Authors: Brenda Webb
Mr. Darcy’s Forbidden Love
A Pride and Prejudice Adaptation
Brenda J. Webb
Other books by Brenda J. Webb
Fitzwilliam Darcy: An Honourable Man
Mr. Darcy’s Forbidden Love
Copyright 2012 by Brenda J. Webb
Front Cover photograph courtesy of Wikipedia, General Louis Desaix Portrait, 1800.
Wicked Cover Designs
First Edition: December 2012
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
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Mr. Darcy’s Forbidden Love
is a work of fiction. All other characters are either from the author’s imagination, or from Jane Austen’s novel,
Pride and Prejudice
Dedicated to my betas,
Debbie Styne, Colleen Lane,
Kathryn Begley and Joy Olson.
Their hard work helped to make this book possible.
Their friendship made the project enjoyable. I am indebted to them for the hours they spent making this story better.
Table of Contents
It was a brisk, cloud-covered day when Fitzwilliam Darcy arrived in the small village of Meryton. He had never visited there before, but his best friend, Charles Bingley, had requested that he come to Netherfield to assess the estate in light of his desire to purchase it, and because William was eager to focus on something other than his growing unhappiness, he consented.
As his elegant black coach rolled slowly through the village, he spotted a small bookshop through the open window and was reminded that he had not brought anything along to read. Knowing Charles as he did, he presumed that Netherfield would have no library to speak of, even though his friend had been in residence for over a month. Thus, he had his driver stop at the quaint shop with high hopes of finding something spellbinding to keep him occupied at night. Nights were especially hard to endure.
As he opened the weathered door of the shop, a bell overhead jingled, alerting the proprietor, who stuck his head out from a door on the left. The balding, middle-aged man smiled broadly, and taking the measure of the tall, elegantly clad man from Derbyshire, he called out, “Welcome to our humble shop. I am Martin Grant. May I assist you?”
William nodded, methodically pulling off his kidskin gloves while simultaneously scanning the shelves of the small but seemingly well-kept shop. He had often found interesting books in places such as this. “I am looking for new editions—poetry especially.”
The shopkeeper’s crooked teeth gleamed as he responded. “You sound like Miss Elizabeth!” Then, glancing over his shoulder towards the back wall, he exclaimed loudly, “Elizabeth, are you still straightening the new editions?”
A lilting female voice came from somewhere in that vicinity. “I am, Mr. Grant!”
“Good, good! Would you be so kind as to show this gentleman the shelf where they are kept while I finish cataloguing this shipment? Then I shall show the both of you into the back room to look through all that has arrived today. You may each find something you want in the new selections.”
Again the melodious voice answered. “I will be glad to assist!”
Addressing his customer, Mr. Grant explained, “I hope you do not mind letting Miss Elizabeth direct you to the section you desire.” Before William could reply, he swiftly disappeared through the door from which he had come.
At first, it appeared that only a halo of ebony curls peeked around a tall bookcase in the back, but on closer inspection, William could see a beautiful face with dark, expressive eyes beneath the unruly tresses. Instantly the painting of a wood nymph that he had seen on his tour of the Continent came to mind—only that nymph had been completely nude, her long silky hair her only covering. For the first time in a very long time, William felt the stirrings of desire flood through him—feelings now so foreign they unsettled him.
A young woman of perhaps one and twenty studied him for the briefest of moments before she came forward, all the while trying to tie her unrepentant mane back with a blue ribbon. A smile played on her lips, and by the time she reached him, she had secured her hair and was laughing at the stunned look on his face.
“I must look a fright! I am sorry.”
She caught his intense gaze and was lost in his light blue eyes when he finally managed a small smile. Nervously she began to explain. “I was on the way into Meryton when the wind caught my bonnet and I had to run to retrieve it. Soon afterward, I found that I had lost most of my pins. I decided not to worry about my hair until I am nearly home again. I hope no one tells my mother, as she would have a fit of nerves if she knew I had run my errands in Meryton with it loose!”
Your hair is beautiful just as it is!
William furrowed his brow. Where had that thought come from? Had he said it aloud?
He was mesmerized—no, he was lost! For two long years he had kept himself under good regulation, not daring to enjoy the company of any woman that he found the least appealing. And now, in this insignificant little shop, he found himself instantly drawn to this beautiful pixie of a woman. Disconcerted, he was unable to utter a word, though he could not prevent his eyes from travelling down and then back up her body, catching the shadow of her figure beneath her thin muslin morning dress.
Elizabeth, coloured at his examination and began anew breathlessly. “In this corner,” she gestured to where she had emerged moments before, “are the newest editions.”
Turning in that direction, she left William staring after her, then looking over her shoulder, she teased, “You will need to follow me if you are to discover anything you might want.”
I have already found what I want!
William’s heart shouted, startling him from his reverie and causing him to quickly recover and follow.
In a few steps, he stood at the end of a bookshelf, watching her slim finger slide over the titles on a certain shelf full of books as she read them aloud. There was very little room in the aisle, and he considered whether it would be improper to join her as she recited. Not actually listening, he found himself studying everything about her—the tan of her skin, her pert nose, the rose colour of her lips, the curve of her breasts—quite generous considering her petite figure—and the smallness of her waist as compared to her rounded hips. Imagining the joy of having such a woman in his life, he did not hear her question, though he could tell from her expression that she was awaiting an answer.
“I… I am sorry. What was your question?”
She smiled mischievously, her amazing eyes dancing. “I heard you tell Mr. Grant that you were looking for poetry. I am hoping that
A Selection of Irish Melodies
is in the new shipment, as I have been waiting for months for a copy, and I wondered what poetry you find interesting.”
William’s entire countenance transformed with his smile, both dimples now clearly visible as he proclaimed, “Ah, Thomas Moore has another admirer. I think highly of his work as well.”
For some unknown reason, he felt compelled to step closer and gently lift a curl from her shoulder as he recited a verse from one of Mr. Moore’s works. Their eyes locked, and he was spellbound by two dark pools as he quoted the bard.
“Oh, the heart that has truly loved never forgets,
But as truly loves on to the close:
As the sunflower turns on her God when he sets,
The same look that she gave when he rose.”
“That is a favourite of mine,” Elizabeth offered, astonished that he would pick that very poem.
William examined her with unconcealed admiration, noting that she had begun to pale. He reached to take both her hands in his and squeezed them gently.
“Are you well? Do you need to sit down?” As he asked, he glanced about for a chair, but she began to step away, pulling her hands from his in an attempt to regain her composure.
“I… I am well. I thank you. I was just surprised that you quoted a poem that I admire, that is all.”
Mr. Grant chose that moment to return from the storeroom, and brushing his hands together as if he were well-pleased with his accomplishment, he declared, “There! I have unpacked the entire shipment, and it is on the table awaiting your perusal!” No notice was taken that the two he addressed seemed preoccupied, thus he continued with his mission, waving William ahead of him. “Come! Come! You may find something you like better in my newest order.”
I doubt that very much,
William’s heart whispered
Nevertheless, he turned to enter the other room as Mr. Grant motioned for Elizabeth to follow and then entered after both of them. In only a short while, the bell over the door rang again, requiring the proprietor to return to the front of the shop. Left alone, William and Elizabeth continued to peruse the stack of new books.
“I apologise. We were not introduced properly, but if you do not mind, I shall introduce myself—Fitzwilliam Darcy of Derbyshire,” William offered, bowing slightly.
“Do you work for the proprietor, Miss Bennet?”
The giggle that he had expected floated across the air. “Heavens, no! Papa would never allow me to do that! He and Papa are old friends, and he knows how much I dearly love to read.” She leaned in conspiratorially. “Do not tell a soul, but Mr. Grant lets me straighten the books after his customers have moved them about in exchange for reading all that I desire.” She lifted her chin, and her eyes sparkled in challenge. “It is not a popular notion for women to educate themselves, but I enjoy learning.”
William struggled not to smile. “I admire women who do, Miss Bennet.”
“Oh?” She looked bewildered, as though she had expected an argument.
“What do you enjoy reading most of all?”
“Why poetry, of course. Thomas Moore, as you know, anything of Donne’s, Sir Thomas Malory’s
Le Morte d'Arthur
and Sir Walter Scott’s
Lady of the Lake
. But I also enjoy Shakespeare’s plays and other works of literature.”
William suppressed his delight at her choice of works and her enthusiasm. “Such as?”
, Homer’s great epic poems,
. ” His eyebrows rose higher with mention of every work, while her smile grew proportionately. “And
, to name a few.”