She laughed. “Then order one for yourself.”

“Did you get anything done on your book?”

“Your library was too fantastic. You might say I bogged down in my research.”

Their restaurant was located in the heart of the French Quarter. He’d told her it was world famous, and she could see why. It’s soft lighting, slow but attentive service and excellent food made for the most romantic dining experience, at least, when a girl wasn’t gorging on her quail salad.

“I didn’t mean for you to stop eating,” he said. Then he frowned as he glanced to his right at a couple who’d just walked in and were being seated at a table against the far wall.

“Oh, no,” he murmured when the brunette, who’d been about to take her chair, saw him, stood up again and fled.

“Alicia?” Cici hadn’t seen much of the woman other than her stricken expression and slim back, so she wasn’t sure who it was.

“I’m afraid so.”

Her companion, an older man with a tanned face and thick, silver hair, stood up and turned toward Logan. Instead of following his dinner companion, the man threw down his napkin and strode over to their table. When Logan thrust out his hand, the man stared at it so coldly, Logan let it fall to his side.

“Your CEO called me today, Claiborne.”

“Sorry to hear about your recent…er…troubles,” Logan said. “Still, you weren’t completely honest.”

“So, you’re moving in for the kill.” Mitchell’s expression darkened as he turned vengefully to Cici. “I’d watch him, if I were you, young lady. He’s not just some nice, tame guy who takes pretty girls to expensive restaurants. He eats people alive.”

“That’s uncalled for, Butler.”

“Is it?”

“You were the one who lied. I’m merely exposing the lie and offering to bail you out.” Logan pushed his chair back, but not before Mitchell had begun backing away from the table.

“Go to hell.”

“If you’re smart, you’ll consider my offer.” Logan turned back to Cici. “Sorry about that,” he added. “I hope he didn’t ruin your quail salad. He and I have some unfinished business. I’m afraid he wasn’t entirely forthcoming about his shipyard. Or his other affairs.”

“Nothing could spoil my salad,” she whispered.

But strangely, as it turned out, she couldn’t eat another bite. She kept remembering Alicia’s stricken look and Mitchell’s warning to her about Logan. Of course, the man was bitter about the merger and Logan’s new offer, so his words could mean nothing. Still, it was nearly half an hour before she could resume her participation in the light banter they’d been enjoying before Mitchell Butler had so rudely interrupted them.

Who better than she should know that Logan was not a nice, tame guy?

He eats people alive.

Was that true? If so, did that still include the people he loved?

Ten

In silence Logan walked Cici up the stairs and down to her bedroom where they stood together in the long shadows sweeping the hall, holding hands.

“I’m sorry about Mitchell,” Logan repeated, pressing her fingers.

She licked her lips. “You wanted me to come here so we could get to know one another better. You’re a business man, and he’s part of your world. Maybe it’s for the best that I met him and realized some people see you as a hard, ambitious businessman.”

“Maybe. But I would have preferred different circumstances for our first night out together.”

“And what would they have been?”

“I was dining with you. I didn’t feel like being surprised, at least, not by Mitchell. He’s not a particularly nice guy.” He paused. “Well, I guess I’ll say good night.”

When he leaned down to kiss her, she stood on her tiptoes, eager for his lips, surrendering the instant his mouth claimed hers. She wanted more than a goodnight kiss. Yes, what she wanted was to acquiesce to the passion she felt for him again, as she had that night in the garçonnière.

Still, she couldn’t let herself fall under his spell. If it didn’t work out, she would be getting in too deep, too fast again. He was right about the need to slow it down.

“It feels warm all of a sudden,” he said.

Because of his kisses, heat blazed through her, too, and made her tremble.

He undid the ribbon in her hair, so that untidy masses of springy gold flowed silkily over her shoulders. A shiver rippled through her. Feeling herself on the brink of surrender, she caught her breath. Then, making a huge effort to behave wisely and heed Mitchell Butler’s warning, she clenched her hands against her sides, and determined to fight the awakening desires in her body.

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