"WIVES AND LOVERS"!!! Synopsis, purchase link




Book Three of 'DARCY & FITZWILLIAM' - a continuing 'PRIDE AND PREJUDICE FAMILY SAGA'.

In "Wives and Lovers" the forever brilliant, beautiful and brave Fitzwilliam Darcy is approaching his older years as fit and elegant as always.  With his beloved Lizzy by his side he has become a powerful voice in political circles, as well as being regarded eminent among the highest and best of society.  His children, George, Anne Marie and Alice are all happily married with children of their own, their lives idyllic - until... tragedy strikes all families, rich or poor.

Richard Fitzwilliam, a year and more older than his famous cousin, has always had a rather turbulent life, owing mostly to his mercurial moods, and his 'bull among the china' thirst for life.  He is wildly in love with his wife, Amanda, but they argue about everything!  He is devoted to his children, yet they drive him insane!  His first born son is expected to marry and produce an heir - but what can be done when the boy has come to dislike the woman he married so much?  And then there are his twin daughters, Mary Margaret and Mary Elizabeth, hovering around him, treating him like a delicate flower!  Or his youngest, Edward drifting through life, chumming with friends, chasing girls!  Or, his son Mark, traveling the world, and never home!  Or his son Luke, regarded as the most handsome man in London....  oh, well; Fitzwilliam's aggravations know no bounds.



WIVES AND LOVERS
 1848
PROLOGUE

Brooks Gentlemen’s Club, the society of men begun in 1762 with the ouster of two free thinking individuals from the very conservative White’s Gentlemen’s Club, had over the years evolved into a Whig, or liberal leaning, enclave.  Here impeccably attired gentlemen could settle into their armchairs for the sole purpose of discussing Business and Politics.  Here gentlemen could thrash out Strategy while evaluating Unconfirmed Reports.  Here, in other words, gentlemen could Gossip.  Forward thinking was how they saw themselves – powerful men convening amidst lesser men who aspired to take their power.

And within this often treacherous, yet oddly successful, lot, there was one particular gentleman who was quite the celebrity as well.

“There he is, in the flesh.  Do you see him?  Don’t turn around!”

“Really, uncle?   How in heaven’s name can I know of whom you speak if I do not turn around?”

“It’s Darcy!  I’d sensed he would be here today, damned if I didn’t.  Such an elegant looking fellow.  Dudley, did you ever see the like?”

“Not looking at you, no.  Are you going to eat that bread?”

“Yes, I am; get your hands away from there.  You know, of course, that he is currently the implicit Whig leader.”

“So that’s why you dragged me here. Well, all right, let’s have a look at this citadel of ‘liberalism.’  Where is he?”

“I said don’t turn around!”

“Calm yourself.  I wasn’t going to stand and shout out his name for goodness sake.  What would you have me do?”

“Let me see, let me see… I know, when I give the signal slide something off the table to the floor, and then you may turn and look – unobtrusively as is possible mind you – as you pick whatever it is up.  Perhaps you could throw down your… no, not your knife, something quiet.  Gad, you’re hopeless at times.”

“Really, uncle!  If you kick me again and I shall stomp on your foot!”

“Stomp on my foot, nephew, and I shall remind you that your mention in my will is not chiseled in stone.  Ooh, here’s your chance, he’s looking toward the door and motioning at someone – turn around!  Hurry!”

 “Yes, all right.  Where is he?  I don’t see anyone in particular – oh, over there!  Huh.  So that is Derbyshire’s renowned ‘Fitzwilliam Darcy’.  Well, well, well. Rather hard to miss the fellow since he seems the center of everyone’s attention in this room.  Curious, I thought he’d look a much older man.”

“What are you on about?  He’s the same age as I.”

“Precisely.  Well, if we’ve satisfied your curiosity about the gentleman, may we at last return to our meal?”

 “No we may not.  Dudley, there are huge political matters in play here.  My concern with Mr. Darcy goes far deeper than food.”

“Aha, now I am intrigued.  Will we need to have anyone roughed up?”

“No, but listen to me carefully.  When you looked at him just now…”

“Yes?”

“Did you see any tassels?”

“I beg pardon.”

“On his boots – did you see tassels?”

“No.”

“Neither did I.  Why, oh why, do I ever listen to Monsieur Rene?  Well, that decides it.  I shall have to have mine removed immediately.”

“Your boots?”

“No, Dudley, my tassels.  Move a bit to your left would you, you’re in my way.  Excellent.  Gad, how I envy the man, still young and virile looking at his age.  Amazing.”

“Uh-huh.   If you’re not going to finish your lamb I’d be willing to help you out there – wouldn’t turn away that remaining boiled egg either.  Ooh, will you look at the time?  We’d better get a move on here; Mama’s waiting tea for us.  Waiter, are these the only puddings you have?  I thought not.  And, I need more hot chocolate.  So why does this man fascinate you so?  He seems very like any other toff in their later years.  Exceedingly better looking than most I’ll grant you, slimmer in the hips, broader in the shoulders I suppose, but still he’s just another posh gent.   Pass me the butter, there’s a good chap.  What’s wrong now?”

“I wonder that we are even remotely related.”

“Odd.  I wonder that often enough m’self.”

“Listen to me, and learn – and please, close your mouth when you chew.  Thank you.  The reason I brought us here today is that man.  I must make his acquaintance.  He is a legend, a genius.  Why, Fitzwilliam Darcy has the ear of the most influential people in the realm, including the Prince!  More impressive even that that – his aunt is Lady Catherine de Bourgh.”

“Yikes!  Poor fellow.”

“Everyone who is anyone vies for his attention these days.  Especially the ladies; they simply adore him.”

“Now that is something to envy.  I’ve often dreamt of becoming a rich nabob, nothing to do with my life but tempt nubile young beauties into my bed.  Do you know the name of his current mistress?  Is it someone scandalous?  She must be very chic, perhaps an opera dancer, or bored countess?  I have it!   It’s Henry Arnold’s young widow, is it not?  Ha!  Hear the doxie’s just arrived in town and already cutting a wide swath through the more powerful gentry.”

“Don’t be ridiculous!  Hardly his type at all… oh, I see – you’re being facetious.  Dudley, don’t play the fool with me, I’ve had years more experience.   The fact is Fitzwilliam Darcy’s a revoltingly moral man; devoted to his wife and children, in spite of the fact that his wife’s family is far beneath his own.  Then again, most are.   Oh, now I’ve made myself depressed again.  Signal the waiter for more wine, there’s a good fellow.  My word, to be counted among his circle of acquaintances; I tell you, I would die a happy man.”

“Seems a bit counterproductive at that point – here you, waiter!  Where are my strawberry scones?”
“Allow me to explain this in terms simple enough that even you may understand.  Darcy has made millions for himself, for his relations, his friends – millions!  Reputedly, he is very generous with sharing his expertise… ”

“One moment, uncle, if you please.”

“Yes?”

“Millions?”

“Yes, millions.”

“As in, money?”

“No, Dudley, teapots.  Of course money!  Everything the man touches turns golden!  In fact – come closer – no, not that close – I learned just yesterday that he’s investing, and quite heavily I might add, in some type of Vast International Textile Consortium.”

“Which?”

“Don’t know, do I?   No one seems to know, unfortunately.  That’s why we’re here.”

“Yes, I understand you now.  Say no more.  Well, well, well, quite an interesting fellow, this Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy.   Certainly turns himself out in the finest of fashion, too, doesn’t he?”

“Always – maintains the very highest of standards in all things; a gentleman through and through.  And, I do love that new, sweet little phaeton of his.  Have you seen the thing?  From America, don’t you know.  I’ll warrant that cost him a small fortune, not that he has a care for money.  The man must bathe in it.  Money, I mean, not the phaeton…”

“Ahem.  Do you suppose he’s found a new man to represent Derbyshire in Commons seeing as his son-in-law died last year?  Dreadful business, that – a tragic loss.  John Wentworth was a luminary, a beacon of hope, a natural leader, an extraordinarily gifted man, taken from us much too young – you know I really would appreciate it if you would stop rolling your eyes at me.”

“Everyone knows you hated Wentworth.”

“What of it?”

“You’re a horrible human being.”

“That’s neither here nor there.  I warrant I could stand as Darcy’s man in Derbyshire as well as anyone else.  ‘Why’ you ask?  ‘Why not,’ I say.  After all, I thoroughly detest my present constituency.  How do I look?  Anything in my teeth?”

“Has it slipped your feeble brain that you’re a Tory?”

“Uncle, just as St. Paul did on the road to Emmaus, I Have Seen the Light.  Think I’ll go and introduce myself, extend my belated condolences to the gentleman.”

“You can’t just walk up to Fitzwilliam Darcy without an introduction!  Begin pushing yourself on him!”

“I suppose you’re right.”

“Allow me to do it.”

“I should have known.  You just want to snag an introduction for yourself.”

“Well, at least I won’t fawn over him like some Covent Garden whore; it’s positively off putting the way you behave at times, not to say pathetic.   These things have to be handled delicately.  What we really need to find is a mutual acquaintance to introduce us, now that would be invaluable.  I say, your wife’s cousin’s uncle’s in-law’s sister’s husband is in trade, is he not? Perhaps he might be acquainted with the man seated beside Darcy.”

“Know of him, of course.  Any man of commerce knows Charles Bingley – one of the wealthiest coal and steel merchants alive today; and, I say, isn’t he the aforementioned Widow Arnold’s uncle as well?  You see, I may be right about the mistress thingy after all.”

“You’re thick as a plank, aren’t you?”

“Not a plank, exactly, more like a…”

“Yes, yes, yes; cease your prattling.  What I need to know is if any of your wife’s relations have actually ever met the man?”

“I should be so lucky; they’re a useless lot.  I say, more brandy here, waiter.  These idiots grow lazier by the day.  What’s this?  Now who’s that big fellow just entering the room?  Why, he’s nothing but a common ruffian, bold as brass!  Look at him – not there, over by the door – the fellow with the ferocious expression and the scandalously out of fashion topcoat!  Appears more cutpurse than gentleman; if you ask me, one isn’t safe anywhere these days.  Well, by God, did you just see the rude gesture he made at Mr. Darcy?  Disgusting!  If he means to harm him someone should step in – not either of us, of course, but someone.  Server!  Oy, you, yes you!  Dash over and toss out that filthy beggar…  Oh.  Dear. Me.  The brigand seems to have heard me and turned this way.”
“Good god, man, that’s Fitzwilliam!”

“What are you saying?  I thought Darcy was Fitzwilliam!  Fitzwilliam Darcy you said.  You’re confusing me!”

“Don’t you ever read the papers?  That’s his cousin, Richard Fitzwilliam, formerly Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam, currently the bloody Earl of bloody Somerton!”

“That’s Somerton?  You can’t be serious.  Are they friends?”

“Worse than that – they’re family!  Close as brothers and complete opposites in temperament.  I once saw Somerton box two huge brutes at once, and win – he never even broke a sweat.  You don’t suppose he really heard your comment, do you?    Well, that settles it – he’s glaring at us.   I’m leaving; and… Dudley?  Dudley, where are you going?  Wait for me!”







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