Table of Contents

+ Add to Library

Previous Next

Chapter 59 Well

  • “Well, the person who made it is a newcomer, though she’s been here a while now. Lives in the caravan park. Very exotic-looking. Comes from Brazil, someone said.”
Exotic…he’d imagined some over made up woman in a multicoloured floating garment…yet that design had tugged him into reconnoitring the market stalls at Town Beach the following Friday evening.
His first sight of her…like a magnet pulling him, his heart hammering, pulse racing. She’d been chatting to her co-stall holder. Had she felt him coming? Her head turned sharply. Their eyes met. An instant sexual awareness. Electric. How long had it lasted? Several seconds? Then she stiffened as though suddenly alert to danger, and her lashes swept down, shutting him out.
The abrupt switch off paused Jared in his tracks. It was wrong, unnatural. He sensed a shielding that was determined on blocking him out, and the urge to fight it welled up in him. She didn’t know him, he realised, and he didn’t know her. He tempered his more aggressive instincts, listening to the one warning him that storming defences was not a winning move.
He slowed his approach and made a casual study of the jewellery on the trestle table she stood behind. Each piece, to his eye, was a unique design, displaying a creative artistry he found almost as exciting as the woman. Part of her, he thought, an intrinsic part of heart, soul and mind woven into patterns and fashioned with exquisite taste. He couldn’t resist touching them.
“You made these?”
Her lashes lifted. “Yes.” She stood very still, her eyes alert, reminding him of a cat’s, watching what his next move would be.
He smiled. “Your own designs?”
“Yes.” No smile in response. A waiting tension emanating from her. “Are you interested in buying?”
She wanted him gone, which seemed so perverse it intrigued Jared even more. “You must have had training,” he remarked.
She shrugged. “I am now self-employed. Do you wish to buy?”
“You come from Brazil, I’m told. Perhaps you worked with H. Stern in Rio de Janeiro?”
More tension. A flat-eyed stare. “Why are you inquiring about me? Who are you?”
“Jared King. I head the Picard Pearl Company here in Broome. I’ve been looking for someone. Someone special. You…I think.”
A flare of alarm…recoil in her eyes.
The personal element was backfiring on him. He instantly slid into business. “I want a unique range of jewellery designed, featuring our pearls. I think you might be the right person to do it.”
No hesitation, not the slightest pause or flicker of interest. “I am not the person you want, Mr. King.”
“I think I should be the judge of what I want,” he dryly returned.
“And I the judge of what I want,” came the sharp retort.
“It could be worth your while…”
“No,” she cut in firmly. “I am self-employed. I like it that way. Now, if you’re not interested in purchasing…”
“I’ll take the lot.”
That startled her. But after the initial shocked flash of disbelief came a hard-eyed challenge. “It will not buy you anything but this jewellery, Mr. King.”
“I didn’t imagine it would, Miss…?”
Her mouth visibly thinned, wanting to hold it back from him, but her own intelligence told her it was too easily learnt from others here. “Valdez,” she answered tersely.
He fished out his wallet. “How much?”
She noted down the prices as she wrapped each piece in individual sheets of tissue paper, then added up the total and showed him so he could check it himself.
  • As he paid her, he also handed her a business card. “I am seriously interested in your talent as a designer,” he pressed quietly. “Please…think it over. Check my credentials. My contact numbers are on that card.”
“Thank you,” she said stiffly and gave him nothing more than the plastic bag in which she’d placed the tissue packets.
Having been comprehensively dismissed, he knew nothing would be gained by staying, but he left determined to seek her out again if she didn’t come to him.
Two weeks he gave her, more than enough time to check him out and consider the possibilities and advantages in the situation. Not the slightest nibble of interest from her. Nothing.
He did the pursuing and every meeting he managed was fraught with tension, her determination not to form any connection with him conflicting with the pull of an attraction she struggled to deny. It took a month of persistent angling and negotiation to get her to agree to submit designs that he could buy from her as he wished. Even then she kept her involvement with him strictly professional, continually blocking any encroachment on her private life.
Dancing with her at Nathan’s wedding…the intense pleasure of finally holding her in his arms, though not nearly as intimately as he wanted, her hands pressing a resistance to full body contact.
“Are you enjoying your visit to King’s Eden?”
She smiled, relaxing but still maintaining a wary distance. “Very much. It is what one might call a revelation. A world unto itself.”
For once, her beautiful face was lit with fascinating animation as she listed her impressions of what she’d seen and felt throughout this outback experience. The flow of glowingly positive comments fuelled Jared’s hope that she could be drawn into his life, could be happy belonging to it.
“And now you’ve met all my family,” he prompted, wanting some hint of how she felt about them.
An enigmatic smile. “Yes. Your mother must be very proud of her three sons. And pleased with Nathan’s marriage.”
It was more an objective observation than a personal comment, frustrating Jared’s purpose again. “What of your own family, Christabel?”
A slight twist to her smile. “I do not belong to anyone but my daughter.” A gleam of warning in her eyes. “It suits me that way.”
“You could have brought her with you this weekend.” In fact, it was strange she had not, given how watchful and protective she was of the child.
A slight shake of her head. “The family she is staying with is safe. I know them from the markets. Good people. Longtime local residents of Broome.”
“So you wanted to come alone.”
A mocking gleam. “I simply wanted my curiosity satisfied, Jared. Don’t make any more of it than that.”
“And is your curiosity…completely satisfied?” he challenged, acutely aware of his own burning need for all she withheld from him.
She shrugged. “How can I fully know a legend I haven’t lived? The Kings of the Kimberly…a hundred years of building what you have here and in Broome. I cannot expect to grasp more than a glimmering of what it comprehends.”
The evasive answer pushed him into asking, “Do you find the idea of long roots inhibiting?”
She raised her eyebrows. “Have you found it inhibiting?”
“It is very much part of you, isn’t it?” More a statement than a question.
“So you should stay happy with your life.”
The wry resignation in her voice stirred a deep well of frustration. Why was she keeping herself separate from him? Why couldn’t she let the attraction between them follow its natural course?
“Is anyone completely happy without a partner to share their life with?” he demanded tersely, nodding to the bride and groom dancing together, just a few metres away from them. “Look at Miranda. Look at Nathan. That is happiness, Christabel! Can you not imagine that…want that…for yourself?”
He caught a glimpse of raw yearning on her face as she looked at his brother and the woman he had just married. For several moments an air of sadness hovered around her. Then she turned her gaze back to him and her eyes were flat, hard. “I’ve been married, Jared. My husband is dead but I still live with him. I will always live with him.”
“He’s dead, Christabel. Dead is dead,” he countered harshly, unable to stop himself, feeling her vibrant vitality, the pulsing sexuality that aroused his so strongly.
“Believe me…” Her eyes bitterly derided his claim. “…you would not want to live in his shadow.”
He didn’t believe her.
She wasn’t a woman in grief.
He’d witnessed his mother’s grief after his father’s death. Christabel Valdez did not want her husband back. She wanted him, and be damned if he’d be driven away by a shadow.
Jared wiped the few remaining bits of shaving cream from his face and grimaced at the hard ruthlessness in the eyes reflected in the mirror. He’d been thinking, Nothing was going to come between him and Christabel Valdez tonight! But, of course, she would have her daughter with her, the daughter of the man she’d married.
He’d used the child.
Christabel may very well use her, too.
But he did have Vikki Chan on his side.
He smiled as he tossed the towel aside and picked up the bottle of cologne—Platinum Egoiste by Chanel. He might as well use every bit of ammunition he had in this war, because war it was. And he was sick to death of fighting shadows. He wanted hands-on combat. Action.
His body stirred in anticipation.
Vikki was right.
He would keep at it until he won.
Get more Pearls
Go to Bravonovel app
Then you can read more chapters. And you'll find other wonderful stories on Bravonovel.