I do not own Twilight or Pride and Prejudice
September 1812, London
Standing in this Ballroom surrounded by the smell of smoke, sweat and drink, my stomach clenched. I watched as the couples danced, all seemingly unaware of the world outside. The ballroom was newly redecorated in the French style, amusing really considering we were currently at war with France. Yet I had to remind myself it was all about appearances and if the French style was all the rage, the sheep would surely follow. Did they not realize how vapid their existence was?
How did my life come to this? I should have it all, I'm Edward Masen! Instead I am surrounded by the insistent and sometimes dangerous female species. All claim to be virtuous, but I know better.
Few and far between are virtuous anymore.
They all want the same thing; what I stand for, not who I am. I am willing to wager that if I didn't have Pemberley, a fortune, and an impeccable family tree, none of these incessant harpies would give me another thought.
But this is the life I was born into, and it is my responsibility to marry a woman of quality and fortune. I have always thought I would be able to find a woman whom I could love, like my father loved my mother. Yet, in all my searching I have become more disgusted with the meager offerings placed before me and have decided to give up entirely for the time being.
For now I will focus all my efforts on helping my friend, Emmett, gain a good footing in society. Emmett's father came into money after a successful venture in trade. His son will benefit from all the things society has to offer those of us with money.
Emmett is everything I am not; easy going and free. Sometimes I find myself envying him because he has no family expectations. Emmett is content to think the best of people; yet I, as he constantly reminds me, am doomed to think the worst.
"Edward, Edward…!" I was pulled from my reverie by a familiar booming voice.
Emmett had found my hiding spot, damn it! I had found a rather secluded alcove where I could observe without being bothered.
"Yes, Emmett," I replied impatiently.
"I will tell you now, I have no intention of dancing so just give up now."
More like I am hiding from your harpy of a sister.
As if reading my mind, "Edward, Tanya has been looking for you everywhere, hiding again I see."
Rolling my eyes, I replied.
"Emmett you and I both know she is barley tolerable, and her voice is enough to make small children cry, she will never give up; so I am simply staying out of her way."
As expected, Emmett started laughing; he always found this so amusing. I was unsure if it was my pain or the fact his sister was daft that entertained him so.
"Edward, you know I don't like the way she fawns over you, but she never listens. She only hears what she wants anyway."
I pinched the bridge of my nose, willing myself to calm down
"Emmett, out of all the females in this wretched place she is the absolute worst!
"Not only does she have some fanciful notion that we are fated soul mates, but she embarrasses herself with the accidental bumping and touching."
I hardly needed add that my aunt would not be pleased no matter how high Tanya's opinion was of herself. Maybe the old bat could be useful, I mused.
"You know she is just trying to get your attention."
HA! Attention indeed!
"Emmett, I swear I am shocked she can even breathe with the corsets she tries stuffing herself into."
That made me shudder.
And there it was again, the loud booming laughter. Even though we were so different Emmett seemed to put me at ease, draw me out so to speak.
"Edward, I will never understand half the things she does. Come on, if we stay close to the edge of the crowd we should be able to hide from her together."
That was the best plan I'd heard all night!
We made our way cautiously along the edge of the sea of people; I never liked walking through crowds. It was always the same thing; either I was groped, fell upon, or my personal favorite, proposed to.
These women have no shame.
We were able to reach the bar with little incident. With brandy in hand, Emmett was fidgeting, he seemed nervous.
"Edward, I have a proposition for you."
"Yes, Emmett." I was intrigued; usually life was nothing but games, and sport to him.
"Well, as you know, I need to find an estate and soon."
Ahh, so this was what he wanted.
I was pleased; I had been pushing him in this direction for months.
"Yes, Emmett, I know." He looked excited, giddy even.
"I found one! The estate is in Hertfordshire, it's called Netherfield."
He was so excited I was afraid he was going to wet himself.
"I went ahead and took it. I will rent it for a year with the option to purchase later."
I was shocked; Emmett had done this without consulting me?
"Well, I think congratulations are in order. I am proud of you, this is a huge step."
Emmett was beaming.
"I am especially happy you decided to try it out before buying. You never know what kind of people you will have as neighbors. If they are completely intolerable you can always give it up."
"Edward, I'm not as difficult as you are to please; not everyone is a cynic.
"In fact, I have every intention of enjoying myself."
Ah, this is what I was concerned about. Emmett was as apt to falling in and out of love as the moon was changing, and at about the same interval.
"You know the likely hood of finding a good potential bride in that part of England is slim. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if they weren't all hay-gathering sycophants."
"Edward, you are the most jaded man I have ever met. Not all people are bad you know. But enough of this lets enjoy to rest of the party."
As if the fates heard his request the shrillest most horrible of sounds found my ears.
Oh hell, it was the Shrew.
Her dulcet tones were enough to break glass.
"Damn it Emmett," I hissed.
"Oh come on, take it like a man. I do," he whispered.
"Yes, well she will never have any romantic designs on you."
I raised my eyebrow, taunting him.
"Thanks for that image. I may just abandon you with her if you keep that up."
Just then my senses were assaulted by the rankest perfume I had ever smelt. My stomach nearly purged right there.
"Edward, I found you, I have been looking everywhere for you," the Harpy trilled.
Slowly turning, I was blinded by the brightest shade of orange imaginable. I am a man, but even I know that clashes with her skin tone.
Trying my hardest to be civil, I said,
"Yes, Tanya, your brother and I were discussing private matters. As you..."
"But Edwaaaard," she whined, "you know I want to dance with you, are you going to at least save me one?"
I have never wanted to kill another human being in my life, but this woman would very likely be the end of my patience.
"No Tanya, I have no intention of dancing, as you very well know I dislike it."
And just to allow no mistake.
"There is no one here I find worth my time to stand up with, so the time spent would be pointless."
There, let her chew on that.
I quickly bowed and walked away. Emmett followed behind, undoubtedly to get away from her as well.
"Edward, I wanted to ask if you would go with me when I take possession. I need someone I can trust."
Talking faster, as though he needed to get whatever out before I could say no, he continued.
"I know you are busy and it's hard to leave Alice, but I could really use your advice."
Ah, Alice, yes it was hard to leave her since... No, I would not think on that, not tonight.
"Yes Emmett, of course I will go. Will it be merely a few weeks for the shooting?"
"Um, no." Hesitating he blurted out...
"Tanya, Lauren and her husband will be coming as well."
Sensing my panic he immediate backpedaled.
"I couldn't leave her here, and she insisted on going."
Oh, my life was going to be hell.