She moved away from the door toward her desk. Slowly she lifted the photograph of him where he looked so lost and sad. She’d taken so many pictures of people in pain, she recognized real suffering when she saw it.
Not wanting to think about that or to feel sorry for him, she slipped his picture inside a drawer.
Suddenly it dawned on her that she hadn’t heard him stomp down the stairs. Was he standing on the other side of the door?
Or was he as upset and confused as she was after seeing her again?
Was he human after all?
When she considered the possibility that she might have hurt him, even just a little, she felt a strange catch in her heart just like she had when she’d first seen that picture of him after Noelle’s death.
Closing her eyes, she saw his dark, pain-ravaged face after he’d told her making love to her had meant nothing…that he’d never loved her, that he’d only done it to save his twin. She’d never known which to believe: his brutal words or his heartbroken eyes.
She took a breath and told herself his jilting her was all that mattered. Like photographs, actions told the deepest truths.
When she removed her towel to dress, she caught sight of her reflection in the tall mirror on the wall.
Turning on the light, she studied the crescent-shaped scar on her stomach for a long moment. And as always, whenever she let herself remember that terrible night when she’d had an emergency C-section, the night she’d lost their baby son, fathered by a man who’d refused to even listen to her when she’d tried to tell him she was pregnant, she froze.
Under no circumstances could she allow herself to soften toward Logan Claiborne.
Grabbing a blouse, she turned away from the mirror. The last thing she needed was any reminder of how deeply involved she’d once been with the angry man who’d just left.
She was through with him forever.
Logan was furious at himself for storming into the garçonnière after becoming impatient when Cici hadn’t opened the door the minute he’d knocked.
Furious at her, too. How could she have just stood in her bathroom naked like that, smelling so sweetly of jasmine, her fine-boned face looking so startled and golden and glorious; her glistening, wet lips and body tempting him as she’d towel-dried her glossy ringlets.
She’d had every right to be there as she’d aptly pointed out.
At the sight of those sparkling droplets of water clinging to the grapelike tips of her dusky nipples, his groin had hardened. His blood had coursed like lava. He’d felt like a beast. Even now he wanted to rush her, to jam her against the wall and take her then and there. He wanted to taste those lips again, to lick those nipples, to lick other secret places until she moaned in ecstasy, to run his hands through her thick, springy curls. Yes, he’d wanted to drown himself in Cici Bellefleur.
How could he still want her with every cell in his being, despite their past? Why did he keep remembering how her golden curls had spread across his pillow like a Southern belle’s fan every night after they’d made love? Or how he’d liked to trace her soft, swollen lips with his fingertip, regretting more with every night that passed that his obsession for her had grown with every kiss, with every touch until he’d wanted her for himself far more than Jake had ever wanted her. Then he’d begun to agonize about how painful it would be to give up something so beautiful and infinitely precious to him.
But Grandpère’s view had been that Cici was just like his mother—a poor girl out to better herself at their expense—that she would lead him around by the nose as his mother had led his father, that she would spend every last cent of their money until they were completely ruined.
Grandpère kept repeating that he’d had to be tough on him because he’d been too soft on his father and Jake. And as a result of his earlier failure to be firm, the family business was on the verge of bankruptcy, and Jake was wild and out of control. Everything, his grandfather warned, depended upon Logan making a prudent marriage and then settling down to save Claiborne Energy.
Grandpère’s opinion about Logan’s parents’ marriage and the decline in the family fortune had been too true. Their once-proud family and company were on the brink of ruin. Sacrifices had to be made, his grandfather had said, and there was no one else to make them except Logan.
“Don’t disappoint me, too, the way your father and brother have always disappointed me,” his grandfather said when Logan had been reluctant to come between Jake and Cici. The next night Logan had seduced her to save his brother, and Jake had caught them in bed together. Jake had quit the family in disgust without ever knowing why Logan had acted as he had or that Logan had been cruelly caught in his own trap.