Authors: Melody Snow Monroe
Her brows rose and her shoulders stiffened. “What?”
“There is a very small walk-on part in my play that I think you would be perfect for. I’d love for you to consider doing it.”
Her hand raced to her chest. “I don’t act.” Her other hand rubbed her thigh.
“You barely have to. I think there’s only one or two lines you need to speak.” As expected, she hesitated. “Here’s the thing. You’ll be around during the rehearsal time anyway helping with the set. The play’s at night, and it won’t take up too much of your time.”
In reality, she’d have to commit to several hours each night for six weeks. Logan’s suggestion that she be involved in a joint venture fit perfectly into their plans.
To test the
waters, he told her the rest. “Your couple of lines would be with Logan.”
Her breath seemed to catch in her throat. “Can I think about it?”
“Sure, but I’ve finished casting except for the small roles. I’ll need to know soon.”
“How about I tell you tomorrow?”
He stood, not wanting to overstay his visit. “Perfect.” In case she didn’t have his number, he withdrew his wallet and placed his card on her coffee table. “I can see myself out. Thanks for your willingness to help.” He was halfway to the door when he turned around. “When you call, we can discuss when you think you’ll have the grillwork done.”
She swallowed. “Sure.”
She hadn’t said she wouldn’t be in the play. If she agreed, he’d have to sex up the part. It would be one small way to pay back Logan for all he’d done not only for him but for the theater.
Once Parker left, she pored over the set-design drawings. He said the copy he’d brought was for her. She made calculations on the amount of lumber, canvas, paint, and iron she’d need to make the set rock. Sometimes a good background to a play could make or break a production.
The last time she’d help with a set, Parker had hired a carpenter to give her a hand. He’d been there only as a helper. She’d been the main designer. As she pored over the plans, she’d get an idea then discard it just as quickly. If the play was to be set in New Orleans, she needed to get a better feel for how close the buildings were to each other and how many stories the buildings needed to be. Google Images were great, but they often only provided one angle.
Tomorrow she’d call Parker and tell him she’d start on the ironwork right away. The actors would need the real set built within three weeks, which would really push her to get her other work done. Then again, this was Parker Brandt, the man she’d had the crush on for years.
Her cell rang and she didn’t bother looking at the caller ID. Only Dakota would call after ten at night.
“Jade?” The deep, rich voice made her stomach tumble.
“Logan.” She rushed to the sofa and sat down.
“I just spoke with Parker. He said you agreed to do the set.”
“Are you free tomorrow?”
Her heart flipped. “Yes.”
I’m swamped and can’t even afford the time to shop for groceries.
“How would you like to go to New Orleans for a couple of days to check out the grill work in person?”
Her tongue couldn’t move since something blocked the oxygen from reaching her brain. Logan Smithfield was actually offering to spend a few days with her? Just the two of them? Alone? In New Orleans?
“Yes. I can pick you up tomorrow at 7:00 a.m. Can you be ready?”
Did hot steel bend under pressure? “Yes.”
“Weather should be nice. Tomorrow then.” He disconnected and she held the phone to her chest, replaying every one of his words.
Logan Smithfield asked her out? She jumped up from the sofa and did a celebratory dance. Then she stopped.
. Not only would she have to let Dakota know that she’d be gone for a few days, but she needed to look at her calendar to see if she had any hard-and-fast client deadlines. Lastly, she needed to pack. “Sexy but not slutty” had to be her motto. She wanted Logan to see her as an attractive woman and not someone with small boobs and big biceps.
* * * *
She’d never flown in a private jet before, but she could get used to the luxury. The chaise lounge actually reclined, but there was no way she could sleep despite not getting a wink of sleep last night. The flight may have taken several hours, but it seemed like a few minutes. Logan regaled her with how he’d started his company and how committed he was to using green energy. She could have listened to him for days.
As soon as they touched down, a limousine was waiting to take them to the Maison Dupuy.
“You’re going to love the hotel. Each room has a wrought iron balcony overlooking Toulouse Street. Even better, it’s only two blocks from the famous Bourbon Street.”
“I can’t thank you enough for inviting me.”
He shrugged. “Not only am I’m helping the community theater, but it will give us some uninterrupted time to discuss the railing I want for the model home.”
. Her stomach soured. His invitation had no romantic overtones associated with it.
. Here she thought it was a date. She plastered on a smile. “Great.”
The limo arrived in front of the hotel. Even though it was early afternoon, there were a few tourists on the sidewalks. The driver opened her door and helped her out. The warm breeze caressed her skin, and she absorbed the smells of New Orleans. A hint of bleach floated in the air, probably to cover some more unpleasant odors associated with too much partying.
The check-in process was quick. The bellhop bundled their cases on a cart and they followed him to the elevator. She pretended this was her honeymoon and that she was with the man who loved her.
Parker’s image intruded and she didn’t push it aside. “It’s too bad Parker couldn’t have come. It would have been great to have his input.” Both men seemed to be best of friends.
Logan’s sapphire-colored eyes twinkled. “He would have given anything to join us, but he has his play opening.”
She’d forgotten about that. “You’ll have to report back to him about what we saw.”
“I brought my camera to take some photos for him.”
“I completely forgot to bring mine. My camera phone will have to do.”
He’d gotten them adjoining rooms. Once she dropped her suitcase on the bed, she opened the doors to the balcony. Her pulse raced as she stepped outside. While the balcony only had room for a small table and two chairs, she could see all the way down the street.
“Hey!” Logan had come out on his balcony.
A few bars separated the two. “It’s incredible, Logan. I already have so many new ideas, not only for the play but for some new pieces of artwork.”
“I figured seeing New Orleans would stimulate your mind. How about we go to the famous Café Du Monde for some beignets and chicory coffee then stroll around. Your muse can go wild.” Logan had to be the most considerate man.
“Is it far?” She wanted to walk rather than take a cab.
“It’s less than a half mile.”
She practically skipped back inside. Thank goodness she’d worn good walking shoes.
A knock sounded on the adjoining door a few seconds later. Opening it, she was greeted by a smiling Logan. He held out his arm. “Ready?”
They exited the hotel, and as soon as he wrapped an arm around her waist, tingles shot up her spine.
. This was a real date.
. She had to focus on studying the architecture rather than swooning being with Logan.
She’d never been here and could definitely see the allure. Tourists were everywhere looking at all the cute shops.
“If you want to stop in any of them, let me know.”
Who was this man?
“I’m good. I enjoy the exteriors more. The details are amazing.”
When they got to the Café Du Monde, they were able to snag a table on the outside terrace. “You can order for me.” After all, she’d never been here.
“Check out the menu. Maybe something will strike your fancy.”
Her dad always ordered for her mom. “Sure.”
Once their food arrived, they both dove into their beignets. When she looked up, Logan had powdered sugar on his face. She tapped the right side of her mouth as a hint he needed to brush off the food.
“I got messy?” He chuckled and swiped the napkin across his mouth.
“You still missed a little.”
He tried again and made the smudge larger. Like she’d seen her mom do a thousand times, she reached across the small table and dragged a thumb down his cheek. The second her skin made contact with his face, her insides melted and her heart raced. She finished the cleanup and quickly withdrew her hand. “I’m sorry.”
Was he trying to embarrass her? “For touching you.”
He laughed. “Darlin’, I’ve been willing you to touch me since we got here.”
While the temperature hadn’t even reached seventy, her body burned. “Oh.” Her mind jumbled at the implication.
Needing to cover her embarrassment, she picked up her chicory coffee and sipped it. His comment implied he liked her. Or had he made that as a kind of joke? God, she hated doubting herself.
As soon as they finished, Logan waved for his check. “Ready?”
“I’m really looking forward to seeing Bourbon Street.” She hoped she didn’t sound like a ten-year-old at Disney. How uncool would that have been?
On the way out, he paid. “Let’s go explore.”
It was a short walk to the main drag. They passed a trumpet player letting loose a wonderful rendition of some jazz song. They listened for a bit, and Logan donated to the cause. “You like it so far?”
“Absolutely. I can’t imagine what this place is like during Mardi Gras.” It was already crazy wild.
“I’ve never been. My job keeps me pretty busy, but I’d like to see it sometime.”
Yet he had time to take off two days to show her around. He must really love the theater. She refused to think this trip was an excuse to get to know her.
A couple was sitting on a stunningly beautiful balcony above the street. She grabbed her camera phone and snapped a picture. Not only were the balconies exciting, but so were the benches, fences and a host of other items. Even the latches holding down the hurricane shutters were artistic. This town was a blacksmith’s wet dream.
They must have spent three hours wandering the streets. Eventually, her feet got tired.
“You up for an early dinner?” he asked.
He was either a mind reader or he could see she was dragging. “Absolutely.”
“Let’s go back to the hotel and change.”
She had been up since five this morning, and with all the walking, she’d enjoy a nice shower. Hopefully all the walking wore off some of the calories from the divine beignets.
“Can you be ready in thirty minutes?”
“Sure.” Why did she always lie? Her process of getting ready was like bending steel. It took a lot of pounding to make an ugly piece of metal into a thing of beauty.
She could be quick taking a shower, but putting on makeup that would impress him would take a while.
He must not consider her the high-maintenance type of woman. She bet her muscular build threw him off.
. Pounding steel all day had consequences.
As soon as they got to their doors, she rushed inside. Quick as possible, she stripped and jumped in the shower. Her hair was clean, so that would save her time by not having to wash it. Once she scrubbed and rinsed, she stepped out. Before she worried about her face, she located a sexy dress. She’d brought a red V-neck that hugged her curves and went well with her sexy, two-inch, spiked heels. The adorable red shoes had a feather clasped on the top with straps that wound around her ankle. Add in a piece of local jewelry and she thought she looked pretty hot.
Now for the makeup. She’d just finished outlining her lips and was filling in the middle when Logan knocked on her adjoining room door. “Coming.”
She swiped the lipstick across her lips, rushed out of the bathroom, and pulled open the door.
His jaw loosened. “Holy shit, but you look good.”
She didn’t know if she should be thrilled at the compliment or a little bummed by his surprise. “You look dapper, too.”
His silk suit fit him perfectly. His broad shoulders were made for protecting, and his slim hips—she decided not to go there.
“Let me get my coat.” The night air, as well as the restaurant, might get chilly.
“Good idea.” He led her downstairs, where they stepped into a waiting cab. “Emeril’s Delmonico, please.”
The name implied elegance. “Have you been here before?”
Or had he brought other women here?
“Actually, I’ve only come twice. Once when I was ten, my parents brought the whole family, and the second time was about five years ago for a business conference.”