Truth about Mr. Darcy
For my family,
whose encouragement and
support has made
all the difference.
She came to him late one night as he sat reading in the quiet solitude of Netherfield’s library, the delicate scent of lavender preceding her lovely form. He closed his eyes as he leaned his head back and inhaled her heady fragrance, a feeling of intoxication washing over his senses.
Without pause, she settled herself upon his lap and slid her arms across his chest to his shoulders, her slender fingers wandering to the edge of his cravat to tease the skin of his neck. He swallowed hard, struggling to regain the stoic composure she always managed to rob him of whenever she was near. Tonight, with her dark hair falling past her shoulders in silken curls, she was nothing short of breathtaking.
He looked upon her in wonder as the hint of a smile played seductively upon her rosy lips. She pressed her soft body firmly against his, her curves rendering him utterly powerless, her eyes sparkling with an invitation. Every fiber of his being ached to touch her, to tell her of his ardent—almost painful—desire for her, to finally claim her as his own after so many weeks of fantasies and sleepless nights.
Slowly, she began to feather her lips along his jaw, her hands blazing a path of fire over his chest before moving to unbutton his waistcoat. As her lips came to rest lightly against his own, so lightly they barely touched, she spoke, her voice low and sultry.
“Have you been waiting long?” Her breath was hot against his flesh.
With a throb of longing that could no longer be denied, the last fragments of his resolve crashed around him as he surrendered to her, claiming her lips in a desperate kiss and tangling his hands possessively into her hair. When they parted, their breathing was ragged, and their cheeks flushed.
“You have not answered my question, sir,” she said on a breath. “How long have you been waiting for me?”
His voice was hoarse, and he whispered with feeling, “My entire life, Elizabeth…”
Fitzwilliam Darcy’s eyes flew open. He was thoroughly appalled to discover himself in a leather chair in Netherfield’s library, rather than the privacy of his own rooms. To make matters infinitely worse, he was aroused, and Elizabeth Bennet was staring at him from the next chair with a mixture of astonishment and impertinence written upon her face. He quickly averted his eyes, crossed his legs, and groaned inwardly. Oh, good God! he thought with rising panic. Why is she staring at me like that? Surely she cannot possibly be aware of…?
With as much aplomb as he could muster, Darcy took a shaky breath and returned his gaze to the book he had been holding in his hands. Perhaps if he simply ignored her and pretended nothing was amiss, all would turn out well. After a few moments of this, he hazarded a glance in her direction, only to catch her observing him out of the corner of her eye. He quickly averted his eyes and shifted his weight self-consciously in his chair, willing his inflamed ardor to cool.
“Are you feeling unwell, Mr. Darcy?” she inquired with a slightly raised brow.
He felt the heat of his blush and, without raising his eyes from his book, said as calmly as possible, “Perfectly well, Miss Bennet. I thank you for your concern.”
“It is nothing, sir. I am relieved to hear it.” There was a hint of amusement in her voice that caused his head to snap in her direction. She had returned to her reading but seemed to be struggling to repress a smile. Darcy’s ire rose at her ability to laugh at his discomfiture, but rather than having a cooling effect on his lower body, for some reason he could not explain, he found himself becoming even more aroused. It was disconcerting, and he wracked his brain for anything that might afford him an opportunity to compose himself enough to be able to flee from her company.
Think, man, think! Something to repulse… something to repulse. He drummed his fingers upon the arm of his chair. He repressed a shudder. Of course, Caroline Bingley. Caroline Bingley in one of those hideous orange frocks she favors. Hmm… and feathers. I must not forget feathers. Darcy repeated his mantra, inhaling deeply. Ah, yes, much better… much better, indeed.
After several minutes, he felt in complete control of himself once again and, as though to prove a point to himself, allowed his gaze to flicker toward Elizabeth. She was reading, her bottom lip caught between her teeth as she wound a stray curl around one finger in an absent fashion. She presented a delightful picture, and Darcy found himself enchanted. His mind drifted from Caroline Bingley in her hideous orange frock to musings of a far more pleasant nature. Elizabeth… my very own, lovely Elizabeth, just arrived at Netherfield, her hem six inches deep in mud, her hair disheveled, her creamy skin glowing. Oh, yes…
Darcy began to feel a familiar tightness in his breeches. “No! Oh, no,” he moaned aloud.
“Is something the matter, Mr. Darcy?” Elizabeth asked, raising her head.
“No, not at all, Miss Bennet,” he stammered in a strained voice. “I was merely taken unaware by something I had just… read. I apologize for disturbing you.”
With a frown, Elizabeth laid aside her book and rose, averting her eyes as she smoothed her gown. “If you will excuse me, sir, I fear my poor sister must be wondering what has become of me.”
“Of course,” he muttered. Darcy didn’t dare rise. He would rather break with correct etiquette and appear rude at this point than risk exposing himself, quite literally, to any further mortification in front of Elizabeth. Turning his full attention back to his book, he proceeded to give the illusion of engrossing himself thoroughly in its text. Darcy did not move until he heard the click of the door as it closed soundly behind her. Throwing his head back with relief, he expelled a long, slow breath, ran his hands over his face and through his hair, and cursed himself for being so susceptible to her charms.
Elizabeth had never been so happy to leave a place in her entire life. Surely she would always remember with fondness the rewarding occupation of nursing her dearest Jane back to health. Bingley, of course, had been nothing but his gracious, amiable, and generous self. He was an excellent host, forever solicitous of both her welfare and that of her sister. His sisters, however, had been everything that was ungracious and condescending, and the proud and haughty Mr. Darcy, in her opinion, had been little better.
It had not escaped Elizabeth’s notice that the man seemed to materialize everywhere she had happened to venture during the few moments she was able to leave Jane for any length of time. She had met him quite by accident in the library on countless occasions—and also in the conservatory, in the music room, in the morning room, in the garden, and on the grounds. If Elizabeth had not known better, she would have sworn he was deliberately throwing himself in her way, but she did know better. Whenever they were in company together, Darcy was usually cool and aloof, yet he chose to stare at her constantly and with a level of intensity that had begun to make her uncomfortable. Surely such a handsome, wealthy, and intelligent man, who was used to nothing but the very finest society, could not deign to look upon a woman of her inferior station and circumstances in life unless it was to find fault, and indeed, she knew he had found fault with her, almost from the very first moment of their acquaintance at the assembly in Meryton some weeks ago.
Elizabeth laughed as she recalled his disdainful comment. “She is tolerable, I suppose, but not handsome enough to tempt me.” Yet, while she was at Netherfield, Darcy had paid her no insignificant degree of attention, even going so far as to engage her in several heated intellectual and philosophical debates while in company with the rest of their party, none of whom he had included in their almost-private verbal sparring. To Elizabeth’s amusement, such pointed notice of her often resulted in Miss Bingley becoming angered, and Elizabeth had found herself banished to the far end of the table during family dinners, with only the inebriated Mr. Hurst for companionship, while Miss Bingley fawned over Darcy and tried to monopolize his notice. Yet, even at these times, Darcy’s dark, penetrating eyes continued to seek her out. Whatever could it mean?
Charlotte Lucas had often told Elizabeth she believed Darcy admired her a great deal, but Elizabeth could not agree with such a notion. Her usual reply was to laugh it off and tell her, “That is simply not possible, Charlotte, for I know he dislikes me as much as I do him,” before steering the conversation to some other topic. After a while, Charlotte no longer commented on such observations, but she did raise a speculative brow and cast a knowing look at Elizabeth each time she caught Darcy observing her friend, which was almost constantly whenever they were thrown into company together. Elizabeth found this occurred quite often.
The two gentlemen from Netherfield had just entered Meryton on their way to Longbourn when they chanced to notice the very ladies whom they were, indeed, intending to call upon, standing on the opposite side of the street. With great eagerness, Bingley urged his mount toward the object of his affection, Miss Jane Bennet, while Darcy remained several paces behind, struggling against the turmoil incited in his breast by the pleasing form and fine eyes of Jane’s sister Elizabeth.