Fitzwilliam Darcy was having the most extraordinary dream of his entire life. Elizabeth was there, although that fact was not unusual since she had graced the vast majority of his dreams for months now. This dream, however, was exceedingly more detailed than the previous ones! Darcy was enjoying this dream enormously, and it was with tremendous dismay that he felt the beginning tendrils of consciousness return. He valiantly fought against waking, but the tingles in his right arm persisted no matter how many times his subconscious self tried to move the offending appendage.
The cold blast of wakefulness was like a knife to his heart. So acute was his disappointment at the dream fading, that one can imagine the soaring heights instantaneously reached when he realized that the object of his dream was in his arms. In fact, it was her head, which had at some point during her sleep crept from his chest to the inner aspect of his elbow, that was causing his arm to burn. The irony of it did not escape him and he chuckled softly.
Memories of the fine dream and their first night together, coupled with the vision of her beauty, were temporarily enough to drive away the ever-increasing discomfort to his poor extremity. For some moments he manfully bore the pain and watched her sleep. It was an enchanting sight with her lush lips slightly parted, her thick lashes resting on her rosy cheeks, her mane of hair scattered haphazardly, and her creamy neck and shoulders visible. Darcy could quite contentedly have stared at her all day, but now his fingers had lost all feeling.
Resolving this issue was suddenly one of the most problematical calamities of his life! He did not want to wake her, nor did he want to remove his arm completely. He thought maybe he could roll her gently back towards his body – a pleasurable prospect – but his arm had lost all sensation and refused to comply with his brain’s request. There seemed to be no other option but to use his functional left arm to move her, probably waking her in the process. Fortunately she suddenly sighed deeply, stretched and nestled closer to his side, her head once again on his chest.
Darcy sent silent thanks to whichever guardian angel takes care of these sticky situations.
His relief was short lived, sadly, due to the sudden rush of blood that ignited a blaze of fresh pain in his unfortunate arm. He gritted his teeth, and his whole body tensed and shuddered in his effort not to cry out and wake his peacefully sleeping wife. Eventually the torture subsided and he was able to move his arm again, using it to hug Elizabeth against his side.
Well, that was interesting. Certainly a drawback to sleeping with someone that has never occurred to me! He lifted his head to view the clock. A quarter to nine! When was the last time I slept so late?
He couldn’t remember, but then neither could he remember the last time he slept so deeply and contentedly. He felt amazingly refreshed, and blissful. As pleasant as his dream had been, the reality of his wedding night was vastly superior. Darcy never claimed to be a particularly creative man, but after the joy experienced several times, and in varied ways and sites, his mind drifted to all sorts of promising possibilities! He was a trifle embarrassed, nevertheless he recognized that Pemberley had any number of secluded areas, both inside and out, that would work nicely. Good God, man! Listen to yourself! The self-chastisement was ignored, and when Elizabeth woke minutes later, the question of whether she might feel differently or be shocked by the nature of his musing was answered definitively in the negative.
~ * ~ * ~
It was ten o’clock before they arose from their tousled bed. They were famished, so Darcy rang for breakfast before following Elizabeth’s example and retiring to his dressing room. Quickly shaving and freshening his cologne, he pulled on a shirt and breeches at random, returning to their bedchamber just as the breakfast tray arrived. Elizabeth entered wearing a lovely burgundy gown, her face pink from washing, and hair hastily tied with a ribbon to hang as a tail down her back.
Darcy was struck anew by how beautiful she was, and how marvelous to be married so he could view her in casual attire. Not surprisingly, Elizabeth was thinking much the same, adoring how handsome her husband looked with his shirt loosely tucked and open at his neck. This was a picture of him that only she would be privy to.
Elizabeth curled up in the chair, tucking her feet under her, and commenced pouring coffee for Darcy and tea for herself. The simple task of serving her husband sent a surge of happiness through her heart. For his part, Darcy could not cease staring at her. After all that had transpired yesterday and last night and this morning, it still seemed a dream to have finally arrived at this place when, for so long, he had despaired of ever being with her.
“You are staring, Mr. Darcy. Do I have a distracting blemish on my face?” she teased.
“Sorry, my dear. No, you do not have any blemishes. I am entranced by your beauty, that is all.”
“Quite the flatterer you have become, sir. So charming. Who would believe it of you?”
“Well, as I intend to save my best flattery for when we are alone, no one would believe you even if you were to inform them.”
“So, am I to infer that you will be devising and practicing said flattery beforehand? If so, you must remember to give as unstudied an air as possible.”
Darcy grinned at her reference. “Perhaps I shall occasionally plan my flattery; however, as you are well aware of how uncreative I am, my dear, I would imagine that the pleasing compliments will usually proceed from the impulse of the moment.”
They both laughed and she threw a grape at him. “Ridiculous man! Read your newspaper and let me eat in peace!”
He did his best to comply with her request, discovering that it was quite challenging to focus on world events with her across the table. Neither of them knew it at the time, but they were innocently setting the stage for what was to become a morning ritual for the rest of their lives. Except for those occasions when guests were present or business separated them, they would breakfast together quietly each day in their joint sitting room. Darcy would read the newspaper and Elizabeth would read a book. They would discuss their daily plans or estate business or items from the news. The staff would be instructed not to interrupt, their morning solitude a favorite and necessary part of their day.
“What are we to do with ourselves today?” she asked at one point. “Have you made any specific plans?”
Darcy put the newspaper down. “Nothing specific,” he replied, and then grinned. “We could always stay here all day. I am sure we could dream up something to occupy our time.” She quirked one brow, Darcy laughing. “Or if you would rather, the village is quite close so we could ramble through it. There is a gig available, and the weather appears fine enough for a drive. Too bad it is winter, as a picnic would be an agreeable pastime.”
“Oh? Did a law pass of which I am unaware that we can only enjoy our meals outdoors in the spring or summer?”
“I did not mean to imply that such activities are unlawful in the winter, Mrs. Darcy! I am solicitous regarding your comfort, however. It is late November and quite cold outside.”
Lizzy laughed. “Honestly, William, I thought you knew me better than that! When has the weather ever hindered me?”
“As you wish, my love. A picnic it shall be.”
They spent a lovely day together, this first day of the rest of their lives.
A luncheon hamper was prepared and loaded into the carriage, along with several thick blankets. To begin with, they drove into the village. It was not a large town, about the size of Meryton, but there were numerous quaint shops to browse through. Lizzy quickly realized that she had to be cautious in exhibiting interest in even the smallest trinket because Darcy would insist on buying it for her. In spite of her guardedness, Darcy’s arms were encumbered with packages by the end of two hours, and he was forced to rearrange the blankets and hamper to make room in the gig.
It was a beautiful day, crisp and cool, but the sun was warming and the sky cloud free. They leisurely drove along the edge of the river toward the small lake, Lizzy sitting as close to his side as she could possibly manage. They periodically stopped to marvel at the landscape, using the opportunity to steal a few kisses. A level spot close to the lake’s edge proved perfect for their luncheon.
They chatted as they ate, the topics ranging from childhood memories to current events to family matters to literature to future plans and various points in between. Once they had eaten their fill, Darcy laid his head in her lap and read out loud from a book of Shakespeare’s sonnets. Elizabeth played with his hair, deliriously content merely to stare at his face and listen to his resonant voice.
After a bit they decided to stroll, holding hands as they meandered. They encountered not a soul. It was as if they were the only two people in the world. When passing a large oak tree, Darcy halted, leaned against the trunk, and gathered Elizabeth into his arms. For some time he merely held her pressed tight to his chest. She experienced a profound sense of peace and protection. His warmth radiated out of him, arms strong about her body, and his cheek resting on the top of her head. In due course his soft lips traveled through her hair to her ear and then her neck, raining gentle kisses and sweet endearments along the way. How wonderful to be married and freely allow their emotions to wash over them! Naturally there was a limit, the edge of their endurance reached with mutual agreement that it was time to return to the inn.
They packed up in haste and drove as speedily as safety permitted. Darcy bordered on curtness in instructing the servant that they would be dining at seven o’clock and not to disturb them for the rest of the afternoon. He failed to notice the servant’s smile of understanding, nor would he have cared. The door to their room was barely latched before they were in each other’s arms. Clothing was removed as fast as humanly possible, and with a multitude of fumbles and humorous moments. It was a novel experience and tremendously enjoyable. The end result of their playful exertions was as one would expect.
~ * ~ * ~
With colossal effort, they left their bed with barely enough time to make themselves presentable for dinner. The food was delicious, and the room empty most of the time so, between bites, they shared a few kisses.
Darcy was mesmerized by his wife, every movement generating ripples of delight through his body. His need to touch her overwhelmed him. Breaking pieces of bread and fruit, he fed her, lingering on her lips and losing all awareness in her sparkling eyes.
“William, your food is growing cold,” she teased, kissing his finger.
He smiled, leaning to nuzzle behind her ear. “I care not. Famished I may be, but touching you is preferable. For once your parents are not present to preclude me fulfilling the fantasy of displaying how even the simple act of eating enhances my desire for you.”
“Oh, William! The vision! I wish you had acted on your impulses then so I could see Mama’s face, if nothing else!”
Darcy laughed, resuming his seat and picking up his fork. “As entertaining as that may have been, Elizabeth, your father would likely have strangled me. Curbing my inclinations was not always easy, but wise. Thankfully I no longer need to do so. Well, within reason, of course.”
After dinner they took a stroll in the silent garden and talked about Pemberley. The plan was to depart early in the morning since the journey home would take most of the day. Darcy was in a state of uncontrollable bliss that Elizabeth would finally be with him in his home … their home. It was a dream he had harbored in his aching heart for so many months. The reality was incredible.
Before long they returned to their room, wishing to thoroughly enjoy the last night at this place which would forever be special to them. They made love again, slowly and reverently, before falling into a deep, peace-filled sleep with limbs entwined and warm bodies cuddled close.
**This chapter is from my novel, Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One, volume one of the Darcy Saga sequel series that recounts the married life of the Darcys. This portion is from the chapter titled A New Day Dawns, and is edited for space and to remain PG. For more information on my series, visit my website at www.sharonlathan.net