Engaged to Jarrod Stone(7)

By: Carole Mortimer

Brooke looked up sharply as the woman came back down again half an hour later. She must have been Jarrod Stone's important appointment, a very beautiful appointment, and it certainly wasn't a business appointment, of that she was sure. Selina Howard gave her a cool smile before leaving the building.

But the time Jarrod Stone came down in the lift at twelve-thirty Brooke had managed to stir herself up into a very nervous state. But perhaps he just intended for them to look as if they were leaving to go to lunch together, perhaps they would part when they got outside. She hoped so.

She grabbed her leather jacket and handbag from the cloakroom before he came over, smiling nervously at the girl who was taking over for her during her lunch break. Jarrod's eyes narrowed as she reached his side, but he said nothing about her flushed cheeks and too-bright eyes, merely taking hold of her elbow to guide her out of the door opened for them by the doorman.

Once outside the building his hand dropped away and he turned left towards the shopping centre, leaving Brooke to run to keep up with him, his long strides taking him along much faster than her own.

'Could you slow down a little?' she asked breathlessly.

Jarrod turned to look at her as if suddenly becoming aware of her, his pace slackening slightly but still much too fast for her.

'Where are we going?' She looked up at him.

His mouth turned back in a sneer. 'I would have thought it was obvious.'

'But I—I thought we were going to lunch. It's mainly shops in this part of town.'

He sighed. 'One shop in particular.'

'What shop is that?'

'A jewelers. There's a very good one not far from here.'

Again Brooke felt panic rising within her. 'A jewelers? Whatever for?'

'My dear girl, if we're going to be engaged you're going to need a ring. That's where we're going now, to buy you an engagement ring.'


Brooke stopped in her tracks, unconcerned when he turned to scowl his impatience. 'I don't want an engagement ring,' she declared.

Jarred walked back the short distance between them, grasping her arm roughly and pulling her to one side of the pavement. 'Don't shout like that in the street!' he snapped.

She shook off his hand. 'What else did you expect me to do? You were miles away from me.'

'Only because you deliberately hung back, behaving hysterically. What on earth is the matter with you? Surely you realize we can't be engaged without a ring? People will be looking for that, especially this evening.'

'I don't want a ring and I don't want to go out with you this evening. I don't mind keeping up this pretence at work, but I will not put on a show for all your high-class friends to laugh at!'

His well-shaped mouth tightened angrily. 'You say the most ridiculous things, do the most ridiculous things. You act far too impetuously, but I put that down to your youth. And my friends will not laugh at you, but they will think it odd if you aren't wearing my ring. This isn't something I care to discuss. I've already telephoned the jewelers and requested him to get together a selection of rings for you to look at.' He looked at his wrist-watch. 'He's expecting us about now.'

'I'm sure he'll wait for the valued customer that you undoubtedly are. I suppose it's the place you buy all the jewellery for your women,' she said bitchily, for the moment not bothered by her outspokenness. She had already far overstepped the line as far as this arrogant man was concerned and nothing she said or did now could make matters any worse for her.

'And if I do? What does that have to do with you?'

The fight went out of her at his coolness. 'Nothing, I suppose.'

'You suppose correct. Now, let's go.'

'Please!' Brooke held on to his arm, liking the feel of the expensive material of his suit beneath her fingers. 'Don't make me do this.'

Jarrod's dark head was held at a haughty angle, his grey eyes unyielding. There was no doubt that he was a hard man when crossed. He must terrify his business opponents into retreat; he certainly terrified her. 'Must I keep reminding you that you started this?' he drawled.

'But do you have to take advantage of it?' Her eyes pleaded with him.

'Yes. Now that's the last time we discuss this. From now on you'll just do as you're told. And there will be no repeat of your behavior this morning,' he added warningly.

They were walking along side by side now, Jarrod at last seeming to realize she had shorter legs than he did. She looked up at him innocently. 'Did I do something wrong?' she asked, knowing very well to what he referred.

'The way you drooled over me was completely unnecessary. I told you I wanted no over show of emotion.'

'Ooh, I didn't drool' she exclaimed.

'You gave a very good impression of it.' His eyes remained fixed ahead.

'You kissed me first,' she accused.

'I admit that, but it was nothing like the provocative act you were putting on.' He stopped outside an expensive-looking jewelers. 'I don't want anything like that in here, just a little natural affection for a new fiancée.'