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Abigail Reynolds - Impulse & Initiative - Free ebook download as PDF File .pdf) or read book online for free. Romance. Mr. Darcy's Noble Connections By Abigail Reynolds Text copyright (c) by Abigail Reynolds All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book. I could only choose one version to publish, but so many readers have requested copies of The Rule of Reason that I decided to make the pdf.


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Buy The Rule of Reason by Abigail Reynolds (eBook) online at Lulu. Visit the Lulu eBook (PDF), Pages. (5 Ratings). The Rule of Reason. Abigail Reynolds. curtsey. “I fear that I lost all track of time in my rambling.” “It is hardly a matter of concern, Miss Bennet,” he replied amiably. Abigail Reynolds is a physician and a lifelong Jane Austen enthusiast. She began writing the Pride and Prejudice Variations series in , and encouragement.

After many hours of agonizing over this question, she finally admitted to herself that she would have no means to answer it until her return—if he departed Netherfield again prior to that, she could have no further doubt that he was avoiding her. He managed the semblance of a civil nod to Elizabeth and the rest of her party before forcing his feet to carry him away from the woman who had so bewitched him. He laughed heartily. I wish to be contacted with the results of the investigation. Opublikowany She noticed that he appeared flustered, and she quickly gathered up the music into a neat pile before joining him. Elizabeth longed to tell him that she had no intention of going near Mr.

The first third of the books are virtually identical, but after that the plots diverge substantially. I'm making this available at the request of several readers, but it won't be sold outside Lulu. As a result, they do not marry in Derbyshire, and the action that follows is quite different. This book, like From Lambton to Longbourn, contains no graphic scenes. How can I use this format?

Lulu Sales Rank: Log in to rate this item. You must be logged in to post a review. Please log in. By lcookie. While Impulse and Initiative was not my favorite Abigail Reynolds'books, I think it was much better than the rule of reason. However, it was nice to meet my favorite two once again. Report as inappropriate.

Im a big fan of abigail reynolds pemberley variations, and this book was no exception. By Christina Boyd. Rule of Reason has all the passion and love of Impulse and Initiative but also shows stronger character and resolve in both Elizabeth and Darcy.

As they do not submit entirely to their passions, this author successfully translates the power and sensualality of a lover's first kiss and in controlling one's ardor. I just love how she puts our beloved characters in different scenarios and seeing what decisions they might choose.

True to the author's talents, this latest publication is a pager tuner and I confidently recommend another from the Pemberley Variations of what if's. There are no reviews for previous versions of this product. First Name. Last Name. Additional Comments. Moderation of Questionable Content Thank you for your interest in helping us moderate questionable content on Lulu.

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Maria Lucas chattered on for some time about the elegance of Miss Darcy, but Elizabeth was scarcely listening; her thoughts had returned to Mr. The following morning Elizabeth dressed for church slowly but with unusual care; her desire to avoid the occasion completely was great, but she knew that her absence would be noted and that she could not plead a headache forever.

Surely we can meet for the brief time needed at church as indifferent acquaintances, she thought, but her anxiety would not be quieted. She was still far from certain of what she thought of Mr. His letter, she was in a fair way of knowing by heart. She had studied every sentence, and her feelings towards its writer were at times widely different. When she remembered the style of his address, she was still full of indignation; but, when she considered how unjustly she had condemned and upbraided him, her anger was turned against herself, and his disappointed feelings became the object of compassion.

His attachment excited gratitude, his general character respect; but she could not approve him; nor could she for a moment repent her refusal or feel the slightest inclination to continue the acquaintance. In her own past behaviour, there was a constant source of vexation and regret and, in the unhappy defects of her family, a subject of yet heavier chagrin.

They were hopeless of remedy. Her father, contented with laughing at them, would never exert himself to restrain the wild giddiness of his youngest daughters; and her mother, with manners so far from right herself, was entirely insensible of the evil.

They were ignorant, idle, and vain. While there was an officer in Meryton, they would flirt with him; and, while Meryton was within a walk of Longbourn, they would be going there for ever. She was no less severe on her own defects. For the first time, she was grateful to have no fortune of her own—if she had, she should have been in extreme danger from Mr.

Wickham and likely would have found herself married to him before discovering him to be a dishonest wastrel. She could not bear the humiliating notion that Darcy knew this of her—he might forgive the fault in his sister, who was only fifteen, but she had no such excuse of tender age for her folly. His affection was proved to have been sincere, and his conduct cleared of all blame, unless any could attach to the implicitness of his confidence in his friend.

How grievous then was the thought that, of a situation so desirable in every respect, so replete with advantage, so promising for happiness, Jane had been deprived by the folly and indecorum of her own family!

She was mortified at the prospect of having to see Darcy—he who knew just how much of a gullible fool she had been. She had thought so highly of her own perspicacity, and now she knew herself to be quite lacking in that regard. Not only had she been wholly taken in by Wickham and predisposed to find reasons to dislike Darcy, she had also completely failed to observe any sign of his increasing attachment to her in time to circumvent the disaster of his proposal.

Of course, it was true that she did have a certain regard for his incisive intelligence, otherwise she would never have entered on the subject. Oh, how had she missed it? Make haste, make haste! Collins the bright smile she was intending to wear in church. Charlotte gave her a sharp glance, but interpreted her artificial behaviour as a response to the scurrying of Mr. Collins scolded. Any tardiness on our part would be looked on with great disapproval and hardly show respect for the condescension she has demonstrated toward you!

She felt ill as she thought on the folly and indecorum of her own family and how it reflected on her, and how materially it had affected both her and Jane. But the style of his address during his proposal, and indeed throughout their acquaintance, deserved censure.

No, that was not quite true either, her sense of fairness forced her to admit. He had been insulting and excessively proud on some occasions, but in most of their meetings she had nothing worse to accuse him of than being overly quiet.

Yet another failure on my part, she thought. Collins was voluble in his relief when they discovered that the Rosings party had not yet arrived at the church, and he hurried off to prepare himself for the service, leaving Charlotte to fend for herself in greeting the parishioners. Elizabeth, equally relieved although for quite a different reason, found her heart pounding each time she heard a carriage pull up outside.

She had not long to wait; soon Lady Catherine swept in, her party following in her wake. Elizabeth politely expressed her pleasure in making the acquaintance. When it came time for her to greet the rest of the party, she found that she could not bring herself to look directly at Darcy; she made her curtsey with her eyes firmly fixed on his cravat, and she knew that her cheeks must She managed to keep her polite smile on her face, however, and was able to greet Colonel Fitzwilliam and Miss Darcy with tolerable composure.

As she attended to her ladyship, though, she began to despise herself for her cowardice. That she had expected scorn and anger did not lessen the distress Elizabeth felt on seeing it on his face. She thought of how he had said that his good opinion, once lost, was lost forever. How he must be congratulating himself for his near escape from a woman of so little perception and judgment!

When she chanced to raise her eyes to his face again, unable to resist the painful impulse of curiosity, she found him looking on no object but the ground.

It was with the greatest of relief that she heard Lady Catherine pronounce that it was time for the service to begin. Elizabeth was grateful that she was seated behind Mr. Darcy, where she need not fear his incisive gaze. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.

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How he must regret those words, those sentiments which had led to his harsh and unfair castigation at her hands! In addition to blindness and prejudice, she was also obliged to claim cruelty and shorttemperedness among her many faults. Her eyes drifted to him—the tousled dark curls against the brilliant white of his cravat as he sat proudly upright in the pew.

She could not deny that he was handsome; she had acknowledged that even at the Meryton assembly when she first saw him. It was only his insulting behaviour and forbidding countenance on that occasion that had led her to disregard the appeal of his appearance. But good looks and a good fortune could not by themselves determine a good husband. In vain have I struggled. It will not do.

Although she wished she had dealt differently with his proposal, when she thought of his humiliating references to how greatly he had striven to rid himself of his feelings for her, she could not bring herself to regret her An image came to her of his intent gaze as it had so often rested on her, and unaccountably she shivered, wondering at his thoughts on seeing her again. The object of her thoughts was at that moment brooding on the question of whether his life could possibly become any worse.

If that were not enough, he had to suffer through the sycophantic ramblings that her idiot of a cousin considered a sermon—a reminder of just how low he had sunk in offering her marriage. He had spent the last two days struggling to convince himself that the Elizabeth Bennet he had loved was a figment of his imagination; he had never known the real Elizabeth Bennet at all, she of the cruel and spiteful words and the misjudgments.

She was as misguided and capricious as all the other women he had known. He had taken her fine eyes and wit and spun them into a fantasy of a woman of real sense and feeling who would understand him, and now he knew that no such woman had ever existed. He was mortified for himself and furious with her, and the worst of it was that the instant he had laid eyes on her again, standing in front of the church, he had wanted her every bit as much as he ever had.

He hated her for her power over him and despised himself for a weak fool. As attuned to her presence as he was, he could not fail to notice that she was lacking her usual sparkle that morning. She would end up a poor spinster, dependent on the charity of her family, or married to some ignorant pig of a tradesman, she who could have been mistress of Pemberley. He could see that Georgiana was looking at him strangely.

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He took a deep breath to calm himself and forced a pleasant smile to his face, at which point she resumed the sullen expression that she had worn ever since her arrival, a reminder of her obvious disappointment with him for his inability to make all her problems disappear.

What had happened to the sweet, docile girl she had been? Sometimes he could still see that girl, but more often these days she seemed angry with him about one thing or another.

Colonel Fitzwilliam thought it was but a matter of her being at a trying age, but Darcy could not help suspecting that the whole George Wickham affair had something to do with it.

Georgiana could not know, of course, how harshly he continued to castigate himself for his error in choosing Mrs. Younge as her companion. The thought brought back the all too familiar refrain of reproaches: Why did I not question her references further?

Why did I allow myself to believe that her amiable manner implied impeccable morals? Why did I send Georgiana off with her so quickly, instead of keeping her under my observation for a longer period of time? Why did I give in and agree to let Georgiana have her own establishment in the first place when she was still so young? The entire situation was wholly my fault. No, on the whole, Darcy did not think that his life could be substantially worse.

He was forced to reconsider this a few minutes later when he heard his aunt issue an invitation to Mr. Collins and his party to come to Rosings that evening. He ought to have expected as much; she had done so the previous two Sundays as well, but he had thought that with so much of her family around her, her interest in having her pet clergyman fawn over her would be diminished.

Apparently he was to have no such reprieve, and he was beginning to think of the excuses he could make when he saw Elizabeth turn her head away in an attempt to hide her distress at the idea, He damned himself for his susceptibility to her. Remember, she thinks you devoid of every proper feeling and completely lacking in honour, he reminded himself. She is nothing but a silly girl who would throw away an opportunity most women spend their lives dreaming of because she was offended by your honest scruples.

Darcy, if you suppose that the mode of your declaration affected me in any other way, than as it spared me the concern which I might have felt in refusing you, had you behaved in a more gentleman-like manner. He wondered whether such a turn of events constituted a tragedy or a farce. He managed the semblance of a civil nod to Elizabeth and the rest of her party before forcing his feet to carry him away from the woman who had so bewitched him.

Elizabeth felt quite unequal to company following the painful excursion to church, and knowing that she would be required to face an even more excruciating version of the same torture that evening, resolved to take some time to herself for reflection in her favourite manner.

Her feet led her without conscious thought to her favourite grove. On recognizing where she was, she felt a moment of panic, knowing now that it was where Darcy had often sought her out in the past.

She realized, though, that she was quite safe, as there would be no place that he would more fervently avoid at present. He had, after all, made the state of his current regard for her more than clear, that his feelings were cause for shame and could not be forgotten too soon. His cold look in church demonstrated that he had lost no time in putting those tender feelings behind him. She could not blame him; she certainly deserved no special notice after she had abused him so abominably.

Her sense of shame over her behaviour led directly to thoughts of the unhappy defects of her family, the subject of yet heavier chagrin.

She burst She was sufficiently deep in her own distress as to be unaware of approaching footsteps. Darcy stopped short at the sight of her across the grove, immediately thinking to leave before he was observed. At the realization that she was weeping, however, he was torn by uncertainty. He could not be sure of the cause of her distress, but it could be assumed to relate to his disastrous proposal. A part of him longed to go to her and comfort her, while at the same time it felt only proper that she ought to suffer as he did.

Nor could he expect her to welcome his attempts to relieve her distress— she had made it perfectly clear what she thought of him, and he would be the last man she would wish to offer her solace. With an unfamiliar sensation of helplessness, he realized there was nothing he could offer her for her present distress.

The question in his mind, however, was as to why she was upset. He was the rejected suitor; he was the one misjudged and falsely accused. The answer was not long in coming; with a bitter taste in his mouth, he realized that her tears had nothing to do with him at all but must represent the pain of her disillusionment over Wickham. Her feelings for him must have been more tender than Darcy had ever considered, and a surge of hatred rose in him.

Was it not enough that Wickham had injured his beloved sister, without taking away the woman he loved as well? The thought that his actions could be seen in such a light was acutely disturbing, the more so because he could not even defend himself against the charge. Whatever his motives, concern for the feelings of Jane Bennet had never entered his head, only the advantages he perceived for Bingley and for himself in their separation.

His heart aching, he turned and retreated as quietly as possible to reflect upon his painful realizations—his Elizabeth, so deeply involved with Wickham as to be devastated by his revelations about her favourite, and her right to despise him as being no better than Wickham himself. How was he ever to face her? How was he to live with the knowledge that she would never be his?

Elizabeth knew it was hopeless to think she could appear even tolerably cheerful at Rosings that night, and had settled it with herself that merely maintaining her composure would be enough of a goal. That she was quieter than usual was not immediately a problem; Lady Catherine was perfectly capable of handling the conversation without input from anyone, and it appeared that this was a tendency Lord Derby shared with his sister. Darcy gave no visible reaction to her arrival, though she noticed that he quickly abandoned his seat opposite her to walk behind her where she could not see him.

You are making me quite dizzy! He ignored her further directives to sit down immediately by Anne. I have realized that there is the risk that one might hold them on the basis of false information, which could lead to regrettable circumstances. Was that how he sounded to Elizabeth?

I should be pleased to hear you play now. I could not possibly play before all these people. You play quite acceptably, though perhaps not quite so well as my Anne would have had she had the chance to learn.

I must insist that you play for us. You are my niece, and I refuse to believe you unable to perform before a small family party! Elizabeth had never seen Lady Catherine in a mood quite as vindictive as tonight, and her heart went out to Miss Darcy, who was clearly petrified.

She could not even bring herself to answer, and tears were beginning to gather in her eyes. That is no way to help her!

Elizabeth could not understand the precise nature of the problem at hand, but she could see that Miss Darcy was on the verge of losing her composure completely. With sudden resolve, Elizabeth fixed her eyes firmly on Darcy, willing him to look her way.

As if drawn by a magnet, his gaze turned to her. She gestured slightly with her head toward the piano-forte. Elizabeth stood before any objection could be raised. Miss Darcy, might I impose upon you to turn the pages for me? As they sat down to the instrument, Elizabeth began paging through the sheet music. Elizabeth turned to her with a smile. Before her playing could begin to cast its usual spell on him, he looked straight at her to remind himself of the accusations she had made, and the familiar rush of anger at her wilful misunderstanding of his nature filled him once again.

If she would only practice more, I believe that she would be a pleasant performer. With these thoughts, she continued to play till it was time for her party to return home. Colonel Fitzwilliam and Miss Darcy called again at the parsonage the following day. Georgiana was anxious to spend time with her new idol.

Although under ordinary circumstances Elizabeth would have enjoyed her company, Georgiana continued to be an unpleasant reminder of her brother.

With her mind so occupied, it was difficult for Elizabeth to retain her concentration. Reflection must be reserved for solitary hours; whenever she was alone, she gave way to it as the greatest relief; and not a day went by without a solitary walk in which she might indulge in all the delight of unpleasant recollections.

Thus it came to pass that the morrow found Elizabeth slowly making her way to Rosings, hoping against hope for the absence of Mr. On her arrival, she was shown to a mercifully empty parlour while a servant went to locate Miss Darcy. To calm her nerves, she picked up a book lying on a table. Finding it to be a volume of poetry she had an interest in reading, she took it over to the window for better light and began to leaf through it.

Unaware of her presence in the room, Darcy entered, and was immediately captivated by the picture she made, her dark curls framed by the sunlight pouring in the window.

Her lips were moving as she read, clearly tasting the metre and the rhythm of the poetry. He could not look away, all his anger with her momentarily drowned by his need to touch her face and kiss those lips. Warned by some sense that she was no longer alone, Elizabeth looked up to discover Darcy, his dark eyes intent on her with a meaning she could not comprehend.

A becoming flush stole up her cheeks at what he must Say something, damn it! I was merely looking for my book. She closed it quickly and held it out in his direction. She had once again undercut his equanimity, and it was hard to recall why he had been so angry with her when she was before him. Wordsworth and Mr. Coleridge, and how they have been transforming the art of poetry. Monkhouse, whose cousin is married to Mr. She heard the surprise and the chill in his voice.

Since he had made no move to take the book from her, she set it down on the neutral territory of a small table. You might enjoy Lyrical Ballads by Coleridge and Wordsworth as well—that was their first published work.

I am interested to see where Mr. Wordsworth goes with his current work in progress. What do you think of it? Elizabeth heard his discomfort and misinterpreted it. Darcy, but we must be realistic, must we not?

Wordsworth himself, but of course, he is merely in trade and could not be expected to have such sensibilities. Is it not a degradation for you, Mr. Darcy, to even discuss this with me? What would your family think? Darcy, stunned by this unexpected attack, put out a hand to stop her flight.

It had never occurred to him that she might feel wounded by what he saw as his factual recitation of the gulf between them. You fool! Did you learn nothing from that horrible night? She wants nothing to do with you; how much clearer can she be? The conclusion was as intolerable as ever. Even Georgiana could not be blind to the tension in the room as Darcy bowed silently and exited.

However, as she could think of no possible source of disagreement between her brother and her new friend, she quickly dismissed the incident from her mind. Elizabeth could not forget it so easily—her sense of humiliation could not have been any greater than it was after her outburst at Darcy. It was dreadful enough that he thought those things of her; to have him know how much his scorn for her family disturbed her was worse.

She was furious with herself for displaying her vulnerability to his criticism and could not begin to imagine what he must be thinking of her now. No sooner had she left Rosings after her visit with Miss Darcy than she resolved that under no circumstances would she ever set foot there again.

If she had to lay abed pleading illness until her departure for London, she would do so. Elizabeth, whose spirits had been troubled by memories of her humiliating quarrel with Mr. Darcy, was pleased to accept the distraction.

Of course, that is tantamount to taking her away from Darcy forever—he would have little say in her future or in choosing her future However, Darcy is absolutely determined that she should remain in his care, and Georgiana has no interest in this new plan either. He is extremely devoted to her, you know. Darcy has spent years ignoring her hints and demands about Anne, but for some reason he decided this time to tell her that he was not going to marry Anne, now or ever.

Darcy to decide as her guardians? Darcy takes family loyalty very seriously—you may be certain that he would not choose to visit Rosings each year if he did not! I hope it will be resolved soon, for his sake, if nothing else. This has troubled him even more than I would have anticipated. Are you in agreement with Lord Derby? She felt a surprising moment of sympathy for Darcy—if the incident was, as she suspected, the intended elopement with Wickham, he would find it bitter indeed to be blamed for failing to prevent it completely.

She saw an image of his white face after her outburst the previous day, and she could not help thinking that the timing could not have been worse for him, coming just after her refusal and accusations of cruelty to Wickham. Despite the tenor of his proposal, one could only assume that he would be feeling disappointment, and he was certainly entitled to injured feelings from her unjust accusations.

And then yesterday, I had to attack him again, when he He must think me most unfeeling, and he would without doubt be within his rights! An unhappy sense of shame filled her.

Are you well? Elizabeth returned abruptly to the present.

Abigail Reynolds

She is all that remains of his family, is she not? I do not believe that I have ever seen Darcy quite as unhappy as he has been these last few days.

By the time this visit is ended, I wonder whether there will be any part of my character that I find acceptable, she thought bleakly. At least this suggests that he is unaware of Mr. Had I his opportunities, I should not be so difficult to please. This is a complication that I certainly do not need, she thought. Quite apart from his wealth and lineage, he is of good character, honest, generous, loyal to a fault, well-educated and intelligent.

What more could a woman desire? Wickham had given Darcy credit for a similar set of virtues, but only among those he found his equals in consequence. He laughed heartily. It is a fault, to be sure, but hardly a fatal one.

When Mr. Elizabeth spent a brief time wondering whether she could manage to avoid the occasion by using the excuse of illness once more, but concluded grimly that Mr. Therefore, to Rosings she would go; and, through the remainder of the day, her mind rarely drifted from the question of how she should behave when faced once again with Mr. These same meditations at length closed her eyes that night; and, by the following day, she was no nearer resolution than when she had begun, but even more apprehensive.

She could not recall the last time she had been in low spirits for such a time as this. Her thoughts travelled from the unfeeling mode of his declaration to the pained look on his face when she had confronted him, to No matter how she tried to justify her behaviour, she could find no way to exculpate herself for causing him significant pain and distress, something she would have earlier found it hard to imagine him to be capable of feeling.

She had always known that she was not so tender-hearted as Jane, but to find herself so insensitive as to have completely neglected the effects of her refusal on Mr.

Darcy was unpleasant. It rankled that his proud behaviour had led so directly to her humbling realization of her own failings, and there were moments when she could almost feel glad that he was suffering along with her.

But her native sense of justice and fairness would not allow that sentiment to persist for long, and she kept returning to the knowledge of how greatly her perception had failed her in this instance.

At length she resolved to do her best to meet him with civility and kindness as she would any other person she knew to be suffering, though she remained uncertain of her true ability in this regard.

She would have been startled to discover Darcy was facing a similar struggle. Her words from their more recent meeting had joined those of their ill-fated encounter in the parsonage in echoing constantly in his ears.

He kept seeing her face, bereft of its usual laughter, with her fine eyes filling with tears—tears he had caused. Until that moment, the thought that she might have been wounded rather than complimented by his addresses had never crossed his mind.

He could not understand when he had become so unfeeling; he had always thought of himself as one who put a concern for others before his own, but strict self-examination was showing him that he applied this rule only to those people who were closest to him. Had his disregard grown with each experience of a woman who made it clear that marriage to him would be her greatest achievement?

Had he in fact come to believe that he was so much the centre of the universe as to honour anyone by the bestowal of his regard, no matter how insultingly given? Although he could not admit complete dissatisfaction with the fact that, her words Yet, at other moments his anger with her would once again overtake him, and he would remind himself that he had said nothing to her that was not true.

To these feelings was added yet one more kind—those generated by his knowledge that she would be leaving Kent in a few days, and that this dinner might well be the last time he was ever to lay eyes upon her. For every part of him that applauded the chance to flee the humiliation of her refusal and the pain of seeing her while knowing she would never be his, there were other parts which fought desperately against allowing her to slip completely out of his world.

The thought of never seeing her again—her laughter, her liveliness, her natural grace and vivacity—left him with a profound feeling of emptiness. The moment he had alternately been dreading and longing for finally came with the arrival of the Hunsford party.

It was immediately obvious to him that Elizabeth was quite subdued; this was the first time he had seen her in company when she was not at least making an effort toward displaying her usual vivacity. He caught her stealing a glance at him—was there a trace of warmth in that look, or was it only his wishes speaking? He felt a surprising wave of tenderness as she dropped her eyes again, allowing himself the pleasure of it for a moment before berating himself for falling into her wiles once again.

He took his old accustomed seat slightly away from her, from which he could see her clearly; he had avoided it since that night at Hunsford. Colonel Fitzwilliam as usual sat beside her, attempting to engage her in conversation. Darcy was too far away to hear her quiet responses, but was not displeased to see that she did not enter into the exchange in the animated manner she typically used with his cousin.

As if able to hear his thoughts, she glanced up at him again, looking away almost immediately. Lady Catherine observed after dinner that Miss Bennet seemed out of spirits, and immediately accounting for it herself by supposing that she did Collins will be very glad of your company, I am sure.

I must be in town next Saturday. I expected you to stay two months. I told Mrs. Collins so before you came. There can be no occasion for your going so soon.

Bennet could certainly spare you for another fortnight. And if you will stay another month complete, it will be in my power to take you as far as London, for I am going there early in June, for a week; and as Dawson does not object to the Barouche box, there will be very good room for you. It would mean a great deal to Georgiana. I am sure that we could arrange your transportation.

He met her gaze with a level, serious look. What could be his purpose? She was bewildered by his words. His expression did not speak of any desire for her company, and certainly he could hardly wish for her presence after all that had passed between them. Yes, that must be the explanation, she thought. His steady gaze disconcerted her. She tried to find the words to form an objection, and found herself uncomfortably close to tears.

Collins will have me, I will stay another week. Elizabeth gratefully seized the distraction. Was he such a glutton for punishment that he needed further reminders of her scorn and dislike for him?

Tonight had been the first time that he had not felt pain and hostility radiating from her—was he so desperate as to take that as a positive sign? Good God! What am I thinking? She has shown herself to be everything I could have feared; prejudiced, lacking in basic courtesy, selfcontrol, and decorum—I will not regret her, I will not!

An image came to him of Elizabeth sitting with Georgiana at the piano-forte, cajoling a smile out of her despite her own apparent lack of spirits, and he closed his eyes in pain for a moment. He wondered what Elizabeth was thinking, what she had made of his request, and above all why she had acquiesced to it when she had refused all the others. Her expression provided no clue; although warm colour continued to reign in her cheeks, she appeared to be purposefully avoiding his gaze, turning her attention only to Georgiana and as required to Lady Catherine.

Georgiana, delighted to have succeeded in her venture to obtain the continued presence of Elizabeth in Kent, was nonetheless determined to avoid a repetition of her humiliation on the occasion of the previous visit of the Hunsford party.

She asked of Lady Catherine her permission to retire early, pleading a great fatigue. She thought to cast a reassuring glance at her brother, knowing his often irritating tendency to fret over her every move, but she found him gazing absently across the room, her request clearly not She felt a twinge of annoyance at his apparent disinterest. Darcy observed her smiling acquiescence. She was troubled by his actions—he could easily have avoided this unnecessary closeness, and from the expression on his face, he was by no means delighted to find himself in this position.

If his intent is to cause me unease, he is certainly succeeding! She made an effort to focus her attention on selecting from the sheet music available, as if she had not already inspected it sufficiently frequently so as to know it from memory.

Recalling with an effort her resolve to treat him with civil kindness despite her own feelings, she took several deep breaths before summoning her courage sufficiently to turn to him with a smile.

Haydn or Mozart? How would she react if I told her that I cared not what music she played, so long as she continued to smile at me? Recognizing with a start that he had been silent too long, he hastened to express a preference for Mozart. The scent of rosewater drifted past him, and he felt a wave of desire for her.

It was truly unfair, he thought, that he should still find her so bewitching despite her behaviour towards him. His eyes lingered on her profile as He admired the slender, tapering fingers dancing across the keyboard and imagined them touching his face, stroking his arm, bringing him to one pleasure after another.

She glanced over at him when she neared the end of the page and found a serious look on his face. Brought back to the moment, he reached past her to turn the page. The painful exhilaration of her closeness could not be denied, and he ached for the relief only she could bring him, all the while knowing that his desires were never to be fulfilled.

Unable to control himself, he allowed his arm to brush against hers, seemingly by accident, as he resumed his seat. Elizabeth was finding it nearly impossible to focus on her performance, and grew more anxious with each mistake she made. She was certain that Darcy was noting her errors and her discomposure, and redoubled her efforts to keep his presence from her mind, but with little success.

The shock of sensation she felt when his sleeve touched her skin caused her to stumble in her playing, but she resisted the urge to glance in his direction to see if he had noted her confusion.

By the time she came to the end of the piece, her cheeks were quite flushed. Without looking up, she sought out the simplest of the scores for her next effort. Her rescue came from an unexpected source. Collins in surprise; usually they stayed much later. She noticed that he appeared flustered, and she quickly gathered up the music into a neat pile before joining him. She glanced at Darcy from under her lashes, but his expression was unreadable.

They had no sooner arrived at the parsonage after a cold adieu from Lady Catherine when Charlotte drew her aside from the others. I beg you to be careful; her wrath could quite easily move from you to Mr. We barely spoke all evening!

Lizzy, I cannot claim to understand what is happening between the two of you, but I am not I know he does not call here anymore, and I am no doubt happier not knowing if you are meeting clandestinely elsewhere, but you are playing a dangerous game, doing this under the eyes of his entire family.

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You must know they would not approve his interest in you. Darcy does not call here anymore because he and I quarrelled, and I assure you that I am the last person whose company he would seek out.

If you are sensing something between us, it is hostility, not affection. I know that you have never wished to acknowledge his interest, and I must respect that; but, for your own sake, I feel obliged to recommend that you take this courtship far away from his family, or you may risk being disappointed.

One fine day when Miss Darcy called, Elizabeth suggested walking out. Charlotte claimed that she could not be spared from her work, and Maria was not in the habit of walking, so the remaining two set off together. They followed the pathways into Rosings Park, Elizabeth making an effort to They had not long been out when they spotted a gentleman at a distance.

A disturbance of a different sort was taking place inside her at the idea of encountering him, and she struggled for equanimity despite the fluttering of her pulses as they approached him. Elizabeth looked away as he took his place between them. He inquired civilly after the Collinses and, after receiving her none too articulate response, asked after her own plans, noting that it had been some time since he had seen her.

She noted with amusement that he seemed no more at ease than she; when he spoke, his accent had none of its usual sedateness.

She stole a sly glance at Darcy, to see how he bore it; he sustained it however with fortitude. Her teasing spirit could not help but to try him a little further. My aunt is originally from Derbyshire, in fact, not far from Pemberley. He has no idea how very low my connections can go.

Her father was a tailor there. She saw Georgiana glance up at Darcy in embarrassment as if seeking Feeling an odd disappointment at his lack of response, Elizabeth began to wonder if he had in fact begun to put his affection for her to rest.

She and my uncle are a very good match in that way. Elizabeth looked over at him, meeting his gaze squarely. I find the idea of your participating in a discussion of Wordsworth a particularly intriguing one, since it strikes me that your minds are of a remarkably similar bent. I imagine the two of you more on the banks of the Wye than in a London parlour, though. Did he truly think of her while reading poetry? It should be his place to take her to the Lakes, his should be the figure to stand beside her on the banks of the Wye.

He somehow forced himself to continue. As Therefore am I still A lover of the meadows and the woods, And mountains; and of all that we behold From this green earth; of all the mighty world Of eye, and ear,—both what they half create, And what perceive; well pleased to recognize In nature and the language of the sense, The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse, The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul Of all my moral being. He stared off into space as he spoke simply but powerfully, but Elizabeth knew his words were addressed directly to her.

She could not help but be moved by the vision of this proud man thinking of her as he read, and by the image he had shared. She bit her lip, realizing how much of him she did not know, and how greatly she had misinterpreted him. Georgiana, catching some of the intimacy of the moment, looked first at her brother, then at Elizabeth, whose eyes were directed towards the ground, an abstracted look upon her face.

Had she only heard their words, and been unable to see them, she would have thought it a romantic moment, but with both looking so distant and solemn, it did not seem to be such at all.

She was completely baffled by his behaviour, and by the way in which Elizabeth, who called the indomitable Lady Catherine to account, seemed to be deferring to Darcy over some matter beyond her understanding. Elizabeth felt ill-equipped to handle the feelings arising in her at that moment. She hardly knew what to say; yet, with each passing moment, the silence became heavier. And if he is, her heart whispered, how will you accept it?

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Darcy was himself even less certain of his own motivation for revealing so much of himself. It was not so much a conscious decision as a need to unburden himself of the thoughts and feelings that had haunted him for months and confess them to the only person who could offer him absolution. He was unsure whether it was an attempt to cause her to think better of him or, by airing his feelings in public, to bring them to a sort of closure. He gave her a sidelong glance; it was apparent that she felt uncomfortable, but she did not appear distressed.

It is rather more than you deserve, he told himself sternly. Elizabeth turned to Georgiana. Embarrassed, she glanced away. Had she been able to He heard the apology inherent in her words, and realized with a touch of surprise that he had already forgiven her for her harsh words and accusations.

She felt tears pricking at the corners of her eyes, and realized she was glad it seemed that they were to be able to establish peace between themselves before saying their goodbyes.

Fitzwilliam, perhaps we should return to the house. Darcy looked from Georgiana to Elizabeth in painful indecision. In any other circumstance, he would have stopped everything to attend to his sister, but he was exceedingly loath to leave Elizabeth when she seemed inclined to hear him out, with so much only partially resolved.

He recalled that Elizabeth would be leaving Kent in only a few days, and found that he had already taken his decision. Once Georgiana was safely, if somewhat irritably, ensconced at Rosings, they walked on in complete silence, a strained silence rather than one of companionability. Elizabeth thought several times to initiate a conversation to diffuse the tension, but fear over what Darcy might say if they were to speak held her back.

Darcy was far too unsure of his wishes to feel prepared to communicate, or perhaps it would have been more accurate to say that those desires of which he was certain were those which he knew to be the least acceptable. The longer the silence persisted, the greater the sense of discomfort Elizabeth felt.

She began to run her hands through the leaves of the bushes beside the path to distract herself, but that immediately brought to mind his earlier comments about nature. She scolded herself for her nerves and forced herself to pause as she usually did under the branches of a lateblooming wild cherry.

Leaning her head over a low hanging bough, she closed her eyes and calmed herself with the sweet scent. She was completely unaware of the enchanting picture she presented, framed by snowy blossoms, a slight smile of pleasure touching her lips. The sight of her held Darcy rapt, and he involuntarily took a step toward her. Opening her eyes, she found his gaze upon her in a manner which caused her pulses to flutter. She had never looked so closely into his dark eyes, and she discovered that their depths had the power to trap her.

In an effort to break the spell of the moment, she said the first thing that came to her mind. She knew that she should rebuke his familiarity, but she seemed frozen Without knowing what she did, Elizabeth closed her eyes against the sight of him, and a moment later she felt his warm breath against her cheek, followed by the gentle pressure of his lips upon hers.

A shock of exquisite sensation ran through her. She had never before experienced such a delectable feeling, and was astonished by the pleasure that the caresses of his lips brought to her. There was no past or future in that moment, no remembrance of their contentious history, just awareness of the heat of desire flaring between them.

Darcy, already scarcely able to believe that he was in fact finally claiming her lips, felt any remaining judgment disappear at the evidence of her response. The pleasure he found in her kiss was even more intense than he had ever imagined, and he had certainly imagined it often enough.

Driven by a need beyond his control, he began to express more of the urgency he felt in his kisses, feeling her hesitancy move into acquiescence as the pleasure he brought her drew her onward. Elizabeth felt lost in a whirl of pure sensation. She was discovering a need she had never known that she possessed, and it seemed that only he could meet it. She gasped as his fingers touched the tender skin of her neck, leaving a trail of fire as they moved to cradle the back of her head.

She could not say how her hands had found their way to his shoulders, but the sense of his strength beneath them made her long for his embrace, and the intimate sensation of his other hand on her waist only intensified her yearning. It was her increasing desire that brought to her attention the complete impropriety—nay, the insanity—of her behaviour. Her eyes flew open, but even upon this realization she could not immediately tear herself away from the intoxicating sensation of his lips upon hers, not when his kisses and caresses were sending rushes of a pleasure completely new to her through her body.

It was only a sudden sense of shame that gave her the strength of will to push herself away from him. What folly could possibly be inducing her to permit such advances from any man, much less Mr.

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The look of horror on her face told him everything he needed to know. He knew that her rebuke was fully merited, but His mouth set in grim lines, and the apology that he knew he should make seemed caught in his throat. Elizabeth saw the coldness descend on his face, and knew not whether she was more injured or angered by it. He watched as she turned and walked away rapidly, finally breaking into a run just before she disappeared around the bend.

What had possessed him to kiss her, to ruin the brief moment of amicability they had shared earlier? Do you need it engraved upon you? She wants nothing to do with you! Elizabeth ran until she could go no further, finally collapsing against a tree to catch her breath. Her flight had taken her away from him, but unfortunately she could not leave her feelings behind so easily.

She leaned her head back, wondering what on earth had come over her to allow him to kiss her, to want his kisses. She had never felt such wanton desires before, and could not comprehend how Mr. Darcy, who had angered and injured her so deeply, could possibly be the recipient of them. She told herself firmly that it was only the moment that had led to her unacceptable behaviour, but her honesty forced her to admit that it was he, more than the moment, that drew her.

She began to walk again in the direction of the parsonage. How could she have travelled from a place of such fervent dislike to feeling an incomprehensible attraction for him? She had known him for many months without feeling he had any particular appeal; why should it change now? Her steps slowed as she came to the startling realization that she had never been honest with herself about him—that the very degree of offence that she had taken at his insulting words at the Meryton assembly had been an indication of her sense of his magnetism, and she realized that in tak As she realized the implications of her self-deception, her sense of distress grew.

She would not have blinded herself to the growing evidence of his attraction to her—evidence that even Charlotte was able to see. An unwilling smile began to tug at the corners of her mouth as she recognized that Darcy himself had paid an enormous price for his discourteous comment. On the other hand, it had cost her a great deal as well. She raised her hands to her flushed cheeks.

It seemed to be her fate to wander these lanes wondering how she could ever bring herself to face Mr. Darcy again. She was utterly ashamed of her own behaviour, and could not begin to imagine what he would think of her for permitting his advances. It would certainly confirm his expectations of her as a member of the Bennet family. She wondered what had caused him to kiss her. It certainly must have been a triumph for him that she permitted it—was that the motivation, to demonstrate that he could cause her to accept that which she had rebuffed?

It was beyond comprehension to think that he could have forgiven her acrimonious refusal, but what was she to make of his behaviour? For each time he seemed to seek her out, there was another when he avoided her in obvious angry contempt. If he had kissed her out of a continuing devotion, it could only be worse for her.

He would have every right to certain expectations of her after she permitted—participated in—his kisses, expectations which she needed to counter as quickly as possible. If he understood it as a confirmation of my feelings for him, then I will indeed be in difficulties, she thought, frantically trying to devise a way to communicate to him that it had been a mistake on her part, rather than an attempt to invite his addresses.

It is not as if she had not been clear and definite in her position the first time, but no, you had to hope for a softening in her regard! It did not help to remind himself of how ill-judged her words and actions had been; all he could think of was his own foolishness. The bitterest part by far, though, was the realization he had come to when he kissed her, that regardless of what she felt for him or what faults she might have, he was still as violently in love with her as ever, and there was nothing to be done for it.

The pain of it did not leave him night or day; even Georgiana, who had seemed determined to annoy him in every possible instance, had begun to tread carefully in face of his unexplained dark mood. Colonel Fitzwilliam, thinking that their prolonged stay at Rosings accounted for it, clapped him on the back and reminded him they would be leaving soon enough.

Then, at odd moments, the memory of how it felt to claim her lips, to feel her response and her hands upon him would overtake him, and the sweetness of it would be almost more than he could bear. Sometimes he even felt a moment of hope before the memory of her outraged look came to him and he tumbled once more into the depths of anger and despair. He knew that as a gentleman he should make his apologies to her for his She had the right of it in this case, he knew, for he was also aware that he would not be calling on her to do so, not because he had no regrets but because he could not trust himself in her presence.

He could imagine nothing more humiliating. When I was your age, I would have been out and about the countryside, but all the young men these days seem to prefer only indoor amusements. Well, enough of that; I want to have a word with you. It was perfectly true that he was hiding; if he went out, there was not only the possibility that he might accidentally encounter Elizabeth, but also the risk that he would not be able to stop his feet from leading him to the parsonage.

It was far better to bury himself in the library. They are old friends of ours, connections of the Stowes of Warwickshire, and Lady Catherine tells me that their daughter Sophia has grown up to be quite a pretty young lady. Now, I know, there is more than money to making a match, and I am not asking you to marry her, but I expect to see you talking to her—none of your sitting silently in the corner, now.

Do you take my meaning? As if any woman but Elizabeth could hold my interest for a minute! This apparently was enough of an agreement to satisfy Lord Derby, who confined himself to torturing his nephew by repeating his message no more than two or three more times before leaving Darcy in merciful silence.

If it would placate his uncle to have him charm this girl, whoever she was, then charm her he would. He was relieved to discover that evening that the young lady in question was at least a tolerable conversationalist, if somewhat overly deferential; he had feared he had condemned himself to being polite to yet another predatory and obsequious husband-hunter.

As it was, he forced himself to smile when she gazed up through lowered lashes at him, and firmly returned the conversation to the events of the Season in town, and what might have seemed an evening of torture was reduced to a marginally tolerable situation. He felt that the worst was over when the ladies withdrew.

The presence of Lord Temple protected him from the kind of minute analysis of his every flawed behaviour during the evening which he knew would eventually be forthcoming from his uncle, and he could down his port in silence next to his more voluble cousin. Darcy felt deep gratitude that he would be unlikely to encounter any of their guests after leaving Kent given the embarrassing display his family was insisting on putting on. He would have been far more profoundly disturbed had he realized that his aunt had invited the Collins party to join them to make numbers enough for the games she had in mind, but Lady Catherine, still suspicious of the possible predations of Miss Elizabeth Bennet upon her nephew, had made a point of keeping this information to herself.

He was therefore taken quite by surprise when their arrival was announced, and felt his heart in his throat as he rose to greet them. He had dreaded this first meeting with Elizabeth and the distaste he expected to see in her face, and carefully looked just past her as he acknowledged their arrival. Unlike Darcy, Elizabeth had enjoyed the dubious privilege of worrying about this meeting for the entire day.