Want relief from Monday? Try a few more chapters of my modern take on the devilishly charming Will Darcy and Lizzy Bennet!
Jane returned to her condo on the up and coming side of town that night and Lizzy decided to forego the series she had waiting on her DVR for a book about the Darcy estate, Pemberley. It was a huge tome full of pictures, modern and historical, and she secretly hoped he’d take her there one day.
Her mother found her in the living room. “Lizzy, how are things with Mr. Darcy? You are behaving like a single, eligible woman, aren’t you? Because if you aren’t, please reconsider. The man is fabulously wealthy, the most handsome you could hope to find, and he is your father’s business partner.”
Lizzy decided to keep the status of their growing affection a secret from her mother. There was nothing to gain but her mother’s constant interference if she allowed that she was falling for him. “I’m convinced I won’t marry unless it is a love match, mother. Darcy and I are only friends.”
RFGB crossed the room, her latest imported lace handkerchief fluttering in her hand as she complained of Lizzy’s foolishness. Her parting words were of Mr. Bennet and how she must make the best of the business with Mr. Darcy.
Lizzy sunk into the overstuffed sofa and propped her feet on the table. A light rain began and she turned her head to gaze out into the garden. She opened her book and read about Pemberley, the legendary estate of the Darcy family. The pictures of the home were breathtaking and the grounds impeccable. She longed to take an invigorating walk through the woods and stand upon the hills and see the home as though it were a small replica of itself.
The men of the Darcy family, currently a few streets over and a winding hill away from her, would fit into such a setting with ease. Their facial features were reminiscent of proud landed and titled men of the family, and their perfectly muscled bodies lent well to a privileged life of the hunt and shooting.
Lizzy laughed to herself as she thought on the many ways her mother applied herself to the engagement of her marriageable daughters. It would’ve been the same had they lived in England all those years ago. RFGB would’ve selected the Darcy men for them, she was certain, for their wealth far exceeded the holdings of the Bennet family.
Lizzy closed the book, placed it aside and noticed her phone glowing as it vibrated to the edge of the table. She picked it up and smiled at the message.
It’s late and I can’t get your lovely green eyes out of my head. If I could only stare into them tonight, I believe I could fall asleep a satisfied man.
Lizzy arched a brow and thought before replying.
Do you believe I’d let you sleep after the way you danced with me last night?
She rose from the couch and hurried to her room.
We could dance barefoot in my yard if you wish, if it will bring you into my arms? I have a place here beside my heart where you fit perfectly.
Lizzy sighed at the last sentence and was a moment from jumping into her car, hair piled on top of her head, her body clad in a ratty tee and boxer shorts, the look no one outside Longbourn Lane ever saw, for this man. Instead she messaged him with a heavy heart.
Maybe another night. Going to be busy at the clinic this week.
Her phone rang as soon as he’d seen her message and she laughed. He was going to try to talk her into his bed. His deep voice, a husky whisper, made her weak in some places. She fanned herself as he spoke.
“Lizzy, you promised to see the sunrise with me, don’t you remember?
She did. And she was both relieved and frustrated over that situation. Her father had taken ill that night and it was likely a sign from the good relationship gods that she hadn’t fallen so quickly into his seduction. The sound of him turning in bed made her ache to be there with him but this wouldn’t be the way they started down that road, not tonight.
“We’ll see the sunrise together soon. You have my word.”
Darcy chuckled and began telling her all the ways he wished to show her the beauty of the dawn before the sun rose. Her face was a hot pink when he was done and she touched a cool hand to her forehead.
“Goodnight, Darcy. Sweet dreams it seems are all that we have.”
She ended the call and leaned back against the pillows. Her body was ready to spring from the bed and drag her to his house anyway but her mind won that war. “He’s yours. There’s no hurry to give him what he wants, yet.”
Darcy tossed and turned in his bed, aching for the lovely lady with the hot body and sexy green eyes. Tomorrow, he’d have to be all business at the clinic but tonight he’d wanted to tell her how much he loved her, feel her next to him, the skin of her body against his own. He rose from his bed and padded quietly to the master bathroom. A cold shower was the only choice if she wasn’t coming to save him.
Lizzy turned off her lamp and burrowed into the light sheet she preferred as a blanket in the summer months. As much as he tempted her, when Will Darcy got his wish there would be a lovely ring upon her finger and her last name would match his.
Her Monday morning was the classic example of why people were always sad to see Sunday evening arrive. There was no warm water for her shower. The coffee maker was broken and her sisters were already in meltdown mode before they made it half way downstairs.
She rushed outside before them and took pity on Mary once again. “Get inside now and don’t look back. Mother can deal with them far better than you and I. The young won’t eat their mother.”
Mary laughed as Lizzy sped from the drive causing gravel to rain on the caddy. The screams of her younger sisters could be heard the length of Longbourn Lane.
The sky was an ominous sea of angry clouds and Lizzy felt their nervous energy. Her hair would look like a certain bride of a certain monster by noon. She forced a smile as she dropped Mary at the library. Her stomach growled loudly and Augie barked in reply from his spot in the rear of the car.
Billy’s cruiser pulled out of the clinic parking lot as she entered and Lizzy managed to tame the urge to roll her window down and yell at him. He’d made the most of his monopoly on Georgie’s time at the cook out on Saturday. Not that the young veterinarian seemed to mind in the least. Now here he was stalking her at the clinic.
Lizzy eased into her parking space and hoped there was at least fresh coffee on tap in the break room. She opened the back of the Land Rover and allowed Augie to cover her face in doggy kisses. He’d enjoyed staying at the house over the weekend and she was certain the maid at Bingley’s place would be sad to see him return this evening.
She hugged his adorable wriggling puppy body and took what comfort the canine could offer. She smiled as he looked into her eyes and barked. There was nothing better than a doggy best friend on a morning like this.
Lizzy led him through the back door of the clinic and into the break room. Georgie was there placing fresh butter and a jug of cream on the table next to a mound of hot blueberry muffins. Augie went to the young woman right away and Georgie bent to give him the love he was sorely lacking since Lizzy’s last hugs in the parking lot two minutes hence.
Lizzy grabbed a small cup of coffee and the top muffin from the heavenly assortment. “Georgie Darcy! How did you know I needed these in my life?”
Georgiana laughed and pushed the butter her way. “Believe it or not, I am an excellent baker. We found these berries at a farmer’s market yesterday and I managed to hide enough to make those this morning.”
Lizzy sighed at the first bite and felt her Monday shift from gloomy to blissful as the fruit burst across her tastebuds. Splashing the fresh cream into her coffee was an extra treat and she made a mental note to keep Georgie in her employ at all costs.
Darcy walked in and Lizzy eyed him cautiously. He would be acting as their business manger for the next ten days. When he and her father had struck their deal, she hadn’t imagined the scenario before them. As long as Darcy left her to do her work she could listen to boring financials and proposals he might wish to share. But that wasn’t what she wanted from the handsome man standing far too close.
She wanted moonlit nights under the stars, his lips on hers as the heavens shone brightly above. She wanted the strength of his body sheltering her as they sat on a blanket in town square on the fourth of July.
Georgie took Augie from the room, his nose dangerously even with the table where the muffins sat, and promised to put him in a run.
Darcy sat across from Lizzy and held her gaze. He saw the longing in her eyes and straightened his tie. In his dreams, she was pinned against the small refrigerator in the corner and he was tasting the sweetness of her lips. In reality, he struggled to maintain his composure. Business was business and playing with Lizzy Bennet wouldn’t mix.
“I’d like to spend the morning going over files and determining cost efficiency, and after lunch I hoped to see Georgie at work with you.”
Lizzy finished her muffin and coffee before speaking. “I’d warn you that first part of the day will be boring but I forget its what you do. As for observing Georgie, I’m fine with that. She’s amazingly good at her job for a new kid.”
Darcy smiled at Lizzy’s easy praise of his sister and stood. “I’ll see the two of you at lunch, then.”
He stopped by her chair and Lizzy gazed up at him, her confusion clear in her expression.
He bent his knees and rested his hands on her shoulder. “The toughest part of this whole thing is going to be keeping my hands off you.”
Lizzy blushed and he kissed her hard enough to make her head swim. “One for the road,” he said and hurried from the room.
She led Georgie through an operation on a pet pig owned by her Uncle Phillips and then they helped two cats that belonged to Lizzy’s aunt on her father’s side. Billy had brought them in and Lizzy ignored him completely.
Before their lunch break could arrive, a local farmer pulled up his horse trailer and Lizzy felt the tension creep into her neck. She’d preferred to work with livestock with the assistance of her father and this was a laboring mare. She recalled the words he spoke late one evening on a ride out to an emergency call from a local farm years ago. There’s a one percent chance a thorny problem will greet us, but if the problem is within us, it’s one hundred percent a problem.
He’d been trying to hone her instincts for veterinary medicine. There was the aptitude everyone who wished to practice the discipline required, but confidence and a calm demeanor set your patients and their owners at ease.
Georgiana seemed perfectly calm and helped the man get the horse out of the trailer. She spoke to the animal, stroking her mane quietly as the mare nuzzled her hand.
Lizzy went to speak with the man and it soon became apparent his horse would require their neonatal expertise. The mare began her labor in the normal way but her contractions had weakened and stopped. This certainly was not the day she need her father to be away from the clinic.
She assured the man and sent him inside to arrange for the horse’s stay and helped Georgie guide the mare to her spacious stall.
“Georgie,” Lizzy said as they examined their patient carefully, “have you much experience with our equine friends?”
Georgie nodded in affirmation. “I grew up with several of my own. I’m not nervous at all. Excited would be a more accurate assessment.”
Lizzy sighed heavily after the examination was complete and led Georgie about the stall explaining all the things that could go wrong and how they would manage the birth and hope for two healthy horses at the end of it.
“We’ll likely have to spell each other to cover the rest of the day’s appointments until the clinic closes and then we’ll be here until she delivers.”
Georgie’s face beamed brightly and Lizzy felt her nervous tension melt away. This amazing young woman would be all the help she would need. She left her with instructions to lead the mare about the stall and simply hit the red button on the far wall if things went downhill quicker than expected.
The rest of the day passed in a blur and by evening when the mare needed them both the two women knelt in the stall watching their patient.
“We’ll take turns helping her during these contractions but it requires an inordinate amount of strength and endurance if the process becomes a lengthy one. We don’t want that, we need to get the foal delivered as quickly as possible. Having two vets to alternate the work is ideal in this situation, so we’re lucky there.”
Georgie held onto the mare, calming her with whispers and the rhythmic sweep of her hand across the chestnut mane as Lizzy watched for trouble at the business end of the process. She gave Georgie a thumbs up and motioned for her to hurry into position.
“I hope the next contraction will do it.”
Georgie crossed her fingers and prayed Lizzy was right. She hated to see an animal in pain and the young mare had been a real trooper through this ordeal.
Darcy stood at the barn door and quietly watched his sister and the woman he loved work the magic of their calling. He had no idea Lizzy was so strong, yet patient. Nor that Georgie had ever seen a horse born. His women were made of tough stuff and his heart leapt into his throat as he watched them help the foal into the world.
They hugged like sisters and fussed over the mother and her new daughter. Lizzy began her post delivery exam, taking Georgie step by step through the checklist while instructing her assistants to stay with the mare for the next several hours.
Darcy was quite pleased his plan was working. Georgie was happy here, truly happy. He’d made a good investment on the Bennet Animal Clinic. He hoped he’d get the second part of the deal he’d kept secret. He wanted to win Lizzy’s heart.
He turned away from the door and went to let Augie out of the run while Lizzy and Georgie cleaned up inside and settled the mare and her new foal. He thought of how he might contribute to the running of the clinic and recalled the proposals he’d come up with before the horse emergency rearranged their work day.
He wanted to make the clinic the best it could be and he knew they could make more money, cut costs on supplies, and reach more clientele with a broader marketing approach.
He’d save it for tomorrow. Lizzy and Georgie were exhausted and hungry and he focused on pampering them this evening. He made a few calls and within the hour Augie was safe at the Bingley place. A gourmet dinner followed by massage tables with fragrant oils by the pool awaited his two favorite ladies. He and Richard would catch the college football game while Lizzy and Georgie enjoyed their poolside treat.
He wondered if he might be able to persuade Lizzy to stay the night, just this once. They could cuddle on the couch with the view of Meryton spread before them. And he could see the sun rise as it played against the fiery curls he adored.
Lizzy and Georgie emerged from the barn in fresh scrubs. “Having those showers at hand is such a smart design, Lizzy.”
Darcy took each of them by the hand and led them to his sports car. “Greta has dinner ready and I have a special treat for the two of you.”
Georgie relaxed in the back seat, her eyes fluttering closed before he could start the engine. Lizzy glanced at her and felt the bond between them strengthen.
“She was perfect today. I was a little apprehensive when the horse arrived but Georgie handled it like a professional. She is a professional. I’ve known many vets in my life but she’s going to be one of the greats. Mark my words.”
She leaned her head against the luxurious leather of her seat and covered the yawn that wracked her body. Darcy watched her eyelids flutter closed and gently kissed her forehead.
Their relationship would be stronger after this test with the clinic was done, he knew it. Lizzy drew him in every way. Her brains, her wit, her bewitching smile, the way she dazzled him with her curves. The perfect package.
But did she want him as much as he wanted her? He thought so since her lips could never deny the fact. Life here in Meryton was slower and her presence was important to the community. He wouldn’t want her to leave it all but he did hope to take her to the family home in Derbyshire someday. Pemberley was a magnificent old house brimming with Darcy family history.
He drove along the streets as darkness fell and began the familiar ascent of the Netherfied Park neighborhood. Charles and Char should be home this week and he smiled at the idea of Lizzy as her maid of honor at the wedding. A dress rehearsal of sorts for their own day.
Or maybe he would sweep her away to a lush island and marry her on the beach, just the two of them. Their honeymoon could begin right away. He dreamed of that moment often since their moonlit swim that fateful day, her long curls loose as she sat on his lap listening to the waves lapping the shore.
The wedding was all about the bride and groom and he preferred the intimate ceremony just for them and if she wished, they could throw another for the family in Meryton when their honeymoon ended. He’d marry her week after week in every venue she desired without a bit of argument.
Darcy never did anything by halves and Lizzy Bennet was his prize. Her life would be what she desired. Here in Meryton or at Pemberley, none of it mattered to him as long as he saw each sunrise by her side.
He parked the car and roused Lizzy with a soft kiss. She moaned and wrapped her hands in his hair, pulling him closer. Georgie cleared her throat in the back seat and Lizzy pushed Darcy away. She turned to Georgie, her face a distinct shade of tortured pink. “Time for our victory lap, Miss New Best Vet!”
Georgie smiled shyly at her and waited until Lizzy exited the car to punch her brother in the arm. “Don’t hurt her. She’s my boss.”
Darcy laughed at his sister’s remark but fell silent at the plea in her clear blue eyes. “Never. Not in a million years, Georgie. I swear.”
Georgie stepped from the car and took Lizzy’s hand, pulling her along as Darcy locked the car and followed them.
Dinner was superb and Lizzy decided she could come to love having an accomplished chef on call. The life the Darcy family led was so different from her own yet they were as warm as her own family in their way.
Richard kept them all laughing with his anecdotes of traveling far and wide with the nonprofit he and Jane adored.
Lizzy watched him carefully throughout the meal. He was smart with a great sense of humor and a humility she hadn’t seen at the cook out. He and Jane were a perfect match and she hoped her sister would come to the same conclusions.
Georgie regaled Richard and Darcy with the details of the foaling and Lizzy noted the expression of pride on Darcy’s face. His sister meant the world to him. It dawned on her how their relationship resembled more of a father/daughter dynamic than a sibling bond.
After dinner, Darcy led them outside to the pool and into the capable hands of a masseuse team.
Georgie sighed with deep relief as she lay upon the table and turned to Lizzy. “I warned my brother not to break your heart. Was I wrong to be so forward?”
Lizzy’s eyes flew open and she gasped.
Georgie smiled and reached a hand across the space between them. “He’s in love with you, Lizzy. Didn’t you know?”
In the silence that followed, Lizzy tried to formulate an answer to the question but didn’t trust her ability to think coherently after the events of the day. Georgie squeezed her hand gently and she studied the young woman’s hopeful face.
She knew her own brother better than anyone, of that fact Lizzy was certain. But was Georgie only seeing something she wished was true?
“And how many times have you seen your brother in love, Georgie Darcy?” she asked with a teasing tone hoping not to offend the young woman.
Georgie surprised her with her succinct answer. “Never.”
Lizzy held back a yelp as her masseuse worked a particularly tense muscle. How had Darcy known just the thing she needed after her long, seemingly unending Monday?
The idea put forth by her young apprentice played over and over in Lizzy’s head as their pampering session continued. Darcy in love with her? He was attracted, that much was obvious, but in love? Lizzy couldn’t imagine that to be the case yet.
There hadn’t been a declaration of exclusivity or any indication beyond his kisses of his feelings for her. He was a different person entirely since their college days but she had changed too. Rarely did anyone stay stuck in their twenties as much as they might wish it so.
But he’d been by her side since that dinner with her parents. Lizzy hadn’t considered his presence to be more than the simple capitalization on the opportunity she provided. He knew her feelings, she couldn’t hide her desire for him when they kissed. She was a healthy, adult female with eyes after all.
But the more she thought of it the clearer Georgie’s words rang in her head. She was the one in love with him! The idea of it caused her to close her eyes against the world and tremble.
The masseuse misread her body’s reaction and asked if she was cold. Lizzy shook her head no but she was through with their session. She sat up with the sheet wrapped tightly about her and the overwhelming desire to run caused her to jump off the table.
She gave Georgie the excuse of returning to the clinic to check on the mare and hastily dressed in the pool house. Her heart lodged in her throat, she left the pool through the back yard and hurried to the front of the house. She could walk to the clinic in ten minutes, tops, but her legs threatened to buckle beneath her. The combination of her long day, the decadent dinner with wine, and the massage had turned them to jelly.
She hurried across the road and pushed herself to at least make it to the Bingley property. She could sit there on the corner and catch her breath.
She heard Darcy’s voice close behind and picked up her pace. She ought to have told him goodbye and not behaved as a thief in the night but Georgie’s words had triggered her flight or fight instinct.
She stumbled and fell hard on the sidewalk and angry tears flooded her cheeks. She bit back the urge to curse like a sailor. It didn’t help the situation that Darcy arrived just as she surveyed the scrape on her knee.
He bent without a word and took a handkerchief from his pocket. His touch was light and Lizzy was grateful for his silence. She could not have controlled her tears if he met her gaze or uttered a single word.
He helped her to stand and wrapped her gently in his arms. There was no urgency in his embrace, no unrestrained passion. Only a tenderness that tipped the scales of her heart. She stood there with him in the hazy glow of a streetlamp and spent her tears against the soft fabric of his shirt.
He led her back to the driveway and held the passenger door of his sports car open for her. Lizzy noticed there were no faces at the front door to bear witness to their departure and breathed a sigh of relief. She was mortified to face either Georgie or Richard ever again.
Darcy held her hand as he drove her slowly back to the clinic. They went inside and he stood outside the mare’s stall as Lizzy took report from her assistant and then sent him home.
She returned to Darcy’s side and gazed into his eyes. The words stuck in her throat and she bent her head hoping he would just leave her there. Instead he pulled blankets from a shelf nearby and spread them on a bale of hay against the wall across from the mare’s lodgings. “We need to stay with her through the night, at least that’s what Georgie said.”
Lizzy sat with him and took his hand. “You’re only here because you want to see the sunrise against my curls, remember?”
Darcy laughed and pulled her against the warmth of his body and kissed the top of her head. “Something like that.”
Lizzy drifted off to sleep in Darcy’s arms, her heart not as skittish as it had been earlier. Darcy tucked her head under his chin and gazed at the mare and her new baby. He knew the list of circumstances that meant he must wake Lizzy but for now he simply sat, her body limp against his, and allowed his mind to wander back to her escape from his house.
Georgie had met him in the kitchen looking for Lizzy. Darcy sat two craft beers on the counter. His brows furrowed at his sister’s questioning. “I thought she was with you,” he said, pulling out a bowl for popcorn.
Georgie yawned and called through the dining room for Richard. He strode to the kitchen door and grabbed one of the beers. Georgie turned to him, rubbing her eyes.
“Have you seen Lizzy?”
Richard opened his beer and shook his head. “Not since dinner.”
Georgie scoured the rest of the house but Darcy was already out the front door. He saw her hurrying down the hill and knew something serious must have happened between his sister and the woman he wanted in his arms that night.
When she fell he rushed to her side, wanting only to be there for her. No pressure, no romantic overtures, just protect and deliver.
Why had she run like that? What could have propelled her from the paradise he’d constructed for her and Georgie? He’d talk to his sister tomorrow and piece it together. For now, he was satisfied to be by her side. He wanted to be her rock but this day had proven he’d need to take things slower, perhaps. He noticed a rope that hung beside them from a skylight above and he pulled it. He was rewarded with a slice of the heavens in all their glory.
Maybe he’d get his wish to see the sun rise on those bewitching fiery curls after all.