She lifted her arms and wound them around his neck. Her lips quivered invitingly. The tension inside him eased. He had won. She wanted him to kiss her and he did with a passion, determined on making her feel she was the right woman for him, the only woman. And the way she kissed him back made him feel it, too. Excitement sizzled through him, urging him to go further, take all he could of her, complete possession.
No. Better not to risk it. Not when she’d thought he on ly wanted her for sex. There had to be some talking first. Her body had always responded to him, but he had to be sure her mind was clear of all bad thoughts, clear on where they were now heading. She hadn’t agreed to it yet. Not verbally. Though one thing was certain. She was not about to leave him now.
He forced himself to check the desire that could so swift ly consume good intentions and slowly managed to control himself enough to murmur against her lips, ‘Say yes, Ivy. Say yes to us having a future together.’
‘Yes,’ she said on a sigh of surrender that was blissfully sweet to his ears.
She lifted her head back and gave him a tremulous smile. ‘I’m sorry I got it so wrong, Jordan.’
‘Not your fault.’ He stroked the lovely tilted corner of her mouth. ‘I did straighten Olivia out on how I felt about you. What we’ll do now is make it very public so there’ll be no mistake from anyone about where our relationship stands.’
‘Public?’ Heat rushed into her cheeks at the thought of being thrust into the kind of limelight that had never shone on her life. ‘Jordan, are you sure about this? Maybe we should wait awhile.’
He shook his head. ‘Yes means yes, Ivy.’ He wanted to get her tied to him as irrevocably as he could at this point. If either of them had doubts about marriage later, they could back out of it then. ‘You planned on staying here tonight. Before you go home in the morning, I’ll take you shopping for an engagement ring.’ He grinned. ‘What would you like? A diamond? An emerald to match your eyes? A ruby? Sapphire?’
She burst into nervous laughter. ‘I haven’t thought about it, Jordan. This is so…so…not what I expected from you.’
‘You can look at the ring on your finger and know it’s real. What’s more, I’ll have an announcement of our engagement put in Saturday’s Morning Herald so everyone will know it’s real. And an engagement party. I’ll ask my mother to put one on.’
Plans were racing through his mind. He’d sweep Ivy along with him so fast, she wouldn’t have time to have second thoughts; he’d open the closet door with a vengeance, plunge her into the society circus with his ring to make her sparkle at his side, then straight off on the cruise where he could keep reminding her of how good they were together. No negative comeback from that course of action.
‘It will have to be this Saturday night because we leave for our cruise next Wednesday.’
She looked dazzled. ‘What has to be this Saturday night?’
‘Our engagement party. Come on, Ivy…’ He dropped his embrace to take her hand and draw her with him. ‘Let’s go up to the house and break the news to Margaret. Ask her to cook us a celebration dinner. Call my mother. Call your mother.’
He grabbed her handbag and passed it to her, then saw the tray he’d set on the table. ‘Better take that with us. We can swap the bottle of wine for champagne. This is definitely the night for it.’
Champagne… Ivy felt as though she had imbibed a whole bottle of it already. Her head was fizzing from the sheer rush of Jordan’s proposals…marriage, children, introduction to his family and friends…all unimaginable an hour ago. He had suddenly presented her with a dream life and it didn’t feel quite real. Maybe they could make it real. Certainly he was brimming over with confidence, pouring out his vision of their future together as they walked up to the house.
The weird part was she had been about to walk out of his life because he had avoided making a public show of their relationship, and now she felt frightened of what that show might entail. Jordan was probably the most eligible bachelor in Australia. Another girlfriend was not big news, but the notorious billionaire playboy getting married would instantly beam a spotlight on the fiancée whom no one knew anything about. How was she going to handle it? This was a huge leap from her normal, quiet life.
She tried to calm her wildly skittering heart by telling herself Jordan would be at her side. He was used to handling everything, master of any situation. And being with the man she loved…wasn’t that what she most wanted? Nothing else should really matter.
It suddenly struck her that Jordan hadn’t spoken of loving her.
But he must.
Why ask her to marry him if he didn’t?
Besides, she hadn’t said it, either.
It didn’t really need to be put into words.
She followed him into the kitchen where he set the tray on the island bench and whipped the bottle of wine out of the ice bucket, brandishing it at Margaret who looked relieved to see them together. ‘This is not good enough for us tonight,’ he said with a happy grin. ‘Congratulations are in order, Margaret. Ivy has just agreed to marry me.’
Her mouth dropped open in surprise. She goggled at Jordan for a moment, then looked at Ivy as though wondering if she’d heard right.
‘It’s true,’ Ivy said with a wry little smile, thinking they were probably going to get this reaction from everyone. After all, she hadn’t expected it herself.
‘Oh!’ Margaret cried, suddenly clapping her hands in delight. ‘You’ve made a wonderful choice, Jordan! You’re the best, Ivy. The very best.’
‘Glad to have your approval,’ Jordan rolled out, clearly riding a high. ‘You have an hour to whip us up a splendid dinner. I’ll take this tray of titbits, minus the wine, into the lounge room and get a bottle of champagne from the bar there. Ivy and I have some calls to make.’
Margaret ignored him, walking over to Ivy, taking her hands and pressing them with pleasure. ‘I’ll do everything I can to see that you’re happy here, my dear.’
The kind acceptance and welcome from Jordan’s housekeeper brought a lump of emotional gratitude to Ivy’s throat. She could only manage a husky, ‘Thank you.’
‘Go on now. You’ll be fine,’ Margaret assured her.
The housekeeper’s confidence in her settled some of Ivy’s nerves, but the sense of being on a roller-coaster ride persisted, especially as she listened to Jordan’s side of his conversation with his mother.