last be his!

His bow was returned with curtsies from the ladies and a pretentious nod from Sir Walter.

“I cannot comprehend your purpose in requesting a private audience,” droned Sir Walter as if he was bored of his own voice. “You cannot have anything to say which my daughters cannot hear.”

With a curt nod, the captain steeled himself. “Very well, sir. I have come for but one purpose. I have requested the honour of your daughter Anne’s hand in marriage and have been accepted. The request of a meeting was to garner your blessing and consent.”

Sir Walter cast a disinterested glance to Anne as Miss Elliot’s head whipped to her younger sister. “But what of Mr. Elliot!”

“What of Mr. Elliot?” asked Anne in a calm tone. “I have given him no encouragement and have no understanding with the gentleman. He is free to seek his future where he wishes.”

Miss Elliot sneered as she took her seat, casting a loathing glare at Captain Wentworth. “He is hardly worthy of the daughter of a baronet.”

“The captain has his fortune and has distinguished himself in service to the crown. He is all that is noble, honourable, and deserving.”

Captain Wentworth beamed with pleasure. Her defence was not required, but how wonderful she should come to his aid on her own! He had secured her as much as she had secured him, and her affections were his and his alone

Sir Walter appraised him much as he had eight years prior. “You have not lost your looks, and do not appear the colour of mahogany, rough and rugged to the last degree; all lines and wrinkles. At least your countenance would reflect well upon the Elliot name.” With a sigh, he tapped the top of his snuff box. “You may not be what I would have hoped in regards to birth, but I will give no objection.”

Captain Wentworth turned to Anne whose face was lit with a bright smile. “Thank you, Father.”

“Yes, well…” droned Sir Walter.

“It is such brilliant weather. Would it be acceptable if I escort Anne to Sidney Gardens; we could settle on a day for the wedding whilst we walk the paths.”

Her father peered at the captain as he placed a bit of snuff upon the side of his hand. “I suppose.”

Anne bit her bottom lip and hastened from the room as the captain gave a bow. “I thank you, Sir Walter, for your time.”

The pompous gentleman gave a dismissive wave, and Captain Wentworth turned and departed without delay to the entry where his betrothed awaited him.

“Shall we?”

She wore a beatific smile as she nodded and placed her delicate hand on his arm. “We shall.”

Can you believe it’s August already? I hope everyone is having a great summer. I’m in the midst of editing my latest book (working title: Mr. Darcy’s Mirror (Not likely to keep that name 😉 ) ) and trying to keep up with the never-ending house repairs that we’ve been blessed with.

If you’re like me, you’re looking for a fun escape, especially for sitting at the pool or on the beach so I’ve discounted my first book of the Wedding Planners Series: It’s Always Been You to 99¢. If you haven’t read it yet, I hope you’ll give it a try or even send it as a gift to one of your friends. You can’t beat the price!

Just in case, I’ll put up the first chapter to whet your appetite 🙂

Chapter 1

When I first laid eyes on the expanse of pristine white beach, I slid off my sandals, stepped down from the dock to the water’s edge, and gave in to the urge to squish the damp sand between my toes. The warmth of the sun magically prickled my skin as I took a deep breath, inhaling the air kissed with the heavy, salt scent of the sea while brilliant aquamarine water stretched forever until it darkened when it met the cloudless azure-colored sky. A slight breeze wafted in from the sea along with the occasional whitecap that broke along the sand. I still couldn’t believe I stood there absorbing every last breathtaking bit. I’d saved up for years for this vacation, and I was finally here. Two weeks! Two weeks to snorkel, lay out on the beach, or maybe scuba dive if I felt like it. Whatever I wanted. I was servant to no one’s whims but my own.

My plane had landed mid-afternoon, so it was already too late to plan anything for today, but I would definitely have to decide what to do tomorrow. I’d never traveled on my own before but why should being alone be an issue? I wouldn’t have to check with someone else before I made plans, and I wouldn’t disappoint or frustrate someone if I wanted to be lazy and relax in my villa with room service and a chick flick—not that I had any intention of doing so. At least, not yet.

“Miss Barrett?” I tore my eyes away from the picturesque view in front of me to the uniformed porter ambling down the dock. “Your bags are in your villa, number ten, just down on the left. Are you sure you don’t need me to introduce you to the amenities we offer?”

I shook my head. “No, thank you. I’m certain I can figure it all out on my own. I am interested in snorkeling tomorrow. Could you recommend a guide perhaps? Someone who knows the best places and can take me there.”

“You’re welcome to snorkel off the deck of your villa, but the resort also offers tours. Your villa has a portfolio with all of our packages on the desk near the phone. Be sure to call as soon as you decide. You never know when the tours will fill quickly.”

I lifted one side of my lips. “Of course, I will. I suppose I would’ve known about the portfolio if I’d let you show me around. I apologize.”

“No worries, miss. If you require anything further, feel free to call our concierge desk. One of our staff will be happy to assist you.”

“Thank you.” I opened the small purse hanging at my side and pulled out a tip, which the young man accepted with a thank you before heading back toward the huge hut-like building that housed the lobby, the restaurants, and probably some sort of conference center.

A warm breeze rippled through the palms behind me, blowing the long curls back from my face and pressing my gauzy white skirt against my legs. The resort was paradise—no fussy clients, no work, no family, no one to please but myself. My sister Jena was right. I did need this. The biggest question now was what to do first?

That wasn’t a difficult question to answer. A shower to wash the stale airplane smell from my hair and skin was a must! By the time I dressed, the different restaurants at the resort would be open for dinner. I’d need to call and book a reservation, not to mention schedule that snorkeling tour for the earliest slot available tomorrow.

My footsteps made a steady cadence down the wooden planking of the dock until I reached my villa on the left, but before I could open the door, a loud voice from one of the huts nearby almost made me jump out of my skin.

“No, I just arrived yesterday. I have no intention of leaving so soon.” I lifted my eyebrows. Whoever he was, his voice held a low tone that did not sound happy. 

“No, I will not. I have some things I need to take care of and this is as good a place as any. I’ll see you when I return.” 

I took another step but stopped when the voice continued, “How would you come here? You don’t even know where I am. Really, this is ludicrous. I asked for some time, and I intend to take it. Please don’t call me again. I’ll contact you when I’m ready to talk. Goodbye.”

With a quick peek, I checked to see if anyone noticed me standing there. What if he came out of his villa and found me listening? Not that I could avoid overhearing his conversation with how loud he was speaking, but it had still been rude to listen. I should’ve gone inside and booked that tour for tomorrow instead of being unbearably nosy. Before someone could catch me up to no good, I hurried inside. I had no intention of getting on that man’s bad side! Whoever he was.

~ * ~

When I stepped back onto the dock a few hours later, the sky had morphed from that azure blue to an amazing sunset, awash with vibrant hues of red, orange, and purple and the water had become darker with the setting sun, looking more an inky black than the brilliant topaz of earlier. It was beautiful. 

I had no desire to rush, so I didn’t walk quickly. Instead, I took my time almost meandering down the walkway toward the main building of the resort, simply enjoying the sound of the waves breaking along the dock and the calls of a seagull from somewhere further down the beachfront. A gentle breeze still blew off the water, blowing my billowy sundress out from my legs. Unlike when I arrived, I stuck to the deck this time so I didn’t get sand in my favorite strappy sandals. I doubted the restaurant would appreciate it if I showed up barefoot—even if they didn’t have a sign that said, “No shirt, no shoes, no service,” it was still tacky.

The resort boasted a myriad of places to eat, but since it was my first evening, I planned on celebrating. I was on vacation, the one I’d dreamed of forever. Tonight was definitely a special occasion. I’d perused all the choices back in my room and chose a grill called Salt Water. Fine dining and an ocean view to enjoy while I ate—it sounded perfect.

As I approached the maître d’ podium, a man bumped my shoulder as he hurried around me. “Table for one, please.” I stopped and stared. What a prick!

The host glanced at me then back to him. “Do you have a reservation, sir?”

“No, I was tied up with business most of the day,” the man said with a huff as he shifted on his feet. “I didn’t get a chance to call.”

The maître d’ shook his head. “I’m sorry, sir, but we’re booked. Might I suggest the Thai restaurant? I know they have free tables this evening.” The host’s eyes returned to me. “Do you have a reservation, miss?”

With a careful step forward, I nodded. “Yes, Ellie Barrett.” I sneaked a peek at the man beside me. His eyes flickered to me before they returned to the host, whose finger trailed along the iPad he held tilted toward him.

“Ah, yes.” The host picked up a menu and held out his arm. “If you’ll follow me.”

That was when the man turned, his crystal blue eyes meeting mine, making me pause and swallow a gasp. Were those natural? I’d never seen a shade that clear and vibrant. I’d be willing to bet they’d probably match the shade of the water if it wasn’t so dark outside. I started to step past him, but something stopped me. Who knew what that something was, but I simply couldn’t leave him standing there. “Would you care to join me for dinner?”

His eyebrows drew down a little in the middle. “You wouldn’t mind?”

“I’m dining alone, and I’m sure the table will be large enough for two. If you don’t mind sharing with a stranger, I don’t mind either.”

I almost startled at how his face transformed when a small smile cracked the stern façade. I clenched my hands at my sides to keep from fanning myself. Good Lord, he was good looking! Two dimples peeked from his cheeks, his eyes crinkled a little at the edges, and most women would kill for those eyelashes. They were the longest I’d ever seen on a man. I even had eyelash envy! With his sculpted face, striking eyes, and dark brown hair, very few women would have had a dry chin in his presence.

“Thank you,” he said. “I’d be happy to join you.”

The maître d’ took one more menu from the stack and showed us to a table along the edge of the decking. I stopped and stared at the unencumbered view of the sand and sea until the maître d’ pulled out my chair and saw us seated and looking over the evening’s selections before hurrying away.

“Thank you again for sharing your table.”

I looked up from my menu and relaxed back into my seat. “I’m happy to do it. As I said, it’s just me, I have the room, and I don’t mind the company.”

He held his hand over the table. “William.”

“Ellie,” I said. I feigned shifting as I leaned forward so I could press my damp palm against the cushion of the chair. I would not shake his hand with sweaty palms! “It’s nice to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you too.” He cleared his throat while he scratched the back of his neck. “I’m sorry for pushing ahead of you back there. It’s really nice of you to invite me to share your table considering how rude I was.”

“Do you always shove women out of the way when you’re hungry? Should I keep a look out for you in the future? Take a peek over my shoulder before I serve myself from the breakfast buffet?”

His deep chuckle traveled to the pit of my stomach where it caused a sudden flip. “Perhaps someone else might need to keep an eye out, but I’ll make sure I don’t bowl you over again. I promise.”

“I appreciate that,” I said with a laugh as I picked up the wine menu. “Would you like to share a bottle of wine? I thought I’d order some Prosecco.”

He lifted his eyebrows. “Are you celebrating?”

“Actually, yes. I’ve been saving up for this trip, and I’m finally here. I think it’s a good reason to break open some bubbly.”

“How long have you been planning this?”

“Since I graduated college. My sister, my best friend, and I started our own company, and when we started making a profit, I began to put a certain amount away from my earnings every month—so about six years. We’ve also been saving up for a better office space so it’s taken a little longer than it would otherwise.”

He opened his mouth to respond, but the waiter appeared seemingly from nowhere, took our drink order, and bustled off.

William leaned back in his chair. “What exactly do you do?”

Every muscle in my back stiffened. Most men liked to poke fun at my job. I was on vacation. I didn’t want to spend my first evening defending my profession. “I’m a wedding planner.”

“Really?” he said, leaning forward and resting his forearms on the table. “I’ve always wondered what type of degree someone needed to do that.”

“You don’t necessarily need a degree, but business, design, and public affairs are typically helpful. I studied design, my sister studied communications, and Charlie double-majored in business and finance.”

“I take it she handles the bottom line,” he said with a crooked grin.

“Pretty much. So, what is it you do?” He didn’t make a joke, comment that I planned occasions for lazy people or bash romance . . . yet. It was still a good time to change the subject, just in case.

The waiter returned and set to work serving our Prosecco. William glanced up at the movement but quickly returned to me.

“I own a construction company. We deal in new builds, custom floor plans, and such. The company originally belonged to my father. I earned my degree in architecture and took over when he wished to retire.” He sipped the wine set in front of him and gave a nod for the server to continue.

I snuck a peek at his left hand. I couldn’t help it! He was completely out of my league, but a girl could dream, couldn’t she? No ring and no tan line from one either, so he was unmarried. Why would someone who looked like that and was obviously successful still be single? “Are you here on your own as well?” It was a reasonable question. Hopefully, I didn’t sound like I was fishing for information on a potential girlfriend or even boyfriend somewhere out there.

“No, I needed to get away. My father’s filling in for me while I take some time for myself. He insisted.” He gave a light laugh. “I saw no reason to argue with him.”

“I know what you mean.” The bubbles from my wine tickled my tongue as I swallowed.

“So, let me ask you a very important question.” He gave me a sidelong glance with a slight upturn of his lips. It was all I could do to keep my knees from knocking together. “What do you think of books?”

I leaned against the arm of my chair and tilted my head. “That’s a serious question. I actually read more than I watch television.”

“But what do you prefer to read?” He relaxed and crossed his arms over his chest. “Do you read about sparkly vampires, thrillers, boy wizards, or romantic earls in whatever completely non-romantic era?”

A burst of a laugh escaped before I could prevent it. “I’ve never read anything with sparkly vampires, I’ve read a few thrillers, I love to read about boy wizards and their quests, and I will sometimes read about romantic earls. If it’s well-written, I’ll read it.”

“I can’t tell you how relieved I am you don’t care for sparkly vampires.”

I lifted my eyebrow. Yes, I was flirting and I didn’t care. What did I have to lose? “And what do you read, sir? Biographies, legal dramas, or maybe you enjoy those romantic earls.”

He grinned and shook his head. “I’ve never read a story with an earl or even a viscount.”

The waiter returned for our food order, but as soon as he was gone, we picked up where we left off. William wasn’t just easy on the eyes, but he was also easy to talk to. He read a lot and it definitely showed. Dinner with him proved to be more interesting than most of the dates I’d had in the last five years. Yes, I possessed a sad and pathetic love life. The best prospect I’d had in a long time was a stranger I’d met in the middle of paradise and probably would never see again. Yet, something about him tugged at me—not literally, of course. I couldn’t explain it another way if I tried.

When the meal came, the food was cooked to perfection, and we ordered another bottle of wine. Even with the interruptions, our conversation never faltered once. 

When the server brought the bill, I reached for it, but before I could so much as lay a finger on the edge, William scooped it up and signed it.

“How much do I owe you?” I edged forward in an attempt to see what was written, but he curled the paper toward him. I’d thought we’d split the tab. As much as I could wish it was, tonight wasn’t a date.

He smiled and shook his head. “It’s on me. You don’t know how much I appreciate your offer to share the table, and I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed having company for dinner. Thank you.”

“I had a great time, too, but I never expected you to pay.”

He held up the tray, which the server grabbed as he passed. “It’s done. Maybe we’ll be able to eat together again during our trip. You can pay then.”

“I’ll hold you to it.”

“Great!” He stretched his arms over his head. “I would love to stay and talk some more, but I’m still a bit jet-lagged from yesterday.”

If I was being honest, today’s travel was beginning to wear on me as well. The conversation had been amazing, but eventually, I would fall asleep on the table if we stayed so I followed his lead and stood. “I know what you mean. It took a couple of long plane rides to get here. Between that and the wine, I’m sure I could fall asleep in a matter of seconds.”

We didn’t talk as we strolled from the restaurant and down the dock in the direction of the villas, but the silence wasn’t awkward or uncomfortable. Instead, it was relaxed and oddly like it was supposed to be that way. He stood tall while he walked casually with his hands in the pockets of his pants. We both gazed out over the water where the moon hung low at the horizon.

When I started to veer onto the path to my villa, I pointed. “I’m this way.”

He peered down the walkway with his brow furrowed. “Really? So am I.”

We turned and walked steadily until we reached my door. I faced him and sort of pointed toward my suite. “This is me.” At his nod, I held up my hand in a wave, instantly wanting the water under the dock to suck me in. I must’ve looked ridiculous. “Thank you for a lovely evening.”

He nodded and glanced down to his feet then back at me. “Good night, Ellie.”

I smiled and backed inside while I opened the door behind me. “Good night.”

Howdy y’all! It’s been a while, and I hope everyone is well and happy. I’ve been quite busy writing (something very new for me) and proofing my latest audiobook. Exciting things are on the way, and the That Perfect Someone audiobook will be first up. Every chapter has been checked for errors and it’s now up to ACX to approve the files. I even have a sample!!!

Sara Jo Elice was a lot of fun to work with and I think she did an incredible job. Once the audiobook is released, I’ll post again to let everyone know. 022

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.

Chapter 1

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…

Happy Monday! So, bit of a confession time! (Spoilers ahead! Read at your own peril! If you haven’t read That Perfect Someone, you can do so here. It’s on Kindle, KU, and paperback!) When I sent That Perfect Someone to my second beta who was also my LGBTQ+ sensitivity reader (aka my oldest daughter), she had a pacing complaint. I had too much after the climax of the book and not enough between D&E finally giving in and the climax. So, enter the Deputy Collins yuck factor and Condomgate, and a couple of chapters were cut from the end. The end was hard because I had to give enough of a recovery without giving you so much it slowed the book down. Because of that, I have deleted bits to share!! These are from later on in the book, so they will give parts of the story away and may contradict things that happened during Condomgate.

Let’s start with what was the original chapter 26. Lizzy was still in the hospital, William was refusing to leave her on her own, so enter Ana. 🙂

“Hey there!”

Lizzy smiled as Ana peered around the curtain before approaching the bed. “Thank you for this.”

“Don’t mention it. The thing is, I’m still not entirely sure why you need me to spend the day with you since I know William won’t leave. He’s too stubborn for his own good.”

“He may not want to, but he needs to. Daddy said he hasn’t left the hospital since I was brought into the E.R., and it’s been over a week. I want him to go home and take a real shower, and shave. Dear Lord, he needs to shave!”

A giggle burst from Ana. “You aren’t feeling the Darcy beard he’s got going on? Some women find beards hot.”

Lizzy shook her head. “Well, this woman isn’t one of them. I don’t mind stubble, but we’ve passed a sexy bit of stubble and are slowly sliding down a slippery slope, heading toward a full biker gang-looking monstrosity. He made a joke about waxing his mustache yesterday, Ana. Not just no, but heck no!”

Ana plopped down on the bed next to her, the very spot where William spent the night, and wrapped an arm around her shoulders. “I’m so happy to see you feeling better. I probably shouldn’t say this, but you scared the bejeezus out of us. Chase was overwrought. The guy broke down the evening after you woke up and bawled like a baby—it was as if the enormity of what happened hit him all at once.”

“He’s always been good at keeping his cool when it’s necessary and reacting later.”

“Lizzy, what’s Silver Taps?”

She frowned and scooted back against the railing some so she could see Ana’s face better. “Why do you ask?”

“I doubt you remember, but we were there when they were loading you into the ambulance. For a moment, Chase panicked and told you that you couldn’t die and that he refused to attend Silver Taps for you. The deputy then told us about Skylla, so we went up to the stable, and he pulled it back together. He sort of went into this frantic work mode and concentrated on William’s horse until Mr. Bennet told him to leave. When he broke down two days later, he mumbled about Silver Taps several times. I’ve never heard of it and something felt wrong about Googling it. I’d rather know from you or Chase.”

Poor Chase! With a sigh, she wiped a tear that had fallen to her cheek. “Silver Taps is a ceremony at A&M, held on the first Tuesday of every month. It honors the Aggies who died the month before, graduates and undergraduates. It’s an entire day thing. They lower the flags to half-mast that morning and there are traditions that day before a ceremony in the evening when all of the lights on campus are extinguished. There’s a good bit to it, including hymns and a gun salute. At the end, they play “Taps” three times, once in every direction but east because the sun will never rise on the fallen Aggie again. I believe A&M is the only university with the tradition, and we’ve been doing it for over a hundred years. After one of Chase’s friends died in a car accident, he went for the first time. I remember he’d attend every month after unless something prevented him going. He was touched at the significance—what it meant for the family. He even went in February with a bad flu once.” She lifted her eyebrows. “You know, you could’ve asked him yourself.”

“I’ll talk to him about it eventually, but I didn’t want to stir everything up any more than necessary right now. He’s been better the past few days, but I think he needs some time before I go reminding him of what happened with my own questions added in.” Ana glanced around the room. “You know. I just realized my brother isn’t here. Where is he?”

“He’s downstairs getting coffee. The line must be long since he’s been gone for about fifteen minutes.”

“I’m glad he wasn’t up here when I arrived,” she said. “It would’ve made it hard to ask about the plan if he’d been in the room.”

“Let me ask you something. If I have today’s date correct, Will and you were supposed to be in New York signing paperwork.”

Ana scraped her teeth along her bottom lip. “I called my aunt and uncle who sent the paperwork to a mobile notary. We signed yesterday, and I overnighted the documents to New York.”

“The notary came here?” She couldn’t recall anyone showing up.

“You were sleeping pretty soundly. I sat with you for about fifteen minutes while Will signed the paperwork in the empty room next door. The nurses were kind enough to let him use it.”

Without warning, the door swung open, and William entered, taking a drink from his cup. “Ana? You didn’t mention you’d be here this morning.” He looked at his watch. “I didn’t even know you could rise before seven.” The slight shake of his shoulders, and his crooked smile made it obvious he was teasing.

“Ha ha. You can be a real dickhead. You know?”

“But you love me.”

“Yes, she does.” Lizzy straightened with a wince. Damned wound! “Which is why she’s here.”

His head hitched back a little. “I don’t understand.”

“I asked her to come so you could get out of the hospital for the day.”

“Lizzy, if you think I’m leaving—”

She held up her hand. “Don’t. I love you so much, but you need to have a day for you. Daddy made you an appointment for nine at a barber shop on Main Street so you can get a haircut and have that eyesore shaved off your face.” Ana snorted and covered her nose. “Then, I want you to go home and take a good, long nap. With the nurses coming in every hour for my vitals, not to mention being squeezed against the railing of the bed so I’m comfortable, I know you aren’t sleeping well. Besides, poor Evie has been on her own since this all happened.”

“Mary is taking care of her,” he said in a high-pitched voice.

“Yes, and Evie tears up the stairs when Mary lets herself in and doesn’t come down to eat until after my sister leaves. She’d grown accustomed to you being in the house. I feel like if you go home and take a nap, she may cuddle up to you. I don’t like the thought of her being so alone for so long. She’s not used to it, and I don’t want her to get depressed. Besides, I texted Mary and gave her the day off, told her you were going home and would take care of Evie today.” His shoulders slumped. Hah! Maybe, just maybe she’d gotten through to him or at least forced his hand. “I also messaged Ana yesterday, and she’s taken the entire day off from training so she can sit with me.”

“I’m sure my horses will be thrilled with the freedom. I also fed Skylla as well as the rest of your horses at the Longbourn stables before I came over, but you’ll need to feed them later today.”

“That’s another thing,” said Lizzy. “You haven’t seen Skylla since he was poisoned. Don’t you think you should check in on him?”

His eyes tore at her heart. “Your father and Lamonte have sent me pictures, and Chase sent me a video. He’s out of danger, and I’ll see him after you’re discharged.”

“William.” Her voice held a drawl, but she’d done that intentionally. He could be so obstinate!

“Are you sure that’s all there is to this? You aren’t mad because I hover too much or some other reason you aren’t telling me?”

Lizzy shook her head and reached out for his hand. “No, I promise we’re good. I arranged today because you need to take care of yourself too. How can we be there for each other if we’re both mentally and physically exhausted?”

He squeezed her hand and leaned in for a sweet kiss to her lips. “I hate this, leaving you. You know that, right?”

“I’ll miss you too, but I think this is the best thing for both of us.”

He uttered a soft sort of growl and scratched his nasty, hairy cheek. “Okay, you win.”

“Good, text my father before you head down. He’s going to pick you up and drive you to the barber shop and make sure you are completely de-cave-manned. After, he’ll take you anywhere else you need to go before he drives you home. You can bring one of our cars back this evening. That’ll make things easier whenever I’m discharged.”

“Wait!” Ana hopped up and grabbed his bag of clothes and toiletries, shoving it into his free hand. “Take this with you. You can wash your clothes and pack clean ones for later. You have to be getting low, and I’d rather not have to dig through your underwear drawer again if I can help it.” Her nose crinkled, and she shuddered.

William nodded and took the bag but walked around the hospital bed one more time to kiss her. “I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

“Not before six,” she said with a slight dip of her chin. “I’ll kick you back out if you’re any earlier.”

As soon as he was out the door, Ana clasped her hands in front of her. “I can’t believe you pulled that off. He would’ve never given in with me so easily. He’s stubborn as heck, you know.”

“I agree, but I’m sure it’s different for a younger sister than it is for a girlfriend. I also think he’s simply too tired to argue, which is why he needs this. Did you get a good look at the dark circles under his eyes?” He would be asleep before his head hit the pillow.

Ana held up a finger before darting behind a curtain that separated her bed from the door. When she emerged, she held up a bag and a cup. “I looked up that diet William said the doctors had you on, and I know you have to be bored to tears. So, I stopped by Bear Creek Coffee Company and picked up a latte and a chocolate croissant for you.”

“You’re a goddess,” said Lizzy with a grin. “Do you know that?”

Ana smiled and flipped her hair. “If you insist, my dear. I do have one disclaimer, which is that I did get decaf since I worried about caffeine possibly upsetting your stomach. You were drinking decaf  before… Well, before—”

“It’s okay. I know what you mean.” Her heart hurt, and she swallowed hard. She didn’t want to cry right now. How she had any tears left after the past week was a mystery.

After Ana plonked the bag on the tray table and handed her the coffee, she sat back down beside her. “Should I have gotten two croissants?”

“I can’t eat much at a time, so one is perfect, thanks.”

“Chase is bringing you contraband for lunch and dinner too. We worked it out so your dad is covering at the clinic, and if the nurses give us a side-eye, I’ll flush whatever meals they bring you. So, before I give Chase the go-ahead, do you have any requests?”

She shook her head since she had a small bite of flaky, butter pastry in her mouth. “Just nothing too big.”

“Done. Now, I see you are watching the news. Why? Nothing good can come of that.”

Lizzy laughed, but pressed her hand to her stomach. “Don’t make me laugh. Please.”

“Oh, sorry.” Ana bit her lip then grabbed the remote that was wired to the bed. “Do you have any good channels or just the bare bones basics?

“I haven’t checked it out much since I’m still sleeping a good bit. William ran next door to that high-end electronics store and bought that monstrous laptop over there, loaded up several apps for watching TV and movies. The wi-fi is pretty good if you want to give that a try.”


She loved Ana to death. The girl was bubbly and kind and loved Chase enough to hold him while he cried, then discover what she needed to know to help him on her own so she wouldn’t upset him. Chase had needed someone like her for a long time. Who knew William’s little sister would solve that problem so easily? Now they just needed to persuade him to adopt a dog. Somehow, she didn’t think Ana would mind, and Chase adored dogs. He’d just always had one excuse after another—sort of like his love life. Perhaps it was just a matter of finding the right person, or in this case, the right canine.

“Hey, Ana, do you like dogs?”

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