WWI Captain Fitzwilliam Darcy was rejected by the woman he loved and left grief-stricken over the loss of his men. “Enough!” Darcy vows, “No more sentimental entanglements. No comrades, no dog, and certainly no woman!”
But a covert assignment at a chateau-turned-field-hospital brings him face to face with his beloved Elizabeth–who’s working with a dashing American doctor and embroiled in the conspiracy he’s been sent to investigate.
Working side-by-side with her, Darcy is forced to examine his own heart and grapple with his feelings for her while searching for the traitors.
When a near-miraculous incident shatters the ice encasing his heart, he can only think of winning Elizabeth back. Will he be able to prove her innocence and build a lasting bridge with her before she’s condemned to a traitor’s noose?
Darcy can only hope….
Elizabeth Bennet raised her chin and gazed over the distant meadow. The morning sun shimmering off the water in the canal below and the quaint windmill on the adjacent rise beckoned her. She had never ventured down the face of the bluff to the canal, but she had plenty of time today, and the May weather was glorious.
Inching her way down, she steadied herself on rocks and branches protruding here and there, nearly losing her balance on the loose embankment. Finally reaching the bottom, she started towards the waterway. Rounding a knoll, she squinted into the sun at a tall silhouette of an officer peering down the canal through field glasses. Whatever he saw must have been intriguing, as he surveyed the horizon for quite some time. Nearing him, she opened her mouth to call out a greeting when a stick snapped under her foot. In one deft motion, the soldier whirled around and levelled his revolver at her.
“Don’t shoot!” Elizabeth cried, pleading her hands in surrender. It was Captain Darcy.
“What are you doing here?” he barked, lowering the firearm and glaring at her with flashing eyes of steel.
Her heart pounding, she bit back, “Perhaps I could ask the same of you.”
“That is not the point.” He reached out and grabbed her arm above the elbow, nearly shaking it in rage. “A lady has no business out here alone. There are men roaming about who have no thought for their future and would be only too happy to ravage an attractive woman such as yourself.”
She jerked her arm away. “I appreciate your concern, but I am quite capable of looking after myself. But it’s nice to know you now consider me attractive as there was a time I wasn’t handsome enough to tempt you.”
His face hardened. “If you were this obstinate towards your father’s authority, it is no wonder he gave up on your sisters and retreated to his stud—”
His eyes widened in shocked contrition, and his manner softened. “Forgive me. That was uncalled for and unkind. Please…trust me in this.”
“Trust you? You are asking me to trust you? After your reprehensible treatment of Lieutenant Wickham and your calculated separation of Charles from Jane, I have no reason to trust you.”
Darcy clenched his fist. “Perhaps had you read my letter explaining myself, you might think differently.”
“Letter? What letter?”
“The one I sent to Longbourn from London after our…encounter at the Hunsford parsonage. It detailed my dealings with Wickham and your sister. I suppose you were too prejudiced against me to even open it.”
She opened her mouth, then shut it, dumbfounded. Was it possible he had an explanation? She stayed an extra two weeks with Charlotte after the captain’s departure, but surely had a letter arrived at Longbourn, it would have been left with her other correspondence. Wouldn’t it?
He released a defeated sigh and broke the silence. “Although I no longer adhere to my principle that my good opinion once lost is lost forever, I suppose I cannot fault you for abiding by it. Good day, Miss Bennet.” He turned on his heel and strode away.
Elizabeth stepped back, wilting as she released a breath. Why did every encounter with him leave her breathless and weak-kneed? The tension that radiated between them was unlike anything she’d experienced before. It was somehow entrancing—both repelling and tantalising at the same time.
She headed towards the chateau and shook off the thoughts, not wanting to think on it any more.
…It is no wonder your father gave up on your sisters and retreated… She winced at the grain of truth. But she wasn’t the obstinate one, her sisters were.
She hastened her pace, but his words crept through to her consciousness again. A lady has no business out here alone….
She huffed at his presumptuousness. What made him such an expert on everything? She’d never seen anyone out here except the children who played with her stuffed dog, an occasional wagon on the road, or Sapper and his men at the cemetery. Under the captain’s authority, she’d already surrendered the dowager house and the annexe. She had no intention of following his every whim as if he were an omniscient god.
Besides, what was he doing out here gazing down the canal? Didn’t he go to the ward at the school every day?
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ginger Monette won Charlotte Mecklenburg Library’s 2015 Picture This grand prize for her WW1 flash fiction piece, Flanders Field of Grey.
She lives with her family in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she enjoys dancing on the treadmill, watching period dramas, public speaking, and reading—a full-length novel every Sunday afternoon.