The Perfect Match
Jane Bingley walked down the stairs with her usual serenity then entered the door wearing the same bright smile everybody knew so well. Her beauty was so powerful that it took the breath away of each and every person gathered in the dinning room. Even Mr. Darcy was certain that, except for his own wife, Jane Bingley was the most beautiful woman he had ever met.
Her blue eyes scanned the room, smiling lovingly at her sister Elizabeth and warmly at her brother William and her new sister in law – Miss Georgiana Darcy. Then she turned with the nicest smile and all the proper politeness to her other relatives, Miss Bingley, Mrs. Hurst and Mr. Hurst. Of course, it was nothing special in this, Jane was always perfectly polite to her relatives.
Charles Bingley rose from his chair and came to her, taking her hand and kissing it tenderly, wrapping her in the most adoringly glance.
"Happy Anniversary, Mrs. Bingley!" "Happy Anniversary, Mr. Bingley", answered Jane, in a very shy voice, blushing as if she were afraid not to be heard by the others. “I am very sorry I am late. Something unexpected appeared in the last moment...”
“Do not worry, my dear, you were not late. No apologies are needed.” He led her to her chair, across the table from him, whispering to her “you are as beautiful as an angel” then resumed his place while Jane’s cheek became crimson by the pleasure of the unexpected compliment in the middle of all those people.
She had no time to fully recover when a moment later Mr. Darcy loudly complimented her appearance, joined in his admiration by her sister. Jane thanked them full of emotion until Elizabeth started to laugh at her embarrassment.
“My dearest Jane, you have been married for a year and still have difficulties in accepting the compliments, though everybody admires your beauty, wherever you go. Charles, I would advice you to help my sister in conquering this difficulty by giving her as many compliments as possible.”
The table was a medium one, as they wanted to have a quiet and intimate family dinner. Elizabeth was placed on Jane’s right and near her were her husband and her sister, Miss Darcy. Opposite from Elizabeth was Louisa Hurst, then Miss Caroline Bingley and Mr. Hurst. Elizabeth could not restrain a smile while noticing that, even after a year since their double wedding, Caroline continued to choose the place opposite Mr. Darcy being thus also to bestow any possible attention upon him.
“Well, dear sister,” answered Mr. Bingley humorously, his glance full of adoration turned to his wife, “I thank you for your advice but I do practice daily, as diligently as I can. However, of course you are right and I promise I shall practice even more.”
Jane’s embarrassment made her speechless but her sister’s affectionate teasing and her open laugh were contagious; so she smiled too, under the insistent stare of her husband, who seemed unable to take his eyes from her.
“Speaking of advice,” interfered Caroline with no trace of humor in her voice, “my dear Jane, to tell you the truth we did have to wait on you for some time; I am quite hungry, you know. As an older sister, allow me to tell you that you should not permit any unexpected details to delay you from a dinner party... It would simply not do! We are all family here, but for a stranger that could be interpreted as an unforgivable rudeness.” She ended her little speech with a meaningful glance to her sister Louisa. No, not after a year of married life, Jane Bennet did not fully understand her duties – or perhaps she was not able to accomplish them properly.
Elizabeth’s eyes opened widely at such censure, then narrowed and darkened with rage. She looked at her sister and saw Jane’s face livid and her beautiful eyes blinking a few times, in a timid attempt to keep her composure. Then, to Elizabeth’s shock, Louisa petted Jane’s hand with the most patronizing superiority while smiling with leniency. “Well, my dear, Caroline is right but do not worry too much.... You will learn, in time.”
Jane’s hand started trembling and she pulled it back. Almost at the edge of losing her control, Elizabeth was waiting for that moment when her sister would burst out and put them both in their places, as the mistress of the house should do. She knew too well that Caroline and Louisa never came to treat Jane with much respect, but she would never have imagined such rudeness.
Yet, Jane’s reaction surprised her much more; she breathed deeply, then a polite smile appeared on her lips while she managed to answer with her usual composure. “I thank you for your advice, Caroline, I shall do my best to always remember it.”
“Oh really, Caroline,” intervened Mr. Bingley “you always exaggerate! Jane was not late at all, and even if she would have been, she is the mistress of the house and she can do whatever she pleases. And I assure you she did not need any advices to attend her duties. As for you, if you were so hungry you should have asked me for something to eat.”
“Charles, you are missing my point,” was Caroline’s offended reply before she turned her attention to her plate.
Elizabeth could hardly fight against her overwhelming rage; even Charles’s answer was not enough for her, because his tone was as natural as ever. Yes, he did take his wife’s side, yet he did it as if it were the most natural exchange, a daily, neutral conversation. He seemed vexed but not offended in his wife behalf.
She felt an urge to do something, to say something, until she felt her husband’s hand gently touching her thigh, in a gesture meant to calm her. She turned her eyes toward him and met his tender, comforting gaze which warmed her every time and conquered her every time, again and again. She smiled back at him and put her hand upon his, their fingers entwining instantly.
Darcy was pleased that he could calm his wife a little, yet his own rage was not equally as easy to control. He had become accustomed with Caroline and Louisa’s ill manners and with their silly attacks against Elizabeth and Jane; he and his wife often laughed about it and he knew that Elizabeth did not care much about them. However, that evening was different because it was a special occasion and nothing should spoil it. Caroline Bingley’s rude comment upset both Jane and Elizabeth, and ruined their mood. That was unacceptable for a million of reasons and particularly for the most selfish reasons of all: he had prepared a wonderful surprise for his wife later that night and he wanted her to be in the perfect mood possible.
The servants started serving the first course and he waited patiently until they exited the dinning room. Then, still holding his wife’s hand, he lifted his eyes toward Caroline Bingley, his lips features wearing a trace of a smile.
“Speaking of advices, Miss Bingley, while we are in family I hope you will allow me to offer you one.” “Of course, Mr. Darcy.” She was exceedingly pleased with his sudden attention.
“When among strangers, it would be wise not to censure the mistress of the house for a mere few minutes of tardiness at her own dinner party. I am sure Mrs. Bingley does not hold it against you, but, for someone outside the family, your behavior just now could be interpreted as an unforgivable rudeness and shows a lack of genteel good breeding. Indeed, it would simply not do.”
It took a couple of long minutes until Caroline Bingley could finally close her mouth and only the lack of air induced her to breathe again. She kept staring at the gentleman who had been the object of her interest for so many years, until her sister managed to make her act reasonably again by drawing her attention to the plate in front of her. Yet, Caroline’s appetite had vanished.
At the end of the first course Jane fully regained her composure; she was pleased to receive Mr. and Miss Darcy’s appreciations regarding the dinner arrangement and she was equally pleased to inform them that it was not her merit, but her husband’s.
Indeed, everything was exactly as Jane thought it should be -- perfect. The table was wonderfully arranged, the food and drinks and the dishes, all of highest quality, the servants very efficient, as always. The master of the house had arranged everything – with the help of the housekeeper. The mistress was meant to be only the guest of honor for the dinner.
This meeting had been planned since Christmas, when they were invited to Pemberley for a month; and Charles Bingley, who loved his wife more than anything, was doing everything in his power to make this day as perfect as possible, so she would be happy and proud of him.
Jane smiled sweetly to her husband while holding his gaze; she too loved Charles with all her heart and she was very proud of him. However, at their first anniversary, Jane Bingley was not happy; in fact, she was so sad and she felt so empty that she could hear the beatings of her heart like in an echo.
One year ago she had married Charles Bingley, the nicest man on earth, in a double wedding with Elizabeth and Darcy. Everybody agreed that it was the perfect match.
As for her sister, many people were envying Lizzy for the unbelievable position she had secured, but many of them were also worried for her because Darcy was known as a difficult, taciturn and unpleasant sort of man; despite his wealth, a life spent with such a man could not be easy.
Jane looked at Elizabeth and Darcy. After a year of marriage they were close to each other, shamelessly touching and caressing their hands under the table, exchanging glances and smiles, and looking deeply in each other eyes.
Elizabeth had already explained to Jane that they would not be able to stay long, as they had prepared their own anniversary, privately, for only the two of them.
From the first day of their marriage, the Darcys were very careful with their privacy. They accepted some invitations and hosted some parties and very soon Elizabeth became well known and admired for her enjoyable and lively disposition and for her ability to make all her guests feeling really welcome. However, those events were rare, they seemed to be very happy and content to have only each other and the company of their sister Georgiana or the Fitzwilliams from time to time.
Lizzy blossomed in that last year and now she was expecting their first child! She was practically glowing and so was her husband. Mr. Darcy did not change much regarding his disposition among strangers. Yet, Jane came to know a side of him – full of tenderness and kindness, even playfulness when he was in the privacy of his home – which greatly surprised her at first. Then she understood that it was only the natural effect of Elizabeth’s love for him and of his love for her. The love had transformed him to the point Jane could hardly recognize him as the same man she had first met.
Yet, at the same time, her husband Charles Bingley did not change at all.
They remained at Netherfield and, again, everybody said it was the perfect thing for Jane to be so close to her family and to her neighbors. And Jane also agreed that this situation was perfect to be married to the man she loved and to be only three miles away from her childhood home.
Mrs. Bennet did not let a single day pass without visiting her; every change she made in the house was analyzed in details by her mother, as well as by her sister in law, Caroline. It was difficult for her to find solutions to please both Miss Bingley and Mrs. Bennet – but she succeeded each time. No effort was too great in order to make them all happy and to make Netherfield the perfect home for Charles. Then, in February, after they had returned from Pemberley, Lydia and Mr. Wickham unexpectedly came to visit her family. She had tried to make as much economy as she could and to give her younger sister some money. However, she could not make Lydia happy, as she would demand much more from Jane. And since Lydia was displeased, Mrs. Bennet was displeased too, yet she continued to visit Netherfield every day. Then the Hursts remained for the summer, too, and, although Charles wanted them to go to Brighton, they could not do it. How could they disappoint their guests? She insisted to remain at home and Charles did not argue with her. He never argued with her, never contradicted her. She could do whatever she wanted – and she wanted only one thing, to be the perfect wife for Charles. This was Jane’s only purpose during this past year and yet she felt like a complete failure in this regard.
She assumed this knowledge of failure on her part after visiting Pemberley, where she witnessed what a perfect wife and a perfect marriage really were meant to be.
Elizabeth was the perfect wife for Darcy and their marriage was perfect. They trusted each other, they talked, they shared everything, they fought sometimes but their understanding was profound; words were almost useless for them, looking in the other's eyes seemed to suffice most of the time.
Jane was shocked one day when, entering the library, she found them in a most passionate embrace, in the middle of the day, with the house full of guests. She only paused a moment at the door frame, yet it was enough to see her sister in her husband’s lap, kissing and... where their hands were... She had carefully closed the door and ran to her room, her heart racing while her shame for entering upon them in such a state was mixed with her shock at witnessing such behavior from her sister and brother-in-law; yet, during the night, in the solitude of her bed, other thoughts overwhelmed her and threw her in a tumult of feelings and questions she never had dared to ask herself before.
After talking to Lizzy a few days later, she found in amazement that the Darcys were sharing their rooms and slept together every night. Even moreso, Lizzy was talking to her assuming Jane should have understood her meaning quite well. In fact, at some point Lizzy had stopped talking and, blushing slightly, she whispered to her ‘you know, how it is... after all, you are as newly married as I am.’
But – No! Jane did not know what her sister was talking about. The revelation was unbelievable for Jane and again she had excused herself, quickly retiring to her room, shocked, incredulous... and overwhelmed with envy. She had cried until she had no tears left.
The Darcys had everything: they had love, understanding and passion.
Jane had the affection of her husband -- that was true. Her husband was a wonderful man and he said he loved her. Indeed, she could feel his love every day, in every smile, in every word, in every gesture. But she had never known his passion, nor did she believe he felt any passion for her. Should a gentleman feel passion for his wife? She had always felt something was missing in her marriage, yet she never thought at such things as ‘passion’ or ‘desire’. Where was an honorable marriage, based on affection and respect, was there any room left for such a frivolous thing? Her sister Elizabeth had unexpectedly given her the answer: yes!
However, there was nothing for her to do; her husband clearly did not have the same feelings for her as Mr. Darcy had for Elizabeth. So how could she make Charles happy? Was Charles happy with her? And if not, will he ever be? She could not be certain, she never managed to really understand her husband; she saw that he was content and kept his amiable disposition and he smiled as much as he did before their marriage. But after they returned from Pemberley, he was also deepened in his thoughts quite often and sometime she had surprised him staring at her with a strange sadness on his handsome face. She wanted to ask him so many times about the reason of his distress but how could she dare? What if she would only upset him even more? She must be the reason, she was certain of that.
She failed to understand her husband and to offer him what he wanted. She did not even manage to decide what gift to offer him for their anniversary. She had bought several gifts and she had been late for dinner precisely because she tried to choose the more proper one. She failed in that, too, all the gifts were spread on her bed, waiting for her to randomly pick one of them.
Jane was certain that Charles did not understand her either, but that was her fault, too. How could he, when she could not understand herself? She never had the courage to admit the truth about what she truly wanted, not even to herself, until they returned from Pemberley. From the first day back at Netherfield – from that first night – alone in her room, she started to confess everything to her diary. Her every thoughts, her every dream, her every desire, all regarding her beloved husband, were confined to the little book which kept her company every night. Nothing was left untold – no secrets were kept unrevealed in her diary.
The lively conversation around her brought her back from her reverie and she saw Darcy caressing gently his wife's growing belly; Jane smiled, her heart full of affection for her sister and her eyes full of unshed tears.
She, too, wanted a child so much! She wanted to give Charles a son or a daughter, but would she ever be capable to do so or would she fail in this also?
Charles came to her room from time to time, mostly once of week. He always had been so attentive and so kind to her, always careful not to hurt her in some way; but never passionate. She really did not know very well how ardent passion would feel like, but she was sure it should be different than what she had already experienced. Her body was aching for his closeness long before her mind admitted her desires. Every time he entered her room to wish her good night, she was secretly hoping he would remain with her; yet he never did, except for his weekly visit. ‘He would never consider spending an entire night with me, not every night – no not even a single night.’
When he came to share her bed, he never lingered on her side longer then the time ‘needed’. His caresses were so gentle, so soft, so breathtaking; his hands burned her skin through the thin fabric of her nightgown, making her wonder how his fingers would feel on her bear skin, longing for more but never daring to beg for more. Could there have been something more? She knew she should feel grateful that submitting to her duties as a wife was so unexpectedly pleasant and that her husband was so tender with her; wanting more made her feel wanton and ashamed and guilty.
Of course she could not let Charles suspect anything of that kind. So during their time together she chose to spend it as silently as she could, listening to his whispers without understanding them, happy to feel his kisses on her face, the taste of his mouth on her lips… until he took his pleasure. Afterward, he always seemed so distressed, barely looking at her at all, only kissing her hand and telling her how much he loved her, then silently and hurriedly he would depart to his room; and the moment he closed the door behind him, Jane already missed him as much as she missed him now, when he was sitting opposite to her, at a distance of only a table length, yet so far away.
The voices around her startled her and she could not hold her tears any longer; she excused herself, running from the table, upstairs, to her room, leaving behind her family in shock and her husband livid.
Elizabeth instantly rose from her chair to follow her sister, but her husband stopped her, gently entrapping her arm and forcing her to resume her place, answering with no more than a meaningful look to her questioning stare.
It was Bingley's duty to comfort his wife, yet he did not move for a few moments. He seemed petrified on the table, staring at the door where his wife had vanished, the blood drained from his face, his countenance wearing so much grief that Elizabeth’s heart ached.
Finally, he left his chair and, with unsure steps, he walked along the house until he reached his wife’s door. He stooped in front of it until he gained enough courage to gently knock and then to enter the room.
"Jane?" He got no answer and he tentatively went further, only to find his wife on her bed, crying soundly, without moving at his entrance. His heart felt like it broke in a million pieces and he kneeled near her, his fingers timidly touching her golden hair. "What ever is the matter, my angel? What is wrong?"
She did not answer and he continued to caress her until she calmed herself and her sobs ceased. Only then did he lift her and turn her to him, but she avoided his eyes. Very gently, he put a finger under her chin and made her look at him. Her eyelashes were still filled with more tears threatening to overflow down her already stained cheeks; he could no longer restrain himself from gently caressing her face and desperately trying to kiss away her tears.
"Oh Charles”, she whispered, “I am so sorry. Could you ever forgive me?" "Sshh... do not say that! Forgive you for what? I should be the one who begs your forgiveness.”
She looked at him in disbelief, while he continued: "Oh my love, what did I do to you? I swore to make you happy and I have failed so miserably". "Charles, please do not say that."
"Why not, if this is true? You are not happy, I can see that, but I cannot do anything to change that, because I am not capable of understanding what you really want. Jane, I love you more than anything and anyone, and I would give my life for you. But I do not know how to make you happy." "My dear husband, you do make me very happy."
"No, I do not, please do not lie to me anymore. I know you only try to protect my feelings, you always do the same. You have always bared my wishes and my desires only because you want to please me, but I know that I am not the husband you deserve nor desire.”
“Charles, this is not true.”
“Yes, it is, my love, and you must not be afraid to admit it as you must not be afraid to refuse whatever I ask from you. I do not want you to feel trapped in this marriage, at my disposal, to spend your life complying my demands.” She wanted to interrupt him again, but he silenced her pressing his fingers against her lips.
“Jane, I am not as oblivious to the people around me as you and the others might believe; and I am certainly not oblivious to you. I know that you avoid being alone with me and prefer anyone else to my company alone; you did not even want to go to Brighton alone with me and you hardly approved my demand that Caroline move with Louisa during our time in London. Why are you so afraid of me? Did I ever do something to hurt you, to frighten you so much?”
He put some distance between them and started pacing the room while Jane was following him with her blue, incredulously shocked stare.
“Can it be that you are afraid I will impose myself upon you? Is my presence so disagreeable to you?” “Charles, no, no… please… do not say that!”
“How can I not? It is time for the truth, Jane. I know I failed to make you enjoy our marriage bed, as I apparently have failed to make you enjoy our entire marriage. I knew it from our wedding night, when you asked me to go to sleep in my own bedchamber. I wanted so much to love you more and to sleep with you in my arms... but it was not difficult to understand you did not welcome any of it. Since then, every day and every night I fought with my passion for you. I have tried so hard to impose on you as little as I could and, instead, to enjoy the things you find delight in. Yet, it seems none of it has been good enough, neither have my efforts made you any happier. I have tried to set aside my own selfish wants and desires, trying to guess what it is that you want. My dearest angel, Jane -- I spend everyday wondering at the fact that you are my wife, but I am afraid I will never be the proper husband for you, as Darcy is for Elizabeth. I know I am horribly selfish, but I feel so full of envy towards Darcy! I want you to look at me the same way Elizabeth looks at him. I want to hide away with you far from the others, I want to walk with you, to talk with you, to simply look at you, most especially to be all alone with you. But I have not been able to learn how to make you desire the same things and I am afraid I never will. All I have managed to do is to have you crying at our anniversary. Now this is indeed such a great accomplishment.." he concluded bitterly with his voice so altered that his wife could hardly recognize it. Finishing his tirade, he stopped and looked at his wife, his countenance frowning and darker than she had ever seen him.
His whole soul was opened to her through his eyes and Jane looked incredulously at her husband while she almost forgot to breathe; she held his gaze for a very long moment, then slowly, as revelation struck her, her heart started to race madly and she moved closer, raising both her hands and cupping his face, whispering , "Oh Charles, my love..." shaking her head still in disbelief.
She began to cry again while her face rose to reach his; daringly, her eyes never leaving his, for the first time in her life she started kissing her husband; tentatively first, their lips barely touching; yet it took only a moment before they both could think of nothing else except to satisfy their hunger, their desperate need for each other; greedy lips salted from tears tasting, caressing, devouring, kissing mixed with loving whispers, lingering on and on…
Some time later, without a word, Jane withdrew a few inches, her eyes silently speaking to him; then suddenly she left his embrace and went to her armoire, took her diary and gave it to him. Her most intimate thoughts, from the moment she met him at the Meryton Assembly until the previous night, her every fear, every desire – her entire soul – were there, and she was finally ready to share them with him – her dearest husband!
He took it with trembling hands, not knowing what it was; however, this time her wordless confession was enough for him to understand the importance of this strange gift.
They stared at each other another moment and then, wiping her tears from her face, she simply stated as serene as ever. "I will go to attend our guests."
He smiled at her and answered: "I will stay a little longer, if you will allow me." She smiled back at him and left the room, while he lay in the bed and started to read…
When Jane appeared in the dinning room explaining that Mr. Bingley was delayed by unexpected business, Caroline exploded in a new round of reproaches addressed to her brother, yet formulated as to be understood that she blamed Jane’s outburst and her general influence for Charles’s strange behavior. Her rudeness was not at all any less offensive than earlier, yet this time Jane did not even heard her. She only whispered to Elizabeth, with a bright smile in her eyes: "Everything is well now!"
One hour later Bingley finally appeared; the dinner was almost over, only his plate was untouched; but he did not seem interested neither in food nor in anyone present around the table. He went directly to his wife and locked her gaze, then he took her hand and impetuously pulled her from the chair into his arms, kissing her fervently, more passionately than ever before.
The shock suffered by Miss Bingley and the Hursts was the worse they had ever experienced; the ladies gasped loudly, effectively yelling at Bingley. Miss Georgiana hide her opened mouth behind her palms, yet her eyes fully betrayed her amusement; she had happened before upon her brother and his wife, so it was not quite a novelty for her. Even Elizabeth’s eyes opened widely in front of such forwardness in a room full of people.
However, the ever proper and always perfectly polite Jane, after a first moment of astonishment, quickly surrendered to his embrace, clearly indifferent at everything around her.
The only one keeping his composure and exceedingly pleased with the conclusion of the evening was Darcy who began to laugh: "Well, I think it is time for us to leave. Miss Bingley, Mrs. and Mr. Hurst, may we drop you somewhere?"
“To leave? So soon? Are we being thrown out of the house? How is this possible for us to be treated this way? This is outrageous,” cried Miss Bingley, unable to understand what had happened. However, as the Darcys already rose from their sits with the clear decision of departing and the Hursts did the same, she had no other option than to follow them all to the main entrance hallway.
Mr. and Mrs. Bingley did not even try to stop them, nor attempted to offer an excuse to their guests; although her face was crimson from mortification, Jane was glowing with happiness, as Elizabeth had not seen her since the day of their wedding. The sisters hurriedly took their goodbyes as did Mr. and Miss Darcy; but Mr. Bingley’s sisters, deeply offended by such an unforgiving outburst of rudeness, left the house barely throwing a ‘good bye’ over their shoulders.
As soon as they were left alone, Mr. Bingley did not lose a moment before he again captured the sweet softness of his wife’s lips and he did not release her until she broke the kiss in a desperate need for air. His arms enfolded her while her hands tentatively encircled his waist, clinched to him so tightly as being afraid she would lose him.
Oblivious to anything else but each other, closely embraced, they walked toward their rooms while the master of the house whispered to the mistress of his heart. “Mrs. Bingley, our anniversary is just about to begin.”
They reached her door chamber and he opened it with no effort, then he took his wife in his arms and entered the room closing the door with his foot, never ceasing to hungrily kiss her. She withdrew a moment, whispering: “Charles, the servants...” then her lips returned as in a will of their own to meet his.
He smiled and placed her tenderly on the bed, hardly managing to give an answer. “Do not worry, I dismissed them both for the time being. We will not need their services until later.”
He wanted to resume his most delightful activities but Jane cupped his face with her palms, gently yet decidedly, stopping him. Her voice, unsure by the novelty of her emotion and by that breathtaking, long lasting kiss, trembled slightly as she spoke. “You should not have dismissed my maid, Charles... I... I need her help to... prepare myself.”
In a moment he was laying on the bed, by her side, his body half covering hers while his hands found their way to her hair in search of the pins; his mouth reached her ear, burning her skin as he asked. “Do you need other preparation, Mrs. Bingley, except removing your clothes? If I remember correctly, you just bathed before the dinner.”
His voiced sounded strangely husky and his moves seemed to admit no opposition and no argument. She felt the weight of his chest upon her and she sighed at the feel of his breath burning her cheek and her ear while he spoke; then she startled violently when his lips and tongue started a most shocking play with her earlobe. Surrendering to the delicious sensation for a few long moments, she struggled to answer him; yet, any struggle ceased when his fingers started caressing her face, brushing over her lips and traveled slowly down to her neck then rested upon her heart.
His lips moved along her jaw line, slightly lowering toward her neck then returning to her face and finally reaching the corner of her lips. Only then did he stop and raise his head so he could search her face. “Jane, if you want, I will go and fetch your maid... I do not want you to feel uneasy... However, I dare say you will not need any other help than mine...” He was smiling at her, a smile like she had never seen before, his eyes dark blue, his gaze heavy, staring at her with penetrating intensity and making her heart race wildly; though she had never seen it before on her husband’s face and she had never felt it before, Jane could easily recognize it: it was passion.
Her lips suddenly became dry, as she arched for his and her arms shyly encircled his waist. One of his hands skillfully removed the last pins from her now free hair, playing with it, while the other was still resting upon her heart and gently began to caress her bosom. Only an inch apart from him mouth, she whispered in a barely audible voice. “Then I shall seek no help but yours, husband.”
The assault of his thirsty mouth upon hers was not just a kiss but a statement of possession – and for a moment it frightened her, but only for a moment.... After that, any rational thought vanished; she could not think, only feel. Her skin burned and froze under his fingers as he undressed her, stroking her, his lips and his tongue caressing her, kissing her, tasting her as she would have never imagined, discovering and revealing to him and to herself the most hidden places of her restrained passion. From time to time, her mind registered what was happening, what he was doing to her, the way he touched her, pleasured her, savored her, and in those short moments she felt ashamed and guilty and she even tried to whisper his name, attempting to stop him. Yet her body would not listen to her mind, and neither would his. Her breasts ached for the stroke of his fingers as much as his fingers seemed desirous to caress them; when his palms cupped them, perfectly fitted in their roundness, she was certain a more powerful sensation could not exist. She needed only a few more minutes to discover how wrong she was, as his hands continued their journey toward her thighs and his mouth followed them in the same delicious manner to replace them on the spot near her heart. The feeling of his lips was something she had imagined many times but how poor her imagination had been; then again, how could she have imagined that? Something she had never imagined was his tongue tantalizing her skin and his lips closing around the pick of her breast while his left hand found its way inside her thighs, daringly moving closer and closer until he reached the final destination. She could not repress a scream. Her back arched against his mouth and she instinctively pressed her legs together, capturing his hand. “Charles... you should not...” She could not end her plea as she instantly forgot her meaning. Shockingly, his fingers commenced to touch her, to explore that place and, to her mortification, her legs opened for him, allowing his hand to caress her in that shameless way - no, not allowing but welcoming his touches. She could hear herself moaning wantonly at his every stoke, mortified by her wildness and afraid of what her husband would think of her afterward.
Breathless by his demanding kisses, shattered by a frightening storm of sensations, all the shame and guilt vanished when her body reached for the first time the point where the pleasure was unbearable.
Many moments later, when she was able to think again and to ask herself what had happened to her, she opened her eyes and saw her husband’s face, smiling at her, his lips whispering “I love you” while he glided inside her, making her gasp in shock. He instantly stopped, afraid of hurting her, asking her what was wrong. Her lips were so dry that she could not speak; the worry in his voice brought her to her senses and she opened her eyes again, smiling at him and whispering while she licked her lips. “ Nothing is wrong... It is... wonderful...”
“Ohhh...” was his only answer while a smile brightened his sweated face; then his hands slid along her thighs and lifted her legs, encircling them around his waist while he leaned against her and submerged himself insider her, loving her with an intensity which only grew moment by moment, thrust by thrust. Her legs tightened the grip around him, pulling him closer toward her, deep inside her while her body quickly learned the rhythm of his moves and joined him with no restrain; she almost fainted when a new wave of pleasure shattered her body. Barely conscious, a few moments later she felt her husband trembling in her embrace as never before and his deep moans startled her and worried her until she felt and then understood what was happening to him: everything in their love making was familiar, yet so completely different, so much more intense, so much more delightful than everything she had experienced or ever imagined.
The most wonderful sensation though, more powerful, more exquisite than the unbelievable pleasure she had just experienced was the feeling of her husband’s arms around her afterward, the warmth of his body laying in extenuation, his heart beating so wildly that she could hear it.
They remained as they were, linked to each other, her hands and legs around him, his body crushing her while she wished never to be released from that most beloved burden atop of her.
After awhile he rolled onto his side but his arms held her tightly, his eyes searching her dreamy face, flustered, slightly aglow with perspiration, surrounded by beautiful golden curls. One of his hands glided along her warm skin until it reached her face and brushed lightly against her lips, parting them slightly, forcing her to smile; but she did not smile and did not meet his eyes either.
Though Charles blamed himself every day of his marriage for not being able to understand his wife and to make her happy, this time he needed only a moment to understand the reason of her distress. He still could not believe that what had just transpired between himself and his wife was not only another dream, one of those dreams which filled his every night in the last year, nay, in the last year and a half, since he had first meet her. Yet, it could not have been a dream, because it was more wonderful than everything he had ever imagined; she had been more wonderful than he had ever dared to imagine. And now, after their passionate lovemaking, after they had shared the blissful happiness of complete pleasure, she was insistently averting her eyes to avoid his; however, she did not do any attempt to move away from his grasp.
Though usually worried at his wife’s smallest sign of distress, this time Charles only smiled, deeply pleased with what he knew to be the reason for her worriment. “Jane, what is the matter?” She startled in his arms and her cheeks turned crimson; his fingers tipped her chin and she was forced to lift her eyes until met his. “What is it, my love?”
“’Tis nothing, Charles… “She tried to hide her eyes again but he did not allow her. “Jane, please look at me… Do you not trust me well enough to tell me what is disturbing you?”
She did as he requested and forced a shy smile to reach her lips while she hurried to assure him. “Oh Charles, please do not say that! Of course I do trust you… It is just that…. Oh, I cannot speak of this!”
“Very well then, I shall ask nothing more…” His fingers were playing within her hair which cascaded on the pillow and he pulled her closer to him. “Jane, I want nothing more than for you to be happy, but you need to help me to do that. As you see, I am not very perceptive and I failed miserably until now to understand your wishes.”
She instantly rose so she could face him. “Charles Bingley, never say that again! You never failed me, you are the best husband a woman could wish for. If it was anybody’s fault, it was entirely mine. If I would have been more like Lizzy, to speak my mind instead of…”
Her words died on her lips when his hand impetuously pulled her down across him and embraced her so fiercely that she felt her breasts painfully crushed against his chest. She gasped in surprise, staring at him with blue, wondering eyes, yet she did not attempt to withdraw.
He lowered his head until his mouth reached her ear and he whispered in a way that made his every word caress her skin with his lips. “I shall not say another word if you will promise to never again say it was your fault... You are just perfect for me and I will spend every moment of our life together to prove you that.” His lips then followed the path to her mouth but he did not hurry to capture it; instead, countless little kisses were spread over her cheeks, her chin, and finally her lips which became eager to meet his. Mirroring his gesture, she kissed him back, a trail of kisses bestowed upon his face; and she smiled with contentment when she heard him moaning. Lastly, their lips joined and hungrily devoured each other, more passionately and less restrained then ever.
Time stopped and seemed to fade away as she was certain they had kissed for an eternity. Then, in complete shock, she felt herself being lifted by his arms and placed atop of him while his body was moving beneath her and his hands began anew their exploration along her back, lowering to her waist, her hips and even her inner thighs, resting upon them for a moment, then stroking them daringly and finally pulling them apart. She started trembling and gasped loudly when she felt his hardness pressing against her core; she tried to lift her face and look at him but she only succeeded to open her mouth enough to whisper. “Charles…?”
“Jane… Please...” he pleaded in a low voice, while continuing to send thrill after thrill throughout her body.
Her head was spinning and she became drunk by all the sensations which seemed too much for her to bare; with the reminiscence of her reason, she wondered if he could possibly mean what she thought he meant… But how could it be? Was it possible to repeat that experience again? So soon? And if he really meant making love again, why did he hold her atop of him instead of rolling her down on the pillows, beneath him... He could not possibly intend to...
Her tormented thoughts as well as his moves ceased a moment later when he indeed rolled her on her back, then withdrew from her and hurriedly pulled the cover sheets over them. Hardly catching her breath, with her heart racing widely, wondering again what had happened and already feeling the loss of his warmth, she looked at him inquiringly and he answered with a quick, playful kiss upon the tip of her nose. “The servants just entered… And I cannot ask them to go away because I asked them to prepare our bathes and the diner in two hours time…”
Her mind was still not able to fully comprehend until she heard some distinct noises in her dressing room and the voices of her maid and his servant. She startled violently, trying to reach for her clothes spread on the floor and in doing so she only managed to completely uncover herself, as the sheets fell again. He laughed and embraced her lovingly, ending her agitated moves. “My love, calm yourself… you are in your own room, with your own husband and your servants will certainly not enter upon you unannounced. Better tell me where I may find a robe for you. Ah, here it is, allow me…”
He rose from the bed, covered with only a sheet, and brought her a robe then calmly gathered their clothes and threw them carelessly upon the closest chair.
With her cheeks flustered, Jane wrapped herself in the robe then hurried to the mirror, desperately trying to arrange her hair, again avoiding her husband’s amused stare. Yet she had no escape as he trapped her in his arms from behind, staring at the image in the mirror over her shoulder. “Jane…”
His lips whispering near her ear almost made her forget herself again; however, the thought of the servants’ presence only a few feet away, behind the wooden door, proved to be stronger and she tried unsuccessfully to free herself. “Charles… the servants might enter… and you are not even dressed… what will they think? They will surely understand what happened.”
He laughed again and turned her around in his arms so he could look in her eyes. “My dearest Jane, I do not want to distress you but… if you remember, I dismissed your servant and mine and I asked them to prepare our bathes and the dinner in two hours time… then I kissed you in front of our families and Darcy practically dragged them out of the house… and we did not do anything to stop them. I dare say everybody understood what happened.”
She stared at him with her eyes widely opened in shock, then her beautiful face turned crimson as fire, her perfect features changed by the mortification and she could not spoke a word for a few long moments. At the edge of his limits, hardly holding his peels of laugh, he embraced her tenderly and kissed her hair while Jane kept whispering: “I am such a simpleton… of course everybody understood… What am I going to do now? I will never be able to face them again.”
“I simply cannot understand!!! What were they thinking of? Is Charles completely out of his mind? He acted like a lunatic! And to kiss her wantonly in our presence??? This was… disgraceful, disgusting… it makes me sick! And after all that hysterical behavior, instead of apologizing, he did not say a word, just watched calmly as Mr. Darcy was dismissing us out of the house! Oh, but Mr. Darcy is even more out of his mind than Charles is. The way he stood in the carriage and smiled so stupidly at Eliza Bennet… That cannot be, Louisa, we must do something about this!”
Caroline Bingley was almost suffocated by rage the moment she entered the Hurst’s Town house; her sister fully agreed with her but tried to calm her as well as she could, in order not to have the entire staff hearing about their family problems. Yet it took Caroline another full hour to tone down her voice and it took Mr. Hurst a full bottle of wine to remain calm and indifferent all this time. .
Elizabeth dove in the bath tub full with rose petals and she closed her eyes, allowing the hot, welcoming water to wrap her.
She felt tired and distressed after that dinner at the Bingleys – and happy to be at home. She had been angry beyond her limits with Caroline and Louisa, upset with Charles for his apparent lack of determination in dealing with his sister, grateful to her husband for putting Caroline in her place so harshly; but most of all, she had been greatly distressed and deeply worried for her sister Jane.
In truth, she had been worried for Jane for quite some time, because she knew her sister better than anybody and she could see that Jane was not well. She had even questioned Jane directly and the only answer she got was that everything was fine and that Charles was the best of men, though Elizabeth never doubted Charles’s character or his affection for Jane. It was precisely that answer that worried Elizabeth even more, as she was certain that Jane’s state of mind had something to do with Mr. Bingley. Elizabeth talked to her husband many times about that subject, being certain that, if any problem would occurred, Charles would confide in Darcy. Though opposed at intruding in other people’s privacy, especially after his interference from two years ago brought so much pain to everybody, Darcy did talk to Bingley. Yet, the only thing he revealed to Elizabeth was that Bingley loved his wife very dearly and his only concern was her happiness.
That evening, when they celebrated one year from their double wedding, Elizabeth witnessed, better than ever before, that Charles was nothing but attentive and loving to his wife and that Jane was... sad. Yes, sad, that was the word for her state. When her sister ran from the table with her eyes tearful, Elizabeth’s heart broke in pieces and the entire time until Jane returned, Elizabeth could hardly hold back her own tears.
And then... “Oh dear, I shall never forget Caroline’s face when Charles kissed Jane.....And what impetuosity, to kiss her that way in a room full of people! I guessed I do not know Charles as well as I thought I did… And the Hursts… I thought they would all have a stroke.” She started to laugh, as she did in the carriage, together with Darcy and Georgiana, as soon as they remained alone. “Thank God that poor Georgie was not too shocked.... “ No, Miss Darcy had not been shocked at all, only amused, and she kept saying how beautiful Jane looked that evening.
After their arrival home, they spend another half in hour in the music room, Georgiana playing for them while they talked more about Jane and Charles. When they finally retired for the night, Elizabeth understood why her husband kept her downstairs for so long: because of their earlier return home, the surprise was not ready yet.
Elizabeth closed her eyes, her fingers tracing little waves in the water. She smiled and swooned in delight as the rose petals caressed her skin. She loved roses. And she loved him and all the little surprises he used to spoil her with.
His surprise... He had opened the door to her room and revealed to her thousands of red roses all over her bedchamber. The view took her breathe away and her heart stopped beating for a few moments... then she start crying. Tears of happiness, of blissful felicity, of complete and absolute love for her husband.
He wiped her tears away with tender kisses then took her in his arms and carried her to the settee in front of the fire place, holding her close to him and wordlessly professing his love for her.
Deep into the hot water, in the room barely lit by a few candles, she heard the steps but did not even open her eyes, nor startle when she felt his hands caressing her warm skin through the water. She moaned and turned her head so he could place his lips on her neck and smiled, knowing what was next. A moment later he was behind her, in the bath tub, trapping her with his long legs stretched along her each side and his hands leaned her back to rest against his chest.
He always did the same, whenever his business allowed him to retire early. He had purchased the largest bath tub he could find and by the time Elizabeth arrived at Pemberley – about a fortnight after their wedding – the bath tub was there, waiting for them. In their London townhouse, where they had spend the first two weeks as newly weds – it happened a couple of times that he dismissed her maid and entered upon her while she had bathed, but never actually bathing together as it had no room for that. So, when she had first seen the enormous bath tub placed in a small room adjoining her bedchamber, she blushed and remained speechless, to her husband’s utter delight. From that evening on, he had sought and found many opportunities to prove the utility of that highly expensive object.
“How are you feeling, my love?” “Happy,” was her answer while she leaned again his chest and his arms encircled her.
“Yet, something is still occupying your mind... other than what I would wish your mind to be occupied with....” His voice became deeper and huskier while his fingers restlessly moved through the water, along her skin.
She chuckled and turned her head so she could place a small kiss on his neck. “I am sorry, my dear.... I was only worried for Jane...” “Ah, yes...Well... I think you have every reason to be worried for her... Bingley looked quite wild when we left... However, somehow I doubt she will be in any real danger; not to mention that she did not look frightened at all.”
She laughed, then tried to censure him for making jokes about her sister and her brother, but she had no time to speak as he gently forced her to turn her head so he could capture her lips; and she could only agree with him: her sister did not seem to be in any real danger, so she could fully turned her attention toward her husband -- he demanded it and deserved it.
His fingers skillfully traveled all along her skin, washing and caressing each and every part of her body, with perfect knowledge of what she wanted and what she enjoyed the most. One of his hands gently traced the roundness of her breasts – more sensitive because of her pregnancy, but still perfectly fitted in his palms – while his other hand slid lower, toward her growing belly, caressing it lovingly. He adored holding her in his arms that way, as her entire body was available to his greedy hands and his lips could easily reach the softness of her cheeks, her neck, her shoulders as well as the savor of her lips if she turned her head only a little. Her slight tremble and her soft moans proved to him that finally he was the only one who occupied his wife’s mind.
He felt Elizabeth brushing slightly against him, then started to laugh. He stopped his caresses without withdrawing his hands from their most perfect location and inquired about the reason of her amusement. “I have to confess, Elizabeth, that laughing was not precisely the reaction I was hopping for.”
She laughed even harder, turning her head more to her left so she could fully reach his mouth. “Oh, I am sure you would be pleased with my reaction if I confess its motive.” “Then please, do,” he answered, though not allowing her lips to freely speak.
Fortunately, she needed no words; soundly engaged in the kiss, she stretched back her hand to touch him and smiled in delight when she heard his groans. “I laughed because I am pleased to see that my husband still desires me, even if I am with child and I feel sick at least ten times each day.” Her hand grew more daring and more determined with every word, while his groans grew louder. With great difficulty he managed to answer, half serious half in jest. “Well, it would be quite strange to believe otherwise, wife, considering I am struggling every day not to prove to you how much I really desire you.”
If Elizabeth had any doubts remaining about this subject, that night her husband made all of them vanish forever. It was later after the midnight when she fall asleep in his arms, her heart melting as she felt his hand protectively laying on her belly. “I hope Jane is well,” was her last thought before cuddling closer to his chest.
The Bingley’s private dinner lasted more than two hours.
After her bath, Jane was considering whether to get dressed properly and asked her maid to arrange her hair. Fortunately, only a few minutes later Charles appeared, wearing only trousers and a shirt; he dismissed the maid for the moment then leaned to Jane as she was sitting on the chair and whispered that her appearance – with her hair down on her shoulders and in her night robe – was perfect for what he had planned for them to do next. She blushed, staring at him in the mirror, and then nodded her head in agreement.
He offered her his arms – too ceremoniously for their state of dress – and led her to his room, where the table was arranged.
Though not for the first time in his room, Jane stepped in tentatively, feeling shy and embarrassed. He seemed not to notice and asked if she liked the arrangements; she did, very much. A small table with only two chairs was placed near the fireplace and Jane thought it was the loveliest arrangement possible: perfectly intimate, only for the two of them.
By the time they took their seats, no servants remained in the room. Minute by minute Jane grew easier and more relaxed; when he asked what she wanted to eat first from the various kinds of food spread over the table, she attempted a joke, declaring she wanted to eat everything, as she was hungrier than ever. As soon as she ended she noticed her husband’s playful and meaningful look upon her and she blushed in deep mortification; but Charles laughed and leaned to quickly kiss her lips then started filling both his plate and hers.
A half glass of red wine helped Jane to calm down and considerably improved her mood as she forgot any uneasiness and became more talkative then ever. Delicious dishes mixed with little talks of sweet and bitter memories from the past, hands caressing, stolen little kisses and food sharing were the ingredients for what both Charles and Jane considered being the most wonderful dinner of their lives. Though shocked at first, Jane accepted with delight little bite size pieces of meat or cheese from her husband’s hand, blushing each time her lips touched his fingers; and a little later, as she had finished her own wine, she took another gulp – from his glass.
Around midnight they finished their meal and Charles poured her a little more wine then took hold for her hand, his fingers tenderly playing with hers.
Though Jane was fully aware the evening must end at some point and the time to retire for the night would come, the very idea of separating from him brought the deepest sadness over her. She knew she was irrational and overly emotional, especially after he had proved the intensity of his feelings for her. She had no reason to feel anything else but utter happiness. Yet, she felt as if she was in danger of losing him and their new discovered felicity – so she tightened the grip of his hand as if delaying their separation a little longer. He smiled, adoration obvious in his intense stare, then asked if she was ready to return to her room. She startled and looked at him, wanting to answer that she was not ready to leave, that she wanted to stay a few more minutes with him. Instead, she simply said: “Yes, of course. It is time to return to my room.”
“Very well then.”
She noticed the playfulness in his voice, the obvious lack of regret in his tone – and she felt her heart arching with pain. Of course, he was being much more reasonable than she; and he was the one acting properly, while she felt the fool. She turned to leave, struggling to say good night while concealing her tearful eyes, when he stopped her and handled her the empty glasses and the bottle of wine. She stared at him, her eyebrows frowned in misapprehension but he offered not clarification; instead, he simply lifted her in his arms and walked through his room, to her bedchamber.
He sit down on the little couch near the fireplace, holding her in his lap; still not looking at her, he took the glasses and the bottle from her hands then finally turned to look at her while his lips moved closer to her. “Jane, what is the matter, my dearest? Why are you crying?”
Yes, she was crying, crying from the shame of being so ridiculous silly, of not being courageous enough to speak her mind, of misjudging her husband’s intentions once more. He cupped her face and gently wiped away her tears with his thumbs while trying to meet her tear filled eyes. “Jane, please tell me what happened. You said you trust me and I believe this is true. You must know that if anything is bothering you, it is bothering me, too.”
“Charles, nothing really happened... it is only that you married the silliest woman in the country....” “Ah... I see.... “His tone and his confused glance were clear proof that he was completely ignorant about her meaning.
She encircled his neck with her arms while he cuddled his face on her neck, remaining like that for some time. Then he suddenly withdrew a few inches and looked at the beautiful woman in his arms, shaking his head in wonder. “My dearest wife, if you are the silliest woman, then I must certainly be the silliest man, because I cannot imagine what you are taking about. And to be honest, I am quite upset with myself: here is the most beautiful woman I have ever known, sitting upon my lap, wearing nothing but her night gown... and crying. My self esteem is very low at this moment, I have to confess that.”
Jane looked down at his scowling face and started to laugh; his arms embraced her even closer while his left hand began stroking her back along her spine. His right hand was encircled around her waist and he started caressing her, unfolding the edges of her night robe. “I am pleased to see that at least you are laughing of me. Will you please tell me your reason, if I am not asking too much?”
He was mocking her and she was happy to see that her silliness did not really upset him; his hands were sending countless shivers over her body and she could hardly concentrate to what she wanted to say, but she did it nevertheless. “Charles, please forgive me... I ...” She paused then breathed deeply, her cheeks flustered, and continued while looking him in the eyes: “I thought you told me to return alone in my room ... to retire for the night... and I did not wanted to be separated from you so soon... I know it is silly but I would dearly wish to be a few more minutes with you... I… ”
His eyes were abashed from surprise and emotion while staring at her, then suddenly a smile brightened them; he put her down from his lap, close to him and encircled her shoulders with one arm while his other hand took hold of her trembling fingers. “My dearest Jane, there is something I have to tell you. You gave me your diary, now it is my turn; I must tell you everything I have felt for you, everything I have wished for, everything I have dreamed for since I have met you. Will you hear me out?”
She nodded and put her arms around his waist while she leaned her head against his shoulder; in the room dimly lit with only a few candles and by the fire in front of them, Charles started to talk -- with complete honesty -- from time to time taking small swallows of wine to hide his emotion. His words, full of passion, spoke about his restrained desire, about his frustration while everything and everybody seemed gathered in their house to keep them apart, about his struggle and his anger with himself for not being able to understand her and to make her happy. He talked for a long time, growing more animated and more daring moment by moment. “You know Jane, perhaps you will be upset with me, but I don’t think I can bear to return to our previous daily schedule, with endless visits from your mother and endless useless conversation with my sisters; as much as I care for them all, I want to be with my wife and I shall have it, even if I will be forced to kidnap you from our own house.”
She chuckled, her eyes still tearful, and cuddled closer to him. “I hope there will be no need for such measures, Charles. I would be more than happy to go with you willingly.”
“And… Jane...” his tone changed and he lifted her head so he could see her eyes. “I do not want to come to you just once a week, as before… I want…”
Jane’s cheeks turned crimson, a sudden lump in her throat forbidding her to speak clearly. He continued, again shyly and uncertain of his words and of their effect on her. “I... I do not mean to force you or to impose upon you.... I will always accept your wishes in this matter.... I only want to stay with you, to hold you, to talk to you.... and Jane... I would very much want to sleep with you, at least from time to time, if you would allow me. You said you were upset tonight because you did not want to be parted from me.... I do not want to be parted from you ever.”
A long pause followed, spend in silence, only with their gazes locked and the sound of their hearts beating in the same rhythm. Then finally the words found their way out from her lips, a sweet melody for him to enjoy. “Charles, everything you told me is everything I have hoped to hear from you. Your wishes are also mine and I want nothing else than to be with you, day or night.”
Daringly, she brushed her lips against his and her hands encircled his neck, then her fingers glided through his hair. He lifted her and placed her upon his lap again, kissing her tenderly first, as if like sealing their agreement, then more possessively, more hungrily, as he could not have enough of the sweetness of her lips.
His hands covered her body with gentle caresses through her night robe then found their way inside finally pulling it off over her shoulders. She knew what would follow and she knew that no servant dare would enter to interrupt them this time. Every fiber of her body ached for his touch and her skin burned in anticipation of his caresses. Her hands tentatively traveled down to his back then returned to his hair and her lips willingly responded to his eager kiss. She could feel his fingers beginning their exploration until a cold shiver made her understand her night gown was no longer covering her anymore. The thought being naked and uncovered in his arms, in the full light of fire made her frown for a moment; but then, when his lips left her mouth and quickly moved down to her chin, along her throat, joining his hand upon her breasts – every other thought vacated her mind.
She waited -- even begged him -- to take her to the bed; but the night of new discoveries was only just beginning for Jane. In deepest shock yet the most exquisite pleasure, she surrendered to her husband’s will as he lay her down on the couch and kneeled near it to cover her body with wild kisses and the most passionate caresses, until she collapsed breathless and barely conscious. She did not remember when he finally carried her to the bed, nor did she remember much of what followed, except that everything seemed more powerful than earlier and that their mixed groans sounded very loud and strange in the silence of the room. Their lovemaking lasted for so long that the extenuation left her body with no strength and she was certain she could not bare much more pleasure any longer.
Jane completely regained her senses much later, when she found her husband lying next to her, holding her hand and caressing her forehead. She smiled shyly, suddenly embarrassed by the remembrance of everything that had occurred between them and by the realization that she was completely uncovered. She hurried to pull the coversheets over her and Charles helped her to do so; then he rose from the bed and seemed to depart to his room. She looked after him, her breathe still not completely steady, without daring to ask him where he was going. Yet, he turned to her as guessing her wordless question and leaned down to whisper on her ear. “I am leaving only for a minute, to dress myself. And I suggest you, Mrs. Bingley, do the same if you want us to have any sleep this night.”
She stared at him while he exited her room, and her cheeks colored highly as she understood his words; then she hurried to recover her nightgown from the floor and returned to bed, pulling the covers around her because the room seemed chilly and she was shivering.
When her husband returned – dressed with shirt and trousers, which made her laugh – she cuddled with her back against him, searching for his hands which were holding her close and entwined her fingers with his… both finally falling into a deep restful sleep, not awakening until noon.
The next day, Mr. and Mrs. Darcy had the exceedingly pleasant surprise to receive a call from their brother and sister.
Though obviously embarrassed by her behavior during the dinner and apologizing more than once for ruining their party, Jane’s appearance was enough for Elizabeth to put aside all her worries: the happines was glittering on her beautiful face; and a stronger proof of their harmony was Mr. Bingley sitting very close to his wife the whole time, holding her hand even when they were offered tea and refreshments.
The visit did not last longer than an hour and they parted with affectionate good-byes and with the promise they would meet again for another dinner in a couple of days time.
The entire drive back home, Charles and Jane spoke very little, only leaned against each other, closely embraced. There was only a week left until they were to depart for Hertfordshire, together with the Hursts and Caroline, and they decided to spend that remaining time with little company; Charles even suggested to have all the meals served in their rooms but Jane did not agree, afraid of the gossip that would arise among the servants. However, she agreed to postpone a visit to her aunt Gardiner and eagerly waited to return home directly and to spend the time until the dinner was ready in the seclusion of their apartments.
They entered the main door and Charles hurried to help remove her coat and bonnet, stealing a few kisses from her cold lips, when they both frowned at the sound of Caroline’s angry voice. They looked at each other for a moment, a short glance being enough to reach a mutual decision before proceeding in the salon where they found Bingley’s sister in one of their worst moods.
“Good day Caroline, Louisa. What a surprise to see you.” Charles voice was neutral as he sat down on the settee, with his wife next to him. “Is there anything wrong?”
“Anything wrong? I do not know for certain, Charles, you should tell me that. What on earth is happening with you? You acted like a lunatic last evening. And where have you been? We have been waiting for two hours and nobody knew your location or when you were suppose to return. What kind of household is this? When I was the mistress of this house the servant were perfectly efficient and dependable. I told Jane that will be the result if she continues to treat them with no determination....”
“Caroline!” He rose from his place and moved close to his sister, who was pacing the room . “First of all, please keep your voice down before you make a fool of yourself in front of the servants. Second, from this moment on you will refrain from speaking another word against my wife again, or else you will not be admitted to our home any longer. And third, do not dare to presume you have the right to question my decisions nor my daily schedule; if you need my help in any kind of problems I would be more then willing to offer it; but beside from that -- it is not your concern where and when we decided to take leave of our house.”
“Charles, how dare you to speak to me with so little respect? I am your elder sister and I took care of you when you were younger.”
“I am fully aware you are my elder sister, Caroline, and I have always cared about you very much. This is the reason I always accepted your attitude and your behavior toward me, without reproaching you sooner, not even when your incivility and interference kept Jane and I apart from each all this time.”
“I do know what you are talking about, Charles. As I said, you are acting like a lunatic.”
“Of course you know what I am talking about, Caroline and you should be grateful to Jane that she allows you in her home, after all the suffering you have provoked in her. However, I do not want to ruin my disposition by arguing with you. I intend to spend a very pleasant afternoon with my wife, so if I may be of any service, tell me at once; if not, you will excuse us now, for we want to retire to the privacy of our rooms!”
He elegantly offered his arm to his wife and started walking toward the door, leaving a shocked Caroline and Louisa behind them. Barely able to hide her contentment, holding tightly to her husband’s arm, Jane turned to her sisters in law and as politely as ever she smiled to them. “Caroline, Louisa, thank you for calling on us; it has been a pleasure to see you again.”
The couple entered their rooms and found themselves pleasurable engaged long before Mr. Bingley’s sister gathered their sensibilities enough to leave the house.
The first three days which followed, Caroline spend her time abusing the entire Bennet family and the next four days preparing her belongings for the return trip to Hertfordshire.
During the journey back to Netherfield, Caroline searched for some opportunity to make peace with her brother and sister in law, as she finally understood it was in her best advantage to be on good terms with them. However, no opportunity arose as she had only the company of her sister and Mr. Hurst all the way back. Mrs. and Mr. Bingley decided to travel in a separate carriage, and showed no interest to interrupt their journey at all, not even to refresh or warm themselves by stopping at an inn.
Even strangely, to the Hursts and Caroline’s surprise, when they reached Netherfield and descended from the carriage, half frozen after so many hours on the winter road, it appeared that neither Charles nor Jane Bingley even looked cold; in fact, they looked so warm and flustered as if they had somehow spend the entire journey near a fire. That fact made Caroline to presume they had had much more blankets and perhaps much more hot tea in their carriage and selfishly refused to share it with the rest of them. However, she had no time to remonstrate their lack of generosity, for they declared to be very tired after the long trip and retired to their rooms, where they remained until the next morning
Only three months later, with Darcy's help, Mr. Bingley found an estate at only 30 miles from Pemberley and purchased it with no delay.
Miss Caroline Bingley’s darling wish was gratified: her brother had followed the advice she so decidedly offered him one night at Netherfield, during Jane’s illness: he had purchased an estate in a neighboring county to Derbyshire. Though he did not take Pemberley for a kind of model, his estate was very satisfactory in every possible aspect, however this fact brought Miss Bingley considerably less pleasure than she had excepted that evening long ago.
Mrs. Bennet was shocked and grieved and her nerves suffered greatly at the news that her eldest daughter was to live so far away from her; yet, she found a quick consolation when Mr. Bennet wisely presented her the advantage of having not just one but two sons in law with such fine estates and could look forward to many fine prospects for her other daughters.
Jane’s affectionate heart and Charles’ easy temper made them to remain the same perfectly polite, amiable and sweet couple; their home continued to be visited many times of the year by his relatives and hers and the guests always felt so welcomed that they hardly decide to take their leave.
However, after months and months of practice, Mr. and Mrs. Bingley discovered many and different ways of protecting their privacy and of enjoying their solitude; and they did not allow a single day to past without spending a few hours alone and not a single night without sleeping in the other’s arms.
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