With the editing for An Unwavering Trust coming to an end, it is high time to reveal the cover and give you another sneak peek of sorts. This time, I am not posting an excerpt, but instead, an additional scene–a prologue of sorts–I wrote specifically to post here. I do not intend on publishing it with the book. The scene is a hint to part of Elizabeth’s problems when Darcy makes her acquaintance.
Just a warning! Please do not consider me too evil, but the end is a cliffhanger!
The morning sky was clear and blue, and a chill breeze wended through the tips of the trees, rattling the straggling leaves that had thus far refused to fall, quite the change from the past week of incessant rain. The weather had not been terrible by any means, but the steady light showers had done an admirable job of muddying the countryside; it was impossible to walk even a short distance without ruining your boots or petticoats with the muck.
Elizabeth sighed as her mother prattled every bit of gossip she had heard before church to Mrs. Fairchild. Would their carriage never pull around? Her mother and their driver must have an arrangement in which he earns a bonus should they be the last to depart. It was a reasonable explanation for why their carriage never failed to bring up the rear at every party and ball. Regardless of the event, the Bennets of Longbourn remained until the very end!
An inane comment from her mother on Jane’s beauty reached her ears, and she sighed as Jane took her arm. “Mrs. Fairchild is kind to listen to Mama as she has. I cannot imagine the new vicar’s wife enjoying such tittle-tattle. She is very generous.”
A glance in the direction of the two women revealed Mrs. Bennet still speaking while gesturing with her hands in an animated fashion; their host appeared interested—that is until she stifled a yawn.
“I wager she is praying our carriage pulls around soon lest she never get rid of us.”
Jane giggled and gave a gentle squeeze to her arm. “I like Mr. and Mrs. Fairchild.”
“I am pleased with their company as well. I believe they are a fine addition to Meryton society.”
The sound of a carriage caught Elizabeth’s attention, and she tilted her head forward as it rounded the corner of the chapel “There it is! I had begun to think it had sunk into the muck.”
“Oh! Elizabeth! Do not be ridiculous! Of course, the carriage would not disappear. The very notion is preposterous.”
The shake of Jane’s chuckle vibrated against her arm. “Well, at least she did not throw you at the younger Fairchild boy.”
Elizabeth’s eyes widened. “I should hope not! He is more the appropriate age for Lydia, if they were both old enough.” A glance in Lydia’s direction revealed her sister looking in the young man’s direction through her eyelashes in a coy manner while Mrs. Bennet puffed out her chest in pride.
She suppressed the urge to roll her eyes and nudged Jane in the ribs. “Speaking of Lydia, she is too forward for one so young.” Her elder sister glanced over to Lydia, whose eyelashes fluttered. “We should speak to Papa on the morrow.”
Jane’s lips tightened to a thin line as their father chuckled at the scene. “I agree. Lydia needs to learn proper manners before she comes out into society. If Mama has anything to say about it, she will be out at fifteen as we were.”
Her father opened the door to the carriage and ushered them inside. The usual squabbling commenced as soon as they stepped into the equipage, Lydia voicing most stridently that she was crowded into the corner and elbowing Kitty who burst into tears.
Mr. Bennet stepped inside last and squeezed in beside Elizabeth. “You must only make due for the short trip back to Longbourn, so cease your bickering.”
“I do not mind walking, father,” interjected Elizabeth.
An appalled expression appeared upon her mother’s face. “You most certainly will not! You will not be fit to set foot inside after walking through the filth!”
The door to the carriage closed, and Jane took her hand as they began to move. Lydia did not cease her complaining, and continued to nudge Kitty toward Mary, while Mary shoved back to push Lydia into the squabs.
The low rumble of her father’s chuckle caught her ear. “They are the silliest girls in all of England, are they not?” he whispered.
With a glance outside, she knew the turn in the road was ahead. Longbourn drew closer by the minute. Her eyes closed as she imagined being free of her confining surroundings and walking the gardens. She had just reached the oak along the edge of the wood, when a loud crack sounded and the carriage lurched.
A shrill, screeching whinny interrupted the usual happenings as they felt themselves being dragged at far to swift a pace.
“Thomas!” her mother hollered.
The equipage tipped as Lydia’s ear piercing scream drowned out any other sound. Elizabeth landed upon someone, but she had no time to discover who as a smarting pain pierced her temple and someone landed with a thud upon her back.
Her heart pounded, and she cried out when the movement of their conveyance did not come to a grinding halt as she hoped. Instead, they began a downward decent, with tremendous jarring blows along the way.
The body on her back bounced painfully against her, and her muddled mind could not discern the screams and groans that emanated from around her.
With another loud crack, a searing sensation rent the back of her leg and her surroundings went black.