LOGAN ST. MARTIN watched as his father finished up his half-pound burger with bacon and fries, and his Good Doctor brew of choice, Kidney. Cliff had been sneaking lunch at the bar for the past week, and Logan knew why. It seemed his mother was back for good. The consensus among the brothers was that she’d even moved back in. Catherine was still as breathtaking as ever with her dark silky hair, smooth olive skin, and gray eyes. She’d kept her figure and as she walked across the room, her long shapely legs were tastefully on display in the pearl-colored Armani jacket and skirt she wore. As his father sat oblivious, Logan warned, “Incoming, six o’clock.”
His father turned. “Shit.” He and Logan shared a knowing look.
As his mom approached the counter, Logan leaned over to kiss her cheek. “Mother, you look gorgeous, as always.”
“Oh, Logan,” she cooed, “you are always such the ladies’ man. That’s why I love you the most.”
He grinned, knowing she said the same thing to all her children.
She turned to his father. “Clifton Reese St. Martin, what is it you think you’re eating?”
His face tensed, and his shoulders hitched at her tone. “It’s a half-pound burger with bacon, fries, and a beer. Two beers now, actually.”
“Way to go all-in, pop.” Logan resumed wiping down the counter.
“When you’re caught with your hand in the cookie jar, you may as well fess up.” He nodded to Logan’s mom and looked her up and down, his eyes darkening by a shade. She raised a brow at him as she returned his as**sessing scrutiny. A sensual smile spread across her face, and her eyes lowered.
Logan cleared his throat as he watched his parents. It appeared they’d even rekindled the flame? He was happy for them but witnessing their intimacy was too much information. Besides, he was late for an appointment. “Excuse me, I, uh, have an appointment.”
Logan was scheduled to meet with the owner of Whiskey Cove’s only Italian restaurant to see about getting his special brand of brew an exclusive with the restaurant, and leaving now would save him from watching his parents make eyes at one another.
He was ready to place his products in places other than his own bar. The only snag he could foresee was that the restaurant didn’t have a liquor license, and he’d already told the owner that he’d help her overcome that hurdle. From what he’d gleaned from their one phone conversation, he suspected her business was hurting and could benefit from liquor sales. And he aimed to get his beer in before anyone else got the chance. Her prices weren’t exactly competitive, but the portions were enormous, and they served the best pizza he’d ever tasted. He’d yet to meet the owner in person, but looked forward to the partnership.
He checked the time as he headed for his office. Shit, he was running forty-five minutes behind. Cash had just gotten back into town after years of being away, and Logan had lost track of time as he was regaled with stories about the burning lights of Vegas. Cash was his favorite brother, and he’d enjoyed hearing about his antics as he took the strip by storm and cashed in at the poker tables.
Logan rushed into his office, changed his shirt, and grabbed up the documents and information packet he’d put together for Jessica Hunter, the restaurant’s owner. As he raced down the highway in his truck, he applied deodorant to his pits. He’d gotten sweaty unloading supplies at the brewery, but that was nothing new. He frowned. Though it didn’t happen as frequently as it used to, he still heard the questions from the people in town, wondering why he’d spent so much time in medical school just to throw away his education on a brewery.
But he loved The Good Doctor, was proud of what he’d created. How long would he have to justify his choices?
How long would the opinions of others direct his opinion of himself?
Honestly, he’d always felt like an outsider with his blond hair and green eyes. The St. Martins all had eyes like clean blue ice and sported brown hair. The others all had names beginning with C, and they all had campy nicknames. Logan had none of that since he’d been adopted.
His biological parents had been brutally murdered in their home when Logan was a boy. The St. Martins and the Heberts had been family friends. His adoptive family had always been accepting of him, but he felt like an outsider, an intruder forcing his way into their private lives like a grub worm burrows into tree trunks. He’d heard it said on more than one occasion from people in town that he was the weird one and whispers regarding his murdered parents could still be heard.
Logan was thankful for the St. Martin clan, but he still longed to have that deep blood bond with someone. Blood ran deep, he saw that firsthand. And he craved those deep ties.
Medicine was the only remaining bond he’d had with his biological father and so he’d enrolled in school and done well. When he’d taken his medical boards, he’d scored in the top five percent, and he’d completed his pediatric residency and obtained his state and national licenses. But medicine wasn’t his calling. He’d once thought it was. Or maybe he’d just wanted it to be his life’s purpose.
When he’d been young, his father—his birth father—had given him his old black medical bag to play with and furnished it with ointments, a stethoscope, thermometers, bandages, and faux syringes. Logan had used the kit to wreak havoc on his plush-animal collection. He’d treated his parents’ ailments as well. His father had asked him if he wanted to be a doctor and Logan had told him yes. Truth told, Logan had felt obligated to obtain his medical degree after his dad was killed. He just didn’t feel compelled to use it once he’d fulfilled his obligation.
Logan pulled into the gravel lot of La Bella Luna and jumped out of his truck. It was between lunch and dinner, so not much was shaking inside the restaurant. He walked toward the bar, where a young woman, her back to him, was filling salt and pepper shakers.
“Excuse me. I’m looking for Jessica Hunter.”
“You’re late,” the woman responded with a terse voice.
Logan leaned in closer. “How’s that?”
Louder she repeated, “I said you’re late.”
She had spunk. Or maybe she was majorly crabby. He hoped it was spunk. He didn’t want to partner with some bitchy woman. Whistling and studying the near empty restaurant, he said, “Shall I come back at a less busy time?”
He saw her neck tighten. Or maybe it was her back straightening into a board as she forced herself to curb her response. Whatever it was, he noticed the movement. And he noticed because he was focusing on the rust-colored hair that was tied into a thick knot at the nape of her neck. Pretty hair. Too pretty to be knotted tight—
She turned, and his breathing hitched. She was incredible. Truly breathtaking. And he immediately knew he was in trouble. Logan was a sucker for redheads, and with her milky skin and sizzling blue eyes melting into him, his heart started racing. Her lips were parted. Her top teeth peeked out and landed on her thick bottom lip as she began to nervously chew at it.
His mouth instantly wanted to do the same, to nibble and taste and explore her lips and the heat of her mouth.
She took him in with equal curiosity, scanning him from head to toe as her long dark lashes created shadows across her pink cheeks. He wanted to run his fingers through the lustrous hair so thick she had to double clip it. There was an abundance of it, and he thought he caught a scent of apple cinnamon. She was wearing black shorts and a white T-shirt with a nametag that read Jessie. She untied the black apron from her waist and motioned for him to follow her. He had no problem following those twitching hi**ps.