‘It was very thoughtful of you to buy Mrs Bowles a book,’ she told him ten minutes later when they were in the Volvo with Ben safely in the back.
‘I just happened to notice that she had several of the author’s books.’ Piers dismissed her praise with a small shrug.
‘You’re very observant,’ Georgia told him colourlessly, and Piers gave her a long, thoughtful look as she turned her head away from him.
‘Mmm...well, I’m certainly observant enough to see that there’s something wrong. What is it? We’ve got Ben and—’
‘I’m just a bit tired,’ Georgia fibbed quickly. How could she tell him that the reason for her misery was the knowledge that in a very few hours’ time they would be back at home, and once they were they would be back to their previous relationship? Tonight she wouldn’t be spending the night in bed with him. Tomorrow morning he wouldn’t be bringing her tea and toast in bed whilst walking semi-naked around the bedroom, tantalising and tormenting her.
‘Tired...?’ Piers repeated, and then checked as Georgia’s face burned a slow, betraying, mortified shade of pink.
The words ‘I didn’t get much sleep last night’ had been trembling on her lips, but thankfully she had not actually uttered them, even though she could tell what he was thinking even without bringing herself to look directly at him. But to her relief, instead of making any comment, he merely responded, ‘Why don’t you try to get some sleep whilst I drive back?’
Well, no doubt he would prefer to have her asleep than awake—that way he wouldn’t have to bother talking to her. And she imagined that having her asleep was the next best alternative to not having her in the car at all!
Very coolly she told him, ‘Yes, I think I will,’ and promptly turned her back on him and closed her eyes.
* * *
‘And the couple whose little boy Ben rescued have nominated him for a “brave dog” award...’
Sipping her tea, Georgia listened patiently whilst Emily Latham talked excitedly about Ben’s nomination for the Brave Dog of the Year award.
Emily had returned the previous weekend, leaving Georgia free to return to her own home, and she had not been sorry to do so.
In the remaining time between their own return to Emily Latham’s home and her arrival back from her cruise, Georgia doubted that she and Piers had spent more than a handful of minutes together. Not that she was remotely unhappy about that. No, of course she wasn’t. Not having to spend time with him had suited her very nicely, thank you...very nicely indeed.
Moreover, she had been more than pleased on her return to work to be told that, because of the interest being shown locally in the pet visits scheme she had inaugurated, Philip had decided that she should be the one to go as an observer on a four-week course being run by a charity that trained dogs to become canine helpers to severely disabled people. Naturally Georgia was thrilled to be offered such an opportunity to observe these dogs going through the final weeks of their training alongside their human partners. One of the dogs and her human counterpart actually lived in the town, and the dog would become one of their potential patients once his own training was over. Georgia knew that it was quite a feather in her cap, professionally speaking, to have received Philip’s mark of approval in having been chosen to attend the course.
‘Ben is behaving so much better,’ Emily Latham enthused as she bent down to pat the dog’s head. He was seated at her side and he had greeted Georgia with great enthusiasm on her arrival. Georgia smiled but said nothing. She had a suspicion that part of the reason for Ben’s changed behaviour was the effect the traumatic change in his lifestyle had had on him. He was, she believed, more than intelligent enough to have realised now just what a lucky animal he was.
‘He has been rather worryingly subdued recently, though,’ Emily Latham murmured. ‘I was going to bring him into the surgery to be checked over, but Arthur says that he thinks Ben is missing Piers.’
Missing Piers! Georgia tensed, but Emily was getting up out of her chair to answer the doorbell which had just started to ring.
‘I’d better go,’ Georgia told her quickly, afraid that her hostess’s visitor could well be the person she had been at such pains to avoid recently.
‘Oh, dear, must you?’ Emily fluttered. ‘Well, do at least stay to say hello to Arthur, won’t you? He told me how fierce you’d been in Ben’s defence when he came round to complain about him.’
As she spoke she was hurrying towards the door, her face flushed a very attractive shade of pink, imploring Georgia to stay where she was just for a few minutes.