Page 26 of Wife in Public

‘Besides, I’ll enjoy it so much more being with you,’ he said, smiling into her eyes, making her heart melt with longing for that to be true.

‘Talking of paintings, why did you choose to hang Sydney Nolan’s Ned Kelly images in this bedroom?’ she asked, wanting to understand more of the man. ‘Do you feel some affinity with our famous bushranger or do they simply complement the decor with him wearing his black armour?’

He sidestepped the question, asking, ‘Do you like them?’

‘They’re great, but I thought you’d be more into nudes in here.’

He grinned. ‘I don’t need that kind of stimulation.’

She laughed, well aware that he had no problem with impotence. ‘You still haven’t told me why Ned Kelly?’

His eyes were hooded as his fingertips feathered her lips. ‘He reminds me always to be armoured. Especially in the bedroom. Only you have ever made me forget that, Ivy.’

He kissed her, as though wanting to draw that power from her soul, be the man who never lost control again. The simmering excitement instantly escalated, compelling them into another climactic union. It wasn’t until long afterwards that Ivy thought about what he’d said about always being armoured.

A billionaire’s son, a billionaire in his own right—a target for people who wanted a piece of him for their own ends, in the bedroom and out of it. She imagined very few people would ever fool him in business, but there was a natural vulnerability with intimacy, a wish to trust. Jordan had seen his sister be a victim of it three times because of her wealth.

Was it any wonder that he’d chosen a playboy lifestyle?

Essentially a lonely life, Ivy thought, always armoured.

And she was lonely, too.

She enjoyed his company on the tour of his house, enjoyed his company over the delicious dinner Margaret served them, enjoyed the seductively sensual skinny-dipping in the solar-heated pool later in the evening and revelled in the lovemaking that followed. She didn’t feel lonely with him and she hoped he didn’t feel lonely with her.

Before Jordan had to leave for his family meeting the next morning, they had a happy, relaxed breakfast together and made plans for him to spend the next weekend on the rose farm with her. Ivy drove home feeling brilliantly alive, hoping they could make a lovely self-contained world together that nothing could spoil.

She knew it was a rather silly hope.

Other things would inevitably intrude.

But she was determined to enjoy what she could with Jordan while she could.

CHAPTER TWELVE

ON Monday, Heather was cock-a-hoop over Ivy’s capitulation to a relationship with Jordan Powell, insisting that his persistence proved he was really, really attracted, and the fact that Ivy had enjoyed her time with him showed it to be the right step to take. And when he came to the farm next weekend, could she please, please, please meet him.

Sacha called late in the afternoon to report that no roses had come and what did that mean? Had Ivy met Jordan? Had he persuaded her into seeing more of him? Given an affirmative reply, Sacha was delighted, bubbling over with a list of advantages to be had in associating with such a man, uppermost of which was experiencing a far broader and more civilised way of life than Ivy had been leading on the farm.

Ivy didn’t mention the cruise to either woman, thinking it was probably too far in the future to count on, even if Jordan did manage to get them places on it. Who knew what would happen between now and then? She was confident that Heather and Barry could take over running the farm and managing the business on short notice and would be happy to do it for her, if and when required. She simply couldn’t shake the fatalistic feeling that this harmony with Jordan was too good to last.

Each night during the week he called her to chat for half an hour or so, just normal conversations about what they’d done throughout the day. Without going into nitty-gritty details, he told her the blackmail threat to his sister had been dealt with, a reasonable divorce settlement agreed upon and Olivia was off to a health spa for some recovery time. And hopefully she would grow some armour against being taken for a ride again.

There was definitely a downside to being incredibly wealthy, Ivy thought. On the other hand, when Jordan arrived at the farm on Friday evening and presented her with confirmation that a stateroom had been secured for them on a cruise in May, she couldn’t ignore the suspicion that he’d used the power of wealth to obtain it.

‘Did we luck into a cancellation or did you bribe some one to give up their trip, Jordan?’ she asked, searching his eyes for the truth, wanting an honest answer.

He shrugged. ‘I made an offer. Someone took it. What other people choose to do doesn’t concern us, Ivy. What matters is we’re going.’

It didn’t feel right. ‘You’ve spoiled their plans. They would have been looking forward to the cruise. Don’t you have any conscience about that?’

He frowned. ‘I didn’t force their choice. I guess they thought they’d have a lot more spending money for another trip.’

‘How much more?’

He waved a dismissive hand. ‘It’s irrelevant. It’s done.’

‘But I should pay half of what you paid,’ she argued, unable to shake a sense of guilty responsibility.

‘No!’ He shook his head emphatically. ‘I made the decision. I pay the price.’

‘We didn’t have to go,’ she protested, still uncomfortable with how it had been arranged. ‘I want to.’ He scooped her into his embrace, one hand lifting to stroke away her frown as his eyes bored into hers. ‘You want to. Let it be, Ivy.’

Looking at him, feeling him, wanting him, the temptation to let the issue slide pounded through Ivy’s mind. Let it be. Only a last little niggle made her mutter, ‘I wouldn’t have minded waiting.’

‘This is our time, Ivy,’ he murmured seductively, his lips grazing over hers as he added, ‘Let’s make the most of it.’

Our time…

Her heart sank a little at those words, carrying as they did the implication that he expected their time to be limited. By the end of the cruise their relationship would have lasted four months—long enough for Jordan?

But didn’t she have the same expectation?

Her body craved what he could give her.

Make the most of it…yes.

She couldn’t fault Jordan over anything else that week end. He showed a keen interest in the operation of the rose farm—how it all worked, the standard orders from florists, hotels, big business houses, the more random number of private clients like himself, though he was never to be again, the greenhouses, the packaging room, the refrigerated store of fudges which were supplied by a local woman who’d made an at-home business out of cooking them, the computer system for sales. She enjoyed explaining it all to him.

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