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!
It was the kind of party everyone wanted to attend. George Wickham and Henry Crawford were no exception.
Crawford had connections, of the extremely loose kind. He had to call in a favor from a friend of a friend of a cousin to get into the party, and only after promising a blind date with the cousin’s sister’s divorced best friend.
Wickham had no connections, but he didn’t need them. All it took was a few minutes with one of the wait staff, and she was sneaking him in. He had to promise things too, and he would come through—if the party turned into a bust.
Both men surveyed the room, both with the same goal: Emma Woodhouse. Beautiful, blonde, the latest Victoria’s Secret Angel to wear the Fantasy Bra, and daughter of a billionaire—landing her was well worth any promise.
Wickham saw her first. She wore a mint green dress and pink lips, her blonde hair dripping down her back. He sidled closer, waiting for the perfect opportunity to make his move. She was chatting with some old guy, giving him polite smiles, but Wickham knew she wanted to get away. He would be a welcome change, she would easily fall for his charm, and soon enough they’d be sharing a taxi home.
When the old guy finally left, Wickham moved in. His strategy: “accidentally” bump into her.
“Oh, I’m so sorry,” he said, steadying her. He dropped his hands but caught her gaze. His mouth opened in a tiny gasp. “Wow. I mean, I’m sorry. I mean…”
Emma’s annoyance faded. Wickham suppressed a grin. It worked every time. “No harm done,” she said.
Wickham flashed his biggest smile. “No drinks were spilled, no dresses were harmed in the making of this clumsiness. My reputation has been saved.”
Emma arched a brow. “You have a reputation?”
“Oh definitely. One I would hate to tarnish.” He leaned in close. “Truthfully, I have no reputation. No one here knows my name. I’m just happy to be at such a great party.”
She smiled, her eyes scanning the room. “It is, isn’t it.”
He feigned ignorance. “Is this…is this your party?”
“My father’s. But I do most of the planning.”
“Well done. It really is amazing.”
She blushed, the color of her cheeks sending his mind to dirty places.
“Thank you,” she replied.
“I’m Wickham.” He held out his hand. “George Wi—”
“Take this, would you?” Crawford had finally spotted Emma, and he wasn’t the kind to wait around. He’d beelined straight for her. He shoved his empty glass into Wickham’s outstretched hand. “Thanks, man.”
Crawford turned to Emma, blocking her view of Wickham. Looking her up and down, he bit down on his knuckle. “Day-um. You look incredible in that dress. Like a mint ice cream I just want to lick.”
“Excuse me?” Emma asked.
Crawford winked. “Sorry. Inner thought. My mouth runs away with me around beautiful women.”
Wickham finally found his voice. He pushed his way back into Emma’s view, and into the conversation. “Here’s your glass back. I’m not a waiter.”
Crawford didn’t take it. He kept his eyes on Emma. “How embarrassing.” He motioned to a waitress who scurried over. “If you could take his glass please. Thanks.” He rolled his eyes at Emma as if to say, was that so hard?
The waitress batted her eyelashes at Wickham—it was the same girl he’d used to get into the party. He shoved the glass in her hand and turned back to Emma.
“Emma?” Crawford butt in. “Emma Woodhouse? I thought I recognized that pretty face. I’m Henry Crawford. You might have heard of me.”
Emma inhaled slowly. She’d been raised to be polite at all times, to all people, no matter their situation or behavior. “Can’t say that I have,” she said, looking for an opportunity to escape.
“Me neither,” Wickham said. “No matter who you are, that doesn’t give you the right to interrupt a conversation.”
Crawford laughed. “Sorry for ruining your game.” He gave Emma a secret sort of smile. “But I don’t think the interruption was unwelcome.”
She opened her mouth to reply but Wickham beat her to it.
“Well, it was. Can’t you see that you’re spoiling the party for her?”
Emma placed her hands on her hips. Well, really, she thought.
Crawford smirked. “The only thing I spoil is the sheets, if you know what I mean.”
Wickham snorted. “Whoa, dude. TMI. I don’t need to know about bed-wetting or whatever your problem is.”
Crawford’s face reddened. He shoved two fingers into Wickham’s shoulder. “Why don’t you grab a tray and go back to work, and leave Emma to a real man.”
“Lay a finger on me again and I’ll pound you into next week.”
“You couldn’t pound me into the next hour.”
“Don’t test me, buddy. Not in front of a lady.”
“Why not? Scared?” Crawford poked Wickham again. “Come at me, bro. Come on. Come at me.”
They were in each other’s faces, their chests puffed out. Neither had realized that Emma—their reason for being there in the first place—had walked away.
By now, everyone in the room was watching the spectacle.
“Come at me, bro,” Crawford said again.
“Don’t call me bro.” Wickham shoved Crawford in the chest. Crawford shoved back.
“Boys.” Emma’s voice stopped them cold. They turned. A tall man stood beside her, his arm wrapped around her shoulder, a hard look on his face.
“Thank you for coming to my party, but if you don’t leave now, I’m afraid Knightley—my fiancé—will have to escort you out.”
The party was a bust after all. Wickham went in search of his waitress. Crawford left with his chin up, winking at any woman who would look his way, already searching for his next target.