Alone with Mr. Darcy: A Pride & Prejudice Variation

Alone with Mr. Darcy: A Pride & Prejudice Variation by Abigail Reynolds Read Free Book Online

Book: Alone with Mr. Darcy: A Pride & Prejudice Variation by Abigail Reynolds Read Free Book Online
Authors: Abigail Reynolds
mistake on so many fronts he could hardly
begin to count them. Yet he had been pleased to have the decision taken out of
his hands. She had saved his life, and he had repaid her kindness by
compromising her. Marrying her was his duty under those circumstances, and he
need not reproach himself for giving in to his attraction to her.
    And she had refused to take him seriously!
Even if they were fortunate enough not to be discovered together, did she truly
believe no one would notice her absence? Ridiculous! The simplest solution
would be to go straight to Mr. Bennet with the facts of the matter. But what
was he thinking – he should be trying to avoid the marriage by any means
at his disposal! Perhaps that blow to his head truly had addled his wits.
    If only it had addled his eyes instead!
Being so close to Elizabeth, he could not stop himself from admiring her. Her
beauty shone through despite her dishevelment, and it drew him to her, the moth
to the flame. And now he had as much as told her so. Would she try to use that
power against him? Where was that damned woodpile?
    Why was he even trying to find it? Without
more wood, they would have to huddle together for warmth. He could feel his
passion flare even as he stood in the raging snowstorm. But he could not do
that to her. He would not take advantage of her vulnerability. And he would
keep repeating that to himself until his gentlemanly impulses returned from
wherever they were hiding. They were probably with that blasted non-existent
woodpile.
    He had made almost a full circuit of the
cottage, but felt every bit as unsettled as when he had slammed out of the house
before he did something foolish like show Elizabeth just how attractive he
found her.  The woodpile must be farther from the cottage than he dared
go. In this driving snow, he could lose their way completely two dozen paces
from his destination. That would not solve any of his problems.
    The woodpile tripped him when he was only
a few feet from the door. Blasted thing! He would have found it immediately,
had he only started in the opposite direction. Even inanimate firewood was
conspiring against his sanity today. He dusted the snow from his trousers and
rubbed his aching knee, then began filling his arms with firewood. It was a
good thing his servants could not see him now.

Chapter 4
     
     
    Elizabeth jumped up from the hearth when
Mr. Darcy entered in a blast of wind, his arms full of wood and his head
covered with snow. He took great care in setting the logs in a neat stack, then
returned outside. Just leaving the door open that long had lowered the
temperature inside the cottage substantially. If he had to make several trips,
perhaps she should open and close the door for him to preserve what little heat
they had.
    He thanked her coldly for her assistance.
After adding a third armload of wood to the pile, he stumbled and had to catch
his balance on the mantel. Elizabeth started to hold out her hand to stop him
from taking another trip, but she drew it back, not daring to point out he
should not undertaking such exercise.
    But this time when he went out, he did not
return immediately. Elizabeth waited by the  door, peeking out to see if
he was waiting for her to open it, but he was not, and the swirls of white
covered everything beyond the doorstep.
    
Had he fallen in the slippery snow?
Or lost consciousness? A sharp piece of ice seemed to pierce her deep inside.
Oh, why had she allowed him to go outside again? He had clearly been in no
condition for it!
    Without giving herself a chance to
reconsider, she opened the door and stepped out into the fierce wind. But how
could she find him when she could not see even a few feet away? “Mr. Darcy!”
she called.
    “Yes?” His muffled voice came from her
left.
    Relief flowed through her as she made out
slightly darker shape. “Is anything the matter?”
    “No. Yes.”
    Her breath caught on something halfway
between a laugh and a sob. “Which is

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