Wincing because he’d been so enthusiastic about helping her when she’d first arrived and now, because now at the thought of her leaving, he looked so small and lost, Cici gently set her tea cup down.

Leaning toward him, she patted his hand. Its coolness and thinness along with the slight tremor she detected frightened her a little.

“You know you can give the tours without me. And…my agent got that extension she promised me, so I can put the book off for a while.”

“But I just set up an interview with Eugene Thibodeaux. And I told you how busy he is.”

“I’m sorry, but I’m afraid I must ask you to cancel it.”

“Because of Logan?”

“I do have a life of my own you know,” she said.

Pierre’s hands had begun to shake. The color had drained from his face. He looked too white, too thin, and very old.

Damn Mitchell Butler.

All lives, but especially those of the very young and the elderly are so fragile. Because of Butler, Pierre, who didn’t need to be upset, was in real emotional pain.

“I’m truly sorry, Pierre,” Cici said softly. “But I’m afraid this can’t be helped.”

Her uncle chose that moment to call her on her mobile and say he’d read the article.

“Not now,” she whispered. “I’m trying to explain the situation to Pierre.”

“As if anything needs explaining,” he said. “Call me back when you get the chance.” He hung up.

“It’s my fault,” Pierre said. “I was too imperious and intolerant back in the old days. And I insisted Logan follow suit. Together we’ve made you think you don’t really belong and can never be happy here.”

At the thought of losing the chance at happiness she’d longed for only yesterday, her voice caught. “You’ve made me happy while I’ve been here this time.”

“Not happy enough apparently.”

As he lifted his coffee cup, she wondered if Pierre had heard anything she’d said other than that she was leaving. His face was pinched and set, and he was squinting as he stared unseeingly into the sun in the direction of the swamp and her uncle’s land beyond.

He’d adjust, just as she would. He just needed time. Anybody who’d lived as long as he had knew changes and losses were inevitable.

“I’ll go and make an airplane reservation,” she said.

He looked so ashen and lost as she arose, she wondered if she should call Logan and warn him she was worried about him. After all, he’d give her all his phone numbers.

No, he’d made it clear he couldn’t deal with the past or his guilt or her.

She wouldn’t talk to him; she would tell Noonoon to call him instead.

Twelve

Logan’s bedroom television was blaring. Not that he was concentrating on it even though the story was about Mitchell’s deluded lies. The man’s empire was built on hype and debt. He’d gone off his rocker after Hayes had pitched Mitchell his offer.

Not that Logan was thinking about Mitchell. He’d asked Hayes to deal with Mitchell.

All Logan could think of was Cici. Did she believe Mitchell about Alicia? If she did, maybe it was for the best. She would hate him more and forget him sooner.

Logan’s gaze drifted to his bed. In this room, on that bed, he’d made love to her for the last time, a mere twenty-four hours ago. He’d been the happiest man in the world until she’d told him about their son and he’d realized how utterly unforgivable his behavior to her had been. In some ways he was exactly like Mitchell Butler.

Noonoon had told Logan Cici would be leaving for Egypt soon. He regretted driving her away, and it saddened him he might not see her again for years. But it was for the best. How could he ever look at her again without remembering what he’d done?

She’d accused him of being high-handed and arrogant. Why couldn’t she understand that unlike the last time he’d left her, he was leaving her for her own good this time?

When his phone rang, he was sprawled in his easy chair thinking about her because he was unable to focus on his business journal or the television. Thankful for any diversion, he grabbed the receiver.

“Mr. Pierre, he be gone,” Noonoon said in a worried tone.

“What?” He grabbed his remote and punched Mute.

“I tried to get you earlier, only I got a message saying you had your phone turned off.”

“Sorry about that. I’ve been doing some thinking. What about Grandpère?”

“Mr. Pierre, he been in bad mood ever since he read the paper and had breakfast with Miss Cici. She told him she would be going away. After that nobody could console him. Not even me. So, he be gone. Mr. Jake, he come as soon as I called him.”

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