To Woo A Wife(10)

By: Carole Mortimer

'I think you have an admirer, Abbie.' He dryly changed the subject.

She arched dark brows in cool dismissal. 'But we hardly know each other, Jarrett,' she returned just as dryly.

Golden eyes narrowed on the ivory perfection of her face; was she mocking him? 'I wasn't referring to myself,' he bit back, aware that he sounded rude and disdainful.

She frowned as his meaning became clear to her, looking about them with apprehensive eyes.

And, as she did so, it suddenly hit Jarrett that this woman was running away from something. Or someone...

At the same time as he realised this, Jarrett felt a previously unknown protectiveness. Towards Abbie. A woman, as she had already said, that he hardly knew! But despite her previous cool assurance there was a vulnerability about her at this moment, an air of uncertainty as she worriedly searched the faces of the other diners in the restaurant.

Jarrett sat forward, his face on a level with Abbie's. 'He's seated two tables away, to the left,' he told her quietly. 'And he doesn't seem able to take his eyes off you. Not that I can altogether blame him,' he added. 'It can't be every day that you see Cleopatra and Delilah all wrapped up in one deliciously feminine bundle!'

Abbie had located her admirer now, dismissing the young blond Adonis with one sweep of that violet-blue gaze.

God, she was a cool one, Jarrett acknowledged admiringly. The man who was watching her so intently had the sort of film-star good looks most women would drool over, and yet Abbie showed no feminine interest in him whatsoever, totally controlled again as her attention returned to their table, their main course now being served to them.

Stephen came into their conversation. 'Cleopatra and Delilah were both scheming women...'

Jarrett grinned. 'But beautiful, if history is to be believed—very beautiful.'

'If you'll all excuse me for a few minutes.' Abbie spoke distractedly, seemingly unconcerned at the barb in Jarrett's remark.

'I have to go and make a telephone call.' She stood up as she excused herself, picking up her small clutch-bag, to walk across the restaurant and out into the lobby beyond, where public telephones were situated.

'Was it something I said...?' Jarrett asked his two remaining dinner companions.

'I doubt it,' Stephen replied. 'Abbie probably does just have to make a telephone call.'

Maybe she did, Jarrett inwardly acknowledged, but the man who had been seated two tables away, the man who had been watching her so avidly through the meal, had obviously seen her departure as an opportunity to actually speak to her, getting up himself and following her from the room!

Jarrett's eyes became golden slits as he watched the other man, whose hurried departure, so soon after Abbie's, his meal half-eaten, couldn't just be a coincidence. Despite Abbie's air of cool assurance, there was also that vulnerability Jarrett had recognised in her earlier, and the delicacy of her tall, willowy body. The man who had followed her, so opportunely, was very tall and muscular, looked as if he worked out just for the hell of it!

He put his own snowy white linen napkin down on the table beside Abbie's. 'I'll be back in a moment,' he muttered, eyes narrowed purposefully as he strode out of the restaurant, uncaring of what Stephen and Alison thought of his departure.

It didn't take him long to locate Abbie. Or the blond Adonis.

They were standing together across the lobby, nowhere near the public telephone booths, which were on the other side of the wide marbled hall. And even as Jarrett went to march across it and put a stop to the blond man's intrusion Abbie reached up and put her hand on her companion's arm in a gesture of familiarity, her smile warm and relaxed as she looked up into that handsome face.

Jarrett came to an abrupt halt, a knot tightening in his stomach while he watched the continuing conversation between the couple. Although she had given no indication of it earlier when he'd pointed the other man out to her, Abbie knew that blond giant! There was a familiarity between them that spoke of an intimacy of long standing; Abbie was looking quite animated now.

Jarrett felt a wave of temper sweep through him at the way Abbie was behaving with the other man. The two had behaved like strangers in the restaurant, no sign of familiarity between them, despite the fact that the man hadn't seemed able to take his eyes off Abbie. What the hell was going on?

Whatever it was, Jarrett didn't intend being caught standing here staring at the two of them like a gawking schoolboy!

Yet as their conversation continued he found he couldn't move away. The two of them were very animated now, the man talking softly, but obviously slightly aggressively, while Abbie slowly shook her head in disagreement with what he was saying. The man broke off abruptly, and Abbie spoke to him now, that hand reassuringly on his arm once again. The man seemed to sigh his capitulation at what was being said, murmuring some tort of agreement, and Abbie nodded, a smile hovering about her sensuous lips.