Mr. Irresistible(7)

By: Karina Bliss

“But you love it, especially on the moral high ground.”

It would take better bait than that to get a rise out of her.

“Don’t marry Peter. You don’t suit.”

Kate stopped dead. “You’re very opinionated, for someone who barely knows me.”

“Funny, I was going to say the same thing about you. Writing about me in your column.” He moved his hand soothingly on her bare back, and she found herself dancing again, somehow closer than before.

“‘By their deeds ye shall know them,’” she quoted softly. “My column looks at social inconsistencies, including the differences between what people say and what they do.” As a columnist satirizing human foibles and failings, she had grown accustomed to the disgruntled seeking their revenge. And she knew how to handle them.

“You’re leading, Kate.”

She stumbled and bit back an automatic apology. No apologies tonight, not to this man. “It’s the legacy of learning to dance at an all-girls’ school.”

“Yeah, I had you pegged as a convent girl.”

Kate quelled another pang of annoyance. “Let’s get back on topic. A family disintegrated because you played around with a married woman. Isn’t that inconsistent with your support of family charities?”

His eyes darkened and she realized how angry he was. “While linking my scandal to a kids’camp that relies on public goodwill is consistent with your support of family charities.”

Kate gave up any pretense of dancing. “How like a man to evade responsibility by shifting the blame.”

“And how like a woman to jump into a situation she doesn’t understand, and start moralizing.”

They stood glaring at each other, both breathing hard. Behind Jordan, a woman laughed nervously, and Kate woke to her surroundings. The couples around them were barely moving, too busy listening with unabashed interest.

Horrified, she glanced toward the bar. Peter still sat there, engrossed in conversation. “We’re making a scene,” she hissed.

“What?” Jordan stared at her, incredulous.

“A scene. We’re making a scene.” Kate indicated the surrounding couples.

He crossed his arms. “I’m not finished.”


“LOOK,” SHE SAID through gritted teeth, “I’ll hear you out. But not here. I don’t want Peter’s boss seeing his employee’s girlfriend squabbling with a client.”

With a sharp glance Kate couldn’t interpret, Jordan placed a hand under her elbow and steered her through an adjacent set of French doors.

The night had grown cool and the terrace was empty; white chairs tilted forward against abandoned tables. Wisps of gray cloud, backlit by the full moon, mounted forces for an early autumn storm.

For a moment they stood in silence, looking down into the garden, where the plants took on mysterious shapes in the moonlight. Warily, Kate turned to face him.

“What do you want, Jordan, an apology? A retraction? You won’t get one.”

“A promise. Say what you like about me…‘Tarzan in need of a haircut’…hell, I don’t care. Public opinion has never concerned me. But don’t make a connection with the camp again.”

Kate stiffened. That sounded suspiciously like a threat. “The behavior of anyone involved in a charity must be open to public scrutiny. You must have known that when you had the affair.”

He made an impatient gesture. “I didn’t know I was having an affair. Penny told me she was separated.”

“And you believed her?”

“I don’t lie and I don’t expect other people to.” He had the ability to come across as terribly sincere. But that didn’t mean it was real.

“Will she verify your story?”

“Strangely, she’s reluctant to acknowledge herself as a liar as well as an adulteress,” he said dryly.

Kate’s tone matched his. “So there’s only your word for this new twist?”

“You know why you’re reacting so badly to all this, don’t you?” Jordan asked conversationally. “I’ve disappointed you.” She blinked. “You’re disappointed,” he continued, “because despite our skirmishes, you’ve always liked me. Go with that instinct.”

“Actually, I’ve never liked you.”

For a moment Jordan stared down at her, his expression inscrutable. “So as well as throwing down the gauntlet professionally, you’re denying we have an attraction?” He reached out to cup her chin.

His eyes, as he looked into hers, held a challenge at once compelling and terrifying. Kate had thought living with her father had immunized her against the wiles of unpredictable charmers. She’d been wrong. “You should be with me,” Jordan said.