All he knew was his gut was in knots, waiting for her reply. And that hadn’t happened before. None of it had…sensing her presence before he even saw her, the mule-kick to his heart when his instincts had proved correct, the intense flare of desire which owed nothing to her outward appearance which was obviously meant to express lack of interest in him.
He was hooked.
But that didn’t mean he was caught.
The instant zing between them told him she wasn’t immune to what they had shared. He had to tap into that again, make her want what he wanted. Regardless of what was going on in her mind, Jordan was determined on drawing her into his net. Even more so now that she was here with him.
‘Would you like a cup of coffee while you think about it?’ he asked, intent on forcing her into active communication.
The blank shield on her eyes snapped open to reveal deep wells of vulnerability—a host of fears swirling through wishful possibilities. ‘Yes,’ she said huskily, sucking in a quick breath to firm up her voice. ‘Cappucino, please.’
He signalled a waitress, ordered two coffees and a plate of toasted sandwiches to tempt Ivy into eating. There was nothing like sharing food to put people more at ease with their company, and it seemed—from the wildly swimming look in her eyes—that Ivy was wound up in an emotional dilemma about becoming more involved with him.
Unless she was a brilliant actress.
He was reminded of what Margaret had said…I wouldn’t like it if you hunted her down and hurt her.
He had hunted her, with good reason, Jordan told himself. Nevertheless, being hurt by him could be high on the list of fears in Ivy’s mind. A playboy…
To him it was a pragmatic lifestyle, given his circumstances. He was quite happy going along for a ride, hated the idea of being taken for one. He was beginning to think this was a different situation with Ivy, more a journey of discovery than the usual ride.
Her lashes had swept down, hiding her thoughts again. He leaned forward, pressing for her attention. ‘Ivy, you’re not a trophy woman to me.’
The green eyes flashed wildly amused sparks at him as she burst into a peal of laughter. ‘Anyone seeing us together today would think you had rocks in your head to consider me one, Jordan.’
He relaxed into a laugh himself. ‘Which proves my point. I want your company, regardless of trappings.’
‘Mmmh…’ She cocked her head consideringly. ‘I’d have to say I enjoyed your company, too. Though I’m not sure how well that would wear over time. I don’t think we have much in common.’
Oh, yes they did! Fantastic sex together. Unforgettably fantastic!
Maybe she read that thought in his eyes. A tide of heat whooshed up her neck and burned her cheeks. She wriggled in her chair, probably discomforted by an attack of hormones charged-up with the same memories he had. He had to shift a bit himself to accommodate his own charged up anatomy. If they weren’t in a public place…but the sex hadn’t kept her with him last time. He had to make more inroads into her psyche.
He tried a disarming smile. ‘I like it that you don’t see me as a trophy.’
That was a good, testing line.
She shot it down in flames, instantly firing derision at it. ‘Too tarnished by a lot of careless wear.’
‘I care about you,’ he shot back at her, throwing all cynical caution aside. ‘We have something special going between us. Too special to dismiss. I’ve never waited for a woman as I’ve waited for you. And don’t tell me you don’t feel it, too, because you do, Ivy. This is us and it’s not like anything in the past. Face it. Give it a chance. It might be the best thing either of us could ever have.’
Ivy’s whole body yearned to feel again the pleasure he could give her and the intensity he was transmitting made his arguments too persuasive for her to fight any further. It had been special. Unique for her as well as him. Of course there was no guarantee it would last but what guarantee could be attached to any relationship these days?
‘How do you see it working?’ she blurted out.
He leaned forward eagerly. ‘We could start with week ends. This weekend.’
Her heart instantly kicked into a gallop. She hadn’t come ready for this. ‘I didn’t bring anything with me. And I’m still not on the pill.’
‘You don’t need anything. I don’t want to share you with anyone. Not today or tomorrow. And I’ll take care of protection while you’re arranging your own.’
Panic seized her. This decision felt too rushed. ‘You forgot last time.’
‘I promise you, I won’t forget again.’
No, he wouldn’t, not after being worried about getting her pregnant. Having a child with her was not on his agenda. It might never be. She had to think of this as a trial period and not get too…too…stuck on him. He’d been a playboy for so long, it was best if she didn’t let herself believe their affair might turn out any different to his previous relationships. All she was committing herself to was giving it a chance.
She eyed him with fierce intensity. ‘Don’t send me any roses. Ever!’
‘Sending them to your mother did bring us back together. It got the right result, Ivy,’ he reminded her seriously.
‘I don’t mean them!’ she said in emphatic dismissal. ‘I mean the roses you send as a matter of rote to all the women who have held your interest for a while.’
He frowned, puzzled by her knowledge of intimate details of his past affairs.
Ivy gritted her teeth and revealed the truth. ‘You order them from me, Jordan. It’s my rose farm you deal with over the Internet. From this moment on, I’m writing you off as a client. When it’s over with me and you find someone else, find yourself another rose source. Okay?’
He looked totally gobsmacked.
Ivy didn’t care. Involving herself with Jordan meant there was no way of continuing to hide her business and she simply couldn’t bear the idea of him resuming his Rose Valentino modus operandi with other women in the future. Not through her farm anyway.
The waitress arrived at their table with their coffees and the plate of toasted sandwiches. Ivy was too churned up to eat anything but she was grateful for the coffee. It was hot and sweet and strong and her shredded nerves needed soothing. She sipped it, covertly watching Jordan gradually recover from his shock and wondering how he would react to her revelation.
It was actually a good test of his feelings towards her. He wanted honesty. She’d just laid it out to him. He didn’t reach for a sandwich or his coffee. He sat completely still, eyes lowered, a pensive expression on his face, probably reflecting on how much business he’d done with her farm over the years.