The last romantic scene of our spotlight of favorites is from Suzan Lauder and her first book, Alias Thomas Bennet. Extremely romantic and steamy, it is the perfect way to end this series of posts.
Alias Thomas Bennet is such a good story and unique. I encourage anyone that hasn’t read it to give a try. After reading the scene below, I’m ready for a re-read!
Darcy invited Elizabeth to take some air on the terrace. The evening was cool, so she fetched her shawl. Colonel Fitzwilliam looked as if he were about to follow, but Anne’s hand stayed him. Darcy offered his arm to Elizabeth as they walked along the garden path outside the windows.
They stopped under an arbour near the entrance to Lady Catherine’s maze, and Darcy boldly took her hands in his. Her eyes widened with the intimacy of the gesture, and she swallowed hard. Suddenly, her feelings were clear to her—she loved him and maybe always had. Too much time had been wasted listening to her pride and doubting all but her dislike for him.
Darcy was unaware he had made such an impression. He looked down at their entwined hands while collecting his thoughts. He was silent for some several minutes without realizing it.
“Mr. Darcy?” Elizabeth said, finally. He felt apprehension, admiration, and excitement all at once. Raising his eyes, he saw what he wished in hers. She smiled reassuringly, and he inhaled deeply before he began speaking.
“Miss Elizabeth, I want you to know that your father has disclosed your situation to me; however, I must assure you that it is not important to my suit. I had decided to make my declaration even when I thought your situation beneath me. Although I struggled to reconcile myself to a connection with someone whose family and circumstances were so far below my own, I ultimately determined my depth of regard and independence of situation allow me the freedom to marry as I please. My friendship with your good father also helped me justify such a union. I have held my feelings to myself for some months now, but I can no longer act as such.
“Dearest, loveliest Elizabeth, you must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”
He searched her eyes and saw some astonishment, though undeniably mixed with something more than friendship. She wet her lips, swallowed, and nervously glanced away.
He saw this as a desire for him to continue. “My regard for you is long standing. When I first knew you at Longbourn, I respected your clever intellect and esteemed your spirited challenges, and I began to feel an affection that has only increased with time. I have seen how gentle and loving, how kind and loyal you are with your family, and that inspired my tender feelings to grow. I adore watching you tease and laugh, especially when it is directed at me. I am captivated by your loveliness, and I am lost when I look into your beautiful eyes.
“When I danced with you at the Netherfield ball, I could not but feel that you were the most enchanting creature I had ever beheld, and it was then that my heart truly became yours. During these weeks in Kent, as I have come to know you better, my regard has turned into a deep passion. After our walk in the park yesterday, I imagined you by my side at Pemberley and I knew what I must do. I have since thought of little else but to find time alone with you to declare myself.”
He paused and leaned in towards her, close enough that he could feel the tickling of her hair on his lips.
“You have beguiled me, bewitched me, enchanted me to my very soul. I long to be your lover, your confidante, your best friend. My heart aches when I am away from your presence. I cannot continue this way. Please, Elizabeth, relieve my misery and say you will marry me.” He continued softly, “I love you so dearly,” and followed his declaration by taking her into his arms and pressing his lips gently against hers.
To say that Elizabeth was overwhelmed would be as much an understatement as it would be to say she was overjoyed. She could not believe how wonderful that first kiss felt, and her heart overflowed with love for him. She swallowed again and tried to gather her confused thoughts, but was not quite successful.
“I take it you did not bring me here to listen to my story about Mr. Wickham!” she retorted abruptly then immediately realised her mistake as he pulled back. He appeared confused and hurt as, once again, his archenemy interfered with his happiness.
She was dismayed and cried, “Oh, Mr. Darcy, I am so sorry! I cannot believe I could say such a thing! It seems that your declaration has affected my sensibilities!” Her eyes filled with tears, and she said with a wavering voice, “Oh, I have ruined it! You must despise my thoughtlessness!”
Determined not to lose her heart’s desire, she impulsively rose on her tiptoes, took his face in her hands, pulled his head down, and planted a firm kiss on his lips. She looked into his eyes and said with vehemence, “What I meant to say is I love you excessively! You surprised me, and I could not think, but I wanted to say I love you! If the offer still stands, I will say yes. Yes, yes, I will marry you.”
He looked at her with all the heartfelt joy that newly acknowledged lovers have and pulled her closer. Their noses bumped and she giggled, but Darcy silenced her with his lips, kissing her slowly, longingly, tenderly. She responded by wrapping her arms around his neck and felt his strong arms close tightly around her. He pulled his head away slightly while still holding her close and brushed the tips of his fingers along the edge of her face just under her curls, ending with a stroke along her neck. She could barely breathe.
“I am the happiest man in the world.”
“I… I want to know your Christian name,” she said.
“It is Fitzwilliam.”
“Fitzwilliam.” She said it slowly and lovingly, rolling each syllable in her mouth, earning another sweet kiss.
“I hope you do not mind… I am not quite in control of my rational mind right now… I may seem a bit odd. But I assure you, I plan…to return to my senses quite soon.” She spoke between short breaths as he continued trailing kisses on her hair, along her cheek and down her neck. She pulled away slightly and smiled. “I have never felt such a way! I have not been kissed before, and no one warned me how I would feel! I must admit, I would like to try it again. Perhaps I will improve sufficiently to keep my wits about me.”
Darcy laughed. “I was always attracted to your wit, my dearest.”
“My father will be surprised at our engagement. After Mr. Bingley courted Jane for a month, I think he expected that you wished to court me.”
“As much as I admire your father’s wisdom, I do not desire a formal courtship. I know my heart, and I feel I have seen enough of yours to know that you are the one to fulfil me, and I am grateful that you have paid me the compliment of accepting my suit. I wish to be married as soon as possible. I fear you will continue to tempt me with amorous kisses while your father insists upon a long engagement!”
“Perhaps you might kiss me again before the others catch on to our secret and insist we are not to be allowed alone together!” she said with such a manner of sweetness and archness that he could not resist. He pulled her body to align with his, parted his lips and encouraged hers open with gentle tugs on her lower lip. He touched his tongue to the inside of her lips and was pleasantly rewarded when she responded by imitation of his movements, moving her tongue to meet his.
Elizabeth experienced all that came with the newness of their relationship, the sense of wonderment from all the feelings in her heart and the unexpected response of her body to his touch. Tension coiled low in her belly as he pressed up against her. She felt him tighten his grasp and run his fingers along the seam of her back.
At length, Darcy broke the kiss and turned away from her. She stood there confused, knees weak, aching for the feel of his body against hers again, but unable to speak to request it. She gradually became aware of her situation as she relaxed her panting breaths and noticed that Darcy’s breathing seemed as laboured as her own. He returned to her and gently gathered her back into his arms, holding her cheek against his neck.
He murmured into her hair, “I am sorry, my love, I let my ardour overpower us. Are you angry with me?”
“No, no, I love you. Are you angry with me?”
He smiled. “Elizabeth, as much as I would like to continue in this manner, I have imposed upon you in a very improper way. We should not kiss like that until we are properly married.”
“I hardly think that you are correct,” she said playfully. “You must give me leave to insist that we kiss like that as often as possible from now on!”
He could not deny so enticing a request, and the moment became more heated. He struggled between his sense of propriety and his baser needs. When he felt her moan against his mouth, somewhere in his lust-fogged brain, he recollected that her father was his friend, and some level of respect was due. With reluctance, he broke the kiss and gently pulled them apart. Once they were able to control their breathing, Darcy took her by the hand to a nearby bench. She snuggled up beside him, and he placed an arm around her.
Shall I pass out the fans? Whew! What a happy place for Darcy and Lizzy to be and for us to be with them! That was quite the romantic scene! Thank you, Suzan Lauder for sharing it with us.
We hope you have enjoyed reading the spotlights as much as we have enjoyed bringing them to you.
The Mist of Her Memory will be available as an audiobook with the next few weeks. Be watching the Meryton Press Facebook page for the time of availability.