“Right. Indeed.” Heat suffusing him, Logan said a stern goodbye to Mrs. Dillings. Continuing to pace, he directed his attention to Hayes, who was leaning back in his black leather chair, his long, muscular legs crossed, his tanned fingertips steepled in front of him.
“She’s here,” Logan said.
“Who?” Hayes said smiling, his black eyes mild as he studied him.
“Cici,” Logan snapped as if such a question were ridiculous.
“Our infamous Miss Bellefleur.” Hayes leaned forward. His black eyes became piercing, which was bothersome.
“Well, that didn’t take our lawyers long. We barely hung up and now the villain’s here to plead her case,” Hayes said, his smile broadening.
“Obviously our attorneys failed to reach her. Because she’s here and not at Belle Rose, where she belongs, so she could have answered the damn phone.”
“I thought the point was that she doesn’t belong there.”
“Right. Exactly. Of course. But my point now is that she jumped the gun. Again.”
“Your Cici is beginning to sound like a handful.”
Of course, any woman foolhardy enough to risk her neck in war zones, the long lens of her Leica camera her only shield against bullets, is bound to be a handful.
“She’s not my Cici!” he yelled, he who never yelled.
“If you say so. All you’ve talked about is her. Nothing—ever—not even your wife has ever distracted you like this.”
“Because she’s using my grandfather to get to me.”
“She’s full of them.”
Hayes, his best friend, his former college roommate, his CEO, was tall and dark and tough as nails, way tougher than Logan. Which was why Logan had hired him. The trouble was, Hayes, who was nosy as hell, was observing him with far too much interest and probably far too much insight.
“I’d better go deal with her,” Logan said.
“But you just brought in our legal team so you wouldn’t have to be involved with her personally. Why not send Abe? You said you didn’t want to get your hands dirty. You said this is a trivial, domestic matter.”
“Right. That’s what I said.”
Suddenly, this whole matter with Cici felt way too personal to turn over to anybody else, even his ruthless lawyers, of which Abe was the head.
“Did I ever tell you how much I dislike being slammed with my own data?”
Hayes laughed out loud. “Don’t we all? Keep me posted. I want to hear how round two comes out. Your Cici is much more interesting than any merger with Butler Shipyards. By the way, I’m beginning to wonder if Mitchell Butler has been entirely honest with us. At this point it’s just a gut feeling…but…”
“Check it out,” Logan said.
Logan’s heart had been beating at a ferocious clip ever since he’d shut his door only to see Cici and his grandfather, their chairs pushed close together, enjoying a makeshift picnic of beignets and rich black coffee. Oblivious to the crumbs they’d scattered all over his coffee table, they were smiling at each other.
The old man looked happier than he had in years, and that would have been heartwarming if Logan trusted Cici. But how would his grandfather feel when Cici finished her book and returned to putting her life on the line in the fast lane just to take a few pictures? Cici was an adventuress, not a caregiver.
Sitting down at his desk, Logan punched a button on his intercom and told Mrs. Dillings to hold his calls. When he looked up his grandfather had moved his chair so that it faced Logan’s desk.
When the old man frowned, Logan scrunched lower in his chair. Nobody could make Logan feel four years old again just by sticking out his jaw except this man who’d raised him. How many times had he stood in this very same office when it had belonged to his grandfather and waited for the old man to begin some lecture because he’d committed some minor, boyish infraction?
As he waited, Logan began to feel caged in his civilized office that was filled with leather and chrome and too many polished wooden surfaces. And he knew who to blame for his discomfiture.
Not that he was about to give the delectable Miss Bellefleur, who was, indeed, licking her fingertips with a grace any feline would envy, the satisfaction of looking at her.
Even so, all he saw was Cici. All he felt was her.
In her purple T-shirt and tight black jeans, with her childishly sticky fingers, fingers he wanted to lick clean, she was a garish splash of voluptuous color in his too elegant, beige suite.
Did she always have to dress in outfits that screamed, look at me? Did she even own a decent dress? Or a conservative suit? Or plain black pumps that might have concealed those livid, purple toenails, which, by the way, on her, were sexy as hell? At least, they matched her T-shirt.