“You talked to Bos?” Tommy relaxed visibly.
“He sent me.”
“He damn sure didn’t tell me.”
“So call him, why don’t you? Ask him.”
“Bos don’t like me botherin’ him when he don’t feel good, that’s why.”
When cockfighting had been legal, Logan’s grandfather had pressured T-Bos to close his bar and his cock-fighting establishment. Ever since the pit had been closed by new legislation, the Claibornes hadn’t been the most popular people with Bos and his biker clientele.
“Cici’s out back,” Tommy finally said through gritted, yellow teeth. “You better not be lying about Bos sending you.” Then with a meaningful shrug, Tommy disappeared. As his biker buddies crashed back in their chairs, even as their gazes pinned him, Logan heard him yelling for Cici.
A new song began to play that was even louder than the one before. Strobe lights began flashing to its beat.
In less than a minute Cici waltzed in looking like an angel in a pretty blue dress, the like of which Logan had never seen her wear before. Ablaze in the white light, she held a tray of glittering amber beer bottles high over her head.
Logan shoved a chair aside and loped through the throng of angry bikers to her. He felt embarrassed, nervous with so many tense gazes tracking him. When her shining eyes fixed on his face, she lowered her tray.
“You’re crazy…coming here,” she said. “Tommy’s not too crazy about you.”
“I had to see you. It doesn’t make sense, but there it is. I had to see you. Ever since you came back, nothing in my life makes sense anymore.”
She smiled, but tentatively. “You—being here—makes zero sense.”
“I missed you today,” he said.
“You said that on the phone. Why should I believe you?”
Her smile softened her expression, and something in her eyes welcomed him at least a little. Did she look dazzled? Or was it just the strobe lights? Well, a man could hope, couldn’t he…maybe, just maybe it was him that had made her face go so soft and radiant.
Desire for her and some other emotion raced along his veins, lighting his nerves. The bikers’ sharp gazes were drilling holes in his back. He should have been embarrassed or maybe scared to death. But suddenly he didn’t care what any of them thought.
He caught her hand, pulled her nearer. It was simply too good to see her again after the long hours apart. Everything else he’d done today, Mitchell, Hayes, Alicia, the merger, Jake, seemed so unimportant. Which was crazy.
Although it was dark, he could detect her cheeks flush just as he felt himself washed with similar heat. Gently, he intertwined his fingers with hers and brought her hand to his lips. Then he gripped her fingers tightly and just held them against his cheek for a minute or two. It felt good, and so damn right, just to be with her.
“When do you get off work?” he asked finally, letting her go.
“What can I do to help? I can wash glasses. Wait tables.”
“No. You’re to stay away from these guys. Pull up a stool behind the bar and just stay out of trouble. No conversation. Don’t even look their way.”
“You’re letting me off too easy.”
“If we get out of here without you getting into a fight, I’m happy. You’re not too popular around here, you know.”
“As long as you’re glad I’m here….”
“I’m not making you any promises, Claiborne.”
“Fair enough,” he said.
When Cici left the bar on Logan’s hard arm, her heart beat thunderously at the base of her neck.
“What do you want to do now?” she asked when they stood before their cars.
“First we kiss. Just once.”
“Here? No way. We need to beat it.”
“Here,” he whispered sharply.
His tanned face lowered toward hers. His blue eyes flamed. Then his mouth touched hers as tenderly and innocently as he’d kissed her that first time, so many years ago when he’d made her realize it was him she wanted, not Jake. His body barely brushed hers. Even so, she felt his heat and wanted more.
Afterward, when he pulled away, he gazed down at her for a long moment. “Can we go somewhere and talk?” he asked.
It was harder for her to concentrate after his kiss. He was standing so close, and he felt so deliciously warm. Yet she couldn’t let herself trust him.
“We could drive to Belle Rose. Make a pot of coffee and then drive into New Orleans,” he said.
“Look, it’s been a long day. I’ll bet you’re every bit as tired as I am. I think you should spend the night at Belle Rose. Not with me. In the big house across the hall from your grandfather. You should have breakfast with him. Pay attention to him.”