‘Seems to me Jordan Powell could well be up for a new experience and it could be good for you, too, Ivy,’ she drawled now, having fun with being provocative.
Ivy laughed. ‘Up is undoubtedly the operative word for him. Even if I did catch his eye, I don’t think I’d like the downer that inevitably follows the up. I know his track record, remember?’
‘Exactly! Forewarned, forearmed. He won’t break your heart since you’re well aware he’ll move on. You haven’t had a vacation for three years, nor had a relationship with a man for over two. Here you are, wasting your prime in work, and if you vegetate too long, you’ll forget how to kick up your heels. I bet Jordan Powell could give you a marvellous time—great fun, great sex, an absolutely lovely trip to wallow in for a while. Definitely worth having, if only to give you a different perspective on life.’
‘Pie in the sky, Heather. I can’t see Jordan Powell making a beeline for me, even if he does turn up alone at the gallery.’ She shrugged. ‘As for the rest, I have been thinking of taking a trip somewhere now that everything on the farm is running smoothly. I was looking through the travel section of the Sunday newspaper yesterday and…’
‘That’s it!’ Heather cried triumphantly, leaping to her feet. ‘Have you still got yesterday’s newspapers?’
‘In the paper bin.’
‘I saw just the thing for you. Wait! I’ll find it.’
A few minutes later she was slapping the Life magazine from the Sunday Sun-Herald down on Ivy’s desk. It was already opened at a fashion page emblazoned with the words— The it factor.
‘I was talking about a taking a vacation, not clothes,’ Ivy reminded her.
Heather tapped her finger on a picture featuring a model wearing a black sequinned jacket with a wide leather belt cinching in her waist, a pink sequinned mini-skirt, and high-heeled black platform shoes with pink and yellow and green bits attached to straps that ended up around her ankles. ‘If you wore this to your mother’s exhibition, you’d knock everyone’s eyes out.’
‘Oh, sure! That pink skirt with my carrot hair? You’re nuts, Heather.’
‘No, I’m not. The retailer will have other colours. You could buy green instead of pink. That would go with your eyes and still match in with the shoes. It would be brilliant on you, Ivy. You’re tall enough and slim enough to carry it off.’ She pointed again. ‘And look at these long jet earrings. They’d be fabulous swinging in front of your hair which you’ll have to wear down like the model. Yours will look a lot more striking against the jacket. The black handbag with the studs is a must, as well.’
‘Probably costs a fortune,’ Ivy muttered, tempted by the image of herself in such a wow outfit, but unable to see herself wearing it anywhere else in the future. Such clothes simply weren’t worn around here. The farm was a hundred kilometres south of Sydney, situated in a valley which had once been a pastoral estate but had become a settlement for hobby farms. Very casual dress was the norm at any social occasion.
‘You can afford it,’ Heather insisted. ‘The farm raked in heaps with the St Valentine’s Day sales. Even if it’s only a one-off occasion for this gear, why not? Didn’t you say your mother wanted you to appear more fashionable at her exhibition this time?’
Ivy grimaced at the reminder. ‘So I’d fit in, not stand out.’
Heather grinned. ‘Well, I say, sock it to her. And sock it to Jordan Powell if he turns up, too.’
Ivy laughed. On both counts it was terribly tempting.
Sacha Thornton’s jaw would probably drop at seeing her daughter look like a trendy siren. It might even silence the barrage of critical advice that Ivy was usually subjected to every time she was with her mother.
As for Jordan Powell—well, there was certainly no guarantee that he’d be there, but…it would be fun to see if she could attract the sexiest man in Australia. It would do her female ego good, if nothing else.
‘Okay! Get on your computer and find out from the listed retailers where I can buy all this stuff,’ she tossed at Heather, feeling a bubbly sense of throwing her cap over a windmill. And why not? Just for once! She could afford it.
‘Yes!’ Heather punched the air with her fist, grabbed the magazine and danced back to her chair, singing an old Abba tune—‘Take a chance on me…’
Ivy couldn’t help smiling. If she was going to be mad enough to wear that outfit, she needed to acquire it as fast as possible so she had enough time to practise walking in those crazy shoes. The exhibition opening was this Friday evening, cocktails at six in the gallery. She only had four and a half days to get ready for it.
JORDAN Powell sat at the breakfast table, perusing the property sales reported in the morning newspaper as he waited for Margaret to serve him the perfect crispy bacon with the perfect eggs hollandaise that not even the best restaurants had ever equalled. Not to his taste, anyway. Margaret Partridge was a jewel—a meticulous housekeeper and a great cook. He enjoyed her blunt honesty, too. It was a rarity in his life and he wasn’t about to lose it. All in all, Margaret was far more worth keeping than Corinne Alder.
The delicious scent of freshly cooked bacon had him looking up and smiling at Margaret as she entered the sunroom where he always ate breakfast and lunch when he was home. There was no smile back. The expression on her face disdained any pleasantries between them this morning. Jordan quickly folded his newspaper and set it aside, aware that Margaret’s feathers were seriously ruffled.
She dumped the plate of bacon and eggs in front of him, planted her hands on her hips and brusquely warned, ‘If you invite that Corinne Alder back to this house, Jordan, I’m out of here. I will not be talked down to by a good-for-nothing chit like that, thinking she’s got it over me just because she was born with enough good looks for you to want her in your bed.’
Jordan raised an open palm for peace. ‘The deed is done, Margaret. I finished with Corinne this morning. And I apologise profusely for her behaviour towards you. I can only say in my defence she was as sweet as pie to me and…’
‘Well, she would be, wouldn’t she?’ Margaret cut in with a sniff of disgust at his obvious gullibility. ‘I don’t mind you having a string of affairs. At least that’s more honest than marrying and cheating. You can parade as many women as you like through this house, but I won’t be treated with disrespect.’