Louisa and Gilbert Hurst arrived in Town, to make arrangements for her brother and sister’s burials and the legal arrangements. It was clear that Louisa was in much pain, and most who saw her could see that most of Mrs Hurst’s grief was for the loss of her brother, not her sister.
Louisa asked to be introduced to Elizabeth, and was given permission to enter Elizabeth’s bedchamber. Fitzwilliam was adhering to the surgeon’s orders and refusing to allow his wife to leave her room, even though she claimed to be in far less pain. There were times, when Elizabeth did not think anyone noticed, that she would grimace from pain.
“Mrs Darcy, I wish to apologize for all you have endured. You should not have been assaulted, especially on your wedding day. On behalf of my family, I beg your forgiveness for what my sister did to you.”
“Mrs Hurst, you have nothing to forgive. You did nothing to harm me, it was all Miss Bingley’s doing.” Elizabeth reassured the lady.
Looking down at her hands, Louisa shook her head. “If I had been honest, if I had told my brother or my husband what my sister did to me, I could have prevented her attack on Charles and you. But I did not wish to expose our family to the scandal which would have come from my speaking out. Now, my dear brother is dead, and the scandal is far worse than it would have been. You see, my sister attacked me, two weeks ago. She beat me with a hairbrush. I ran from her, tripped, and fell down a flight of stairs. I never told my brother or my husband at the time of the accident. My husband knows now, as I explained my shame and guilt to him.”
“You poor, dear lady. You have suffered in silence, all due to your sister’s disturbed mind. She was truly ill, Mrs Hurst. You did nothing to warrant her cruelty. As you said, my true regret is the death of your brother. What injuries I sustained were a trifle in comparison to what was inflicted upon you. You have done nothing for which I can blame you, and hope that you will count me as a friend in the days to come. With the truth of your sister’s assault on your brother and me, it will be public knowledge that Miss Bingley was unstable. You and your husband will need all the friends you can get to stand at your side through the scandal. I promise you that the Darcy family will be there for you.”
Tears were streaming down Louisa Hurst’s cheeks. “Mrs Darcy, I could never ask for such kindness as you have shown me. I will forever be in your debt. If there is ever anything I can do to be of assistance to you, you need only ask.”
“Then be my friend. And you must call me Elizabeth.”
“And I am Louisa.”
~~ ** ~~
“Richard, what are you doing here? You said you would be gone all day, preparing to speak with the Major General.” Gerald Darcy exclaimed as his nephew entered his study.
“I was summoned by my father to a meeting before I could see the Major General. It seems my father has other plans for me than to see me enter the army.”
Gerald was not surprised. He had spoken with Henry Fitzwilliam years before, when Richard first spoke of being a soldier. They knew the sort of young man Richard was, and that he would be a devoted officer, though the younger Fitzwilliam son was determined to earn his promotions rather than purchase them. This worried both his father and uncle, as Richard would not refrain from entering battle. Neither of the gentlemen wished to see the likes of Richard Fitzwilliam be killed when there was more in store for his future.
Henry had begun setting aside extra funds each year, without his wife of children aware of his actions. He planned to use the funds to purchase a piece of property for his son, and to boost his daughter’s dowry. Part of the funds came from the rental of two small properties that his wife had inherited after their marriage. Each of the properties brought in two thousand pounds per annum. Since Ruth already had a thirty thousand pound dowry, and Marcus would inherit the earldom, Matlock, and all that came with it, Henry set aside one thousand pounds of the income towards increasing Ruth’s dowry, and the other three thousand in the bank for Richard. Over thirty thousand pounds had accumulated in the bank account.
Rather than insist on purchasing an estate with the funds, Henry suggested his son spend a year or two leasing an estate, as Bingley had prepared to undertake. This would allow Richard the chance to learn how to take charge of his own lands. After Bingley had died, Henry had spoken with Sir Walter Gant, who owned Netherfield Park. Sir Walter returned Bingley’s funds to the Hursts, and Henry paid the lease for a year at Netherfield for his son. He felt the estate was far enough from Matlock for Richard to stand on his own, without Henry and Marcus interfering, yet he would have Thomas Bennet nearby to confer with if there was a problem.
Henry was certain that Ruth would enjoy the chance to act as her brother’s Mistress, so they could both spread their wings.
Gerald smiled at the nervous young man before him. The thought of having to go into battle and kill the enemy had never caused his nephew to flinch, yet before him was the same young man, worried about running an estate.
“So, how do you feel about your father’s decision?” Gerald asked.
“I am surprised, though I am grateful for his generosity. I do not fear going to war, but understand where he would be hesitant. He has always said that he would prefer I was an officer rather than starting down in the ranks and earning my promotions. Mother and Father have always feared losing me in battle.”
“We all have worried about your choice, including William.”
“I understand, though it would have been a death in service of king and country.”
“But now, you will be a landed gentleman.”
Richard smiled. “I will be a landed gentleman. I will also be spending the next year at Netherfield. I remember seeing it briefly when William and I visited Longbourn once, when we were young. And the fact that it is so near the Bennet family is another favorable point.”
“And which of the two remaining Bennet sisters is to your liking?” Gerald asked.
“Miss Bennet is a fine lady, beautiful, kind, and compassionate. I cannot wait to spend more time with her. And Ruth has agreed to act as hostess for me. It feels too good to be true.”
My dear boy, it is a pleasure to know that you will not be going to war. Now, shall we go upstairs and inform William and Lizzy of the change in plans?”
~~ ** ~~
“This is wonderful news!” Fitzwilliam said as he gave his cousin a manly hug. “I have always hated the thought of you going to war.”
“Richard, I concur with my husband. It pleases me that you will remain in England.” Elizabeth said, propped up on the plethora of pillows her husband had placed behind her.
“And how are you fairing today, Mrs Darcy?” Richard asked.
“I am near insanity with having to remain in this room for nearly a fortnight.”
Fitzwilliam laughed. “She has been in such a state since the second day after the assault. The surgeon arrives tomorrow to make sure all is well, then she can leave the room, if he agrees.”
“My dear cousin, I will pray for your release from captivity tomorrow.” Richard laughed. “And I invite you and the scoundrel you married to be my guests at Netherfield.”
“We will do so soon, Richard.” Fitzwilliam shook his cousin’s hand.
~~ ** ~~
As night approached, Fitzwilliam was concerned for his wife. She had been healing from the physical assault, though she flinched at every movement when she was bathing, but the emotional attack left her vulnerable. Every night since, she had awakened screaming, her fear overwhelming her. Only in his arms, with his soft words of security, could she calm enough to return to sleep.
During the daytime, Elizabeth was usually collected. Her worst fear was the water, after nearly drowning. The first bath she took was horrifying and ended with her screaming to escape the tub. Fitzwilliam had been outside the door of the bathing chamber, and heard her screaming, found it difficult to not rush into the room and take her in his arms. After the experience, Elizabeth would only wash her body with water from the basin, and had yet to wash her hair.
The day Elizabeth was released from her bed by the surgeon, Fitzwilliam decided he would take measures towards aiding his wife’s emotional state. After taking her for a walk downstairs, and in the private gardens behind Darcy House, the newlyweds returned upstairs.
“Lizzy, I know you fear the bathing tub. I have a suggestion to ease your mind and, perhaps, make you enjoy the tub.”
Doubtful, Elizabeth gave her husband a curious look. “What are you suggesting?”
“You can wear a night shift, and I will wear a shirt and breeches. I will sit in the tub, and you can sit in front of me, leaning back into my arms. You would feel safe with me holding you, would you not?”
Elizabeth’s cheeks flushed pink. “Y…y…yes. It is not necessary. I will make myself remain calm. You do not need to put yourself through such an ordeal for me.”
“You are my wife, remember? I wish to be of assistance to you. And, it might be fun. Remember, I have only recently been in your company and I must say, you have grown into a very pleasantly formed young lady.” Fitzwilliam winked at his wife, while wearing a wolfish grin. “I would have suggested we be without clothing, but I did not wish to push my luck.”
This caused Elizabeth to laugh. “Very well, William, I will accept your offer to assist me in accustoming myself to the bathing tub once again.”
An hour later, the tub had been filled with very warm water, scented with lavender. “You realize the sacrifice I am making.” Fitzwilliam announced. “If Richard catches a whiff of me smelling of lavender, I will never hear the end of his teasing.”
“You do not need to do this.” Elizabeth said in return. “Though it was your suggestion to add the scent.”
“I have been told that lavender has a calming effect on people. And I would not miss this, even if Richard teases me for the rest of my life.” He lifted one foot and placed it in the tub, followed by the other. “Would you care to stand here, in the water with me, before we take our seats?”
Hesitantly, Elizabeth took hold of his hands, stepping into the tub. He held her against his body, feeling her trembling from fear. Slowly, he ran one of his hands up and down her back, while the other held her head to his chest. “It will be fine, my love. You are with me, and I will keep you safe. Do not allow fear to rule you. You are safe.” He leaned over and placed a kiss on the top of her head. “I love you, Elizabeth Darcy. I am so pleased my father saw through my own fear and refused to allow me to break our engagement. I am the most fortunate man I know.”
Elizabeth pulled her head back just enough to look up at her husband’s handsome face. The look in her eyes was love, pure and complete love. She had never truly given up on him, even when he was cool and aloof, refusing to spend time with her when they were younger. She had always held him in her heart, and knew he still loved her in return.
At that moment, Fitzwilliam could not hold back. He leaned his head forward, taking possession of her lips, crushing them with his own. His tongue soon tantalized her lips, teasing them to part, allowing him access to taste her mouth. Hesitant at first, it was not long before Elizabeth’s passion rose to meet the level of his.
His hand found the tie at the shoulder of her night shift. He released it the bow it was tied in, before moving to release the one on the other shoulder. The top of her night shift slipped down, revealing her ample breasts. Fitzwilliam’s hands took on a life of their own, as his lips continued to hold her mouth hostage, tasting and exploring every inch. Soon, Elizabeth felt the exquisite sensations coursing through her body, as her husband’s fingers teased her nipples on first one, then the other of her breasts. Gasping for air, Elizabeth let out a slight moan.
“I love you, Lizzy. My dearest…my loveliest…my goddess…” he whispered as his lips explored her neck, moving downwards towards her chest.
The couple slipped down, into the tub of water, and it was quite some time later that Elizabeth realized that she had not been afraid of the water. Fitzwilliam helped her to stand, and aided in removing what little clothing she still partially wore. He disrobed as quickly as his fingers would allow with his clothing being wet. Once free of the sopping wet clothing, he scooped his wife into his arms and carried her into her bed.
Once there, Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth consummated their marriage, numerous times, throughout the rest of the day and very late into the night. Trays of food had been sent up when requested, and by morning, the couple were quite sated.
~~ ** ~~
The feeling of waking to having his wife in his arms was unlike anything Fitzwilliam had felt before. As the sun began to rise, he gently moved the lock of her curly mane which had fallen over her forehead and across her eyes.
Without opening her eyes, Elizabeth spoke. “I love you, William.”
“My dearest, you cannot imagine the depths of my love for you.” He replied.
“I believe I can come close. Are we going to bathe like that often, or was yesterday an exception?”
“It all depends on you, my love. Do you continue to fear the water and bathing tub? If you do, I am extremely willing to assist you in forgetting your fears.” He placed a kiss behind her ear as he nuzzled into the side of her face and neck. “And if, by some chance, you are cured of your phobia, I believe I shall develop the same fear and insist on you coming to my aid.”
Elizabeth giggled. “I would be willing at any time to come to your aid, my husband.”
“Are you well, my dear? Did I harm you in any way?” He asked her.
“There was a little soreness, at first, but now it is gone. It was only a fleeting pain, and then the most incredible sensations flooded through me. Is that wanton of me?”
“Yes, it is indeed, very wanton. And just the way I wish for my wife to be. At school, we were taught to believe that a man is the only one to achieve pleasure from the union, but some of the older boys explained to us that ladies can experience pleasure as well, especially if the man treats her properly. It brings me joy to know I was able to pleasure you, as I wish for you to enjoy our coupling as do I.”
“How many times have I been with a lady?” He saw her eyes look down and away from him as she nodded her head. “There is one lady I have made love to many times in the last years. Over and over, night after night, her glorious body giving me such exquisite delight.” Seeing the sadness settling in, Fitzwilliam determined it was time to stop teasing his wife. “I have never made love to anyone but you, my dearest. For years, I have made love to you in my dreams, night after night, robbing me of my sleep. But in life, there has been no one. Never before you. I did not wish to risk conceiving a child or to worry about disease. One of the young men, who graduated a year ago, died from the French disease. It was a surprise to all of us at school, and it opened my eyes as to what can happen. You are the only lady I have ever thought of making love to, the only one who made me feel complete, even in my dreams. So, you see, we were meant to be together, even when my foolishness was keeping us apart. I knew you were the only one for me.”
“What changed your mind? Your father’s letter made it sound as if we would be living separately at Pemberley.”
Fitzwilliam stared into his wife’s eyes for a few moments before responding. “Besides my cousin threatening to knock some sense into my head, I think that having one of fellow students state that if I was not prepared to treat you as a husband should treat his wife, he would be willing to step in and make certain that you were satisfied. The thought of any other man touching you, especially in the manner I did in my dreams, was more than I could take. Then, when I saw you, I realized that I could no longer pretend to have no feelings for you. You have been my greatest love, even though I refused to acknowledge the truth. And to be honest, it was as if my mother whispered in my ear that it was time to be happy.”
Elizabeth smiled, tracing her fingers across his brow. “We will know our share of troubles, as that is a fact of life, William. But we will face them together. When you hurt, I hurt as well. Allow me to always bring you whatever comfort I can.”
He nodded his head. “Thank you, Lizzy.”
~~ ** ~~
The Bennet family returned to their home in Hertfordshire, shortly after Elizabeth was pronounced healthy by the surgeon. Fitzwilliam and Gerald promised they would take care of their newest family member, and when the Darcy party returned to Pemberley, they would spend a few days at Longbourn along the way.
It was with great pleasure that Mr Bennet read the letter from his cousin, announcing Richard Fitzwilliam would soon be moving into Netherfield Park.
The Master of Longbourn made his way down the hall to the drawing room, where his wife and daughters were to be found. Jane was working on stitching a baby gown for one of the Longbourn tenant families, while Mary was practicing on the pianoforte. “Where is Gerald?” He inquired.
“Where else?” Mrs Bennet chuckled as she was arranging a vase of freshly cut flowers from her garden. “He is at the stables with a book. I swear, you might need to inform our son that he is a human, not a horse. I have expect him to whinny at me rather than speak.”
“He does seem to favor the horses, much like Lizzy. But he will be off to school soon enough, so allow him to enjoy his time with the horses.”
“Mr Abernathy said that one of the mares was ready to birth. Most likely, that is why Gerald has been there all day. You know how he is about seeing the colt immediately.” Jane said.
“Again, just like Lizzy.” Mrs Bennet answered her daughter. “Well, one day, he will find a young lady to love him and they will have a wonderful family.”
“As long as he does not ask Mr Abernathy to be the midwife, we will be safe.” Mr Bennet laughed openly. “I received word today that Netherfield Park has been let at last.”
Jane’s eyes saddened with the thought of Mr Bingley no longer able to take the lease of Netherfield. She was shocked when her father’s voice announced who would be the new neighbor.
“…Did I hear…I must be mistaken? You did not just say…no, it is not possible. He leaves soon for training in the army.” Jane was flummoxed.
“It appears that Lord Matlock had a surprise for their second son. Lady Matlock had some smaller estates, which no one in the family, outside her husband and Gerald, knew about. They saved the income from these estates over the years. Lord and Lady Matlock did not wish for their son to go to war, so they saved over the years to be able to give him this opportunity. He has the lease of Netherfield for the next year, and Ruth will be acting as his hostess. I know I will enjoy spending time with both of the Fitzwilliam siblings.”
“Y…y…yes, I look forward to knowing Lady Ruth better.” Jane sputtered her words. “She has always been kind to me, and I am certain we will get along very well.”
Mr Bennet looked at his wife, who was attempting to stifle her grin. They had known for years that Jane had found Richard Fitzwilliam to be handsome enough to tempt her, but Richard had never taken their friendship any further, as he thought he would be spending years in the army.
Mary could see the blush of her eldest sister’s cheeks, and came to stand beside Jane’s chair. “It is warm in here today, Jane. Why do we not take a walk in the gardens to enjoy the cool breeze outdoors today?” Mary asked, grasping her sister by the hand and pulling her to her feet.
Jane nodded her head as she allowed Mary to escort her from the room.
~~~~~~~ ** ~~~~~~~
Richard stepped from the carriage and turned to hand down his sister, Ruth.
“Richard, this is a handsome estate. It appears to be in grand condition.”
“The owner has taken proper care of it, for certain. Or, I should say, the owner authorized the funds for the steward to take proper care of the estate.”
Ruth smiled. She had seen the difference in someone who cares for the estate and was an active participant in the running of his estate, as their uncle, Gerald Darcy, had demonstrated over the years. Their mother’s brother was the opposite, caring for only himself. He had a steward which had taken advantage of the situation, and had pocketed the funds rather than making the improvements that were needed to the tenant homes and the estate.
“And the Bennet estate is in which direction?” Ruth asked in teasing manning.
“It is in that direction, three miles.” Richard pointed as he placed a hand on his sister’s shoulder, turning her body to face the direction he was pointing towards. I was planning to visit Longbourn tomorrow, if you care to join me.”
“I would. I enjoyed spending time with Elizabeth before the wedding, and I know her family is pleasant. Her sister, Miss Bennet, seemed sweet natured and kind.” Ruth waited to see her brother’s reaction.
Richard had a faraway look in his eyes. “She is the most beautiful, kindest young lady I have ever met.”
“Well, I must get to know her better. Perhaps, when we visit, I will invite her to tea.”
Looking at his sister, Richard smiled. “Thank you, Ruthie. You are a wonderful sister.”
Ruth pinched at her brother’s side. “And do not forget it, little brother.”
~~ ** ~~
Elizabeth had completely recovered, but the newlyweds had decided to postpone their arrival at Pemberley for a few months, as Fitzwilliam decided to take his wife to see the sea. It was decided they would go to Ramsgate, a location Gerald had taken Anne after their wedding.
Fitzwilliam looked across the room as they listened to Gerald speak openly of his love for Lady Anne. It was the first time, since his mother’s death, that Fitzwilliam had been able to hear stories about her, about the love that she had shared with his father.
Having never had a chance to know her mother, Georgianna thrilled to hear the stories she gleaned from her father and from Lord and Lady Matlock. Even Elizabeth, having known Lady Anne as short as she did, had stories to share with the young girl.
To the surprise of all in the room, Fitzwilliam leaned forward, reaching across to the chair in which Georgianna was sitting. Taking hold of her hand, Fitzwilliam began to speak. “When Mother was expecting you, she prayed you would be a little girl. I can remember her looking at ribbons and gowns for little girls when we went shopping, the sparkle in her eyes as she spoke of having a daughter she could dress in pretty gowns and play with the curls she knew her daughter would have. When Jane Bennet was around Mother, the poor girl was a living doll for Mother to dress and fix her hair. Lizzy learned young how to avoid Mother’s efforts to do the same to her.”
Elizabeth laughed. “I remember Papa Gerald finding me in the hayloft at Pemberley, and asking me why I was hiding up there.”
“You replied, “Lady Anne has the ribbon box. You know what that means. So I came to hide. Jane is inside, and she will not mind.” You were pleased with your escape, you mischievous imp.”
Proudly, Elizabeth held her head high. “Indeed I am. If memory serves me correctly, Lady Anne only caught me once. And that once was more than enough.” Elizabeth laughed with the others. “Oh, and I remember that one time, and a certain heir to Pemberley who was not kind, teasing me as I was forced to stand still for Lady Anne and the maid to tame my curls. I wish I had had a mud ball, I would have struck you right between the eyes, my husband.”
“F…F…Fitzwilliam, I wish it had been me who had died, and not Mother.” Georgianna said, her eyes shimmering with unshed tears as she looked down at her hands.
“Georgianna, it was not your fault, as I claimed for so many years. It was never your fault. And, if you had died, Mother would have been devastated. Knowing she had given us a part of her, to love and cherish, would have made our Mother very happy. She would have been displeased with my behavior over the past years, especially how I have treated you. I am grateful for your allowing me to have a second chance. I do l…love you, Georgianna.”
Georgianna looked up. “Truly?”
“Yes, my dear sister. And, I insist, you stop calling me Fitzwilliam. I am either William or Brother to you.” He replied.
The girl threw herself into her brother’s arms, sobbing. “Oh, thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am so grateful for this chance, W…W…William.”
~~ ** ~~
“Welcome, welcome.” Mr Bennet announced to his guests. “My wife is speaking with our cook at the moment. She will join us shortly. Please, have a seat.”
“Thank you, Mr Bennet.” Ruth Fitzwilliam replied. “You have a nice home. Very pleasant, with a warm feel welcome to the colors used.”
“My wife did the decorating. Her mother had quite the eye for using colors, and I believe my wife inherited the knack.”
“I know I would love being in her tutelage if this is the results.” Ruth stated.
When Mrs Bennet entered the room, she was attempting to fix a few stray hairs which had fallen from their pins.
“Forgive me, Mr and Miss Fitzwilliam, I must look a fright.”
“No, indeed, Mrs Bennet.” Richard stated. “But if we have come at a bad time, we can call again another time.”
“It is the time of year we usually put up herbs and tinctures, and I have a difficult time not having a hand in the preparations. My grandmother taught me the proper ways to distill the herbs and she was extremely particular, so I am somewhat obsessive when it comes time to deal with the herbs.” Mrs Bennet explained.
“We can come another time, as we would not wish to disturb you, Mrs Bennet.” Richard stated again.
“No, you are always welcome, Mr Fitzwilliam. And you as well, Miss Fitzwilliam. It is a pleasure to have you both living so close. It will be nice to have young people in the neighborhood, rather than just us old folks.”
Ruth laughed. “Mrs Bennet, you are far from being an old folk. Why, if I remember correctly, my mother is slightly older than you are.”
“Do no repeat this, as I will deny it until the day I die, but I only told your mother I am younger than her. She was giving me a difficult time with a certain gown we both preferred and she said it should be worn by the younger of us. At the time, we hardly knew each other, as I was engaged to Thomas, and your parents had just returned from the Continent where they had been on their wedding tour. The poor dear accepted that I was the younger, when, in fact, I am two years older than your mother.”
Both Richard and Ruth began laughing. “You have my solemn vow to never speak a word of this to our mother.” Richard stated. “And you must promise to tell no one that I would have declared you the younger by at least five years.”
Mrs Bennet flushed. “I owe it all to my Grandmother’s herbal blends. She made soaps and lotions, which have helped to keep my skin youthful. I have always teased Thomas that he should begin using them, so it does not one day appear that I am with my father rather than my husband.”
“Mrs Bennet, if you would be willing, I would love to learn more about the herbals you use, and how you put them up. My grandfather was fond of the many plants he raised, but he only used them for beautiful flowers. I would find it thrilling to learn the value of each herb and how to capture the essence to be used.”
“Miss Fitzwilliam, you are always welcome to come and learn. I will be working on different items over the next fortnight, and it would be pleasant to have you here to be an extra set of hands. With Lizzy gone, I was worried we would not be able to manage.”
“Then I will bring my sister here each morning, Mrs Bennet.” Richard declared. “And I will be able to learn more from Mr Bennet about the estate and horses, if that is acceptable to you, Sir.”
“I would be honored to answer any questions you might have, Mr Fitzwilliam.” Mr Bennet smiled. “I know you were expecting to enter the army, not have to take charge of an estate, but I am certain you will be fine. You have always had a good head on your shoulder.”
~~ ** ~~
Before the Darcys set out on their journey to Ramsgate, they decided to finish shopping for Elizabeth’s trousseau. Due to the wedding being moved ahead, and then the assault by Caroline Bingley, Elizabeth had all but forgotten about her trousseau.
Fitzwilliam decided to accompany his wife to shop for her gowns and other clothing needs. It was the first time he had paid attention to her preferences, what colors she favored and best suited her, the cuts which flattered her curves. He was pleased to have some input on that aspect, as he determined he did not like having other men looking at his wife in the way men look at beautiful young ladies.
This dislike stemmed from a night at a dinner at the home of his aunt and uncle. Lady Matlock insisted on throwing a party to celebrate Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth’s marriage, and invited many of Society’s most influential members. Elizabeth was amused at her husband’s stubbornness of staying by her side, and the way one of his hands was constantly finding a way to touch her. After speaking several moments with an earl and his son, Fitzwilliam excused himself and his wife, escaping the room and making their way to the library.
“Fitzwilliam Darcy, what are you doing? Aunt Rebecca will send someone to find us, if she does not come herself.”
He drew his wife into his embrace, placing a light kiss on her lips. “My love, I could not take another moment of men ogling you. I required fortification to endure this trial.”
Elizabeth laughed. “I am your wife, William. Now and forever. Is that not enough to fortify you?”
“If you only realized what was likely going through the minds of half the men in that room, you would understand my need of your kisses to sustain me.” Fitzwilliam began kissing his wife, then lowered the shoulder of her gown and unbuttoned the top three buttons. When the top of the gown was low enough to disclose an area of her breast which would only be seen by her maid, besides himself, Fitzwilliam suckled the tender flesh, marking her skin.
As he pulled her gown back into place, fastening her buttons and seeing that her appearance showed no evidence, Fitzwilliam gave his wife a smug smile. “Now, each time I look at you, I will know of my brand on your breasts. They are mine, and mine alone.”
“And what is my reward for being such a dutiful wife.” She teased.
Her husband whispered into her ear. “My love, you will be given such pleasure and delights when we return home tonight. I plan to ravage you, over and over, and make you scream with delight.”
~~ ** ~~
So, when taking his wife to plan her wardrobe, Fitzwilliam was particular of what he wished for her to wear. Even though he knew that she was his wife, and no one else would ever win her heart, the concepts of being in love and married was still new for the young man. And it was easy to awaken his jealous side. If any man dared to look at his wife’s décolletage for even a moment too long, Fitzwilliam felt a need arise in him, longing to run the man through with the nearest saber he could locate.
Realizing her husband’s difficulty with anyone paying too close of attention to her, Elizabeth chose cuts which were flattering, yet modest, for most of her gowns. But she decided to have a few gowns which would show her figure to its best.
“William, when I wear those gowns, I plan to make you proud to have me as your wife. I did not come from the same social circle, even though we are related. It is to be expected that there are those who believe I am a fortune hunter and that I do not belong as the wife on one of the most sought after young men in England. Wearing a gown, which makes me feel as if I am a princess, would aid me with the confidence to endure any barbs they might throw my way. And I wish to have every man in the room realize just how fortunate you are in having me as your wife.”
Fitzwilliam smiled, and agreed to the gowns his wife insisted on having. The newlywed couple then visited a shop which sold women’s underclothing. Elizabeth had attempted to convince her husband he did not need to accompany her to the shop, as the thought of him choosing her undergarments and nightgowns was making her blush vividly. In this shop, Fitzwilliam allowed him free reign over his choices. The more risqué, the better. And each more daring piece of clothing he chose, the redder her cheeks became.
Once inside the carriage and on the move, Elizabeth swatted her husband. “Fitzwilliam, I am so embarrassed. That lady knows the sort of undergarments I will be wearing, and that you picked them out for me. I will never be able to enter that shop again.”
“My dearest, the shop sells only undergarments and ladies’ unmentionables. I certain that I was not the first young man to enter their doors, and hopefully, I will not be the last. I am certain that the items in the back room are far more risqué, from what some of my fellow classmates used to describe.”
“No, they did not.” Elizabeth’s eyes grew round as saucers.
“Oh, yes, my dearest, they did. And risqué clothing was not the only items they described in great detail. When that discussion began, I found my way from the room.” Fitzwilliam said, as he wrapped his arm around his wife’s shoulders, pulling her towards his body. “And now, I am pleased with my decision, as it has been exciting to discover your body without any prejudice from descriptions of other women.”
“Well, my dear husband, as a recently graduated student, are you finished with your higher education or are you planning to learn more?” Elizabeth gave him a teasing look, her eyes smoldering beneath her long, thick lashes.
“I believe in always improving my education, my love.” He said, just as he maneuvered her body so that she was practically sitting in his lap. Fitzwilliam’s lips possessed hers, and it took several moments after the carriage came to a halt, in front of Darcy House, before the couple came to their senses. Attempting to keep a straight face, Fitzwilliam stepped out of the carriage and turned to hand down his giggling wife. Once inside the house, the couple disappeared up the stairs and were not seen again until the following day.
~~ ** ~~
“Mother is supposed to be repairing the damage that has been done by that country chit, that harlot, stealing my betrothed.” Anne de Bourgh said, as she paced across the floor of her sitting room.
“Miss Anne, your mother insisted you rest. The physician is to arrive later today, and we do not wish for you to have a relapse. You must take your tonic and rest.” Anne’s companion, Mrs Jenkinson, attempted to calm the young lady.
“I am well, and I would be much better if my betrothed were to come here soon. It is frustrating that everything is on hold, as I wish to begin my life now. I cannot begin my life, not while my intended is tangled in an unwanted marriage. Mother knows enough people, the marriage can be annulled. What is the delay? Why has it not been taken care of and Fitzwilliam come to me? This is not to be born.”
“Miss Anne, even if your cousin was willing to have his marriage annulled, it takes time to have the paperwork handled. It could take months for all to be resolved.”
Anne stopped her pacing and marched to her companion, stopping inches from the elder woman’s nose. “What do you mean, if my cousin is willing to have the marriage annulled? Of course my cousin wishes to be released from that harlot. Do you doubt my words?”
Mrs Jenkinson had seen Anne in such a tirade before, and it was not a pleasant experience. “Please, Miss Anne, forgive my foolish words. Of course, Master Darcy would wish to be rid of that country nobody. He will come here, as soon as possible. I am certain it will be soon.”
Anne struck her companion across her cheek, dazing the elder lady. “Do not forget, Fitzwilliam Darcy loves me, and he will be my husband. If I hear another word from your lips to the contrary, you will be tossed from this estate, without reference. Do I make myself clear?”
Visibly shaking, the companion nodded her head. “I will leave you, Miss Anne, to see that refreshments are brought up, the way you prefer.”
“Do so. I am not pleased with the service I have received of late. Perhaps it is time to dismiss some of the kitchen staff and begin again.”
“I am certain your mother would be willing to assist you in whatever you decide, Miss Anne.” Mrs Jenkinson made her way from the room as quick as could be, without drawing more of her charge’s fury upon her.
The companion made her way down the stairs and into the drawing room, where Lady Catherine sat in her favorite chair. Mrs Jenkinson often thought how the grand lady always appeared to be seated on a throne, from the décor of the room and the style of the chair.
“Lady Catherine, if I may have a moment of your time.”
“Yes, Mrs Jenkinson, what is it? Is Anne ill?”
“Madame, she is working herself into a fit, milady. She is furious that Master Darcy has not come to Rosings, and that nothing appears to be in the process for the annulment. The last time I saw her this furious was when she pushed the maid through the window.”
“Why have you not given my daughter her medicine? Did you give her regular dose earlier?”
Mrs Jenkinson knew that the mother should have taken a dose of the daughter’s medicine, as they both suffered the same problems. “I gave it to her, Lady Catherine. She threw the spoon across the room and refused to take a dose. I have tried, several times. But she is refusing to cooperate. I cannot hold her to the ground and pour the medicine into her mouth.”
“You are worthless, Jenkinson. Absolutely worthless. Why do I keep you on, paying your salary?”
At this, the paid companion knew she held the ace up her sleeve. “Because I know the truth about your daughter’s condition. You do not wish for your brother to learn the truth, so you will not terminate my employment.” She said, standing as tall and proud as she could, at the age of fifty eight and under five foot tall.
Lady Catherine growled at the words, but knew the woman was correct. She must keep the truth of Anne’s condition private, at least until after Anne was married to Fitzwilliam Darcy.
“Very well, I will come with you to see she takes the medicine. When the physician arrives, we must speak with him of changing to something stronger. We cannot have the violent outbursts. The last one was difficult enough to keep quiet from everyone.”
Lady Catherine made to follow the companion, when the physician was announced. “Mr Jameson is here, Lady Catherine.” The footman stated.
“Good, good, have him come in here, so we can speak. Then we will tend my daughter. See that some of my daughter’s favorite biscuits are ready with the tea things.” Lady Catherine instructed the footman. He nodded his head and walked away, after closing the door to the drawing room.
“Mr Jameson, Anne has worked herself into another fit. Mrs Jenkinson has been unable to get my daughter to take her medicine, so no, my daughter is out of control. I do not know what to do for her.”
“What has caused the fits this time?” Mr Jameson asked, tired of being summonsed to Rosings constantly.
“My daughter has always desired to marry her cousin, Fitzwilliam Darcy, of Pemberley. He is the son of my late sister.”
“Yes, I remember hearing the topic over the years.”
“My nephew has married another lady, with the blessing of the family. Anne is devastated, and insists that the marriage be annulled immediately, so that she and Fitzwilliam may wed soon. She is demanding we do as she wishes, though it is nearly impossible.”
“Lady Catherine, I told you years ago, your daughter’s condition is a potential powder keg. She should have been institutionalized years ago, and kept medicated constantly. The stronger she grows, the more potential there is for her to harm others.” The elderly man opened his bag and took out a bottle of liquid. “I have more laudanum, but I insist we take her to the sanitarium once she is sedated.”
“I will not have my daughter in one of those places. It would be humiliating to have people know the truth of my daughter’s condition. And Fitzwilliam would never do his duty to Anne, and marry her, if he knew the truth.”
“Your daughter is not in a condition that she can legally marry, Lady Catherine. I told you so last year. Miss Anne will never marry. Now, take me up to her, and I will sedate her. Two of your footmen should assist us, as I am certain she will struggle.”