At over 300,000 words, Mistaken was a tad long when I finished writing it. Something had to go if I didn’t want to rival Tolstoy for page count. The first things to be axed were the dream scenes. I do love a good dream sequence; you can show so much about a character’s innermost thoughts and desires without having to ‘tell’ the reader too much. Sadly, dreams are rarely essential to the plot and thus, all mine got the chop … *sob!*
On the bright side, it means I get to share them with you now! So, loyal fans of Mistaken, here are a selection of the missing dream scenes, dated so you can place them in the story. Enjoy!
Friday, 17 April 1812: Kent
He was smiling. His face was partially obscured, but his charming smile was bright as always, a beacon in the fog. He held his arm out and she took it. Together, they strolled through blank streets flanked by walls of swirling grey mist. They exchanged incoherent words but all meaning was lost in the miasma. She turned to him, but his smile had morphed into a rictus grin. His steely eyes danced over her with unmistakable avarice and something else she could not name. She shivered and struggled for escape, but he would not release her. Her heart raced, panic—a murky darkness—encroached from all sides.
As fear took hold, a darker and more awful shadow fell across them both. Pure black, unseen, unknowable, the presence loomed before them. The man at her side quailed and was gone. Eyes that burned with indecipherable vehemence pierced her soul. She trembled but could not flee. He stepped from the shadow and revealed himself, his penetrating gaze never wavering. She was aware of his every movement, as she always had been. As he pressed closer, her blood ran hot and her skin caught fire. He glared at her, his dark eyes fathomless, and she felt at once accused, judged and sentenced. His expression did not change as he turned and walked away. She felt bereft, cold and alone.
Elizabeth’s eyes fluttered open but saw naught in the blackness of night. Shivering, she pulled the covers more tightly about her and willed herself back to sleep.
Friday, 24 April 1812: London
His breath came hot and heavy as his tongue traced the outline of her ear then her jaw. His mouth explored every part of her from neck to navel, and with every utterance she gave, he wanted her more. He ran his hand firmly from shoulder to hip and further, took hold of her thigh and raised her leg. She bucked, lifting herself to meet him and gasped. Her lips parted to reveal the tips of her teeth. Her tongue ran between them. He lunged, joining with her powerfully. They both gave breathless exclamations. She pulled him closer, wrapping herself around him. He enveloped her fiercely in his arms and moved, slowly at first, then faster and harder. They rolled ’til she was on top, head tipped back, panting. He sat up, worshipping her with hand and mouth, tension coiling in him, increased by her every moan. Their arms knotted about each other, their bodies entangled as they strained for all of each other. He was close – so close it hurt. He wanted it to end. He wanted it to last forever. He leant his head down and touched his lips to her ear to whisper his adoration.
“You are not handsome enough to tempt me, Elizabeth.”
NO! He screamed silently at himself but could not unsay his words. He kept moving, eliciting more groans from her. He cupped her face and kissed her, deeply. When she moaned, he felt it through his lips. Her eyes begged him. He grabbed her hips and pulled her to him. Her legs tensed around him. He found his voice and rasped out his rising pleasure.
“You are barely tolerable!”
STOP! He did not – could not – respond to his own plea! Still, she moved with him. Her breath hitched. Her eyes slid closed. He thrust a hand behind her head and pulled her close for another searing kiss. He drove into her, desperate for her, desperate to finish. She grabbed his face, cast him an impassioned smile.
“You are the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry!”
Instantly fully awake, Darcy rolled over and punched his mattress forcefully. “Fuck!”
Slowly, he rolled once more onto his back and stared blindly into the pitch-black canopy. He was painfully aroused and furious. With the world, with himself – with her, for denying him even the sanctuary of sleep.
“Elizabeth!” he whispered hoarsely. “What have you done to me?”
Monday, 4 May 1812: Hertfordshire
He stood a short distance away, his expression plaintive. “You play very well at shuttlecock.” She smiled and nodded, all the while watching his restive hands. “You are a very pretty young lady.” He shifted from one foot to the other. “I should like to know you better.” Her retort drew his laughter, though she could not hear her own voice. He inched closer. “I could look after you very well.” She nodded again, divested of all wit. He encroached another step. “The depth of my attachment is unparalleled.” Her eyebrow rose. She backed away, but struck an obstacle. The obstacle spoke in her ear. “Look! He is demonstrating his regard.” She glanced over her shoulder: Aunt Gardiner! But she had no voice. Her aunt pointed. “Look! Look at his attachment!” Reluctantly, she looked. Mr Craythorne’s attachment was indeed showing a decided regard. She recoiled, averting her gaze. Her aunt impeded her escape. “You made him love you. Look what you have done!” She looked at him. His soft grey eyes implored her. “Oh, sweet Lizzy! You must know how I feel! Can you not see?” She could not help but see; it crept ever closer. “Lizzy, he loves you, look!” She looked at her aunt. “Look what you have done to him!” Her aunt pointed. She looked – and then could not look away. She gasped, face flaming. Mr Craythorne’s attachment continued its inexorable advance towards her. She was powerless to tear her eyes away. “We are friends are we not?” Closer. “Let us get to know one another.” Closer. “You are so lovely.” She shook her head. His voice changed. “I am not afraid of you.” Her gaze remained fixed on his regard. “No one admitted to the privilege of hearing you could think anything wanting.” Her aunt’s voice came from behind. “He fancies himself in love with you.” Her eyes burned but would not budge. “You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” Her aunt spoke again. “’Tis his improper thoughts – they are manifesting themselves.” Her eyes relinquished their hold on their mark. Her gaze flew up. She gasped a silent gasp. Mr Craythorne’s damp grey eyes were no more. Instead, Mr Darcy’s piercing black gaze bored into her. “Relieve my suffering, Elizabeth!” She could not help but look down once again, then flushed hot and flung her hands to cover her face…
Elizabeth sat bolt upright. All was pitch black and she could see naught. “My eyes!”
Sunday, 17 May 1812: London
He threw the book aside and rubbed his face hard. Bone weary, the fading light straining his eyes and his legs cramping from sitting too long in one attitude, Darcy ceded to the end of another interminable and solitary Sunday. He rested his head back and willed his headache away.
The knock at the door startled him awake. Before he had chance to dismiss the unwelcome intruder, the door swung open and the whole room lit up. Even before she stepped fully through the door he was rising from his chair, his every fibre drawn to her. Her brilliant smile banished all shadow from the chamber – and his heart.
“Is there aught you need?” She stood before him and he drowned in her beauty, only to be buoyed by her love. He adored her.
Their embrace was fervent, necessary, their kiss urgent. Straining for every part of her, he turned her around and nudged her towards the door. She laughed but went freely as he guided her into the hall. The door slammed shut behind them.
Darcy jolted upright and blinked. His book lay sprawled open on the floor of the darkened and empty room. He gripped the arms of his chair and closed his eyes once more, but his mind, too, was now starkly barren. He pushed himself to his feet, walked into the hall and pulled the door firmly closed behind him. With no need of a candle to find his way, he moved as a shadow through the house to his bed. He closed his eyes. Sleep would come eventually, he knew. These things had a sort of inevitability about them.
The bed was chilled; he pulled the quilts more tightly about him. They came willingly, no longer quilts, no longer chilled. Warm arms and legs wrapped around him, enveloping him in smooth, soft heat.
He exhaled, his whole being relaxing in her arms. They loved each other: reverently, adoringly, passionately. Then they held each other – tenderly, as though each held the other’s heart. In Elizabeth’s hands, his beat once more.
Thursday, 25 June 1812: Hertfordshire
He tipped the remainder of the drink down his throat, poured another, splashing liquor everywhere, quaffed half of that and returned to staring at the sheet of paper in his hand. The blue and orange crayon sketch blurred before his eyes. His head fell back and the room swan out of focus.
“Wrenshaw, allow me to introduce Miss Elizabeth Bennet. Miss Bennet, this is my good friend, Mr Wrenshaw.”
“Delighted to make your acquaintance, Miss Bennet. And pray tell, Bingley, what is your connexion to this delightful young lady?”
Bingley’s smile stretched wide across his face and his heart leapt with the thrill of being able to give so gratifying an answer. “She is my betrothed.”
Elizabeth’s joyful countenance mirrored his own elation as they turned to walk into the crowds, arm in arm. Her grip tightened and she patted his arm several times, then shook it and asked him, “Are you well?”
His arm was shaken again.
“Mr Bingley? Mr Bingley, are ya dead?”
His eyes flew open, and they were greeted by the same sight as that upon which they had closed. “Lizzy!”
“Amelia, Sir,” Elizabeth replied, which was confusing to say the least.
He sat up and shook his head—and immediately regretted it. “What are you doing here?”
“Cleaning? What? Oh!” Blast it, the maid!
“Begging your pardon, Mr Bingley, Sir. I wouldn’t ‘ave woken you, only, I thought you’d taken ill. I think you must’ve been ‘ere all night.”
“Not at all, Liz–Eliz–Emil–“
“Quite.” He ran a hand through his hair, mortified. “It is very good of you to be concerned.”
The maid blushed and bit her lip prettily. “‘Tis very good o’ you not to be any with me, sir.” She curtsied but them seemed to hesitate, regarding him with eyes that felt too familiar for comfort.
“Thank you,” he mumbled then dismissed her before confusion and his pounding head overwhelmed him. The moment the study door closed behind her, his forehead hit the desk. Elizabeth’s crayon eyes stared up at him, one blue eyebrow quirked as though waiting for him to explain himself. He could not and, instead, surrendered once more to oblivion.