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The Hidden Baby A Pride and Prejudice Variation by Juliana Abbott

Read Online The Hidden Baby A Pride and Prejudice Variation by Juliana Abbott Romance Book

Overview: He’s hot. He’s deadly. And he’s hunting me.
Rath K’zar is an alien bounty hunter. The best in the universe.
I’m his admin assistant.
I send him his bounties, and I process his payments.
I know him better than anybody. He doesn’t know I exist.

I have dreamed about him every night for months. You could call it a crush, or a fixation, or maybe an obsession. Whatever. I never thought it would amount to anything.
Then there was a… misunderstanding at work.
I became the galaxy’s most wanted overnight.
Now he’s hunting me.

Nobody escapes Rath K’zar.
He’s merciless.
He doesn’t care about innocence.
He cares about the bounty.
And my name is on his list.


Read Online The Hidden Baby A Pride and Prejudice Variation by Juliana Abbott Book Chapter One Free. Find Hear Best Romance Books And Novel For Reading And Download.
The Hidden Baby A Pride and Prejudice Variation by Juliana Abbott

Read Online The Hidden Baby A Pride and Prejudice Variation by Juliana Abbott Book Chapter One

 

The wind whipped into Darcy’s face as he struggled down the wooden deck of the majestic sailboat he’d been a passenger on for more than five months. The wind blew heavily against him, and his greatcoat flew open, exposing him further to the elements.

The vast white sails billowed in the wind as they pushed the ship closer toward the English shores. It was this, the desire to see his homeland once more after more than two years away, that inspired Fitzwilliam Darcy to venture upstairs from the bowels of the ship despite the unfavorable weather.

Alas, he was gravely disappointed. The sight before him was the same as it had been for months: water, water, and more water. A mist sprinkled his face, and he licked his lips, tasting the salt of the ocean. He grunted and was about to make his way past the many sailors tending to the merchant ship when a voice called out behind him.

“Darcy!” Montgomery Morgan hastened his way from behind. The man, dressed in a fine suit much too elegant for sea travel, clutched onto the railing with one hand and waved the other in greeting. Darcy watched as he struggled to move forward in the heavy wind until he finally joined him.

“Darcy, what gnarly weather we are having. I ought to have remained down below, but I’d hoped to see the shore by now.”

“That is precisely why I’ve come up. It seems we must bide our time a little longer.”

His new friend, a fellow Englishmen from Derbyshire, held on to the railing with both hands, his blue eyes cast forward toward England. “Does it not seem as though this past month has gone by much slower than the previous four? By Jove, it has been crawling by, I say.”

Darcy couldn’t help but smile, for he’d felt the same. When he and his cousin, Col. Fitzwilliam, first boarded the Anglia, one of the finest ships in the East India Company’s merchant ship fleet, the days sped by. Although this soon changed. Soon enough, the hours did not seem to end, and one day bled into the other as they made their way from India around the entire continent of Africa and then north.

If not for the company of his cousin and Mr. Morgan, Darcy was quite confident he’d have lost his mind out of sheer boredom by now.

“How’s Col. Fitzwilliam?” Mr. Morgan asked as he opened a small bronze container and placed a comfit in his mouth. He held it out to Darcy, who took one. He didn’t much care for the Anais flavor but didn’t wish to be impolite. Mr. Morgan had endeared himself to Darcy almost from the moment they met on board ship.

Their cabins were located across from one another, leading to frequent encounters that soon were more by design than accident. Traveling alone, Mr. Morgan was in dire need of company and neither Darcy nor his cousin were inclined to reject the newly offered friendship. Since then, the three had become firm friends, a friendship Darcy was sure would continue once they reached home. It would be difficult not to, given that Mr. Morgan was all but a neighbor, residing in nearby Lambton.

“Improving. He took a meal earlier. I believe that the thought of home being near is helping him get past his malcontent regarding travel by sea.”

“It must be vexing, I dare say. After everything the poor man has been through, to suffer from a stomach ailment when we are nearly home.”

“Ah, yes. Although I dare say, a stomach ailment is much preferable to the ordeals he has suffered through of late.”

He didn’t want to even think about it. After receiving word that his cousin, his dear friend, had been gravely hurt during the invasion of Java, Darcy set out on the long journey to the East Indies. The uncertainty of his cousin’s condition made for an uncomfortable journey full of anxiety and restless nights. Upon arriving, he’d found him alive but poorly. The medical aid available to him in the faraway land was nothing like the care he’d have received in England, and the results were lingering.

“Ah, there he is now,” Morgan said as he nodded with his chin towards the aft of the ship. “Col. Fitzwilliam!” He waved cheerfully. The man’s amenable nature and ever-cheerful outlook had at first vexed Darcy, who’d been in a terrible mood for months due to the delay of their journey home.

In some ways Mr. Morgan, who insisted upon being called Monty, reminded him of Bingley. His temper was not quite as ductile as that of Bingley, but they shared the same openness and generally positive outlook on life. With Bingley so very far away, and communication almost nonexistent due to the distance, Darcy was grateful for the friendship offered. Alas, he could not bring himself to call his new friend by his preferred nickname. No, to Darcy, he was Morgan. Never Monty.

A gust of wind blew against Darcy’s back as he turned and he tumbled forward, caught just in time by Mr. Morgan’s firm grasp on his arm.

“Careful, Darcy. Lest you blow overboard so close to home!”

“Darcy! All these months at sea and you still have not found your sea legs. I dare say you never shall!” His cousin called as he struggled to make his way to them against the heavy wind. Morgan’s gaze lingered on the colonel.

“Walks much better, given everything he’s been through,” Morgan said beside him in a voice quiet enough so only Darcy could hear. “You’d hardly know that darned doctor let his leg grow back together so poorly it had to be broken again. Savages.”

Darcy wasn’t quite sure whom his friend called a savage, as both the physician in Java and the one in India – to where Darcy spirited his cousin upon finding him in such terrible condition – were Englishmen.

“I was fortunate to find a physician able to repair the damage. Although I suspect he is still upset at me over it.”

“Nobody wants their leg broken. Let alone twice, but you did what you had to. What’s a few months with a broken leg when it means having a future without being an invalid?”

Darcy swallowed at the word as he’d often feared his cousin’s fate would be just that. Helpless and unable to care for himself. This last part of the conversation was spoken loud enough for Col. Fitzwilliam to hear, and his visage darkened.

“Are you speaking of me? I thought my ears were burning.”

“Just telling Darcy here how fortunate you were regarding your recovery.”

“It was indeed fortunate that I have a cousin so devoted he’d have my leg re-broken,” he laughed. There was no malcontent nor anger in his words and his bright eyes displayed a sparkle Darcy knew to mean his cousin was in good spirits.

“Now, any sign of her yet? Good old England?” He glanced out over the bow of the ship.

Darcy shook his head. “I am afraid we have already encountered the English fog, alas no land yet.”

“I dare say we will see her shortly,” Mr. Morgan said with a smile. “I spoke to one of the sailors earlier and he assured me that we would set our sight on England this very morning. And now it is…” He pulled out his golden pocket watch and clicked it open. “It is eleven in the morning. Early still. If the young fellow was right, we will see home within the hour.” He ran a hand through his greying brown hair. “I cannot wait. I have been gone just a little more than a twelvemonth, but I miss my wife, and I miss my children. What a strange thought that I should have a child at home whom I have yet to meet. I cannot wait to see him.”

“Yes, it will be good to lay my eyes on my sister again after all of these years. I am sure she will be eager to leave the care of my aunt and return home.” Darcy shook his head. It was impossible to think he had last seen Georgiana two years ago.

“I feel dreadful that she had to be dispatched to Aunt Catherine’s. She is a dear lady, but only for limited periods of time. I cannot imagine what poor Georgiana endured these past two years.” Col. Fitzwilliam said with a deep sigh. “I am sorry, Darcy.”

Mr. Morgan at once noted how the conversation between the two cousins had turned serious and excused himself as he walked a few steps away to the starboard side of the ship.

“There is no reason to apologize. You did not choose to be injured. None of this was your doing. You didn’t choose to invade Java, nor did you summon a monsoon early so we lost passage the first time we were meant to return. And you did not create the lengthy delay in securing passage on this voyage either.”

The young man hung his head low. “And yet, I feel it is my fault. I cannot imagine all we have missed. Georgiana will be a young lady now and we missed her coming-out ball. I promised to dance the first dance with her in case she did not have a partner.”

Darcy swallowed as he thought back to his sister’s vivid description of her coming out ball, hosted by Lady Catherine at Rosings the previous year. He’d come to find out about it by way of letter, the news being six months old when it reached him.

“We shall dance with her at another ball. You will see, all will be well. Soon enough, you will receive a new commission and be on your way once more to new adventures.”

“And you? What about you? We’ve spoken of nothing but me and my future as you refuse to speak of yours. Will you return to Pemberley right away?”

Darcy smiled at the thought of returning to his home. “Of course. I shall dispatch you to London to stay with Lady Catherine, collect Georgiana, and then I shall return to Pemberley. But there is one stop I must make on the way.”

“Miss Elizabeth Bennet,” his cousin stated.

Darcy did not take his eyes off the water. The waves carried the ship up and down. Initially, this movement brought on several cases of seasickness, although Darcy was glad it no longer bothered him. Counter to Mr. Morgan’s earlier assertions, by the time the ship came near the Cape of Good Hope, Darcy found himself quite at home on the ocean liner.

It was fortunate that Elizabeth Bennet made him aware of his overt habit of being rude to those he found beneath him. It was a lesson that served him well on his journey. Traveling by merchant ship meant mingling with others, regardless of their class. Whenever he found himself inclined to give in to his old habits, her voice sounded in his head.

Her voice was clear as a bell in his mind, and yet her face no longer appeared as clearly as once it did. He stood, trying to conjure up her image before him. If he closed his eyes, she stood before him at Pemberley, her face softening. His nostrils twitched with the memory of her sweet scent and his lips turned upward at the thought of her soft, pale skin and smooth dark hair. Yet, details of her face eluded him. At last, he forced himself out of his daydream.

“Yes, I wish to call on Miss Elizabeth. I’ve never received a reply to my letters.”

His cousin shrugged and placed a hand on Darcy’s back. “Do not fret; it means nothing. As you said, it takes six months for a letter to cross the ocean. And we changed location from Java to India and then from one city to another. Even Bingley was only able to send two letters, and one of them so ruined by water it was almost unreadable.”

Darcy knew this to be true, and yet, he’d considered the lack of news from Miss Elizabeth and her family almost equal to the lack of communication with his sister, if not more vexing. At least he knew he could be assured of his sister’s love and affection. With Miss Elizabeth, things had been left somewhat unresolved.

He’d written to her many times over the past two years. Each letter full of his apologies and explanations, full of declarations of the sincerity of his love for her. Each letter made its way into a drawer or his portmanteau, never to be sent. It was unseemly for a gentleman to write to an unmarried woman. He’d broken this unspoken rule only once when he’d handed her his words of explanation regarding Wickham, but that was a different matter. His reputation had been at stake, and he could not allow such a slight to his person to remain unaddressed.

Alas, he could not write to her directly and thus, letters to her father were the best he could do.

“You will see, when you arrive, she’ll be eagerly awaiting you. You sent a letter from Bombay, did you not?” When Darcy nodded that he had, his cousin pressed on, “There. It will reach Longbourn before we do, and she will know to expect you. But one thing I must ask, what will you do when you see her?”

Darcy looked at his cousin as a heaviness settled into his heart. The ship rocked back and forth as he remained steadily in place.

“I do not know. I feel as I felt before. I ardently love her. Yet, I do not know what she feels. Something changed between us before I departed, but will it be the same? Will the spark of affection she felt for me still be there? I cannot know. I’ve thought of that day at Pemberley often as well as the subsequent visits.”

“It was fortunate her aunt and uncle insisted upon touring the estate.”

“Indeed, and equally as fortunate that I arrived from London a day early to see them. Anyhow, that day changed everything. I felt it in the air, this change. She softened toward me, and I thought it ought to be possible that she saw me for who I was at last.” He broke off as he realized his cousin might take this speech to heart and blame himself.

“It is not too late; I am sure of it. If a change of heart took place within her, she will have waited, as you explained your sudden departure in your letter.”

Darcy was about to reply when Mr. Morgan hurried toward them.

“Darcy! Colonel!” Montgomery Morgan exclaimed. “Quickly, feast your eyes upon true beauty. There she is! Ole Blighty.”

His friend, who’d strolled over to them once more without Darcy noticing, motioned with his meaty hand toward the horizon where the outline of the British Island came into view. Blurry and far, far away as it might have been, Darcy had never set his eyes on a more beautiful and welcome sight.

“Home, Cousin. We are home at last,” Col. Fitzwilliam said, and placed a hand on Darcy’s shoulder as the three men stood at the bow of the ship and looked out over the ocean.

Elizabeth. I cannot wait to call on you, and I can only hope you waited for me and that you understood.

***

“Mr. Darcy!” Mrs. Hurst’s eyes were the size of saucers when she looked at him the following afternoon. Darcy’s hand clutched the railing of the narrow stone staircase which led up to Bingley’s London home. His legs swayed beneath him still after almost six months at sea. “We did not know you had returned to these shores.”

“Mrs. Hurst, it is a pleasure to see you. I am saddened to hear it, for I sent word to Mr. Bingley when we embarked on the journey from India.”

The woman shrugged. “Faith, Charles has been at Netherfield these past few weeks. We send any letters for him on to Hertfordshire. If he received it, he certainly did not tell me.”

Darcy swallowed at this news. He’d wanted to see his friend rather badly and to hear he was not even in London was disappointing, to say the least. It came as the second disappointment in as many days because upon arriving at his aunt’s townhouse he’d come to find out that Georgiana was no longer in London either. She and her companion, Mrs. Annesley, had returned to Pemberley several weeks prior.

“Netherfield? I did not know he took up residence there again.”

Mrs. Hurst sighed deeply. “After you left, he found himself at sixes and sevens, having lost the company of both you and the Bennet woman. He ventured there to be closer to her. Of course, you know how that ended. I think he’s still there, hoping she will return.”

Darcy frowned. “Return?”

The woman paled as her eyes darted back and forth. He leaned forward. “What is it? Has something happened to Miss Bennet?”

She swallowed and took a step back. “I think it would be best if you called on Charles at Netherfield. He will be there for some time. Caroline caught a trifling cold some weeks ago and the physician told us she needed the country air. Charles took her to Netherfield at once and they are still there. Anyhow, I ought to tend to my husband, I left him asleep on the chaise when Mrs. Holborn fetched me. Well, Mr. Darcy, I look forward to your company.”

She flashed him a brief smile and retreated inside.

“But allow me to ask…”

It was too late. The door closed before him, and he was left to stand there utterly mystified.

What in the world did she mean when she said Bingley hoped to see Miss Jane Bennet when she returned? Returned from where?

His stomach in knots, Darcy turned away and walked down the street toward the townhome of his aunt, Lady Catherine De Bourgh, where his cousin would remain until he received his new orders.

As the bells at St. George’s of Hanover rang in the distance, Darcy came to a decision. He had to go to Hertfordshire – at once.

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