The Convenient Marriage
by Georgette Heyer
She tried to dodge away from him, but he caught her, and pulled her roughly into his arms. There was a wild struggle; she got one hand free and dealt him a ringing slap; then he had both her arms clamped to her sides, and kissed her suffocatingly. She managed to jerk away, and brought one sharp heel down on his instep. She felt him flinch, and twisted herself free, hearing the lace at her corsage rip in his clutching fingers. The next moment the table was between them, and Lethbridge was nursing his bruised foot and laughing. "Gad, you little spitfire!" he said. "I never dreamed you would show such spirit! Damme, I believe I shan't let you go back to that dull husband of yours after all. Oh, don't scowl so, sweetheart, I'm not going to chase you round the room. Sit down."
She was by now really frightened, for it seemed to her as though he must be out of his senses. She kept a wary eye on his movements, and decided that the only thing to do was to pretend to humour him. Trying to speak quite steadily, she said: "If you sit down, so will I."
"Behold me!" Lethbridge replied, flinging himself into a chair.
Horatia nodded, and followed his example. "P-please try and be sensible, my l-lord," she requested. "It isn't the least use telling me that you are fallen in l-love with me, because I d-don't believe it. Why did you bring me here?"
"To steal your virtue," he answered flippantly. "You see, I am quite frank with you."
"W-well, I can be frank too," retorted Horatia, her eyes gleaming. "And if you think you are g-going to ravish m-me, you quite mistake the m-matter! I'm much nearer the door than you are."
"True, but it is locked, and the key" - he patted his pocket - "is here!"
"Oh!" said Horatia. "So you don't even play f-fair!"
"Not in love," he replied.
"I wish," said Horatia forcefully, "you
would stop talking about l-love. It makes me feel sick."