Today’s sneak peek scene is taken from the new book, Pursued (Leaving Bennet Behind Series, vol 3). The book will be on pre-order next week, and available by the end of the month, so catch your first sneak peek here! To read more of Chapter 1, visit the Peculiar Ramblings Library. The following is the case sensitive password (including the !): AustenClassics!
And now for the sneak peek scene…
Friday, April 3, 1812
Mary had to admit, Georgiana’s carriage was well-sprung. More so than any in which she had ever ridden, especially her father’s that bounced all around. She was fortunate enough to be in such luxury for the trip, unlike the rest of her family who now traveled directly behind them. They would stay with the Gardiners for only a week, but Mary was to stay at Darcy House the entire Season, and Elizabeth and her husband talked of her going to Pemberley with them as well. It was an experience she would not soon forget.
She looked over to her friend who lay in the bed fashioned for her comfort while traveling. Georgiana was fast asleep, the velvet, fur-lined blanket she adored, with the Darcy crest embroidered in the center, was tucked in around her and pulled up to her chin, keeping her warm. It was a peaceful sight.
Mary’s eyes moved to the two who sat across from her. Elizabeth was leaning against her husband who had his arm wrapped around her shoulders. She, too, was asleep, her hand resting gently on her expanding mid-section. Mary smiled when she thought of the couple having their first baby in the autumn.
Oh, what a memorable evening when the news of their expanding family was revealed to all! It was suspected by their friends and family for many weeks leading up to the announcement, but no one would dare ask until the couple was ready to tell their secret. Everyone knew they only awaited the arrival of the newly wedded Bingleys to complete those Elizabeth wished to be present for their announcement. It was no surprise, but felicitations were heard all around and a flourish of emotion from Mrs Bennet reminded them all quickly just how loved the baby would be. What was a surprise that evening was when her mother revealed the contents of a letter from the Gardiners in which it was said they too would be having another child around the same time as Elizabeth and Darcy. Mary chuckled to herself when her next thought was that Jane and Bingley may have a similar announcement by summer.
Darcy looked up from his book, his face questioning Mary, though he did not speak. When he saw her looking towards where Elizabeth’s hand rested, he too smiled, then he pulled his wife a little closer, drew the rug up over her shoulder from where it had fallen, and went back to reading his book in silence.
Mary was too excited to rest, so she pulled her journal from her bag and flipped through all the entries she had made since her last birthday when she received it. She would need a new one soon—she thought this one might last until her birthday again in June, but maybe not. She had pin money saved up for her Season in London though, so she would just have to purchase one if she ran out of pages.
Her thumb stopped on one entry, and her eyes scanned the words.
October 1, 1811
Mama is overjoyed with a new addition to the neighborhood. It is said a single gentleman of some wealth has taken on Netherfield Park, and Mama is determined he will be smitten with Jane. Who wouldn’t be though? She is the sweetest person, and only an ogre would not be taken with her beauty. I just hope he is as amiable as Mama wishes him to be.
As it turned out, the single gentleman was smitten with her—so much so that they were now married. She turned back a few pages to an entry a few weeks before.
September 18, 1811
What a birthday Kitty has had this year! Papa’s hound had her puppies today. Just how many pups can one dog have? I have never seen such a large litter before—eleven! I wonder if it is a record. Papa says they will be the talk of hunting season…
She smiled. Just as her father predicted, they were the talk of gatherings for many months, causing quite the quarrel among some of the gentlemen when they were old enough to be sold. She again flipped through the pages.
October 31, 1811
Today was the first day of Lizzy’s engagement to Mr Darcy. Not to be outdone however, Mr Bingley asked to court Jane. These two brave gentlemen will, I fear, soon find out of what mettle they are made. Mama was full of anxiety after they left this morning.
I wonder–will I ever marry?
Mary knew exactly what this entry contained. She had flipped back to it and read her list of requirements in a mate many times since that night when it was penned. Her finger drew down to the bottom of the page.
…what if I decide I do want to marry and yet no gentleman will have me? I know what torment Charlotte Lucas receives from the neighborhood for not marrying by her age… She could not help but chuckle at how it had all changed for Charlotte, and so quickly. Just yesterday she was married, and to an earl at that! Having stayed at Netherfield the last month where the earl was also a visitor, Mary watched as the romance between the two was unfolded, and she could not help but feel a pang at hoping she too would have that one day as well. Naturally her next thoughts turned to Lord Primrose, and her body reacted as it always did—her heart began to beat more rapidly and her palms began to sweat.
She shook her head slightly, determined to not think of him at this moment. Her eyes returned to her journal, but she could not stop herself from turning just a couple of pages back and reading the familiar messy entry, her first about him.
October 30, 1811
How could I have known what a tale I would have when I awoke this morning? If only we did not need more flowers for the tables tonight, but we did, so I decided to search for them on my own. What a disaster! I slid down a muddy embankment, nearly falling into the river, and lost my spectacles! Papa has joked often that without them I could not see a tree standing in front of me, but I learned today it is the absolute truth. As I sat on the side of the road, covered in mud and anxious as to how I was to return home, I was sent a savior—Alexander Fitzwilliam.
Unfortunately I had to ride on his horse, but he did offer to accompany me when he saw how frightened I am of the beasts. I can feel my cheeks flushing even now as I recall the terrifying moment when the horse moved unexpectedly and I, in turn, buried my face into the gentleman’s chest. Oh, what mortification I felt! How could I act so wantonly? This gentleman only meant to help me home; I am certain he did not wish to be accosted by me in a moment of fright.
If I am to be truthful though, and I know I must be, even if only here within these private pages of my journal, the moment was one I shall never forget. He drew his arms around me in an embrace I could only call magical, and I began to calm as his soothing voice washed over me. I have never felt such emotions welling within me before. It felt as if I belonged there his embrace. Even just writing those words I can once again feel the warmth of his presence around me and his eyes piercing into my soul. I was so close I could see small flecks of gold in his bright green eyes. I now sit in my chambers, having washed the mud away, and I cannot but wonder who this gentleman is. I have never seen him before, nor heard his name in conversation with others, and have no idea if I will ever see him again.
Mary’s heart pounded in her ears, and she knew her cheeks were aflame, but she could not stop reading. She glanced up to see that no one was looking at her, then continued on with the entry she made just a few hours later.
He is a viscount! A VISCOUNT! And even worse than that, he is Mr Darcy’s cousin! I felt such mortification as never before when he was introduced to me tonight at the dinner party. He even returned my spectacles! Knowing how much mud was on me when I returned home, I am certain he ruined his clothes today just searching for them. Why would he do that for me, a stranger?
Even worse than the headache I had from not having my spectacles for so long today was the ache that rose within me at hearing him tell his cousin about meeting me. “She had no bonnet, and her dress was at least six inches deep in mud. How she could have thought to be out like that is beyond me. She looked almost wild…”
Mary saw the tear streaked ink of the sentence that cut so deeply into her heart, and she felt her eyes begin to fill with tears even now. She must refrain from reading about him any longer, so instead she put her journal back into her bag and turned, curling into the corner of the carriage and drawing the rug on her lap up over her arms. As she dried her eyes she hoped Darcy did not see her tears, for she knew if he did he would question his wife later and Elizabeth would then ask her about it. This aching in her soul was not something she could discuss with anyone. Even after all these months, and many interactions since, she felt the stab of pain as those words he spoke that night echoed within her.
She was determined to not let it affect her any longer. She was to have her second Season, her first in London, and she would enjoy all the diversions without a second thought to what the viscount thought of her. Even if he was to be around quite often, she could learn to ignore the reactions her body had to him. Perhaps she would even find the person who she would marry while she was in Town?
To read the rest of Chapter 1, visit the Peculiar Ramblings Library. The following is the case sensitive password (including the !): AustenClassics!