Missing out on that…no.
He had to win her over.
‘Never say never, Ivy. Things can change,’ he said mildly, hoping to undermine her hard stance.
‘I can’t see that happening.’ The fascinating green eyes flashed scepticism, but the tone of her voice was not so fierce.
‘It was crass of me to link buying your mother’s paintings to my invitation to dinner and I apologise for the offence given,’ he went on, projecting absolute sincerity. ‘Please take it as a measure of how much I wanted you to accept, how much I wanted to spend more time with you.’
She frowned. After a few moments of cogitation, she gave him a narrow look that telegraphed he was on shaky ground, but her words granted him a second chance. ‘Well, if you still want to accompany me around the gallery, I’ll go that far with you.’
Triumph zinged through his mind. He only just managed to keep his smile appealingly rueful. ‘I shall monitor my conversation with rigid regard to your sensibilities.’
It drew a laugh. ‘I don’t think you can hide your true colours, Jordan. Getting your own way must be habitual. You have all the tools to do it. Wealth, looks and charm to boot.’
He affected a helpless expression. ‘None of which appear to carry any weight with you.’
She laughed again, shaking her head at him. ‘I can’t deny you’re entertaining.’
He grinned. ‘So are you, Ivy. I’ve just found a masochistic streak in myself. You can put me down as much as you like and I’ll pop up for more.’
The green eyes sparkled. ‘I might test that.’
He suddenly saw her in a black leather corselet, high-heeled boots laced up to her thighs, a whip in her hand. With her white skin and red hair, it made a fantastic vision. ‘Are you a dominatrix?’ he asked, seized by an irrepressible curiosity. He wasn’t into that kind of kinky sex, but with Ivy he might give it a try.
‘A what?’ She looked aghast.
‘I thought you could have been suggesting it with your “test” remark. Sorry. Had to ask. I do like to get my bearings with people, and you’ve completely knocked me off them.’
Her cheeks flamed again, the heat glow making her green eyes even greener. Her colouring was so entrancing, Jordan felt a considerable flow of heat himself though it was concentrated below the belt, not above it.
‘I’m certainly not a dominatrix,’ she stated emphatically.
‘Good! Because I’m not really a masochist.’ And he much preferred the idea of controlling the sexual games he played with Ivy, not the other way around.
She planted her hands on her hips. ‘And just how did this conversation get to the bedroom? Do you have sex on your mind all the time?’
‘Most men have sex on their minds most of the time,’ he informed her with an ironic grimace.
‘Do you think you can lift yours off it while we look at paintings?’
‘Difficult with you dressed as you are, but I’ll do my best.’
‘I shall.’ He whipped the brochure out of her hand, checked the number of the next painting and directed her attention to it. ‘This one is called Waterlilies. Much more to my liking. Reminds me of Monet’s great works. Have you ever been to Monet’s garden at Giverny, Ivy?’
‘It’s marvellous. Inspirational. After seeing what he created there, I was determined to bring something like it to every one of the retirement villages I’ve had constructed. There’s nothing like a wonderful garden in bloom to make people feel good. Best environment you can have.’
The leap from sex to gardens was diverting but for Ivy the damage was done. She couldn’t lift her own mind from thoughts of how he might be in the bedroom. He had wonderful hands, long and elegant, and she couldn’t help imagining that their touch would be sensitive. Ben’s had never really been gentle enough. With him she had often wished…though their relationship had been very companionable and she might have married him if he’d been more understanding during her father’s last months.
No chance of marriage with Jordan Powell.
Only bed and roses.
But the bed part might be an experience worth having.
Maybe she would never meet a man who would be happy to share their lives. Ben had been the only possibility and she was already twenty-seven. For the past two years there had been no one of any real interest on her horizon. Jordan Powell was interesting, though not, of course, in any lasting sense. But for a while…
It was tempting and becoming more tempting by the minute.
He bought Waterlilies.
Henry put the red dot on the frame of the painting, congratulated Jordan on a fine buy, smiled at Ivy as though to say she had done well by her mother, and moved off, probably hoping she would do more on the sales front with a billionaire in tow.
‘This was not a bribe, Ivy,’ Jordan assured her. ‘If you weren’t at my side, I would still have acquired it.’
‘What will you do with it?’ she demanded, wanting proof that his liking for it was genuine.
‘Hang it in one of the nursing homes. It gives a sense of serenity. I’m sure the residents will enjoy it.’
Her curiosity was piqued. ‘You seem to care about the people who buy into your properties.’
‘I like them. They’ve reached an age where impressing a person like me is irrelevant. They say it how it is for them and I respect that.’ There was a glint of cynicism in his eyes as he added, ‘Honesty is a fairly rare commodity in my world.’
Yes, it probably was, Ivy thought, and wondered if the high turnover of women in his life was related to some form of deception on their part. Although that was putting them in the wrong and she shouldn’t assume he was not. Undoubtedly Jordan Powell had his shortcomings when it came to relationships. She suspected he had a wandering eye, for a start. The last time she’d been in this gallery he’d sought an introduction to her when he was with another woman.
Sliding him a searching look, she asked, ‘Are you honest yourself, Jordan?’
‘I try to be,’ he answered. The wicked twinkle reappeared. ‘On the whole, I think I deliver whatever I promise.’
He was definitely thinking sinful pleasures.
Ivy’s stomach fluttered in sinful excitement.
He cocked a challenging eyebrow. ‘What about you?’
‘Oh, I always deliver what I promise,’ she said. The reputation of her business depended upon it.