Chapters 5-8 of Darcy & Lizzy: A Modern Pride and Prejudice Romance

DarcyandLizzy

Happy Saturday dear reader friends! I am busy doing mom things and making dinner but wanted to leave you with a few more chapters for a weekend break in your routine. Thank you for reading along, it’s a wonderful gift you give.

 

 

 

Chapter 5

“Public indecency, possible inebriation, lewd behavior…” Sheriff Collins ticked off each infraction as he stood trying not to grin at the couple.
Darcy handed his suit jacket to Lizzy and led her to the azalea bush. She blushed deeply and ducked behind the fragrant flowers once more.
“Sheriff, I am sure we can discuss this.”
Lizzy peered through the petals and leaves of her hideout and watched as Darcy buttoned his shirt and then methodically buckled his belt. He was not the least bit ruffled by the fact that he was dressing in front of the sheriff.
Billy Collins swung his light to the azalea bush and Lizzy ducked her head.
“I imagine we might, but since Lizzy is my cousin I would rest easier if you just went on home, sir. I’ll see to it that she gets home safely and let you go with a warning, this time.”
Lizzy sighed deeply. Lord have mercy!
Her cousin would wake up the Bennet household and be sure she was marched before her parents in nothing but Darcy’s jacket and her boots. She wasn’t seventeen anymore!
“Billy,” she said as she stepped from behind the bush, “Darcy will take me home. Mother and Daddy won’t be amused at this late hour.”
Sheriff Billy Collins tucked his flashlight under one arm and pulled the pen from behind his ear.
“Have it your way, Lizzy.”
He began writing on the big pad he yanked from his back pocket and Darcy shot her a look, his eyebrows raised.
“Billy stop! Take me home. Please.”
Billy stared at her to be sure she wasn’t sassing him with that last word. He grinned and motioned for her to lead the way back to the parking lot. Darcy took her hand and nodded to her cousin before walking up the path with her.
Billy was talking some mess behind them, the man always did run his mouth too much, and Lizzy bit her lip. It would not pay to argue with him now. She was busted.
Darcy squeezed her hand and held back a laugh.
The red and blue lights strobing across the parking lot made her angrier. Seriously?
Darcy placed a quick kiss on her hand and walked slowly to his car. Lizzy was mortified by Billy’s foolishness. She was certain there was no APB out for wayward adults that required him to use the lights of his cruiser.
“Great detective work, breaking up a party of two consenting adults.”
“Get in the car Lizzy. We’ll see what Uncle Thomas and Aunt Franny think of consenting adults.”
Lizzy opened the front passenger side door and Billy shook his head.
“Back seat ma’am, you’re in my custody.”
Lizzy considered simply walking away from him. He wouldn’t dare anger her father by putting her name in the papers or writing her a ticket. But the wine at dinner, and the swim, mixed with the anticipation of getting close to Will Darcy crashed down on her and she sighed before stepping into the back of his cruiser.
“Could you at least kill the lights, Billy? The chief might have a heart attack if he thinks you’ve done a lick of work tonight.”
He dangled the handcuffs as he got into the drivers seat and Lizzy promptly closed her mouth. Her cousin was in turns twisted and an expert on getting her goat. She dared not goad him further. All she really wanted was to go home and pass out on her big, soft bed. And dream of Will Darcy.
“What in blazes were you doing out here skinny-dipping with Will Darcy?
Lizzy bit her tongue, hoping he might just drive her home and let it go at a warning. That was apparently not the plan.
“I would have thought Uncle Thomas and Aunt Franny had raised you better, cuz. I guess I was wrong.”
Elizabeth found the edge of her nerves and Billy was sitting right on them bouncing around like a kid coming off a sugar high.
“We were not skinny-dipping. No one else was around. All you had to do was drive on by and mind your business.”
He started the car and laughed a for a minute before crowing, “As if! I wonder if your Daddy would feel the same?”
Lizzy bit her tongue, knowing any further argument with her cousin was pointless. He caught her red-handed and there’d never a time when Billy Collins could resist pointing out her failings to her parents.
“So, how’s your mama? She hasn’t been to visit for at least a week.”
Billy shrugged his shoulders.
“How would I know? Mama came home from your house the last time and cussed for a solid hour. Aunt Franny said something about her cobbler recipe and they fought over heaven knows what else. I’ve never seen two women fight they way they do.”
Lizzy snorted in disbelief. Billy’s sisters were far worse than her own, and that was saying a lot.
“Wasn’t that you between Cora and Adeline last week outside the post office?”
Billy sighed as he turned his cruiser into her parent’s driveway.
“Lizzy, you know Cora and Adeline are just like Mama and Aunt Franny. And Kitty and Lydia. All the women in this family think they know more than anybody else and they’re all just as crazy as a pack of loony birds, present company included.”
She ignored his insult because her Range was not in the driveway. She glanced to the clock on his dashboard.
“See, this is where you don’t make sense. You have me in your car, a GROWN woman, while my teenage sisters are driving around Meryton past curfew.”
Billy shook his head and picked up the receiver on his police radio.
“You know we have more officers. Let me put a call in for Roy to keep an eye out and send them home.”
Lizzy slammed the car door and stalked to the house leaving Billy in the cruiser. Maybe if she got inside and locked the door he would just go away.
The porch light came on and she groaned. Between her curfew-breaking sisters and deputy dog rushing up the steps behind her with a big grin on his face, she simply gave up.
Her mother would be pleased she had been to Lake Mistake with Darcy, no doubt, and her daddy might voice his concern for her cousin’s benefit but he’d tease her mercilessly ever after.

Chapter 6

Jane laughed as Lizzy shared the story of her Lake Mistake fiasco when they met the next day for lunch.
“Billy really shouldn’t have! I bet his mama is burning up the phone lines across Meryton as we speak.”
Lizzy gave Jane a withering glance before dipping her french fry in gravy. If she kept up these lunches with Jane she’d never want Darcy to see her in her underwear again. She hissed at herself for thinking he might want a repeat performance.
“Darcy took it well, it seems. He hasn’t called and cancelled the business deal has he?”
Lizzy shushed her sister as two elderly friends of their aunt passed the table, eyes trained on the sisters. They turned once past the table and Lizzy heard one of them exclaim.
“Yes, ma’am, she did! I heard it straight from May Louise this morning. She called so early I thought somebody had died!”
Lizzy groaned and Jane shook with the laughter she attempted to hide.
“He hasn’t called at all. It’s quite a blow when you undress to your bloomers and the man doesn’t call back.”
Jane fanned herself and nodded to the street below. There sat the beautiful red sports car with the driver waiting to catch Lizzy’s eye. He opened the door and casually walked up the steps to the rooftop cafe. He held out a hand to Jane and spoke.
“Miss Bennet, how lovely to meet you. I attended your fundraiser in Belize last year, what wonderful work you do.”
Jane took his hand and blushed at the praise
“Mr. Darcy, I do recall. You were a most generous donor.”
Jane rose to leave and Lizzy’s eyes grew as round as saucers.
“Jane, I thought you might like to take a walk with me to visit Aunt Phillips this afternoon. She’s helping mama get her things together for the flower show next month.”
“I’ve got an evening flight, Lizzy. I thought I’d go home and get some rest before departure. Give her my love.”
Lizzy sat quietly with Darcy wondering if he would bring up their kisses at the lake. She didn’t have long to wait.
“I was surprised and a bit upset that we didn’t make the gazette. Then I thought we could try again, maybe hide the car where deputy dog is unlikely to find it so easily?”
Lizzy laughed and decided she liked this Darcy far more than the college version. He was dressed business casual today and she admired the view provided by the top buttons that were open on his shirt. She thought back to their ill-fated college romance and she’d enjoyed the strength and sexiness of his body. Although he was a business major, he’d played several sports and was always lifting in the gym.
During their late night dip in Lake Mistake, before her cousin showed up, her hands had roamed his body there on the bank, her lips warm against his own. The thrill had gone from the pit of her stomach to regions lower and Lizzy held that memory until she fell asleep that night, long after her father’s teasing was done.
“You want to try for another kiss, Darcy? Must it happen at the lake? Why not here where there are several ladies in attendance who’d spread the news far and wide in less than an hour?”
Darcy graced her with a wickedly handsome smile and rose from his seat. Lizzy sat frozen, her words of teasing apparently taken seriously.
He sat swiftly in the seat beside her and waved to the two elderly ladies across from them. They were expecting something to discuss over bingo later.
“Lizzy, I’ve never seen a young lady as fair nor lips to shame the red, red rose.”
The women tittered and their embroidered hankies flew about. Lizzy imagined her face to have gone three shades of red in the time it took Darcy to lean in and kiss her ever so gently. He paused after the kiss and whispered, his breath tickling her skin.
“There’s another mosquito on your forehead, shall I swat him?”
Lizzy grabbed his gallant hand and refused his offer. She swatted at the horrid thing and wondered why on earth mosquitos were drawn to her all of a sudden.
Mr. Darcy read her mind and supplied the perfect answer.
“It’s all in the way you smell and taste.”
“And how is that exactly, Darcy?
He leaned closer and Lizzy fought to maintain her composure.
“Let’s say I was a mosquito. First would be the warmth of your body, the heat you emit.”
Lizzy wondered if he was having a bit of fun at her expense but the feel of his breath on her skin was heavenly.
“Second would be whether you were perspiring.”
He ran a finger slowly from her shoulder down to her fingertips. He held her gaze and she bit her tongue hard to keep from moaning out loud.
“And last, but not least, would be the rate of your exhalations. Mosquitos love the air you exhale. Do you find yourself short of breath, Lizzy?”
The last sentence dropped into a husky whisper as he moved his lips closer to hers. Elizabeth closed the distance, her heart racing from his lesson on mosquitos. It wouldn’t have mattered to her if they were in church on a Sunday, this man had her gone, not caring who might see.
Darcy behaved as if the world around them no longer mattered. Her lips set his heart afire and nothing could’ve stopped him from claiming Lizzy Bennet as his own, even if he didn’t realize it was just what he’d done here in Meryton in front of God and everybody on Main Street.
Lizzy heard the low whispers around them but was unable, and unwilling, to part from Darcy. Granted, they ought to have been behind a barn somewhere or in the darkness at Lake Mistake for such carrying on but the rooftop cafe seemed as close to heaven as his kisses.
Darcy pulled away, knowing in moments he’d be unable to get up and leave the table with any modicum of dignity. He’d need an ice pack and a cold shower if he were expected to stand anytime soon.
Lizzy sipped her tea, the glass as beaded with moisture from the melted ice as she felt sitting there next to the man who could start a fire with only his lips. It was several moments before her head cleared enough to ask about Georgiana.
“Is your sister on her way home yet? We need to have lunch with her if we want to stay out of the gossip column.”
Darcy gave her his best smile, the one that displayed his perfect dimples and melted Lizzy’s heart all over again.
“We spoke yesterday and she’ll be here by the end of the week. I know you’ll love her as much as I do. Georgie is a hard worker. You’ll be happy to have her by your side.”
Lizzy tucked a stray curl from her forehead and watched as Darcy followed her every move. She wondered if she’d be too forward to suggest they meet that evening to talk about plans he had for the clinic. Of course she didn’t want to talk business but if they ended up at his place, alone without the threat of her cop cousin or mosquitos, perhaps his kisses could go deeper.
He took her hand and placed a gentle kiss on her palm.
“Maybe we could have dinner at my place and talk about the future of the clinic? I wouldn’t mind including your father but since we’ll be discussing upcoming plans he might not feel like a part of the process.”
Lizzy sighed and wondered how he did it. Their minds were obviously on the same wavelength. She’d be more than happy to stay up late into the night to find out his plans for the future. She had a few of her own but decided she’d keep them to herself for now.
“What time should I come over? And what would you like me to bring?”
Mr. Darcy nodded, the smile on his face and the way he looked her slowly up and down betraying exactly what he hoped she would bring.
“Come at eight, Lizzy. I’ll be ready for you.”
She shivered as a warm breeze kissed the nape of her neck. His use of words hadn’t escaped her attention. She certainly hoped to be right on time this evening.
The two older ladies passed their table a second time, their faces scandalized and their whispers lower than before. She knew the whole of Meryton was already aware of her wild lovemaking on the cafe roof with Will Darcy. She was surprised no one had shown up to take pictures for the gazette.

Chapter 7

Lizzy stopped by the Bingley residence again on her way to see Darcy. She was certain Char wouldn’t mind sharing her closet, especially since Lizzy was fulfilling the dream Char had for her and her fiancee’s best friend.
She let Augie out while she bathed and chose a sweet, little black dress from the closet. The jet black beads were reminiscent of a twenties flapper dress. Lizzy admired the herself before the mirrors of Char’s dressing room. Perfect!
Her phone buzzed and she sat on the bed to answer.
It was Char again. Lizzy chose not to talk to the woman while she sat pilfering her closet. No bad juju tonight! She texted instead.
How’s vacay?
Char messaged back.
Oh Lizzy, it’s heaven! Charles bought me presents!
Elizabeth smiled
Guess who’s having an intimate dinner with Darcy?
Char replied hastily.
No way!!!!
Lizzy laughed, enjoying teasing her friend.
Augie’s been a good boy, don’t worry
She placed her phone in a small bag that matched the dress and chose some sensible flats this time around. The last thing she wanted was to stumble around Darcy like a lush. If she wound up in his arms tonight she wanted it to be for all the right reasons.
She called Augie back inside and secured him in the mudroom. The housekeeper had gone upstairs for the night and Lizzy certainly didn’t trust the eager pup on his own as far as she could throw him.
She watched him circle until his bed was deemed comfortable and promised she would bring him to the clinic in the morning. He needed some socialization, after all. She slipped out the front door and was surprised to find Darcy waiting in the driveway.
“I thought we’d take a drive before dinner.”
Lizzy agreed and hoped the wind wouldn’t leave her hair in a mess.
“Any particular place in mind?” she asked as he reached across to buckle her seat belt.
Lizzy inhaled deeply of his masculine scent and felt her body tingle in response. She’d been working far too many hours and the nearness of a handsome man proved it.
“There’s this gorgeous botanical park that is closed but being that I am the William Darcy I was able to have an hour set aside for the two of us. I wanted to show you that your lips do put the red, red rose to shame.”
Lizzy felt the heat rising in her cheeks and turned her face to the window hoping to catch a breath as he backed away from the Bingley house.
“That’s quite a tall order, Darcy. I hope I don’t disappoint.”
Lizzy turned and gazed into his eyes knowing her quip couldn’t begin to lighten the tension that lay between them. He wanted her, she could feel it in the air around them the way a person can feel a thunderstorm mounting.
He took her hand and placed it on his thigh, holding it lightly while he drove expertly through the streets.
“I always meant to tell you that it wasn’t you back then in college. It was me.”
Lizzy smiled at him, now conscious of his eyes upon her lips.
“People say that a lot, you know.”
Darcy’s smile made the dimple in his cheek appear and once more she was lost in the moment.
“They do, but it’s not some psycho babble I’m putting out there to try and get what I want. We’re adults now and I owe you the truth.”
Lizzy struggled to ignore the rugged handsomeness of his face and urged him on.
“I’m all ears.”
Darcy loosened his tie and glanced at her his thoughts naughtier than she might suspect.
“I was an impetuous young man. Wowed by the money my family had and taken by all the beautiful young women who were paying attention to me, well to all that money actually. But it seemed to me they were paying attention to me for me. I didn’t discern between the two back then. I do now.”
Lizzy understood what he meant. She’d known it. It’s why she tried to tell her heart it wasn’t broken, merely bent out of shape, when he walked away that first time. It worked for years but now she didn’t think her heart would fall for the same story twice.
“I guess it’s time for my truth. I was a girl who was in love with the boy and not his money. I would have given him everything for the joy of seeing his smile or hearing him sing off key as I waited for him by his dorm room door. I haven’t ever thought about another man the way I still think about him.”
Darcy turned to her as he parked the car in the gravel lot of the Botanical gardens.
“The boy is a man now but did I really sing off key? Anyway, I want to know more about this girl. I don’t want her waiting anymore. I want her to think about me day and night.”
Lizzy stepped from the car, careful with the beads on her dress, and walked to meet him by the path into the garden.
“I think now we may want the same thing. A woman and a man can make those choices. But you did sing off key.”
Darcy sighed as she took his hand and they walked happily into the garden. Lizzy wondered if he might steal a kiss and knew she would let him. She noticed the small blanket he carried but chose not to mention it then.
Tonight she would let him do all the things he wished. If tomorrow came and he found himself swept away by another heiress she’d have had her way with him.
He stopped before a gorgeous, riotous display of the prettiest roses Lizzy had ever seen.
“Did you know this variety is indeed the reddest of roses?” he asked as she bent to have a closer look at the velvety darkness of the petals.
“Gloria de Margottin adapts to most every climate and makes the most of the least circumstances. A true classic beauty.”
Mr. Darcy knelt beside her, his last words intended for her and not for the roses around them. The fine fragrance of the flowers filled her senses and Lizzy turned to gaze into his eyes.
He leaned closer, a hand on her upper arm causing an avalanche of emotion and delight to flood her body as his lips slowly parted hers.
Lizzy wanted to pull away, wanted to listen to the part of her brain that was quickly losing the battle of reason, but instead she melted into him answering the need between them.
The sound of children broke through their increasing passion and they stood in time to see a young couple with three kids exiting the gardens.
“Seems we came at the right time. The later it gets, the lonelier these grounds become. Perhaps, my Lizzy, we might find a darker corner in which to discuss the merits of the roses and your lips.”
Lizzy glanced at the little red sports car and then over her shoulder at the shadows before them. She’d always been most comfortable in the woods surrounding her parent’s home. They teased her for her wandering habits from the time she could walk.
She felt the need to wander with Darcy so she took his hand and led him further into the shadows where an intimate caress or a stolen kiss would not go amiss.
The perfume of the gardens welcomed the young couple and Lizzy imagined they were pulled farther from the entrance by the heady fragrance around them. The idea of a bed of flowers enticed her and she whispered her naughty idea to Darcy.
He knew just where he might find such a display and led her through a maze of bushes onto a small field carpeted in cherry blossoms, recently fallen and spread about as though tiny gardeners had placed them artfully for their stunning beauty.
A pond bordered the field and Lizzy delighted at the lily pads drifting gently as a breeze swept through the gardens. She removed her shoes and placed them beside the pond.
Darcy followed her lead and proceeded to roll up the legs of his trousers. Lizzy ran onto the field of cherry blossoms, leaving him standing bemused the same as she had the night they went to Lake Mistake.
He watched her dance happily as the blossoms trembled in her wake. His heart wished for her to find her way back to him as though he were her magnet, her true North.
She came back to his side, her skin glowing from the exertion of dancing in her private heaven. Darcy caught her in his arms.
Lizzy staggered for a moment, drunk on the fragrances of the garden, her hands seeking to rest against the breadth of his strong, wide chest. She thought of how she became more of herself with him. More of herself apparently meant her inhibitions had been left home on the floor next to the dress she hadn’t chosen.
Darcy dipped his head and kissed sweetly along her jawline. His lips were a searing heat, a catalyst that opened her to the possibilities of the night. She prayed her cousin Billy was patrolling elsewhere as Darcy spread the blanket he’d brought from the car.
He sat with Lizzy and leaned her against the warmth of his chest. A string of fireflies danced before them and Lizzy caught one in her hand. She opened it gently and held the tiny bug aloft.
“Did you know that if a field is paved over the fireflies don’t migrate to another field, they simply die out.”
Darcy took her hand and placed a kiss where the firefly had sat only moments ago.
“Don’t tell me they mate for life, too.”
Lizzy shook her head, smiling as she turned to gaze into his eyes.
“I don’t think they do but the males do use their lights just to attract a female.”
Will Darcy chuckled and brushed a loose curl from her face.
“And what is it about me that attracts you, Lizzy?”
He kissed her forehead where the curl had been and Lizzy placed a hand on his shoulder. Her voice was low like a conspirator whispering vital information.
“The light in your eyes when I enter a room.”
As if on cue, lights surrounded them and Lizzy stood quickly, smoothing the skirt of her dress.
“Billy, I swear if you’re stalking us again…”
Darcy laughed and stood up beside her.
“It isn’t your cousin, it’s only the lights that come on at night in the gardens.”
Lizzy sighed at her skittish behavior and knew their moment was broken.
“I think we’re overdue for dinner.”
Darcy gathered the blanket and pulled her closer against the breeze that played with her loose curls.
He kissed her sweetly, almost as though it were their first but Lizzy felt a fire burning that would consume her before the night was done.

Chapter 8

The drive to his house far above the city gave Lizzy the time she needed to gather her dwindling ability to refuse the man anything he might ask. She belatedly reminded herself of the business agreement between her father and the man she desired.
Mixing business and pleasure might not be the best idea and tonight she could definitely be swayed in the favor of pleasure. She turned to him, her eyes content to exam his profile before noting the size of his hands as he shifted gears. Lizzy sighed and made herself stop thinking about those hands on her own curves.
“Any thoughts on the business other than Georgie’s part in it all?”
Mr. Darcy glanced at her but kept his eyes on the winding road before him.
“I’ve a few ideas I’d like to run by you but I’d rather not talk business right now. Maybe over dinner?”
Lizzy considered his words carefully. As much as she’d wanted to pursue a personal relationship with him, and she wanted that now more than ever, it might not be the best idea until they’d had this business discussion.
Why must it be Will Darcy her father had made a business agreement with? Why couldn’t it be a man her father’s age that she had no past with, no attraction to, nor the insane desire to have in her bed?
Fate was obviously at work to bring them together. If her father hadn’t become involved with him, Char would’ve continued her campaign to make them a match anyway.
Darcy pulled into the drive of his small mansion perched atop the hill above all the other luxury homes. Lizzy subdued the urge to turn and enjoy another kiss like the one in the botanical gardens. Instead she admired the view of the city below and sighed.
Darcy placed a warm hand on her arm and the shock wave that pulsed through her body was overwhelming. So much for self control while enjoying dinner in his house as the evening cast a romantic air about them.
Lizzy smiled at him and glanced at her door. Darcy took the hint and decided he could wait to seduce her until after they’d eaten. He wanted her in the worst way and business be damned, he meant to have her.
Lizzy sat patiently as he rounded the front of the car and opened her door. She took the hand he offered and stepped out, her breath catching as he pulled her against him and whispered in her ear, his breath warm and soft against the tender skin of her neck.
“I hope to see the light of morning dancing across these gorgeous curls, Lizzy, if that doesn’t come across the wrong way. I can’t imagine letting you go tonight.”
His hand lingered at the nape of her neck, one finger wrapped in a loose curl.
There was no wrong way to express his desire because it was hers too. The business part of their relationship didn’t have to define their personal dealings she lied to herself as she felt his other hand lift her chin. His lips were soft yet insistent as he delivered the kiss that undid her reservations.
Lizzy placed her arms around his neck and answered his longing with her own. She softly bit at his bottom lip and welcomed the pressure of the hand that had played with her hair as it moved to her lower back. The moan that escaped her lips was unintentional but it encouraged Mr. Darcy in his ardor. She pulled away reluctantly and led him to the front door.
“If you want a girl to stay until sunrise, you have to feed her.”
He laughed and opened the door allowing her to enter before him.
“Dinner is waiting beautiful girl. And even a midnight snack if it keeps you in my arms.”
Lizzy felt the heat rise into her cheeks at his compliment. Keeping her distance from the man became a distant memory as he led her through the house to the dining room.
The table was set for two and the view of Meryton through the open terrace doors was breathtaking. The city glittered as a jewel against the darkest velvet. He stepped away and quickly lit the candles placed around the room. A woman appeared, startling Lizzy from her perusal of his powerful, lithe body.
“We are ready to dine, Greta,” he said to the woman before pulling out a chair for Lizzy.
She sat feeling a buzz across her skin as he stood beside her and poured a glass of wine. His scent lingered as he moved away and seated himself. She was surprised by the intimacy of the dining room, he must not entertain large gatherings here.
She raised her glass to meet his own and allowed herself the luxury of gazing into the depths of his clear green eyes. Lizzy wondered at his interest in her after all this time. And she wavered between desire and self-preservation.
“Darcy, let me be honest. We have a past, unremarkable as it may be, and I recall being unceremoniously dumped for a certain gorgeous blonde trust fund darling. I was surprised when you called me beautiful girl out there in the driveway.”
Darcy sipped his wine and listened carefully. She was putting distance between them and he’d picked up on her mood during the drive. But then, just moments ago, she’d behaved as though she wanted the exact same things he wanted. Now she was putting distance between them again.
“I was drunk on my own admiration, Lizzy Bennet. There’s no other excuse for it. You can’t hold that against me after all this time, surely?”
The candlelight softened her expression and Lizzy sighed. She had to make a choice about tonight. Did she let him in or did she keep him at arm’s length? The chemistry between them was magnificent. But he was soon to be a fixture of her professional life. A life that defined who she was for almost a decade now.
“I can’t if I’m honest. But being honest also means I put my cards on the table. I want you, for the second time in my life. But, business and pleasure, the two should never mix.”
Greta arrived with their first course and Lizzy fought back her joy at the appetizing aroma that filled the room. It struck her that he would see her eat. Really eat, like way after dinner hungry eating. He had to know she wasn’t shy at the table after that night at Lake Mistake.
He waited until Greta left the room before he made an answer to her confession and concern.
“If you want me to be hands off with the Bennet clinic, it can be arranged. However, keeping my hands off you is non-negotiable.”
Lizzy swallowed the bite of appetizer quickly and drank her wine too fast. She’d expected her bluntness to cool rather than encourage his need for her.
Greta stepped into the room again, her face full of concern.
“Mr. Darcy, Miss Bennet’s mother is on the phone.”
Lizzy rose from her seat wondering why on earth her mother might call so late. Jane must have told her about their dinner plans but still, the RFGB would never interrupt one of her daughters during a dinner date with a wealthy man without an excellent reason.
Her hands trembled as she took the phone from Greta.
“Mother, what’s wrong? Is Daddy okay?”
The phone fell from her hand moments later and Darcy caught her in his arms as her knees buckled.

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