terça-feira, 19 de abril de 2016

Q&A at Leslie Diamond

Hello, how lovely can it be to be invited to a Q&A to launch The Prince of Pemberley?


I loved it!

There were questions from many interesting JAFF people, some authors of great novels such as Compromised, Love never fails, What would Lizzy Bennet do? and The Earl's conquest. Amazing, right?

Is Jane Austen popular in Brazil?
Yes, incredibly. We have Facebook groups of 10k fans, our ‘Jane Austen Society of Brazil’ is pretty big too. I have to say the 2005 movie has opened Austen’s domain to lots of people – and that’s the beauty of adaptations, right?

How did you get introduced to this Jane Austen world and how old where you?
Late 20s, I guess. I have a dear friend who challenged me to read ‘the classics’ – her favorite classics – and gave me Tolkien, Balzac, Austen. But it was S&S and the first pages killed me. I wanted to jump in the book and punch John Dashwood in the face! Then shake Elinor’s shoulders! As I complained, my friend grimaced and said: ‘Honey, you need Elizabeth Bennet.’ Here I am, a P&P junkie!

Which is your favorite Jane Austen novel and why?
P&P. Always.
But I have to say Lady Susan gnaws on my heart, she’s my guilty pleasure. ;)

Who is your favorite Austen hero and why?
Darcy! Always! *grin*
I like a bunch of other great Austen men but Darcy for me is perfect because he is so flawed. He offends the woman he adores when he’s trying to compliment her, his clumsy flirting is adorable, his efforts to make things right are to swoon for… Darcy, definitely.

Who is your favorite Austen heroine and why?
Elizabeth Bennet, without a question.
I find it very hard to digest women being tramped upon. Of course, we’ve come a long and hard way from the social situation in Austen novels, women whole in Regency England’s society was a lot different, but still Elinor Dashwood’s or Anne Elliot’s reactions kill me. Lizzy fights back, she refuses two very good matches, she doesn’t fall under Lady Catherine’s diatribe, she’s great. I love her.

Who is your favorite Jane Austen villain and why?
I should be loyal do Wickham but no one pars Churchill to me. Wicky, as I see it, is a dimwit bad boy, what we call a ‘malandro-cocô’ in Rio. He scams and lies and deceives and end up tied to poor and empty-headed Lydia. *shrug* But Emma’s Churchill… horrible, horrible man. He flirts and lies and scams and humiliates the very woman he’ll marry. I was so shocked when I first discovered his secret engagement to Jane Fairfax…
There’s also Isabella Thorpe, Fanny Dashwood, Caroline Bingley but these sweet ladies can never have any spotlight because Lady Susan is, wow, perfect.
Actually, I’d pick Susan over Churchill. (I love Susan to the moon and back!) 

How did you become interested in the world of Jane Austen? 
As I said, finding Lizzy after Elinor opened the Austen wonderland to me. I searched for more, the BBC series (Firth!... awww…), graphic novels and fanfics. When I discovered Mrs. Darcy website I was in Heaven!

Do you write your stories in Portuguese first and then translate?
No, I write in English and revise and revise and revise…
I studied the language from 8 to 18 years-old, taught children and teenage courses for a while.

Do you find it hard to translate your thoughts in English?
I don’t realize I do it, but I’ve been told my syntax is ‘peculiar’, so I probably think in a neat jumble of English+Portuguese. I write as I think about it, in English, as I’m doing now. (I apologize for any syntax weirdness.)

What is the biggest challenge you face writing in English?
The colloquialisms. I love them. Love slangs and accents and how they color a character’s personality, make him/her more believable. But, it’s tricky sometimes… every time I visit US (I have a six-years-old who loves Orlando Parks) I spend my time trying to engage as many people in conversation as I can.

Do you have a special time of day and place to write?
I usually write after arriving from my morning jog at the beach, but sometimes the plot is too juicy not to stop everything and put it to paper.
My hubs gave me a ‘writer’s office’ as a 40th birthday gift. My design (I’m an architect), it’s really cute but in reality he wanted me to dissolve the mess I created in our dining room table. So, my smallish balcony is now a lovely office.




Where do you find your inspiration?
I dreamt the last story I wrote. It was a long scene about a couple meeting again after a bad breakup and it’s clear they still love each other but can’t find a way to be together. When I opened my eyes I knew I had to write it. From that scene came the whole story and then two more to form a cute project: Persian cats plot to unite three couples.

When your muse decides to be uncooperative what do you do to get her cooperation again (walking, cleaning, listen to music, etc)?
I give her time.
My muse is a whimsical indolent Lady, she smokes smelly cinnamon cigarettes, those brown long ones with swirling smoke and she smirks when whispering a good idea in my ear. When she’s taking a break, I put the work aside and wait.
The Prince of Pemberley was left half written, simmering untouched for several months, almost a year.
 At first Darcy and Lizzy are friends, pals, ‘bros’ until the sexual tension wins them over. Conducting them was easy. Their lifetogether as a rightful couple once their divorces were done, that wasn’t difficult because it’d be so nice – a life together after emerging from hell. But the period in between when they cheat on their spouses repeatedly, are lovers with so much baggage, so much love and contradicting emotions was very hard to make it right (sorry for the pun, it’s wrong and they know and Lizzy freaks out).
My muse took her time to help me write exactly the way I wanted this story to be told.

When writing do you need quiet or do you listen to music, and if so what kind?
I’d love to have peace and quiet! Loooove it!
But I write in my free time, often shared with my hubs and son. Especially when I’m in the middle of a hot scene, whenever Darcy does this or that to Lizzy, I hear: ‘Mom!...’ *groan*
When I can’t absolutely concentrate, I work on covers or playlists. Every story I write have a wicked playlist I like to enjoy when working out.

Which of Jane Austen’s characters would your mother say you are most like? How about your friends? Who would they say you are most like?
My mom is into Brazilian historical biographies. But, I’d say she would choose Catherine Morland for me because my head has always been filled with fantastic stories, imaginary friends, alternative views to everything.
My friends would dare to put me anywhere far from Lizzy!

Who is your least favorite Jane Austen character and why?
What a sad thing to think about… Elinor Dashwood, I have to say. She’s lovely and sane and sensible and intelligent but also so very compliant. I’d kick and complain, but she is so very classy… coming to think of it, I dislike her reactions, not her.

If Darcy was on an Olympic football (soccer) team, what position would he play? Who would be his biggest competition? (Neymar Da Silva Santos, Lionel Messi, or Christiano Ronaldo)
I never see Darcy as spotlight guy, a forward in soccer. I always see him as a backstage man, one that makes sure everything goes smoothly, let someone else take the lights. So I’d say he’d be midfielder, Zidane or Pirlo. (I may have been distracted by Mr. Pirlo’s looks.)
But I have to say that, after Germany shamed us here in our own Maracanã stadium during World Cup, soccer is no longer something we’re so fond of. We’re very hurt with our national team.

Actually, if Darcy and Lizzy each competed in an Olympic event during the 2016 Olympic games in Brazil, which sport would YOU want to watch them participate in?
I’m laughing here! What a great scenario! Tall, dark and handsome Darcy in tight sportswear!
For Lizzy, a team… maybe handball. I see her as a leader. Or tennis, she’d be great shooting cannonballs towards an opponent, wouldn’t she?
For Darcy I’d say rowing. He does row in my P&P inversion (he’s middle class and Lizzy is filthy rich).
Wouldn’t it be great to have a light and funny fanfic about them meeting at the Olympic Village?

Which is your favorite Darcy and Elizabeth to read – modern or Regency?
I like modern, love them. Because of what I said, my difficulty to accept women’s whole in the past. But I’ve read so many marvelous Regency pieces…
I’ve recently tried to write Regency and while these short stories are good reads, I’d say they are modern stories in Regency clothes.

Do your family and friends know you write Jane Austen fan fiction?
Oh, yes! They’ve learned to love Darcy because of me!
My hubs said he’s thinking about buying us a cat to name it Darcy and be able to say: ‘Darcy, leave my bed now!’

So, I’d like to know what inspired your covers? Do you also paint/design?It took us – my cover designer Cris Neiva and I - a long time to choose an image that could translate the long and hurtful journey these Darcy and Lizzy take – from friends to lovers to a married couple – and we toyed with several sequences of pictures until we found this one. The kiss seems ambiguous; it can be a stolen kiss, a reunion or a celebration of free love.
I do paint and try craft arts but writing takes most of my free time these days. My son is too curious, I cringe thinking how much he’d mess with my painting gear…

What makes your variations different from other writers of p&p variations?
My Darcys and Lizzys are half Brazilian.
In my first story ‘Friendship of aspecial kind’, they barely knew each other but he greeted her with a kiss on her cheek; it’s a common thing to do here in Brazil, I didn’t think twice of it but my Beta said ‘Whoa! What a forward guy! Why would he do that?’ *laugh* Since then I’ve been taking care to ‘clean’ them of Brazilian zest, but there’s the syntax…

Are your books set in the present day, or the Regency period? What inspired you to write them?
Present day. The story starts in the 80’s when they meet as teenagers, than there’s a twenty years gap.
When I met my hubs, he was practically engaged and I had an older boyfriend who was always threatening me with a proposal. It was meant to be, we broke our commitments to be together but the ‘what if’ never left me. What if we had met a year later and we were both married? What if we hadn’t managed to be together? What if… The prince of Pemberley is about this doubt, a leap of faith, second chances.
Darcy and Lizzy meet as teenagers through letters, England to Brazil by post, stamps, paper, envelopes – late 80s. They try to meet in person but fate intrudes. Then life gets between them, they grow older and their friendship is put aside for twenty years. They both marry and have children (in England, Darcy marries Anne; in Brazil; Lizzy marries Wickham) until Lizzy finds him on Google almost twenty years after their last letter. The friendship rekindles instantly and from that to love is the journey told in three books.

Are all three books about Darcy? Or are we looking at future generations? Or are there men at Pemberley the we know not of? Or are these sequels?
All Darcy and Lizzy. They both have children, there is the next Bennett-Darcy generation, but it’s centered on them. He is the King of Pemberley!
In my stories, Darcy and Lizzy are together from the beginning and most of the time, I try not to fill it with subplots that don’t add to their timeline.
The books are part of a single touchy story– they are friends in book 1, cheaters in book 2, struggling to make it work in book 3. Sequels, yes… but continuations, that’d be better said.

If you could spend two months at Pemberley in the 1800’s, what three items would you have to pack in your suitcase?
A toiletries bag, a phone (to record conversations, take pics and notes), calming tablets – I’d freak out!



sábado, 16 de abril de 2016

Regency love fairy tale - Part 4

Of what is composed a love story?

Love, of course. But the fun resides in the tortuous path to it, I cannot see otherwise. There's a lot more fun in the chase than in the HEA. 

People ask me about sequels to my '45 days in Europe with Mr. Darcy' and 'Friendship of a Special Kind' but actually, how to tell a happy story? I can only think about giving them grief... and they don't deserve it. Or do they?

For this Darcy and Lizzy, the path to happiness is just beginning. Huge bumps on their way.

The lovely love story continues.

Enjoy!



Love in acts

2nd act

ECLIPSE OF THE HEART

angst, rated M, short, P&P, Alternate Universe
Part 3


Part 4 -

Wings

‘Look at that!’ Ashton cried angrily at the kitchen table the servants used to dine. ‘Would you please look at that?’

Cook chuckled; the maid and footman rolled their eyes.

‘It was a lovely set; she almost killed me to choose these. So many recommendations and modifications with the modiste, an absolutely new set of flowers no other lady in Lord Brakenbury’s party should have… and the mask, that mask I was planning on using to adorn my chamber, so lovely it was… couldn’t find it anywhere, I’m hoping she forgot it in the carriage but it’s so unlike her… And what is this?’ She brought the hem of the dress to her nose and gasped. ‘Punch!’

‘I’ll boil water, Ashton. It’ll come off.’

‘You won’t touch that, Cook! You have big hands; her dress is small and delicate.’

Cook sputtered. ‘Fine, you do it, ungrateful little chit!’

Ashton gasped. ‘Have you forgotten that yellow dress she had, the one with the ribbons? Remember what happened when she brought it here and you wanted to please her washing before I arrived from the milliners?’

The pudgy woman groaned miserably.

‘Yes, ruined… she is thin and delicate, you are used to prepare meat and chop vegetables.’

‘She eats not enough, that’s what it is. No pork, no sausages, only strawberries and potatoes and goose.’ Cook twisted her nose. ‘The other night, even my white soup she refused a second bowl.’

The maid shrugged. ‘That’s just as she is.’

‘Mr. Bennett eats a plenty.’ Parker, his valet, said entering the kitchen with the boots the master had worn those previous days. ‘He eats like a pig more often than not.’

‘And still is lean, much like his sister.’ Ashton bragged. ‘They got that from their father, Mrs. Bennett says. She is fatty and loud.’

Parker sighed deeply dreading the day they would have to return to Longborn. ‘Looks like the party was a success, was it not?’ He pointed at the dirty slippers and dress.

‘I suppose, four deliveries of flowers already plus the one from Lord Brakenbury that comes every other week when we’re in town. She arrived so tired that didn’t even let me undo her hair, asked me only to open her dress and leave. I got these and a letter to send away from her dressing chamber just now; she’s still asleep.

‘The master have a visitor, a fine gentleman, probably rich.’

‘A Mr. Darcy, said the card he gave me to give the master.’ The footman gossiped and Ashton stopped breathing. ‘He asked to be received immediately.’ He shook his head. 

‘It’s business.’ Ashton tried to keep calm.

‘These wealthy cads think they can come here unannounced to pounce on the auctions’ items before the others.’ The footman frowned, Ashton tilted her head and they heard the doorbell, so the he left to attend the door.

‘I’ll put together the mistress’ breakfast tray and take it to her.’ Ashton moved nervously, anxious to check on her mistress.

‘Before you take the tray, there is a delivery for her, Ashton.’ The footman returned to the kitchen. ‘Come and get it, please, the man said it is very fragile.’

Her heart racing, she decided to try her (and her mistress’) luck as there weren’t any specific instructions about posting. ‘Is the man, mmm, Derby, still with master Bennett?’ Ashton casually asked walking beside him, the letter burning her hand in her apron’s pocket.

‘Darcy.’ The footman corrected her. ‘The den’s door is still locked. Don’t hear no conversation, though.’

‘Would you deliver this letter to him?’

‘From madam?’

She blinked worriedly. ‘Do I have to ask for discretion?’ He shook his head, eyes slightly widened. ‘Or you take it to his house.’

He glanced out the window to the street three stories bellow. ‘His coachman seems to be prepared to leave at any moment.’ He turned to look at her. ‘I can run downstairs if you can manage the delivery alone.’

‘Go!’

---

Mid-morning when she opened her eyes, the memories of the previous night came to her with the same violence as the emotions had hit her when she heard Darcy tell her story changing characters. She felt sick to her stomach, silly for betraying herself and her son, a secret so well kept for ages given freely to a man she barely knew, a man for whom she was miserably falling in love, a man so wrong in every aspect.

She groaned and hid her face in her pillow hoping time would be so kind as to stop and let her die alone, in her bed listening to the faint sounds of London’s streets bellow her windows while he read her letter. Maybe she dozed off still tired from only sleeping when the day broke, maybe she just closed her eyes for a moment lost in her shame, but suddenly her door opened and Ashton came in humming softly to herself.

‘Morning.’ She groaned and the maid jumped.

‘Morning, miss.’ She said cautiously. ‘Is it really you hidden under pillows and blankets?’

‘Who else?’

‘Mmm… there are a lot of strange things happening today. Mr. Bennett received a call from the same gentleman you left that letter for, early this morning; it didn’t last more than a quarter hour, he has been enclosed in his office ever since.’ She spoke in one breath. ‘And there have been many deliveries, all for you.’ That made Elizabeth raise her head from under her pillow. She blinked several times as the maid continued. ‘And now came this box, the man who brought it, I’m almost sure was the owner of that fancy shop you like to go, the one with the expensive trinkets from auctions, I’m almost sure it’s the same man you talk to, he brought the box himself saying I should be really careful and place this on your desk and let you open, that’s what he said.’ Ashton poised the box over Elizabeth’s writing desk as one delivers a bucket of gunpowder.

Elizabeth’s eyes seemed to be tricking her, probably still misty from all the vexation from the previous night, because her room was filled with flowers. There were several vases, maybe all they had in London, one or two she was sure were destined for the last auction before season started. Big bouquets of mauve roses, mauve lilies, mauve tulips and white callies with mauve center. A giggle erupted from her throat before she could stop it, and then an almost overwhelming need to cry.

Slowly, as if afraid of leaving her bed and stepping into reality, she stood and touched the box with the tip of her fingers afraid the contact would give her tiny shocks that actually took over her body once the delicate wrapping was undone and she took one of the wine glasses. It was a set of the most exquisite and delicate crystal pieces in a distinctive shade of amber and the stem – her breath caught in her throat – the stem was shaped as a single small proud swan supporting the cup over its neck.

‘Oh dear Lord, miss!’ Ashton whispered over Elizabeth’s shoulder. ‘I have never seen something so perfect.’

‘Murano glass, I suppose.’ She answered in another whisper. ‘We auctioned a set of vases last year.’ Her fingers tried to trace the delicate lines but she couldn’t hold them steady.

‘The note, miss.’ Ashton pointed at the small envelope near the other glasses.

‘I didn’t need to dive into the lake after all.’

 ‘Any other notes?’ Elizabeth asked without averting her eyes from the small assured penmanship.

‘No, ma’am.’

She didn’t need any to know for sure who had sent all the beautifully selected flowers as well. It was the same dashing gentleman reading her heartfelt lines at that moment.

Wings

‘What can we do?’

‘Nothing.’

‘Tea?’

He shook his head.

‘Brandy?’

‘He has it in his den, merely needs to stretch his arm.’

The housekeeper tapped her feet nervously. ‘I have never seen him shout with Miss Georgiana that way.’

‘It was her fault.’ Rodgers said.

Adams nodded. ‘He said to leave him alone when he entered to the house, everyone heard.’

The housekeeper snorted. ‘The horses on the street heard him, he barked!’

‘Maybe we could send brandy to Miss Georgiana?’ A maid whispered still shaking from being too close to Darcy’s den when he sent his sister away.

‘All this from a letter?... It came with his post?’

‘He brought it with him when he arrived; the coachman said the Bennett’s footman gave it to him to deliver to master and that it pleased him a lot.’ A footman gossiped. ‘He was surprised he was so upset when they arrived here, he told me after Mr. Darcy stormed in and I stood with the door opened.’

‘The coachman told you all that?’ The housekeeper asked and the footman nodded. ‘Maybe Mr. Darcy will need a new coachman…’

---

‘Be not afraid, sir, that this letter may contain any of the silly unbalanced sentimentality you so kindly helped me overcome last night, but my sensitivity demands me to explain my reactions.

I could remove to my brother’s estate and declare this episode behind me, I should probably do so – will probably do so shortly – and although my reasoning begs me to keep discreet, I still feel weirdly obliged to you. I beg your pardon for wasting your patience with these lines.

Again I feel the need to apologize… maybe will do it again before this letter is finished.’

Darcy held his head in his hands and stared at his desk’s leather top blinking to calm his heart, steady his vision, find a rhythm for his lungs. Seated in his comfortable chair he could hardly feel his legs.

He was the one in deep need of apologizing; he was again faulted, so very deep this time. How much he could have done if he had not been a coward? He should have done what he considered noble instead of hiding behind his late papa’s sense of humor. ‘A silly pre-war infatuation, that is what it was! Your concern and allegiance are certainly not needed.’ He had said.

‘Last evening, when you confided in me telling your excellent sister’s story, I was taken by overwhelming emotions because her predicament is so very similar to mine – similar to many other silly gullible young girls as Caroline Foxton said that day at the theater.

I was but fifteen when the Militia arrived in Meryton for a long sojourn training to fight Napoleon in the continent. You can well imagine how a large group of soldiers would stir a small society such as ours and soon there were several occasion for socializing. Many girls fancied themselves in love but I resisted naively considering my understanding above the silliness that surrounded me.

Amongst the soldiers there was a very engaging Colonel, your cousin as I learned last evening, with whom I shared many agreeable nights making fun of his precarious situation of having to control the enamored soldiers. Richard was blessed with a happy disposition and quick wit as I fancied myself in possession and soon we could be considered friends.’

He read her words again seeing in his mind his cousin’s smile, hearing his voice and laughter, perfectly picturing how easily he seduced the girl. That girl grew up to be such a fetching woman who tempted Darcy so much…

His eyes hurt from the sting of withheld tears and reading her small fast hand while his fancy coach rocked over the streets’ cobblestones from her brother’s apartment to his town house. Still he forced his vision to keep going.

‘Despite our precautions and prejudices, our partiality took us over.

We resisted, sir. For long months. I didn’t want to be the kind of simpleton who falls for a dashing uniform; Richard didn’t want to be the kind of soldier who leaves a broken heart behind. We talked during long strolls, in balls, dinners. Eventually we gave in to our feelings albeit we opted for secrecy. Time plays with our memories and I tend to believe it was my idea to propose such development trying to protect my pride and maybe childishly wanting to play Romeo and Juliet.

I will spare you of other unnecessary details and will only tell you we had an understanding. He said there wouldn’t be land for him to inherit and once he returned from war, Richard planned to work on Longbourn while my papa lived and later, lease the property. A simple life away from the ton he despised with a woman who loved him seemed like a very happy prospect, he used to say. I believed him completely.

He never once mentioned he was from a titled family and I only learned his true identity after news from his passing arrived in Meryton. I thank him for not having said anything; my suffering might have been bigger for as Lord Brakenbury’s late father, his wouldn’t have approved of me as well.’

His uncle… such an amiable man would obviously had seen how lovely she was. His father, though... Darcy chuckled to himself in his torment. What was he thinking? She was his dear cousin’s lady, if he had gone to Meryton when he should, would he have had the cunningness to steal his cousin’s paramour while she mourned him?

‘Unfortunately the weeks we lost were never to be regained for he sadly never returned; I believe you know the particulars.

I still have in my possession a token he left me, a time piece with a lock of his hair inside. The silver case has his initials and around it there are several mother-of-pearl dots, the chain also has the same details on the first links. It’s not here in London, it’s an heirloom I don’t carry with me for many years and I only tell you of its existence to corroborate my words. Maybe you remember him using it almost all the time.

There is nothing more to say, sir, this is my sad story and I try very hard to keep only the good parts alight in my mind. I choose to concentrate on the certainty that your cousin went to battle as he left me. We were both deeply loved.’

That single line would be forever written in his mind as if done with fire. She loved his cousin deeply. So much to refuse marriage over the years, so much to have an emotional breakdown in his arms.

He gritted his teeth preparing for her last lines until he felt his face hurt.

‘Don’t bother calling for the sake of politeness or duty, sir. I won’t hold on to your words from the previous night; there is nothing you owe me.

In fact, if I may be so bold, I’d rather not talk about this and I shall find a way to appreciate your distance.

Certain of your understanding and secrecy, I can only add,

God bless you, Mr. Darcy.


Elizabeth Bennett’

---

huffington post

continues

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

quinta-feira, 7 de abril de 2016

Regency love fairy tale - Part 3

hello,
I have no news to report here. Our country is still in uproar, so dazed with rotten politics that nothing else happens. Brazil is a country in suspension.

At least I've got this Darcy and Lizzy to take me along their dreamily love affair..

A ball, how can this be any lovelier?

Enjoy!



Love in acts

2nd act

ECLIPSE OF THE HEART

angst, rated M, short, P&P, Alternate Universe
Part 2


Part 2 -

‘Something amiss with you, ma-’ Ben cleared his throat. ‘My Lizzy?’


She sucked in a breath and lowered her mask holding the stick a lot more firmly than necessary. ‘No. Why you say that?’

‘I was talking about Clarence for the last ten minutes and you didn’t answer.’

‘I beg your pardon, Lesley. I didn’t- sorry.’ She raised a hand to him. ‘Sorry, again.’

‘You seem distracted, Lizzy. This is not like you.’ He twisted his nose as he did as a child when his ‘favorite sister’ denied him a second slice of pie. ‘Secrets. I hate when you keep secrets from me.’

‘There are things a lady cannot tell a gentleman, Lesl- Ben. Ben.’

‘Where the deuce have you found this lame excuse, Lizzy? You are no lady when it comes to-’ Wellesley Bennett stopped as he heard a thundering harrumph behind him and turned, his black cape swiveling around him. For a moment he felt he was not one and twenty but a small boy of seven, spooked out of his senses by a suitor of his ‘adored sister’.

‘Good evening, Bennett.’ The huge man in a black cloak over his pristine night attire bowed stiffly and the demi beak mask revealed a small smile towards Elizabeth. ‘Miss Bennett.’ He asked for her hand to bow over it, but the enormous black beak prohibited him of offering a kiss.

Ben frowned and looked intently at the gentleman, at least one and a half inches taller than him. ‘Mr.…? Darcy?’

The man nodded.

‘Ah!’ He sighed. ‘For a moment I thought you were a real plague doctor.’ Elizabeth chuckled and raised her mask to her eyes. ‘Have you just arrived? I can’t keep my mask in my face for more than four minutes at a time.’ Ben raised his Casanova demi mask attached to a black hat.

‘Forgive my baby brother, Mr. Darcy. He lacks gentlemanliness when it comes to patience.’

Ben wanted to retort, but Darcy spoke first. ‘Also in manner of speaking to his sister.’

Both Bennetts pressed their eyes to him and Darcy felt like they were not only similar, but eyes made out of the same cast.

‘My brother was being an impertinent child, Mr. Darcy. Don’t feel it concerns you in any way, sir.’

Darcy was surprised by her coming to her brother’s rescue so ferociously, like a tigress protecting her cub. He nodded and with dismay realized he had started off in the wrong again. He was of the intention of making things right but the Earl of Brakenbury arrived close and got her by the hand gesticulating big, his white beak mask dangling awkwardly from his nose.

Ben eyed Darcy curiously, his intentions seemed clear. It was not the first time a man showed interest in his mama, Lord Brakenbury almost stole her thirteen years prior and if not for his papa’s demise, she might have done what her mama wanted.  Every now and then came a gentleman thinking he could persuade her into marriage or at least into mistress, but he knew she would always stay with him by his side in his place – Longbourn, the estate he inherited to save all his sisters and mama Amelia. There was the auctioning business he conducted during season, a business he started to please her, to praise her good eye for beauty. He devoted his young days to her; she devoted her life to him.

In turn, Darcy eyed Ben with interest too. There was something very pleasing in the siblings’ features but he couldn’t identify what it was. The sister was fetching, bright fine eyes and charming countenance; the brother had the same eyes but his face struck a chord in Darcy. He found himself prone to empathize with the spoilt lad after all: if he had such a lovely spirited sister, he too would be protective.

‘Ah, Darce!’ Bingley arrived and rested his hands on both men’s shoulders. ‘Clarence can put together a ball, can’t he? He manages all this and still keeps everyone proper.’

‘Since Cambridge he manages to keep himself proper, that is a wonder.’ Darcy mumbled and took off his mask. The lad was right; the damned mask was a bore.

‘That’s exactly what Lizzy says!’ Ben chuckled and his brother followed.

‘Lizzy and Clarence were friends from the moment he set eyes on her, Darce. He was in my wedding.’

Darcy nodded.

‘Friends!’ Ben snorted. ‘He was enraptured with her. I was too young to understand why your friend managed to meet her every morning, but I remember them together often and mama gushing about Lizzy marrying a titled man.’

Bingley chuckled. ‘They almost stole my marriage, if Lizzy had given Clarence a chance to court her…’

She refused an Earl? The second daughter of a small estate in Hertfordshire? Darcy was more intrigued than before. But he had to wait until the night was advanced to locate her wandering the massive gardens to have a chance to talk without interruptions.

‘The dance floor is that way, miss.’ She gasped, he smiled. ‘I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist. I saw you wandering alone… Escaping, perhaps?’

‘Oh, yes.’ She fanned her face using the hand that was not holding her mask’s stick. ‘I danced since the band started, I cannot allow any gentleman demand another set. It’s a bit stuffy, is it not?’

‘I believe by the lake we’ll find a refreshments’ table.’ He pointed the way including himself in her plans without considering her opinion. ‘Miss Elizabeth, I believe I have to apologize to you once more.’

‘I accept your apologies, sir.’ She said walking carefully over the tiny pebbles on the floor, a hand holding the mask and her skirts as the other helped her balance. He worried his mishap had been bigger than he thought. ‘I’m not sure what you think you have to apologize for, but I feel obliged to accept.’

Darcy chuckled watching her walk with difficulty. ‘Madam, if not for propriety sake, I’d carry you all the way to the lake.’

She stopped and looked up at him. ‘Don’t you hate propriety sometimes?’ She said exasperated. ‘I do, as much as I hate these pebbles.’

He chuckled, offered her his arm and took a side path carefully shoving her over the grass bed. ‘You’ll ruin your slippers, but you’ll walk safely. I’d hate myself if I let you sprain an ankle while walking with me.’

She looked down at her new golden slippers adorned with tiny mauve roses just as the ones on the stick of her golden mask and sighed dramatically. ‘They match.’ She pointed the mask to her feet slightly raising the hem of her dress so he could see in the dim light the few candle posts offered. ‘My maid helped me choose, the day we ran into you at the park.’

He nodded amused with her sorrow. ‘Matches the dress too, I see.’

She blushed so violently that heat reached her neck. He had noticed the golden poinsettias on her neckline, and that there was one on her mask, close to her right eye. Feeling stupid as a debutante for letting this man elicit this kind of reactions from her, as if a woman of six and thirty hadn’t met handsome men before, she nodded keeping her head down. ‘It’s a set, especially made for this ball. Clarence is always so happy with this Masquerade and makes plans for so long and I wanted to please him and…’ She looked up to find him frowning deeply at her feet. ‘I suppose it’s too late to agree on you carrying me?’

He laughed and shook his head. ‘Not at all, madam.’ In an instant, he was closer extending his arms but she leapt to the side.

‘I merely tease, sir!’

‘Ah!’

‘I’m sorry, Mr. Darcy. I didn’t mean to trifle with you.’

‘Not at all, Miss Elizabeth.’ He smiled and offered his hand for her to hold as they walked as if they were dancing instead of alone in the gardens. ‘If you end up changing your mind, I can still carry you.’

‘Mmmm…’ She mused out loud and he leaned his head to a side. ‘Wouldn’t you say I’m a little too old to break propriety in such a manner?’

‘One is never too old to have fun.’

‘I thought the intention was saving my new slippers.’

‘But of course, that too.’

She laughed as he chuckled. ‘Your sister could not be persuaded to come, even behind a very flowery or feathery mask? Or is she here dazzling the young gentleman dancing?’

‘She is not here.’ He said and his face darkened, he looked silently in front as they walked.

‘How sad. Clarence told me she is a beauty, similar to you in looks, very agreeable on the eye. I find myself unable to disagree with him, sir, even without meeting her.’ He pressed a satisfied smile, his face lighting a few notches. ‘That’s better. A ball such as this cannot be held while one is saddened and brooding. It was certainly me who stole the happiness from you, I’m at least glad I managed to bring some of it back.’

‘Don’t fret over me, madam.’ He held her hand with more force when she wavered almost falling in a hole covered by grass and brazenly switched hands to hold her waist with another.

‘You were offering me to break propriety and a second later you were upset.’

‘I am still considering how we were to shock society if I did carry you. Your ankles are bound to suffer tonight.’ She laughed delighted. ‘How good is your brother with a gun?’

‘Not good enough, I fear.’

‘Does he fence?’

‘He’s better with a gun.’ She said and Darcy laughed. ‘Are you planning such actions as to need a duel?’

‘In my part, it wouldn’t probably be needed. I have seldom in my life offered such a thing to a lady and I usually consider the implications of my actions carefully before making decisions. To break propriety with you wouldn’t be a burden, I assure you.’ He complimented her insinuating that whatever intention he might have was good and honorable and looping in his mind since he met her, but she understood that another mistress proposition was coming her way. She sighed and loosened the hold on his hand taking a step aside to escape his other hand on her thin waist. ‘I fear your brother’s care, for you two seemed to be very protective of one another.’

‘Ah, that was why you apologized before?’

He nodded. ‘I didn’t mean to meddle in family affairs.’

‘You didn’t.’ She finally saw the refreshments table surrounded by giggling people by the lake. Now she only had to come up with an excuse to send him away.

‘I am very protective of my sister as well.’ He said tucking her hand in the crook of his arm as they walked slowly. ‘She has been through a lot in life, a long time ago, but it still seems fresh in her heart.’ Elizabeth waited in silence. ‘People around us still think it’s a subject good enough to gossip about, as you may have heard.’

‘Pray, sir, you don’t have to tell anything that doesn’t concern me. Caroline Foxton is a horrid woman, I can wager she had an eye on you and your fortune when she was younger – and uglier still.’ She added under her breath. He looked at her surprised before chuckling. ‘Incredibly enough.’ She blushed. ‘Why is it, sir, that when we are together there is the need to apologize constantly?’

‘Why indeed… and why, madam, have we not met these last thirteen years your sister has been married to my old friend from Cambridge?’

‘Where you at the Bingley’s wedding?’ He shook his head. ‘Neither for the births of their children, I suppose.’ He shook again. ‘Of course not. I haven’t been very close to Jane for the last ten years or so. The companionship with her new sisters changed her; it seems she is distant from me.’ She said sadly and repented the indiscretion one more time.

‘Time tends to push people apart. Sometimes it’s difficult to put our past behind us.’

Elizabeth looked at him feeling something different inside her, at least different towards him; tenderness. ‘Time has not been kind to you, sir?’ He raised his brows and pressed his lips. ‘I struggled to make peace with time… can I offer an advice, something I use?’ He smiled sadly. ‘From the past, keep fresh only what brings you pleasure. Let the rest fade.’

‘Good advice.’

‘Not easy to put in action, but worth it.’

He nodded. ‘What do you want, madam? A glass of punch?’ He offered helping her climb off the grass bed before walking to the table.

She felt like a young girl being looked upon by an older and handsome boy, like when her paramour in a dashing uniform used to indulge her in silly conversations. Funny, she didn’t remember him in a long time; his features in Ben’s face seemed ethereal, like come from Heaven not from the man who left her. And all of a sudden, he was present in her mind whenever this man was near...

Darcy returned with the glasses and they sipped in silence watching the boats adorned with candles being roared around the lake by poor footmen for the sake of the party.

‘I may need assistance to select what to think about, madam.’ He said at last.

‘Sir?’

‘From my past. One memory that brings me pleasure seems to bring a dark one attached.’

‘I suppose memories are chained.’ She mused and he nodded. ‘But can we not choose what links to attach?’ He turned fully towards her and leaned on a railing. She felt a frisson run through her with the attention of a man of such consequence. ‘Childhood memories seem safe enough...’ She mused. ‘Sardines, perhaps?’ He smiled. ‘I used to play with my sisters and when Ben came years later it was even more fun.’

He pressed his lips, she sipped watching him. ‘I lost a dear cousin to Napoleon.’

‘I’m sorry.’ Her stomach turned and she blinked slowly to recompose. ‘Your parents are long gone, I suppose, if your sister is under your care.’ She tried again steering the conversation away from child’s plays, he nodded, she nodded too. ‘So, instead of remembering how the house felt the day they left you, think about how it felt with them around. What it smelt like on Christmas’ eve, for example?’ He seemed to be considering. ‘My father loved porridge spiced with peppermint and honey and when I think of him I concentrate on that smell, so peculiar.’

‘My father used to smoke cigars. The very nasty ones.’

‘That smell of horse manure?’

He chuckled nodding. ‘It stuck to his coat; it was stronger when he spent the day in the library reading. Sometimes he let me curl beside him.’

‘What did you read, usually?’

He grinned and it surprised her at how it lighted his handsome weathered face. ‘I found a small copy of a book filled with illustrations of the human body that fit perfectly inside an old sermons book.’

She laughed. ‘What a little cad! No one ever found out?’ He shook his head. ‘And what did you like to have with tea at the time? Scones?’

‘Honey biscuits. We had a cook down at Pemberley, my estate, who used to make them for me. Also berries I used to pick with a-’ He cleared his throat.

‘The cousin...’

‘And a friend I had at the time.’

She raised her index finger at him frowning. ‘Don’t leave me here, return to the dirty book tainting the sermons!’

He smiled mesmerized by her. ‘A fine lady as you is unmarried. It is astonishing.’

‘Oh, I’m not half as fine as I appear.’ She shook her head. ‘All this finery is the work of my excellent maid. Ashton disguises herself as a simpleton but she is a sorcerer.’

‘No maid can produce such a figure, madam.’ He gave her an appreciative stare hoping to convey his admiration. ‘But I was referring to your sensibility.’

‘I thank you.’ Air seemed difficult to breathe all of a sudden, she felt a bit too old for this kind of flirt. ‘Sometimes we have to make choices, and I chose to stay at home with my family. My father passed away leaving our brother still young and unprepared to deal with the estate. You see, my brother is fifteen years my junior, ten from my youngest sister; my parents had given up trying for a boy and when Ben arrived, my father had to start taking good care of Longborn, to make it produce more than what we needed to have a comfortable country life. With his passing, Longborn was not strong enough to run itself, my mama and youngest sisters needed care, Lesley was but a boy.’

‘Lesley?’

‘Oh, deuce.’ She said and blushed. ‘Pardon. Wellesley Bennett, Ben for short, Lesley for the family. Pray, do not let him know I told you, he hates ‘Lesley’ with all his being. He would kill me if he knew.’

He shook his head smiling. ‘So you refused marriage to devote to your family?’

‘Yes. It took me a great deal of commitment through the years, my mama wanted to force me into marriage a couple of times. Clarence wanted to court me once, but we weren’t compatible.’ She glanced at him quickly and averted her fine eyes once, twice, three times as he frowned.

‘I know Clarence since we were lads younger than your brother, Miss Elizabeth, I know he can-’ He stopped raising his brows as realization hit him. Then he frowned even deeper, his face contorting in anger. ‘Clarence didn’t offer to involve you in any horrific kind of scheme-’ He stopped ashamed to say it out loud.

‘No!’ She shook her hand to him. ‘Of course not.’ He tilted his head pressing his teeth together. ‘Clarence is nothing but a true gentleman; we have been friends since we met when he attended my sister’s marriage. I believe you were all friends from Cambridge.’ He nodded still silent. ‘I like long walks, as you know, and once I ran into Clarence. It was awkward at first, I offered him help and discretion, and he much needed a friend. We care for each other, only not enough to wed.’ She shrugged and sipped from her cup. ‘Not that his father would ever accept a simple country gentlewoman as wife for an Earl’s heir. He did well marrying Margaret.’ There was silence for a while. ‘And what about you, sir?’

‘Marriage?’ She nodded; he averted his eyes to the lake again. ‘My sister needed me, it was my fault she was seduced into elopement by a man we considered family-’ He stopped not believing his own silliness.

‘Don’t feel bad, sir.’ She touched his arm and caressed his coat for reassurance. ‘Sometimes it feels good to let go of one’s secret. A stranger may be the best person, and me in special, I just told you I can be discreet. You can trust me.’

‘How do I have no doubt of that, madam?’

She pointed upward and he looked at the sky. ‘It’s written there, perhaps?’ She smiled saucily.

‘Perhaps.’ He smiled.

‘Unless you paid for the carriage to Gretna Green, it probably was not your fault. Aren’t there any good memories left to link?’

‘No, my dear lady. The fault is mine, she was but a child. Fourteen years of age.’ Darcy spoke in halted breaths, eyes pressed in anger. ‘He was over twenty five, a secret elopement promise seemed incredibly romantic to her. She was defenseless, an easy prey for him. I should have been more attentive, she was under my care.’ Darcy balled his hands.

‘Maybe she had reason to believe him.’ She whispered.

‘She trusted him, was raised with that bastard roaming our house; she thought he was a good man.’

‘And maybe, maybe they had an understanding.’ She swallowed. ‘Of sorts.’

‘No.’ He stared ahead taut and angry, refusing his body even the release of a blink. ‘He wanted to have fun before going off to the world, he had joined the militia. Maybe he hoped to collect her dowry if I were fool enough to pay before-’ He turned to her suddenly, his hand caught hers a second after she let go of her mask’s stick and a fat tear landed on his wrist. ‘Miss Elizabeth? Are you well?’

She blinked back tears lowering her eyes just as he reached for her hand and realized she had let the cup of red punch fall over the hem of her dress staining the slippers. He put a reassuring hand on her shoulder and stepped in front of her. There were other people around them; an unmarried couple talking for a long time was bound to call attention, even if the lady was way over her seasons.

He let her recompose thinking her reaction to Georgiana’s ordeal quite endearing. Not that he could compare for he had never talked about it to anyone after he discussed the problem businesslike with his solicitor trying to find a way to make the blasted cad pay, but he had never expected such passionate response from a woman he had met but a month before, an spinster – albeit a very fetching one with a figure that would make half the debutants of the season envy, but an unmarried woman who devoted her life to her family-

A chill ran down his spine. ‘Miss Elizabeth.’ He whispered looking down. ‘You don’t have to tell me anything of your past that doesn’t bring you comfort. Please, forgive me.’ She kept immobile, his heart froze. ‘Take as much time as you need to recompose, madam. A few steps to the side, a little more distant from the candle post you’ll have more privacy.’ He waited for any form of agreement and when there was none, he held her by her elbow and calmly walked to the side, still in sight, still very proper but a lot more concealed.

She needed a long time to recollect. Her past had indeed been lurking in the shadows, disguised as an absurdly handsome gentleman of wealth and consequence, friend of her friend and of her sister’s husband, polite and pleasant and a lovely flirt; past that had been seducing her to spear a knife through her chest. ‘A man considered family.’ She swallowed several times until she considered herself capable of speaking another word. ‘What was-’ Her voice cracked and she swallowed again. ‘Pray, what was the name of the cousin you lost in war, sir?’

‘You misunderstood, madam. My cousin was not with me anymore when it happened. Richard would surely have helped me.’ He said frowning and, still holding her elbow, actually felt a powerful shiver run through her. ‘My sister fell prey to George Wickham, son of Maxwell Wickham, my father’s steward for many decades.’

George Wickham, it could not be. Fitzwilliam was his mother’s given name, she thought praying that his cousin Richard was a Darcy. She nodded and with difficulty raised her head. ‘There was a militia stationed in Meryton once, I guess I’d have heard of a Darcy soldier.’ She fished. ‘I recall a Wickham visiting the area...’ He extended his handkerchief, dabbed her fine eyes with extreme tenderness, took her hand to press the small square of linen inside and place a lingering kiss on her knuckles.

‘George Wickham was sent to your neighborhood on the cause of my cousin’s demise. Maybe you met him? Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam -’ He leaned forward and held her by both elbows when her knees gave in. His mind needed but a few seconds to fear the worst scenario possible. ‘Tell me it was not the same cad.’ Her eyes were hollow, he noticed.

Fat tears again blurring her vision, she took several deep loud breaths for long moments. Her whole body shook, it was almost impossible to control the chills taking over her bones, an old eerie sensation coming to her memory: the cold North wind in Scot, right after she arrived for her confinement, before Ben’s stirring brought warmth to her being. It was something she devoted her life to forget, the chill hitting her bones and gnawing her heart.

‘Pray, what can I do to make you better? Anything. Do you want me to dive in this lake and bring you one of Clarence’s silly swans?’ He offered.

In spite of herself, she smiled weakly.

‘I can find a leader tall enough to bring you the star where our names are written. Do you want that?’

‘You’d break your neck.’ She whispered sadly. ‘It is silly of me. Something caught in my eye, that’s all.’ She blinked several times in a row and tried to keep the weak smile on her lips.

To him, her effort seemed as feeble and fragile as a hummingbird flapping its wings. ‘Of course.’ He pressed a smile and with a curved finger under her chin, brought her face up. ‘Allow me to clean your eyes of any sadness, my Elizabeth.’ He murmured and a new onslaught of tears attacked her. ‘What is it, where the devil did I wrong again?’

She chuckled humorlessly, tears rolling down her cheeks and he was left mesmerized, puzzled, enraptured.

‘Lizzy?’ They heard. ‘Are you around here?’

She leapt back away from his hands. ‘Please, don’t let him see me like this.’ She asked deeply concerned. ‘Help me, please, don’t let my- my brother see me crying.’

‘Calm down, madam. No one will bother us.’ He could easily take a few strides into light and maneuver Bennett towards the party again but that would mean leaving his adorable sister alone when she was in such need of comfort. Darcy took her by the hand and pulled her towards a narrow path covered with night-blooming cestrum weaved around a canopy, the perfume invading their noses and hearts. Once covered from prying eyes, he pulled her against him and let her recover for long moments ensconced in his chest, his thumbs caressing her naked shoulders as his arms crossed over her back.

‘Thirteen years is too long for one to expect a brother to grow and learn to care for an estate.’ He whispered when she finally calmed her breathing, stopped shaking and relaxed against him. ‘You should have been properly courted.’

‘Never found anyone I considered worthy of sharing my secrets.’ She sniffed. ‘This seemed to be a capital reason to marry.’

He nodded. ‘Georgiana would agree to that.’ She nodded in his chest, the perfume of the flowers and his clothes filling her heart with security. ‘Would you give me leave to call on you tomorrow?’

‘I’m a little too old for that kind of-’

‘In the afternoon.’ He said. ‘For a stroll through the park, I know you like it.’ She nodded. ‘You’ll probably sleep in tomorrow; we’ll go for a stroll in the afternoon.’


She would need to decide if it was time to face reality or if she'd keep running. If he indeed paid her a visit, that is.

---
oh, my...
He hadn't seen that coming...

long live disney magic tumblr

and he has no idea of what the sun will bring when it breaks the following day...

continue

update:

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