Engaged to Jarrod Stone(9)

By: Carole Mortimer

'You may as well leave it on,' he told her. 'It fits perfectly.'

'Oh, but I--'

Mr. Green had already picked up the tray containing the other rings and was in the process of locking them away again.

'No arguments in here, please, Brooke,' Jarrod warned her out of earshot of the other man.

'But this ring is much too expensive,' she protested.

'Leave that to me. That's the ring I want you to wear.'

'But I'll be frightened of losing it.' She looked down at it wide-eyed.

'It will be insured,' he said uncaringly.

'Yes, but--'

'Leave it, Brooke,' he ordered as Mr. Green came back.

Brooke felt a natural curiosity to know just how much this rock on her finger was going to cost, but she knew it wasn't expected of her to stay and listen to the money side of the sale, so she wandered over to look in some of the other cabinets, looking at the glittering necklaces inside.

Once outside Jarrod handed her a large square box, ignoring her questioning look. 'Open it,' he ordered.

She did so with trembling fingers, crying out her surprise as she saw the contents. Nestling in blue velvet was a large teardrop diamond set on the most delicately fine gold chain she had ever seen, and lying within its circle were a pair of matching earrings. They were really lovely.

She thrust them back at him. 'I don't want these.' She remembered too well what he had said about giving his women jewellery. 'The ring I'll wear until I can be free of you, but I don't have to accept anything else from you.'

'They're for you to wear tonight.' He ignored the proffered box. 'I want you to look the part.'

'And a little receptionist like myself isn't likely to have this sort of jewellery hidden away,' she sneered.

'Exactly,' he agreed cruelly.

'You're an arrogant swine, Jarrod Stone. But I'll wear your diamonds for you—as long as I can return them to you as soon as we've left the party.'

'Don't be so childish!'

'Then I won't wear them. You can't force me to,' she declared obstinately.

'What an obstructive little girl you are! All right, I'll keep them locked up for you. Now let's go on to a shop where we can buy you a dress.'

Brooke stiffened. 'I have my own clothes, thank you.' 'I'm sure you have, but I want you to have something new.'

'I have my own clothes,' she repeated through gritted teeth. As it happened she had exactly the right dress to wear to go out with this sophisticated man, a gown that had been bought for a special occasion that had never taken place. It was an expensive one, bought to impress a boy-friend that she had finished with before the promised evening out.

How ironic that she should now wear the dress to go out with Jarrod Stone himself!

‘Do you have to argue about everything?' he snapped.

‘I need to hold on to my identity against you’ she answered defiantly.

‘you're impossible!' He hailed a passing taxi, bundling her inside before sitting beside her. 'Before you start a full-scale argument in the street,' he explained.

'You're too dominant, that's your trouble!' she snapped.

He began to smile, and finally the smile turned into a genuine laugh. It changed his whole face, not making him appear quite so grim and also making him look younger. Brooke felt her senses stir at the real humor in his deep grey eves.

He chuckled. ‘I’ll pick you up at eight-thirty this evening’

‘How do you know where I--Oh yes, my file.'

‘Yes, it has your address in it. Not much else, but it does have that. I will see you later.' He got back into the car.

Too late Brooke realized she still had the necklace and earrings in her hand. She would have to keep them with her now, something she hadn't wanted to do. Her handbag seemed the best place to stow them away, and putting the case at the bottom of what she jokingly called her 'shoulder suitcase' she went back to her desk.

She was so conscious of the huge diamond on her finger that for the first half an hour after her return she kept her left hand hidden. Jean soon noticed it, though, exclaiming enthusiastically over its beauty.

'You still haven't told me how you come to be in love and engaged to him. Why, only this morning I was insulting him to you, doubting his ability to be passionate if he tried. Now you must know first hand that I was wrong.'

Brooke didn't know first hand at all, but Jarrod's lower full sensuous lip didn't point to him being the cold impassionate machine Jean had implied this morning. And he hadn't kissed like an amateur, that brief caress evoking a response within her in spite of herself.

'You were wrong,' she confirmed, sure that this was so.

Jean smiled dreamily. 'It's all like a fairytale, isn't it? Engaged to be married to the unattainable Jarrod Stone. Lucky old you!'

Yes, lucky old her. She wasn't thinking that way later that evening as she nervously got herself ready to go to Philip Baylis's party. If Selina Howard was an example of Jarrod Stone's friends then there would be some really sophisticated people at this party tonight.