Are you ready for another summer holiday with Darcy and Elizabeth? Shall we join them for a unique two weeks? Enjoy!
I sat on the pier, swinging my bare legs back and forth over the blue waters of Loch Coorie. The full moon cast a silver glow across the loch, and the clouds appeared almost pink against the dark sky. I heard the cabin door open. Van Morrison’s voice filled the night with music, and I smiled when I heard my husband chime in on his favorite verse.
“You’re my brown-eyed girl. Do you remember when we used to sing―”
“Sha-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-te-da,” I repeated the phrase along with him until we both had to stop singing because we couldn’t keep from laughing.
“Hey, my fine-eyed girl, I’ll bet you’re getting chilly out here.” He sat down beside me and slung his arm around my shoulders, pulling me close.
“How could you tell?” I said, looking up at him.
“Well, one, you’re wearing nothing but a T-shirt and shorts in the Scottish Highlands―of all places―and two, those moon-lit legs of yours that I adore are turning purple. Why didn’t you put on some warmer clothes?”
I leaned against his shoulder and gazed up at the moon. “Because the sun came out this afternoon, and I wanted to take advantage of it. I dared to get a hint of a tan before we return to the age where a bit of brown skin on women is considered verboten. And because it’s my last day to wear shorts until next year. In fact, it’s the only day I’ll wear shorts this year.”
“I’m surprised you packed any. This spot’s hardly our shorts and T-shirts getaway. Are you disappointed we came here?” He kissed my hair and moaned softly. “Umm, your hair smells like heather.”
“I found some beginning blooms during my last tramp through the hills. And no, I am never disappointed when we come to Loch Coorie on holiday.”
“Are you sure you’re not just saying that for my sake?”
I slipped my arms around his waist. “Darcy, we’ve been married for over two hundred years. By now, can’t you tell when I’m serious? I love our little cabin here on the loch.”
“I love you, my brown-eyed girl. Shall I sing some more?”
“I’d rather you kiss me and hold me tighter. I admit I am getting cold.”
“Come here, sweet thing,” he growled.
No one but Darcy would understand why I loved to go to Loch Coorie when I could have chosen one of our luxurious holiday homes―either Summer Wind, the exquisite house Darcy bought for me years ago, located on an island in the Aegean, miles away from Greece, or our haven in the South Pacific where he built a lavish domain he insisted on calling a hut. He found that deserted island a considerable distance from Tahiti and promptly bought it. I named it Nehenehe, which means beauty in the native language. It truly reflected its name.
The small rustic cabin in Scotland didn’t look like much from the outside―just a fishing cabin―but inside, Darcy had furnished the three rooms with every convenience we thought we couldn’t live without―a complete kitchen (for a wife who had yet to learn much more than the basics of cooking even after all these years) and a lovely living room filled with our favorite books and music plus all the latest tech gadgets we attempted to use. Our favorite room, of course, was the bedroom where we could spy the moon rising in the evening and fall asleep to the lullaby of the loch lapping against the shore.
Outside, we could fish and fish and fish. We both enjoyed coarse fishing off the pier. However, it took a lot more fly-fishing to satisfy Darcy than me, but when I grew tired of wading into the streams he had discovered, I left him to cast his line to his heart’s content. After all, I had a thousand acres to explore with hills and dales enough to make even me happy. With Faithful, Darcy’s aptly named dog for a companion, I shot photos of rocks and trees to fill scrapbooks in the past and laptops today. Too bad I had to leave them behind when our holiday ended, but I knew they’d be waiting for me when we returned.
Darcy often hiked with me, but his second-favorite pastime occurred about half an hour or so before sunset. We’d pack a picnic basket and a bottle of wine and board the sailboat he had recently bought. While sailing around the loch, we never feared we’d be interrupted, for our little cabin was hidden away in a secret cove and surrounded by land that was ours alone. It was our hideaway, as were the island retreats we owned, but somehow the cabin on Loch Coorie seemed cozier, our own little place where we were free to coorie in or cuddle night or day. When we named the loch, we preferred the traditional meaning of Coorie―to snuggle or nestle―no matter how much the meaning of the word has been transformed in this modern age.
Actually, we were free at Summer Wind and Nehenehe too. How could we not be when Darcy bought the entire islands? Through the years, we had learned the hard way that we had to holiday at extremely private destinations. At first, we visited Vienna, Paris, Venice, Rome, and most of the beautiful cities of Europe without being recognized, but as Jane Austen’s fame increased, we could no longer register in hotels as Mr. and Mrs. Darcy. Toward the latter part of the twentieth century and especially after Pride and Prejudice was adapted into movies and television shows, we were recognized. And after a certain actor, whom Darcy insists remain nameless, portrayed him in a mini-series of Miss Austen’s book in the mid-1990s, it became impossible for my dear husband to go anywhere in public without being mobbed. The actor looked far too much like the gorgeous man I married!
I was thankful Darcy found reliable men to maintain our holiday properties and protect our privacy. Fergus in Scotland, Kostas in Greece, and Hector in Tahiti were paid handsomely for their efforts, and all had proved to be men we could trust. Of course, they were the latest in a long line of people Darcy had employed through the years to insure we enjoyed our two weeks in June outside the pages of Miss Austen’s book.
Just then, the beginning beats of When a Man Loves a Woman boomed into the night, and Darcy pulled me even closer. His kisses began to grow in intensity. It was all I could do to break our embrace, but I managed to pull back enough to look him in the eye.
“Percy Sledge? Darcy, I know he’s your favorite, but I love Michael Bolton’s version.”
He raised one eyebrow and gave me his look. “This is my favorite song, woman. Sledge is the master. Humor me.”
“We’ve listened to him since the sixties, and he’s great, but please, can’t we hear Michael B tonight?” I lowered my face and gazed up at him through my lashes. I’d learned long ago that he had a hard time refusing me when I gave him my look.
He shook his head. “Girl, the things I give up for you.”
“If she is bad, he can’t see it,” I sang. “She can do no wrong.”
That provoked the outcome I wanted. He nodded and began to sing with me. “When a man loves a woman deep down in his soul, she can bring him such misery.”
“I’ll take away your misery if you’ll go in and put on Bolton,” I whispered. Although contemporary technology was much more convenient, Darcy still insisted on keeping our stereo on which to play his favorite vinyl records.
“Okay! Bolton it is.” He rose from the pier, and I immediately felt his absence. I ran my hands up and down my arms and hunched my shoulders against the chill.
“And bring my sweater, would you please?”
“Here,” he said, slipping off his long-sleeved shirt and wrapping it around my shoulders. “You know, you could go in with me,” he whispered in my ear. “There’s a certain bed inside where we’d both be more comfortable.”
The sight of his bare chest warmed me much more than his flannel shirt, and I was tempted to do as he suggested. “Eventually,” I murmured, “but it’s our last night, love. And the moon and clouds and water are so, so lovely…”
“I won’t argue. Stay. I’ll be back in a moment.” He turned and walked toward the door of the cabin, and I watched him until he disappeared from view. I adored the way he walked. The breeze blew my ponytail with a sudden gust. I shivered and pulled Darcy’s shirt up around my neck. I smiled, noting his scent, and buried my face in it. Oh, how I loved that man!
I heard the call of a grey heron and turned to watch him flap his wings and soar over the pier. Perhaps he flew in search of his love tonight as well. The peace I always found in this place filled me with thanksgiving. I would be forever grateful to Jane Austen for creating Darcy for me and for giving us this fortnight every year to step out of her “own darling child” of a book and into the real world.
It was odd. Darcy would always be twenty-eight, and I would remain not yet one and twenty. We would never age. At times, I wondered what it would be like to have children and experience the joy of watching them grow to maturity. Still, all but two weeks each year was spent inside the pages of Pride and Prejudice, and I hadn’t missed motherhood there. How could I? It was the story of meeting Darcy, falling in love, and beginning my marriage. Only in our glimpse of the real world did I sometimes grow thoughtful, wondering what our life would be like if we didn’t go back.
“Well, I’m glad she allowed us to marry at the end of the book,” I murmured.
“Are you talking to the moon?” Darcy said, wrapping me up in a soft, woolen throw. I had been oblivious to his return. He sat down beside me, having put on another shirt and a jacket. He had brought a tray containing a teapot and all the fixings. He poured a cup for me. “This should warm you up.” I murmured my appreciation while sipping the delicious brew.
“I was thinking of tomorrow and our return,” I said.
“I thought I heard you say something about being married.”
“I said I was glad Miss Austen let us marry at the end of her book. I doubt she would have agreed to these trips if we had remained single.”
He laughed. “Not a chance. Remember, she was the daughter of a vicar. Do you recall our first escape?”
I nodded. “It was 1817, the year she died, and already the world had changed since she had written Pride and Prejudice. We went to London, and there was so much to see and do. Where did we go first?”
“I don’t recall a thing about the trip to London except that great big bed in the hotel and being alone with you. It was heaven. There was no author telling us what to do or readers imagining even more. Just us.”
“We did spend most of our time in our room, didn’t we? If I remember correctly, we spent the first few holidays in that manner.”
“First few? More like first fifty.”
“Darcy! Surely not. Fifty years?”
“I’d bet my last pound, Elizabeth. We spent at least fifty years of two-week holidays in bed before we began to explore the outside world. And why not? Miss Austen wrote so little about our marital bliss. We had to make up for lost time!” He buried his face in my neck, and I giggled with delight.
“Ooh, you mustn’t do that when I’m holding a cup of tea. We may both go home with unexplained burns.”
“Sorry. I’ll behave while you’re sipping your tea, Mrs. Darcy. Or should I call you Mrs. Bennet-Darcy? I still can’t get used to brides electing to hyphenate their married names today.”
I raised my eyebrows at him. “I could even marry you and remain Elizabeth Bennet. Many women don’t take their husbands’ names at all.”
He frowned and shook his head. “Then chalk one up for the nineteenth century. You became Mrs. Darcy when you married me, and Mrs. Darcy you will remain.” He placed both of his hands on my face and turned my head to look into his eyes. “You are mine, and you always will be. I’ll have you known by no other name than Elizabeth Darcy.”
“Well, that’s a sexist statement if I’ve ever heard one,” I teased.
He smiled. “But secretly you like it, don’t you?”
I could not hide my amusement, and I nodded in agreement.
“Come on, little darlin’. Let’s dance.” He rose from the pier and helped me to my feet.
“Darcy, you hate dancing.”
“Yes, in Regency times, I do not care for dancing. All that twirling and bowing and stepping and skipping. I feel like a fool. But―” He pulled me into his arms. “Today’s dancing is much better, especially slow dancing. I hardly have to do anything but hold you.”
The first strains of the next record on the stereo began, and I breathed a happy sigh. “My favorite!” I exclaimed.
Settle down with me.
Cover me up.
Cuddle me in.
“I know my little wife. Ed Sheeran’s song always puts her in the mood.” He placed my head on his chest. Our arms around each other, we swayed back and forth to the music, our feet barely moving.
I gazed up at him. “If I could take anything back with us tomorrow, it would be our favorite songs.”
He nodded. “And then everyone we know would think we’d lost our minds, hearing such intimate words in the drawing room.”
I sighed. “You’re right.”
“No, Fergus will pick us up at nine in the morning. We’ll board our private plane for Hertfordshire, and he’ll drop us off just in time to slip inside the cover of Pride and Prejudice where, once again, I’ll proceed to make an ass of myself.”
“And I’ll be so full of prejudice that I believe Wickham instead of you. How can I be so stupid?”
Darcy kissed my forehead while we continued to dance. “You’ll dislike me at first, but then I’ll propose to you like an entitled, stuffed prig, and you’ll hate me.”
I laughed. “But you’ll write your letter, you’ll save Lydia, and we’ll fall in love. That’s the best thing about our life, Darcy. Every time someone reads the book, we fall in love. It happens again and again.”
“Mmm…I do like that part.”
“And that’s when we need this song.”
Sheeran sang, “Kiss me like you wanna be loved, you wanna be loved, you wanna be loved.”
“Elizabeth, we don’t need this song,” Darcy murmured, his voice deepening. He lifted me off the pier and held me in such a close, intimate manner that I felt myself melting into his body. We were now face to face. I had no need to stand on tiptoes to reach his lips. Like the song said, I began to kiss my husband slowly and deliberately until, in no time at all, he knew exactly what I wanted.
Darcy was right. We needed neither tunes from today nor arias from the past. We made our own music―a love song that would never end.
What do you think about “Two Weeks in June?” Wasn’t it different? We want to hear your thoughts. Comment here to be entered in the giveaway which ends one week after the last vignette has posted.
Thank you, Jan Hahn, for stepping outside your “box” and giving us this lovely vignette.
Books by Jan Hahn
The Child and The Journey are also in audiobook format. An Arranged Marriage will be available as an audiobook later this summer.