The house was right on the sand dunes, surrounded by high walls. A discreet
plaque on the wall by the entrance said ‘Luxury Executive Accommodation.’ Dani
had always wondered what it was like inside.
She followed Quinn through the gate and entrance into a large multi-levelled
living and dining area. The house was a blend of Asian and Australian designs,
the furnishings rattan, leather and teak. Striking floral arrangements with
Birds of Paradise and heliconias seasoned the
air with tropical scents, stirred by lazily rotating ceiling fans. This place
better than she’d imagined.
stood at the door leading to the stairs. Dani hesitated for a second. She didn’t
trust Mr Quinn Everard one inch but it wasn’t a threat of physical violence that
made her pause. More his attitude, the impression that he got what he wanted so
effortlessly. He smelled good, looked good, obviously lived well. She’d need her
wits about her with a man prepared to resort to blackmail to get his own way.
opened the first door and intense light flooded what
was obviously a dream work room. In one corner, under the perfect lighting, sat
an easel. A workbench ran fully down one
side, two stools at the end and
tool organisers that held an array of
implements, everything from
tweezers to gauges
There was a waxing station, engraving blocks, micro torch, rollers and grinders
– everything she had in her shop, except the
equipment was new and top of the range and must have cost a fortune.
slowly dawned on her that he expected her to work on his diamond here. A laptop
sat open on a desk, no doubt with the best CAD software available. The desk and
bench were lit with magnified true-light lamps. He must have had all this
brought in, she thought dimly, lights included.
Dani ran her hand over the workbench. “You were that sure I’d agree?”
“I’ve questioned your motivation in the past, Ms Hammond, not your
She glanced over to where he leaned casually against the door jamb, arms folded.
“The diamond does not leave the premises.”
“So I come around here when I feel like it? When I have a spare minute?” She
shook her head. “That would take months.”
Quinn turned to the door and stretched his arm out, indicating she precede him.
His steady gaze challenged her to refuse.
Cautiously Dani edged past him, down the hall away from the stairs. She paused
at the next door. He leaned past her, pushing it open,
and she took a couple of hesitant steps forward.
white curtains stirred at the open window and she heard the sea lapping the sand
beyond the trees. A huge bed, covered with shiny satin in bold red and gold
stripes, took up most of one wall. Purple-shaded lamps on the bedside tables
matched plump purple cushions scattered on the window seat. Dani felt the smile
start; it was a dream of a bedroom and to think she could hear the sea. She was
still smiling when she turned around to see Quinn in a long-legged lean against
the door jamb, arms folded, a pose that was fast becoming disturbingly familiar.
Her smile faded as his intentions finally sank in. He expected her to stay here
– alone – with him. “No,” she said firmly, even
though he hadn’t asked the question yet.
His dark head tilted. “Those are my conditions. You stay here and work on the
diamond in the workroom provided until the job is done.”
Frowning, she shook her head
“It’s not negotiable.”
Dani thought he sounded bored. “I’m not staying here – alone – with you.”
His eyes were scathing. “Don’t be puerile, Ms. Hammond. Just what do you think
is going to happen?”
his intention was to make her feel gauche and stupid, it worked. “What possible
reason...?” she stammered, her cheeks burning.
“Security and expediency. It is an extremely valuable diamond and I am a busy
man. I don’t have time to sit around up here in nowhere-ville for a minute
longer than necessary.”
Dani shook her head again. “No deal. Bring
the stone to the shop. I’ll work on it between customers.”
Quinn’s brows raised. “I don’t think so,” he said softly and,
turning, left the room. But the certainty of his voice, his potent male presence
Dani waited a couple of seconds, worried. There was sympathy in his face as he’d
turned away. Her refusal had not even registered. A vision of being locked in,
of pushing against him, pounding against his broad chest to get out, made her
She was being ridiculous. Quinn Everard was an internationally-regarded man in
the gem and fine arts world. He was not going to kidnap her. She started off
after him. “Look, if you’re worried about theft, don’t be. There hasn’t been a
robbery in town for years.”
don’t understand, Ms. Hammond.” He turned so sharply to face her that she almost
bumped into his impressive chest. “This is a very special diamond.”
“It will be perfectly safe in the shop, and anyway, I’m insured.”
His eyes bored into her, making her heart thump. She stepped back hurriedly,
excruciatingly aware that he hadn’t given an inch.
“Have you heard of the Distinction Diamond, Danielle?”
“The Dist...?” Air punched out from her lungs and her heart thudded. Either that
or her chin hit the floor. The Distinction Diamond was nearly forty carats of
fancy intense yellow, originating from the Kimberley mines in South Africa. No
one had heard of it for years. “You’ve got the Distinction Diamond?” Her swallow
was audible. “Here?”
Quinn Everard could do scathing very well. Was it the curve of his lips or the
dangerous glint that lit up his eyes? “No, Ms. Hammond.” He turned his back and
continued on to the door next to ‘her’ room. “I have her big sister.”
Quinn turned his back and walked into his bedroom, smiling when he felt her
creeping presence at the door. Opening the panel in the wall that concealed the
safe, he began keying the code into a digital keypad. The whole house was
alarmed and this room and the workroom were smoke-alarmed. The safe was dual
combination and key, complete with trembler sensor. His company had the best
security money could buy. After all, it was
vital in his business.
glanced to where she fidgeted at the door, chewing on her bottom lip. Quinn mis-keyed
and the thing beeped at him. He swore softly, ordering himself to stop thinking
about whiskey eyes and plump bottom lips. She was on the hook. It was time to
reel her in.
went through the elaborate security measures with exaggerated care,
then took out
a heavy steel box from which he lifted a hand-stitched leather
case, after a
barrage of additional code numbers. A hydraulic mechanism raised a small
velvet-covered platform on which the diamond sat. Reaching out, he flicked the
desk lamp on. Then he faced her and tilted his head, giving her permission to
She moved slowly into the room, her eyes on his face. The light from the lamp
washed over her skin and he thought again, as he had earlier on meeting her,
that her face was all wrong, a contradiction. Wide-set, wild honey eyes, a
straight no-nonsense nose, and then rosebud lips, suggesting innocence and
just like earlier when he’d first looked at
her, the impact jolted him. She’d attempted to tame her wildfire hair with a
scarf but still, dark red curls sprang up in
interesting dimensions. Her colour sense was outrageous, combining
a red and pink
striped top with a captivatingly-short floral
skirt. She was exotic, unconventional, bubbling over with life and energy. He
knew more beautiful women but none so colourful, so vibrantly original.
She looked down at the diamond on display for her,
her eyes glowing. When she finally looked
back at Quinn, the gratitude in her eyes stunned him. She would know well how
few people had ever been given the opportunity to look upon this treasure.
Enjoy it, he thought grimly. If it were down to him, he wouldn’t have Danielle
Hammond within one hundred meters of this baby, no matter how interesting her
She put out her hand. It hovered over the glow and she hesitated. “May I?”
Half of him wondered what the diamond would look like against her skin, her
hair. The other half protested – Get the
hell away from this diamond! But he had his orders. He nodded tersely.
Her slim hand dipped and the middle finger stroked lightly, reverently over the
crown of the perfect octahedron. Then she took her hands away, crossed them in
front of her body and just looked down at the stone, as if giving thanks to a
god. Her lashes made shadows on her cheek.
From "Satin and a Scandalous Affair"
by Jan Colley
Silhouette Desire April 2008
Copyright: © 2007
® and ™ are trademarks
of the publisher. The edition published by arrangement with Harlequin Books
S.A. For more romance information surf to: http://www.eHarlequin.com