To commemorate our second anniversary, we invite you, our loyal readers and friends, to join us this month at Austen Variations. We have grand plans! For February, we intend to share the endearing moments of Jane Austen’s beloved characters as they celebrate their own anniversaries.
Okay! Requests from last month’s Jane Bennet in January have led to this! I continued the 50 Shades of… Jane? post with a look at what D&E were doing that evening. Huge thanks to Lisa, friend and beta extraordinaire, who made a plot twist suggestion when I begged her to give it a read over.
“What did you bring? The entire contents of your wardrobe?” William Darcy groused as he dropped the luggage onto the chair. His own much smaller bag followed with a thud. “Why did you pack so much for two nights?” His shoulder throbbed, but as he reached to rub, a set of small hands began to knead at the base of his neck. His head dropped forward with a loud groan.
“I tried to tell you that the bag has a handle and wheels. You could’ve rolled it to the room, but noooo, you had to make it a demonstration of strength.”
“I was not! I thought I saw Caroline Bingley in the lobby, and I scarpered. Besides, I don’t remember you trying very hard to tell me much of anything since you were so busy texting Jane.”
“I wanted her to know I’d arrived. If I hadn’t, she’d worry and call me late tonight. You know I don’t hear my mobile when I’m sleeping, so you would’ve answered it. Our entire relationship would be outed whether we were ready or not.” Elizabeth’s fingers trailed around his sides to hug him from behind. “I confess it might be a relief if she did. I feel guilty hiding that there is an ‘us’ from her.”
William turned and wrapped her in his embrace. “The secret seemed so necessary at the time. I always swore I would ensure any relationship was solid and lasting before I introduced a woman to Ana—especially since Richard’s divorce from Julia. His daughter becomes so confused by the myriad of girlfriends he dated prior to Charlotte.”
“From what you’ve told me, Richard’s daughter is not even five years old. She’s a great deal younger than Ana.”
He drew back and brushed a few curls behind her ear. “I was hoping we could have tea with Ana on Sunday before you go home. I’d like to introduce you.”
“You want me to meet your sister?” The sparkle in her emerald eyes was lovely. She was so vibrant, so beautiful.
“I do.” He swallowed and nodded. “I’ve been happier in these last two months than I can remember being in years. I know you have concerns about your mother’s reaction, but I’m tired of waiting until Jane goes to sleep to come over. I want to be able to sit in front of the telly and eat dinner in the dining room, I want to spend an evening snogging on the sofa, and I want to have a lie in with you if we fancy it. No more sneaking around. No more hiding.”
Elizabeth’s cheeks pinked, yet her smile had grown wider as he continued to speak until her lip gave a wicked curve. “Well, if Caroline was in the lobby, we won’t be a secret much longer.”
“Haha.” He pinched her side as she giggled. “Seriously, though. You were concerned about your mother, but you’ve never said why. She wouldn’t object to me, would she?”
“God, no!” She withdrew from his arms and stood by the floor to ceiling windows that gave a postcard worthy view of London below. “My mother… my mother is mortifying. I dread you meeting her.”
She took a deep breath and sashayed forward, the knee-length skirt of her dress swaying with each hypnotic move of her hips. Her arms wrapped around his neck, and she pressed her cheek against his. “We’re in this posh hotel room for the weekend, and you made these mysterious plans for tomorrow night. Let’s not ruin our celebration with talk of my mother.” A cheeky hand stroked along the curve of his rear and squeezed. “I’ve something special planned for you, too.”
His breathing quickened and his heart began to pummel his ribs. “Special?” he choked out. “What did you have in mind?”
“I might be willing to share my secrets if you’ll share yours.” Her breath branded the flesh of his ear and sent a prickling sensation down his back.
His eyes closed, and he inhaled in a futile attempt to calm himself. Control! He had to maintain control or she’d spoil everything. “As much as I’d adore hearing your secrets.” His lips brushed her cheek until they reached her nose, where he bestowed a soft peck. “I’m not telling mine.”
Elizabeth nipped his bottom lip. “I’ll make you sing, you know.”
Her throaty voice made him—well, parts of him stand up and take notice, but rather than indulge himself, he chuckled and stepped back. “You have failed to ferret information from me so far. Don’t get your hopes up.”
A glint appeared in her eye, she hooked her fingers in his belt loops, and pulled him forward. “Oh, I’ll get something up.”
The kisses she bestowed on his neck made it difficult to have a coherent thought, so he did not resist, pulling her flush to his body. His fingers delved into her long, curly locks and tilted her head so his lips could claim hers.
She was perfect. The exposed skin on her back was like silk beneath his fingertips, and he craved more. He turned them and with a nudge, pushed her back onto the mattress as she laughed and yanked him down on top of her.
Her chest pressed further against his with every breath, which drew his eye to her cleavage. The dress had to come off! He reached for the zipper, but a strange vibration and chirp made them both start.
“What was that?”
She grinned and reached into his coat pocket. “I think it was your mobile.”
The contraption rang again, and he took it from her hand. “I need to be sure it’s not Ana.” He glanced at the screen and stared. “Why would Charlie be calling?”
Elizabeth tilted the phone towards her face and frowned. “What if something is wrong with Jane? Answer it!” How likely was it Charlie would call his number if there was an emergency with Jane? He pressed the screen to accept and turned on the speakerphone.
“I thought you had a date.”
A bit of static came across the connection. Did he hang up?
“Darcy! Thank God! You’ve got to help me!”
Why was he whispering? Well, one thing was certain. If Jane was ill or had an emergency, Charlie wouldn’t be speaking such a soft voice. He shook his head at Elizabeth, who exhaled and relaxed back against the mattress.
“Charlie, you have had sex before. Don’t tell me you need me to remind you how…”
Elizabeth bit her lip with a wide smile.
“Just shut your gob and listen.”
William raised his eyebrows as Elizabeth did the same. Charlie never spoke so rudely, which meant he was agitated or frightened. The man had been a nervous wreck all week waiting for this evening and had annoyed everyone around him with his incessant fretting. Had the pressure to perform finally gotten to him?
Charlie’s voice came through the phone a bit louder but with a higher pitch to it. “I arrived at Jane’s tonight to find she lives in an old gaol, complete with shackles and a ball and chain hanging on the wall!
“Is that a barbed wire toilet seat?” squeaked Charlie, causing William to lift up with a jolt. How did Charlie’s voice hit that pitch? A recording of it could be used as a dog whistle.
What was Charlie’s problem? Sure, Jane and Elizabeth’s décor was unique and not typical for most young women, but did Charlie believe Jane was into bondage or something kinky? Oh wait! That was exactly what Charlie thought!
“And the barbed wire!” Charlie’s next girlish exclamation caused Elizabeth to cover her mouth with her hands, stifling her giggles, as William made an unsuccessful attempt to suppress his laughter. A snort escaped and Elizabeth buried her face into his neck as her entire body shook.
Charlie gasped. “You’re laughing at me!”
“No, I promise I’m not. Charlie, you need to calm down. Do you hear me?” He bit his lip to prevent himself from chortling while he waited for an answer that didn’t come. “Charlie?”
The screen of his phone cleared, indicating Charlie had ended the call, as Darcy wiped his eyes. Charlie had a bad history of overreacting, but this one was priceless! Just wait until he told Richard. The two of them would never let Charlie live it down!
Elizabeth pulled back and peered at the mobile still clutched in his hand. “You hung up?”
“No, Charlie ended the call. Well, unless Jane took his phone away to shackle him in the dungeon.”
“William, you have to ring him back!”
“Why? He’s an adult—well, most of the time anyway.”
“What if he dumps Jane? I mean, what was he imagining? The poor bloke sounded terrified.”
“Yet, you laughed.”
Her eyes flashed. “And you didn’t, William Darcy?” She reached for the phone. “Give me the mobile, I’ll ring them back.”
“No! This weekend is supposed to be for the two of us. No Jane. No Charlie. Just us.”
Elizabeth lifted her shoulders off the bed and stretched her arm towards his hand. “Give me the mobile!” He chucked it across the room, and she gasped. “You didn’t! If it was Ana, you would have returned that call straight away!”
“If it were Ana, I would’ve been home by now. She’s sixteen!”
With a huff, she dropped her arms to her sides. “I don’t want Jane hurt!” He nuzzled her ear, and her breath hitched. “You can’t possibly mean to now.”
“Why not? It’s our two month anniversary, and as you pointed out, we’re in this expensive room.” He trailed his lips down her neck as she shivered.
“What about Jane?”
He lifted his head. “Mention your sister again, and I’ll spank you.”
Her eyes widened. “You wouldn’t dare.”
She pursed her lips and glared. “Jane.” She drew the name out just a bit as she lifted one eyebrow.
Her impertinence didn’t surprise him, but he gasped as though it did. “You asked for it!” He made to flip her over, but before he could, her fingers dug into his sides. Argh! How could he forget that she knew about his ticklish spots!
He wiggled and squirmed until she was able to manoeuvre from beneath him and ran for the phone; however, she only made it a few steps before her shriek filled the room as he grabbed her around the waist and threw her back upon the bed. As soon as she hit the mattress, she scooted back to the opposite side, placed her feet upon the floor, and leaned forward with her hands on the bed, waiting for his next move.
They stared one another down from opposite sides until she made a break and bolted around the footboard. A few quick strides caught him up, and he scooped her into his arms as she squealed.
“You dare tickle me, Miss Bennet!” He assaulted her ribs with a light pressure that soon had her in giggles.
“Stop! William, please!”
He paused. “Do you surrender?”
She looked above her head as though considering his question. He loved her playful nature. She was unlike anyone he’d ever dated, and though he had yet to declare his feelings, he’d fallen hard within a few short weeks.
A sudden movement freed her from him as she jumped in the direction of the mobile while her laughter echoed through the room.
“Oh no you don’t!”
With an arm around her stomach, he pulled her to the bed and lay on top of her as he tickled her some more.
“William!” she cried between heaving breaths and chuckles. “Please stop! No more!”
His fingers halted their onslaught, and he rubbed up and down her side as she caught her breath. “I love you.”
She cupped his cheek, grinning as she panted from their exercise. “I love you, too.”
Elizabeth opened her mouth, but a knock at the door prevented her answer. Instead, she motioned with her head towards the sound. “Are you going to answer it?”
His gaze flitted down to her chest and then returned to her eyes. “No, I’d much rather remain where I am.”
Bang, bang, bang! The sound was louder this time.
“Mr. Darcy, this is Henry Rutledge, the manager. Would you please open the door?”
Elizabeth gasped. “Do you think we were too loud?”
He stood and straightened his clothes, tucking his shirt into his trousers as he strode to the door. When he pulled the heavy wood-stained panel open, the manager was not alone—a police officer joined him.
“Mr. Darcy, we have received several complaints from other guests on this level as well as complaints from the floor above you and the floor below.”
The constable stepped forward. “Sir, I believe you have a woman here with you. I would like to speak to her, please.”
Elizabeth, with her appearance tidied, appeared beside him and looked between the two men. “You wish to talk to me?”
The hotel manager backed from the door as the policeman took his place directly before Elizabeth. “Miss Bennet, do you require help?”
“I beg your pardon?”
Mr. Rutledge peered around the officer. “Mr. Darcy, due to the number of complaints and the appearance of the situation, I must request you take your belongings and leave. You will not be charged for the room.”
Before he could speak, the constable gestured down the corridor. “I need the two of you to accompany me back to the police station.”
“Surely this is not necessary,” reasoned William. “Mr. Rutledge, we apologise if we were unruly. It shall not happen again. I can assure you. Isn’t that correct, Elizabeth?”
He glanced beside him, but she was not there. He turned at a strange sound to where Elizabeth was wheeling her suitcase to the exit.
She handed him his overnight bag. “They’ve asked us to leave, William, and I do not want to argue the point. Isn’t there somewhere else we could go?”
“After you accompany me to the station,” the policeman interjected. “I shouldn’t require much of your time.”
William’s shoulders slumped. “Do you truly want to go?”
“No, but I don’t want a scene either. Do you?”
He gave a long exhale, grabbed the handle of her luggage before she could, and followed the constable in the direction of the elevators. What a way for their weekend to begin!
Two hours later, William’s rear ached from the hard bench against the wall of the police station. With a growl under his breath, he drummed his fingers against his leg. Two hours! It had been two hours! Where was Elizabeth?
William scanned the office, but his eyes returned to the door across the room where they had whisked Elizabeth upon their arrival. He hadn’t seen her since.
He should’ve called his lawyer, but Elizabeth insisted it wasn’t necessary. They had done nothing wrong, so the money spent for the service would have been a waste.
“Excuse me!” A passing woman in uniform stopped. “My girlfriend was taken in there two hours ago. The constable said we should be here no longer than a half hour. Do you know…”
“I’m certain she won’t be much longer.” Before he could ask another question, she hurried to a desk across the room.
This was ridiculous! He was not going to sit here all night! He pulled his mobile from his pocket, found the number for his lawyer, and was about to hit send when the dreary grey door opened and Elizabeth emerged. Thank God! She appeared annoyed as she snatched her coat from the officer, but she was at least unharmed.
She stepped into his waiting arms. “They said we could leave. I want to go home.”
“Would my home work?”
She lifted her head and gazed into his eyes. “What about Ana?”
“I was going to introduce you on Sunday. What’s a couple of days earlier?” He tucked a curl behind her ear. “Well?”
Her arms wrapped around his neck as she grinned. “Sounds perfect?”
Someone cleared his throat, so they turned to discover the policeman from the hotel behind her. Elizabeth maintained her embrace despite the interruption.
“My apologies for disrupting your evening. You are free to go.” William watched as the constable walked away. My apologies? He did not even give an explanation for dragging them to the station, and why did the constable’s lip twitch as he spoke?
“Elizabeth? What did you tell them while you were in that room?”
“They wanted to know why we were so loud at the hotel, so I told the truth.” She placed a hand over his mouth. “Before you say a word, they requested we leave the hotel and called the police because people reported that you were beating me. They even had a recording of a 999 call. I swear it was Caroline Bingley.”
“What?” he choked out.
She sighed. “I don’t want to discuss this here where everyone can hear. Can we talk about it when we get to your house?”
“Yes, of course.” He made a quick call for a taxi, grabbed their bags, and accompanied her out the front exit, but as soon as they stepped into the night air, a barrage of blinding flashes assaulted them.
“Miss Bennet! Where did you meet Mr. Darcy?”
“Mr. Darcy! How long have you been dating Miss Bennet?”
A few unintelligible questions followed, but fortunately, the taxi pulled to the kerb. Elizabeth shielded her eyes from the glaring lights with her hands as they rushed into the waiting car. When the incessant flashes subsided, Elizabeth remained with her face covered, her shoulders shaking.
A huge snort escaped as she erupted into peals of laughter. “We were so careful to keep us a secret for two months and by tomorrow morning, the entirety of Britain will know.” She placed a hand to her chest. “It’s just so ridiculous!”
After a moment, her amusement subsided, and her expression became serious. “My mother will know.”
He grinned. “So will my Aunt Catherine.”
He laced his fingers with hers. “Other than the two hours we wasted at the police station, not a one.”
She bit her lip as she smiled, which in his opinion, was the sweetest expression she made. “Me either. I love you, William Darcy.”
“I love you, too, Elizabeth Bennet.”
The headline of The Sun the following morning read, “Darcy Bank CEO’s ’50 Shades’ Tryst!”