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Mr. Darcy's Phoenix by Lari Ann O'Dell Book

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Mr. Darcy's Phoenix by Lari Ann O'Dell Read Book Online And Download

Overview: A phoenix brings them together. Will a curse keep them apart?


When the hauntingly beautiful song of a phoenix lures Elizabeth Bennet to the Netherfield gardens, she has a vision of an unknown gentleman. He whispers her name with such tenderness that she wonders if this man is her match. Unfortunately, her gift of prophecy has never been exactly reliable.

Mr. Darcy is a celebrated fire mage, the master of Pemberley, and the man from her vision. But he is not tender; he is haughty, proud, and high-handed. His insult of her during the Summer Solstice celebration makes her determined to dislike him in spite of her love for Dante, his phoenix familiar.

After Mr. Darcy is called away by his duties, Elizabeth’s magic runs wild, and it is only their reunion at Rosings that offers her any hope of controlling it. They are drawn together by their love of magical creatures and their affinity for fire. But Elizabeth soon has another vision about Mr. Darcy, one that may portend a grave danger to his life.


Can Darcy and Elizabeth overcome misunderstandings, curses, and even fate itself?


Mr. Darcy's Phoenix by Lari Ann O'Dell Book Read Online And Download Epub Digital Ebooks Buy Store Website Provide You.
Mr. Darcy's Phoenix by Lari Ann O'Dell Book





Mr. Darcy's Phoenix by Lari Ann O'Dell Book Read Online Chapter One


“Netherfield Park is let at last!” Mrs. Bennet cried as she returned from her visit with Lady Lucas. 

All five of Mrs. Bennet’s children were in the sitting room, having recently returned home from school. Mary was poring over a book of sermons. The two youngest, Kitty and Lydia, sat in the window seat gossiping about the goings on in Meryton. Elizabeth and Jane were diligently working on the mending. Each of the girls looked up from their occupations as their mother bustled into the sunlit drawing room. 

“Did you not hear me, my dears? Netherfield Park is let at last, and we shall have a new neighbor!”

Mr. Bennet appeared from the direction of his library. “My dear Mrs. Bennet, I do believe you could be heard by everyone in the county.”

Mrs. Bennet ignored her husband’s barb, too eager to deliver her news. “Mr. Bingley arrived in the neighborhood yesterday. He is three-and-twenty, handsome, worth five thousand a year, and the housekeeper at Netherfield says he is also a mage with an affinity for nature! How well he will do for our Jane. We must all support such an advantageous match.”

Jane turned scarlet, and the vase of flowers beside her drooped ever so slightly. “Mama, you should not declare that I will marry a perfect stranger. We may not suit. Or he may prefer Elizabeth.” 

Their mother’s eyes grew large as saucers in reaction to such a ludicrous statement. “Jane, you should not doubt yourself. I have always said you cannot have been so beautiful for nothing. As if any man of taste would prefer Lizzy. She is wild, headstrong, and outspoken.” Mrs. Bennet began to wring her hands as she paced about the room.

“Mama, if Jane will not pursue him, I shall. Lord how fun it shall be,” crowed Lydia. 

“Lydia, Mr. Bingley is not for you. You are much too young. In any case, you will return to school with Mary and Kitty after the summer solstice. You must focus your efforts on honing your magic and accomplishments, so that you may one day find a husband as eligible as Mr. Bingley.”

Lydia glared at her mother before returning to her spot at the window. Unlike her elder sisters, Lydia did not look favorably upon returning to Madame Hawthorne’s Seminary of Magic. 

“Mr. Bennet, you must call upon Mr. Bingley as soon as possible. Sir William has already seen him, as well as Mrs. Long. I will not have Charlotte Lucas or one of Mrs. Long’s nieces take away this chance from my dearest girl.”

“If I could be assured such a visit would ensure a marriage, I would do so immediately. However, as these sorts of schemes are often unsuccessful, I see no reason to trouble myself,” Mr. Bennet said from his chair by the fire. 

“Mr. Bennet, how can you be so thoughtless of your own children and their future? If one of our daughters does not marry well, we shall all be thrown out in the hedgerows when you are gone.”

“I flatter myself, my dear, that I shall outlive you, and then I shall finally have some peace,” Mr. Bennet said.

“Papa!” Jane said. “You should not speak so. You are both hale and hearty. The entail is a distant threat.” Ever the peacemaker, Jane always tried to soothe the conflict between her parents. Mr. Bennet had tired of respecting his wife in the early years of their marriage, and poor Mrs. Bennet was often too obtuse to understand his japes and jabs. But the derision in his tone and the general unhappiness he displayed when in his wife’s company was clear to everyone. Their friends and neighbors were under no illusions that the Bennets had a happy marriage. 

Elizabeth idly wondered if this Mr. Bingley was the man from her vision. If so, her mother would be extremely put out. Jane would never be so petty as to blame Elizabeth if he showed preference for her over Jane, but her mother was just the sort of lady who would. 

In a rare moment of understanding, Mrs. Bennet declared, “I shall not leave this earth until all my daughters are happily situated. If you truly wished for peace, Mr. Bennet, you would do everything in your power to ensure the welfare of your children in this way.”

“I cannot argue with your logic, Mrs. Bennet. I shall visit Mr. Bingley at my earliest convenience in pursuit of our new common goal.” He snapped his book shut, departed the room, and the ladies heard him ring for Mr. Hill. 

A look of triumph flashed over Mrs. Bennet’s features. She and her husband might not be well matched, but she was determined to see her daughters married off.

 

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The docks were alive with activity. Fisherman were setting off to make their daily catch, ships were arriving and departing, sailors were whistling as they swabbed decks and loaded and unloaded cargo. The scent of saltwater hung in the air.

Darcy strode toward the dock where the HMS Patagonia was moored. He stepped upon the gangplank to board the ship and meet the captain, a highly decorated naval officer by the name of Admiral Crook. 

Darcy announced himself to the first mate of the vessel and waited for the admiral’s arrival. Admiral Crook was a man of five-and-forty, and dressed in his finest garb, his epaulets shining brilliantly in the morning sun. “You are Mr. Darcy, I take it?”

Darcy shook his hand with a firm grasp. “Yes, I am Fitzwilliam Darcy. How fares my cousin?”

“He is recovering. Shall I take you to him?”

Darcy nodded, and they began their descent to the cabin of the ship. As they walked, Admiral Crook warned Darcy that Colonel Fitzwilliam was still weak from his injury. “He is well, and mostly needs to rest and build his strength again. But wyvern wounds are difficult, and he may require magic for further healing. Unfortunately, we did not have a practitioner of healing magic aboard.”

Darcy had never been particularly adept at healing, but he could employ a healer as well as a physician. “I will ensure that he has the best care possible. Is he safe to be moved?”

“Aye. I had my men prepare a litter.” They stopped in front of a door, and Admiral Crook motioned for Darcy to enter.

“Darcy, is it truly you?” Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam asked, jolting upright. The water in the pewter ewer beside the bed splashed over the rim. Richard appeared chagrined, but in truth, Darcy barely noticed his cousin’s lack of control.

“It has been far too long,” Darcy said clasping his cousin’s hand in greeting.

“I never want to leave England again,” Richard grumbled. “There are no damned wyverns here, after all.”

Darcy raised a brow. “Are the wyverns worse than our Aunt Catherine?”

Colonel Fitzwilliam smiled faintly. “Perhaps not, but dear Aunt Catherine has yet to cause me bodily harm, so I am inclined to declare her preferable to the Portuguese wyverns.” 

“I have never heard of any person describing Lady Catherine as preferable,” Darcy said dryly. Lady Catherine de Bourgh was a terrible old witch, through and through, using her magic to intimidate all around her into bending to her will. Her one saving grace was that she had never delved into the black arts. Richard was fortunate that he had been on the Continent over Easter, therefore missing their annual pilgrimage to her estate in Kent. Darcy had managed to escape his commitment when an emergency at Pemberley had arisen, but he was certain he would have to visit his aunt before the year ended. 

“And how is the old dragon?” Richard asked.

“The same as ever—insisting that I marry Cousin Anne and fuming each time I refuse.”

“One would think that she would concede the battle by now. No man would wish for such a wife, or such a mother. Tell me, Darcy, did you ever give into temptation and unleash your fire upon her? Those awful draperies in her sitting room deserve to be ashes.”      

“Of course not,” Darcy said. As a fire mage, he knew it was absolutely crucial to keep his affinity and his emotions under tight control. “I would not strike at a member of my own family, no matter how tempting it might be.”

Richard grinned. “How I have missed that stern expression, Darcy. Now it feels as though I am truly home. Please tell me you will grant me quarter at Darcy House. If I go to Matlock House, my mother will smother me.”

“You are always welcome in my home. But I hope you will do me the honor of accompanying me to stay with Bingley and his family in Hertfordshire next week if you are well enough. I cannot stand the company of Caroline Bingley without an ally.”

“No. I do not suppose you could,” Richard agreed with a smirk. “I believe the summer in the country away from London and my mother is just what I need to recover. I shall be pleased to join you.”

“Excellent,” Darcy said. “Now, shall we get you off this ship?”

The water leapt from the ewer, displaying Richard’s eagerness to set foot upon land. 

 

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“Miss Jane, Miss Lizzy, Miss Blackthorne is here to call,” Mrs. Hill announced as she entered the Bennets’ small sitting room. 

“Please, show her in,” Jane said with excitement.

Elizabeth jumped to her feet. “Lucy! I did not think you would arrive for another week.”

Jane and Elizabeth moved to embrace her. The three ladies clung to each other, though it had scarcely been a fortnight since they had last been in company. Miss Lucy Blackthorne was a young lady of one-and-twenty and a dear friend to Jane and Elizabeth from school. Her affinity for water was unusually strong. This talent had initially brought her into the acquaintance of Jane Bennet, and the following year, when Elizabeth joined them at Madame Hawthorne’s, they became an inseparable trio. 

Lucy clasped Elizabeth’s hands. “Well, Lizzy, I am not visiting after all.”

“You are not?” Elizabeth asked, confused.

“No, indeed. I have just purchased a cottage in Meryton.” Lucy’s grandfather had left this life behind in April. Lucy was his sole heir, and she now had a fortune of twenty thousand pounds. “And now we all shall live in the same place again, and what a grand time we shall have here.”

Lucy had more often than not accompanied the Bennet sisters home on school holidays, as her ailing grandfather had been her only remaining relative and was rarely well enough to host her. Rather than insist on Lucy coming home to nurse him, the late Mr. Blackthorne had urged his granddaughter to form close ties with her school friends. As such, Lucy had met all the friends and neighbors of the Bennets and would be able to quickly establish herself within the community. 

“With your fortune, you could have taken residence in town,” Jane observed.

“Town holds no allure when my dearest friends reside in Hertfordshire. I am now neighbor to your Aunt Phillips. She called on me within an hour of my arrival.”

Elizabeth and Jane shared a glance. They loved their Aunt Phillips, but the lady made their mother appear a wit. “You will never know a more officious neighbor,” Elizabeth teased.

“But she has a good heart,” Jane said, “and likely believes herself to have the best of intentions.”

“She certainly had many opinions to offer on the topic of maintaining a charming dwelling as a single young lady,” Lucy said with a smile. 

“Which may not be of use, as our aunt has never been independent herself,” Elizabeth said.

“You must both come to call once my home is in order,” Lucy said. Jane and Elizabeth eagerly assented, and the ladies spent an agreeable hour together making plans for the summer months. Just as Lucy was leaving, Mrs. Bennet, Kitty, and Lydia entered the sitting room.

“Oh, Miss Blackthorne, you arrived early,” cried Mrs. Bennet. “Our guest room has not been prepared. I must ring for Hill.” Though her tone was polite, it was clear that Mrs. Bennet was unhappy with the inconvenience.

“I thank you, Mrs. Bennet, but it is not necessary. I have taken a house in Meryton and will not be in need of your fine guest room.”

“A house in Meryton? You are the heiress who moved next to my sister?”

Mrs. Bennet was not in possession of magic, which was a blessing, as Elizabeth could tell that her mother was none too pleased about an heiress taking up residence in Meryton just as Netherfield Park was let at last. No one had met Mr. Bingley yet, but Elizabeth knew her mother already was scheming to throw the nature mage together with Jane. 

“I hope to repay your family’s kind hospitality to me,” Lucy said politely. “I would have been quite lost without it, for there is no one dearer to me than Lizzy and Jane.”

The compliment to her daughters could not fail to gratify Mrs. Bennet. “That is very kind of you, Miss Blackthorne. I hope you find your house in Meryton all that is charming.”

Lucy thanked her and took her leave. When she had left the vestibule, Lydia cried, “Oh, drat. Aunt Phillips said your friend has twenty-five thousand pounds to her name. Why someone with such a fortune would choose to settle here, I shall never know, and now she is sure to have Mr. Bingley, when he ought to have chosen one of us!”

Though Mrs. Bennet was likely thinking along similar lines, she did appear slightly mortified by her youngest daughter’s outburst. “Lydia, no man could look at any other lady when in company with your sister Jane. But being connected with a wealthy heiress will surely improve the chances of making a good match. We must all be kind to Miss Blackthorne when she visits.”

The entire scene embarrassed Elizabeth and Jane mightily, but they knew it would only make Lucy laugh. Lucy had declared that she would not marry for years. Elizabeth might have mentioned this fact to her mother, but Mrs. Bennet had already moved on to discussing at length the rest of the gossip she and her youngest daughters had obtained at Aunt Phillips’s, none of which was any interest to Elizabeth.

 

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Two nights later, Elizabeth sat nestled beneath a blanket on the window seat in her bedroom. Tomorrow was Thursday, which was, according to the gossips in Meryton, the day that would bring Mr. Bingley to the neighborhood, along with a large party of mages. Such a group ought to be of interest to Elizabeth, but as such, she could only wonder if the man from her vision would be a member of the party. He must be important to her somehow. She had never experienced a vision of someone she had never met before. Nor could she ignore the belief that her encounter with the beautiful phoenix had brought on the vision. 

As if summoned by her thoughts, the hauntingly beautiful strains of the phoenix song drifted through the open window, filling her heart with joyful anticipation. Elizabeth glanced at the clock on the wall. It was half eleven, and venturing out into the summer air would be foolhardy, but she could not resist the idea of spying the phoenix again. A quarter of an hour later, Elizabeth drew the hood of her cloak up and stole away from the house. 

 

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Darcy focused all his attention upon the leaf at his feet, honing his concentration upon the burning center. It took immense willpower to maintain flames without allowing them to engulf the leaf, and it was just the sort of exercise Darcy needed after spending an entire evening in company with the wretched Caroline Bingley. Even Richard, the son of an earl, could not distract the unscrupulous fortune hunter. Much as he valued his friendship with Bingley, a marriage to Miss Bingley would be insupportable. She would likely curse him and half his staff into an early grave. Caroline Bingley’s spell work was rudimentary at best, and she had no affinity for any of the elements. Despite her lack of remarkable magical talent, the lady believed she was a perfect match for Darcy and made that wish plain whenever they were in company together. 

The flames within the leaf crackled, and Darcy refocused his attention to keep the fire constrained. Dante sat perched on a low hanging bough beside him, singing softly and watching the wrought iron gate as if waiting for someone to appear. Darcy absently stroked a finger down Dante’s soft plumage, feeling a surge of comfort and ease at the touch. 

A rustling in the bushes some yards away caused Dante to lift his regal head, the amber eyes flashing with some foreign emotion. Darcy’s eyes flew to the bush. It had been bare when they had first surveyed the property but was now dotted with blossoming white flowers, so Bingley must have been at work in the gardens in his first days in residence. He might not be particularly dedicated to his craft, but Bingley was a talented nature mage. 

Dante pressed his head into Darcy’s open palm, urging him to stand. The creature was behaving oddly this evening, and Darcy could not hazard a guess as to why. “Do you wish for me to investigate?” he asked wryly. While Dante could not speak, the phoenix had always communicated quite clearly with his master. Darcy extinguished the flaming leaf with a wave of his hand, rose, and began to cross the garden to survey the bush. Its foliage rose just below Darcy’s chin, and it could easily conceal a foe, or—Darcy’s mind jumped to the worst possible conclusion—an eager Caroline Bingley observing him in secret. 

Darcy could not detect any human presence behind the greenery, but just before turning away, he spotted a length of ribbon, robin’s-egg blue in color and scented of lavender. Darcy knew with certainty that his hostess never wore lavender. Darcy took the ribbon in his hand but could not pick out a distinct magical signature. “Is anyone here?” Darcy asked, hardly expecting an answer, and feeling more than a little foolish.

Behind him, Dante stopped singing. Darcy ignited a little orb of fire in midair, lighting the darkened garden, and glanced back at the phoenix. “There is no one here, Dante,” he said, but the bird continued to look into the bush. Darcy sighed. It was late, and he felt too drained to do a revelation spell. If there was an interloper in the garden, they were doing no harm. He waved his hand again, and the fire ball popped out of existence. Then he returned to the house, leaving Dante still perched in the garden.

 

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Elizabeth’s heart hammered against her ribs as she whispered words to lift her concealment spell. Elizabeth rose from the bush, only to have her hair tumble down her shoulders. She uttered an invective. Her ribbon was gone, caught on the bush in her haste to conceal herself. No doubt the gentleman had taken it with him. Elizabeth marveled that the mage had failed to discover her. 

It had been reckless to come here, and even now, Elizabeth was not quite certain why she had done so. The phoenix was perched on a bough of an elder tree, eyeing her with what might have been disappointment.

“What are you up to?” Elizabeth asked, reaching her hand out toward the scarlet bird.

The phoenix soared only to perch upon her arm. Elizabeth felt the soft feathers of his head against her cheek, and her negative emotions disappeared. “Who was the mage?” Elizabeth asked. The phoenix—Dante was what the mage had called him—was silent, but Elizabeth suddenly heard an intimate whisper. 

Dearest, loveliest Elizabeth. 

It was not a vision, nor could she say that she recognized the voice. All she could surmise was that it belonged to the man of her vision. It was another piece of the puzzle regarding the phoenix’s master. Dante began to sing again. The air crackled with magic, and Elizabeth could feel heat in her fingertips. She was not a fire mage, but in that moment, she felt that she could have been. It was now too dark to make her way back to the standing stone. 

Dante pressed his head against her palm, and Elizabeth knew instinctively to cast an illumination spell. She made the gesture and intoned the spell. A ball of fire hovered a few inches in front of her face, illuminating the cobbled pathway out of the garden. She was surprised at the sight of the hovering fireball, her own illumination magic usually manifested in something that resembled a firefly. There was little time to dwell on the difference, as the mage could return at any moment. The standing stone lay just beyond the wrought iron gate. “Thank you,” Elizabeth said. 

Dante inclined his regal head, lifted his magnificent wings, and flew to the other side of Netherfield House. Elizabeth shook her head. She would not allow the phoenix to lure her from Longbourn again, no matter how much she desired to meet the gentleman who had tamed it. 

Later, when Elizabeth entered her darkened bedroom, she saw Jane awake in bed. “Lizzy, where on earth have you been?”

“Chasing a phoenix,” Elizabeth said.

Jane sat up, instantly alert. “A phoenix? Truly? One has never been seen in Hertfordshire before.”

“I believe he belongs to the mysterious Mr. Bingley.” Elizabeth shared the details of her illicit visits to Netherfield, her near discovery, and her vision. She did not, however, share the words she had heard. Those, she tucked away, close to her heart. She did not want to prematurely ruin Jane’s hopes, should the gentleman from her vision prove to be Mr. Bingley. 

“If Mr. Bingley is in possession of a phoenix, he must be a powerful mage indeed,” Jane said somewhat dreamily. 

Elizabeth nodded. “I expect we will know tomorrow, and if not then, certainly by the summer solstice assembly!”

With the solstice only days away, the Bennet ladies were certain to meet the new inhabitants of Netherfield soon. Jane and Elizabeth spent an hour in earnest conversation before sleep claimed them once more. Elizabeth’s dreams were filled that night with phoenix song and the repetition of those oh-so-tender words.



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