As I wait for my cover designer and my faithful proofreaders to finished with the manuscript, I couldn’t resist sharing another sneak peak of Mistaking her Character (formerly Wholly Unconnected to Me) with you.
I’m hoping to have it ready in about two more weeks! Can you tell I’m excited?
Mistaking Her Character
Lady Catherine loomed in the parlor doorway, her features gathering into her darkest, most menacing scowl. “A word, if you please.” She turned on her heel and disappeared into her lair.
Elizabeth dropped a small curtsey and rushed into the parlor to brave the dragon in all her fury. If only she had remembered to bring her sword in her workbag.
Lady Catherine ascended her throne, a stony mask of creases, gnarls and shadow firmly in place.
Was that the scent of burning sulfur in the air?
“You think I am ignorant of what you are about, young woman?”
“I have not the pleasure of your meaning, madam.”
“None of your cheek here, girl. I know. Oh, I know.” She shook her finger toward Elizabeth. “You have ambitions beyond your station, beyond all propriety and decency.”
“Excuse me?” Elizabeth grabbed the back of the nearest chair to shore up her liquid knees.
“It is written upon your face—clear in that indecent display I just walked in upon.”
“Mr. Darcy?” She gasped. “You assume far too much. I only met him yesterday.”
“Entirely long enough to form designs upon his person and fortune. You spurned Mr. Collins—I am sure—in the hopes of someone of greater consequence whom you have now found in the person of my nephew.”
The upholstery tore a tiny bit beneath her fingernails. “I assure you, madam, I never considered such a thing. Mr. Collins and I … our temperaments are so different, we could never have made a good match. I am convinced he has a much happier situation with—”
“Are you suggesting happiness may be found in disobeying me?”
“By no means.”
“Then turn your attentions to Mr. Wickham. He studies at the Inn of Courts—.”
“He does not, nor is he likely to, having offended a very influential member.”
She flushed puce.
That could not be healthy.
“Where do you come by this information?”
Lady Catherine slapped the arms of her chair and heaved to her feet. “What were you doing talking to my nephew?”
“We met on the road this morning.”
“While you were driving, unchaperoned, as I have expressly forbidden.”
Her shoulders drew up and she tucked her elbows close into her sides. “Yes, your ladyship.”
One, two, three steps. Lady Catherine stood so close their skirt hems touched. She waved her bony finger under Elizabeth’s nose. “I will make this very plain to you, young woman, so that even you, in all your cleverness, cannot pretend to misunderstand me. Darcy is for Anne. From their cradles, they have been promised to one another. It was the fondest wish of his mother and me. No upstart like you is going to interfere with those plans.”
“What am I compared to Miss de Bourgh?”
“What are you—exactly! Exactly! But do not play coy with me.” She circled Elizabeth, a hungry cat stalking a bird. “We both know you have arts and allurements to distract him from his duty to his family. You have no delicacy, exposed to the basest things of life—of men.”
How did one respond to such raving? Perhaps best not.
“Have you considered why I have been trying to find you a match? Even with your connection to me, few decent men will ally themselves with a woman like you. Despite your youthful airs and arrogance, I have had—and will continue to have—your best interests in mind—unless—” She stabbed her sharp finger into Elizabeth’s chest.
Elizabeth jumped back.
“—unless you insist on preying upon Darcy. You are not his equal and would bring shame upon his name and all his family.”
“Shall I leave Rosings?”
“No, Anne requires your presence. I will not deny her any comfort, no matter how little I fathom it.”
“Then shall I ignore him? Turn my back as the servants do when he approaches?”
“You are not … not … a servant.”
“How am I to behave?”
“With every civility, but nothing more.”
“As you wish, your ladyship.”
“I will be watching you, Miss Elizabeth. Do not think you can escape my notice if you disobey. Now leave me.”
She curtsied and strode away, fists balled so tightly her arms shook.
Two steps into the corridor, Mr. Darcy blocked her path. She stopped short and barely held back a tiny shriek. How tall he was, towering—or was that, hovering over her.
“I hardly know what to say, my aunt—”
She raised an open hand. “Pray forgive me, sir, but I am truly in no state for conversation at the moment.”
“Will you speak with me later?”
“I do not know, sir. Excuse me.” She curtsied and hurried away.