It is time for another Saturday Sneak Peek! This time the work in progress is a story called Cupid’s Traps, and it is about the traps Cupid uses on our couple to force them to see the truth of their own feelings. This scene is one of those instances. I hope you enjoy! This will be an upcoming novella, and it should be out sometime in June.
The four made their way back across the solarium in silence, Anne and Georgiana watching Darcy and Elizabeth carefully for any signs of a connection they dearly hoped would be there between the two after their forced moments together. They did notice something, but could not say what it was exactly. Perhaps it would grow into a mutual affection, if only there was more time.
Little did they know, the events which were soon to transpire would change everything.
As they passed the parrots enclosure, Georgiana turned to the others, “Oh, we must go inside—for just a moment. Miss Elizabeth will love this one!”
“Only if you and Anne both promise to remain in front of me, and not to lock us in again,” Darcy said in a firm, but caring voice.
Georgiana’s cheeks flushed, “I am sorry Fitzwilliam. I promise not to do it again.”
He smiled and tapped her nose, “You are forgiven. Now, which is your favorite?” he asked, waiting for his sister to point out the one she had loved since she was very little—a large green parrot on the far side of the cage.
Elizabeth was once again awed at what she saw of Mr Darcy’s character—this time being the care he showed in dealing with his sister. It was something she could never have imagined seeing from such a staid man, and yet, in the moment, she could not deny that it was truly indicative of his character. As her mind began to analyze the other encounters she had with the two, she began to see that he often showed more of himself when his sister was around, and yet until now she had completely missed this aspect. Was she even correct in her judgment of this gentleman? Surely she had not been wrong all along.
Soon all four of them were standing amidst the branches filled with the brightly colored birds. Some of them squawked, almost as if talking with each other, while others were flying around overhead. The one Georgiana loved so much was sitting on a branch repeating the words Georgiana spoke to him in a tone Elizabeth had never heard before.
Anne leaned near Elizabeth, the constant handkerchief held to her nose as her eyes watered, “Georgiana has spent years teaching this bird to talk, and he will only do so with her.”
“It is truly amazing,” she replied. “I did not know birds lived so long.”
“Oh, yes,” Anne said, “some can live for decades. This one has been with us since I was very young.” she giggled, “I am shocked he is sitting so calmly on my cousin’s arm, actually. Darcy and I used to be quite the trouble makers when we were young, and this bird especially used to avoid us completely. Perhaps he has forgotten what harridans we could be!”
As if on cue, the bird stretched out its wings and flew off, squawking to the others who followed suit. It was an experience Elizabeth would not soon forget.
The four were so eagerly discussing the awe-inspiring experience that they did not notice the latch on the door did not fully catch when they left the cage.
Anne was compelled into a coughing fit, and the next thing they knew, a flock of parrots flew overhead, squawking loudly, with more coming out the opened door.
A curdling scream came from the sitting area, and all four rushed to find out what had happened. They were brought to a stop immediately when they rounded the corner and saw Georgiana’s favorite parrot sitting atop Lady Catherine’s head, firmly planted in her hair, while Mr Collin’s flailing arms tried to fend off another persistent bird. Charlotte was in such shock she watched on in stunned silence. Maria jumped into the fray and tried to help her brother-in-law, but only succeeded in chasing him, and the bird, in circles, making herself quite dizzy. The colonel was no help to anyone as he was laughing so hard he was doubled over and nearly on the floor.
The four raced over and tried to help Lady Catherine, but the squawking only increased as two more parrots joined in on the attack. Anne was trying to remain composed and help her mother, but when Lady Catherine’s prized peacock, who always had full run of the solarium, came running towards them, his tail feathers wide and on display for all to see, she could control herself no longer and began to laugh just as hard as her cousin Richard.
Georgiana joined Maria in trying to chase off the parrot that was engaged in a game of tag with Mr Collins, leaving Elizabeth and Darcy to battle the birds that were attracted to Lady Catherine’s hair.
Servants were filling the room quickly, most busily trying to find all the escaped birds to put them back into their enclosure, though none dared step in to be hit by the flying arms of their employer, Lady Catherine.
Elizabeth tried to get the most annoying of the parrots off the grand lady, but his foot was stuck in her hair. Lady Catherine was putting up such a fuss that Elizabeth was willing to do anything to free the bird, so she pulled harder. What she thought was Lady Catherine’s hair turned out to be nothing more than a wig, and the tugging made it come off, exposing Lady Catherine’s bald head to all in the room.
The grand lady’s hands immediately went to her head and her shrill voice filled the air as shrieks of ‘how dare you’ and ‘you will pay for exposing me to such censure’ escaped her lips.
In her anger, Lady Catherine pushed Elizabeth away, causing her to stumble backwards and right into Darcy.
Darcy was already stunned by the revelation that his aunt had no hair, and when Elizabeth fell into him he did not have the wherewithal to do anything but grab at her falling form. His arms reached around her in a most ungentlemanly fashion, and their feet became entangled, causing both of them to land on the floor in such a manner as to send Lady Catherine into shrieks once again, this time about the compromising position in which Elizabeth now lay, sprawled out atop her nephew.
Every eye in the room now turned to the two and, in her haste to stand, Elizabeth caused the ties of her dress to become caught on Mr Darcy’s coat button. She felt mortified and trapped, and scrambling to get to her feet was not working and was only causing more problems.
Richard stepped in to lead his enraged aunt from the room, followed closely by Mr Collins, who still flailed his arms about trying to rid himself of the persistent bird, his loud voice booming his concern to ensure the serenity of his patroness once again.
Anne rolled her eyes at the ridiculous man and turned away to address the servants, ensuring the others were given some privacy as Charlotte knelt beside her distraught friend, joined by Georgiana as well.
Maria, not knowing what to do now that her brother-in-law was not in the room, turned her attention now to the two who lay sprawled out on the floor, a wicked grin displayed on her lips as she thought of what fun her good friend Lydia Bennet was missing. This was certainly something she would have to tell in great detail!
Elizabeth was on her back, lying atop Mr Darcy, who was amazingly still for such chaos surrounding them. As she looked up to the ceiling above where birds still flew overhead, her eyes filled with tears. What had happened to lead to such a situation?
Darcy was completely mortified at his own actions, even if they were unintentional. When Elizabeth fell against him, his arms flew around to catch her and his feet stumbled backwards, causing their fall. But what was now so mortifying was where exactly his hands had grabbed in his attempt. Being a well-sought after gentleman, he had occasionally had a lady rub against his arm when he offered his assistance, especially Miss Bingley. But he had long tried to remain as far from those women as possible, as he did not wish to be put in such a position as to be forced to offer his hand. Now here he was, the one whose hands had grabbed so willingly… and with Miss Elizabeth as well! After all they had both said today, this was certainly not going to help his plight. He tried to remain as still as possible now, knowing that if he moved he might embarrass them both even more. Just her moving atop him was enough to cause his heart to race. He had to focus on something else, so he chose instead to think of the pain he felt at her elbow being in his ribs, hoping it would be enough.
Georgiana and Charlotte both tried to undo the knots that held the two entwined, but when it was clear something more was needed, Georgiana ran off to get the scissors from her sewing box.
While they waited, Charlotte assured Elizabeth it would be well, but the more she said the more distraught her friend became. Finally she just chose to remain silent as they awaited Georgiana’s return.
Soon the scissors were produced, and the ties on Elizabeth’s dress were cut, allowing the two to stand once again, though it was not so easy to accomplish as Elizabeth had to hold the top of her dress.
When Elizabeth was once again on her feet, Charlotte said, “I must go and find my husband now. Come Maria,” she grabbed her sister’s hand, pulling her out of the room.
Georgiana quietly added, “I will check on Aunt Catherine,” and followed as well, leaving the two alone in the solarium.
Darcy removed his coat and draped it over Elizabeth’s shoulders as he asked, “Are you injured?”
Elizabeth looked from the doorway back to the man at her side, then down to the coat that now hung on her shoulders. She reached her arms out into the sleeves and buttoned the front, folding the lapels up and over the top portion of her dress. “It is only my pride that is injured, sir.”
“I believe you once espoused that you dearly love to laugh at follies and nonsense, and you even accused me of being without them. Do you still feel as such?”
His tease was just enough to ease the anxiety that had arisen in her chest. She pushed the sleeves of his coat up, a laugh finally escaping her lips, “Certainly we both espoused much nonsense that evening. I believe I was most shocked at your teasing Miss Bingley about her figure being to the greatest advantage when we took a turn about the room.”
Darcy’s eyes grew dark, “It was not Miss Bingley to whom I was referring when I made such a statement.”
Elizabeth looked up into his eyes, not knowing what to say to such a statement. Could he have been admiring her all those months ago?
Her thoughts were interrupted when her cousin came storming back into the room talking of the situation, followed by Charlotte and Maria. He insisted they must leave, and Darcy watched as the four gathered their belongings and left the solarium, Elizabeth still wearing his coat. Once they were gone, he went to find his cousins and sister, and see what needed to be done about keeping the servants quiet after such an evening.