Kara Louise

Only Mr. Darcy Will Do

This book is dedicated to my wonderful husband, Dan, who is one of my biggest fans, has faithfully read each of my books, and has wholeheartedly encouraged me to persevere along this path of writing.


Fitzwilliam Darcy sat stiffly in the carriage as it rambled down the dirt road, uncomfortable from the long ride and restless in his thoughts. His attempt at reading the book he held tightly in his hands had failed miserably. Throughout the day’s journey his eyes had perused no more than two pages; he had comprehended even less. His cousin, Colonel Patrick Fitzwilliam, was in a talkative mood, as was the norm, and Darcy found it markedly aggravating. But that was not the chief foundation for his discomfiture.

The two men were on their way to Rosings. It was enough that this yearly journey meant having to endure three weeks in the company of their aunt, suffering her complaints and outbursts, enduring her deplorable demands and infuriating insinuations, and tolerating her firm conviction that Darcy was to marry her daughter, Anne. On this visit, however, Darcy could not help but reflect on the fact that his aunt’s clergyman, William Collins, was Elizabeth Bennet’s cousin; his wife, Charlotte, was her best friend; and last year at this time, Miss Bennet had adamantly refused his offer of marriage in this very place.

Darcy stared out the window as they drew near. He had told not a single soul of his offer to Miss Bennet and her subsequent rejection of his suit. He fought hard against the ensuing melancholy and constant self-evaluation that had taken much of the joy out of his life. While others had merely teased him for being out of sorts, it was his sister, Georgiana, who easily perceived that something grave pressed upon him. She inquired about the reasons for his downcast spirits on several occasions, but he did not wish to burden her with his tale of unrequited love.

They would soon pass the parsonage and then cross the lane over to Rosings. He closed his book and looked out the window; all the while Fitzwilliam carried on about what he had seen and done since the two men had last been together.

Fitzwilliam seemed not to care that Darcy contributed little to the conversation. The Colonel related to his disinterested cousin all the adventures his militia had enjoyed up north. Fitzwilliam was well aware that Darcy was not one who rambled on endlessly, but normally he took a great deal of interest in what he had to say. Today, however, he perceived that his cousin seemed not to be listening; his mind was elsewhere.

“Did you know, Darcy, that it can get so cold up north that your breath freezes when you breathe out through your mouth?”

“Is that so?” Darcy responded nonchalantly, his eyes riveted to the window.

“But I tell you truthfully, that the women up there are remarkably affectionate. I can only imagine it is because it gets so cold up there they appreciate the warmth of a man in uniform.”

Darcy turned to him and scowled.

Fitzwilliam laughed. “I was merely checking to see if you were listening.”

“I am, Fitzwilliam, and I am truly not interested in hearing of your mercenary tactics where the fairer sex is concerned.”

“Always the proper gentleman,” Fitzwilliam teased, combing his fingers through his light brown, wavy hair. “What grave occurrence do you think our aunt will be complaining about during our visit this year?”

“Most likely she has not received her share of abundant adoration, profuse praise, and generous condescension.”

“Does she ever?” He shook his head. “As long as we have known her, she has never been content with her lot in life, and yet she has so much. She is not happy unless others recognize how much lower they are than she or they verbosely applaud her with accolades that she hardly deserves.”

Darcy turned and looked at him with a curious glint in his dark eyes and then quickly turned away. A sudden tightness in his stomach gave him pause to wonder if he, himself, might have a share of some of those same qualities. Is that what he had expected Elizabeth to appreciate in his offer more so than his love? He looked away as he recollected those things that had held prominence in his words that fateful day.

“Come, Darcy, must you look so glum?” Fitzwilliam slapped him on the shoulder. “We have visited our aunt practically every year at Easter since we were boys. Surely you have learned how to tolerate her eccentricities.”

Darcy drew in a deep breath. “Yes, but I do not feel particularly inclined to contend with her this year.”

“I am in no doubt you shall find ample opportunity to go on your long walks or vigorous rides on Challiot as you generally do. We shall hope the weather will be accommodating.”

“Yes,” he answered, barely following his cousin’s words as the parsonage came into sight. His breath caught slightly upon seeing it again as a mixture of feelings swarmed over him. Turning away from the window, he clenched his fists, hoping to maintain a modicum of control.

At length, the carriage pulled up to the front of the great edifice that his aunt called home, and came to a stop.

“Are you ready, Darcy? Do you need a few moments to gather your fortitude?”

“No, the sooner her generous greeting is over, the better.”

The carriage door was opened, and the two men stepped out. As if on cue, they both stretched out their arms and shook out the stiffness in their legs due to the length of the ride and the confinement of the compartment. They turned toward each other with mirrored looks that reflected their similar feelings and then began to walk to the house.

When they were ushered into the great hall, a shrill voice pierced their ears.

“My nephews! You have finally arrived! I wondered if I would ever see you!” She rushed toward them in what appeared to be an agitated manner. “How is it that you are so late? Were the roads not satisfactory? I must talk to someone about that!”

Both men walked slowly toward her, each pulling from that source deep within that allowed them to bear up under her excessive attention.

“Good day, Aunt.” Patrick Fitzwilliam was the first to receive an embrace from Lady Catherine de Bourgh. He had no need to fear that she would smother him, as her hugs were brief and light, and he was able to pull away quickly.

She stepped back and studied his frame. “Patrick, you are too thin. What is the regiment feeding you? I am quite certain not enough. You shall eat like a king here and will lack for nothing. We shall do our best to fatten you up.”

Fitzwilliam gritted his teeth and smiled. “Thank you, Aunt. I am most grateful.”

“And so you should be. My good brother and his wife are most likely not as attentive to these details as they should be. They wrongly assume you are responsible enough to take care of yourself. Merely by the looks of you, I can see that you do not.”

“Yes, Aunt.” The Colonel sent a grave look over to his cousin.

“Come here, Fitzwilliam. Let me look at you!” insisted his aunt.

Darcy guardedly approached his aunt as she held out her arms. “It is so good to see you again!” Her embrace lasted a little longer than his cousin’s, but she obliged him by not kissing his cheek as she often did when he was younger.

“And how does my cousin appear to you, Aunt?” Fitzwilliam asked.

“He is always in fine figure. A good thing for my Anne, too. Unfortunately, her stamina is slowly weakening, and she may one day require someone to carry her up and down the stairs at Pemberley.”

Fitzwilliam watched his cousin’s face cloud over with stifled resentment, and as Darcy began to open his mouth, he quickly interceded. “Aunt, the grounds look wonderful! The flowers are simply grand!”

“Yes, they are.” She turned away from the men to look out a window toward the gardens while Fitzwilliam cast his cousin a warning look. “I must admit I pay special attention to all the work my gardeners do.”

The three looked out in a brief respite of silence. Darcy could hardly corroborate his cousin’s admiration of the gardens, as they were very artificially pruned and tended. He preferred a more natural look and had never felt an affinity for his aunt’s style of gardening.

“Come,” she said when she felt they had admired enough. “I know Anne looks forward to welcoming you.” Her eyes went to Darcy as she said this, and as he returned her gaze, he noticed Fitzwilliam’s smirk behind her.

They followed her into the drawing room, which was purposely kept dark, and therefore a depressing air hung about the room. Lady Catherine insisted that the drapes be kept drawn when Anne was in the room, believing that too much light might cause her harm. As the three walked in, Darcy readily noticed the look of hopeful longing that barely lit Anne’s eyes. He walked over to her, taking her hand and giving it a light kiss.

“Good day, Anne. It is good to see you.”

The young lady smiled. “It is good to see you as well, Cousin.”

Darcy stepped back and watched Fitzwilliam do likewise. It was always the same. They would greet her warmly, and then shortly after, she would return to her room, as the excitement of having visitors always wore on her. Darcy watched in disinterested impatience as Fitzwilliam took the young lady’s hand. But today he noticed something new. There was actually a spark in her eyes as she looked at the Colonel.

Darcy narrowed his eyes as he saw for the first time that his young cousin, who had supposedly been promised to him at birth, seemed to have a bit of a regard for their elder cousin. Now it was his turn to smirk as he considered how he would heap on the teasing about his cousin’s upcoming marriage to Anne.