“Next week. We’re having her to lunch. Oh, and she’s bringing Pierre.”

“He came with her when she interviewed me as well. She’s loads of fun.”

“The old man’s crazy about her,” the woman said. “And no wonder. She pays attention. She listens. And, yes, she’s fun. It’s horrible the way old people are so neglected. I don’t think the poor fellow knew what to do with himself when his stroke forced him to retire. He said he got pretty gloomy until she showed up.”

Jake pulled Cici close, and her laughing gaze swung to Logan. When their eyes met, Logan felt like he’d been sucker-punched.

He wasn’t jealous.

Then the music stopped, and luckily he still had enough presence of mind to remember Alicia. He was turning to go after her wine, when a small, smooth hand with garish, red nails closed over his arm from behind him.

“You’re late,” Cici whispered against his ear, her breath as hot and soft as the satiny caresses of those searing fingertips. Her face was young and as open as it had been when she was a child.

“It was raining in New Orleans. We had trouble getting out of the city,” he said.

“I missed you. So did Pierre.”

“Not that that stopped you from burning up the dance floor with my brother.”

“Jealous?”

“Of course not.”

“You are,” she whispered gently, her eyes seductively aglow. “You don’t need to be.”

“What?”

“It’s your turn. To dance with me. But, hey, only if you want to.” Again, her darkly sparkling eyes lured him.

“I have a date.”

“Alicia? The merger girl?”

“That’s not why I’m dating her.”

“Of course.”

“I left her entertaining Grandpère. I promised her a glass of wine. I’d better go.”

“I’m sure your grandfather is enjoying her immensely, and she him. Jake can check on her.”

“Cici, no…”

But she had already run over to Jake and was tugging at his long white sleeve. As his twin’s dark head lowered over Cici’s springy curls, his estranged brother looked up and then past her to Logan. Jake’s eyes grew as hard and unforgiving as they’d been right before he’d slugged him and walked out. But when Cici finished talking to him, Jake turned and obediently headed out the other door, no doubt to avoid him on his way to find Alicia.

Cici returned and threaded her fingers through his.

“There’s something wrong about this situation,” Logan said. “I should check on Alicia myself.”

“Trust me. This is a party. We’re supposed to mingle a little. She came here to meet your family, didn’t she? And your Alicia will love Jake. I promise. He’s a do-gooder. She’s a do-gooder.”

“How the hell do you know so much about Alicia?”

“Research. I’m a journalist, remember.”

She pulled him onto the dance floor. “Besides, what can one little dance hurt?”

Had the snake said to Eve, “What can one little apple hurt?”

Probably.

When the music resumed, he crushed Cici more tightly to him.

Even with the help of her heels, she barely came up to his shoulders. Maybe it was because she was so small and petite that her long-lashed eyes seemed so vulnerable.

He liked tall, elegant women, he reminded himself. Women who wore classy, backless gowns.

But Cici looked fresh and wholesome, and her eyes sparkled in such a way that she appeared young and playful.

He wasn’t supposed to be thinking admiring thoughts about her he reminded himself. He was supposed to be trying to figure out how to get rid of her.

But it was hard to think when the effect of her body brushing against his was so electrifying. It became even harder after the music took over, and the pleasure of holding her and dancing with her stripped him of his last shred of his reason. When the first song ended, she didn’t let go of him, so neither did he. One tune after another, they kept dancing. Pillars swirled past, as did the faces of those in the crowd watching them, for Cici and he were fast becoming the center of attention now.

Eyebrows were arched. Curious glances followed them. Not that Logan cared. At one point Jake even tried to cut in, but Logan ignored them all.

With each dance, Logan held Cici closer, bound her tighter, and slowly, irrevocably the voltage between them grew so strong it charged every atom in his body.

By the fourth song her eyes were closed, her cheek pressed against his shoulder, her body fused warmly to his.

When the music stopped, he was rock hard. Opening his eyes, he saw Alicia, who’d been watching them earlier, leaning on Jake’s arm.

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