When Lauren Hayes decides to treat herself to a necklace after landing a great job as an assistant editor, she encounters Bayard Fredericks working at a new jewelry store, and he’s the most gorgeous man she’s ever seen. The attraction is mutual, and over the next few weeks he comes on strong, buying her expensive gemstones over her objections. But things don’t quite click for Lauren. She’s just emerged from a bad relationship, and she doesn’t want to rush into anything that could compromise her new found independence. And how can Bayard afford such costly presents in the first place?
Lauren is completely smitten, but her concerns deepen when Bayard lies about his past, and her best friend, Sheila, suspects Bayard might be involved in several high-profile jewel heists thought to be “inside jobs.” Shortly thereafter, Lauren’s prized possession, a drawing by a famous artist, goes missing, and Sheila claims she has proof that Bayard is a jewel thief. Lauren may be falling in love, but how can she trust the man who has stolen her heart?
Word Count: 12,100
Lauren clicked off her cell phone with a triumphant grin. “I’ve conquered the world!” she said loudly before she could stop herself. Bustling shoppers in the mall turned to look at her. She flushed momentarily but shook it off. She didn’t care if she made a fool of herself. She’d just landed a job at Viscount Press in Manhattan. She could keep her condo. She wouldn’t have to sell her Dali drawing. Her cat could have expensive treats again. She could even buy herself a present.
She headed straight for Gallant Jewelers but stopped after only ten steps. She glanced down in her Macy’s shopping bag at the sensible cream suit she’d bought just in case she did get hired. She frowned. It hadn’t been on sale.
Better find something cheaper than Gallant, she thought. She turned on her heel. Didn’t they just open a Firstwater Gems in the Arcadia Mall? She looked up a level. There it was with a big red banner declaring “Grand Opening Sale.”
She found herself surprised by how tastefully the discount jewelry store had been decorated. Plush burgundy carpeting and dark wood cabinets were complemented by peaceful classical music. Lauren was already impressed.
Then she regretted walking in. There was that icy blonde who used to flirt with her husband. She corrected herself. Ex-husband.
“Lauren, isn’t it?” the woman asked.
“Yes, and you’re…?” Lauren stole a glance at her name tag. “…Veronique. I thought you worked at the Gallant Jewelers in The Westchester Mall?”
“That’s right,” Veronique said with an unctuous smile. “But Firstwater offered to make me the manager at their brand new location. So here I am!”
“Congratulations.” Lauren was about to share her good own news, but held back. What if this Veronique still spoke with Carl? She didn’t want to make it easy for her ex to find her.
“Yep, all this is mine,” bragged Veronique while waving her arms. “So why are you at this mall instead of The Westchester? I thought you and Carl were high-end shoppers?”
“Yeah, well, that’s over.” Lauren sighed. She saw Veronique arch an eyebrow. She probably remembered how Carl had lavished Lauren with diamonds practically every other month. “I’m buying myself something today.”
“Well, let me show you some diamond pendants that would suit you perfectly. We have a three-stone brilliant cut—”
“I’m actually looking for something less expensive than a diamond,” Lauren said. “I want to start at the bottom rung and work my way up. By myself this time.”
“Oh,” huffed Veronique. “Well, perhaps Bayard over there can help you with a semi-precious stone.” She waved lazily at a young man on the other side of the store who was just finishing a sale.
Lauren’s breath caught. He was beautiful. His tousled black hair fell over his forehead like a waterfall. She had an incredible urge to run her fingers through it. She approached him timidly. How would she find the courage to speak?
This product was added to our catalog on Tuesday 02 August, 2011.