I am working on the final edits for Mr. Darcy’s Compassion! I’ve set the release date for March 2 and it’s on pre-order. I’m so thrilled to offer this story! Elizabeth’s emotional journey in this book is close to my heart and the care Darcy has for her is making me swoon while I reread.
Devastated. Abandoned. Will they find comfort in each other’s arms?
When Mr. Darcy stops for respite at a coaching inn, a warm meal and bed are all that are on his mind. Soon, he recognizes a tavern maid as none other than the woman who captured his heart weeks ago. Reeling from his own hardships, Darcy makes the impulsive decision to chase after her and offer assistance.
Elizabeth Bennet is alone and friendless in the world. Necessity drove her from her home and the life of a gentlewoman to working for her room and board. Mr. Darcy’s offer of aid is timely, but can she trust him when she has been hurt by all she calls family? Can she ever learn to love and forgive herself?
Mr. Darcy’s Compassion is Rose Fairbanks’ latest novel about healing deep-seated wounds, relinquishing faulty beliefs, and making a fresh start. If you love romance that is built upon genuine trust and restores the soul, then buy today!
**Warning: This story may contain triggers for emotional and/or sexual abuse survivors.
Darcy peered out his carriage window as the conveyance rolled to a halt before the coaching inn at his usual stop in South Mimms. To the east about twenty miles lay the town of Meryton, Hertfordshire. As often as he had traversed the roads between London and Pemberley, he had never before considered what lay beyond them. His mind had only considered the path before him and the duties attached to the destination. Whether at his estate or his London home, his responsibilities to family and legacy did not cease. Despite knowing Meryton lay only a few hours away, and with it the woman he loved, he would cling to his usual route.
Inside the tavern portion of the inn, Darcy grimaced when told that the private dining areas were full and his usual suites unavailable. His decision to leave London for Pemberley was formed suddenly, only hours ago. Easter with his sister in their ancestral home was a convenient excuse. Georgiana’s companion indicated that she was recovered enough to see him. Traditionally, Darcy visited his maternal aunt for the holiday. However, he was now sickened by high society and anyone who kept their views. Waving off the proprietor’s concern for his offence, Darcy sat in the loud common room.
He glanced around the area, unsurprised to see he had no acquaintances in the crowded chamber. A movement out of the corner of his eye caught his notice. The maid moved with too much grace; her gown seemed too fine to be the usual sort. Was she some fancy piece trying to sell her wares? It was unlike Cuthbert to allow such, but who was Darcy to interfere with a man’s business? As the lady’s movements and figure continued to interest him—and invariably remind him of a lady mere miles away—he cursed under his breath for the fact that he now compared every woman born high or low to Elizabeth Bennet.
What would his family and friends say if they knew of his obsession? The earl would glare. Lady Catherine would lecture and throw her daughter at him. Bingley would laugh, and Richard, his cousin, would suggest he enjoy the barmaid’s enticements and be free of his physical longing—and possibly mental torment as well. Darcy had too much honour for such, however, and so when he waved her over it was only with the intent to order refreshment. Never mind the fact that her laugh at the table next to him reminded him too much of Elizabeth’s, and he had relished the warm sound when it washed over him.
“What would you like?” she asked.
Her voice was very like Elizabeth’s. Darcy kicked himself again for allowing her to make such a slave of him that his imagination could go so far as to hear her voice. Looking up from his hands, their eyes met, and Darcy’s breath caught.
Elizabeth gasped. “Mr. Darcy!”
“Par—pardon me!” Elizabeth laid her tray of ale down in a clatter and ran from the room.
Darcy stared after her. Why on earth was she serving in a tavern twenty miles from her home? The Bennets had not been as wealthy as he or Bingley, but their estate was prosperous enough. Only financial hardship or extreme love could drive her to such a situation. Darcy knew the owner of the inn and knew the Bennets had no relationship to him, which left only the financial motive. Before he could think better of it, he was in front of Cuthbert and tossing several pounds at him.
“That maid—the one who just ran out of the room—”
“Lizzy? Pretty with big, brown eyes?”
Darcy nodded. “Yes, that’s the one. I’m paying her wages for the week. Find another maid.”
Several men around him broke into laughter and raised an obscene toast in his honour, but he cared not one whit. As he dodged puddles of ale and urine, he followed through the door where Elizabeth exited. Hearing sobbing down the hall, he turned and then crept up the stairs. His heart beat in his throat with every step. There was another reason she could be here, one which lay heavily on his mind. Wickham might have ruined her. Darcy ought to have openly declared to the world that man’s character. He should have told Elizabeth the truth and warned her. Instead, his pride demanded he keep his failings private. If Wickham had not ruined Elizabeth, she might have been raped by any man down below. He did not think she would willingly sell herself, but many men took no heed of a negative answer.
Elizabeth sat on the top of the stairs, her head buried in her hands. The sounds of despair and agony split through him. Darcy bent at the knee and placed a hand on her shoulder, intent on offering her a handkerchief and escorting her to the safety of a room.
Before he could speak, he was struck on the side of his head. The unexpected movement set him tumbling down several stairs, landing hard on one arm. Along the way, he reached for the railing managing to twist his arm in a painful contortion.
“How dare you!” Elizabeth cried out, followed a moment later by, “Oh good Lord! What have I done? Mr. Darcy?”
“Aye,” Darcy moaned.
“I am so sorry,” she stammered. “I thought you were a stranger set on accosting me…”
The pain in Darcy’s heart upon hearing such words could be surpassed only by the pain he felt in his arm. He heard Elizabeth’s quick steps and a snivel as she wiped her tears away.
“Can you move?” she asked gently once at his side.
“I think so.” He made to roll over, and she assisted him. No longer lying on his injured arm, it throbbed even worse as blood rushed around it.
“We should get you to your room and call the surgeon.” Elizabeth held her hand out to assist him with his uninjured arm.
As his hand gripped around hers, he noted the rough nature of her palm and digits. Mere weeks ago, they would have been as soft as any gentlewoman’s. What kind of life had she endured since he left Hertfordshire?
“We can get to the guest chambers through here.” Elizabeth opened a door near the second-floor landing where he had fallen. “Your room must be this way.”
“I am on the third floor, actually.” Darcy winced as each step sent a jolt to his arm.
“Very well,” Elizabeth said in a confused voice.
That she seemed unfamiliar with the layout brought him some comfort. “Here, room six, I believe they said.”
He knocked, and his valet opened the door. “Mr. Darcy.” Stevens glanced from Darcy to Elizabeth rapidly before he, at last, seemed to realise that Darcy oddly held his arm. “Is all well?’
“It is not,” Darcy said as the servant stepped aside so he could enter. “I have badly sprained my arm. Please, see if a surgeon is available.”
“Of course, sir. The lady’s bag arrived a moment ago.”
Noting that Stevens dashed away rather than be present for the necessary discussion, Darcy shuffled to the table and chair in the room. He could be treated there, and staying away from his bed would likely help Elizabeth’s sensibilities.
“I am so sorry, Mr. Darcy,” Elizabeth said, blushing. “I will leave you and your…guest.” She glanced around, and her eyes fell on her bag. Immediately, she stiffened. “Just why are my things in your chamber?”
“Cuthbert must have needed the room. I suppose he has already found your replacement.”
“Well, I paid him for your wages.”
“You bought me?”
Darcy could hear in Elizabeth’s tone her anger and surprise, emotions he thought would soon fade. However, he had not expected the look of utter anguish to haunt her eyes. “No, I paid the man for the trouble of hiring a new maid and secured you safe lodgings until I can deliver you to Longbourn.”
“I will never go back there. Never.”
I wanted a cover that could capture the mood of the story and I think this image was just perfect! Side note: there may be some forehead kisses which melt Elizabeth’s heart as well.
Mr. Darcy’s Compassion will release on March 2! It will also be available via Kindle Unlimited!