“Is it true? What they say about the women who come here?” Fingernails dipped in shiny red polish trailed along Lucian de Vincent’s stomach, dragging the front of his shirt free. “That they . . . go insane?”
Lucian arched a brow.
“Because I feel a little insane. I feel a little out of control. I’ve wanted you for so long.” Lips the same color of those nails stirred the shorter hair around his ear. “But you never looked my way. Not until tonight.”
“Now that’s not true,” he drawled, reaching for the bottle of Old Rip. He’d looked at her more than once. Probably checked her out quite a bit. With all that blond hair and that body in that low-cut dress, he most definitely had, along with half the patrons of the Red Stallion. Hell, probably around ninety percent of them, male and female, had looked her way more than once, and she was very aware of that fact.
“But you were always so focused elsewhere,” she continued, and he could hear the pout forming on those pretty red lips.
He poured himself a drink of the twenty-year-old bourbon, trying to figure out exactly who else he could’ve been paying attention to. The options were limitless, but he was never focused on anyone in particular. Truth was, he wasn’t even fully paying attention to the woman behind him, not even as she pressed what felt like wonderful breasts against his back and slipped her hand under his shirt. She made this sound, a throaty moan that did absolutely nothing for him as her hand flattened against the taut muscles of his lower stomach.
There used to be a time when it took nothing but a knowing smile and a sultry voice to get him so hard he could drill his dick into a wall. And it used to take even less for him to fuck and lose himself for a little while.
Not so much.
Her sharp little teeth caught the lobe of his ear as she slipped that hand down, her nimble fingers zeroing in on his belt. “But you know what, Lucian?”
“What?” He lifted the short and heavy rocks glass to his lips, tossing back the smoky liquid without so much as a flinch. Bourbon slid down his throat and warmed his stomach as he eyed the painting above the bar. This painting wasn’t the best out there, but there was something about the flames that he liked. Reminded him of the burning glide into madness.
She pulled his belt free. “I’m going to make sure you never think of anyone else again.”
“Is that so . . . ?” He trailed off, brows lowering as he searched his memories.
He’d forgotten her name.
Holy hell, what in the world was this woman’s name? The violet-red flames of the painting didn’t give him the answer. He dragged in a deep breath and nearly choked on her cloying perfume. It was like a bushel of strawberries threw up in his mouth.
The button on his pants popped free and then the tinny sound of a zipper filled the spacious room. No more than a second later, her hand was under the band of the boxer briefs, and right to where his cock rested.
Her hand froze for the briefest moment. She seemed to stop breathing. “Lucian?” she cooed, circling her warm fingers around the half-erect length.
The obvious lack of interest from his body had his lip curling up in disgust. What the fuck was wrong with him? He had a beautiful woman touching his dick and he was about as aroused as a schoolboy in a room full of nuns.
He was . . . hell, he was just bored. Bored with her, with himself—with all of this. This woman was usually his style. Spend a little time with her and then never see her again. He wasn’t with a woman more than once, because when you were, you started a habit, and that habit would become very hard to break. Someone caught feelings, and that someone wasn’t him, never him. But he felt . . . done with this.
The feeling of just being over it, over everything, was a malaise haunting him the last couple of months, stifling nearly every aspect of his damn life. Restlessness had dug itself under his skin and was spreading throughout his veins like the damn ivy that had taken over the exterior walls of the entire house.
He’d been feeling this long before everything turned upside down.
She trailed her other hand up under his shirt as she tightened her grip. “You’re going to make me work for this cock, aren’t you?”
He almost laughed.
Considering where his thoughts were, she was going to have to work real hard. Lowering the glass to the bar, he let his head fall back and his eyes close, forcing his mind to clear. She was blissfully quiet as she worked him with her hand.
Now more than ever he needed this—a mindless release, and she—Clare? Clara? Something that started with a C, that much he was sure. Anyway, she knew what she was doing. He was hardening with every passing second, but his head . . . yeah, his head wasn’t in this.
Since when did his head need to be in this?
He widened his stance, giving her a little more room as he reached blindly for the several-thousand-dollar bottle of bourbon. Tonight was about losing himself, about feeling like he was actually alive. Just like every other night had been, but especially now, because he had things he had to take care of tomorrow.
But he didn’t need to think about that right now. He didn’t need to feel anything other than her hand, then her mouth, and maybe the way—
The soft, barely audible sounds of footsteps on the floor above forced his eyes open. He tilted his head to the side, thinking he was hearing things, but there it was again. Definitely footsteps.
What the hell? Reaching down, he caught her slender wrist, stopping her. She wasn’t happy with that. Her grip moved, stroking him harder and rougher. He put just enough pressure on her hand to still her.
“Lucian?” Confusion filled her tone.
He didn’t answer as he strained to hear anything. There was no way he’d heard what he had. Because there was no way anyone in the rooms upstairs could be moving around and no one else would be in those rooms.
There was no staff here during the night. They all refused to be in the de Vincent mansion once the moon was high in the sky.
Silence greeted him, so there was a good chance he was hearing things and had the damn bourbon to thank for that.
Jesus, maybe he was the one losing his mind.
Pulling her hand out of his pants, he turned around and faced the woman. She really was beautiful, he thought as he studied her upturned face, but he discovered a long time ago that beauty was a fickle gift given without thought. In most cases, it truly was only skin deep, and half the time it wasn’t even real. It was doctored and altered by skilled fingers.
Curving his hand around the nape of her neck, he wondered how deep her beauty ran and exactly where it turned ugly. He pressed his thumb against her pulse, interested when the beat sped up.
Her lips parted as heavy lashes lowered, shielding eyes the color of the native irises that had just bloomed all over Louisiana. He bet she had a crown or two stashed at home, alongside sashes declaring her one of the many pretty faces the South had to offer.
Lucian started to lower his head when his cell rang from the top of the bar. He immediately let go and turned as she let out a murmur of disappointment. Striding over to his phone, surprise flickered through him when he saw his brother’s name on the screen. It was late, and besides, the prodigal son surely was already in bed, somewhere in this very house, at this time of night. Dev wouldn’t even be with his fiancée, fucking the night away like Lucian imagined happy, normal couples did.
Then again, he had a hard time picturing the pristine Sabrina fucking anything.
There were things said about the males and the females in the de Vincent family. One seemed grossly false. Their great-great-grandmother once claimed that when the de Vincent men fell in love, they did so fast and hard, without reason or hesitation.
And that was absolute bullshit.
The only one out of all them that had ever fallen in love was their brother Gabe and look how that turned out? A damn mess.
“What?” Lucian answered the phone as he reached for the bottle again.
“You need to come down to father’s study now,” Dev ordered.
His brows rose as his brother hung up the phone. That was an interesting request. Slipping his phone into the pocket, he zipped up his pants and pulled his belt off, tossing it on the nearby couch. “Stay here,” he said, slipping his phone in his pocket.