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.
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
“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
“It means that whenever you’re around, disaster strikes.”
“If you had been watching where you were going, this wouldn’t have
“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
“Throwing?” He lifted a dark eyebrow. “You walked right into
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
“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
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?
“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.”
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.