Mr. Darcy's Missing Bride Graphic

Chapter 5

Note: These chapters are from the unedited first draft and are subject to change in the final draft. Read at your own risk. 

Elizabeth Bennet was grateful for the expansive lands of Lady Catherine de Bourgh, even if she wasn’t that fond of the lady herself.

Mr. Darcy had declared, “You will not play such games again.”

And so she had played such games. Not hiding for long enough to cause him true concern. Just enough to have him look. Perhaps call out her name.

Darcy came down the path, dismounting at her borrowed blanket, a book of folklore left open atop it. He looked around. Elizabeth hid behind a tall tree, holding her breath and standing as still as she could.

Elizabeth’s infatuation grew. She had pushed him away, but she wanted that kiss. Just as she hid, hoping he would search, she waited, hoping he would try again, press his lips to hers and…

Elizabeth heard him walk up to the tree and stop. It would give the game away if she stepped out into view so close, so she sank further into a cut in the tree’s side. One snap of a twig and the jig would be up, but there was no crack or snap, and she waited.

There was a rustling on the side of the English oak and then, to her surprise, his footsteps receded. A minute later, hoofbeats. As the sound diminished, she stepped out from the tree and walked to her blanket. A red rose caught her attention at the base of the oak and beneath it was a second book.

“Grimm’s Fairy Tales,” she read the book title aloud. Elizabeth smelled the rose — sweet and fresh — how kind. She started reading the introduction. A twig snapped behind her, and she looked up startled.

“Good morning,” Mr. Darcy said, eyes twinkling.

“You came back?” Elizabeth dropped the book, stood, curtsied.

“I will always come back.” Mr. Darcy bowed. “Shall we read?”

Reading, so close and still atop the small blanket seemed somehow more scandalous than a stroll. Which was nonsense, but Elizabeth said, “A walk? If it pleases you.”

“It does.” Mr. Darcy offered his arm.

She took it, and he rested a gloved hand atop hers. As they walked, he brushed his fingers over her forearm. Their hips brushed. His scent, sandalwood, sweat, and something else, washed over her.

Having him so close made her stomach tighten. What would it be like to kiss him? Will he be tender or intense and forceful? She hoped for a little of both.

Elizabeth should have been nervous, walking unchaperoned with a man who had given her not a declaration but only a flower, now flat and dry between the pages of a book. Yet she could not doubt his feelings nor, if she were honest, her own.

“I thought you might like another book I found entertaining.” Mr. Darcy said.

Elizabeth looked at him, noting the slight smile on his lips. He had upended the game with this action, and she felt a blush rising on her cheeks. “Why, thank you Mr. Darcy,” she managed. “I will hope I enjoy it as much as you did. I was not aware that you liked fairy tales.”

He touched her elbow leading her back on to the path. “It is not my first choice for reading, but I was curious after seeing your Undine novel what you found so attractive. Grimm’s book is a bit heartier, more adventurous, and darker than Undine.”

“You read Undine?” Elizabeth’s eyebrows rose.

“As I said.” Darcy bit back a chuckle, feigning a look of complete innocence. “I am glad I came upon you. I look forward to our talks, and would have missed giving you the book.”

“And, the rose,” Elizabeth dared. “It was a lovely thought.”

Mr. Darcy smiled.

“But your horse?” Had he sent his steed on alone? Abandoned horses often returned to their stables. That seemed quite a risk for a mount so fine.

“Tied beside a field, feasting on grasses,” he replied. “His name is Whisper. I do not believe you have been formally introduced.”

Elizabeth smiled. “Informally, for certain, we are acquainted, but formally, not yet.”

“Allow me.” Mr. Darcy led her towards his horse. When he picked up the horse’s tether, it nuzzled him, and he responded with part of an apple retrieved from his coat pocket.

Elizabeth pulled her glove free, and Mr. Darcy’s gaze lingered on her bare hand. She held it out. He took it and he placed apple slice in it for her to feed to Whisper. His fingers lingered a moment on her naked hand, and her breath hitched as if the heat of it scorched her. His touch was gentle and all too brief.

Elizabeth fed the horse, aware of his proximity. It was closer than propriety demanded, and she never wanted it to end.

Elizabeth felt warm in his presence. She longed for him to touch her again, as the world with all of its complications faded with the brush of his fingers

“Shall we return to your tree?”

The spell was broken, and Elizabeth was irritated at its passing.


“Did you want to do something else?” Again, she saw that slight smirk gracing his lips, and his gaze darkened. He wanted her; of this she was sure. And, she wanted him, more and more with each meeting. The game could not dampen the feelings that swelled in her bosom and tightening of her stomach she had felt with no other gentleman.

The words caught in her throat, and she could not breathe.

I wish you would kiss me.

“May I?” Mr. Darcy stepped closer.

Elizabeth nodded.

Mr. Darcy kissed her, at first chaste and hesitant, then more boldly as her lips softened at his touch. Elizabeth was not prepared for this cascade of feelings. Her body felt afire. She had pushed him away once before, for propriety’s sake, but the dam was broken, and Elizabeth didn’t want to stop. She stood on her tiptoes, hands on his shoulders for balance.

More please, her body begged.

Mr. Darcy released her from the kiss, and she took in a breath. Her heart was racing, and her knees felt weak. “My word,” was all she managed.

He was so much taller than she, and the strength rippling through him took her breath away.

“I can do it again,” Darcy offered, smiling like the cat who ate the canary. “Or, we can walk.”

Elizabeth whispered. “All we do is walk.”

Darcy chuckled, “I thought you enjoyed walking.” There it was again, that oh-so-innocent Darcy, teasing and playful.

Is that smile reserved only for me? “I like to do other things, you know,” she snapped back at him.

“Yes, reading,” Mr. Darcy said, his expression grave.

Elizabeth smacked his shoulder. “And other things.”

“I see.”

Mr. Darcy kissed her again. Her lips, robbing her of breath. He kissed her cheek, her jaw, and neck. Her pulse hammered.

It was too much. Too wonderful. She wanted more, and that frightened her. She stiffened.

“Miss Elizabeth?” His breath tickled her skin.

Elizabeth had vowed to marry for love, but how could she know this was love? Her parents had succumbed to lust, and now they lived separate lives within the same house. Mr. Bennet mocked his wife and Mrs. Bennet pretended his jests proved his affection.

“I will not hurt you,” Mr. Darcy said.

Perhaps she would hurt him. Or they would hurt each other? Elizabeth feared Lydia’s excessive flirting a danger to her virtue, and now, Elizabeth was the wanton.

A gasp. “Eliza!”

And worse.

“Miss Elizabeth Bennet! Oh my Goodness!”

Elizabeth’s guts turned to ice. She jumped from Mr. Darcy’s embrace.

The voice belonged to Mr. William Collins, and Elizabeth was ruined.

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Mr. Darcy's Missing Bride Cover

Compromised. Abducted. Rescued?

What if Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy met not at Hertfordshire but Hunsford? Rather than unwitting insults, they court in secret while exploring the grounds. It is perfect until the couple is caught in a compromising position. Will a forced engagement and a missing bride-to-be derail their love?

Find out in Mr. Darcy’s Missing Bride, Book 1 of the Power of Darcy’s Love series. Mr. Darcy’s Missing Bride is a sweet, suspenseful romance of 30,000 words with a guaranteed happy ending.

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Mr. Darcy's Missing Bride Graphic

Mr. Darcy’s Missing Bride – Prologue

Thirst. Elizabeth that she had never truly been thirsty before. Before, drinking happened without a second thought; a servant was called, and Elizabeth drank. Now, her tongue lay like dry dough in her mouth. Elizabeth ran her fingers along the damp, stone floor. Her chained leg clinked with her movement. The links ran to an iron ring nailed into the wall, too dark and too far away to see.

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Mr. Darcy’s Missing Bride – Chapter 1

It was early morning, and the sun was resplendent, its rays coloring the budding floral displays and grasslands that appointed the gardens of Rosings. Elizabeth Bennet delighted in the patches of warm sunlight on her skin. It was the edge of summer, the end of spring and the weather was at its best: not too hot or cold, but warmth touching the earth and encouraging the flowers to bloom.

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Mr. Darcy’s Missing Bride – Chapters 2

“My nephew always makes dining that much more lively,” Lady Catherine de Bourgh waved her handkerchief at the two men seated at her table. She was making a point to the guests in attendance: Mr. and Mrs. Collins and Elizabeth Bennet. “My daughter, Anne, is always so excited to see Mr. Darcy, aren’t you my dear?” She inclined her head at a pale, young woman sitting next to her at the table. Anne gave a half-hearted smile in return.

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Mr. Darcy’s Missing Bride – Chapters 3

Book in hand, Elizabeth headed to her favorite reading nook, a small tree at the top of a hill, fifteen minutes or so from Charlotte’s house. Maria did not wake before eleven in the morning unless prodded, and Charlotte had insisted Elizabeth feel comfortable walking about wherever she wished in the morning, with or without her friend who preferred less active morning pursuits. While it impressed Elizabeth with how well Charlotte managed Mr. Collins, she could not imagine such a life for herself. Elizabeth wished to marry for love.

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Mr. Darcy’s Missing Bride – Chapters 7

Lady Catherine de Bourgh paced the length of her library, clasping Mr. Collins’ all too delighted missive of two full pages. She was not gauche enough to reduce herself to foul language, instead detailing Miss Elizabeth Bennet’s lowly status – the daughter of a baronet with her family estate entailed – and the clear faults in her character, which the young lady made no efforts to correct.

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Mr. Darcy’s Missing Bride – Chapters 10

“What do you mean, she left?” Mr. Darcy was nearly shouting as he stood in the middle of the parsonage’s drawing room. On his uncle’s name, he had received an audience with the Archbishop that morning and, Special License in hand had returned to make a proper proposal.

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Mr. Darcy’s Missing Bride – Chapters 11

The rocking of the carriage and the drawn shades gave Elizabeth the feeling that she was in her own world, the outside blew asunder on its own axis. The trip to London was long, not as lengthy as the trip to Longbourn, but this road was choppier than she recalled.

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Mr. Darcy’s Missing Bride – Chapters 12

Under normal circumstances, Mr. Darcy had patience with his aunt. He sat through her tirades about one piece of society gossip or another, or her condescension of the servants, the abhorrent state of the grounds or some supposed slight in her life.

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Mr. Darcy’s Missing Bride – Chapters 14

It was past nine when Mr. Darcy arrived at his London town house. He could not, with any politeness, pay call to a lady at her home after dark, as much as he might wish. Besides, if she was angry, which she had a right to be considering the liberties he had taken with her on their last walk, he would better make his explanations in the light of morning when both had occasion to sleep.

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Mr. Darcy’s Missing Bride – Chapters 15

Days later, back in the Gardiner’s drawing room, Darcy struggled not to lose hope. He and Richard had questioned Lady Catherine’s coachman who revealed the Lady had hired men and a carriage for Miss Elizabeth.

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Mr. Darcy’s Missing Bride – Chapters 16

Mr. Gardiner was waiting when Mr. Darcy arrived with Col. Fitzwilliam at his home the next morning. They sat in the breakfast nook over rolls and preserves with tea while they informed Mr. Gardiner on what Philips had told him the night before.

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Mr. Darcy’s Missing Bride – Chapters 19

Elizabeth sat in a small boat on a still pond tethered to a wooden dock. The tether was very long, and thus, the boat drifted to the middle. Mist obscured everything beyond the pond’s banks and dock. Every direction she looked was mist, and because it shrouded everything, she felt safe.

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Mr. Darcy’s Missing Bride – Chapters 20

Darcy was exhausted, having spent much of the evening pacing between his bed and the library, choosing and then discarding books he hoped would Elizabeth smile. Nothing he said or did would change what happened to his beloved, and that he had not protected her weighed heavily.

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Mr. Darcy’s Missing Bride – Epilogue

“It is not enough.” Richard pressed his index fingers at the bridge of his nose. He and Mr. Darcy stood in Mr. Gardiner’s study with Mr. Gardiner and Mr. Bennet. Mr. Gardiner sat at his desk with Mr. Bennet in a chair on the opposite side. Two glasses of port sat atop it, the one closest to Mr. Bennet half-empty.

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Will deceptions, highwaymen, and a rambunctious eleven-year-old girl bring Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy together or tear them apart?

After rejecting Mr. Collins proposal, Miss Elizabeth Bennet assumes the persona of a widow and goes to Lambton to find work. But when she befriends Mr. Darcy’s half-sister Rose and becomes her governess, she must contend with Mr. Darcy, a man she wishes to despise, and Col. Richard Fitzwilliam, a man she wants to love but cannot. With Rose’s help, will Elizabeth find the strength to follow her heart?

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Warning! This book contains: one not at all wicked stepmother, one 100% wicked band of highwaymen, one rambunctious eleven-year-old, one deceptive governess with a heart of gold, one love-stricken colonel, one handsome gentleman in denial of his true feelings, one found treasure, and two happily ever afters to set your heart aflutter.

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An Unsuitable Governess – Chapter 1

Beneath a gray and weeping sky, a Royal Mail stagecoach trundled north towards Derbyshire. Miss Elizabeth Bennet wished to pretend it was all a grand adventure, but three days being jounced about until her muscles and teeth ached and three nights in tiny coaching inn rooms with the thin, ill-tempered maid Mrs. Gardiner had insisted Elizabeth bring as a chaperone, had robbed Elizabeth of her sense of wonder. Her eyelids were stiff, her hair itched, and she stank.

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An Unsuitable Governess – Chapters 2-3

After settling herself and Adelaide at the Rose and Crown Inn, Elizabeth ordered them both the luxury of a hip bath and changed into a fresh frock. The Gardiners’ had given her coin for her troubles, but Elizabeth wished to find work as quickly as possible. She would not impose herself further upon their charity by writing to ask for assistance.

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An Unsuitable Governess – Chapters 4-5

“Highwaymen you say?”

Mr. Darcy did not like the glint in his cousin’s eye. Col. Richard Fitzwilliam had been given leave from the front at the behest of his father the Earl. Richard had explained neither the reason, nor how long he would be on English soil. He attended to his duties, but Darcy could tell his cousin itched to return to battle, and anything that promised excitement was enough to send him charging forward.

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