About the Book :: Behind the Scenes :: Web Excerpt :: Book trailer

August 2006 / Trade paperback / Ilori Press / ISBN 0-9770191-2-8
buy at barnes&noble.com - buy at amazon.com

Jessie Clifton only wants one thing: The Sapphire Pendant, an heirloom her father sold years ago. When offered an opportunity to win the pendant back by charming an eligible bachelor, the hotheaded tomboy impulsively accepts. She soon regrets her decision when she learns that her target is Kenneth Preston, a man she’s hated for years.

Nevertheless, determined to win, she trades in her running shoes for high heels and jeans for dresses and puts her plan into action. But what starts out as a harmless wager leads her down a dangerous trail of secrets that could change her life, destroy the man she’s come to love and affect an entire community.

Will she risk everything, no matter what the price?

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“Moving and triumphant…I would recommend it to any lover of romance.” --Black Butterfly Review

Winner of ForeWord Magazine’s Silver-Award: Book of the Year Award in Romance 2006


I wrote this story about a year before I wrote my first published novel, Table for Two. Initially, the title was ‘Catching Kenneth’, but that sounded too fluffy for me, so I changed the name to ‘Catching Twilight’, which still didn’t work. I finally settled on ‘The Nacht Medallion’ except I wasn’t sure I wanted to use a foreign word in the title, because readers might find it difficult to pronounce and the idea of a medallion did not suit the story. I finally came up with The Sapphire Pendant, and it worked! I was also delighted that the artist, who created the image for the book, was able to capture the beauty of the pendant the way I had imagined.

[Jessie] turned the corner and walked right into Mr. Perfect and the plateful of food he was holding. His meal smashed right into her uniform, like a pie in the face of a clown. Jessie lost her precarious hold on the tray full of glasses, and they fell to the ground with a shattering crash, spilling their contents like a broken aquarium.

“Why don’t you watch where you’re going?” she said, looking down at her ruined uniform and the broken glass.

He didn’t offer her an apology; instead, a sour grin touched his face. “Figures it would be you.”

She rested a hand on her hip, annoyed that Amy had been right. He did look gorgeous. His chestnut skin looked ravishing against the gunmetal gray of his shirt and his black trousers. He stood there staring at her with amused brown eyes, surrounded by an air of casual command that only a man blessed with his status could cultivate. She ground her teeth. “What’s that suppose to mean?”

“It means that whenever you’re around, disaster strikes.”

“If you had been watching where you were going, this wouldn’t have happened.”

“Lower your voice,” he ordered. “You’re drawing attention…”

She lowered her voice to a deadly whisper. “I think what caught their attention was the shattering glass.”

“Don’t blame me. I’m not the one turning corners like I’m on a secret mission.”

“Is that supposed to be some sort of explanation for throwing your food at me?”

“Throwing?” He lifted a dark eyebrow. “You walked right into me!”

She knew he was right, but she was too angry to calm down. She would not allow him the last word. “Well, you shouldn’t have held it so clumsily. Or perhaps you could have had your latest concubine—I mean date—deliver it to you.”

As if to add credence to her claim, a young woman, dressed in an outfit that could afford Jessie the down payment on a new luxury car, came up to Kenneth and possessively grabbed his arm. “What happened to you?” she asked Jessie, her lovely brown eyes genuinely concerned. Her parents had taught her that “the help” were people too, and she wanted to be sympathetic. She glanced down at the glasses. “You know, you really should get this cleaned up before someone gets hurt.”

The woman had such a graceful, feminine manner that she made Jessie feel practically masculine. “That’s clever of you to notice,” she managed quietly.

She smiled, missing Jessie’s sarcasm, and leaned towards Kenneth, her face in a pout. “I want to go home.”

“In a minute,” he said absently, his amused expression gone. “Go get something to drink.”


He stopped her with a hard look. She lowered her beautiful lashes and walked away.

“Looks like your date wants her nappy changed,” Jessie muttered.

He shoved his hands in his pockets and stared at the ground. “Just for a minute, stop being a smartass and look at your left hand.”

She lifted her hand and saw a pencil-thin cut slashed through her palm; a stream of blood seeped through and dripped onto the floor. Pain suddenly registered, but it was quickly replaced with an odd sense of annoyance. “Damn.”

Kenneth handed her a crisp, white handkerchief, forcing her to apply pressure. Before she could argue, he turned away. “Clean up this mess, please,” he told a passing waiter.

The waiter stopped and stared at the mess as if he had come upon a car wreck and was being asked to provide emergency care. “But that’s not my job.”

Kenneth nodded and grinned. “Do you want to have a job?” His voice was soft; his threat was not.

The man swallowed. “I’ll see what I can do.”

“Thank you.” Kenneth pointed to a woman in a maid’s uniform, who was standing awkwardly in the doorway. “Get me some bandages and antibiotic ointment, please,” he said, the hint of an island accent sweetening his words. The woman nodded and disappeared. He took hold of Jessie’s other arm. “Come with me.”

Trapped in his iron grip, she reluctantly followed him, inwardly groaning as she heard the crunch of broken glass under her feet.

In the powder room, he cleaned the cut, then had her press her hand against his in a fist.

“Does that hurt?”

She snatched her hand away. “Yes, of course!”

“Good. No nerve damage,” he explained when she stared at him, outraged. “You’ve hurt yourself enough times to know the procedure.”

“That’s not true.”

“You were the most reckless tomboy around. What do they call grown tomboys? ‘Tommen’?”

“I am not a tomboy.”

“Just afraid of being a woman, then?”

A timid knock interrupted her reply.

“Come in,” he said.

The maid entered, staring at Kenneth with eyes of worship. She held out the bandages, her hand trembling, as though offering a famous celebrity a handmade gift. “Here are the bandages you needed.”

“Thanks.” He flashed one of his hundred-watt smiles. The woman blushed and shut the door. He turned to Jessie, and the smile disappeared.

Jessie felt both sickened and mesmerized by how quickly he could turn on the charm. She had to admit it was a gift. His smile made every woman believe he thought she was special, that she was number one in his life. Jessie knew: she had once been on the receiving end of one of those deceptive smiles. “Doesn’t it get tiresome?”

He applied the ointment. “What?”

Jessie looked towards the ceiling, praying for patience. “The women.”

He sent her an intense look, then began to gently wrap her hand. “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”

Jessie shrugged, indifferent. “You can wrap it tighter, you know,” she said, annoyed by his tenderness. She just wanted him to wrap her hand and leave.

“I know. However, I must try to resist stopping your blood flow.” He flashed a malicious grin. “The urge is tempting.”

She made a face and surveyed the small powder room. Her gaze fell on the hand-painted violet-blossom tiles shipped in from Spain and the cobalt-blue-on-white china basin. She wished the room were larger, since Kenneth seemed to take up most of the free space and air. She could feel the heat from his body reach out and embrace her; the musky scent of his cologne played havoc with her senses.

She began to feel lightheaded, which she was certain was a direct result of lost blood and eating only toast for breakfast. The flowers on the walls suddenly seemed to sway from an unknown breeze, and Kenneth felt far away—just the way she liked it. Then he was gone.

August 2006 / Trade paperback / Ilori Press / ISBN 0-9770191-2-8
buy at barnes&noble.com - buy at amazon.com

Jump to another book...
Words of Seduction :: Round the Clock :: Body Chemistry :: Power Play :: Taming Mariella
The Glass Slipper Project :: Sparks :: The Sapphire Pendant :: Illusive Flame :: Carefree
Gaining Interest :: Table For Two

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