Author’s Note: This is the unedited, first draft of my first steamy Pride and Prejudice Variation. I hope you enjoy it!
Mrs. Elizabeth Darcy woke as her husband pulled his arm from around her and sat up. She wished Fitzwilliam had only awakened to use the chamber pot and not to steal away from her bed. The bed she wished they shared.
Fitzwilliam pressed a kiss to her exposed shoulder, his lips lingering. They had made love half an hour before, slow and sweet. Elizabeth was glad for the closeness to her husband their marriage bed entailed, but she could not help wondering if he wanted more. Perhaps it was the French postcards Lydia had found in their father’s study. The images entailed were not sweet, but they had fascinated Elizabeth. Not that she dared share such fascinations with her husband. As it was, his interest in their conjugal relations was stilted.
Elizabeth rolled over to face him. Sometimes, she could tempt him to return to her arms, and hold her in his embrace. Maybe, if she tired him enough, he might stay the night.
For a while longer at least. Fitzwilliam always slipped from the room after he thought her asleep.
“Lizzie,” Fitzwilliam said, pressing a kiss to her forehead. “Go back to sleep.”
“Stay,” Elizabeth murmured. She reached for him. The coals of the fire, gave the room dim, red cast, allowing her to discern the outline of Fitzwilliam’s lean-muscled shoulders and lightly furred chest. Elizabeth loved the feel of her husband against her. The way he held her close as they gave each other pleasure. “Please.”
“I cannot,” Fitzwilliam brushed his thumb over her cheek. “I love you, but I must go.”
Fitzwilliam’s voice held a cool note of finality. Elizabeth knew she would not persuade her husband tonight.
Fitzwilliam took the oil lamp from the nightstand there he had left it, where he left every night, and lighting, padded from the room. Elizabeth rolled over into the spot where he had held her and breathed his scent from the sheets.
More than anything, thought of repeating her parents’ mistakes scared Elizabeth. Mr. and Mrs. Bennet had never shared a bedroom. It was the accepted way of doing things, and certainly, Fitzwilliam Darcy did what was expected of him. Elizabeth had known this when she had become his wife. But she also hoped for to persuade him. If not share a bedroom, but at least to have them share a bed until they greeted the dawn together in each other’s arms.
But even on the carriage ride to Pemberley, Fitzwilliam Darcy had insisted upon his own rooms. The innkeepers, silenced by his generous payments, had bowed with stony gentility, but Elizabeth had noted the pity in the servants’ eyes.
Elizabeth love Fitzwilliam Darcy. He claimed to love her in return. But was she fooling herself? Would their closeness fade as swiftly as Fitzwilliam’s scent faded from their shared sheets?
Elizabeth pulled the cover to her neck. She had vowed to marry for love, and she would not let her marriage fail before it even begun.
Mrs. Elizabeth Darcy knows her husband has a secret. Why else would he curb his passion and flee their marital bed every night? When she finds him walking in his sleep, and his hidden passion is unleashed, naughty Elizabeth seizes the opportunity to fulfil both their desires. But what happens when he wakes?
Find out in Darcy’s Hidden Desire, a steamy Pride and Prejudice variation of 11,500 words of romance, passion, and, of course, a sensual HEA. Perfect for an evening read.
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Fitzwilliam Darcy ached as he pulled himself, once again, from the warmth of his wife’s embrace. He wished he had the strength to tell her why he could not risk falling asleep in her arms, but if Mrs. Elizabeth Darcy learned of his unconscious wanderings, she would think him mad.
Perhaps he was mad. Without the Darcy name and expected fortune, society would have declared him such. Perhaps forced into an asylum. Perhaps taken his own life.
Darcy held the candle in front of him as he plodded down the cold hallway to his even colder bed.
Darcy’s valet, Alistair James, stepped into the hall, crossing his path as though it were an incidental meeting and not as though he had waited to ensure Darcy arrived without incident in his rooms before falling asleep.
“Mr. Darcy,” James said.
“I am well.” Darcy wasn’t. Being well would have implied falling asleep with his nose pressed to the nape of his wife’s neck, her inky hair tickling his nose as he held her soft, beautiful form.
“I do not mean to presume, sir, but…”
“Mr. James, you have every right to presume, and even if you did not, you would anyhow. Spit it out, if you will.”
“There’s nothing to tell.”
“Your misery is obvious. Mrs. Darcy is a clever woman. She suspects something.”
“Has she said such?” Darcy had done all in his power to ensure his wife’s happiness. “Who has she told?”
“She has said nothing. But a woman knows.”
Darcy shivered. “It is perfectly proper for a man and wife to sleep separately. Far more common than the opposite.”
“A wife wishes to feel a part of her husband’s life. Especially a wife in love.”
Darcy shut his eyes. His lids were heavy, and the weight of his future, the minutes becoming days and years as he held tight to his secret, made to question himself. He and Elizabeth had vowed to share each other’s burdens. Could he burden her with this?
As eldest son and heir, Darcy could not afford rumors as to his fitness. Fear of the school discovering his late night wandering had led to Darcy being tutored at home when he ought to have attended public school. Darcy had determined, until meeting Ms. Elizabeth Bennet, that he wouldn’t marry not for love but for convenience. A wife who was fonder of his estate and income would not trouble herself with his formality.
But then, Darcy, idiot Darcy, had fallen in love.
“Consider it, that is all I ask, sir.”
Darcy nodded. He would consider it. He had considered it. But each time he weighed the risks, he returned to the same conclusion. He could not bear to lose Elizabeth’s faith in him. He resolved to himself once again to do all in his power to make her happy.
The candle sat heavy in his hand. Almost as heavy as his exhaustion and the weight of his secrets.
“I must, to bed.”
Mr. James bowed. “I will stay awhile, out here, in case…”
Darcy nodded. Fortunately, he had not wandered from his bed since returning to Pemberley with his new bride.
Maybe God answers prayers, and Elizabeth had cured him. He could only hope.
James waved Darcy to his door, and Darcy stepped inside his room, closing it behind, and plodding to his cold and empty bed.
Beneath a gray and weeping sky, a Royal Mail stagecoach trundled north towards Derbyshire. Miss Elizabeth Bennet wished to pretend it was all a grand adventure, but three days being jounced about until her muscles and teeth ached and three nights in tiny coaching inn rooms with the thin, ill-tempered maid Mrs. Gardiner had insisted Elizabeth bring as a chaperone, had robbed Elizabeth of her sense of wonder. Her eyelids were stiff, her hair itched, and she stank.
After settling herself and Adelaide at the Rose and Crown Inn, Elizabeth ordered them both the luxury of a hip bath and changed into a fresh frock. The Gardiners’ had given her coin for her troubles, but Elizabeth wished to find work as quickly as possible. She would not impose herself further upon their charity by writing to ask for assistance.
“Highwaymen you say?”
Mr. Darcy did not like the glint in his cousin’s eye. Col. Richard Fitzwilliam had been given leave from the front at the behest of his father the Earl. Richard had explained neither the reason, nor how long he would be on English soil. He attended to his duties, but Darcy could tell his cousin itched to return to battle, and anything that promised excitement was enough to send him charging forward.
The air was cool and the sun uncharacteristically bright as Elizabeth and Rose sat together in the high branches of a flowering tree. Rose was studying Latin, her feet dangling as she flipped through the book while Elizabeth quizzed her on declensions, breaking the monotony with occasional sayings and pieces of legends, which Rose enjoyed with rapt attention.
The next morning, Col. Fitzwilliam and Mr. Darcy left in a carriage to pay a call to neighboring estates and villages. He was gone when Rose and Elizabeth returned from their morning art lesson and picnic. Elizabeth was caught between relief and disappointment at the news. Was Mr. Darcy as nervous to see her as she was to speak with him? Or perhaps this had always been his plan? Mr. Darcy had greater experience of the world than Elizabeth had. Perhaps conversations and touches like the ones they had shared the night prior were common for him?