Man of the Trees

Man of the Trees by Hilary Preston Read Free Book Online

Book: Man of the Trees by Hilary Preston Read Free Book Online
Authors: Hilary Preston
play with this man wandering around the house? She would play all the wrong notes, she knew it. Not being a professional pianist, or anything like as good a player as her father, she always fumbled if there was someone around who did not really like music or whose presence she found disturbing.
    ‘There’s no need,’ she told him. ‘I’ll show you round myself. If you’d care to wait in here or in the garden while I dress—’
    He gave her a cool, speculative look and that mocking smile curved the corner of his mouth again. He looked her up and down as if he would dearly love to snatch the robe away from her. She stepped back in alarm and almost fell, bringing her hand crashing down on to the keyboard of the piano in a clash of discords.
    ‘Don’t be alarmed,’ he told her. ‘You’re perfectly safe from me, I assure you. Charming as you look—and white suits you far better than that red creation you wore last night—I wouldn’t dream of touching you.’
    Her cheeks flamed again. He said it as though he meant he wouldn’t touch her with a barge pole.
    ‘Let me tell you, you wouldn’t get the chance,’ she flung out at him.
    ‘No?’ He advanced towards her. ‘And you think you would stop me if I really wanted to?’
    She had never heard anything so outrageous in her entire life. She stared at him, for once at a loss for words in the face of his effrontery.
    ‘Do you talk to every woman you meet like this?’ she demanded.
    ‘No,’ he answered briefly, as though considering the matter. ‘Only those who provoke me.’
    ‘Really?’ she questioned sarcastically. ‘I should think, Mr. Hamilton, you’re very easily provoked.’
    ‘On the contrary.’
    Ruth gave an impatient sigh. This conversation was getting nowhere. She assumed as much dignity as she could possibly muster under the circumstances and changed the subject.
    ‘This, as you can see, is the music room,’ she told him. And before he could come back with a rude reply, she added: ‘It was meant, of course, as the dining room. Now, if you will follow me, I’ll show you the rest of the house.’
    She flicked her long dark hair over her shoulders and preceded him into the wide hall and crossed to the living room. As he glanced swiftly around the room she wished she had tidied it the night before, and when she turned and saw his expression, she wished it even more. She thought, fleetingly, that he must have been born with that sardonic smile on his rugged face.
    ‘It looks—comfortable,’ he said, obviously deciding, for once, to be polite.
    ‘And lived in?’ she added significantly.
    He cocked up one eyebrow. ‘It’s certainly that. But it’s no more than I would have expected.’
    This was more like it. ‘Well, you’re not disappointed, then, are you?’ she retaliated.
    ‘Oh, I knew I wouldn’t be,’ he answered smoothly. For the moment she did not know how to answer that, but he went on: ‘It’s a nice size. I like large rooms.’
    Involuntarily, she smiled and was going to turn and say how glad she was he felt that way, but she pulled herself up. He would only reply with something sarcastic.
    Next she showed him the bedrooms, lifting up her robe carefully as she went up the stairs before him. The last thing she wanted to do was trip over it.
    There were three fair sized bedrooms, quite enough for the averaged sized family, Ruth supposed.
    ‘You and your father certainly had room to spread yourselves,’ Ross Hamilton observed as she showed him the guest room with its twin beds with ample space on either side of them and in between.
    ‘Well, it’s supposed to be a family house,’ she answered, then recalling his remark about getting married and wanting a family, couldn’t help adding: ‘Of course, it depends on how large a family you’re thinking of having.’
    He glanced up the step-ladder she had not bothered to fold away after coming down from her studio. ‘There’s plenty of room up there, I imagine, for any

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