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!
And on to what happens with the boys!
He despised watching the game at the pub! The noise, the fans of the opposing team, the smell of stale beer combined with fish and chips was enough to set him on edge and make his stomach churn.
Why couldn’t they have watched it at his house? He had a bloody theatre room and Mrs. Reynolds to cook whatever they wanted to eat.
Charlie slapped him on the back, causing him to choke on his beer. “This is so much better than your house, isn’t it?”
With a fake smile plastered on his face, he turned to his best friend since college. “Delightful.”
Charlie’s eyes rolled, and he shook his head with a chuckle. “You are such a hermit.”
“I am not. I just prefer to hear the game rather than a full pub cheering and jeering.” George and Edward each sat two pints on the table as they resumed their seats and halted the conversation.
“Is he still pouting?” asked George.
“I do not pout!” Darcy took another gulp of his beer and folded his arms across his chest. He was in this dive to watch the game and that was what he was going to do.
Edward pushed a fresh pint in his direction. “Don’t let them bother you. I…”
Darcy furrowed his brow and looked at Edward. “I?” No response came since Edward covered his face with a menu from the end of the table and sank in his chair.
Darcy pulled the menu back. “What are you doing?”
“Do you know Mary Crawford?”
After turning from the game to see Edward, George pointed towards the menu. “What’s wrong with him?”
Darcy shrugged. “I don’t know. He asked if I know Mary Crawford.”
Upon hearing the name, George paled and shifted back and forth to scan the room. “Shit!” He grabbed a menu with fumbling hands and thrust it in front of his face, leaning in so close he couldn’t possibly read it. Charlie turned and frowned at George and Edward, and looked to Darcy.
“For some reason, Mary Crawford is having a pint and watching the game tonight.”
Charlie looked over Darcy’s shoulder as his eyes bulged. “I’m going to the loo.”
After dropping his hiding place on the table, Edward jumped from his seat. “Me, too!”
“I’m going to place an order at the bar. Do you want anything?” He stared at George agape. The man never lowered the menu, but asked with it still covering his face.
“No, thank you.”
George nearly sprinted from the table as Darcy shook his head and took a gulp of his beer. What were the odds Mary Crawford would find their table in a packed pub tonight?”
“William Darcy, I am so pleased to see you.”
He closed his eyes and gritted his teeth. No wonder the others ran as soon as the opportunity arose. “I had no idea you’re a football fan, Miss Crawford?”
The viper sat in George’s vacated seat, put her elbow on the table, and propped her chin upon her palm. “What woman doesn’t love football? All those hard, toned men running around the field?”
“The field is called a pitch.”
She waved her free hand. “Whatever.” After glancing at the still full pints on the table, she lifted one side of her lips and took a sip from Charlie’s beer. “Where are your friends?”
Maybe they are avoiding you! “Edward and Charlie are in the toilets, and George is at the bar.” He was going to make them pay for leaving him alone with her. He would have vowed revenge even if they’d ditched him with Henry Crawford.
Her chair made a squelching noise against the floor as she shifted it closer. “Good, we have a chance to get better acquainted.”
Oh crap! Did her eyelashes just bat? There it was again! Yes, that was definite battage! Lord, if she didn’t resemble her brother when he made the same gesture. Darcy shuddered. Having Henry Crawford make a pass at him was one memory he had no desire to revisit!
“As people who interact for business purposes, I believe we are well acquainted.” He surveyed the pub. Why was she here? “Are you meeting friends?”
She gave a dramatic sigh. “No, I thought I was going to join the ladies for the evening, but when I arrived, they claimed it was cancelled.” Her false tone and tilt of the head to garner sympathy wasn’t working. How did the Americans put it? She was as phony as a three-dollar bill.
“What a shame.”
“It truly is. Lizzy became sick, so they cancelled the entire night…”
He sat straight in his seat and set his beer upon the table with more force than he intended. “Lizzy? Do you mean Elizabeth Bennet?”
A shameless smile lit her lips as she looked at him through her eyelashes. Mary leaned in closer. “Oh, that’s right. The two of you are an item.” She snickered. “Not that I believed the headlines. As if she would be into that.” Her blood red nail traced down the top of his hand. “Though, I wouldn’t mind being naughty if you were so inclined.”
He leapt from the chair. “I need to check on Elizabeth. If you’ll pardon me.”
Mary stood and stepped forward, running her hand along his side. “She has Jane to take care of her. Why don’t you let me take care of you?”
He took her hand between his thumb and index finger (Who knows what she’d touched with those!) and dropped it while moving back. “I’m not interested in what you’re offering, Mary. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am leaving.”
“What about your friends?”
“They can fend for themselves.” After all, they’d left him to deal with Mary. Let them get rid of her.
Without stopping, he rushed out of the door to the car park and twenty minutes later was standing before the door of Elizabeth and Jane’s gaolhouse. He knocked upon the door, frowning at the sound of loud laughter. Elizabeth was sick. Did Jane decide to have someone over anyway?
Bang! Bang! Bang!
Voices became audible through the door just before it swung open to Elizabeth, who gasped. “William? I thought you were at the pub.”
He took her in his arms as he closed the door behind him with his foot. His hands caressed her face. She wasn’t warm, so no fever.
“What are you doing?” she giggled, as she grasped his hands and laced their fingers together.
“She said you were ill.”
A cute little furrow appeared between her eyebrows as it often did when she was puzzled. “Who?”
Emma Knightley snorted and erupted into gales of laughter. “Lizzy lied that she felt poorly to keep her from the house. Mary tried to gatecrash, but none of us wanted her here.”
“She did say she was going to try the pub,” commented Elinor.
Jane looked outside on the front step and at William. “Where is Charlie? Didn’t he ride with you?”
He shrugged. “When Mary arrived, Charlie and Edward sprinted for the toilets and George went to the bar for more food.” Wide eyes from all but Elizabeth made him shift her in front of him.
“You left them with her!” Emma grabbed her purse from the nearest table as a knock filled the room. Jane peeked through the peep-hole and grinned.
“It’s the men!” She pulled open the heavy door to reveal the scowling visages of Charlie, Edward, and George who all called out and pointed when they saw William.
“You left us!”
What! They were the ones who disappeared and left him to deal with ‘Make-it Mary!’ “I did no differently than you lot! I saw an opportunity and took it! Besides, the two of you were in the loo for a long time and it does not take ten minutes to order at the bar!”
Charlie scratched the back of his neck. “We snuck out the window.”
“Charlie!” Jane grasped her boyfriend’s coat and yanked him inside. “I can’t believe you left William like that!”
As Elinor held out her hand for her husband, he made his way to her, his posture rigid. “I know how uncomfortable she makes you, but you should apologise to William.”
He pulled at the clerical collar on his shirt. “I am sorry. I’ve never climbed through the window of a pub before.”
“They texted me when they reached the car park,” clarified George. “You probably drove away a few minutes before they made it there. Before Mary noticed me hiding at the end of the bar, I made a dash for my car, and drove us all here.”
Emma rolled her eyes and led her husband to the sofa, switched on the football game, and poured herself another glass of wine. “This is what we should’ve done in the first place.”
William sat in an oversized chair and pulled Elizabeth into his lap as everyone settled around the room. This wasn’t his media room, but it was a huge improvement!
“You’re really well?” he whispered so no one else could hear.
She nodded. “Yes, it was truly a lie. You were really worried, weren’t you?”
“Not worried so much as anxious.” Her forehead crinkled, and he hugged her closer. “Do you remember when the condom tore?”
She drew back, biting her lip, but smiling. “That was a few days ago. It will take a couple more weeks before we know more.”
“You will tell me.” His eyes searched hers.
“If I need to take a test, you will be there with me.” She kissed him on the cheek. “I love you.”
His fingers stroked the silky skin of her cheek. “I love you, too.”
Are the men wimps or what! What Austen character do you think should Mary wind up with?