Page 15 of Wife in Public

His black robe was not on its peg.

It brought the smile back to his face.


Ivy would look very fetching in it with her glorious hair.

Feeling more confident of her presence in his home, Jordan had a quick shower, shaved, grabbed another black robe from his dressing room and went downstairs with a bounce of happy anticipation in his step. He actually grinned as he wondered what Margaret thought of Ivy—very different to his usual run of dates, and both women were quite direct in saying what was on their minds, nothing evasive or deceptive about either of them.

No one in the breakfast room.

Jordan frowned as he strode through it, not hearing any conversation coming from the kitchen and the door to it was open. He found Margaret sitting at the island bench—alone—sipping a mug of coffee.

‘Where’s Ivy?’ he snapped.

Margaret viewed him with sharp interest as she delivered her answer. ‘Gone. And you needn’t speak to me in that tone of voice, Jordan. I did try to keep her here. Offered her breakfast. Pressed her to have a cup of coffee, but she wouldn’t have it. Nothing was going to make her stay. She was determined to leave.’

‘Did she tell you why?’ he shot at her, his mind too fraught with disappointment to monitor his voice tone.

‘No. But she did ask me to thank you for the lovely night. I must say she had beautiful manners, unlike some of the other women you’ve dated.’

Jordan burned with frustration. Never had a woman left him before he wanted her to, and for it to be Ivy…no, he could not, would not respect her decision to reject what they could have together. She had been with him all the way last night, and lovely fell far short of what had happened between them.

A hard, cynical thought flashed into his mind. Was this some deliberate move to test how keen he was to have her in his life? A clever power game? Being the only one who didn’t throw herself at him had worked to hold his interest last night. Running off might be the goad for him to give chase.

A billionaire would be a great catch for a farm girl.

Except the billionaire had no intention of being caught.

But he did want more of Ivy Thornton. A lot more. And he could not believe she didn’t want more of him. So he would give chase, ensuring their connection would only end when he wanted it to end.

‘Did she tell you where she was going?’

‘Home.’

He grimaced with impatience at the short reply. ‘Can you be more specific, Margaret? I know Ivy works on a farm, but I don’t know its location.’

‘An hour’s drive from here, she said.’

He threw up his hands. ‘Too vague!’

‘Sorry. I can’t help on that point. If you want my opinion, I think she was deeply embarrassed at being found in your home and couldn’t get out fast enough. Very different to others I might mention who were positively smug about being here with you. And since she didn’t give you any contact details, it doesn’t look like she wants you to pursue her.’

He frowned. Maybe this wasn’t a calculated move. Margaret was very good at reading character. Possibly Ivy was shocked at herself. He’d taken advantage of her shock last night, sweeping her along with him. But she’d been fine in his bed. Fantastic in his bed! However, if she wasn’t used to having sex with a man on a first date…was she ashamed of herself for crossing some moral standard?

Which might mean…oh, hell! If she was a good girl, not on any contraceptive pill…he’d totally ignored that issue last night, deciding to deal with it later. If taking that risk had hit her this morning…if there was a very real possibility she had fallen pregnant…she might have been overwhelmed by a sense of panic.

‘I have to find her, Margaret.’ He started tramping around the kitchen, raking his hair in agitation. ‘I have to!’ It wasn’t just the pregnancy question, he couldn’t tolerate the idea of never seeing Ivy again, never having her again.

‘Not that it’s any of my business,’ Margaret said with an air of making it hers this once. ‘But it’s my observation that you’re not into having serious relationships with women, Jordan, and Ivy Thornton didn’t strike me as a sophisticated playgirl. It might be a kindness to respect her decision and let her go. Simply write her off as the one that got away.’

‘No! No!’ The emphatic negatives exploded off his tongue. He glared at Margaret, who looked stunned by the explosiveness of his reaction. ‘I can’t!’ he added decisively, not wanting to explain why. ‘I have to find her,’ he repeated in teeth-gritting determination.

‘And then what?’ Margaret asked, critical brown eyes putting him on the spot, holding judgement on his motives.

Ruthless purpose swept straight past the uncertainties in his mind. ‘Then she can tell me to my face that she doesn’t want anything more to do with me.’

Ivy wouldn’t be able to do it, not with any honesty.

‘Fair enough,’ Margaret conceded. ‘What would you like for breakfast this morning?’

She slid off her stool, ready to get down to business.

Jordan was infuriated by her matter-of-fact dismissal of his intense frustration with the situation. And breakfast was the last thing he wanted to consider right now. He shook a finger at her and fiercely declared, ‘Ivy Thornton is not going to be the one who got away!’

Margaret stopped and stared at him as though he’d suddenly metamorphosed into a stranger. ‘Sorry if I spoke out of turn,’ she said with uncharacteristic meekness. ‘It was just…I liked her, Jordan. And I wouldn’t like it if you hunted her down and hurt her.’

‘I have no intention of hurting her.’

Margaret pressed her lips together, buttoning up against offending him with any further comment, but her eyes definitely challenged him to keep that stated intention. He would be the lesser man in her estimation if he didn’t.

Ivy had clearly made a more strongly positive impression on her than any of the other women he’d brought here.

‘I like her, too, Margaret,’ he said more quietly. ‘Very much.’

She nodded, still tight-lipped.

He sighed.

Battle lines were drawn.

He now had to win over Ivy—and make her happy to be with him—in order to win over Margaret or he’d be getting burnt breakfasts. Possibly even worse! She might walk out on him, too!

A burst of adrenaline raised his fighting instincts.

Jordan was not a man to back down from a challenge.

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