In celebration of Valentine’s, the holiday of love and romance, several Meryton Press authors are sharing a favorite scene from one of their books. Linda Beutler has picked a scene from her first book, The Red Chrysanthemum. Enjoy!
The Red Chrysanthemum
Continuing up the hall, the next door Darcy passed opened into the formal dining room. It was decorated in shades of green and cream, so the flash of pink he glimpsed arrested him. There by the window stood Elizabeth, lost in contemplation of something in the view.
Darcy stepped into the dining room, but Elizabeth did not hear him. He gazed at her, marveling again that she was here in his house, staying as his guest. She was toying with the garnet cross she wore constantly around her neck, and the corner of her bottom lip was caught by her upper teeth in her considering sort of posture. She is lovely, Darcy sighed to himself. He took a deep breath and began walking to her. She heard his footfalls when his booted feet stepped off the rug and onto the wooden floor. She glanced at him, blushed and smiled, nodding toward the window. “Look,” she whispered, although the people she was watching were in no danger of hearing anything she said. The window was closed.
Darcy stood next to her and followed her gaze. Bingley and Jane were standing nearly toe-to-toe. Jane was looking into Bingley’s face, and he was speaking most earnestly. They were profiled on the path next to the long watercourse some 30 feet from the house. Darcy glanced at Elizabeth. She was luminous, her eyes alight with hope and love for her sister.
“Could he be proposing?” Elizabeth murmured excitedly.
“How long have they been there?” Darcy asked. He filled his lungs with the scent of lavender as he stood next to Elizabeth, longing to take her hand at this tender moment.
“I must own I have utterly lost track of the time. I even have to remind myself to breath,” she said in a lowered voice. She chuckled at herself and looked up at Darcy. Perhaps this will prod you, sir… she mused to herself. But how could he? Even with his improvements in civility, that is asking too much of any man’s pride. Now that I love him, I must accept how I have insulted and hurt him in a way that is likely to persist, even if with flowers he professes some fondness for me still. Her smile faded as she confessed to herself that the regard she now had for him was never to be returned in equal measure, and she looked down. Darcy noticed this change in demeanor and misread her emotions.
“I cannot help but apologize again, Miss Bennet, that it was my preposterous actions which caused this much hoped for event to happen months later than it should have done.”
Elizabeth’s eyes were returned to her sister and Bingley. She did not respond to Darcy’s apology. In truth, she wished he would cease apologizing. He was making amends for his prior actions, which bespoke his regrets well enough, and she now wished to dwell on the past only as it gave her pleasure. Nothing she had ever said to Fitzwilliam Darcy prior to her present visit to Derbyshire gave her any pleasure in remembrance. Now I am in love with him when he can no longer be so very much in love with me. Oh, what a foolish business love is.
Darcy and Elizabeth stood side by side, not speaking, until Bingley took one step back from Jane, held out his hand, and fixed upon her a smile reserved for her alone.
How easy it must be to propose when one knows one will be accepted, Darcy thought. He refrained from snorting derisively at himself, perhaps as easy as blindly assuming acceptance where failure would be obvious to a less arrogant man.
Jane took Bingley’s hand. It was clear to Elizabeth and Darcy that she was nodding, grinning, and saying, “Yes!” repeatedly.
An “Oh!” escaped Elizabeth, her rapid breathing audible to Darcy.
Quite to everyone’s surprise, including their own, Bingley placed Jane’s hand on his chest, and reached around to bring her to him in a one-armed embrace. “Oh, my! Jane!” Elizabeth looked down, blushing.
Darcy was dumbfounded at his own response. Never had he been more desirous of taking Elizabeth into his own arms, yet he could not look away from Jane and Bingley.
Elizabeth took a deep breath to steady herself. It was as if heat was pouring off of Darcy and washing over her. She was aware of the tension in the air. As she and Darcy watched, Bingley bent his head and kissed a suddenly solemn Jane. The kiss lasted only a few seconds, and then they smiled at each other, soon laughing and talking again.
Elizabeth’s eyes were stinging, and she drew in another deep breath. She turned to Darcy, tears poised in the corners of her eyes. “Thank you, Mr. Darcy. Thank you.”
His heart leapt to his throat. He smiled crookedly and pulled a handkerchief from his pocket. “I believe you are about to need this,” he whispered tightly, handing it to her. She took it, nodding. Darcy expected her to dab at the corners of her eyes, but instead she pressed the white handkerchief with the Darcy crest against her chest.
Elizabeth still held his eyes. They looked at each other without reserve for several moments. She seemed about to say something, thought better of it, then said it anyway, “I am proud of you, Fitzwilliam Darcy. I don’t care what they say—you are no Charles Bingley to be sure, but none-the-less you are a very good sort of man.”
A single tear crept down her cheek, yet she teased him still. He closed his eyes, lowering his face, ready to meet the lips that so bewitched him, but with a whisper of slippered feet she was gone.
“They are coming in! I must go to my sister…” Her words trailed behind her as she ran from the room.
Wow, what did you think of that scene? Such feeling on both Darcy’s and Lizzy’s part was seen and felt. They need to talk again soon, wouldn’t you say?
Have you read The Red Chrysanthemum? Linda Beutler uses the language of flowers to do much of the talking for Darcy and Lizzy. It’s a lovely book and was Linda’s first published Pride & Prejudice variation.
Linda has published four P&P variations. They are available at Amazon.