Chapters of Scandalous Novel at Netherfield

The Scandalous Novel at Netherfield Chapter 2 – Steamy Pride and Prejudice Variation

Unedited beta version

Elizabeth tossed upon her bed, seeking in vain the escape of slumber. In the concealment of night, her treacherous mind conjured remembrance of the hidden novel she had discovered in Netherfield’s library, a fanciful tale of passion and impropriety that set her pulse aflame.
Though the book had been hastily concealed, its contents were seared upon her memory. Each amorous scene seemed writ not from imagination but memory, as if the author had penned a romantic episode from their own secret troth.
Amid the shadows, one figure stepped forth unbidden to claim the hero’s role. In her thoughts, deep brown eyes gazed into her own and a loosed curl fell to caress her cheek. A beloved face peered up at her, awaiting the press of questing lips against fevered skin.
Shame warred with longing as she recalled the stolen delight the tale had awakened. In bold print were whispered the words her traitorous heart dare not utter, passion given voice and longing bound betwixt pages to be read by firelight’s glow when all was wreathed in silence and shadows.
If society knew she had read such a wicked book, much less found delight in its pages, her reputation would be ruined beyond hope. Yet prove as she might the folly of ungoverned desire, still her thoughts would fly where reason dared not follow.
When the mantle clock tolled one, Elizabeth could bear the restless ache no more. Donning her wrap, she took up the candle and slipped from her room in search of reprieve denied her by wakefulness.
The darkened corridors echoed with each whispering step, but she walked on. At last she emerged to the library, a cavernous room still redolent of cigar smoke and brandy. There, in a high-backed chair still pulled close to the fire, was her prize.
Heart pounding, Elizabeth retrieved the book and settled into the chair’s cushioned depths. By candlelight, she traced a gloved finger down the creased spine and opened the cover.
The familiar scent of forbidden delight rose to envelop her. With furtive glance over her shoulder, she bent her head to lose herself in ink and parchment, following where longing led through rose-strewn walks and midnight groves.
A log settled upon the hearth, sparks flying in a brief shower of gold. The library remained sunk in slumber, unaware of the secrets kept within its walls.
Elizabeth shifted restlessly against the chair’s plush contours, her skin grown fevered beneath the words’ caress. Each touch, each whisper kindled anew until she was all flame and wanting, trembling upon passion’s abyss with none but ghosts and shadows for companions.
So entangled in the tale, she did not hear the library door creak. Nor did she mark the dark figure that leaned against the doorframe, dark brown eyes gleaming as they traced her reluctant flight from innocence, storied and real alike.
A log collapsed upon the hearth, casting a shower of sparks. At the betraying sound Elizabeth started, book tumbling to the floor. She blinked into the firelight, vision blurred from fancy’s snare.
There, wreathed in shadows, stood her undoing. Mr. Darcy gazed at her, features schooled yet enigmatic eyes alive with secrets of their own.
Mortification flooded her senses, chasing the last wisps of passion into retreat. “Forgive me,” she stammered, scrambling to collect the book from where it had fallen. “I did not mean to intrude—”
“There is no need to flee on my account.” His lips curved, a glimpse of white in the shadows.
Elizabeth’s cheeks flamed anew. In her haste to quit the library she nearly forgot her candle, leaving all to darkness until Mr. Darcy lit a branch of candles from the fire.
His low voice followed her into the hall. “Sweet dreams, Miss Elizabeth.”
Breathless, she hastened up the stairs to her chamber. But sleep refused to claim her, chased away by mortification and whispers of silken delight.
Mr. Darcy had witnessed her betrayal of virtue and reason alike, yet made no true complaint. Nay, there had been a glint of teasing in his eye, and something more—interest, perhaps, a glimpse of passion to mirror her own.
Tomorrow she must apologize for her foolishness and ensure it did not happen again. But tonight she would ponder the novel that had been hidden away, but its words were graven upon her heart. She would not easily forget secrets shared by candlelight, or the solace passion had afforded her restless soul.
After a restless night, Elizabeth rose to find her sister awake. Jane’s color had much improved, and she greeted Elizabeth with a warm smile.
“You are looking very well this morning,” Elizabeth said, squeezing her hand.
“As are you, though you seem quite fatigued.” Jane studied her for a moment. “Did you not sleep well?”
“I fear my concern for you kept me wakeful,” she said, hoping Jane would not note the lie. They spoke of inconsequentials for a quarter hour before Elizabeth pressed a kiss to her sister’s brow.
“I shall go down and fetch you a tray. No arguments, mind you—the physician recommended plenty of rest.”
“As you say.” Jane’s smile was wan. “Though I do not relish the thought of being abed for another day.”
“One more shall ensure your recovery.” Elizabeth straightened the coverlet, ignoring the pang of guilt. “I shall keep you company again this evening, if you like.”
She left Jane to her rest and walked slowly downstairs, each step weighted with secrets better left unsaid. But no remorse could quell the trembling warmth kindling at her thoughts’ turn, sparks born of darkness whispering of a love that could never be.
The dining room was bright by contrast, sun spilling across scrubbed pine and sideboards laden with breakfast fare.
Mr. Bingley greeted her cheerfully as she entered the dining room, his warm smile a welcoming sight. “Ah, Miss Elizabeth! Good morning. I trust you slept well?”
Elizabeth returned the smile, feeling a touch more at ease. “Good morning, Mr. Bingley. Indeed, I did, thank you.”
His expression grew more concerned as he inquired after her sister. “And how is Miss Bennet this morning? I do hope she is recovering well and has improved greatly?”
Elizabeth smiled, appreciating his genuine concern. “She is resting comfortably, Mr. Bingley. Your kind hospitality and the excellent care provided by your staff have been of great assistance in her recovery. I believe she will be well enough to return home in a few days.”
As she took her seat, Mr. Darcy looked up from his plate, his eyes meeting hers with an intensity that made her heart skip a beat. The room seemed to grow quieter as a new awareness flickered in his gaze.
“Miss Elizabeth,” he murmured, his voice deep and resonant, “it is a pleasure to see you this morning.”
Elizabeth faltered, heat flooding her cheeks. In that brief glance, she glimpsed remembrance of the library and pierce of quiet longing that unravelled her composure. She turned away to hide her confusion, heart pounding as she took a seat beside Mr. Bingley.
Elizabeth, feeling the weight of his stare, attempted to maintain her composure as she replied, “Thank you, Mr. Darcy. I wish you a pleasant morning as well.”
Their brief exchange hung in the air, a subtle energy that crackled with the potential for something more.
The morning sun filtered through the windows, casting a warm golden light upon the polished wooden table and the fine china that adorned it. The scent of fresh-baked bread and brewed tea filled the air, an enticing aroma that normally would have comforted Elizabeth.
Mr. Bingley prattled on, mercifully diffusing the tension. But through breakfast, Mr. Darcy said little and gazed on Elizabeth with peculiar interest, as though seeing her in a new light.
She would not soon forget last night, nor the knowledge of how Mr. Darcy beheld her with those penetrating eyes. But she could only hope he would spare her further embarrassment by keeping that knowledge to himself.
Elizabeth struggled to steady her nerves as she listened to the cutlery clinking and the murmur of polite conversation. Her heart beat rapidly as she replayed last night’s events, the warmth of Mr. Darcy’s gaze still lingering in her mind.
Caroline Bingley, ever observant, was not blind to the tension between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. Her dark eyes narrowed as she surveyed the scene before her, her lips pressed into a tight line.
With a forced smile, Caroline turned to Mr. Darcy and skillfully steered the conversation toward his interests. “Mr. Darcy, I heard you have been indulging in your love for horseback riding lately. Pray, do tell us about your recent adventures.”
Mr. Darcy, caught off guard by Caroline’s sudden attention, replied hesitantly, “Indeed, Miss Bingley. I find the countryside here most invigorating, and the company of a fine horse is always a pleasure.”
Caroline’s eyes gleamed with delight as she continued to monopolize Darcy’s attention. “Oh, Mr. Darcy, your appreciation for the finer things in life never ceases to impress me. You are truly a gentleman of discerning taste. I must say, it is a rarity to find someone who shares our refined sensibilities, especially in such rural surroundings.”
As she spoke, Caroline cast a sidelong glance at Elizabeth. The subtle jab was not lost on those present, least of all Elizabeth herself.
Caroline, sensing her success, cast a triumphant glance at Elizabeth. She leaned closer to Mr. Darcy and asked, with feigned innocence, “I trust you find the company here at Netherfield as stimulating as your equestrian pursuits, do you not, Mr. Darcy?”
He hesitated for a moment before answering, his voice lowering slightly, “I must admit, Miss Bingley, that I have found the company in this house to be most engaging and enlightening, in its own unique way.”
As he spoke, Mr. Darcy’s gaze lingered on Elizabeth, the intensity of his stare igniting a spark deep within her. The air between them seemed to grow heavy, charged with an undercurrent of desire that neither could fully acknowledge.
Elizabeth felt her pulse quicken as the lingering heat of his gaze sent shivers down her spine, leaving her breathless and acutely aware of his presence.
Caroline, though momentarily taken aback, recovered her composure and continued her efforts to charm Mr. Darcy. Elizabeth, however, could not be deterred. She knew the games Caroline played and resolved not to be shaken by them.
As breakfast came to a close, the party dispersed to their various pursuits. Elizabeth could not help but notice the way Mr. Darcy’s gaze seemed to follow her as she moved about the house, the warmth in his eyes betraying his growing interest. Caroline, ever vigilant, watched the pair with growing unease, her well-laid plans for capturing Mr. Darcy’s attention slipping through her fingers like sand.
The drawing room, bathed in sunlight, was a haven for quiet reflection and polite conversation. Elizabeth took her place near the window, seeking solace in the view of the verdant gardens that stretched out before her.
Mr. Darcy, in a bid to maintain his composure and respectability, busied himself with a book, though the words on the page held little meaning for him as his thoughts were consumed by the spirited woman who had so unexpectedly captured his dreams.
Caroline bided her time, waiting for the opportune moment to approach Mr. Darcy. As the afternoon sun cast long shadows across the room, she seized her chance.
Mr. Darcy, momentarily alone, glanced up from his book as she approached. “Mr. Darcy,” she began, her voice dripping with false concern, “there is something I must share with you, something that I feel it is my duty to reveal.”
Mr. Darcy, his brow furrowed in suspicion, replied cautiously, “Indeed, Miss Bingley? Pray, tell me what weighs so heavily on your mind.”
Caroline hesitated, as if weighing the consequences of her actions, before continuing. “It concerns Miss Elizabeth Bennet. You may not be aware, but she hails from a family of rather… dubious reputation. Surely, a gentleman of your standing should not associate with those of such inferior connections.”
His eyes narrowed, his irritation growing by the moment. “Miss Bingley, I am well aware of Miss Elizabeth’s circumstances, and I assure you that they have no bearing on my estimation of her character. I would caution you against engaging in idle gossip, for it reflects poorly on us all.”
With that, Mr. Darcy rose from his seat and strode across the room, his tall figure cutting an imposing figure, effectively dismissing Caroline’s attempts to disparage the woman who had been in his nightly fantasies.

When Jane Bennet falls ill at the Bingley’s Netherfield estate, Elizabeth arrives to care for her sister, only to uncover a hidden collection of scandalous erotic novels in the library.
Caught in the act by the brooding Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth is unable to deny the smoldering desire between them. As they navigate the thin line between propriety and passion, they steal forbidden kisses and fiery glances, all while grappling with the growing intensity of their feelings.
However, their journey is not without its obstacles, as the meddling Mr. Collins and the nefarious Mr. Wickham conspire to derail their love. In this slow-burning tale of desire and devotion, follow Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy as they confront the barriers of Regency-era society and their own hearts to find a love that defies convention and culminates in a joyous, unforgettable wedding and wedding night.
Discover the passion, intrigue, and slow buildup of longing in this variation of Pride and Prejudice, where the path to true love is filled with temptation, adversity, and the tantalizing promise of a love that transcends all barriers.