been busy prepping the 'Prince of Pemberley' for publishing and had to put a halt on the third Regency story of the Collection 'Love in acts'. Stories 1 and 2 are finished and revised (so far) and here goes the second part of story 1- 'Love hurts'. Short and intense.
Love in acts
angst, rated M, short, sequel to P&P
Either it was the rising sun or the pain in his neck that woke him up, but when he got downstairs for breakfast, he was in utter bad temper. His wife’s door was still locked, still no one answered and to his astonishment, he was told she had already left.
‘She was recomposed, the poor darling.’ The housekeeper said in a sad smile. ‘She was so sick yesterday evening, today she was merry as always, although I might say she was a bit too merry. She ordered her new coach with footmen, two man servants, her maid and a chamber maid.’ He raised his brows. ‘She said she woke up aware of her role as Pemberley’s new mistress and wanted to feel the part!’ Mrs. Reynolds chuckled.
Weird. ‘What else?’
‘They left on the way to the village. I bet she went to visit her relatives, from her aunt.’ He nodded. ‘She was dressed on her heavy travelling frock, coat and pelisse. Very handsome, sir. If I may say.’
‘You may.’ He pressed a smile.
‘She will be one of the greatest mistresses this house has seen.’
‘I have no doubt.’
In truth, he had not. During the busy day with his secretary and steward, he didn’t have any doubt. The day before she had interrupted him and there were business to attend, sadly he had no hope to receive her visit. She was hurt and expecting women’s nerves where always fragile. He remembered his cousins, Colonel Fitzwilliam’s sisters: only a hot bath would calm them sometimes. Returning home that afternoon he brought a handful of calming herbs the wife of a tenant gave him when he answered her question after the lady’s health. They were perfumed, in a hot soak they would calm anyone, ‘even a tiger’ the woman said. He had a tigress, maybe this would help.
The house was empty and silent, even ominous. It was about time Georgiana returned from Matlock to fill the house with her music and wait for her nephew or niece, he thought knocking quietly at the door to her dressing chamber before opening. Gladly it was not locked anymore and both he and the maid jumped when faced each other.
‘The mistress?’ He asked keeping his voice down.
The girl trembled with wide eyes.
He pushed her aside to check the room. Empty. Pristine. Immaculate.
‘Where-‘ He bellowed but the girl was gone and not two minutes later the housekeeper appeared with a stern expression and a thin envelope addressed to him in her hand. He was feeling the ground open beneath his feet gaping at the trunks being filled in the dressing chamber. ‘Where?’
‘Her maid gave orders to fill her trunks and send it to Darcy House in London. It’s all we know.’ Mrs. Reynolds said in a stern expression.
‘And you didn’t think it fit to tell me this morning?’ He bellowed.
‘She sent the maid back with the orders from the first changing post, sir.’
Her new coach he had commissioned to please her with peach silk interior, footmen, man servants. ‘What did she say to you?’ He had his eyes on the note in his hand. ‘Pemberley’s weight?’ The note simply said ‘I need time.’
Mrs. Reynolds felt a chill seeing how he reacted to the note, and the trunks, and the obvious flee. She needed a few seconds to understand what he meant. ‘Ah. She said she was aware of her role as Pemberley’s new mistress.’
Mistress. Mistress. ‘Send word to prepare my horse.’
‘It’s late, sir.’
‘Send word!’ He shouted leaving his wife’s private chambers.
Of course it was late, it was awfully late. He doubted he would reach the first stop before it was closed for the night. Despair gripped his heart.
She arrived at Darcy house late afternoon the next day, greeted the servants warmly, called for a bath but as the beehive worked to please the new mistress, she left with Ashton, her maid and Lynens, her favorite man servant. They hired a coach and soon she was in her aunt’s arms. She cried for hours, for days it seemed. Before accepting laudanum, she made her uncle accept the research she demanded.
The next day, rebuilt and resolute, she left Gardiner house with her maid and man servant refusing her uncle’s escort. At least his coach, he insisted and that she accepted.
Wings – Cheapside
‘What are we doing here, Mr. Lynens?’
‘You should have warned her against this, Miss Ashton.’ He said under his breath, eyes intent on anyone and everything around them.
‘You tried, and look what good it did…’ Ashton whined. ‘Go inside with her!’
‘She sent me back.’
‘Try again!’ Ashton bounced on her own legs. ‘Oh, dear gracious, it can’t be good for her… she has been so sick.’
‘The first time is always worse for a lady.’ Lynens pressed a sad smile. ‘She’ll feel better soon. My late wife, may the angels guard her, she had trouble with her first breeding too.’
Ashton looked at him with a funny expression. ‘Mrs. Darcy is not with child.’
‘Are you sure?’
‘As much as I am my own belly is empty.’ Ashton frowned mirroring her companion’s frown.
‘She is really sick, then…’ He mused. ‘I’ll go get her now. Keep the coach’s door opened; she’ll come even if I have to drag her out of this hell hole.’ He walked briskly. ‘Coachman, prepare the horses!’
The girl was lovely. His eyes but nothing more. Six years old, lived with a distant aunt on the outer skirts of the city. Far, but not far enough.
Equally far, but almost the other side of the city were the boy who was around five, his sister around four, their mother around thirty, maybe thirty five. Handsome but not much, tall but not much, congenial but not much, naïve but not much. Must have been much of everything in her youth or else wouldn’t have made that gorgeous man stay for at least three years. Certainly not bright because she was only a bit suspicious of the parsonage educational program offered by a young pretty lady in mourning with a very slight dent of a wedding ring on her finger.
Also far but nearer the city, the woman was blond and beautiful. About her height, about her weight, about her age, about her figure. About her. To Elizabeth, it was almost as if looking at a mirror, only the opposite, and not quite. Almost.
‘So, the parsonage sent you?’ The blond woman raised one beautiful eyebrow.
‘Yes. Would you be so kind as to-‘
‘Mrs. Darcy, was it Pemberley’s parsonage that sent you?’
She sighed. ‘You know me.’
‘Yes, I’ve seen you on his arm once.’
‘Did he acknowledge you?’ Elizabeth was pure ice, there weren’t more tears after seeing his son and daughters.
‘No!’ She laughed. ‘He wouldn’t dare. Your time is yours, I have to respect that.’
‘Suppose I have to respect yours.’ Elizabeth pressed her lips and averted her eyes to her man servant who appeared behind her.
‘You didn’t respect my home.’
‘I apologize. It won’t happen again.’
The woman tilted her head to the side.
‘I’ll take my leave now.’ Elizabeth nodded. ‘Won’t disrespect your time anymore either. Ever.’
‘It’s your time that he cares to protect, madam. Ever since Easter.’ She paused watching with delight Elizabeth swallow convulsively. ‘I can wait, it’s not like I have anything better to do.’
‘You won’t wait for long. Soon you’ll have all the time you ever wished for.’
The woman’s face brightened. ‘Really?’
She nodded solemnly. ‘Good bye, Miss Trent.’ She walked to the door, the servant behind her.
She steeled her resolve, averted her eyes to Lynens and turned to face the woman again.
After a few seconds spent on a lovely sewing table drawer, the woman produced two cards and handed it to Elizabeth. ‘We ought to help each other. You give me time; I give you a key to your escape.’
a revised & extended version of this story will be available on Kindle Unlimited from Jan 25th, 17.