Andi had never complained about the long hours she had to work to bring about the changes in Tarrington Park, but Linus had been aware on his brief visits that she worried about her mother being left on her own so much. It had been easy for Linus to solve that problem by hiring a housekeeper. The way Andi had reacted at the time, anyone would have thought he’d been trying to move into the gate house with her!
‘It’s not always about money, Andrea,’ he conceded dryly. ‘But nothing I seem to do or say stops you from being stubbornly argumentative.’
Colour heightened the hollows of her cheeks. ‘I’m independent, Linus, not stubborn. There is a difference, you know.’
His mouth thinned. ‘Could you afford to take on a housekeeper?’
‘You know that I couldn’t.’
‘Then stop complaining because I could! It seemed the right time, especially with the new development in Scotland.’
‘Linus, you aren’t actually expecting me to move to Edinburgh to oversee the renovations if you buy this castle, are you?’ Andi gasped as the idea occurred to her, her expression one of horrified disbelief at the prospect.
‘Of course I’m not expecting you to move to Scotland,’ Linus taunted. ‘Live there for several weeks at a time, maybe, but not actually move there.’ He looked at her challengingly.
Andi stared at him. ‘Is that the real reason you employed Mrs Ferguson?’
His mouth thinned. ‘What are you talking about?’
Andi grimaced. ‘You employed Mrs Ferguson because you knew that once Tarrington Park had opened my full-time presence would no longer be needed here.’
‘Did I?’ Linus’s voice was dangerously soft.
‘Andi, I have no idea what I’ve done to give you the impression that my every act is Machiavellian in nature.’
‘Why don’t we start with the fact that you bullied me into working for you?’
‘That can change any time you feel like resigning!’ Linus assured her icily.
Andi frowned at him. Their two gazes were locked in a battle of wills, her own accusing, Linus’s challenging.
Andi’s gaze was the first to drop. ‘Do you want me to book the hotel in Edinburgh for all three nights?’ she prompted stiffly.
‘We aren’t staying at a hotel any of the nights,’ Linus informed her tersely. ‘I’ve made my own arrangements,’ he added playfully as Andi raised questioning brows.
She shrugged. ‘I’ll need to know where we’re staying so that I can let my mother know where I am.’
He nodded abruptly, obviously still annoyed about her earlier accusation of duplicity. ‘We will be staying at my Aunt Mae’s, near Ayr, tomorrow night. Then I’ve arranged—’
‘At your Aunt Mae’s…?’ Andi repeated, with a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach.
Linus raised arrogant brows. ‘You have a problem with that?’
Not a problem, exactly. More a reservation. It was easy enough for Andi to keep her emotional distance from Linus on the visits he made to Tarrington Park, when she dealt with him only in a business capacity. Actually staying with him at the home of one of his relatives was far too intimate for comfort—Andi’s comfort.
She shook her head. ‘I’m sure your aunt won’t want one of your employees intruding on your visit.’
‘On the contrary,’ Linus drawled derisively, ‘She’s looking forward to meeting you.’
Andi’s eyes widened. ‘She is?’
‘Oh yes.’ He nodded mockingly. ‘She very much wants to meet the woman who has managed to put up with me for the last year.’
‘As your employee, you mean?’ Andi croaked.
‘Of course as my employee,’ Linus acknowledged tauntingly, those amazing eyes openly mocking. ‘The previous record for being my PA was only ten months.’
‘I didn’t know that…’ Andi’s voice tailed off. Admittedly Linus’s work schedule was as demanding as he was, the hours long, meaning that Andi’s hours often were too. But she couldn’t deny that she had found the last year completely absorbing, culminating in a strong feeling of satisfaction when Tarrington Park had finally opened as a hotel and conference centre, becoming almost an overnight success.
Linus shrugged. ‘I didn’t think it was important!’
‘Exactly what did you do to my predecessors?’ she questioned dryly.
‘Absolutely nothing,’ he bit out harshly.
‘Ah.’ Andi nodded slowly, her stomach muscles tightening. ‘I take it that was the problem?’
‘Apparently.’ He nodded tersely. ‘I don’t get involved with the women who work for me, Andi,’ he added abruptly.
Andi had a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach. She wondered if she had somehow given away her increasing awareness of Linus as a dangerously attractive man. Maybe this was his way of warning her not even to contemplate any thoughts of an intimate relationship ever developing between the two of them.
‘Then it’s lucky for both of us that I have absolutely no interest whatsoever in pursuing a relationship with you out of the office!’ she came back coldly.
Linus wouldn’t have called it lucky, exactly; Andi really was an extraordinarily beautiful woman. But by making Andi his employee Linus had effectively put an end to the idea of anything of a personal nature ever developing between the two of them.
Although, he couldn’t deny that his interest had been piqued a few minutes ago when Andi had reacted so defensively to the mere suggestion of intimacy between the two of them—before she had insulted him concerning his employment of Mrs Ferguson.
‘Lucky for both of us,’ he rasped dismissively.
Andi nodded. ‘By the way, Linus,’ she added challengingly as he went to go through to the adjoining office. ‘Perhaps I should just mention that my maternal grandfather is Welsh.’
He winced. ‘Does that mean you’ll be cheering for Wales at the game on Sunday?’
Andi gave him a sunny smile. ‘It certainly does. They have a good record, I believe?’
Linus gave her a considering look. ‘You know more about the game than I thought,’ he finally murmured.
‘Not really.’ She grimaced. ‘I just remember all of my grandfather’s telephone calls when they win a game.’
‘Hmm.’ Linus frowned. ‘After ten years, it’s time for Scotland to win again.’
‘Or England. They’re playing Italy on Saturday, I believe?’ she added innocently.
He gave a low groan. ‘I can see we’re going to have fun this weekend.’
Andi wasn’t sure that ‘fun’ was how she viewed the prospect of the next four days, being alone in Scotland with Linus. Totally physically aware of him as she was, and warned off by Linus’s claim that he never became involved with female employees, those four days promised to be difficult in the extreme…
‘I THOUGHT you said it didn’t always snow in Scotland in February.’
‘Okay, so it turns out I was wrong.’ Linus scowled darkly as he sat behind the wheel of the Range Rover, trying to see the road ahead through the heavily falling snow.
They had set out from Hampshire very early that morning, stopping off somewhere near Manchester for lunch before