Chapter 1- First Impressions

Elizabeth was furious with herself. She did not remember taking a selfish decision all her life. But now, she contemplated whether she should have stayed at Longbourn. She couldn't bear the thought of her poor sister in a sick bed, without a family member. It was all for Jane. But Miss Bingley and the proud Mr. Darcy made her stay at Netherfield unbearable. All the comments about her walking alone were discussed, oblivious to her presence. Miss Bingley suggested that her father should consider borrowing funds for another carriage. Elizabeth could not stand the pompous people anymore. But, she thought of her dearest sister.

I must compose myself. Jane's recovery is my only priority.

If Miss Bingley vexed her by talking. Mr. Darcy vexed her by staring. From his insulting remarks at the assembly, Elizabeth was certain that he was scrutinizing her tolerable appearance, and for not being handsome enough to tempt him, or anybody.

Rarely was Elizabeth a poor judgment of people's minds. Darcy's thoughts were the opposite. He kept staring at her as if he had not seen a woman in his 28 years of life like Elizabeth. Yes, it was "Elizabeth" to him, not "Miss Elizabeth Bennet". He found a deep sense of peace when he addressed her in his thoughts by her Christian name.

It was two weeks since he saw her first. At the assembly he had looked at her only to criticize, he commented on her being tolerable without even glancing at her. She was not tolerable indeed, she was tempting. Tempting in mind, body, and soul. With one look at her smiling face, he felt inner peace and happiness. His mind did not stop painting happy images of her smiling at him in his Pemberley estate, looking at the lake holding his hand and laughing happily with Georgiana. He couldn't stop. He knew he could not offer for her. He would not be able to tie in with that family of hers. Not just they were lower in status, but their manners gave him a headache, except for Elizabeth and her elder sister that is. He saw her the second time at Lucas's, and she refused to dance with him, never in his life, a woman had done that. Guess she was no normal woman; she had her own decisions and preferences which she exposed to the world without a second thought. That impressed him. She didn't care who he was, she did not want to dance with him, and he wondered why. He saw her the third time on his ride to Oakham mount. She was sitting on top of a wide wedge looking over the hills with a book in hand. She looked so beautiful. He wanted to ride up the hill and greet her, but he was not confident about speaking to her without expressing something more on his side. So, he rode back to Netherfield, only to find her walking towards him the next morning. He remembered his conversation with her.

"Miss Bennet."

"Mr. Darcy."

He looked at her gasping. She looked as though she was a character out of a story, her eyes bright, cheeks pink, hair all messy in the wind, her eyes sparkling.

"I have come to enquire after my sister Mr. Darcy."

"On foot?" He smirked.

"As you can see."

She was neither angry nor embarrassed at his enquiry on her mode of getting to Netherfield. Another lady would have apologized for her appearance, elaborated on how she was concerned for her sister and walked all the way, and may even have tried to faint in his arms. But Elizabeth was unlike any woman he met in his social circles in town. She did not try to impress him with fluttering eyelashes like Miss Bingley. She was kind, witty, and unassuming.

He led her into the house and went to his room. She would be here to tend her sister for a few days. What harm would it do to enjoy her company? He thought. He cared for her. But he could not allow anything more to develop in his heart. He could never lower his status and form an attachment with her. He was certain that he would leave Netherfield in a few weeks and forget about her.

Darcy never realised that he would not be able to leave, nor would his heart obey his rational thoughts. Yes! Never!