Julia was suddenly reminded of back in the day, when she was called into the principal’s office for talking too much in class, except this was worse, much worse.
“It is clear Lucian is . . . still curious about you.” Devlin held her gaze as every muscle in her body locked up. “And my brother has a way about him that makes it very easy to forget who he is. He has an amazing talent for causing others to forget common sense.”
Warmth zinged across her cheeks as her spine stiffened even more. “I would not jeopardize my employment by—”
“This isn’t about keeping your job,” he interrupted. “Whatever you two decide to do or not do in your free time is not my issue as long as it doesn’t affect your ability to perform your job.”
Wait. What? Did he really just suggest what she thought he did?
“This is about the long term, when your assignment here is over and you go back to your life. If you’re smart, Julia, and I like to think you are, you’ll ignore him. You’ll stay away from Lucian.”
Lucian was sitting behind Dev’s desk, feet kicked up on the shiny surface and legs crossed at the ankles when his older brother finally reappeared.
Dev stopped just inside the room, his brows slamming down when he saw where Lucian was. “What are you doing?”
“Role playing,” Lucian replied, grinning when he saw the muscle flex in Dev’s jaw.
“I don’t think I want to know what kind of role playing you’d be involved in.”
He inclined his head. “Stop being such a perv. I’m trying on the prodigal son role. You know the one.”
“Tell me about it?” Dev walked over to the cherry oak liquor cabinet and opened the glass door.
“It’s the one where you’re entrusted to escort a pretty nurse to our sick sister’s bedroom.” Lucian loosely folded his arms as he watched Dev pull out a bottle of bourbon. “I’m trying that role on for the day. See how it fits.”
“This is not a conversation I plan on having again with you.” Dev poured two glasses and then placed the bottle back on its shelf. “As hard as it is for you to not make every decision based on your dick, I want you to try.”
“I don’t make every decision based on my dick.”
Closing the cabinet door, he brought the two glasses over, placing one by Lucian’s knee. “That sounds as believable as you only asking her questions about nursing yesterday. You know, if you continue to mess with her, it’s only going to complicate things.”
Lucian picked up the heavy glass. “Is that so?”
Studying him for a moment and then his eyes narrowed. “You didn’t fuck her. If so, you wouldn’t still be interested in her.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” He paused, watching the derision flicker across Dev’s face. “I think Ms. Hughes will do well with our sister.”
“And I’m assuming you’ve based that information off your conversation with her yesterday, because today, you spent ten minutes eye-fucking her and little else.”
“I didn’t eye-fuck her for the full ten minutes.” Lucian took a sip of the rich liquor. “There were about two minutes where I was actually listening to your conversation with her.”
Dev snorted. The closest he’d ever come to a laugh.
“Seriously, though. She’ll be good for Maddie.” Lucian ran his thumb over the rim of the glass.
“I actually think you’re right.”
Lucian widened his eyes. “Holy shit, can you repeat that? But let me grab my phone first.”
“Cute. Where is Gabe?” Dev asked, having already drunk most of the bourbon he poured for himself and it wasn’t even noon.
“At the warehouse,” he reminded him.
Dev lowered his gaze to his glass. “So, are we going to talk about it?”
“Talk about what?” Lucian lowered the glass to his lap. “You’re going to have to give me a little more detail. There are so many things we could be talking about.”
Dev didn’t answer immediately. Instead he finished off the drink. “The funeral. The press. The charity drive our father was supposed to host at the end of the month. The scratches along his neck.”
Lucian almost laughed. “Wow. Gabe’s not here, so you’re actually going to talk to me about these things?”
“Desperate times, my brother, desperate times,” Dev murmured.
“That would actually hurt my feelings if I had them.”
A small twist of a grin appeared. “Our father may’ve believed you were a giant waste of the de Vincent name, but I know better.” Dev’s gaze lifted to his. “I’ve always known better. Don’t forget that.”
Lucian raised his glass to that. A moment passed and then he let himself say what was never spoken for years if not decades. “Maybe we can now stop calling him our father. We all know the truth. We’ve known it since we were kids. So did he. After all, the way the will was written and how the company would be divided said it all.”
“None of that matters. He raised you and Madeline. You two have just as much right as Gabe and I. There’s nothing else to discuss in regards to that.”
That was, of course, easy for Dev to say.
After a moment, Dev let his head fall back. A heavy sigh escaped. “The press is going to find out about Father. Most likely by tonight. We can’t keep it quiet any longer.”
Lucian was surprised that the news hadn’t broken already, even with the money that was guaranteeing the temporary silence. “Well, you’ll have your fiancée by your side,” he pointed out.
A beat of silence passed. “I haven’t told her yet.”
Lucian nearly choked on the liquor. “You haven’t told your fiancée yet that your father is dead?”
“No.” Dev lifted his head and opened his eyes. “I didn’t see the point yet.”
He stared at his brother. “Wow. Your relationship is a love match to truly aspire to.”
“Like you even know what being in a relationship is like. What is your rule again?”
Lucian smirked. “We’re not talking about me.”
“And we’re not talking about Sabrina and me. What I tell her . . .”
Footsteps silenced both of them. Lucian’s gaze flickered to the door and then he swore under his breath. Then he said louder, “I better sit up and sit straight, here comes a national treasure.”
Dev let a grin slip free.
Senator Stefan de Vincent stalked into Dev’s office like he had every right to be there, unbuttoning the jacket of his tailor-made gray suit. Gold reflected off his wrist.
Anger was etched into their uncle’s face—the same face he shared with their father. They’d been identical. “You two have a lot of explaining to do.”
Dev glanced down at his now empty class. “You’re going to have to give us a little more detail.”
The senator stopped in the center office. “Is how the hell am I just now finding out about my brother’s death through a damn lawyer enough detail for you?”
“Well, yes. That does clarify things.” Dev rose from his chair. “Would you like a drink? Looks like you need one.”
Lucian chuckled as he leaned back in the chair, crossing his left foot over his right.
“Do you think humor is appropriate?” Stefan demanded as he glanced at Dev. “And yes, I would like a drink.”
“I think a lot of inappropriate things are humorous.” Lucian took a drink. Stefan and Lawrence might’ve been identical in appearance, but whatever bond most twins had, like the one he shared with Maddie, was missing between the brothers. Lucian always knew deep down, like some kind of inherent instinct, that his sister was still alive all those years that she was missing.
“I’m sure you do.” Stefan took the drink from Dev. “Why didn’t any of you notify me?”
Dev sat back down. “Well, considering the last time you two spoke it ended with our father threatening your life, I didn’t see the point.”
Sadly, Lucian had not been present for that argument.