Kelly Miller shares one of her favorite romantic scenes from her first novel, Death Takes a Holiday at Pemberley. Enjoy!
When Darcy arrived home, he instructed a servant to have water sent up for a bath. In the main hall, he spun on his heel to face Mrs. Reynolds, who approached at a brisk pace.
The housekeeper’s forehead was replete with lines, and her words were rushed. “Sir, I am glad you are back. An incident occurred with Mrs. Darcy while you were out. She has recovered now, but she fainted while outside in the rose garden.”
His breath hitched. Elizabeth had never fainted before! His words rushed out in a booming voice. “Where is she now?”
Informed of his wife’s location, Darcy darted down the corridor towards the library. He halted at the entrance, transfixed at the sight before him. Elizabeth sat in a large chair with Bennet in her lap, reading one of his son’s favourite books. His breathing slowed. It was apparent that she was fine—not just fine but lovely and serene. He took another moment to savour the picture of his two most precious people on earth.
She raised her eyes to him and grinned as he entered.
He strode across the room to her side. “I was told you had fainted. Pray, tell me: How are you feeling?”
She reached her hand towards him. He took it, held it between his two hands, and then rubbed it as he searched her countenance.
“I am well, I assure you.” Elizabeth gave him an abashed smile. “I believe I did not drink enough water today. I feel rather foolish now.”
With a taut attitude, Darcy swallowed the words of admonition he might have uttered. He would have been more at ease had he insisted that, at least for the next few days, she keep a servant with her at all times, but his wife was certain to disagree.
Bennet grabbed the pages of his book, and Elizabeth gently worked his tiny hand loose lest he tear them. “How was your ride?”
He twisted his lips into a half-smile. “I found it more stimulating than I might have preferred.”
She raised her eyebrows at him.
As if tired of being ignored, the toddler said in a demanding, yet endearing tone, “Papa!”
Darcy leaned down to kiss Bennet’s forehead and then Elizabeth’s as well. “How is my boy today?”
He curled his mouth into a pout. “Want biscuit!”
Elizabeth rolled her eyes. “He has been saying that for the past ten minutes.” She leaned next to Bennet’s ear. “You need to eat your dinner first, my love.”
“No! Biscuit!” Bennet’s forehead took on a crinkled appearance.
She pointed to the set of blocks set out for his use. “Bennet, there are your blocks. Would you not like to play with them?”
He climbed down from his mother’s lap and busied himself with his blocks. It seemed the biscuit had been forgotten.
Elizabeth’s fond smile was directed towards their son as he played. Turning, she raised an eyebrow at him. “Considering his parents, it is no surprise the boy has a sweet tooth.”
She was correct. Until he met Elizabeth, Darcy was of the mistaken belief that his own exorbitant fondness for desserts was unsurpassed.
Bennet put together a structure that could best be described as a trapezoid. When it was clear that his attention was engaged in this project, Elizabeth rose and pulled Darcy to a nearby sofa so they could sit together. “Please tell me of your ride today.”
With his gaze focused upon his son, Darcy endeavoured to keep his tone calm and unfettered though his breathing became shallow at the memory. “I had a close call on one of the steep trails along the northern hills. Regal was startled by a snake. I lost my balance and almost went off the side of the path into the ravine. I thought I was done for, but I managed to stop myself in time.”
Elizabeth lifted his hand to her mouth and kissed it. Her eyes perused him with a flickering lustre. “Thank God you did not fall. You do not appear hurt.”
“No, I am unharmed. It was providential. I have asked for bath water to be sent up. I hoped you would join me.” His shoulders were taut, and his breath halted as he awaited her answer. He needed her in a way that defied explanation.
Biting her lip, she smiled back at him. “That is the best offer I have had all day.”
Bennet’s nurse, Miss Hunter, was summoned to take over the child’s care, and his parents walked upstairs hand in hand.
When the tub was filled and several extra buckets of hot water had been delivered, Darcy dismissed the servants and concentrated on the tiny buttons on Elizabeth’s dress. He let out a muffled curse as his building anticipation caused his fingers to fumble.
“What did you say, my love?”
Blast—she always did have excellent hearing! “Forgive me, my love. I was lamenting the number of small buttons on this dress. Whoever made this must have had tiny hands.” He expelled a deep breath as he unfastened the last of the buttons. “I cannot recall the last time we shared a bath.” He discarded her dress, and he would have moved on to her stays, but she spun to face him.
A wistfulness was detectable in her speech. “It has been too long.” She stood on her toes to kiss his cheek before untying the knot in his cravat with deft fingers.
Because of circumstances beyond his control, Darcy had spent precious little time with his wife and child of late. His steward, Mr. Hughes, had resigned his position several weeks earlier, announcing his intention of marrying and relocating with his new wife in Scotland. Until Darcy found the right person for that crucial post, he was forced to deal with a multitude of tasks his steward would customarily have handled. “I am sorry, Elizabeth. I have neglected you of late, and I mean to do better in future.”
“You have no reason to apologise, my love. It has been difficult for you since Mr. Hughes left, and it will remain so until his position is filled.”
She turned again to allow him to loosen the ties on her stays. He tested the water to find it suitable before removing her chemise. His heart thudded with furious abandon at the alluring sight of her light and pleasing figure, which had altered in small, subtle ways from when they first wed. She was more beautiful than ever. He took a firm hold of her hand to steady her while she stepped into the tub.
Darcy, much quicker at removing his own clothes, soon slipped in behind her. As Elizabeth soaped his feet and legs, he caressed her breasts and left lingering kisses on her neck, shoulders, and back. He moved his hands to her hair and began removing her pins.
She moved her hand over his to halt him. “What are you doing?”
He leaned in to speak next to her ear. “I want to wash your hair. Do you mind?”
With a delicate lift of her eyebrow, she said, “I do not mind, and my maid will thank you.”
He emitted a soft laugh. His wife was aware of his fascination with her dark, flowing tresses.
At length, when they were both clean and the water had become tepid, they climbed out, wrapped themselves in towels, and raced to the bed in his chamber.
Soon, they lay together in a mass of tangled arms and legs, kissing and touching each other with passionate, even frantic, movements. Later, when they were both spent and interlocked in an embrace, he said, “Elizabeth, I love you so much. You are everything to me. I hope you know that.”
Her expressive eyes were brilliant in their reflection of her affection. “I do know, Fitzwilliam, and I love you the same way. I am convinced I am the luckiest woman in England.”
What did you think of this scene? Quite romantic wasn’t it! It’s nice to see Darcy and Lizzy in a happy marriage filled with love! What about Bennet? Doesn’t he sound adorable!
Have you read this book yet? If you haven’t, we hope you will get a chance to read it soon.
Death Takes a Holiday at Pemberley is the first published novel by Kelly Miller. Her second, Mr. Darcy’s Perfect Match, was released in January . Death Takes a Holiday at Pemberley will be released as an audiobook later this year.
If you haven’t read the previous posts, we invite you to visit those and learn some of the favorite scenes from books by other authors. They are listed below:
A Proposal Observed by Linda Beutler
A Valentine’s Harvest Ball by Jan Hahn
A Love Match by Brigid Huey