To Tame Her Tycoon Lover

By: Ann Major

Mitchell Butler, Alicia’s father, was a domineering shark, at least in business, but since Logan and he had this huge merger between their businesses pending, Logan didn’t want to cross him over something as minor as a personal issue. He would see Alicia tonight.

“Darling, I’m sure you’ll know exactly what to say and do to make your grandfather understand why he may not be able to stay at Belle Rose,” Alicia had said. “After all, it’s your family. He’s your grandfather. You love him and want only the best for him.”

If she only knew what a mess he’d made of things, Logan thought grimly. He’d made everybody unhappy. His family remained divided, as a result.

He didn’t want to dwell on his mistakes, especially not on his brutal handling of Cici the first time around or his nine-year estrangement from his twin. His thoughts on damage control and what was best for his grandfather, Logan had rushed down here today despite his heavy schedule. He was determined to deal with Cici before she got creative and made his grandfather believe he could have the impossible.

He remembered how small and lost Cici had looked standing on the dock after he’d told her he didn’t love her. He’d lied to protect her and him. Strangely, his lie had made him feel equally sad.

Don’t think about the past. Or how you felt. Just deal with Cici now.

Despite his best intentions not to revisit the past, he remembered young, vivacious Cici trying to pretend she was strong and tough and as good as the rich and powerful Claibornes. He’d hurt her. Hurt Jake. Hurt everybody, including himself. And told himself it was collateral damage because the family was richer and stronger than ever.

After locking the car, Logan turned and strode up the gravel drive toward the softly glowing house. But at the base of the stairs that led to the lower gallery and massive front door, he paused.

Slowly his gaze drifted over the mansion and lawn. A newly built wooden wheelchair ramp that avoided the stairs snaked back and forth from the ground to the front door.

Logan’s eyes roved over the familiar grounds, out to the garçonnière where he and Jake had lived as teenagers before their quarrel over Cici, and he wondered who owned the two-seater Miata parked at such a jaunty angle beside the building.

Frowning, he made for the stairs, but just as he was about to turn the knob and push at the front door, it was opened by someone inside the house.

“Why, hello there, Mister Logan,” said the soft, familiar, French-accented voice of his childhood nanny.

Noonoon, his grandfather’s housekeeper now, stood just inside the big door. At the sight of him, her dark face lit up as brightly as a birthday cake.

An answering warmth filled him. This generous-hearted woman had always loved him, loved Jake, too. Ever since their mother’s death, she’d practically run Belle Rose single-handedly.

“Lordy, it shore is a hot day.”

He nodded, gave her a quick hug, then released her.

“Come on in out of the heat before you melt. If it’s this hot now, what’ll it be like in August?”

“Don’t get me started about August.” Because of the gulf heating up in the summer, August was a prime month for hurricanes.

“Can I fix you something? A drink maybe? Iced tea with a sprig of mint?”

He shook his head. “I’m fine.”

“You shore are. At thirty-five, you’re as tall and handsome as ever.”

“Why do you remind me of my age every chance you get?”

“Maybe because it’s time you stopped grieving so hard for your pretty Miss Noelle.”

He tensed.

She stopped, realizing he wasn’t the sort to encourage sympathy. “Life is short,” she said.

“I have someone new in my life.” He stepped into the welcoming cool of the wide central hall. “Her name’s Alicia Butler. You’ll meet her soon. She’s a real lady. Someone the family will be proud of.”

Noonoon shut the door behind him. “I’m real glad. So, what brings you all the way down here from New Orleans?”

“My grandfather. He’s so deaf he’s hard to talk to over the phone. I thought we had things settled, but this morning he was saying he was better and wanted to stay here on his own.” Deliberately Logan refrained from mentioning Cici.

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