Maybe initially Logan had obeyed his grandfather and slept with Cici to save his brother and his family from ruin, but no sooner had he started making love to her than other forces had him taken over and he’d realized he’d always wanted her for himself.
Still, he soon knew he had to break up with Cici, too, that she was no better as a mate for him than she’d been for Jake. He hadn’t wanted to hurt her by caring for her and making her care. He’d hoped that in time he’d forget her and that she’d forget him, too.
When he’d married Noelle, he’d told himself the man who’d loved Cici was dead. But today all the longings of that younger self had clamored inside the man he was now. She was more appealing to him than ever.
Why had Cici saved the picture of him that had been taken at one of the lowest moments in his life, the day of Noelle’s funeral, when he’d come to terms with what a bastard he’d been, and not just to Cici?
He’d been devastated at Noelle’s death, but for all the wrong reasons. He’d known then he’d never loved her. That he’d only ever wanted her half as much as he’d always wanted Cici, and he hated himself for that.
Nine years ago he’d believed he’d done the right thing in jilting Cici and marrying Noelle. But his marriage to Noelle was what hadn’t worked. Nothing in his personal life had succeeded since Cici.
Deliberately Logan forced his big hand to loosen its crushing grip on his second tall glass of iced tea with a sprig of mint and a slice of lemon. If only the heat in his blood for Cici would lessen.
Alicia would be waiting for him tonight in New Orleans. A sane, mature man would stop lusting after Cici’s lush, naked body. But he wasn’t sane. And the memory of how she’d looked wetly aglow and achingly vulnerable in the rosy sunlight wouldn’t quit.
Maybe Cici’s grammar was better—she was a damned good writer, if an annoying one—but was she any more suited to him now than she had been then? She’d always been antiestablishment; a rebel, and an adventuress, while he was conservative to the core. Hell, her uncle was very little short of being an outlaw.
Did those differences really matter in the twenty-first century? Or did the raw, true, primal desire he felt for Cici matter more?
No. He’d been carefully taught that money and breeding and power and the willingness to accept responsibilities that came with position separated people like him from her. He made rules and followed them; she and her uncle stomped over every rule in the book. Nothing was sacred to her. Not even death. Her books and photos proved that.
For money she’d taken a picture of a child being stalked by vultures to horrify her audience of human vultures avid for such shots of lurid misery. At odd moments the picture still haunted him. How could he feel any sympathy for a woman who had lived off the suffering of others?
His feelings for her were driven solely by lust. He’d been obsessed by her in the past. He wasn’t about to let his animal urges take over and ruin his life or hers again.
But, oh, God, why did she have to be as lovely as ever—hell, maybe even lovelier? Why did one glimpse of her make his heart open wide and throb with regret? Make him feel as if crucial years of their lives had been cruelly stolen from them?
He was wondering what the cure for such a severe case of lust was—a speedy marriage to the refined Alicia or taking Cici one more time to get her out of his system?—when the front door opened and his grandfather came out holding onto Noonoon’s arm.
At the sight of his much stronger and more vigorous grandfather, he did a double take. Gone was the frail, ghostly shadow who had lain in his bed in Baton Rouge less than a month ago and had weepily confided in Logan that he wished he was dead. That’s when Logan had left no stone unturned to find the perfect situation in New Orleans for his ailing grandfather.
Logan slugged his iced tea and set his glass down and shot to his feet eagerly. “Grandpère! Where’s your walker?”
“Kept tripping over the damn nuisance,” Pierre said, sounding gruff, almost angry, almost his old authoritative self. “Cici got me this quad cane.” He let go of Noonoon and shook it.
Cici. Glad as Logan was that his grandfather was so much better, he resented that her name alone was enough to make him flush with heat. Would Noonoon and Grandpère see and understand?
The old man lifted his cane in a commanding fashion. “Cici suggested I use a wheelchair when we give our afternoon tour, though. Don’t like to, ’cause it makes me look old.”
“You’re nearly eighty.”
“Cici says age is just an attitude.”