When those you love the most become your worst enemy
Fitzwilliam Darcy is on the run…with a baby!
When an emergency summons Mr. Darcy back to London during the Netherfield ball, he discovers a newborn in his study along with a note. Now, he must guard a secret that could shatter his family and put the child in danger. But that isn’t his biggest challenge. He must find a wife—a woman he can trust with his charge and with his heart.
Elizabeth Bennet’s prospects for a marriage based on love are taken away from her when her father makes a deal with Mr. Darcy, a man she despises. When she learns the identity of the baby and the true identity of the man she married, will their marriage of convenience develop into a love for the ages?
Together they face slander, intrigue, family pressure, and prison. Will their marriage survive? Will the baby thrive? Or, will forces much larger than themselves destroy everything Darcy and Elizabeth hope for?
This Regency variation of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice by bestselling author, J Dawn King, is appropriate for all ages.
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“I am sorry to hear about Anne.” Hugh Fitzwilliam, Lord Matlock, watched as his elder sister, Lady Catherine de Bourgh shrugged. They were a cold family, regularly accused by jealous friends and spiteful enemies of being devoid of natural human feeling. He had no regrets that his reputation was one of power and prestige. In his opinion, kindness and consideration were for the lower orders inhabiting England. “You show little regret for the loss of the child you raised.”
“Had Anne been mine, not the by-blow of my husband’s infatuation with Lady Smythe, I may have cause for regret.” Lady Catherine lifted a porcelain dog imported from the Orient and studied the garish surface, as if it held her captive. Finally, she placed it back on the table.
“Yet, you raised her as your own.”
“That sounds deceptively like commendation, Hugh.” She inelegantly dropped into the chair across from him, then harrumphed. “Fitzwilliams are lacking in progeny. I never conceived, despite the filthy attempts by my long-dead husband. Your eldest has been wed six years with no offspring. You have no grandchildren to call your own. Anne was always weak. Her outcome was not unexpected. The real loss was the babe. It was a boy.”
“I wanted that baby!” Lord Matlock pounded his fist on the arm of his chair. “I need an heir.”
“You have an heir and a spare,” his sister taunted. In their male dominated society Lady Catherine was not above using any means to point out her brother’s flaws. Her grandson would have guaranteed her own future. Additionally, he would have been an advantage she could have held over Hugh for decades to come. The loss to her was overwhelming.
“Henry is childless. Richard will mourn his wife and son by running off to fight Napoleon, and I will be left with no one I can nurture and mold to be a force in Parliament and a strengthening aid to the Fitzwilliam name. If Henry does not father a son, we are doomed to having a Darcy becoming the next Lord Matlock once this generation is gone. With his family’s politics and character, the Fitzwilliams would lose all control.”
Lady Catherine nodded. There had not been one occasion when the brother and sister had been together since adulthood that they had not thoroughly considered the ramifications of not having just the right male inherit the title. Where Lord Matlock wanted power, Lady Catherine would have used a child for bargaining to gain her way.
“If only our ancestors had not arranged the remainder to include females in the succession.” Hugh Fitzwilliam wanted to spit on the ground. Rarely were daughters included where titles were concerned. “We would not need to worry about any Darcy inheriting the earldom.”
“Yet, it was a brilliant move at the time, you have to agree,” Lady Catherine pointed out, her words dripping with sarcasm. “When our grandfather’s only son died unexpectedly, his grandson by his daughter became heir to the title. I believe that was you, Hugh, was it not?”
“You know it was.” The earldom was his most precious possession. Through it he gained his utmost desire, fame. His grandfather had groomed him well. His intentions to do the same with his own grandson seemed doomed to failure.
“Are you certain your firstborn is the problem?” his sister boldly asked. “Possibly, it is that viper he married.”
“Neither his mistresses nor his wife have shown any sign of a babe.” Hugh Fitzwilliam smirked. “Not through lack of trying, he reassures me.”
“You disgust me.” Lady Catherine said the words, but her countenance had shifted forward in her chair, the better to not miss a syllable of the lascivious comment.
“Be that as it may, this leaves us with our hands open, holding nothing.”
“Anne is dead. Richard is now unattached,” his sister offered.
Disgust churned in Lord Matlock’s gut. “His wife, the woman you raised as a daughter, has been dead less than a day. Can you not allow him to mourn?”
“We do not have the privilege of being able to wait. He needs to marry again as soon as you and I select a wife for him. As you said, we need an heir.”
“He informed me only an hour ago, when he gave us the news of his loss, that he would be leaving for Spain as soon as Anne and the babe are buried.”
“Blast your stubborn sons!” Lady Catherine bounced from the chair and paced. “Then we have only one course. He shall have to bed his brother’s wife before he goes.”
“Do not turn Puritan on me, Hugh. We do what we must; we make any sacrifice necessary to keep the earldom with the Fitzwilliams. Richard should have wed someone strong,” she spit out each word. “I will never forgive him for marrying Anne. Darcy should have had her. As it stands, our nephew’s progeny will be the future Lord Matlock over my dead body.”