Arousingly so, Linus realized as he looked down at her with narrowed green eyes. She looked so tiny in his arms, vulnerable, even, her hair plastered to her head and across her face in damp tendrils, her eyes huge as she raised her head to look at him. A man could willingly drown in those chocolate-brown depths, Linus realized with a sharp intake of breath; could lose his own will, his very soul, and not give a damn as long as Andi continued to look up at him with that warmth in her eyes.
He had never noticed before how long her lashes were, thick and dark, a beguiling contrast to the honeyblonde of her hair. Her lips were a deep pink, full and pouting, as if waiting to be kissed.
‘Get the other side of this, lad. And your good lady, too.’
Linus wrenched his gaze away from Andi to look at the landlord as he stood beside the armchair holding two glasses of amber liquid. Probably whisky, Linus acknowledged ruefully as he gratefully took one of the glasses and held the rim next to Andi’s lips. ‘Drink,’ he instructed firmly as she made no effort to do so.
Andi’s throat moved convulsively as she acknowledged that there was something in Linus’s eyes just now as he looked down at her, an awareness that only increased her own wariness about spending these four days alone with him in Scotland.
She obediently sipped the golden liquid, almost choking on the unaccustomed alcohol as the whisky slid down her throat to burst into a fiery warmth as it reached her stomach, warming her from the inside out. Thawing Andi enough for her to realize she was sitting on Linus’s thighs and still cradled in his arms.
She struggled to sit up, taking the glass of whisky from his hand as she stood up and moved sharply away from him, averting her face to stare into the fire as she sensed his questioning gaze following her movements.
What had happened just now?
She had looked up into Linus’s face and seen—what? Awareness, certainly. Desire, possibly. Almost as if Linus had been looking at her for the first time. And perhaps he had. Andi certainly bore little resemblance today to the prim no-nonsense PA she chose to present to him in the office. Her hair fell loosely about her shoulders; her denims and jumper were much more casual than anything she would ever wear to the office. She felt strangely vulnerable without the shield of her tailored business-suits and blouses. Especially if that change had also affected the way Linus viewed her.
She suddenly became aware of the conversation taking place between Linus and the landlord.
‘Get my wife to make up the room,’ the landlord murmured before hurrying away and disappearing through a door marked ‘private’ .
‘Do you want the good news or the bad news?’
There was a frown between Andi’s brows as she turned to look at Linus, her inability to think clearly telling her that she still hadn’t recovered from the freezing cold outside. Or perhaps that was the effect of the whisky. Or, more likely, being held in Linus’s arms a few minutes ago…
‘The bad news first, I suppose,’ she invited through lips that tingled painfully with renewed feeling.
Linus nodded. ‘The bad news is this is just a pub, not a hotel, so the landlord doesn’t normally rent out rooms for the night.’
Andi blinked. ‘And the good news…?’ she prompted warily.
He grimaced. ‘He does have a bedroom he can let us use for the night. It’s his daughter’s bedroom, but she’s away at university at the moment.’
Andi moistened dry lips. ‘A bedroom—singular…?’
‘Bedroom, singular,’ Linus confirmed, his eyes narrowed.
‘You aren’t suggesting the two of us share that bedroom?’ Andi frowned across the room at him, those chocolate-brown eyes gleaming with indignation.
Linus scowled darkly at Andi’s obvious dismay at the mere suggestion they might have to share a bedroom for the night. What the hell did she think he was going to do, ravish her as soon as they were alone in the bedroom together?
Not that it was an altogether unacceptable idea when Andi was looking so damned beautiful; Linus just didn’t like the obvious implication that he couldn’t keep his hands—or any other part of his anatomy!—to himself.
His gaze narrowed. ‘You would prefer that we go back out into the snow instead and try to look for somewhere that has two bedrooms available?’
‘No, of course not.’ She snapped her irritation. ‘But—it—you could always sleep down here,’ she added hopefully.
Apart from the armchair Linus was sitting in, there was only one other, and then bench seats and diningroom chairs placed about the empty tables.
He shook his head. ‘I prefer the comfort of a bed. I have no objections to you sleeping down here if that’s what you want to do,’ he added harshly as Andi’s frown deepened. ‘Of course, the landlord might think that a little strange, as he seems to have assumed that we’re a couple.’
‘Then you can just unassume him!’ The hand not holding the whisky glass clenched into a fist at Andi’s side. ‘I am not sharing a bedroom with you, Linus,’ she repeated firmly.
‘What is your problem, Andi?’ Linus barked impatiently.
‘I—you—we…’ Andi gave an incredulous shake of her head, totally panicked—aware of him as she was—at the thought of sharing a bedroom with Linus. ‘You’re my boss. I work for you!’
His eyes glittered mockingly. ‘And that precludes us sharing a bedroom?’
‘According to you, yes!’ she reminded him a little more desperately than she would have wished. ‘You don’t get involved with your female employees, remember?’
‘Sharing a bedroom doesn’t mean we’re involved.’
‘It doesn’t mean we’re uninvolved, either!’
Linus’s gaze moved over her in slow appraisal. ‘I’ll keep my hands to myself if you will.’
‘This is so—so ungentlemanly of you!’
Linus shrugged, unconcerned. ‘I don’t remember ever claiming to be a gentleman.’
‘Just as well!’ she breathed frustratedly. ‘You—’
‘We’ll talk about this later, Andi,’ Linus snapped, and turned questioningly to the landlord as he bustled back into the room.
‘The missus already had some broth simmering in the pot,’ the elderly man announced with satisfaction. ‘She’s put some bread in to bake to go with it while she goes upstairs to make the bed.’
It felt good to hear the faint Scottish burr in the other man’s voice, making Linus realize how much he missed his homeland and the warmth of its people.
Linus had left Scotland years ago, of course, having accepted that he could either remain a big fish in a small pond or become an even bigger fish in a much bigger pond by moving to London and investing his money in property there. He had never regretted making that move—how could he when it had made him his fortune? But just hearing the Scottish accent again reminded him that this was still his home.
‘How long do you expect this blizzard to last?’ Andi was the one to question the landlord tightly.
‘Och, this is no a blizzard,’ the elderly man assured her indulgently as he heard her English accent. ‘This is no but a bit of a flurry.’
Andi’s eyes widened. A bit of a flurry…God help them if it should turn into a blizzard!
‘Sassenach,’ Linus confided in the other man dryly.
Andi had absolutely no idea what that word meant, but she felt sure from the condescending smile that passed between the two men that it must be something derogatory. She gave Linus a censorious frown before turning back to the landlord. ‘How long is this flurry expected to last, then?’
‘No more than a couple of days,’ he said dismissively.