Thank you, Maria Grazia, for having me today! I’m so excited about Confined with Mr. Darcy. It’s not often that I get to write something short and sweet, but this was my perfect opportunity—and I get to help at the same time. So many small museums are hurting and may have to close for good. I wanted to help one of these museums, one that means a lot to me. I hope people will help me by purchasing , so if you try it out and like it, please consider purchasing your own copy for a future re-read. Let’s raise as much money as we can for Jane Austen House Museum!
For my guest post, I thought I’d go back in time to when Darcy and Elizabeth first met. I hope you
William Darcy scanned the interior of the pub with a cringe and a distasteful swallow. If only this were a friendly pint at his favourite London pub, but it wasn’t. He was stuck in a pub in Meryton of all places. As he drove into the village, he hadn’t noticed another option. Had Bingley had no other choice?
He certainly wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Bingley. His best friend recently asked his girlfriend of five months to marry him—a bit quick, if you asked Darcy, but he’d done his part. He’d spoken to Bingley, attempted to make him see reason and how quickly he was making a lifelong commitment, but Bingley had ignored him and proposed anyway.
When he spotted Bingley’s ginger-blond hair on the other side of the room, he weaved his way through the crowd. Was The Bull and Rose always this busy on a Saturday night? He held himself stiff as a rod. Only Bingley would have his bleeding engagement party in a pub! Darcy sidled between two groups and held up a hand to his long-time friend and his CFO at Darcy Publishing.
“Darcy!” Bingley spread his arms wide, a pint of Guinness held in one of his hands. Darcy held out his own and Bingley gave him a slapping shake.
“Congratulations, mate.” As their hands released, Darcy stepped up to Jane, who smiled in her usual soft way. He leaned in and kissed her cheek. “Congratulations, Jane. I hope you know what you’re getting into with this tosser.”
She laughed as Bingley grabbed her around the waist and pulled her closer, grinning from ear to ear. Darcy had to respect Bingley’s will on this account. Other than at work, Bingley was usually about as decisive as a droplet of water falling from the sky. He could land anywhere depending upon the wind and other factors; however, his friend had never questioned whether Jane was right for him. Despite Darcy’s well-meant interference, Bingley followed through and proposed—obviously.
“How about a pint?” Bingley held up a hand. “Mr. Lucas, my friend here needs a pint?”
A balding and rather rotund man grinned and picked up a glass. “Can’t leave a man in need, can I?”
“My mum is waving me over,” said Jane. She kissed Bingley’s cheek and disappeared between a couple of loud teenagers, who were batting their eyelashes and leaning forward just far enough to give peeks of their breasts to the boys they were talking to. He’d likely lock Ana in a convent until she was forty if he caught his sister doing the same.
“Lydia and Kitty,” said Bingley.
“Those are Jane’s youngest sisters, Lydia and Kitty. Mrs. Bennet allowed them to invite a couple of friends so they wouldn’t be bored, and they invited a couple of boys they fancy. Jane and Elizabeth both disapproved, but Mrs. Bennet gave her permission before they objected so what could they do?”
Elizabeth? “Who is Elizabeth?”
“Oh, sorry. Elizabeth is the Bennet’s second daughter. She and Jane are very close.” Bingley pointed around Lydia and Kitty to a young woman with long mahogany layers trailing down her shoulders and back. Her vivid green eyes landed on him and his entire body did this odd sort of tremble. That was something that’d never happened before.
“She’s pretty isn’t she?” asked Bingley next to his ear. “I’m always amazed at how different the two of them are.”
“She’s okay, I suppose.” He peered down into his pint. He couldn’t look at her, at Elizabeth, and think straight.
“Okay?” said Bingley, his volume louder and tone higher. “Mr. Lucas said he’d turn on music for dancing a little later. You should ask her and get a closer look. I think you’ll find she’s more than ‘okay.’” His voice deepened as he mimicked him. Lord, he hated when Bingley did that!
“I don’t need to dance with her.” Darcy spoke through gritted teeth.
“You’ve danced with Caroline to be polite. Would it kill you to dance with Elizabeth?”
Why was this such a big deal to him? Darcy hated dancing and Bingley knew it. “Look! I’m not going to ask her to dance. I said she’s okay and I meant it. She’s not the prettiest woman I’ve ever seen.”
Every muscle froze. The pub had gone deathly quiet right when his voice had risen. His eyes squeezed closed for a second and he cleared his throat. After a gulp of his beer, he chanced a glance at this Elizabeth. Her eyes bore through him for a second or two before she leaned over, whispered something to a friend, and turned back to stare at him while she laughed.
“Well done,” said Bingley. “I don’t think you’ve ever been that rude to Caroline despite the fact that my sister deserves it.”
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
“No worries there, mate.”
~ * ~
Elizabeth shoved down that simmering sensation in her gut. The uncomfortable fidgety sensation was slowly travelling through her before she managed to contain it. Tonight was Jane’s night, and she wouldn’t ruin it—no matter how much of a daft prick that man was.
“Do you know who he is?”
She turned back to her friend Charlotte and shook her head. “I’ve never seen him before, but since he seems pretty friendly with Charles, I’d say he’s his boss. I think they’ve been friends since uni.”
“Oh, Jane told me about him.” Charlotte shifted back to peer around her. “William Darcy, right?”
“I think that sounds right. Charles talks about a Darcy a lot now that I hear the name.” Elizabeth turned and looked at him again. He stood so rigidly tall and proud, looking down his nose while he scanned the room. He glanced back in her direction, and when their eyes met, she whipped around to face Charlotte. She pressed a hand just above her bellybutton. What was that flipping and fluttering? She swallowed and breathed a little slower. Maybe she shouldn’t have eaten that cauliflower pasta for dinner.
“You alright?” Jane looped her arm through Elizabeth’s.
“What did mum want?”
After rolling her eyes, Jane sighed. “She wanted the scoop on Charles’s friend Darcy. She seems to think he’d be interested in Lydia.”
Charlotte bent backwards to glance around everyone at the man in question. “Except he’s looking at Lydia as though she has STI tattooed across her forehead.”
A burst of laughter escaped before Elizabeth could cover her mouth with her hand. “Is he really?” She didn’t want to turn around and have him think she was interested in him for anything other than a laugh.
“Charlotte!” gasped out Jane.
“What? He is!”
“I need to get back.” Her sister gave a tug to her arm. “Why don’t you come meet Darcy?”
“No, I think I’m going to get another glass of wine. I’m sure I’ll meet him some other time.” Her fingers grasped the glass tightly. Thank goodness, she’d already finished that first glass!
“You’ll have to meet him eventually, you know, but I’ll leave you alone.”
As soon as Jane was out of ear shot, Charlotte picked up her glass. “Come on. Let’s grab that wine.” She tipped her head in the direction of Bingley. “Looks like a show has started.”
Elizabeth nearly guffawed at the sight of Charles’s sister’s talons sinking into the arm of Darcy’s expensive suit coat. “He looks terrified.”
“I know,” giggled Charlotte. “But that expression is different than the one he uses for Lydia. Do you think they’ve dated in the past?”
“If they have, then he regrets it now.” She slid her glass across the smooth finished oak of the bar as Mr. Lucas shifted over. “It was great of you to shut down the pub for Charles and Jane’s engagement party. I know Jane really appreciated it.”
“You know the two of you are family. I was chuffed to bits to do it.” He leaned across the bar. “That friend of Charles’s is staring at you like he’s going to set you on fire. Why don’t you go introduce yourself?”
How had Mr. Lucas missed her humiliation earlier? Oh well, he’d probably been busy chatting with someone while he pulled their pint. “I think I’ll pass, but thanks for pointing that out.” She had to admit that her best friend’s father pointing out potential date candidates didn’t exactly make her heart go pitter patter.
The problem was that he was staring. Every time she looked back, his eyes were on her. Jane and Charles had both indicated this Darcy was Charles’s best mate. What were the odds that he wouldn’t come to the wedding? Maybe she’d never have to lay eyes on him again after tonight.
William Darcy has gone completely mental! Despite Elizabeth Bennet’s less than stellar opinion of him, some unknown force possessed him to invite her to Pemberley to wait out lockdown. Just because she’d be closer to her sister Jane, who’s isolated in the gamekeeper’s cottage with her husband wasn’t a legitimate excuse either. He’d invited Elizabeth—the only woman he’d ever really fancied—Elizabeth, who’d refused him without reservation at the Rosings Book Festival. Now, he spends part of every day in Elizabeth’s company while struggling to keep his feelings hidden from not only her but also his nosy sister and motherly housekeeper. What a bloody nightmare!
When William Darcy showed up on her doorstep, the last thing Elizabeth Bennet expected was an invitation to Pemberley, yet she now lives in the poshest of rooms and can walk the extensive gardens and the forests without limits. Even Tilney, her timid Maine Coon cat, is willing to brave strangers to explore his new surroundings, but Elizabeth has no idea how to behave around Darcy. If no one can say when lockdown will end, she could be living at Pemberley indefinitely. How do you live with a man you’re attracted to, but who tries your every last nerve? How is she supposed to stay confined with Mr. Darcy?
About the author
L.L. Diamond is more commonly known as Leslie to her friends and Mom to her three kids. A native of Louisiana, she spent the majority of her life living within an hour of New Orleans before following her husband all over as a military wife. Louisiana, Mississippi, California, Texas, New Mexico, Nebraska, and now England have all been called home along the way.
Aside from mother and writer, Leslie considers herself a perpetual student. She has degrees in biology and studio art, but will devour any subject of interest simply for the knowledge. Her most recent endeavours have included certifications to coach swimming as well as fitness instructor and personal trainer.
As an artist, her concentration is in graphic design, but watercolour is her medium of choice with one of her watercolours featured on the cover of her second book, A Matter of Chance. She is also a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America. Leslie also plays flute and piano, but much like Elizabeth Bennet, she is always in need of practice!
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