First, let me address my husband. Thirty-eight years ago, I said, 'I do,' and you forgot your part in the ritual. Every wedding ceremony has a minor glitch, and ours was officiant looking at you, saying, 'This is where you repeat after me.' And so, on that note, Happy Anniversary, Rob.
Okey dokey, on to the update:
Tomorrow is the midpoint of this exercise and a goal of 25K in words. As you can see, I have fallen short by a little over 7K. Having said that, I like what I have down on paper so far, so I will continue to push through.
Are you ready for another excerpt from the WIP 'In Essentials'?
Elizabeth dared not raise her eyes, for that would make her catch her breath - yet again. How did she, Elizabeth Rose Bennet, manage to solicit a request to dance from the most handsome man she’d ever laid eyes on? Never in her wildest dreams, and she had many, did she think something like this would happen to her. She had not failed to notice his entry. She choked back a soft snort. Who in Meryton had NOT noticed the Netherfield party when they finally arrived more than a half-hour after the dancing had begun? She would admit, her capricious sense of humor was tickled by their tardy entrance and she had purposefully stayed to the back of the assembly room to avoid the mad rush of introductions. It was only when she’d clapped eyes on the tallest man of the group that she’d wished she had remained tethered to her mother’s side.
There was no missing his square jaw and proud thrust of his shoulders. He was tall and athletic, with chiseled features and a patrician nose. Raven hair brushed the edges of his stiff collar and she could well imagine him running his fingers through those unruly curls. Or even better, her fingers teasing those dark locks. But what held her enthralled and completely tongue-tied were his eyes. Piercing blue beneath dark brows and they were focused solely on her.
She raised her arm and clasped his hand to move down the line. Because it was a local assembly, none of the ladies wore gloves and the fine hairs on her arm rose each time they touched. Did he feel it as well? For the first time in years, she had to concentrate on the steps of the dance and calm her breathing. It would not do to swoon in the middle of a country dance. So focused was she on remaining upright she almost missed his question.
“Pardon, I did not hear what you said over the noise of the crowd.”
“I asked if you are from Meryton or if you were only visiting, like me.”
“We are from here, Mr. Darcy. My father’s estate is a little over a mile outside of Meryton.”
She thought she caught a gleam of satisfaction in his sharp gaze, which she admitted had roamed freely over her body a few times during the dance. She remained positive he did not think she’d taken note, but well used to the predatory way men leered at her more beautiful sister, she knew the signs of a man interested in his dance partner and Mr. Darcy, for some reason, was very interested in her. It boggled the mind. No one sought her company over Jane’s, unless they were biding time until their allotted set came up. She was a fount of knowledge to be tapped in order to gain access to Meryton’s beauty. However, this time… this time a gentleman of some stature had sought her introduction over Jane’s. Her mother had stood, mouth agape when Mr. Darcy had looked past Jane and zeroed in on her.
Ah, well. There was no accounting for taste. She would ride this feeling until the horse grew tired, which it would as no man wanted a wife who was more intelligent, or more educated than he. Something she discovered to her detriment a year ago. No one told her she should let the gentleman win at chess. Was not the goal of the game to take your opponent’s king? It hadn’t helped that he had muttered a pithy insult in French, to which she replied fluently what she thought of his crass manners.
When he stormed from the manor, Mrs. Bennet screeched like a fishmonger while Papa only laughed and told her next time to parry back in either Latin or Greek. Then she was almost guaranteed the fool would not understand a word she said. To which she’d replied, “A fool does think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.”
“We are all fools in love,” Papa had said and with a smile had removed himself to his library, leaving her to Mama’s outraged cries over the behavior of her least favorite daughter.
Mr. Darcy’s next question brought her thoughts back to him and their dance.
“Your mother, she is from Meryton as well?”
“Yes, her father was an attorney. Her sister’s husband took over his practice when he passed.”
“So, your mother’s family is not gentry.”
A stitch of unease threaded itself down her spine. The questions sounded random, yet she felt deep within there was a purpose to his queries. It seemed her pony had run the gamut and now wanted to return to the barn and a good feeding of hay. She may as well get the inevitable out of the way. He wouldn’t be the first possible suitor to back off and find excuses to retreat to the other side of the room, and then from there, out of her life.
“My mother’s family are all in trade, Mr. Darcy. My uncle has his own warehouse in London and resides near Cheapside. Of my father’s family, there are a few cousins and of course his uncle, who lives in Warwickshire.”
“It must be pleasant to have family so close. I am sure, once you are married, you will have many family gatherings and continue to enjoy their company.”
Not as much as you would think, Mr. Darcy.
She did not give voice to these thoughts and instead answered with a polite murmur which did not affirm or deny his musings. At least he had not left her standing in the middle of the dance floor.
As the evening went on, her feelings of anxiety decreased, even though she caught the glimmer of a sneer on his handsome mien whilst looking at her mother and younger sisters. Yet, he stayed close to her side and gave every appearance of being completely enamored with her company. Much like his friend was with Jane. On the carriage ride home, Mama could not contain her effusions.
“I can scarce believe our good luck. Both men taken with my daughters. I shall go distracted. Oh my! Ten and five thousand pounds a year. The carriages! The jewels! The pin money! I need my salts. Have Hill get them for me as soon as we are at Longbourn. Oh! I cannot wait to tell your father. Two daughters, married!”
“Mama!” Elizabeth cried out. “We have only met them tonight. Do not call the banns until we know them further. They may turn out to be rakes of the first order.”
She sincerely hoped they weren’t, but it all seemed too good to be true.
“Oh, you! They could not have stated their attentions any clearer than if you were mares in heat and they the stallions sniffing about your skirts. They will be here before the week is out, hat in hand, to ask for your company. You mark my words.”
“Mother! That is extremely crude, even for you.”
“Crude but true, Lizzy. I know when a man wants a woman and will do anything to achieve that goal, and Mr. Darcy has decided to have you.”
*Gulp* Mrs. Bennet is proving to be a difficult creature to control. La! - I am my own Mr. Bennet! This book just might scamper in its own direction and leave me scratching my head.