Page 4 of Wife in Public

Wrong time, wrong place, with Melanie Tindell hanging on his arm, but Jordan felt a strong spark of interest in meeting the artist’s daughter again. Wonderful pale skin—amazingly without freckles—and eyes so green he wouldn’t mind plumbing their depths. She could have looked spectacular with a bit of effort. He’d wondered why she hadn’t bothered. Most women would have played up such natural assets.

The name came back to him…Ivy.


Poison Ivy?

There’d definitely been some tension between her and her mother.

All very curious.

‘The doors open at six o’clock,’ his own mother informed him. ‘Henry will serve us decent champagne and there’ll be the usual hors d’oeuvres. If you’ll be at home at five-thirty I’ll direct my chauffeur to pick you up along the way.’

His current domain at Balmoral was only a slight diversion on his mother’s route from Palm Beach. ‘Fine!’ he replied, deciding he could improvise with alternative transport should Ivy prove interesting enough to pursue.

‘Thank you, Jordan.’

‘My pleasure.’

He smiled as he closed his mobile and tucked it back in his pocket.

He didn’t mind pleasing his mother, especially when there was the possibility of pleasure for himself.

CHAPTER THREE

IVY was late. The Friday-evening peak-hour traffic had been horrific, and finding a parking place had been equally frustrating. She had to walk three blocks virtually on her toes in the trendy shoes, silently cursing the designers who dictated foot fashion. They deserved a seat in hell. No, not a seat. They should have to walk forever in their own torturous creations.

As she turned the last corner to the street where the gallery was situated, she saw a chauffeur popping back into a Rolls-Royce which was double-parked outside her destination. Easy for some, she thought, her mind instantly zinging to Jordan Powell. Everything would be easy for a billionaire, especially women. Certainly in his case. A fact she was unlikely to forget.

In Heather’s lingo, she was a red-hot tamale tonight.

If Jordan Powell was here by himself…if he bit…what should she do?

Have a taste of him or run?

Wait and see, she told himself. There was no point in crossing bridges until she came to them.

She switched her thoughts to her mother. It was a big night for her. At least this outfit should not take any of the shine off it. It was sequin city all the way.

Henry Boyce, the gallery owner, was obsequiously chatting up one of his super-wealthy clients when Ivy walked in, but his eagle eye was open for newcomers. When he caught sight of her, his jaw dropped. The gorgeously gowned woman with the perfectly styled blond hair who had lost his attention turned to see who was the distraction, a miffed look on her arrogant face. The man who stood on the other side of her shifted enough to view the intrusive object.

It was Jordan Powell.

And his face broke into a delighted grin.

Ivy’s heart instantly leapt into a jig that would have rivalled the fastest dance performers in Ireland.

‘Good heavens! Ivy?’ Henry uttered incredulously, his usual aplomb momentarily deserting him.

‘Who?’ the woman demanded.

She was considerably older than Jordan, Ivy realised, though beautifully preserved and very full of her own importance.

‘Forgive me, Nonie,’ Henry rattled out. ‘I wasn’t expecting…it’s Sacha’s daughter, Ivy Thornton. Come on in, Ivy. Your mother will be so pleased to see you.’

Not looking like a farm girl this time.

He didn’t say it but he was thinking it.

He’d wanted to turn her away from the last exhibition until she’d identified herself.

Ivy recovered enough from the thumping impact of Jordan Powell’s presence to smile. ‘I’ll go through and find her.’

‘A pleasure to see you here again, Ivy,’ the rose Valentino said, stunning her anew that he actually remembered meeting her before. ‘I don’t think you met my mother last time,’ he continued, stepping around the woman and holding out a beckoning hand to invite Ivy into the little group. ‘Let me introduce you. Nonie Powell.’

His mother. Who looked her up and down as though measuring whether she was worth knowing. She had blue eyes, too, but they had a touch of frost in them, probably caused by the sheer number of women who streamed through her playboy son’s life, none of whom stayed long enough to merit her attention.

Ivy’s smile tilted ironically as she stepped forward and offered her hand. ‘A pleasure to meet you, Mrs Powell.’

‘Are you an artist, too, my dear?’ she asked, deigning to acknowledge Ivy with a brief limp touch.

‘No. I don’t have my mother’s talent.’

‘Oh? What do you do?’

Ivy couldn’t stop a grin from breaking out. She might look like a high-fashion model tonight, but… ‘I work on a farm.’

Which, of course, meant she was of no account whatsoever, so she gave a nod of dismissal before she received one. ‘If you’ll excuse me, I’ve arrived a little late and my mother might be feeling anxious about it.’

‘A farm?’ Nonie Powell repeated incredulously.

‘Let me help you find her,’ Jordan said, moving swiftly and smoothly to hook his arm around Ivy’s, pouring charm into a wicked smile. ‘I’m very good at cutting a swathe through crowds.’

Ivy gaped at him in amazement while her heart started another wild jig. Did he pick up women as fast as that?

‘Take care of my mother, will you, Henry?’ he tossed at the gallery owner and they were off, Ivy’s feet blindly moving in step with his as she tried to regather her wits.

‘Kind of you,’ she muttered, her senses bombarded by the spicy cologne he was wearing, the hard muscular arm claiming her company, the confident purr of his sexy voice, the mischievous dance in his bedroom-blue eyes.

‘Pure self-interest. We didn’t get to talk much last time, and I’m bursting with curiosity about you.’

‘Why?’ she demanded, frowning over how directly he was coming on to her, even after she’d said straight-out she was a farm girl. Did that make her a novelty?

‘The transformation for a start,’ he answered teasingly.

She shrugged. ‘My mother was not pleased with my appearance at that showing so I’m trying not to be a blot on her limelight again.’

‘You could never be a blot with your shade of hair,’ he declared. ‘It’s a beacon of glorious colour.’

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