Jordan silently determined she would follow a few more in the very near future, like getting her head together enough to make sensible decisions and not take mind-blurring drugs.
It was all so bloody nasty, he thought, as he saw Olivia off in the Bentley. At least taking care of it could wait until tomorrow. Ashton was not about to go anywhere, not until he had milked the golden goose for all he could get.
And Ivy was waiting for him.
Ivy, who’d told him repeatedly she wouldn’t fit into his social world: the parties, the gossip, the competitive status thing with its bitchiness and back-biting, the high-flying celebrities who did dabble in cocaine or ecstacy or marijuana for their sensory hits. Part of his mind stood back from it all, like a spectator rather than a participant. But if he took Ivy into it…
No, she didn’t fit.
He didn’t want her to fit.
It was the difference in her that he found so be guiling.
Somehow he had to keep her out of it, yet keep her in his life.
And his bed.
Determined on making that happen, Jordan headed back into the house, the adrenaline surge of desire kicking in as he went to collect the woman he wanted.
IVY found Margaret surprisingly easy to be with. Aware that the housekeeper had to be curious about the decisions she’d come to in regard to a relationship with Jordan, she’d told her straight out that she owned the rose farm he used for gifts to his girlfriends and hadn’t thought the attraction was worth pursuing, given her inside knowledge of his track record with roses.
‘Good Heavens! And he kept sending them to your mother!’ had been her stunned reaction.
‘Yes, it was great for business, but I had to stop it.’
Margaret had burst into laughter, vastly amused by the piquancy of the situation, her eyes twinkling merrily as she’d commented, ‘So you’re giving him a chance.’
‘I do like him.’ Not to mention wanting him so intensely it was almost frightening, which the housekeeper probably realised anyway. Ivy couldn’t imagine any woman not wanting to experience Jordan Powell in bed. It was his world, not his bed that was the problem.
‘Yes, he’s very likeable,’ Margaret had replied with a fondly indulgent smile. ‘I wouldn’t work for him if he wasn’t.’
This recommendation of Jordan’s character from an employee’s point of view, added to the masterly way he had handled the scene with his sister, had assured Ivy she wasn’t making too big a mistake in getting more involved with him, even if it proved to be a brief affair in the end. Besides, maybe his previous affairs had been littered with fortune-hunters and she wasn’t one. That might make some difference.
Margaret had produced a platter of nibbles, suggesting it might tide Ivy over until Jordan had finished with his sister and they could then have lunch together. The brie cheese and dates, little balls of fresh melon wrapped in prosciutto ham, marinated sun-dried tomatoes and olives were all very tempting and without any electric sexual tension knotting her stomach, Ivy suddenly found an appetite.
While picking at the platter, she’d asked Margaret what kind of tours she was interested in since the newspaper was open at the travel section. It turned out that the housekeeper had ‘done’ most of Europe, saving up all year for an annual trip overseas. The Americas were next on her list, specifically California and Mexico.
‘I’ve never travelled anywhere,’ Ivy had confessed. ‘Friends of mine were raving about a cruise down the Rhine, and I thought I might try that next year.’
‘Why not this year?’
Her heart instantly leapt at Jordan’s voice and started banging around her chest as he strode into the kitchen, his face animated with interest. Whatever had transpired with his sister was obviously not lingering in his mind. The blue eyes twinkled with happy speculation as he pursued his point.
‘I think they start running those cruises in May. It’s only March now. In two months’ time, we could be sailing down the Rhine together, Ivy. I’d love to share that part of Europe with you.’ He stopped at the island bench, picked a melon ball off the platter, popped it into his mouth, raised his eyebrows at her stunned reaction to his enthusiastic suggestion as he ate the fruit, then asked, ‘Can you get away from the farm to do it with me?’
He helped himself to some cheese, slicing up a date to accompany it while Ivy tried to catch her breath. Her mind spun around his extraordinary offer. She could imagine a billionaire on a super-luxury cruise ship like the Queen Elizabeth II, or a magnificent chartered yacht, but… ‘Is it your kind of thing? I mean…travelling with ordinary tourists?’
‘I’ll enjoy whatever you enjoy, Ivy.’
Would he really? There was not a hint of doubt in his voice and Ivy could well believe he had schooled himself to be master of any situation. He would probably charm all the other passengers on the ship, make his presence a highlight of their cruise. As for herself, it would be great to have Jordan as her travelling companion, and so much time together would certainly sort out their differences, test how compatible they could be. Make-or-break time for their relationship, she thought.
However, there was one problem he was overlooking. The pipe dream of a marvellous trip together deflated as the reality of her world kicked in. Jordan was undoubtedly accustomed to travelling wherever he wanted whenever he wanted, but…
‘We can’t do it,’ she said with a rueful shake of her head. ‘Not this May. You have to book about a year ahead to get on these cruises.’
Determined purpose flashed in his eyes. ‘There are always cancellations. Leave it with me and I’ll see if I can find us a berth on one.’
He was intent on going and taking her with him. So intent, Ivy suspected he would buy a cancellation. It made her feel uncomfortable about it. Why did it matter so much to him? Was he so used to getting his own way nothing was going to stop him? How ruthless was he in wielding his wealth to get what he wanted?
So many questions…and he kept munching away on the hors d’oeuvres as though everything was already settled, his eyes teasing her with the confidence of solving any problem she might still raise. She had succumbed to the power of the man without knowing nearly enough about him, yet the lure of knowing more of him was too strong for her to back off now.
‘Okay,’ she said slowly. ‘I can arrange time off from the farm, but if you do manage to get us on a cruise, Jordan, I insist on paying for my own plane ticket there and back and my share of the tour package.’