For anyone obsessed with Pride & Prejudice, it's Darcy and Elizabeth like you've never see them before!
This modern take introduces us to the wealthy philanthropist Fitzwilliam Darcy, a handsome and brooding bachelor who yearns for love but doubts any woman could handle his obsessive tendencies. Meanwhile, Dr. Elizabeth Bennet has her own intimacy issues that ensure her terrible luck with men.
When the two meet up in the emergency room after Darcy's best friend, Charles Bingley, gets into an accident, Elizabeth thinks the two men are a couple. As Darcy and Elizabeth unravel their misconceptions about each other, they have to decide just how far they're willing to go to accept each other's quirky ways...
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About the Author
Nina Benneton was on her way to save the world and win a Nobel Prize in something, anything, when a rare-bird enthusiast nut whisked her off her restless feet. A flock of beautiful children and a comfy nest kept Nina contented in domestic bliss until one day, she woke up and saw that she was too obsessed with alphabetizing her spices and searching for stray Barbie shoes. A dare and a supportive nudge from her nearest and dearest diverted Nina's obsessive energy into writing fiction. Compulsively Mr. Darcy is her first novel. She lives in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Read an Excerpt
"Damn Hollywood," William Darcy swore.
He was here, in this damn racket of a city, because of stupid Hollywood people and their trendsetting good deeds. Why couldn't they stick to rescuing hairless cats?
He regretted agreeing to the trip. Already, barely an hour after the Bingley's private jet had landed in Da Nang, the city's cloying dust coated his skin and clogged his pores.
The car inched through inhumanely congested streets heading to their hotel, a five-star resort on China Beach. The driver pressed his horn. Immediately, a chorus of honks answered. A constant cacophony of blaring sounds and incessant voices, in a bewildering array of pitches and tones, battered Darcy's senses.
Beside him, Charles Bingley restlessly bounced.
"Damn stupid Bingley for dragging me here." Darcy cursed under his breath. He swallowed his frustration and tried to improve his mood. Bingley was his best friend and, at this stage in his life, he didn't want the bother of training another one.
Sitting in front of them, Caroline Bingley turned to her sister, Louisa Hurst. "Did you read the latest Us issue on famous moms and babies? Most of my Hollywood friends were in it."
"Don't worry," Louisa said. "You'll be in it soon enough, as a doting aunt. You might even be on the cover. We're going with the best and most efficient orphanage."
"Which only accepts responsible and happily married couples," Louisa's husband Gil Hurst said dryly from his place next to the driver, "and that leaves you out of the loop, Caroline."
"That leaves you out too, Gil," Caroline returned. "And that's why we have my brother and William. They're happy and responsible."
"Yes, but who is which, tell me," her brother-in-law said with a glance directed at Darcy and Bingley. "I wouldn't want to get confused."
"Charles can't help having"-Caroline paused and faced her brother-"what did the doctor say you have?"
"Attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder," Bingley answered. "And there's nothing wrong with being happy."
The Bingley siblings and Hurst continued their family squabble. Darcy tuned them out, wondering, not for the first time, why he'd allowed Bingley to embroil him in their family's crazy expedition to adopt a trendy orphan.
"We need someone responsible in the group," Bingley had argued when he begged Darcy to join them. "No one is more responsible than you, Darce."
"Traffic here is worse than in New York City," Hurst said. "I swear the car hasn't moved in the last ten minutes."
Bingley nudged Darcy. "Look at the guy riding that bicycle. There must be close to a hundred chickens on that bamboo frame on top of his back wheel. How does he keep it balanced?"
Caroline said, "Please, Charles, didn't you see that Crouching Tiger movie? Asians are born with good balance. I always educate myself about the countries we visit. It's helpful to have a vast cultural knowledge of the world."
After spending hours traveling in close quarters with her, Darcy closed his eyes and briefly fantasized balancing her and her vast cultural knowledge at the business end of a catapult and pointing it toward North Korea.
"I've been doing yoga for a while. I bet I can keep my balance on that bicycle," Bingley said.
Behind closed eyelids, Darcy's eyes attempted a roll. He hoped the bouncy Tigger next to him had remembered to take his daily Ritalin. He didn't feel up to dealing with an impulsive Bingley.
"I'll be right back." Bingley leaped out of the car before anyone could stop him.
Darcy kept his eyes closed. Let Bingley's family take care of his impetuousness.
"Where is he going?" Hurst's voice was impatient.
"You know my brother, he can't sit still," Louisa answered.
"William, you must stop him. He's mixing with the natives, trying to make friends with them already. This is going to delay us, waiting for him to come back." Caroline touched Darcy's thigh.
Darcy opened his eyes and shifted his leg away, breaking contact. He looked out the window. Bingley was trying to lift one leg over the seat of a bicycle but was having some difficulty, hampered by the clucking chickens, all tied up by their feet and hanging upside down from the bamboo frame.
"I want to get to the hotel soon. I need a drink and a bed." Hurst yawned.
"Perhaps you should go get him, Gil," Louisa said.
"No, I'll go," Darcy said. He needed to move away from Caroline's hand, which still hovered uncomfortably close to his crotch.
By the time he reached Bingley, a large group had gathered. Bingley had managed to get himself seated on the chicken-bike and was now pedaling. He cycled a few yards, laughing along with the audience, before he rammed into a woman carrying a three-foot bamboo pole over one shoulder. Two large, straw baskets, full to the brim with strawberry-sized red fruits and dangling by strings from both ends of the pole, toppled over. Chickens, fruits, tiny market woman, and Bingley became a tangled heap in the muddy street.
Sighing, Darcy pulled out his wallet. The chicken man was happy with his reimbursement.
The unharmed fruit woman, however, glowered at Bingley until, in an attempt at peace, he reached for a fallen fruit next to his feet and bit into it while smiling at her. His immediate grimace brought laughter from the locals and, finally, a forgiving smile from the fruit woman. She selected another fruit from the ground, peeled off the outer red layer with its hairlike tentacles, and popped the white, soft center into his mouth.
The crowd gave another round of laughter when Bingley comically frowned and spit out a round, olive-sized black pit.
Darcy grimaced. He saw nothing amusing about the numerous hygienic rules Bingley had just violated. Darcy impatiently broke up the gathering and pulled Bingley away.
A curious crush followed as Darcy led a slightly limping and chattering Bingley back to the car. Darcy opened the car door.
Darcy glanced down and, suddenly light-headed, had to grab the car door to steady himself.
"He is not coming into the car like that. There must be at least six inches of mud on his pants!" She pointed to her brother's leg, missing the blood seeping through his pants.
"He can't go to the hotel until he gets that leg looked at by a doctor," Louisa said almost as loud.
Her husband reacted by closing his eyes and pretending to be asleep.
The horde around them informed Bingley a nice American doctor worked at a hospital a short distance away.
"A woman doctor with green eyes. Very beautiful," a small man tried to tempt them.
Darcy waved the car on to the hotel. He would take care of Bingley. Minutes later, keeping his eyes averted from Bingley's injured leg, Darcy walked alongside a cyclo, a three-wheeled-tricycle taxi, carrying Bingley to the hospital.
Oblivious to his enlarging bloodstain, Bingley chatted happily with the cyclo driver and the crowd following them. They reached a dilapidated building they were reassured was a top-notch hospital.
Bingley said to Darcy, "Wait here, otherwise you'd be washing your hands constantly the next few days. Besides, you'd be in the way. You know you're afraid of hospitals and doctors."
Darcy immediately took offense. "I'm not afraid of anything or anyone."
"I promise not to get leeched or drink lizard-tail's juice." Before he hobbled off, Bingley added with a wink, "If the green-eyed, beautiful doctor is a brunette, we'll find some excuse for you to be seen also."
Ignoring Bingley's good humor and his grinning fan club, Darcy scowled and settled next to a tree to wait. This American doctor had better be fast and efficient. He desperately needed to get to his hotel suite for some peace and darkness.
Hours later, he still stood waiting in the same spot. Bingley had developed a severe case of gastrointestinal illness, courtesy of the dirty, spiny red fruit that he had eaten, and the doctor was running behind schedule.
Silently, Darcy chanted in rhythm with the loud thumping in his head, "Hate doctors and their inability to keep to a schedule. Hate..."
"You come, I sew you," a voice broke through the chanting in his head.
He turned around. A small man with a friendly smile stood waiting.
When Darcy didn't move, the man gave him a wider smile, revealing broken and blackened teeth. "You friend, I sew. I sew you, you friend."
Darcy declined politely. "No thank you."
"Yes, yes," the man said. A small hand reached forward, and with a surprisingly strong grip, grabbed two fingers of Darcy's left hand.
In his surprise, Darcy let himself be dragged along for a short distance through the courtyard and almost into the building before he resisted, forcing the man holding tight to his two fingers to halt. "No. No. I don't need to be seen. I'm fine," he wheezed out, and wondered how the little man, whom he outweighed by at least a hundred pounds, could run so fast while Darcy was out of breath and his sides ached.
"I no seen you. I sew you friend."
"I don't need your help. No thank you."
"Friend," Friendly Face said with an earnest expression. "Come see!"
They stared at one another. A few silent moments passed. Finally, shrugging, Darcy nodded and yielded to the determined smaller man.
Not trusting his capitulation, Friendly Face again seized Darcy's two fingers and pulled him into the building. At the end of a surprisingly clean hallway, Friendly Face led him into a room.
Bingley, sitting alone in a bed near the door, gave them a wan smile.
"How are you feeling?" Darcy frowned at the paleness of Bingley's face. "They're ready to discharge you?"
"I'm fine now. The IV helped. They still have to fix the cut on my leg."
"What, you've been here for hours and they haven't even looked at it?" Darcy seethed. He noticed a crowd of medical personnel surrounding a smiling Vietnamese patient in the next bed quite a few feet away. "I want to see the doctor in charge!"
"Darce, take it easy. The doctor is busy," Bingley said to try and calm him.
Someone from the crowd moved toward them. Finally, some attention. Darcy fumed. Using his intimidating CEO voice, he barked, "I want this looked at now." Half turning, he lifted up the blue towel covering Bingley's injured leg. A black blind descended.
Before everything completely darkened, he caught a flash of green eyes.
He came to just as something hard tapped at his cheeks. Opening his eyes, he saw Anna-his late mother's name-in gold letters. The letters receded. A split second later, the letters, attached to the bottom of a black wooden clog, came at him again. Tap, tap. The wooden sole pressed none too gently against each of his cheeks. His mind reeled in astonishment at the audacity.
Who had the nerve to touch his face with their dirty shoes?
A pair of fiery green eyes stared down at him. "Get up. I don't have time to deal with obnoxious British pricks. Get yourself up and out of my operating room."
Stunned, he glanced to the side and discovered he was lying on the dirty floor, the floor full of germs and fluids. His stomach rolled.
"Get up and get out. You've ruined the sterile field."
"Sterile? You've got to be bloody kidding." Horrified to hear his voice sounded hoarse and weak, he quickly made sure he had his CEO boardroom face on.
"His leg was prepped and draped under sterile towels until you contaminated it with your dirty hand."
He lay on the ground, fighting nausea for another moment, before he realized no help would come from Green Eyes. Was this how they normally treated people who slipped and fell?
Unexpectedly, small fingers grabbed his arm with a strong grip and pulled him up. Friendly Face had appeared out of nowhere with his now-familiar toothy smile. He put his arms around Darcy to steady him.
Darcy stepped back from his new friend, ignored the swaying of his body, and straightened to his full height. He put on the CEO's face again and stared down at the blurry green eyes behind safety goggles. That was all he could see of her. Surgical mask and garb covered the rest of her.
"I have been waiting hours for you, Doctor, to take care of a minor injury. I guess I shouldn't be surprised at your inability to do a simple medical procedure. The fact that you're stuck working here, American Doctor," he stressed in his most sarcastic tone, "surely must mean that you had failed to gain admittance to a reputable medical school in America, or you have failed to get hired by any respectable hospital that required and demanded skill and efficiency. I have been traveling for the last twenty-four hours, and I'm in no mood to put up with your pitiful incompetence."
"Listen here, you bloody arse," she mimicked his British accent as she stressed the last two words. "I've been up for the last thirty hours working without much food or sleep, and now I have to deal with you and your insulting demands."
"Insulting demands? Simply because I request competent service?"
"Get out," Green Eyes hissed, waving something at him.
The metal smell of the blood mixed with the rotten odor of pus assaulted him. In her hand, she wielded a bloody scalpel tinged with yellow streaks. His knees wobbled.
Friendly Face's arms snaked around Darcy's waist to steady him again.
Green Eyes exchanged words with Friendly Face.
Behind Darcy, someone chuckled. Darcy turned to glare at Bingley, who avoided his eyes and tried to control himself. After a moment, Bingley lost his struggle and hearty laughter erupted from him. "Sorry, Doctor. I wanted Darcy to know I'd probably be here a while yet. I forgot he faints at the sight of blood."
Darcy tried to use the CEO face on his friend, but, as usual, Bingley was immune to it. Darcy turned back and discovered Green Eyes had disappeared amongst the group around the next bed.
Friendly Face smiled at him. "Doctor say I take you out."
"Yes, please, Oanh. Take Mr. Darcy outside before he does any more damage." Bingley turned toward Darcy. "Go get a breath of fresh air, man. You need it."
Once outside, Oanh tried to get Darcy to sit in the cyclo to rest, but Darcy, feeling he had suffered enough humiliation today, declined. He could not bring himself to sit in that contraption. He arranged for the resort to send a car and a driver.
After what seemed like another excruciatingly long wait, someone came and told him Bingley would be done in ten minutes. Darcy settled the hospital bill and clarified the discharge instructions with a nurse. He knew Bingley wouldn't remember to take care of any details and he wanted to be gone as soon as Bingley was ready to go.
On the ride to the resort, to Darcy's irritation, Bingley was back to his prattling self. "That was an amazing experience. It was like being in one of those medical shows on TV. The tough old soldier in the next bed refused all pain medication. I did too. The doctor said I must be part Vietnamese. They have a high pain threshold. She was so gentle when she worked on me. Very patient and efficient, she was."
Darcy snorted and made a rude gesture.
"You deserved what she said to you for being such an insulting, bloody arse to the poor woman. I heard a nurse say the doctor missed her dinner, again..." On and on Bingley jabbered until an evil glare from Darcy finally dampened him.
Once in his own suite, one as far away from the Bingley family as possible, Darcy immediately undressed and took a hot shower. He threw his traveling suit in the trash bin and wrote a note to the hotel staff that, yes, he did mean to discard the expensive and tailor-made suit. It was now contaminated. Infiltrated by microscopic invaders.
They'd skittered across him when he'd lain on that floor.
At that thought, he took another shower. A long one. Then one more to make sure.
Before he slipped into the king-sized bed, he checked the bedding. Satisfied at seeing his own sheets with his own monograms, he reminded himself to thank his housekeeper Mrs. Reynolds for arranging everything with the resort. He hated to sleep in linens others may have used.
At last, his head sank onto the pillow and he let the peace of the room cover him. Alone. All quiet.
As he drifted off to sleep, visions of a green-eyed monster devouring him jerked him awake. Again and again. Finally, giving up, he dragged himself out of bed and made a phone call.
He gave precise, detailed instructions for a meal to be prepared and delivered, making them repeat his instructions back to him. Mrs. Reynolds must have relayed how particular her boss would be as a guest. The hotel staff accepted his peculiar instructions without any difficulty. Sometimes there were advantages to being an obsessive control freak, he decided.
"Now, go away," he muttered to the green-eyed monster floating around him as he settled back into his bed. The pounding in his head lulled him into a much-needed sleep.