So it's time to (re)post the other first meeting that I promised...
Hearing an unexpected engine noise, Linda glanced down at the dashboard as her car began to climb the hill to Upper Pemberley. A warning light had come on, and the needle of the temperature gauge had swung almost to the top end of the red. Linda braked, and pulled over onto the grass at the side of the road.
Bang! The engine shuddered into stillness and steam poured out from under the bonnet.
Linda slapped the steering wheel in frustration. Everything had seemed fine when she left the car park. She wasn't dressed for looking at bits of car, and trying to work out what was wrong with them. She wasn't dressed for walking back to Lower Pemberley, or onwards to Upper Pemberley, to find someone that could help her. The clothes and shoes she had gone out in that morning were in amongst her shopping somewhere, but the road was too exposed for her to get changed into them easily.
She had to stay calm, and think about the matter logically. If there was no one who could help her, then there was no one to see her getting changed. If there was someone likely to see her getting changed, then they also counted as someone who might be able to help her. Which was more likely? Glancing in the mirror, she saw a silver sports car approaching, which slowed as it got closer then pulled onto the grass some way behind her. The driver's door opened and a man got out. Linda switched her attention to the wing mirror, in order to get a better view of him.
He wore a white casual suit over black boots with pointed toes, and had the slim hips and broad shoulders typical of a swimmer, although something about the way he moved suggested an interest in tennis or squash as well. His hair was jet black, swept up off his forehead into a bouffant style, and long enough at the back to curl around his collar. To go with his expensively coiffed hair, and a suit that had to have been made to fit him, he wore large, expensive-looking sunglasses, which he removed as he leaned down to look through Linda's open window.
"Is there a problem? Anything I can do to help?" His voice was cultured, though not overly so, with an air of sympathetic amusement at Linda's plight. His strong cheek-bones gave him a degree of resemblance to Kate, but the Roman nose had to have come from his father.
"My car seems to have overheated."
"So I see. Why don't we take a look and see what needs to be done, then work out how to get you home?" His eyes were grey-green, and framed by startlingly-long dark lashes. "In case you were wondering, yes, I'm Edward Peveril, reluctantly the 17th Duke of Derwent Dale. Former black sheep of the family, but now lamentably respectable, at least north of Watford."
"And south of Watford?" She tried not to giggle at the idea that a peer of the realm not only looked and dressed more like an ageing pop singer than like any of the portraits of his ancestors, but also had a wicked sense of humour. Then again, she'd met his mother.
"Oh, drinking, gambling, staying out until all hours with highly unsuitable companions... Nothing worse than any of my ancestors got up to in their time, but we generally don't talk about what happens south of Watford when we're north of Watford." He stepped back from the car door. "Now if you'll just release the bonnet catch for me..."
I'll make a start on Finding Rupert tomorrow.