To Woo A Wife(3)

By: Carole Mortimer

He turned to Abbie with renewed interest, his male assessment of her feminine attributes made swiftly and easily. He relaxed back in his own armchair. "So you're a model, too,' he murmured appreciatively.

'I was,' she answered quietly, ordering a sparkling mineral water when a waiter approached her.

Amber eyes widened interestedly. 'But not any more?'

'No, not any more,' she told him before turning back to the newly married couple, aware as she did so that Jarrett Hunter was still watching her with narrowed eyes. She guessed, with a certain amount of amusement at his expense, that he was having trouble categorising her. Like Alison, as a model, she had been assessed and processed and put into the appropriate box. Since she was no longer a model but obviously self-assured and moderately wealthy at least, he was obviously wondering exactly what she was now. She didn't think he had a hope of guessing!

'I can't tell you how pleased we are to see you here, Abbie.' Alison leant forward to clasp her arm. 'We don't see half enough of you these days,' she added with disappointment.

Abbie shrugged, aware that, for all he appeared perfectly relaxed and uninterested as he sat back in his chair, Jarrett Hunter was actually listening intently to every word spoken. Obviously he was a man who didn't like mysteries—and she was fast becoming one to him!

'I don't know where the time goes,' she answered regretfully. 'One day I'm in London, the next in Hong Kong, and today I'm in Canada!'

'You enjoy travelling, Abbie?' Jarrett Hunter was regarding her rather scornfully now, perhaps envisaging her as a social butterfly with a certain amount of contempt.

Abbie coolly returned his scathing glance. 'Not particularly, Mr Hunter,' she drawled dismissively.

Puzzlement flickered in those amber depths as he frowned slightly. 'Then why—?'

'I believe our table is ready.' Stephen smoothly cut in on their conversation as the waiter approached their table again, his blue eyes widely innocent as Jarrett turned to him to protest. 'I know you said earlier that you were busy this evening, Jarrett, but are you sure you won't join us?' he added.

Abbie's mouth quirked slightly with amusement as she looked admiringly at her friend's new husband; Stephen could almost be aware that she had overheard Jarrett Hunter's stinging remarks earlier at her expense! Or maybe he was just reminding his friend's male reaction to her, after his earlier scathing comments about single women, a cause for amusement himself...! Whatever, Stephen was enjoying this situation immensely!


'Please don't think of changing your arrangements on my account.' Abbie gave Jarrett Hunter a bright, vacuous smile as they all stood up. 'Gone are the days, I can assure you, when we women needed a male escort to be able to go out to dinner. Thank goodness'!' she added with feeling.

Alison gave her a sharp, questioning look before glancing towards the entrance to the bar, obviously taking in the presence of the large, concealing plant that stood near their seats, a knowing look in her eyes now as she met Abbie's innocent gaze.

Jarrett Hunter was looking at her with narrowed eyes too, but for a completely different reason. He was still trying to fit her into a particular niche—and failing utterly! 'I don't actually have any other arrangements for dinner this evening,' he finally said slowly. 'I just didn't want to intrude...'

'How kind of you,' Abbie said. 'Alison and I have so much news to catch up on.'

'...on Alison and Stephen's honeymoon,' Jarrett Hunter finished softly, challenge in those golden eyes now.

He had very capably turned the tables on her, trying— and succeeding!—in putting her in a defensive position. But not an irretrievable one—

'Alison and I have been married almost two weeks; we go home the day after tomorrow—the honeymoon is over!' Stephen very neatly came to her rescue.

Alison tucked her arm possessively through the crook of his. 'Only the social part,' she warned.

'Take a tip from me, Jarrett,' Stephen told his friend with an affected groan. 'Never marry a younger woman!'

Abbie and Alison were both twenty-seven, whereas the two men were probably in their late thirties, though considering they looked athletically fit, their bodies lithe and firm, Stephen's last remark had to be a joke. And it was one that Abbie and Alison both responded to.

Not so Jarrett Hunter. 'I never intend marrying at all,' he drawled arrogantly.

Abbie looked at him with new interest; so the two of them had something in common, after all. She had no intention of ever being married, either. But she had her own reasons for that decision. She wondered what Jarrett Hunter's were...

'Why settle for one delicious dessert?' He scornfully supplied the answer to her question, even as she thought it 'When I have a liking for so many?' he added.