To Tame Her Tycoon Lover

By: Ann Major

There was no place for her at Belle Rose, yet she’d always wanted to belong. The closest she’d ever come to that had been when Uncle Bos had worked briefly as a part-time gardener for the Claibornes, and she’d had free run of the place. That’s when she’d formed the habit of following Logan everywhere any time he was home.

“What the hell?” the deep, too-familiar voice of the present master of Belle Rose roared as lustily as any bull alligator.

For a second or two she felt the same rush of adrenaline in her stomach she’d known when that bullet in Afghanistan had whizzed by her face, missing her by mere inches.

You had to get close to death to film it.

She opened her eyes, and when they fastened on the tall, broad-shouldered man, who was in her bedroom, she screamed.

For nine years she’d imagined what clever thing she’d say or do if she ever saw Logan Claiborne again. She’d give him a piece of her mind, for one thing. But in this long, nightmarish moment, she just stood where she was like a dumbstruck idiot. Vaguely she noted that his eyes were as wide with conflicting emotions as hers probably were.

If he’d taken a single step toward her or said something clever and belittling, she would have screamed again. But since he was as paralyzed as she, she did nothing. Absolutely nothing.

She just stood there without a stitch on and let him gape at her. For the record, and she being a journalist kept minute records, a whirlwind of thoughts and feelings and visual images did storm through her. At first, they flew so fast and hard she couldn’t focus on any particular memory. Still, for a second or two she felt keenly in touch with her younger, more vulnerable self—that naive, innocent eighteen-year-old girl who’d loved him, trusted him and had been shattered by his callous treatment.

How could he have misused her so? They’d grown up together. She’d always had a crush on Jake, his wilder twin. Logan had been more like a brother to her, the brother who’d mainly ignored her but with whom she’d felt safe and comfortable around because no powerful childish crush got in the way and had made her shy around him.

He’d played in the swamp with her when she’d been a child. He’d taught her to tease alligators, collect egret feathers, trap crawfish. Then they’d grown up, and she’d given up her infatuation for Jake and had fallen in love with Logan. Hadn’t he really, always been her hero? Then he’d made his move, and soon after, her fantasy world had come crashing down around her.

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.

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