Mr. Darcy and the Lost Slipper (The Happily Ever Collection Book 2) by Valerie Lennox
English | 2020 | Historical Fiction | ePUB | 2.7 MB
Elizabeth Bennet’s father died when she was very young, and her mother remarried a few years later to a man named Bingley. Though her mother has sent her and her older sister Jane away to stay with relatives for significant periods of time in their lives, Elizabeth has spent enough time in the presence of her stepsisters Caroline and Louisa to grow accustomed to their cutting remarks and their treating her like a servant, even as they tolerate Jane.
But her stepbrother, Charles, often away at school, is practically a stranger.
Still, Elizabeth finds it a bit awkward to discover a romance is brewing between Jane and Charles Bingley, and she’s not keen on the idea of helping her sister sneak around with her new paramour by pretending to be Jane at a series of masquerade balls.
Elizabeth harbors a dream to be a published novelist, and she would rather stay at home and scribble away at her book than dance at a ball.
Especially not if she has to endure the company of Mr. Darcy.
He is Mr. Bingley’s awful friend. Sometimes silent, sometimes smug, always loathsomely arrogant.
No, she fears that if she spends too much time anywhere near man, she will be unable to keep herself from telling him exactly what she thinks of him. And that can only go badly.
Miss Jane Bennet was obviously aware of the fact that she had a stepbrother, insofar as it was a fact of her situation in life. She knew of the man—for man he now was, though the only time she had met with the aforementioned person was many years ago, when they were both quite young—and she knew his name. She was confident that she could pick him out in a crowd if necessity called upon her to do so.
But in all other matters, Jane Bennet did not know her stepbrother.
Indeed, he was not a brother to her in any form or manner. He was as like a stranger as one might describe any other person she did not know.
And it was these thoughts that Jane wrapped around herself like the tatters of a well-worn blanket when she found herself face to face with her stepbrother Mr. Charles Bingley, over the fireplace in the Bingley townhouse in London, and her mind strayed to thoughts about him that one should never think of a brother.
That his eyes were quite kind and that his shoulders were well-formed and that his fingers… why his fingers she could not cease to look upon, though she tried to school herself and turn away. He had powerful hands, strong hands, wide and blunt fingers, but there was a dusting of freckles over the backs of his hands and on his knuckles and there was something about those freckles that undid things inside Jane’s chest, that made her feel as though she could not catch her breath.
It was ridiculous, of course. She had never noticed freckles on any other man, and, indeed, Mr. Bingley did not have a vast quantity of freckles, but what he did have seemed to war with his strong shoulders and his thick fingers and create something utterly masculine and yet somehow appealingly soft as well. What it all led to was this: she was so very badly attracted to Mr. Bingley that she did not quite know what to do with herself.
“Miss Bennet,” said Mr. Bingley. “I thought everyone had gone to bed hours ago.”
“Yes, I had meant to.” Jane clutched at the mantle, where they were standing. “I was still awake in my room, reading a book that my sister Elizabeth gave me. I don’t read as much as she does, mind, but sometimes she passes books along to me, and some of them are quite intriguing, and this one kept me awake, and then my candle burned down to a nub, and so I went to fetch another one.” She held it up. “Then I stopped here at the fire on my way back to my room…” And Mr. Bingley had melted out of the shadows to stand next to her. She swallowed. “I’m sorry. I’m talking too much.”