segunda-feira, 25 de julho de 2016

Regency love fairy tale - Part 8

So, now they have arrived at Pemberley.

Pemberley is like a... chimera. Narnia. Middle Earth for love.
There's Venice for Romeos, Baker Street for adventurers, but Pembs... Ah, Pembs!

I've portraied it in several lights: In Canada in Friendship of a Special Kind, museum-like in 45 days in Europe with Mr. Darcy, a farmhouse in Prince of Pemberley. Here in this lovely fairytale, it is a safe harbour, a place to rest your tired soul.

Let's hope Elizabeth will agree.

Shall we?



Love in acts

2nd act

ECLIPSE OF THE HEART

angst, rated M, short, P&P, Alternate Universe
Part 7


Part 8 -

The first day at Pemberley, Elizabeth left the house right after breakfast for a long walk through the beautiful park and exquisite woods surrounding the fields. She loved to feel free amongst trees and even Pemberley’s birds chirping enchanted her; the place was absolutely magical. Nothing she would ever live in her life could compare to the view one had when entering the grounds for the first time. The magnificent house at dusk, the distant lake peppered with white moving dots, the hills surrounding the estate – all superb.

Inhaling the damp air amongst the trees, she found a small creek and followed it to the point it left the woods and fed the big lake where the swans moved lazily. To her, it felt a pity to step outside the shelter the woods provided and with a contented sigh she rested against a boulder, took off her bonnet and gloves and wasted several moments wondering wistfully what it would feel like to be mistress of such a grand estate. Moreover, what it would feel like to start afresh letting her past fade behind her.

From her vintage point she could see around her, especially the lake. Before the horseman entered her view, she had been hearing the clapping of hooves for a few moments already. To her surprise, it was the master of the estate in person, so absolutely dashing atop a massive gelding. He called out to her but she refrained from answering, amusing herself with the childish notion that if he indeed had pure intentions towards her, he would sense her presence.

Her eyes feasted on his figure mastering the beast, his searched for her around his park. When he was told she left for a walk alone as no one wanted to be exposed to the sun, he discreetly went after her hoping to use her given name and hold her close. But she was nowhere to be found.

Suddenly his horse paced under him, he tightened the hold on the reins and his eyes followed a small squirrel darting off the woods. He smiled big, there was the woman alone, smiling, her bonnet off her head, face upturned toward the sun.

Good gad, a wood nymph.’ He breathed.

Almost in a daze he descended, tied his horse and walked slowly to her taking off his gloves.

‘I’m breathless, sir.’ She said when he got close enough to notice a thick sunray filtered from the tall trees directly over her head. ‘You are quite a spectacular horseman.’

He shook his head. ‘And you here in the middle of the woods... My Daphne.’

She laughed quietly. ‘Exactly, sir. You are an Apollo- oh!’ She breathed a surprised sigh when he stopped close and lowered his head to steal a kiss.

It started slow, demanding permission and he built up the kiss until her head tilted backwards and her hands shot up to hold his wrists as he held her neck. ‘I was going crazy not being able to hold you these last days, my lady. There is always someone with you, my sister, yours, Bennett.’ He whispered in her ear, his lips grazing her face. ‘How are feeling? Are you happy here?’

Taming her nervous chuckle, she caressed his shirt’s cuffs. ‘It’s too early, Fitzwilliam, I just arrived. But I meant what I told last night at dinner, your estate is magnificent, overwhelming.’ She accepted the other kiss he offered her. ‘The servants are so kind, so attentive to me, to Ben, to Ashton even.’

‘They will be even more attentive to you, my lady.’

‘You said something?’ She gasped.

‘I demanded attention to you.’

‘Pray, tell me, did you say anything to your sister? Did you tell her my secret?’

‘Of course not.’ He leaned his head back.

‘Please don’t, I’ve spent years protecting my error from the past, you said I could trust you-’

‘You are safe here.’

‘I thought I was safe with you. Georgiana looks at me with contempt, I’m skittish not knowing if she is disgusted about my past or jealous of you.’

‘Not contempt, Elizabeth. If she knew, I believe she would be incredibly happy because she loved Richard, and also jealous.’ He took a step back but kept one of her hands in both of his. ‘Georgiana had a miscarriage.’

‘Oh, good Lord!’ She covered her mouth with a hand and her eyes misted.

‘It seems I have a similar problem; Bennett doesn’t seem to want a papa.’

She gasped wide-eyed and jumped to her feet. ‘Don’t say that aloud. Ever.’

‘Calm down, my lady. You are safe here.’ He brought her hand to his lips. ‘I love the feel of your ungloved hand.’ She squeezed his fingers before trying to break free, but he held her frowning.

‘You may feel you have a debt with your cousin, but it does not include me.’ She freed her hand, he pressed his lips. ‘I made a mistake, I was naive and should have resisted his promises but it’s a burden that doesn’t belong to you, sir. I never needed your sympathy, never asked for it.’

‘Believe me, madam, when I say that what I feel for you is far from pity and for my cousin I’m ashamed to say my feelings are rather dark since I read your letter.’ He sighed. ‘Can you trust me?’ He held her neck, his thumb caressing her throat. ‘Allow me into your life.’

Biting her lip, she looked up at him. ‘There are things about me you don’t know.’

‘About me too. That’s why I asked you to come here, to be properly courted; we’ll get to know each other before you accept me.’

‘Everything seems so complicated.’ She buried her nose in his sternum, too anxious to keep talking. He held her close to his chest for long moments, his big hands on her neck caressing tenderly.

‘You stole my breath when I arrived and saw you here, my lady. I’ll meet you at this same spot every morning after your stroll.’ She nodded in his chest. ‘Did you like your chambers?’ He asked softly.

‘Oh, yes.’ She sighed looking up at him.

He lowered his head and kissed her lips quickly several times. ‘The mistress’ rooms are closed for a long while, they’ll need renovations.’ She blushed. ‘You can see to that with time.’

‘The way you put it, sir, I feel like I’m being overruled. I haven’t accepted you yet.’

‘You will.’

‘I won’t be forced.’ She stepped out of his embrace. ‘Wealth is practical, the comfort such a house brings can hardly be overlooked but if I had been intent on those, I would have agreed to Clarence’s scheme long ago.’

‘An Earldom as rich as Brakenbury puts Pemberley to shame.’ He pressed his teeth together. ‘But I am not Clarence and I am not offering you pity, a scheme or a pact.’ He took her by the arm and brought her to him. ‘Do you understand the difference?’ She nodded surprised by his tone and his words. ‘This is very different, my lady.’

‘Please don’t be offended.’

‘These secrets you haven’t told me.’ He pressed his eyes, teeth still clamped. ‘I am willing to hear now.’

She swallowed nervously lowering her eyes to the wild bergamot bushes around her feet. ‘What about yours? You told me Georgiana’s secret, not yours.’

For him, it was clear she was sidestepping the question. ‘Don’t cover for Clarence, Elizabeth. If he proposed anything undignified, tell me now and I’ll deal with-’

‘Deal with what, sir? He needed a wife who could overlook his inclinations, someone he trusted and didn’t think him disgusting. In return he offered a title and wealth.’ She raised her eyes to him indignantly. ‘I didn’t accept because of my situation and because I was silly enough to fall prey once and learned one needs more than promises to sell her life to a gentleman, a woman needs-’

‘To be loved, appreciated, honored.’ He answered in the same tone. ‘That is exactly the difference. I am ready to tell you all you want to know. Ask.’

‘You don’t have to tell me anything that needs to be asked. If you are proposing such a connection, reward me with your truth.’ She shook her arm free of his hand and took a few steps away from him facing the creek.

He ran his hand through his hair and held his waist. ‘I have kept a mistress for several years, an expensive professional who attends only me when I’m in London. Before we left I put an end to the engagement in the hopes you will accept me.’ He sighed. ‘The cad who I sent to search for you and duped my sister reached me a few years ago asking for help but I refused out of spite and I know he was sent to debtor’s prison.’

‘Stop, sir. Next you’ll tell me you drowned puppies.’

He snorted and paced for a moment until her presence was too beguiling to him. When his arms encircled her from behind, she jumped. ‘Help me build a pleasurable memory now so we can link to many others, my lady.’ She sighed and entwined her fingers with his around her waist leaning against his chest.

‘It seems very difficult to start a new life.’

‘We can merely unite the ones we have built so far.’

When, almost an hour later, Ben and Bingley saw the beast of a horse pace calmly with a big man and a slender woman under a trim bonnet approach the house, Darcy’s heart was still in uneasy delight for having her at Pemberley and hers was trying to reason with her mind for in truth, she wanted to believe all he promised was possible.

Wings 

‘Pray, what is this?’

‘Pineapple.’

‘Is it edible?’

‘Of course, it’s a fruit.’

Ashton gaped at the monstrosity with spiky leafs. ‘One can make jam and eat it like and apple? Doesn’t it hurt one’s mouth?’

‘You have to peel it.’ The cook took a big knife and cut the fruit in half then peeled and sliced one of the parts and gave a taste for the maid who still had her eyes wide.

‘Oh, dear!’ She pressed four fingers to her lips. ‘It’s juicy and tart.’

‘Acid. The lads take the peel, put it in a bottle and bury for a week or so, the cider is quite good.’

‘It’s better when the fruit is sweeter.’ Smith, Miss Georgiana’s maid said popping a piece of fruit in her mouth.

‘I’d like to try…’ Ashton said, still in awe. ‘Miss Bennett too.’

Both cook and the maid raised their brows. ‘A lady the master brought to his house tasting servants’ cider?’

‘Miss Bennett is a very different kind of lady, different from the others I worked for so far.’ Ashton tried another piece. ‘Pray, can I take a piece for her?’

‘Of course.’ Cook hurried to call the maid. ‘Girl, put together a big tray of refreshments, scones, biscuits, fruits too.’

‘She likes strawberries and honey above all.’

‘We know.’ Mrs. Reynolds, the housekeeper, said entering the kitchen and everyone tried to look busy. ‘Master has already told us about her preferences, I sent for berries from the greenhouse. Also, the lady herself asked me to prepare her something other than pork.’

‘Oh, yes. She has poor stomach. Pork kills her, poor thing.’

‘I never heard of anyone who didn’t eat pork, by Jove!’ Cook sputtered.

‘Make sure we have plenty of lamb meat and sausage, please. Master Fitzwilliam has recommended we take great care to make her like Pemberley.’ Mrs. Reynolds ordered and the kitchen staff nodded. ‘Is this tray for Miss Georgiana? She does not like honey.’

‘It’s for Miss Bennet, ma’am.’

‘Ah!’ The housekeeper nodded. ‘Add a solitaire with a rose from the greenhouse. Ashton?’

‘Yes, ma’am.’

‘Did she like her chambers, linens? Does she need anything else?’

‘Oh, such big rooms, ma’am! A big bedroom with adjourned dressing room and private drawing room! Three times what she has at Longborn, she loved it. I brought her linens-’

‘Nonsense. We already used new linens and if they are not agreeable to her, I can send for anything she chooses. For her dresses there is a maid expecting to wash and iron, you only have to care to press the one she chooses to wear.’

‘I thank you ma’am, but Miss Bennett’s dresses need care to wash and I’m used to do it the ay she likes.’

‘This is how Pemberley works, Ashton, how the master has arranged to please the lady. He asked to fill her chambers with roses and offer plenty of berries, all from the greenhouse. Which one she likes best?’

Ashton blinked not believing all these arrangements would have been made for a kept woman as Burton suggested. All this seemed to be made to woo a lady into marriage. And where was the madam? Walking, of course!

The manor in uproar to please her and she chose to spend her day outdoors, tainting her cheeks pink and tiring her body. Ashton sighed and dedicated to prepare Pemberley for Elizabeth.

rebloggy

continues

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