Oh, strawberries, kindness and secrets!
Love, love, love, love, looove...
Love in acts
Oh, strawberries, kindness and secrets!
Love, love, love, love, looove...
Love, love, love, love, looove...
Love in acts
ECLIPSE OF THE HEART
angst, rated M, short, P&P, Alternate Universe
Part 9 -She found a rock to stand, close to the boulder where she was to meet him, but he was not there the following morning when she arrived. His beast was pacing tied to a tree close by, alone in all his equestrian magnificence. She walked to the beast extending her hand to caress its nose but it let out an angry neigh that took her by surprise.
‘Careful, my lady. If it harms you, I’ll have it killed and I do like this gelding.’
She turned when his deep velvety voice reached her ear. ‘I’m sorry, sir, it was not my intention to upset your mount but it is so-’
Darcy shut her with a deep kiss, his arm around her waist. ‘How are you feeling today, my lady?’ He offered her his handkerchief filled with wild strawberries he had arrived before her to pick.
She giggled. ‘I’m fine!’ Her fingers caressed the plump red fruits choosing one. ‘Are your business under control? Georgiana said this aunt of yours is rather difficult to deal with, you seemed very upset when her urgent letter arrived last night.’
‘It was not Lady Matlock.’ He pressed his eyes looking intently at her and she nodded but didn’t comment. He watched in silence as she placed a ripe strawberry between her puckered lips and bit into the soft flesh. ‘Why on Earth everything you do seems so fetching to me, my lady?’
She blushed violently, a drop of red juice escaped the corner of her lips and he leaned down to lick it. Barely having time to swallow, she turned her head and captured his lips in a kiss, the first she demanded and to his chagrin, broke all too soon. ‘Here.’ She stuffed her mouth with the rest of the bitten fruit taking the handkerchief with the other four strawberries from his hand, rested it on the boulder and perched her thin booted feet on the rock to stand his high. ‘This is better.’
He smiled, encircled her waist with both arms and kissed her for long minutes, for as long as their breaths allowed, for as long as the night stolen from them made him squirm in bed alone. ‘I would have come to you for a proper apology, but when I returned to the library for port, Bennett said you retired with Georgiana and Jane. I don’t have permission to visit your chambers yet, so I sent you the note and the rose.’
‘I loved it.’ She hid her fingers under the lapels of his riding coat. ‘Such a tender note, perfumed with your cologne, was it not?’
He blushed, she smiled surprised. ‘I kept it in my breast pocket waiting a chance to pass it to you but had to give it to my valet to ask your maid to give you.’
‘So you wrote it before you knew I had retired?’ Her fingers traced his nose, his cheek bones as he nodded. ‘I’m afraid you make it very difficult for a lady to resist your courting, sir.’ She leaned in and kissed his eyelid. ‘So very difficult…’
‘As you were gone I engaged Bennett in conversation last night.’ She nodded. ‘He is very interested in accompanying me and the steward on the rounds to the South tenants later this week.’
Ben already had already discussed the idea with her early in the morning while she got ready for breakfast. Never before she had craved bigger chambers, but having a private drawing room attached to her bedroom was very comfortable; her son could lie on a large setee while her maid arranged her hair; they talked not having to be ashamed of him witnessing her toilette. ‘He said as much.’
Darcy pressed his eyelids and she tilted her head to the side. ‘A grown man has access to your chambers, and I do not.’
She giggled. ‘First it was your aunt’s express mail during dinner, then your tenants later this week. Did you invite me here to see you gone, sir?’
‘Thank you for the digestive tea you sent to my office yesterday, my lady. Letters from my aunt are more often than not urgent and upsetting.’ He let go of her waist and rested against the boulder. ‘She is my mother’s sister and rather… authoritative. She heard Georgiana was in town and wanted to admonish me against exposing her to society. Also, about bringing strangers to Pemberley – especially a lad with an unmarried sister.’
Elizabeth choked on the strawberry she was eating. ‘How does she know I’m here, pray tell me?’
‘Georgiana.’ She groaned, he accepted the fruit she offered him.
‘I talked to her yesterday, before dinner.’ He nodded expectantly, mouth full. ‘Even though she seems to have warmed well to Ben, your sister definitely resents me, sir.’
‘Fitzwilliam.’ He corrected her from the side of his mouth and she smiled.
‘Perhaps it was unwise to ask her about the arrangements for supper, but I don’t eat pork and I wanted to ask if I could talk to your housekeeper. How would I know she is not in charge of the house?’ She sighed, he kept frowning. ‘She told me I could do whatever I wanted; she was already planning her moving to the dowager’s down the hill.’
‘Georgiana is still a stubborn child in many levels.’
‘My mother has taught us that it is the sisters’ duty to care for Longborn ever since Lesley was born, the five of us were propelled into mistresses as soon as he was baptized as a legitimated son of my father. I thought Georgiana managed your house too. I’m sorry. I apologized countless times, would have at breakfast but she didn’t come down.’
‘Let me deal with her.’ His eyes were lost.
‘Pray, don’t fight your sister over me.’
‘There will be other offers of food for you, always.’
She wanted to ask him to stop this courtship silliness, to stop the kissing and the yearning, the dancing around her Ben and his Georgiana, but would she find strength for that? ‘I talked to your housekeeper.’ She bit her lip. ‘Mrs. Reynolds said you have a big stock of lamb here, she offered me lamb sausage at breakfast, I like it.’ He smiled.
‘Here in the woods, the sound of the creek, the fresh air…’ He said and she looked up at him, the last strawberry between her lips. ‘I wish I knew I needed to commission a painter from London so he could produce a miniature of you here, my wood nymph.’ He looked around him and at a short distance saw the small flowered shrub. Quickly he walked there, picked up a few bergamots and placed on her hair, above her small ear, amongst the curls behind her head. ‘There, now you are perfect.’
She had on a light green morning dress, the bonnet and gloves were discarded over the boulder, and the delicate cape fastened on her neck didn’t hide her delectable décolletage from his view. Unable to resist, the caressed her arm from elbow to shoulder tossing her cape behind her back and placed a kiss on her collarbone. She trembled; he held her by the waist to bring her to him and kissed her again, his fingers pushing her dress away from her shoulder. She gasped and sighed in turn, her fingers grasping his lapels as his lips kept descending.
‘Sir!’ She jolted as his hand cupped her breast and squeezed softly, his lips hot against her décolletage.
‘Tell me to stop, my lady.’ He begged for he knew his own accord wouldn’t make him do it. Every time he held her close and felt how slender she was, the feminine curves her dresses hid, how her body was inviting and strong and lusty, he had to remind himself she was not his yet. ‘Or please, let me have more…’ He begged raising his lips to hers and once she was lost in his kiss, his long fingers invaded her neckline and touched a nipple.
She jumped, he kept her close; her eyes widened, his were hooded; her mouth parched, his craved her breast; butterflies invaded her stomach, flames consumed his insides.
She didn’t protest more, his fingers lowered her neckline, forced undergarments down and he lost his breath at the sight of a supple orange sized, firm and round breast, its small pink nipple staring up at him; nothing sagged, no marks, just the faintest freckles on a breast that probably was never properly enjoyed by any man.
‘Allow me, my lady.’ He asked in a breath of a voice, leaning his mouth slowly to her nipple, waiting for her protest and felt her slump against the hand on her waist when his fingertip pressed the tiny button a second before his tongue caressed it.
‘Oh my, Fitzwilliam, pray sir, I…’
‘Shshsh.’ He whispered on her breast, his hand working on lowering the other side of her garments.
All hairs stood on her body, even the ones she barely knew she had on her arms; behind her ears there was fire scorching and merciless; inside her, very low on her belly, she felt moist. ‘What are you planning, Fit-’ Her words dissolved in a sigh when both his hands held both her breasts.
‘Nothing I haven’t been thinking for as long as I know you.’ He kissed her lips lightly several times until she held his neck and demanded a deep kiss. She was feverish, losing her right. ‘Nothing I didn’t hope you dreamt about allowing me do.’
‘There are mistakes we don’t commit twice, sir.’ She whispered and when he wanted to lean his head away from her, she held him by his ears keeping her eyes closed. ‘At least the setting has to be different.’
His heart stopped, broke and ached for her; Richard, Deuce take him, hadn’t even taken her to a proper place. He let go of her breasts and brought her against him for a hug as fierce and long as the sorrow he felt. ‘I said you will be properly courted, my Daphne.’ He murmured in her ear and she nodded.
That night, even if his good aunt Lady Catherine De Bourgh stormed into his house, he wouldn’t let his lady retire before he made his plead.
As he escorted his sister to the library for tea before the men went for cigars and port, he observed Elizabeth walk elegantly holding her son’s arm and laughing at a silliness or another Bingley offered.
‘Totally enraptured.’ Georgiana said under her breath.
‘Bewitched is also appropriate, sister.’
‘Since the first time you saw her, was it not?’
‘Almost, yes.’ Darcy pressed a smile looking at his sister. ‘Would you be kind to her? Would you believe me if I said both of you need kindness from one another?’
‘Whatever do you mean, brother?’
‘Trust me, Georgiana?’
‘I love her ardently, admire her figure and sensibility but if she was not the woman she is, perhaps I wouldn’t have considered her for my life’s companion.’
Georgiana studied Elizabeth walking in front of her. ‘A nice lady, I give you that, her brother is quite agreeable, much more than the Caroline double-’ She sniggered and Darcy gave a single chuckle. ‘But she is also old, Fitzwilliam. I know her mother carried a healthy son long after the last sister, but it is very risky. You need heirs.’
‘You can produce heirs.’
Georgiana blushed so violently her head spun and her legs faltered. Elizabeth had been ogling Darcy and when she noticed his sister on his arm missing a step, she walked their way to offer help.
‘Anything the matter, dear?’
‘No, my lady.’ Darcy said tenderly making Elizabeth blush for the use of his private endearment in front of his sister. ‘Georgiana’s feet caught on the rug by the door.’
‘Yes, that was it. I thank you, you are very kind Elizabeth.’ Georgiana opened a weak smile. ‘Lucky my brother is always here to help me.’
‘Trying to make me guilty for craving cigar and port, sister?’
She shook her head slowly. ‘I know you crave to be far from lady’s chat.’
‘Not now, no.’ He said eying Elizabeth, took her hand for a kiss and left with the other men.
‘Are you sure you want to stay here? I can ring for your maid if you want to retire sooner than us. Please don’t feel obliged to-’
‘Would you accompany me upstairs?’
Jane was left with tea and a book while Elizabeth walked upstairs with Darcy’s sister. At the private hallway, Georgiana caught Elizabeth’s hand and gently pulled her towards the last door to the right.
‘These used to be my mother’s rooms.’ She said opening the door and they were met by a cool breeze coming from the windows. The seating room was lovely even if the walls were faded; the adjourning room had an enormous bed bared of linens and the old curtains bellowed with the wind that threatened the candles they carried. ‘I believe my brother intended these rooms for you, the windows must be opened to air the place out.’
Elizabeth nodded. ‘You see, Georgiana, I don’t want to make you uncomfortable in any way. If you’d rather we leave Pemberley, it can be-’
‘My brother would never forgive me if I did want you gone or even had a good reason for that.’
Elizabeth sighed. ‘But you resent me being here.’ The other woman kept silent. ‘If you allow me, miss, I can tell you I know how hard it is to have a perfectly organized routine disrupted as much as I know how creating such routine as a fortress helped me live on.’
‘What is that supposed to mean?’
‘Your brother let me know your-’ Elizabeth launched forward to help Georgiana stand. ‘He didn’t mean to tell me, as I didn’t mean to let him know the same predicament had befallen me.’
‘I don’t know your particulars, neither have desire to be made aware of them, but he said enough to propel me to ask him the name of the gentleman you trusted because I feared it was the same one who gained my trust over twenty years ago.’
‘Was it?’ She asked trembling.
‘No.’ Elizabeth helped her seat on the bed and sat beside her. ‘Before he knew the consequences he left behind, we received word he had died during the crossing to the Continent.’
‘We had a cousin who suffered the same doom, but I was a young child, barely remember him…’ Georgiana frowned looking down. ‘But… I don’t understand then, I… It… my predicament happened years after.’
‘Panic gripped my heart.’ Elizabeth said, her eyes lost on her pretty slippers. ‘I never saw his dead body, it was said to have been tossed in the sea.’
‘No proof, no closure.’ Georgiana mumbled.
‘None.’ Elizabeth was loath to feel the sadness and despair take over her once more. She stood and brushed her dress. ‘Well, as I offered before, if you’d rather I leave…’
Georgiana shook her head. ‘I trust my brother, always had.’ Her eyes regarded Elizabeth as if seeing her for the first time. She was not the spinster ensnaring her brother for whatever reason; she was the woman ensnaring her brother because he felt guilty.
‘I’ll return to my sister.’ Desperate to escape the situation, Elizabeth forced a smile. ‘Are you well enough to find your room?’
‘Will we ever stop running away?’
Elizabeth shook her head. ‘I haven’t yet.’
a revised & unabridged version of this story will be available in Kindle, ebook and brochure from Jan 25th, 17.