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The Ice House
[WIP - Modern/R]

Chapter 7

"Help!"

Her word was absorbed by the darkness that pressed in around them, Hours had passed, or so it seemed. The light from the torch had faded and died leaving her alone with the injured man beside her. He had not regained consciousness. He had simply lain there, motionless but for the shallow rise and fall of his chest.

She had finally managed to stop his head bleeding and now she lay next to him holding his body against hers to help keep him warm. She shivered, the cold invasive and penetrating. Insects crawled over her skin causing her to flinch and slap panicked at the offending creature.

Tears had run our, her voice was cracked, her throat sore, fingers and feet numb. She could feel his breathing becoming quieter and shallower as the time passed. Holding him tighter, she kissed his forehead gently, stroked her fingers across his face. Fear gave way to acceptance; a sickly calm descended quashing the last ray of hope within her mind. A voice inside spoke the words she finally understood. "This is it. This is the end."

One last tear dripped silently down her face. Kissing him on the lips, she whispered his name before she too closed her eyes and fell into the painless darkness.

**

"Break the door down. Quick!"

The man yelled as the door was smashed from its hinges. Dawn was approaching. He knew was hours since they had disappeared. The staff had seen them leave the house one at a time. He only hoped that he had not been too late in being informed. Questions were asked as to where they could be and this was the place suggested.

"Get me a torch." One was handed to him quickly as the inner door gave way to the incessant pounding from outside. He entered the house, the cold air hitting him like a wall. Flashing the light into the pit, his breath caught as he saw them lying perfectly still on the floor.

A ladder was lowered into the depths and he climbed down to the couple. Prayers were uttered begging the almighty for it to not be too late. Walking over, he observed how she held him close. Kneeling beside them, he gingerly placed his fingers on the cold skin of her neck. He released the breath he had been holding as he felt the faint signs of life within her. Silently he moved to the touch the man beside her. Smiling he shouted to the others.

"They're alive! Get them paramedics here now" Michael Gardiner took off his coat and covered the pair until help arrived.

Summer 2008

The warm liquid filled her mouth as she took a sip of the latte. Swallowing, she smiled as the pleasure of the drink took her over. Placing the cup on the table in front of her, she smiled at the man who not ten minutes since had almost knocked her over on Regent Street. That he was a bit of a gent was not lost on Elizabeth, not many people would have gone to such lengths to apologise. He smiled back from across the table.

The coffee shop was small and quiet. Elizabeth doubted that she would be able to find it again on her own but she would be determined. The décor was modern and jazz filtered through the speakers lending the place a very comfortable feel. She sat back into the leather chair relieved to be away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

"So, do you often rescue damsels in distress from the busy streets of London." He laughed and looked away shyly.

"Not usually, not unless I know them." He looked up, his eyes making contact with hers. Her smile waned, a puzzled expression replacing it.

"Do I know you?" She picked up the coffee once again, taking a sip to break the moment.

"No, but I know you." He waited for her to replace the cup on the table before he moved closer, blocking her exit from the table. Her mind began to panic.

"I should get going, I'll be expected to meet my friend soon." She stood, as did he.

"Would that be William Darcy?" Confusion overtook her.

"What? Who are you?"

"Sit, and I'll tell you." She moved to get past him but his hand on her shoulder prevented her from moving. Anger rippled through her at his touch. "I wouldn't if I were you, Elizabeth. I have something you may want to hear."

"Yeah, like what?"

"Like William Darcy killing his wife." Her head snapped up, looking him straight in the eyes. A flicker of something, sadness maybe, caused her to stop attempting to push past. Instead she sat down and waited for him to continue.

"Now that I have your attention, I know you from a certain summer years ago now. You were very young, much younger than your eyes tell me now. This story starts long before then. I knew William as a child; we're about the same age and attended all the same school and colleges. His father helped my mother pay the bills as her family had cast her out over some childhood indiscretion. The way they treated her you would think we were still in the nineteenth century. I was the result of that indiscretion. She went to William's father for help and he did, sometimes I wonder if... but that's another story.

"We were friends, raised to be almost as close as brothers and his parents did mean the world to me. Their death took was as much a blow to me as it was to William. Yet when I attempted to console with him he would have none of it. Kept muttering something about getting back to work. Always a workaholic, well, I turned to a girl. A bright young thing with golden hair and the most piercing blue eyes I have ever seen. At one time I thought she could care for me but then William Darcy came onto the scene. Her head was turned by his money and that pathetic look he had permanently on his face since he found out about his parents. I was left out of the equation.

"But I know what happened. I loved Helena more than he ever could and when I saw you enter the picture, I knew I had to be there for her. That night, I saw everything. There is more to William Darcy than you know and I'm about to tell you all. Never do I want to see another woman suffer at his hands. So prepare yourself Miss Bennet, this will hurt."

An hour later she finally found the energy to stand and leave the coffee shop. The incessant vibrating of her phone as William attempted to reach her slowly pulled her round. Walking without thought, she made it to the restaurant where Will stood waiting for her. Before she could object, his arms enveloped her in a strong embrace, his scent wafted into her mind and she sighed.

"I was so worried about you! Why didn't you answer your phone?" She shook her head, the cobwebs clearing. This was not meant to be discussed in public.

"I lost track of the time, I mustn't have heard it ringing, sorry." Standing back, he looked into her tired eyes, a worried crease forming on his brow.

"You're not well. Let's skip dinner and go home?" She wouldn't make eye contact. "Elizabeth? What's wrong?" His heart began to race as panic settled into the pit of his stomach.

"Nothing. I've been thinking; I'd like to stay with my parents for a few days. It's been years since I've seen them and I think it's time to catch up." He nodded, swallowing the lump in his throat.

"We'll collect your things from Netherfield and then I'll take you to Longbourn. Come on."

The drive home was silent, neither knew what to say. Both lost in thoughts; he about what had happened over the course of a day and she about all she had heard from George Wickham. A couple of hours later he pulled up outside Netherfield and allowed her to run into the house to collect her belongings. He thought back to the time he waited for her to meet him that summer, how she looked in her summer dress, her hair glistening in the sunlight. As he opened his eyes now, the vision that greeted him was a million miles away. Elizabeth chucked her bag onto the back seat and sat impatiently waiting for him to take her to Longbourn.

Ten minutes later, he was alone again. Turning the ignition off, he stared after her as she without words claimed her bag and disappeared into the house. The night was upon him, light disappeared and he sat in the darkness watching the house hoping that she would reappear and smile at him one more time. Was it only a few hours ago when he made love to her? When she told him of her love? When they made plans to go to Pemberley? As the emotions welled inside him, he reached into his pocket and removed a small velvet box. Opening the lid, he allowed the light of the moon to sparkle off the perfect diamond. Shutting the box, he pressed the start button and set off into the night to a once again empty bed.

~*~

Two days had passed, days needed to heal the physical wounds that has been inflicted. Months would be needed to heal the psychological scars that would remain. That both of them felt closer after the ordeal was a given. But the time in the hospital left them in peace and quiet to think about their lives, a time to consider the future and just what it might contain. It was with a resolution that Elizabeth walked to William's room to say her goodbyes.

As she entered the room, he was sat looking out of the window. His head was stitched in the two places it had been hit, he held his ribs protectively as he stared out at the world carrying on outside. Walking quietly, she put her hand on his shoulder. Without looking away, he covered her hand with his and gave it a gentle squeeze. Sighing, he brought himself back to the reality of his life.

"I suppose you'll be going home soon." Her silence answered his question, a brief smile acknowledging the response.

"In a couple of days. Susan and Michael want me to rest before being subjected to my mother." He chuckled. She moved to sit on the bed beside him, her gaze joining his out of the window.

"Would you care for a visit? Help you survive your experience." He smiled and turned toward her in time to see her blush and look at the floor. Taking a deep breath, she spoke the words he dreaded.

"William, I know this is not meant to be. You have a family. I can never expect you to give them up for me. It's not going to work. Our love was too quick to last, surely you understand. There is obviously somebody trying to tell us this hence why we were locked in the ice house. It was no accident, was it?" Hesitating slightly, he shook his head, his gaze once again turning to the outside. He blinked back the tears he felt welling, her arguments mirroring his own. "I should go, Susan is collecting me. When do you get released?" Meeting her gaze, he forced a smile.

"This afternoon. The doctors just wanted to observe me for a few more hours but I've not seen one since yesterday. Typical huh?" Nodding, she stood and kissed him gently on the forehead.

"Goodbye, William." Watching her as she walked away, he shouted after her.

"I will see you again. I promise." With one last glance, she disappeared and left him alone.

It was not long before he was told he could leave. Once outside, he hailed a taxi and directed the driver to the house. After it pulled up at the entrance to the mansion, he paid the driver and gingerly stepped out of the car and stood before the door. His head still hurt and his ribs faired no better. With a grimace of pain more of the mind than his injuries, he entered the house. Thankfully it was quiet yet a feeling of disappointment existed. The hope that his children would be there to greet him diminished. The housekeeper stood to one side, unobserved until she moved to take his coat.

"Thank you. Could you ell me where my wife is please?" Her expression was concerned. News of his injury was everywhere as was the full details of how he was found. That and the knowledge that the mistress of the house had not visited him just added further fuel to the fire.

"The drawing room, sir."

He nodded his thanks, the expression on the housekeepers face reminding just whose house this really was. Opening the door, he saw his wife standing at the window. She had observed his arrival and merely waited for the inevitable. Turning, she looked at him; the drawn eyes, the grim set mouth, the stitches on his forehead. The worry she felt for him re-emerged as she all but ran across the room to embrace him.

When his arms did not encircle her as they once did, she stepped away once again looking into those expressionless eyes. Hiding her tears, she turned away.

"How are you William?" She forced herself to calm.

"I've been better. I suppose it could have been worse. I was told that another couple of hours and I wouldn't be having this conversation." The shudder of her shoulders announced her fears of his near death.

"Enough Helena. You do not have to play the actress in front of me. I know." Turning, she saw his eyes darken with anger.

"You know what? That I love you? That I was scared sick when you did not return from your interlude in the ice house with that, that slut?" Her tears fell, fear and anger fuelling them and her words.

"So you knew, you saw us and then what? Did you find another key? Did you hit me on the head? What else do you know" His voice began to rise, his eyes alight with such an emotion she could barely answer.

"What? You think I did that? I followed you and her, saw you enter then I left. Why would I stay to hear you?" He turned away. His mind convinced of her guilt, his heart screaming against it.

"Helena, I know what you did and I don't want to believe it but it makes too much sense. If you knew where we were why did you not find us sooner? Why did you let us almost die?" Her whimpers were her response. Closing his eyes, he delivered his final blow. "In the morning, I'm leaving. I shall go to London and file for a divorce."

"NO! I won't allow it. Do you truly think me capable of that?" She took his hand in hers causing him to open his eyes and look her. They were once again cold, expressionless. His love for her gone forever.

"You've gone too far. I do believe you capable. If you do not allow the divorce that I shall press charges against you for what you did. Then you will not see our children at all." Her tears fell, her knees buckled and he watched disinterestedly as she sank to the floor. Without another word, he turned and left the room.

Contains images which some may find disturbing/upsetting.

Chapter 8

The night felt to never end as he slept fitfully. Her refusal to make eye contact or speak to him on the journey home left him more than a little worried. He replayed the day in his head over and over desperately trying to come up with the answer to her change in mood. Surely it couldn't be that his being an hour late could affect such a change. No, he discounted it immediately. Something wasn't right; he needed to find out before all hope was lost.

Her night was similar except the conversation with Wickham pestered her incessantly during her waking moments. The idea of William killing someone didn't sit comfortably but Wickham had such an expression of sincerity, she found herself rationalising the story. As she sat in her childhood room, she thought back to the last time she slept in this room. She had not known him then, not felt him touch her heart and soul, and not felt him touch her body. So much had happened and now it all seemed so unreal.

Closing her eyes, she recalled the look on his face as he turned the car around in the driveway and left. She'd not given him any explanation as to why she had changed. Her need for quiet and solitude too great to give him any reason to hope. Satisfied that the only way she was going to reconcile this in her head was to have it out with William, she dressed and leaving the house, began the three mile walk to Netherfield.

When she arrived, William stood watching her from the library window; his expression unreadable. Slowly, he turned away and she entered the house. The door to the library was already open. He was stood by the fireplace, leaning on the mantelshelf. His thoughts masked from her. She closed the door quietly behind her and walked over to him. He turned and took her into his arms. His heart fell as she failed to return the embrace, her body stiff, adverse to the contact he offered. Swallowing hard, he stepped back.

Facing the window, all his fears raced through his mind. He knew that whatever he said now could change their lives forever but this only increased his nervousness. Coupled with his lack of understanding in her change in feeling, he became scared.

"Elizabeth, why will you not tell me what has happened? You've walked all this way to be silent with me. I thought we were doing well, getting started over again. You seemed happy." He looked to her for a response. Finding nothing, he forged on. "I know that we've had a lot conquer over the past years but I admit to allowing myself to feel freer than I've ever done." Her lack of response panicked him more, she wouldn't even look at him.

"I will admit that there have been times when I have found myself wishing we'd never met or that I wish I could have restrained myself from loving you. But I have spent equally long berating myself for those thoughts and thanking whatever force pulled us together. Why will you not even look at me?" His voice began to shake, the emotions inside tumbling out of control.

"Elizabeth, please. I know that after all that has happened, it's hard but I'm positive we can be happy together. These past few days have proven that to me. I thought you agreed. You know that, that all I want is to be with you, forever. I know this seems like a stupid time but I just need to know. Will you give us a chance and marry me?" He held his breath, afraid of the answer, cursing his inability to formulate the words he needed to speak. It was moments before her words pierced the silence. They were but a whisper, almost swallowed by the tension in the room.

"How could I marry you? How do you honestly think I could?" His words had done nothing to improve her mood. They struck at the wounded heart that had spent all night pondering the man before her. He turned to look at her, the question in his eyes.

"Why?"

"Your proposal wasn't exactly the romantic effort I would have expected from you. I mean, you actually said you at times wished you'd never met me. How am I meant to react to that?" Her eyes darkened with anger as he stood before her, stunned at her words. It was not long before he too felt anger welling inside.

"If you had listened long enough you would also have heard how I said I disagreed with those thoughts. As for a romantic proposal, why do you think I took so long yesterday? Had you not gone off on your little tantrum yesterday you would have gotten one. Tell me, am I being unreasonable to demand an explanation of what happened to you yesterday? What could I have possibly done to upset you? Maybe I insulted your vanity by delaying our meeting for an hour. Is that it? I don't think you'd reject me over a clumsily delivered proposal especially when you were all too eager to scream my name yesterday morning." His voice was raised, his anger in full force as all the worry and heartbreak threatened to take over.

She remained silent, her gaze staring into the distance. He moved closer.

"TELL ME!"

"So, is this how is happened? Did Helena meet with your wrath too? Did she refuse to speak or maybe she found out about us? Is that why you killed her?" He blinked, each word a dagger blow to his heart.

"Who told you that?" His words were stammered, his voice barely audible.

"It doesn't matter. Did you kill her? Do you kill the women you claim to love when they displease you or do you just get bored? Am I next?" The venom of her words stung him causing him to lash out in pain.

"You'd understand if you weren't such a child. Selfish, you only think of yourself. Tell me, was it me willing to leave it all behind and run away with you, willing to fuck you that over inflated your sense of self-worth? Or were you always so self-absorbed?"

Her hand slapped his face hard. Before she had a chance to react, he grabbed her shoulders and pinned her against the wall. The fear in her eyes disgusted him as he saw that she truly did believe the tales she had been told. Through clenched teeth, he told her the truth.

"I'll tell you what really happened that night. My wife, the woman I was willing to leave for a teenager, locked us in that hole. Left us there to die. I knew. She hit me and allowed me to fall. You could believe I had a motive for murdering her. But to say that, you obviously don't know me at all. The day I got out of hospital, I asked for a divorce so that I could leave and screw you without the guilt. So that I could satisfy my own vanity and run away with a girl so self-absorbed that she is willing to believe I would kill my own wife. I'll tell you what happened that night, dearest, loveliest Elizabeth. I'll share my demons with you."

As dawn approached, William was woken by incessant banging on the door to the study. Shaking his throbbing head to clear away the fuzz, he stood and walked to see what the commotion was about. The sight that greeted him shocked him to the core; the housekeeper and head gardener stood before him, her tears and his doleful expression enough to waken him completely.

"What? What's happened?" At their murmured words he ran from the room and out of the house. His lungs burnt as he raced across the grounds, the two people following as best they could. Catching sight of the lake he stopped. Not even what he was told could have prepared him for what he saw as stood trembling by the water. Without a second thought he ran into the lake and swam over to her, pain seared his sides as he moved. Grabbing her hand, he pulled her to him. Turning her, the lifeless eyes he never expected to see gazed at him, the image burnt onto his mind forever.

"Helena?" He whispered against her forehead and he gently kissed her cold brow. Holding her to him, he felt the last thread of self control slip as he sensed the rising panic in his chest. He couldn't breathe as the guilt speared his heart. Pain spread around his body as his heart clenched. His lips trembled as he held her tightly. The truth rushed into his mind as he spoke her name.

Two people stood watching as their master held the body of their mistress in his arms, listened to the sorrow in his voice as he screamed her name over and over again. Neither knew what to do. Some time later he quietened as he murmured words against her skin. When the police and ambulance arrived, he had pulled her from the water and held her silently in his arms on the bank of the lake.

He didn't notice them taking her away from his arms, or the blanket they put around his shoulders. He stared unseeingly into the water, the image of her floating on the surface, the white fabric of her dress surrounding her, the dead blue of her eyes. How long he sat there, he had no idea. The cold of the morning and the wet clothes didn't bother him, he simply sat and stared at the spot where he found her.

The last conversation they shared replayed over and over again in his mind. Words of anger and hatred filled his head, the feeling that it was the threat of a divorce that caused her to jump into the lake where they were once so content. All the happy memories were gone; no matter how hard he tried he couldn't summon them. Visions of her smiling, laughing as they played before the birth of their first son, the times they spent as a family. All gone, replaced by the same horrific image.

"Mr. Darcy?" The police officer's words penetrated the thick haze surrounding his consciousness causing him to turn towards her. She smiled sympathetically and sat beside him. With such pain in his eyes, she couldn't bring herself to ask him to make a statement just yet. Moments of silence passed as he resumed his introspection. Swallowing, she spoke once again. "Would you like us to inform her parents?" Looking at his hands, he shook his head.

"No, I should do it. They trusted me with her, and I failed. Because of me, she's..." he swallowed hard, blinking back the tears. "...dead." The police officer looked at him questioningly. Nodding to himself, he started from the beginning. Without thought, he told the complete stranger the whole sordid tale starting from when his parents died. He opened himself like he had never done before. Meeting Elizabeth, the affair, the night in the ice house. He told her all, his gaze never once leaving the lake.

When he'd done, silence took over once again. The police officer was speechless as she observed the tears running down his face. It was his next words that took her breath away. He looked at her, such desperation in his eyes. "How can I tell my boys?"

Standing, she held her hand out to help him up. As he stood, she looked at him. "I'll make sure you manage." Smiling, she directed him to the house where they broke the news to the rest of the family.

"So you see, I didn't kill her. I found her." He blinked back the tears cascading down his face as he relived the morning in his mind. "The coroner deemed it suicide due to an undiagnosed case of postnatal depression. I should have seen the signs but instead of being there for her, my head was turned by you. Tell, my love, was it George Wickham who so gallantly filled you in on the dubious facts? Let me tell you about George.

"He was a favourite of my fathers after his mother was caught with another man. Yes, Elizabeth, George is my bastard half-brother and as result her husband kicked her out. Sensible really. I thought she was of the lowest form for what she did, tempting my father and yet there I was, caught doing the same thing years later. She tried to wreck my parent's marriage but it was too strong. My mother was far too forgiving and instead young George was given everything. Time and time again he through that generosity back into my face.

"He loved Helena, it was no secret. She did not love him, she fell for me. Poor woman. He was jealous, so so jealous and invented stories about me, trying to get her to leave. But like my mother, she was too forgiving. Until you. I'd never lived up to George's stories before but then I did. You were too much of a temptation. I did love her you know, we were happy once. The time my wife really needed me and I lost sight. Was it really love three years ago? I don't know. I thought it was, but then I don't seem to be able to feel that emotion anymore."

He let her go, his anger gone, replaced by hurt and disappointment. "The worst thing of all is that you really believed I could kill her. I saw the fear in your eyes when I held you just now. I've never been so angry but not once did I want to hurt you. It appears you are the one who can inflict pain far more readily than I. My hope is gone, my guilt and grief return and once again it over you." He turned away. Her tears ran freely as she saw the pain in his eyes.

"William..."

"You've said enough. Your feelings toward me are perfectly clear. Maybe this time Wickham has done me a favour." Reaching into his pocket, he removed the ring he had hoped to be now residing on her finger. Walking over to her, her stared deep into her eyes. Gently, with the tips of his fingers he caressed her cheek, wiped the tears away. "Goodbye, Elizabeth." Without looking away, he opened her hand and pressed the ring into her palm. Closing her hand again, he walked away without once looking back.

"William, please accept our condolences."

He stared blankly at the man in front of him. The last few days had been lived on auto-pilot. A sense of being numb and out of control. He'd lived each day as if he were watching from a distance instead of playing the lead character in a tragedy.

Slowly he took the man's proffered hand and shook it like he had been brought up to. Nodding his thanks, the next family arrived to give their sympathies. It was odd, so many people attending the funeral and not one of them truly understood, truly knew what had happened. They all guessed it was suicide but not one could say why. All had their suspicions, rumours were rife.

It was then that he spotted her, his partner in crime. He hadn't expected her to come, to show her face at the peak of the destruction she had caused. Yet his heart rejoiced at seeing her. She was the only one who knew, who could really understand the guilt he was feeling. Her expression said it all. The sense of loss, of grief marred with the belief that it was all your fault. Yes, she knew.

She stood with Michael and Susan, their eyes betraying the sadness they felt for their friends. Susan had suspected what was happening long ago and her theories were proved correct when Michael told her how he found them that morning. They had to just look at William and Elizabeth's eyes to know that something far worse had caused this accident. It was plain for both to see that they were not the same people they were just a few short weeks ago.

He moved toward the three, drawn to the girl with the fine eyes tinged with sadness. He didn't know what to say, he just had to be near her. As their gaze locked, he felt the familiar twinge of desire tingling in his brain. Even now, all he could think of was possessing her, taking her once again, allowing himself to lose all thought in the lush confines of her body. Swallowing hard, he tried to push the images away all too aware of how wrong it was.

"Michael, Susan. Elizabeth. Thank you, for coming. It's, it's,,"

"We know, it's such a shock. How are you coping?" It was a well meant question but all he wanted to do was laugh in Susan's face.

How am I coping? I'll tell you. I haven't slept for two weeks and I can't think. Then I look at your young friend and all I want to do is run away with her and never come back.

"It's hard, but I'm sure it'll get better." He blinked back the tears of frustration. Closing his eyes momentarily, he could imagine all of them with their false sympathy and pitiful gazes, shaking their heads and decrying it such a pity to be a widower at such a young age. Opening his eyes, she caught his gaze. No pity, no sympathy. The emptiness he felt.

Michael and Susan walked away leaving him with Elizabeth. She moved to stand before him, taking note of all the signs of stress, worry, lack of sleep on his face. He noticed the same on her features. Moving closer, he spoke in a whisper.

"We need to talk." She nodded, he continued. "Meet me, half an hour. You know where." He allowed her scent to wash over him. He turned and walked away leaving her to recover silently.

They had not returned since that night. She had not seen him after she said her goodbyes in the hospital. The news hit her hard and all the feelings of responsibility arrived full force. Susan had not known what to do with her, three days spent listless and crying. Nothing Susan could say would wake her from the depression she entered. Then on the fourth day, Elizabeth left her room, no longer the na´ve teenager, it was all too evident.

He was already there, waiting for her. He leaned against the entrance, his shoulders slumped, too tired to keep his head high any longer. Even in a demure, black suit, she was stunning. His eyes were immediately drawn to hers, passion and desire clouding his thoughts again. Stop it, you can't have her.

He could see the tears that threatened to fall down her beautiful face. There was no smile, no laughter; all gone. She stood before him, refusing to meet his gaze, ashamed of her thoughts as she remembered the cause of so much distress. Gently, he cupped her face, making her look at him. His breath caught in his throat, tears welled in his eyes as he looked at her. All the sparkle had gone, the energy that caught his heart replaced with sadness.

"I've lost you too it seems." He looked away. Swallowing hard, he stopped the tears before they fell. When he turned to face her once again, he was taken aback by the anger in her eyes. "What?"

"Lost me too? What do you mean? I'm not lost, I know exactly where I stand. Standing before my lover at his wife's funeral. Don't you realise what has happened? She killed herself because of us. Because of our..."

"I hardly think one night in a cold and damp outhouse constitutes an affair, do you? A mistake maybe." Turning his back to her, he continued. "What was I thinking? I was fine, we were happy and then you came swanning along in your summer dresses and bikinis."

"So it's my fault now is it? Is that what you're trying to say? Because I know full well that if it wasn't for your encouragement, I would have been home by now still an innocent girl whose hands weren't covered in the blood of your wife."

"Don't over dramatise the situation." He spat the words, turning to face her again.

"What? This stuff happens in books and films, William, not Surrey. Yet here I am, stood in the middle of so much destruction."

"Yes you are. You're ruined the lives of my boys. I've never felt the urge to leave my family but with you I was willing to throw it all away. Standing here, I've just seen what a mistake that would have been. Helena was right, you were nothing but a child, a girl."

He started to walk away, his anger charging the air around her as he brushed past. Her words halted him.

"Were? Why past?" He laughed, a harsh, cruel sound. Still he faced away.

"Welcome to real-life Elizabeth. The harsh reality of our self-created nightmare will live with us forever. Have fun at Cambridge when you understand that all your youthful exuberance has been removed, sapped by today. You'll never fit in because you've seen too much. You're older, wiser, tougher. No longer just a girl."

"What about you?" Her words were quiet, he took a moment to think before turning to look deep into her eyes.

"Older, wider, tougher? Maybe not. I stand before you and all I can think about is how I would do it all again. I look at your face and I want to kiss the sorrow from your lips, pin you against the wall and fuck you until you can't think and I can't stand." He moved closer, she could feel his breath on her face.

"Do it then." She blushed, willing him to do it, just one more time. He hesitated and closed his eyes.

"I...I can't. Goodbye." Turning, he walked away.

Falling to her knees, she cried properly, heaving sobs wracked her body until every last tear was run out. Standing, she began to run. As far away as she could, away from family, friends and especially him.

To be continued


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