I have been looking forward with anticipation to today's post. L. L. Diamond is my guest and she is Unwrapping Mr. Darcy! Isn't that lovely! Not only that, we get to see her exquisite cover, fabulous giveaway, and the adorable Grunt once again. Thank you, Leslie, for visiting my blog and sharing a delightful excerpt today. It is a pleasure to have you here. Thanks, Leslie, and welcome.
Hello! Thanks, Janet, for having me today! I’m thrilled with the reception everyone is giving Unwrapping Mr. Darcy. Tomorrow is finally release day and I can’t wait for everyone to get their own copy. In the meantime, I have an excerpt for you. I hope you enjoy it!
Three hours later, the interminable conference call finally ended. If she hadn’t been in her supervisor’s office, she would’ve jumped up and down and danced, and he would’ve thought her certifiable. No, it wasn’t the longest conference call ever—at least not from what she’d been told, but why was it so difficult for some people to understand the simplest of concepts? She and Mr. Hurst had explained the procedure they wanted implemented multiple times until both of them wanted to pull their hair out—not that Mr. Hurst had much to lose!
Her stomach growled, and she pressed her hand to her belly. “Excuse me.”
Mr. Hurst chuckled and set a paper to one side of his desk. “Don’t worry about it. I’m hungry too. What’s left isn’t going anywhere. We can go over it later. Go get something to eat.”
“I don’t mind waiting.” Not that she really wanted to. She needed to find food, and soon!
He leaned against his desk. “Go get some lunch, Bennet. I won’t have you getting grumpy while we work.”
She sat forward in her seat. “Do you want anything? I don’t mind picking something up for you.”
He lifted his pen and began to write. “I wish I could take you up on that offer, but my wife has decided I need to lose some weight. She sent me with some cardboard tasting frozen dinner, a small salad, and an apple.” He glanced up from his work and pointed his pen at her. “I know she has spies here on the inside, because the last time I cheated, she knew. I’m certain my assistant tells her. The two of them are thick as thieves.”
Elizabeth laughed. “What time do you want me back?”
“I don’t have any meetings this afternoon, so surprise me.”
“Yes, sir.” She gave a tiny salute and headed down the hall. Lord, she needed to eat! If she didn’t eat soon, her stomach would begin to digest itself! A quick bite would have to do. It wasn’t what she really wanted, but after the coffee earlier, she’d start to get sick to her stomach if something didn’t make its way in there soon to satiate it. Mr. Hurst also wanted to go over the upcoming projects and the documentation that would be needed. She didn’t like him waiting on her.
When she reached her office, Charlotte stood in front of her desk, arguing with a delivery boy. “Lizzy, I’m so glad you’re back. This guy claims to have your lunch? Did you order something because I haven’t?”
She slowed to a stop. “I didn’t order anything yet.”
The guy held out a ticket. “I have an order of spaghetti carbonara for Elizabeth Bennet, forty-eighth floor, Darcy Building. Is that you?”
“Yes, that’s me, but—” A card, with the design from the Advent Calendar, caught her eye when he lifted the bag from his side.
“Then this is for you.”
Any argument she had died in her throat. “Thank you.”
Charlotte’s head jerked back and forth. “I don’t get it.”
Elizabeth gave a slight shake of her head. “Can you tip him? I’ll pay you back.”
He held his hands in front of him. “It’s already taken care of. Have a good day.”
“What was that?” Charlotte pointed to the delivery boy, but Elizabeth motioned for her assistant to follow her into the office.
She set the bag on her desk and turned it around. “Charlotte, look.”
Her assistant’s eyes bugged when they landed on the card. “Seriously? How did he know you would need lunch?”
“I suppose it depends on when they ordered it. Who says they didn’t somehow find out how long the conference call was running or know how time-consuming it would be.” Elizabeth opened the bag and looked inside. “There’s more in here than just spaghetti carbonara.” One at a time, she pulled three containers from the bag followed by a bottle of sparkling water.
“Holy cow,” said Charlotte. “Is that tiramisu? I’m jealous. How do I swap for your Secret Santa?”
Elizabeth removed the lids from the small Caesar salad and the spaghetti, pulled out a fork, and sat down. “Are you hungry? I don’t mind sharing.”
“I already ate, but I wouldn’t mind tasting the carbonara. I’ve never seen a sauce that golden before.” She handed Charlotte the extra fork from the bag, and they both took a little sample of the dish, her assistant moaning when she put it in her mouth. “Is it possible to orgasm from food?”
“I know,” said Elizabeth with her mouth full. “This is amazing.”
“Seriously! How did you get all the luck?” Charlotte leaned against Elizabeth’s desk. “I mean, first he buys you all those bath products, then the plant and those treats for your cat delivered to your door. This week, he’s sent a candle, a certificate for a Snow Leopard adopted in your name, and now lunch.”
“Why do you think it’s a he? How many men would go to so much trouble to discover the favorites of a woman they aren’t dating or married to?”
Charlotte wagged a finger. “But what if he wants to date you? What if he’s had a thing for you and somehow managed to draw your name? Then wouldn’t he be motivated to do something a little over the top to try to impress you?”
“Money and gifts don’t impress me. If this is a man and that’s his belief, then we have a problem.”
Her assistant rolled her eyes. “Maybe he’s deeper than that, but you just go on and continue believing the worst.”
“I never said I believe this person is terrible, but this is rather extravagant, don’t you think?”
“A little.” Charlotte shrugged. “But if you count the executives on the two to three floors involved, there’s a pretty good pool of people who can afford it. Besides, I hear the Christmas bonus is going to be pretty sweet this year.”
Elizabeth chewed and swallowed her bite. “We haven’t even been with the company six months. We won’t be getting the Christmas bonus.”
“That’s not what your future bro-in-law told me.”
She lifted her eyebrows. “Really? Charlie said that?”
“Yes, everyone gets the same bonus, regardless of when they started with the company. Mr. Darcy believes it helps foster loyalty.”
“So, he buys his employees.” Elizabeth stabbed at her salad. “Why doesn’t that surprise me?”
“Wow! First your Secret Santa and now the big boss man. Why do you always look for the worst in people?”
“I don’t think the worst of people. I believe the motivations of my Secret Santa are suspect, and you know why I dislike Mr. Darcy. Why do you think so highly of the big boss man anyway?”
Charlotte sighed. “You thought quite a bit of him at one time.”
“That was only when I knew him by reputation.”
“Have you ever considered that your first impression of him is not who he really is? That maybe he was having a bad day? Maybe someone tried his last nerve? You should know all about that. Your mother is famous for blaming people about her last nerve.”
“Yes, he had a bad day. That was when the entire mess with Wickham happened, but did he really need to say what he did? Shouldn’t he have more faith in Charlie?”
Charlotte stood. “At least he apologized.”
“That’s true,” she agreed. “Did I tell you he showed up in line behind me at Lava Java?”
“No, you didn’t. Did he say anything?”
After a sip of her drink, Elizabeth sort of shrugged. “He said I did excellent work on the Lambton merger, and when I ordered, he insisted on paying for my coffee.”
“See, you’ve proven to be an asset. I don’t think he dislikes you as much as you think.”
Her hand with the fork rested on her desk. “Then why does he stare at me like he does?”
“Maybe you happen to be in his line of sight. Maybe you have a hair out of place. Maybe . . .” One side of Charlotte’s lips quirked upwards. “Maybe he likes you.”
“Likes me?” Elizabeth took another sip of her drink. “I don’t think he loathes me, but I don’t think he’s harboring some secret crush.”
“You could be right, but I think you should consider that he isn’t staring at you because he has some problem with you.” Charlotte now stood with her hands on her hips. “I also don’t believe he’s as disagreeable as you make him out to be.”
“That’s because you listen to Charlie. You don’t realize how similar to Jane that man really is.”
Charlotte rolled her eyes. “Enjoy your lunch. I have work to do. I’ll hold your calls until you’re finished.”
When the door closed, Elizabeth pulled the card off the bag and studied the snow scene. The people on the card all looked happy and joyful. Their lives were so much simpler. They didn’t have difficult bosses and deadlines to meet for work. They also didn’t have crazy Secret Santas.
Why did her life have to be so complicated?
If you have missed any of the stops on this fun blog tour, be sure and take a look at the schedule above. There are still more opportunities to visit and learn more about the Unwrapping Mr. Darcy. Have you been reading some of the posted chapters at Austen Variations? I have and am loving it. If you have missed them, click on this link. It will take you to the prologue and you can follow through Chapter 3. The book is available for preorder at Amazon and will be delivered to your Kindle tomorrow, October 31st, with the paperback following on November 2nd.
Thanks for stopping by, Leslie. I'm proud to be a part of your blog tour. As I said, I've enjoyed each bit of story that you share, and your cover makes me smile every time I look at it. It is adorable, and the story is such fun. I love your Secret Santa in this story. Have many of you, Dear Readers, worked or had a group with a Secret Santa? I have and thought it was fun. I never had one like Lizzy though! Oh my! :)
Leslis has an awesome giveaway. Christmas will come early for one lucky reader. Be sure to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway at the end of the post. You just might be the lucky one! It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...
Isn't Grunt cute! I love how he sits there looking so innocent and protective of the goodies. He poses well.
Unwrapping Mr. Darcy Giveaway: (complete list of all the wonderful goodies)
Unwrapping Mr. Darcy tote bag
Pride and Prejudice quote temporary tattoos
Jane Austen Quote Gift Cards
Pride and Prejudice large postcard
Black cat wine glass
4 Lavender mini bath bombs
1 floral large bath bomb (has lavender buds)
Lavender shower bomb
Lavender bubble bar
Yankee Candle Lemon Lavender Candle
Black cat silhouette coaster
Black cat thermos with spoon
Jane Austen quote postcard
Black cat wine topper (just like Elizabeth’s!)
a Rafflecopter giveaway