The low growl of a motor and the crunch of gravel told her Jack was gone.
You have my cell number…
She did have it. She knew right where it was, on his business card in the little wooden in-box on her desk. Handwritten. It had been the first indication that he was back, along with a letter from his firm in Phoenix, informing her of the problem with the contract on the house and Ginny’s lack of mention of the disposition of the cottage or her agreement with Regina in her will.
She swallowed hard.
Jack was pissed. She could tell as much. Even so, he hadn’t wanted to leave her, that was clear, but he did all the same.
Because he’s playing you, Reg. He’s convinced that backing off will make you trail after him like a puppy dog.
Looking down, she turned to the cash register and poked in the code to cash the day’s sales out. As she went through the mechanical motions of closing the register and collecting receipts, her brain continued to replay the encounter between Jack and herself.
It had never been so intense between them before.
They’d never been alone
A heated flush rushed through her which made her shiver.
He might be wicked and totally out of her league, but gods was he sexy! The idea
of being married to him for the rest of her life did things to her insides that scared and excited her. No matter how impossible it was in the real world, the fantasy of it was frighteningly erotic.
But what Jack said
he wanted was no fantasy.
She carried the cash tray to the tiny office and set it down on her desk, staring at it blearily. The heat Jack had stoked in her had dulled to a low, throbbing ebb and she felt chilled. Absently, she pulled the violet cotton crochet shawl off the back of her chair and wrapped it around herself.
Jonathan “Jack” Drake, The Dragon, wanted to marry her
Goddess, if that wasn’t the ultimate contradiction, Regina was sure she didn’t know what
She closed her eyes with a soft moan.
Jack wasn’t known to be one to settle down. In fact his mother Ginny had become increasingly worried the last few years because Jack wasn’t showing any signs of wanting to marry or give her grandchildren. She’d talked to Regina enough times about his wayward womanizing, about his scummy, spoiled friends and about her worry that his ruthless, high-powered job was taking him away from her, from his family.
“All I ever wanted from Jack,” Ginny said not too long ago, at the Goddess-celebration at Beltane, “was for him to meet someone nice, like you, Regina, move back to Sedona, take over the family business and leave that horrible profession behind.” Ginny sighed then, looking up at the star-sprinkled night sky, out in Boyton Canyon, where she had a casita at the Enchantment Resort
. “I do so hate lawyers.”
Regina had thought that odd, since she’d married one and her son had been encouraged to follow in his father’s footsteps. But she never said anything to Ginny, who, even then, had been showing early signs of finally slowing down.
She swallowed hard, a lump rising in her throat at the thought.
No one had ever suspected that Ginny wouldn’t be around for Samhain this year. The entire Circle hadn’t realized she was as sick as she actually was. Ginny had never said a word.
But now, looking back on it, Regina realized that Ginny knew
At the Beltane celebration, Ginny Drake knew she was dying.
Hot tears burned in her eyes, burned a trail down her cheek. How could someone so wonderfully unique and incredible like Ginny bring a thoroughly wicked man like Jack Drake into the world?
A thoroughly wicked, evil, nasty…sexy
Heat coursed through her body to pool between her legs and she stiffened. His scent still lingered on her blouse. She felt her brain begin to swirl with the same charged fantasies and she groaned loudly.
Like you, Regina…
Ginny’s voice echoed in her mind and the scent of violets filled the little office with a soft, flowery scent.
“Oh gods,” Regina groaned, dropping her head onto her desk, the wooden surface ice-cold against her hot, flushed cheek. “Goddess, Ginny…What the hell were
you up to?”
* * * *
All in all, it went pretty well, Jack thought with a smirk as he rounded the curb and propelled the Diablo towards Drake Manor. Out of everything he expected Regina to do, the one thing he hadn’t
expected was the power of her reaction to him. Even now, the memory of her trembling, heated body against his, the confused, near desperation of her kisses suffused his body with fire. He reacted instantly, growling, shifting in the car seat, attempting to dismiss the sensation as quickly as possible. It wouldn’t do for him to lose himself in the sensuality of the moment, in the emotion.
Not when the entire future of the Drake family—his
entire future—was on the line. He had only two weeks left. Unfortunately, he’d not had enough time to deal with this issue, simply because he’d been spending the last two weeks since his mother died, poring through the will with the other members of his firm in Phoenix, trying to figure out everything his mother and her own particularly shrewd lawyers had done. Sure, he could possibly tie the inheritance up in probate for months while he, as executor of the estate, managed the money, but it wasn’t enough. Not when his father’s greedy brother and sister were waiting in the wings to seize everything, possibly even including Drake Copper
at the first sign of his stumbling.
No, the terms of the will must be met, to the letter, or there was no way he or Ginny could stop Cecily and Ethan Drake from yanking the entire thing out from under him.
He pulled into the wide, sandstone paved front drive, where the ancestral home of the Drake family was situated. Despite the darker turn of his thoughts, Jack smiled at the sight of the venerable old house.
While Arizona was a relative youngster in the Western territorial states, only achieving statehood in 1914, most of the towns in the state were older than the state herself. Sedona ended up being the permanent home for the Drake family when they, along with many others, were attracted to what was then being called Upper Oak Creek and Camp Garden.
A rich vein of copper hidden deep within the hills south of the town, closer to Jerome, was where Jack’s great-great-great grandfather, the first Jonathan Drake, staked his claim. That was what brought the family to the northern territory in the first place. Yet mining towns did not appeal to Jonathan’s wife and when she heard of the beauty of the Upper Oak Creek area, the family decided to move. By that time, the Drakes were doing well enough that they could afford to make the trip and still enable Jonathan to manage the now famous Ibis Copper Mine. Copper that Drake Copper
still managed to extract even in an era where copper mining was largely corporate, what with big companies like Phelps Dodge
out of Phoenix and others cornering the rare copper market.
Which was why Ginny suggested in the 60’s that Drake look into quartz mining as well. And her suggestion paid off in a big way when a vein of exquisite amethyst was found, catapulting Drake Copper
into the semiprecious gemstone market.
Arizona amethyst, particularly “Drake Amethyst” became a solid cornerstone of the Drake mining business and the continual high quality of the amethyst pulled from the mine Ginny named “Dyana” gave Drake a solid reputation as one of the finest providers of gem-quality amethyst in the United States.
He dropped his keys on the mahogany calling card stand just inside the vestibule and pushed the heavy oak doors closed. He quickly disarmed the alarm system and turned on the foyer lights, grinning.
Ginny didn’t care for the house and moved out shortly after Jack’s father died. Her condo in the arts district had been her home for the next fifteen years. And Jack kept the house. He could see why his mom hadn’t liked the old place much. The furniture was dark and large, the decor dominated by black cast iron with a gothic, old-western Victorian feel that free-spirited, California-born flower child Geneva “Ginny” Fairfax found domineering and overwhelming.
Jon, Jack’s father, liked the old-fashioned decor and didn’t do much to change it. Jack had agreed with Ginny’s artistic impression, though he still loved the classic old house. He knew that it had potential and it was only a matter of time before he could take advantage of that potential. So, once Jack inherited the house, he immediately set about renovating it. The Victorian-styled plantation house had several smaller rooms on the ground floor but Jack turned the sitting room, library and formal dining room into an open space, a great room which, while retaining the elegant old Victorian feel of the place, gave the house a new flow of energy and definitely improved its chi
He made his way through his media room to the kitchen. Touching a pad on the wall, Jack let the lights come up just enough to find his way to the refrigerator.
He loved his chef’s kitchen, originally the house’s kitchen, informal dining room and the root cellar. The root cellar now was his wine cellar and the entire area had been expanded and set with wide windows to let in the incredible views the Drake mansion commanded.
He grabbed a bottle of imported English lager and turned, pausing a moment, leaning against the black granite countertop to open the bottle and take a sip.
He wished Ginny had wanted to stay here. After the improvements to the house, it was a peaceful, quiet sanctuary, an escape from the hectic life he led.
It would have been nice to come back from time to time to see the beautiful, smiling face of his gentle mother. He could picture her on the local sandstone patio, painting, or holding her Goddess study groups in the renovated Victorian parlor. As great as he’d made it, the old place needed the energy of women. Particularly the passionate, energetic women Ginny liked to hang around.
The scent of violets seemed to drift around his head a moment and he frowned.
He didn’t keep violets in the house. Nor were they in his garden. Arizona wasn’t exactly the most friendly climate for those kinds of flowers.
Violets were Ginny’s
He grunted softly.
“Mom,” he growled under his breath, “you know I don’t believe in ghosts.”
God, you sound like an idiot, Drake. If you don’t believe in ghosts, why the hell are you talking to one?