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Title: Most Ardently
Author: Susan Mesler-Evans
Genre: Contemporary Romance
About Most Ardently:
Elisa Benitez is proud of who she is, from her bitingly sarcastic remarks, to her love of both pretty boys and pretty girls. If someone doesn’t like her, that’s their problem, and Elisa couldn’t care less. Particularly if that person is Darcy Fitzgerald, a snobby, socially awkward heiress with an attitude problem and more money than she knows what to do with.
From the moment they meet, Elisa and Darcy are at each other’s throats — which is a bit unfortunate, since Darcy’s best friend is dating Elisa’s sister. It quickly becomes clear that fate intends to throw the two of them together, whether they like it or not. As hers and Darcy’s lives become more and more entwined, Elisa’s once-dull world quickly spirals into chaos in this story of pride, prejudice, and finding love with the people you least expect.
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Even for Darcy, this was low. First what she’d done to Wick, and now this.
It was official, Elisa decided. Forget the idea that she’d been too harsh, or judged too quickly. Darcy Fitzgerald was the most conceited, most vile, most insufferable person on the planet. She was stuck-up, and cruel, and… and… and…
She let out a yelp, before turning around.
Darcy was standing there, blue pea coat with matching boots, looking apprehensive. Had someone told her what Elisa had found out? If she was here to try and apologize, she would have to restrain herself from tossing her onto the ice.
“Colin told me you’d gone for a walk. I followed your footprints,” Darcy said. “I have an important matter to discuss with you.”
“Did he tell you I want to be alone?” Elisa asked, voice shaking a bit, furious just from the sight of her.
“Yes. But I need to talk to you when we’re alone, and we may not get another chance this weekend. That was… actually the entire reason I agreed when Colin invited me on this trip. I wanted to see you.”
“Darcy, I promise you, whatever you have to say, I don’t want to hear it.”
“I have a present for you.”
She blinked. “Um. What?”
Darcy reached into her pocket, and produced a small, heart-shaped box of chocolates, handing it to her. She took it, mainly because she was at a loss as to what else she could do. This wasn’t one of the cheap boxes they sold at the drugstore – these were expensive. Fancy. When she took a closer look, she saw that Darcy had scribbled a message in Sharpie on the front.
For Elisa Benitez. I hope you enjoy these as much as I’ve enjoyed knowing you. – Darcy Fitzgerald.
Slowly, Elisa raised her head to look at her again. She was shuffling nervously on her feet, clearly waiting for some kind of reaction. When Elisa didn’t speak, she filled the silence for her.
“I agonized over whether to get those for you,” she admitted. “I knew I wanted to get you something for Valentine’s Day, but I was worried the chocolates might be cliché. But then I thought to myself, they became cliché for a reason, and I know you enjoy chocolate, so I decided to just go for it.”
“Um—thanks, I guess, but—” She was so confused, she had nearly forgotten she was mad at her. “Why are you… why are you giving me a Valentine’s Day present at all?”
Darcy took a shaking breath, before stepping closer to her.
“Elisa, I have struggled in vain for the past few months. Ever since the day you and I met, really. But it cannot go on like this. I have something to say to you, and I ask that you listen to me. I admire you greatly, Elisa, and please believe me when I say that I most ardently love you.”
Elisa dropped the box of chocolates. She stood, frozen in place, staring at Darcy, searching her face for any sign that she was kidding. She found none. Finally, Elisa managed to force out a response.
About the Author
Susan Mesler-Evans is a writer, college student, D&D enthusiast, theatre nerd, and horrific procrastinator. Born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, Susan now lives in Florida, and can often be found reading, scrolling through Tumblr until 2 AM, overanalyzing her favorite fictional characters and relationships, bingewatching comedies on Netflix, thinking about writing, and even, on occasion, actually writing. Most Ardently is her first full-length novel. You can find her at susanmeslerevanswrites.com.