“She should have seen you in the hospital.”
“I’m glad she didn’t!”
“Okay. Look, I don’t want to quarrel or remind you of unhappier times.” Logan went to him, and they embraced fondly. “I’m glad you’re better,” he said. “You feel solid…so much stronger…heavier.”
“He’s had the appetite of a horse ever since Cici started cooking him gumbo and making his favorite spicy boudin with red beans for him. Cici does love to cook. She always did!”
The old man’s blue eyes flashed at her name, and a tinge of brilliant color dotted his plumper cheeks. “Cici’s been great. She’s given me a whole new lease on life. I’m almost glad I had the damn stroke. Don’t think she’d be fussin’ over me if I hadn’t.”
The sparkle in his eyes and the intensity of his smile made him look ten years younger. “By the way, did you get our invitation?”
“For my eightieth birthday party next Saturday. You didn’t R.S.V.P. Cici thought you’d probably be too busy to come. Well, are you?” His grandfather’s eyes reproached him.
“I didn’t receive any invitation, so I didn’t know anything about it. And I don’t have my calendar,” Logan replied, his voice even.
“Your invitation must have gotten lost in the mail,” Cici said with false gaiety behind him.
Lost, my ass. The sexy witch had no doubt cleverly excluded him.
Logan whirled and felt another rush of unwelcome heat as they locked eyes for the length of several, thudding heartbeats. Unable to resist dragging his gaze lower, he noted a pink T-shirt stretching across her ample breasts that read T-Bos’s Bar under a stenciled biker’s face. Her skintight jeans had holes in the knees.
T-Bos’s was a successful biker bar of unsavory reputation that her uncle Bos defied the Claibornes by running on his property next door to Belle Rose.
There should be a law against shirts like that, at least on bodies like hers. The jersey knit hugged her breasts and waist even more snugly than her jeans cupped her ass. Not that he was surprised at her getup. It was sexy as hell, just like the woman who wore it. Conservative, she wasn’t.
“Jake is coming,” she taunted softly. Or did he only imagine the challenge in her husky voice?
“You invited Jake? And not me?”
“Damn it, no!” His feelings for his alienated twin were more complicated than that single word could possibly describe. “How could I be? Because of you, I haven’t talked to him in nine years.”
“Only…because of me? How easily we forget.”
“I’ve called him, but he refuses my calls,” Logan said.
“Do you really blame him?”
Her question reminded him of all he’d done to come between Jake and her once again.
“I’m sorry.” She paused. “I don’t want to quarrel. I hadn’t talked to him either until a few weeks ago. He’s been living in Orlando, although I expect you know that…just like I expect you know that he set up a branch of his business in New Orleans after Katrina.”
He knew. Jake, a successful architect and builder in Florida, had pledged his support to help rebuild New Orleans after two major hurricanes had nearly destroyed it. Not that Jake ever bothered to look him up when he’d breezed into the city to check his operations. And he didn’t blame him.
“I thought it was a shame we’d never talked since that last summer,” she said, “so one day I just picked up the phone and called him.”
“And he answered?”
She nodded. “Why wouldn’t he? I guess my name showed up on his Caller ID. He had no reason to be mad at me. We must have talked for at least half an hour.”
“If you come to the party, you can ask him yourself.”
“Again, I’ll have to check my calendar.”
“You will come, won’t you?” Grandpère said, his voice weaker, maybe because he’d been up too long.
At his grandfather’s question, Logan felt trapped.
“He had so much fun planning his party, and Cici’s worked so hard on it,” Noonoon pleaded softly. “I’ll go inside and get you an invitation.”
“A hundred people have already accepted,” Cici added. “Lots of them are your friends. I let them think the party was your idea.”
“Me? Why how generous of you.”
The three of them were all staring at him, waiting, their eyes begging him to say he’d attend. Funny how he could go for the jugular in business, and in a family situation that involved upsetting Grandpère, he was ready to cave in an instant.