This snippet is from my new WIP, Shimmering Magic, which is Book 3 of the series, Mr. Darcy’s Magic. Darcy has finally managed to organize a cricket day for the young Royal Mage apprentices. It is a rare opportunity for everyone — especially Darcy — to take some well-deserved time off.
I hope you enjoy it!
The scent of strawberries drifted towards him as he entered the refreshment tent. Elizabeth was talking to Ramon de Riquer, and Darcy frowned in irritation. Then Elizabeth turned in his direction and gave him the special smile she reserved for him and his heart did a little jig.
“De Riquer.” He bowed to the French mage. Spanish, he corrected mentally. Darcy still could not quite wrap his mind around de Riquer’s identity. Suspicions lingered, and he could not shake them. What if the Spaniard was still spying for Napoleon? So far, he had managed to keep his suspicions to himself, apart from telling Elizabeth to be careful. In response, she just tossed her hair and asked him if he was jealous.
What if he was? That did not invalidate the possibility that the Council of Mages was wrong and de Riquer was a spy. Still, he could not condemn the man without proof, and until then, he would treat him with the utmost civility, even if he could never warm to him.
He strode over to take up Elizabeth’s hand and tuck it into the crook of his elbow. All his uncertainties about de Riquer evaporated at the love that shone out of her eyes.
“I am sorry, but I have to steal my wife away from you.”
Darcy’s gaze lingered on Elizabeth. She was glowing, the sun picking up red strands in her hair that made it look ablaze.
“I do not blame you.” De Riquer smiled. “Though my day will not be quite as bright without her.”
Darcy bristled at such obvious flirtation.
“What nonsense!” Elizabeth chuckled and shook her head as they moved away.
“Surely no young lady is deceived by his outrageous manner.” He wondered if Elizabeth was taken in by him, his heart twisting inside him at the idea.
“Probably not, but everyone likes flattery. Do you not like being flattered?”
“I dislike pretence, in whatever shape or form.”
“Hmm.” Her lips curled upwards.
“What is that supposed to mean?”
Elizabeth leaned closer and gave his arm a squeeze. “I would rather not be serious, not today. It is a spectacularly lovely day. Let us relish it as much as possible while we can.”
The rigidity in his spine loosened at the feel of her soft body against him. She was right. He was wound up too tight. He did not want to think of spies and Napoleon’s mages and war. He was longing to have Elizabeth to himself for a while, to pretend that life was simple. He wanted the world to consist of only two people: him and Elizabeth. Surely, he was entitled to spend time with his wife, just for once?
He checked the apprentices to make certain Bingley was not having any problems, then threw caution to the wind. “Come with me. There is a delightfully thick clump of trees over there.”