To Woo A Wife(8)

By: Carole Mortimer




'She gave up modelling,' Stephen supplied unhelpfully.



Most unhelpfully, as far as Jarrett was concerned. He hadn't been this interested in a woman in years, and the fact that she seemed so damned elusive— A sudden thought struck him. 'She isn't married, is she, Stephen?' he grated harshly. It would be just his luck if she were; married women were definitely a no-no for him.



His own mother's alley-cat behaviour, and the pain it had caused his father, had made him decide long ago that he would never interfere in another couple's relationship. His parents' turbulent marriage was also the reason he had decided he would never fall in love, never marry. If any man tried to intrude on his marriage, he knew he wouldn't react as mildly as his father had done all those years, that he—



What the hell was he doing even thinking about marriage? It was complete anathema to him, as evidenced by his earlier conversation about desserts, and the attraction of each of them.



He recalled with pleasure how Abbie had answered all of his derisive comments with a jibe of her own. Abbie...! Damn it, he was doing it again. If only she weren't so damned intriguing...!



'Would it bother you if she were married?' Stephen answered his question, his expression deliberately bland.



'Not at all,' Jarrett snapped, impatient with himself for dropping his guard enough to let Stephen know how interesting he found the enigmatic Abbie; he should have remembered earlier what a damned nuisance Stephen could be when he got an idea in his head. And the last thing Jarrett needed at the moment was a matchmaking Stephen! 'Just because you're in the throes of newly married bliss at the moment,' he scorned, 'doesn't mean the rest of us have to join you!'



Stephen chuckled at Jarrett's aggression, not fooled for a moment, turning slightly in his chair to look across the restaurant. 'Ah, here come the ladies now,' he said admiringly. 'Don't they make a striking couple? And for fee record, Jarrett,' he leant forward to murmur softly then he received no response from the other man, 'Abbie isn't married!'



'I told you, it doesn't—' Jarrett broke off his angry retort as the women reached their table, his frown turning to a scowl as he stood up and noticed a man, seated alone a couple of tables away, who couldn't seem to take his eyes off Abbie.



Damn it, the woman drew admiring male looks like a magnet! Any man stupid enough to become involved with her would need a chain attached to her ankle to make sure she didn't— God, he was doing it again; he had no intention of becoming involved with her, so why should he give a damn about any other idiot who did?



"Excellent timing,' Stephen told the two ladies as they sat down and their first course was served to them.



Jarrett took one look across the table at Abbie, and as quickly looked away again. God, no woman should have a mouth as sensuous as hers! And the peach lipgloss she had applied to those pouting lips only made him want id kiss her all the more.



And he did want to kiss her!

In fact, he wanted to do a lot more than kiss her...! Thank goodness he had been able to hold the white linen kin in front of him when he stood up while the two resumed their seats, otherwise the whole restaurant would have been aware of the complete betrayal of his body. He was behaving like a schoolboy with his first crush, damn it!



The man seated two tables away, although giving the impression of eating his own meal, was still watching Abbie, surreptitiously. And Jarrett, again like a schoolboy, he acknowledged angrily, wanted to punch him on the nose for just daring to look at her!



'Are the ribs not to your liking, Jarrett?'



He looked at Abbie with completely blank eyes; even the husky tone to her voice was faintly erotic. Damn it, no woman should be this sensually beautiful. 'What?' he rasped aggressively.



The slight widening of violet-blue eyes was the only visible indication she gave of recognising his manner. 'I merely wondered if there was something wrong with your food; you don't appear to be eating it,' she pointed out lightly.



He looked down at the untouched starter in front of him, across at the other three half-eaten plates of food on the table, forcing himself to relax, inwardly chastising himself for his lapse. The sooner he got this meal over with, the sooner he would be able to get away. From Abbie.



'I'm sure the ribs are going to be excellent,' he answered. 'After all, this is a Sutherland Hotel, isn't it?' he added derisively. 'Although,' he continued, 'it isn't much of a recommendation for the place when the part-owner doesn't even stay in her own hotels!' He bit into his food, and, as he had already surmised, the ribs were mouth-wateringly delicious.



Sutherland Hotels were known worldwide for their welcoming service and excellent restaurants; everything about this hotel spoke of its exclusivity, from the reception to the beautifully furnished suites of rooms. But the woman who dominated the boardroom, Daniel Sutherland's widow, never stayed in them...