What would happen if Mr. Darcy was having a baby…and didn’t know it? How could that even be?
This idea came to me after browsing books in the Contemporary Romance category.
If you need your Darcy and Elizabeth to be perfect and incapable of making mistakes–don’t bother reading. However, if you think that sometimes humans make grave errors and can still be good people, I think you will enjoy this story. I absolutely won’t be glorifying pre-marital sex. There are consequences in this story and they have to face them. I do think there’s grace and mercy in life and that joy can mix with sorrow and regret.
This is a sweet Regency read. There will be no sex on the page.
Elizabeth Bennet rolled over and groaned at the movement. Pulling a pillow from behind her, she placed it over her head to drown out the noise of Mr. Collins talking loudly and rapidly up and down the hallway. There was a knock on the door. Elizabeth ignored it and squeezed her eyes shut.
“Eliza,” Charlotte said as she inched the door open. “Are you still unwell?”
Elizabeth only moaned in response. Unwell could not begin to describe how she felt after the events of last night.
“I am sorry. I should not have pushed you to come to Rosings. Is there anything I can do for you?”
“Do you remember our mothers’ concoction when they had too much wine?” Elizabeth managed to say although her throat was parched.
“You mean the one that they did not know we even knew about, let alone used on a few occasions?”
Elizabeth could hear the smile in Charlotte’s voice, and if Elizabeth could have laughed without retching, she would have done so. The truth was their younger sisters needed the remedy far more than they ever had. Still, with parents such as theirs, over-indulgence sometimes happened. It had happened again last night, as Elizabeth needed wine to deal with Lady Catherine and Mr. Darcy. More specifically, she drank to excess after her encounter with him. Elizabeth’s head pounded even harder at the thought of the gentleman.
“Come, the first order is to drink plenty of water,” Charlotte said as she pulled Elizabeth’s pillow away and helped her into a sitting position.
“Fine, just please draw the curtains.” The maid had opened them earlier in the morning.
“For now,” Charlotte agreed and stepped away to do so.
Instantly, Elizabeth could bear the world a little easier. The physical effects of the wine, she knew, would wear off soon enough. However, things were done and said last night, which she could not soon forget, even as she regretted them. However, she would need the world to sit still and the pain in her head to ease before she could fully admonish herself.
Three hours later, Elizabeth had washed in cold water, consumed what seemed like infinite amounts of water, a cup of very sweet tea, and plain toast. Now, she was determined to get some fresh air, knowing it would ease her headache. She wandered down the lanes of Rosings before noticing her feet had taken her to her favorite path. The path she had repeatedly met him on.
A shadow emerged from behind a tree, and Elizabeth immediately blushed. She could never see him again. Never! She turned to leave, but he called her name.
“Elizabeth! Miss Elizabeth!”
Why did her feet not move? Why was she held captive by his voice just as she had been last night? She heard Mr. Darcy’s approach.
“Would you—” his voice cracked. “Would you do me the honour of reading this letter?”
A letter? What could he possibly say on paper that could not have been spoken last night? Elizabeth warred with herself. The last thing she and her reputation needed was a letter from him.
“Can you not, at least, look at me?”
His voice was absent of all the pride and arrogance she had come to expect. It did not drip with hatred as she anticipated. No, instead, she heard the soft and pleading tone which had done her in the night before. She had never known she had such a weakness. To discover it was for Mr. Darcy of all people was mortifying in the extreme.
Slowly, Elizabeth turned. She gasped at his visage. Dark shadows were under his eyes as though he had not slept. His attire was less groomed than usual, the knot of his cravat sloppy as though tied by himself and not his valet. Had he been as upset and distraught about last night as she had been? His hand trembled as he held out his letter.
She took it, their hands barely grazing one another. Despite the gloves which separated their skin, a frisson of memory swept over her body. Darcy’s hands on her, his lips worshipping her. She squeezed her eyes shut as the events played over in her mind. It was on the tip of her tongue to try and speak—to beg for him to tell her it had all been a terrible misunderstanding. Inexplicably, she longed to hear that each charge she had laid against him was untrue. She wanted him to acknowledge that the weakness she displayed last night was not the greatest mistake of her life–that, somehow, he was worthy of her. When she opened her eyes again, Darcy was gone, and she was alone with his letter.
Be not alarmed madam—
Elizabeth shivered at the cold greeting.
—at my repeating the offer, which was so offensive to you twice last night. Words cannot suffice to explain the regret I have over my loss of control. However, I do not have it within me to apologize for what unfolded, as I will treasure it always as a beautiful and reverent memory.
She gulped. How could he call what they did reverent?
I fully comprehend your feelings toward me and do not write this in an endeavour to change them. However, do allow me the justice of defending myself in a way I could not last night as overwhelmed as I was.
Elizabeth snorted. Indeed, he had been overwhelmed! And so had she.
Two offenses have been laid before me, although I hardly think they have equal weight.
To your first argument against me, I confess I have not yet learned to think evil of my actions. I am sorry if I have wounded your sister, but I do not believe the effect will be lasting on either side. When I counseled Mr. Bingley to stay in London and questioned the attachment your sister felt for him, I was acting in his best interest.
Elizabeth’s hand tensed around the paper. She dashed a tear from her eye. Why had she been so foolish as to think there would be any further explanation or apology or some extenuating circumstance that would warrant forgiveness? Why had she wanted so desperately to think better of Mr. Darcy? She did not have to think much to find an answer. She needed some reason to justify her absolutely mad behaviour of the night before.
I had not considered my friend very interested in your sister until the evening that I had the pleasure of dancing with you, Sir William Lucas suggested that all of the area expected a match between them. Indeed, I understand the man is given to exaggerations. If all the community had thought Bingley intent on offering for your eldest sister, then he would have been honour-bound. Instead, what I learned in my observation of the evening, was that your mother was most insistent that the marriage would take place. I scrutinized your sister and saw no overt sign of her regard. She spoke with Mr. Bingley with all the ease and complacency that she talked with everyone else. She seemed to me to be nothing more than an obedient daughter who would accept a proposal from a well-established and amiable gentleman.
Given the lack of other inducements your family can offer between their relative poverty and poor behaviour, why should I not counsel my friend against a one-sided love-match?
Elizabeth paused once more to wipe her eyes. How could he be so heartless? How could she have been so mistaken?
As for your accusations to me for treating Mr. Wickham with cruelty, I will do my utmost to acquit myself in your eyes. I can only guess how he has imposed on your heart, and I regret more than I can say that I do not reside there instead.
What was this? Did Darcy believe she was in love with Mr. Wickham? How could he think it after what she had done with him? Of course, she would not say that she loved Mr. Darcy, but surely if she were in love with a man, she would never have allowed herself to be seduced by another. How could he think so meanly of her?
Elizabeth read on without giving much credence, at first, to what Mr. Darcy wrote against Mr. Wickham. He had been a friend of his youth and the son of his father’s steward. That much she knew from Wickham. Indeed, much of Darcy’s account lined up with what Wickham had told her. However, the stories differed when it came to the point of Wickham’s potential as a clergyman. Darcy said Wickham removed himself from consideration and received compensation to study the law instead.
She did not take Darcy’s words too seriously or think there was any independent proof on either side until Darcy recounted Wickham’s attempt of eloping with his very young sister last summer. Surely, he would not have explained that to Elizabeth if it were not true. Despite how little he seemed to think of her in other matters, he appeared to trust Elizabeth with Miss Darcy’s reputation.
Again and again, she read the contents of the letter, putting it away several times and then pulling it back out. Slowly, she had to admit that if he was exonerated of the charges she made against him regarding Wickham, perhaps he had acted with the best intentions regarding Jane and Mr. Bingley.
Returning to the Hunsford parsonage several hours later and with no relief from her aching head, Elizabeth was surprised to hear that Colonel Fitzwilliam had awaited her return for nearly an hour. He had come to take his leave as he and Darcy would depart from Rosings at first light. However, Elizabeth knew Darcy had offered for her to confirm the facts regarding Wickham with Colonel Fitzwilliam. As it happened, she did not need any assistance in believing Mr. Darcy.
Before bed that night, Elizabeth pulled out her letter once more. Her attention fell to his final lines.
I do not know when our paths shall cross again, Elizabeth. I have been a proud fool and an awkward, insulting suitor. I fully comprehend that I am not worthy of your hand. I opened this letter saying I would not ask for your hand a third time, and I will not now. I shall only say that if you should change your mind regarding the ability to deal with any consequences from our intimacy, please write to me in London. My staff there always have instructions on how to reach me.
I will only add, God bless you,
She had begun the day wishing she would never see Mr. Darcy again. Now, she did not know if she could bear the thought of never seeing him again. She did not claim to love the man. She knew him too little for that. And yet, she did know him. She had hoped and believed there was some reasoning to excuse all of her complaints against him. Why could he not have said all this yesterday? Or allow her a chance to see him after reading his explanation?
In the end, Elizabeth could only conclude that his pride would not allow him. She had insulted him and refused him twice, even after she had every reason to accept him. What other lady would throw aside her reputation so carelessly? She had been embarrassed and confused and less than eloquent. He had taken it to mean she hated him in the extreme, and any further attempt at a courtship was impossible. How she wished she had watched her tongue more! Why was it that words of reproach sprang easy when words of tenderness and admiration would not come forward?
Rolling over and wiping her eyes on the sleeve of her nightgown, Elizabeth determined that she would think no more about Mr. Darcy of Pemberley. If his love could not withstand her volatile words, despite her blatantly encouraging behaviour, then she was well-rid of him. She would return to Longbourn and forget she ever knew the name Darcy. There, she would live out her days as she had always thought was most likely for her—spinsterhood. For no matter her obstinate bluffing of last night, she did not believe she could hide her lack of virginity from a husband. Somewhere in a deep recess in her heart, she also acknowledged that after her confusing but blissful encounter with Mr. Darcy, she had no wish of being with another man.