Wild Dream

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Lafayette Regional Airport
July

Ava Ledet stepped off the private jet and smiled when her gaze landed on Olivia Breaux. Olivia’s dark hair was pulled back in a ponytail, and her black eyes crinkled at the corners as she smiled. She pushed off the truck she had been leaning against and ran to Ava.

“I can’t believe you’re finally here,” Olivia said as she enveloped Ava in a hug.

Ava wasn’t a touchy-feely type person, but Olivia never gave her a choice. In the short time they had worked together, Ava felt as if she had found her first true friend. She returned Olivia’s hug, genuinely happy to see her. “I’m sorry I’m so late.”

Olivia stepped back and raised her brow at the private jet. “Flying in style though, aren’t you?”

“Company jet. They allow us to use it every now and again.”

“Your law firm must really bring in the big bucks.”

Ava didn’t respond to the comment. Instead, she turned to the co-pilot who held out her bag. “Thanks, Jim.”

Jim gave her a wink and entered the plane. Olivia hooked her arm with Ava’s while turning her to the truck.

Olivia leaned in and whispered, “He’s cute.”

“I suppose.” She glanced over her shoulder to see Jim’s tall form bend to enter the plane. He looked at her, his hazel eyes holding hers a moment before he closed the door and disappeared.

“You suppose,” Olivia repeated in surprise. “Ava, he’s a hunk.”

Ava grinned and opened the door to the truck where she tossed her bag. “All right. I admit it. I’m not blind. I’ve seen his cute ass. But I’m not looking for a guy. I’m too busy with work to even dream about going on a date, much less actually going on said date.”

Not to mention there was her past, the same past she had returned to Louisiana to face.

When Olivia didn’t respond, Ava looked up to see her black eyes watching her thoughtfully. Ava had seen that look before, though not from Olivia. It had come from her mother.

Ava got into the passenger seat and strapped on her seat belt. Just being in Louisiana was more difficult than she had expected, but she could handle it. She had made a name for herself in Dallas as one of the best attorneys in the city. If she could handle courtrooms, juries, and judges, she could handle the part of her life that had nearly ruined everything.

Olivia cleared her throat as she climbed into the truck. “It’s not that far of a drive, but I’m starving, and the boys will only wait so long before they dive into the food.”

Ava laughed, grateful that Olivia talked of something so mundane. She looked around the interior of the Chevy truck. “The last time I saw you, you were driving a car. Is this yours?”

“Yep.” Olivia’s face scrunched as she drove away from the airfield. “I was in a bit of an accident and needed a new vehicle. In this area, it’s better to have a truck.”

Ava looked at Olivia to see an aura of happiness about her that hadn’t been there before. “You’ve changed. I guess we can say that your man has something to do with that.”

Even though Ava had gotten the lawsuit against Olivia dismissed the month before, they still talked often. It hadn’t taken Olivia long to spill the beans on Vincent, the man who had swept her off her feet. Ava was happy for her friend. In her world, all she ever heard of were divorces. It was nice to see that love did exist.

For some.

“Yes,” Olivia said dreamily. “Vin is…well, he’s amazing.”

“He has to have one flaw.”

Olivia merely smiled and cut her eyes to Ava.

Ava laughed. “I really want to meet him now.”

“How long has it been since you’ve been to Louisiana?” Olivia asked.

The smile dropped from Ava’s face, and she hastily looked out her window so Olivia wouldn’t see. “It seems a lifetime ago. I was thirteen when we left. The day after Christmas.”

“Fourteen years? That is a long time.”

Ava stared out the window, but it wasn’t the rice fields she saw. It was a flood of memories from a happier time – a time before her world was ripped apart.

“Are you all right?”

Ava roughly shoved aside the hated memories, and threw a smile at Olivia. “Of course.”

Olivia’s frown remained in place. “For a lawyer, you’re a terrible liar.”

“Why did the party get moved from your grandmother’s?” she asked, hoping Olivia would let her change the subject. The one thing Ava never did was talk about her past.

Olivia paused as she turned off the paved road. “Maman loves to cook for people, but Vin convinced her to use his kitchen. It’s easily twice the size of Maman’s. Needless to say, he only had to say that once before she jumped at the chance to use it.”

It was only a little later that the truck turned onto a drive lined by massive live oak trees dripping with thick moss. Through the trees, there were clusters of crepe myrtles drenched in bright pink, white, red, and pale pink blooms.

“My God. This is gorgeous,” Ava said as she leaned forward to get a better look at the trees.

There was a smile on Olivia’s face. “Wait until you see the house.”

No sooner had the words left Olivia’s mouth than Ava spotted the white plantation house. She felt as if she had stepped back in time, that the busy world she knew was gone – never to be seen again. And part of her enjoyed the thought of that.

Olivia parked the truck at the side of the house behind the others and got out. Ava closed her mouth and opened the door to slide to the ground. She went to grab her bag when a large hand wrapped around the handles.

Startled, she jerked her head to the side to find a tall man with short, dark hair and a red tee that showcased every rippling muscle. He flashed her a smile, but his bright blue eyes were what arrested her.

“Thanks, Christian,” Olivia said. “Christian, this is Ava Ledet. Ava, this is one of Vincent’s brothers, Christian.”

Christian gallantly took her hand. “Nice to finally meet you, Ava. Olivia has told us so much about you.”

Ava hadn’t realized until that moment how she missed the Cajun accent. She was forced to tear her gaze away from Christian when Olivia turned her around so that Ava could get a good look at the backyard. The bayou was about two hundred feet from the house. The grass was a rich green while the leaves of the live oaks and cypress trees were a darker green. The sun hung in a cloudless sky, and the water of the bayou appeared fathomless.

“Take a deep breath and prepare,” Olivia whispered.

Ava glanced at her, unsure of what she meant until her gaze landed on the men under the covered deck of the house. It was almost as if she had stepped into the cover of Hunk Daily. Every man there was supremely gorgeous.

Her lungs seized when she spotted one of the men, beer in hand, leaning casually against a thick post next to the grill. He had long, dark hair that fell to his shoulders. The top half was pulled away from his face and held at the back of his head with a leather strap.

His white V-neck tee molded to his muscular body and wide shoulders, and his dark denim jeans hung low on trim hips. As spectacular as his body was, it was his face that kept drawing her gaze.

He had a square jaw and chin with dark brows that slashed over his eyes. She was too far away to see his eyes, but she had a suspicion they were brilliant blue. His lips were wide and inviting. He smiled easily, making the corners of his eyes crinkle.

In a word, he was striking.

Before Ava could mentally get her feet underneath her, she and Olivia reached the deck. That’s when she noticed the many fans that hung from the ceiling and kept the air moving and the occupants cool.

The man at the barreled grill closed the lid and smiled seductively at Olivia before he walked to her. Ava couldn’t help but smile while she watched Vincent pull Olivia into his arms and kiss her languidly.

Ava looked away, and found her gaze snagged by the intense blue eyes of the man she had been drooling over just seconds before. They stared at each other for several moments. She was drawn to him, like an invisible string connected them and tugged her to him.

He didn’t push away from the post and walk to greet her, and Ava was both glad and perturbed that he didn’t. She wanted to know his name, wanted to get a closer look at his face. Then she reminded herself that she hadn’t come to Louisiana to find a man. She had come because she wanted to see Olivia, but also because she had something to do. There was no time for a dalliance of any kind.

It was really too bad. Whoever the man was, he left her breathless, unbalanced.

Lustful.

Perspiration dampened her skin, and it had nothing to do with the heat. Her mouth was dry, and she throbbed low in her stomach. If he could do that with just a look, what would he do to her with a kiss? Or…more? Part of Ava desperately wanted to find out.

“Vincent Chiasson, don’t you let that meat burn,” a petite woman with silver hair pulled back in a bun chastised from the door of the back porch. She wiped her hands on her apron as she smiled at Olivia. “Sha, you’re back. And you must be Ava. My, aren’t you a pretty one.”

“Maman, Vincent knows what he’s doing,” Olivia said, even as Vincent hurried back to the grill.

Ava’s ears were filled with a rushing noise as black dots edged her vision. Chiasson. Olivia’s grandmother had said Chiasson. It couldn’t be possible.

“Ava?” Olivia said and touched her arm.

She swallowed and took a step to the side. Breathe. Just open your lungs and breathe, dammit. “I’m fine.”