Imperative: Volume 1, A Tale of Pride and Prejudice

BOOK: Imperative: Volume 1, A Tale of Pride and Prejudice
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Imperative

 

A Tale of Pride and Prejudice

Volume 1

 

 

Linda Wells

 

 

 

Imperative:  A Tale of Pride and Prejudice  Volume 1

 

Copyright © 2012 Linda Wells

 

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or portions thereof, in any form whatsoever. 

 

Cover photo:   © Stephen Orsillo: Dreamstime.com,  Back cover photo: © Adina Nani: Dreamstime.com  

 

The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious or are used fictitiously.  Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead; is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.

 

 

To

Catherine, Tania, and Jane for their wonderful eyes and great support.

and

Bill and Rick for being my boys.

 

 

Chapter 1

 

“P
lease understand Elizabeth, this is for both of us.”   Darcy whispered as he took Elizabeth’s hand from the reverend and turned to face the altar.  He could feel her fear as the tremble in her body travelled down to her fingertips. Darcy wondered if she could feel his hand shaking as well.  Chancing a glance down to her, he studied her eyes: wide, dark, but focused, and as always, so beautiful.  He took a breath and drew strength from the slight woman at his side.

Elizabeth looked up to find Darcy’s blue eyes examining her.  She was aware of his eyes from the first moment she saw him at the Meryton Assembly. 
Was it only six weeks ago?
  Those penetrating, fathomless eyes had followed her every move: watching, examining, and she thought, judging her.  Perhaps he was.  But it was not a negative opinion that drove him to rise from his chair in the library.

 

Two weeks earlier, 16 November 1811.

 

After nearly a half-hour in silent companionship, while she attempted to read and he failed utterly to stop thinking of the knowledge that tortured him, Darcy heard the sound of Caroline Bingley’s grating voice as she approached with her sister and brothers and coming to a decision, brought Elizabeth along.  He sprung from his chair. 

Elizabeth startled when Darcy seized her hands, sending her book to the floor and Elizabeth up and into his arms.  Barely before she could take a breath, Darcy’s mouth found hers, and he kissed her.  A bolt of electricity travelled through them both.  Drawing back, he stared into her eyes.  “I promise; I will never hurt you.  Please accept this.”  Seeing her confusion he whispered again, “Please, Elizabeth.”  Darcy wrapped her tenderly in his embrace, holding her, cradling her. This was not a compromise of violence and demand; he was transmitting his care to her.  “Trust me.”  He waited, and then looked to the doorway as the group drew closer.

The eye contact broken, Elizabeth startled from her transfixed gaze and found her tongue.  “Sir . . . Mr. Darcy, what . . . what has come over you?”

Her voice was silenced by the exquisite feel of Darcy’s soft lips kissing her again.  Without thought, Elizabeth lifted her hands to grasp his shoulders.  Never in her life had she touched a man, let alone clung to him.  Every thought of disliking him was gone in the touch of his lips.  She did not understand.  She knew she should be fighting him, slapping his face, calling for help, but something in his eyes, his voice . . .
Trust me
, he asked.  Elizabeth Bennet had no reason in the world to trust Fitzwilliam Darcy, but she did, and her fate was sealed.

“Mr. Darcy!”  Caroline cried.

“Darcy, what are you doing!”  Bingley rushed into the room and stood impotent next to his friend who continued to kiss Elizabeth, and Elizabeth, who was so lost in the feeling, did absolutely nothing to stop him. 

At last Darcy ended his caress and drew away, looking only at the woman in his arms.  She felt him take a long deep breath and rest his forehead on hers.  “Thank you.”

“Mr. Darcy, quickly, nobody must know of this!”  Caroline urged and attempted to pull him away. 

Bingley grabbed his sister.  “Caroline, let go of him!”   

Darcy steadfastly held onto Elizabeth, and lifted his head.   “Miss Elizabeth Bennet.  I have just compromised you before witnesses.  I will go to your father and accept the responsibility that I must marry you.  Will you fight this or accept my hand and join me at Pemberley as my wife?”

“Marry me?”  Elizabeth blinked and tried to focus on what he had said.  “Marry
me
?”

“NO!”  Caroline screamed.

Darcy continued the unwavering gaze into Elizabeth’s eyes.  He read every emotion that she was feeling.  She could hide nothing when she gave him her eyes.  She was so frightened, and confused.  He saw anger and . . . curiosity.

“Are you certain of this, Mr. Darcy?  We could accept Miss Bingley’s offer to forget this ever happened.  An explanation would be wonderful as well, or at the least a declaration of
some
feeling.  Have you considered courting me or is that too conventional for you?”

“I cannot explain why here and now, but I promise you, I will tell you my reasons once we are wed.”  Darcy lifted his hand and caressed her soft blushing cheek with the back of his fingers.  “Will you be my wife?”

The room was silent, the occupants watching in frozen fascination as Elizabeth stared up to his gentle, serious, almost begging eyes.  It was all in his eyes.  Why had she not understood him before?  She smiled to herself,
Because we both open our mouths!
 His eyes lit up when she smiled and that settled the question. 

“I do not know why I am saying yes, Mr. Darcy, but . . . yes.  I will marry you.”  He smiled a little.  “But be aware sir, that I do expect an honest explanation.”

Darcy let her go and lifted her hand to his lips.  “I promise.  You shall have it.”  He turned to the witnesses.  “I am very pleased to announce my engagement to Miss Elizabeth Bennet.”

“Good Lord.”  Bingley whispered.

“If you will excuse me, I must go to Longbourn and speak to Mr. Bennet.”  He turned to Elizabeth. “Would you care to join me?”

“I believe that I must.  Papa will be in shock.  Not that I am terribly composed myself.”  She looked down to the very large warm hand that encompassed hers.  Her heart was pounding.  “May I tell Jane first?”

His thumb gently stroked over hers, reassuring her again with that delicate touch.  “Of course.  I will call for the carriage. Thank you for this honour.” 

Elizabeth looked back up to him, he was staring at her in a way she had noted so many times before, but now its meaning was evident.  He gave no voice to it, but the continued grip on her hand, almost painful in its intensity, told her that there was much to understand about this man she had agreed to marry.  And then he let go.

“Oh.”  She stumbled, and in a second she was back in his arms.  “I think that the shock is wearing off.”

“Perhaps I should walk you upstairs.”

“OUT!”  Caroline screeched.  “I want them out now!  I will NOT play hostess to this fallen woman and her fortune hunter sister a moment longer!”  She turned to Bingley.  “Get them out!”

“Fallen woman?”  Bingley at last woke from his trance.  “Who is that?  And who is a fortune hunter?”

“Elizabeth Bennet! She has used her wiles to blind Mr. Darcy!”  Caroline flew to his side and clutched his arm.  “Sir, I beseech you, do not fall prey to this woman!”

Darcy fixed his eyes on Caroline then looked down to her hand and back to her face.  She dropped his arm as if it were on fire.  “Miss Bingley, I compromised Miss Elizabeth.  I will not tolerate any talk that suggests she was in any way complicit.  Your insult of Miss Bennet is also entirely out of order.  How can you possibly proclaim a woman who has spent the past week bedridden a fortune hunter?  You should be ashamed of yourself, Miss Bingley.”

“Darcy . . .” Bingley wavered between defending his sister and supporting his friend.

“Forgive me, Mr. Darcy . . . I am justifiably shocked . . .”

“That
your
fortune hunting machinations have failed?”  Darcy said sharply.  “If I am blinded by anything, it has not affected my vision enough to not see what you have been hoping to achieve since I first met you.”  Caroline’s already flushed face developed a richer shade of red and she turned to her sister for comfort.  He looked to Bingley who closed his eyes with the truth of the statement.  Hurst remained in the background taking in the scene.  Darcy’s attention returned to Elizabeth, and his voice softened.  “Are you well?”

“Yes, I believe so.”  Elizabeth had been fascinated watching him silence Caroline’s tirade, and realizing that she was still resting in his arms, blushed anew.  His trace of a smile emerged.  She withdrew and he immediately let go.

“Good.”  Darcy placed her hand on his arm.  “I will take you upstairs.  I cannot risk you being injured, can I?”


Who
are you?”  She demanded. 

“Fitzwilliam George Darcy, your future husband.”  She saw the slightest hint of a twinkle appear in the depths of the blue gaze.

“What on earth have I done?”  She whispered.

Turning to Bingley, Darcy caught his eye.  “Since I am occupied, would you please ask for the carriage to be prepared for us?  Or if that is too much trouble, a gig would be fine.”

“Yes, of course, Darcy.”  Bingley watched them walk away.

“Sir, I cannot ride alone with you in a gig!  I would be considered . . .”

“Compromised?”  His lips twitched.

Elizabeth’s mouth opened in surprise then she lifted her hand to her lips to laugh.  “Oh, that was a ridiculous statement.  Have you thought of everything Mr. Darcy?”

“No, Miss Elizabeth, perhaps the greater plan . . . but these fine points astonish me as much as you, I think.”

Her brow shot up and she regained enough composure to begin her questions.  “What is this greater plan and further, when was it formed?”

He drew a breath and then stopped himself.  “After we wed.”

Instantly her fear returned.  “Sir, is there something in this that would turn me against you?”

“No, I would not think so.”  He said, considering her question seriously.

“But then, why . . .?”

“Trust me.”  He stopped and spoke very sincerely.  “Please.”

“But you find me hateful.”

Darcy’s mouth dropped open.  “Elizabeth!  I have said nothing of the sort!  I think that I have demonstrated quite clearly that I do not find you hateful.  How did that idea form?”

“I am tolerable but not handsome enough to tempt you?”  She looked to the floor and he stopped his movement to take both of her hands in his own.

“I hurt you and just promised that I never would.  Forgive me please, Elizabeth.  I spoke then without thinking.”

“Why did you?  I am afraid that my opinion of you was rather poor from that moment on and I voiced it to my family.”

“You do not like me?”  He said with genuine surprise.

Seeing his expression, she laughed.  “You truly need to discover some humility.  I am afraid that liking you was low on my priorities.  You seemed to search for reasons to point out my faults.”

“When have I done this?”  His brow creased and she became the subject of that intense stare again.

Exasperated, she let go and put her hands on her hips.  “Every time that we meet!  You argue with me, you stare . . . you . . . asked me to dance.”  She said slowly as realization came over her.

“Twice, as I recall.  And never anyone else, you may have noticed.”

“Oh.”

Darcy tilted his head as he watched her eyes opening her soul to him.  “Have you noticed Miss Bingley’s rather vindictive behaviour towards you?

“Yes”

“Have you noticed her rather bald attention towards me?”

“It is difficult to miss.”  She said dryly.

“Is there perhaps a connection in that?”  Darcy waited as she remained silent and was clearly considering every memory of Caroline Bingley.  Elizabeth’s hand went to her mouth.

“She is jealous?  Of your attention to me?  You have been …”

“Very poorly expressing my admiration for four weeks.”

“Poorly indeed if I never saw it.”

“You did not want to.  You were justifiably angry; however I think that you did see it because you returned it to me.”

BOOK: Imperative: Volume 1, A Tale of Pride and Prejudice
7.29Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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