The clock chimed in the master bedchamber of Pemberley House, indicating to it's owners that it was indeed nine o'clock in the morning. The two members of the huge bed within this room stirred slowly, reluctant to give up the warmth of each other. Darcy awoke first and, smiling at his wife's beautiful sleeping face, leaned over very carefully and kissed Lizzy's sweet lips softly. A smile formed on the lady's face, and she opened her eyes. Lizzy placed her arms around Darcy's neck and pulled him close so she could whisper in his ear.
"Why don't we stay in bed all day, my darling?" she suggested, with a mischievous grin on her face.
Darcy's reply was a long, passionate kiss - which Lizzy most certainly did not object to - and when they at last parted, Darcy said: "I wish we could, Lizzy, but remember that an old friend of mine is visiting this morning."
Sighing, Lizzy unwrapped herself from her husband and clambered out of bed. She turned back to face Darcy. "All right, then. What was his name again?" She tried to sound interested, but Darcy could tell she was as annoyed about it as he was.
"Mr. James Haddingby. He and I were in the same classes at School." Darcy climbed off the bed too, and headed for his wardrobe.
"You mean to tell me, sir, that you actually had friends back then, even with your resentful pride?" Lizzy exclaimed archly.
Darcy smiled. "Of course, Lizzy, for he was as proud as myself!"
Lizzy rolled her eyes at his following attempt to walk dignified across the room, pretending to be exceedingly haughty. "Even you were not that bad, my dear Darcy!" Her eyes sparkled playfully, and Darcy could not help but hastily cross the room, grab Lizzy around the waist, and kiss her cheeky mouth affectionately.
Then there was a knock at the door. "Mr. and Mrs. Darcy?" Mrs. Reynolds' voice echoed through the room.
"Yes, what is it?" replied Darcy, annoyed at the interruption.
"A young man has arrived to see you, sir. Says his name is Haddingby. Shall I seat him in the lower drawing room, sir?"
"Oh, Haddingby! Here already? Yes, Mrs. Reynolds, the lower drawing room is fine. Tell him we shall be down in a few minutes, please," instructed Darcy.
"Yes, sir." The lady's footsteps were heard disappearing off into the distance.
"Darn!" cursed Darcy, as he reluctantly let his wife's slim waistline go, "I was not expecting him until about 11 am!" Darcy marched over to his wardrobe to finish dressing.
Lizzy laughed. "No, do not be a grump! I am sure his visit will be a fulfilling one!" And with that, the couple finished dressing.
Fifteen minutes later, Mrs. Darcy found herself sitting opposite one of the handsomest men she had ever seen. He was no competition for Darcy, of course, but nonetheless, she admitted him to be the next best-looking man she knew. His manners appeared quite excellent, compared to what she had been expecting. In fact, he reminded her of Colonel Fitzwilliam, Mr. Darcy's cousin. Mr. Haddingby had an easy-going, pleasant, talkative manner, and Elizabeth quite liked him. She tried, however, to keep out of the conversation as much as possible, for she knew how much they must have to talk about, having not seen each other for well over 5 years, but Mr. Haddingby seemed determined to include her. Actually, she noticed that he seemed to be constantly focused on her!
After about an hour of conversation with a man she was finding increasingly pleasing, and amiable, Lizzy decided to excuse herself with the reason of, "I feel you and my dearest Darcy have much to discuss. I shall leave you in peace!" But Mr. Haddingby would not have it. "No, no! Mrs. Darcy, please, let us join you, for I know Darcy shan't be happy unless he is by your side!" Lizzy smiled lovingly at Darcy, knowing how true it was - both ways - but she remained firm. "No, please, do indeed stay here, sir, for although I know Mr. Darcy cannot live without my being present for at least one half hour, I'm sure he has much to acquaint you with!" Darcy smiled at his wife and agreed. "Yes, Haddingby, let her be. She will do you less harm if she is not present!" Lizzy rolled her eyes playfully at her husband, while Mr. Haddingby appeared somewhat astonished at Darcy's humour. Lizzy regained her proper composure and, after curtseying politely to the two gentlemen, left the room. The last words she heard were from Mr. Haddingby: "Well, Darcy, I say! She has improved your temper somewhat, has she not!?" Laughing, Lizzy walked out of Pemberley House and headed for the woods, only to be stopped ten minutes later by Mr. Haddingby himself, walking briskly after her, followed by Darcy. Confused, she stopped walking. "I'm sorry, Mrs. Darcy!" called Haddingby, "I just had to continue talking to you!" He reached Lizzy and, taking her arm, they walked on, with Darcy on the other side of Haddingby.
Although Lizzy was uneasy about how rude Mr. Haddingby was being in leaving Darcy on the outside, she did enjoy his company. Lizzy and Darcy's handsome friend got along exceedingly well together - much to Darcy's increasing discomfort and jealousy. However, being away from Darcy was taking its toll on Lizzy. She realised how silly it was, but she really began pining for his own touch, and several times she tried to switch places with Mr. Haddingby so she could be next to her husband. She knew it was stupid, but she ached to be just next to him, not one person away. But every time she tried, Haddingby would swing her back into place, or step back, or...anyway, it was hopeless. She glanced frequently at Darcy, and noticed his countenance growing dark and angry. Mr. Haddingby was dominating and over-possessing his wife, and Lizzy knew he did not like it. They were heading home now though, and this now somewhat irritating and slighting man would soon be gone - forever with any luck!
When they reached the house, Mr. Haddingby looked as though he expected to be invited for supper, but Mr. Darcy didn't want him there. He was extremely jealous of his effect on Lizzy. Finally, Elizabeth said "Well, Mr. Haddingby, it has certainly been an interesting visit. I know Mr. Darcy joins me in saying how much we would like you to join us for supper..." Lizzy trailed off, and Darcy shot a mixed look of horror, surprise and even disdain at his wife, angry at her apparent blind partiality for his rude friend. Lizzy continued: "...but unfortunately, we have been invited to dine with my sister and brother-in-law, and are therefore unable to have you for dinner ourselves." She glanced at Darcy and saw him smile and sigh silently with relief. Mr. Haddingby's face showed genuine disappointment. "Of course. I understand, perhaps another time!" He seemed satisfied with his own suggestion. "Yes, sir. Perhaps." Lizzy smiled sweetly, falsely, at Mr. Haddingby. "Oh, look! Your horse awaits!" Mr. Haddingby turned around, and frowned at the servant's promptness. "Thank you indeed, Mrs. Darcy, for your faithful ears, and to you too, Darcy, for providing such an entertaining wife and listener!" Haddingby smiled appreciatively, but with a distinct look of envy at Darcy, before mounting his horse and cantering off down the road.
Darcy and Lizzy stood there on the driveway until Haddingby was out of sight. As soon as he disappeared, Darcy turned to his wife and, taking her in his arms, sighed quietly with relief. Releasing his hold of her waist, and taking her arm, the couple walked back into the house. "Lizzy, how could you lie to him about supper?" Darcy tried to appear angry, but his slight smile gave his real thoughts away. "I didn't! It was true. I only just received the invitation seconds before you joined me on my walk, but Mr. Haddingby never gave me a chance to mention it to you privately. Besides, I was thinking that we might perhaps decline the invitation for more...physical exercise!" Lizzy grinned at him, eyes sparkling. Darcy just grabbed his cheeky wife and kissed her words away.
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