It's Darcy and Elizabeth's wedding day, and the journey is just beginning as Jane Austen's beloved Pride and Prejudice characters embark on the greatest adventure of all: marriage and a life together filled with surprising passion, tender self—discovery, and the simple joys of every day.
As their love story unfolds in this most romantic of Jane Austen sequels, Darcy and Elizabeth reveal to each other how their relationship blossomed. From misunderstanding to perfect understanding and harmony, theirs is a marriage filled with romance, sensuality, and the beauty of a deep, abiding love.
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Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy
Thank goodness it is finally over, Fitzwilliam Darcy thought with a heavy sigh.
He realized that he probably should not entertain such a thought, but it could not be helped. The past eight weeks of his engagement had held many wonderful moments and all in all had been delightful, but also exceedingly trying. Daily he wanted nothing more than to spend time with his beloved Elizabeth. However, the constant pressures of wedding plans, visits from a seemingly inexhaustible quantity of friends and family, constraints of propriety, and business interests that had taken him from Hertfordshire on several occasions all had conspired to separate him from her far too often. Add to that his own uneasiness with all the social engagements, not to mention his continued distaste for Mrs. Bennet, and the weeks had seemed interminable.
Nonetheless, he thought while gazing lovingly upon his sleeping wife… my wife!… There certainly were some marvelous times to be remembered. In truth, he and Elizabeth had managed to pass numerous satisfying hours together alone, or at least almost alone, yet it never was sufficient as far as Darcy was concerned. She had teased him on occasion for acting like a petulant child whose favorite toy had been taken away. Initially, he had been a bit offended, but then he realized she was correct and had to laugh at himself. Yet he could not deny how bereft he felt without her by his side and how he had treasured every moment that they were together, even if it was brief.
They discovered, much to their mutual joy, that the trials of the previous months, during which each had suffered tremendously, had brought them to a place of complete understanding and honesty. The conversations they now shared were open, deeply profound, intimate, and blessedly free of all artifice and misunderstanding. He had revealed himself to her as he never had to any living soul, not even to his sister or dear Cousin Richard. She had done the same.
They had strived to learn as much as possible about each other. The resulting adoration and respect had only grown deeper with each passing day. And all this before they were married! Now they were truly husband and wife, and Darcy could only imagine their love and communion growing stronger.
He rested his head back against the rocking carriage wall, tightened his arm around Elizabeth, and closed his eyes as his thoughts continued to drift. The ceremony itself had been lovely. The women had triumphed in every aspect of the arrangements. Frankly, Darcy could not have cared less about the decorations as long as his precious Elizabeth became his wife. However, he understood the importance of these things to the ladies and had to admit that the Meryton church and the reception hall at Netherfield were stupendously adorned with flowers in profusion, ribbons and bows, candles and more.
Darcy merely gave it all a cursory glance, eyes riveted to the door. Once Elizabeth entered on the arm of her proud father, Darcy saw or heard very little else. She simply stole away his breath and all conscious thought! How he managed to recite his vows was a mystery. Elizabeth was wearing a simple but lovely white gown of silk with lace along the edges and a golden sash. She had styled her hair in an elaborate design of curls and braids with thin gold ribbon and buds of baby's breath and lavender intertwined. She wore the strand of sapphires he had given her as an engagement gift around her slender neck. Her fine eyes sparkled, her cheeks were rosy, and that special smile only for him highlighted her luscious lips. It was a picture imprinted on his mind's eye and would remain there flawlessly rendered for all of his life.
The lovely and ancient church in Meryton, where the Bennet family had worshipped for years, was perfectly suited for the ceremony. In truth, Darcy had always imagined marrying in the chapel at Pemberley and was mildly saddened initially at the natural choice to marry where both Bennet daughters had grown up. However, he quickly recognized the logic to the decision and realized that he honestly did not care as long as they were married with the sanction of the Church, religion being a vital part of his life.
The elderly vicar performed the traditional ceremony impeccably, his strong voice reciting the vows and quoting Holy Scripture with firm conviction. When Darcy slipped the slim, etched-in-jewels gold band onto Elizabeth's finger, nestling it alongside the sapphire and diamond engagement ring that had been his mother's, it was far and away the most profoundly moving moment in his life.
Elizabeth stirred slightly and he pressed her closer to his side, kissing her gently on the top of her head. He pulled the blanket further over her body and tucked it in. Once he was sure she still slept, he rested his cheek on her head and went back to his daydreams.
The reception at Netherfield was joyous, filled with all of their respective friends and relatives. The food was superb, the musicians exceptional, and the wine of the best vintage. Darcy had an extremely difficult time tearing his eyes away from his bride, but he did manage to congratulate Charles and Jane on their nuptials as well, realizing with a start that Jane looked quite beautiful herself. He was embarrassed to admit that he had not even noticed her presence at the church's altar alongside Elizabeth!
He and Lizzy had previously agreed that they would make their escape as soon as good manners would allow. Darcy had secured lodging at the White Stag Inn near Bedford. He had discovered this superb establishment years earlier while still at Cambridge. Located only a few miles off the main thoroughfare to Londonon the turnpike to Cambridge, in factit was secluded enough to fulfill his preference for quiet while traveling, but also popular enough as a halting place for those journeying to Newmarket for the races, or on to Suffolk for the sea, so that it was well maintained.
It was also the perfect resting point for the two-day ride between London and Pemberley, a trek he had completed more times that he could remember. He had stayed at the White Stag so frequently over the years that the owners, a pleasant couple named Hamilton, knew him well. They had been ecstatic at the idea of hosting him and his new bride for the initial days of their married life.
All arrangements had been made in advance and, to ensure their privacy, he had rented out the entire second story. Luckily, the late time of year meant the road would be lightly traveled, with hired coaches rarely passing and passengers minimal. Even the pub would see few customers, although it would not matter greatly, as their suite was to the rear of the sturdy red-brick building and well away from the public rooms.
Their luggage had been sent ahead earlier in the day, so all would be ready upon their arrival. Darcy was breathless in anticipation of this night! Not just for the obvious reasons of their promised intimacy and consummation of their marriage, but for the peace and relief from the hustle and bustle of the past two months. Just to be alone with his beloved! Never in his life had any evening been so tremendously and lovingly contemplated.
The carriage pulled off the main road, and Darcy knew they were close to their destination. "Elizabeth," he whispered softly, "wake up, my love; we are almost there."
Table of ContentsForeword
Cast of Characters
1. Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy
2. An Intimate Conversation
3. The Wedding Night
4. A New Day Dawns
6. Settling in at Pemberley
7. A Stroll in the Garden
8. An Anniversary
10. Meeting the Matlocks
11. A Surprise for Poor Samuel
12. Christmas Guests
13. Christmas at Pemberley
14. The Days In-between
15. Twelfth Night
16. The Long Winter
17. Conflict and Calamity
18. Recovery, Recollection, and Revenge
19. Romantic Interludes
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