Hi readers! I hope you all are enjoying a lovely week! I’m so sorry for being MIA, we’ve been camping in a place that has no internet or cell service! 🏕Talk about roughing it! 😮 But I am happy to pop in today and share this wonderful visit from our friend Lory Lilian!! As you may have seen Lory has a new book coming out soon (in 7 days to be precise!) 🤗 and we are so excited to learn more about her latest work! We hope you enjoy the enticing excerpt Lory has brought to share with you today!
Hello everyone! I am so happy to be here again! Visiting Meredith’s blog is always a pleasure and what better opportunity than presenting you my new book?
It is called A Trifling Cold and is already available for pre-order, on a special price. I confess I made this “pre-order” thing for the first time, after I asked the readers and they were 99 % in favor of it LOL.
Since we last met, I made some critical changes in my life. Some of them related to my writing, as I decided to put all my other jobs on a second plan and to write full time! So I finally worked on long started stories, long resting ideas and I hope to be able to publish much more often than in the past. (I have to since I am trying to make a living from my writing, right?)
In the future, I plan to try other genres too – but JAFF is my hobby, my passion, my escape in a dream world, so it will undoubtedly remain my main focus. I cannot have enough of Elizabeth and Darcy!
Here is an excerpt from my new story. As some of you might remember, I was among the first authors that put Elizabeth and Darcy in a cottage in Rainy Days, back in 2005! That story remained very popular until now, so perhaps is time to bring the characters back in the cottage, right? Only now is a very different situation. I hope you will enjoy it. Keep in mind that the setting for this story is pretty much like in the original and the time frame for this little scene is about a week before Netherfield Ball.
“Dear Lord, it is freezing in here! If the storm does not stop soon, we shall all die, either inside this horrible cottage or outside in the rain, trying to return home!” Mrs. Bennet whined.
Sheltered from the storm, their eyes slowly became accustomed to the gloom inside. Outside, the darkness also cleared slightly, as the clouds scattered after the wild burst of rain.
“Mama, I will give you my coat,” Jane responded, taking her mother’s arm.
“Give me your coat? What use can I have of it? It is as wet as mine. And what about you? If you die of cold, what compensation would this be for me?”
“I would gladly give you my coat, Mrs. Bennet, although is wet and dirty,” Bingley offered.
Each tried to find a place and removed their coats; the ladies took off their bonnets and the gentlemen their hats – all dripping with water.
“Where is Mr. Darcy?” Elizabeth eventually addressed Bingley.
“He must have found a means of escape and left us here,” Wickham replied mockingly. “Probably he returned to Netherfield by horse. Let us hope he will send help so we can leave this place.”
“I do not understand your meaning, Mr. Wickham,” Bingley replied severely. “Darcy went to release the horses from the carriage; they were still tethered and they could have been harmed in this storm. He would never abandon anyone in need.”
“I apologize if it sounded disrespectful, it was only a joke,” Wickham said defensively, still with a trace of sharpness in his voice.
“A poor one, I must say,” the always amiable Bingley said, apparently offended.
“I find it inappropriate to mock someone who just saved us. I fear to imagine what could have happened if Mr. Darcy did not stop the horses,” Elizabeth said. She felt annoyed by Wickham’s rude comment in such a trying moment and was distressed with worry for Darcy’s absence.
The storm was still strong, blowing against the roof and the windows, and he was alone outside, without knowing the surroundings well enough. He might need help, while all the other men were safe in the cottage, not even considering looking for him.
“That is true! Mr. Darcy was like a hero – I never expected that from him! I was certain we would die, crushed under the broken carriage! Oh Lord! The carriage! Sir William will hold us responsible for it! He will rightfully demand compensation! Why did we not send for our carriage, instead of taking his?” Mrs. Bennet started to sob.
“Ma’am, I am sure nobody could hold us responsible for this unfortunate accident,” Wickham interjected. “Who could blame us for the storm or for the horses’ fright?”
“Who? Sir William! We have left him without a barouche! How can he not consider us responsible?”
“Mrs. Bennet,” I beg you do not worry about the barouche or about the horses,” Bingley interfered. “I will take care of everything. Even tomorrow, I will talk to Sir William.”
“You are too kind, sir,” Jane whispered. “My father will surely repay any inconvenience, but we are deeply grateful for your care.”
“Please do not mention it, Miss Bennet,” Bingley answered.
“You are the most generous and caring man, Mr. Bingley. And it is beyond kindness of Mr. Darcy to put his own safety in danger to save us and the horses. But all will be of little help if we freeze to death. Will you gentlemen not start a fire? There must be a tinderbox around the fireplace,” Mrs. Bennet inquired.
“Should we not see if Mr. Darcy needs help?” Elizabeth asked. It had been several minutes since they had been inside while he remained somewhere in the rain.
“No… I am sure he can manage the situation. He instructed me to stay inside and take care of you,” Bingley explained.
“Well, we can take care of the ladies very well if you wish to go,” Wickham declared sharply.
“It would be an excellent proof of care if you could start the fire,” Mrs. Bennet insisted with increasing annoyance. “I cannot feel my feet nor my hands.”
The men looked at each other perplexed, while the ladies gazed at them, hoping for help. Mr. Bingley, willing to be of use to Jane, quickly searched around, with the hope of finding something to start the fire. Lieutenant Denny joined him, followed reluctantly by Wickham. There was some wood and some tinder spread out in the fireplace, all wet and dirty and Bingley’s attempt failed.
“This will never ignite,” Mr. Bingley admitted, embarrassed and regretful.
“I agree,” Lieutenant Denny offered.
“We cannot use those, they are all wet and dirty,” Wickham declared.
“Well, thank God we all agree upon that matter. At least we will freeze in agreement,” Mrs. Bennet uttered, rolling her eyes.
“Perhaps we could at least light a candle, to see something,” Lieutenant Denny murmured.
Mrs. Bennet’s voice cut their ears.
“A candle? How can you light a candle with no fire? And if you had a lighting candle, why would you struggle to make another fire? I will lose my mind soon, I am sure! That is, if I do not freeze to death before!”
“Mama, there is nobody to blame for our situation. We can only try to make the best of it,” Jane interjected graciously.
“Making the best from the worst is not easy. I would hope that Mr. Wickham or Lieutenant Denny know how to light a fire. As an officer, you should know how to survive in the war; surely you can do so in a cottage.”
“If the tinderbox is useless, I do not see what else we can do,” Wickham said. “I was never occupied with this matter before. Usually there were servants around to spark the fire …”
“So we have the company of three gentlemen and we could use the presence of only one servant,” Mrs. Bennet continued.
Wickham appeared offended. “I will give it a try and see if I have any success,” he replied.
Mrs. Bennet cared little for his hurt feelings and admonished him further.
“Well, you should attempt it, sir. I doubt there will be servants in battle. And when we speak of fire, one can only succeed or fail. Trying is not enough. The fire is either burning or not and we will either catch a cold and die or not.”
“Mama,” Lydia intervened. “You cannot scold Mr. Wickham for being nice. He is doing everything he can. Besides, you said many times that people do not die from a mere trifling cold.”
“Well, we might start,” Mrs. Bennet concluded, irritated.
Elizabeth avoided entering into the debate, although she rather agreed with her mother. She looked at the old, ruined mantelpiece, at the wet tinderbox, then walked around the cottage, trying to find something useful. She found a kettle and some old tea bags – left behind there years ago. In the closet she found a few towels, some sheets – all dirty but at least dry.
“Perhaps these would help us to keep warm,” she said, sharing these items with her mother and sisters. Wickham also took a towel and shared it with his comrade, drying their faces and hair.
A few moments later, the wooden door opened and Darcy barged in, together with the wind whistling and the rain pattering. He was all wet, water dripping from his face and clothes. Trying to become accustomed to the darkness inside, he stopped in the doorframe, looking around. Elizabeth stepped forward toward him.
“How are the horses?” Bingley asked.
“Safe, I trust. The ones with the carriage were tangled in reins but fortunately none of them looked harmed, as little as I could see. Sadly, I could not hold any of them. I am sure they will run back home,” he answered with his usual severity.
“Mr. Wickham suspected you rode back to Netherfield,” Mrs. Bennet said, with obvious gladness to see him. He suddenly had become their hope for a happy ending to their distressing situation.
“I have not,” he responded bluntly. “We should start the fire; it is hard to say how long the storm will last and the ladies must be freezing.”
Mrs. Bennet raised her hands and rolled her eyes in exasperation.
“I have been saying that since we arrived but, unless you have your servants waiting outside, nobody seems able to start the fire.”
“We tried, Darcy. We are not such fools to ignore the obvious; we all know that we need a fire; there is no need for you to teach us,” Wickham said insolently. “But the tinderbox is all wet and muddy and it does not work.”
“Well, if it were clean and dry I could have done it myself,” Mrs. Bennet said, pulling the towel around her. “We could have prayed to the Lord to stop the rain so we can go home to warm by the fire.”
“Allow me, ma’am,” Darcy spoke with his regular cold politeness, purposely ignoring Wickham. He took off his coat and hat and put them on the back of a wooden, broken chair, then stepped to the fireplace. He kneeled near the hearth, his back blocking the others’ view. The ladies looked at each other, while Bingley hurried to kneel by his side and offered to help. Wickham rolled his eyes with a smirk, glancing meaningfully at the others. They heard Darcy’s moves, his blowing upon the tinder and knocking some stones together to ignite it; after a few long minutes, a flame and a welcoming red light brightened the frozen chamber and met equal joyful cheers and gaps of disbelief.
Darcy stood up, dusted his clothes and brushed his fingers over his messy hair. He briefly glanced at Elizabeth, then turned to Mrs. Bennet.
“You should sit by the fire to warm yourself, madam,” he said.
“Oh, what a lovely surprise! Mr. Darcy, you are a magician. I would have never expected that! Oh, I could really kiss you! You speak so little and do so much! What a man!”
With utter delight, she even stepped toward Darcy as Elizabeth watched with dismay, fearful her mother will truly kiss him. He stepped back, smiled with embarrassment, then bowed and took even more distance, pulling a chair closer to the mantelpiece.
“I believe here would work just fine,” he said to Mrs. Bennet, who received his attention with enough satisfaction to put any other gush of affection aside. Then Darcy, followed by Bingley, put other two chairs near the fireplace, but there were no more. Therefore, they chose a few bigger logs and put them down so the other girls could sit. Wickham and Denny did the same, and everyone was seated comfortably around the fire.
“I will look for some candles- there must be a few,” Elizabeth said.
“And – curiously – now that we have the fire, the candles might actually be of some use,” Mrs. Bennet returned with barely hidden reproaches. She was obviously angry with Wickham and Denny and blamed them for not handling the horses and for breaking Sir William’s carriage.
Elizabeth returned with four old candles; Darcy took two from her hands and lighting both, placed them around the room. There was a silent, mutual understanding between Elizabeth and Darcy that stirred them both in a strange and most pleasant way, despite their difficult circumstances.
“Oh, what a pleasure that someone saved us from dying frozen in Talbot’s old cottage. I declare there is nothing better than a good fire on a cold, rainy day,” Mrs. Bennet continued. “Mr. Darcy, you are simply the best man I have met in a long while.”
“You are too kind, ma’am; I surely do not deserve such praises, for doing what any other man would do. I am glad I could help. You should stay closer, you look very cold. Miss Elizabeth, perhaps you could find a kettle to boil some water and to make some tea? We can fill it with rainwater.”
She nodded and rose. “I actually found one…”
“Please sit and warm yourself – you look cold too,” Darcy said. “I will take it out to clean it and fill it with water,” Darcy said. Bingley hurried to help him once more, following him around the room. Darcy held the kettle and Bingley took a large jar; they exited into the storm, closing the door behind them.
“Mr. Darcy did not even take his coat; he will get all wet and cold,” Jane uttered.
“Well, we should not worry too much, he never falls ill. He is too proud to allow anyone to see any weakness. So he would rather die than keep to his bed,” Wickham pronounced.
“That is a very ungenerous statement, Mr. Wickham. We should all be grateful to Mr. Darcy for his care, not make jokes at his expense, while he is showing us so much consideration,” Elizabeth said coldly, disturbed by Wickham’s words and even more by his impertinent manners.
“I apologize, Miss Elizabeth. I am only trying to lighten our disposition and I am only speaking the truth. I believe we all have had to put up with Darcy’s pride and his disdainful manners since we met him. Even his helpful gestures are due to the pride of showing he can do what others cannot.”
Mrs. Bennet frowned and her lips twisted in a grimace of displeasure.
“It is true Mr. Darcy’s manners are not as amiable as other men’s , nor is he the most pleasant company most of the time. And I do not doubt he does loathe our company as much as we do his. But upon my word – in times of need, he seems to be everything a man should be! Pleasant manners, nice speeches and charming smiles are only useful in a ballroom. When one is about to die in a crashing carriage or in the storm, one needs a man, not the appearance of it,” Mrs. Bennet uttered severely.
That was so fantastic, Lory!!!! I love that you’ve taken us back to a cottage with some heavy rain!! This situation is quite different though! Mrs. Bennet is a hoot! And I love that some people are developing a more favorable opinion of Mr. Darcy! Yay! I cannot wait to see how this plays out!
Lory generously brings with her 2 LOVELY ebooks (WINNER’S CHOICE) for me to randomly give away to TWO lucky readers. Woot Woot!!!
To enter this giveaway, leave a comment, question, or some love for Lory below!
(And just for fun: tell us which book you’d choose if you were to win!)
- This giveaway is open worldwide. Thank you, Lory!
- This giveaway ends April 26th!