genre: historical romance
word count: 391
“I’m sorry,” is the very first thing the Viscount ever says to her.
It’s dark outside, candles sputtering against the plain limestone walls of the church, and the chaplain is inspecting their hastily acquired license with a profoundly irritating air of skepticism. Everything smells sour and earthy and just the slightest bit sharp; like sweat and hay and strong red wine. The high-pitched scurrying of the mice in the vestibule is louder than it should be, arguably—or maybe just louder than Georgina thinks it should be.
She’s learned, lately, that perception and reality are quite the bitter enemies.
“I don’t care what you are,” Georgina tells the Viscount, careful to keep her voice low and her expression neutral. Her dress is drab and blue and has apparently been constructed entirely out of the itchiest, tackiest wool that this ghastly, shadow-plagued corner of the Empire is capable of producing. This is not her wedding day. This cannot be her wedding day. “It doesn’t matter. You have my—” She bites back a sneer. “You have my cooperation.”
The Viscount drags a shaking hand through his hair. His fingernails are crusted a deep, rusty brown with dried blood. “We’ll have to tell my—people—everyone—that you got . . . that you’re with child, perhaps.” He sounds bemused by the prospect, and she wonders, idly, why he didn’t just kill her when he had the chance. Surely that would have been easier? Less complicated? Did he truly need a hostage this badly? “That there wasn’t time for an engagement. A proper one, I mean. They won’t . . . we don’t have to . . . that should suffice.”
Georgina grits her teeth and twists her hands into the folds of her ugly, stupid, boring skirt. “That will be a difficult lie to sell if we can’t produce a child,” she says coolly.
He actually flinches at that, which is—interesting. Georgina’s knowledge of the rebel aristocracy is spotty, at best, considering most of the gossip she’s overheard has come straight from the mouths of deserters and traitors and brandy smugglers. The Viscount is supposed to be the worst of all of them.
“Well,” he eventually drawls, shuttered gaze flicking from her eyes, to her lips, to the freckles on her nose, “we shall simply have to try very, very hard to produce one, then, won’t we?”