Halloween is always a great time for a good and bloody vampire book, and what could be more delicious than a vampire Mr. Darcy? I do hope you enjoy these excerpts!
With the release of Book II of The Confession of Mr. Darcy, Vampire ~ Dearest Bloodiest Elizabeth, one might ask how the sequel evolves from Book 1, Pulse and Prejudice. On its most basic level, as Book 1 is a complete adaptation of Pride and Prejudice but from Darcy’s point of view as if Miss Austen had always conceived his character as a vampire; with Dearest Bloodiest Elizabeth, I was not constrained by the source material. I did, however, ensure that everyone remained true to character, even with changing circumstances and in the face of new challenges; and I maintained the writing style of Miss Austen.
Yet this is not Austen: It is darker, bloodier, and more sensual than Pulse and Prejudice. Although Elizabeth’s character develops in her new role as Mrs. Darcy, mistress of Pemberley, and wife of vampire; Mr. Darcy evolves more dramatically as he comes into his own, acceding to what he had previously considered a curse even whilst lingering doubts of his wife’s acceptance of his dark nature continue to haunt him. We can see him evolving as a vampire throughout the novel. For example, here is a scene from early in Pulse and Prejudice, which corresponds to canon during Jane and Elizabeth’s tenure at Netherfield when she and Mr. Darcy “were at one time left by themselves for half-an-hour, he adhered most conscientiously to his book, and would not even look at her.” It unfolds with a slight difference with vampire Darcy:
Elizabeth could not help but be diverted by her companion’s silence, as he had been relatively talkative during the last few evenings. In her distraction, she inadvertently scraped the point of her needle across the tip of the middle finger of her left hand.
She cried out mildly and raised her hand to examine the cut. Startling her, Darcy immediately stood before her, gripping her hand in his. “Miss Bennet, you are hurt!” he exclaimed.
Amused by his sudden and dramatic concern, she laughingly said, “It is merely a flesh wound, I assure you, Mr. Darcy. Pray do not concern yourself.” Her amusement gave way to distress, however, as his attention remained focused on the dark, red blood that emerged from the shallow cut. “Mr. Darcy!” Elizabeth cried, attempting to wrench her hand from his grasp. “Mr. Darcy! Release my hand!”
Darcy peered into her wide, dark eyes, which showed more surprise than horror. Holding them in his stare, he crouched beside her. Her hand captive in his left, he pressed lightly on her temple with the fingertips of his right while penetrating her with his gaze until she relaxed against the back of her chair, her eyes at half-mast. He traced gentle fingers down her cheek and across her jaw then took her hand in both of his and brought it to his mouth.
She was correct; the cut was not deep, but what little blood touched his tongue caused him to tremble in delight and desire. The few drops from her, so deliciously warm and sweet, only increased his hunger. He held his hand upon her neck and felt her pulse until it echoed in his head. He could have her, here and now, he thought. The hand on her neck slid to her nape, baring her throat enticingly to him. He lowered his face to her—the aroma of blood coursing below her skin prickled his senses, and the hairs on the back of his neck stood on end.
“Elizabeth,” he whispered. He closed his eyes and pressed his mouth against her pulse, its rhythm beating upon his lips. He remained thus, embracing her warmth, desperate for more, until he could muster the strength to pull away from her. He had to believe there existed enough of Darcy the man to prevent him from such a despicable act. He stood and caressed her cheek before allowing himself a final kiss upon her forehead.
Darcy returned to his seat and turned his attention to his book. In a moment, Elizabeth stirred and realized she must have dozed off. She glanced at Darcy, but he had not seemed to notice. She smiled as she thought how they had managed to spend half an hour alone together without even speaking.
Now compare that scene from Book 1 with the undercurrent of Mr. Darcy’s self-loathing, to his confrontation with the dwarf dhampir who reappears in Book II ~ Dearest Bloodiest Elizabeth:
The dwarf withdrew a cheroot from his inside pocket and leaned forward to light it from the lamp on the desk. “Aye know…what you are,” he said in that peculiar accent Darcy recalled from their prior meeting. “You are a wolf and… apostle of Satan. Dooh you… know what Aye am?”
Darcy’s jaw clenched as the dwarf puffed on the cheroot and wisps of smoke circled above him. “You are dhampir.” The dwarf tilted his head in assent. “Are you here to expose me?” Darcy asked with less emotion than he felt.
The dwarf studied the end of his cheroot a long moment. “Aye had my eye on you, your man,” he said with a gesture and a glance to the ceiling, “and thought no. You do no harm. But then, in Derbyshire. That waas you…no?”
Darcy stood then and walked to the window, glaring out in earnest meditation. “How did you know?”
“That is…my duty. My genius.”
“They were the villains, not I. ”
“There are bad men. The devil…he is not only in vampire.”
Darcy cringed at the last word. “The devil? If it is he who gave me the power to protect my wife, then he is welcome. Were I not vampire, I am sickened by the thought of being helpless to protect her. No; I will not repent what I have done, and never again will I regret what I am.”
“The old dragon from the abyss of hell…stands before me.”
In Book II, Elizabeth herself holds her own when confronted with the Lutheran dhampir, who is demanding that Darcy find Wickham in New Orleans:
“Aye tell the man you call husband it is his duty to find Weekhaum. He must go.”
“To New Orleans?”
With a nod, he said, “He says he weel not go. He says he weel not leave you. That is why I come to you.”
“I do not wish my husband to leave. Neither do I desire Wickham’s return. He mistreated my sister. What am I to do on the occasion? It seems an hopeless business.”
“You know…you must leave heem. Go home, Miss Bennet. Go to your father.”
“You mean Mrs. Darcy.” Her temper pricked, her words came out in clipped syllables. “Pray, why would I leave my husband?”
“This man you call husband…is damned. He is the white devil…a glittering Satan.”
“I think you received these ideas in your pipe dreams. My husband does not glitter!”
“Vampire is against the weel of God. To live without life, to crave blood…this is eevel. Perverted tastes. This is from Satan. In all he does, he is the very opposite of Christ… as befits a true Antichrist.”
She ground her teeth and clenched her fists, disturbed by how much this strange man knew of her husband and what he purported to know. She refused to be intimidated, and her stubborn courage rose.
“Did Colonel Fitzwilliam send you? Do you mean to frighten me?”
He studied her with his squinty eyes, his lips receding into a firm frown. “No. In lying fashion, you ignore…what even children know. Aye see your life is too brief to have worth. Aye come to save the innocent—Weekhaum’s prey.”
She released a humourless laugh. “You are one of those deceitful people who affect modesty but who meanwhile breathes out threats and blood. My life has no worth?”
“So long as you….remain weeth heem, you walk a razor’s edge with death; but I seee you are under his power.”
“As is any woman under the power and control of her husband. If you suppose anything more, you quite mistake the matter.”
“The vampire…he has powers of attraction.”
“Oh, indeed! For what else would a rich, intelligent, handsome man have to recommend him?” She stood and strode towards the door. “Say what you must and go, though you do nothing with all your profusion of words but fight a fire with dry straw. I will not leave my husband.”
He jumped down from the chair and followed her. “He is not your husband. Think! Think of your vows. Death do you part. So long as you both shall live. He does not live! He made a hollow vow.”
Near the door, she swerved around and stared down at the man and spoke with venom. “You do nothing but shout, ‘Anathema, anathema, anathema!’ so that by your own voice you are judged mad.” She shook her head and coughed out a laugh. “You say he is not a husband; I am not his wife. Then pray, what am I?”
“You are the prostitute of heretics! Lucifer’s leman!” He fixed his eyes upon her with derision. “You are the devil’s concubine.”
At his confident pronouncement, her blood turned to ice then began to boil. “You, sir, have insulted me in every way imaginable—and unimaginable!” She jerked the door open and stormed out of the room. “Consider this your congé. Seward! Call for Rivens.”
“There is no need, madam. Aye bid you farewell.”
Again he offered her a deep bow and, upon straightening, said, “May the Lord protect me and all devout souls from your contagion and your company.”
As you may know from my post for Travels in August, the dhampir is successful in forcing the Darcys to go to New Orleans, and he continues to cause the newlyweds problems; but now Darcy begins to learn his true power as he evolves as a vampire.
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Dearest Bloodiest Elizabeth
Pulse and Prejudice