Saturday, November 20, 2010

Sarah's Darcy

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by Sarah Sundin
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Pardon me, dearest guests, but I’m bending the rules of this game. My hero and heroine are Americans. As you well know, during the Regency era Britain was in open hostility—culminating in the War of 1812—with its continental offspring. That would tax even Mrs. Darcy’s hospitality. I have taken the liberty of time-transporting Darcy and Elizabeth to 1944, when the US and the UK were great allies. In the spirit of the game, Mr. and Mrs. Darcy have thrown a Regency-themed party to honor the officers of the United States Eighth Air Force and have graciously provided appropriate costumes for their guests. Please join B-17 pilot Maj. Jack Novak and nurse Lt. Ruth Doherty as they roam the sumptuous halls of Pemberley…

Gawking wasn’t polite. Ruth knew that, but her mouth drifted open at the sight of ancient walls hung with tapestries and portraits, fine furniture and porcelain, starry chandeliers and polished floors, and hundreds of ladies and gentlemen in period dress. Over it all lay a scent, pungent and unfamiliar, the scent of history and taste and wealth. What was a Chicago slum girl doing in a place like this?

Jack took Ruth’s arm. “I see Charlie and May. Let’s join them.” He waved at his best friend, and the men exchanged hand signals, finishing with a thumbs-up.

Ruth laughed. “What was that?”

“I told him to find a seat while I get the drinks.” He weaved through the glittering crowd. “The cockpit’s loud in combat. Sometimes the interphone goes out. You get by with hand signals.”

“I can imagine. When the flak is bursting and the fighters are diving, it’s important to know who’ll find the seats and who’ll get the drinks.”

He looked down at her and grinned. “I have the best date at the party.”

She groaned. The other men had dates who knew how to dance and were accustomed to long gowns and bare shoulders. Ruth kept getting tangled in her skirts, she couldn’t get used to the air tingling her arms and chest, and several women had smirked at her clunky Army shoes.

And, oh dear, Col. Fitzwilliam Darcy and his wife Elizabeth stood right in their path. Jack set a course for his host and hostess with a smile lifting the corners of his mustache. What was he thinking? Ruth had fumbled her way through introductions at the door, but a full conversation?

Jack shook the colonel’s hand and thanked him for his impressive work in Sir Arthur Harris’s headquarters for RAF Bomber Command. Colonel Darcy’s chin lifted slightly, as his British reserve collided with Yankee brashness.

Ruth bit back a smile. Colonel Darcy seemed the type who would peer past Jack’s looks and personality to his character, and then Jack would win him over.

“Insufferable, aren’t they?” Mrs. Darcy whispered to Ruth.

She startled and glanced at her hostess. “Pardon?”

“Tonnage and horsepower and targets of opportunity,” Mrs. Darcy said in a deep voice with her face stretched long—but mischief sparked in her eyes. “Quite dull, isn’t it, lieutenant?”

Ruth flashed her a smile and then sent Jack a sidelong glance. “Exceedingly dull, Mrs. Darcy.”

She grabbed Ruth’s hand and pulled her away. “Please do call me Lizzy. Everyone does. Come with me please. Do you like to read? You look the right sort.”

“I do.” Ruth put a little hop in her step to catch up with Lizzy’s lively pace. “And call me Ruth.”

“What a perfectly lovely name.” Lizzy led her down a quiet corridor and broke into a light run. “We mustn’t let anyone follow.”

“Where are we going?” Ruth struggled to gather her skirts in her free hand while running.

“We’re having a splendid adventure, aren’t we?” Lizzy laughed, the merriest, most infectious laugh ever.

Ruth laughed too. How could she not? “Splendid.”

“Here we are.”

All Pemberley’s grandeur faded behind. Before her, bookshelves soared, laden with leather-bound treasures. “Can you—can you imagine?”

Another of those effervescent laughs. “I suppose I can. I rather enjoy imagining.”

“With a library like this…oh my.”

Lizzy settled into a deep leather chair and smoothed her cream silk dress. “I knew I liked you the minute I saw you.”

To convince Ruth to attend this shindig had required all Jack’s considerable charm, plus the combined persuasive powers of Charlie and May. Ruth was glad they’d prevailed. She sank into a chair and leaned closer to her hostess’s warmth. “Tell me all about Pemberley.”


Darcy post created for Pemberley Ball by Sarah Sundin
© 2010. All rights reserved.

~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~
by Sarah Sundin
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~~*!~~ Book Giveaway courtesy of author ~~!*~~

A Distant Melody
by Sarah Sundin

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