Word of the day: Nightmare

As a writer I’m very interested in the interplay between characters’ daytime reality and their dreams — specifically what they might reveal about their deepest thoughts and emotions. A nightmare can be an especially vivid clue. Graphic: "nightmare" and its definition, via Merriam-WebsterHere’s an example from You May Kiss the Bride. It takes place during a dark moment in the story when my heroine, Livia Stuart, is becoming increasingly conflicted about her betrothal to Gabriel Penhallow. She’s also had an unpleasant dinner-party encounter with a so-called gentleman named Sir Edward Brinkley. (But don’t worry! All will be well!)

In her dream Livia put a foot forward and saw on it an extraordinary slipper made of transparent crystal. It fit her perfectly in a way she did not question in the least. Curious, she pulled back her heavy, jewel-encrusted gown to see what was on her other foot, and was horrified to see that it was bare.

All at once she felt a dreadful slithering sensation around her ankles. Something cold and clammy, and infinitely disgusting, was there, and frantically Livia clawed at the heavy folds of silk and damask, the sapphires and emeralds and diamonds glowing and sparkling and nearly blinding her. At last she pulled up her gown, wretchedly aware that everyone in the church could see what she was doing, and despising her for being such a disgrace, and then she realized that a snake—its coils as big around as her own wrist—was twisting around her feet, and it had tiny beady blue eyes and, horribly, a red human mouth, and it said, very distinctly, in the smooth, patronizing voice of Sir Edward Brinkley:

“And now I’m going to kiss the bride.”

Frozen like a little creature of prey, unable to move, Livia screamed.

And woke up, gasping, in the familiar dark quiet of her luxurious room in Upper Camden Place.

This snippet takes place in Chapter 9, but if you like, you can read all of Chapter 1 here.

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