Today, I have another sneak peek of Particular Attachments. I stumbled across a tradition for Valentine’s Day that I had never heard of before, so I decided to have some fun with it 🙂 In the excerpt, we get to see Darcy and Elizabeth five years into the future as well as get a glimpse of new love with Georgiana and Nathaniel (Lord Sele). This is completely un-beta’d, so I hope you’ll forgive me any errors.
“Where is my lovely wife?” came Fitzwilliam’s booming voice from the hall. Lizzy began to laugh, and strident tones of his boots on the tile of the entry carried into the drawing room. “Do not trouble yourself, Jobbins. I can hear her laughter.” Not a second passed before he appeared in the doorway, a bundle of red roses in one hand and several parcels in the other. “There is my beautiful bride.”
“I have not been a bride in years, you silly man!” she exclaimed, as he swept forward and pressed a loud kiss to her lips.
“Regardless of how much time passes, you will always be my bride.” He peered over to where Georgiana stood with Nathaniel. “You must forgive me Sele, but I have no desire to be proper today.”
Georgiana laughed and crossed her arms over her chest. “Fitzwilliam, you have never been entirely proper. You hold Lizzy’s hand and kiss her cheek before me and other members of the family often. I am amazed you have not yet forgotten yourself in public.
A wide grin adorned Nathaniel’s face while he watched the scene before him. “Have no fear of me. I am accustomed to such inappropriate displays from my parents. You will not shock me.”
Fitzwilliam handed Lizzy the roses and the first parcel. “For you, my dear.”
She untied the string and pulled the paper open to reveal a wooden box, which was certain to contain jewellery. “I have no need for more jewels. I hope you did not spend too much.” With shaky fingers, she opened the lid to reveal a stunning ruby and diamond necklace. “Fitzwilliam!” she gasped.
“Before you scold me for what you believe to be a great expense, allow me to explain.” She nodded as she gaped at her gift. “When I showed you the Darcy jewels, you commented that two of the necklaces were rather heavy and not to your tastes. Do you remember?”
A small line formed between Lizzy’s eyebrows. “Yes, of course.” Her eyes widened. “Are you saying this was made from those pieces?”
“From both sets would be more correct. Between the earrings, the bracelets, and both necklaces, the jeweller made this. I thought it more suited to you and your tastes.”
“It is exquisite.”
Her brother beamed and passed the second and smaller parcel to her. “Then, you should open this as well.”
Lizzy placed the first gift on the table nearby as she took the next. “You did not think the choker enough?” He smiled at her teasing while she opened the second box, which contained earrings and a bracelet to match. “Apparently not,” she mumbled, touching her finger to one small rosebud of a single ruby with diamonds that alternated between larger rubies surrounded by diamonds. The earrings were thankfully the rosebuds, so not so large to weigh down the ears. Lizzy refused to wear the larger, more ornate earrings from the Darcy collection.
Fitzwilliam leaned forward and down to catch his wife’s eye. “You will wear them when we next attend the theatre or a ball, will you not?”
“Of course.” Lizzy placed her hand to Fitzwilliam’s cheek. “I would not dream of wearing another.” Lizzy started, as though remembering others were in the room. “Georgiana, have you seen them?”
Georgiana stepped forward to get a better look. “My brother has excellent taste.”
“That he does.” Lizzy closed the box and gathered her gifts. “Fitzwilliam, my present for you is in my rooms, and I should not leave these here.” With a look between Georgiana and Nathaniel, she paused. “If you will excuse us, we will call for Mrs. Annesley to chaperon.”
“I need to fetch something from my chambers. If you do not object?” she asked Nathaniel.
After a quick shake of his head, Georgiana hastened to her rooms and pulled a small package from her dressing table. It was not much, but she was not certain what he would like more. Not that gifts on St. Valentine’s Day were supposed to be grand, on the contrary, they were typically small—tokens really.
When she returned, Mrs. Annesley sat, reading a book, by the fire, but Nathaniel stood near the sofa, holding a small box.
“What is this?” she asked, pointing to what was in his hand.
“Perhaps you should open it and discover for yourself?”
His cocky smile prompted a sidelong glance. “I am not certain I should.”
He grabbed her hand and pulled her to sit beside him. Once the gift was held in her palm, he gazed at her expectantly. It was not the right size or shape for jewels; he had not followed Fitzwilliam’s lead, thankfully. She lifted it; it was not heavy, but when it tilted, a faint knock could be heard from inside. What could it be?
Georgiana lifted the lid on the little wooden box and stared. He gave her a key? “I do not understand.”
“When I was a boy, my parents took me to Italy for a short time. In Padua, it is a tradition to give Saint Valentine’s keys as an invitation to unlock the giver’s heart.”
She looked from the white metal key to Nathaniel. “So you are inviting me to unlock your heart?” His words of affection were always well spoken, but this gesture was beyond what she expected. Wait a minute! “Nathaniel? Where, or should I ask when did you purchase this key?”
“I bought your key in Padua when I was fourteen,” he replied with steadily reddening cheeks.
The metal was cold when she fingered the teeth that did not resemble those on the keys within English houses. He bought it when he was fourteen? How did she have no concept of his devotion until recently? When she glanced in his direction, his shoulders were tense and not at all the relaxed posture he usually bore.
“Forgive me.” She closed her fingers around the keepsake and held it tight. “I thought you might have a trinket of some sort, but this…” She swallowed and gripped the key tighter. “This is unlike anything I imagined. I know you have said you loved me for as long as you can remember, but I never took those statements as serious until now.”
I know! It’s a terrible place for me to leave off! Go ahead and vent your frustration to me in the comments.
The bit about St. Valentine’s Keys is fact. The tradition began in Padua, but a few other areas of Europe adopted the tradition as well.
St. Valentine’s Key: http://web.prm.ox.ac.uk/amulets/index.php/keys-amulet2/index.html
© Copyright 2017 by L.L. Diamond