Thank you to my wonderful beta, CassandraLowery for sticking with me even after my EIGHT month-long hiatus.

Chapter 43

Elizabeth gazed out the window of Fitzwilliam's carriage as it passed the outskirts of London. She took an unsteady breath, suppressing the nervous fluttering in her stomach as the carriage conveyed her closer towards Longbourn and the uncertainty that awaited her. She had never felt so conflicted upon returning to the place she called home. Her father's behavior and reticence towards Fitzwilliam left her feeling unsettled and confused. Why was he so adamant that she return unattached? He knew that she loved Fitzwilliam and desired to be his wife. Yet, her father had refused his consent! She expected such behavior from her mother, but from her father?

A boot gently nudged her foot, interrupting her darkening thoughts. Elizabeth turned her head, her furrowed brow melting into a reassuring smile at Fitzwilliam's concerned gaze. He sat directly across from her and Jane, reading aloud from Shakespeare's Sonnets. He turned a page, darting a glance towards her sister. Jane was nearly asleep, her head nodding with the sway of the carriage. She awoke in the sudden silence, and Fitzwilliam resumed reading.

Elizabeth reposed against the comfortable cushions as she listened to Fitzwilliam. The gentle cadence of Shakespeare's words spoken in Fitzwilliam's deep voice soothed her troubled spirit, calming her unsettled thoughts. Her hand slid off her lap to rest on top of her reticule. The distinctive sound of paper within caused the events of the previous afternoon to come rushing back with a heart-wrenching ache. Mr. Williamson's letter. She closed her eyes, her fingers tracing the outline of the letter through the fabric.

Upon learning of her imminent departure, Mr. Williamson had requested to see her one last time. Due to the pervasive nature of his illness, he was unable to leave his bed, so she had gone to him, accompanied by Fitzwilliam and her uncle. She had been astonished but unsurprised to learn that Fitzwilliam had relocated Mr. Williamson to better lodgings in a more reputable part of town and had engaged his personal physician to determine if anything more could be done for the dying man. When Dr. Brown's prognosis confirmed that Mr. Williamson was indeed dying, Fitzwilliam found an elderly woman to care for him in his final days.

Despite Fitzwilliam's warning that Mr. Williamson's health had deteriorated since she had last seen him, she was unprepared for the sight that awaited her. Mr. Williamson lay motionless on a bed too large for his gaunt frame, his body draped with white linens like a shroud. His labored breathing was the only sound in the still room, his jaundiced complexion pale and beaded with perspiration. She stood, frozen in shock, until Fitzwilliam's gentle touch on her back caused her to move, her legs drawing her to his side almost against her will. She sat on the chair by Mr. Williamson's bed, and after a brief hesitation, reached for his hand which lay cold and deathly still against the white sheet. At her tentative touch, his eyes opened, and he turned his head to stare at her with reddened eyes. He remained silent for several moments, staring at her with such earnestness that Elizabeth wondered if he were seeing her mother as he looked on her.


Fitzwilliam's quiet voice brought her back to the present. She opened her eyes to see him leaning towards her, concern etched on his face. His eyes rested on the movements of her fingers; understanding dawning in his blue gaze.

"Did you read it?"

"I did not."

Fitzwilliam regarded her for a moment before responding. "I believe it was his unspoken intention for you to read it. It is not sealed."

She lay a hand over her reticule in an unconscious, protective gesture. "I know. But I could not bring myself to read his final farewell to my mother. It seemed…sacrilegious."

Fitzwilliam nodded but remained silent. He disagreed with her reasoning. He didn't feel that her mother deserved such respect. She understood his sentiments, but in this matter, she could not share them. Mr. Williamson's letter would only be read by her mother. Fitzwilliam leaned forward and took her hand, giving it a gentle tug.

Elizabeth bit her lip, a flush rising to her face as she moved to sit beside her betrothed. Fitzwilliam removed her bonnet, placing it beside his own discarded hat and gloves. He lifted her hand and kissed the inside of her wrist, removing her glove before performing the same office to its mate. She darted a glance towards her sister.

"She's fast asleep," Fitzwilliam murmured in her ear.

She turned her head to meet Fitzwilliam's vivid blue gaze, his face inches from her own. The enclosed carriage heightened the intimacy of the moment, causing Elizabeth's breath to quicken. Her eyelids fluttered shut as he pressed a kiss to her cheek, his mouth drifting closer to her waiting lips.

"I feel it incumbent upon me to take advantage of this opportune moment." Fitzwilliam pressed a soft kiss to the corner of her mouth. "Don't you agree?"

"Yes," Elizabeth breathed.

Fitzwilliam smiled against her mouth. As he pressed his lips more firmly to hers, the carriage jolted violently, causing their noses to bump together. Elizabeth stifled a laugh at Fitzwilliam's affronted expression. Once the carriage resumed its usual smooth ride, Fitzwilliam lowered his head to kiss her again just as the carriage went over another bump in the road, causing the carriage to sway precariously. Fitzwilliam grabbed her around the waist to prevent her from falling inelegantly at his feet. Unable to contain her mirth, Elizabeth laughed. Fitzwilliam grumbled his displeasure as he settled his arm comfortably around her waist.

Elizabeth leaned into Fitzwilliam's side, her gaze falling on her sleeping sister. Even in repose, Jane's face bore a worried frown. She had been unusually silent since the Colonel had left for Brighton, disguising her distress at his absence behind false smiles and empty platitudes. Despite Jane's insistence that she was well, Elizabeth understood her sister. Jane preferred to suffer in silence, unwilling to impose her burden on another. Elizabeth ached for her sister's unhappiness, and she prayed for a quick end to the war so that Jane could be reunited with the man she loved.

Fitzwilliam nodded towards Jane's sleeping form. "How is your sister?"

"She is too quiet, too withdrawn. I worry for her, Fitzwilliam."

Fitzwilliam's arm tightened around her. "I shall not be overt in my affections towards your sister when we arrive at Longbourn."

Elizabeth disengaged from Fitzwilliam's embrace so she could see his face, her eyes wide. "But my mother…."

"…Will never discover where my affections and intentions truly lie."

"I don't understand. If you don't pose as my sister's fiancée, then my mother could discover you are there for me."

Fitzwilliam shook his head. "You said yourself that your mother will assume that I am there for Jane regardless of how I act; nothing will dissuade her from that false assumption. I don't have to pretend to be engaged to your sister, and I can converse with you without raising her suspicions."

"Don't underestimate my mother, Fitzwilliam. She does not play by the rules of civility or propriety when she is close to achieving her desires. She will be tenacious and implacable."

He pressed a kiss to her forehead. "I understand and shall heed your warning." He placed a finger under her chin, tilting her head up to meet her eyes. "I shall endeavor to keep my behavior towards you above reproach." He lowered his head, his gaze fixed on her lips.

Elizabeth smiled, leaning away from Fitzwilliam. "Perhaps you should begin now, Mr. Darcy. I believe you need the practice." She moved several inches away from his side, her eyes sparkling with good humor.

"No. I simply need to be more devious in my quest to be near you as often as possible without raising your mother's ire."

Elizabeth raised a brow at the unspoken challenge. When Fitzwilliam made no move to draw closer, she rested her head against the back of the well-sprung carriage and closed her eyes, a smile touching the corners of her mouth. Perhaps going home would be tolerable after all.


Elizabeth's heart began pounding in rhythm with the turn of the wheel as the carriage drove up the graveled drive of Longbourn, her palms damp as she slid her trembling hands into her gloves.

"All will be well, Lizzy." Jane's smile did not reach her eyes.

Elizabeth informed her sister when she awoke that she did not have to pretend to be Fitzwilliam's fiancée. Jane's only response was a brief nod of her head. With each passing day, Elizabeth's concern for her sister increased. She knew Jane was strong and would pull through, but it was painful seeing her sister so unhappy.

The carriage came to an abrupt stop. Fitzwilliam met her gaze, giving her a warm smile. "Are you ready?"

Elizabeth nodded, her mouth too dry to speak. Her family was assembled outside. The sight of her mother waving her handkerchief in greeting caused panic to rise within her. She closed her eyes, breathing deeply. So much depended upon her ability to act indifferently towards the man sitting across from her. She must pretend that he was not the most important person in her life. Seconds later she was alone in the carriage. She could hear the effusions of her mother extolling her happiness at seeing Jane again and escorted by such a distinguished gentleman. She took another deep breath. One week. She could pretend for one week.

Elizabeth took Fitzwilliam's proffered hand, receiving a comforting squeeze as he assisted her from the carriage. Once she left the safe confines of Fitzwilliam's carriage, she felt as if she were leaving who she had become away from the disapproving eyes of her overbearing mother. She would be simply "Lizzy": the unwanted and unloved daughter of the Bennet household.

Fitzwilliam released her hand instantly and stepped away, staring straight ahead. Elizabeth squared her shoulders and stepped towards her waiting family.

Mary immediately came forward to embrace Elizabeth. Their greeting was drowned out by her mother exclaiming over Fitzwilliam.

"Oh, Mr. Darcy! How good of you to escort my Jane home!"

Fitzwilliam gave a shallow bow. "It was my pleasure to be of service to Miss Bennet and Miss Elizabeth, Mrs. Bennet."

At the mention of her least favorite daughter, Mrs. Bennet's gaze fell on Elizabeth. She stared for an excruciatingly long time, looking Elizabeth up and down, an unreadable expression on her face.

Elizabeth regarded her mother with an enlightened understanding. Now that she knew of her mother's sad history with Mr. Williamson, Elizabeth could detect the unhappiness lurking in her mother's hazel eyes. It was the same sadness Elizabeth had seen in Mr. Williamson's green gaze.

"Hello, Mama."

Mrs. Bennet, unable to hold her daughter's gaze, looked away. She glanced back at Elizabeth before returning her attentions to her favorite daughter and her "suitor."

Elizabeth approached her father, her eyes alight with happiness at seeing him again, her anger towards him momentarily forgotten. She had missed him so! Regardless of his recent behavior, he was still one of the most important people in her life, and he would always hold a place in her heart. She walked towards her father, but he would not meet her gaze. She frowned. Before she could say a word, he turned away and said, "Shall we go inside?"

His face set in a frown, Fitzwilliam glanced her way before offering his arm to Mrs. Bennet, causing her to flutter and wave her handkerchief excitedly. Jane hesitated, looking back at Elizabeth before following her mother into the house.

Elizabeth stared at her father's retreating back, stunned, her heart sinking with dread. She caught Kitty's gaze, noting a curious expression on her face. She gave Elizabeth a timid smile before being pulled into the house by Lydia who was exclaiming that she was famished.

Elizabeth turned to her remaining sister. "What just happened, Mary?"

"Papa has been more withdrawn since Mr. Darcy's visit." Mary stepped back to better view Elizabeth. She looked her up and down in much the same manner as her mother had a moment before. But whereas Elizabeth felt her mother did so to find fault, Mary did so out of curiosity.

"Being in love suits you, Lizzy."

Elizabeth's brows shot up. "I beg your pardon?"

Mary tilted her head, regarding Elizabeth with a soft smile. "You are happy. Truly happy."

Elizabeth linked her arm with her sister's. "I am. Fitzwilliam makes me so."

Mary shook her head. "No. It is more than that," she asserted. "You are different. You seem…more confident, stronger. I believe Mama's censure will ever affect you the same way again."

Before Elizabeth could respond, Hill came to the door, her perpetually frazzled face creased in a rare smile to inform them that luncheon was ready. As they entered the house, Mary grabbed her arm.

"Wait, Lizzy. Before you go in, I must warn you…."

"Mary! Oh! Where is that girl?" Mrs. Bennet came bustling into the foyer, and seeing her missing daughters, resumed her rant. "You've kept us waiting long enough. What will Mr. Darcy think?" Mrs. Bennet shook her finger at Elizabeth. "If you turn him away with your thoughtless actions, Lizzy, I won't be responsible for what I may do!" Elizabeth discarded her bonnet, gloves, and pelisse as she walked, handing them to Hill before entering the dining room.

Elizabeth sat in the only available seat, between Mary and Kitty, which placed her directly across from Fitzwilliam. Each time their gazes met across the table, they averted their eyes. The meal progressed in a predictable manner with her mother monopolizing the conversation while attempting to ascertain the true purpose of Fitzwilliam's visit. Her father remained mostly silent as was his wont, save for the barest measure of civility shown to their guest. The meal was coming to an end, and Elizabeth was congratulating herself for maintaining her composure in such an impossible situation when her mother changed tactics for discovering the purpose of Fitzwilliam's presence.

"My stay is of an indeterminate length, Mrs. Bennet. But I plan to remain for at least a week, perhaps longer dependent upon your goodwill and hospitality, of course."

This answer pleased her mother immensely and she gave Jane a sly wink. "Oh, that is quite agreeable, Mr. Darcy," Mrs. Bennet enthused. "You will always be welcome at Longbourn."

Elizabeth hid her smile behind her glass at her mother's statement. She knew it would be quite the opposite when her mother discovered her engagement to Fitzwilliam.

"To ensure that your stay is as comfortable as possible, I have given you the room with the best view of the gardens. It is a little on the small side, but it is most conveniently located."

Elizabeth froze at her mother's words, a flush rising to her face. Surely her mother was not suggesting….?

"But that's Lizzy's room, Mama," protested Jane.

Mrs. Bennet waved away Jane's concern. "It is of little consequence. Lizzy doesn't mind." Her mother pierced her with a glare. "Do you?"

Elizabeth forced herself to remain calm, breathing slowly before responding. "Not at all." Elizabeth met Fitzwilliam's gaze. His face was inscrutable, but lurking in the blue depths of his eyes was barely repressed anger. She sent him a silent plea to remain silent. "Mama is correct, Mr. Darcy. The room affords the best view of the gardens." And was directly across from Jane's bedchamber! Had her mother no shame? And what was her father thinking to allow such a thing?

Despite Elizabeth's silent plea for Fitzwilliam to remain silent, he was quick to protest displacing Elizabeth for his benefit. However, her mother was determined. Elizabeth's ire towards her father reached new heights when he sided with her mother.

"You'll share with me, Lizzy," Mary whispered as they left the dining room. "I am sorry I was not able to warn you in time."

"It would have made no difference, Mary." Elizabeth didn't realize how true that statement would prove to be.


Elizabeth dropped onto the seat in front of Mary's dressing table with a weary sigh, immensely grateful that the first day of this farce was over. Mary pulled the pins from Elizabeth's hair and with deft fingers unfastened each braid that contained her mass of curls. Mary shook out her hair, then brushed it in long, smooth strokes.

Her mother was behaving exactly as predicted. There was no doubt in Elizabeth's mind, or anyone else's for that matter, that Mrs. Bennet firmly believed that Fitzwilliam was there for one reason: Jane. It astounded Elizabeth that her mother had failed to notice the one major flaw in her assumptions: Jane's low spirits. Even her father, who was normally oblivious to such things, had eyed Jane with growing concern as the evening progressed. Jane had retired early, claiming a headache and fatigue from the journey. Fitzwilliam had been true to his word and had shown no special treatment towards Jane or herself. Indeed, he had spent most of the evening answering the inquiries of her two youngest sisters regarding London's latest fashions, much to her mother's confusion and Elizabeth's amusement.

Elizabeth turned over the brush in her hands as Mary braided her hair. She was satisfied with the day's proceedings except for one obvious exception: her father. She could not deny that he was avoiding her. Not once had he met her gaze or spoken a single word to her. When she attempted to approach him again this evening, he had excused himself and retired to his library, leaving her even more hurt and confused.

Mary paused in braiding Elizabeth's hair, studying her sister in the mirror. She laid a gentle hand on her shoulder. "Go talk to him, Lizzy. Your thoughts are so loud that you'll receive no rest until you do. And neither will I."

Elizabeth sighed, placing the brush on the dressing table with a resolute thud. Mary tied off her braid, laying it across her shoulder. Elizabeth stood. Mary was right. Nothing would come of waiting to confront her father except more anger and resentment. There had to be a reasonable explanation for his behavior.

The house was silent as she trod the well-worn path to her father's library. Her refuge. As a small child, the library had been forbidden. Indeed, one of her earliest memories was of her mother informing her and Jane that they were never allowed to enter the library or bother their father. Elizabeth's impressionable and imaginative mind had concluded that the library must be an enchanted place, full of wondrous things. It would be many years before she discovered how accurate that childish impression had been.

In those early years, her father had been kind but distant. He had taken little interest in the development of his children, seeing them only in the evening for an hour. He never visited the nursery or accompanied them on their childish adventures when the weather was favorable. Elizabeth had never wondered at his absence, or felt that she was missing something important from her young life because her mother had always been there: the center of her small, ordered world.

Then everything changed one unremarkable day in late August shortly before her eighth birthday. She was playing hide-and-seek with Jane and Mary and stumbled, quite literally, into the open door of the forbidden library. At the time, she was not thinking of the consequences of that unconscious act or of the long reaching effects it would have on her life. She only knew that Mary was coming and that she did not have a place to hide. It was fortunate for Elizabeth that her father was not within, for he likely would have sent her away immediately. She paused just inside the door, enthralled at what she saw; the game of hide-and-seek was forgotten when faced with the wonders that lay before her. Her feet moved from bookshelf to bookshelf, reverent fingers brushing the leather spines of countless books just waiting to be read. Her heart pounded with excitement, her eyes bright with her new-found discovery: a veritable feast for the mind.

Elizabeth had been blessed (or cursed, if one asked her mother), with a curious and insatiable mind, and was naturally drawn to books and any knowledge she could glean from its pages. Her mother discouraged such behavior, stating she did not wish to have a "bluestocking" for a daughter and that it was unseemly for a young lady to "fill her mind with nonsense."

She was eventually discovered by her father perusing an illustrated book of fairy tales. And far from turning her away or being angry at having his library invaded, he was delighted to discover her interest in one of the few things that brought him true pleasure. From that day on, Elizabeth was a frequent presence in the library. The first time she returned, she stood outside the closed door for nearly a quarter hour, her mother's frequent admonition to never enter ringing in her ears. Knowing what lay behind those closed doors acted as a siren's call, and she had been unable to resist its lure. She never looked back. Over the next several years, Elizabeth began retreating to the library with more regularity as her mother's censure and disdain became more frequent and spiteful.

The library became the one place at Longbourn in which she felt safe and protected, her father's presence acting as a barrier from her mother's constant disapproval. Under her father's guidance, her natural curiosity and love of learning had been nurtured and developed. By the time she was a young woman, her father was the center of her expanded world, the true embodiment of home.

Elizabeth watched her father, yet unaware of her presence, as he totaled the accounts for the week. She could always tell how much her mother and younger sisters had spent by the amount of brandy in his glass and the state of his thinning hair. Something must have alerted her father that he was no longer alone, for he suddenly looked up, staring in her direction. She knew he could not see her standing in the shadows.

"You should be in bed, Lizzy."

The weariness in her father's voice tugged at her hardened heart, but she steeled her resolve and took a confident step forward until she stood directly in front of him. For several moments they simply stared at one another, neither willing to break the uncomfortable silence.

Her father gave a weary sigh, draining his brandy glass. The sound of the glass hitting the desk was loud in the silence, making Elizabeth jump. With a resigned wave of his hand, her father gestured towards the chair in front of the desk. When she made no move to sit down, he refilled his glass. Elizabeth frowned.

Elizabeth was reminded of all the times she spent in this very room with her father, talking, discussing, debating, or simply sitting quietly while they each read or pondered in comfortable silence. There were countless memories that were ingrained into her very being, molding her into the person who was standing before him. She realized just how much she owed the man before her.

"I've missed you, Papa."

"Have you?" he muttered offhandedly.

Hurt by her father's dismissal, she said, "I always miss you when I am away."

He laced his hands on the desk in front of him, regarding her over the top of his spectacles. "Why are you here, Lizzy?"

Elizabeth's brows rose. Did he truly not know? "To ask why you refused your consent to our marriage."

"It is late. We can discuss this at another time."

Elizabeth shook her head, fighting back tears at her father's indifferent attitude. Why was he treating her thus? Perhaps there was some truth to Fitzwilliam's belief that her father was jealous. She dismissed that thought almost immediately, guilty that she had even entertained the idea. Her father was not so prejudiced, was he? She was not leaving until he explained his reasons to her satisfaction.

"No, Papa. We will speak of this now. You have been avoiding me since I returned. Why? Are you so angry with me that you cannot bear to look at me? Is it so horrible that I wish to leave Longbourn and marry Mr. Darcy?"

When her fervent plea elicited no reaction, Elizabeth's tenuous patience snapped. She placed both palms on the desk, leaning towards her father. "Please, answer me!"

His head shot up at her exclamation. He raised a finger. "Watch your tone. I will not have you speak to me in such a manner."

Elizabeth sat, her emotions in shreds. "Forgive me, Papa. Please, why did you insist I come home unattached?" Elizabeth raised her palms in a pleading gesture. "Why would you deny Mr. Darcy my hand in marriage, knowing it is what I truly desire?"

He leaned back in his chair, running a hand through his disheveled hair. "You left Longbourn six weeks ago. Is it so difficult to understand my reservations in this matter? That you wish to marry a man whom you have known for such a short time? Marriage is a decision that should not be made lightly. I would hate to see you unhappy in your marriage partner. I thought that once you returned to your family, you would realize that you had made an imprudent decision."

Elizabeth stared at her father with furrowed brows. His explanation was sound, but it did not escape her notice that he would not meet her gaze. She realized with sickening clarity that her father, the man she looked up to, respected, and trusted more than almost any other was lying to her. But why? What did he hope to gain by it?

"Will you consent to our marriage, Papa?"

He regarded her for a long, tense moment. Elizabeth could not read the emotion evident in his eyes. "If your young man cannot be patient and wait to gain my consent, then he is not worthy of you. I will agree to your marriage when I am ready, not before. Good night, Lizzy." And without another word, he stood and departed the room.

For the second time that day, Elizabeth was left staring after her father's retreating back as he was swallowed up by the darkness. Elizabeth stood, emotionally numb and heartsick. She blew out the single candle flickering on her father's desk and walked to the door in complete darkness. She never once faltered or strayed from the familiar path as she retraced the steps she had walked just a short time ago. Her footsteps were sure, but her heart was shattered. Her father, the man she adored and relied on for nearly twelve years, had become a stranger. It would never be the same between them again. The enormity of what she had lost washed over her, and she staggered as if struck by a physical blow.

She stumbled the last few steps to her bedchamber door, groping desperately for the handle. She gave the door a desperate push, confused when she met resistance. She pushed harder until whatever had blocked the door shifted, and she fell onto the floor in her haste to get inside. She rose to her feet on trembling legs and saw her worn armchair in front of her. She stared at it in numb confusion. Movement in the corner of her eye caused her head to snap up, and by the light of a single, flickering candle she met the startled gaze of her betrothed.

A/N: Well, I'm feeling extremely sheepish right now. I'm so, so, so, sorry for the EIGHT month wait for this chapter. Nothing horrible happened to keep me from writing except my own procrastination and laziness. I've learned, the hard way, to never take "breaks." And by a break, I mean not writing anything at all, which is very, very bad for a writer. So, I've learned my lesson. *nods head* I can't believe it's been almost two years since I started posting Remember Me. It has been an incredible experience thus far, and it is because of you, my faithful readers. So, thank you!

We are finally at Longbourn. Yea! There is going to be interesting things happening the next few chapters. Yes, you'll finally know why Mrs. Bennet disdains ODG so, but I did give a rather big hint in this chapter as to the origins of her disdain. The why you'll just have to speculate ?. Believe it or not, this story is coming to an end in about…10 (11?) Chapters. I have an outline but I haven't yet broken it down by chapters.

I want to respond to two guest readers before we part. First, the comment by vidya, posted on 12/29: "Does that kind of love really exist or are we girls hoping for some[thing] impossible to occur?" By "that kind of love" I'm assuming you're referring to how I portray Darcy and Elizabeth's relationship. So, I'll start there. Yes, and no. While my husband is not Mr. Darcy (except for the blue eyes), in every Darcy and Elizabeth scene that I write I think of my husband and the emotions he evokes in me. As Elizabeth said of Mr. Darcy in Remember Me: "He's not perfect, but he's perfect for me." If you are looking for a perfect person who completes you, and makes all your dreams come true, you'll be waiting for a long, long time. You have a large part to play in your own HEA. As my mother told me, "Be the type of person you want to marry. What you value will draw that type of person to you." If you value intelligence, humor, physical fitness, etc., cultivate those characteristics in yourself. Then LIVE YOUR LIFE. Have faith, trust that the right one will come along in due time.

When I met my husband almost 12 years ago (Friday May 13, 2005), I was not looking to fall in love. My mother had a terminal illness. I had a job that I loved as a special ed teacher working with adults (18-22) with severe disabilities. I also worked part-time at Barnes and Noble (30% employee discount!), and I was volunteering for my church 5-6 hours a week. I was BUSY! Then, I met my future spouse, and all I can say is everything fell into place. Literally. We decided to get married after four weeks. From our first date to getting married was 84 days. What?! Yep, you heard that right. Eighty-four days. I knew on our second date that I was going to marry him. I have never been more certain of anything before (or since!) in my entire life. I just knew. In many ways we are complete opposites: he's a morning person, I'm a night owl; he's spontaneous, I'm…not; he likes salty, I prefer sweet; he's a natural communicator, and me? Well…you have to dig deep to find out what I'm feeling. He likes westerns! Ugh! But I was immediately drawn to him because we valued the same things, and we just clicked. And he speaks fluent Italian ?

Now, back to Darcy and Elizabeth's relationship: the length of their courtship will be the same as mine—84 days. So break out that 1812 calendar and start counting. Their "first date" is the tea at Gardiner House (their time spent in the garden), and the opera is their "second date" when Elizabeth knew she was going to marry Darcy. Also, the idea of Darcy writing Elizabeth a letter every day I shamelessly stole from my brother-in-law. He has written a letter to my sister every single day since their marriage almost 8 years ago. *Sigh* So yes, I firmly believe in true love, and love at…second sight ?

As for the second guest reviewer, The READER, who posted the following on 8/28: "What would you recommend to us who want to get better at Regency colloquialism?" It's funny that you should ask this. Shortly after I posted the last chapter (EIGHT months ago—ugh!), I stumbled across a website of an author who had compiled a list of every single word that Jane Austen used in her novels and personal letters. Every. Single. Word. Yes, you read that right. Over 14,000 words that Jane Austen(!) used in her writing. And I'm going to share it with you, because it really is too good to keep to myself. The author who compiled the list is Mary Robinette Kowal (her books are amazing, btw). Go to her author website: . Then just type, Jane Austen word list in the search engine and voila! You're welcome.

You're all awesome!

Until next time,