I’m going to try something new on the blog. I’m going to do a continuing story for Thursday Three Hundred. Each post will be at least 300 words. The full story, however, will be a short story of about 10,000 words. I will probably later publish them as a collection of short stories.
Scotts Grotto in Ware, Hertfordshire is a real location. You can read a bit more about it here.
Darcy held back a grimace as the carriage swayed. How in the devil had he Bingley talked him into this? An excursion to nearby Ware to visit a fairy grotto. Fairies of all things!
The Bennet carriage did not have enough space to carry all of them comfortably, and so Bingley offered space in Darcys. He could either convey Mrs. Bennet or the unusual man visiting who was their cousin and the estate’s heir, Mr. Collins. Just when Darcy was beginning to conclude it was better to have the devil you know than the devil you do not know, Mr. Collins told Elizabeth he hoped to spend time alone with her in the caverns. Before Darcy was fully aware of what he was doing, he had invited the man into his carriage. Miss Bennet, of course, was also asked–since she was still recovering from her cold, Mrs. Bennet said when she all but threw her daughter into the coach. Darcy wondered at the propriety of one maiden and three gentlemen in one compartment. Undoubtedly, it was on the tip of Caroline’s tongue when she began to argue as Mrs. Bennet climbed into the Hurst carriage. However, Darcy could not bear riding with either lady in addition to Collins. He rapped the ceiling of the coach to pull forward before the others were entirely loaded up.
Arriving at the grotto, it was as awkward an experience as he had expected. He was too tall for most of the rooms and had to continually duck his head. The light was dim and the worst of the Bennet females shrilly oohed and ahhed over every shell decorated niche. The middle one pontificated that she felt a communion with God here.
Darcy had to get away. There were air vents, but with so many people cramped in small quarters, he felt trapped. His sole relief was that Caroline hovered near the entrance, refusing to go any further than where the sunlight shone.
Following the walls, Darcy walked through the corridors until he could hear nothing. He actually liked grottoes and had visited a few near Pemberley as a child. He never would have supposed Hertfordshire had such a thing but trust Lydia Bennet to entirely insist upon the idea of Bingley visiting the landmark and the Bennets accompanying him.
Rounding a corner, he found another opening. Scott’s Grotto had one large chamber and then five smaller ones. He had not thought to bring a lamp with him during his escape further into the cave. He had assumed the hall and each chamber would have light, but the lone lamp in this area flickered dimly. Hearing a giggle echo off the walls, Darcy inched back, hoping the darkness would shelter him from unwanted intrusion.
Expecting to feel the coolness of the stone wall, he was met with the softness of a female body while a softened yelp reverberated in his ears. He could feel the person falling due to his accidental bump. Spinning around, he thrust his hands into the darkness to steady the person. He did not feel the firmness of shoulders or elbows. Instead, the soft lusciousness of breasts filled his hands.
Mortified, he pulled his hands away. Before he could offer an apology, the lady gasped in shocked outrage.
“Mr. Darcy! How dare you!”