So, The Prince of Pemberley is out and doing fine!... But oh, he is so very fine, isn't he?
Meanwhile, here goes another part of the sad conundrum Darcy and Elizabeth are in, back in Regency times.
My patient Darcyfriend and reader Lady Mischief has sent me some interesting points on this story, so I explain:
1-The story is believable, but not Darcy - being so fastidious - begetting three children out of wedlock.
This is the main plot and even if it hurts me to think him doing something like this, the idea revolves around this conundrum specifically. It all happened when he was quite young and if you notice by the children’s age, it stopped happening. Anyway, it will be talked about later on (even if I still refuse to explain my character’s actions, especially when they are not excusable.) Anyway, contraception is one of the themes uniting the three Regency stories I wrote.
*sad sigh* That is one of the reasons I had never tried Regency before… I’m sorry, will try to solve this issue.
3-It’s missing Regency vibe (so far).
You know, what, in my opinion, is the hardest to write is to give women the freedom they actually had at the time (which was close to none) and I tried very hard in these 3 stories to write something believable and enjoyable for a 21st century woman. Maybe as it gets to a close, you can tell me if I managed.
That said, here goes part 3.
Love in acts
angst, rated M, short, sequel to P&P
‘Where is she?’
‘Call my wife, I know she’s here.’ He delivered his hat and gloves to the butler.
‘I’m sorry, sir. Miss Elizabeth-‘
The butler cleared his throat. ‘Miss Elizabeth is not here. Anymore.’
His vision blurred. ‘Call the lady of the house.’
The man bowed and left. Fifteen minutes of anguished wait until the parlor door opened revealing not Mrs. Gardiner, it was the same dignified butler.
‘The lady is indisposed, sir, and begs for your excuse. I have, however, sent word for the master on her orders. He won´t be long. Can I offer you refreshments? Tea? Brandy?’
He was only bothered two doses later.
‘Darcy.’ Mr. Gardiner bowed at his parlor’s door.
‘Gardiner.’ There were both relief and despair in his voice.
‘My study please, we’ll have more privacy.’ He gestured with his hand.
As the men walked to the end of the hall came the raucous noise of happy children. ‘Mr. Darcy! Mr. Darcy!’
‘Hello, little ones!’ He smiled awkwardly.
‘Did you bring Lizzy back?’
He swallowed. ‘No…’
‘Are her eyes right yet?’
‘Children, where is your nurse?’ Their father ushered them to where they had come. ‘Go, go.’
‘Her eyes?’ Darcy asked.
‘She was always crying.’ The little girl escaped under her father’s arms. ‘She said there was sand in her eyes and she was going to find an apothecary.’ The girl pouted. ‘But she said it was far, very far, she would take a long time to come back.’
‘Can’t you find her a good doctor here?’ The boy asked looking over his father’s arms. ‘I don’t want her gone for a long time.’
‘Me neither.’ Darcy said.
As the nurse pulled them by the arms towards the stairs, Darcy followed Gardiner to his study feeling his mask of indifference fail to take over.
‘Where is my wife, Gardiner?’
‘Please, take a seat, Darcy.’
‘There is no time for politeness. Where is she?’
‘Far away by now.’ Mr. Gardiner walked to his desk and opened a drawer. ‘I expected you yesterday, even before the day broke. Maybe she did too; she spent the night at the window.’ He took a sealed envelope and delivered it to Darcy. ‘I know because my wife and I kept her company trying to calm her.’
Darcy took the envelope, thought it extremely light and the penmanship was not hers. Inside there were only her wedding band and ring. When both jewels rested on the palm of his hand, his knee caved and he sat heavily on a chair.
‘I’m not fashionable or rich, but I am an educated self-made man. Maybe this is the difference; I know where my efforts have to be directed.’ Mr. Gardiner accused as he poured brandy for both of them and extended a tumbler to Darcy. ‘She is resolute.’
Darcy raised his heavy head to look at Elizabeth’s uncle. ‘Resolute on what?’ He barked.
‘Annulment.’ Gardiner drained his brandy and winced. ‘She is devastated, destroyed. I never thought one could do that to that girl, always so strong and combative. But she is. It will ruin her if word ran that you left her; it won’t be exactly good for you either. An annulment will give her a slight chance to rebuild her life.’
‘It won’t happen.’
‘She’s my dearest niece, my daughter almost. My sister and brother could never handle her, I thought you could. I love her as I love my little girl, and when she entered this house crying because of you and later hollow as an old tree after seeing your children, I wanted to have you murdered. My wife won’t even greet you.’
Gardiner sighed. ‘I suppose you just arrived in town.’ Darcy nodded. ‘So you don’t know yet that she visited everyone on the list.’
‘List.’ He ground his teeth.
‘Yes, list. Wasn’t easy for my man to discover, but with the aid of her man servant who worked for you, we did. She wouldn’t have me with her; she took her maid and man servant. I’d give him a bonus; by the way, he is loyal and protective of her. At least for servants you can do a good job.’
‘You let my wife go to those parts of the city and visit people who would harm her?’ He nearly shouted.
‘Either them or you. Who could harm her more?’
It was a challenge between family men with duty and dignity at stake.
‘You will hear from her soon.’ Mr. Gardiner finally said.
It was a dismissal.
Soon was not soon enough and more than a week later when the butler brought Darcy the card of a solicitor, he threw it on the table ordering his secretary to dismiss whoever it was from the front door. Unless it was his wife, no one else mattered.
It mattered; the man was Elizabeth’s solicitor with settlement terms. A decent living, not outranging, above mistress values of course, Darcy house in London, a small estate for her father and sisters in exchange of complete freedom for him. There would be no counterparts, no scandal, no mentioning of anything ever.
Holding the man by his neck tie, the answer was bellowed loud enough to damage one’s hearing. The attorney hushed outside the luxurious city mansion trying to think over the ringing in his ears: he needed bigger artillery.
By the time Darcy, his solicitor and secretary realized it had been unwise not to at least try to reach her through the attorney, the man was back with another one.
Unfortunately and fortunately for Darcy, it was his aunt’s Catherine de Bourgh’s solicitor, a man who he abhorred for his inexcusable ways to get what he wanted bending the law at his mercy. That man, that slime of an attorney was speaking of Miss Bennett, the former Mrs. Darcy with intimacy, like he had any legal authority over her.
His whole life since the previous Easter when he could hold himself no longer and proposed… and she broke his heart and pride… and killed his concentration on anything other than her eyes shining with rage, with tears… heavy lids over eyes full of lust in his bed. Easter. Rosings. Hunsford.
Without another word he left his study incapable of caring for the men trying to decide his life and ordered a horse. It was still early, he rode fast, had an outstanding gelding.
By supper, as the maid brought soup to the table, the baby wailed from the nursery, the doorbell rang insistently on the humble abode of the Collins’s in Hunsford.
‘By Jove, what dreadful news from Rosings Park can be brought at this hour?’ Mr. Collins stood just to almost faint when a disheveled and dirty Darcy marched into his dining room.
He bowed. ‘Mr. Collins. Mrs. Collins.’
‘Mr. Darcy! What news have you brought from the great Lady Catherine?’
‘I’m afraid none, sir.’ He answered impatiently.
‘Good gracious, Lizzy could have told us you would be coming! We could have had a better supper prepared!’ He hurried to his feet indicating the head of the table. ‘Please, take a seat. Girl, make haste, Lady Catherine’s splendid nephew will dine with us.’
For a split second, a butterfly’s wing beat, Darcy understood she was there – of all places in the world! The irony gave his daydream credibility until he saw Charlotte’s facial expression and noticed the table was set for only two. He was back in his deep well of despair.
‘I missed her.’
‘You did.’ Charlotte pursed her lips in resignation and averted her eyes to her husband. ‘My dear, go tell cook to have something better suited prepared, maybe some of your favorite cold meats, maybe the one you store in the pantry?’ She winked at her husband who left obsequiously.
‘By how many days?’
‘More than a week.’ Charlotte pursed her lips.
‘She is there already.’
‘Certainly. My cousin wrote saying so.’
‘How is she?’
Charlotte shrugged. ‘Hurt, lost, stubborn. Also safe.’
‘Thank you.’ There had to be some comfort in this news. ‘Did she explain anything?’
‘Not much, well, not enough to make me agree that you are not the perfect man for her. Since you visited Hertfordshire last year I knew you were besotted with her.’
He chuckled and fell on a dining room chair. ‘You knew before I did.’
‘Really? How extraordinary!’ She beamed but Darcy’s head hung. ‘I’m sorry; I don’t mean to be impertinent.’
‘Will you tell me where?’
‘But of course. May I offer you refreshments first or you’d rather dine in the big house?’
He shuddered. ‘I’m not going to Rosings; I cannot face my aunt or anyone else either.’
‘You can’t stay at the inn or she’d know inside of an hour.’ Charlotte mused. ‘If you don’t mind my baby, you can stay in my guest room. I’ll send you supper and my relative’s address in Scot.’
He nodded his thanks. ‘Won’t your husband run to my aunt? She’ll know in twenty minutes.’
Charlotte walked to her stairs leading the way. ‘How? You left ten minutes ago!’
He chuckled. ‘My horse, my man?’ He asked following his wife’s childhood friend wondering if she did use this stairs the previous week thinking of him as he thought of her.
‘Your valet took the horses to the stable, I gather. I’ll order them watered and rested. He can stay with us as well.’
‘Thank you, Charlotte, for being a good friend.’
‘To Lizzy? She will have my kidney when you storm into her.’
‘To us both.’ He bowed before entering the offered room. “I’ll make things right” he thought.
Wings – Hunsford
Rodgers accepted another bowl of soup and broke a big chunk of bread. ‘She was sick, then?’
‘Oh, yes, poor thing.’ The Cook clicked her tongue. ‘Nothing like that talkative girl from Easter. In mourning too. I asked if it had been her papa, but her eyes watered. I thought better not ask after her mama.’
‘Her parents are in good health.’ He muttered with his mouth full. ‘I visited their house a few days ago.’
‘Good gracious! Are you sure?’ The fat woman held her bosom as he nodded. ‘Did she lose a child? She’s a bride still!...’
Cook waited but he didn’t explain. ‘You valets are difficult to live with.’ She huffed. ‘Thank God the parson has the aid of the footman when he needs.’
‘What else did she do when around here?’ Rodgers asked. ‘Did she write many letters? Visit her ladyship?’
Cook laughed. ‘She visited me when her ladyship was close!’ He frowned. ‘Whenever the old crow – sorry.’ She blushed but he waved her off with his mouth full. ‘Miss Elizabeth used to come here to have tea when she knew her ladyship was coming to the parsonage or were bound to stop by. Which she does. Frequently. Can you believe she once entered my pantry to inspect my shelves?’ She said indignantly. ‘Miss Anne comes down the back to visit the children, away from her mother and companion, and Miss Elizabeth stood by that window-‘ She pointed at a small round opening on the side of the stove. ‘To look. She didn’t believe me when I said Miss Anne has better health than her complexion gave way.’
‘It’s Mrs. Darcy.’ He corrected the woman.
‘She said to call her Miss Elizabeth.’ Cook stuffed her chest protective of the intimacy with the lovely gentlewoman. ‘And she did receive a big letter from London, but she didn’t answer.’
‘Indeed…’ He mused.
‘She was sick.’ An also fat maid said entering the kitchen. ‘I helped her maid at least five times the days she was here. Mrs. Collins was very worried.’
‘Sick how?’ He asked.
‘I gave her the broth my mum used to cook for us. It held.’
‘For about two hours!’ The maid made fun of the cook.
‘You’re jealous because her maid was such a lady.’ She huffed. ‘Ashley.’
‘Ashton.’ Rodgers corrected. ‘Was she with Mrs. Darcy?’
‘Like a hound!’
‘Hound was the other. Lyndon.’
‘Is he married, do you know?’ One woman asked but both seemed interested.
‘Widow, big brood of children.’
One woman groaned, another didn’t seem to mind raising other people’s little ones.
‘What else?’ Rodgers pressed.
‘She didn’t have many frocks with her. Only one trunk. Refineries though…’ The maid’s eyes twinkled.
‘Yes, her trunks are waiting for her in London, master has them loaded.’
‘No use to send them to Scotland if the garments are for summer.’ The maid sniggered. ‘That part is always cold.’
‘You don’t know.’
‘I do. I once befriended a lad from that part of Scotland. He worked for Mrs. Collins’ cousin. Dashing gentleman…’ She sighed. ‘He is the one hosting Miss Elizabeth.’
‘Mrs. Darcy!’ Rodgers nearly roared and the women jumped. ‘I apologize. Please excuse me.’ He left, his second bowl of excellent soup unfinished.
a revised & extended version of this story will be available on Kindle Unlimited from Jan 25th, 17.
a revised & extended version of this story will be available on Kindle Unlimited from Jan 25th, 17.