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.Go get yourself dressed.We will see you at supper.” Mr.Bennet shut the door behind Elizabeth, who stood in place for a moment while the fury within her subsided.In the past, the little tiffs she overheard between her parents had never brought her any pleasure, but now as she leaned her head near the door and heard her father scold her mother, she felt a little better.Elizabeth entered the master suite and stepped through the sitting room doors into the adjacent rooms.She saw Fitzwilliam stepping out of his warm bath.Her eyes roamed his body and she sucked in a deep breath, remembering every sensation she had experienced in their few weeks of wedded bliss.A sultry smile crossed her lips when she saw him react under her watchful gaze.“Fitzwilliam, you are a handsome man.I could look at you all day.”“I am glad you think so, my dear.”He reached for a towel and dried his body.Elizabeth stepped to her vanity and watched him in the mirror while she removed her earrings and necklace.His shoulders flexed as he reached behind to grip the towel and dry his back.When he raised his arm to dry his neck and hair the musculature of his abdomen rippled.She truly appreciated his body.“Thank you for sending my mother flowers.She cannot stop prattling about how wonderful they are.”“Flowers? Oh, I told Mrs.Reynolds this week to make sure Jane was sent a spray.She must have had another put together for your mother.Very good, I will make sure I thank her for that.Mrs.Reynolds is a saint; she never misses anything.You will see, my dear.No matter what, she will make sure everything goes off without a hitch.Our holiday will be perfect, even with this unexpected increase in the number of guests.”“I am sure you are right, but you know I cannot help but worry something frightful will happen.It is in my nature.”Reaching behind her back, Elizabeth unbuttoned the top three buttons of her gown.Seeing her struggling, Fitzwilliam stepped over and helped her with the rest.“As much as I adore helping you dress and undress,” his eyes met hers in the mirror, “you should consider allowing Gracie to come help you more while everyone is here.I can already tell you will be over-extending yourself; her assistance will likely be a relief.”“I know I should call her in, but she will change everything.You will no longer be able to remain here with me, sharing conversation while we prepare.”Fitzwilliam chuckled, but he agreed.“You do have a point.” He wrapped his arms round her and bent low to kiss her neck.Elizabeth melted into his arms.“It may not be preferred by either of us, but it is likely the most rational decision.We do not have to maintain this state forever, just until everyone leaves again.Here, I will call her while you rinse in the tub.”Elizabeth smiled at the retreating figure of her husband, now dressed in his robe and house slippers.He certainly was a man of action.Elizabeth finished undressing, stepped over the side of the ornate tub, and immersed herself in the warm, sudsy water.She was not dirty enough to require a bath, but the warm water was already there.Why should she not indulge for a few minutes? Elizabeth’s head was leaning against the curve of the tub, her eyes closed, when Gracie entered and began silently preparing a few of her mistress’s items.Elizabeth had interviewed five lady’s maids her second week at Pemberley, Fitzwilliam had all but insisted she select a maid and have one ready should she need her services.Elizabeth liked all of the girls, but Gracie stood out from the rest with her smile that did not just linger on her lips but rather lit up her entire being.Elizabeth was sure the two would get along splendidly.Hearing movement in the room around her, Elizabeth opened her eyes and noticed Gracie.“Gracie, you have come.Thank you for attending me on such short notice.”Gracie discontinued the task of setting out her mistress’s clothing and turned all of her attention to Elizabeth.“It is my pleasure, Mrs.Darcy.Do you have a specific gown you prefer tonight or should I make a selection for you?”“My mother has arrived and all but demanded I wear my crimson gown, but I was saving it for Christmas morning.” Elizabeth let out a sigh, “What do you recommend? Do I have another that will do in its place? My hope is not to garner my mother’s wrath.In order to avoid it, I need a gown that is sophisticated enough to retain my husband’s attention until I have produced him an heir.”Gracie stood, staring at her mistress, unable to respond to such a statement.“Do not look at me that way.You have not met my mother.I am not mocking her when I speak so; she honestly believes Mr.Darcy will soon lose interest in me.”“Mrs.Darcy, if I may be so bold, I doubt very highly the master will lose interest in you.I have never seen a man so devoted to a woman.”“That is what I think, too.I am sure he loves me as much as I do him.There is no chance I will put him away, rather I would marry him again in a heartbeat,” Elizabeth gaily responded.“I think you should wear your green velvet gown.I know its design is simple, but with the right shawl, hair accessories, and jewellery, we can make it every bit as stunning.”“I agree.The green gown it is.”Elizabeth stood up and then stepped over the edge of the tub, accepting the offered towel.Gracie helped her dry and then held the dressing gown for her.Elizabeth picked up her hairbrush and sat down upon the chair near the fire to brush out her hair while she waited for Gracie to finish setting out her attire.She had been careful not to get her hair wet in the tub, but there were a few strands that had come loose from the simple bun she had fashioned high on her head and gotten wet.“I have your clothing articles prepared, Mrs.Darcy.” Gracie curtsied as she addressed her mistress.“I am coming,” Elizabeth stood reluctantly; she was not looking forward to a meal with her entire family.She had planned this evening to be special.The last night of privacy with her husband before their guests arrived.Gracie did not know her mistress well, but each time she waited on her she learned a little more of her lighthearted playfulness.Tonight it was not as prevalent as it had been in the past, but rather had a sense of bitter sarcasm.Gracie remained silent as she set about her task of dressing Elizabeth for supper.They were nearing completion when there was a knock upon the door.“It is open,” Elizabeth called over her shoulder.Fitzwilliam opened the door and stepped into Elizabeth’s room.“You look lovely, my dear.I love that dark green colour upon you [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]