The Pink Hat,
( painting once the property of Greta Garbo.)
It's a fine and difficult line.
Between the modern awareness of sexual assault and the traditional model of the the alpha male.
Between demonstrating sexual allure and articulating the hero as a neanderthal. Or, to make it current, an asshole.
An intelligent heroine doesn't appreciate or respect a hero who acts like an asshole. And the time-worn excuses -- overwhelmed by her beauty/sexyness/ fit of temper/whatever -- just won't wash.
So, unless I produce and expand on convincing reasons for the hero's conduct that don't make him look like a total asshole, I may have to delete the following scene -- no matter how much I may like some of the lines.
My hand met and slid past his chest because he grabbed my arms and muscled me up against the side of my car. Surprised, I clutched at him. His hands shifted to grasp my head, his fingers sliding over my cheekbone to hold my face immobile.
"You warned me you were a danger to me, Leannan. I think this is what you meant," he said, and put his wicked mouth on my open one. And his wicked tongue. Instant lust. I wanted to wrap my legs around him, lock my ankles and pull him tighter. Public place, with people passing by, be damned indeed. I hated myself for that impulse. I hated him for my impulse.
So I bit him.
By itself it might not have been enough deterrent; but just then, behind him, someone hooted and snickered and someone else advised us to get a room.
Johnny dropped his hands, braced them on the roof of the car, turned his head. He said, with menace, "Fuck. Off."
Two sets of baggy pants and baseball caps worn backwards hurried past to the 7-11.
The interruption allowed me to slide down the side of the car to the asphalt. Firm ground. I needed it.
"That makes one more good reason not to give you the time of day. Give me my keys and keep the hell away from me," I said with much more aplomb than I felt.
He rubbed a palm across his mouth, looked at the smear of blood on it and smiled down at me.
"Don't pretend you're not attracted, Lillie."
Shivering, I looked around the deserted lot. Fog curled along the street. The street lamps, triggered automatically by the mist, glowed like a row of corpse candles.
"Lillie, I need you."
"Buy a blow-up doll."
"I'm offering you Federal accreditation and a Federal contract."
"I don't believe that for a minute. Real jobs don't get offered in the dingy parking lot of a min-mall unless it just occurred to someone they left themselves open to a charge of sexual assault. Do I have idiot stenciled on my forehead?"
Maybe I did. In large letters. Here I was still talking to him. Standing as if my runners were velcroed to the pavement.. But I needed my keys back. I needed to catch my breath too, and lower my heart rate under two hundred.
"Last chance," I said, "I want my car keys." If he failed to hand them over, I would just lock up the car and walk home.
"Recruitment test, Lillie. Let's have coffee and I'll explain."
"What you said to those teen-agers. Consider it repeated."