Excerpt from A Hopeful Holiday
Snowball fights, mistletoe, and a masquerade ball? Who's ready for a romantic regency holiday read?
My New Year's Eve-themed novella A Hopeful Holiday is on sale!
Below I have an excerpt from early in the book. After not returning to Hertfordshire with Bingley, Darcy and Elizabeth meet again over the Christmas holiday while Elizabeth is visiting the Collinses, and Darcy and his cousin are with Lady Catherine. It's Christmas evening, and Elizabeth has joined the party at Rosings while the Collinses stay home with their son. Both are nervous to see one another again, and hope the other might have feelings for them after all.
“Fitzwilliam,” Lady Catherine called. “Come here. I want you.”
He gave a long-suffering look and crossed the room to move the fire screen for Miss de Bourgh, and she was left with Darcy. If not for the presence of the others, she would thank him for all he had done for her family. They looked at one another for a long moment, neither saying anything.
“Did you spend the day in mirth and festivity with the Collinses, Miss Bennet?” Darcy finally asked.
She smiled. “Young William is rather young for Hunt the Slipper or Blind Man’s Buff; it was a quiet day compared to what I am used to.”
“If you were at Longbourn, would brown beer have gone round the room while someone sang lively songs?”
“Yes, along with a Christmas pie and many friends.” She wondered what Christmas at Pemberley must be like. “Miss Darcy is not alone at Christmas, is she?”
“No, not at all. She is with my uncle in town; I shall see her in January.”
“I was surprised to learn that you were to come to Rosings when you had just been here at Easter. I thought you would be at Pemberley at this time of year.”
“I often am—I prefer it above all else, but—” He thought for a moment, and then took a step nearer. Elizabeth’s heart beat fast to have him so close. He lowered his voice and said, “I drew the short straw.”
“Oh!” She burst out in surprised laughter. “You do not mean it!”
He smiled, his own amusement better contained. “I do. Every December we gather to draw lots to see who shall attend her at Christmas. It is always two of us—none must suffer her alone—and Fitzwilliam and I drew the shortest.”
She was now laughing so hard it drew the attention of Lady Catherine, who demanded to know of what they were talking.
“Miss Bennet was talking of Mrs Collins’s little boy,” Darcy said, giving her a smile before turning round. “He is already a charming child.”
“That he may be, Miss Bennet, but I want to hear some music. The rest of us are to play snapdragon, but we do not need you.”
Darcy looked ashamed at this demand and, in fact, had opened his lips to protest, but Elizabeth shook her head. It is not worth it to argue with Lady Catherine. She was able to leave; Darcy would have to suffer her for the rest of his life. “I do not mind,” she said to him softly before walking to the instrument. She noticed a mistletoe bough hanging by it and wondered if Lady Catherine would force Miss de Bourgh to stand under it until Darcy passed near.
To her surprise, Darcy followed her to the pianoforte. “Shall I turn the pages?”
Elizabeth felt her heart pound. Would Darcy be solicitous if he felt nothing for me?
Darcy did not seem to notice the mistletoe hanging very near to them. It struck her forcibly how much she esteemed him now, how much she wanted to be esteemed in return by a man of such sense and virtue. She longed to know at that moment if, should she stand under a mistletoe bough, Darcy would pluck off a white berry and kiss her.
He was awaiting her answer; she smiled shyly at him and was nodding when Lady Catherine called his name.
“No, the family must play snapdragon at Christmas. Miss Bennet’s playing may not be as well as Anne’s, had she learnt, but she is a decent enough performer not to need your help.”
Elizabeth felt that Darcy’s eyes were repeatedly turned toward her, but between the games, her playing, and Lady Catherine’s conversation, they did not speak for the rest of the evening.
Their only interaction was when it was time to leave. She was in the hall awaiting his carriage when Darcy joined her. He took her cloak from the servant and put it round her shoulders, with a soft, “Merry Christmas, my dear Miss Bennet,” before returning to the drawing room.
Do they have any reason to hope?
A Hopeful Holiday is available for purchase here.