His gaze narrowed. ‘Why the hell not? No, let me guess,’ he continued harshly. ‘Someone with your privileged background shudders at the mere idea of being employed by someone like me!’
She blinked. ‘Someone “like you”…?’
‘I’m sure you, like every other reader of tabloid newspapers, are aware of my background,’ Linus rasped knowingly.
The press had made much, over the years, of the fact that Linus had started out with nothing fifteen years ago but the sharpness of his brain and a determination to succeed. That, although he was a multi-millionaire now, he had started out as the only child of a single mother, brought up in the back streets of Glasgow, leaving school at the age of sixteen to work as a labourer on a building site.
Within four years he owned his own building company, buying run-down properties and turning them into hotels, each one more luxurious than the next. Until now, fifteen years later, Linus owned dozens of them all over the world.
Along the way he had lost his Glaswegian accent, learnt to wear Armani suits as if born to it, and had become as comfortable in the company of lords and ladies as he was with his own labourers.
Andrea Buttonfield looked confused by his accusatory tone. ‘Why should your background matter to me?’
Why indeed? Linus instantly berated himself for revealing even this much of a chink in his own armour. As far as Andrea Buttonfield was concerned, she had reason enough to dislike him simply because he was the upstart who intended to buy her family home and turn it into a profitable business-venture. For her, he could now see, the added knowledge that their backgrounds were so dissimilar simply didn’t come into the equation.
Some of the tension left his shoulders, although the restless anger remained. ‘I’ve decided I don’t want to wait for your decision after all, Andrea,’ Linus bit out impatiently. ‘What’s it to be? Take it or leave it.’
Andi wanted to leave it. Every instinct in her body told her to do exactly that. But just the thought of how her mother had changed these last three months—of the fragility of her emotional state, let alone her mental one—was enough to give Andi pause for thought.
Linus Harrison’s offer of employment would solve so many problems for her concerning her mother. Andi knew she would be a fool to turn down that offer just because being in the same room with Linus Harrison made her feel so uneasy.
She drew in a deeply controlled breath. ‘Okay; I accept your offer, Mr Harrison. But my contract says I have to give Gerald three months’ notice, not one,’ she added determinedly as she saw the brief triumph that blazed in those beautiful eyes.
Linus Harrison looked completely unperturbed. ‘I can live with that.’
Andi just hoped that she could live with the ramifications of her decision…
‘PACK your bags, Andi, we’re going to Scotland for a few days!’
Andi looked up, frowning, to where Linus stood in the doorway that separated their two offices on the top floor of Tarrington Park. She had already known he was here at his private apartments just down the hallway from their offices, having seen his car parked out on the forecourt when she’d arrived for work this morning. It was what he had said that caused her to react so sharply. ‘Scotland?’
‘Hmm.’ Linus strode further into the room to lean against the side of her desk. His dark hair was styled only slightly shorter than it had been a year ago; the pale green of his eyes was still as icily astute in the rugged handsomeness of his hard, chiselled features as he looked down at her. ‘Now that Tarrington Park has opened, I’m looking for another big project to work on. There’s a castle in Scotland I’m thinking of buying.’
Andi eyed him. ‘And you want me to go with you?’ He had never suggested taking her away on business with him before. He hadn’t suggested it now, either, Andi reminded herself derisively—Linus had told her they were going.
‘You are my PA,’ he reminded her.
Andi was well aware of what she was. Just as she was aware that during the last few months she had started to see Linus as more than just the demanding employer who would appear for a few chaotic days to check on progress at Tarrington Park, and then just as abruptly disappear back to his life and apartment in London.
Expecting Andi to accompany him to Scotland on business was a perfectly reasonable request for Linus to make of his PA. In fact, when Andi had worked for Gerald Wickham, she had gone away on business with him all the time. But Linus wasn’t Gerald…
Totally aware of Linus’s ruthless reputation when it came to women as well as business, Andi had been determined to keep him safely at arm’s length when she’d begun working for him a year ago. Not difficult to do when she still felt so emotionally numb following the deaths of David and her father.
But gradually—insidiously, it seemed—Andi had found herself looking forward to Linus’s whirlwind visits. She had become aware of the sexy seductiveness of Linus’s pale eyes; the wolfishness of his rare smile. She had come to appreciate the width of his shoulders and leanness of his muscled body as he strode forcefully through Tarrington Park issuing orders that he would expect to have carried out by his next visit.
Just as Andi was now totally and heatedly aware of his close proximity as he leant against the side of her desk.
Andi gave a self-disgusted grimace as she pulled her laptop towards her. ‘Which airport are we flying to?’ she prompted briskly, thankfully able to breathe a little easier as Linus stood up and moved away slightly.
‘I thought I might drive up in the Range Rover.’
‘Drive?’ Andi glanced out of the window at the bleakness of the winter sky. ‘Doesn’t it snow in Scotland in February?’
‘Stop being picky, Andi,’ Linus rasped dismissively. ‘Anyone would think you don’t want to go to Scotland with me.’
That was because she didn’t!
Just the thought of being alone in Scotland with Linus for several days, when she was now so physically aware of him, made her stomach-muscles clench and her pulse race.
He scowled down at her. ‘What is your problem, Andi? Do you have other plans for this weekend? A romantic tryst, perhaps?’ he added mockingly.
‘Of course not,’ she snapped.
Linus gave a taunting smile. ‘Of course not,’ he parroted derisively. ‘It’s been over a year since the saintly David Simmington-Browne died, so isn’t it time you started living again?’ Especially as her fiancé really hadn’t been that saintly, Linus acknowledged disgustedly. He had unfortunately found out far too many of the other man’s secrets in the last year. Secrets he knew Andi was totally unaware of…
His decision to make Andrea Buttonfield his on-site PA, and give her a free hand when it came to the interior of Tarrington Park, had been the best business move he’d ever made, Linus acknowledged ruefully. But the newly renovated hotel and conference centre had been open for a month now, managed very successfully by Michael Hall, and it was time to move on to something else. For both of them.
Andi had stiffened at Linus’s remark about David. ‘My private life is none of your concern.’ Her tone was frosty.
Linus gave a disgusted snort. ‘You don’t have a private life.’
‘Then it’s just as well you have enough of one for both of us, isn’t it?’ Andi gave him a scathing glance, knowing from the photographs that often appeared in the newspapers that Linus’s life in London involved evenings, if not nights, with the latest woman in his life. Women who rarely engaged his interest longer than a couple of months.
Linus raised mocking brows. ‘Jealous?’
Andi stiffened. ‘Certainly not!’ she gasped, even as she felt the heated colour enter her cheeks.
She wasn’t jealous of those women in Linus’s life. In fact, Andi found her