In my last post, which you can find here, I gave away two copies of my new book, A Much Later Meeting. Right before the book was published, I posted it, as I always do, on the DarcyandLizzy forum. The readers there loved it so much, they begged for another epilogue. I decided to grant their request. Below, you will find this extended epilogue. Don’t read it if you have not finished A Much Later Meeting.
December 21, 1841
Darcy slipped off his shoes and crept onto the bed as gently as he could. Leaning back against the headboard beside Elizabeth, he lifted his arm over and behind her, pulling her tight against him. He looked down at the tiny bundle nursing at her breast and blinked his eyes against the onrush of tears. He turned his head to press his lips into his wife’s hair and regain control of his emotions.
It had been this way from the moment he had first laid eyes on his son and heir. He never thought it would be possible, with their advanced ages, for him and Elizabeth to have a child. He was overwhelmed with joy, and not just because he had a child of his own to pass Pemberley on to.
The pregnancy had been hard on Elizabeth. The doctor and midwife had shaken their heads and issued all manner of warnings, both about mother and baby. But, Darcy and his beloved wife ignored the dire prophecies and put the situation in God’s hands.
Morning sickness had struck hard and had lasted far longer than either of them had heard of. Elizabeth was sick every day for almost the entire nine months. She never really knew when it would strike. It might be first thing in the morning, and was for a couple months, but it might be at dinner time or bedtime, or even in the middle of the night. She lost a great deal of weight that she never really gained back. She ate when she could, but could never be sure she’d keep it down.
Fatigue had plagued Elizabeth for most of the pregnancy. Darcy insisted she take naps, going so far as to lie down with her.
There had been two times they had been afraid of losing the baby. Elizabeth began to have cramps, much like her courses. After the second, the doctor put her on bed rest, and insisted she remain for the final three months of her pregnancy.
For Darcy now, to hold his wife and child in his arms felt like the end of a long, hard journey. His emotions finally under control, he opened his eyes and peeked over Elizabeth’s shoulder. He smiled at his son, reaching the index finger of his free hand out to gently stroke the child’s downy cheek.
“He looks just like you.” Elizabeth looked up at him as she whispered. She smiled, love shining out of her sparkling eyes.
“He has your hair.” Darcy kissed his wife’s temple.
“So it seems.” Elizabeth laughed. “But every feature on his face from his hairline to his chin is a miniature of yours. Even his eyes are the same color.”
“Ah, but those might change. Your sisters tell me all their children’s eyes changed color as they grew.”
“They did.” Elizabeth looked back at the baby as she conceded his point. “But their eyes were blue when they were born. Our child has brown eyes. I do not believe they can get any darker.”
“He has opened his eyes for you, then?” Darcy lifted a brow.
Elizabeth’s warm laugh bubbled forth. “He has.” She turned her attention back to the baby when he unlatched. She turned him, encouraging him to feed from her other breast.
“Does it hurt?” Darcy stroked his son’s dark, downy hair.
Elizabeth nodded. “Sometimes, yes, very much, but usually only if he does not latch on properly.” She visibly relaxed when the baby began to suckle. “Good boy,” she whispered, stroking his cheek with her finger.
“I will need to make an official announcement to the family. Have we settled on a name?” Darcy laid his cheek on Elizabeth’s head, closing his eyes and listening to his son nurse. He sighed contentedly.
“Bennet George Albert Darcy. The longer I think about it, the more certain I am that your choice is best.”
Darcy chuckled. “You suddenly object to Theodore Richard Julius Darcy?” He felt his wife shake her head under his cheek.
“It was ridiculous and I cannot believe you allowed me to even consider such a ridiculous thing. No rational person names their child after Julius Caesar and a French painter.”
“Who was I to object? Especially when doing so could result in a river of tears flowing out of your beautiful eyes?” Darcy lifted his head to kiss first her hair and then, after he had raised her chin with his hand, her cheek and lips.
“I have been a challenge, have I not?” Elizabeth rolled her eyes but then smirked. “Thank you for putting up with me. You are a saint.”
Darcy grinned at Elizabeth and squeezed her closer. “It was worth it.” He pressed his lips to hers once more, this time in a deeper and more intimate kiss. “Have I told you recently that I love you?”
Elizabeth grinned up at him. “You have, but I am willing to hear it again.” She tilted her head upward for another kiss. “I love you, too.”
At dinner that evening, Darcy was the last to enter the dining room. He hadn’t wanted to leave Elizabeth’s chambers, but she insisted he be an attentive host to their families, all of whom had converged on Pemberley as the time for her confinement drew closer. He strode to the head of the table, enduring the congratulations of the ladies and jokes and slaps on the back of the gentlemen. When he reached his place, he gestured to the footmen, who handed around glasses of wine. His guests all fell silent.
Darcy closed his eyes briefly, willing the happy tears threatening to overwhelm him to subside. Sensing the footman at his elbow, he accepted his wine with a nod. He swallowed, looking around at his family and Elizabeth’s. He took a deep breath and began.
“Elizabeth is well. She has been delivered of a healthy and robust-” Darcy had to pause to swallow down more emotion. “A son. I have a son.” As the family began to murmur and squeal, he lifted his glass. “To Elizabeth Darcy, and to Bennet George Albert Darcy.”
Darcy took a sip of wine as his family did the same. He accepted more congratulations, then encouraged the rest to sit so they could eat.
Viscount Hucknall’s voice rose. “Uncle Darcy!”
Darcy turned his attention to the far end of the table. “Yes?”
“Congratulations. I have never been so glad to be relieved of inheriting a large pile of bricks as I am at this moment.” Hucknall grinned, lifting his glass, as the rest of the diners erupted into laughter.
Darcy shook his head as his own laugh burst out of him. “Thank you, Nephew. I am happy to be able to relieve this burden for you.”
The rest of the meal passed quickly. Darcy watched the others, marveling at how well his family and Elizabeth’s had melded together. He bowed his head to thank the good Lord once again for granting him everything he had ever wanted.
What do you think? Will it do?