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‘Stay with me.’ His voice lowered to a husky command as he briefly and urgently roamed her candlelit features. ‘I need you here…don’t desert me.’ There had been no dilemma about whether he should spend the night with Georgia or not. In the end, Keir had simply had to admit that he had zero resistance as far as she was concerned, and part of him had thought to hell with the consequences. Increasingly throughout the dinner she’d been all he could think about. Oh, he’d done his bit. He’d discussed the house, the— gardens, the local politics in the community, and he’d smiled and been diplomatic. But after what the Colonel had said to Georgia Keir had made it very apparent that he would not tolerate any further speculation— about either her person or her presence beside him at the table. Thank God the event was over. His well-fed guests were now on their way back to their various homes, their effusive and complimentary remarks as they’d left, about the house and the gardens, still ringing in his ears. And leave it to the Colonel to have the last word. ‘Your father would have been proud of you, my boy!’ he’d— declared, as he’d unknowingly gripped Keir’s wounded arm and all but made him cry out with the agony of it. The comment had elicited an ironic grimace on its own merit, though. Keir doubted very much if anything he’d achieved at Glenteign would have made James Strachan proud—but quite frankly he no longer cared whether he would have had his father’s good opinion or not. The man was dead, and he was beginning to see that as far as the estate was concerned he could write his own history now that he was in charge. Having told Georgia to go up to bed ahead of him, Keir now let himself into her room unannounced,— and saw straight away that she stood in the golden light of just one small bedside lamp, wearing the same distracting short, silky robe she’d been wearing the night he’d returned from NewYork…the night of the storm. His heartbeat quickened at the curiously— shy glance she gave him. ‘It’s got quite chilly tonight, don’t you think?’ she remarked. ‘I’ve got something that will warm us up.’ Keir held up the bottle of cognac he’d brought from the drawing room, along with two crystal-cut brandy glasses. Approaching the bed, he placed the bottle and the glasses carefully down on the little oak cabinet beside it and pulled off his tie. The sound of the silk sliding against the stiff linen of his shirt collar was unwittingly sensuous to Georgia’s ears. Knowing intimately— what the impressively taut musculature beneath that expensive tailored shirt looked like, and remembering how his hard body had felt pressing down on her in bed, she knew she didn’t have a cat’s chance in hell of hiding the need that poured through her bloodstream right then. Her cheeks burned so bright she must appear to him as though she had a fever. ‘The food tonight was wonderful, wasn’t it?’ she chattered. ‘And Moira did an incredible job of making everything look absolutely—’ ‘Here…drink some of this.’ A glass of darkly golden cognac was put in her hand, and Keir’s long fingers briefly glanced against hers. Because she was so spellbound, Georgia lifted the glass to her lips and tasted some of its fiery contents without question. When the brandy’s burn reached her stomach and ignited there, her whole body was infused with the most delectable melting heat. ‘It’s delicious.’ Cupping the thick crystal tumbler between her hands, she glanced almost nervously at Keir. After he’d whispered in her ear just as his guests were getting ready to leave that he intended to spend the night with her she’d hardly known how to get up from the table, because the sheer anticipation of his visit had rendered her limbs as weak as a lamb’s. Now face to face with him in the softly lit bedroom, the— gentle diffused lighting making his handsome features appear even more formidably compelling than ever, she knew she was utterly lost. Already, his gaze and his body—never mind his highly seductive voice—had made her incapable of refusing him anything. And she yearned to chase away some of the pain that she sometimes witnessed in his incredible blue eyes. Now that she knew some of the story of how that pain came to be there she craved that chance even more. ‘What have you got on under that robe?’ he asked her now, a dark eyebrow lifting ironically as he removed his jacket and then started to unbutton his shirt. ‘If you want to make an already enslaved man even happier please tell me it’s not very much…’ ‘I don’t have anything on underneath.’ ‘Really?’ With a slow, knowing smile, Keir moved towards her and took the glass of brandy out of her hand. Silently he placed it beside his own on the oak cabinet. When he turned back to Georgia he said huskily, ‘Open your robe…I want to see.’ Seeing the shy hesitancy on her face, Keir took pity on her. ‘Maybe this will help.’ He bent and switched out the lamp, so that the only light left illuminating— the room came from the silvery rays of the nearly full moon that filtered in through the open casement windows. With the softest of sighs Georgia undid the belt on the flimsy little garment and stood there unmoving as Keir glimpsed the tender globes of her breasts and the smooth flat plane of her stomach. Gilded by moonlight, her long dark hair curled prettily against her shoulders. Any poet worth his salt would write sonnets to her. ‘Any more instructions?’ she joked, and he saw her shiver a little. Again he smiled knowingly. ‘Yes…Take off your robe completely and get into bed.’ As she did so, Keir turned to the swift removal of his own clothing. He had a delectable glimpse of Georgia’s perfectly peach-shaped bottom bathed in moonlight before she quickly lifted the counterpane to slide underneath it, and he wanted her so badly that he practically hurt with the need. When he got into bed beside her, all her hesitation and self-consciousness— seemed to vanish and she immediately welcomed him into her arms…just as if she was welcoming— him home again. Having not experienced such an addictively seductive feeling in his entire life up until now—from any quarter—Keir was infused with an almost unbearable sense of rightness and a bone-deep pleasure. Now, as his lips sought hers and he hungrily reacquainted himself with her extraordinarily sensuous taste, he sensed the oppressive weight of all his cares and darkness slip away as though by magic. ‘Thank you for staying with me tonight…you made the whole thing bearable,’ he breathed, gazing down at her rapt face. ‘And I’m sorry you had to endure the Colonel’s little outburst. The man was an old friend of my father’s, and as you could probably tell he’s still living somewhere in the Middle Ages as far as some of his views are concerned.’ ‘It’s only natural that friends and associates expect you to be seeing someone from your own background, I suppose.’ Her smile a little unsure, Georgia considered the man looking down at her with a sudden flicker of doubt in her hazel eyes. ‘It’s nobody else’s business but my own!’ Keir replied a little gruffly, hating the idea that she might think he was influenced in any way by other people’s expectations of him. ‘It’s mine too, Keir. Don’t forget that.’ ‘I would never take you for granted, Georgia…I promise. Now, where were we?’ When he would have captured her lips again, Georgia put her hand against his chest and stopped him. ‘You were amazing tonight,’ she whispered, her fingers playing lightly against the dark silky hairs coiling on his chest. ‘The perfect host and the perfect Laird. Glenteign wouldn’t be the same extraordinary— place without you.’ ‘I never wanted to come back here again. I never thought I would…’ His expression darkened a little. ‘But you did, and everything’s going to be all right, Keir. You do know that, don’t you?’ ‘Is it? Somehow I can almost believe it when you tell me.’ Moving his hand downwards, he lightly stroked her breast, fiercely enjoying the soft gasp of pleasure that feathered over his already exquisitely aroused senses. As far as he was concerned the time for talking was ended…words were not what he craved at all. Forgetting everything but the lovely woman in front of him was what he wanted right now…that, and— losing himself for a while…a long while…in the sheer enchantment of her. Not for the first time in the few weeks since the dinner party did Georgia tell herself that this magical hiatus from real life that she was enjoying with Keir—working alongside him during the day and sharing his bed at night—would sooner or later have to come to an end. He hadn’t discussed the topic with her at all, and neither had either of them mentioned his permanent secretary Valerie’s eventual return. It was clear that they were both keeping their own counsel about things—perhaps not wanting to risk spoiling what they had right now with worries about the future. But, even though he’d assured her that he wouldn’t take her for granted, Georgia was afraid to ask Keir outright what his intentions were lest she sign her own warrant to heartbreak.
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