Engaged to Jarrod Stone(8)

By: Carole Mortimer

'I hate you, Jarrod Stone!' she said furiously.

He looked down at her with enigmatic eyes, making her aware of just how attractive he was—so tall and commanding, really majestically male, and very, very, handsome. She felt the old familiar flutterings in her stomach. It seemed she wasn't over her infatuation after all!

'Let's just keep it that way, shall we?' he said softly. 'I must admit to feeling slightly curious about your motivation for announcing our engagement this morning. At first I imagined it to be a not very subtle form of blackmail, then after reading your file, your age and so forth, I wondered if it might not be infatuation.'

I for this girl,' Brooke answered quickly. It had been infatuation, but that infatuation had quickly turned to dislike. His contemptuous words had turned her supposed love into a desire for revenge on his mercenary attitude towards women. He was the sort of man women fell for in their hundreds, and he walked away from them all untouched. Well, she had just made sure he hadn't got away so easily this time!

‘Why so vehement?' he asked. 'It wouldn't be the first time a young girl has imagined herself in love with an older man. Some of these girls have been known to take the initiative when they don't think they're achieving their aim fast enough.'

'Like I said, not this girl,' she assured him.

'No, your move was made from pure revenge, wasn't it, little mouse?'

Brooke knew he was deliberately baiting her and she obstinately refused to let him ruffle her. 'Can we get this over with? I have to be back in forty minutes.'

His eyes snapped with anger. 'I thought I told you to get an extended lunch break.'

Brooke pretended an interest in the jewellery window. 'You did,' she confirmed disinterestedly.

'Then why the hell didn't you?'

She flung back her head, her hair gleaming auburn brown in the sunlight. 'I didn't because I'm not the owner of the firm. I can't just take two-hour lunch-breaks when I feel in the mood.'

'You're engaged to the owner, that amounts to the same thing.'

'I would have thought that was all the more reason for me not to take advantage of the situation. By the way, there's a little man bobbing about inside the jewelers. I think he's looking at us.'

'No doubt. Well, if you only have forty minutes left I suppose we'd better get inside.'

The jeweler had obviously seen Jarrod Stone numerous times before and Brooke wondered if she had been right in her assumption about this place. That he was a valued customer there could be no doubt, it was there in the exaggerated respect he was receiving.

'So nice to see you again,' the jeweler gushed. 'And to meet your fiancée.' He smiled at Brooke. 'I'm so glad you chose our establishment to buy your ring, Miss Faulkner.'

Jarrod gave what Brooke considered to be his first natural smile of the day, at least, in her company. 'You know you're the best in town, Green.'

'So kind of you to say so, sir. And may I say I agree with your decision not to include sapphires in your choice. Miss Faulkner's eyes are more violet than blue.'

'Could we see the rings?' Jarrod requested tersely. 'We don't have a lot of time.' This last comment was obviously meant for Brooke.

She waited until the jeweler had left them alone before making a comment. 'I didn't realize you'd even noticed the color of my eyes.'

'I didn't,' he replied curtly. 'It was in your file.'

'Didn't your secretary think it odd for you to want to read my file?'

'I don't pay her to think about my personal life.'

Brooke frowned. 'I'm sure it didn't say anywhere in my file that my eyes were violet.'

'Maybe not. But they are, so let's not argue about it.' He straightened as the tray of rings were presented for their inspection.

They were beautiful rings—diamond clusters, solitaires, emeralds and rubies surrounded by sparkling diamonds. And all of them looking as if they would cost a fortune! She felt sure they all would. This was one of those exclusive expensive jewelers that only the very rich frequented. And Jarrod Stone was very rich.

Her eyes glowed as she picked up first one ring and then another, almost afraid to touch them but tempted by their beauty. As she had very long slender hands some of the smaller stones just didn't look right on her finger, but she chose these rings to try on because she knew they would be the least expensive. Finally she looted up at Jarrod for help. 'Which one do you like?' she asked helplessly.

Without hesitation he chose a large diamond set on a thin gold band, sliding it on to her finger before she had time to protest. 'That's the one,' he nodded his approval.

She could tell by the satisfied smile on the jeweler’s face that Jarrod had chosen the most expensive ring on the tray. She tried to pull it off her finger, but Jarrod's strong brown hand came out to stop her movements.