KafkaRotica

A scandalous game indeed

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a man who has been married to the same woman for five years, must be in want of some experimentation.

Thus it was for Mr. Darcy, who was still most happily married to Elizabeth Darcy after five engaging years. But Mr. Darcy was unsettled by his own lacking libido, when, upon celebrating their anniversary, he merely ate a large dinner and fell asleep on the chaise.

One could not suppose Mr. Darcy to have fallen prey to a sedentary lifestyle, as so many men are prone to do after marriage. He exercised rigorously and was yet a good sportsman. He had a fine countenance and a good figure, and while his disposition had never been in his favour, his demeanor had softened over the course of his marriage. He was more likely to laugh, though he often looked surprised by it himself.

The positive influence on Mr. Darcy’s life was none other than his cheerful wife and two rambunctious children, who brought him much joy. As for his marital relations with Elizabeth, she could be as impudent and willful in their bedchamber as ever she was at a ball, but Mr. Darcy much preferred the sound of her lovemaking to the sound of her pianoforte.

A fortnight after their fifth anniversary, Mr. Darcy resolved to speak to Elizabeth about what he could only perceive to be his waning desire for intercourse.

“You must have no doubts of my affection,” he said as they spoke together late in the evening. Elizabeth lay curled with her back against him, and he felt her head nod. Her cotton nightgown shifted slightly against his bare chest.

“Of course not,” she assured him pleasantly.

“But I find our marital routine to be, forgive me, in need of revival.”

“I have spent some time reflecting upon this very vexation,” she admitted.

“Trust that I think only of you and your happiness,” he continued. “My sentiments are unchanged. It is my body that fails to respond.”

“And how do you propose we overcome such flaccidity?” Though he could not see her face, Mr. Darcy could hear her teasing tone easily enough. In rebuttal, he pinched the soft flesh above her hip, to which Elizabeth responded with a sharp slap on the back of his hand.

Mr. Darcy chuckled and kissed her just below her hairline. “I have no prescription in mind,” he mumbled against her neck.

“I have something in mind. But I am afraid it would affront your noble sensibilities.”

This time, Mr. Darcy pinched her side, and Elizabeth was obliged to laugh even as she slapped his hand away.

“Villain!” she cried.

“What is your idea?” Mr. Darcy urged her.

“We must make some sport of our lovemaking,” she finally concluded.

“A game?”

“A scandalous game, indeed.” Elizabeth turned and looked up at him boldly. “What if we should endeavor to secretly have sex in all of our friends’ homes by year’s end?”

Mr. Darcy sat upright in bed, so great was his surprise. He was caught between a considerable shock at her lack of proper manners and his intense desire to do the very thing she prescribed. After taking a moment to recover, he found himself laughing again.

“I have always thought you devilishly clever.”

With that, it was settled, and Mr. and Mrs. Darcy proceeded to act very sociably around the neighborhood, that they might be invited over for tea.

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Mr. and Mrs. Bingley were the first to provide them with an opportunity for playing their game. Mr. Bingley had been persuaded by his wife, or more accurately by her younger sisters, to throw a ball. The entire Bennet family was invited as a matter of necessity, though the Darcys certainly hoped that Mr. Bennet’s dislike of travel might dissuade him, and more importantly, his wife, from attending.

Naturally, upon arriving at the Bingleys’ home, they discovered that the entire family had made the trip eagerly. With the arrival of Mr. Bingley’s two sisters, the group nearly resembled the first ball they had attended together at Netherfield.

While the final preparations for the ball were completed, Darcy and Elizabeth stole away to discover areas of the house wherein they might discreetly have a flop. They hardly dared touch each other, for the excitement of their search threatened to overwhelm them; each time a servant passed they dissolved into nervous laughter. Finally, in one lavish parlour they found a decorative oriental screen with ample space behind it for two bodies. Its position in the corner created a small pocket of privacy inside the larger, ornately furnished room, but the thin fabric of the screen would afford them just the right risk of discovery.

The ball began soon thereafter. Mr. and Mrs. Darcy danced one dance together for the sake of appearances, and those watching could not help wondering at Mr. Darcy’s uncommonly flirtatious demeanor. One young lady remarked that indeed he looked almost amiable!

Miss Caroline Bingley watched the couple with thinly veiled disapproval from her vantage point near the french doors. Her intended husband, Mr. Weatherby, was not nearly so rich as Mr. Darcy, nor so handsome. But as she was obliged to pass the evening with him, instead of on Mr. Darcy’s arm, she felt compelled to give the appearance of perfect happiness.

When the dance ended, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy proceeded hurriedly across the room. “Now where can they be off to?” Miss Bingley asked as she watched them depart, but her question hung rhetorically, and quite unanswered, in the air.

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The oriental screen the Darcys sought was located in a small parlour down the hall. The music could still be heard as a muted, merry tune behind them. With the door securely closed, but not locked, Mr. Darcy turned and removed his jacket.

“Are we truly doing this?” he asked, his face as determined and serious as Elizabeth had ever seen it. “Please do not trifle with me. I could not bear it if you were to tease me now.”

“I wouldn’t dare,” Elizabeth said, and, to illustrate her willingness, she reached under her long dress and pulled down her undergarments. Mr. Darcy froze and watched her, his posture excessively erect.

“Now,” Elizabeth said, tossing her undergarments behind the screen, “do you doubt me?”

Mr. Darcy was at her side in three long, quick strides. He grasped her head and pulled her up into a kiss that felt much like the first kiss they had ever shared. Here, in this room, she seemed new and impulsive to him again. The laughter and muffled conversation from the ball carried down the hall, reminding them that their family and friends might, at any moment, choose to enter the parlour.

In a mood approaching giddiness, Elizabeth grabbed Darcy’s hand and tried to pull him back towards the screen, where they might be out of sight.

“Not yet,” he whispered against her lips. His long fingers moved through her hair and then down, around her neck and across her bare collarbone. Her dress, though modest, exposed the top of her cleavage, and Darcy’s lips dipped to caress the mounds of her breasts. In response, Elizabeth unfastened the back of her dress, which allowed the soft fabric to slip down, slowly, just below her nipples. Mr. Darcy immediately wrapped his lips around her left nipple and flicked it with his tongue.

A loud comment in the hall outside made them both jump, and they were forced to laugh at their situation.

“To think — Mr. Darcy, the epitome of propriety, kissing my bare breasts where anyone might see. You are more wicked than I thought.”

“Watch your mouth, or I may need to fill it.” Mr. Darcy’s eyes burned, and Elizabeth thrilled at the intensity of her husband’s mood. She glanced down and saw the ridge of his erection filling his pants most abundantly.

“I wish you would,” she said as she slipped her hand into his pants.

“Forget the screen,” Mr. Darcy growled.

He pushed his hips against her hand so that she would grab him harder, then took her wrist and guided her hand up and down against his considerable erection. His dark eyes never wavered from hers. The screen, and all else, was soon forgotten. Indeed, though their every acquaintance might be no more than a few yards away, Mr. and Mrs. Darcy were the only two people in existence.

Darcy pulled her hand out of his pants and grasped her firmly around her delicate waist. Seemingly without effort, he lifted her off her feet and spun around, placing her upon the desk. His hands quickly bunched her skirts up to expose long, slender legs, which, in anticipation and deepest affection, parted most eagerly.
Darcy pushed her down so that her head fell backwards off the desk.

“Wait,” she said. She dug under her skirts and removed a letter opener from beneath the small of her back. “Better,” she smiled as she tossed the offending article to the floor.

Now that Mr. Darcy had paused, he took a moment to admire his alluring wife. Her long neck was stretched back, her small breasts vulnerable and waiting. Under her skirts, her legs were open, and there, for all the empty room to see, was her pink and pretty vulva.

“I flatter myself that you think me handsome,” Elizabeth teased.

“Always.” He fixed her with his gaze. “Always.”

Darcy placed his palm against the desk and leaned over her. As he trailed his lips down her neck and between her breasts, Elizabeth shuddered visibly, though not with chill — her skin was burning, overspread by the deepest blush.

Elizabeth closed her eyes so as to focus on the attentions of her husband’s lips, hands, and breath. Darcy rarely, if ever, took the time to touch her like this — so slowly and carefully. With her eyes closed, she imagined the door to the parlour opening a crack, and one of the servants standing just beyond the door, watching them in secret, admiring her aroused breasts and small waist and the way Darcy’s tongue ran around her nipples. She shuddered again and opened her eyes, but the door remained closed.

Mr. Darcy followed her eyes and looked over his shoulder at the door.

“It is not too late to stop,” he said, misreading her expression. He began to pull away from her, but she locked her legs around his waist.

“Don’t you dare,” she said huskily.

Relief spread over his features. “Thank heavens.” He quickly unbuckled his pants and drew them down in the front. Elizabeth sat up and grinned at the sight that greeted her — her husband’s proud cock protruding from under his shirt. Elizabeth admired him, long and smooth and solid, and she felt a heat building between her legs.

“You would not deprive me of your mouth, first,” she admonished. Though she jested, Mr. Darcy was in no mood for flippancy.

“Indeed not,” he said, and, without preamble, grabbed both of her thighs roughly and pitched them into the air, spreading them out and up. His mouth greeted her openly. Elizabeth almost forgot herself and shrieked, but muffled her own cry of surprise in her arm. She began to giggle helplessly, though she stifled her giggle, too, against her arm.

Mr. Darcy’s tongue was earnest. It flicked and stroked, resolute in its intention. Elizabeth soon ceased to laugh; but she kept her hand at her mouth, to silence her heavy breathing, lest she be overheard. Truly, Elizabeth feared being discovered with her legs over her head, but a small part of her even so much as hoped for it. Oh dear, what would Mr. Collins say? How pleasurable it would be to shock him into silence!

Mr. Darcy’s steaming breath moved up and down between her spread legs, warming her tender lips. Just as she thought he might lift his head, he squeezed her thighs and pressed his mouth firmly against her clitoris. His tongue was soft, but its pressure was exquisite—not too intense, and touching a deep need that reached its way up her body and escaped, as a cry, from her mouth.

“Hush,” Mr. Darcy scolded, lifting his head. “I do not want the others to know how well endowed I truly am.”

Elizabeth smiled apologetically. Darcy took hold of her ankles and brought her legs up and together so that they stretched straight up in the air. He grabbed both her ankles with one hand, and slipped his other hand under her hips to tilt her pelvis up. Now she would truly be in a compromising position should someone walk in, but by this point, she could not hope to care. She wanted only him, her serious Mr. Darcy, to take her however he liked.

With one hand grasping her ankles, and the other on the desk, Mr. Darcy positioned himself by moving his hips up and down, so that, with each movement, the tip of his cock brushed lightly against her.

“Now it is you that teases,” Elizabeth moaned. Her voice was low and resonant with feeling.

“It is no less than you deserve,” he scolded. The tip of him continued to rub up and down and around her opening, tormenting but refusing to enter her. Elizabeth shifted her own hips in supplication, as well as she could manage while pinned in such a position. Mr. Darcy smiled down at her frustration.

“You must be quick! We will be missed eventually,” she pleaded.

“Since when would you like me to be quick?” Darcy teased. He allowed the tip of his cock to rest right between her parted lips, so that with one swift push he would be inside of her. But to her aggravation, he did not push.

“Now!” Elizabeth forgot herself in her need, and her voice rose again to an audible pitch.

Darcy glared at her. “Do not cry out so. Or we will certainly be discovered.” Ever so slowly, he nudged himself in but one centimetre, and, in so doing, demonstrated the great restraint for which he was known. He pressed her legs back so that she could not accept him any further.

“You are the most disagreeable and horrid of men!” Elizabeth whispered harshly, grasping the sides of the desk with her hands.

“I will punish you for that remark later.” And with that, Mr. Darcy thrust himself into her, with such velocity and exertion, that Elizabeth was obliged to gasp. With exaggerated deliberation, Darcy then drew himself back out, running the thick head of his cock slowly through her until he found himself once more a mere centimetre deep.

He hovered there for an excruciating moment, as all the room seemed to quiet, and even the portraits on the walls held their breath. Then, again, he pounded into her. Elizabeth could hardly contain the powerful sensations that swept through her, from the deep, throbbing ache between her legs to the tingling of her blushing skin. She keenly felt the impropriety of their love, the openness of the parlour, and the drafty air that dried the kisses from her breasts. But it was Mr. Darcy’s penetrating gaze that most affected her, with its dark, lusty promises. Here was the man from her wedding night, who had come to her bed after years of waiting, at last to make her his wife. Now he was with her again, only this time they had the benefit of familiarity, and an intimate knowledge of each others’ bodies built upon years of experience.

Again Darcy withdrew, and again he pushed, but this time, he did not slow. Elizabeth’s perky breasts were jostled as Mr. Darcy drove his thick erection forward and back, swelling, like the music, in a frantic lover’s dance. In such a position, he could lean into her and take advantage of all his great height to deepen the penetration. The muscles in his thighs and arms tightened as warmth spread through his body.

The culmination of the danger of exposure and the intensity of Darcy’s love was too much for Elizabeth, and she began to feel her muscles quivering with each hard thrust. She had to stifle her own cries as Darcy forced himself deeper inside of her quaking body. Finally, she could not restrain herself further; her hips bucked and pressed as she reached her climax.

Darcy’s serious mood turned instantly tender as he felt her orgasm trembling around his cock, and he scooped her up and held her to him. She threw her arms around his neck and pressed her face into his shoulder as her body contracted and released.

Darcy kissed her softly on the top of the head, and as she slowly melted into him, he pulled her hips against his. They rested against each other for a long moment, until a voice in the hall, sharp and sudden, aroused them from their stupor.

“I must get away from this dreadful crowd!” the voice said very near the door of the parlour. Elizabeth and Darcy froze and held each others’ gaze for a fraction of a second before Mr. Darcy sprang to action. As the unmistakable voice of Miss Bingley approached the door, saying, “Here, let us just escape into the parlour,” Mr. Darcy drew Elizabeth up into his arms, lifted her off the desk, and darted behind the screen. He disappeared from view just in time, for at that moment, Miss Bingley and her sister, Mrs. Hurst, opened the door and stepped inside.

Mr. Darcy held Elizabeth up against the wall behind the screen with her legs wrapped around his backside, his cock still inside of her. They remained perfectly still, so as not to make any small noise that might alert Miss Bingley to their presence. But it seemed that they were undiscovered, at least for the present moment, as Miss Bingley, completely ignorant that she was overheard, continued her conversation.

“How our brother can stand the company of that horrid family, I have no notion,” they heard her say. Elizabeth’s eyes widened at the insult, but Mr. Darcy looked sternly at her in a silent plea to hold her tongue. He shifted his stance a little, and Elizabeth felt him moving inside of her, which thrilled Elizabeth enough that she forgot the slight against her family.

They heard Miss Bingley fall heavily into a chair, or perhaps it was Mrs. Hurst.

“And Mr. Darcy, of all people. So dignified. How could he debase himself so?”
Elizabeth could not control herself — she let out a snort of laughter. Mr. Darcy threw his hand over her mouth and glared at her.

“Did you hear something?” Mrs. Hurst remarked lazily.

“Most likely, one of the estimable Bennet family has broken something valuable,” Miss Bingley spat.

They continued on in such a manner, but Elizabeth lost track of their conversation when Mr. Darcy moved again, and the tip of his cock slid up ever so slightly. His grip tightened on her thigh involuntarily. Now that they had almost been seen, Elizabeth’s heart was racing wildly, though whether it was of fear or pleasure she could not determine.

“I simply cannot understand why Mr. Darcy loves Elizabeth Bennet.”

At this remark, Darcy’s eyes caught Elizabeth’s, and though he could not speak, his expression bespoke his thoughts loudly. This, his burning eyes seemed to say, is why I love you. With a small but mischievous smile, Darcy began to pump against her. Elizabeth opened her mouth in silent shock. His movement was slow and careful, but oh, how incredible, how sensual, how depraved. She would never have thought it possible that he might be willing to continue having sex in the same room as Caroline Bingley. But he pressed her hard up against that wall, stuck his tongue in her mouth, and thrust in a desperate silence.

“She is handsome enough,” Mrs. Hurst offered from the other side of the screen. The women were mere feet away, shielded only by a thin, decorative cloth. They could not know that, right there, Mr. Darcy was fucking his very handsome wife.

Mr. Darcy grunted under his breath, barely audible. Elizabeth kissed a drop of sweat off of his brow and balled his shirt fabric in her hands. Her breath tried to escape loudly, so she buried her face in his neck. A small whine escaped instead — a whine that only Darcy could hear.

“I regret it that you could not win his heart, Caroline, but the matter is settled.”

Mr. Darcy began to pick up speed. Elizabeth was amazed they could not hear his hips sticking to hers, nor the soft sound of his cock sliding inside of her, nor their tremulous breathing.

“Are you sure you don’t hear something? Some strange rhythmic sound?” Mrs. Hurst asked.

“You mean the dance? Surely it cannot last much longer.”

“Mmm,” Darcy grunted roughly. He slowed and pushed Elizabeth hard into the wall with a single, yearning thrust that pressed him in right up to his stones. His mouth opened wide and his neck stretched up in restrained pleasure.

At that moment, Elizabeth and Darcy heard the door open. The music grew instantly obtrusive, and then quieted once more when the heavy door shut.

“Caroline,” the voice of Mr. Bingley said jovially. “Have you seen Mr. and Mrs. Darcy? They have altogether disappeared.”

Elizabeth and Darcy looked at each other with intense delight. An idea struck Mr. Darcy — he lowered Elizabeth’s feet to the ground as soundlessly as possible, and slowly, slowly, pulled out of her.

“Likely Mr. Darcy is avoiding his mother-in-law, and there I cannot blame him.”

Elizabeth wondered why Darcy had stopped their agreeable sport, and she might have had cause to be angry with him if he had not immediately turned her around and urged her shoulders down. She rested her palms on the wall and bent halfway over, spreading her legs and smiling to herself.

“Oh, do not be cruel.” Mr. Bingley’s cheerful voice echoed happily across the walls. “They are likely just engaged in some important business.”

Mr. Darcy groped under her skirts, and she felt him position his cock between her legs from behind. Just as he pushed inside of her, they heard Mr. Bingley remark, “Why is my letter opener on the floor? And what has happened to my desk?!”

Elizabeth bit her hand to stifle her laughter. Would he search the room and find them? But Mr. Bingley and the letter opener were soon forgotten as Mr. Darcy began deliberately thrusting his hips again. She pressed her own hips back against him as hard as she dared.

The feeling of her husband’s erection eclipsed any other thought in her mind. Mr. Darcy was likewise too engaged by the sight of Elizabeth’s small, round backside under her skirts to take much note of Mr. Bingley. He gripped her tightly and began to lose himself in the quiet rhythm and charged friction.

Their lovemaking had now become audible in the slap of Mr. Darcy’s hips against Elizabeth’s backside, but fortunately it could not be heard above Mr. Bingley’s exasperated remarks about the disarray of his desk. Darcy bent over her and wrapped both of his large hands around Elizabeth’s front to massage her breasts.

Finally, Mr. Bingley determined he should return to his party. “If you should see Mr. Darcy, please send him to me at once,” he sighed. They heard the door open and shut again with his exit.

Elizabeth shot a hand out behind her to slow her husband down, for his eager thrusting would certainly be heard in the sudden silence. He drew back slowly, teasingly, and in such a tantalizing manner that Elizabeth thought she might succumb again. She had to stop him. She must! But how could she deny him entrance when she had yearned for his renewed passions for so long? She betrayed her own own better judgment and spread her legs wider.

They were mere feet from being caught in the very worst of ways, but Darcy had but one thought now, and it was not of Caroline Bingley. Perhaps the manner in which he lived his life, with such extreme adherence to decorum, contributed to his recklessness. He knew Elizabeth was close to another climax, but he could not stop himself. His beautiful, clever wife had put them in this position, and he would take advantage of her genius.

Darcy grabbed Elizabeth’s tiny waist with one hand and pulled one of her arms back with the other, as if, in forgetting his virtue, he now wished to forego it completely. She was his to have, no matter what the circumstances, no matter where they were. She was his. And just as deeply felt was the certainty that he was hers.

As another dull conversation passed between the sisters, Darcy took her faster. He could not believe that he had ever forgotten this magnetism between them. How had his desires ever been so dampened? His pace increased, and he thought he might finish too, though he did not know how he could do so silently.

As much as he wanted to cum inside his dearest Elizabeth, Darcy realized suddenly that he could not dare, for Miss Bingley had begun to take a turn around the room, and her pacing took her to the screen. Elizabeth and Darcy froze in place. Mere inches from them, Miss Bingley stood and inspected the painting on the other side of the screen. She seemed to be clicking her tongue; they could hear it clearly. If they could hear her movements so well, she would be sure to hear theirs, and so they held their breath — a torture for them both, as the exertion had already left them quite breathless.

For a moment, they all stood in their respective positions, and no one moved. Mr. Darcy tried desperately to remain as still as possible, but he shifted his weight the slightest bit, and Elizabeth felt the head of his penis move against her cervix. Her labia were pulsing, wrapped around his cock, wanting so desperately to come to a climax. Involuntarily, she flexed her muscles, and she felt him exhale sharply.

No, she thought. No we must not be found out now.

“This is a lovely screen,” Miss Bingley remarked blandly. Mrs. Hurst made a noncommittal noise with all the approval her sister deserved.

They hovered there again in silence, pleasures held off though their nerves tingled in prolonged anticipation. Mr. Darcy was so close to orgasm that his body trembled, and he imagined that he could feel his seed leaking into her, unable to withstand the pressure. But there he stayed, penetrating her from behind and grasping her silky waist tightly until he could finish the sport.

Finally, Miss Bingley sighed a bored sigh and moved on to another part of the room to look at what were likely portraits of her old, dead relatives. Elizabeth and Darcy relaxed as she pattered away. After a moment, Miss Bingley said, “I suppose we had best rejoin the party. Mr. Weatherby will be displeased if I leave him all night to the company of Mr. Bennet.”

The silent couple breathed a sigh of relief behind the screen. They heard Mrs. Hurst rise laboriously from her chair and the sudden blast of music as the door opened. Then there was a heavy click, and all was silent. Slowly, hesitantly, Mr. Darcy pulled out of Elizabeth and crept to the edge of the screen. Looking around the side, he satisfied himself that they were once again alone.

He turned back around and smiled broadly. Elizabeth stood facing him, her dress around her middle. Her hair flew happily in every direction, and her carefully applied lipstick was smeared into a rouge smudge below her lip. She was as handsome as he had ever seen her.

Wordlessly he strode to her and pulled her into a deep kiss, as if they were the last two survivors of some grand struggle. He urged her to the floor, pushed her skirts up around her waist, and positioned himself on top of her. The wait had increased their desire for each other to unbearable heights. Both of their bodies were so full of restrained lust that now they could do nothing but make love quickly and wildly. What they lacked in propriety, they made up for in sweat.

It did not take long for Mr. Darcy to lose himself in the radiance of their love. The pressure began to build until he was overcome with the most magnificent of orgasms — an astoundingly rich and splendid feeling, which intensified until he thought he must burst in all directions. And burst he did; indeed, he came with such force he felt almost as if he’d been thrown from a horse. His breath left him, and as the last of his cum escaped him, he collapsed upon his wife.

Elizabeth, however, was not yet finished. Her husband’s body was now fully pressed against her, so she drove her hips up, igniting the center of her pleasure against her husband’s pelvis. She wrapped her legs around his backside and pulled him close, and he, recognizing that she still needed him, began to move again. Finally her desperate orgasm reached the surface and blossomed into a vibrant, pulsing moment of bliss.

They both collapsed, spent from their love and from the tension and fear that their bodies had processed only as passion. Elizabeth let her arms fall to either side of her head, and Darcy rested his head upon her shoulder. They might have fallen asleep like that, had the tune of the music not changed.

“We must rejoin the party,” Elizabeth sighed. She poked Darcy in the shoulder to get him to move, but he only groaned against her. “Come now, we have already been missed. Soon they will send out a search party and find us in all manner of undress.”

“I like you in all manner of undress,” Mr. Darcy grumbled. But he rose, despite his protestations, and quickly found his wife’s undergarments, which she had luckily thrown beyond the screen before they were intruded upon.

“My love,” he said, and he extended them to her with a bow.

“Good sir,” she said, curtsying as she took them.

Mr. Darcy appraised her as she dressed herself. His staring was so blatant that she was obliged to ask, “Well, what is it?”

“We must do something about that hair,” he smiled.

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When the Darcys rejoined the party, their absence was all anyone talked of. Their friends and family gathered around them to demand they account for missing such a splendid ball. The Darcys’ answers varied with each telling: they were looking at the house, they were admiring the grounds, they were rescuing a baby turtle by the pond out back.

When the onslaught of questions ceased, Mrs. Bennet continued to scold Elizabeth.

“My dear, your dress, in the back, it is dreadfully wrinkled. You must have your girl see to it before you wear it again. I cannot imagine what kind of woman you employ that she should let you leave the house in such a state.”

“We will certainly look into the matter,” Elizabeth assured her mildly. She was spared her mother’s further scrutiny by her father, who, quite against his character, bowed to Mrs. Bennet and extended a hand.

“My dear Mrs. Bennet, may I have this dance?” he said, with a wry smile on his lips.

“Oh! Why, of course Mr. Bennet,” her mother replied, and Elizabeth saw her blush happily as she was lead away to the dance.

Mr. Darcy grabbed Elizabeth’s arm and pulled her to the side. They watched their family and friends dance and talk and giggle to one another, but their minds were elsewhere, behind a screen. After a moment, Darcy placed his mouth close to Elizabeth’s ear and whispered, “Where next, my love?”