Chocolate truffles from Kilwins. Check. Champagne from the evening reception downstairs. Check. What better way to spend the evening after a day of touring and shopping in my favorite getaway, Historic Downtown Charleston, SC, than drinking champagne and nibbling on exquisite dark chocolates.
Speaking of chocolate, here’s a glimpse at the story behind my 2014 release, Pride and Sensuality. The plan was to have Darcy surprise Elizabeth with chocolates on their wedding night. However, a requisite fact check indicated the chocolate bar was created in 1847. Oops!
Originally, chocolate was prepared as a beverage dating back to well over a thousand years B.C. It arrived in Europe in the sixteenth century, and within a hundred years or so it was a fashionable drink throughout the continent. Key story element saved!
And now, a glimpse at the Darcys’ wedding night.
The past weeks of courtship had taught Elizabeth to relinquish a bit of her fierce independence and put her unwavering trust in her husband, as evidenced by the blindfold fashioned from one of his crisp white cravats that she had allowed him to tie in place over her eyes. What’s more, she had promised not to peek unless or until he granted her permission. This was not at all as she had expected for her wedding night. Although she rather suspected her mother’s advice had been wrong, she was wholly surprised to be in such a situation as this. Her spirited sense of adventure would not allow her to protest.
Elizabeth’s hand fastened around his muscular, protective arm as he held the other in his tender grip and slowly coaxed her, one tentative footstep after another, until they had walked for some distance. Having no notion of her surroundings, the warmth of the fire and its smooth crackle further soothed her inhibitions. Her senses heightened by lack of sight, she appreciated even more the soft silky feel of her negligee against her skin. She perceived with utter pleasure the fragrance of freshly cut flowers and hints of oranges and lemons lingering in the air. When Darcy assisted her in seating, she traced her fingers along fine leather—a deep rich burgundy, she surmised. She drew an excited breath. Do I detect vanilla? Elizabeth exhaled. How I love the taste of vanilla.
“Prepare yourself for something wonderful, my love,” he whispered. The sound of his voice and the soft touch of his fingers upon her lips made her shiver.
Eager to accept whatever tantalizing treats he had in store for her, Elizabeth opened her mouth and received his offering. Hot steam caressed her lips, and for a moment, she supposed he was serving her tea. Slowly she sipped. Not tea. Arresting impulses stirred her. All at once, a burst of ecstasy exploded in her mouth. Her heart pounded against her chest. She swept her fingers through her loosened hair. Whatever this is— A blissful surge washed over her. I want more.
“Did you enjoy that?”
Elizabeth’s soft moan signified the depths of her pleasure. She traced her tongue across her lower lip, moistening it, and savouring every lingering taste of the divine gift her husband had bestowed.
“Here comes another.”
Not knowing was simply too much for a woman of Elizabeth’s constitution to endure. Filled with wonder over what had been the means of such intoxicating joy, she ripped the blindfold from her head and tossed it aside. “That was by far the most delectable thing I ever tasted in all my life. Pray what is it?”
“Mrs. Darcy! You promised you would do as I told.” After setting aside the cup, Darcy brushed his finger along Elizabeth’s chin and peered deeply into her eyes. “So much for the vows you swore just this morning. You do recall: to honour and obey.”
She darted her eyes. “We have the rest of our lives to dwell upon all that. Now, I have more urgent matters to attend.” A silver tray fully laden with fresh oranges, lemons, grapes, even a pineapple—a particular delicacy that was not to be found at Longbourn during any time of the year—lay before her. She reached for the porcelain cup, caressed it with both hands, pressed it to her lips, and took a sip. Her senses awakened once again, only this time with more intensity than the first. Parts of her ascended the physical world … piercing another realm. “What is this?”
“It is chocolate, my love. I thought surely you would have had it before, albeit not as potent as this. I had this blend imported from—” His words melded into the background as Elizabeth took yet another swallow, closed her eyes, and allowed her sensibilities to take her where they would. If that be over the edge of the plateau looming inside her, so be it.
At length, his voice pierced her exhilarated oblivion. “I know what you are thinking.”
Supposing the intense satisfaction she derived as the sumptuous brew unleashed ripples of excitement—a literal explosion of delight that started in her mouth and cascaded all over her body—was uniquely and incandescently her own, she opened her eyes and regarded him with unabashed wonderment. How can he possibly know what I am thinking when I hardly know myself? She asked him as much.
“First, you are meditating on the pleasures to be enjoyed from a cup of steaming-hot, rich, luxurious chocolate. You are wondering how something so seemingly simple as this can have the power to summon tiny swells of delight that promise to explode into thousands of waves of overwhelming pleasure all over your body … from your mouth to your arms, your legs, and the tips of your toes.
“What is more, you want to upbraid yourself for having gone all your life and never having partaken of such a pleasurable, one might even say decadent, experience before. Even now, you are scarcely listening to a word I speak. Your mind is intent upon one thing: your undeniable, dare I say inexplicable, craving for your next mouthful.”
Elizabeth swallowed hard. It is as if he knows things about me that I have yet to comprehend myself. Oh, the number of occasions she had forgone this heavenly drink and chosen instead her favourite hot tea. “Indeed.”
His wife’s flushed skin and the gentle rise and fall of her bosom filled him with anticipation and aroused his hopes. He leaned nearer. “I will venture further to say that what you felt is nothing in comparison to what I have in store for you, my love.”
Her present circumstances easily persuaded her that she had sufficient cause to doubt the veracity of his claim. Yes, she enjoyed his kisses immensely, and she dared not deny the awakening of desires wholly unfamiliar, albeit pleasant, to her whenever she was in his arms, especially the evening spent behind the locked door. However, this rich confection more than quenched a thirst she never even knew she had—hers was an experience mere words could scarcely describe. What more can he possibly have in store that might tempt me to forsake this wonderful treasure?
In the blink of an eye, Darcy swept Elizabeth up in his arms and stepped away from the table. A frisson of panic, akin to being separated, perhaps forever, from a most beloved companion, erupted deep inside her. “Pray, do not forget the chocolate!”
I hope you enjoyed the excerpt. Click and visit me at Two Centuries Beyond Pemberley to discover how you can enjoy the story for free! Up to 50 copies are available.
One more thing.
For years, I enjoyed eating chocolates primarily while drinking hot tea. Having cut my tea consumption by 95%, I find chocolate and champagne suits me just fine. How about you? If you love chocolate as much as Mrs. Darcy does, I’d love to hear your comments.