What better way to start the year that to focus on one of Jane Austen’s most beloved characters? Join Austen Variations as we spend January looking into the lovely Jane Bennet.
I had a bit of inspiration for this at dinner a few weeks ago. It’s just a bit of fun at Jane and Bingley’s expense, but I hope it makes you laugh. I know I giggled writing it!
As he raised his hand to knock, Charlie’s eyes roved up to the carved and painted shackles adorning a flat stone placard overhead and the small plaque by the door that read “gaolhouse.” When Jane mentioned she lived in the old jailhouse, it had been a joke, hadn’t it? Well, he assumed she was having a bit of fun, yet here he was.
He shook his head. He was being ridiculous. People lived in all sorts of places in England—renovated barns, old churches, and apparently, even jails.
He shook off his initial shock and bounced on his toes, gripping the bottle of wine clasped in one hand and the lilies he held in the other. He’d met Jane Bennet at the leisure centre a few weeks ago. She’d been leaving the spin class when he bumped into her on the way to the weight room, but his clumsiness prompted a conversation, then coffee, then dinner, and so on.
Most of his friends liked to joke about the obligatory third date, yet Jane was different—he didn’t want to rush things; however, it was now three weeks and she’d invited him to dinner at her house. Oh yeah, no doubt about it! He gave an extra bounce on his toes. He was going to get lucky tonight!
The door flew open, making him start, but Jane’s angelic face calmed his nerves. “Charlie! I’m so glad you could make it!”
Her wide smile accented her delicate features as he handed her the flowers. Why was he always speechless in her presence? When he didn’t say anything, she giggled and pulled him inside, closing the door behind him.
Fine, golden-blonde hair brushed her shoulders as she sashayed past an antique jailhouse door. He did a double take. A jailhouse door? He halted in his tracks and stared where a small trap door, built into the middle, once served to pass food or possibly other items.
His eyes shot up to where she stood a few feet away. “Oh! Isn’t it great! It’s from the original prison. Look!” With an ease that showed her experience, she pulled the pins turned whatever knobs required to open the panel and closed it again.
She took the bottle of wine and gestured towards a passage with her head. “Let’s open this while I finish dinner. I hope you like stew.”
“I do.” He cleared his throat. “I like it very much.” His eyes glanced back to the knobby panel then wandered around the welcoming living room as he followed. Glass shelves were encased within square columns and a niche with bookshelves fit under the stairs, containing an enormous collection of books. Jane must be quite the reader.
They stepped through a short doorway into the kitchen, and he paused. With a lift of his chin, he traced the two windows on the opposite wall up towards the high ceiling, but his eyes came to a sudden stop on a black metal object hanging on the wall.
The sound of a slight pop prompted him to look in her direction. She poured a glass of wine, and held it out for him. Once he’d taken it, she took a sip from her own glass. Her eyes popped wider. “Would you like a tour?”
His eyes darted back to the metal restraints bolted to the plaster. Suck it up, Bingley! She’s not a freak! She’s sweet Jane. Docile Jane. The girl you’ve been fantasizing over for the last few weeks!
“Yes,” he blurted. “I’d love one.” Her soft hand took his and led him into the dining room, which had a large brick fireplace on one wall and a window on the other.
“Do you live here alone?” Good question! Small talk would be excellent right now—something to lighten the mood.
“I share the place with my sister, Lizzy.” She smiled as she bit her bottom lip. “But Lizzy is in London for the next two days for work.”
He took a large swig of wine as the blood began to course through his veins. They were alone, and would be all night long!
She pointed to the brickwork, calling his attention back to her. “This was originally outside, but we enclosed it to make it a part of the house.”
The antique brick of that wall gave the room a sophisticated old world meets new feel. “Does the fire work?”
“Unfortunately, no, but I want to put candles in the grate. I think it would look pretty.”
A simple wood table sat in the middle of the room with a wood bowl centred upon the top. The light fixture…
“Jane, is that barbed wire?” His voice cracked, and he coughed.
She nodded. “It is. Lizzy has an artist friend who made it for us. Isn’t it lovely.”
With a tug, she turned him back towards the kitchen. He happened to peer up. Dear Lord! A ball and chain hung over the passage between the dining room and the kitchen! His foot caught something, so he looked down to a glass panel in the floor. “What is that?”
“Oh! That was a passage where people could throw money or food down to the dungeon for the prisoners.”
His mouth went dry. Prisoners? She was so upbeat when she spoke of this, as if nothing were strange about it in the slightest.
She turned and gave him a quick kiss to the lips. “Just wait until I show you the dungeon. I think you’ll love it best of all.”
He swallowed a lump in his throat. She wanted to take him to the dungeon? What kind of woman was he dating? It wasn’t a red room like in that book was it? Oh God! Could sweet, feminine Jane be a dominatrix? His palms began to sweat and his heartbeat thundered in his ears. He liked to experiment in the bedroom, but pain was out of the question! His butt cheeks clenched.
His eyes roved the edges of the glass in the floor. Was there a handle? Would she lock him down there and use the panel as a trap door to throw him food?
“Charlie?” His attention snapped back to her. “Perhaps we should eat. You’re behaving a bit spacey.”
“I need the bathroom?”
Her brow furrowed. “Off the laundry room behind you.”
He hurried back through the dining room as she began dishing stew into bowls. Walk, Charlie, walk!
“By the way, the artwork in there was not my idea! Lizzy thought it was a riot to have articles and advertising for Thomas Crapper in the toilet!”
Once the door was shut behind him, he leaned against it. Thomas Crapper artwork? That was the least of his problems!
Where had he gone wrong? Perhaps he should run for it. With a groan, he rubbed his face. The problem was he really liked Jane, but what if she was some sort of deviant. He shuddered. He’d stick it out. They’d have dinner, and he would discover for certain whether she was into anything out of the ordinary.
His trembling hand took out his mobile; he pressed one of the last numbers called.
“I thought you had a date.”
He turned and faced the wall. Maybe she wouldn’t hear him if he whispered! “Darcy! Thank God! You have to help me!”
“Charlie, you’ve had sex before. Don’t tell me you need me to remind you how…”
“Just shut your gob and listen. I arrived at Jane’s tonight to find she lives in an old gaol, complete with shackles and a ball and chain hanging on the wall!”
“And the barbed wire!”
A strangled, strange noise came from the Darcy. “What was that?”
Darcy snorted, and Charlie gasped. “You’re laughing at me!”
“No, I promise…”
Charlie didn’t hear the rest because he hit the end button. He wiped the sweat from his brow and scanned the small room. There was a window! His shoulders dropped. He was a coward, but not that much of a coward.
He had to end the evening. Jane couldn’t be led to believe that he would accept being treated in such a way. An image of a black leather-clad Jane appeared before his eyes. Maybe…
No! No pain! He would not be whipped, gagged, bound or whatever she had planned. He was leaving!
With a heavy heart, he stepped back into the dining room. He was going home. A knot formed in his gut as he watched her work before the stove. How was he supposed to know that underneath that innocent peaches and cream complexion and floral attire hid a BDSM sex queen? She hid it so well. Who could’ve guessed?
“I’m sorry, but I need to go.”
Jane whipped around from the stove, and a line formed between her eyebrows. “Are you ill?”
He cleared his throat. “I just feel rather poorly all of a sudden.”
“I wish you didn’t have to leave?” Her hand reached up and fiddled with the collar of her form-fitting, V-neck top, prompting his eyes to trace down her figure to her knee-length flowered skirt and bare legs. He didn’t want to leave, but then he did. Perhaps being her toy wouldn’t be so bad? No, pain was not an option! After all, he had sensitive skin.
He had to get out of here!
She grabbed his hand. “At least let me show you the dungeon first.” Her fingers wrapped his in a tight grip as she led him through the house and descended a black metal spiral staircase. As they made their way down, the air became that musty dusty smell found in really old structures and it became colder.
He was going to die! Why didn’t he pry his hand from her and run screaming for the front door? There was a pub down the road—surely someone would hear his cries for help.
When he stepped foot on the solid stone floor, he took a deep breath, glanced around and frowned. This was no sex torture chamber! Stark white walls contrasted against the original wooden beams in the ceiling. A wooden wine rack was built into one part of the wall and held two bottles cork down in their slots.
“Those are where the original shackles were attached to the floor in here and a chain would’ve hooked them to the irons on the prisoner. There is also one in that room. She pointed behind her. Lizzy and I found them when we dug out the basement.”
Once he’d examined the entire chamber, he walked back to where they entered. Sure enough, there was another glass box with an ancient looking metal chain attached to the floor.
He stood stock-still and looked about him. “This is the dungeon?”
Jane crossed her arms over her chest. “Charlie, what is wrong with you tonight?”
“You are behaving such a strange manner. I…”
“You live in an old jail.” His tone was rather accusatory and her eyebrows rose on her forehead.
“I went to uni for history. What subject do I teach, Charlie?”
He shrugged. “History.”
“This building dates back to the twelfth century and has original irons, gaol door, and brickwork that was added over time. All of this is historical. There was even a famous prisoner here once. I can show you the book about him upstairs.”
He was an idiot! Charlie squirmed and began kicking his toe against the ground in front of him. He would have to confess it all. She would be upset. No, she would be livid.
“It was just the shackles and the ball and chain hanging from the wall upstairs, and the barbed wire… and you have a dungeon.”
Sweet, demure Jane’s eyebrows drew together for a moment before her eyes bulged, and she dissolved into gales of laughter. “You thought I had a torture room?” An unladylike snort escaped her nose.
“I’m a complete prat!”
Once again she took his hand and led him up the spiral staircase and then the stairs in the parlour to the first floor. When they entered a feminine and frilly bedroom, Jane turned, put two hands on his chest, and backed him up until his calves hit the edge of the bed frame. A gentle push was all she required to put him flat on his back upon the mattress.
She climbed astride his hips and pushed his hands over his head, pinning them in place. “I’m not into whips or bondage. If I’m in a take charge sort of mood, this is what you can expect.”
He cleared his throat as his heart pounded against his ribs and his trousers became tight. “I have no objections.”
A wide grin adorned her face as she leaned down to press a kiss to his lips. Her hands moved to his chest, and his fingers found the velvet flesh of her thigh, itching to trace his way to the swell of her hip. Jane placed a suckling kiss just under his ear, and he groaned. Dinner could wait!
A few hours passed before they ate the stew Jane had prepared, which was rather dry from sitting on the hob for so long, but Charlie would swear until his last breath that it was the best stew he’d ever eaten. Breakfast the next morning was even better.
I’d like to thank Julia for the tour of her awesome house and permission to take pictures and use them for this post. It’s so much better with the images! Thank you!
Don’t forget to chastise Bingley for being a drama queen in the comments below!