What He Would Not Do
Chapter 13 ~ No Cause to Repine
© Based upon excerpt reprinted with the Author's Permission
As extended guests at the Matlock estate, Darcy and Elizabeth were not at leisure to slip away, just the two of them, as often as they would have liked. With so many relatives about, there was always someone in want of either or both of their company.
They cherished their night-times. Darcy’s predilection for engaging in his favourite pastime of making love to his wife did not abate. Satiated, the young couple basked in the after moments of a particularly passionate interlude. He lay on his back and studied her face as she partially sat up, her head resting on her hand. Enchanted, Darcy traced the back of his fingers along her bare shoulders as she spoke.
“I do not suppose there will be many nights like this in the months to come.”
“Why ever not?”
“Look at me,” she stated, pointing out her slight bulge.
Darcy traced her cheeks. “You are more beautiful than ever.”
Elizabeth leaned forward and brushed her lips lightly against his. “Only you would imagine such a thing.”
“I am not imagining it. You are exquisite. Trust me when I say we will always have nights like this. I will have to be gentler, is all.” Darcy continued to caress her cheek, his eyes tracing a path from her eyes to her lips, whenever she spoke.
“And inventive,” she teased.
Darcy laughed. “Yes—very inventive.” His lips captured hers for a wonderfully affectionate, promising kiss. “I assure you I have already begun to imagine just how inventive I shall be. I can hardly wait.”
Elizabeth swept her tongue over her lower lip, savouring the taste of him, and eased closer. He extended his arm and encircled her in his embrace. Sighing contentedly, she rested her head on his chest. “There is a matter I have meant to discuss with you,” she said somewhat tentatively.
Darcy smoothed his fingers along her length of her neckline. “What is it, my love?”
“What do you think of Lady Harriette these days?”
“I do not think of her,” he quickly asserted.
“Pardon me if I do not take you at your word on that.”
Darcy ceased his tender caresses. “Why would you doubt me?”
“She is incredibly beautiful. She spends far more time than she ought with Richard and you, and anyone who has ever observed her closely in your presence during the past two years can see she has been overly infatuated with you.”
“Interesting,” Darcy said, rubbing his fingers along his temple as if contemplating Elizabeth’s words.
“Is it my imagination or has Harriette transferred her affections from you to your cousin?”
“I am not sure how to answer your question.”
“I am rather sure you do.”
“I mean to say, I do not know how she feels about Richard. I know he admires her and is set upon winning her heart.”
Elizabeth reflected on his words for a moment. She smiled at this new revelation. If he is unable to discern Lady Harriette is interested in Richard, perhaps he indeed had no indication she had been so affected by him for so long. Men!
Elizabeth said, “So, it does not bother you at all that the young woman who once had her heart set upon capturing you, is now intent on capturing your best friend.”
“Do you really suppose Lady Harriette fancies Richard?”
“Yes, I do. She delights in toying with him, mind you, but I think she is quite taken. So, what are your feelings on the matter?”
“If she is indeed as enamoured of Richard as you seem to think, I hope they will soon find their way to one another. What is more, I hope they will be very happy together. Does that satisfy?”
“Oh, I am quite satisfied. To see your cousin Richard, settled—married to a woman such as Lady Harriette; I could not be more pleased than I am.” Elizabeth smirked. “I cannot imagine a more worthy companion for either of them than each other.”
“Pray, you do not harbour resentment towards Richard for his friendship with Jane.”
“Why would you say such a thing? Did I not express my great pleasure over the prospect of an alliance?”
“Yes—but it is the way you expressed your pleasure that gives me pause.”
Reflecting upon Lady Harriette's wont of taking such pleasure in rendering Richard utterly confounded at every turn, Elizabeth said, “Let me assure you, sir, I only have your cousin’s best interests at heart.”
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