When Lizzy finally realizes how great she and Darcy would be for each other, we all sigh happily. It’s an artful way to show how much she’s changed and how much we should regret her loss along with her.
Jane writes: “[Elizabeth] began now to comprehend that he was exactly the man who, in disposition and talents, would most suit her. His understanding and temper, though unlike her own, would have answered all her wishes. It was an union that must have been to the advantage of both: by her ease and liveliness, his mind might have been softened, his manners improved; and from his judgment, information, and knowledge of the world, she must have received benefit of greater importance.”
It is no wonder that so many JAFF authors enjoy writing about a married Lizzy and Darcy. I have usually backed the story up rather far, back to when there is more uncertainty and even angst in their relationship. However, I admit there is great delight in writing them as a happily married couple!
In my latest book, From Pemberley with Luck, Lizzy and Darcy have been married a little less than a year, and are venturing on an (unknown to them) house party of doom. It’s going to have everything from misbehaving children to intolerable insults. There’s sledding, storms, and secrets. There’s theatrics and threats. In short, most things that could go wrong, do go wrong.
Anyway, at the start of this, Lizzy makes a momentous decision and we get a sweet Darcy and Lizzy moment. Thanks for reading!
Chapter 1, Page 16
Lizzy changed in her own room for dinner that evening. She heard Darcy enter his room while her maid was tidying her hair. His steps trod back and forth, and two thumps indicated when he took his riding boots off. After that she could not hear his steps, though the creak of his bureau and the low tones of his valet assured her he would soon be ready.
Lizzy’s ladies’ maid, a very superior female hired several months before, wore her black hair in a severely tight knot. Threads of silver enlivened her dark hair at the temples, and Lizzy suspected her hair must be quite curly, for the lady knew very well how to deal with Lizzy’s curls. She usually did not smile as she worked, or ever, though Lizzy was beginning to understand her expressions. There was a softening of her eyes that indicated approval, and a twitch in her cheek just now that was the equivalent of a smile.
“Thank you, Clara. You are a wonder with my hair. I’m glad to see you in good cheer today.”
“Nothing of the sort.” She continued to fix Lizzy’s ringlets and braid a small portion to tuck around the small knot at the back of her head.
“Nonsense, you are positively beaming.”
Clara’s eyes met hers in the mirror. “If you must know, ma’am, I received a letter from my nephew today.”
“Aha! I knew there was something. You really must learn to control these raptures, one would think you the flightiest chit of a girl.”
Clara’s lips compressed to a line, though her cheek twitched. Lizzy smiled. She was certain that Clara did not mind her teasing.
“I stopped several of the housemaids from gossiping about you, ma’am,” Clara added. “It was the same old trash.”
“Ah. That Jane and I entrapped men of wealth? Was it the version where Emma forcibly kicked me out of Highbury to save Mr. Knightley from my clutches? Or was it the version in which I cast Mr. Knightley aside when I realized his fortune was almost nothing compared to Mr. Darcy’s?”
Clara compressed her lips. “I don’t listen to gossip; I stop it.”
“Thank you, Clara, you are very good and very loyal.” Clara nodded and slipped away when she was done.
Lizzy knocked on Darcy’s door.
“Come in. That’ll be all,” he said to his valet.
His room was darker than hers, with wood panels on two walls, and striped paper on the other walls that was a dark shade of blue with thin gray stripes. He’d only lit a single candle for his toilette, so the room was rather dim. It was dominated by the large four-poster bed across from the window.
“I apologize for my lateness,” Darcy said. He was leaning over his washbasin, his face dripping. Lizzy handed him a small towel to dry himself, and he pressed it to his face. “Thank you.”
“It is fine, you told me you might be out all day.”
He stood up and rubbed his neck, getting all the errant droplets. He was such a handsome man, so tall and good. Sometimes Lizzy still felt shock that she was married to him. At other times, it seemed the most natural thing in the world.
“Did you have something to ask me?” Darcy said. “Or are you merely hurrying me along for dinner?” He was almost dressed. He wrapped a white cravat around his neck, twisting it just so to tie it as he wanted.
“Oh no, you made me forget. What was I going to ask you? Tell me about your day while I remember.”
He smiled at her in the mirror as he knotted his cravat in the subdued stye called the triple-cross. “Nothing very interesting. Paperwork with my bank in the city, a ride with my cousin, and a consultation with Mr. Bertram at the club.”
“Tom Bertram! Did he bring Jane with him?”
“No, not this time. It was just a flying trip to settle a matter his father asked him to look into.”
Lizzy sighed. “They’ve only been married a few weeks—and he has already left her alone? I hoped to see her.” Jane Fairfax had spent the previous summer in London as a governess. When Frank Churchill made a vulgar and heartless bet that he could get her back, she’d come under much unwanted attention. It seemed half the dandies and loose-lipped fellows in London knew who she was; she’d even received several slips on the shoulder—terribly improper offers. It was regrettable, but it had made Tom Bertram realize he loved her. Lizzy could almost forgive Frank Churchill for it.
“Don’t judge them, my dear. Tom was as eager to get back to Mansfield Park as you could wish. I had to cut off several reminisces on Jane’s perfection.”
“Oh, why did you cut him off? I want to hear it. You really must learn to listen to such things so that you can repeat them to me.”
“Didn’t you receive a letter from her only a few days ago?”
“Yes, but that is not at all the same as hearing what Mr. Bertram says of their marriage.”
He had finished his cravat. He turned to her, tucking a piece of hair behind her ear. “You overestimate our intimacy. He did not speak of their marriage. He only spoke of the perfect friendship between Jane and his cousin Fanny, who I gather also lives at Mansfield.”
Lizzy smiled. “Nothing about Jane’s beauty or goodness or patience? I am disappointed.”
Mr. Darcy shrugged. “I’d rather talk about your beauty and goodness and patience.” His hand cupped her cheek and Lizzy leaned into it. Darcy was never shy, but he had a great deal of reserve, and it was only slowly dropping away.
He leaned forward to kiss her, and Lizzy met him halfway. If her toes curled in her slippers, that was her own business, and at least he had the decency to look properly dazed and unfocused when Lizzy pulled away.
“I remember!” she said. “I remember what I was going to ask you.”
“Why is it that you think so clearly just when I am not thinking at all?” He swayed toward her, but Lizzy put up her hand.
“Later, my dear Mr. Darcy, later. Let us go down and eat. I will tell you what I have done, and you can tell me if I am wrong.”
He tucked her hand in his arm. “Very well, what is it?”
“I invited Mary Crawford to spend Christmas at Pemberley with our house party.”
“Mary Crawford? Are you and she friends? I thought she was very close with Caroline Bingley.”
“She was, or is, but I thought we made a connection this summer. I did not intend to ask her, but she… she wanted it very much.”
He frowned as they descended the stairs to the first floor. “You mustn’t yield to every request or pushing suggestion. I suppose it can be difficult for someone with as soft a heart as yours—”
“As opposed to your heart of stone? I still intended to say no, for she is known as a flirt and rather fast. However, as we spoke, underneath her poise and wit, I sensed that she is reaching for something… better. You know her brother is still mixed up in scandal, plus her uncle is a shameless old roué. Her older sister lives very near the family that she wishes to avoid.”
“Surely she has other friends she might go to. She barely knows you, and me not at all. She is not the sort of person I want Georgiana to be intimate with.”
“I do understand that, and if you wish me to gracefully uninvite her, I will. However, I am not sure she does have any wholesome friends or family to stay with. If she did want to improve, if her morals were undergoing change, where would she go? How would she avoid temptation? She is too proud to admit any such thing, but she might be—however obliquely—asking for help.”
“You perceived all that in one conversation? It is uncanny.”
“Some of us read between the lines.”
“And yet you couldn’t guess that I loved you?”
“That is very different. You are a cipher, my dear Mr. Darcy. My cipher.”
He smiled as he pulled out her chair at the dining table. “Very well. Invite Miss Crawford. We shall see if your optimism in her is justified.”
Hint, hint: It is!
Thanks for those of you who have already read From Pemberley with Luck! I so appreciate your support and encouragement.
Happy Thursday and happy reading!