Chapters of Spooks and Suitors

Chapter 3 – Spooks and Suitors – Lighthearted Halloween Pride and Prejudice Variation

#chapter 3
The carriages rolled up the drive to Netherfield Park well past midnight, the riders inside weary from the evening’s merriment. Under the glow of the full moon, the great house cast ominous shadows as the party alighted and made their way silently indoors.
They gathered in the parlor to discuss the evening’s events over glasses of port and sherry.
“Well Bingley, I take it you enjoyed yourself?” remarked Mr. Hurst, stifling a yawn as he sank into an armchair by the fire.
Mr. Bingley smiled bashfully. “Oh yes, the local families are most amiable! I found the Bennets in particular to be very lovely.”
Mrs. Hurst humphed in disapproval while Caroline made no attempt to hide her disdain. “The Bennets? Positively feral!” she exclaimed. “Mrs. Bennet spent the entire evening throwing her insipid daughters at every man with a modest fortune! And with little success, despite her obvious efforts.” She smirked as she swirled her watered-down wine leisurely, taking a long, languid sip.
Mr. Bingley looked distressed by her criticism. “Come now, they weren’t so bad. I found Miss Bennet delightful, and Miss Elizabeth was very clever in conversation.”
Mr. Darcy frowned, recalling his awkward verbal sparring. He had not found Miss Elizabeth’s wit admirable, only impertinent. “Perhaps they seem amiable by rustic standards,” he said coolly, “but they clearly lack proper breeding and polish.”
“Here here!” Caroline chimed supportively. “Why, Miss Elizabeth spent the night stomping about in wild disarray!” She shook her head in dramatic dismay.
Looking slightly wounded, Mr. Bingley replied, “Well, I did not find them so far below society’s standards. Their manners were perfectly pleasing.”
Mr. Darcy swirled his port pensively before taking a slow sip. “They may meet whatever expectations you’ve formed in this primitive environment. But by the standards of dignified society, they fall markedly short.” Though he kept his tone even, his friends detected the edge in it.
“Oh yes, most decidedly so!” Caroline quickly agreed. “Charles, your generous nature blinds you. You would do well to aim higher than a Bennet girl.”
Mr. Bingley looked unconvinced but did not argue further, knowing his friend’s mind was decided. Privately though, he determined to judge Miss Bennet on her own merits without prejudice.
The ladies curtsied and departed for bed. Snuggling under the silken sheets, Caroline Bingley soon drifted off, the howling winds outside lulling her like a lullaby.
Some hours later, a loud thump jolted her awake. Bolting upright, she peered anxiously into the darkness. Had that been a tree branch at the window? Hearing nothing further, she began to relax back into her pillows when something flew past her head! Caroline shrieked as it swooped by again.
She leapt frantically from bed and lunged for the door without even a robe or slippers, the frenzied creature in pursuit.
Caroline’s screams roused the household. Doors opened and figures emerged, alarmed by the commotion. “Caroline! Whatever is the matter?” Mr. Bingley called out.
“A bat! There’s a bat in my room!” she wailed, swatting wildly at the air as the little beast looped erratically around her.
Mr. Darcy stepped forward holding a candle, illuminating the bizarre scene. With calm precision he waited for an opening, then swung forcefully, stunning the creature to the floor. Caroline collapsed in a heap of silk and lace, sobbing with relief.
“Thank heavens! What a horrid, horrid beast!” she cried.
Louisa rushed to help right her sister’s disheveled garments. “There now, you’re safe,” she soothed.
“I have never been so affrighted in all my life!” Caroline declared dramatically. “The countryside is utterly savage. This would never happen in Town! I shall not sleep a wink tonight for fear of what other foul creatures lurk about this estate.”
She slumped into a chair, pressing a handkerchief to her brow. “I beg you brother, let us quit this place at once and return to civilization where we belong!”
After much fussing and soothing words, Caroline was finally calmed and persuaded to return to her chambers for the night. The rest of the household also retired, the excitement of the evening having worn them all down.
Mr. Bingley chuckled in amusement once his sister was restored to her room. “Well! That was unexpected excitement tonight!”
Even Mr. Darcy allowed a small smile. “Indeed. But I believe order has been restored.”
He bade his friend goodnight before retiring again. But sleep did not return easily after such a disturbance. As Mr. Darcy lay awake, his mind turned to the strange occurrences and ghostly rumors surrounding Netherfield. While he maintained a skeptical view, he had to admit the odd happenings since their arrival were curious.

His thoughts then turned reluctantly to the appearance of Mr. Wickham in the neighborhood. Darcy was displeased to find his former friend in Hertfordshire and could only hope Wickham would not cause trouble. He had no wish to clean up anymore of Wickham’s messes. In particular, Darcy hoped Wickham would not charm and deceive any of the local young ladies. Elizabeth Bennet came to mind, as Darcy thought her wit and liveliness could make her vulnerable to Wickham’s practiced charm and talent for deception. Darcy felt a surge of protectiveness at the thought of Wickham inflicting his manipulations on Miss Elizabeth or any of the other Meryton ladies.

With much on his mind between spectral rumors and his nemesis arriving, sleep did not return easily for Mr. Darcy that night. The howling winds outside only added to his lingering sense of unease.
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The following morning before breakfast, Elizabeth set out for her usual walk, eager to enjoy fine weather and the fresh autumn air. Her ramble soon took her to the top of Oakham Mount where she paused to gaze at the distant Netherfield facade. What mysteries did it hold? Despite her earlier skepticism, she felt her curiosity stirring.
As Elizabeth lingered there, she suddenly heard the snap of a twig behind her. Whirling around, she glimpsed a large shadowy figure disappearing into the trees some yards away. She stared after it, pulse racing. Had that been a person? Or some wild animal? Perhaps just a trick of the light?
Uneasy, she turned back towards the main road, deciding to cut her walk short. The woods seemed less inviting now, the shadows between the trees taking on strange shapes. As she hastened down the lane, she chided herself for being spooked so easily. It was likely just a deer or her imagination playing tricks. Mr. Bennet’s silly ghost tales were getting to her head.
Nearing Longbourn, Elizabeth paused to catch her breath. She gave a rueful laugh. What was she thinking, jumping at shadows and specters? How disappointed her father would be that his teasing stories had managed to rattle the skeptical Elizabeth. Well, she would not give him the satisfaction of knowing it.
Squaring her shoulders, she continued on her way. But sudden loud rustling in the hedge made her jump and cry out before she could stop herself! Elizabeth whirled around, heart hammering. Just then, a small furry form darted out from the bushes and streaked across her path. She caught her breath, hand to her chest. Only a rabbit! She leaned against the fence post, feeling foolish.
“Good heavens Elizabeth, get hold of yourself,” she murmured. Taking a deep breath, she set off towards home at a brisk pace. She did not slow her steps until Longbourn was well in sight.
Elizabeth entered the breakfast room, keeping the odd occurrences to herself. The rest of the Bennets were already gathered around the table, the clatter of dishes and idle chatter filling the air.
As she took her seat, a sudden loud crash made them all jump. It had come from the adjoining room.
“Good heavens, what was that?” cried Mrs. Bennet, pressing a hand to her chest.
The girls looked at each other with wide eyes as Mr. Bennet rose calmly. “I shall go see what has happened.”
He entered the front parlor and called back, “It seems the Gainsborough has fallen off the wall. Strange, as there is no draft or disturbance.”
Mrs. Bennet hurried in after him. “Fallen off the wall? Oh surely that means this house is haunted! What other explanation could there be?” She wrung her hands dramatically.
“Now, my dear, let us not jump to conclusions,” said Mr. Bennet, already fetching his toolbox to rehang the painting. “The nail likely just came loose from age, nothing more.”
But Mrs. Bennet would not be placated. “No indeed! First those tales from Netherfield, now objects flinging themselves about our own home? Mark my words, this neighborhood has become plagued by restless spirits!”
Mr. Bennet just chuckled and shook his head as he deftly repaired the wall and restored the painting to its place.
The girls watched from the doorway, torn between unease and amusement at their parents’ contrasting reactions. Strange happenings did seem afoot, but Elizabeth determined not to indulge silly fancies as her mother did. There was surely some logical explanation.
“Come, let us finish breakfast before it gets cold,” Mr. Bennet said calmly, leading his fussy wife back to the table. “Fortify yourselves, my dears, these ethereal guests continue to make their presence known.”
Mrs. Bennet humphed in disapproval, but allowed herself to be placated and took her seat again. No further disturbances occurred, and the family fell back into their usual morning routine.
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The men of Netherfield were eager to enjoy a brisk morning hunt on the estate’s extensive grounds. Charles Bingley was all enthusiasm as the group assembled, practically bouncing on his toes.
“Glorious day for it! Shall we try our luck by the south meadows?” he asked.
Mr. Hurst grunted his indifferent agreement, already climbing heavily atop his steed. Mr. Darcy gave a courteous nod, then mounted his spirited stallion with practiced ease.
Soon the hunt was underway, a small pack of hounds leading the group through meadow and forest. Mr. Darcy reveled in the thrill of the ride, his expert horsemanship keeping pace with the swift, fluid gallop. His keen hunter’s eye scanned the landscape, alert for any sign of prey.
Rounding a tangled copse, a sudden snarling roar exploded from the underbrush. A hulking, shadowy beast burst forth and disappeared as quickly as it had appeared. Mr. Darcy’s stallion reared up with a wild whinny. Caught off guard, he was unseated and thrown to the hard ground.
Vaguely he heard urgent shouts and running footsteps approaching before the world faded to blackness. Slowly, strange visions began to take shape in the void. Ghostly figures danced in swirling mists under moonlight, their wispy forms twisting in wild abandon. Haunting music echoed all around yet from no discernible source. Mr. Darcy blinked, trying to make sense of the haunting scene. But clarity eluded him as he slipped into deeper unconsciousness.
Gradually the ghostly visions faded and he became aware of a throbbing ache in his skull. Blinking groggily, Mr. Darcy awoke to find Mr. Bingley and Mr. Hurst leaning over him looking alarmed.
“Darcy! Thank heavens, we feared you were badly injured,” Bingley exclaimed, relief washing over his features. “What happened? It is so unlike you to be unseated.”
Still dazed, Mr. Darcy replied, “Some manner of gigantic beast burst from the trees, spooking the horse. It snarled like the devil’s own hound!”
Mr. Bingley and Mr. Hurst exchanged doubtful glances. “There was no beast that we saw,” said Mr. Hurst skeptically.
“Likely just your imagination after taking a hard blow to the head,” Mr. Bingley said gently.
Mr. Darcy gingerly touched his head, wincing at the tender lump. “I am well…just rattled it seems.”
The others helped him slowly to his feet. “That was a nasty tumble,” remarked Mr. Hurst. “Lucky you weren’t more seriously harmed.”
The gentlemen gathered themselves and their uneasy horses, hastening back towards Netherfield Park. Mr. Darcy rode in pained silence, pondering the strange vision that still lingered in his mind’s eye.
Mr. Bingley said, “We must get you back at once to summon the doctor, I insist he examine you after the nasty spill.”
“I shall be fine after some rest,” Mr. Darcy said quietly, unwilling to speak further on the troubling episode.
Mr. Bingley kept glancing anxiously at his friend. “I say, you gave us quite a fright. Went as white as a specter, murmuring odd things while unconscious. “
Mr. Darcy frowned, trying to recall. “Did I? It’s all blurry…” The ghostly visions came back to him then, raising a chill on his skin. Just a dream, surely. He decided not to speak of it, knowing how Charles and Caroline already indulged the dramatic ghost tales surrounding Netherfield.
When the hunting party returned, Caroline and Louisa gasped at the sight of a disheveled Mr. Darcy clutching his head, his face pale.
“Good heavens, what happened?” cried Louisa as she rushed to his side, eyes wide with concern.
Caroline fluttered about anxiously. “Mr. Darcy, you look simply dreadful! Come, you must lie down at once.”
She took his arm and tried to steer him towards the parlor sofa, but he resisted. “Please, do not fuss so. I only require some rest.”
But Caroline would not be deterred. “Sir, you are clearly unwell! I must insist you lie down and let us tend to you properly.”
Mr. Darcy sighed wearily. “Miss Bingley, I appreciate your concern, but I assure you I am in no danger. A bump on the head, nothing more.”
Yet Caroline continued to flit around ordering servants to bring a cool cloth for his head and fetch the physician.
“Please, enough,” Mr. Darcy said firmly, holding up a hand. “I am certain I will recover well without all this excessive fuss. A few hours rest in my own quarters is all I require. I will retire there presently and bid you not give my mishap another thought.”
Despite Miss Bingley’s continued protestations, Mr. Darcy stood resolutely and made his way to his bedchamber. Once safely alone, he sank onto the bed with a pained groan, pressing a hand to his throbbing temple.
But Mr. Darcy found sleep elusive as he replayed those haunting images in his mind. He tried to dismiss it as a fanciful dream born of his injury…yet doubts nagged at him. The vividness had felt so real.
Could there be some truth to the claims of restless spirits haunting these grounds after all? Mr. Darcy shook his head ruefully, refusing to indulge such absurd notions. But something about this place left him unsettled in a way he could not rationally explain.

The final, edited version!

When the Netherfield party arrives to take up residence in the long-empty Netherfield Hall, rumors swirl that the estate is haunted. Skeptical Elizabeth Bennet laughs off the ghost stories, until a series of eerie events forces her and the aloof Mr. Darcy to confront the possibility of restless spirits stalking the halls.

As bizarre occurrences plague the old house, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are drawn together in the search for answers. Battling fears and prejudices, they forge an unlikely alliance that blossoms into mutual understanding and possibly something more. But not everyone is happy to welcome this connection.

Can Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy overcome the mysterious workings of Netherfield before their hopes for happiness are extinguished? Set during the Christmas season, Halloween JAFF puts a spooky twist on Austen’s beloved Pride and Prejudice characters in this suspenseful tale of ghostly happenings, romance, and the power of courage and love conquering all.

Pride and Prejudice and Phantasms is a slow burn romance between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet that is over 65,000 words and features hijinks, lighthearted spookiness, a flustered Caroline Bingley and happily ever after for ODC.

Chapter 1 – Spooks and Suitors – Lighthearted Halloween Pride and Prejudice Variation

#chapter 1It was a truth universally acknowledged that Netherfield Park was haunted. Or so the rumors in Meryton insisted. Ever since the estate had sat vacant these last five years, tales of ghostly happenings and strange noises in the night had spread through the village like wildfire. Now, with the arrival of Mr. Bingley and his party to take up residence, the speculation only increased.On their first morning in the grand house, talk turned to

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Chapter 2 – Spooks and Suitors – Lighthearted Halloween Pride and Prejudice Variation

#Chapter 2The next day, the day of the Meryton assembly arrived, and the Bennet household was abuzz with anticipation. Mrs. Bennet fluttered about ensuring every detail of her daughters’ dresses and hair was just so, determined that they should make a favorable impression on the Netherfield party. “You must mind your manners and dance with whoever asks,” she lectured as their carriage rattled towards town. “And smile! We must convince these gentlemen you are the

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Chapter 3 – Spooks and Suitors – Lighthearted Halloween Pride and Prejudice Variation

#chapter 3The carriages rolled up the drive to Netherfield Park well past midnight, the riders inside weary from the evening’s merriment. Under the glow of the full moon, the great house cast ominous shadows as the party alighted and made their way silently indoors. They gathered in the parlor to discuss the evening’s events over glasses of port and sherry.“Well Bingley, I take it you enjoyed yourself?” remarked Mr. Hurst, stifling a yawn as he

Read More »

Chapter 4 – Spooks and Suitors – Lighthearted Halloween Pride and Prejudice Variation

#chapter 4The Bennet ladies were startled from their morning reading in the parlor by an eager knock. Moments later, their servants ushered in Mrs. Lucas and Charlotte, both bearing delighted smiles.“Jane, Lizzy! How good it is to see you again so soon,” exclaimed Charlotte, embracing her friends.Mrs. Lucas nodded graciously to Mrs. Bennet. “Thank you for receiving us, I hope we are not intruding.”“Not at all! Do make yourselves comfortable.” Mrs. Bennet gestured hospitably to

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