Happy Friday, friends! I am so excited to start my weekend with a wonderful visit from author, Nicole Clarkston! As you might have seen (and heard), Nicole has just released her a much anticipated Pride and Prejudice variation titled -Nefarious. This story has a very interesting premise as Mr. Darcy has previously married and now wants to avoid anyone who reminds him of his first wife… Nicole is here today to share a scene from Nefarious that she rewrote from Elizabeth Bennet’s point-of-view! We hope you enjoy!
This vignette is a snapshot of the Netherfield Ball from Elizabeth’s perspective. The book contains this very same scene in Chapter Ten, but in the book, we only see Darcy’s point of view. I thought it would be fun to hear Elizabeth’s thoughts. Enjoy!
~ Vignette for Nefarious ~
I smoothed the front of my best gown and took Jane’s arm as we stepped down from the carriage. Netherfield Park was a handsome house, and just now it was doubly so, for every window and every edifice blazed forth a welcoming, festive glow. Liveried servants came to take our hats and coats, more servants bowed and offered us refreshments, and the master of the house himself stood to welcome us.
I felt Jane tense with anticipation, and I caught her hand to squeeze it. The evening held both delight and trepidation for her—the former because of the very man who stood before us, smiling with that cheerful, open humour of his—and the latter, because of the man who stood behind him, with those dark eyes that seemed to critique everything. I smiled at Mr Bingley, scowled at Mr Darcy, and then found the highly agreeable Mr Wickham coming to meet me.
“Miss Elizabeth!” He bowed and extended his arm. “You are looking well this evening. May I have the pleasure of securing some refreshments for you?”
“By all means, Mr Wickham.” I released Jane’s arm and curtseyed to him. With one parting look of encouragement to my sister, I turned away—but not before catching a scathing glare from Mr Darcy. Unlike Jane, I was capable of relishing the man’s displeasure, and so I savoured that spiteful frown like a sweet tarte as I accepted Mr Wickham’s arm.
“I see that you have yet to discover my old friend’s finer qualities,” he intoned in an amused voice. “Pray, let me assure you, Mr Darcy is quite capable of making himself agreeable when he chooses.”
“Oh, yes,” I conceded, “I have seen how ‘agreeable’ he can be. In fact, he is so very agreeable, that I doubt my poor sister shall ever recover her equanimity in his presence.”
“Your sister?” he asked. “Do you mean Miss Bennet?”
“Why, of course.” I stopped and looked at him in some puzzlement. “You do not think I could refer to Mary or Kitty or Lydia, do you? Poor Jane! Mr Darcy is quite obsessed with her.”
“Indeed! I confess myself surprised, Miss Elizabeth.”
“Surprised? How could you possibly be? He is always trying to put himself in her way so that he might speak to her. You must have seen it, both in Meryton and at my uncle Philips’s house.”
“To be sure, I did note how frequently he spoke with and watched a certain lady, but…” Mr Wickham gave a mild cough and then smiled cheerfully. “Well, I am merely surprised by what you tell me. I could have sworn his attentions tended in another direction.”
“I assure you,” I continued, “he will find some way to make himself odious this evening. See, there he is now, trying to monopolise Jane’s company. She looks so very unhappy! I expect he has already asked her for at least two sets.”
Mr Wickham laughed. “Why, Miss Elizabeth, if I did not know better, I should have thought you were jealous of your sister!”
“Jealous!” I almost sputtered aloud. “I would not dance with Mr Darcy if he were the last man in Hertfordshire, and the feeling is mutual.”
“Certainly not,” I declared. “But come, Mr Wickham, why should we distress ourselves over Mr Darcy’s dances when you ought to be asking me which set I have free?”
“All of them, I hope,” was his good-humoured and gallant response. “Do you know, Miss Elizabeth, if any other woman spoke thus, I should assume her to be rather too forward. However, I think you merely like to turn the subject by shocking poor, innocent fellows such as myself.”
“It was quite effective, was it not?”
“Indeed. If you have no objections, I shall request the supper set.”
“Then I shall save it for you, sir.”
Mr Wickham procured some punch for each of us, and we joined the company of Mr Denny and a few other officers. Within minutes, I had three more dances spoken for. The officers were all a gentlemanly set—amusing, charming, and light-hearted enough that a lady might feel herself quite at ease in their company… But only a few moments later, I found my eyes wandering the room.
“Miss Elizabeth?” Mr Wickham asked, “is something amiss?”
“No, indeed. I was only seeking my sisters.”
“Miss Lydia is there,” he nodded to the centre of the room, a peculiar twinkle in his eye. “And I believe Miss Mary is in the corner, sitting down… but I can only see the top of her head from here, so I cannot be sure.”
Ah!” I exclaimed—for, to my embarrassment, my eyes were not on my conversation partner, but on my eldest sister… and the man with her. “There is Jane, with Mr Darcy. Oh, and Charlotte is coming to her aid… Brava! That was neatly done. Thank goodness Charlotte was at liberty to rescue Jane from that ogre.”
I gestured with a tip of my head to my friend, who met my eye with a confidential wink and a secretive smile as she crossed the room. She had managed to draw my sister away from Mr Darcy on some pretense or other, and Jane looked relieved. Mr Darcy looked at me. I saw his nostrils flare before he turned away.
“Serve him right, the swine,” I muttered under my breath as I smirked in triumph.
“Well, Miss Elizabeth,” Mr Wickham chuckled, “at the very least, I am assured of a most entertaining evening. Shall I escort you to your friends? I believe I would like to have a word or two with Darcy myself.”
“With pleasure, Mr Wickham.”
I meant to follow Jane and Charlotte, but Kitty, Mary King, and the Long girls all beckoned for me to join them. And, so, with a curtsey to my companion, I permitted him to take his leave.
“Lizzy!” Mary King grasped my hand with a desperate kind of urgency. “You must tell me what to do!”
“Do? What can you mean, Mary?”
“Oh, I simply do not know how to make him notice me! He is so handsome and tall. And so gentlemanly! How shall I ever gain his attention?”
“Why, it is not so very difficult. Would you like me to introduce you?”
Her face washed in relief. “Oh, would you? I mean, I have been introduced once, but I do not think he remembers me. I would be forever grateful! But are you certain it will work? I do not know if I would be worthy—certainly, he would never ask me to dance. I cannot imagine he would!”
“Here, now,” I protested, “what sort of talk is this? How could you think he would not ask you to dance if he were introduced to you? Mr Wickham is not so ungentlemanly as that!”
She blinked. “Mr Wickham? Why, he is handsome in that red uniform, but I was speaking of Mr Darcy. Oh, please, Lizzy, you are one of the few girls he will speak with! Will you introduce me?”
“Mr Darcy!” I cried. “Why would you wish to dance with him? I cannot imagine a more irksome half hour to be spent than in his company!”
Kitty snorted in laughter, and the two Long girls even tittered behind their gloves. Mary, however, held fast to her resolve.
“Oh, but surely,” she explained, “Mr Darcy is not always as he seems in company. Do you not think? I heard Mr Bingley say that his friend could be very agreeable but had met with some disappointment. There, does that not intrigue you? Would you not simply die to be the one to mend his broken heart?”
“If I mended anything on Mr Darcy,” I retorted, crossing my arms, “I would mend his lips together. There seems to have been some great omission at his birth, that he was granted the ability to speak.”
“Hah!” crowed Kitty. “Tell her some of the names you have made up for him, Lizzy!”
I shot my sister a cross look. “I only use creative appellations to keep myself from saying something even less ladylike. I do not intend to repeat them in company. Now, Mary, you must tell me seriously. Is it merely his looks or his wealth you find striking?”
“Oh, Lizzy,” she whispered, her eyes darting nervously across the room. “Have you not seen how impressive he is when he speaks or moves? I thought I should go distracted the first time he stepped in front of me and I saw how tall and broad he was—fancy taking a turn on the arm of such a man!”
“I have taken turns enough in his company.”
“Oh! Yes, I heard that you and Jane went riding with him and with Mr Bingley. I was positively green with envy when I heard it! Is he not elegant in the saddle? Oh, dear me, I think I should have contrived some way to fall off my horse so that he would be obliged to lift me up again! Did he help you to mount, Lizzy? Does he smell as good as he looks? And I fancy he could pick you up with ease—oh, my, Kitty, where is my fan?”
I frowned uncomfortably. “I daresay he is quite strong enough to accomplish the feat with little effort.”
“Dear me, I shall swoon,” Mary breathed. “Please, Lizzy, say you will help me!”
I reflected unhappily that the best help I could give for Mary would be to send each of the officers her way until she had no remaining dances for Mr Darcy. Aloud, however, I only offered, “Mr Darcy is not fond of dancing, Mary. Perhaps you would do better to seek him out when he takes his refreshment.”
“That will be just the thing!” she agreed. “It is so much easier to talk when drinking than dancing… so long as he does not wander away. There he goes just now—oh, I think I shall try to speak to him. Lizzy, pray come with me!”
I opened my mouth for a reluctant acquiescence, but one look at Mr Darcy’s stormy countenance stilled my feet. “I think it would be best—”
I was never able to finish my sentence, for at that moment, the master of ceremonies announced that the ball was to commence. With any luck, I would not have to speak to the man for the whole of the night. I steeled myself for a long and interesting evening.
Ooooooo! This is interesting! I cannot wait to see what Mr. Darcy does next in this scene! Love this new kind of tension between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy…and how unique it is to see Mr. Darcy is currently popular with the ladies in Meryton! Thanks so much for writing and sharing such an intriguing scene, Nicole! We wish you all the best with your new release!
Connect with Nicole
Nicole has a generous giveaway to offer with her visit today! The lucky winner can choose between two prizes: (option 1) $10 Amazon Gift Card plus an eBook or Audiobook of winner’s choice (open internationally) or (option 2) a signed paperback of winner’s choice (US only).
To enter this giveaway, leave a comment, question, or some love for Nicole!
- This giveaway is open worldwide. Thank you, Nicole!
- This giveaway ends June 14th!
Our gratitude to Janet Taylor and Nicole Clarkston for putting this tour together and inviting us to take part!
Be sure to check out the rest of the tour stops!
June 3rd ~ More Agreeably Engaged ~ Vignette, Giveaway
June 4th ~ From Pemberley to Milton ~ Review, Giveaway
***June 7th ~ Austenesque Reviews ~ Vignette, Giveaway***
June 8th ~ Babblings of a Bookworm ~ Vignette, Giveaway
June 11th ~ So Little Time… ~ Guest Post, Giveaway
June 13th ~ Savvy Verse & Wit ~ Guest Post, Giveaway
June 15th ~ Diary of an Eccentric ~ Review, Giveaway