Being the less muddy of the two, Elizabeth was to go upstairs after she had taken off her boots. A pitcher of water would be brought up for her to wash in her room.
A maid helped take off her shoes and Darcy caught a glimpse of Elizabeth’s feet in stockings. He was enchanted by how tiny her feet were. His hands seemed to him larger.
His errant thoughts were interrupted by his valet, Winston, who came down to help him bathe. As Winston discussed with Longbourn’s servants the matter of setting up the bath, Darcy saw Elizabeth glancing at him from time to time.
She was surprisingly slow in her preparations and seemed to be lingering in the kitchen, Darcy thought.
Only when the water was ready in the laundry room and he was asked to leave the kitchen did the lady ascend to her room in haste.
Behind the laundry sheets, Mr. Darcy took off all his clothes, save for a pair of trousers.
He was relieved that the servants were busy in the kitchen and none of them dared to venture into the room. With the help of his valet, he washed away the mud and thought about the events of the day. The curricle ride was intimate. Grandmother Jones’s comment made them feel awkward. Falling into the mud was embarrassing, but Elizabeth’s compassionate embrace gave him hope. The most annoying occurrence was the appearance of Lady Catherine’s clergyman. Mr. Collins was a silly and exasperating man.
With that last unpleasant thought, he rose from the bath tub and wrapped himself in a robe made ready by his valet. As he emerged from behind the sheets, he bumped into a soft form near the door of the laundry room.
“I beg your pardon!”
It was Elizabeth. Her tumbling mane of hair was let down to her shoulders and the shawl that covered it had dropped to the floor.
They both bent to retrieve it. His eyes caught the low neckline of her gown while he felt her gaze on his bare chest, which was not covered by the robe. He remained unmoving while heat rushed through his body.Luckily the movement of his valet startled him. He grabbed the shawl and wrapped it around her shoulders.
“I…I came down…to find my cor—” Elizabeth stammered.
“I…I had just finished my bath,” he interrupted. His eyes remained fixed on her bewitching eyes, framed by thick dark-brown curls. “I shall…I shall go upstairs to dress.
She curtsied and stepped aside for him to pass. But her eyes still seemed to burn a hole in his chest.
Risking a glance at his valet, who pretended to be busy with his chores, Darcy lowered his head and whispered into her ears, “Did you come down to steal a look at me? I hope you take some pleasure in it.” He was happy to hear her gasp for air and exclaim “Insufferable men!” under her breath.
“Men?” He frowned. “Who else has irked you?”
She glanced at his valet. Darcy signalled for Winston to leave, which the latter did quietly.
“Did Mr. Collins do something inappropriate?” He held her arms and his tone was grave.
She struggled from his hold and blurted out. “What is Miss Anne de Bourgh to you?”
“Ah I see. Mr. Collins has been spreading lies.” He paced around.
“So you are not engaged to her?”
“No, though my aunt Lady Catherine always wished it.” He stopped in front of her, agitated. “Did you not trust my integrity and honour? Have I not told you my father’s wish? Did I not ask you to marry me?”
“But Mr. Collins…”
“Yes, what exactly did he say?”
“He said that you have been engaged to Miss de Bourgh since your birth and you visit her every year, waiting for her health to recover. And that whatever…feeling you had for me, you are probably acting like any young man bewitched by the…arts and allurements of young maidens.”
“He accused me of trifling with young women and you of loose morals!”
“I did rebuke him most fervently about my character.”
“But you believed what he said of mine?”
“I did not.” She stamped her foot in annoyance. “But I did not know your relationship with Miss de Bourgh.”
He stepped forward and held her arms again. Gazing into her eyes, he said slowly, “Anne is only a cousin. You, however, mean a lot more to me…if you would allow it.” Then he lowered his head and kissed her.
It was not a brotherly kiss. It was fast and fierce. He tasted her soft yet fiery lips. Savouring the moisture of the caress, he withdrew from the kiss as abruptly as he had begun.
Tuesday, 21 December 2010
Today I have the lovely Enid Wilson, author of some steamy Pride and Prjeudice what-if-novels as a guest here at Ex Libris, where she not only tells us about how she discovered her very first romance novel but also shares an excerpt of her novel and gives away some surprises! So read on and give a warm welcome to Enid!
Six inches deep in mud
by Enid Wilson
Thanks Stella for inviting me to guest post here. Pride and Prejudice is my favourite novel. I fell in love with it when I was 12 years old. I heard it as a serialised drama on radio. But the program stopped at the scene of the Inn of Lambton. I was appalled. It felt unfinished. I was hoping for a happy ending. So I went in search of the book and was relieved that Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet indeed ended up with each other.
I started writing Pride and Prejudice what-if stories three years ago, after I entered an online drabble competition (short stories of 200 words). It was a fun ride. I admit I love my romance hot so I’ve written many steamy Mr. Darcys. They may scandalise some Jane Austen purists but there are plenty of readers who love a naughty Mr. Darcy.
Below is an excerpt, with reference to the six inches deep in mud in Jane Austen’s original, from my latest novel Fire and Cross, Pride and Prejudice with a steamy mysterious twist.
Well, what do you think of this Mr. Darcy? Share your views here.
Thanks again Stella for hosting me today. I’m delighted to give out an ebook of Fire and Cross in PDF format and a lovely souvenir to one lucky reader. Please head over to http://www.enidwilson.com and register for news and leave a comment here.
Warning: The novel and my site contain explicit adult content.
Big hugs from hot and sunny Sydney, Enid.
Please leave a meaningful comment below with your e-mail address/contact details to win an ebook copy of Fire and Cross by Enid Wilson and a cute souvenir put together by Enid.
Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on December 31.
Spotlight on Romance: Guest Post by Enid Wilson + Giveaway
Stella Ex Libris
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