He’d poured them glasses of champagne, made a toast to a happy future together, saw her seated on a sofa, and was walking around the room as he talked, giving out a crackling energy that was not about to be dampened by anything.
‘Mum, I need you to do me a favour. I’ve just asked Ivy Thornton to marry me. She’s said yes. And I want you to throw us an engagement party this coming Saturday night.’
His vivid blue eyes sparkled wickedly as he listened to what was undoubtedly a tirade of disbelief at the other end of the line. ‘Mum, I’m thirty-six years old and in full possession of all my faculties. I do not need your stamp of approval on my bride-to-be.’ He grinned at Ivy. ‘I love everything about her, and you will, too. That’s all you have to know.’
Her love for him poured into a smile that beamed with happiness. It was okay to marry him. As long as they loved each other, they could make it work.
‘No, I don’t want to wait. We’re buying the ring tomorrow and we’re flying off to Europe next week. I know it’s short notice but I’m sure you and your personal assistant can make it happen. Get Olivia to help with the guest list. She owes me big-time.’
He grimaced at whatever his mother said next. Then his face set in a look of ruthless determination. ‘No. No meeting beforehand. I won’t have Ivy subjected to any uneasiness caused by you or Olivia, who did her worst today. We’ll turn up on Saturday night and I expect both of you to be very warm and welcoming. As you should be.’
It was strange seeing this formidable side of him—the exercise of unrelenting power—though she had glimpsed it before when Olivia had turned up with her black mail problem. This was how he dealt with his world, she realised, the other side of the charm he had brought into her world.
She needed to know a lot more about Jordan’s life. Her instincts said he was the right man for her, but experiencing a real relationship with him would definitely make her feel more confident that a marriage between them could work. However, what she needed most was for this current sense of unreality to leave her.
‘All set,’ he said with satisfaction, having ended the call. ‘Would you like to contact your mother now? Tell her the news and invite her to the party?’
‘Yes, I will.’
Sacha’s reaction would surely lift her spirits, generate the excitement that Jordan’s proposal should be generating. She fossicked in her handbag for her mobile telephone, found it, switched it on, took a deep breath and set about correcting the false impression of Jordan she’d given her mother earlier today.
Sacha was ecstatic at the marvellous turnaround from break-up to marriage, babbling on about being right about the roses and how happy she was for Ivy. Of course she would attend the engagement party. With bells on! She finished up with, ‘I’ve always wanted the best for you, darling, and I’m sure with Jordan, you’ll have it.’
It left a more relaxed smile on Ivy’s face as she put her phone away. Margaret had said she was the best for him. Her mother thought Jordan was the best for her. She remembered at their meeting in the Queen Victoria Building, when Jordan had been pushing for a relationship, he’d argued, It might be the best thing either of us could ever have.
All she had to do was believe it.
Jordan took her hands and drew her up from the sofa, a teasing twinkle in his eyes. ‘Happy now?’
Her heart swelled with love for him. She wound her arms around his neck, her eyes sparkling with the wonder of what had happened between them. ‘Very happy,’ she answered.
He kissed her forehead and murmured, ‘No more bad thoughts. We’re good together, Ivy, and everyone is going to see that. We’ll show them.’
‘Yes,’ she said. It was true. They were good together.
And her whole body pulsed happily with that truth as he fitted it to his and kissed her with more than enough fervour to drive it home. An exultant joy danced through her mind. This was her man. Regardless of what the future held for them, she was never going to regret having him.
THE first clash over Jordan’s world came at the jeweller’s when they were looking at a fabulous array of rings. Ivy had never seen such beautifully cut and crafted gemstones. They were light years above the usual diamond engagement rings one saw in shop windows. She was so dazzled by them, she looked at Jordan in disbelief when he asked her to choose what most appealed to her. They were simply beyond anything she had imagined and her mind cringed at what any one of them might cost.
‘You choose,’ she pleaded, realising he was intent on having her wear a ring that reflected his buying power and gave her instant status as his fiancée.
Without the slightest hesitation he reached for a brilliant square-cut emerald mounted in the centre of two rows of diamonds, the first row square cut like the emerald, the second shaped like tear drops. ‘Let’s try this one,’ he said, smiling as he took her left hand and slid it on her third finger. ‘Perfect fit, too. Do you like it?’
‘It’s…it’s magnificent, Jordan.’ What else could she say?
‘Great! We’ll take it,’ he said with satisfaction.
‘A fine choice!’ the jeweller approved. ‘May I show you the accompanying pieces, sir? A matching diamond and emerald necklace and earrings.’ He smiled at Ivy. ‘I’m sure they would look splendid on Miss Thornton.’
She was speechless, appalled at the suggestion.
‘Please do,’ Jordan said, obviously enthused by the idea.
The jeweller swiftly removed himself to some back room to fetch them and Ivy seized the chance for a private protest. ‘You mustn’t buy them for me, Jordan,’ she cried anxiously. ‘The ring is enough. More than enough.’
He smiled indulgently at her. ‘Ivy, I can afford to spoil you with some fine jewellery. And if it does look splendid on you, we’ll go shopping for a suitable dress to show it off at our engagement party.’
‘No!’ She shook her head vehemently. ‘They’ll all know you bought it. They’ll think…’ Just like his sister did, that he was fitting her out to be introduced to his social scene—Cinderella striking it rich. ‘I don’t want it, Jordan,’ she said with a fierce surge of pride. ‘I’ll dress myself and if I’m not good enough for you as I am…’
‘Hey, hey!’ he cut in, frowning at her reaction to his plan. ‘I only meant to give you the pleasure of outshining everyone on the night.’