Somewhat of a Prologue
November 1, 1812
Pemberley ~ Wedding Breakfast of Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet
Catherine Bennet, better known as Kitty to family and close friends, could barely eat so consumed was she by nervousness. The multitude of Lords and Ladies gathered around the table made her feel as if they were at St. James Court instead of the formal dining hall at Pemberley.
Across from her sat Miss Georgiana Darcy and to her left was Maxwell Kerr, the Fifth Duke of Adborough. Further down the table were the Earl and Countess of Matlock, the Marquis of Dorchester and a host of other nobility. Although the room was filled with members from the ‘first circle’ of London’s society, none of them filled her as much disquiet as the gentleman on her immediate right.
Lord George Kerr.
Never had she met someone who was so… attractive. Not even Jane, with all her serene beauty, came close. Their Father in Heaven must have been feeling most generous when He formed this man. At that exact moment, to her utter dismay, Lord Kerr turned his attention from Lady Dalrymple on his right side toward her. Unprepared for his direct attention, she froze. Almost against her will, her gaze zeroed in on his perfectly formed mouth, which moved as he said something.
Oh dear heaven. He was speaking to her, yet the blood rushing to her ears continued to drown out all sound. Then, that perfectly formed mouth curved into a slight smile. She ducked her head, hoping against hope her face hadn’t flared a crimson red, for then he would think she was a gauche child and not a young lady who had just turned eighteen. When her composure returned, she risked another glance and caught him watching her.
Confound the man! Why must he still look her way? Was he not hungry? Did he have nothing better to do than discompose her so completely?
With great care she took her spoon and dipped it into the soup. All she had to do was behave as though dining with near royalty was a common occurrence.
“Did you enjoy the wedding ceremony, Miss Bennet?”
She gave a start and a bit of soup sloshed over the side of the spoon. Even his voice was heavenly, all deep and rumbly and flowed over her like white sauce over a good Christmas pudding. She lowered the spoon back into the soup bowl, willing her nerves to settle.
“Yes, I did. I’m very happy for Lizzy and Mr. Darcy.”
Trying to ignore the rapid staccato of her heart, she once again attempted to partake of her soup.
“As I only arrived last evening I didn’t get to meet your sister until today. She and Darcy seem very well suited.”
Kitty once again lowered the full spoon of soup into her bowl. This would not do. At this rate she’d die of starvation. She almost sighed in relief when the footman whisked away her still full bowl and placed in front of her the second course.
“Lizzy and Mr. Darcy are very well suited,” she replied. “They both have strong opinions and are not afraid to voice them. I’m sure some of their future breakfasts will be very interesting.”
Lord George barked out a laugh at her observation, causing more than one head to turn in their direction. She reached for a glass of water, grateful her trembling was not too visible, and took a sip. Papa always said she was a silly girl and here she was, proving him right by embarrassing herself in front of important strangers.