To Refuse Such a Man: A Pride and Prejudice Variation

To Refuse Such a Man: A Pride and Prejudice Variation by P. O. Dixon Read Free Book Online

Book: To Refuse Such a Man: A Pride and Prejudice Variation by P. O. Dixon Read Free Book Online
Authors: P. O. Dixon
you must despise her as well.”
    Darcy shook his head. “I am not pleased with her interference; however, I do not despise her. All things considered, I suppose I owe her, for I am happy to be your protector. I am looking forward to making you my wife and spending the rest of my days with you.”
    Stepping forward, Darcy lessened the distance between them. “Despite our situation, I am agreeable to a proper courtship period if that is your wish. My wish is that we shall be married sooner rather than later, for I fully intend to woo you even as your husband.”
    She raised her brow. “Do you mind if I ask how does a man woo his own wife, sir?”
    Darcy seized her hands once again. “Tirelessly,” he whispered. Moistening his lips and raising one of her hands to them, he brushed a soft, lingering kiss across her knuckles. “Yet unhurriedly.”
    Smiling, Elizabeth reluctantly withdrew her hands. With such dizzying emotions as those evoked by his soft lips against her skin, she found herself wondering how a man she always believed to be cold and reserved could render her breathless—and speechless.
    “When shall you like to inform your family of our news?”
    Realizing how her happy news affected Jane, Elizabeth said, “I should like very much to speak with my dearest sister, Jane. My papa is already aware of what is unfolding between us. I am confident he will keep the news to himself. My mother will need to be told, but I pray you will allow me to do so after you have taken your leave. In fact, I ought to wait until the household is settled before I tell her. No doubt, she will wish to shower you with approbation when next she sees you. Prepare yourself, sir. You have been warned.”
    Elizabeth silently pondered that Mr. Collins would have to be told as well. She decided she would put it off until her mother had been told. Tomorrow morning will do quite nicely.
    Darcy would certainly not argue Elizabeth’s point as regarded informing her mother. He knew enough about Mrs. Bennet to know that she would not take the news with composure.
    Although there was no changing the fact that Mrs. Bennet would soon be his mother-in-law, the prospect of spending the best part of the coming courtship period under her watchful eyes was not very pleasing.
    “I know things are progressing rather suddenly. You and I hardly know each other.”
    “Granted,” replied Elizabeth. “But I’ve heard it said that there is time enough for a man and his wife to get to know each other once they are married.”
    In saying that, Elizabeth was referring to her intimate friend Charlotte Lucas’s particular philosophy. Charlotte was a sensible woman. Moreover, she was practical, so practical that it would have come as no surprise to Elizabeth were her friend to accept a man the likes of her odious cousin.
    Nevertheless, being practical was precisely what Elizabeth’s current situation called for. While she sometimes entertained fanciful notions of marrying only for the greatest love, the prospect of a scandal cast matters into an entirely different light.
    Besides, there was Jane’s happiness to think of as well. Elizabeth’s marriage to Mr. Darcy would be a means of saving Jane and herself from the odious Mr. Collins.
    Darcy said, “This is true. However, I want you to be happy.”
    “I’ve also heard it said that happiness in marriage is purely a matter of chance.”
    “That is a wise sentiment indeed, but there’s no reason that we cannot get a healthy head start. I can think of any number of things we might do to speed us along the path to happily ever after. We need not wait until we are married and away from Hertfordshire.”
    “What do you have in mind?”
    “Spend time alone with me. Tomorrow, for instance. Come riding with me.”
    Elizabeth bit her lower lip.
    “What is the matter? Pray I haven’t offended you. We are to be married, but if the thought of being alone with me is discomfiting, you are welcome to invite either of

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