Music Monday- The Surprise Symphony

I ran across this symphony while doing some research for music which would have been new during Darcy’s early childhood in my upcoming release The Secrets of Pemberley. Its composed by Joseph Haydn, who I personally prefer over Bach and Mozart and think is entirely underrated. It’s also known as Symphony No. 94 in G Major and was one of twelve written in London in 1791. It was first performed in the Hanover Square Rooms in 1792 and Haydn sat at the pianoforte. The classical era orchestra consisted of  flutes, oboes, bassoons, horns, trumpets, timpani,  violins, violas, cellos, and double basses and lasts about 23 minutes in its entirety. 

Haydn wrote many jokes into his works and this piece earns its nickname due to the sudden loud (fortissimo) chord at the ending of an otherwise quiet (piano) movement. He was said to have wanted to give the audience something they had not heard before. They instantly cried for an encore. 

Here is a brief excerpt of The Secrets of Pemberley. Darcy is in a music shop and reminded of a memory with his mother.

He wandered around the store. A memory flickered through his mind. He was only seven years old and in the small Scottish cottage with his mother. She had been reading the London newspapers and had received a letter from a friend about a concert she attended. His mother wept over not being able to attend the hailed genius of Joseph Haydn. She was told The Surprise was sublime and ordered sheet music. There was no pianoforte in the cottage but the rector had one. Lady Anne diligently practiced so often Darcy could hum the tune. As a child, he particularly enjoyed the sudden changes in volume. Seeing the others occupied, Darcy found a copy and ran his fingers over it.


What did you think of it? Did it surprise you?

The Secrets of Pemberley- Chapter Twelve

secrets of pemberley maskPrevious chapters: One / Two / Three / Four / Five / Six / Seven / Eight / Nine / Ten / Eleven

Chapter Twelve


The light eased, and Darcy’s eyes focused on a familiar figure he had not seen in nearly fifty years. “Mother?”

“Yes, my darling, Fitzwilliam.” She glowed in a gown of white and bathed in light.

“Where is Elizabeth?” He ought to panic at not knowing where she was; at yet another separation but he felt only calm. “Am I dead?”

His mother approached, as beautiful as he remembered and as if she had never aged. She placed a hand on her son’s cheek.

“Your heart is broken, my son.”

“Is this Heaven? Where is Elizabeth? Surely others…?” Darcy tried to peer around her, but his movements were slow.

Lady Anne shook her head. “It is not time for your life to end. I broke your heart all those years ago.”

“No, I do not blame you—”

“You have been afraid of love and being loved. And you have craved it more than anything else. My actions took those opportunities away from you.”

Darcy remained silent. In his youth, he had longed to hear these words from his mother. Now, they mattered little compared with reuniting with Elizabeth.

“Did you find what you sought? Did you find love and peace?”

“No,” Darcy shook his head. “No, one impulsive action destroyed an innocent woman’s life.”

“Elizabeth loved you,” Lady Anne insisted.

“I never knew…I never said it to her. We could have had so much more.” He needed to see Elizabeth again more than he needed air in his lungs.

“Then return, my son,” Lady Anne held her arm out and a doorway filled with light shined a few feet away.

“Can I? How is this possible?” More than anything he desired another chance with Elizabeth.

“Yes, only let go of me,” his mother said. “Let go of the past.”

Looking down, Darcy saw that he held his mother’s other hand. When had he taken it? He did not recall and judging by the sensation, he may have always held it. A part of her had resided in his heart since he was eight years old. He had clung to it, embracing the fear and hurt rather than the unknown of life at Pemberley. Now, he was ready to let go. He needed peace. He needed Elizabeth.

“Go to her,” Lady Anne encouraged.

Through the doorway, Darcy heard Elizabeth’s familiar laughter. He turned to kiss his mother on the cheek. “I love you, Mother but I must leave you behind.”

“I will be well,” she smiled. “You see? I am well.”

Darcy nodded as he accepted the truth of her words. His mother did not need him. Her happiness did not rest in him but Elizabeth… He had seen a world where Elizabeth did love him but lacked the mirth she should have known because of the barriers he erected. Darcy had also seen life for him without Elizabeth. He did not know if Elizabeth needed him in her life, but he knew he needed her.

Determination filled him, and he walked through the doorway without casting a backward glance.




Gasping for air, Darcy bolted upright in his bed. As his breath calmed and his heart slowed, he recognised his surroundings. Rosings. Stumbling from the bed, he checked his reflection in the looking glass in his dressing room. Gone were the grey curls and deep lines of an older gentleman. Inspecting the dark circles under his eyes, he recognised signs of a miserable night’s sleep.

It had only been a dream. A more vivid nightmare he had never had, but as he often relived moments of terror in his dreams, he did not find it impossible that he could conjure such possibilities. Returning to his chamber, he noticed his piles of crumpled paper and broken pens. His letter!

Tossing it all in the fire grate, Darcy began again. He no longer searched for four syllable words, as Bingley had teased him so long ago. He no longer carefully protected himself and put himself in the best light. Nor did he care about scratched out words or ink blots. He broke every rule of correct penmanship, but he did not care. The sun rose swiftly, and soon Elizabeth would be walking in the grove. He must share the truth with her. As he poured out his secrets, he was surprised to note that the burdens he had expected to feel heavier felt halved when shared. True, Elizabeth did not ask to shoulder his admissions, and she likely never would, but something about the honesty of it all freed Darcy.

When he had finished, he leaned back in his chair and reviewed his work.


Dear Miss Bennet,

Do not fear that I will renew my sentiments which have offended you. I would never wish to pain you in such a way again. Instead, allow me to offer my most humble apologies. My mode and tone of address were disgusting, and you would not be the worthy woman you are if you had accepted my address under such circumstances.

As to the weightier arguments you have against me, of my selfishness and pride, I confess it is true. Again, I seek your forgiveness. I see now I should perhaps make amends to the whole of the world, but I will begin with you. My thoughtless words and actions have made you feel inferior and hurt you. The entire time I thought I courted you and showed my admiration, you believed I mocked and criticised. Memories of our every interaction are now inexpressibly painful because I see now the wounds I gave. Hurting you was the last thing I had ever desired to do.

Due to my actions, you believe that I have separated two young people who loved each other for nothing but selfish motivations and material gain. In my conceit, I did not see Miss Bennet’s affection for my friend. I believed his feelings ran deeper than hers. In suggesting he terminate the relationship, I never dreamed that I became the source of anguish. I had thought her heart not likely to be touched. The irony is, I can now see how it would be for her despite her serene demeanour. I have spent a lifetime hiding behind an aloof mask, veiling many deep and troubled emotions. The very woman I loved believed I hated her. Who am I to judge? If you care to give a suggestion if I should pass the information I have learned regarding your sister onto my friend you may speak to me or Colonel Fitzwilliam if the thought of conversing with me is too uncomfortable.

I must now address a subject infinitely more painful to me. You have believed Mr. Wickham’s lies and accused me of ruining all his chances for material comfort in this life. Such actions go beyond the tragedy of lost love but speak to an inexpressible and deliberate evil in a man’s heart. To explain Wickham’s relationship with my family, I must start at the beginning.

I am a bastard.

George Darcy never exposed the truth of my birth. My mother was not happy with her marriage, and after she bore an heir, she wandered. Caught in the act, she was sent away and bore me in Scotland. There I was raised until I was eight years old. One night, the man I called Father showed up at our cottage. His son had died, and he needed a new heir for Pemberley. His wife’s son would do as he deemed divorce impossible. With little more than an embrace and a farewell kiss, I was ripped from everything I ever knew or loved.

At the time, I did not understand why Father treated me so indifferently. He was never mean or cruel. He mourned the child he raised and loved and had to look at the proof of his wife’s adultery daily. Still, he wanted me to bear the Darcy legacy. In time, I learned the truth of my birth and understood what it must have cost him to be so committed to duty and honour. He may not be my father by blood, but I have attempted to emulate him.

George Wickham is the son of a very good man. His father was a steward to mine. Before I arrived at Pemberley, he was a source of joy to my father. When I moved there, not only could I not fill the void Father felt at the loss of his son, I could not compete with Wickham’s manners. I had not been raised in a large household or with the best of everything in addition to being naturally shy. As we aged, however, I noted duplicity in the younger Wickham. He would preen before the adults but coerce and trick behind their backs.

My father supported him in school and at Cambridge — something that would have been impossible from his own father. In those years, I lost all respect for the boy I once called a friend. His deeds are unfit for a maiden’s eyes. Forgive me if I pain you writing this of a man you called a friend. However, I would not have you unawares, and he take advantage of your kindness.

I never exposed him to my father, and upon his death, Wickham was bequeathed one thousand pounds. He was also meant to have a valuable living the family held. However, Wickham renounced any interest in the position and asked for a cash settlement instead. I did not fight him as I believed him ill-suited to the office. Wickham mentioned he might study law. For the next three years, I know not how he lived.

Imagine my surprise when the living fell open, and Wickham approached me for it. He claimed his situation very bad, and I had no trouble believing it. However, I did what I felt right in the interests of others. Angry, he abused me to my face and no doubt abroad. Can you think on what subject he found most pleasing to discuss as it would cause me the most pain? Hearing the occasional rumour about my birth — which thus far no one had any proof beyond hearsay on — was nothing in comparison to our next encounter.

You have heard of my sister discussed in affectionate terms by Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst. They do not present the truth. They have only met Georgiana a handful of times. Extreme shyness afflicts her. I wish I could say after I came to Pemberley my parents reconciled, but they never did. Georgiana, too, is a bastard. Mother died upon her birth. She was raised in Lambton with a wet nurse and occasionally visited Pemberley. Father packed her off to schools when she was too old for her nurse. I had seen Georgiana only a handful of times before Father passed and I became her guardian. Since then, I have attempted to create a friendship between us, but I kept her at school, as I believed best for our situation. It is the source of my most significant regret that she did not rely on me more or feel confident in our relationship.

Around a year ago, Colonel Fitzwilliam and I removed Georgiana from the school she attended and put her in the care of a woman whose character I was gravely misinformed. Mrs. Younge suggested a holiday in Ramsgate for her charge, and we consented. Once there, Wickham also arrived and after courting Georgiana for weeks had convinced my sister to consent to an elopement. Mrs. Younge, we later learned, had a previous connection to Wickham and encouraged the situation. I arrived, by merest chance, a day before their intended departure. Once there, Georgiana felt she could not grieve the man she looked up to almost as a father.

Wickham left immediately, and I had not seen or heard from him again until we encountered one another on the streets of Meryton. What he has specifically accused me of, I cannot know. However, I do know that he has means for blackmail at his disposal, or at the very least to ruin both of our reputations. If I seem to hate the man, it is because I have been taunted much of my life. I shudder to think what cruelty he is capable of if he will misuse a fifteen-year-old girl’s tender heart and would not wish to see you or your family hurt.

If you cannot trust my words on these matters, then you may apply to Colonel Fitzwilliam who was an executor of my father’s estate and as fellow-guardian to Georgiana knows of all her particulars. Having divulged my secrets to you, I have no doubt that you will keep them.

I will only add that although it might disgust you, I will love you until my last breath on this Earth. God bless you,

Fitzwilliam Darcy


It was now nearing half past eight. Darcy sealed his letter and called for his valet. Then, like his disastrous nightmare the night before, he walked the grove awaiting Elizabeth. Just like before, she attempted to turn away from him, but he called after her.

Elizabeth approached with a wary look in her eye. When she came close enough for him to hand the letter over, she gasped. “Forgive me, sir, but you look as though you have been to the devil!”

Struggling to not return to his usual aloof expression, Darcy nodded in agreement. “I did not sleep well.”

Elizabeth blushed and looked away.

“Will you do me the honour of reading this letter?” He held out the envelope, but she hesitated. “It is neither a renewal of my addresses nor a defence, madam.”

Elizabeth looked at him curiously but took the envelope. “Pardon me, then.” She gave him a tight smile. “I will continue my walk.” She began to stalk off at a fast pace.

“Eliza—” Darcy winced when she whirled to face him, hands on hips and glared. “Miss Bennet, take care whilst you exercise. The rocks may be hidden. I would not wish for you to injure yourself.”

She furrowed her brow. “Thank you for the concern, but I am not afraid of a sprained ankle nor is it much cause for concern on such a path.”

Unable to explain the feelings of fear and panic which still lingered in his heart, he merely nodded and allowed her to continue. Feeling as though his heart was walking ever further away, he watched until she went around a bend. Then, he called on Mr. and Mrs. Collins. On his return to Rosings, Darcy saw Richard and informed him of his letter to Elizabeth.

“What have you done?” Richard cried.

“I could not live with myself if she were hurt by him,” Darcy said.

“But why tell her everything? Why tell her the full truth?”

“I will live with secrets no more.”

Richard stared dumbfounded at him, and Darcy extended his arm to squeeze his cousin’s shoulder.

“What is more, I am through keeping words in my heart. You are like a brother to me, Richard. I love you.”

Surprise lit his cousin’s eyes, and he laughed then pulled Darcy in for a great embrace, beating on his back. “It’s about time! So your bark is worse than your bite? I love you too.”

Released from Richard’s grip, Darcy’s neck heated. Expressing himself in this way was still new, but he could admit to enjoying the freedom. Perhaps if he had said it to Georgiana things would have been vastly different. Talk with her would have to wait for him to confess his errors to Bingley.

“Go on to the Parsonage,” Darcy said. “I will make the final arrangements for us to leave on the morrow.”

“You are certain?”

“I will not force my company on her.”

“No, but perhaps stay and show her who you really are? A lady wishes to be wooed.”

“I cannot go, in one night, from inept and arrogant to a charming lover, no matter how great the revelation.”

“Revelation?” Richard cocked his head to one side.

“Maybe I will tell you some other time.” Darcy expelled a breath. “I need to return to London. There are affairs I must look after and Georgiana deserves to have her brother.”

“Is there is nothing I can say to convince you otherwise?”

“No. Allow a man to quit the field of defeat with some dignity.” Darcy shook his head. “You go on.”

Richard nodded and proceeded down the path, allowing Darcy to return to Rosings. A memory of Anne’s reaction in his dream to the news that Darcy must marry Elizabeth ran through his mind. When he had arrived at Rosings, he feared Anne had forgotten their agreement and wished to marry him. He had not planned on discussing it with her and hoped to avoid the conversation. Now, understanding that he needed to consider the feelings of others more, he sought her out and found her in her private sitting room.

“Anne, may I sit with you?” he asked from the open doorway.

She put aside her book and looked up at him. “Certainly.” When he had sat, she observed, “I have not had any time to visit with you in the morning during your stay. You were always busy with Mother’s accounts or visiting the Parsonage.”

“I was,” he nodded, “and I am sorry if you felt slighted.”

She gave him a sad smile. “I did not feel slighted. I have accepted our situation.”

“And what is that?” he asked, surprising himself with how much he genuinely wanted to know her feelings.

“Well, Mother wishes you to marry me, and you do not want to. Naturally, you must avoid me to not give her false expectations.”

“What do you want, Anne?”

“Are you asking if I want to marry you?”

“Yes. I realise I have never asked what you thought on the matter.”

“What has changed? Why are you asking me now?” She looked at him warily.

“I have seen that I am selfish and arrogant. Years ago, when we spoke about your mother’s plans, I laid out that I had no intention to marry you. I never allowed you to speak.”

“Did she say that to you?” Anne asked softly and stared at her hands. “Miss Bennet is wrong, Fitzwilliam. You are not selfish or arrogant, but I will not be your consolation prize.”

Anne’s words surprised Darcy, and he looked at her as though he had never seen her before. “I would not demean you so but how did you know?”

“I know what longing and love looks like. I know the face of rejection.” A tear trickled down her cheek.

“Anne,” Darcy sighed. “I never meant to hurt you. Did I mistreat you? Did I raise your expectations?”

“No, do not blame yourself,” she said as she wiped away her tears with a handkerchief. “I knew you did not want me, you told me so, but it could not stop my heart from yearning.”

“Perhaps you only wish to be away from your mother. Perhaps if you were in more company…”

“I know my mind and my heart,” she snarled. “There is Richard. There is Mr. Montague-Churchill. There are other gentlemen I have met. It is you I loved.”

“I am sorry,” Darcy said quietly but meaning it with all of his heart. When he first made contact with the Fitzwilliams and de Bourghs, they filled a hole in his heart. “I never knew.”

“I did not wish for you to know,” she shrugged. “Mother told me I could gain your interest. However, I always saw we would not suit. I admired and loved you but would be an abominable wife to you, and you are not the sort of man that would make me happy.”

Darcy furrowed his brow. Thinking of being with Elizabeth made him happier than he had ever been. In his mind, that happiness equated love but what Anne talked about was dark and depressing. How could you love someone who could not complete you or be your equal? How was it love if it could only bring pain?

“You asked me what I wanted,” Anne interrupted his thoughts.

“I did.”

“I wish for your happiness. I hope Miss Bennet will see her error and if she does not, that your heart will be stirred by another.”

Darcy felt the lines between his brow deepen.

“You do not understand?” Anne asked and gently touched his hand. “I wish for that because I love you.”

That sentiment Darcy understood entirely. Of course, he desired for Elizabeth to love him but having no hope of that now, he wished for her happiness. No matter how painful it was to consider, she would find it with another man. “I understand. I would do nearly anything for you.” He covered her hand with his other one. “You are family.”

“Find someone to love and marry her. Do not return Rosings unwed.”

Darcy hung his head. “I do not know that I will find another.”

“Please,” Anne pleaded. “You do not know how my mother’s constant hints and nagging torment me.”

“I did not know, forgive me.”

“I will not,” Anne said and raised her chin. “You have no reason to reproach yourself.”

Darcy pulled his hand from hers and paced around the room. “I am a flawed man. I have wounded people—”

“Did you mean to?”

Darcy ceased walking and stared at her. “Pardon?”

“Did you mean to hurt anyone?”

“No, but my mere existence in this world has created pain.”

“It is not your fault,” she insisted. “Accidents may happen, over-sensitivities occur. But I will not forgive you for my silence and secrecy.”

Darcy remained rooted, hearing Anne’s words and the clemency she offered but wishing it was another woman before him. The things he wanted to share about himself, the deepest parts of his heart, he could not say to his cousin. Given her feelings for him, expressing them would only hurt her further. One thought stood out to him, however. She must feel similar to Jane Bennet. Loving a man from afar and with a mother who cannot keep silent about it. He castigated himself anew.

“I will leave you now,” Darcy said.

“I will not see you off tomorrow,” Anne said. “I meant what I said.”

Darcy nodded and bowed to her then made his way to his chamber.


Guest Interview–Lord Harrington

51hWvtatiUL._SY346_It’s been awhile since I’ve had a guest on the blog! Today, I’m excited to share this interview with Lord Harrington. I first read Lord Harrington’s Lost Doe a few years ago. It’s such a sweet, feel-good story and I appreciated the unique premise involving the treatment of the insane during the Regency era.

Lord Harrington is the lead male in Lord Harrington’s Lost Doe. Affectionately called “Mr. Grumpy” by those who know him best, he is the owner of a massive estate in Northern England.


  1. What is your favorite drink?
  2. What is your usual breakfast?
    Turtulong, marmalade, tea
  3. What is your favorite holiday like?
    A quiet one, spent at home with just family.
  4. What is your favorite feast?
    Venison, asparagus, rarebit, port
  5. What is your favorite animal?
    My horse
  6. What is your favorite thing you own?
    Denwood, my estate. I’ve worked hard to bring it back from ruin.
  7. What is your favorite city?
    London, I suppose, but that’s not saying much.
  8. What is the best thing about London?
    Leaving it.
  9. What is the worst thing about London?
    The smell.
  10. What is the biggest difference between London and Denwood?
    The crowds.
  11. Where would you like to travel?
    Not keen on travelling. Being at home is best.
  12. What is your favorite memory?
    When my Mercy said, “Yes.”
  13. What is your least favorite memory?
    Discovering Mercy gagged and tied up.
  14. What have you learned from Mercy?
    How pleasant life can be.
  15. What is the hardest part of being married?
    Leaving the marriage bed for my daily duties.
  16. What are you afraid of?
    Why would I share that with you?
  17. What do you think is the world’s greatest enemy?
  18. What is your favorite pastime?
    I’m not sharing that.
  19. If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
    This is nonsense, I’m done.
  20. Wait, a couple more. What do you hate the most?
    Answering questions, good day.

Lord Harrington left without answering the last question.

To find out more about Lord Harrington, read: Lord Harrington’s Lost Doe.

LHLDsm (3)Well! Mr. Grumpy reminds me a bit of another Regency fellow who is rather grumpy but stole my heart. 😉

Blurb: Lord Alexander Harrington’s life is rather tame until a shoeless, coatless waif is found wandering his estate with no memory of who she is. Despite his stoicism, Lord Harrington finds himself drawn to the lost girl who he compares to a scared doe. Caring for her illness despite speculation of her mental state, he develops feelings for her.

Is she an escaped lunatic, or simply a lost woman desperately in need of his help? A revelation about his own family’s history with the mental asylum down the road causes him to question his feelings. When a massive fire breaks out on estate grounds, will he lose her forever?

Buy now on Kindle or Paperback! Buy here!

The Secrets of Pemberley- Chapter Eleven

secrets of pemberley maskEnding your misery! Hang in there we’re only half way through!

Previous Chapters: One / Two / Three / Four / Five / Six / Seven / Eight / Nine / Ten


Chapter Eleven

May 1, 1841

Five years later


“Your tea has gone cold,” Betsy sighed as she poured Darcy a new cup. At her side, a baby gurgled.

After passing the cup to her father, Betsy stood and gathered the child in her arms. Patting the babe as she inspected the room she hummed a tune. An old lullaby her mother had sung to her.

“At least the maids keep it clean. Will and Emily visit often?”

“Yes and so do the children,” Darcy said.

Once the baby was asleep, Betsy returned to her seat across from her father. “Why do you not return to home? The Dower House is nicely laid out, but you should be master. You are not in your dotage yet.”

“You know why I cannot stay there. I am just down the lane should Will need me.”

Betsy frowned, and Darcy knew she would attempt, again, to convince him to return to his ancestral home. She had made her case weekly, unless she was in Town, for five years now. He cut her off as she opened her mouth. “Why do you not leave Beth with me? The nursery maids have enough to worry about with your nephews.”

Betsy looked shocked but pleased. Still, a hand went to her throat and troubled a necklace there. “You are certain you will be well? I shan’t be gone long.”

“Of course,” Darcy said and held out his arms.

“She should sleep for much of the time,” Betsy said as she placed her baby in her father’s arms. “You look so good with a baby, Papa,” she kissed his cheek. “Mama often said it to me. Did she ever say it to you?”

Darcy shook his head. His hair prematurely white but still slightly curled.

“I will be right back,” she said and tiptoed away.

Darcy sat in quiet memories. Shortly after burying Elizabeth, he had removed to the dower house. Will did not return to London and began overseeing Pemberley’s affairs. Thankfully, the boy could lean on the steward for his father was no help at all for many months.

In time, Darcy emerged from his shell, but he was far different for the experience. Never given to mirth, he had not smiled since Elizabeth died. He was honestly astonished he still lived. He would never take his life but was amazed his heart still beat.

He could not live in the house so full of memories of Elizabeth, nor could he see his daughter-in-law, Emily, become the mistress, no matter how much he loved her. Betsy’s coming out was delayed a year for mourning and Darcy had never been so struck with his selfishness than the day he realized that he got his way. He was correct, she received three offers her first year but fortunately, Elizabeth had counseled her wisely, and it was another two years before she married, only for the deepest love. Now she was at Pemberley, going through her old trunks to retrieve items for her daughter. As Darcy held his newest grandchild, called Beth, pain gripped his heart. She had Elizabeth’s eyes.

The little angel remained asleep in his arms, and he sat quietly, lost in memories. He searched his mind once more, an obsessive habit now, attempting to determine if it had all been wishful thinking. How had he missed that Elizabeth still disliked him?  It was true that hope for her love vanished before Will was even born, but he had believed Elizabeth cared for him some, and not just as the father of her children. Her words did not lie though.

Lost in such melancholy thoughts, he did not hear Betsy enter. She touched his shoulder and called out, “Father?”

He startled and looked up at the intruder quickly before glancing away to hide his glassy eyes. Once composed he turned his attention back to his daughter.

“Yes, Betsy?  You can see we are fine.”

He attempted to smile. Before Elizabeth, he seldom smiled, and now, years without her, it was the same.

“I see. You are always wonderful with children. Mama loved that about you.”

Darcy’s countenance darkened, “I hardly believe there was much your mother loved about me.”

Betsy shook her head and emphatically stated, “I know she did.”

“Elizabeth Jane, you know this subject is out of the question. Desist.”

She spoke with a tone very reminiscent of her mother, “You can no longer order me about, Father. Will you not ask me the cause for my assuredness?”

He let out an exasperated sigh. “You are sometimes too much like your Aunt Jane, always reasoning things out to see the good in everybody and everything. The fact remains that I am a selfish man, no matter how you may try to explain it differently.”

The combined strength of the Darcy, Fitzwilliam and Bennet stubbornness became apparent on Betsy’s face in a flash. “I am not so kind-hearted as that, and you know it!  But I have proof. I have her own words.”

Darcy looked at her in confusion, and she removed several journals from a basket she had brought in. She laid them on the table next to her father. His eyes darted to them and looked at them in a mixture of longing and fear. Gathering up baby Beth, she kissed her father on the cheek and whispered, “Read them.”




Darcy sat staring at Elizabeth’s journals arguing with himself until brought out of his reverie by the chill in the air. The fire had long ago grown low. He quickly added several more logs and then focussed on the growing blaze. For a moment, he thought about simply burning them all. Glancing at them again, he decided he would read some—if only to look at her beautiful penmanship again.

Darcy started with the earliest one. He winced at reading the first few entries, full of anger directed at himself for their marriage and blushed to think his daughter might know of his ungentlemanly behaviour. Elizabeth did not write daily, or even monthly. Before many pages, there was an entry that caught his attention. She had redecorated the mistress’s apartments in preparation for Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner’s visit and had come across some old things of hers brought from Longbourn.

Elizabeth had found his letter. After his kiss, she had never bothered to read it, but somehow did not burn it either. Its effect on her was significant. As Darcy looked at the date on the entry again, he realized it was near the time he had sensed an improvement in her feelings for him.

Many weeks later, there was another entry. Lydia had eloped with Wickham While visiting at Longbourn when Elizabeth was there, Lydia had mentioned Darcy was at her wedding. Elizabeth applied to her Aunt Gardiner directly and was quickly informed of the whole of Darcy’s role in the matter. Another look at the date, and it occurred to him that this must have been the cause for her declaration of love. He hated to think it was elicited out of gratitude of any kind, but this was much worse than out of her falling with child.

Bravely, and against his better instincts, he turned the page and read:

I love him!  My whole heart wants to scream it loudly!  And I know not when it happened, but I believe I have loved him for a very long time now. Possibly since he first pulled me into his arms and showed me I was too precious to him to let me go. I must confess this here, for I fear to utter the words aloud. I have been so wrong, I misjudged him so badly. He does not speak of love, though his every look confirms it. I am a muddled mess!  Surely, I should not say it if he does not?

Darcy stared at the page for nearly an eternity. Elizabeth loved him?  Even a bit, even if he starved it away, she had loved him. He turned the page again.

I must tell him, he deserves to know. My happiness is only made more complete by the fact that I felt the first flutterings of our babe today. I had long suspected but was not sure.

The next page was dated only days later.

I told him. Last night I confessed my love while in his arms. He said nothing but held me tighter. I fell asleep to the sound of his heart and felt like the most cherished thing in the world.

Darcy now read compulsively, his eyes greedy for every word.

I shared the news of the babe with darling Fitzwilliam today. He smiled broadly and even twirled me around and laughed. As the day went on though, he seemed concerned and withdrew into himself. Perhaps he is concerned for my health?  Mrs. Reynolds explained his mother did not do well in her confinements, finally passing after Georgiana’s birth.

Months passed before another entry, the page bore evidence of tear stains.

Why does he not say it again?  I was such a fool!  Did I drive it away with my cruel refusal?  But he must still love me. Or is it only vain wishes?  Will the only time I ever hear those cherished words from his lips have been during his wretchedly worded proposal I so shamefully spurned?

Darcy felt tears sting his own face and they fell on the parchment in his hands, mingling with her long-dried ones. “Oh, Elizabeth!  I love you, I’ve always loved you, If only I had known!”

His heart contracted, and his head throbbed with anguish. “I had thought you did not wish to hear of my affections!  I feared you would not welcome the words; that you would refuse the sentiment. But for my horrible pride!  I should have whispered them in your ear hourly!”

He turned page after page but found no more mentions of love. Instead, her entries were directed on being a new mother and their expanding family. In the journal dated several years after the birth of their youngest daughter, Darcy caught his breath and read.

We have been married 15 years today, and my love for Fitzwilliam is stronger than I ever thought possible. He is a silent man, not given to mirth or much sentiment. Years ago, as I first learned my own heart, I was uncertain of his, but I have learned a truer, more constant heart has never beat. He still does not tell me with words, but we have an unspoken union. And I daresay he is just as besotted with me as ever.

I have accepted Betsy will be my last child. I fear my husband worries too much when I am with child. However much I enjoy his attentions, he does not wish for me to fall with child frequently. But four children, two of each sex, is a good brood. Even my mother cannot complain, for not only do I have the heir and a spare, but Fitzwilliam so generously named our eldest daughter after my mother as well as his. And he honoured my father by naming our youngest son Bennet instead of using his family name.

God has been very good to me, I am so very happy.

For hours and hours, Darcy read until at last, he reached the final pages.

Fitzwilliam is such a vexing man!  I know he is anxious to keep Betsy home, that he cannot bear to part with his dearest daughter, but she is grown now. In five and twenty years, I still have not learned how to move on his stubbornness, but I am hoping soon we will make him see reason. He cannot have his way in this for no reason than his selfishness.

It hurt to read Elizabeth’s words of admonishment about his behaviour and tears stung his eyes again. Knowing the next page contained her final entry, Darcy held his breath. At long last, he turned the final page and read her last entry, dated the day of her death.

How have I been so blind all these years?  I thought he knew!  But it seems he does not, my refusal must have hurt him deeper than I ever believed. Oh!  I was so awful just now, I declared he had a selfish disdain for the feelings of others, and no matter how much I love him I do believe he has a selfish streak. But I had entirely forgotten the words I said in my dreadful refusal until I saw his face darken, just as it did that day. I had spoken those very words. And now I learn they have haunted him for five and twenty years and he never believed I loved him.

I cannot think now, I must be away to calm my thoughts, but when I return, I will do what I should have done when I first knew my heart. My stupid pride, I did not wish to repeat the words if he seemed unwilling to say them!  I will tell him and tell him and tell him until my final day on this Earth. I will tell him:  I love you, my dearest Fitzwilliam.

Darcy wept joyful tears before falling into a heavy slumber in his chair before the fire. He awoke hours later to a room unusually warm and bright, and after his eyes had adjusted, he saw Elizabeth standing before him.

She stretched forward her hand and said, “Come, my love. We will have no more misunderstandings between us now.”  Without hesitation, he reached for her hand and pulled her into an embrace, feeling the light all around him.



The Secrets of Pemberley- Chapter Ten

I haven’t really put any comments before the chapters on my blog but I will on this one. Things get very angsty and seem hopeless. Hang on.

Previous Chapters: One / Two / Three / Four / Five / Six / Seven / Eight / Nine

Chapter Ten

March 15, 1837


Darcy left his study in search of his family. There were matters to arrange before they journeyed to London for the Season. Now that their eldest daughter had married, they should not need to spend so long a time in Town. Will did not need them and Ben would be busy with Cambridge much of the time. Their younger daughter, Betsy, would not be coming out until next year.

“Now, practice like this,” Elizabeth said, and laughter ensued.

“Did you really have to do this, Ellie?” Darcy heard Betsy ask her cousin as he stood outside the door.

Jane and some of her daughters were visiting. The Bingleys had moved to an estate only thirty miles from Pemberley within a year of their marriage. Darcy smiled as he knew the joy the cousins found in each other.

“No, silly, watch again,” Ellie said with oohs and ahhs following. “You had better learn fast for you only have a few weeks.”

Darcy opened the door with a scowl on his face. The occupants of the room immediately froze, clearly caught in the act. “Betsy will not be presented at court until next year.”

Jane quickly looked between husband and wife and stood. “My dears, let us take a walk after spending all morning in here with these dusty garments.” She curtsied to Darcy. “Come, you too, Betsy.”

Darcy did not watch them leave as his eyes remained locked with Elizabeth’s. Hearing the door close, he raised a brow.

“We have discussed this,” he folded his arms across his chest. “You know I want her to wait. Anne did not enter Society until she was nearly nineteen.”

Elizabeth shook her head. “They have very different dispositions and Anne’s birthday is in the summer. It was either enter at seventeen or wait until nearly nineteen.”

“Georgiana chose the same.”

“Again, you are not considering the difference in their personalities,” Elizabeth said and began shaking out the old court dress she had unpacked to practice curtseys with.

“She loves it too much,” Darcy said. “She loves frivolity and London.”

“That is not a crime,” Elizabeth sighed.

Darcy closed his eyes. After all these years, he still had not explained about his mother. He saw that same liveliness in Betsy. Between her beauty and her fortune, she would capture the eye of many suitors and probably make an impulsive choice. In her blood were the errors of a grandmother and two aunts.

“She will be eighteen next week,” Elizabeth said. “You cannot keep her a child forever. If we do not allow her these freedoms, she will take them anyway.”

“Why will you not bow to me in this, Elizabeth?” Darcy asked and took a step forward. “I had thought you, at least, respected me.”

“What do you mean?” she asked and lifted her chin defiantly. “Do not turn this around on me. I have been a good wife, but I will not sit by as you attempt to impose your selfish disdain for the feelings of others! Think beyond your arrogance and conceit and see that you may be wrong.”

Darcy stepped backward. Where had such a thing come from? This was the Elizabeth from his Hunsford proposal. Her eyes flashed in the same anger, which he had only seen glimpses of in their marriage. She had thought that of him, had she? All these years while he thought she cared for him, she had been concealing her implacable hate.

Grasping for his anger, just as he had lo those many years ago, he took a step forward. Elizabeth gasped and looked away, but he would not allow it.

“Look at me,” he demanded, and she obeyed. “I know you have never loved me. I know you never could in all these years, but I will not tolerate public mockery. Now, say you will tell Betsy to wait. We must be united in this no matter how much you hate me.”

A sob came from Elizabeth’s mouth, and she pulled a hand up to cover it while doubling over. Darcy stepped forward in concern, but she held her other hand up to keep him away. Straightening, she exhaled, but pain and regret lingered in her eyes.

“I cannot speak of this at present, Fitzwilliam. I am going for a walk.”

Before Darcy could say anything else, she darted from the room.

Believing it just another argument, he returned to his study and did not emerge when Jane and her daughters left. He had assumed Elizabeth returned inside with them. At tea time, she did not join him. Despite a desire to seek her out, he did not move. They did not argue frequently, but when they did, he had learned Elizabeth needed time to overcome her anger. Often, she would not intend to join him, but he would find her and apologise, earning one from her as well. Not this time. No, this time he would remain firm. He was right, and he knew it. She would come to him with her apologies first.

As he attempted to enjoy his tea and biscuits without her by his side for the first time in five and twenty years, he mulled over the services he had done her and her family. Kitty had married a Derbyshire gentleman with a small estate and Mary wed the vicar of Kympton. Only Lydia lived far away, and she visited once or twice a year. He could not stand to see Wickham, but the man had had held true to his contract. In return, Darcy assisted him in his career. Believing it better to have the man employed and in something as rigid as the army than free to make his own fortune, Darcy secured Wickham a position as adjutant to a general. Mr. and Mrs. Bennet often visited Pemberley before they passed.

Was it too much to ask that she do one thing for him? Just allow him one more year with his little girl. Scowling at the thought which proved her point, he returned to his desk. After another hour or two, his work was completed, and he rang for the butler to take the stack of letters. Half went in the mail and the other half to the land steward.

“Begging your pardon, sir,” young Reynolds, who had taken over for his father a few years before, said, “but Mrs. Darcy has not returned from her walk, and the sun will set soon.”

Darcy’s eyes slid to the clock. She had been gone six hours! It was no secret she was their favourite and no secret she was an exemplary mistress. Despite her humble origins, she managed the estate with more grace, generosity and good sense than the ladies in most of London’s oldest families. Mrs. Bennet had taught her to be an excellent hostess, and Mr. Bennet taught her insight and wisdom. Darcy knew that now, but learning to value her relations came too late in their marriage to make a difference. Elizabeth remained forever sensitive over their positions in life.

Belatedly, he realised that she must have been hurt when he insisted Betsy not come out. She must have thought he believed her as inept as her own mother was on the subject. However, it was his mother he had worried about. Shaking his head, he realised the long overdue conversation with Elizabeth could be put off no longer. He stood, pulling on his coat and forming an apology in his mind.

“I will find her. If I do not return in an hour, send others,” Darcy said as he exited the house.

After an hour, dread filled his heart. It was unlike Elizabeth to stay out after dark. He was just beginning to convince himself that she must have returned a different route when he heard a gardener calling for Mrs. Darcy and the gleam of a lantern. He jogged over.

Hearing that she had not come to the house felt like a knife in his heart. “I have not yet checked this path. Over here,” he motioned to the gardener, and they walked for several minutes before making out a figure of something in the road.

Darcy inhaled sharply as he considered it too big to be a sheep or deer. The gardener did likewise but said nothing.

“I will go,” Darcy said and held out his hand for the lantern.

A cloud rolled by, bathing the path in moonlight and Darcy screamed, then ran.


A woman’s lifeless figure laid before him. He reached her in seconds and set the lantern down.

“Lizzy, Elizabeth, where are you hurt?”

He touched her shoulder, and her head rolled. Lifeless eyes stared up at him.

“Oh God!” Darcy sobbed and scooped her into his arms. “No, anything but this. No!”

He pressed his ear to her chest, hoping to hear a beat or feel respiration. Instead, he felt the stickiness where her blood had trickled down her head from a gash.

Tears flew from his eyes as an anguished sob roared from his throat. “Lizzy, wake up, love. Just wake up,” he cried over and over again rocking her as he clutched her tightly.

“Sir,” the gardener placed a hand on his shoulder, causing Darcy to jump and return from something near insanity.

Turning his head, he saw others slowly approach with their lanterns at their side and hats covering their chest.

“May I?” Jack, the strongest footman asked and held out his arms.

“No!” Darcy yelled and held Elizabeth closer. “No, I will take her.”

“Sir, it is some distance,” Jack said.

“She will be returned to her—” Darcy paused as his voice broke, “her home, to her bed, by me and me alone.”

He managed to stand without letting go of his precious cargo. He and the entourage walked slowly, there was no hurry to rush her into the house or seek medical attention. She was well past that. From time to time, others asked to share his load, but he refused. His arms felt no pain. His entire being was numb.

As he laid Elizabeth on her bed, he fleetingly registered Betsy screaming from the doorway where others worked to hold her back. A good man, a good father, would have strength to offer his daughter in such a situation. He was neither. He was selfish and a bastard. And while Betsy had need of him and Elizabeth could no longer draw comfort from his attention, he refused to leave her bedside. It gave him comfort.

In the morning, the housekeeper ordered him from his wife’s chamber. Jack and another footman, forcibly removed him and delivered him into the hands of his valet who shoved wine mixed with laudanum into his hands. Against his will, he slept. Charging to Elizabeth’s room, relief flooded him when her bed was empty. She lived! It had been naught but a nightmare. But no, items were covered in white linen, protected from dust until he could bear the thought of discarding them.

Never, he vowed.

He crumpled to the ground, sitting in her doorway and wept like a child. Tears he had suppressed since he was removed from his mother at the age of eight sprang forward. What had life given him but grief? Unloved by the man he called father, abandoned by the real one, rejected by the woman he had built his life with, they had all seen him for what he was. Nothing. A fraud. Not worth existing.

If he had never been born everyone’s life would have been better. Lady Anne might have learned to love the country or George Darcy to abide the city. The elder brother Darcy never knew would have lived. Georgiana would never have nearly eloped with Wickham—a fact that cost her everything. Although it remained a secret, she never trusted another man and remained unwed. She established her own home in Town. Elizabeth’s life would have been infinitely better. She would have lived.

There had been excessive amounts of rain that washed the road away some, leaving the occasional unexpected rock. Had she been walking she would have seen them, but Darcy surmised she must have been running. She clearly tripped over one rock and as she fell, struck her head on another larger one. He could not forget her lifeless eyes. Her mesmerizing eyes that always held so much emotion, all the light snuffed out. He had done this. He had driven her to vexation, pushed her to need the exercise in what she must have already viewed as more a prison sentence than a life worth living. Had she felt pain?  Had she suffered?

He was confident it was the last time he would feel anything again. As the day wore on, he was proven wrong. Servants came to him asking about funeral arrangements. Betsy pleaded with him to eat and sleep. Jane and Bingley arrived to take over decisions. Elizabeth’s other sisters and their families filled the house. Still, he remained to stare at her empty bed.

The day of the funeral, he was guided to a bath and groomed. He looked the perfect gentleman, with new mourning arm band, but in his heart he knew the truth. He was a murderer. The day he married Elizabeth he sealed her fate. Nay, the day he had kissed her.

And what did he expect? He took the name Darcy and acted like lord of the manor. In truth, he was probably nothing more than the son of a footman who might have had questionable paternity himself. Jack grew up in Newgate, where his father had been sentenced before he was even born. All the years Darcy had hated Wickham when he had done far worse.

Brought to Elizabeth’s grave, he remained rooted in front of it. The sun blinded him so he could not make out the words. What would be said? That her husband drove her to her death? That his arrogance and false conceit ruined her?

“I am sorry I was never the man you deserved,” Darcy said.

His throat aching after days of unused and parched from lack of hydration. He welcomed the sting. Would that it was a noose around his throat as he deserved.

The sun shifted, and Darcy was reminded of a day when he was still a young man and admiring Elizabeth walking in the grove at Rosings. Perhaps now she was at peace as she had been that day.

His name was called, and before turning away, he cast one long glance at the marker as he was uncertain he could ever look upon again and read it:

Elizabeth Darcy


Beloved wife and mother.

Music Monday- Marry Me

This is one of those songs where the very first time I hard it, I started to get ideas for a story. I’ve recently watched the music video for the first time and got a totally different sort of plot bunny for it. For one, I imagine a man drowning his sorrows in in a library at the wedding breakfast when a bluestocking walks in and they’re found in a compromising position. You know I love those forced marriage stories! For the other, the heroine looks like she’s going to marry someone else and at the last minute ends up with the hero–the boy next door. I know they sound pretty basic right now…but just wait. I hope you enjoy and have a great Monday!

The Secrets of Pemberley- Chapter Nine

secrets of pemberley maskPrevious Chapters: One / Two / Three / Four / Five / Six / Seven / Eight

Chapter Nine


Darcy’s hopes for productive engagement period collapsed once he reached Longbourn. Mrs. Bennet behaved as he had guessed she would. First, she could not contain her confusion at their arrival and questioned the absence of Bingley. Darcy sought an audience with Mr. Bennet, who refused to believe anything of the scenario Darcy laid out without consulting Elizabeth. Darcy did not know what father and daughter discussed for above half an hour, but both clearly saw the marriage as a last resort.

Despite Mrs. Bennet’s shrieking effusions and the rude comments from the younger daughters upon the announcement, Darcy sighed in relief. Could the ends justify the means? He and Elizabeth would wed. They would share a lifetime to come closer.

Mrs. Bennet demanded a special license and began squiring Elizabeth around the area, not caring a whit for any of the gossip which followed. Thankfully, Mr. Collins soon returned to his parish when Lady Catherine discovered the source of the rumours in Hunsford to be none other than Lady Montague-Churchill. Lady Catherine arranged for Collins to be present at her friend’s next visit and for the topic to be hellfire and brimstone for gossipmongers. Still, the damage was done. Perhaps it might have been concealed if Darcy had not acted so promptly and arrived at Longbourn. Once again, his attempts at managing Society and acting honourably ruined things.

Mr. Bennet refused to even speak to Darcy. Distinctly unwelcome at Longbourn, he spent most of the engagement in London arranging Elizabeth’s settlement. Regardless of the source of their union, he would begrudge her nothing. Mrs. Darcy deserved the very best.

On one of his brief visits to the area, Elizabeth broached a topic he had not expected from her.

“Several officers dined here last night,” Elizabeth began. “The Militia leaves today, and it was the final opportunity to speak with our friends.”

Darcy tensed as they walked in Longbourn’s garden, fearing a particular name would be mentioned. He did not know if she ever read his letter.

“Mr. Wickham approached me, and we had a strange conversation.”

Darcy said nothing.

“He confessed he was shocked to hear of our engagement. He had believed you would wed your cousin.”

“I was never engaged to Anne,” Darcy rushed to say.

Elizabeth nodded. “I had wondered but guessed if you were then you would not have proposed to me.”

The fact that she allowed a possibility of it being the opposite spoke volumes as to her estimation of his honour.

“He was surprised to hear that I had often been in your company and asked if you had come alone.”

Wickham must have been fishing for information regarding Georgiana. Darcy remained silent.

“When I mentioned the Colonel, Wickham observed the differences in your manners and disposition. He…he hinted at there being some reason for that. I do not know why he found it so fascinating,” Elizabeth said while glancing at Darcy. “The son of an earl and an officer in the army would surely have different education and experiences than a gentleman’s son.”

A gentleman’s son, Darcy thought. Except he was not. Additionally, he noted she did not call him a gentleman. Belatedly, he realized Elizabeth stared at him expectantly. “What do you wish to say?”

“Will you do nothing for him?” She asked and walked ahead to put distance between them. “You once used to be close friends.”

“Elizabeth,” Darcy commanded, and she turned to face him. “You will never ask about this again. You will never speak his name again.”


She ceased speaking and fear flooded her eyes as he stepped forward and met her in two long strides. His heart pounded, and he could feel the heat on his face. His voice sounded rough and savage. “I mean it. I will not tolerate discussion in this quarter. He leaves today, and I pray we will never hear of him again. He is no friend to you.”

Elizabeth said nothing and tears gathered in her eyes.

“Do you understand?” he asked. He did not yell but recognised his tone as one spoken by a displeased George Darcy. The tone that always struck terror in his heart. He cared not. The matter was too important. If she had not read his letter, she never would. He was too angry to explain it all to her, all he wanted was her promise. “Do I have your agreement?”

“Yes,” she whispered.

Darcy nodded and stormed off, not trusting himself to say or do anything else. He longed to take Elizabeth in his arms and erase the stricken look on her face. Words failed him. She had not read his letter and deserved to know, but he could not speak more. An embrace or tenderness from him would be the last thing she desired.

He left that afternoon for London and did not return until the day of the wedding. Bingley arrived with him and offered use of Netherfield. Darcy knew Elizabeth had wondered if he would confess all to his friend. He had put it off, expecting Bingley’s anger. Instead, the man could not believe his good fortune.

“Miss Bennet may not still care for you,” Darcy cautioned.

“If she loved me once, I can earn it back,” Bingley said with a grin.

Despite Darcy’s tale, his friend seemed euphoric.

“I can never repay you for your loyalty and kindness,” Bingley had said.

Darcy shook his head. He could not say if Jane still loved Bingley, but he saw the signs of heartbreak. At times, the distant look in her eyes was reminiscent of his own. He had been far too officious in imagining he saved Bingley from anything. He would have done much better by paying closer attention to Elizabeth’s reaction around him rather than assuming she felt as he did. What a tangled mess of it he made.

Still, when Elizabeth approached him at the altar in Longbourn’s church on May Day, Darcy could not prevent the feeling of utter rightness settling into his heart. She vowed to love him, and whether or not she meant it at the time, he promised himself to never give up and to cherish her always.

As the carriage rolled away, Darcy caught the worried looks from Mr. Bennet and Elizabeth’s London relatives—a couple Darcy had enjoyed meeting and believed an acquaintance he would keep—and the tears trickling down Elizabeth’s face. This would be an uphill battle but a lifetime would be enough. No one would ever love another the way he loved Elizabeth and when he had, at last, earned the position he coveted in her heart, he would speak it all. Until then, he would wait and watch and love her without words every day.




Towards the end of July, Elizabeth readied Pemberley for Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner to visit. The newlyweds had spent several weeks in London after the wedding and remained until the end of June when Bingley and Jane married. Elizabeth spent most mornings with her aunt, while Darcy spent time at his club. They joined in the afternoon for dinner, sometimes with his small circle of friends and avoided the general circuit of London as the Season waned. Additionally, Darcy had sensed Elizabeth unready to travel all the way to Derbyshire, and he invited her aunt and uncle to dine with them as often as possible to make her feel at ease. He genuinely liked them and asked them to visit over the summer.

Arriving at Pemberley during the height of summer, Elizabeth immediately loved the grounds. She spent as much time as she could out of doors, walking and examining the gardens. It had seemed a lifetime ago that they discussed the manicured gardens of Rosings, but Elizabeth praised him for leaving Pemberley in its more natural state.

While their first few months of marriage had remained strained, with most of their time spent apart, Pemberley breathed fresh air into them. They fell into a routine of separate mornings, then an afternoon walk and tea together before dinner when Georgiana would join them for the evening.

Slowly but surely, Elizabeth’s anger had faded. She talked with Darcy more and asked to sit with him in the library sometimes. Darcy dare not ask her about the change in her feelings lest he scare them away.

The night before Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner’s arrival, Darcy thought they turned a corner. Perhaps it was the extra glass of wine he drank at dinner, but he believed he saw Elizabeth look at him fondly during the meal. When Georgiana declared herself tired and asked for a supper tray to be sent to her room, instead of doting on the girl she had taken underwing as a sister, Elizabeth requested Darcy to sit and turn pages for her.

Her sweet voice always pulled on his heart and more than once their hands grazed when he reached to turn a page for her. They had other times of this gradual touching, but he had always erred on the side of caution since his compromising kiss. This night, however, he felt intoxicated by the feeling of her at his side, in their home, and desiring his company. At the end of the song, Darcy raised her hand to his lips.

“Pemberley has never looked more beautiful, my darling,” he said as she blushed. “Do you enjoy your refreshed rooms?”

“Yes, very much,” she murmured as she stared at her hand still in his.

That she did not seek to remove it made Darcy want to shout in victory. “Then I am pleased. Your happiness is paramount to me.” He rubbed his thumb over her soft skin and heard a soft gasp.

“You are so good to me,” Elizabeth said and ducked her head away.

Darcy could see her cheeks burning crimson and the vice grip he had felt around his heart for months eased. She saw something good in him. The clock chimed the time, and Darcy did not want to relinquish the closeness they had found this night.

“Would you care for a short stroll in the garden? I do not think you have seen it at night time.”

“That sounds wonderful,” Elizabeth said in a breathy tone.

Darcy escorted her through the garden as she leaned on his arm. He covered her hand with his free one, stroking the smooth skin and feeling shivers run through Elizabeth’s frame from time to time. Coming under an arbour with roses climbing over it, their heavy fragrance filling the air, he pulled her to his chest, and she lowered her head against his heart. His arms tightened around her, and they sighed at the same time, drawing a slow smile from his lips.

“I think of you out here often, Lizzy,” he whispered into her hair. “More beautiful than the stars, with your eyes shining like diamonds. You are as fresh and unspoilt as these roses.” He nuzzled against the softness atop her head. “I do not deserve you.”

Darcy waited for Elizabeth to tense or push him away. He waited for her to remind him of his sins and what brought them together was not mutual love but his penchant for destruction. Instead, she tilted her head up and smiled at him as she caressed his face with a hand. He leaned into it and shut his eyes. The gentle touch did more to heal the wounds of his heart than any words ever could. Hearing a rustle of fabric, he opened his eyes just as Elizabeth brushed her lips against his.

He staggered back as every part of him felt aflame.

“Did…did I do something wrong?” Elizabeth asked and chewed her bottom lip. “Did you not like it?” She turned her face from him.

In one long step, Darcy was in front of her, so close their chests touched giving him the most exquisite torture. “I have wanted your kiss from almost the first moment I met you. Nothing could feel better—”

His words were extinguished when Elizabeth placed both hands on his face and pulled his mouth to hers. Asking no more questions, Darcy wrapped his arms around her waist and worshipped his goddess with unwavering devotion.

The next morning, as he opened his eyes fearing it had all been a dream, he was greeted by the sight of Elizabeth’s head resting on his heart and her arm draped across his chest.




Darcy knew he should have asked after Elizabeth’s change of heart, but first, he was too afraid and then he had no time. Disaster struck, and it threatened to undo everything he had worked for. Once during their engagement, Elizabeth asked after his relationship with Wickham, and he had pushed her feelings aside. When her sister Lydia went to Brighton with the Regiment, no one thought to ask him or mention it to him. Indeed, while he had thought it unwise, he would not have considered her a target for Wickham.

A few days after Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner arrived at Pemberley, Elizabeth received two letters from Jane. Lydia had eloped with Wickham, but it was not believed they had continued to Scotland. They hid somewhere in London. The Gardiners immediately left to help. Elizabeth withdrew to her chamber. He whispered words of comfort to her, but she refused to speak. Determined to see her smile again, Darcy decided to leave for Town two days later. Georgiana would watch over Elizabeth.

Once in London, Darcy left no stone unturned until he located Georgiana’s former governess who had schemed with Wickham to cash in her dowry. For a few guineas, the woman ratted out her one-time lover and directed Darcy to his location. After finding the couple and unable to convince Lydia to leave the man, he persuaded her to return to Gracechurch street until the wedding. The following day, Darcy arrived at Wickham’s rooms with a magistrate and a stack of Wickham’s debts he now owned.

“What is this?” Wickham scowled. “You would not send me to debtor’s prison! What would your father say?”

Darcy said nothing and let Wickham continue with his usual line of defense.

“You have not forgotten, have you, how he favoured me?”

“I have not,” Darcy said through grit teeth. “You will sign these papers,” Darcy put down a second stack, “which commit you to marrying Miss Lydia and purchasing an ensigncy in the Regulars or you will pay the consequences of your misdeeds.”

After staring at Wickham without flinching for several long seconds, the other man picked up the pen and signed the papers. He paused at the last one. “What is this?”

“Read it for yourself,” Darcy said.

Wickham looked at the magistrate. “Is this legal? If I speak the truth—the truth mind you, not a lie—of Darcy or Miss Darcy’s birth, I will be deported to Australia without trial?”

The man shrugged. “A private agreement between two people can contain any number of things. You give up the right to speak openly by not going to Newgate now. At any rate, such talk would lean toward blackmail, and you certainly are not asking me if you should retain such a right. My, that could be construed as an admission of guilt or an intention of crime.”

Wickham held up his hand. “Very well.” He angrily signed the final missive.

Darcy remained in London until Wickham and Lydia married. They then visited at Longbourn. Darcy sent for Elizabeth so she could visit her family. He stayed in town, unable to be in company with Wickham.

After the unfortunate couple left, Darcy took up residence at Netherfield and Elizabeth joined him. Words could not describe the stirring in his heart as he had his wife to hold again. After their sweet reunion as she laid her head against his chest and drifted to sleep, he thought she whispered the three words he had waited his whole life to hear. The next day, however, she acted no different than before. Darcy observed her over the next few days and concluded she merely missed sharing her bed with him given how often she invited—even begged—for him to join her there.

They returned to Pemberley for Michaelmas, and as a year had lapsed since they first met, Darcy could hardly believe how much had happened in that time. He had once said she could not tempt him to dance. He had once claimed she had no beauty. Now, she could drive him mad with a glance. Now, she was the most beautiful woman in the world to him. Still, he increasingly wondered if he would ever gain her love.




As their first Christmas together approached, Darcy wondered what to give Elizabeth. She had something up he sleeve if her blushing every time she looked at him was any indication. When he presented her with a new writing set, she beamed at him.

“I regret that we cannot see your family more,” he said.

“Yes, they are much further than fifty miles away,” she said saucily and winked.

Darcy grinned to see her tease him over a remark from months ago; before they had married and felt the peace they now did. Her eyes soon took on an affectionate quality, and he thought he might drown in them. Elizabeth blushed and reached for a package to her side then extended her arm to him.

Darcy reverently touched the paper. He had received so few gifts in his life. “Thank you, Elizabeth. Thank you for thinking of me.”

“Of course, I think of you! Open it, silly,” she laughed, and Georgiana joined in.

Flushing at his awkwardness, Darcy opened the paper and found a collection of handkerchiefs with roses and stars embroidered.

“My first efforts were not very proficient,” Elizabeth murmured shyly. “I am happy to say that I improved with practice.”

“I love them,” Darcy said and kissed her cheek, causing her and Georgiana to blush.

How many hours had she spent on these? And she thought of him the whole time. He feared his heart my burst from the joy of it all. That night, in her chambers, something even more significant occurred.

“I love you,” Elizabeth said as she cuddled to him before falling asleep.

Wrapping his arms around her, Darcy smiled so widely he felt facial muscles stretching he had never used before. He held Elizabeth tightly to his chest the rest of the night.

In the morning, she found him in his study. They were to hand out the Boxing Day gifts to the tenants, and the butler had just departed from collecting the bonuses for the household staff. Darcy welcomed her in, and she settled on his lap, placing her arms around his neck.

“Darling,” she said as he rested his head on hers. “I wanted to tell you now so you might decide when we should inform the rest of the estate.”

Darcy lifted his head as a feeling of anticipation filled him. “Yes?”

“There will be a Darcy heir in the Spring.” She grinned and kissed him.

“You are certain?”

Elizabeth nodded. “I have had suspicions for months and began feeling it move last week.”

“When will she come?” Darcy grinned thinking of a bright-eyed girl just like Elizabeth.

“It may be a he,” Elizabeth laughed. “Around our wedding anniversary.”

Unable to contain his joy he shot out of his chair and twirled his wife in his arms while laughing. When Darcy set her down, he kissed her deeply while feeling the clouds of his past disappear. They had love. They had happiness.

He had never before enjoyed visiting the tenants so much. Seeing their happy families only reminded him of his broken one, but today, he felt whole. At the last house, however, Elizabeth’s cheerfulness visibly dimmed. Although she insisted she only felt tired and needed a nap, Darcy could not resist worrying about her. His mother had never been well during her confinements. Thoughts of his mother only reminded him of the secrets he still kept from Elizabeth. He shoved the guilt aside. The information was of such little consequence, he would tell her at the right time. Why ruin their happiness?

As the weeks wore on, Darcy’s fears proved correct. Elizabeth suffered from bouts of insomnia and minor illnesses. Her typical energy disappeared. He also thought better of the timing of her declaration of love. She did not love him. She liked that he had given her a baby. Elizabeth never held back her feelings or words for anything else. If she truly loved him, she would say it often. Instead, she never uttered it again.

When her time for confinement came, Darcy paced about a downstairs room in dread of losing her forever. Mrs. Bennet arrived to assist with the birth, and Darcy found he, at last, had a use for the woman. She crowed in happiness at Elizabeth bearing a son. That night, as Darcy held the woman and son he loved beyond all reason, he vowed to himself he would say nothing to mar their paradise. He had no reason to open the wounds of his past.

More than twenty years later, he learned to repent that vow and all the things he left unsaid.