quinta-feira, 19 de maio de 2016

Regency love fairy tale - Part 6

Hello, there.
It rains here and everybody knows we don't like rain here in Rio...
Anyways, what's best for a rainy day?
A good read!

Enjoy


Love in acts

2nd act

ECLIPSE OF THE HEART

angst, rated M, short, P&P, Alternate Universe
Part 5


Part 6 -



‘Lizzy?’

‘Here.’

Here where, Lizzy?’ Ben bellowed. ‘Deuce, where are you?’

Elizabeth’s head appeared on the door to the room behind the dais on the parlor they rented for the auctions. ‘Where is the fire, good Lord!’

‘He was just here.’ He said angrily and she frowned deeper. ‘Darcy.’ Elizabeth swallowed. ‘He was looking for you.’

‘You said I was not here.’

‘I said you are not available.’

She pressed her lips. ‘That’s not quite the same thing.’

‘Doesn’t matter, he is gone.’

She nodded; he squinted suspicious of her reaction.

Surely enough, that night as the auction approached its end with the more expensive sets, Ben spotted Darcy in the audience, eyes intent on his mother. He frowned realizing she hadn’t noticed, she still laughed and talked animatedly to Clarence not at all concerned with the man’s interest. But, as the people started to leave, the man arrived close to her, bowed at the Earl before paying her his respects, kissed her hand and left. Ben knew that when he asked what the man said, she wouldn’t answer.



‘You visited my apartment again this morning.’ She said as they entered the park, finally with privacy enough to talk about anything other than the weather. ‘Bright and early, you don’t sleep in.’ Elizabeth herself was not yet recovered from the shock of, as she finished her breakfast, hearing the footman announce Darcy’s presence with a charming invitation for a stroll through Hyde Park.

He merely smiled and held her hand tucked in the crook of his arm.

‘You cause quite an impression on Ben.’ She tried again, he still kept silent. ‘Pray, sir, you may as well say what you still want to talk about and we can declare the subject dead.’

‘I will.’ He smiled sideways so impossibly charming her legs wobbled.

‘I wonder.’

There was silence for a good part of the crowded big lane and only when they could identify the side path protected by the tall trees, did she find something to say. ‘You must think me terribly rude or a terribly silly woman who lets emotions carry away.’ He shook his head with a ghost of a smile. She decided to try again. ‘The glasses are exquisite. Never have I liked swans that much.’

‘Pemberley has a lake with at least two dozen swans. At least they are decidedly quieter than peacocks.’ He was still chuckling, she waited smiling. ‘But that may be a problem.’ Her mouth formed an ‘o’ but no sound came forth. ‘You don’t like the birds?’ 


‘Never cared for them.’ She swallowed and tried to recompose herself in spite of her racing heart. ‘Very unladylike of me not to care for birds of any kind, and if I may be indiscreet I could say my maid have seen me curse on one particular feathered creature that used to live under my window at Longborn.’ She shook her head pressing her lips together and he raised his brows with mirth. ‘My mother has been nurturing a silly infatuation for a very ill-tempered peacock and it reciprocates her attention nervously opening his tail.’

‘And you don’t appreciate the bird?’

‘I can’t say it’s not a magnificent spectacle but it crows, sir!’ She made a pained expression and he laughed. ‘Really loud!’

He laughed. It was an unusual day of good humor for him. Darcy had been practicing for days and now that he was so close, he started to second guess his courage as they approached the exact tree he knew existed on a prettyish little twist on the shaded path. The trunk had been bent and chastened by time and weather for many decades so that it formed a bench wide enough to fit a derriere from a thin elegant lady such as the fetching creature on his arm.

Once he seated her, he paced for a few moments trying to gather his thoughts.

‘Pray, do blurt it out.’ She joked holding her hands so he wouldn’t see how they trembled.

He stopped and shook his head. ‘That’s not how a gentleman does these things.’ He joked back and watched her slender neck move with the tense swallowing. ‘Richard was my closest friend, we had much in common.’ She nodded and blinked slowly wondering what was she doing there. ‘He didn’t have time to offer, but Clarence did. Why didn’t you marry Clarence, Miss Elizabeth?’

So surprised, she gasped. How unexpected. ‘I couldn’t.’
‘Was it Richard?’ He asked and she shook her head with eyes wide like a frightened cat. ‘It was years after he passed away, he couldn’t have any lasting impression on you.’ Darcy mused. ‘Why then?’

‘Several reasons.’

‘Tell me.’

‘We didn’t love each other for that, Clarence and I are friends.’
‘There are solid marriages based on friendship, you had to have another reason. You didn’t trust him enough to tell him your secret. Was that it?’

‘Well, yes, but-’

‘Please, madam.’ He begged.

She eyes searched around them nervously, there was no one close but it was a public park. ‘I had my reasons.’

‘Clarence admires you, I see it in his eyes and the way he treats you, he values your friendship. He is wealthy, your love liaison with my cousin was long in the past, I cannot see-’

‘You cannot see because you are not me, sir, as I am not you to know why you didn’t marry and let your sister live under the orders of a strange woman. I could never leave Ben behind and how the heir leaving his estate to follow his second eldest sister while his mother was alive could ever be explained?’

He blinked grasping what she meant. The lad was… the lad was… “Don’t let my son see me crying with you.” That’s what she had meant. ‘Bennett is not your bro-’

She stood with a raised hand to him. ‘Don’t say it.’

The lad, her eyes on Richard’s face... Darcy passed a hand over his face and bit his knuckle. She groaned and paced the tree, the leaves crunching under her delicate boots.

‘You were right, Mr. Darcy. When we’re together there is always need to apologize.’ She blew air from her nose angered with herself. ‘Ben is a grown man, he can fend for himself. Your family have no need to acknowledge him.’

Darcy shook his head. ‘My uncle is dead, he never quite recovered from Richard’s passing, my aunt is sadly demented. As for his brother, the Earl now, I don’t think Edward would care for he and Richard were never close.’

She actually trembled with relief, he nodded and she looked around her not sure if she wanted to leave with grace or just to run and hide. ‘Why did you insist on this stroll, Mr. Darcy? Aside from Clarence, I have had other offers, no so many these last years but still.’ She frowned, her heart thumping. ‘Even more than once I was offered to be a mistress, a richly kept woman.’

‘What?’ He roared.

His reaction reassured her he wasn’t planning on that. She shrugged. ‘Men see me working with Ben, a woman of six and thirty-’ He was surprised, she noticed. ‘They tend to think I’m… Mmmm… liberated.’

‘And Bennett is old enough to live by himself now.’ He stated. ‘Is he shopping for a bride yet?’

‘No. He still wants to dedicate to his education.’ She said. ‘He was offered Oxford. We can afford it.’

‘Your mama is still alive.’

‘Yes.’

He paced.

‘Pray, sir, you are making me rather nervous and I’d like to go home.’ She wriggled her hands. ‘I hate to quote my mama, but now I do understand what she means when she complains about her nerves.’

‘Would you consider meeting my sister? Would it please you if she paid you a visit?’ He asked at last.

Her shoulders sagged and she fell back down at the tree makeshift bench. He was not preparing to offer his hand; God bless, he wanted her to cheer his sister. She was an adult assured woman who managed to live a good life in spite of the catastrophe that came to her as it had to many other young naïve girls all over England countless times. Lost in her turmoil, she wondered if it was yet another form of mistress business, be hired to build up the confidence of a girl- suddenly her attention snapped back to him.

‘… ardently I came to admire and love you, I cannot repress my feelings any longer. Will you accept my hand?’

‘I beg your pardon, sir?’

‘Fitzwilliam, please call me Fitzwilliam. I long to call you Elizabeth.’ She shook her head stupidly, he moved closer to hold her hands in his and as they still shook, he lowered his head to place a lingering kiss in each wrist, twice. ‘I know your secrets, you know mine. The ones I haven’t told you yet, I’ll offer you as soon as you want to hear. I spent these last days fighting an irrational jealousy towards my deceased cousin, struggling against the unsuitability of our match.’ He kissed her palms, first one, than the other. ‘I admired you from when we met; your figure, your good humor, your strength and your dedication to your family. I am deeply flattered you confided in me, your trust and rectitude; you could have kept the truth hidden, I had no manner of finding out. Will you accept my hand?’

‘No.’

‘You refuse me?’

‘Yes.’ He kept her hands in his; she kept her head tossed back to look in his eyes as he stood in front of her. ‘I can’t-’

‘Your heart is free, is it not?’ He eyed her expectantly. ‘Ben is old enough, my lady.’ Darcy tried. ‘I have felt a strange fondness towards him since we met and deemed it because you bewitched me so. Now that I know why I feel deeply inclined to care for him, he would also profit from our marriage for I run my estate longer than he does his, there are things I can teach him or even run it for him while he goes to Oxford. Cambridge, he can go to Cambridge and later enjoy his Grand Tour.’

She smiled softly shaking her head. ‘You have no debt to settle, sir.’

‘What?’ He tilted his head to the side in a quick shake. ‘Do you think I offer you my hand because of my cousin?’

‘Can you honestly say this is not your intention?’

‘It was not nobleness but jealousy what consumed me these last days, madam.’ He let go of her hands and held his waist. ‘I expected you’d refuse me.’

‘You did?’

He nodded. ‘I needed days to gather courage.’

‘Still you tried.’

‘A man can hope, my lady.’ He sighed. ‘Would you consider visiting Pemberley? For an extended stay. You can get to know Georgiana there; I’ll invite your sister and Bingley as well.’ She raised her brows, his hope filling once more with the lack of an open refusal. ‘My sister is loath of taking part on any event of the season, even thirteen years after her falling. I’d like to return to Pemberley with her, but I won’t go if you’d rather stay here.’

‘Our plans are to stay in London until our last auction, in six weeks.’

‘We can go to Pemberley now and return for the auction. Would it please you, my Elizabeth?’

‘Don’t call me this way.’ She asked. ‘I give you leave to use my given name when we’re alone but don’t say ‘my Elizabeth’, ‘my Lizzy’.’

‘How can I call you, my lady?’ He took her hands again but instead of placing a kiss on her wrists, his lips hovered over hers. She shook her head actually uncertain of how she would like to be called. ‘May I steal a kiss?’ He asked for the sake of politeness because he touched his lips to hers as soon as the last word was spoken.

He kissed her lower lip, then her upper lip and she sighed relaxing her jaw. Her lips were soft and pliant, she tasted of fresh strawberries and honey, he wanted more and pulled her on her feet for a full kiss. Felt the tip of her tongue dart out and touch his lips and let his invade her mouth kissing her once, twice. “Hyde Park, you are in the middle of Hyde Park. She is a respectable unmarried lady. Hyde Park.” He kept telling himself over and over in his mind while his lips touched her cheeks, her eyebrow and finally placed a lingering kiss on her forehead. ‘Say yes.’

‘Yes.’

Wings


 ‘I need it done by tomorrow.’

‘It’s not possible.’

‘Miss, this new bonnet has got to be ready for tomorrow. My mistress will need to travel, that’s what she said.’

‘The only manner I can make do is by reducing the brim.’ The chief milliners scratched her head.

Ashton twisted her lips. ‘How reduced?’

As they discussed how the new bonnet Elizabeth had commissioned the week before would have to be changed, her lady’s maid considered several implications. Miss Bennett was very strict about what fashions she liked, what kind of embellishments she allowed, how modern she wanted to appear. Also, what this unexpected trip could mean.

‘Miss?’ The milliners raised her voice. ‘I said it’ll be like this one, more fashionable, her face will be more exposed.’

‘Mmm… more freckles.’

‘We can add feathers. How about peacock?’ The woman smiled pointing a big jar full of colorful long feathers.

‘No, she won’t like that.’

‘How about a darker tone, then? Brown?’

‘It may look good on her, she’s dark blond.’ Ashton considered. ‘I wish she had been here instead of locking herself on that warehouse cataloguing  auction pieces, so busy she can’t spare a quarter hour… Please finish all the items she ordered.’

‘What about you, miss?’


‘Oh, I’d love one of those new corsets with sleeve pumpers!...’ Ashton raised her shoulders pressing a sassy smile.

giphy

continues


update:

a revised & unabridged version of this story will be available in Kindle, ebook and brochure from Jan 25th, 17.