Have you met my Valentine?

Julia tried to shake off Valentine’s grip. “Tomorrow you will ignore me again and I’ve had enough of that.”

The best thing for her was to go. He pushed her harder toward the door.

In the candlelight, her eyes widened and she resisted him. “I thought you were a gentleman. Unhand me!”

“I’m not in the mood for misunderstandings, Miss Radley. You simply must leave.”

Her hands lifted to curl about his biceps and squeeze. The discomfort her digging fingers inflicted was a surprise. Julia was stronger than he’d expected—and then he was the one being moved. They wrestled for dominance a moment but unless he wanted to risk hurting her, they were reasonably matched. He took a breath. “Why do you provoke me?”

“I’m not.” And yet she did not let go of his arms. “I don’t believe that because you are a man, you must be obeyed at all times. Linus is just as overbearing.”

“I’m nothing like Linus and you know it.” Frustrated by her obstinacy, he jerked her against him.

Julia landed against his chest, her fingers pinched into his arms as she stared up at him.

Her lips parted in surprise. “Valentine?”

“Must you always be so bloody stubborn?”

“But we’re not done speaking.” Her eyes flashed with fire again, the same spark of life and excitement that had convinced him to accept her dare.

He nudged the door shut with his foot instead of throwing her out and pressed her back against the door. “God help us both if my cousin spots us together.”

“Teresa would say nothing about it once I explained why I am here.”

“Why are you here? You know what people will say about us if we are found.” As he stared at her, a sudden urge to bend her to his will overtook him. She was wild, and a firm hand could tame her. The idea took hold as he stared into her glorious green eyes.

Could the reason she pursued him like this be that she’d grown to like him?

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