‘Of course it was all right. Be sure and thank her for me when she gets back. Don’t worry about the tea, Moira. I’ll get one later. I’d better just go and see if the Chief needs anything.’
Keir was surprised to see Georgia enter the room when she did. He hadn’t expected her to make such an early-morning appearance—especially when he knew intimately what sort of a disrupted night she’d had. God knew she’d ‘disrupted’ his night too…in more ways than one.
But now, as she carefully closed the heavy oak study door behind her, Keir’s examination of her eye-catching— figure, and her slim, tanned legs in the knee-length— red linen dress, was swift and hungry. Because of that, and because his desire had been frustratingly thwarted last night, his tone was brusque.
‘Nobody instructed you to make such an early start. Have you had breakfast?’ he demanded.
‘I’ll get something later.’ She frowned as if it was hardly significant. ‘Chief Strachan, I—’
‘Chief Strachan?’ Unable to keep his mockery at bay, Keir twisted his lips grimly. ‘Is this how things are going to proceed between us, then? Are you forgetting— that I was in your bedroom after midnight, drying— your tears because of your terror at the storm, with— you dressed in a robe that barely concealed the fact that you were naked underneath it? Under the circumstances, don’t you think it a little ridiculous to resort to calling me “Chief Strachan”?’
Georgia’s face paled. ‘I wasn’t deliberately wearing— what I was wearing to entice you! And I didn’t ask you to come into my room…you just came in anyway!’
‘For goodness’ sake, don’t look so damn offended! What you wear or don’t wear to bed is your own business, and I wasn’t trying to cast aspersions!— Now, what was it you started to tell me?’
Deliberately dismissing her indignation, Keir exhaled on a heavy sigh and got up from his chair. The instant he did, the scent she was wearing caught him with a slide tackle he hadn’t seen coming, and it all but brought him to his knees. An innocent and light fragrance had no right to be so powerfully alluring…but— on Georgia it clearly was. Not that she needed any artifice to heighten her already immense appeal…
‘About last night…’
‘Are we going to labour the point all day, Georgia?’ he asked with exasperation. ‘Because, strange— as it may seem, we do have work to do!’
There was no point in any further discussion about the matter as far as Keir was concerned—even if he had left not knowing whether she had a man waiting for her back in London or not. If she had he really didn’t want to hear about it, because it would only make this inconvenient attraction he’d developed— for her even worse.
Last night he’d realised he was on very dangerous— ground. Apart from nearly kissing her, he should never have confessed that he’d missed her as he had. Recalling his mood, he would have perhaps said other things too—things that in the cold light of day he might have regretted.
Whatever mixed-up emotions he was currently feeling, he couldn’t afford to lose a perfectly good secretary because of it. Glancing at his appointments diary earlier, it had seemed a certainty that it was going to be another busy week, after having been away, and the last thing he needed or wanted was to have to hunt for another replacement. Yet even though realistically he knew he would have to curb his ‘extra curricular’ interest in Georgia if he wanted to keep her at Glenteign, he already intuited it would be a near impossible task. There was something about her that kept making him want to let down some of the usual defences he employed around people, and his blood still simmered hotly with the need to make love to her.
In New York he’d had plenty of opportunity to spend time with the beautiful girl he’d promised to get back in touch with when he returned there. Yet each time Keir had deliberately avoided the chances to be more intimate that had been presented. Even his demanding sex drive had not been able to persuade him to take advantage of the situation.
‘Look…if you think this can’t work any more, and— that my being here is causing some kind of problem for you, then I’ll simply pack my case, put my things in the car and get out of your hair for good.’
Her chin had lifted with determination and her hazel eyes were flashing. Keir saw that Georgia was quite capable of carrying out her threat. This wasn’t how he’d envisaged the start of their morning together at all, but now—because of his frustration and general irritation—a scenario was threatening that he definately did not welcome.
‘Oh, no, you don’t! You’ve signed a contract that’s binding, and barring illness and acts of God you’re obligated to stay here and fulfil it!’
‘There’s no need to threaten me! I’m fully aware that I made a written promise when I signed my name, and I have always been a person who has kept her word, but—’
‘No buts! I need a secretary, and I want you to stay, so let’s have no more nonsensical talk about leaving!’
Shaking his head at her as if she was the most irritating— woman on the planet and was driving him to complete distraction, Keir strode back to his desk. Staring at the back of his head, Georgia decided that no matter what she said or did there was just no pleasing this man this morning, so she might as well give up trying. She just couldn’t work him out. One minute he was acting as if her mere presence was like a thorn in his side, and then last night he’d nearly been going to kiss her!
Just as her heart leapt at the stirring memory, Georgia recalled him asking her if she was in a hurry to leave him. The answer to that was definitely no. She’d only said what she’d said just now because his coldness towards her had upset her. No matter what the Laird of Glenteign thought of her, Georgia couldn’t turn her back on him…not yet. Not until it was really time for her to go.
There was obviously a reason he sometimes seemed to shut her out, and the clue lay with his past—she was certain of it. She wanted to help him, so she would stay.
Certain about her decision, she felt her anger dissipate. ‘All right,’ she agreed. ‘I won’t talk about leaving any more. We just got off on the wrong foot this morning, that’s all. I can see that now.’
She was interlocking her fingers, staring down at them, when she heard the creak of the leather chair that Keir was occupying. When she glanced up again, he had swivelled it round to regard her. Not having entirely finished what she’d been going to say, Georgia sucked in her breath and continued, ‘To make things a little easier for both of us, apart from working with you during the day I’ll keep out of your way as much as possible at all other times. Then we won’t have to make polite conversation with each other when we don’t feel like it.’
‘That won’t be necessary.’
‘I don’t mind—’
‘Didn’t you hear what I said? I said that won’t be necessary!’
‘Oh, for goodness’ sake!’
Throwing her hands up in the air in exasperation, Georgia stared at him in disbelief. There was clearly something about her that was pressing all the wrong buttons with him this morning—something she just didn’t get. Either that, or he was unhappy about something that had happened on his trip.
As soon as the idea had planted itself in her mind, she— found she needed to have it confirmed. Georgia didn’t want to add to his troubles—all she wanted to do was help alleviate them. Her nature was that she always tried to help.
‘Did something go wrong in New York?’
‘Is that why you seem so on edge?’
Georgia was beginning to wonder if it was a woman that was at the root of his bad mood, and she didn’t include herself—in spite of Keir’s suggestion last night that he’d looked forward to coming back to see her. Had there been a woman Keir liked in New York? A woman he might even be in love with? Had that woman rejected him?
Jealousy vying with fear inside her, Georgia had to work hard to keep her expression impassive.
‘Nothing went wrong in NewYork, Georgia…other— than the fact that I didn’t really want to be there!’
‘But you seemed in such a hurry to go there!’ she— exclaimed.
‘Did I?’ His handsome brow creased as though he were perplexed.
‘You really are completely impossible!’ Georgia accused him, frustrated that she clearly wasn’t going to get any answers that made any sense to anything today. Dropping her hands to either side of her shapely hips in the red linen dress, she sighed heavily.
‘That aside…perhaps we should both just get down to the business of the day and restore a little peace to the morning? We’ve had enough storms of one kind or another for a while—wouldn’t you agree?’
‘Fine! What would you like me to do for you first?’ Her temper helplessly simmering, Georgia tossed back her hair and waited for instructions.
Silently surveying him for a moment, she saw a distracting dimple appear at the corner of Keir’s disturbing— mouth.