‘You’re the owner of this house…I’m sure—I’m sure everybody notices it when you’re not here.’
‘That’s not what I asked, and you know it!’
Impatiently Keir threw off his sodden jacket, uncaring— where it landed, and scraped his hand through his equally damp dark hair as if too furious to contain his rage.
‘And if I had been a burglar, what exactly did you think you could do against some threatening thug twice your size? Even with a poker? You could have got yourself killed or badly injured! Didn’t it occur to you to phone the police if you suspected someone was breaking in? Dear Lord! Don’t you have any common sense?’
An explosive crash of thunder overhead leached the colour from Georgia’s already pale face. Coupled with the tension that was already holding her stomach in a vice, it made hot, frustrated tears spring readily to her eyes.
‘Stop shouting at me! I was scared—scared of who you might be, and of this hateful storm!’
Needing to get away, Georgia fled back into her room and slammed the door behind her. Awful, horrible,— ingrate! It would have served him bloody well right if burglars had ransacked the whole house and stolen everything he held dear!
But even as the tears started to roll down her cheeks, the door opened behind her and Keir came into the room. Georgia turned and clutched at her robe in shock. She watched dry-mouthed as he carefully— closed the door again, his straight, broad-shouldered— physique seeming to suck up all the oxygen in the room with its indomitable presence, leaving her very little left to breathe. The expression in his eyes was not one she recognised either.
‘You should have said you were frightened of the storm.’ His voice was gruff but not in an unkind way.
Georgia’s heartbeat skittered.
‘Are you crying?’ he demanded.
Before she could reply, he strode up in front of her and touched the palm of his hand to her damp cheek. With the pad of his thumb he brushed away the slippery track of a tear and his warm breath drifted over her. Had she ceased breathing? It certainly seemed as if she had. Her senses held in thrall by his touch, the storm that raged outside all but forgotten, Georgia gulped down air and exhaled raggedly.
Keir’s chin, with its hard, masculine cleft, was just inches from her forehead, and she had to look up to meet his searching gaze…
Staring into her mesmerising tear-filled eyes was like seeing the sun glinting gold above the green of the Glens…Her exquisitely feminine scent seemed to saturate his senses, and Keir hardly dared move lest he somehow shatter something irretrievable.
He’d stayed away longer than he’d needed to in New York because of this woman. In the couple of days following their attendance at the concert he had found it almost impossible to be in the same room as Georgia without needing to touch her. His desire had almost grown into a compulsion. She’d drawn his gaze wherever she went, and he’d barely been able to concentrate on the work that had to be done. It was a distraction he’d found hard to deal with. That was why he had grabbed at the chance to go to New York. But even when he’d been an ocean away she had dominated his thoughts. Now, home again, he realised that this budding attraction was developing into something nearer to obsession.
‘There’s no need to be afraid. The storm won’t hurt you or this house. Can you imagine how many storms Glenteign has endured over the years? In an hour or so it will have blown itself out, and everything— will be calm again.’
‘You probably think I’m behaving like a complete coward!’ Her mouth quivered, and Keir’s hungry glance latched onto it as though it were heavenly perfection— itself.
‘Don’t be ridiculous!’ Even though his tone was gently mocking, he smiled and moved his fingers through the soft fall of her hair. ‘You? A coward?You could have done someone some serious damage with that poker because you thought they were breaking in!’
‘I wouldn’t have used it!’ Georgia looked aghast for a moment. ‘Maybe I was being more stupid than brave, now that I come to think of it.’
‘Why did you do it?’
‘Because I didn’t want anyone stealing anything of importance to you,’ Georgia replied quietly, swallowing— hard.
‘Nothing I own would be worth risking your life for, Georgia.’ His voice lowered tenderly, and Keir tipped up her chin, intent on nothing else but to fulfil the compelling, growing need inside him to feel her soft, inviting lips opening beneath his own.
As her warm sweet breath feathered invitingly across his mouth, there was a loud knock at the door.
‘Georgia? Are you all right, lassie? I heard a noise from up here and thought you might be up and about because you were worried by the storm.’
‘Damn!’Cursing harshly, Keir stepped away from Georgia, a sudden irresistible need to break something— flashing through him with almost violent demand.
‘It’s Moira,’ Georgia said, her expression torn. She unconsciously moistened her lips with her tongue and made Keir suffer the agony of heightened frustration—because he could not enjoy the same delectable privilege.
She saw both exasperation and resignation written across his riveting features. She hurried past him to open the door, unable to deny her own frustration that Moira should choose that exact moment to check if she was all right.
The incredible realisation that she’d wanted Keir to kiss her flooded through her. How much had she craved the touch of his mouth on hers when the opportunity— had presented itself? Even now her body still had tremors flooding through it because he had touched his palm to her cheek.
‘Moira…hello,’ she said, smiling awkwardly at the housekeeper, who was standing there in her long plaid dressing gown with her silver hair in curlers.
Georgia caught hold of the edge of the door and pulled it closed behind her as she joined Moira in the corridor. Apart from the occasional flash of lightning reflected in the casement windows, the area was plunged into near darkness. What on earth would Moira think if Keir should come out of her room right now? She prayed he wouldn’t expose her like that and make the housekeeper suspect the worst. Over the past few days Georgia had come to set a lot of store by the other woman’s friendship and respect. Alienating her because she thought something might be going on between her and Keir would not be good at all…
‘I’m perfectly all right, thanks. I thought I heard a noise too, and I went out into the corridor to investigate,— that’s all.’ Shrugging her slim shoulders guiltily, Georgia started to explain what had happened. She despised the need for subterfuge of any kind. It wasn’t in her nature to be dishonest, and this didn’t sit well with her.
‘And when I came back in, the wind must have made the door slam. Maybe that was the sound you heard?’
‘Aye…that must be it, then. Well, as long as you’re all right. This storm is enough to put the fear of God into anybody!’ Moira replied.
‘They’ve always made me a little jumpy,’ Georgia agreed.
Her back was sticky with perspiration and prickly heat at the knowledge that Keir was waiting in her room, and she worked hard at containing her anxiety and not arousing any suspicion from the other woman that something else might be bothering her aside from the weather.
‘Please, Moira…go back to bed. Thank you for your concern, but I’m honestly fine. I’ll see you in the morning.’
‘Goodnight then, my dear.’
As the housekeeper turned away to return down the darkened corridor to the grand curving staircase at the bottom, Georgia touched her hand to her forehead and was not surprised when it came away moist. Biting her lip, she turned the catch on the door and went back inside the room.
Keir was standing with his back to her at the window, seemingly engrossed in watching the torrential— downpour that was sheeting the glass and everything— else in sight. Hearing her come in, he immediately sought her out, his blue eyes as piercing as any bright searchlight.
‘She’s gone,’ he remarked soberly.
‘Yes.’ Georgia stared at him, her brow furrowing. ‘You don’t think she heard us talking, do you?’
‘AND DISCOVERED THAT the Laird was home again and up to no good in his secretary’s bedroom?’ His smile was taunting. ‘No, Georgia…I don’t think she heard us. And even if she did…Moira Guthrie is the soul of discretion and wouldn’t bat an eyelid.’
He’d been kind before, when he’d thought she was afraid of the storm, and he’d been going to kiss her, Georgia thought a little forlornly. But now his mood seemed to be altering…almost as if he blamed her for Moira knocking at the door!
‘How was it that you arrived home so late?’ she asked, needing to say something to ease the palpable tension between them.
‘I got a flight out of Newark at the last minute. I’d concluded my business earlier in the day and simply decided to come home.’
He walked towards her, his expression as impenetrable— as the rugged stone that made up the impressive walls of his ancestral home. ‘For the first time in my life I actually looked forward to coming back here…did you know that?’