‘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.
‘Naturally I have no desire to pry into your...private life, but suffice it to say that I also feel it is something that should be conducted in your own home.’
‘If you’re suggesting that I would...that I have—’ she began, and then stopped, contenting herself with a curt, ‘I don’t happen to have the kind of “private life” I suspect you mean, but if there was someone...special...in my life...I can assure you that there is no way I would want to see him or be with him, with you...’ She stopped again as her words threatened to choke her. ‘Anywhere other than...somewhere I could be completely private with him,’ she told Piers shakily.