The Great Pick Up Line
Take it away Jenetta!
The band struck up a Benny Goodman number and it took my mind to another place. They were a poor imitation of the original, but it didn’t matter. This was music you could move to. In fact, it gave you no choice, and for a moment I was fearless. Through the crowd of bodies, I advanced towards her. A peal of laughter died on her lips as I arrived, and her friend also turned to face me. There was a silence which, logic tells me, was shorter than it felt, before Elizabeth’s face softened into a polite smile and she spoke, straining to speak above the din.
“Group Captain Darcy, this is my friend Charlotte. Charlotte, this is Group Captain Darcy. I found him in the dark a few weeks ago, walking between Longbourn and Oakham Mount, and it would appear that he was not shot by poachers, for here he is.”
After this somewhat cheeky introduction, she was silent.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Charlotte.” I shook her hand and she appeared a pleasant woman, albeit the sort that I would not otherwise have noticed. “You haven’t actually introduced yourself to me, but I’m told that you are called Elizabeth.”
“That’s right. My mother will tell you I was named after the Queen, or Duchess of York, as she then was, because I was born on her wedding day. But then Mummy does have rather high ideas!” The girls’ eyes met and laughed. She looked back to me. “That’s the only link, I assure you.”
“Good. Well. I don’t know how the Queen is at the jitterbug, but may I?”
With only the briefest of sideways glances to her friend, she put down her drink and took my hand as I led her onto the floor with the other couples already going like wheels. Her hand in mine was warm and soft. The music roared up around us and our bodies fell into its slip stream, moving at speed and with purpose, somehow avoiding collision, pounding to the beat. Her figure was small and lithe and had no difficulty finding the rhythm. I watched the expression of slight surprise creep across her face. This was a common reaction and I had foreseen it. Nobody ever expected a man like me to be the master of this fast, fashionable dance. I had learned it attending socials with USAF men shortly after their entry into the war and so found myself on the right side of the trend as it became increasingly popular with the British. It suited me, in that its frenetic nature did not allow for conversation. One was too busy trying to keep up with the swing and keep one’s partner from certain injury to talk. Silence between dancing partners was the socially accepted norm and usually it suited me perfectly.
This wordless frenzy, however, was over too soon. As the band blended into a new dance with a new tempo, we stopped, and began to retreat. My hand hovered at the small of her back as we moved through the crowd, not touching, and my eyes fixed on the sight of her delicate shoulders. When she reached the bar, she turned and opened her mouth to speak, but nothing came out, like a gramophone that hadn’t been wound up. Was it breathlessness or some other incapacity? The tiniest bead of sweat had formed at her hairline and the swell of her bust rose and fell rapidly, teasingly. A glimpse of a white bra strap was visible where her dress had moved in the dance and her thick hair was in some disarray. For an unguarded moment, I imagined it even more so. It felt wicked to look at her in this way, but I did. I could not tear my eyes away.
Reason to Hope by Jenetta James,
in the anthology The Darcy Monologues
“Reason to Hope” by Jenetta James’ short story in the anthology “The Darcy Monologues.”
Group Captain Darcy and Squadron Leader Bingley are stationed at Meryton in this story set during WWII. A chance encounter with Lizzy, some dancing later (yes, in this story, Darcy likes to dance!), and Darcy is smitten. But this is wartime, and Lizzy suddenly finds herself in a distressing situation involving her family. Darcy springs into action, and the two of them find themselves on a road-trip and rescue mission. But this “pickup line” scene is from the dance.
“The Darcy Monologues”
“You must allow me to tell you…”
For over two hundred years, Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy has captivated readers’ imaginations as the ultimate catch. Rich. Powerful. Noble. Handsome. And yet, as Miss Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” is established through Elizabeth Bennet’s fine eyes, how are we to know his mind? How does Darcy progress from “She is tolerable: but not handsome enough to tempt me” to “I thought only of you”?
In this romance anthology, fifteen Austenesque authors assemble to sketch Darcy’s character through a series of re-imaginings, set in the Regency through contemporary times—from faithful narratives to the fanciful. Herein “The Darcy Monologues,” the man himself reveals his intimate thoughts, his passionate dreams, and his journey to love—all told with a previously concealed wit and enduring charm.
Stories by: Susan Adriani * Sara Angelini * J. Marie Croft * Karen M Cox * Jan Hahn * Jenetta James * Lory Lilian * KaraLynne Mackrory * Beau North * Ruth Phillips Oakland * Natalie Richards * Sophia Rose * Joana Starnes * Melanie Stanford * Caitlin Williams
About the Editor Christina Boyd
Christina Boyd wears many hats as she is an editor, a contributor to Austenprose, and a ceramicist under her own banner, Stir Crazy Mama’s Artworks. A life member of Jane Austen Society of North America, Christina lives in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest with her dear Mr. B, two busy teenagers, and a retriever named BiBi. Visiting Jane Austen’s England was made possible by actor Henry Cavill when she won the Omaze experience to meet him atop the London Eye in the spring of 2017. True story. You can Google it.
Twitter: Christina Boyd (@xtnaboyd)
Goodreads: The Darcy Monologues