My blog spent a week bugged, half of it under www.moirabianchi.com.br and it sucked! Excatly as book 3 came out... Oh, what a sad coincidence... At least now it's all solved.
Well... This chapter shows how the whole book will come out... A whole lotta love!
Again, both Amazon and Smashwords will probably give you even more as free sample, but here this is it...
There was a lot of planning; a lot of explaining; a lot of packing; a lot of crying, howling and meowing as Yoda and Shoyu were boarded at the vet and mostly a lot of anxiousness controlling when July finally arrived and with it, the visit to Pemberley.
During the unsettling June when both Wickham and Anne tried their best to waste Elizabeth’s peace of mind, she discovered meditation and returned to acupuncture to align her chakras and cope with what the planets were keeping in store for them. Sarah and Cassandra were lovely girls who Elizabeth thought would welcome the marriage but Diana and Thomas were another kettle of fish. Diana was skittish and Tom was jealous, protective of his mother.
As the plane prepared to land in Manchester where Darcy was waiting, Elizabeth practiced her breathing exercises. Inhaling by her mouth and closing one nostril at a time to exhale. Once, twice, five times. Even if she breathed in and out another twenty times, Darcy’s nude magnificence would still intrude her mind. The eminence of meeting him again after a trimester messed up with her.
Juggling three kids, a sister, a housekeeper, six big suitcases, five inflight bags and a stroller was not easy but as soon as they reached the sliding doors, Elizabeth could see Darcy’s anxiousness fade into a big tight lipped smile. Until his beguiling slanted eyes focused on her face and new hair. He frowned even though the smile never left his mouth.
The three children were very happy to meet Sarah and Graham giving Elizabeth a few seconds to greet Darcy without having to share his attention.
‘That’s new.’ He said caressing her three inches shorter and a few shades lighter hair, the amethyst earring moving delicately.
‘It was too long.’ She shrugged and rose on her toes to kiss his cheek. ‘And the highlights make me look younger.’
He pressed his lips to contain the smile threatening to explode on his face. ‘Finally.’
She hugged him and nodded with her nose glued to his neck. Finally July had arrived and they would be together for a month. A whole month.
‘Lizzy!’ Sarah shrieked. ‘What happened to your hair?’
‘Didn’t you like it?’ Elizabeth released father to hug daughter. ‘Are you cutting class, missy?’
‘Just two days… I’ll return to school Monday morning but Dad said I can come every weekend while you’re here!’ The girl smiled. ‘I love the color but you cut too much!...’ Sarah said in a pained expression running her hands on Elizabeth’s tresses that now reached mid shoulder blades.
‘Hair is like grass, Sally. It’ll grow back in a blink!’ Elizabeth smiled.
‘It was really long, Sally.’ Jane said and leaned demurely to kiss Darcy’s cheek.
‘Here!’ Cassandra said excitedly touching her mother’s ribs.
Darcy crouched down smiling. ‘Hello, doll. How’s your wrist?’
‘So much better!’ The girl gave him a serious nod making her hair bounce. ‘I’m back on my skates, I brought them!’ She grinned.
‘Your pretty hair is shorter too, isn’t it?’ He asked the toddler.
She blushed and looked down. ‘Mommy made me cut it… she said pretty small girls have hair skimming their shoulders…’ Cassandra half complained half regretted.
‘Mommy is a pretty girl, isn’t she?’ Darcy asked brushing the girl’s bangs out of her eyes and she nodded. ‘She’s the prettiest girl I know.’ He said and the girl giggled. ‘She must know about pretty girls’ hair…’ The toddler gave him a Lizzy smile, the one he used to get inside girlish letters and his heart warmed. He kissed her forehead and with an arm around her rainbow poka dotted legs, brought Cassandra up in his lap as he stood. ‘What about you, mate?’ He smiled at Elizabeth’s son inside a Manchester City jersey.
‘Fine.’ Tom nodded sadly. ‘Mom gave me a pill.’
‘Are you ill?’ Darcy ruffled the boy’s hair as Cassandra hugged his neck.
The boy shook his head. ‘Sick of travelling.’
‘I’ve got something to cheer you up.’ Darcy said and chuckled when Tom’s green expression alighted seeing the soccer Champions’ League match tickets he had produced from his pocket. ‘Let’s go home.’
Bags here and bags there, who would ride where, long minutes discussing the logistics of the crowd fitting three cars and they were moving. It had been years since the girls were that young and they were never as loud as Tom and Cassandra, especially with the addition of an excited Sally, but Darcy felt very cheerful with the noise. He drove with Elizabeth by his side while Tom, Reynalda and Cassandra on Sarah’s lap occupied the backseat chatting animatedly, planning what they would do on the first week everyone would spend together. The two following weeks would take Elizabeth from them as she had to attend classes and the last week would bring them all together once more.
When Darcy parked by the front door, the driver had already arrived with the bags and Graham was only minutes away with Jane and Julia. Taking advantage of the kids’ hubbub, Elizabeth hugged Darcy’s waist and handed him a small keychain.
‘What’s this, Love?’ He asked rolling the small stone tube on his fingers.
‘It’s a dzi bead.’ She said showing him hers hanging from her neck. ‘A Tibetan amulet. We both have the ‘Heaven and Earth’ bead, it purifies obstacles, aligns elements, attracts luck and repels evil.’ She said seriously.
‘Bart, you’ve been meditating too much.’ He smiled patronizingly at her.
‘Look at these gardens!’ They heard Cassandra squeak. ‘I wish we had brought my bike!... Let’s have a picnic, Sally? I have my dolls!’
‘Do you want me to use this?’ Darcy asked trying to keep serious.
‘You have no idea how hard it is to find these in Rio.’ She raised her brows and nodded vehemently. ‘And it’s not cheap either. We need protection, King.’
He nodded inspecting the stone, an arm around her waist as she kept one around his.
‘You’re making fun of me.’ She accused. ‘Jerk!’
‘Fine. I’ll use it if it’s important to you.’ He fished his keys from his pocket and attached the bead’s string. ‘We’re together now, relax.’
‘I hate you.’ She said squinting and he had to lower his head to kiss her lips.
Since she stepped out of the restricted airport area he had been controlling himself, the last rocky month made them both ache for the other’s reassurance. But before his lips touched hers, she turned her face to the side and tilted her head to where the children were, their curious eyes intent on them.
Darcy sighed. A cheek kiss it would be. Sarah, Thomas and Cassandra blinked but Darcy and Elizabeth were saved from any inquiry by Diana showing up on the front door.
Introductions were made; she kissed Elizabeth’s cheek, ruffled the kids’ hair but kept her face almost frozen, incapable of digesting the onslaught. Her father’s house was being invaded and she was helpless, as lost as a pet when owners bring home a new baby. Her mother had admonished her against Elizabeth, forewarning that the Brazilian skank would pounce on him as soon as the marriage was broken. And here she was, with her children, maid, sister… Quietly Diana observed when the boy moved closer to her father and whispered something to him that made him frown and shake his head with a sad expression.
‘I do have horses, though.’ Darcy said and the boy smiled. ‘I guess we can buy bikes…’ He said. ‘But a dirt bike…’
‘Don’t fall for that, Fitz!’ Elizabeth shook her finger at them. ‘Diana, protect your father.’
Diana smiled surprised by the mentioning of her name. Considering herself a silent bystander who witnessed the Brazilian crowd take advantage of her father, she was genuinely pleased to be remembered.
‘Tom, I already told you dirt bikes are prohibited.’ Elizabeth said carrying her purse and two inflight bags from the car.
‘But mom, if I don’t try it I’ll never learn how to ride one.’ The boy whined. ‘Video games are also not allowed…’
‘If you play for a whole daylong, yes it’s not allowed.’ Elizabeth shook her head and smiled when the maids came to help her. She greeted them all with a handshake and indicated where the bags were.
‘We’ll see into it, mate.’ Darcy whispered to Tom who smiled.
‘What is this? A mutiny?’ Elizabeth shouted as she moved past them on her way inside the house. ‘Tell them about the secret.’ She said knowing it would kill Darcy’s element of surprise and he shook his head at her.
‘Is it candy?’ Cassandra asked jumping up and down.
‘Popsicles?’ Julia asked running from Graham’s hand to hug Darcy’s leg.
‘A horse show?’ Tom smiled expectantly.
Darcy shook his head again. ‘You’ll see.’
Darcy had everything planned meticulously. Graham and Jane would take Anne’s room – now a guest room once her things were delivered at Rosings, Diana and Sarah each had their own rooms. Elizabeth’s kids would take the guest room attached to his and the lady in question, the one who inspired his life for the last years would finally occupy his bed’s left side.
To his abhorrence, his careful plans were thwarted. The maids had to hurry from room to room carrying bags and linens, rearranging the already prepared beds as he stood in the middle of the hall, petrified and magnificent as the Colossus of Rhodes, arms crossed high on his chest and legs apart.
Tom wouldn’t sleep with his sister for the world. She had nightmares and screamed, talked to her dolls and kicked the whole night. He was given the family guest room.
Elizabeth wouldn’t let Reynalda sleep at the servants’ quarters for the world. She was family and didn’t speak English enough to chat with people.
Cassandra wouldn’t sleep far from her mother. Or Reynalda. Ever. Neither for the world or the universe.
And worst, Elizabeth wouldn’t sleep in his bed.
‘I can’t hop into your bed.’ Elizabeth touched his arm. ‘Not yet.’
She pressed her lips together. ‘You know what?’ She looked at him through her lashes. ‘I brought workout clothes hoping you’d let me try your rowing machine…’ She smiled.
“Good God, the lioness.” Darcy felt his loins twitch and in his head he lowered his arms, whisked her in his lap and trotted to his bedroom. But in reality they kept in the middle of the hall as hell broke loose around them. ‘You use it naked.’ He said seriously. ‘It says on the manual.’ Elizabeth laughed and hugged his waist; he uncrossed his arms to hug her back. ‘Please, stay with me.’ He insisted in a whisper.
‘You know it’s too early.’
Two days later, Elizabeth wished she had shocked their kids and stayed in his bed.
Life at Pemberley house needed her full attention even though she hadn’t moved in yet and only few people knew for sure she would eventually. Reynalda didn’t speak English enough to be left on her own, the kids needed help settling down and she wanted them to like Pemberley so she made an extra effort.
Sarah missed her and she spent time chatting with the girl about innumerous silly subjects, from school to boys, from hair products to video games.
Cassandra had a medical appointment in the city and Elizabeth asked Sarah to tag along so they could do some shopping after the consult fearing her Indu-British doctor would want to put her daughter back in a cast and that would certainly start a tantrum.
Thomas was mostly outside enjoying that much space for the first time in his life, as well as soccer pals in the driver and guards who he persuaded to play on their free time.
Diana was still shying from Elizabeth and it was unsettling. They had barely chatted, Elizabeth had only met the girl twice and resigned to giving time to time, she refused to force a relationship.
One afternoon when miraculously she could disengage from everyone, Elizabeth considered going for a power run and when casually passing by Darcy’s den’s on her way upstairs to change, from the opened door, his velvety strong voice caught her attention and she didn’t resist looking inside to blow him a kiss but his deep frown made her stay: father and older daughter were having an argument over a party the girl had been invited.
His daughters, as her own kids, were caught in a divorce that shattered their world; with teenagers, such a change was tantamount worse. Elizabeth felt guilty and still over indulged her babies on occasion; it was only natural to indulge her step daughters as well.
Two women against Darcy, one who looked like him, another looking so fucking hot in denim shorts, he had no chance of resisting, they didn’t even need to argue for long. A face splitting smile on her face, Diana left them with her phone in her ear, talking in animated rushed tones.
‘That was unfair, Lizzy.’ Darcy ran a hand through his hair, the other on his hips. ‘She’s too young to go out alone and come back at one in the morning!’ He shook his head. ‘Eleven thirty was her limit.’
‘It’s summer and she’s a teenager almost on vacation.’ Elizabeth smiled.
‘You want to seduce her.’ Darcy accused.
‘I want to seduce her father!’ Elizabeth sashayed closer to him and he took a few steps towards her.
‘He is very keen.’ Darcy whispered on her lips a second before they finally shared a series of proper kisses. She was ensconced inside his arms hugging his waist, one hand inside his pants on the small of his back. He engulfed her in his big frame, one arm securing her waist and pressing her into him, another on her shoulder blades to hold her head and caress her ear with his thumb. ‘Let’s go upstairs.’ He urged and she nodded, turned on and moist already.
Wasting time on one last kiss before trotting up the stairs, they heard an awful noise of something heavy rolling down the stairs followed by a piercing cry.
Desperate, Elizabeth ran to the hall to see Cassandra sprawled on the floor with a large plastic storage box’s lid beside her.
‘Oh my God!’ Elizabeth kneeled on the floor beside her daughter while Darcy frowned fishing his phone from his pocket to call an ambulance but something caught his eye: Thomas standing at the top of the stairs with his hands on his hips and lips pressed together, another big lid beside him. And worse, Julia was near, wide eyed and with a lid of her own.
‘What did you do, Thomas?’ Darcy asked the boy and Elizabeth looked up at him peeved that he talked to her son in that harsh tone. A second later she looked at the boy at the top of the stairs and understood.
Tom shook his head. ‘Nothing. We were trying to bobsled down the stairs and I told her this lid wouldn’t be good enough.’
‘We had to try…’ Cassandra whined slowly sitting up.
‘You’re too stubborn.’ Tom took a seat on the first step. ‘I said we need a carbon box.’
As the brothers started discussing the mechanics of stairs bobsledding, Darcy touched Elizabeth’s shoulder and tilted his head to a side.
She averted her eyes from him to her daughter and he shook his head.
‘She’s fine.’ He whispered and without further encouragement, she rose to her feet, took his hand and they walked back towards his den since the stairs were now compromised.
The den was the obvious place anyone would try if they noticed they were MIA so she pushed him forward and as they heard someone call ‘Mom…’ they hurried inside the first door available. It was a small sitting room that was obviously not used regularly and smelled faintly of dust but the door didn’t squeak when Darcy closed it behind them.
Giggling she pushed him against the wall by the door and attacked his mouth hungrily. His hands snaked inside her top and expertly hiked up her bra to knead her breasts, making her moan in his mouth.
‘Shhh, be quiet.’ Darcy whispered waking in Elizabeth the need for revenge.
She snaked her hands downwards, one inside his pants waist, another cupping his bulging dick, effectively making him groan. She chuckled and he reciprocated with a hand inside the back of her shorts.
‘Do me!’ She whispered heatedly, her hand closed around his wood and moaned feeling the paper thin skin slid around the solid center. He chuckled feeling very turned on by her urgency. The sexual tension of being in the same house but not touching after anticipating these vacations together for a longtime was unbearable and she needed the release only he could give her, even if in rabbit mode. ‘I’m always staring at your crotch! I beg you, please cock me.’ She breathed.
‘That’s raunchy.’ He complained amused.
Elizabeth sighed exasperated. ‘Please love me intensely because I have a yearning in my very core.’ She groaned in a ragged breath.
Darcy chuckled. ‘It’ll be my pleasure.’
She stole the air from his lungs by kneading his dick and balls inside and outside his pants; he craved to feel her ‘pretty little thing’ smearing his fingers. Greedily he tugged on her shorts button to open it and invade her panties but before he touched heaven, another piercing cry reached them.
And this one was followed by another that Elizabeth recognized coming from Jane.
Around the dinner table, the animated noise of a full Pemberley was very unsettling. Although Darcy was happy with Elizabeth’s presence after such a long wait, he was used to quiet lone meals when he would be left to his own thoughts. The last family meals this dining room had witnessed consisted on halted conversations and long stretches of silence. Now the table burst with laughter and voices chatting, an occasional whine over vegetables or a chastising.
Graham’s impression of a caring father was very amusing to watch, the way he fed baby Julia her peas while she only spooned mashed potatoes or checked the band aid adorning her forehead was particularly entertaining.
‘I’ve never seen a vegetarian child come from a meat eating home before.’ Darcy said watching Julia nibble on a baby carrot. ‘Didn’t she eat chicken tenders at Disney?’
‘She eats fish or chicken if you force her.’ Jane looked with adoring eyes at her daughter and boyfriend competing to win the carrot nibbling contest.
Elizabeth nudged Darcy. ‘Rabbits!’ She said and he pressed his lips together. ‘I like rabbits. They are cute animals. Can be fierce too, if urged.’ He nodded. ‘I’d like to meet a rabbit.’ She insisted.
‘Do you have rabbits here?’ Cassandra asked hopefully.
Darcy shook his head no.
‘They were scared away; you made a lot of noise this afternoon.’ Elizabeth bounced her legs under the table and Darcy rested a hand on her knee to calm her, he was barely keeping it together as well. It had been almost three days since his love arrived in his house and still he hadn’t had her naked yet. There was always one of the kids wanting to talk to her, a phone call for him, a bad dream for Cassandra, Tom’s need for his mother, Jane and her professional views of the house, one thing or another. Even so, it was very alluring to know she was as turned on as he was.
‘Why is Diana gone missing?’ Cassandra asked looking dejectedly from her peas that refused to disappear from her plate to Julia’s birthday cake on the side board waiting to be served as dessert.
‘She didn’t ‘go missing’, you silly! She went out.’ Tom rolled his eyes.
‘She had a party.’ Sally said.
‘You’re too young, sweetie. Your father is right.’ Elizabeth touched the saddened girl’s hand.
Darcy reached out and scooped half of Cassandra’s peas as her mother was distracted.
‘She’s only two years older than me.’ Sarah whined.
Cassandra looked sideways at her mother barely disguising her joy in being relieved of the offending green food.
‘Diana is also too young.’ Darcy groaned munching Cassandra’s peas.
‘Oh please, not again!’ Elizabeth poked him in the ribs. ‘She’s 17! That’s the age for parties! Don’t you remember what it felt like? Only twenty eight years ago!...’
‘A driver took her and will bring her back; the party is at the club. What could happen?’ Elizabeth sipped her wine.
‘It has only been twenty four years for you.’ Darcy squinted at her and he could see she was fuming at the age reference. ‘Have you forgotten how boys are at seventeen?’
‘How are we at seventeen?’ Tom asked.
‘Grosse, I bet.’ Cassandra grumbled.
‘Unstoppable.’ Graham pointed at Tom and Darcy pointed at Graham, giving Elizabeth the stinky eye.
‘Oh, alright!’ She threw her hands up. ‘I’ll go get her at half past midnight. Is it better? I’ll take full responsibility.’ She said, deep down fearing what the repressed girl might be up to. She had specifically warned Diana against booze and greedy boys in what she hoped was a cool conversation, but with teenagers one could never know.
‘Fine.’ Darcy nodded. ‘And I’ll take full responsibility for Tom’s motorized dirt bike.’
‘Yes!’ Tom pumped his fist.
Elizabeth shook her head vehemently. Her legs started bouncing again. ‘That’s unfair! You know he’s been dreaming about this.’ She cautioned Darcy.
‘Indulging your child is unfair, huh?’ He raised his brows and took a healthy bite of food.
‘Ah, lovely Reynalda!’ Graham greeted the housekeeper who came into the room. ‘What have you got there, my dear? Is it what I hope it is?’
‘Chicken pie.’ Reynalda smiled. ‘Didn’t you ask for it?’
Graham sighed slowly. ‘Madam, I’ll double whatever salary my boring cousin offered you. Please come to my house and help me care for these two beautiful ladies.’
‘No!’ Elizabeth shouted.
‘Good luck breaking these two apart, Graham.’ Darcy chuckled.
‘Are you jealous?’ Elizabeth pinched his cheek.
Secretly, Darcy was but not of her love for Reynalda. He was jealous of his cousin whose work permitted him to spend several weeks in Rio whenever he wanted, who often went to his sister-in-law’s house for dinner and was intimate enough to be indulged by her housekeeper. Darcy’s housekeeper-to-be.
‘Don’t be, boss.’ Reynalda said, answering their heavily accented chat in Portuguese. ‘I have something for you too.’ She smiled and took the tray the maid behind her was carrying.
Darcy’s mouth watered as he looked at the steamy dark balls in front of him. ‘What are these, Mrs. Rey?’ He asked making Elizabeth smile at his addressing of her housekeeper.
‘Feijoada fritters.’ The beautiful and intimidating woman said in a smile. ‘The best way I could make do. You have different beans here, and your collard is also not the same. But I think they taste good.’
‘Someone has been pretty busy.’ Elizabeth poked Reynalda’s arm and she giggled.
The tall black warrior was feeling very awkward after the serious conversation Darcy had with her when they arrived. He offered her the post of housekeeper and with it came several implications. Reynalda would need to master the language fast, she would run a house ten times bigger than Elizabeth’s apartment in Rio, the family she would take care of would double and she would have seven employees to order around. Aside all professional requirements, she also would have a house of her own to start from scratch. To help Reynalda, Darcy had chosen the maid Elizabeth liked best – Hill, the one that had attended her on her last visit to Pemberley. To persuade Reynalda, he had presented a big paycheck that was already pretty generous in pounds, and converted in reais it was four times higher, almost three times what she made in Brazil. And it was effective immediately to help Elizabeth get ready to move and start running Pemberley house as the new mistress liked.
After the hearty meal, they sang happy birthday to a grinning baby Julia, the big family went outside to finish their wine at the balcony and Elizabeth lost Darcy to Tom who excitedly made plans concerning the previously forbidden motorcycle for hours.
Darcy’s chances to spend time alone with Elizabeth were always scarce. As he spent the day outside with Tom, Cassandra and Julia riding horses or their new bikes with a delighted Sarah as company, Diana mostly locked in her room, Graham and Jane taking care of the crowd, Elizabeth studied. Her PhD’s counselors demanded bigger advances both in her research and essays so she needed to cram.
Although the soccer match and the bike helped Darcy bond with Thomas, it also tied them further preventing him to glue to Elizabeth. They had nice man-to-man chats on both occasions, shared male moments such as rooting for the same team, fitting the dirt bike in the back of Darcy’s Range Rover and bringing it home or horse riding.
Darcy hadn’t driven a motorcycle since his teenage years but was glad to see that he still remembered how to do it and took his time teaching the boy. To his surprise, it not only caught Graham’s attention but also his daughters when they returned for the weekend.
The group scattered around the grounds enjoying the day, from his den Elizabeth heard Darcy calling out for her. She hurried to the door and spotted him in a run with their four kids trailing behind him and Graham with Julia on his arm.
‘Shall we?’ Jane asked behind her.
Elizabeth jumped and then nodded. ‘Sure.’
They linked arms and skipped a few steps to synchronize their strides as they used to when children.
‘Tell me how much you will charge to make this old-fashioned castle into a home, sister architect.’ Elizabeth smiled.
‘Oh… I already have incredible ideas!’ Jane grinned. ‘So many possibilities to such a big house… Fitz is really loaded, isn’t he? This many employees must cost a fortune here in Europe.’
Elizabeth nodded in a serious expression. ‘He is always surrounded by staff, either here, in London or his offices... It’s so different from us.’
‘Graham also has drivers and housekeepers… but Fitz has a freaking horse barn and you’re not intimidated!’ Jane squeaked.
Shrugging, Elizabeth kept the seriousness. ‘He always had that; we talked about it in letters... Not that this many people around is not unnerving sometimes…’ She let her eyes lock on his impressing figure walking several meters ahead of them. ‘How does Graham live in London?’
‘He has a housekeeper that helped raise him, his mother orders the woman. Here in Manchester he stays with his parents. We’re having lunch there this week so I can meet them.’
‘You’ll meet mother and nanny together?’ Elizabeth gasped. ‘Imagine meeting mom and Rey at the same time!’
Jane made a pained expression.
‘How will this work, Jane? Will you take Julia with you?’
‘I don’t know, Beebe.’
Elizabeth frowned but her sister kept silently staring at their feet as they walked in sync. ‘Cassandra is basically taking advantage of Fitz when he lets her-’ Elizabeth smiled at her sister. ‘But Julia is pretty comfortable in Graham’s shoulders, I can see it!’
Jane nodded. ‘She likes to play giant.’
‘And your boyfriend is in love with her…’
‘He wants to be her dad.’ Jane mumbled. ‘Officially.’
‘Really?’ Elizabeth halted making Jane stumble forward. ‘Oh my God, Jane! What did you say?’
Jane smiled shyly and shrugged. ‘Maybe you could check my planets and tell me what to do?’
Darcy looked over his shoulder and urged Elizabeth breaking the sisters’ conversation. When they arrived at the barn and approached the group, the women found the two smaller girls on the men’s shoulders, the seven of them intent on one of stalls as caretakers moved hurriedly around them. Elizabeth frowned moving closer, blinking to adjust her eyes after walking under the summer sun and suddenly understood Darcy’s cryptic hints for the kids since they arrived.
‘Is she giving birth?’ Elizabeth whispered in awe as a beautiful mare with a huge round belly paced her stall slowly.
‘Yes. That’s my new stallions’ first colt.’ He answered holding Cassandra’s ankle, brought Elizabeth’s back to his chest and hugged her shoulders with one arm. ‘I’m hoping for a red one, like him.’
‘Is he here?’ She whispered and leaned back surprised when the big animal lied down abruptly and whined.
‘That’s probably him.’ Darcy said as they heard an answering neigh.
The foaling wasn’t quick and they stood unmoving for the whole time, even the kids quietly whispered questions. Except from Darcy and Graham, it was the first time they watched nature enfold in front of their eyes as the mare foaled her baby practically alone. The enthralling moment the white socked red foal stood in his uncertain long thin legs brought tears to their eyes and they cheered to the admonishing of the caretakers.
Darcy had to insist to move them all outside the barn and wait for mother and baby take their first stroll. Cassandra and Julia wanted to pet the red colt thinking it was one of their cartoons’ characters and cried feeling hurt when it was not allowed.
As the group watched the new born follow its mother’s tits around the pen, Elizabeth watched Darcy. He had known about the impending foaling and planned to take her children to watch it. They were city children; of course they would love to witness such an exuberant spectacle.
“Our life together might work, after all.” Her romantic side swooned. His care for her and her entourage endeared him to her but also pierced her heart. He was so close and yet, under the surveillance of his teenage daughters and her young children, he was still out of her reach. There was no denial that the distance offered her the perspective to see how perfect he was. Tall and strong, an extremely able lover, polite, in love with her and… rich. Jane was right: who has a horse breeding barn a mere kilometer from his house?
Would she have turned her life around for him if they had to struggle to make ends meet every month?
On their walk back to the house, Nanda on his shoulders still excited about the colt she wanted to name ‘Cherry Sparkle’, Elizabeth walked by his side and snaked a hand inside his shirt to caress his lower back.
‘Thank you, King.’ She smiled fondly at him. ‘You’re the best.’
‘Did you like the surprise?’ He bent to let a squirming Cassandra down making Elizabeth’s hand move to hug his waist and straightening up, he concentrated on her pretty face.
‘Oh my God!’ She smiled, her mouth in parenthesis. ‘It was unforgettable… You rock my world; you do know it, right?’
He hugged her shoulder and in spite of the babbling children around them, they made love through long stares and big smiles as they used to before his birthday in Paris, two years before.
Unbeknownst to them, Diana who walked behind the group, noticed the exchange with a frown as deep as her father’s. She had never seen her parents exchange PDA’s and she had never thought of her father as someone’s love interest. But there he was, walking in front of her with Elizabeth’s hand inside his shirt and their faces so close they were practically kissing.
It happened often, this close proximity, this whispering and smiling. Diana was surprised, betrayed and jealous. She began to resent her own mother who was never this loving with her father, rarely fought for her against him or her grandmother and let their family break. Most of all, Diana felt confused.
‘Let’s go!’ Darcy called out from the door that evening.
‘My women are already in the car, William.’ Graham said in a silly smile. ‘I’ve got two now! I even have a pink booster seat!’ He chuckled happily. ‘I’ll meet you lot at the restaurant.’
‘Fine.’ Darcy grumbled. He had four women and a lad now, he would probably need a bigger car to take his family out. As it was, Cassandra would be riding on Sarah’s lap again and Darcy considered if the girl would be sad if there were seats for the four of them. ‘Lizzy!’ He called again.
Elizabeth left his den frowning, balancing her bag on her shoulder and a phone in her ear as she hurriedly walked towards him.
‘Hurry up, the kids are impatient!’ He said admiring her slender figure in boot cut denim, wedge sandals, purple top making her curves even more enticing and a colorful maxi necklace.
“Oui, oui, Feuillide.” She said on the phone. “La prochaine semaine.”
Making plans for the next week in French? Darcy raised his brows as she passed him by. ‘I’m screwed!’ She whispered.
‘We’re leaving, Mrs. Rey.’ He called out chuckling and closed the door behind him.
Elizabeth still chatted in French for a few more minutes as he drove out of Pemberley. When she finished, the raucous of noise started immediately.
‘We’ll need a bigger car.’ Darcy mumbled and she laughed reaching out to caress his neck.
‘It seems I’ll meet you guys in Paris next week.’ She said.
‘Will you mom?’ Cassandra bounced on Sarah’s lap.
‘Yes, baby. But not for Euro Disney, I’m sorry.’ Elizabeth said turning backwards to face the packed backseat. Tom sat behind Darcy, Sarah and Cassandra in the middle and Diana, intent of her many messaging apps, behind her. ‘My counselor wants to see me. She says I’ve been quiet for too long.’
‘Good for us.’ Darcy smiled. He was about to face worst times than this last week when he barely laid a hand on his soon-to-be wife. She was fleeing to London for her classes leaving Graham and Jane to help him entertain the five kids at Euro Disney, then some London tourism for children without his daughters.
‘I think I’ll leave for London a day earlier.’ She pressed her lips together. ‘If I’ll be spending a few days in Paris, I’ll need to spend more time in the library to prepare my essays.’ She looked outside her window thinking hard. ‘Maybe the hospital’s library…’
If Darcy believed in her crappy planets and zodiac, he would say it was an alignment. ‘Maybe I’ll go with you.’ He said seriously. ‘I have to check on the business, I’ve neglected the company for too long.’
Elizabeth turned her head to face him and saw in his eyes what he meant by neglecting. ‘You should.’ They nodded at each other silently communicating through smiling eyes even though their faces were impassive. ‘Rey, Graham and Jane will take the bunch alone…’
‘Tom and I made plans to ride to London; he is not comfortable with flying again.’ Darcy said and Elizabeth could see from the corner of her eye that her son breathed relieved. ‘I’ll ask my driver to take them. You and I can fly.’
‘Ok.’ She said.
‘I don’t want to endure a three hours’ ride in a full car.’ Diana complained.
‘Two, Diana.’ Darcy answered. ‘You can fly as you usually do.’
Her father’s indulgent answer made Diana feel a little left aside.
Roger Hodgson started singing on the radio and Elizabeth clapped happily. ‘Supertramp, Fitz!’ They shared a smile and sang along for most of the song to the amusement of their children. During the bridge while there was a ‘nana nana nana’ Elizabeth leaned to her right and reached out for the steering wheel’s radio controls. ‘Please, do the radio voice…’ She asked through her lashes as she lowered the volume.
He laughed. ‘Hijacking Manchester W540, this is the Lamb Tone.’ He said with mirth and the children cheered form the backseat. ‘This is the Prince of Pemberley. The one and only.’
Diana looked up at her father laughing as he drove with curious eyes, these days had been very confusing. Who was this man in her father’s skin?
Her sister elbowed her. ‘Didn’t I tell you?’ Sarah grinned. ‘I told you!...’ She nodded vehemently.
Darcy reached out and held Elizabeth’s hand as he drove to the restaurant, relaxed and good humored, discussing which eighties’ band had sax or other wind instruments, playfully fighting with Elizabeth about the music each liked best; their children in the backseat either bickering at each other or giggling and it felt normal.
It felt like home.
Let's us both know that we still love still one other
Ain't it strange and wonderful
That we, that we, we're still friends...
didn't I say? Luuuuve!