Tyce lifted his finger up and tapped the letter-sized photograph of a ring sporting a massive red stone for its center and delicate diamond petals. Even he, stupid when it came to stones, could see that this was a serious piece of jewelry art.
“Is that a ruby?”
“It’s a red diamond,” Sage said, coming up to stand at his shoulder. “Ridiculously rare, practically flawless. It’s—” she placed a hand on her heart and Tyce could see the emotion in her eyes “—the same chemical composition of coal but it amazes me that pressure and millions of years can turn coal into that.”
“Is it really that red?” Tyce asked, intrigued.
Sage half smiled. “That photograph doesn’t even begin to capture the color. It’s a deep, luscious red that defies description.”
“I take it that the Ballantyne family owns the ring?”
“Then why wasn’t it with the rest of the collection at the cocktail-party-slash-exhibition? I thought the point of the exhibition was to display the fabulous stones your family has collected over the past hundred years. I’d say that this ring qualifies as fabulous.”
Sage picked a pair of pliers, examined the handle and dropped them back onto the bench. “We decided not to show it to the world.”
“Why not? Is it stolen?”
Sage glared at him. “No, it’s not stolen.” She sighed and Tyce noticed her eyes darkening with something akin to pain. “I asked Linc not to exhibit the ring. For personal reasons.” Before he could ask what those personal reasons were Sage held up her hand and continued to speak. “Not going there, not now, not ever.”
Yeah, good idea. Talking was a damn good way to crack the door allowing those pesky feelings to slide on through. They had enough to deal with as it was and they didn’t need emotions muddying the water.
Bare feet peeking out from under the long hem of her jeans, Sage walked back to the center of the room and sat down on one of the two couches.
Tyce sat in the far corner on the couch opposite her, trying to put as much distance between them as possible. If she was in arms’ reach, then there was a damn good chance that he’d say to hell with talking and take her to bed. As his lack of control in the alley earlier showed, resisting Sage was not something he’d ever excelled at. And, he admitted, making love to her would be like adding C-4 to a bonfire. Stupid and dumb-ass crazy.
They were adults and they had to have a mature conversation about their situation. Tyce thought that adulthood wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be...
Then again, it was a damn sight better than being a child trying to operate in an adult world.
Sage pulled up her feet and tucked them beneath her bottom. She still looked a little shell-shocked and he couldn’t blame her. Nothing was simple about this situation... Nothing ever would be.
While he wasn’t a talker, he did concede that sometimes the only way to move forward was to communicate. Dammit, something else he wasn’t great at.
“Are you still mad because I deliberately set out to meet you?” Tyce asked, keeping his voice mild.
“You used me!”
Initially he had. He’d asked her out that first night because she was Sage Ballantyne, because he’d just found out that Lachlyn was Connor’s daughter and, in his anger, he’d thought that Sage was living Lachlyn’s life. He’d expected to find a pampered princess, someone he would despise, but Sage had turned out to be totally different. She was funny, down-to-earth, a little crazy.
“Within an hour of meeting I established that, while you adored your family, you wouldn’t talk about them. I also quickly realized that you weren’t that interested in the business side of the company.”
He caught the defiance in her eyes but he knew she was listening.
“If I was only interested in you for business information, I wouldn’t have bothered to call you again,” Tyce told her. “I paid a fair price for every share I purchased. I bought enough shares to bring Lachlyn to your attention, which was my eventual goal. Hearing that you are pregnant with my child moved my schedule up a bit. I haven’t cheated anyone out of anything.”