Have you ever wanted to read how a conversation would go between Darcy and Captain Wentworth? Have you ever wished Caroline Bingley might make the acquaintance of Sir Walter Elliot? Have you ever thought Mrs. Norris and Lady Catherine could be best buds? Then you’ll love March Madness where we combine characters from Jane Austen’s books in a way you may not have imagined or in ways you may have hoped. Find a comfy chair, grab a cuppa and a few biscuits, and join us for the fun!
Today and tomorrow are the next installments in the 50 Shades of… Jane? series. I hope y’all like them! If you haven’t read the first two, they are 50 Shades of… Jane? and The Perverseness of Mischance.
“Your mother actually believed the headline?”
Elizabeth giggled at Elinor Dashwood’s bulging eyes and agape mouth. “You stayed at my house when you visited from Uni with Jane. You’ve met my mum. Didn’t you notice the tabloids spread across the table each morning?”
“I suppose I thought she read them for a laugh. My mum would never…”
“That’s because your mum is normal whereas ours is off her trolley,” added Jane as she returned to the kitchen. “Not that she cared two bits about the article. When she realised William’s net worth, she told Lizzy to continue whatever she did to attract him in the first place.”
“She didn’t!” Emma began to giggle as she leaned against the counter. “Well, if you hadn’t met William, I had the perfect guy for you.” The other three ladies groaned.
“No!” Elizabeth waved her free hand in front of her. “I am happy with William, and even if I wasn’t, I would never go on another of your blind dates!” Elinor, Jane, and Elizabeth all clinked their glasses together as the other ladies agreed.
“There was nothing wrong with Elton!”
“He was pretentious, annoying, and what was that other thing?” Elizabeth tapped her face with her index finger and looked for a bit to the ceiling. “Oh yes, he fancied you.”
“Do you remember Em’s reaction when he confessed that he loved her?” Emma shuddered as they all cackled.
“Yes!” Jane set her wine glass on the counter. “She called me and went on and on about it! As I recall, he tried to kiss you, and you were in tears about how disgusting it was.”
Elinor clapped a hand over her mouth and swallowed her wine. “This I’ve got to hear! You thought him good enough for Lizzy, but found him disgusting?”
“I didn’t want him to kiss me in the first place, but he licked from one side of my mouth to the other! It was revolting! I didn’t want to be slimed!” Emma turned several shades of red while everyone burst into gales of laughter.
When their amusement subsided, Jane gave a one-shouldered shrug. “Well, it’s your own fault.”
“What do you mean?”
“Oh, please!” Elizabeth picked up a carrot and pointed it at Emma. “If you had acknowledged your feelings for George earlier, you wouldn’t have had Elton trying to snog you at that party.”
She took a bite of the carrot. Who was she kidding? Despite her best intentions, the sausage rolls and cake were calling her name. She threw it in the trash and picked up a tiny sausage roll as the doorbell chimed.
Emma looked between Elizabeth and Jane. “I thought Catherine and Charlotte couldn’t come?”
Jane’s complexion went white. “It wouldn’t be Caroline?”
With a shake of her head, Elizabeth set down her glass and food and headed for the door with everyone following. “I doubt it. The restraining order William had executed indicated she could not come within a certain distance of myself or where I lived. She is still angry she was jailed for the phony 999 call and stalking us at the hotel that evening.”
Elizabeth peered through the peephole and jerked back. “Who told Mary?” She narrowed her eyes at Emma.
“Which Mary—our sister Mary, Mary King?”
“Mary Musgrove?” interjected Elinor.
“No! Mary Crawford!” She whispered loudly. Hopefully, Mary would not hear her.
Emma began to shake her head. “I swear! I didn’t tell her! Don’t you remember when she slipped her hotel room key into George’s pocket at the Children’s Hospice Ball? I haven’t spoken to her since!”
“No! She propositioned Edward at the Cathedral fundraiser last June!”
“No!” exclaimed Jane. “But he’s a vicar.”
“As long as the person has a sex drive and is taken, she doesn’t care. Fanny told me Mary propositioned Edmund and offered that Fanny could join them.”
The ladies all cringed. “Ewwww!”
Elizabeth peeked back outside, but Mary was gone. She left already? With a jerk back, she opened the door and looked outside.
“There you are! I was beginning to think you were going to leave me out here all night.”
Her head whipped around to where Mary leaned against the wall, studying her expensive manicure by the dim exterior light. “Hello, Mary. How are you this evening?” She pulled the door close behind her as she stuck a hand back to wave everyone back from the entry.
“Catherine Moreland told Isabella Thorpe, who told me you were having a girls’ night this evening. I thought my invitation must have been overlooked. You and Jane would never have a party without moi, so here I am.”
Crap! Catherine probably didn’t even give a first or second thought about shutting her gob! They wouldn’t want Isabella at their party either. She would drink all of the alcohol before they each finished their first glass of wine.
“Girls’ night? Oh! We had to cancel at the last minute since I fell ill. In fact, that is why I was late to the door. I was sick in the bathroom.”
Mary’s nose crinkled. “Your breath smells of wine.”
“I drank a glass of wine with William before I came home.” She covered her mouth. “I’m so sorry.”
“Lizzy!” called Jane as she walked behind her. “Here’s the jug you requested.”
Elizabeth bit the inside of her cheek and took the plastic container. Her usually honest to a fault, terrible liar, elder sister was conspiring with her?
“Now, go change into your jim jams and have a lie down before you become sick again.”
With a last glance at Mary, she stepped behind the door where Emma and Elinor stood with their hands clasped over their mouths.
“As you can see, Mary, Lizzy is feeling rather poorly tonight. Why don’t we call you and let you know when the girls’ night is rescheduled.”
“Of course. You do that.” Mary’s tone was laced with doubt, and Elizabeth began to bite her thumbnail. “I heard the boys are having an evening at the pub, watching football. Perhaps I will join them.”
Like hell! Elizabeth began to launch forward, but before she could take a step, a hand clamped over her mouth, an arm wrapped around her shoulders, and another two arms around her waist. She flailed and kicked forward, but it was no use. They would not let her go.
“I believe they decided to watch the game at William’s rather than go to the pub,” lied Jane, though not convincingly. “You must remember he has a small theatre and Mrs. Reynolds to cook whatever they like.”
“Yes well, I hope Lizzy feels better.”
After a moment, Jane closed the door and her eyes widened when she turned to see Elizabeth restrained. They released her, and Elizabeth wrenched herself free and dove for the door; however, Jane blocked her.
“You can’t go after her. You’ll give everything away.”
Elizabeth’s arm shot out in the direction Mary would have parked. “You know she didn’t buy our act! Now, she’s going to go proposition our men! Don’t even tell me she won’t because she doesn’t like single men. What is an available man married or taken ones are around?” She leaned closer. “She’ll hit on Charlie.”
With a graze of her teeth to her bottom lip, Jane paused for a second. “I trust Charlie. Don’t you trust William?”
“Of course I do, but I don’t trust that viper!”
An arm wrapped around hers as Elinor pulled her towards the sofa. “William is infatuated with you. He won’t look twice at Mary Crawford as you are well aware.”
“It is the principle of the matter! He’s mine!”
“As Edward is mine and George belongs to Emma—only we’re married and she still tried.”
Jane dropped into her seat with a huff. “What is wrong with that woman?”
Emma sat on Elizabeth’s other side and placed an arm around her. “We need to find her a man.”
“Do you know one who would agree to wear a wedding ring on their date?”
“Lizzy!” Jane and Elinor cried just before bursting into giggles.
With a smirk, Emma caught her eye. “I just might.”
Tune in tomorrow for Part 2! We get to see what the men are up to! In fact, what do you think the men are up to?