I do enjoy writing villains. I got a fan email yesterday. (Yes; I know. So exciting.) The writer said: “I loved everything except the super vile Lady Norton!!!!… I loved hating her and her brother!” I loved writing her. And I loved creating the villains in Farewell to Kindness, especially the super creepy Baron Carrington, who — as one beta reader said — was so bad that she felt sorry for his nasty, horrible wife.
Now I’m into the second novel, and the villains are just crawling out of my keyboard. What does this say about me? I’m consoling myself with the thought that the darkness is better out than in!
Here’s the scene I wrote on the train this morning, where my heroine has a close encounter of the nasty kind with one of a gang of five so-called gentleman. (Prue is working undercover as housekeeper in the house of a courtesan. Her assailant is a hussar.)
Prue, deciding that discretion was the better part of valour, retreated up the stairs. As she passed the first floor and continued upwards, she heard someone bounding up behind her, and on the next landing, the soldier grabbed her by the waist, spun her around, and shoved her firmly against the wall, trapping her with his body.
Before she could react, he had ripped at her neckline, popping buttons and exposing her corset and the curve of her breasts.
“Well, well,” he said. “You are a delicious little thing, aren’t you?”
Prue managed to keep her voice calm and level. “If you’ll wait downstairs with your friends, Sir, I will let Lord Jonathan know you are here.”
“Oh, let the others wait. I’ve an appetite, and you’ll do to satisfy it.” He was pulling her skirts up as he spoke, and the hard shape pressing into her belly left no doubt about his intentions. “You’ll do very nicely.”
“No, thank you, Sir,” Prue said. “That is not part of my duties.”
“Don’t think about it as duty, little darling. Think about it as pleasure,” then, as she tried to twist sideways to escape him, “No, no, no. Naughty. Keep still or I’ll have to hurt you.”
“Let me go, Sir, or I’ll scream.”
“You think the whore will care? I’ve had her maids before. She growls a bit, but what’s she going to do? Serves her right for teasing us all and only diddling Selby. And that bumptious squirt Gren. She brings it on herself. Now keep still.”
Prue had been keeping her hands flat against the wall, not wanting him to immobilise them. Now she stilled her body as commanded, but let one hand creep carefully towards the cap that covered her hair.
She would need to be quick. He had her skirts bunched almost to the top of her thigh and was fumbling at his pants buttons with his other hand. If he noticed what she was doing… no, he was looking down, focused on the mounds he had exposed..
There. She found the long hat pin, a sharp pointed skewer made to her own specifications for occasions such as this. In one movement, she swept it out of her hair and in an arc, flipping it in her hand on the way, jabbed it point first into his buttocks.
With an eldritch shriek, he let go of her, and she twisted under his arms and retreated up the next flight of stairs, facing him from that vantage point, her weapon at the ready.
“You bitch! You stabbed me!” he shouted.
The weapon he had intended to use on her, disclosed by the unbuttoned flap of his pants, had not yet been discouraged by the sudden attack. She gestured at it with her hat pin.
“One step closer, and this goes into that.”