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Chapter 8


After the gentlemen had left the drawing room, Miss Darcy began, “Miss Bennet, please let me apologize for my brother.  I am not sure why he has acted so.”

Lady Suzan also expressed her opinion, “Yes, his manner was most uncharacteristic of my nephew.”

As both ladies continued with their apologies, Elizabeth held out her hand to stay any further talk. “Miss Darcy,” Elizabeth stated and then turned to Lady Suzan, “Lady Suzan, please do not go further.  Mr. Darcy’s actions are explainable to me.  I…he…we had bitter words the last time we met and I fear his opinion of me is very poor…”

“Miss Bennet, that is still no reason for him to act in such a disrespectful way to a guest in my home,” Lady Suzan retaliated.

“Lady Suzan, I had hoped that I would have had a chance to make amends to Mr. Darcy for my harsh judgment of him while I am here in London but it may all be for naught as he once informed me that once his good opinion is lost, it is lost forever.  And as you have witnessed, his estimation of me is quite lacking.   Maybe it is best if I retire to my rooms and let you enjoy your family reunion.”

“Nonsense!” Lady Suzan exclaimed.  “If you wish to offer a truce then he should be made to hear it.”

Standing she went to summon a footman.

“Lady Suzan, wait!” Elizabeth cried.  “Please do not make matters worse by forcing Mr. Darcy to hear something he evidently does not wish to hear.”

Ignoring Elizabeth’s plea, Lady Suzan asked that the gentlemen be summoned back to the drawing room.

As they waited for the gentlemen to return, all three sat in silent contemplation.  Miss Darcy could not help but be curious why this pleasant young lady would have thought poorly of her brother, whom she had always looked up to as a paragon of virtue and the best man she knew.

Lady Suzan was curious of just what Miss Bennet’s and her nephew’s acquaintance had entailed.  From some of the remarks that Richard had made about the previous time of their acquaintance, she had gotten the impression that Darcy was quite fond of Elizabeth, making his reaction to her today all the more confusing.

Elizabeth sat trying to determine just what she should say to Mr. Darcy.  She had opened her mouth in defense of that man and now she was in a perilous predicament as to what exactly she should reveal about their past dealings.  I wish I had never walked into this room.  I had much rather be reading a book in the comfort of my room.

When the gentlemen returned, Elizabeth waited until they were about to be seated to stand up.  “Mr. Darcy,” she called, gaining his attention.

“Yes, Miss Bennet,” he said.

“It appears that my presence here has caused you some discomfort, and I am truly sorry to have made you so.  But in hopes of relieving your unease, I would like to offer my sincere apologies for my unjust words to you when we were at Hunsford Parsonage in Kent.  I have come to realize that they were said in anger, which one should never do, and also they held no foundation in the truth.  Please accept my humblest regret for my utterances and behavior at that time.”

Darcy stood in astonishment as he took in the words of Elizabeth Bennet.  She is not the one to be apologetic.  I am the one who should be asking her forgiveness for that most horrid scene.  Taking a deep breath, he said, “I cannot accept an apology for something that was entirely my fault.  I put you in an impossible position and then provoked your ire.  It is I that should be asking forgiveness, and I wish to do so now.”

Now it was Elizabeth’s turn to look at him in amazement.  I thought this man despised me, and now he is asking for my forgiveness when it was I who was in the wrong.

Looking him in the eye, Elizabeth gave him a shy smile. “Mr. Darcy, it seems we are at an impasse; both believing that we have injured the other.   May I offer a compromise?”

Smiling back at her, Darcy responded, “By all means, Miss Bennet.”

“Let us forget the past and begin our acquaintance afresh,” she proposed.

As he reached out to take her hand, she placed hers hesitantly in his.  With a bow, Mr. Darcy astounded the entire room as he placed a kiss on the back of Miss Bennet’s fingers before replying, “It will be my pleasure to do just that.  To new beginnings!”

As the others in the room toasted with their teacups, Mr. Darcy and Miss Bennet stood looking into each others eyes wondering just what those new beginnings would entail.

The short walk back to Darcy House had Georgiana exclaiming her excitement of making the acquaintance of Miss Bennet.  Interspersed in that exuberance were questions about Miss Bennet, some of which Mr. Darcy was most pleased to answer and some he had rather have avoided.

On reaching their home, Darcy sent his sister off to practice on the pianoforte while he adjourned to his study.  Closing the door behind him, the little boy in him felt like jumping up and down and shouting ‘Elizabeth is back! Elizabeth is back!’ but the proper gentleman in him settled for walking about the room with a huge grin on his face as he thought back on his most recent visit to his aunt.

However, it was not long before the reality of what had just happened to set in, and he had some serious deliberating to do.  The study was fine for dealing with business and estate matters but this was personal and private, and it was, therefore, not the place for the serious contemplating he needed to do. 

Leaving the study, he left word with a nearby footman that he would be in his rooms and was not to be disturbed under any circumstances.  Taking the stairs two and three at a time, he quickly found his way to his dressing room where he began removing all his clothing.  Mr. Darcy may be fastidious in his appearance, but in the sanctity of his private rooms, he preferred comfort which meant that he did not want the encumbrance of restrictive attire.  He was proud of his body in its natural state.  There was not one part of it that he was ashamed of and the fact that he rarely got to exhibit himself in all his glory was something he had come to terms with.  That only his valet, the occasional girl at a brothel, and his cousins, Richard and Edward, when they would go skinny-dipping at Pemberley or Dovecote, had ever seen him in such a state would just have to do.

Striding into his bed chamber, he plumped some pillows and placed them against the headboard.  Climbing atop the bed, he lay back against the pillows and stretched his long legs out.  Lacing his fingers, he raised his arms, placing his hands behind his head.  Looking over the expanse of his naked skin, he thought that Virginia Wagstaff would soon be added to his list of those who have seen him in his natural, G-d-intended state. 

And that thought did not appeal to him, he felt almost shy about revealing himself to her in such a way. 

While he had no trouble picturing his intended without any clothes upon her body, he fought the urge to cover his private parts at the thought of her viewing them.  This is not a good omen for a marriage. What am I to do with Virginia? Now with Elizabeth so near, how am I ever going to be able to marry Virginia?

This was the dilemma that kept him cogitating for quite some time as he considered ways of dissolving this engagement that he impetuously entered into.  He thought about seeking Virginia out and asking her to reconsider since it had not been publicly announced, but he knew her answer.  She had made it quite clear that she wanted this marriage to take place.  Thinking about his inability of late to be aroused by her, he wondered if he could bring up the delicate subject of impotence to her in hopes of having her renounce the engagement.  Then again, he feared that his circumstances in life would only have her request that she take a lover for those times she needed to be sexually satisfied.  Also, he feared rumors of his impotence might circulate or be used to blackmail him.  And since his impotence extended to all women but one, he was not sure he wanted to expose himself in that way.  Besides, with the erection I was sporting in the carriage yesterday, I do not think she will believe me.

Considering all the options he could think of, he was at a loss.  Breaking an engagement was serious and could not only affect him but also Georgiana.  And as she was about to debut into society, he could not risk any scandal that would jeopardize her chances of making a good match.

No! For right now, I will have to go along with this farce and try to delay any wedding planning for as long as possible.  Maybe something will happen that I can gracefully detach myself from Mrs. Wagstaff and free myself for Elizabeth.  Pray Elizabeth, do not find anyone else before I find a chance to win you.

He needed a respite from his brooding thoughts of his upcoming nuptials and besides he wanted to savor the time he had just spent with Elizabeth.  After the awkward beginning and the mutual apologies, things could not have gone better.  He noted that she did seem to have a better opinion of him which must be from his Aunt Suzan’s influence, and he was grateful for it.  Their agreement to begin afresh only gave him hope that he would now have that longed for second chance to court her good opinion of him.  And court her he would, regardless if he was engaged to another or not.

Looking back on the visit, she did grace him with an occasional smile or direct a question to him.  She seemed willing to allow him to garner her regard.  But then the physical aspect of her person began to play in his mind’s eye, even with such a modest gown her décolletage was enticing as she leaned over to pour him a cup of tea.  He began to image what was beneath the bodice of her gown and before long he was envisioning her without it, without her under garments, without any article of clothing on her body sitting astride his thighs while a smile of admiration was evident on her lips as she perused his naked body.  No, he would never try to hide any part of his body from her.  His pride in her evident approval of what she saw was making itself manifest and he could see the delight in her eyes.

His imagination took flight as he could almost feel her presence in his bed.  He fell back on his pillows as he imagined her wrapping one hand around his erection while the finger of the other outlined his tip, teasing him, making him beg her for more.  With that delicious, mischievous twinkle in her eye, she moved her body forward and guided him into her warm, moist folds.  He watched her laugh as she tried to find a rhythm that would suit them both.  When she did, she concentrated on reaching her climax.  Throwing her head back, she cried out his name as her orgasm overtook her.  He could hold his own no longer.  Then she leaned forward covering him with her body, her long hair tickling his skin as she lay exhausted.  He reached for her, wrapping his arms around her, holding her close.

Opening his eyes as he could feel the pressure of her body against his, he realized that he was clutching a pillow.  Rolling on his side, he held it tighter.  Elizabeth, will you ever be mine?

A knock on the dressing room door startled him from his musings.  Sitting up, he turned and let his legs dangle from the bed, clutching the pillow still in his arms. He called, “Yes!”

“Mr. Darcy,” said his valet, Jennings. “Will you be taking supper with Miss Darcy?”

After a moment’s thought, he replied, “Yes! Yes, I will.  Please prepare my bath.”

“Yes, sir,” was the response.

Darcy looked over his shoulder at his bed.  He pictured Elizabeth sitting in the middle of it with her knees drawn up and her arms wrapped around them.  She was bestowing on him a brilliant smile.  He smiled back and whispered, “I will be back later to continue this most exquisite undertaking.”

Jumping from the bed, he strode to his dressing room.    

Elizabeth sat in the window seat of her sitting room.  Her knees were drawn up, hugging them securely to her chest.  As she gazed out on the moonlit garden, she pondered her reasons for not being able to sleep.  It was after midnight, and she had lain in her bed tossing and turning, her mind unable to rest as her thoughts were continually returning to the visit of Mr. Darcy and his sister earlier in the day. 

She could not understand the turmoil of her mind over Mr. Darcy.  He had really never been anything to her.  In fact, she had hardily despised him from her first acquaintance with him.  But today…something was different about him.  She did not know if so much of it was because of what had happened with George Wickham and her sister, Lydia, or if it was all the stories she had recently heard about him from Lady Suzan and General Fitzwilliam.  Stories of a noble man who took his responsibilities seriously, stories of a young man who enjoyed mischief until tragedy made him face adulthood at such a young age; whatever the reason, today she was able to see him as a handsome man who had integrity and honor and even a sense of humor, once they got over that awkward beginning.

Why had I not known this man before? She smirked. Because you let yourself be prejudiced towards him from that first encounter when he wounded your vanity the first time you laid eyes on him.  You never let yourself get beyond those wounds to look closer.

She could not help the irony of the fact that now when she wished to know him better, he was to marry someone else.  Well, Elizabeth, you little fool, you never did have very good timing or sense as it has come to pass. You let slip the chance of knowing him better and even becoming Mrs. Darcy.

But then other things invaded her thoughts and she knew that this would never happen.  She would never be Mrs. Anybody.  No one would take her with her family’s sordid past.  Mr. Darcy expressed an interest in a new beginning, let’s just enjoy what comes of that and not worry about anything else.  After all, he is well read and intelligent.  He may prove to be an interesting friend. Umm…yes, an interesting friend indeed.





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