Chapter Seventeen

'I can't face him, Manda. I just can't' I panicked as we stood near the entrance of the stable.

'I'll go speak to him then. You stay here. Out of sight… again' she smiled and I gave her a relieved look. I don't know what I would do without her sometimes.

'I've been talking to Georgiana. What a determined little girl.' Amanda began. I edged closer to the stable so that I could hear the conversation between her and George.

'Don't tell Darcy. He'd throw her out.' He said softly. I couldn't believe what a fool I'd been. He was a wonderful man and had done nothing wrong but I'd thought the very worst of him. I deserved it if he chose not to forgive me. However, there was still Caroline and Lydia to think of; I couldn't cast them out of my mind.

'Letting it circulate that you seduced Georgiana, to protect her. I'm sorry George, but that's honourable. I got you all wrong… and so did Eli. It's not her fault you know' Amanda said gently.

'It's more fun that way... and I know. I don't blame her.' He said softly. He then noticed that something was the matter with Manda. 'What's the matter here?

'Darcy said he loved me. I said I loved him more and then I found myself obliged to tell him a little bit too much about myself' she explained.

'And he has rewarded your candour by casting you into outer darkness.' He said and at his words Amanda began to cry again. At this I very nearly entered the stable to give her a hug but couldn't quite bring myself to face him yet. 'Oh well, Caroline Bingley is an ocean going whore and she has no arse to speak of. Marriage to her would have been tiresome. I also only said what I said about Miss Bingley to get a rise out of you. I didn't mean a word. You know what I think Miss Price? I think you are a girl who is a very long way from home.'

With this Amanda left the stable and gave me a look that clearly said 'talk to him' before she left. I slowly walked towards the stable as noiselessly as possible because I was still unsure of whether I was going to be a coward and just run away and avoid his disappointment in me. He had his back turned to me and was placing a saddle in the corner. He looked rather rugged and handsome in just a shirt and waistcoat, without his usual militia uniform.

However, I obviously wasn't as quiet as I thought I was and jumped when he said, 'Do you always eavesdrop in stables?'

'Only when you're concerned apparently' I said with a soft laugh, unsure of whether I should joke about this or not.

He turned around and I couldn't decipher the look in his eyes but it either made me want to run and hide or melt into his arms. I'm not entirely sure what I said but I began to babble an apology about how I didn't trust him and I'm pretty sure that the majority of it came out as gibberish. However, I was cut off abruptly when he firmly grabbed my face and pulled me into a passionate kiss.

It seemed to go on forever and every other thought but him was eclipsed from my mind. I grabbed onto his shirt and pulled him closer because I didn't want to be without him anymore. I'd messed up, but so had he. I was merely making up for lost time.

He eventually pulled away slightly but our bodies remained pressed together intimately as he rested his forehead against mine. 'I am so sorry. I will never to be able to apologise enough. I blamed you for something that you had no reason to know because I didn't tell you. Then what I said about Caroline. I swear I didn't mean what I said. I could only see myself marrying…. For love' he said softly. For a moment I wasn't sure whether to confess my love to him but I hesitated as I wasn't sure that it was the right time. The decision was taken out of my hands when he pressed his lips to mine again and all thoughts, once more, vanished from my mind. For the moment, I was happy in George's arms and everything seemed to be perfect.