Fire and Cross - The Story
The combination of a lethal blaze and a garnet cross have ensured that ever since he was a boy, Fitzwilliam Darcy's future is promised to an unknown lady. With danger looming from a suspected spy, and with murder close at hand, will Mr. Darcy cross paths with Elizabeth Bennet and win her affections?
Mr. Darcy's journey to overcome his pride and find eternal love in Pride and Prejudice takes on a mysterious twist. This sexy what-if story, told from Darcy's viewpoint, explores the demands of family members and other involved parties. Fire and Cross takes this perennial favorite in another direction, bursting with overpowering emotion and surprising plot twists.
Warning: The book contains explicit adult content, mud, whip and macaroons.
"Entertaining dialogue, behind-the-scenes intrigues and gossip fill the pages with a mystery to solve." 4 out of 5 --Vvb32 Reads
"...beautifully crafted novel". "With its mysterious undertow and daring depictions of lovemaking ..., it pulls readers into its story." -- 5 stars, Tracey Parece --The Boston Romance Examiner
"This tale is imaginative and diverting Austenesque escapism." "Wilson's writing easily draws in her readers with her adventurous plots and exhilarating conflicts." --Austenesque Reviews
The loud yelling woke George Darcy from his deep sleep. Blinking open his eyes, he saw smoke blackening the whole room. He jumped up from the bed and dashed to the door, but the thick cloud hindered his progress, especially as he was unfamiliar with the layout of the inn.
“Anne! Fitzwilliam!” he called out desperately as he stumbled around, trying to find the door to the corridor. His wife had not been feeling well and she had retired to a separate chamber. Their son had wanted to keep her company.
When he finally pushed open the door and came to the landing, a large piece of burning wood fell from the ceiling and hit him on the right shoulder, scorching his arm. Gasping in pain, he leaned heavily on the railing.
“Anne! Fitzwilliam!” Believing his wife and young son to be still trapped in their room, he continued calling out for them as he walked on. The smoke was less overpowering here. As he turned left at the corridor, a man of medium height emerged from George Darcy’s right and pulled at his arms.
“Sir you cannot go that way!” The man had an educated voice, a gentleman perhaps. “The fire started on the left side of the building and it seems to be burning like Hades itself.”
Mr. Darcy coughed heavily as he tried to pull away from the other man. Suddenly the sound of crying stopped his movement. The country gentleman was carrying a baby, half tucked inside his coat.
“Shh, my dear, all will be well!” The man rocked the baby quickly as he continued to pull Mr. Darcy away.
“No, I must go that way,” Mr. Darcy said. “My wife and son are there.”
“You are injured. They may have already escaped. We should look outside first.” The gentleman was now using his shoulder to prevent George Darcy from passing through. He had clearly not been injured by the smoke or the fire.
“Let me go! I have to find Anne and Fitzwilliam!” Mr. Darcy cried out angrily.
“Even if you find them, you cannot carry them out. You are hurt.” The gentleman became equally angry at George’s stubbornness. With a shake of his head, he thrust the baby into Darcy’s hands. “Take my daughter out to safety! I shall find your wife and son for you.” Then he pushed Darcy towards the direction of the stairs.
“No!” George Darcy did not want the stranger hurt for his family’s sake. But as the figure of the country gentleman dashed into the left side of the hallway, amidst heavy smoke, Darcy could do nothing but carry the baby girl down the stairs.
When he finally came out of the Bromley Inn and drew in a breath of fresh air, he was led by some servants to lie on the grass. He surveyed the crowd and could not see his wife or son anywhere. He wanted to raise himself to dash back into the inn again but his body was not under his control because the pain rendered him helpless. He could barely move.
As grim emotion gripped his heart, fearing for his wife and young son, the baby in his arms was strangely quiet. The bright moonlight permitted George Darcy to look at her more clearly. She was dressed in baby cloth of a modest quality, not expensive or fine but clean and neat. She had big expressive eyes and a few brown curls. Her silence seemed to bring him some calm.
His arm hurt like the devil and the smoke he had inhaled was making his head spin. Through the haze, his eyes turned to stare at the front of the inn. He prayed for the safe return of his family.
Suddenly the baby stretched her arms and touched his face. He turned to look at her again. She gave him a bright smile and George Darcy’s heart seemed to constrict. He made a heartfelt wish upon seeing the babe’s encouraging smile and hoped both Anne and Fitzwilliam would be safe.
“I am willing to part with the most important thing in my life for a miracle – that my family will be rescued!” he swore. He closed his eyes tightly and prayed. “A newborn signifies happiness. I pledge the future of the Darcy line to you, dear one. May you bring us forever joy.”
He opened his eyes and looked at the baby girl. She had stretched out her hands from the blanket and seemed to be clapping her hands.
Darcy put his own hand into the pocket of his waistcoat and drew out a velvet box he had safely kept hidden. In it was a garnet cross with ruby red gemstones on an exquisite silver necklace. He had had it made by an exclusive jeweller for his wife Anne’s twenty-eighth birthday and had had the words “Forever as One” inscribed on the back face. He put the necklace inside the pocket of the baby’s dress. “You are too young to wear it yet but I pray it brings us all good fortune, precious baby girl. Bring back Anne and Fitzwilliam to me.”
He shut his eyes and prayed again. He wished he could remember the baby’s name. But everything was too painful for him at the moment.
“Agha! Agha!” The cheerful sound of the baby roused George Darcy from the fog of his pain. He turned back to look at the inn.
He heard someone calling loudly and through his smoke-strained eyes he saw the country gentleman emerging from the inn. In his arms was a woman. A young lad had his hand holding onto the man’s coat tail as he ran along beside him.
The gentleman peered through the crowd and finally saw Darcy and the baby.
As the baby’s father drew closer, George saw with a quickening heart that he was carrying Anne and the lad holding his waist was Fitzwilliam.
“They are safe!” George Darcy breathed out a sigh of relief and kissed the cheek of the baby girl. “Thank you! You are our saviour!” Then his words caught in his throat as the pain finally took hold of him and he fell into blackness.
It was two days before George Darcy regained consciousness. Mrs. Darcy was unconscious for several hours but their loyal servants were able to settle them in another inn and call their doctor from London.
When he inquired about the identity of the country gentleman and the baby girl, none of the servants was able to answer his questions. If Fitzwilliam had not said that the father and his baby daughter had left with a “God be with you” amidst the flurry of activity to bring the injured to another inn, the Master of Pemberley would have thought his family’s saviours were mere apparitions.
Five years after the death of his father, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy was astonished to meet the woman wearing the garnet cross.
In a letter left to him by his father, Fitzwilliam was told of the fire at Bromley Inn when he was eight years old, of which he had no memory. His father wished for him to find this gentleman and his daughter, whom George Darcy had been unable to locate, and offer to take her for a wife.
“A promise to the Lord cannot be rescinded, son! I had so many more years with your mother and with you, all thanks to this gentleman and his precious baby girl.”
Fitzwilliam was resentful of this request. He did not remember his rescuer, let alone the baby girl.
Where will I find this gentleman and his daughter? How long should I search for them before I give up? What if I meet another woman I love instead? Am I to give up my future for my father’s moment of…insanity? Weakness?
He had engaged the services of a man earlier who professed to have once plied his trade as a Bow Street runner to find the baby girl and her father. But after a year without success, he abandoned the search. “May the Lord help me plan my future as He sees fit.”
It was an absolute shock to Mr. Darcy, at the age of eight and twenty, to find Miss Caroline Bingley wearing this garnet cross. He had known Charles Bingley since their days together at Cambridge. His elder sister was a lady who always treated people condescendingly and scornfully, especially servants and those from lower circles. She had set her cap at Darcy and was relentless in her pursuit of him whenever they were in company together.
Darcy would never have considered her as a partner for life, if not for finding out that she was in possession of the garnet cross.
One morning in the summer, without notice, she came with Bingley to visit Darcy at Ashford Hall, his townhouse in London. It was then that he noticed the ruby garnet cross seated comfortably on her over-powdered chest. She said that it had been her most treasured possession since she had been a baby.
“Why is it a treasure? I have never seen you wearing it before,” Bingley said to his sister with a frown. Darcy was thankful that his friend was asking the question for him, because he could not shake the thought that he might be forever linked to her.
“Charles, you did not know because you were not yet born!” Caroline replied with a raised voice.
“The design looks quite unusual. So father gave it to you when you were a baby? It was a strange thing for a baby. I would have thought it suited a grown woman better,” Bingley said.
“It was a mysterious gift from an acquaintance of father.” Caroline looked at Darcy with a smile as she replied. “I have never worn it before because I only found it in father’s treasure chest a few days ago with a letter of explanation.”
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