SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME Chapter 9 Fanfiction by Suz Home Page CHAPTER NINE


'knock your (yer) block off': of UK origin, this has become a typical male Aussie expression that is more bark than bite, almost exclusively spoken in anger, and usually sufficient as a threat for the person on the receiving end to back off. However my daughter insists that I also put that it occurs on occasion between mothers and children (I, of course, have no idea what she is talking about ;)

'lift': as in a meal, to serve it up on plates.

A cool breeze was gusting up off the water, leaving a slight chill in the afternoon air, and Will opted for the shelter and warmth of the informal dining room for dinner, rather than get blown away on the deck. Walking around the house, he dimmed the lights - the subtle glow of the candles would provide a warmer ambience to light the rooms. The dinner was in the oven. Everything was ready. All he needed was Lizzy. In no way was he looking forward to what he had to tell her tonight, but it had to be done. She would believe him … she must. He couldn't face the thought of her leaving him - she was the best thing in his life and the memory of his loneliness before her was a memory he had no intention of revisiting anytime soon.

Lizzy grabbed her briefcase from the passenger seat and hopped out. She had grown quite accustomed to William picking her up from work and had forgotten just how exhausting the drive home in peak hour traffic could be. All she wanted to do was kick off her shoes and relax. As she reached the door, it opened silently, the shaft of light revealing William standing there smiling at her.

"Hey, gorgeous."

"Hey, yourself."

Taking her briefcase, he put it on the table in the hall before leaning down to kiss her hello. Suddenly, the room shifted and Lizzy felt herself being swept up into his arms.

"Hmmm, and what is the meaning of this?"

"I have a surprise for you. Ready?"

"I was born ready," she smirked.

He grinned at her salacious response.

She almost laughed as he started up the stairs. "I don't really think anything you have to show me up here that would constitute a surprise, honey. Not that I'm complaining, mind you, but I would like a bit of time to relax first. I'm beat."

"I know," he said as he crested the final step, panting lightly. "And it's not what you think, you horny woman. Sex - it's always about the sex," he sighed dramatically. Carefully turning sideways to fit them both through the doorway of the candlelit ensuite, he lowered her slowly in front of the huge bath, filled with steaming water and floating rose petals. "Your bath awaits, Madame."

Lizzy was speechless - it was certainly NOT what she had been expecting. She cocked an eyebrow as William reached up to gently caress her cheek with warm fingertips, trailing them down over her neck until he reached the lapels of her blazer, easing it off her shoulders, the silky lining slipping down her arms before it landed on the floor behind her. Locking his smoky eyes with hers, he leaned down to kiss her as he slowly, tormentingly slowly, unfastened the buttons on her blouse. Running his hands inside the fabric over the soft skin of her shoulders, the blouse dropped and joined the blazer on the floor. One hand resting easily on her shoulder, the other slid down her side until he felt the side zipper on her skirt and ran it down, shimmying the loosened skirt over her hips until it also puddled at her feet, his lips never leaving hers.

Will paused for a moment to appreciate the sight of Lizzy, smiling coyly at him and dressed now in nothing more than a lacy red bra, an almost not there matching red lace g-string and a pair of high heel sandals. In spite of his best efforts, his mouth went dry as he reached around to unhook her bra, the movement pushing her breasts up against him, the hardened nipples nudging him through the thin cotton of his t-shirt. Popping the clasp, he slowly slid the straps, one at a time, off her shoulders, freeing her breasts. At the sight of her standing there, barely clad, he fought the desperate urge to strip off himself. But this was for Lizzy; he had to keep reminding himself. He licked his lips as she stepped away from him, giving him a perfect view of the lushness of her body.

Lizzy's experience thus far with William undressing her had always led to as much pleasure as she could handle, so even though she was enjoying this game, she was just a little curious as to why she was the only one getting naked. She hadn't failed to notice the effect it was having on him as well as her, and watching his face intently, she hooked her fingers into the elastic waist of her g-string. Her nipples hardened into tight red buds under his intent gaze showing that William wasn't the only one who was feeling the heat, and bending over slightly so that her full breasts hung away from her body, she inched the wisp of lace slowly down and daintily stepped out of it, leaving her naked save for her high heels.

What a sight! His eyes travelled over every inch of her full body, relishing the smorgasbord of flesh. The room started to pulse in time with his heartbeat when she turned slightly, reaching to grasp the towel rail as she bent down to unbuckle a shoe, giving him a perfect view of the curved cheeks of her firm buttocks as she slid it off - first one, then the other. Somewhere along the way, Lizzy had turned the tables and now she was in control rather than him, but if she didn't get in the bath soon, he would lose it. He noticed her eyes dip lower, stopping at that point where his arousal was most evident. He didn't need to look to see what was happening down there. His erection was pushing painfully up against his fly, and it took all his self-control not to free it from its prison.

Reaching out, he pulled her against him, his hands moulding around her firm cheeks, a discordant moan escaping as he did so.

This is for Lizzy, this is for Lizzy, he repeated over and over to himself.

Lizzy, though, had other ideas. The erotic experience of Will stripping her had pushed all thoughts of fatigue from her mind. Her sudden eagerness was due in large part to noticing the erection that he was unable to hide due to his hands being duly occupied elsewhere. She made it as far as running the zipper of his fly down and was about to dive in and grab a handful for herself when she felt a hand stop hers from going further.

"This is your surprise, gorgeous. I want you to hop in that bath and just relax while I go and finish getting dinner organised." Turning her by the shoulders and with a light smack on the bottom, he headed her in the direction of the water, holding her hand as she stepped in.

"You sure you won't join me?" she asked, as she started to submerge, leaving just the tips of her breasts bobbing above the water.

"Nuh-uh." The extent of Will's vocabulary had shrunk in a few seconds to guttural sounds and monosyllabic responses. Turning quickly, he headed out of the bathroom.

"Your loss, big boy," chuckled Lizzy to his swiftly departing back.

Lizzy hummed to herself and moaned loudly in an unquestionably erotic fashion as she sank down further into the hot water. The bath was long and wide and she stretched out fully. Feeling like a kid, she took a breath and submerged herself completely, her hair floating out in long tendrils behind her.

She surfaced about thirty seconds later, water fountaining out of her mouth. "That didn't take long," she said to Will, who by this time was standing naked and rampant at eye level. He watched mesmerised as rivulets of water streamed off her body as she came to her knees. Unable to resist, she leant over the edge of the bath and licked the tip of his straining penis, enclosing her mouth over the sensitive head.

An impassioned moan passed Will's lips and his knees buckled slightly at the feel of her hot, wet mouth encompassing him. Keeping her hands free, her tongue laved him from tip to root and back; his hips thrust towards her as he struggled to keep his balance.

This was not what he wanted … yes, it was … no … no … he had to get her to stop soon or he wouldn't be able to …

"No!" The sharpness of it wrenched right up from his gut.

Lizzy looked at him in surprise. "No?"

"Move over, baby," said Will raggedly.

Lizzy chuckled wickedly and no sooner was he in the bath and wet, than she moved over him to straddle his hips, feeling the tip of his rigid erection at the entrance to her folds. He bucked his hips up at her, but she moved away just out of reach. Smiling smugly, she slid over him again, teasing him, keeping him from being where he most wanted to be.

"What do you want, honey? You're gonna have to tell me … I need to hear you say it …"

And leaning down, she kissed him, her tongue twisting around his, firing all his senses as he savoured the slightly salty tang of himself mixed with her sweetness. Abruptly, she released him.

Fighting for breath, he stared at her sitting over him like Aphrodite, rose petals clinging to her wet skin.

"Say it for me, Will …"

"What?" he groaned as she slid further down his body.

"Tell me that you want me."


"Yes, what?"

"You … I want you …"

Time seemed to hitch and pause for an instant as he looked up at her, pleading with his eyes and his soul for what he wanted, craved, so focussed on her eyes that their movements seemed to be winding slowly forward in slow motion. He felt her move over him, positioning herself, their gazes still locked and the electricity between them enough to shoot sparks.

Unable to wait a second longer, he grabbed her hips and in one slick and quick movement, impaled her wetness, driving deep inside her. Time suspended; the whoosh of air as their bodies joined and the splash of water against the side of the tub the only sounds. He watched, transfixed, as she threw her head back, and grabbing the sides of the tub for leverage, slowly rocked over him, gathering momentum and depth with each pass. The vision she presented, long hair streaming and breasts quivering in her passion right in front of his face, was burned into his retinas forevermore. Pulling her against him, he leaned forward to lick her rose-flavoured skin, his tongue licking the velvety crevice between her breasts and trailing down to encircle a hard nipple. At that moment, he felt a hunger for her body and a need for closeness with her that surpassed all reason.

"What about dinner?" she asked huskily as she ground down on him.

"Fuck dinner!" he said hoarsely, "Dinner can wait." And grabbing her hips, he thrust up inside her as far as he could go, again and again, driving Lizzy crazy. With a wild cry, her orgasm ripped through her, clenching him so tightly he was locked in, but with hardly a pause she kept on, sucking him further and further into her until the division between their two bodies ceased to be and they became one.

With the frenzy of their movements, water sloshed repeatedly over the side, setting the floor awash and snuffing out the candles around the bath.

Grabbing the moulded ridge behind his head, she leant forward, the tilt of her hips allowing Will even deeper entry, knocking the air out of him. He could feel himself thicken even more … the clamping of Lizzy's internal muscles around him pushing him that final inch, sucking his orgasm up his shaft to explode inside her. His hands on her hips held her still, and Lizzy could feel him throbbing and pulsing inside of her.

"Jee-zus!" he exclaimed as he finished, sagging limply underneath her. Eventually he opened his eyes, wondering when he had closed them, only to see Lizzy sitting there over him looking at him smugly.

"You look very pleased with yourself," he panted, trying to get his breath back.

"Any reason why I shouldn't be?" she asked innocently as she floated off him to the other end of the bath.


A husky laugh was his only reply.

Leaving Lizzy to change, Will rushed downstairs to see if dinner was ruined. Joining Lizzy in the bath had not been in his grand plan, but he had only gone down a couple of steps when the sound of her moaning had drawn him back like a moth to a flame. Not that he minded - hell! far from it - but he hoped the rest of the evening wouldn't be hijacked by his overactive sex drive. Luckily for him the oven was on low, and dinner was still simmering away gently. He punched the 'play' button on the CD player remote and went to light the candles.

Lizzy grabbed her robe, wondering about the reason for the special treatment tonight. Not that she was complaining, mind. There were definitely worse ways to come home from work, and she derived a special delight in turning the tables on William. She had noticed that he was easily as turned on as she when he undressed her. It hadn't taken much to convince him to return. Smiling smugly, she headed down the stairs. She paused at the bottom step, wondering just what the hell was going on. First the bath, now romantic music drifting through from the stereo, and from the looks of the candlelit dining room, dinner was going to be more than hopping on a stool at the breakfast bar.

Following the clatter of plates and drawers being open and shut, she found him in the kitchen, swearing over something.

"What's up, honey?"

"Nothing. Everything's fine. You go sit, I'll be there in a minute." He opened three more drawers and closed them again.

"What are you looking for?"

"The ladle. Where is it? Geez, this is my own kitchen and I can't find a damn thing!"

"William, just sit there and let me lift dinner, okay?" she said, pointing in the direction of the nearest stool.

"But I was supposed to be doing this for you." Things just weren't turning out the way he had envisioned them. First the bath, and now this. If the rest of the evening went contrary to his plan, he was up the creek without a bloody paddle. He sighed as he sat down, relinquishing control to Lizzy once again.

She heard the sigh behind her, and put down the serving spoon she was holding. Turning around, she looked at William sitting there leaning over the breakfast bar with his head in his hands.

"All this domesticity getting to you, huh?" When he didn't reply, she covered the short distance to him and moved to stand in between the 'V' of his legs. Now on eye-level with him, she lifted his face to hers as she felt his arms go around her, bringing her closer. "Have I told you today how much I love you?" she whispered as she nuzzled his lips with hers.

"I don't care how often you tell me - I never get tired of hearing it." And pulling her hard against him, he kissed her deeply, finding comfort in the taste and feel of her. "I love you too - more than you'll ever know."

"Well, good. Now let's eat. Man cannot live by love alone and I'm starved!"

"Isn't that meant to be …"

"Hey! Poetic licence. Give me a break!" she laughed, as she finished lifting dinner. Something was afoot, she was sure of it. William's mood had been up and down since she walked in the door. She hoped that whatever it was, he told her about it soon, because she had plans for later that required his full attention.

But things didn't improve over dinner, in fact they became worse. It wasn't like him. His normally hearty appetite seemed to have deserted him, in spite of the delicious meal Mrs Reynolds had prepared for them. And even more strangely, he had chattered almost non-stop through dinner. Finally, Lizzy had had enough. Putting down her fork, she pushed her plate away.

"It's time, William."

"Time for what?"

"To tell me what you've been avoiding all night. I'm not blind and I'm not stupid. You wouldn't love me if I were," she said, softening the words with a playful nudge.

Will felt churned up, tight in the chest, as if his whole future happiness hung on the next words he would speak. He had been trying to find the right way to tell her … explain to her, all through dinner and he was no closer now than he had been earlier in the day. He knew he had to find the words … and trust her, and her love, but the tension cut at him like a knife. Taking a deep breath, he spoke, hesitantly at first.

"I had a call from Georgie today. My dad is coming to Sydney tomorrow."

"Why, that's great! I finally get to meet him."

"Lizzy, you may not still feel that way when I explain …"

Watching the unexpected drop in his expression, she paused, looking searchingly into his face, looking for some clue, and finding none, simply said, "Okay," and waited, placing her hand over his to show her support.

"Dad's staying at our house at Whale Beach, but Sunday night he'll be coming here for dinner. I've invited Georgie over too. It's just that … I want you to meet Dad, but …"

Looking at Lizzy, he smiled nervously. "God, this is hard! Dad's a good bloke, Lizzy, but he has a few ideas that are … ancient. He has this obsession, especially since Mum died, about having an heir to carry on the family name. The business has been in the family for four generations, and first Grandpa and now Dad have resisted going public with it for a long time. But Dad knows I'm not interested in taking over the business and so he's … well, he's been pushing me for years to get married and settle down and have kids, preferably a son-someone he can leave it all to."

"Oh …" said Lizzy quietly, as the impact of what he was saying became clear. She tried to quell the feelings of misgiving that surged up. A horrible sense of déjà vu came over her.

"I had to tell you because he will mention it, he will definitely mention it - I'm sure of it. He's as subtle as a bull in a china shop where this is concerned. Especially when he sees how I feel about you. And I … you might be … I thought I had better prepare you … Shit! I hate having to put you through this." He ran his fingers through his hair in frustration.

"We've talked about this William. We both know I can't have kids. And I don't know where we are heading, but what I need to know is, how important is having kids is to you?"

"Dad will …"

"No, William. What do you feel, because that's all that's important to me. I can deal with your dad if I know how you feel."

"I love you, Lizzy. You know I love kids, but I love you more. Believe me, baby. You're the most important thing in my life. And if having you means not having kids of our own, then I can live with that, because I can't live without you."

"Ditto. Then this is something we can deal with together. Yes?"

"Yes," said Will, and opening his arms, he pulled her down onto his lap and hugged her tightly to him, breathing in the familiar scent as he buried his nose in her hair.

Lizzy grabbed her bag and headed out the door. She had tried to get away from work early, preferring to be at Will's when his father arrived, but one problem after another had arisen, so that by the time she finally switched off the light it was nearer to 6 o'clock than 5 and the drive home would take her the best part of an hour in the traffic. Her nerves had been tightly strung all day, and she had had a sick feeling in her stomach from the time she got up. William had called her five times already today - no doubt he was feeling the same way and was looking for reassurance from her as much as the other way around.

She couldn't lie and say she was looking forward to the meeting. A feeling of gloom had settled over the happiness she had been feeling.

She drove in the driveway a little after 7pm, squeezing in next to the silver Mercedes that must be his father's, and walked up to the door, expecting … hoping, for Will to meet her at the door as he usually did. Taking a deep breath to quiet her shaking nerves, she opened the door and, standing in the foyer and relieving herself of her briefcase, couldn't help overhear the raised voices coming from the living room …

"Don't start, Dad. You have no idea what you're talking about."

"But it's your duty! Your poor mother would turn in her grave if she knew. She wanted this as much as I."

"No, Dad, I think Mum would understand …"

"I mean, how well do you know this girl? Tell me it's not serious, Son … there's still time to get out of it …"

"What the fuck are you talking about?"

"Don't swear at me, boy."

"I'm not a 'boy' anymore, Dad. I'm 32 in case you've forgotten. And I don't want to get 'out of it', as you so nicely put it. I love Lizzy."

"That's rubbish, William! You hardly know her."

"I know everything I need to know about her … we have no secrets. And I don't know why, in fact I don't care why, but she loves me, too, and I thank my lucky stars for that every day. Just wait until you meet her … give her a chance … then you'll know why I love her every bit as much as you loved Mum."

That was the final straw for Bill. "Why, the nerve! Don't you dare compare this girl to your mother! Your mother was a saint. For all you know this girl's just after your money. You never were very good at reading people. She could be some cheap little tart who's just out to make a quick buck …"

Lizzy stood frozen to the spot. She couldn't believe what she was hearing. Cold fingers of dread crept up her spine. She started to shake and steadied herself on the table. This just couldn't be happening. What was this nightmare she had walked into? She wanted to run, flee, go home. A wave of nausea washed over her.

Will moved threateningly towards his father, consciously trying to quell his rage to a low simmer, but his voice, though low and quiet, held a hint of menace.

"The only thing that is stopping me from flattening you right now is the fact that you're my father, so if I were you, I would think twice before I said something like that again. Lizzy's the best thing that's ever happened to me, and you will bloody well treat her with respect. Say one more word about her like that, and it's the last you'll ever see of me."

"That's more like the William we all know. Running away as usual. You never were very good at shouldering your share of the responsibilities of this family."

"Why, you miserable old bastard! Who ran the company for you all those years after Mum died? Who kept things going while you wallowed in your grief? And don't you think that Georgie and I needed you then? But did you care? No. All you could think about was yourself. You didn't give a shit about us. And I shouldered more than my share of the responsibility then. Who do you think looked after Georgie as well as the company? Hmmm? So, you say just one bad word to Lizzy tonight, and I'll knock your bloody block off."

"But you said it yourself. She can't have kids. Why are you wasting your time with her? What sort of marriage will that be? Who will carry on the family name?"

"For a start, I haven't even asked Lizzy to marry me … yet, and when I do, it will be because I love her too much to lose her, and not because I need a fucking brood mare to provide an heir!"

Lizzy stood paralysed. To hear herself being discussed so … so … She closed her eyes tightly, trying to block out the images and the words, hoping when she opened them again, that it would be all gone, just a terrible dream that she could wake up from. She jumped when she felt a hand on her shoulder. Quickly turning, she saw Georgie, seeing the same shocked expression mirrored on her face.

Lizzy looked as white as a ghost. She felt Georgie's arm go around her shoulders, hugging her tightly. Quietly she communicated her support, giving Lizzy time to pull herself together. "Come on, let's go in and settle them down before they start breaking the furniture," Georgie said, trying to joke to lighten the edgy mood. "Don't worry, Lizzy. Will loves you. Just remember that."

Lizzy wiped the tears away, tears she didn't even realise she had shed and ran her hands down her suit straightening imaginary wrinkles. Taking a deep breath she looked at Georgie and nodded. Together they stepped around the corner to face the feuding males.

"Well, well, isn't this just like old times? Dad! I have someone I'd like you to meet," Georgie said, barging into the room and riding roughshod over the still simmering men. Her lips were smiling, but her eyes glittered with barely concealed anger. "Dad, this is Lizzy. Lizzy, this is our father, Bill." Pointedly she glared at the men to let them know that the conversation had been overheard. A stricken look flashed over Will's features.

Gathering herself together and now feeling more annoyed than nervous, sense returned to Lizzy and she put her hand out to Bill Darcy. "I'm very pleased to meet you, Mr Darcy," she said in her smoothest, most professional voice. "William and Georgie have told me quite a lot about you."

"Yes, I'm sure they have," he said dryly. Having the grace to look embarrassed, he paused while the angry flush up his neck subsided. "Look, it's getting late. It's lovely to meet you, Lizzy, but I won't be able to stay. I have a meeting in the city that has come up at the last minute. Sorry, I really must go."

Kissing Georgie on the cheek, he informed her he would see her tomorrow at the boutique. He glanced sternly at his son. "I'll talk to you tomorrow. G'night." And he walked out leaving a stunned silence behind him.

Anger, shock, embarrassment, mortification were all written on Will's face. Reaching for Lizzy, he wrapped her in his arms.

"You heard," he said, more a statement than a question.

The head burrowing into his chest nodded. He glanced over her head at Georgie, whose expression left him in no doubt as to how much she had heard. Too much.

Georgie discreetly left the two of them and headed into the kitchen to see what needed to be done for dinner, although the chances that any of them would feel much like eating were slim. Resting on the counter she hung her head. Hell's bells! Could it get any worse than this? With a total lack of enthusiasm she lifted dinner for all of them, giving William and Lizzy some time together. She felt so bad for both of them. Will was the happiest and most content she had ever seen him. If only Dad had given Lizzy a chance. But he was so hung up on the 'heir to the family fortune' thing, that it was only a matter of time before it all came to a head anyway. At least now it was out in the open.

Dinner was a very quiet affair. As much as she felt for Will and Lizzy, Georgie realised that this was something they had to work out together. She took the hardly touched plates out to the kitchen, cleaned up and came back. The silence hung heavy in the room.

"I'm off." She leant down to hug Lizzy and kissed her brother on the cheek. "I've put the coffee on. Look, I don't want to interfere with you two, but it appears to me that the only thing that's important here is how you two feel about each other, don't you think? Don't let someone or something come between what you two have. G'night, you two."

They listened to the door close, and Will turned to Lizzy, taking her hand in his and looking at her intently. "She's right you know. I'm sorry you had to hear all of that, sweetheart. I honestly didn't think it would be that bad."

"Why does he feel that way, honey. Explain it to me."

It was a sad fact that things between Will and his father hadn't been good for many years. They had been at odds ever since Isabelle had passed away. Will had never been a child to make friends easily, and his mother had filled that role - they became extremely close as Will got older. And as sharp and painful as his grief was at losing his best friend, Bill crumbled more and had succumbed to his grief, leaving more and more of the running of the company up to Will, a task he had taken to like a duck to water. But running a high profile company didn't suit or interest him; the responsibilities, exposure and invasion into his private life chaffed him to the quick. Being intensely private, the continual assault on his life by the media and others caused him to retreat rather than advance.

There came a day when he was unable to continue, and a huge argument with his father had ensued. With Isabelle gone, Bill's interest in the company had faltered, but still, he was loathe to let all his hard work go to waste. He felt it was Will's responsibility as his son to take over and continue to build the legacy his grandfather had started, just as he had before him. And if Will wasn't going to run the company, then he should at least provide an heir to do so.

And so, it went downhill from there. Unfortunately, Will's interests had lain elsewhere. Their meetings over the ensuing years had been brief - their main link was Georgie and information was filtered through her.

It had been after he left the company that Will had retreated - from people, from life, from those he loved and who loved him. Tossing the reins back to his father, and free now of the responsibility and time-consuming attention running the company had required, he felt his mother's passing as sharply as if it had happened the day before. Starving for affection, but unable and unwilling to put his head on an emotional chopping block, he had drifted along trying to come to terms with his grief. It had taken a long time, and strangely enough, it was when he started to write that he finally found a way to channel all of that into something constructive.

Escaping into the fantasy world of his own making he had found an outlet, a means of directing those feelings and emotions he was unable to give vent to in his real life. The rest was history. His success had taken them all by surprise-most of all, his father, but he deemed it an unsuitable occupation for a man and derided it every chance he had. The relationship between father and son had been tense and awkward in the years since, neither one willing or able to back down. If there was one other characteristic Will had inherited from his father, apart from his latent business acumen, it was his obstinacy. Georgie had tried to bridge the widening gulf between the two men in her life, but the only person who could do that was gone.

The older Bill Darcy became, so too did his obsession with an heir to take over from him. The rationale behind his pursuit of this had faded, to be replaced instead by a dominating, stubborn desire to get his own way.

The lights in the night sky had started to blink out, one by one, by the time that Will finished his narrative. But the unburdening of so much pain and grief took its toll, and he leaned his head back against the lounge and closed his eyes, briefly, as if in blocking the light he could also block the hurt.

Lizzy waited, understanding that he needed to regroup … his thoughts by this point were in wild disarray. Resting her head against his chest, she soon became aware of a subtle shift in his breathing as it slowed and deepened. She lifted her head slightly to discover he was asleep. Seeing no reason to disturb him, she snuggled in closer with her arms around him and closed her eyes, waiting for the jumble of words in her head to settle down so that she, too, could sleep.

Her thoughts were so confusing, but one thing she knew-by sharing this with her, William had demolished whatever walls still stood between them.

It was only the sharp sunlight pouring through the huge glass windows that finally awoke her many hours later, the rays piercing even through the shutters of her closed lids. She looked up at William, finding him looking out into space, but her movement alerted him to the fact that she was awake and he looked down at her, smiling uncertainly.

There was only one thing Lizzy could say that would help ease what her man was feeling, and so she said it, softly, his face cupped gently in her hands. "I love you, William Darcy."

Touching his forehead to hers, he sighed and hugged her tightly. "You are an amazing woman, Lizzy Bennet. How did I get so lucky?"

"Oh, I don't know - you must have played your cards right," she teased gently at him. "But if I don't get to work, I will be amazingly unemployed, and then you'll have to look after me."

"I can think of much worse punishments," he said, the intense look in his eyes betraying the teasing tone in his voice.

"Really …"

"Yes, really," he said, stopping her words by placing a finger on her lips, which was soon replaced with his mouth, while a hand trailed up her stockinged leg, stroking softly over the silk.

"Hmmm," she moaned, "you can be very persuasive …"

"I fully intend to be."

"I suppose if I'm already late …" she whispered, gasping softly as his fingers found their mark.

Lizzy was still tired from not enough sleep the night before, and took her glasses off, rubbing her eyes. She sat at her desk looking out her window, but the view wasn't what she was seeing. She couldn't get the look on William's face last night out of her mind as he told her all about his mother and father. He had been through so much, and she felt protective of him, wanting to nurture him. Her feelings of love for him last night as he had shared his pain and desolation with her, had threatened to overflow. If ever she had needed proof of the validity of her feelings for him, that was it. Holding him as he let it all go, she had felt every bit of the vulnerability that he tried so hard to hide from the world. Her love was the only solace she could offer him. She prayed it was enough.

If she had ever needed proof of William's love for her, she had certainly gotten it last night. Even though the hurtful words of his father were still there, overpowering them were what William had said when he had risen to her defence. She didn't like the idea of him threatening bodily harm to his father, but she knew it was an expression that indicated just how strongly he felt about her. Not that he hadn't told her of course, but he had told his father he loved her madly and that not being able to have kids didn't alter that in the slightest. At last she felt totally secure. They were not just words he had thrown about - it was his heart speaking.

But he was hurting terribly. She wished she could take him away from here, at least until this mess with his father had died down, but neither of them could get away at the moment. The timing was really shitty.

Suddenly an idea occurred to her, and she smiled. Picking up the phone, she dialled his number, smiling when she heard his voice, a little shoot of pleasure moving through her, warming her, when she heard his deep voice.

"Hello. Will Darcy speaking."

"Hi, honey."

"Sweetheart! I was just sitting here thinking about you. What are doing?"

"Thinking about you, too. How did the meeting with your dad go?"

"As you would expect. But it's his problem-not mine. I feel bad that I can't live up to his expectations, but I'm not going to sacrifice my happiness for the sake of his company."

"He'll come around eventually, William. Just give him time. And who knows … Georgie may have kids, and then he can leave it to them."

Will told her 'maybe so' over the phone to help put her mind at ease, but the fact of the matter was that if that happened, then the company would no longer be in the Darcy name, and that was what was driving his father more than anything.

"Anyway," she carried on, "I called to tell you to pack a bag for an overnight stay. I'll pick you up on my way home from work tonight."

"Why? What do you have up your sleeve?"

"Tonight you are going to be treated to the two-star luxury of Casa del Bennet. So pack light - you won't be needing much."

"Hmmm, sounds interesting. What time?"

"About 5.30"

"I'll be ready, willing and able."

"You better be. I'm counting on it," she laughed. "Bye, love."


During her lunch break, Lizzy dashed out to grab a few things from the little supermarket/deli down the road. What she had planned wouldn't require too much preparation, but there were a few little treats she had in mind that would definitely take his mind off his troubles-for a short time at least.

When she drove up the driveway at William's that evening, he was standing, leaning up against the letterbox waiting, duffle bag at his feet. A smile creased his features when the little Rav4 pulled up.

"Can I give you a lift, sailor?" she asked cheekily as he opened the door.

"Hello to you, too, gorgeous," he said, leaning over to kiss her hello.

Will sat back for the short drive to Lizzy's place, discreetly watching her as she drove. As with anything else she did well, her concentration was total. He also noticed, though, that she was not above being a little lead-footed. He wondered idly what she would be like on the open road. Probably ten times worse, he thought to himself with a grin.

Grabbing the groceries out of the back of the car, they went inside. It was not the first time he had been to Lizzy's place, but it was certainly the first night he would stay there, and he checked out the bed as they walked through to the kitchen. Luckily it was a queen-size or one of them would have been sleeping on the floor, most likely him. It was impossible to fit his 6'3'' frame onto a normal double bed without at least half of him hanging off the bed.

"Could you just put that stuff on the cupboard, honey," called Lizzy from the bedroom. "I'm just going to slip into something more comfortable."

Will's ears perked up at that, and some very appetising visions passed through his mind. He was disappointed to see Lizzy come back out in a long-sleeved t-shirt and a pair of loose sweat pants.

At the look on his face, Lizzy laughed. "Not quite what you were picturing, hey? You'll get over it. Would you like to help me here?"

"Sure. What can I do?"

With Will's help, Lizzy had dinner ready in no time. She discovered he wasn't half-bad in the kitchen with the right direction, plus there was the added advantage of being able to touch him whenever she wanted to (which naturally she did).

But the food wasn't the focus, neither was the wine. After dinner they went for a walk along the beach in the moonlight, holding hands, hardly even speaking, from one end of the beach to the other and back. It was obvious they were both feeling tired and drained, and really, there was no need for words-they took their comfort just from the presence of each other. As the glow from the setting sun was finally snuffed out, they sat together on the sand, Lizzy leaning back against Will, warm in the circle of his arms, watching the waves break up on shore, inhaling the smell of the salt in the air and recharging their batteries.

When they arrived home, it was a quick shower for two, letting the steamy water splash over them as they cuddled together, seemingly unable to let each other go. Their skin warm and pink from the heat of the shower, they dried off, cleaning their teeth together before heading into bed.

Will was in bed first, and lay there feeling totally relaxed while he waited for Lizzy to come to bed. She wasn't too far behind him and when she slipped between the sheets he pulled her up against him, cradling her body with his.

Before either of them knew it, they were sound asleep, totally relaxed and feeling safe in each other's arms.

When Will woke, he felt more refreshed than he had in ages, and totally resolved in his mind that what he was going to do was absolutely the right thing.

Lizzy was daydreaming again-a bad habit she was developing of late. William had called earlier just to tell her he loved her, and now she was stuck with that dreamy look on her face again. She looked up in surprise when Charles popped his head around the door to her office.

"Hi Boss. What's up?"

"I need to ask a favour?"

"Sure thing. What do you need?"

"I'm thinking of signing a new author for the Romance line, and I need someone to have a quick read over the extract of this manuscript for me. The author is coming in for an appointment in a couple of hours, and I just don't have time to get to it. It's fairly lengthy."

"What about the people in acquisitions? Isn't that their job?" she asked curiously.

"Normally, yes. But they're out having a send off for Sally."

Sally was the head of the acquisitions department and was leaving to go back home to the UK where she hailed from.

"I don't know what time they'll be back. Do you think you could spare an hour? Just let me know what you think - if the author has a hope in hell or not. I trust your opinion, Lizzy. I know you'll have the right answer." He put the manuscript down on her desk, and scooted out the door. "I'll catch up with you shortly, okay?"

"Sure," she called to his rapidly retreating back.

Once upon a time, the thought of reading romance novels would have thrilled her about as much as having a wisdom tooth extracted, but of late she had developed a particular fondness for one in particular. Still, she reasoned, one chapter won't hurt. Clearing her desk, she reached over and picked up the manuscript Charles had left lying there. Pushing her glasses back up on her nose, she started to read …

"Don't leave!" The cry wrenched up from his gut, imbued with all the pain he was feeling. "Wait! I don't want to live without you … I can't! Nooooo!"

Jerked awake from the sound of his own voice calling out, Fitzwilliam bolted upright in bed, the sheen of sweat on his body and the tangled sheets wrapped around his legs evidence of the restlessness of his sleep. The dream had been so real … She was leaving him … But how could she when they had only just found each other? His limbs still shook as the rush of adrenaline settled. He wiped his pained eyes as if the movement would be enough to erase the terrible vision from his mind.

He looked down at the woman stirring beside him. She was still there. He reached out to touch her, connect with her, just to make sure …

"Are you okay?" she mumbled sleepily.

"Hmmm, just a bad dream," he croaked. "Go back to sleep, darling."

He hadn't told her of the dreams. She would have thought he was crazy. She loved him - had told him so just the other night. He tried to hold onto that thought, repeating it over and over to himself like a mantra as he watched as the silvery moonlight play over her, highlighting the shiny coils of hair that lay over her back and pillow, the cool breeze blowing over her luminescent skin, sending a light shiver through her. She looked so beautiful he reached over to touch her again, fighting the need to tamp down the dream further by taking her there and then.

"Feeling a little cool?" he asked softly, pulling the sheet higher up over her chilled skin, enjoying the freedom he had to cosset her.

"Nnnnno," she said, snuggling closer to him and draping her leg over his. "Your love keeps me warm."

He couldn't resist a grin at that. "That sounds pretty corny," he smiled as he scooted back under the covers, chuckling softly as he nuzzled her hair, inhaling her sweet fragrance. He sighed contentedly as she wriggled against him. He felt so secure, so content with her, as if outside the circle of their embrace the rest of the world ceased to exist. He wanted all their nights to be like this … the realisation hit him like a lightning bolt. This was exactly what he had been searching for; he couldn't understand why he hadn't realised it sooner.

Love had come to him late in life. In fact, he had almost given up on finding a woman who could make him feel the way that she did … hungry with desire, tender with the emotions that flooded through him when he looked at her, protective, ecstatically happy with the knowledge that the love he felt was returned.

What he wanted more than anything was to make a life with her-just the two of them …

Softly, he whispered her name, "Elizabeth?"

Elizabeth? Fitzwilliam? For a second Lizzy wondered if she were reading another of those Pride and Prejudice sequels that seemed to be proliferating of late. But no, the era was all wrong-this sounded modern. And besides, Lizzy had a sneaking suspicion she had read this author before. There was something about the style, the cadence of the words that held a familiarity for her. With that niggling in her mind, she kept reading, unable to stop …

… "Elizabeth? Are you awake, sweetheart?"

She stirred against him, opening one eye, looking at him questioningly. "Hmmm? What's wrong, honey?"

"Do you remember when I told you that I wanted to watch sunsets with you, walk in the rain, lie under moonlit nights on sandy beaches, wander through the Champs Elysee on a beautiful Paris spring day with you on my arm …"

Lizzy felt a shiver go up her spine at those words … there was something … familiar about them. She quickly read further, the sneaking suspicion of earlier crystallizing rapidly, her heart beating rapidly now …

"Elizabeth," Fitzwilliam said softly, taking her hands, "something has happened between us. I feel a connection with you I've never felt before. It's as though I can look at love afresh through your eyes and with the feelings I have for you. We have something special, something meaningful. Do you understand what I'm saying?"

Lizzy felt like her heart was in her throat. Her pulse had started to beat a staccato rhythm. Absently pushing her glasses up again, she kept reading …

"I love you, Elizabeth. The real you - not the one you think I carry around in my head. I know you, and I know that what I am feeling is real - I have never felt this way before. I'm all yours. Have been since the moment we met."

"I know that, silly. You keep telling me. I'm convinced," she chuckled as she snuggled into the warmth of his chest.

"So say 'yes'."

"Yes?" came the mumbled reply.

"Marry me."

"Marry you?" She sat up and shook her head to clear the sleepy fog.

"I know I'm not easy to live with, my darling Elizabeth, but you make me want to be a better man. You are the breath in my lungs and the sun in my sky. Without you I'm an empty shell. Marry me, Elizabeth. Please say 'yes' …"

Suddenly it really hit her. She didn't know whether to laugh or cry, or ... She sat slightly dazed, holding the manuscript, still open, in her hands. Her eyes grew glassy, the words swimming on the page in front of her. A small sob broke free. What a crazy, wonderful, romantic guy, she thought, smiling through her tears. But, God, I love him. Her first instinct was to call him, but first she wanted to savour the words. Flipping back to the first page, she read it again-still unable to believe the message inside. Yes! Yes! her mind yelled at her.

The intercom buzzed, intruding on her wildly happy thoughts.

"Hey Lizzy-girl. We need an answer on that manuscript. Have you made up your mind yet?"

She should have known that Charlotte would be in on this. Lizzy could hear the soft murmur of voices in the background over the line and grinned.

"Oh, I don't know, Charlotte. There are a few sections that could use a bit more work. I might need to have a chat to the author." She could imagine the response that would get and smiled when she heard more mumbling in the background.

"Can't you just say yes or no for heaven's sake? There's a lot riding on your answer, as I'm sure you realise," she replied dryly.

"You sure I can't speak with the author?"

"Only if you say 'yes'. Sorry."

"Damn! You drive a hard bargain. I guess my answer is … 'yes' then."

Lizzy was not surprised to hear whooping and cheering in the background before the intercom went dead, and laughed, getting up and standing in front of her desk in anticipation of a visitor.

Her door burst open and a very happy William burst in, pausing a moment before he grabbed her up and spun her around, kissing her soundly before releasing her, leaving her breathless.

"Oh baby! I thought for one horrible moment you were going to say 'no'."

"How on earth could a girl say 'no' to a proposal like that?"

She smiled against William's mouth as she took his face in both her hands and kissed him deeply. It was some moments before he could get his mind back on what he had originally intended doing, not that he minded her doing what she did best in the least. He crushed her to him, hugging her tightly until she pleaded to be released before she lost her ability to breathe.

"God! I can't believe it. You really said 'yes'."

"I love you, William. More than I could ever have thought I could love any man. Of course I said 'yes'."

"This is for keeps, you know. Forever and ever.

"I wouldn't have said 'yes' if I didn't truly believe that, honey."

"I love you, sweetheart. I'll never hurt you-never."

Lizzy felt something cool slip over her knuckle and looked down to see a beautiful ring had appeared on her finger. She gasped in shock. The flashing purple and blue of the deep tanzanite was offset by the shooting brilliance of diamonds that surrounded it.

"It was my mother's. It was her favourite and she left it to me for the woman I would marry," he said, kissing her fingers. "She would have loved you nearly as much as I do."

Chapter Ten