Well, here we are. This is the final chapter. I am sorely afraid that the fortunes of the Bingleys are not going to satisfy anyone. Sorry. I put that poor couple through so many things in my mind. In the end, my characters led me here. Janice
OOPS. Big oops. I was too tired last night and posted without my history note. Sorry. Sorry. It is really important here. So here it is:
On September 1, 1816, General Hon. Charles Fitzroy married one Eliza Barlow.
There has to be something written about this Eliza Barlow somewhere, but I could not find it.
If they had any issue, the peerage doesn't know it.
Fitzroy did have one child. He had a son, Hugh Huntly, who was born illegitimately back in 1796.
Charles Fitzroy died on October 18, 1831 at the age of 69.
July 20, 1812
The new Earl of Matlock ran his fingers lovingly across the chiseled inscription, careful not to touch the wet mortar that held the stone in place. A hand on his shoulder slowly drew his attention. He followed the hand to the arm and then finally to the face of his younger brother.
"I think she will like it here, Richard. She is truly where she wished to be, surrounded by nobility. She is now well and truly one of us, a countess forever and ever."
For a moment all Richard could do was to give his brother's shoulder a reassuring squeeze. William had changed. Never would Richard have considered sentimentality a part of his brother's nature. Maybe it was true. Maybe it had been a love match after all. "We should return to the house now. The sooner we go back, the sooner all these blasted guests will leave."
After taking another long look at Caroline's stone, William nodded. The brothers returned to the house. Somehow Richard's hand remained on William's shoulder until they reached the main doors.
William had the odd sense of being outside of himself. It seemed he was watching his interactions with the mourners from a distance. Mourners! Ha! With very few exceptions, no one was here to condole with him. They came at him, one after another, to forward their selfish desires and schemes.
"We all grieve for you. She was so young." The Duke barely paused before he brought forward the young woman beside him. "You remember my niece, do you not? Lord Matlock, allow me reintroduce Lady Anne…"
William did not hear the words after that. An oh so sincere looking young lady was before him. She mouthed some things. William was very sure that they were all the proper words for such a time. He studied her face. There was such a genuine look of grief about her. If he had not known better, he would have been comforted. Heavens, she even has tears in her eyes. Then she put her hand on his arm. He stared at it. From the corner of his eye, he saw the real woman when a flash of satisfied pleasure flitted across her face.
Ah, my poor dear. You were doing so well. Despair not. You are young. Soon you will learn to leave self-congratulations for your performances to the privacy of your own rooms.
Then there were the men to whom William's father had lost so much money at the gaming tables. To a man they were all already a little in their cups. The William who was outside himself looking in vaguely wondered which one of them would be the first to lose his estate in a game of cards.
But in between all the Lady Annes and the gamblers, there were the men who had truly grown rich off of Matlock's coffers. William had spent so much time with the estate's books that he could place each man together with his failed investment scheme. While Lord Coffee Plantation in Ireland was talking, it suddenly came to William that the man was smirking.
Every one of these men has smirked. They think me my father's son. No. They know me to be my father's son. They are sure that I am easy prey. They do not even bother to hide the contempt in which they hold me.
Even though the voice was gentle, it sent a jolt of surprise through her. She had not expected this. Why was he here?
"I am very sorry. Truly. This must be very difficult for you."
Louisa could see that he was genuinely concerned for her. A small ray of hope appeared. It was quickly extinguished by her guilt. She had no business hoping for anything. "It is my fault. I should never have abandoned her. I should never have let her go off by herself. Now she is dead."
"It is not your doing."
There was power and conviction in Hurst's voice. Louisa's eyes flew to his face.
"You must believe me in this. One way or another, Caroline would always have her own way. Nothing that you did or did not do ever had any effect." Hurst knelt down and took Louisa's hand into his. "You tried so hard to help her, to please her. You went so far as to lose yourself to her."
He paused and put his hand on her chin. Gently he moved her head until she had to look at him. "I miss the Louisa that I once knew. If she is still here somewhere, I should like her to come home."
He did miss her. Until Caroline's interference grew too large, Louisa had always seen to it that Hurst was comfortable. He always had very good food and wine. When he woke on a settee, there was always a cushion under his head and a rug to keep him warm. She made sure someone tended to his gout, even when he did not complain. Stop.
Sighing, he rose and turned away. It was just a dream that his Louisa still existed.
Hurst stood looking out the window for a long time. Then he made his way over to a side table and poured a brandy. He was about to take a large drink when a small hand stayed him.
"Mr. Hurst, you are limping a little today. I am so sorry to see that terrible gout bothering you again. The new earl's wine is very good. It should not hurt your ankles the way that brandy does. Pray have a seat and wait just a moment. I will bring some to you."
As Louisa hurried away to request a glass of wine, Hurst did sit down. Just with not standing, he did feel better. A small smile formed on his face.
July 21, 1812
Darcy's body woke well before his mind. His hand was full of flesh and his erection was pushing into a generous and soft buttock. He slid his other arm under his wife. In a moment, both of his hands were filled with her heavy breasts and his sleepy mind was filled with how she had ravished him the night before. The more swollen her body became; the more she seemed to crave him. Moaning, he slid one hand down to her center. Then she moaned. He could feel her wetness coming on. Still asleep and she wanted him. He pulled on one of her enlarged nipples. She pushed her hips into him immediately. He was the most fortunate man to have ever lived.
When he woke again later, his hands were empty. His eyes immediately flew open. All was well. She was still there with him. However, now she wore a robe and was sitting up. He rubbed the sleep from his eyes and pulled himself up onto the pillows. Then, he chuckled. Elizabeth was completely preoccupied with devouring a lemon pastry.
She finished, licked her fingers, and gave him a quick kiss. Then she not so gracefully got off the bed and opened the door to the hall. "Adams. Please have Cook send up some of the beef left over from last night. And some lettuce and some tea. And fresh bread with butter. Oh, and fruit. Please also have her send up some coffee for the master."
When Elizabeth turned around, Darcy was sporting a wide grin.
She looked around for something to throw at him but there was nothing soft. She settled for frowning.
In a moment he was off the bed and pulling her into his arms. "I am sorry. I am not teasing, not really. It is just so wonderful to wake up and see you feeding our child. I missed you so much these last days at Matlock."
Placated, Elizabeth wove her arms around him. "I missed you, too."
July 23, 1812
Barely resisting the impulse to order another bath, the new Earl of Matlock sank heavily into a chair. He had bathed three times in the last two days and still he did not feel clean.
All the people from Caroline's funeral kept running through his mind. I am one of them. I have always been one of them. I used Caroline just like they are trying to use me, just like they used my father, just like I have always tried to use them.
He was dirty. He was one of them.
Just then the door opened and Richard entered the room. Richard. Brave and strong and true. I will save Matlock. Caroline's sacrifice will not line the pockets of the Ton. I will rebuild this place for deserving Fitzwilliams, for Richard and his sons.
August 10, 1812
The greasy, little blob was talking. Even as he shoved another piece of ham into his already overfilled mouth, he was talking. A wave of nausea hit Charlotte Collins. She turned her face to her own plate, willing the reaction to go away.
It did not. It had never bothered her before, not really. None of it had. She had been able be easy with Lady Catherine's arrogant interference. She had happily tolerated the company of the insipid Miss Anne de Bourgh. She had been able to put up with Collins' deplorable manners, his grating conversation, his smell.
But now, everything little thing made her ill. Charlotte knew the reason. It had all started when news of Mrs. Bennet's delicate condition reached Hunsford. Until that moment, Charlotte had been lying to herself. She had been claiming to be quite content with her situation. What she had really been content with was the certainty that she would one day return to the familiar society in Meryton. She would live out her days in wealth and comfort, surrounded by people whose company she enjoyed.
Now the future was something that Dante could have written. What was her sin that she should be forever in the company of only Mr. Collins and Anne de Bourgh?
There was no relief here, none at all. The local society was much too high for the Collins. The villagers and servants were also closed to her. They would never befriend her for fear that their secrets would be repeated to Rosings.
There was not even a child to make it easier to bear. Seven months of tolerating Collins' sweaty rutting and there was no child. Would there ever be one? How would Charlotte stand to live if Mrs. Bennet bore a son?
September 1, 1812
Charlotte clumsily applied a plaster to her right hand, all the while silently cursing Elizabeth. She would not have this trouble. Her left hand works as well as her right. Forget that. She has plenty of servants to do it for her.
The parsonage's cook gave Charlotte a sympathetic look from time to time, but did not stop working to help her. Heaven forbid that anything should make the meal late. Anne de Bourgh would hear of it. Mr. Collins will tell the tale himself. Then the elderly cook would be again called to Rosings to explain. No. The cook valued her position. Mrs. Collins would just have to make do.
Shaking off her resentment, Charlotte turned her full attention back to the wound that one of her hens had inflicted. The bleeding had stopped, but the pain continued. It was her own fault and Charlotte knew it. She had been distracted by her brooding thoughts and that wicked brown-feathered fiend had taken advantage.
Adding a little more plaster, Charlotte leaned back to let it dry. Oh no. It is bleeding again. Huffing, she wiped away the wet plaster and once more applied some pressure. At least her left hand was useful enough for that.
It is not fair. It is not right.
Suddenly it hit Charlotte. It was not right. None of it was right. None of Mrs. Bennet's behavior was right.
She should have been parading her bulging belly in front of Charlotte's mother. She should have been telling Lady Lucas that it was such a shame that Charlotte would lose Longbourn now. She could hear Mrs. Bennet's voice, imagine her words. Well, we can both hope for a girl. Can we not? But we are such friends that I must be wholly truthful. This time is different from the other five. It is a boy. I am sure.
Charlotte knew Mrs. Bennet too well. The old witch would never be able to resist slowly torturing the Lucas family. She should be a daily visitor to Lucas Lodge. Nothing would keep her from it. She would walk over hot coals if need be.
And there is more that is not right! Mrs. Bennet would not stay in a hired place with only Kitty to look after her. Kitty was useless. No. Mrs. Bennet would not stay away in Ramsgate. When she was not out crowing over her coming heir, she would be laying in state in her rooms. The whole Longbourn house would be upside down waiting on Mrs. Bennet hand and foot.
It is all a lie. Why did I not realize it before?
Charlotte was suddenly very sure. Mrs. Bennet intended to steal Longbourn. Over my dead body.
September 8, 1812
Darcy came awake quickly. Something was wrong. Elizabeth was gone. He grabbed his robe and opened the door to the hall. "Where is Mrs. Darcy?"
"She has gone downstairs, sir."
Darcy rang for his man and dressed as quickly as possible. Elizabeth never got out of bed so early these days.
He found her in the still room, hanging roses up to dry. The whole long table was filled with cut blooms and a great many bunches had already been hung to dry. How long had she been up? He tried to get her to turn over the rest of the chore to a servant. Elizabeth should not work this hard in her condition. She should come and have some breakfast. Then she should rest.
Elizabeth cheerfully declined and hummed as she continued her work.
The whole day followed the early morning. Elizabeth found one large chore to do after another. Darcy had been sure that she would fall asleep after tea, but instead she wanted to go for a walk. She was so large now that it should more properly be called a waddle. However, he was not about to say so. He had learned not to tease a pregnant Elizabeth.
Having insisted on going with her, he was surprised at how much energy she had. It had been at least two months since she had taken such a brisk walk.
Suddenly, she stopped. She was lifting the hem of her dress and looking down at her shoes. They were wet and getting wetter.
Oh no. Did I just wet myself? Elizabeth could not look at Fitzwilliam. She could only stare at her shoes and feel more water running down her leg. Then an ache moved though her lower back followed by a cramp in her belly. Her hands dropped her skirts and closed low over her bulge.
"Elizabeth, what? What is it?"
"I think we should return to the house."
It was not until after eight the next morning that an infant's cry was heard. Darcy had been pacing for hours outside Elizabeth's room. He knew he should stay out until they came for him, but he could not help it. He burst in. "Elizabeth, are you alright? Is she well?" He pushed through the people at the bedside and knelt by his exhausted wife. Her eyes were bright and she was smiling. "A son. We have a son."
September 8, 1812
So far everything had been easy. It had taken only a little of Charlotte's savings to send someone to Ramsgate to locate the Bennets. True, he had not seen them. The neighbors said they never left the cottage. But he did find out where they were.
Anne de Bourgh had been easy to manipulate, too. Once the little creature thought it her idea that the Collins have a day of sea air, nothing could stop the trip.
Now they stood watching the rear door of the handsome, little house. Charlotte had some trouble in convincing her husband that they should enter through the back. Once again, though, she had triumphed. The little toad now considered surprising his dear cousins as his own idea.
Finally a maid stepped out, basket on her arm, and headed off towards the village. This was the moment. Entering through the kitchens, they had only to follow the loud lamentations of Mrs. Bennet. Mr. and Mrs. Collins did not run into any servants as they crossed into the main hall and stopped before a pair of doors. Mrs. Bennet's wails could clearly be heard from within. Taking a deep breath, Charlotte opened the doors wide.
Mrs. Bennet was suddenly silent. There in the room with her, sprawled out of a settee, was Kitty Bennet; and Kitty was very swollen with child.
New York, New York
October 10, 1812
Charles Bingley walked the floor of the apartment's drawing room. It was amazing that he was upright. Every time that Jane had screamed, Charles had taken a drink. Jane had done a lot of screaming. But now, everything had gone quiet and it had brought Charles to his feet. He wished that he was brave enough to go to Jane's rooms and see what the situation was, but he knew that he was not.
Finally, a servant came. She held a white bundle in her arms. "Mr. Bingley, you have a daughter, sir."
Slowly he approached. The servant folded the swaddling back so Charles could see the baby's face. She opened her little eyes. They were blue, just like Jane's. Bingley broke into a broad smile and then promptly passed out.
October 28, 1812
After her subterfuge had been discovered, Mrs. Bennet had wasted no time in heading back to Longbourn. That cottage had been small and uncomfortable and she wanted to be home. The Nicholls might be poor substitutes for the Hills, but they were far better than one lazy maid.
However, returning to Meryton had not been so pleasant. Somehow the neighborhood had come to believe that Fanny wanted to cheat the Collins out of Longbourn. Of all the ridiculous notions! It was that Collins who was trying to claim an estate that was not rightfully his own! She had only been taking the opportunity to set things to rights. In time, everyone would see that.
But for now, no one came to visit her. No one was at home to receive her calls. She no longer ventured into Meryton. Why, even the shopkeepers ignored her. Yes, for now, she was trapped in this house with only her husband and Kitty.
Mr. Bennet did nothing but laugh at her. Kitty did nothing but eat and complain. If only Mary and Lydia were here, but they had still not returned. No matter how many letters Mrs. Bennet sent, there was never an answer. She seethed again thinking of how Mr. Bennet refused to demand that the girls come home. It was not to be borne.
A horrible scream from Kitty rent the morning air. Mrs. Bennet hurried down the hall to her daughter's room. She stayed only a moment before returning to her own rooms and ringing for her salts. Kitty's time had come. How was Fanny to bear it?
Before the night was over, Kitty Bennet delivered a large and healthy male child.
September 3, 1816
Darcy held his infant daughter in his arms as he watched an unmarked carriage pull to a stop in front of Pemberley House. An unknown man exited, followed by a servant and what looked like her child.
To Darcy's great surprise, the man then reentered the carriage and it drove away.
He strode from the room, calling for Mrs. Darcy, for little Mary Anne's nurse and for Mrs. Reynolds. By the time that Darcy made it outside, the carriage was far in the distance. The frightened servant looked up at him and handed him a letter.
Everyone else arrived at the same time. The nurse took Mary Anne away. Elizabeth spoke softly to the little girl and the servant. "You must both be tired. Mrs. Reynolds will take you to the kitchens for some refreshment while we read your letter."
Elizabeth and Darcy returned to his study where he broke open the missive. His face became more somber as he read. When he finished, he led Elizabeth to a chair and sat her down. Then he handed the paper to her.
Dear Mr. Darcy,
Forgive me in advance for dropping these two on your doorstep and then leaving. However, I have already had much more than I bargained for in transporting them here to you. If you do not wish them to remain, it is now your problem.
I was hired by a shopkeeper in New York to bring them here. His name was Charles Bingley. He said that the girl is your niece and that you would happily take her in. He said to tell you that neither Mrs. Bingley nor the new babe survived her lying-in. Due to his reduced circumstances, he could not possibly care for the child.
I am done now and back to my own concerns.
The letter was unsigned.
Tears formed in Elizabeth's eyes. Jane was gone. It was hard to believe.
It had been over two and half years after Jane had disappeared from Pemberley that Elizabeth had first heard from her. Her sister had apologized over and over. They were not allowed to send letters to England during the war. With the restoration of peace, Jane could now let them know that she and Charles were doing very well. Little Elizabeth Louisa had been born to them on in October of 1812. No other children had come. Poor Charles and his dear partners had lost nearly all their funds in a failed shipping venture. There was only enough left to open a little shop in New York. They happily lived above it, although Jane did wish for a garden for little Lizzy and perhaps another servant or two.
Only a few more letters from Jane had come. The last one had been more than four months ago and now Elizabeth knew the reason. Jane would never write again.
Mrs. Darcy stood and wiped the tears from her eyes. There would be time for those later. Right now there was a little person that had to be very uneasy. "Come Fitzwilliam. Let us go meet our niece."
Despite all the letters they sent, the Darcys never heard from Charles Bingley again.
June 8, 1823
Women were not allowed at funerals but that did not stop Lettice. She was not about to leave her boys in the care of these Bennet men while they watched their father entombed. Thus she ignored all the contemptuous stares and stayed with nine year old Henry and four year old William through the whole thing.
She held William's hand for comfort and Henry did the same for her. What a strong and good boy her eldest was. He would need to be, surrounded by this nest of vipers.
There was a commotion near the entrance of the crypt and Lettice looked up to see that Darcy had finally arrived. If it had not been for the necessity of showing no weakness in front of these men, she would have sagged with relief. Little William caught sight of him and ran over. Darcy swept the boy into his arms and walked over to stand behind Lettice. "Forgive my late arrival. I lost a carriage wheel on the way here."
Formidable, tall and dark, his presence let the Bennets know that the new Earl of Arlington was not alone.
Hornby Castle, North Yorkshire
September 15, 1823
Young Robert Darcy, 1st Earl of Holderness of the new creation, sat silently by his father's side. Hornby's steward was reporting on the progress of the harvest. Robert was itching to ride out and see everything for himself, but he knew that would have to wait until morning. They had arrived too late today to see the workers and the fields. He was bursting with pride to be helping, for the first time, with supervising the harvest at his own estate. The family would stay here through the spring.
"You have learned a great deal at Pemberley, but Hornby has its own concerns. This year, we will let the steward see to you brother's estate and you will see to yours."
Darcy had not mentioned another reason for them all to stay put. Elizabeth was increasing again and he did not want her to have to travel as she became large. All the children had been born at Pemberley so far. This one would start its life at Hornby Castle.
If it was a third boy, he would become the master of Rosings. Darcy had been surprised when Anne had left Rosings to him. It was true that he had saved the estate after Lady Catherine's mismanagement had almost caused it to be sold, but he never expected Anne to be grateful.
Now that a new babe was coming, Darcy could only be pleased. None of his sons would have to have an occupation.
In future years, Darcy would look back on this moment and laugh. His fourth child had indeed been a boy. However, that son showed no interest in anything but science; flatly refused to pay the least attention to estate management; and declared that if Darcy left Rosings to him, it would just sit and rot. He was going to spend his life with his experiments. And so he had. Rosings went to Mary Anne.
Hornby Castle, North Yorkshire
September 25, 1823
Darcy's pregnant wife had just backed him up against the wall when a knock interrupted them. Sighing, she released him.
"An express has just arrived, sir."
Darcy took the missive from the salver and waved the servant away.
"It is from Richard."
Darcy quickly opened and read it. "Word had just arrived from Ireland. William has died."
Neither Darcy was surprised. The Earl of Matlock had been ill for months. Nor could either
Darcy be particularly grieved. Fitzwilliam had only known his cousin as a gambler, a rake and a scoundrel. Just when William seemed to be changing for the better, he had left for Ireland and had never returned. Matlock had been in Richard's hands for years now.
Still, both Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth felt pain for Richard. He had come to value his brother and this would hurt.
After a long silence, a slight giggle escaped Elizabeth. Darcy looked at her in question.
"Mary is now a countess. Who would have imagined it, all those long years ago at Longbourn?"
Darcy answered with a smile. "And little Richard is now Viscount Milton. I shall make very sure that Robert addresses him properly when they next meet."
Husband and wife now shared wide grins. Robert had been insufferable to his young cousin when the Crown had created Robert the new Earl of Holderness. He had demanded that little Richard Fitzwilliam refer to him as Holderness. He had condescended enough to tell little Richard that, being as they were cousins and all, Richard did not have to call him Your Lordship.
Grosvenor Square, London
March 27, 1828
Tears in her eyes, Louisa Hurst boarded the carriage to follow her husband's body to his brother's estate. He had always wanted to be buried with his parents and she would take him there.
He had been so good to her, taking her back when she did not deserve it. She had done her best to be a good wife after that. It was a shame that no child had ever come, but at least they had tried. But despite that, he had been content. Louisa was sure that much was true. It was also a blessing that he had passed away quietly in his sleep. He had never liked pain and she was very glad that he had not suffered.
Now she would be all alone. Well, she would not think about that, not yet. First she would see Mr. Hurst to where he belonged. Then she would think about the future. At least she now had some friends. Perhaps it would not be so bad.
August 13, 1828
Mrs. Bennet pulled the pillow around her ears. Those young ruffians downstairs were making so much noise. Did young men not have any manners these days? What were they doing down there anyway? Frankly, she was too afraid to go down and look.
If I was back at Longbourn, I would be far away from such noise and would have servants to deal with it anyway! Oh, it is so unfair. She had never made peace with losing her home nor had she ever been the least bit thankful for this little cottage in Ramsgate. It was such a pittance from that undeserving Elizabeth. It was disgraceful that the child had done so little for the woman who had raised her.
At least she did not have to deal with Thomas Bennet anymore. May he be rotting in Hell. The only thing that she regretted, other than losing Longbourn of course, was that he had died so peacefully. They had found him in his library, a book on his lap and a glass of brandy nearby. His heart had gone, they said. He was so restful looking that he must have died in his sleep. There was no justice in that. If anyone should have had a long, painful death it was Thomas. For him to have passed on in his favorite place and in the comfort of sleep was unforgiveable. There was no justice, none at all.
A loud crash downstairs was followed by even louder laughter. Those boys must be drinking again. Oh, where is Kitty? Staying out all night again, I wager. Oh, where are my salts?
Darcy House, London
April 12, 1831
Elizabeth had just made a final round downstairs. The whole house was ablaze with light and everything was in readiness. She just needed to check on Lizzy. The maid opened the door to Elizabeth's knock and then stepped back. Standing there was such a beauty. Lizzy had the blond hair and blue eyes of both her parents. Other than that, she truly did not much physically resemble either one. Still, she had certainly inherited a gentle nature and undeniable loveliness. Many a young man would lose his heart to this one. Fitzwilliam was already a nervous wreck and Lizzy's ball had not even started yet. Elizabeth wondered if he would live through it when it was Mary Anne's turn.
August 9, 1831
A smile crept over Darcy's face as he read the post. Where is Elizabeth? He got up and left his study to find her.
The moment he opened the heavy oak doors, beautiful music surrounded him. He could not resist heading to the music room. When he got there, the sight took his breath away. Tears formed in his eyes. No matter how many times he was privileged to see this same thing, it never failed to move him.
Georgiana, still such a small child in so many ways, had regained her music. But now it was somehow even better. Perhaps it was because she did not have any adult notions of embarrassment. Whatever the reason, Georgiana now played with her whole heart and body.
Lydia, as always, was by her side.
Darcy wiped a tear away and continued on to find his wife.
Elizabeth was sitting in the rose garden, basking in the late morning sun.
"Lizzy, you will not believe the letter that I have received."
She arched her eyebrow in question.
He sank down next to her. "Do you remember, all those years ago, that little urchin that I told you about? The one that saved my life that first night in Newgate?"
Just thinking of that time brought a chill to Elizabeth, but she forced it away. "Yes. How could I ever forget?"
"Newbold was his name, Michael Newbold. He has written a letter."
Now Elizabeth's face broke into a wide smile. "Oh, I am so happy that he survived. I have often wondered. Is he in Australia still?"
"Yes. He not only survived, he now owns his own cattle ranch. I knew he could do well. He has also taken a wife and she has given him a son. They have called the boy Darcy. Darcy Newbold. He says it is in gratitude for my saving his life. He promises to raise the boy to be an upstanding man." Darcy stopped and blushed. "He says he wants the boy to honor his namesake."
December 1, 1831
Gretna Green, Scotland
This time it was Darcy who had his wife up against a wall. Just the idea of bringing her back here had kept him hard for weeks. They had no more than gotten the door to the room closed before he had started unbuttoning her clothes. It was too slow. He took his hands and rent the fabric. Her corset and chemise had fared no better. Now here she was; breasts bared, breathing hard and back against the wall. He placed his hands on either side of her, bracing himself.
He leaned in close. Elizabeth could feel the heat rolling off him in waves. Her knees nearly gave way when he whispered in her ear, "I am going to devour you."
And then, he did.