ALHL cover and blurb

~ ~ ~ ~  Copyright 2016 Wendi Sotis ~ ~ ~ ~

 ~ ~ ~ ~  Cover Art Copyright 2016 Matthew Sotis ~ ~ ~ ~

A Lesson Hard Learned

~~ Sample ~~

Chapter 1

Fitzwilliam Darcy bolted upright in his seat. Taking several deep breaths to calm the storm of anxiety pumping through his veins, he surveyed the chamber.

He was in his study in London, not the library at Pemberley.

Thank God!

His abrupt awakening apparently caused a portion of the ink pot’s contents to spill, ruining the journal entry he had been writing a few hours earlier. As Darcy used his handkerchief to mop up any ink the paper had not already absorbed, Parkman charged through the door.

The butler’s stance told all. Darcy must have shouted during his terrifying dream, causing his loyal servant to fear the master was in danger. Face white and eyes opened wide, Parkman held a large silver tray as if he would be expected to use it defensively. After a fleeting glance around the room, without hesitation, Parkman transformed his countenance as smoothly as if hearing his master scream were an everyday occurrence. The man straightened his spine, tucked the tray under his arm, and adjusted his expression to his usual stoic demeanour.

“Are you well, Mr. Darcy?”

“Yes,” Darcy blurted, though he was not well at all after that dream.

Needing to move about, he pushed himself from his chair and crossed to the window. He clasped his trembling hands together tightly so Parkman would not notice.

Darcy usually looked out the window to think, but at this moment, mulling over his nightmare was the last thing he wanted to do. Requiring a distraction, he pivoted to observe the butler cross to the hearth and rekindle the fire.

Once his respiration calmed, Darcy cleared his throat. “Inform Mrs. Martin I will take a light meal in my chambers in one hour.” Stiff from sleeping at his desk, he rolled his head, rubbing his neck with his hand. “I would prefer coffee this morning.”

Parkman bowed. “Very good, sir.”

“Oh, Parkman?”

The man stopped and turned. Darcy moved to the desk and used his letter-opener to lift the ink-saturated handkerchief. “Will you see what Hughes can do with this, please?”

Darcy almost laughed when Parkman’s eyebrow twitched. Hughes was as fastidious about his master’s clothing as was any valet, but he seemed to have an unnatural desire for making absolutely certain Darcy’s handkerchiefs were in perfect condition.

“What do you recommend, Parkman? Shall I burn it instead?”

The butler’s colour drained, his face becoming pastier than when he had entered the room. Hughes would have a fit if he knew Darcy had even suggested it.

“Then take it to Hughes, will you?” He dropped the handkerchief on the tray and returned the letter opener to his desk. “I give you permission to blame me before he sees it.”

“As you say, sir.”

The door closed with a thump behind Parkman, and Darcy returned his gaze to the window. The full moon hung low in the sky, just above the slight hint of a glow marking the eastern horizon.

The exchange with Parkman was exactly what he had needed to recover enough reason to contemplate his dream.

As a boy, he often had endured nightmares. His mother had encouraged him to examine his dreams, believing they were a veiled awareness or a concealed dread that was difficult to put into words—as if one’s deepest sense of right and wrong advised a person of the truth while he slept.

He had usually found this assumption to be correct, using his nightmares to enlighten him as to strengths or weaknesses of one facet of his character or another. But as bits of this dream floated back to him, he was not as certain.

In tonight’s nightmare, he had seen himself as a bitter, angry man in the cold dark winter of his life, who had, for many years, been obsessed with Elizabeth Bennet’s refusal of his marriage proposal, certain it was at the core of his numerous regrets.

With a flash of insight, the much older version of himself realized the cause had not been her refusal at all. He had been too proud to admit she was correct about his faults and too self-righteous to be properly humbled by her reproofs. Ironically, he had lived the remainder of his life in such a way that proved her accusations correct in every respect.

His dream-self opened his fisted hand and smoothed out the letter he had crumpled with rage upon first reading. He stared at the one-lined missive stating that Elizabeth Bennet was deceased. Somehow, he knew she had died alone—as alone as he had been since the day of her refusal decades earlier. And although he had not seen her since that day, he could not imagine continuing in a world where the only woman he had ever loved no longer drew breath.

The dream had ended when he awakened in a cold sweat.

Even now, merely recollecting the nightmare caused his heart to pound as if it would smash through his ribs.

Was it possible that his mother had been right? Were his opinions warring with his principles, predicting what his future would hold if he continued along his present course? Were his attitudes sparring with his scruples, cautioning him of the insufficiency of his pretensions?

Were Miss Elizabeth Bennet’s assertions about him correct?

After his excessive prodding for the reasons behind her simple refusal, she had said, “Your manners impress me with the fullest belief of your arrogance, your conceit, and your selfish disdain of the feelings of others.”

Although he had been consumed by her accusations over the past fortnight, he had not been aware of any measure of self-doubt. Had he been questioning whether her charges were accurate all this time?

And now, unexpectedly, he distrusted all of the preconceived notions that had taken root with such determination to direct his life and dictate his actions.

Two weeks ago, when he proposed to Elizabeth, he had harboured no question as to how she would answer. Years of evading society matrons who brandished their daughters before him at every opportunity had taught him his hand was highly prized. Their focused attentions pumped him full of vanity, self-importance, and pompous superiority. He had assumed that, like every maiden of his social sphere, Elizabeth sought his good opinion. In his estimation, no one in her right mind would refuse a proposal of marriage if he offered it, if not for his personal attractions, then for the wealth and consequence that would naturally accompany such an event. Even now, he suspected none would—except Miss Elizabeth Bennet.

Striking him like a bolt of lightning, understanding hit him full force.

She was superior to all of them in every way that truly mattered. This was the very reason she had caught his attention.

No other lady in his acquaintance would have held fast to her principles the way Elizabeth had done. Even most men would fear to reveal aloud their honest opinion of him, and yet Elizabeth had held nothing back.

Or at least he hoped she did not think him lower than the assessment she had voiced when he proposed, the night before he left his aunt’s estate.

He closed his eyes. His face heated.

No, he had not simply left Rosings Park.

Fitzwilliam Darcy—master of the sprawling estate of Pemberley, owner of an elegant house in coveted Grosvenor Square, landlord of several other properties, gentleman investment pioneer, and a man responsible for the livelihood of hundreds—he had bolted from Kent with his tail between his legs in order to avoid the possibility of seeing Elizabeth once again.

Elizabeth Bennet. Yes, she was a lovely, vivacious, amusing, and intelligent lady, with the finest eyes he had ever seen, but still, she was only a country miss, daughter of a gentleman with little income and even less import in society.

He had never run from any other challenge in the course of his eight and twenty years; yet, he had fled her presence.

That he allowed her to hold such power over him was mortifying.

The moment he returned to London, he wasted no time in venting his spleen into his journal.

His journal! He spun around to face his desk.

Memories of the resentful and indignant speeches he had poured out into this book over the last few days flooded his mind. The words he had used, the expressions, the philosophies…

Heaven help me. Elizabeth was right.

Suddenly, it was not unwelcomed that a number of the entries were now illegible due to the spilled ink.

Four steps across the room brought him to the hearth with his journal in hand. He drew aside the hearth-screen his sister, Georgiana, had painted for him. Ripping the last sheet from the journal, he cast it into the fire.

The edges browned then glowed red. With a flash, the page burst into blue and amber flames.

His nose wrinkled in protest as the acidic stench overpowered that of the burning coal and paper. Logic dictated the wet ink was responsible, but in his heart he knew it was the very scent of the previous evening’s exceptionally virulent, bitter, and unjust entry.

He tore another page from the book and tossed it into the flames. The next was promptly followed by another until every last harsh judgement he had recorded over the past fortnight was reduced to charred embers.

He nodded. Elizabeth had been correct in her refusal.

Returning to the window, he took strength in the new day as it broke over the horizon. Along with it came the opportunity to right his wrongs.

A few minutes later, he removed a key from his pocket, moved to his desk, and locked what was left of his journal in a lower drawer.

If he was to transform himself into a better man, one who might someday be worthy of Elizabeth’s affections, his efforts and reflections deserved a fresh volume, untarnished by his previous pride and prejudice.

 

Chapter 2

As Elizabeth Bennet placed the last of her gowns in her trunk, she was startled by a knock. She turned to the vanity mirror and pulled at the long, ebony curl that had escaped its pin. Tucking it into the knot of hair at the back of her head, she was satisfied she was as presentable as possible on such short notice before calling out, “Come.”

Jane opened the door. A thin, listless smile was pasted on her pale features. No pleasure shined from her now-hollowed eyes. Happiness had abandoned her sister four months ago, at the same moment she had realized Mr. Charles Bingley would probably never return to Netherfield Park.

Elizabeth successfully bit back the gasp that threatened every time she saw her sister since the gentleman departed. She forced a reciprocal grin, gestured for Jane to enter, and bent over her trunk to return to her packing. It was essential she keep herself occupied long enough to stifle the urge to react as she had ten days ago, when she first arrived at their aunt and uncle’s house in London after visiting their friend, Mrs. Charlotte Collins. Her elder sister had been mortified when Elizabeth rushed to her side and fussed, begged to know the truth about her state of health, and insisted Jane go above stairs to rest.

Without looking up from refolding the gown she had only just consigned to her trunk, Elizabeth asked, “Maria is not with you?”

Jane shook her head. “She has emptied her trunk and is busy repacking it. Apparently, Lady Catherine de Bourgh described the way a lady’s gowns should be placed. Our aunt’s maid did it incorrectly.”

A sense of relief settled over her. Without Maria Lucas in the room, perhaps she and Jane could discuss more openly Elizabeth’s holiday with their friend Charlotte, Charlotte’s marriage, and her new residence. They certainly could not do so in front of Charlotte’s sister.

Elizabeth chuckled. “Charlotte’s patroness is quite firm in her assertions. The only right way of doing anything is her way. Maria was impressed by Lady Catherine’s opinions far more readily than I was. Charlotte defers to Lady Catherine’s wishes, but I think it is to keep the peace.”

Should she tell Jane about Mr. Darcy’s proposal?

Jane was quiet for too long. Elizabeth straightened and turned to face her sister, who sat staring at a letter in her hands.

“This came for us today, Lizzy. It is from Mama.”

“What does she say?”

“She suggests we remain in London.”

To linger in Town would be a happy alternative to having to listen to their mother’s tirades, and it might be healthier for Jane, too. At least being here in London under their Aunt and Uncle Gardiner’s care seemed to have helped her sister recoup a small portion of the alarming amount of weight she had lost in recent months. However, though Jane was still the most beautiful of the five Bennet daughters, her heartbreak had now turned to melancholy. Would returning home be more beneficial than the demands of society in Town? Elizabeth prayed her dearest Jane would sink no deeper.

Elizabeth raised one eyebrow. “For how long?”

“At least until…” Jane’s soft voice trailed off. It must have something to do with Bingley since she flushed so deeply.

“May I see it, dear?”

Jane handed her the pages without lifting her eyes.

Elizabeth’s muscles tensed as she scanned past her mother’s criticism of her, which covered both sides of a sheet of paper. At seeing Jane’s name, she read more carefully. Elizabeth gasped. Their mother ordered Jane to remain in London until she saw Mr. Bingley? The missive went on to reminisce about the gentleman’s stay at his leased home in their neighbourhood, cataloguing every attention he had paid Jane for another two sheets.

How would Jane ever recover if their mother would not stop speaking of the man? Mayhap Elizabeth should ask Aunt Gardiner to talk to her mother about her harping on the subject.

“Did you not tell Mama about Miss Bingley’s, um… reserved manner when she finally returned your call?”

She stopped herself from repeating what their aunt had told her of the visit and from adding her own comments. According to Mrs. Gardiner, Miss Bingley’s behaviour was a clear insult to Jane and her. Bingley’s other sister, Mrs. Hurst, had not even accompanied Miss Bingley.

Jane shook her head. “I did not have the heart to tell her, Lizzy. You know how Mama was set on my marrying… him.” Jane sighed.

Poor Jane could not even say Mr. Bingley’s name!

Elizabeth said, “Papa would not have sent his carriage if he meant for us to stay.”

Jane nodded and returned her gaze to the letter. She furrowed her brow—probably dreading their mother’s reaction to their arrival at Longbourn late this afternoon. Jane’s expression was the as close to voicing an unkind opinion as she had ever come.

With the intention of changing the course of their conversation, Elizabeth shuffled the pages to the beginning of the message and handed it to Jane. “Perhaps I should not have spoken so generously of the Hunsford Parsonage when I wrote home.”

“I am sorry Mama does not understand why you refused Mr. Collins, Lizzy.”

Elizabeth shrugged. She would probably never hear the end of being the cause if they were turned out into the hedgerows when their father died—in the far distant future, God willing. She bit her lip. She hoped it would not happen as her mother feared, but after coming to know their cousin Mr. Collins, she expected the heir would claim possession of the estate soon after their father was buried.

“Mama is afraid, Lizzy. That is all.”

“Yes, I know.”

Jane whispered, “Had I not failed in my duty, she would have forgotten your refusal of Mr. Collins by now.”

“Oh, Jane!” Elizabeth stepped closer to take her sister’s hand in hers. “Please trust me—you have failed no one.”

Should she inform Jane of what Darcy told her? It would be helpful if Jane could understand she had done nothing wrong—that Bingley did love her, but his family and friends had intervened. It would also be beneficial to erase any doubt in her mind about the intentions of Caroline Bingley and Mrs. Hurst. They had befriended Jane due to their boredom whilst in the country, and nothing more. Elizabeth suspected neither lady ever held a warm emotion for anyone in their lives, including their good-natured brother. However, if she did apprise Jane of all this, she would have to admit to Darcy’s part in the scheme. She did not want Jane to think badly of him.

But why? She was sure he would rectify his error now that he knew of it, but there was something more. What was it?

Jane sniffed and wiped a tear from her cheek, recapturing Elizabeth’s attention. Guilt clenched at her heart. She had to tell her gentle sister something.

“What do you think Mama would say if she learned I refused Mr. Darcy, too?”

Her sister opened her eyes so wide, Elizabeth feared they might pop out of her head. But then she smiled genuinely for the first time in months. “You tease me, Lizzy.”

She shook her head. “He proposed to me in Kent. I refused him.”

Jane’s grin melted away, and she covered her open mouth with her hand.

Frowning, she replied, “It was not a romantic proposal. His manner of speaking shocked me so much, I am afraid I reacted unkindly. I accused him of things which I regret—especially concerning Mr. Wickham.”

“Lizzy! Tell me you did not confront him with Mr. Wickham’s tale of how Mr. Darcy abused him and acted against his father’s last will and testament?”

Elizabeth nodded. “I did. Knowing what I do now, I will never forgive myself for voicing such charges.” She pressed her lips together. No, she would not tell Jane about Mr. Darcy’s impropriety in writing her a letter, even if it was only to answer her accusations. “Mr. Darcy explained the truth to me, and I believed him. He did nothing wrong, just as you and father suspected. Additionally, to warn me of Mr. Wickham’s true character, he told me of a most unfortunate circumstance.” Elizabeth explained how the previous summer, Mr. Wickham had convinced Mr. Darcy’s sister to elope with him so he could gain control of her dowry, and how Mr. Darcy stopped it from happening.

Jane’s voice trembled when she cried out, “Poor Miss Darcy! But was Mr. Darcy certain Mr. Wickham’s affections were not sincere? When Mr. Wickham was among us in Hertfordshire, he seemed like a pleasant young man. Mayhap his part in the situation was misunderstood?”

Elizabeth chuckled. “No, Jane. It certainly was not. Even you, who never speaks a negative word against anyone, cannot believe it. Mr. Darcy was wholly in the right.” She shook her head. “It shames me to think of how I trusted Mr. Wickham only because his estimations of Mr. Darcy reinforced my own hastily formed first impressions. I never once thought of how improper it was for Mr. Wickham to reveal those opinions to the entire neighbourhood.”

She hesitated. Was Mr. Darcy also correct to advise Bingley against proposing to Jane? Something Charlotte warned her about while Bingley resided at Netherfield came to mind. Their friend had said Jane was so shy, it would be impossible for anyone who did not know her well to recognize her regard for Mr. Bingley.

And Mr. Darcy did say he had not detected Jane’s preference for his friend.

If Bingley had behaved as reservedly as Jane, would she have advised Jane to steer clear of Mr. Bingley?

Perhaps.

Elizabeth continued. “I am afraid I misjudged both gentlemen completely. I am thoroughly ashamed of myself, Jane.”

Could she be wrong about Mr. Darcy still? She had always imagined a man in love enough to propose marriage would think of nothing but a happy future together. After hearing his reservations enumerated, she had assumed he did not really care for her. She had even expected he would have little difficulty overcoming his regard if he concentrated on them again, and suggested he do so.

But what if he, like Jane, did not wear his emotions on his sleeve? Was it possible Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy truly loved her?

She tried to swallow past the knot forming in her throat.

After the insults she had flung at the gentleman, she could no longer hold his angry response against him. He had mentioned her family’s conduct at many of the neighbourhood outings they had attended together—behaviour that had also embarrassed her at the time. Had she assumed love was blind, that a gentleman of intelligence would not notice her family’s faults, as she did herself?

The more she replayed their argument in her mind, the more she realized that, although he seemed to be angry at the time, his replies could have been fueled by distress, as well. How deeply had her reproofs wounded him?

Had she wronged him so badly she could not expect to earn his forgiveness?

A feeling akin to panic rose in her chest.

Jane cleared her throat, and Elizabeth flinched. She had forgotten her sister was in the room.

Jane asked, “Do you regret refusing him, Lizzy?”

Elizabeth stared at Jane. Do I?

A knock on the door interrupted her thoughts. Jane rose and opened it. Their aunt stepped into the room.

“The men from your uncle’s warehouse are here to help load the trunks. Did you finish packing?” Mrs. Gardiner asked.

Jane nodded.

Elizabeth answered, “I only have to lock my trunk.”

Mrs. Gardiner smiled. “Shall we collect Miss Lucas and take a short walk down the street to the churchyard while they complete their task?”

Both young ladies agreed.

Jane followed Mrs. Gardiner from the room. As Elizabeth slipped into her pelisse and bonnet, she expected to spend quite a few more sleepless nights questioning her behaviour.

 

Chapter 3

As Darcy hurried through his ablutions, he planned his day. He had allowed too much time to pass since he discovered his error in judgement concerning Bingley and Miss Bennet. A longer delay was unacceptable. He would set things to rights this very day.

The butler found him preparing to leave the house. “Sir, the post just arrived.”

Darcy reached for the letters and moved into a parlour off the entry hall, seeking the light of a window. The missive on top came from his aunt and uncle’s estate in Derbyshire, and he recognized the script as that of his aunt, Lady Adelaide Fitzwilliam. She wrote that the earl’s health had worsened again. Darcy’s heart sunk heavily in his chest.

Next, he opened a letter from his cousin, the former Lady Bianca Fitzwilliam, who was currently with her new husband in Virginia on their wedding trip, arranged so she could meet the family of her husband’s American mother. Could the newlyweds return in time to see Bianca’s father before it was too late?

Lady Bianca wrote:

Dear Fitzwilliam,

I thank you for your recent communication informing me of my father’s illness. I regret to inform you that while Bartholomew was in the process of hurrying our return, he suffered an unfortunate accident. After several days of suffering, my husband passed on.

Now that Bartholomew is gone, my situation here is unendurable. I would like to come home, but I fear travelling by ship without a gentleman’s protection. While Bartholomew’s family would be happy to be rid of me, they are unwilling to offer me assistance in any way.

I realize my brothers are unable to escort me home. I beg of you to come for me, dear cousin.

Yours, etc.,

Bianca

The news of the death of Darcy’s friend came as a shock. He dropped into a nearby chair. A number of memories of pleasant times they had shared on the debate team at school, fencing, and at gatherings with friends came to mind. Bartholomew would be sorely missed by many.

He examined Bianca’s note once again, briefly wondering why she did not call on her brother Richard to come for her. Yes, he had recently taken a leave from the Army to visit with their Aunt Catherine in Kent, but surely his general would have understood and granted another leave of absence for a family emergency such as this. Perhaps Bianca was afraid he would not be given time enough with the family when their father passed away?

It was no matter. Of course he would attend Bianca.

He shook off the shock of his friend’s death and turned over the third letter. The sender could not be mistaken—only Bingley would scrawl the direction this poorly. It was a wonder the letter was delivered at all.

The news Bingley imparted was frustrating at best. He had penned his note just before he left London this morning, gone to Scarborough to visit family. Relieved his friend indicated his relation’s address, Darcy decided to send Bingley news of Bartholomew’s passing and inform him he must delay their house party at Pemberley until he returned from America. He dared not relay the information about Miss Bennet through a letter, though he would mention he wished to speak to Bingley as soon as was possible.

Perhaps it was better this way?

When they both returned to Town, if his friend continued to show signs of being affected by the loss of Miss Bennet, he would gladly admit to the failure in his conclusions regarding the lady’s affections. If it meant his friend’s aching heart would heal, as well as Miss Bennet’s, he would concede to his mistake.

But mayhap he would not have to tell Bingley at all? Bingley would have opportunities to spend time with other ladies. If he was no longer interested in Miss Bennet by then, so much the better. Why risk such a long-standing acquaintance?

Darcy gasped and rose from his chair. The effects of the dream were already fading. If he was not careful, he would fall back into old habits. He could not allow it!

No matter what happened—even if Bingley was engaged to someone else when Darcy returned from America—Darcy would tell Bingley of his errors in judgement during their time in Hertfordshire. Even if it meant losing Bingley’s friendship in the process.

Darcy stared out the window for several minutes, planning all he would have to accomplish before he departed for America. He had a few stops to make this morning, and the sooner, the better. Whenever his man could get him on a ship leaving harbour, he needed to be prepared. And he would have to arrange permissions for his steward to handle all his business matters while he was away.

Making his way to his study, he rang for the butler and began writing. When Parkman appeared, Darcy held up a finger indicating he should wait as he signed his letter.

“This is for Lady Adelaide; send it express to Matlock as soon as possible. Also, Hughes should pack my trunks appropriate for a voyage to America. Dispatch a man to the docks to procure passage on the first ship going to the general area of Virginia. Speed is of the essence, not comfort. I am unsure as to when I will return, though I shall not dally in America. If I must, I will wait for more comfortable accommodations for our return trip, as I will be escorting Lady Bianca home. Miss Darcy and Mrs. Annesley shall go to Matlock to stay with our aunt and uncle whilst I am away. Have my sister’s maid commence their packing. When Miss Darcy returns from the modiste, please inform her and her companion I must speak to them as soon as I return from my business in Town.” He rose from his chair and picked up his gloves. “I planned to walk to my attorney’s office, but since there is little time, have the carriage readied.”

“Sir, your attorney is not in his office on Fridays.”

Darcy closed his eyes and took a deep, calming breath. He dashed off a quick note to his attorney, informing Mr. Lynsey he would like to take advantage of the man’s offer to stop by his home whenever necessary. “Will you send a man to Lynsey’s house on Gracechurch Street with this letter immediately? I will return here to hear his answer after I make a few stops.” Once the note was sealed, he began another. “And send a boy to the Clayworths’ home with this. I must decline their invitation to dine tonight.” He looked up at Parkman. “Send in Mrs. Martin.”

Parkman bowed and left the room as Darcy wrote another note to Cassidy, his steward in London. Mrs. Martin knocked just as he sealed it.

“Ah, Mrs. Martin, have you been brought up to date on what must be done?” He waited for the housekeeper to answer in the affirmative before continuing. “Since I have business which I cannot delay until I return from America, Mr. Cassidy and I shall take a tray in my study this evening.” He waved his hand, gesturing to the mounds of papers on his desk and raised his eyebrows. “Keep us well supplied with coffee and tea. We shall work well into the night so he may know how to act while I am away.” He took up one stack. “Respond to these invitations. Tell them I will be unable to attend for I have been called out of the country unexpectedly.”

Mrs. Martin took the correspondence. “Yes, sir. Will Hughes accompany you to America?”

Darcy vacillated. He hated to drag his valet with him across the Atlantic, but he might need him. “Yes. Please inform him that he should pack a trunk for himself, as well.” Glancing at the clock, he pulled on one glove. “I must not linger any longer.”

“Yes, sir.” Mrs. Martin curtsied. Following her from the room, Darcy quit the house.

After visiting shops to acquire a few things he might need while away, he had his driver pull up at Darcy House. The footman approached the carriage directly, delivering a note from Mr. Lynsey, which said he was always welcome to call on him at his home. He tapped the roof three times with his cane, and the carriage lurched to a start.

The rhythmic clip-clop of hooves was mesmerizing. As Darcy stared out the window, he saw nothing.

Several weeks ago in Kent, as he was waiting to be announced at Hunsford Parsonage, he had happened to see a letter on the table in the entranceway addressed to Miss Jane Bennet in London. The exact address had stood out to him because he recognized it as being on the same block as his attorney’s home. It was not in Cheapside, where Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst often insisted the Bennets’ relations in trade resided, but near to it.

Guilt pinched at his soul as the coach made its way across town to Lynsey’s residence. He could have easily written what needed to be said in a note and left it at the attorney’s office, but if he went to Lynsey’s home, there was a slight possibility he would catch a glimpse of Elizabeth. It would ease his mind a great deal if that were so, for he knew he would not be comfortable without seeing her—alive—after that dream.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A Lesson Hard Learned

is now available on Amazon!

 

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