Through the years, she’d haunted him. Every time he’d come home to Belle Rose, even with Noelle, Cici had been there, memories of her sensuality and sweetness luring him.
Why wouldn’t her power over him die?
Not daring to look at her a second longer for fear of losing the last fragile shreds of his control, Logan turned and vaulted down the stairs beside the ugly ramp she’d built. Striding around the back of the house as if ten demons were on his trail, he called to his grandfather.
Cici came running, her dark eyes wide, as a smiling Pierre held up a hand to stop the tour, so he could see what his grandson wanted.
“Is everything all right, Logan?” Pierre asked.
“It’s time I left.” He took his grandfather’s hand and shook it gently, noting how weak the old man’s clasp was.
“Then you’re through with Cici and she’s free to finish the tour with me?”
“Yes,” Logan muttered. “I’m through with her.”
“Wonderful. I’ll be happy to finish the tour,” Cici said, her lilting velvety voice so cheery behind him he was further infuriated although he continued to smile at his grandfather. No doubt she thought she’d won.
Not that he so much as glanced at Cici as she rushed up to join his grandfather. Logan didn’t meet the gazes of any of the people clustered around his grandfather and Cici, either, but he could tell that they sensed some of the dramatic undercurrents because they were staring from him to Cici much too avidly.
He did manage to nod a final goodbye to his smiling grandfather even as he swore to himself that tomorrow morning, he’d tell Hayes Daniels, his CEO, to sic the full force of their legal department on the defiant Cici. The house, after all, which was open to the public, belonged to Claiborne Energy.
Logan smiled grimly. She wouldn’t last long after such an assault. He would soon be rid of her.
Logan, who had the headache from hell after a night of no sleep, had arrived at his office shortly after 6:00 a.m. Work on the last few details of the merger went smoothly for a couple of hours.
The first sign that Cici had launched a counter attack of her own before he’d even gotten his planes in the air occurred shortly before 9:00 a.m. Logan was just settling into a meeting with Hayes Daniels in Hayes’s lavish office after a lengthy chat with their attorneys about Miss Bellefleur, her illegal lease of property on company land and a strategy to deal with her when his secretary called him.
“But this isn’t just a phone call,” Mrs. Dillings said, her voice sharp with indignation after he’d dared to point out that he’d given her strict instructions that she was not supposed to interrupt him. “I thought you would want to know that your grandfather’s here. Especially since you went down to check on him yesterday.”
“Here? In New Orleans?”
“Here. In your office. And if I may say so, he hardly looks like the invalid you described. You’d never know he had a stroke except for that slight limp. But he does seem most anxious to talk to you. He said immediately. Oh, and you know how his jaw juts out the way yours does and how you both growl when you’re not getting your way? Well…looks like a storm is brewing.”
She would know. His grandfather had been her former boss. Obviously, Mrs. Dillings was very good at what she did and knew her value, or she would never have dared to comment like that. Maybe someday Logan should remind her that more people got fired for poor people skills than for being bad at their jobs.
“I’ll be right there. See if he wants anything…a cup of coffee…a beignet…hell, order him a dozen beignets.”
“He’s with a most charming companion. A Miss Bellefleur.”
At the mention of Cici’s name, a pair of pert breasts stretching a hot pink, jersey top with a biker’s nasty face on it arose in his mind’s eye, causing his headache to worsen. The same restlessness that had hammered in Logan’s blood all night long and had kept him awake began to pulse anew. He arose from his leather chair, walked stiffly to the door and then, stopping himself, began to pace.
“Miss Bellefleur’s already asked for a whole tray of beignets. She likes them with extra powdered sugar.”
Would she eat all that sugar with a spoon and then lick her fingertips?
He stared out the window at the city which was shrouded in murky mists. Unbidden came the memory of an eighteen-year-old Cici sitting across the table from him under the famous green-and-white canopy of the Café du Monde, licking powdered sugar off the curve of her thumb. How enchanted he’d been by everything she’d done that afternoon.