Thank you, Maria Grazia, for welcoming me to My Jane Austen Book Club. I am happy to be here! It’s always exciting to launch a blog tour, and I’m grateful to you for hosting today.
Interrupted Plans follows the same timeline as the original work, with a few key tweaks. Before Elizabeth can travel north with her aunt and uncle, Lydia is caught with a gentleman and forced to marry. Narrowly escaping all-out scandal, the Bennet family is eager to put the past behind them.
To that end, Jane and Elizabeth travel to London to stay with their Aunt and Uncle Gardiner. It is there that Elizabeth crosses paths with Mr. Darcy once again. The following scene occurs as Darcy and Elizabeth are dancing together after having come upon each other rather unexpectedly.
Darcy returned to the refreshment table where he had last seen Bingley. He found him in the company of two ladies. It was unlike Bingley to seek out the company of ladies these days. Not since Hertfordshire. Not since the day Darcy had betrayed the best friend he had ever known, all in the error of pride and conceit. Shaking himself from his mental gloom, he stepped forward as Bingley turned towards him, revealing the faces of the ladies beside him.
Darcy froze, his formal greeting catching in his throat as he stared at the beautiful woman across from him. Elizabeth Bennet!
Her own lovely face held a look akin to horror. Good God, she is appalled to see me! In truth, Darcy could not blame the lady for her response, as deeply as it hurt. Their last meeting had been anything but cordial.
“Darcy! There you are!” Bingley was speaking, but his voice held an anxious tremor that belied his jovial welcome. “I have just been speaking with Miss Bennet and Miss Elizabeth from Hertfordshire. You remember them, of course.” As he spoke, the two ladies curtseyed.
Darcy schooled his features to that of polite warmth—or so he hoped. Bingley was uneasy, and Darcy immediately decided he must show him and the Miss Bennets that he had learned to be a loyal friend these past few months.
“My apologies for keeping you waiting, Bingley. Miss Bennet, Miss Elizabeth, it is a pleasure to see you again. I trust you are both well?”
Jane Bennet looked quite pale, but Miss Elizabeth’s colour rose as she replied, “Thank you, Mr Darcy. We are both quite well.”
Her eyes refused to meet his, however, and he endeavoured once more to put her at ease. “I hope you are enjoying the ball?”
“We have only just arrived, sir,” she answered. “However, it was most fortuitous that Mr Bingley found us among the crush of attendees. It is nice to see you both again.”
Did she really mean that? It was impossible to tell. She still refused to look at him, choosing instead to look at Bingley or her sister. At that moment, the musicians began to tune their instruments, signalling the commencement of dancing. Beside him, Bingley cleared his throat.
“Miss Bennet, might I be so bold as to request the honour of your hand for the next dance?”
Miss Bennet flushed but demurely accepted his friend’s offer, and after excusing them both, Bingley led his partner to the floor. Darcy watched them, a heavy feeling of regret settling in his gut. How wrongly he had treated them!
He turned back to Miss Elizabeth, unsurprised to see her look of challenge. The impulse struck him then to tell her all. He wished to spill the contents of his wounded heart and lay himself at her mercy. It seemed, however, that he still had some pride left, though he hoped it was at last in good regulation.
“Miss Elizabeth,” he said, watching as her anger cooled to wariness. “Would you do me the great honour of allowing me to squire you through this dance?”
She seemed startled at his request and gave no answer, but she continued to stare at him.
Brigid Huey has been in love with Jane Austen since first seeing the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice as a young girl. She lives in Ohio with her husband and two kids and spends her free time reading and writing. She also has an assortment of birds, including five chickens and too many parakeets. She dreams of living on a farm where she can raise as many chickens, ducks, and goats as she likes and write romance novels in an airy study overlooking the wildflowers.