In this very room, or at least the bedroom where he stood, she’d lain naked beneath Logan, warmed by his larger body, never guessing he’d made love to her to save his brother. For an instant those fleeting, pulsing moments of cherished togetherness after he’d taken her virginity became too vividly real, stinging her with raw pain and fresh heartbreak all over again. All through those long summer nights, he’d made love to her again and again.

Every night she’d waited for Bos to go to his bar. Then she’d run through the woods to the garçonnière. She’d felt so piercingly alive in Logan’s arms. And every night their passion had built.

She’d believed he’d loved her—until that last night when Jake had found them together and Logan had told her why he’d really slept with her—to save Jake from making a misalliance. Then Logan had walked out on her, and her fairy tale had ended.

For days she’d believed he’d come back and tell her he was sorry, tell her he loved her. How little she’d known back then of men.

When she’d called him two months later in the fall to talk, before she could tell him her news, he’d silenced her by coldly informing her he’d married Noelle.

She’d needed to talk to him. She’d felt so alone when she’d hung up the phone knowing she had to face a difficult situation by herself. So abandoned. Because of him, for years she’d hated all men, especially him.

At some point, she’d quit blaming men in general for his crimes, but she’d clung to her intense dislike of him.

But the shock of seeing him like this, with his cold, blue, too-adult eyes burning every part of her body, from her pert nipples to the soft, damp brush of gold between her legs, was so powerful, even her hatred could not compare.

Finally, she regained enough presence of mind to remember her towel. Scowling at him, she leaned down to get it and wrapped it around her with jerky, big movements, making sure she covered the moon-shaped scar on her abdomen first.

Even so, when she looked up, guiltily, warily, she found his male eyes still blazing too hotly with the unwanted memory of her naked body, and his gaze made her own nerves buzz. But covering herself only seemed to intensify the raw, unwanted intimacy between them.

Blushing while fighting not to remember those hot summer nights they’d shared in this very bedroom, she swallowed and tried to make her voice fierce and defiant. “You should have knocked, damn you.”

“I did.”

“Then you should have waited until I answered.”

“Yes,” he agreed, finally having the decency to look away. His gaze drifted over her desk that was littered with papers and index cards and photographs, some of him. “I should have.”

A flush of dark color climbed his cheeks when he saw the newspaper clippings of his own ravaged face. The shot, which he couldn’t stop staring at, had been taken shortly after Noelle’s death.

Why, oh why did I leave that particular picture out?

“I didn’t think,” he said. “I never thought you’d be…”


His angry blue gaze snapped back to her face. “Why didn’t you lock the door? And how could you just stand there…flaunting yourself, like you liked me seeing you.”

“Stop right there!” Heat engulfed her and not the good, soothing kind. This fire was a fury that devoured her.

“Damn you! This is not my fault! Nothing is my fault! You barged in here! And because you did, you found me stepping out of my shower, as I have every right to do…”

“Yes, I’m sorry. You’re right!”

“I’m not finished. For your information, I’ve been taking showers these nine years since I last saw you! And nobody else, not even in a war zone, has ever barged in on me! You’re in the wrong—not me.”

“Okay. So you said…repeatedly. Enough already.”

“No. It’s not enough. You were horrible to me in the past. You’re horrible now. You always act high and mighty because as far as you’re concerned, I’ll be poor white trash till the day I die. I wasn’t good enough for Jake or you…and nothing I ever do will change that.”

He swallowed. The muscle that moved in his jawline when he was upset jumped violently. “All right. I hear you. You made your point.”

She most certainly had, but since he still hadn’t bothered to apologize, she felt consumed by smoldering heat and indignation…and by other awful emotions she didn’t want to name. How could he still affect her like this?”

Despite her discomfiture, his changed appearance registered. Not that she hadn’t seen pictures of him in magazines and newspapers and on the Internet from time to time. He was a rich, important man. His wife’s tragic accident and funeral alone had received a vast amount of coverage last year, all of which Cici had hungrily devoured.