One Intimate Night(9)By: Penny Jordan
‘It isn’t quite that easy,’ Georgia protested. ‘To train him properly I’d have to have him living with me, and I’m not allowed to have a pet in my flat.’
‘Admit it. You can’t train him,’ Piers challenged her.
Georgia’s eyes darkened to deep purple with the passion of her emotions. ‘I could if I had him living with me,’ she repeated. ‘But, as I’ve just told you, that isn’t possible.’
‘Maybe not, but it is possible for you to come and live with him.’
‘Live with him...?’ Georgia stared at Piers.
‘My godmother has another guest bedroom, and I’m sure, under the circumstances, she wouldn’t have any objection to your moving in here for the duration.’
‘Me...move in here...with you?’ Georgia squeaked.
‘No,’ Piers corrected her gently. ‘You move in here to train Ben.’ And then, even more gently, he explained, ‘If I was inviting you to move in anywhere with me, I promise you the necessity for a spare guest bedroom would not exist!’
Her face scarlet with mortification, Georgia scrambled to her feet.
‘I can’t move in here,’ she said—but then her glance fell to Ben, who was lying peacefully at her feet. He really was the most handsome dog, and his nature was so devoid of any kind of meanness that he deserved a loving owner and a good home. And there was no doubt about the rapport which existed between him and Mrs Latham, even if he did take atrocious advantage of her.
The thought of him being passed on to yet another owner or ending up unwanted in a dogs’ home was just too much for Georgia’s tender heart to bear.
‘I’ll do it,’ she heard herself saying recklessly. ‘I’ll move in and I’ll prove to you just how well-trained a dog Ben can be...’
The derisive look Piers was giving her warned Georgia that he had scant faith in her claim, but that only made her feel all the more determined to prove herself and Ben to him.
Mentally she started to make plans. Coincidentally she had some holiday leave due. If she took it that would give her some extra time with Ben. The practice was within walking distance of Mrs Latham’s house, so she would be able to dash home during her break when she was working to be with him, and then there were her off-duty hours. Three weeks. She could feel the anxiety starting to clutch at the pit of her stomach.
‘Second thoughts?’ she heard Piers asking her sardonically.
‘No,’ she denied firmly. ‘But you will have—once Ben’s trained.’
‘I shan’t hold my breath,’ Piers advised her dryly.
‘YOU’RE doing what?’ Helen asked Georgia in startled amazement the next day, when Georgia told her what had happened.
‘Not doing, have already done,’ Georgia corrected her wryly. ‘I moved into Mrs Latham’s house yesterday afternoon.’
‘So you’re living with Piers? Mmm...lucky you,’ Helen teased her, rolling her eyes expressively. ‘If I didn’t love David so much...’
‘I am not living with anyone,’ Georgia contradicted her swiftly. ‘I’m simply staying there so that I can train Ben. He’s such a lovely dog, really, Helen, but Piers is determined to put pressure on his godmother to make her get rid of him; I can tell. It will be a strictly business relationship.’
‘I just hope you know what you’re doing,’ Helen told her warningly. ‘You know how keen Philip is on maintaining the right image for the practice, and he does tend to be a little bit old-fashioned. He won’t take it very well if you don’t succeed—your failure reflecting on the reputation and good name of the practice et cetera, et cetera—even more so, I feel, since Piers has put it on a business footing.’
‘Well, I’m under a cloud in Philip’s books already, thanks to Piers,’ Georgia admitted. ‘But I can’t just let him cold-bloodedly send Ben away. Which reminds me, I’m going to have to skip lunch today; I want to go back to the house and do some work with Ben. I took him for a good long walk before I came out this morning.’
‘You did?’ Helen raised her eyebrows. ‘Well, that has to be an achievement all by itself. According to Mrs Latham he hates wearing a collar and pulls like mad on a lead.
‘You did use a lead, didn’t you?’ she demanded when she saw the way Georgia was avoiding looking at her.
‘It was very early in the morning. No one else was about on the river path and I managed to bribe him to come back with some treats,’ Georgia told her defensively. ‘He needed the exercise, Helen; that’s part of the trouble. He isn’t using enough energy.’
‘Mmm...’ was all Helen would allow herself to say.
Piers had been equally unimpressed by the fact that she had walked Ben off his lead. It had been unfortunate that he should have been in the kitchen when she had arrived back with the dog and had seen her coaxing him back into the house with treats.
‘I think my godmother has already taught him that particular message,’ Piers had told her grimly as Ben had refused to come more than a few feet at a time without extra treats. ‘If this is your idea of training him, then—’
‘He needed a walk,’ had been all Georgia would permit herself to say as she’d prepared Ben’s food.
When she had returned to the house the previous day, Piers had been waiting for her and had shown her upstairs to a delightful bedroom complete with its own bathroom.
‘I’m up on the next floor,’ he had informed her, lifting his head in the direction of the ceiling, ‘so we shouldn’t be under one another’s feet too much. Tomorrow, once you’ve had time to settle in, I suggest we draw up a timetable which will allow us both to use the kitchen in privacy, although most evenings I shall probably be eating out.’
Georgia hadn’t said anything for the simple reason that she’d desperately been trying to assimilate the import of the strong surge of disappointment his words had brought her. What was the matter with her? Surely she didn’t want to share her meals with him? Surely she didn’t want to share anything with him? How could she after the antagonism and, yes, dislike, he had shown towards her?
He had also outlined to her the reason why he was staying in his godmother’s house, underlining the fact that when he was working he preferred to do so without any kind of interruption.
‘I wouldn’t dream of interrupting you,’ Georgia began stiffly, but fell silent with fury when he continued as though she hadn’t spoken.