Well, hello my dear readers. Are you surprised by this chapter? Believe me, I am too. I had not planned an epilogue. But after chapter 51 (which was technically the final chapter) I received so many lovely messages , many of which asked for an epilogue, that I was humbled and moved to thank everyone who sent me a final message. So, I thought why not have a small glimpse into Mr. and Mrs. Darcy's life 4 months into their marriage.

Needless to say, it is nothing but fluff. But I hope you enjoy reading it.

Drop me a few words and tell me what you think.

ps. I will be posting the first chapter of the sequel in a couple of weeks. Also, for those of you who have been kind and suggested that I should have To Save and Protect published, I am happy to say that it is also my intention to do so. But first, I intend to have it professionally edited. Thanks again for all your support.

Love,

P.

Epilogue:

Mr. Darcy walked toward the manor, his strides, as always, confident and strong. He was dressed impeccably, and to the credit of his valet, the shine of his boots could be observed from afar. To most people, Mr. Darcy was still the serious and quiet master of Pemberley. But those who had the privilege of working for him for years had the pleasure of seeing the gentleman's subtle transformation ever since he had brought his bride to his ancestral home after a three-month long honeymoon. The staff at Pemberley had been pleasantly surprised by their master's jovial mien. They had been charmed by the sound of his laughter whenever he was in his wife's company. They also had the opportunity to witness a very different side of the gentleman, part passionate, part mysterious, every time he stared at his wife adoringly, which was quite often. However, the staff at Pemberley had learned, much to their shock and embarrassment, to avoid entering any room in the manor, without knocking first. It seemed that even after their extensive honeymoon, Mr. and Mrs. Darcy still preferred each other's company to all else, and their time together was spent in pursuit of pleasures, which necessitated a great deal of privacy.

"Good morning, Mrs. Reynolds," Mr. Darcy addressed his housekeeper as he entered the great hall.

"Good morning, Mr. Darcy," Mrs. Reynolds replied with a smile.

"Where is Mrs. Darcy?" Mr. Darcy asked, his eyes surveying the hall.

"She is in the Rose Garden, sir," Mrs. Reynolds replied. "Do you want me to notify her of your arrival?"

"No, thank you," Mr. Darcy shook his head. "I will go to her myself. Is everything in order for today?"

"Yes, sir," Mrs. Reynolds nodded and smiled. "We have prepared everything as you requested."

"Thank you," Mr. Darcy smiled and walked away from her.

Mrs. Reynolds watched her master lovingly as he left the room. She had seen him grow from a lad to the impressive young man he had become, and she had never known him to be happier. She knew how excited he was. He had been planning this day for months. Mrs. Darcy was about to be most pleasantly surprised by her husband. Mrs. Reynolds' heart swelled at the love her master held for his wife. Had it been any woman other than Elizabeth, Mrs. Reynolds would have become concerned for Mr. Darcy's strong emotions and his vulnerability for his wife. But Mrs. Darcy had proven herself quite worthy of her husband's love and devotion.

Miss Elizabeth Bennet had become Mrs. Elizabeth Darcy nearly four months ago and she had never been happier. When she married her beloved Fitzwilliam, Elizabeth knew very well that she was a very fortunate woman to have married a man of such superior understanding. Elizabeth had considered him the best man she had ever known, and she was proven right. He was indeed a worthy man. Their honeymoon had been a dream she never wanted to wake from. Together, they had shared such passionate days and nights that even their remembrance made her breathless. She now understood that even from the beginning of their acquaintance, she had been strongly attracted to him, as he had been to her. They had talked of their attraction for one another one night, as they lay awake in each other's embrace after sharing yet another passionate evening.

"I love you, Elizabeth," he whispered in her ear.

She would never grow tired of hearing him say those words. She turned toward him, resting her head on his shoulder.

"And I you, my husband," Elizabeth returned with a pleased smile. "Although, it took me a long time to comprehend my feelings for you."

"What do you mean?" He asked, his fingers absently caressing her curves.

"I was always affected by you," Elizabeth explained, enjoying his touch. "Even from the beginning, your presence affected me. You are a very handsome man, Fitzwilliam. You cannot tell me that you are ignorant of the attention you receive from ladies everywhere you go."

"There is only one lady's attention I am interested in," Mr. Darcy said as he moved his body atop hers, encasing her between his elbows. "It is only your love I seek, only your eyes I adore, only your embrace I crave."

He leaned closer and kissed her passionately as if to prove the sincerity of his words.

"The more I have you," Mr. Darcy said hoarsely. "The more I desire you. Almost from the earliest days of our acquaintance, I have felt an insatiable need for you. No one has ever had such power over me."

"You have told me that your love came gradually," Elizabeth said, her fingers moving along his back and feeling his strong muscles. "That you were in the middle before you knew you had begun. But when did you become aware of this desire, this attraction you speak of? Was it before or after you became aware of your feelings?"

"It is hard for me to say," Mr. Darcy responded. "My feelings, as I stated before, were difficult for me to comprehend. I could deny my feelings for you in the beginning. But my body's reaction to yours was undeniable. If there was one thing I knew for certain, it was that I desired you, most passionately."

"For shame, Mr. Darcy," Elizabeth teased. "You always appeared to be such a proper gentleman."

"Believe me, my darling," Mr. Darcy returned rakishly. "There is nothing proper about how my body responds to yours."

He kissed her again, setting fire to both their desires. It was some time later when Mr. and Mrs. Darcy were able to converse rationally again.

"You were very good at hiding your feelings and desires in Hertfordshire," Elizabeth observed, as she rested her head on his shoulder once again. "For I never knew how you felt."

"I stared at you all the time," Mr. Darcy said, running his hand up and down her back. "Surely, that should have been indicative of my attention."

"Charlotte had noticed your attention toward me," Elizabeth said with a smile. "I could not account for your sudden interest and attention in me. I thought you were trying to intimidate me or that you were trying to find fault in me."

"No, indeed," Mr. Darcy said, looking at her adoringly. "My thoughts were more agreeably engaged. I believe it was the evening we dined at Lucas Lodge, when I first noticed you. What drew my attention first was the beautiful sound of your laughter. I was in such a dark state those days. But when I heard you laugh, it filled me with such joy, such unprecedented happiness. I could not understand it. I could not account for it. But I knew there and then that my happiness depended on you. From that moment on, I could not help myself. I had to watch you, to listen to your conversations with others, to study your beautiful face. I found great pleasure in studying your features, your intelligent eyes and your alluring lips. Everything about you fascinated me. Watching you and studying you gave me so much pleasure, it became an obsession with me. I had studied your expressions with such interest, soon, I could anticipate your responses from your gestures."

"How do you mean?" Elizabeth asked with interest, as she sat up to see her husband's face better.

"I knew when you were going to be impertinent from your raised eyebrow and your cheeky smile," he explained, raising his hand and tracing her lips with his finger. "I knew, from the shine in your eyes, when you inwardly laughed at someone or something ridiculous. I knew, from the way you squared your shoulders and raised your chin slightly, that you were about to give someone a set down."

"It is astonishing how well you knew me even then," Elizabeth observed, caressing his face.

"It is ironic, really," Mr. Darcy returned. "I studied you to the point of obsession, but I failed to understand your feelings toward myself. I failed to see your dislike of me. I thought you were as attracted to me as I was to you."

"Perhaps, I was," Elizabeth reflected. "I believe I was attracted to you. Except that I was so blinded by my prejudice, I could not see things clearly. The night I refused your proposal, and after you left the parsonage, I felt … I felt empty, and lost, and … and deeply sad. I could not fathom why I was so sad. But I could not deny it. I should have felt relief, but instead, all I felt was loss. I was so miserable, Fitzwilliam, although I did not know the source of my misery."

"My loveliest Elizabeth," Mr. Darcy said as he pulled her to his embrace kissing her firmly, making her forget everything except where his lips touched her skin.

Elizabeth blushed crimson as she remembered that evening, and the passionate love they shared. She took a deep breath and smiled. Being the mistress of Pemberley was an honor and a privilege, but being Mr. Darcy's wife, sharing his bed and enjoying his passionate embrace was a pleasure beyond compare. She was blessed. And now, they were to be blessed with a child. She rested her hand on her abdomen, smiling mischievously at the secret she had been keeping from her husband. It was still quite early in her pregnancy and she had only missed one course, but even before she was visited by the doctor, she knew she was with child. She did not want Mr. Darcy to be concerned, so she had asked for Mrs. Reynolds' assistance in calling for the doctor, the day before, and while Mr. Darcy was out surveying the land with his steward. The doctor had confirmed Elizabeth's suspicion, congratulating her for bearing Pemberley's next heir. It had only been one day since the doctor's visit, but Elizabeth still had not decided on how and when to tell her husband that he was about to be a father. She knew she wanted the moment to be special and memorable. Her thoughts were interrupted by the object of her desires.

"Elizabeth," Mr. Darcy said as he walked toward her.

"Fitzwilliam!" Elizabeth exclaimed, blushing deeper. "I did not hear your footsteps."

Mr. Darcy stopped a few feet away and studied her face closely.

"Are you alright, my love?" he asked noting her blushes.

"Yes," Elizabeth assured breathlessly. "I was lost in thought and I was startled. That is all."

Mr. Darcy crossed his arms, raised an eyebrow in amusement and smiled his now-familiar crooked smile.

"Keeping secrets, Mrs. Darcy?" He asked mischievously.

"Perhaps," Elizabeth smiled nervously. "After all, we must all be allowed our little secrets."

"Must we?" Mr. Darcy asked as he walked the remaining distance to her and sat on the bench beside her.

"Certainly," Elizabeth nodded, her eyes still shining with mischief. "I do not begrudge you your secrets."

"My secrets?" Mr. Darcy asked, both his eyebrows rising in surprise. "You believe me to have secrets?"

"Of course," Elizabeth said. "Ever since we have returned from our honeymoon, you have been up to something, Fitzwilliam. I do not know what it is, but I know it has occupied your thoughts as well as your time."

"You are observant as ever, my sweet," Mr. Darcy said, taking hold of her hand. "What surprises me is that you have contained your curiosity and have not asked me about it until now."

"I have been very curious," Elizabeth confessed. "But I have been waiting for you to share your secret with me when you are ready."

Mr. Darcy did not say anything.

"But if you are not ready," Elizabeth said, suddenly unsure of herself. "I will not press you. I will understand."

"You will understand if I keep a secret from you?" Mr. Darcy asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Well, no," Elizabeth said, not at all comfortable. "I mean … yes… I mean … oh Fitzwilliam! I cannot lie to you. I do not think I can bear it if you continue to keep a secret from me."

Mr. Darcy smiled adoringly at her.

"You are self-contradictory today, my love," Mr. Darcy said as he raised his hand to caress her face.

"I know," Elizabeth shrugged. "But it is simply awful not knowing your secret."

"I can imagine," Mr. Darcy said as he rolled his eyes with amusement. "I must say, I am quite impressed by your forbearance. It must have been very difficult for you to hold your peace until now."

"Indeed it was," Elizabeth agreed with a giggle. "And I do believe you should reward my self-control by sharing your secret with me, Fitzwilliam."

"You are perfectly right, my dear," Mr. Darcy smiled as he leaned closer and kissed her lips gently. "Not only will I share my secret with you, I will show it to you."

"Show me?" Elizabeth asked, her face resembling that of an excited child. "Ooooh, Fitzwilliam, when will you show me?"

Mr. Darcy smiled lovingly at her reaction.

"How about right now?" Mr. Darcy asked?

"Truly?" Elizabeth asked, completely taken by surprise. "Oh yes, my love, please."

Mr. Darcy's smile grew deeper and his eyes shone with amusement. He stood up, pulling her up with him.

"Come," he said excitedly as he pulled Elizabeth toward the front of the house.

Having to run in order to keep up with her husband's long strides, Elizabeth laughed wholeheartedly and allowed him to lead the way. When they finally reached the front of the house, Elizabeth came to a halt as she saw Mr. Darcy's great stallion.

"Poseidon!" Elizabeth exclaimed, her face showing her displeasure upon seeing the animal.

"What is the matter, my dear?" Mr. Darcy asked, having fully anticipated Elizabeth's reaction to his horse. "Are you not pleased to see my horse?"

"Why should I be happy to see your beast of a horse?" Elizabeth asked, attempting and failing to pull her hand out of Mr. Darcy's tight grip. "You know, better than anyone, how I feel about horses. And this horse, in particular, brings back such bad memories."

"Surely, they were not all bad memories, my sweet," Mr. Darcy said as he wrapped Elizabeth in his arms. "I certainly cherish those few minutes I got to ride him with you in my arms."

"You were not in your right mind, Fitzwilliam," Elizabeth said petulantly, pressing her hands against his chest in order to escape his embrace. "You had lost so much blood, you can hardly be expected to remember the horrors of that ride."

"I may have been injured and tired," Mr. Darcy whispered, once again pulling Elizabeth to his chest. "But I still enjoyed your closeness. I took immense pleasure from your soft body against mine. Had you not been so innocent, I am sure, you would have recognized my body's reaction to yours."

"Fitzwilliam!" Elizabeth exclaimed, blushing at the meaning of his words. "You are shameless."

"I am besotted," Mr. Darcy said and kissed her again and again, completely disregarding the stable hand standing a few feet from where they stood. "Now, wife, enough of this nonsense about your fear of horses. You rode Poseidon that night even after I lost consciousness. You will ride him with me again today."

"But, why?" Elizabeth asked, still dazed from his kisses.

"Because I wish it," Mr. Darcy said pulling Elizabeth toward the horse whose reins where firmly held by a stable hand.

"Tyrant," Elizabeth said, not at all pleased with the prospect of riding Poseidon.

Mr. Darcy laughed his throaty laugh and lifted Elizabeth, placing her on the tall horse. He mounted the horse quickly and positioned himself behind her. He wrapped one arm around her waist, holding the reins with his other hand. Elizabeth could not help be reminded of their ride from Sandry Hall to the parsonage. She had been scared, but she too had felt and enjoyed their unspoken intimacy. Mr. Darcy waved the stable hand away and brought Poseidon to a gentle trot.

"Where are you taking me, Fitzwilliam?" Elizabeth asked, trying hard to regulate her breathing.

"I cannot tell you," Mr. Darcy said.

"Is it very far?" Elizabeth asked again.

"Be patient, my sweet," Mr. Darcy whispered and kissed her ear. "It is meant to be a surprise."

Elizabeth grew quiet as she looked at a ground and was once again reminded of how tall the horse was.

"Did you have a pleasant morning, Elizabeth?" Mr. Darcy asked, noticing her quiet.

"Yes, I had a letter from Jane," Elizabeth said with a smile.

"And what news did she have?" Mr. Darcy asked, intent on keeping her attention away from the horse.

"Jane and Mama had gone to London for two weeks to order Jane's wedding clothes," Elizabeth said with a hint of humor in her voice. "Jane is the epitome of love and patience, but it seems that even she could not handle's Mama's exuberance. It seems that nothing would please Mama."

"Poor Jane!" Mr. Darcy said with a small chuckle. "She should take solace in that she will be married soon."

"Oh yes," Elizabeth nodded. "I do wish that Netherfield was not so far away from Pemberley."

"You know you can travel to Hertfordshire any time you desire, Elizabeth," Mr. Darcy assured his wife.

"I know, my dear," Elizabeth said lovingly, placing a hand atop his large hand wrapped around her waist. "But she is still so far away from me."

"Charles has not purchased Netherfield," Mr. Darcy said after a short pause. "I would not be surprised if he chooses not to renew the lease once the time comes."

Elizabeth turned her head to look at her husband. His face was impassive as always, but there was an unmistakable twinkle in his eyes.

"What are you telling me, Fitzwilliam?" Elizabeth asked.

"I am simply making an observation, my dear," Mr. Darcy shrugged. "Charles is able to lease or purchase a house in any county he chooses."

"And are you inclined to believe that he may choose a house near Pemberley?" Elizabeth asked, overjoyed by the possibility.

"I am inclined to believe that Charles would do anything to please his wife," Mr. Darcy said as he smiled at his wife. "Just as I am inclined to do anything to please mine."

"And what exactly have you done, my husband?" Elizabeth asked. "Have you advised Mr. Bingley to take a house near Pemberley?"

"Oh, I have learned never to give advice to anyone," Mr. Darcy said with a crooked smile. "But I have also learned that where Charles is concerned, I can make my knowledge available to him in a very subtle way, plant the seeds, and then step back and allow him time to come to the right decision on his own."

"How very devious of you, Fitzwilliam," Elizabeth said, as she wrapped her arms around his neck. "But I love you for it."

"I was hoping you would approve," Mr. Darcy smiled. "Charles has chosen a state not so far from Pemberley. I have surveyed its land with him. I believe it to be a great place for them to establish their roots, and it is only an hour away from Pemberley."

"That is wonderful news!" Elizabeth exclaimed.

"Are you pleased with me?" Mr. Darcy asked.

"I am very pleased, my love," Elizabeth said as she rewarded him with a kiss. "Was this the secret you have been keeping? Was this my surprise?"

"This was a secret," Mr. Darcy admitted. "But it was not my secret. It was Charles'. My surprise for you is of a different nature altogether."

"And how much longer should I wait until we reach this surprise?" Elizabeth asked impatiently.

"Not long at all," Mr. Darcy said as he gestured toward an opening in the woods.

And there, beyond a small clearing, Elizabeth saw her husband's lovely surprise.

"Oh, Fitzwilliam!" Elizabeth exclaimed as her hand rested on her heart. "The cottage in the woods."

"It is our cottage in the woods," Mr. Darcy whispered in her ear.

"This is the cottage you told me about," Elizabeth said as Mr. Darcy brought Poseidon to a stop in front of the cottage.

"Yes, well," Mr. Darcy said sheepishly. "I was not entirely truthful with you when I told you that story."

"What do you mean?" Elizabeth asked as she turned to face her husband once again. "This is the cottage in the woods, where Darcy men bring their wives. Is it not?"

"This is indeed a cottage in the Pemberley woods," Mr. Darcy agreed. "But you are the first Mrs. Darcy to be brought here by your husband."

Elizabeth stared at him, not quite understanding his meaning.

"You see," Mr. Darcy said as he ran his hand along her back caressingly. "This cottage was build for you. I ordered its construction while we were on our honeymoon. I thought this could be our own little private place, away from all the fuss, all the staff. Where you and I can be together without any intrusion."

Elizabeth's eyes grew in astonishment.

"You built this cottage for me?" she asked. "For us?"

"Do you like it?" Mr. Darcy asked not quite sure of her approval. "Are you pleased?"

Elizabeth's response was quite convincing as she leaned closer, and kissed her husband passionately.

"I love you, Fitzwilliam," She said after a long and enjoyable kiss.

"Would you like to see the inside?" Mr. Darcy asked, suddenly sounding like a young boy.

Elizabeth nodded, her eyes shining with joy. Mr. Darcy dismounted first and then lifted Elizabeth off the horse, placing her gently on the ground. Unable to help her excitement, Elizabeth ran toward the cottage, pulling her amused husband behind her.

When they entered, Elizabeth was speechless. It was everything she had dreamed of and more. It was not a large cottage, but it was bright and airy. There was a small sitting room with simple but elegant furniture, a small fireplace and a small dining table for two. The adjoining room was a bedroom, with a large bed and large fireplace, whose fire had been lit for quite some time, since the room was comfortably warm. The bedroom was furnished with shades of blue and gold. There were vases of roses and gardenias everywhere, rendering the room fragrant. The curtains were closed in the bedroom, and it was dimly lit by tall candles.

Mr. Darcy leaned against the bedroom door and watched his wife adoringly, committing to memory, every little emotion that passed her beautiful face. When Elizabeth was finally finished surveying the room, she turned toward him, rewarding him with one of her smiles that was specially reserved for him.

"Well, Mrs. Darcy," Mr. Darcy addressed her from where he stood. "How do you like your cottage in the woods?"

"I like it very much, indeed," Elizabeth said excitedly as she walked toward her husband. "I want to stay here all day.

"I am afraid that is impossible, my dear," Mr. Darcy said gravely.

"Why ever not?" Elizabeth asked. "Is it not complete yet?"

"Oh, it is complete," Mr. Darcy said. "But you see, we agreed to come to the cottage in the woods when you misbehave. As you have been on your best behavior since we have been married, there is no reason for us to use the cottage."

"Oh, I see," Elizabeth nodded, her eyes twinkling with understanding.

"I knew you would, my love," Mr. Darcy said, his eyes mirroring hers.

"Then perhaps we ought to leave," Elizabeth said with mock gravity.

"As you wish," Mr. Darcy said, offering his arm to Elizabeth, and wondering how long she would play this game with him.

"Did I tell you, Fitzwilliam," Elizabeth said, as she took her husband's proffered arm. "The bridge leading to the Martins' cottage is broken."

"Is it?" Mr. Darcy asked with a raised eyebrow, not quite understanding the direction she was taking with this conversation.

"Yes," Elizabeth nodded. "Anyone who wants to cross the river has to walk much farther to use the other bridge leading to the Watsons'.

"And how is it that you have come by this information, Elizabeth?" Mr. Darcy asked, suddenly understanding what his wife was up to.

"I found out while I was walking, a few days ago," Elizabeth shrugged, her eyes dancing with mirth.

"Oh?" Mr. Darcy said, putting on a stern façade. "Martin's cottage is quite far from Pemberley grounds Elizabeth. I distinctly remember forbidding you from walking that far."

"I simply couldn't help myself, Fitzwilliam," Elizabeth said as she walked away from him and stood beside the bed. "You were gone most of the morning and I was quite bored."

"Were you at least accompanied by a maid?" Mr. Darcy asked as he walked toward her.

"I was not," Elizabeth said, smiling mischievously at her husband. "Which was a good thing, as they would have been poured in as well."

"You walked back in the rain?" Mr. Darcy asked, unable to decide whether he should be amused or angry.

"It seems, Mr. Darcy," Elizabeth said as she sat on the bed, running her hands suggestively on the sheets. "I have indeed disobeyed you."

"You certainly have, Mrs. Darcy," Mr. Darcy said as he stood before her, running his hands through her hair, deftly removing her hairpins. "I believe we ought to stay here for a while and discuss your behavior in great detail."

Elizabeth agreed wholeheartedly and allowed herself to become engulfed in her husband's fiery passion.

Hours later, as her husband slept peacefully, Elizabeth stood in front of the mirror, surveying her body. She smiled at her reflection. There were no signs of her pregnancy, and yet, she could not help feeling different. She ran her hand along her abdomen again, imagining that she was caressing her child.

"Elizabeth!"

Elizabeth started and turned to see Mr. Darcy sitting up in bed, surprisingly alert. He was staring at her, his eyes asking her what his lips were yet unable to ask. Elizabeth smiled a small, shy smile and looked down at her hand resting on her abdomen. Mr. Darcy's eyes grew wide as he too stared at her hand and back up at her.

"Are you?" Mr. Darcy asked, unable to formulate a complete sentence. "Am I? Are we?"

Elizabeth's smile grew wider, as she walked toward the bed and stood directly before him.

"I am, Fitzwilliam," She said, amazed at how easy and how wonderful it was to tell him.

Elizabeth took his hand and gently placed it atop her abdomen.

"You are going to become a father, my love," Elizabeth said.

Mr. Darcy released the breath he had been holding since he had woken up and seen Elizabeth standing in front of the mirror, caressing her abdomen. He had never seen her do that before. He had never seen that look of utter and complete happiness on her face. He knew. He knew instinctively that she was with child. She was carrying his child. His eyes glistened with unshed tears.

"Oh, my sweet love," he said as he wrapped his arms around her body and kissed her abdomen again and again. "My beautiful, wonderful Elizabeth."

Elizabeth laughed and wrapped her arms around his neck. Mr. Darcy placed her on his lap and kissed her fervently.

"Are you pleased?" Elizabeth asked.

"Am I pleased?" Mr. Darcy asked in disbelief. "I am about to be a father. I am ecstatic."

Elizabeth kissed him softly and caressed his handsome face.

"How long have you known?" Mr. Darcy asked, his face suddenly serious and concerned.

"I have had my suspicions for a little over a week," Elizabeth explained. "But the doctor confirmed it yesterday."

"And how are you feeling?" Mr. Darcy asked. "Are you sick? Do you feel faint? Oh, dear Lord, Elizabeth, have I been hurting you and the baby these past nights?"

"Fitzwilliam, stop," Elizabeth said, partly concerned, partly amused by her husband. "Doctor Whitely assured me that we can continue our closeness. It will not hurt me or the baby."

"Why did you not tell me sooner?" Mr. Darcy asked. "I need to ensure that you are safe and well taken care of."

"I only just found out yesterday, my dear," Elizabeth said as she rolled her eyes. "And I am already regretting having told you about it."

"Excuse me?" Mr. Darcy said, offended by her words. "You are my wife and this is my child. I need to know everything pertaining to your wellbeing."

"This baby and I are in perfect health, Fitzwilliam," Elizabeth assured. "Please do not fuss."

"I do not fuss, Elizabeth," Mr. Darcy argued. "You will do as you are told. No more long walks unless you are accompanied by me. I need to speak with the doctor to know what you need to eat. Perhaps I should send for the family doctor in London. You need to be monitored by an experienced surgeon."

"Fitzwilliam George Darcy!" Elizabeth said in a stern voice. "Before you plan the next eight months of my pregnancy, let me make one thing very clear. I will continue to go on long walks. I will eat what I crave and I most certainly do not need a surgeon from London to help me deliver this baby. I am in perfect health and a midwife is all I will require when the time comes."

Mr. Darcy stared at his headstrong wife for a few minutes, knowing full well that Elizabeth meant every word she said and his arguments would be futile. He looked down at her abdomen, placing his hand on it protectively.

"I am only concerned, Elizabeth," Mr. Darcy said with a softer voice. "My mother never recovered from giving birth to Georgiana. As overjoyed as I am with the prospect of becoming a father, the thought of it endangering your life is something I cannot bear."

"I am touched by your care for me, my love," Elizabeth said as she caressed his face. "But surely, you know, that I am a very healthy woman. My mother has given birth to five children. I know that our baby and I will be fine."

"I feel helpless," Mr. Darcy admitted. "I do not mean to be overbearing. Tell me what I can do."

"Love me," Elizabeth said with a smile. "Love me as you have always loved me. Hold me in your loving arms every night. Wake me up every morning with your gentle kisses. And stare at me in that intense way that sends shivers down my spine. That is all I require, Fitzwilliam."

Mr. Darcy smiled and kissed her softly.

"I love you, Elizabeth," He said and caressed her face. "I love you and our unborn child. I will protect you both for as long as I shall live."

She smiled contently as she rested her head on his shoulder, his mere closeness filling her with strength, confidence and love.