Chapter 23

They spent two idyllic weeks at Primrose Cottage, taking walks around the beautiful landscape, having picnics in the garden, and making love at all hours of the day or night. Indeed, the first three days they did not leave the master bedroom at all. The servants simply left trays of food when it was time for meals, and picked up the empty ones when they were done. Elizabeth had much to teach Darcy, and he was always eager to learn. She even taught him the art of making love in secluded places outdoors. At first Darcy was too afraid of discovery to relax, but once she had distracted him, he completely lost track of their surroundings.

Once it was time to depart, they were sorry to leave the place where they had experienced such pleasure and relaxation, but they were also eager to see the children. Elizabeth, for one, was worried that Gregory's sister might have made some trouble while they were gone, despite Fitzwilliam's reassurances. Still, on the journey home, Elizabeth was able to give Darcy a lesson on making love in a carriage.

When they arrived at Cranfield Manor, the children were eager to see them. Hugh was delighted to have a "new papa" as he called Darcy, and Sarah greeted him warmly, even if not as enthusiastically as the other two. The rest of Elizabeth's and Darcy's families had gone back to their separate homes.

"Are you all ready to come back to Northmore?" Elizabeth asked. "We must get going soon so we do not arrive too late."

All children gave their agreement. Elizabeth turned to Jane, and embraced her. "Thank you, dear sister."

"We were happy to have the children with us, Lizzy," Jane replied. "Were we not, Nicholas?"

"Yes, indeed. They are welcome any time you two want to have another little holiday." He winked.

They all said goodbye, and were soon within the carriage. In an hour they were back at Northmore.

"Now, girls, we have a new situation with the governess," Elizabeth told them. "When Miss Snow was visiting her family in Yorkshire this summer, she met a young man she wished to marry, so she will not be coming back to work for us. Instead, Mr. Darcy and I have decided that Mrs. Annesley shall be the governess for both of you."

"That is fine," said Sarah. "I like Mrs. Annesley."

Mrs. Annesley was also glad to see the girls. It seemed she had grown fond of the children in the time that Darcy had employed her.

Elizabeth had an unpleasant surprise, however, when she began to go through her correspondence the next day. She and Darcy were in their shared study in the library, when she opened the missive and gasped.

"What is it, Elizabeth?" Darcy asked.

"It is Lady Hermione," she said, holding the letter in shaking hands. "She has brought a complaint to the Court of Chancery against my guardianship of Hugh and Sarah. She has also questioned your capability to be responsible for them, since you are now my husband. The letter is from my solicitor."

"Let me see it," asked Darcy, and Elizabeth handed over the letter.

Darcy read over the letter several times. "I would not worry too much, Elizabeth. Your solicitor is asking that we provide several written testimonies of your character from family members and others who know you well. That should be easy to do. You have aristocratic friends who will vouch for you, as well as my Aunt and Uncle Matlock."

"Yes, I suppose so. But, Fitzwilliam," she said in a trembling voice, "what if she succeeds in taking the children away from us?"

He took her into his embrace and hugged her hard. "I will never allow that to happen, my love. I will die before I let them be taken from us."

Elizabeth was relieved by his avowal. "I believe you, Fitzwilliam. You are the ablest man I have ever known, and the one most likely to keep his promises."

"We should write to Lord Matlock now, as well as some of your friends. Whom do you know who would give you a testimony?"

Elizabeth thought for a moment. "I think Lady Jersey would, if I asked her. Also, Lords Hampton and Forrester were friends of Gregory. They always showed me the utmost respect, and their wives are friendly with me. We could ask them."

"That should be more than enough testimonies," said Fitzwilliam. "Do not worry, my darling." He set her on his lap and gave her a kiss. She returned it with her usual passion, but then pulled away.

"I must not get distracted, you seducer," she teased. "I need to write to tell them of the situation and ask if they will send in their testimonies."

"And I must get back to my correspondence as well," he said with a sigh.

"Until tonight, Fitzwilliam," she said with a wink.

All of the friends Elizabeth wrote to, provided positive testimonies for the judge; so it was that, a few weeks after the solicitor's letter, he wrote another saying that the judge had thrown the case out of the court, and that Elizabeth and Darcy were named as Sarah and Hugh's permanent guardians. Elizabeth was so relieved that she cried a few tears on Darcy's shoulder; but then they celebrated by retiring to their bedroom for the afternoon.

However, it was with surprise that, the next day, they received a letter from Lord Matlock. Darcy was shocked by its contents.

"It is from my Uncle Harold," he told Elizabeth. "He says that it was revealed to him during his investigation of the case, that it was Lady Catherine who was behind the whole thing."

"What?!" Elizabeth cried.

Darcy nodded. "Supposedly she wrote to Lady Hermione, telling her lies about what a terrible mother you were, in order to try to get the children taken away from you."

Elizabeth flushed with anger. "How dare she!"

"I agree," said Darcy, shaking his head in disgust. "But my Uncle Matlock has taken care of the situation. He is going to send Lady Catherine to one of his small estates in Scotland where she cannot cause any more trouble."

"But – she could write more letters."

"He has hired only staff that are completely loyal to him. They will watch her mail and send him every letter than she attempts to mail. Since Anne is of age, she will come into her inheritance, and Uncle Harold has promised to help her run Rosings."

Elizabeth was shocked. "I cannot believe Lady Catherine would go so far!" she exclaimed. "It makes me sick to think of what she could have accomplished."

"Yes, but we are safe from her machinations now," he said, giving her a comforting embrace. "Perhaps I can cheer you up?" He raised an eyebrow.

Elizabeth, always ready for intimate time with her husband, did not protest when he carried her up to their room.

Darcy had been unsure about using Elizabeth's previous husband's chambers; but Elizabeth, clearly sensing his concern without his ever voicing it, told her that Gregory had not inhabited the master's chambers for some years. Once he began to grow ill, they had moved him to a room on the ground level, that was set up specifically as a sick chamber. Darcy was relieved, but he nonetheless hardly spent any time in his own rooms, except to dress. All his nights were spent in the mistress's chambers.

Darcy got to know the estate of Northmore by conferring with the steward and going over the ledgers. It was then that he found that Gregory's steward had been robbing the estate ever since the earl had grown sick and was unable to look after matters himself. As soon as Darcy realized this, he had the man arrested for theft (he had stolen more than £5,000 over the years), and soon after he was imprisoned. Darcy's next matter of business was to hire a new steward, one whom he could trust.

"I feel simply terrible about this, Fitzwilliam," said Elizabeth that night when they were in bed. "I should have noticed what was going on. But I was so involved in taking care of Gregory, and then consumed with grief after his death, that I never took the trouble to check the accounts."

"It is not your fault, my love," said Darcy, giving her a kiss on the forehead. "A woman is not expected to run an estate in any case, but I know you were involved in helping Gregory before he grew ill. It is not your fault that you lost track of things. You are not responsible for the steward's perfidy. Now," he said, giving her a lascivious look, "let me distract you from your worries."

With a smile, he leaned over to kiss her, and she responded with her usual eagerness. They spent the next hour not speaking at all.

Elizabeth, Sarah, and Hugh wanted to show Darcy and Georgiana all around Northmore's beautiful grounds, and so they started to take rides together in the mornings, all five of them. Hugh was now good enough on his pony to ride for about an hour before getting tired. Darcy also continued with his new son's swimming lessons at the lake on Northmore property. The girls and Elizabeth often stripped down to their shifts as well in order to swim alongside them. All in all, the rest of the summer passed happily, and soon it was time to return to Pemberley for the harvest.

Darcy had hired a new steward for Northmore, and this one was a man his father had trusted, so Darcy knew he could depend on him to be honest and work hard. Therefore, he felt comfortable leaving Northmore under his care while Darcy and his family went home to Pemberley.

Hugh and Sarah's ponies trotted along behind the carriages, as they made their way into Derbyshire and passed onto Pemberley's grounds. Elizabeth was just as delighted to see it again as Darcy and Georgiana were. It had become a second home to her while she was there during the house party. All the servants were delighted to have Elizabeth as their new mistress, Mrs. Reynolds especially. They had observed her over the summer and had hoped that their master would marry her.

They all soon became busy. The music master that Darcy had hired began to work with both girls. Elizabeth started to organize an Autumn Festival, which Fitzwilliam said his mother had put on every year until Georgiana's birth. And Darcy was in his office most of the day, or out in the fields, making sure the work for the harvest was running smoothly.

One afternoon, Elizabeth, feeling as if she had not had enough time with her husband lately, decided to surprise him.

Darcy looked up in surprise when his wife entered his study. He smiled. "Elizabeth," he said, "is everything all right?"

"No, is it not," she said, lifting an eyebrow.

"How may I assist you, madam?" he asked, but he had some idea. Elizabeth had that look in her eye that she always did when she wanted to make love to him. He leaned back in his chair and watched her as she sauntered forward seductively.

"I have not had as much time with my husband as I would wish," she complained with a pout.

"I am sorry, Elizabeth," he said sincerely, "but my steward is about to come in to discuss this year's yield. Perhaps later we could adjourn to our rooms –"

"Oh, but we do not need to go to our rooms," she said, kneeling down on the ground before him. "I think I can find something I would like to do right here."

With that she began unbuttoning the fall of his breeches.

"Elizabeth," he said regretfully, "I do not have time to make love to you right now –"

"Then perhaps I can do a little something for you," she purred. He had pushed back his chair from the desk, and she situated herself under it so that she could reach his erection (he was already hard from her seductive words and the sight of her lush form). She freed him from his trousers, and then suddenly her mouth was on him.

He almost cried out from the pleasure of her warm wet mouth surrounding his manhood, but realized just in time that the door was unlocked and anyone could come in at any time. He was shocked by Elizabeth's actions. He had heard of prostitutes performing this service for men, mainly to prevent pregnancy, but he had no idea husbands and wives did these things for each other.

"Elizabeth, we must not," he said weakly, not really trying to stop her. Just then the door opened and Mr. Stevens entered. Darcy straightened and pushed his chair closer to the desk so that the steward would not see his wife pleasuring him.

"Stevens," he stuttered, "now is not the best time," he said, as Elizabeth used her tongue to lick up and down his shaft from base to tip, then took him into her mouth again to suck.

"It is rather urgent, sir. I have some documents I need you to sign."

"Quickly, then," said Darcy in a strained voice.

He hardly heard the words Mr. Stevens spoke as he explained each document and what he would be signing. Elizabeth had begun a rhythm, bobbing her mouth up and down on his length, with one hand pumping the base which would not fit in her mouth. Darcy held in a loud groan, but some of it must have slipped out, for Mr. Stevens looked at him with concern. "Are you all right, sir?"

"Fine," Darcy rasped. "Is that all, Stevens?"

"Just one more signature here, sir."

Darcy tried to focus on the document before him, but just then he felt the tip of his erection hit the back of Elizabeth's throat. He felt her swallow, and then he was deep down in her throat. This time he could not stop a moan from leaving his lips. Quickly he signed the page, and shoved it at Stevens.

"That is all I can do now, Stevens. Please leave."

With a puzzled look, the steward bowed and turned to depart, shutting the door behind him.

Just at that moment, Darcy let out a loud groan and put his hands into Elizabeth's hair, holding her still while he thrust into her mouth. "Oh, God!" he cried, as he felt her swallow around him again, and then his seed was spewing down her throat. She swallowed every drop, and Darcy fell back in his chair, completely overwhelmed by the pleasure his wife had just given him. Elizabeth climbed out from under the desk and gave him a little smirk, licking the last bit of his seed from her lips. "I suppose the next time you do not have time for me, I shall have to keep this in mind."

"Oh, God, Elizabeth! That was incredible! Thank you, my love," he pulled her down into his lap, and hugged her tightly to him. After a moment, however, she began to wiggle on his lap. Then it occurred to him. "Now it is my turn to pleasure you," he said. "Let us go up to our chambers."

"Oh, yes, please!" she almost begged. "Doing that to you made me so aroused, Fitzwilliam! I need your mouth and fingers on me!"

Darcy laughed, buttoning up his fall again as Elizabeth fairly dragged him from the room. "Very well, my love," he said. "I am at your command."