to admit to herself that she was looking for excuses to put off a final break in their relationship. She didn't want to say good-bye. Regardless of his reasoning, Court was offering her an excuse to stay close to him for a few more hours. And Ley a, fearing she was a fooi, found herself grasping at the straw. "All right, Court."
* * * In the end, the trip back to Northern California proved to be the battleground of a very delicate, very careful war. Leya realized within the first hour that Court was determined to use the time to his advantage. He knows he hasn't handled this well, she found herself thinking in surprise. He's realized he needs more than my signature. He needs my cooperation. She realized a little grimly that he was going to try and ensure that cooperation by trading on the attraction between them. What frightened her was the possibility he might succeed in doing exactly that! She remembered their lovemaking the previous evening and on the beach that morning and shivered. She had never known such depths of passion with any other man. It was unique. Court Tremayne was unique. And telling herself she was a unique idiot didn't seem to do much good. There were no outright confrontations. Court was obviously going out of his way to try and mend the fences he'd ripped apart. Leya caught his deceptively casual glances from time to time as he drove with an assurance that seemed second nature. Leya was careful to steer the conversation in relatively harmless directions, but Court was equally bent on making his case. The subtle battle raged back and forth. "Honey," he began determinedly at one point, "when you've had a chance to think about it, you're going to remember how much we were enjoying each other during the two days we just spent together. We learned a lot during that time and ..." "Just look at those fantastic redwoods!" Leya interrupted in an awestruck tone. "Do you realize how old these trees are? The whole forest seems so ... so primeval, doesn't it? A piece of the earth lost in time." As the magnificent coastal redwoods drifted past the car window, Leya focused her attention entirely upon them. "I've lined up an apartment in Santa Rosa," Court tried again later. "I want you to see it. . ." "Oh, darn," Leya muttered, her fingers going to one ear. "I've lost an earring. It must have fallen on the beach this morning and I just now noticed it." She heard Court stifle a groan of dissatisfaction at her refusal to get involved in an intimate discussion. "Was it expensive?" he muttered. "Well, yes, considering the time I put into it," Leya grumbled. That was no less than the truth, she thought. She really ought to go ahead and get her ears pierced, That succeeded in surprising him. "Time?" he asked with sudden interest, casting her an appraising glance. "Do you make jewelry?" She nodded. "Including that green thing you were wearing last night? I liked that. It was very unusual." He sounded genuinely admiring. "I make all my own jewelry." She shrugged, a little sorry she had brought up the topic by noticing her missing earring. "No kidding? You have a little workshop?" "Well, yes," she returned distantly. "Do you sell your stuff?" "Oh, no. I only make things for myself or for friends. Just a hobby." "I'm surprised you don't have your ears pierced," he remarked knowledgeably. "I've heard women say it's a safer way to wear good earrings." "I'm a born coward," Leva confessed, smiling slightly in spite of herself. "Is that the reason you haven't done it?" He grinned. "You amaze me. I wouldn't have thought you would be afraid of a little thing like that!" He seemed, she thought in annoyance, delighted at the news of this fault in her character! "I don't see many men rushing out to do themselves a physical injury for the sake of fashion!" He laughed. "I'm sure everyone, male and female, makes some sort of painful effort in the never-ending chore of trying to attract the opposite sex! I've got friends