It’s time to hear Darcy’s side of the story. How could a man as honorable as he have sex with a gentlewoman outside of marriage? How can he be so willing to accept her refusals when there might very well be a child? (Spoiler: look at the title. There’s definitely going to be a child.)
If you’ve ever watched the 2005 film of Pride and Prejudice, then you will be able to picture how Darcy recounts the scene to Colonel Fitzwilliam.
Previous Chapter: Chapter One
“You can stop glaring at me,” Darcy said to his cousin even though his eyes were closed, and he attempted to rest in the moving carriage.
“I do not like this, Darcy,” Richard said. “Miss Bennet deserves more than this from you.”
“I fully agree,” he growled. “Need I remind you, for the fifth time, about how she rejected me?”
“But that was before—”
“It was also after.”
She had rejected him after their frenzied and passionate coupling in the back parlor of Rosings. Images of her beautiful face in the throes of bliss flashed through his mind. He rubbed his eyes. The last thing he needed, at the moment, was to relive his greatest pleasure and most colossal mistake. Darcy squeezed the bridge of his nose. The headache would not stop.
“I still do not understand how it came about,” Richard said with concern in his voice. “If she did not like you…”
“Are you suggesting I forced myself on her?”
“Of course not!”
Darcy sighed and scrubbed a hand over his face before meeting his cousin’s eyes. “There had always been such a connection between us. Every conversation…every look filled with such tension and, on my side, longing. We were speaking freely to one another as we never had done before. I think once we opened that well of emotion, it consumed us.” He exhaled. “And the wine did not help anything.”
“You both drank more than usual last evening, but not so much that you were drunk before your interlude.” The skepticism in his voice was evident. Darcy conceded that this cousin was correct. He could not blame it on the wine. “After you returned—which by the way was not well-timed at all and hardly went without notice from Aunt Catherine—was when you both consumed too much.”
“I never thought I was the sort of man who could not control himself and would take without thought of the future. However, I suppose when I am in the company of Elizabeth, I am that man. What can I say? My heart was ripped to shreds. She was staring up at me—her eyes filled with some expression I could not identify even after her mouth had declared anger and dislike. And…and…I could not stop. I was sick of words and of trying to be polite. I wanted to show her my all-consuming passion.”
“It was a kiss! It was supposed to be just one kiss. Perhaps a final, parting kiss.”
Darcy was lost in the memory of Elizabeth’s reaction to his lips pressed against hers. She had startled at first. Yet, when he placed a hand on the back of her neck to angle her head, and his other slid around her waist, there was a combustion of energy and desire. She frantically kissed him back.
“Then why did it end with so much more than a kiss?” Richard pressed. “Maybe this is some extreme ploy? You say she knows Wickham. This may be some tactic of his. Good Lord! What if she is carrying his child and will use this to blackmail you?”
Darcy’s eyes snapped open again. “You dare insult her? A moment ago, you disliked me for leaving—as she requested! Now, you concoct some insane theory that she plans to cuckold me with George Wickham’s child even as she has sent me away and refused me in the most adamant language?”
“I just do not understand how a woman of her breeding would fall to this scenario. You did not seduce her?”
“No,” Darcy sighed. “No, it was very mutual…and fast. The whole thing was over and done in a minute or two—before either of us had a moment to think straight. If I were to seduce Elizabeth, it would take all night and not be in Lady Catherine’s back parlor.”
Richard shifted uncomfortably. Darcy had thought more than once during this visit that his cousin had fancied Elizabeth. He was as aware of her as he would be any beautiful lady. Darcy kicked at Richard’s boot. “Enough of that.”
“You will notice I have not asked for details of the exploit. I cannot help it if I agree with your words. A full evening of pleasure with Miss Elizabeth…”
Darcy growled. “Even if she is never to be mine, I do not ever wish to hear you speak of her that way again. She is not some harlot.”
“Well, her actions—”
“She was overwhelmed! It was a mistake. One we both bear the guilt for, me far more than her.” Richard nodded in understanding. “Oh, and your concern regarding Wickham—or any other man—is groundless. She was most definitely a virgin.”
Richard shrugged his shoulders and sighed. “So, what happens next? We are leaving Rosings, but are you really willing to let her go from your life? What if there is a child?”
“She is to be in London in little more than a week—”
“That will not be long enough—”
“I plan on telling Bingley about Miss Jane Bennet’s regard for him the minute I arrive in town. If he wishes to call on her and return to Hertfordshire when Miss Bennet leaves, then I shall have the means to know about Elizabeth and visit the area with impunity. She does not wish for me to court her. I can hardly camp out in Meryton for weeks without drawing notice.”
“Bingley and Jane Bennet? I beg your pardon, Darcy. I believe I contributed to your suffering. I told Elizabeth about how you separated Bingley from an entanglement with a young lady. I did not realize it was her sister!”
Darcy waved him off. “She had already formed a dislike for me.”
“What if Bingley does not wish to see the lady again? What shall you do?” He cursed under his breath. “It is not like you to be so without honour. You should go to her father and tell him everything.”
“And have her forced into marriage with me? She would hate every single minute of it! If there is no child, then there is no reason for such drastic measures. She says she is prepared to live with the likelihood of never marrying.”
“Never marrying! She may not be rich, but she is beautiful and is not made for a solitary life.”
“People choose it or have it chosen for them all the time, Richard,” Darcy said sharply. He attempted to breathe through the tightening in his chest. The only thing worse than picturing Elizabeth with another man was thinking about her alone in the world without anyone to love her.
“I understand that far more than you do,” Richard answered.
Darcy raised a brow. “You could walk into any ballroom in London and find a debutante to take you.”
“As could you,” Richard charged.
“I do not want just any debutante or Society lady.” Darcy had always wanted something more. He had not known what he was searching for until he met Elizabeth. Now, he was uncertain what the future held and if his heart would ever recover.
The cousins sat in silence for several miles as each stared out a window. At last, Darcy spoke. “I do not know what I shall do if Bingley does not wish to return to Netherfield. I have only had a few hours to consider everything. However, I promise on Georgiana’s life that I will not abandon Elizabeth. With any luck, in a few weeks or months, I might have enough courage to approach her again.”
He set his jaw and met his cousin’s eyes. “No, this is not the last that she has seen or heard of me. I cannot quit the field now.”
Richard grinned. “There’s the man! Fight for your fair lady.”
“Spare me the poetry.” Darcy rolled his eyes.
“I do not think it will be a very long fight. She seems ready to be conquered, given how easily she succumbed to your advances.”
Darcy glared at his cousin, who merely smirked and then chuckled. Darcy sighed. Richard loved to bait him. Still, he did not know that he could make anyone understand the quandary in which he now felt himself. Bedding Elizabeth outside of marriage and especially when she did not even like him, was a colossal mistake. He had always prided himself on his gentlemanly conduct and envisioned himself as closer to perfect than not. Endangering a woman’s reputation and paying no heed to all the potential consequences of his actions was not something he had ever done before.
Darcy had a powerful urge to go on bended knee and repent, once more, for his behaviour. However, how could he ask for heavenly forgiveness when he was not entirely sorry for the encounter? He knew he ought to be ashamed. If there was any justice in the world, he should be carted through the streets as a fornicator and defiler of women. Surely if the world knew of their intimacy, they would give no mercy to Elizabeth. And yet, as he recalled the scent of her skin and the sound of her breath in unison with his, the brunt of his regret was that, for the foreseeable future, it would be impossible to even gain a shred of Elizabeth’s respect let alone earn her love.
The Church had taught him that giving in to such carnal desires was a sin. It was repugnant and disgusting. Indeed, one encounter in his youth with a widow was enough to teach him the truth of it. However, the feelings of shame he had after joining with Elizabeth were of an entirely different nature. In his heart, they would live as beautiful memories motivated by love. They could not be further from the reckless and immoral couplings that were preached against.
Elizabeth did not love him, but neither was he willing to paint her the harlot who gave into any and every man. Darcy prayed more earnestly than he ever had before in his life that he would be able to stir her love—not so he could possess her body again, but because his soul felt complete with her in his life.
What would he do if Bingley did not wish to return to Netherfield? How could Darcy allow her enough time to get to know him in an innocuous way? Openly attempting a courtship would probably only anger her. For a fleeting second, Darcy almost hoped she would fall with child. Then, he could press his case, and she would not be so selfish and stupid to refuse him again. No, Darcy reproached himself. That still would not be earning her respect and love. It would be no shortcut to happiness. Still, the vision of Elizabeth heavy with his child thrilled him. One day, he hoped, it would be real.