sexta-feira, 18 de março de 2016

Regency love fairy tale - Part 1

hello,
Perfect storm hitting Brazil these days, no sign of sunny skies for us. Shitty government, Nixon-like scandals, threatens of Bolivarian revolutions... Not easy to be Brazilian lately.

I can only find shelter in Darcy and Lizzy. Shall we?

So, from the prologue you know their fates have played with their hearts and this story is about their reactions to life. Settle down and accept or fight? It properly starts here.

Enjoy!



Love in acts

2nd act

ECLIPSE OF THE HEART

angst, rated M, short, P&P, Alternate Universe
Prologue

Part 1 -

‘This one is going to be a huge success, Lesley.’

‘The devil, Lizzy! Don’t call me Lesley!’

She turned from the half opened door sharply and stared at the beautiful young man with a quizzical expression. He gave her a deep frown. She sighed and nodded. ‘I’m sorry, Mr. Bennett, sir.’

‘Ma-’ He pressed the bridge of his nose and straightened his spine. ‘My Lizzy.’ He looked around him but they were alone. ‘Mama, please, call me ‘Ben’, ‘Ben’.’

‘And you call me Lizzy.’ She raised her delicate index finger. ‘Careful is our middle name, lad.’

‘Urgh.’ He groaned. ‘Lad.’

‘Mr. Bennett, sir, we can start.’ The auctioneer said quietly arriving close to them.

‘Very well. Let’s do it.’

Elizabeth admired his broad shoulders, his perfect posture, adjusted his cravat so well tied by his fancy valet and raised on her toes to whisper ‘Good luck, dear’ in his ear. He pressed a tense half smile and his fine eyes asked her if she would stay in the audience as she always did, since the first auction he conducted two years before. She would, always and forever.

He had so much of her late father, a little of his own and a lot from the dashing Duke he was named after. For her, he had attitude and courage, a regal air only very deeply loved children could grow on their backs. And ‘Lesley’ Bennett, or Ben as he much preferred, had been deeply loved by his grandparents he called mama and papa, his mother he called ‘my Lizzy’ because ‘mama’ threatened to escape his lips so very often and by his four aunts he called sisters.

He escorted Elizabeth to the seating room where a good part of the rich and influent members of the ton who were already in London for the season occupied the several settees and card tables enjoying the refreshments and the excitement an auction presented.

Many of the items offered that afternoon were precious pieces brought from the Continent, from the New World, the Indies and even farther. Ben himself ordered his brother-in-law’s ships bring items from the intriguing China, pieces that would take the breath away from the ostentatious ladies of society.

Ben took Elizabeth to where their elder sister stood with her husband and aunt, kissed their dainty hands, shook hands with his brother before greeting all the other patrons.

‘He looks quite dashing, does he not?’

‘Oh, yes. So young and already so well in life!...’

‘Ben is such a catch.’

‘You helped him build all he has so far, either working on Longbourn or the auctions, Lizzy.’

Elizabeth smiled. He was, Ben was a man of business conducting both Longbourn and his hobby of auctioning expensive and exclusive items to rich snobs. ‘If he only had a title…’ She smirked at the old tease.

Jane chuckled. ‘It is a wonder how you turned down excellent offers...’

Elizabeth tilted her head to a side and raised her brows.

‘She is stubborn as a mule, that’s why!’ Eliza Gardiner, their aunt, said chuckling and the sisters joined in the mirth. ‘She’ll care for this brother of yours until he grows a white beard!’

Overhearing them, Bingley chuckled and elbowed his friend. ‘There, Darce.’ He tilted his head indicating the ladies a few steps aside. ‘That is Lizzy, my other sister. I believe you never met this one as she spends most of her time at Longborn.’

Darcy raised his eyes over his friend’s shoulder, glanced at Bingley’s pudgy wife and he once more thought how different she looked when he met her right after their wedding. The very fetching blonde was really the angel her groom described her, but after four children, the woman looked tired, fatty and in her words she frequently resembled the Bingley sisters. His eyes then found an older woman, slender and smiling but not at all handsome. ‘The spinster?’ He asked derisively.

Bingley clicked his tongue. ‘Lizzy refused to marry more than once. Spinster seems inappropriate.’

‘Any unmarried woman over five and twenty is a spinster.’ He said not carrying who overheard them.

‘Oh, I’m hopeless, brother!’ Came an amused lady’s voice behind him and he tensed up. ‘I’m a handful of springs over five and twenty already…’

Bingley almost chocked on the tea he was sipping. ‘Not that you look a day over-’ She raised a finger and an eyebrow at him, he grinned. ‘Seven and twenty!’ She pressed her lips and shook her head. ‘Eight and twenty.’ She still shook her head and his grin turned into a chuckle. ‘Nine and-’

‘No, brother!’ She faked despair and laughed with Bingley.

Darcy was mesmerized by the laughter in the finest pair of eyes he had ever seen. The lady who carried them on her handsome face was obviously over thirty years of age, her disposition and figure though denoted she was on her late twenties. Her finest feature were her eyes, by far; dark and big with thick lashes and an amused expression, beautifully framed by dark blond hair coiffed in a fashionable manner as to give her a fetching air. ‘Four and twenty.’ He said.

‘Ah!’ Elizabeth tried to contain her laughter. ‘See, brother? This gentleman has better sight than you.’

‘He does!’ Bingley patted his old friend’s back. ‘A lady of four and twenty is obviously out of his strict rules of spinsterhood.’

‘Bingley.’ Darcy admonished his friend who laughed even more.

‘This is my good sister, Elizabeth Bennett. Lizzy, this is Darcy, my friend from Cambridge. I told you about him and his estate, Pemberley, near mine.’

She curtsied and he bowed. ‘Madam.’

‘Brother, you vex me saying I’m the good sister… Are all your other five very bad?’ She teased and Bingley laughed again. ‘Pray, sir, what is called a handsome gentleman of… nine and thirty?’ She asked and Darcy blushed.

‘Three and forty.’ He mumbled.

‘If unmarried like my friend here, we call him a survivor.’ Bingley was still amused. ‘He escaped the matchmaking mamas for so long he can sense them coming in his old bones.’

‘Well…’ Elizabeth pressed her eyes, the delicate thin lines marking her expression and quickly studied Darcy’s face. ‘I say, sir, if I may find any such evil-doers, I am sure to stir them away from you.’

Darcy was abashed and mesmerized at the same time. ‘I can only thank you, madam.’

She nodded.

‘Oh, Ben is taking the dais.’ Eliza Gardiner said excitedly. ‘Do you think I have any chance to keep those lovely figurines?’

‘Only if you are ready to fight Ben, he hates when we outbid the patrons. If you want my opinion, it’s worth the fight, in a few years it’ll be a lot more valuable than what it may reach now. You see, the monks in China …’

As she explained the value of the figurines, Darcy caught himself enraptured by what she said, by how she explained the pieces, their value and how they moved her. To him, it was clear she knew as much as the lad curator of the auctions that put the pre-season in an uproar – possibly she was the one who chose most of the lot.

Once the crowd was handed bid paddles, conducted to the salon and settled on the seats disposed for the bidders, Darcy decided to stay close to the doors by the right side of the room from where he could observe the Bennetts while the auction took place. The lad seemed curiously engaging, Darcy thought. Very dashing in his dark coat and fashionably tied cravat stood at the side of the dais, his eyes perusing the crowd and nodding when a piece was sold. He occasionally searched his sister too; the beauty of dark blond hair and bewitching eyes and Darcy wondered what they communicated silently. Profits? Probably.

He had gone to the auction to please Bingley, the man gushed about his brother as if the lad was the finest young man in all England. Darcy understood he was a savior of sorts, the last hope of a family full of girls whose estate was entailed to the male side. Out of the five sisters, two were left to care for the mother and young brother and as he proved to be a promising lad, the whole family jumped to his assistance. Darcy was not strange to family devotion.

The handsome lady turned and whispered something to the older woman he had thought was the spinster – who she called aunt, he overheard later – and her eyes perused the room until they met his. It was probably nothing, but he did feel something pleasant flash through him the few seconds they crossed eyes. Soon after, the loveliest set of figurines was offered and her aunt started the bidding.

Georgiana might like something so delicate as the paramours dressed for a ball, he thought and made an offer that was quickly outbid by a lady at the other side of the room. Unreasonably as it felt, he was taken over by a yearning for the piece, to own something so carefully chosen by that lady and he raised his paddle offering a staggering amount, several bids over the current.

Both the Bennett lad and the Bennett seasoned beauty turned to him – as much as a good part of the salon – he blushed and nodded solemnly when the auctioneer called the piece sold.

Yes, he now possessed ‘Moonlight ball lovers’, and her fine eyes smiled at him.

 

Wings – Darcy house


‘Here it is, Rodgers. Hand it carefully.’

‘Heavy, isn’t it?’

‘And expensive.’ Adams sighed. ‘I couldn’t believe the amount he ordered me to pay for this figurine, but a secretary rarely questions his master.’

‘Same as a valet.’ Rodgers nodded. ‘Is it worth it?’

Adams shrugged. ‘The auctioneer said he paid above the expected, but it is an exclusive item.’ He sipped his ale at the servants’ quarters. ‘Mr. Darcy said it should be left in his chambers, put it over his writing desk. He wants to see it before he gives to Miss Georgiana.’

‘I’ll do it right away. Anything else?’

‘Mmmm…’ The secretary pressed his eyes and considered the valet. When the master arrived from his men’s club, Adams would be long gone for the day and the master seemed really keen on the lady sister of the curator. ‘Tell him that-’

‘What?’ Rodgers asked impatiently. ‘Tell him what?’

Adams looked around him and found not only Miss Georgiana’s maid, but her companion and a scullery maid observing them stealthily. He sighed. ‘Wait, I’ll pen a quick note.’

In the note, he wrote all he could muster. She was a spinster devoted to her only brother while her youngest sister was devoted to her mother. The sister was quite wild even though not fallen, but rarely left Meryton. The other sisters were married to Mr. Bingley (the eldest), to a pastor (the third eldest) and to a local solicitor (the forth), all had families and fairly respectable lives of modicum income; Bingley was by far the most advantageous connection the Bennetts had. Miss Elizabeth had more comfort because of the auctioning business she conducted with the lad who took her advice on most anything.

He had a good eye for tapestry and rugs; she had an outstanding eye for figurines, china, glass, delicacies of craftsmanship. The previous year’s last auction – usually held early in the season, in time for the bidders to flaunt the achievements as family heirlooms – they sold a collection of exquisite glass vases smuggled from the island near Venice warranting an income many small states had difficulty to make in a year.

She was discreet, good humored, fashionable but not unreasonably so, liked social events and especially long strolls in the morning. The auctioneer – a big gossip – said Mr. Bennett had refused the courtship of an old gentleman the previous season, he suspected with her consent.

And to celebrate the success of the auction, Mr. Bingley had invited the family for the theater the coming week.

‘That is one long note.’ Rodgers mumbled looking over Adams’ shoulders in his small den near the Butler’s.


‘Not as long as he’d like, I can guarantee you.’ He folded and sealed it. ‘Here, be sure to deliver this to him personally.’

miss honey lemon on tumbler

A night in town coming soon... how very exciting!

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update:

a revised & unabridged version of this story will be available in Kindle, ebook and brochure from Jan 25th, 17.