The Blog Tour for Boots & Backpacks is in full swing and I get to be a part of it today! I'm so excited to have new author, K C Kahler visit with an excerpt from her book, Boots & Backpacks. Enjoy!
Boots & Backpacks
Pride and Prejudice on the Appalachian Trail, roughly
William Darcy counts down the last few months to his 30th birthday with dread. Orphaned as a child, his parents’ will includes a bizarre clause: Darcy must get married by his 30th birthday in order to inherit the family fortune. To make matters worse, the press knows about this deadline, as do the hordes of women chasing him in the hopes of becoming Mrs. Darcy. His family legacy hangs in the balance, but Darcy has little faith in the fairer sex. Will he find a woman he wants to marry, and quickly?
Elizabeth Bennet is determined to pursue her education and career without letting a man get in the way. When her traveling companion drops out, her planned hike on the Appalachian Trail is jeopardized. She meets the spoiled, snobby William Darcy just when he is desperate to escape the spotlight. No one will suspect that the Prince of Manhattan has gone backpacking! Darcy and Elizabeth form a tenuous partnership and begin a 300-mile journey that will transform them both.
In classic romantic comedy tradition, Boots & Backpacks follows our reluctant partners as they build trust, friendship, and even more. Six weeks together on America’s most famous hiking trail may turn out to be just what these two need!
This is a scene from Chapter 3 where Darcy is using Twitter to stay one step ahead (barely) of gossip reporter Gwen Younge and her minions. FYI, Carlos is Darcy’s driver.
Distance from New York City: 0 miles
Forced matrimony in: 59 days
Darcy turned onto Tenth Avenue and ran as fast as his Gucci Oxfords would let him. He’d thought sending Carlos and his brother Hector out as decoys was a stroke of genius. Hector looked like Darcy. Most of the paparazzi and the women of a certain ilk in hot pursuit had been fooled. But not all. When Darcy had tried to hail a cab nearly two blocks from the Darcy & De Bourgh offices, they’d spotted him, despite the ridiculous hat he wore in disguise. Then Darcy had bolted, testing the aforementioned designer footwear.
But Darcy was a runner, and now he reaped the benefits of those many hours spent on the treadmill by giving everyone the slip. He didn’t know where he was going. He’d felt caged in his apartment, then caged at the office, and he needed to escape. As he loitered near Penn Station, trying to figure out his next move and still wearing the stupid hat, he took out his phone.
In the last few days, he had discovered something useful: his various pursuers all followed Gwen Younge—NY Tribune gossip columnist and bane of his existence for the last eight years—on Twitter. If she didn’t know Darcy’s whereabouts, one of her many followers would spot him and then tweet that to Gwen. So, even though it went against his very being, Darcy began to follow Gwen on Twitter. At least he might have some warning as to when and where the horde would be heading next. He particularly loved when some loser saw him where he wasn’t, thus sending the throng on a wild goose chase.
But as the latest tweets revealed, that wasn’t the case at the moment.
GwenYounge: Looks like our boy #Darcy pulled a switcheroo. Keep your eyes peeled, my Tweeps. Need a sighting bad.
2:10 PM September 9th
SillySally: @GwenYounge OMG I see #Darcy outside Penn Station, the 33rd Street entrance, wearing a fedora! For realsies
2:32 PM September 9th
SillySally: @GwenYounge He’s going in! And he ditched the fedora #Darcy
2:35 PM September 9th
Gwen Younge: @SillySally Follow him if you can! Keep tweeting until we get there. You’re da bomb, Sally. #Darcy
2:37 PM September 9th
SillySally: @GwenYounge Damn he runs fast. Sorry I lost him. #Darcy
2:44 PM September 9th
Darcy managed to get to the upper level. He didn’t know why he went that way, other than it was where he, Bingley, and Caroline had caught the train to New Jersey a few weeks ago.
The Hursts! He could go to the Hursts’ to buy himself some time. No one would think to look for him there, at least not for a while. Then maybe he could charter a plane somewhere, get Carlos to come pick him up. Though where he would fly, he didn’t know.
Gwen Younge: Any news, Sally? Or anyone else? We’re almost there but Penn Station is really big. #Darcy
2:53 PM September 9th
Darcy remembered Ridgewood was the nearest station to the Hursts, and he bought a ticket for the next train at the automated ticket machine. As the train left the station, he watched that cursed Twitter feed to see if he’d been spotted.
Vampgrrl: @GwenYounge I’m not sure, but I think I saw #Darcy near the NJ Transit tracks about 5 minutes ago
3:11 PM September 9th
Shit! At least they didn’t know which train. Two others were departing within a few minutes of his.
GwenYounge: @Vampgrrl Thanks for the tip. It’s our best lead right now. Stay tuned, my NJ tweeps. I may need you to spot #Darcy
3:20 PM September 9th
The Hursts weren’t usually on Gwen’s radar. Darcy hadn’t associated with them often since they’d started popping out kids. His lifestyle didn’t exactly gel with wholesome family activities. Gwen might eventually think to check up on the Hursts, but not in the next hour. He should be able make it to them unnoticed, as long as none of the other passengers on the train recognized him. They all appeared to be commuter types, wrapped up in their papers and phones. With his suit and tie, he fit right in.
Darcy stopped obsessively checking Twitter to call the Hursts. It went to voicemail. Three times. Shit. He only had half an hour until he reached Ridgewood. He didn’t know the address of their house, nor did he have any idea if they were even home, so catching a cab at the station would get him nowhere. Darcy didn’t have many options left, and was running out of time.
Bingley’s Jane Bennet dalliance hadn’t lasted long enough to capture Gwen’s interest. Bingley wasn’t Gwen’s main focus anyway; Darcy had that dubious honor. Maybe he could find Jane at Bennet Realty and ask her for somewhere to hide for an hour. He couldn’t imagine her refusing; she had acted so nice, and despite what he’d told Bingley, he now found himself hoping she was genuine. It wasn’t much of a plan, but it was all he had.
The train arrived in Ridgewood. As he headed toward Bennet Realty, he called the Hursts again. Still voicemail. He didn’t bother leaving another message.
When he reached the office, a sign on the door read, “We will return in 30 minutes.” Shit—now what? Did he go to a coffee shop to wait and risk being spotted? With dread he checked Gwen’s tweets.
GwenYounge: NJ tweeps: any of you near Teterboro or Ridgewood? If so, DM me. #WheresDarcy
4:10 PM September 9th
Shit. Teterboro had an airport that Darcy used once in a while for a charter plane. That was an obvious choice for suspicion. But there was only one reason Ridgewood would be mentioned: Gwen had figured out the Hurst connection, or maybe the Jane Bennet connection, but she didn’t want to broadcast their names to all her followers yet. Many of her followers were competing reporters.
He could call Carlos, but it would take at least an hour to make it out of the city on a weeknight. Darcy had maybe 10 minute until the streets around the train station were swarming with press and celebrity-watchers. And he was marooned here. In New Jersey.
“Slumming it again, poor William?”
Darcy wanted to scream. He knew that derisive voice. It belonged to Miss Nice Ass Elizabeth Bennet. He turned slowly toward her. “Miss Bennet.”
“What are you doing here, Mr. Darcy?”
Although he itched to return her sarcasm, he couldn’t afford to piss her off. “I, ahh…I was hoping to see your sister.”
“Jane’s away at a conference.”
Darcy cursed under his breath and checked the dreaded Twitter feed. There was nothing new yet, at least not public. “I find myself a bit stranded here…” He couldn’t bring himself to ask her for help, partly because he knew she’d refuse.
“Why don’t you call the Hursts?”
“I did. It keeps going to voicemail.”
“Well, I’m sure they’ll get back to you soon,” she said by way of dismissal.
He rubbed his hand over his face, completely out of options. “Not soon enough,” he muttered.
“How’s Charlie?” Darcy was shaken from his pessimism by Elizabeth’s sharp question. She stood gripping the handle of the door that led up to her apartment, looking accusingly at him.
“He’s fine. He’s at work now.”
“He’s fine. I’m so glad to hear it.” She sounded anything but glad, but Darcy didn’t care that she was ticked off about something. As far as he could tell, she was always ticked off. Then she added, “You’re not working, of course.”
“I have a few other things going on at the moment.” He scanned the street. He had to call Carlos, though there was little hope of getting out of here unnoticed.
“Like being stuck here without a plan and dreading the moment when the hordes of women and paparazzi find me, that’s what.”
“How could they find you here?”
“They always find me—Goddamned Twitter,” he said more to himself than in answer to her question. “Look, I’m trying to think and you’re distracting me. Have a nice life and all that.” He turned to leave.
“Wait. I don’t get it—Twitter?”
“I’d just love to explain Twitter to you, but I really can’t stay out here any longer.” He scanned the street again. “I need to find…someplace. I’m sure they’re already on their way.” He began to walk away.
“Ugh, so melodramatic!”
He paused, saying over his shoulder, “You really have no clue, do you? Wait an hour and then tell me I’m being melodramatic.”
“Fine. You can come up to the apartment for one hour.”
He turned to her, gaping.
“Well? Don’t you want to get inside before you’re seen by the frightful Twitter-happy ladies?” She flapped her hands around in mock terror.
He didn’t care that she mocked him. She’d soon be proven wrong, and in the meantime, he would have a nice private place to wait for Carlos. He strode back and held the door open for her. “After you.”
Elizabeth to the rescue!
My blog: http://kckahler.merytonpress.com/
On Twitter: @KCKahler
KC Kahler has worked as a writer and editor in both non-profit and academic settings. Until discovering Jane Austen Fan Fiction several years ago, KC’s writing had been limited to the dry and technical, which is a shame, since she considers herself witty and sparkling. Her first novel, Boots & Backpacks, will be published in 2014 by Meryton Press.
KC lives on a four-acre slice of Penn’s Woods with her husband and two dogs. They enjoy hiking, gardening, and being beer snobs.
Thanks for stopping busy on your busy tour, KC. It is great to have you here and look forward to a return visit in the future. Best wishes with your new release.
For all you readers, I would love to hear your thoughts on this fascinating excerpt!