When wickedly handsome business tycoon Nick Barron recruits Georgie Cauldwell to work for him he also ends up saving her shattered heart. They spend a few gorgeously romantic weeks together. But just when Georgie thinks she has finally found happiness Nick disappears!
When he returns, as suddenly as he vanished, it is with two young children in tow and a tiny baby cradled in his arms. Experience tells Georgie she shouldn't fall in love with a man with a family. But there's something about Nick and his babies that Georgie doesn't have the power to resist
|File size:||335 KB|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
IT WAS deathly quiet on the site.
Well, it would be, Georgie thought philosophically. She'd sent all the workmen home days ago, and if it wasn't for the fact that she couldn't sleep at night for worry, she wouldn't have been here either, but she had nothing else to do and she'd cleaned the house to within an inch of its life since her father had gone into hospital, so she'd come down to go over the figures—again!—to see if there was a magic trick or two she'd missed.
She propped her head on her hands and sighed, staring out over the deserted site to the sea. No magic tricks, no way out, just the bank about to foreclose and her father's health in ruins.
Not to mention her dreams. She stood up and pulled on her coat. Sitting here was achieving nothing. She might as well check the buildings, make sure there hadn't been any vandalism. She reached for the obligatory hard hat and wrinkled her nose. She hated the hat, but rules were rules.
Archie was at her heels, his stubby tail wriggling with enthusiasm, and his cheerful grin made her smile. "Come on, then, little man. Let's go and check it all out."
She shut the door of the site office, crossed the site in the biting March wind and unlocked the side door of the main house—the door that, without an unprecedented stroke of luck, would never now become her front door.
They climbed the stairs together, her footsteps echoing in the emptiness, Archie's toenails clattering on the wooden treads, and finally they emerged into the room at the top of the big square tower. It wasn't huge, but it was her eyrie, the room she'd hoped to have as her bedroom, with windows on three sides and the most stunning views over the bay and far out to sea.
It was also the best place to view the site, and she stared down over the mangled earth, the pegged-out footings, the half-finished coach-house conversions, the sanatorium as yet untouched, the chapel almost completely concealed by the trees that had grown up to surround it.
So much to do, so much potential—such a waste. Even if Broomfield came up with the money, the design was inherently flawed and horribly over-developed.
"In your opinion," she reminded herself sternly. "You aren't the only person in the world. Other people are allowed a say."
Even if they had no vision, no imagination, no—no soul, dammit. She turned away in disgust, and her eye was caught by a lone figure standing on the edge of the lawn below the house, staring out over the sea.
"Who's that, Arch?" she murmured, and the dog, picking up on her sudden stillness, flew down the stairs and out of the door, racing off across the site, barking his head off.
Rats. The last thing—absolutely the last thing—Georgie needed this morning was a visitor. She'd got yet more phone calls to make, because unless she could screw some kind of sensible answer out of Andrew Broomfield by the end of the day, the bank was going to take them to the cleaners.
And now, she realised, running down the stairs after the dog, she had some random stranger wandering around all over her site, uninvited and unannounced, and the place was a minefield. The last thing—the other last thing, in fact—that she needed at the moment was someone slapping a lawsuit on her because he'd tripped over a brick!
"Archie! Come here!" she yelled, but the wind caught her voice and anyway, Archie had better things to do. The little terrier was on his back, legs in the air, having the tummy-tickle of his life, and obedience wasn't remotely on his agenda. Knowing when she was beaten, she switched her attention to the man. Maybe she'd have more luck there.
He straightened up, to Archie's disappointment, and turned towards her, his expression concealed by the wrap-around designer sunglasses shielding his eyes. They didn't hide the smile, though, and her heart did a crazy little flip-flop in response.
Oh, lord, his voice was like rough silk, and her heart skittered again.
It was the only word she could manage. She took the last two strides across the mangled drive, scrambled up beside him on the lawn and tilted back her head, one hand clamped firmly on her hard hat.
He towered over her—not that that was hard. If only he'd been on the drive, she could have positioned herself above him on the lawn; even that slight advantage would have helped, she thought, but then he peeled off the sunglasses and she found herself staring up into eyes the colour of rain-washed slate, and her breath jammed in her throat.
No. Flat on his back he'd still have the advantage. There was just something about him, something very male and confident and self-assured that dried up her mouth and made her legs turn to jelly.
If he was a representative of the bank she was stuffed. The last man they'd sent from the bank had been small and mild and ineffectual and she'd managed to bamboozle him with one hand tied behind her back.
Not this one, in his soft, battered leather jacket and designer jeans, with his searching eyes and uncompromising jaw. This one was a real handful.
Well, tough. So was she, and she had more riding on it. If he was from the bank, she'd take him by the scruff of the neck and show him exactly why they needed so much money—and he'd listen. She wouldn't give him a choice.
Anyway, he couldn't be all bad, because Archie was standing on his back legs, filthy front paws propped up on that expensively clad thigh, his tail going nineteen to the dozen as he licked furiously at the hand dangling conveniently in range, the fingers tickling him still.
There was a possibility, of course, that he could just be an idly curious member of the public. She straightened her shoulders, slapped her leg for the dog and sucked in a breath.
"Can I help you? Archie, come here!" 'I don't know yet. I was just having a look round—getting a feel for it."
The tension eased, replaced instantly by irritation. The idly curious were the bane of her life, and this one was no exception. Even with those gorgeous eyes.
No. Forget the eyes. "I'm sorry, you can't just look round without reporting to the site office," she told him firmly. "Archie, here! Now! There's a sign there forbidding people to walk about the site without authority. Visitors must report to the site office on the way in. You can't just crawl about all over it, it's dangerous—!"
"Don't tell me—you're the health and safety official," he said, that beautifully sculptured mouth twitching with laughter, and she felt her brows climb with her temper.
"No—I'm the site agent, and I'm getting heartily sick of people wandering about on my site as if they own it! Why is it that everybody treats building sites as public open spaces?" she continued, warming up to her pet hate. "This is private property, and if you refuse to follow procedures, I'll have no alternative but to ask you to leave—"
"That may be a little hasty," he said softly. "You think so?" She raked him with her eyes, then met that cool, steely blue gaze again with mounting anger. "Well, I'm sorry, we don't need you suing us, so if you won't comply with site rules, you'll give me no choice but to ask you to leave my site before you hurt yourself."
"Your site?" His voice was mocking, and she had to struggle with the urge to hit him.
"That's right," she retorted, hanging on to her temper with difficulty. "Mine. Now, are you going to do this the easy way, or am I going to call the police?"
His head shook slowly from side to side, and the smile which had long faded was replaced by a slow, simmering anger that more than matched her own. "Oh, I'm going nowhere. You might be, though, and hopefully taking your dog with you before he licks me to death. Now, I'm going to have a look around, and while I do that, perhaps you'd be kind enough to tell George Cauldwell I'm looking for him. Although I'm beginning to think I may have very little to say to him. The name's Barron, by the way. Nick Barron."
Uh-oh. The name meant nothing to her, but it was obviously supposed to and she was beginning to get a sinking feeling about this man. If he was looking for her father, then he might well be someone from the bank, although his jeans and leather jacket made that seem unlikely, but if not the bank, then who...?
"He's not here," she told him. "Are you from the bank?"
"Not exactly. Will he be back today?"
Not exactly? What did that mean? She shook her head. "No. I'm his daughter, Georgia," she said warily. "I'm in charge while he's—away."
"In which case, since you claim to be in charge, perhaps you'll be good enough, in your father's absence, to give me a guided tour of the whole development. If I'm going to be foolish enough to proceed with the purchase, I want to see every last square inch. In triplicate."
The purchase? The whole development?
Oh, lord, what had she done? This project was the biggest development her father had ever taken on, and standing in front of her was the man who had the power to make or break them. And she'd just threatened him with the police!
Fantastic. For the last two months they'd been throwing money into the site, forging ahead with the conversions and making a start on the new builds, and all the time waiting for instructions and—most importantly—funds. They'd been trying to get to the point of another stage payment, but all the way along they'd been delayed by a lack of detail in the specifications. Although Broomfield's company seemed big on ideas, they were miserably short on detail, and the devil, in this case, was certainly in the detail. With the clock running on the penalty clause, it was debatable whose fault it would be.
And now the man who could have been the answer to her prayers was right here in front of her, and if she hadn't already screwed up totally, she wasn't going to let him leave until she'd had a chance to put their side of it and hopefully secure his promise to clear their debts, at the very least.
But her first move had better be an apology—a good one. She forced herself to meet his eyes and her heart sank. He was clearly running out of patience, and his eyes were sceptical and filled with doubts—doubts she had to get rid of at all costs.
"I'm sorry, I hadn't been told anything about a buy-out,'she confessed. "My father's been in hospital for nearly two weeks, and I've been dealing with Andrew Broomfield—or trying to. He's been avoiding me."
"I wonder why?" he murmured.
She swallowed her pride. The first apology obviously hadn't worked. She'd have to try harder, and she forced herself to hold his eyes.
"Look, I'm sorry. I was really rude, I apologise. I'm not normally like this, but I thought you were just being nosy, so I took it out on you. We've had some vandalism and thefts on the site, so I'm a bit edgy when I'm here on my own—"
"I look like a vandal?"
No, she thought, you look like an avenging angel, and this is going from bad to worse. She shook her head, closing her eyes and wondering if he'd still be there when she opened them.
He was. Damn. She tried again. "No, of course you don't, but it's been a rough day so far and I wasn't thinking. Can we start again?"
For a moment he just studied her, then his face softened almost imperceptibly. "Sounds like it's been a rough month."