To Woo A Wife(7)

By: Carole Mortimer

'That has to be a first!' Stephen taunted, tongue-in-cheek.

Jarrett shook his head, his expression pained. 'I'd forgotten just how damned annoying you could be!' He shook his head.

'Oh, he can be much more annoying than this,' Alison assured him guilelessly.

Jarrett shot her an impatient look too, turning to Abbie. 'Do you suppose it's catching?' he muttered irritably.

'Probably,' she returned, enjoying his discomfort, but also intrigued by the conversation, in spite of herself. 'But don't get too worried; you haven't been around them long enough for the effect to be lasting!'

He raised those golden eyes heavenwards. 'Let's hope you haven't either!'

'You don't get out of this that easily, Jarrett,' Alison went on. 'We all want to know exactly who this elusive woman is, and why you want to meet her.'

Alison was taking this joke a little too far, Abbie thought as she picked up her wine glass and took a sip, although she did have a problem herself imagining any woman piquing this man's interest enough for him to continue the pursuit for months; after all, desserts were perishable, they all had a sell-by date—even ice cream!

Perhaps it was catching, after all...!

Jarrett relaxed back in his chair. 'Her name is Sabina Sutherland,' he announced. 'She's Daniel Sutherland's widow. And I have it on good authority that she's here skiing with her daughter— What the hell...?' He gasped as Abbie choked on the wine she had been drinking, leaned forward to tap her gently on the back.

'Come on Abbie' he chided as she mopped at the tears on her with a tissue hastily supplied by Alison. 'I wasn't doing anything indecent with either the mother or the daughter!'

Even if he had been, he would be out of luck—because she-was Sabina Sutherland, and her daughter, Charlie was only four years old!


Jarrett watched with narrowed eyes as Alison and Abbie left the table, ostensibly so that Abbie could restore her make-up after her choking fit. But as far as Jarrett was concerned you couldn't improve on perfection, and Abbie was the most beautiful woman he had seen in a decade!

He had felt as if someone had kicked him in the solar plexus when she'd walked into the bar earlier, had found himself openly staring at her as she moved gracefully across the room towards them and he had realised this was the friend of Alison's who was joining them for dinner. Her face was absolute perfection, her skin clear and delicate, her nose beautifully sculptured; her face was dominated by eyes of violet-blue and a deeply sensual mouth, the lips full and inviting. As for her hair—! It reached almost down to her waist in a glorious cascade of midnight and her body—

He had better stop right there, could already feel the stirring of desire in his own body just at the thought of Abbie's!

He turned to Stephen, his mouth twisting wryly at the way the other man was watching him. 'Stop looking so damned pleased with yourself,' he mumbled.

Stephen openly smirked. 'I was merely wondering what you thought of the "paper-bag job" now.'

'Very funny!' Jarrett didn't appreciate being reminded of his earlier disparaging remarks. 'Who the hell is she, Stephen?'

The two men had been friends since their schooldays, and although they often didn't see each other for months at a time, for years on one occasion, the easy friendship continued between them.

Stephen shrugged. 'We've already told you, she's a friend of Alison's from their modelling days together.'

Jarrett shook his head. 'If that woman had ever graced the catwalk, then she would have taken the world by storm!' he said with certainty. Abbie carried herself with a natural grace, would look good in anything-—or nothing!

God, he was off again; he wouldn't be able to stand up when the ladies returned to the table if this carried on! He couldn't remember reacting this strongly physically to a woman, just on sight, since his teenage years, and mat was twenty years ago.

'But she did, Jarrett,' his friend assured him mockingly. 'For two years she was the most sought-after model in Europe. You probably weren't aware of it because you were busy making your millions in Australia!'

The last I heard, Australia was still part of the world,' he said dryly.

'It's not the location that's relevant, Jarrett,' Stephen aid softly.

No, making his fortune had been his driving force for the last twenty years, the people he had associated with picked out for their own influences, or otherwise, in the besiness world he mixed in. Models—even ones as beautiful as Abbie!—hadn't been of any interest to him whatsoever. Hadn't been... Because he was certainly interested in Abbie now.

'What happened to her after those two years of acclaim?' he probed softly, eyes narrowed thoughtfully.