Prologue

The winding country roads were like a soothing balm after being out of country for the past three years. Elizabeth wondered at the sereneness of a slower paced life compared to the hustle and bustle of city-life in America. Mrs. Bennett had assured her she would like Pittsburgh but as having been born and raised in England, in an outlying suburb of London, Elizabeth was a bit shocked at the loud brashness of Pennsylvania's metropolis. Sure, London was a loud city too, but compared to an American city, London was still a small town in respects to its people and attitude. Here she was though, returned and not hurrying her way home to Longbourn. It was late in the summer, the clouds were skidding across a deep blue sky, and the temperature was moderate for this portion of England. Unlike back in Pennsylvania, the heat and humidity was stifling.

"Stop here." Elizabeth told the driver. She had taken a cab from Heathrow to go home, instead of wasting time in looking for a rental. Grabbing her bag, she grabbed some money and handed it to the driver. "You have the address?"

"Yes, ma'am." He told her, his cockney accent thick.

"Take my things there. Someone will be there to take them. Thank you for the drive."

"We are still three miles out, ma'am."

"It will be a nice walk." She smiled. "After the long flight, a good walk will do to stretch out the legs. I need to familiarize myself with the old lanes after being gone for so long."

"Won't they ask where you are if only your things arrive?" the cab driver asked, showing a little discomfort about going to his destination without his fare.

"I texted my sister, she knows where I am. Don't worry, things will be fine."

"Whatever you say, miss." The driver pocketed his fare money and left Elizabeth standing on the side of the narrow country road.

Shouldering her handbag across her chest, Elizabeth turned onto the well-worn tractor road between two expanses of fields. She knew this lane intimately, as it bordered the outermost edges of Netherfield, an old manor that had stood empty for quite some time without any residents. The previous family that had resided on the estate had since passed on for many years, leaving the lands in the hands of a solicitor's office in London. There were no living relatives that could take the estate. So, while grants or sale notices went out to find new tenants, Netherfield sat empty.

As she walked down the lane, Elizabeth took notice of someone riding on the lands of Netherfield, which drew her curiosity. Generally, no one trespassed on the property out of respect for the former family that owned the lands, and it now belonging to a lawyer's office. However, here, she caught the silhouette of a rider cantering across the rise of the hill not a quarter of a mile from her. The rider stopped and seemed to be looking at her. She continued to walk slowly, watching the horse rider on the hill. When they seemed to do nothing but stand there, Elizabeth shook her head and continued her stroll through farming lanes toward Longbourn. With a grin, she broke out into a loping jog, happy to be home once again.

-o-

The rider of the dark horse watched the young woman break into a jog and wondered at it. He was out riding the perimeter of the estate for his friend, looking for any break in the property lines that needed attending, and to assess what needed to be done to get the estate back in order. Charles Bingly had a good eye when it came to property and when he showed the advertisement in the estate sale section of the paper it drew Darcy's curiosity. It was far enough out from London to be considered country but close enough to town that a short drive in wouldn't be imposing.

There were outlying neighbors a couple miles apart but still distant enough that his friend would have his privacy. However, seeing this young woman walk the farm lane had him wonder what she was doing out here. A small lift at the corner of his mouth came up while he watched the carefree jog of the woman, the dark auburn hair working free of its tie. Clucking at his mount, Darcy sped up the canter and followed parallel to the running figure on the lane as far as he could.

Just being a horseback was exhilarating and provided a sense of freedom from the mundane worries of the outside world. Playing this little game of catch-up with the woman released a little bit of playfulness in Darcy's nature that he kept buried deep within. It was short lived as the creek quickly approached, bisecting the outer limit of the property from the neighbor's field. Darcy continued to watch the woman jog and then slow to a quick skipping.

Sighing, Darcy flicked the reins in his hand and turned his horse back toward Netherfield and his awaiting friend.

Authors Note:

This is a fan fiction based on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, set in the modern era. The characters are the property of Jane Austen. There will be some retaining the formality of the characters but some modern ideals will be woven in to make them more approachable. The lines between classes still exist in the day but are blurred due to many profitable careers available.

Enjoy!