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I’m so happy to visit More Agreeably Engaged to share an excerpt from my new release, By Reason, by Reflection, by Everything. A thousand thanks for having me here, Janet. It’s always a great pleasure.
About the Book
Promised to one sister. Bewitched by the other. And thus, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy’s dilemma. Who else but Miss Elizabeth Bennet might possibly bewitch Mr. Darcy? This begs the question: to whom is the gentleman promised?
We all know it was the favorite wish of Darcy’s mother, Lady Anne, as well as her sister, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, that their children were intended for each other. By Reason. By Reflection, by Everything poses the question: what if the elder Mr. Darcy had a favorite wish of his own? What if his first-born son was promised to Mr. Bennet’s first-born daughter?
Excerpt (Reprinted with Author’s Permission. All Rights Reserved.)
Chapter 8 – Unsisterly-like Sentiments
After walking along for a time, relishing in what felt like her own private sanctuary, Elizabeth examined her watch. Much to her dismay, she had walked longer than she had intended. Much longer, she considered as she spun round on her heels and proceeded to return to the manor house.
What will the Darcys think of me, should I fail to make an appearance at breakfast this morning? Exploring the grounds had occupied her so thoroughly that upon coming to a fork in the wooded path, Elizabeth was not entirely certain she knew which direction would lead her back to where she meant to be.
She was just about to strike out on the path to her left when the sound of horse steps drew her attention. Turning, she espied Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. She knew not whether he was simply out enjoying an early morning ride or if he had come in search of her. He dismounted. Taking the horse by its reins in his gloved hand, he stopped a short distance from where Elizabeth stood and bowed slightly.
“Miss Elizabeth,” said the gentleman, his melodic voice accompanied by his brooding stare which sent a frisson of anticipation through her body.
All too aware that these were the first two words he had uttered to her since making his acquaintance, Elizabeth’s stomach fluttered a bit. She did not dare admit how the sound of his voice made her quiver inside. Besides, to whom would she make such a telling confession? Certainly not to Jane. He was, after all, Jane’s prospective suitor.
“Mr. Darcy,” she said, curtsying. “Pray I have not caused you to come all this way in search of me.”
“No,” he said.
His taciturn manner in addition to his gaze left her feeling a bit uneasy.
“I was enjoying a morning walk,” she announced, more eagerly than she had intended.
“Do you often ramble about during the early morning hours to parts unknown?” The look he bestowed spoke volumes. “Alone, no less,” he added.
“I am very fond of walking, sir.”
Her courage rising in the wake of what she perceived as chastisement, she responded, “Are you judging me, Mr. Darcy?”
“Judging you? No. Questioning you? Indeed. I would go further to caution you to be more prudent in your choice of paths—that is until you are more familiar with Pemberley Woods.”
“I shall take your words under advisement, sir.” And with that, she abruptly turned on her heels with the intention of returning to the manor house, preferably alone. It simply would not do to spend too much time with the gentleman so certain was she that if she were not careful, she might grow afraid of him. That would never do.
“Where are you going?” Darcy inquired. “If you do not mind my asking.”
“No, I do not mind your asking, sir. I am returning to the manor house before my continued absence arouses my family’s concern.”
“Then might I suggest you choose the path to the right, Miss Elizabeth. I have it on good authority that it leads directly to the manor house.”
She arched her brow. “Are you laughing at me?”
“I would not dare. In fact, if you will allow me to be of service, I will be more than happy to escort you.”
“I do not believe that is necessary,” she said. In fact, the last thing she wanted was to be seen with him. Heaven forbid if that jealous Miss Bingley were to begin thinking she had yet another competitor for the gentleman’s attention.
“If you are concerned about what others will think if the two of us were to be seen walking together at this hour, then you need not be. You are perfectly safe with me.”
I suppose that is a matter of opinion, she thought but did not say.
In response to her silence, he said, “I am more than happy to offer you my steed. I will walk.”
“Oh! Heaven forbid, sir. Even if I were inclined to ride your horse, which I absolutely am not, I would never dream of inconveniencing you in such a manner.”
“Trust me, it is no inconvenience at all. Allow me to assist you,” Mr. Darcy offered.
If Elizabeth did not know better, she would have sworn the gentleman was flirting with her. How in the world did he expect to assist her in any way that would not result in more familiarity than ought to be allowed between two people so wholly unconnected as the two of them?
“Sir, you are very kind,” she said coolly. “However, as I said, I am not inclined to ride horseback.” Wanting to offer him a reasonable explanation, she went on to say, “You see, Mr. Darcy, I am not a horsewoman. Indeed, I never learned to ride.”
Darcy laughed a little at this confession. His spirits rising to playfulness, he threw a furtive glance over his shoulder as if looking to see if anyone was about. “Pray do not let my aunt Lady Catherine hear you say such a thing. You know how concerned she is about your having no governess.”
Elizabeth laughed a little too in recollection of her ladyship’s outrage. “Indeed. But you need not worry that all the Bennet daughters have been remiss in that regard. My sister Jane is an excellent horsewoman, as I am certain you will discover over the coming days and weeks.”
His manner suddenly cool and grave, he said, “No doubt.” Just as quickly, he resumed his former attitude just a bit. “Still there is the matter of your expeditious return to the manor house. I really would be honored if you would allow me to accompany you. There is much I would enjoy discussing with you.”
“About my sister Jane,” Elizabeth said with some enthusiasm.
Darcy nodded a little. “Indeed.”
Disguise of any sort was Darcy’s abhorrence. The secret that he was keeping from everyone, even his closest friend the colonel, about his father’s ailing health and the fact that he was pretending to give some consideration to marriage caused him no small measure of discomfort. He took some comfort in the fact that he was not entirely dishonest in urging his companion to allow him to accompany her back to the manor house. If discussing her elder sister was the means of accomplishing his goal of spending time with Miss Elizabeth, then far be it from him to do otherwise. What better way to satisfy his own increasing curiosity about her.
“You mentioned that your sister - that Miss Bennet - is an excellent horsewoman and yet you do not ride horses at all. Why is that, if I might ask?”
“Unlike me, Jane never witnessed another person being tossed from a horse and sustaining a debilitating injury.”
The two exchanged looks, hers laced with a semblance of the pain she suffered at the time and his filled with empathy.
“I am sorry you had to suffer such an unpleasant experience, Miss Elizabeth.”
“Sir, you are very kind. However, that was many years ago, and I am only reminded of it when in proximity to one of those fierce creatures.” Here she glanced over her shoulder. She bit her lower lip.
Seeing this, Darcy ceased his step and approached his horse. He whispered in the beast’s ear and then secured the reins to its saddle. Seconds later, the fierce animal was on its way - racing ahead. Alone.
Removing his gloves one by one and then clasping his hands behind his back, Darcy said, “How is that, Miss Elizabeth?”
Her spirits rising to playfulness, she said, “Again, sir, you are far too kind to me.”
“As you are my guest, I hope you will find that I am more than happy to do whatever it takes to be of service to you,” Darcy said. “You and your sister,” he added, smiling.
If Elizabeth secretly delighted in admiring his brooding mien, seeing him smile really stole her breath away. Indeed, she had seen him smile a time or two the evening before but not like this. My sister Jane is a most fortunate woman, she reminded herself.
Allowing her mind to wander, she wondered what it would be like if that particular smile of his was meant for her alone. How fortunate it would be if she were the woman who garnered his esteem.
No, I must not allow myself to think this way, else it will be a very long, hot and tumultuous summer, at the end of which this man might be my brother.
Newsletter: Such Happy News
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Oh, I did enjoy that excerpt! What do you think, Dear Readers? Do you want to know more? I certainly do. If Miss Bingley is at Pemberley, then Charles must be too. I'm wondering about the tangled web that Ms. Dixon may be spinning! Questions, questions, and more questions! One of you lucky readers will get the chance to discover what lies ahead for beloved couple. Yes, that is correct. P. O. Dixon is giving away one eBook of By Reason, by Reflection, by Everything and the giveaway is international. Please have your share in the conversation and tell us what you think. Have you read this book yet? Be sure and leave your contact info. The giveaway will end at 11:59 PM on the 4th of September. Good luck to all.
Thank you for having the giveaway Ms. Dixon, and I do hope you will come back soon.