How dared he suggest that she would indulge in...that she would want to...? The very thought...

Piers watched her with a small frown. There was no mistaking either her sincerity or her vehemence, just as there was equally no mistaking the fierce surge of male pleasure it gave him to know that not only was there no man in her life but also that her attitude betrayed the fact that her sexual experience was probably limited to little more than one relationship—a youthful affair with a fellow student, which she had begun as a virgin and left, though technically a ‘woman’, with very little real experience of true sensuality.

Georgia would have been shocked and chagrined to know what he was thinking, mainly because his thoughts were so accurate. Losing her virginity to her boyfriend at university had seemed to be the right thing to do. She had liked Mark, had trusted him, and had even persuaded herself that she loved him. And for a while perhaps she had, but her sexual intimacy with him had left her feeling that there must be something lacking in her that she should have found it so pedestrian an experience, almost totally lacking in the fireworks and intensity she had imagined. They had parted amicably after just over a year together—Georgia had no regrets about the fact that they had been lovers, only about her own failure to experience the sensations, to feel the ecstasy others seemed so capable of achieving.

Piers had given her her own key to the house and had passed on to her the detailed verbal instructions his godmother had given him as to Ben’s routine and care.

‘He has what?’ Georgia had demanded in bemusement at one point.

‘Bakewell tart on Mondays, cream sponge on Wednesdays and chocolate éclairs on Fridays. Apparently they are his favourite,’ Piers had told her sardonically. ‘Oh, and he likes to wash them down with a mug of tea...’

‘Tea. Well, yes, some dogs do like it,’ Georgia had agreed.

What she couldn’t understand was how Ben managed to stay so healthy-looking and fit on such a patently unhealthy diet and with so little exercise, but when she’d said as much to Piers he’d told her grimly, ‘Oh, but he does have plenty of exercise. Nearly every day, according to my godmother, he manages to escape from the garden, often not returning for close on an hour...’

Which was why she had recently had installed a new dog-proof fence made of strong netting. Georgia had recommended to Mrs Latham that she wire in an underground electric fence, operated via a special unit attached to Ben’s collar, but Mrs Latham had considered it too dangerous for the darling animal!

Georgia had closed her eyes. She really hadn’t wanted to hear any more!

Now she glanced at her watch. It was time for her break.


Ben greeted her with a welcome bark when she let herself into the house, launching himself at her and trying to lick her enthusiastically.

‘Down, Ben,’ she commanded. ‘Down...’

Predictably Ben ignored her. Suppressing a sigh, Georgia went to open the back door. Obligingly Ben followed her.

‘Sit, Ben,’ she commanded once they were outside. Obediently Ben did so.

Amazed, as well as pleased, Georgia went to praise him and give him a treat, but as she reached him Ben nimbly sidestepped her and, with startling speed, raced towards the other end of the garden.

‘Patience and perseverance,’ Georgia repeated determinedly to herself under her breath half an hour later as Ben, having thoroughly enjoyed the game of racing up and down the garden whilst Georgia tried to get him to sit still, stood two feet away from her, tongue lolling, grinning widely.

Georgia closed her eyes and took a deep breath before commanding firmly, ‘Sit, Ben. Sit.’ She grasped his collar with one hand and placed her other firmly on his back.

Ben was a strong dog, though, and from the start it was equally plain to both of them that he was going to win the undignified tussle which ensued. Well, at least Piers wasn’t here to witness Ben’s triumph over her, she told herself as Ben finally grew tired of the game and, with a strong tug, almost pulled her off her feet, causing her to tumble and end up sprawling on the grass.

Her break was over, and so far she had made absolutely no progress whatsoever. Tonight after work she would try a different tack, she promised herself as she managed to coax Ben back into the kitchen before quickly tidying herself up. A long, long walk to burn off some of his energy followed by some walking-to-heel training, and whilst she had him on his lead they could practise some sitting on command as well.

‘How did it go?’ Helen asked her when she was back at work.

‘Don’t ask,’ Georgia responded wearily.

‘Mmm...well, I looked out a couple of animal psychology books for you,’ Helen told her. ‘Perhaps they might help.’

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