"I'm tired today, babe," he said, barely looking up. "If you want to make out a little, I'd be up for it."
Make out. That was Jeff's code for "I'll grab your boobs and kiss you a little, but it will end with you lying, unsatisfied, on the bed next to my prone form."
"Oh, maybe tomorrow, then?" I suggested. One less chore before bed for me. . .Ten minutes later I had reappeared in my old pajama pants and a tee shirt.
"Pride & Prejudice, it is, then," I mused, flipping through my well-worn DVD collection. After debating between the bohemian Kyra Knightly version and the classic BBC, boho won out. Though I prefer Colin Firth's Darcy, I just love the Jane & Bingley combination in the 2005 version--Jane so sweet and beautiful; Bingley so awkwardly in love.
An hour and a half in, Mr Darcy and Mr Bingley were sitting awkwardly on the settee in the Bennett home, I was falling asleep on the couch, and Jeff was snoring on the La-Z-boy rocker. I pulled myself up from the couch, yawning, stumbled into the bathroom, brushed my teeth, and collapsed into bed.
The sun was streaming in the window when I awakened the next morning. I stretched, my eyes still closed. My head ached slightly, and my pillow felt lumpy. Bringing my fingers up to my scalp to scratch my head, I felt an odd, fabric-covered lump in my hair. I drew my other hand up, only to discover that my entire head seemed to be covered with knobby bundles of fabric and hair. I threw my feet out from under the covers and sat up.
Only then did I realize, I was not in my monochromatic tan bedroom. Instead of the utilitarian burnished brown wood headboard of the bed Jeff and I had bought with our first joint tax refund, there was an ornate cherrywood four poster, with a fluffy feather bed covering my legs. A pitcher and wide porcelain bowl sat on a high dresser, along with a mirror. Gilt-framed paintings adorned the walls. A feather-trimmed bonnet was hung haphazardly on the back of a chair at the dressing table. And out from the closet peeked a white lawn dress.
I closed my eyes and opened them again, expecting the apparitions to disappear. Nope, still there.
I stumbled over to the mirror and looked at my reflection. But it was NOT my reflection. There, in the mirror, a sweet face stared back at me, her face ringed with blonde hair in rag curls. I opened my eyes wider. So did she, her blue eyes lovely and bright. I stuck my tongue out, only to see her pink tongue peek out between her ruby lips. I bared my teeth and growled. So did she. And when I let out an ear-piercing scream, so did she. Seconds later I heard the murmur of concerned voices and pattering bare feet approaching my door.
"Whatever is the matter?"
"You woke me up!"
"My poor nerves!"
Suddenly I was surrounded by semi-familiar faces. There was Lizzy, brunette, a little plain; Mary, bespectacled and morose; Kitty, nervous and fidgety; and Mrs. Bennett--frumpy and talkative. Only missing was Lydia, buxom and pink-cheeked. Had she already run off with Mr. Wickham? I wondered.
"Just a bad dream," I responded, thinking, If so, this dream is extremely realistic.
But then, Kitty happened to look out the window, and shrieked. "There is a man on horseback coming up the drive, Mama," she said.
The other girls rushed over to the window, and I followed after them, catching a glimpse of an erect figure in coat and top hat.
"We're not dressed!" exclaimed Mary. I looked down at myself—a white frill-trimmed nightgown was gathered right below my perky breasts.
My mind was reeling. Obviously, I'd watched the movie too close to bedtime. That, in combination with my sexual deprivation, was creating this extremely realistic dream sequence. But if it was a dream, why were these darn pincurls giving me a headache? And why did I feel very much awake?
“Hill! Hill!” Mrs. Bennett—suppose I should get used to calling her Mama--called out shrilly for the maid.
The maid appeared quickly, looking a little rattled and wary. Must have PTSD from working for Mrs. Bennett, I mused.
“Get Miss Jane dressed! Quickly!” Mama said, gathering up her skirts. “Girls, hop to! Get yourselves dressed and down to the parlor to amuse Mr. Bingley while he awaits Jane.”
Kitty and Mary exchanged confused looks, then left the room ahead of Mama, who followed after in a flurry. “Mis-tah Bennett!” In a high pitched voice she called out loudly as she headed down the hall.
Lizzy winked at me, and then left the room, as Hill stripped off my nightgown and threw a chemise over my head, grabbing a white boned corset from the dresser, and rapidly lacing it around my rib cage.
Here we go, I thought, desperately grabbing the post of the bed with my back to Hill as she started cinching the corset around my waist.
As I blew out my breath each time the corset inched tighter and tighter, I had plenty of time for thought. What day was this? With only one rider approaching down the drive, it became apparent that it was the morning Mr. Bingley was to propose.
As Hill buttoned the final button, I took one last look at my precious self in the mirror, squared my shoulders, and headed downstairs.
Mr. Bingley was adorably awkward, hemming and hawing and pacing back and forth. Finally, I tired of his insecurity. It's a wonder that people ever got married in the Regency era! I sighed, got up from the couch, and walked over to the fireplace, where he stood uncomfortably with his hand on the mantelpiece, apparently not quite knowing what to do with the other hand. I provided him a purpose by taking that hand in both of my own.
“Mr. Bingley,” I said kindly, attempting to at least maintain Jane’s look of fresh-faced innocence as I met his gaze directly. “You seem so uncomfortable. May I set your mind at ease?”
There was a question in his eyes that I answered without prompting. “I have such regard for you. You are a kind and honorable and handsome man. If I have left you questioning my feelings toward you, I am sorry. Female modesty has required that I express less than I feel. But it has made you so unsure of me, and I grieve that.”
The look that spread over Bingley’s face was satisfying. His chin rose, his eyes sparkled; the wrinkle between his eyebrows cleared. He took a deep breath, and his shoulders spread, no longer hunched in concern.
“Oh, Miss Bennett,” he said gratefully. He drew me over to the couch, sat next to me, and added his left hand to our three appendages already clutching each other tightly.
“Jane, please,” I requested.
“Well, then,” he said, “Please call me Charles.”
Charles. How had I not known Mr. Bingley’s first name? I wondered. Was he such a flat character in Jane Austen’s world that it wasn’t mentioned enough?
“Thank you, Charles,” I said, gazing up at him with my innocent blue eyes.
He looked so sweetly relieved at my sudden openness and our increased intimacy that I extricated my right hand, placed it on the side of his freshly-shaven face, and kissed him on the lips.
“Oh, Jane,” he said, surprised.
There was something about being in a fantastically petite body that just made me feel magnanimous; I wanted to share it. I hitched up my skirts, mounted him on the couch, and attacked him with a round of feverish kissing. “Oh, Charles,” I whispered heatedly.
“Oh, Jane!” he exclaimed in astonishment. His hands were held awkwardly at his sides, as if he didn’t know what to do with them. He definitely didn't know what to do with me. Realizing this was a bit much for him, I demurely stood up, and letting my skirts fall back to the floor, sat down next to him, placed my hands in my lap, and fluttered my eyelashes at him innocently.
“But Charles, is that not what people who are in love do?” I asked him. I had rendered him wordless, but I could see from the front of his breeches that the vigorous kissing had definitely made an impact.
I took a deep breath myself. The sexual desert of my recent life had created a rapid response to the kissing as well. I felt a little pressure in my lower abdomen, and I could hear my heart thudding in my ears.
Mr. Bingley finally shook himself back to alertness, and in a swift motion got down in front of me on one knee.
“Miss Bennett. . . I mean, Jane,” he reached for my hand and took it in both of his.
“Would you do me the honor of becoming my wife?” he said.
“Of course I will, Charles,” I said enthusiastically. Poor guy—he deserved a girl who made it clear for him. He was such a sweet ditz.
Charles stayed on his knee a few moments longer. He bent down over my hand and touched it gently with his lips.
“May we embrace?” I asked, as he straightened. He nodded, wordlessly. I grasped his hand and pulled his body toward me until he was kneeling between my legs. I wrapped my arms tightly around him and covered his mouth with mine. His first response was a sweet and closed mouth kiss. When I licked his lips with my tongue, I heard an audible gasp.
“Jane,” he said, grabbing my upper arms and pushing me away. “Jane! I must insist!”
I released him from my grasp and sat back against the cushions.
Mr. Bingley narrowed his eyes at me from where he sat all the way at the other end of the couch. A mixture of terror, confusion, and indignant anger played about his facial expressions.
“I’m afraid that I must ask you a question,” he said seriously. “Are you a maid, Jane?” he asked.
Now that’s an interesting question, I thought. I may not be, but Jane certainly is.
“Of course!” I exclaimed, indignantly. “What kind of girl do you take me for? I’m not a wanton like Lydia! But I have longed for you for months now and you’re finally here! And we are to be married. Do you wish me to be dishonest now? To show less than what I feel? Are you hoping for a celibate marriage?”
Charles blushed. “No, but I might expect that we would keep these activities for our marriage bed and not your father’s parlor!! With your mother and sisters outside the door,” Mr. Bingley was such an obliging person in the books and movies that I’d never seen him upset like this. He forcefully inclined his head towards the entrance to the parlor.
I listened, and sure enough I heard faint scratches and rustling through the thin wood. I blushed, looking at Charles’s reddened face.
“I’m sorry!” I mouthed. I got up, grabbed his hand, and took him to stand by the fireplace, knowing that at any moment my sisters would come bursting through the door.
By the time they did, we were chastely standing facing each other, ready to receive their jubilant congratulations. At a few different times, I met Charles’ eyes over the jabbering girls (and mother) between us, and saw a mixture of love, desire, and utter confusion on his face. Poor boy, I thought.
He didn’t remain at our home long after he had received the congratulations, and I watched his erect back travel away, wondering when I would see him next.
Dinner was a strange affair of weird savory gelatin desserts along with overcooked vegetables, bland soup, and huge cuts of meat. I did enjoy the variety of wines offered with each course, and found myself falling into bed that night, rag curlers back pulling the hairs on my scalp, having spent the last 30 minutes of my evening being tortured by Hill.
I approached the bed with a sense of curiousity. Would this be like Groundhog Day? Would I be waking up here again tomorrow, ready to experience more of my confused little Mr. Bingley? I didn’t know how much more of this proper time period I could handle. I tossed and turned for a time, and then drifted into oblivion.
When I woke up, there was a familiar snore in the bed next to me. “Home again,” I thought. I reached over to Jeff in the darkness, wrapping my arm over his side. I accidentally brushed the front of his boxers, and I could feel the results of his nighttime testosterone rush. As I stroked him with my warm hand, he stirred.
“Mmmmmm,” he groaned, turning towards me, nuzzling my neck. After a little while, he found the hem of my tee shirt and his hand traveled upwards. I was so unsatisfied from my interaction with Mr. Bingley that I responded quickly, kicking off my panties and pajama pants and pulling off the tee so he could have easier access.
He was responding, but still slow to react after being awakened from deep sleep, so after helpfully removing his underwear, I climbed up on top of him.
“Babe,” he murmured. “You’re so sexy.” He grabbed my breasts with his hands, licking my nipples as they came within proximity. Thoroughly aroused, I helped him enter my slippery warmth, and we joined in feverish thrusting until both of us had uttered cries of satiation. Then I climbed off and curled underneath his arm.
Thanks for the foreplay, Charles, I mused gratefully, before sleep overtook me and I drifted into oblivion.