A Sense of Obligaiton excerpt

It seems that I have a broken link on here and I just found out about it while in the car! So until I can get it fixed this weekend, I want to have an excerpt of A Sense ofo Obligation up. Release date is July 25 and is currently available for preorder on Amazon but will be on other sites as well when it’s live.

Blurb: A chance, but meaningful, encounter in Netherfield’s library changes everything between Darcy and Elizabeth. As they rush to the altar, Darcy’s faulty memory may destroy their chance at domestic comfort before they begin. Knowing their obligations and no longer resisting their attraction, they forge a foundation of trust and respect. New feelings may not be enough, however, to overcome the misunderstanding which lays between them. Exploring the juncture of sentiment and reason, A Sense of Obligation, takes Darcy and Elizabeth on a passionate, humorous and introspective path toward happiness in marriage.

Chapter On
The first rays of sunlight filtered through the flimsy, but fashionable, curtains of Fitzwilliam Darcy’s bedchamber at Netherfield Park. Darcy groaned a little at the light and tried to ignore the signs of dawn in hopes of returning to his dream. It had been the most erotic and satisfying dream of his life; it nearly felt real.

“The best feeling ever,” he muttered to himself, only to have his sleep-addled mind reply, nothing could feel better than last night with Elizabeth Bennet.

The thought made him suddenly sit up in alarm, which made his head swell in pain. With a sinking feeling, he noticed his tangled bedclothes and felt a familiar sticky substance between his…bare…legs.

No, no, no. This is impossible, he thought. He was a gentleman; he did not importune innocent ladies, daughters of gentlemen, and Elizabeth Bennet had too much sense to succumb to any man’s seduction, let alone his. She did not seem to court his good opinion like most other ladies he knew. Darcy did not think she would attempt a scheme to entrap him, but neither did he think her in love with him or wanton.

He felt certain his earlier thought was the mark of a befuddled mind, caused by too much brandy from the night before if his headache was any sign. However, as he slowly disentangled himself from his bedclothes, he spied a red stain on the white bed linens.

Impossible! He told himself again. Surely, it was from an injury he unknowingly acquired. And then he saw it. A lady’s handkerchief embroidered with wildflowers, monogrammed ERB, with another blood stain.

He quickly checked himself for any sign of injury and found none. His senses became more alert as he recognised the lingering scent of lavender on his person.

“Dear Lord, forgive me!” he cried out in despair.

*****

At last, the birds were chirping, and Elizabeth felt it was a reasonable hour to begin her day. She had not slept, and her head pounded. Today she was to leave Netherfield after morning services. Not that I should walk into God’s house after last night.

Fortunately, she could claim the headache and a desire to stay with Jane as a means to miss the service. But she could not think of a way to avoid appearing at breakfast. If her headache were too intense to leave her room this morning, Mr. Bingley would likely demand she and Jane stay longer. Her mother would put up no fight at all, and then she would be residing under the same roof as Mr. Darcy even longer. And he was the last person in the world she desired to see, ever again!

No, he is not. As she looked at her stained mitt, the thought she had tried to keep locked away since last night came unbidden, and Elizabeth blushed in remembrance.

Last night, she had not been able to sleep and went to Netherfield’s library, hoping to find something dull and sleep-inducing. Instead, she found Mr. Darcy.

He had jumped up from his chair when she entered, and although she saw a glass of brandy in his hand, she had not considered him in his cups. Her eyes darted to the mostly-full decanter. He had stared at her, unspeaking, for a long minute before Elizabeth realised she was in her dressing gown and alone with him, her hair a wild mess and loose down her back.

She was turning to go when he grabbed her hand, bowed over it, and asked, “Miss Bennet, might I have the favour of this dance?”

Elizabeth looked at him as though he were fit for Bedlam, but he persisted. “I will not be denied your hand thrice. Now, come.”

Before she could be irritated at his high-handedness, he was singing “The Ash Grove” and leading her through the steps of a dance. She was quite surprised he chose the song she sang at Lucas Lodge and had to admit he sang and danced very well. He bade her join him in song, and all was well until they disagreed on the words for the last verse and dissolved into laughter. The sight of his handsome face lit up in a smile with dimples only added to her breathlessness. He seemed no less affected and nearly collapsed into his chair.

“In Derbyshire, my version is correct,” he insisted, unwilling to concede defeat.

She laughed and shook her head. “But you see we are not in Derbyshire, sir!” In truth, he had slipped into “Cease Your Funning” from The Beggar’s Opera, a song with a similar tune. Mr. Darcy’s ending was bitter about a woman’s charms, but it was more pleasant than a lover’s death. Elizabeth chose not to argue with him.

His eyes took on a look she could not make out, and he replied in a low voice, with sudden intensity, “Should you like to see Derbyshire, Miss Bennet?”

Elizabeth gulped but felt certain his meaning could not be what it seemed. He had only looked at her with disapproval and argued with everything she ever said, had he not? “Aye, sir, and perhaps one day I will. My Aunt Gardiner is from Lambton, and I frequently travel with my aunt and uncle in the summer. They speak often of visiting the northern counties and even the Lakes someday.”

“Indeed? What was her maiden name?” 

“Clark. Her father was…”

“The vicar at Kympton. My father knew him well. Father was quite sorry when Mr. Clark had to relocate the family to Bath for his wife’s health. I have only recently been able to find a satisfactory replacement.” An odd expression passed across his eyes, but he continued, “What a curious connection.”

“Yes.”

“And do you often stay with them?”

“Jane and I frequently do. To my mother’s dismay, I admit I prefer the bookshops and theatre to balls and soirées. I would rather not go during the height of the Season.”

He gave her another odd look and grew quiet for a moment, and Elizabeth stood to leave, realising the impropriety of the entire tête-à-tête.

Mr. Darcy hastily stood to bow, but when he did, he knocked his brandy glass from the table. Elizabeth immediately knelt down to pick up the broken shards, and at the same time, her dressing gown slipped open. Realising she must be much too bare to Mr. Darcy’s eyes with her shift indecently low on her bosom, she wrenched her hand back and tried to stand.

She cried out at a sharp pain in her hand, near her thumb. In her haste, she had cut herself on a piece of broken glass. In an instant, Mr. Darcy gathered her into his arms. Gently, he removed her lace mitt and produced a handkerchief from his pocket. Elizabeth was shocked to see it was her own. Where had he got it from? Earlier that very day, she had worked on one in the library. When he walked in, she set it aside, reading a book to discourage conversation. She must have left it behind when she finally went back to Jane, and Mr. Darcy must have pocketed it to return to her the next day.

The wound soon stopped bleeding, leaving a large blot on the handkerchief. As they inspected her hand, it was clear that stitches would not be required. Fortunately, it was her left, and she was right-handed; she could avoid using it until entirely healed. Elizabeth wondered why Mr. Darcy treated such a minor injury so seriously. He held her bare hand in his own, even caressing it while they stood looking into each other’s eyes. When Elizabeth discerned not disapproval but affection —and perhaps desire—in his blue eyes, she nearly swooned.

“Allow me to help you to your room.” He lifted her as though she weighed nothing and carried her to her room. Later she wondered how he knew which door was hers.

When they reached the door, he spoke softly. “I apologise that my actions were the cause of your pain.” He paused, and she almost believed he blushed, but the lighting was poor as only a small lamp lit the hallway, and she could not be sure. “And as for my display earlier, I fear the brandy may have gone to my head. Good night, Miss Elizabeth. Sleep well.” Then he turned and strode away.

She stumbled into her chamber and spent the hours until dawn in deep confusion. She was filled with shame to admit she found great comfort in his touch. She had seen a playful side of him she had never known before and confessed to herself he had always been handsome, but his smile and the disappearance of his arrogance made him captivating.

If he had not announced that any sign of regard she had seen him display for her was solely due to being half-drunk, she might have concluded he was in a fair way to being in love and think an offer was near. She could argue the sentiments she feared she now harboured, and the sensations she enjoyed, came naturally when in love. Instead, she was mortified, for she had thrilled to his touch, the touch only a husband should give. She could not even say she liked him, and they had no understanding. What did it say of her to allow him such liberty and enjoy it?

Never once did she reproach him or try to pull away. What must he think of me? She had conversed with him and danced with him late into the night, entirely alone. She arrived in only her night clothes, and when her dressing gown slipped open, her body was much too exposed to him. She allowed an embrace, caresses, and even acquiesced as he carried her to her bedchamber door. If they were seen, her reputation was ruined! She could even now still smell his scent, and the feel of his arms around her was seared into her memory and branded onto her flesh. Shame at her wantonness mingled with unrepentant enjoyment of the memory.

She shook her head to clear her thoughts and readied for the day before slipping silently into Jane’s room. She still slept. Taking a deep breath, Elizabeth descended the stairs and entered the breakfast room. At the sight of Mr. Darcy, who made no acknowledgement of her presence other than rising, her traitorous heart screamed out, never yours!

Pre-order link

WIPSunday: A Sense of Obligation

This week I didn’t get to write anything new, which means it’s been a crazy week. Instead, I edited A Sense of Obligation. I’ve mentioned before that I expanded Jane and Bingley scenes and here’s a snippet from one of my favorite additions!


dress finalIn the carriage on the way to his solicitor’s office, he shook his head. Caroline had not taken the news of his engagement to Jane well. She took the news of Darcy’s engagement to Elizabeth even worse. When Miss Lucas’ betrothal was announced at the ball, Caroline’s mouth fell open. He found Charlotte Lucas very pleasant company, but women like his sister only saw that she was plain, nearly on the shelf, and had no fortune and no style. Caroline had not kept her complaints to herself in the days between the ball and Darcy’s wedding.

“What can possibly recommend her to him?” she asked over breakfast while Darcy was out riding the morning after the ball.

“I daresay he loves her,” Louisa replied.

“Love? Nonsense! Why should a man of Mr. Darcy’s stature marry a woman as lowborn as Eliza Bennet for love?”

He and Louisa shared a look and simply shook their heads.

“He has a duty to his estate and blood line to marry someone of better standing. It was rumoured he would make a match with his cousin.”

Bingley rolled his eyes. “You have spent years saying that rumour was incorrect. You cannot change your opinion merely because he did not choose you.”

Caroline scoffed and rose to pour another cup of tea. “You ought to have done better than Jane, too,” she said. She furiously stirred the tea, and the spoon clanging on the side of her teacup grated his nerves nearly as much as her words.

“Jane is a gentleman’s daughter and will make a wonderful mistress to any estate I purchase. I have done fine by my duty.”

Mr. Hurst grumbled, “See to yours now, Caroline.”

She returned to her seat and pouted a moment. “There were far too many betrothals announced at the ball! Reverend Black’s scandalous sermon the other week must have instigated all of these. Good heavens! Can you imagine Miss Lucas found in a compromising position?”

“That is enough! I will not allow you to malign another person’s name at my table.” It had felt good to take a firm stand.
Caroline continued as though she did not hear. “It must be why Darcy proposed to Eliza as well. I am certain she used some kind of allurement on him when she stayed here. There was no need for her to arrive at all! She came solely to gain Mr. Darcy’s notice!”

Bingley stood and tossed his napkin on the table. “You have gone too far. You have attempted to smear Miss Lucas’ name and now Darcy and Miss Elizabeth’s. Who is next? Jane? Me?”

“Do be serious, Charles. You at least liked Jane the entire time we have been here. If only you would have returned to Town, we could have nipped this little infatuation in the bud, but you must see it is quite different than Darcy’s interest in Eliza.”

Bingley had turned red in anger. “It is clear you will not learn. I will not be beholden to your welfare any longer. You know I journey to London in part to change matters of your dowry as you are recently of age, and I am no longer your guardian. As such, you will have complete control of your shares of our Father’s company, and I encourage you to either marry this Season or make plans for your own establishment, for you will no longer be welcome in my home.”


A Sense of Obligation is available now for preorder on Amazon and will be releasing there, Nook, Barnes&Noble, Kobo, ibooks, GooglePlay and Scribd (I hope) on July 25th.