By Marriage Divided Page 0,2

to himself, there would be one thing lacking.

And almost as if reading his thoughts, Domenica said, ‘I gather you’re not married, Mr Keir?’

‘You gather right, Miss Harris, but how could you tell?’

They were in the living room, looking out over the roses towards Sydney. Domenica glanced at him. They were standing almost shoulder to shoulder and, although she was five feet ten, even if she were wearing heels he would be taller than she was, she judged. And his physique and height at this close proximity plus the lines of his face—good-looking but with the hint in the uncompromising set of his mouth and the worldliness of those smoky-grey eyes of a self-assured man who got his own way frequently—did something strange to the pit of her stomach, she found.

He was also tanned where she was not, and it was impossible not to sense that he was extremely fit, and not only from the honed lines of his body but the way he moved. Then there was the masculine scent of crisply laundered cotton, tailored fabric and just plain man about him that was a little heady and, oddly, something rather touching about a small, star-shaped scar at the end of his left eyebrow.

A very fine example of a man in his prime, she thought, but with a slight sense of unease. She remembered, belatedly, what he’d said.

‘Uh—’ she wrenched her mind from the purely physical ‘—if I were a wife whose husband had just bought a house, any house, you couldn’t have kept me away,’ she said with a quizzical little smile, then shrugged. ‘On the other hand, it could be easier without a wife who may have wanted to change the house and imprint her personality on it—which could have cost you some more money.’

‘I don’t think, assuming I had a wife, I would let her change anything about Lidcombe Peace, Miss Harris.’

Domenica’s eyebrows rose. ‘Really?’

One word but uttered with such hauteur, Angus Keir reflected, he should feel instantly demolished. ‘Really,’ he agreed smoothly, however, and added, ‘I like it very much the way it is, you see.’

‘Oh.’ Domenica looked around and he could see her doing battle with pride in Lidcombe Peace and the kind of man who would not allow a wife to express her individuality. ‘Well—’ she faced him again with a fleeting expression in her eyes, this time of ‘It’s nothing to do with me anyway’ and held out her hand ‘…I’m sure you’d like to explore a bit more on your own, so I’ll get going. The other keys are on the hook in the pantry.’

He didn’t take her hand but said, ‘Would you have lunch with me, Miss Harris? I noticed a restaurant a few miles back that looked rather pleasant. And I wasn’t proposing to stay here any longer.’

She hesitated and frowned. ‘That’s very kind of you but—um—no, I should be getting back to work.’ She looked at her watch and then said with a fleeting grin, ‘Thanks, but I definitely should be making tracks!’

‘You don’t eat lunch?’ he queried.

‘Yes, I do, but on the run, if you know what I mean.’ Domenica stopped rather abruptly.

‘How about dinner this evening, then?’ he suggested.

She was silent, desperately trying to think of an excuse and, of course, every second she delayed made it obvious she had none.

‘Unless you eat all your meals on the run, Miss Harris?’ he drawled.

Domenica flinched inwardly at the underlying sarcasm of his question. She also asked herself why she was so unwilling to see more of this man without even giving it much thought, and realized it was an instinctive reaction to a subtle process that had been going on between them from the moment they’d laid eyes on each other. Certainly, for his part, an assessment of her that was not only physical but as if her mental processes were on test too had taken place—then again, she hadn’t been immune from making assessments either.

But it still came as something of a surprise to her that she should have been drawn into the process. Because she’d been prepared to dislike him thoroughly and with good reason, considering the war they’d waged over the sale of Lidcombe Peace? Only to discover herself speculating on his physique but, not only that, responding to the things he’d said as they’d moved about the house, things that had indicated a sense of humour as well as a man who might be interesting to know intellectually…

Or had it been a lot simpler?