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Heat Wave
Author:Karina Halle

“Oh hey Charlie,” Jin says, glancing up at us. “Seems like an element has gone out, I think.”


But I'm not looking at Jin. I'm looking at Logan as he sticks his head around the door and steps back a foot.

I feel the air being sucked out of me. I never knew how hard it would be to see him again, and somehow it's harder than I imagined. It's like a sticky, sharp feeling that settles in your bones, the result of having far too many emotions about one particular person. Hate, fear, disappointment, distrust, shame, sadness.

Affection.

Lust.

No, I tell myself. Don't even think about that one.

“Veronica,” Logan says and my name sounds darker when he says it, like I'm the name of a hurricane that's about to slam into the island. Maybe let another generation of chickens loose.

I nod at him because I can't think of anything to say. I haven't seen him since the funeral, and it feels like I did nothing more than glance in his direction as the coffin was lowered into the ground.

“I got her here safe and sound,” Charlie says rather awkwardly, looking between the two of us.

“You look just like her,” Jin says. Startled, I whirl toward him as he slowly walks over. He has kind eyes and smooth skin, even though he must be in his seventies, but his words are still jarring.

“Excuse me?” I repeat.

“Like who?” Charlie asks.

“Like his wife,” Jin says, nodding at Logan.

I try not to look at him.

“Juliet? Shephard’s wife?” Charlie asks and he takes a step back, eyeing me up and down. “I guess . . . I . . .”

“Well, doesn't she?” Jin says to Logan, adamant.

Now I dare to look at him. Logan is staring at me, his eyes dark and pensive under those arched brows, though I know inside he must be reeling at the comparison.

“Juliet smiled more,” Logan finally says. And the moment her name comes out of his lips, I realize how much of a mistake this was and how hard it's going to be.

I can't do this.

“Can someone fill me in?” Charlie says, exasperated, pressing his palms together.

“You didn't know?” Jin asked, brows raised. “This is Juliet's sister. Logan is Veronica’s brother-in-law.”

Was my brother-in-law, till death did them part, I want to say but I don't dare. For all that I know about Logan, the horrible things he's done, the way everyone in my family feels about him, I can’t pretend that losing Juliet wasn’t hard on him. Even though I want to.

“You're Shephard's sister-in-law?” Charlie asks incredulously. “Dude, why didn't you tell me that?”

I don't say anything but Logan does. “Probably because she didn't want any special treatment. Isn't that right, Veronica?”

I hate the way he says my name. The last seven years have been all about trying to get him to call me Ronnie, like everyone else does. He calls me Veronica on purpose, only because it pisses me off.

“Pretty much,” I tell him, giving him a tight smile.

He holds my eyes for a moment, as if he's already trying to wear me down. I won't give him the satisfaction. I stare right back. Silence stretches between us, broken only by a calling bird.

“Uh, so Kate said you'd give her the tour?” Charlie asks warily.

Logan tears his eyes off me and I shudder inside with relief.

“I'll finish up here. Bloody pump isn't working. Might have to get a professional in here and go without heat for the rest of the week, fuck knows how fast I can get a guy.”

“It’s hot as balls. I don't think anyone will care aside from that couple from Boston. They've been complaining about everything,” Charlie adds lightly.

Logan's eyes narrow. “And we can't afford to have a single complaint, got that N-Sync?”

“Yeah, yeah,” Charlie says. He looks to me. “Come on, I'll take you to your new home, you can get settled while the habut stops grumbling.”

“Okay,” I say quietly. I look to Jin. “Nice to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you too,” he says with a wide grin. “We'll be spending a lot of time together.”

I don’t even have time time to wonder what work I’ll be doing with Jin the pool-man. I look at Logan to nod farewell, but he's already turned his back to me and is busying himself with the pool problems.

It isn't until the pool gate closes behind us that I finally let out a deep breath.

“So Shephard is your brother-in-law?” Charlie asks. “Or I guess, was your brother-in-law. Either way. Wow. Dude. This has got to be all kinds of…weird for you.”

You have no idea.

“I mean, Juliet,” he goes on, running a hand through his spiky hair. “Shit. I'm so sorry. I know I already told you how amazing she was but in case you need to know it again, there you go. She really had the hotel running at its best. To be honest Shephard has kind of been struggling with it ever since. I'm sure some of us stay here because we feel sorry for him.”

I don’t like the idea of feeling sorry for him. I want to feel nothing for him.