This is a snippet from the upcoming Mr. Darcy’s Phoenix – Lari

“How will we triumph?” Elizabeth called out.

“Do you trust me?” Darcy asked.

Elizabeth nodded.

Darcy pointed to a tree with heavy, low hanging branches. “Stand beneath the boughs. On my signal, douse the ring of fire. The hydra will attack, but I will burn the branches and cause them to fall, crushing the heads before they can reach you.”

Elizabeth took her position, and doused the flames when Darcy raised his hand. The hydra reared up and began to charge toward her. Her heart pounded, the realism of the illusion making her forget that she was in no real danger, or perhaps it was Darcy’s presence that made her feel this way.

Darcy struck the branches with twin jets of flame, and they cracked, crushing the hydra’s neck with astonishing force. The beast roared and then fell silent, the four head thumping and lolling on the ground before becoming still.

The circle of nymphs dissipated the illusion and applauded. “Well done!” they cried before disappearing back into the trees.

Darcy hurried to her side. “You were remarkable.”

“Only because I had an excellent partner,” Elizabeth said, looking up at him with admiration. Most gentlemen would not allow a woman to face a magical beast, or even an illusion of one. That Darcy had arranged such an exercise showed how much faith he had in her.

They stood there, caught in the exhilaration of the moment. Elizabeth did not know who initiated it, but before she knew it, she felt Darcy’s lips against hers. His hands tangled themselves in her hair. Elizabeth leaned into him, wrapping her arms around his waist. It was a moment of utter bliss and elation, shattered all too soon by Dante arriving with a scroll of parchment.