She glared at him. ‘I’m not a trophy woman, remember? It’s not me.’ She looked down at the ring on her finger, beginning to feel uncomfortable about that, too.
He put his hand over it to prevent her from taking it off. ‘You’re going to be my wife, Ivy. This ring is part and parcel of that position. I want you to have it. Okay?’
He spoke with soft persuasion but there was inflexible purpose in his eyes, demanding that she surrender to his will on this issue. She heaved a sigh to ease the tightness in her chest and nodded. ‘Okay to the ring. But not to you buying me anything else.’ She was absolutely inflexible herself on that point. The memory of yesterday’s encounter in the Double Bay boutique was too fresh to forget. No way would she invite rotten assumptions to be made about her.
He raised his hand to gently stroke her cheek, which was burning with the ferocity of her feeling. ‘You’re more than good enough for me and I hope you never change,’ he said with what looked like genuine appreciation in his eyes. ‘Wear whatever you like on Saturday night, as long as you also wear this ring because it says what I feel about you for the whole world to see.’
Her pride splintered into a quick apology. ‘Sorry for being so prickly.’ Her eyes pleaded for understanding. ‘I guess it’s a lot to take in all at once. I won’t let you down at the party. I can look presentable, you know.’
‘Don’t let it be too important, Ivy. It’s not,’ he assured her.
But somehow it was. She was about to be publicly linked with Jordan Powell, and she needed to look like a match for him, not feel out of place at his side. After the purchase of the ring had been made, she delayed her return to the farm, driving over to Double Bay and not leaving until she was satisfied that her wardrobe had been suitably replenished with clothes which would not raise a critical eyebrow anywhere.
The sheer extravagance of what she’d bought nagged at her on the drive home. She was not used to spending so much money on herself. There’d only been the one wild spree for Sacha’s exhibition, motivated mostly to avoid criticism, which was what she was doing again now. Jordan was right. She shouldn’t let what others might think become too important, nor should she let her pride prevent him from giving her whatever he wanted to give her. If it gave him pleasure to adorn her like a queen, she should accept it gracefully, especially when she was his wife.
She wanted to fit into his world. For him. She needed to learn how to do it, not buck at every entry point. It was important to be more open-minded now, adapt to whatever company she was in. He’d done it for her. Loving him, having his love…keeping that at the heart of everything would surely smooth the path to the future they wanted together.
It was almost four o’clock—Heather’s leaving time—when Ivy arrived home. She hurried into the office, carrying her shopping bags, knowing her friend would want to see everything.
‘Hi! You’re not going to believe this!’ Heather exclaimed, swivelling her chair around from the computer table. ‘Jordan has just ordered twenty dozen red roses, without the fudge, to be couriered to a Palm Beach residence on Friday afternoon.’ Her brow furrowed over this departure from form. ‘What do you suppose this means?’
Ivy grinned at her. ‘I guess they’re to decorate his mother’s house for our engagement party on Saturday night.’ She held out her left hand. ‘Look!’
Heather squealed and erupted from her chair, pouncing on Ivy’s hand, her eyes goggling at the ring. ‘Oh, wow! That’s the best Christmas tree I’ve ever seen!’
Ivy laughed. ‘It does look a bit like one.’
‘And marrying Jordan Powell!’ She grinned in delight. ‘All your Christmases have come at once, Ivy. Why didn’t you call me, tell me? It’s such fantastic news!’
‘Fantastic is the operative word,’ Ivy answered dryly. ‘It didn’t seem real at first. I wasn’t expecting it. You know why, Heather.’
‘That’s all in the past,’ was Heather’s blithe dismissal. ‘I thought he was seriously attracted to you and this proves it. Let’s go out to the kitchen, pour ourselves a celebratory drink and you can tell me all the marvellous details.’ Her eyes sparkled gleefully. ‘Did he go down on bended knee to propose?’
Ivy shook her head. ‘It wasn’t like that.’
She didn’t mind revealing the truth to Heather, who knew all the background. They sat at the kitchen table and Ivy poured out her feelings, how Jordan had turned them around, and confiding that she was still coming to grips with the new situation and would be grateful for any input that might help with it.
‘Let Jordan be your guide into his world, Ivy,’ Heather advised. ‘Trust him to decide what’s best for both of you. I think he’s been doing that already, and he’ll go on doing it because he loves you and doesn’t want to lose you. Just keep that straight in your mind and don’t let other people mess with it. Not his mother, not his sister, not anyone.’
‘Yes, you’re right,’ Ivy agreed, the load of worries lifting from her heart. She could do this—be Jordan’s partner in life. Anything worth having was worth working at. With experience would come more expertise in handling whatever had to be handled for them to be happy together.
‘Now about this engagement party. Are Graham and I invited?’ Heather asked hopefully.
‘Of course! And all our other friends, as well.’
‘Oh, good! We can hire a minibus for the night and have the fun of going together.’
There were calls to be made, arrangements to be put in place, and knowing she had the happy support of her friends made the prospect of the engagement party much less intimidating. As for the rest, she would have Jordan at her side—her man, proclaiming to the whole world that she was his woman.
It should be—would be—the most wonderful night of her life!
Jordan left no stone unturned to ensure there would be no upsetting incident for Ivy at their engagement party. The roses were a good talking point. Not only did they identify Ivy as a clever businesswoman, but it would undoubtedly amuse people to hear he’d been ordering them from her farm for years and she had initially rejected him because of them. Laughter was always an effective icebreaker and they would look at Ivy with the respect she deserved.
Having dealt with the business of the day, he drove to Palm Beach, intent on checking what his mother and sister had done so far. It was already Wednesday. Much had to be accomplished in three days, but where there was a will, there was a way, especially when cost was no object. Jordan didn’t care what was paid out for this occasion. It had to be right for Ivy.