Welcome back to Austen Promises!
Remember, this story is way off canon. Bingley never rented Netherfield, so never met Jane. Lizzy and Darcy never met …. until now. Lizzy is fifty years of age and Darcy is fifty-seven or fifty-eight. Neville is not Mary’s oldest child. Today, we have The Big Moment. <3
Post two is here.
Post three is here.
Post four is here.
Post five is here.
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Darcy searched his mind for something to say. Holding this woman in his arms, feeling her waist under his hand and smelling her perfume, had scrambled his thoughts. He felt like a besotted young man instead of the wise elder gentleman that he was. He knew conversation was important to ladies, however, and so said the first thing that came to his mind. “You are young Dalrymple’s aunt?”
“I am.” Elizabeth’s eyes twinkled. “His favorite, I do believe.”
Darcy’s lips twitched. “Indeed? What evidence do you have to prove your case?”
A grin threatened to overtake Elizabeth. She held it at bay as best she could. “He visits me most often of all.”
Darcy shook his head. “According to my nephew, you are the only aunt of Dalrymple’s that lives in the area.” Darcy waited with bated breath to see what Elizabeth would say.
Elizabeth’s grin finally broke free. “It is hardly my fault the rest of my sisters live so far away. ‘Tis their loss, do you not think?”
Darcy laughed out loud at Elizabeth’s impertinent response. “I would have to agree.” A warm feeling filled his chest when her warm gurgle of laughter joined his. “Tell me, Miss Bennet, how it is that a lovely lady such as yourself remains unmarried.” He tilted his head and examined her face and hair. “If I had my guess, you are of an age with Dalrymple’s parents.”
“Yes, his mother is my next youngest sister. I have remained unmarried because I never found anyone I could respect or esteem enough to tie myself to for the entirety of my life. Instead, I have devoted my adult life to teaching my sisters’ children to play the pianoforte incredibly ill and to sketch the characters of all they meet.” Elizabeth smirked when Darcy laughed again. “And you, Mr. Darcy? Is there a Mrs. Darcy?”
Darcy shook his head. “No, there is not. Like you, I have never found anyone who I thought I could make my partner in life. Lord Frary is my heir. He is my only sister’s eldest son.” He paused and then, not knowing why he was confessing this to a total stranger but unable to stop his tongue, continued, “I felt at a young age there was a lady specifically set aside for me. I used to dream about her, vivid dreams of a life shared with love and laughter.” He shrugged and blushed. “I never met anyone who made me feel as my dream lady did, so I remain alone.”
Elizabeth smiled softly. “I understand. I also had dreams of a young man, long ago. My friend Charlotte used to tell me there is always hope. Of course, she married the ridiculous man who was to be heir of my father’s estate when she was seven and twenty, because she felt she was a burden to her parents.”
“Ah, yes. She would hardly be a good source of information on the topic, then.”
Elizabeth laughed again. “Exactly.”
“Do you live with your sister?”
“No, I live on my father’s estate. He recently turned eighty and has become rather frail. My mother has been gone for several years, so it is only me and Papa at home now.”
“I am sorry for your loss. My mother died when my sister was a baby and my father when I was barely out of University. The pain of losing a parent never dissipates. It merely fades.”
“Yes. I was not Mama’s favorite child, but I loved her fiercely, as I do all my family.”
The story continues here.
What do you think? Feel free to leave a comment below, if you like.