I should be working on "A Darkened Mind"...but I got writers' block and this idea sort of came out of the blue.

Chapter One

Mrs. Bennet could not believe her ears. Not only was Mr. Bennet not forcing Elizabeth to marry Mr. Collins, he was forbidding her to!

It made her nerves run wild and her head to hurt. She had been standing the parlor for exactly seventeen minutes before she realized that she was ranting to no one.

Both Elizabeth and Mr. Bennet were gone and Mrs. Bennet was distraught.

She collapsed into the armchair and cried in self-pity before she noticed Mary's entrance.

"Good day, Mama," Mary spoke as she crossed by her bawling mother.

She had a book in her hands, "Mr. Collins has returned Fordyce's Sermons to me. He's leaving back to his parish in a few hours."

She was about to sit at her desk and read her book when Mrs. Bennet realized something.

"Oh Mary! My favorite daughter!" Mrs. Bennet cried as she went to embrace Mary.

"What did I do to deserve this assault?" Mary asked, dryly, as she continued to read the book with one hand and hug her mother with the other.

Mrs. Bennet let go of her daughter and said, an idea forming in her head, "Lizzy has declined Mr. Collins' generous offer of marriage!"

Mary smirked as she replied, "Surprise, surprise…"

Mrs. Bennet scowled, "Out of all the things that you could have inherited from your father, why did you inherit his humor?"

Mary responded as she sat at her writing desk, "Well, that I cannot answer, Mama. Now can you tell me why Mr. Collins' proposal to Lizzy has anything to do with me?"

Mrs. Bennet laughed and said, "Because, my sweet Mary, you are now the answer to my problems."

Mary raised her eyebrow in amusement, "Am I now?"

Mrs. Bennet smiled, "Yes, because, you are next in line."

Wary of her mother's intention, she glanced at her, no longer smirking, "What do you mean?"

Mrs. Bennet grinned in excitement, "Jane is predisposed, Elizabeth declined him, so in seniority, you are next!"

Mary's face showed panic as she put her book down, "Next for what?"

Mrs. Bennet giggled as she hit Mary with her handkerchief, "To marry Mr. Collins, silly."

Mary's eyes widened as she sunk back in her chair and hid herself from behind the book, "That is one of the most silliest things you have come up with, Mama."

"Oh, what are you talking about, Mary?" Mrs. Bennet asked as she smiled at her daughter, "You shall attract the attention of Mr. Collins, he will ask you to marry him, and you will be the mistress of Longbourn. And finally, I can sleep at night."

Mary bit her lower lip in thought as she tried explaining to her mother why this plan would not work, "Mama, Mr. Collins and I barely know each other."

"You played chess many times over the week."

"We have so little in common."

"You love books, he loves books. He is proud, you are proud. You will have much to talk of."

"He's a clergyman."

"So? You love men of the church. Remember that nice priest you courted when you were sixteen."

"He hanged himself."

"But it was fun while it lasted, wasn't it?"

"Is there a point to this conversation, Mama?" Mary responded rudely as she stood up and stared at her, angrily.

Mrs. Bennet started to take the hairpins out of Mary's hair, "If you just let your hair down…you would look very pleasing."

Mary growled in irritation, "Stop it, Mama."

"You have nice hair. You have your father's hair. Nice chestnut brown hair. It's grown a bit thin from being restrained…" Mrs. Bennet trailed off as she glanced at the doorway.

Mr. Collins entered the room and glanced at Mary. He smiled and bowed, "Miss Mary…"

Mary blushed, flustered, "Mr. Collins…" She quickly curtsied.

Mrs. Bennet smiled as she looked at Mr. Collins, "Oh, Mr. Collins. Won't you stay for a while? Just a few more days?"

Mr. Collins said as he walked over to the two women, "That would be kind of you to suggest, however I must not impose on you anymore."

Mrs. Bennet said, happily, "Impose all you want, Mr. Collins. I assure you that there is more at Longbourn than meets the eye."

Mr. Collins stared at Mary and said, as if Mrs. Bennet said nothing, "You look nice, Mary. Are you trying a new hairstyle?"

Mary blushed, "O-Oh…Well, you see, Mr. Collins, I…I read that hair is something not to be restrained and that it must flow free to prevent…to prevent…"

She was a lost at words for the first time in a long time. She was nervous and it took effort to force each word out of her mouth. Mary had no idea why she felt this way around her cousin.

It was confusing, it was thrilling. It was humiliating, it was pleasurable. It was so many things.

It reminded Mary of being in love.

What do you think? ^^