‘Why not pursue it, at least for this evening?’ he pressed persuasively.
She sipped the champagne, felt the fizz go to her head, promoting the urge to be reckless. ‘All right,’ she said slowly. ‘You’ve sold me on the lobster. I will have dinner with you. If you can deliver what you promise,’ she added in deliberate challenge, making the seafood the attraction.
It didn’t dent his grin of confidence. ‘Consider it done,’ he said, whipping out his mobile telephone from a coat pocket.
A treacherous tingle of anticipation invaded Ivy’s en tire body. She didn’t wait to hear him make arrangements, moving on to look at the few paintings they hadn’t already seen, pretending it was irrelevant to her whether or not he secured a table for the promised dinner. Undoubtedly he would. Jordan Powell could probably buy his way into anything, any time at all.
But he couldn’t buy her.
She would only go as far as she wanted to go with him.
One evening…maybe one night…
One step at a time, she told herself. He might turn her off him over dinner. The temptation could fizzle out. She couldn’t remember the last time she had indulged her tastebuds with lobster. That, at least, was one pleasure she could allow herself without any concern over what was right or wrong.
THEY rode away from the gallery in Nonie Powell’s chauffeured Rolls-Royce—borrowed briefly for the trip to the restaurant. Jordan’s mother had rolled her eyes over the request, chided him for deserting her and given a long-suffering sigh as her gaze flicked over Ivy before waving them off, obviously resigned to her playboy son’s weakness for a new attraction.
Ivy didn’t care what his mother thought. Her own mother had been quite happy for her to leave with the billionaire, probably seeing him as the ultimate city man who might very well seduce her from country life. Ivy didn’t care what Sacha thought, either. As far as she was concerned, this was simply an experience she wanted to dabble with while it was desirable.
When it stopped being desirable, she would take a taxi to her car and drive home. In the meantime, she was enjoying the experience of riding in a Rolls-Royce. She’d never done it before and it was most unlikely she would ever do it again. It felt luxurious. It smelled luxurious. She focussed her mind on memorising everything about it to tell Heather because it helped distract her from an acute awareness of the man sitting beside her.
He totally wrecked that mental exercise by reaching across, plucking her hand from her lap and stroking it with his long, elegant and highly sensual fingers. Her pulse bolted into overdrive. She found herself staring at their linked hands, fascinated by the juxtaposition of his olive skin and the extreme fairness of hers. She visualised them in bed together…naked…intertwined…black hair, red hair. The image was wickedly entrancing.
Ben’s skin had been fair, though not as fair as hers. Jordan Powell was very different, in every sense. Was it the sheer contrast that made him so appealing? Why did being with him excite her so much? Was it the idea of living dangerously, which was not her usual style at all?
‘What are you thinking?’ he asked.
No way was she about to reveal those thoughts! ‘Where are we going?’ she countered, giving him a bright look of anticipation.
‘Wherever you want to go,’ he purred back at her, the sexy blue eyes inviting her to indulge any desire she had on her mind.
‘I meant the restaurant,’ she stated pointedly. ‘My car is parked near the gallery. If I decide to walk out on you, which I might want to do, I’d prefer not to have a long journey back to it.’
He laughed, squeezing her hand as though asserting his possession of her even as he replied, ‘Your escape route won’t be a hardship. The restaurant is at Rose Bay. In fact, we’re almost there.’
‘Good! What’s it called?’
‘Pier. It specialises in seafood—spanner crab, lobster, tuna. I can recommend the trout carpaccio as a starter.’
‘Then I hope you don’t say anything offensive before we dine.’
‘I’ll watch my tongue,’ he assured her, smiling as though he found her absolutely delicious.
Ivy immediately started wondering about how sexy his tongue was, in kissing as well as other intimate things. She had to wrench her gaze away from his mouth before he started guessing what she was thinking.
The idea of new experiences could be terribly beguiling.
It was another new experience to be welcomed so effusively into a classy restaurant, led to a table with a lovely view of Sydney Harbour, and given immediate smiling service. Obviously Jordan Powell was known to be a very generous tipper. Who could blame the average working person for bending over backwards to please him? Besides, he really was charming. To everyone! The maître d’, the wine waiter, the food waiter, to her especially. Being in his company was an undeniable pleasure.
And the seafood was superb.
Especially the lobster, done simply in a lemon butter sauce.
Ivy sighed in satisfaction.
‘Up to your expectations?’ Jordan asked, his eyes twinkling pleasure in her pleasure.
‘Best I’ve ever had,’ she answered truthfully. ‘Thank you.’
He gave her a slow, very sensual smile. ‘I think the best is yet to come.’
Her stomach muscles contracted. Her mind jammed over what to do next—have a one-night fling with him or scoot for home. ‘I couldn’t fit in sweets, Jordan,’ she said. ‘Though coffee would be good.’
A glass of champagne at the gallery and a glass of chardonnay over dinner should not be affecting her judgement, yet she couldn’t seem to manage any clear thinking with his eyes tempting her to stay with him and find out if he would deliver ‘the best’. Maybe the coffee would sober her up enough to make the break, which, of course, was the most sensible thing to do. This whole thing with Jordan Powell was fantasy stuff. It wouldn’t—couldn’t—develop into a real relationship.
He ordered the coffee and handed his credit card to the waiter, indicating they would be leaving soon.
‘I’ll need to call a taxi to get back to my car,’ Ivy quickly said. ‘I can’t walk that far in these killer shoes.’
‘A taxi in twenty minutes,’ Jordan instructed the waiter, apparently unperturbed about going along with her plan.
Twenty minutes later they left the restaurant.
A taxi was waiting for them.
It was only a short drive to where she had parked her car, but every minute of the trip shredded Ivy’s nerves. Jordan had taken possession of her hand again and somehow she couldn’t bring herself to snatch it free. Her heart was pounding. Her whole body felt on edge, fighting against the restrictions her mind was trying to impose on it. The pulse in her temples seemed to be thumping, Go with it. Go with it. Go with it.