Moonlight Sins (de Vincent 1) - Page 39

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It was like the official uniform of white rich boys.

Then again, she doubted people dressed in all black when they robbed places in broad daylight.

“Who are you?” the man demanded before Julia could speak.

“Who am I?” Shocked, her fingers curled into her palms. This man busts up into this house and asks who she was? But there was something familiar about this man even though she was sure she’d never seen him before.

He stepped into the room, and Julia tensed as her heart thumped heavily against her ribs. “You’re a nurse,” he stated, a muscle along his jaw working overtime. “They hired you, didn’t they?”

She could only assume by “they” he meant the de Vincents, but she wasn’t going to answer. “I don’t know who you are or how you got in this house, but I’m going to have to ask you to—”

“What? Leave? I have more of a right to be here than you.” He stepped to the side, and Julia moved, keeping herself between him and a woman who could not defend herself. The man stopped, eyes narrowing. “You really have no idea who I am? I’m Daniel Gabon.”

While she doubted most robbers and serial killers would introduce themselves, she still wasn’t overly relieved. “I don’t know that name.”

“Of course not,” he replied bitterly. “Why would they tell you about me?”

Her gaze darted to her phone again and then flickered around the room, seeking out a weapon just in case.

Then his entire vibe changed. His shoulders slumped as he shook his head. “Hell, I’m not trying to scare you nor be an ass. You’ve done nothing wrong and you have—shit, you have no idea what you’re in the middle of.”

Julia’s unease grew. “I’m sorry, but I don’t—”

“I’m Madeline’s cousin—my father was her mother’s brother,” he said, thrusting a hand through the short, spiky strands of hair. “I didn’t mean to come off like I just did, but I . . .” His gaze focused behind her, and she realized he could see Madeline now. He cursed softly under his breath. “I was just caught off guard when I saw her—saw both of you.”

Now she understood why she thought he looked familiar. He shared some of the same features as Madeline and Lucian—the nose and curve of the jaw. Julia also remembered the senator mentioning a cousin.

“I really didn’t mean to scare you.” He raised his hands as his pleading stare moved back to Julia. “But I had to come here today. It was the first time that I could knowing that they wouldn’t be here.”

Unsure if she should believe him or not, she knew she really needed to get to her phone and text Lucian. She had no idea if this really was their cousin or if he was even allowed to be here.

“Okay.” His Adam’s apple moved on a swallow. “I can tell I’ve really freaked you out. I just had to see if it was true.”

Julie didn’t need to ask if what was true or not.

He was staring at his cousin like he’d seen a ghost. Julia turned at the waist and saw that Madeline had placed her paintbrush down and had shoved her hands into the pockets of her loose sweater.

Daniel walked over and knelt down beside Madeline. Staring up at her, he drew in a ragged breath. “Look at you. I never . . . I never thought I’d see you again, but you’re here, you’re really here.”

Heart still pounding, she inched toward her phone. “How did you know Madeline was here?”

He glanced over at her, some of the hardness returning to his jaw. “My cousins sure as hell didn’t tell me.” His nostrils flared. “They always blamed me. You know? Every time when we were kids and we would do kids’ stuff, it was always my fault,” he said, and the senator had mentioned them running off together. “I mean, sometimes it was, but we were kids.” A brief smile appeared as he turned back to his cousin. “They blamed me when she—when she disappeared the last time. Thought I had something to do with it. I didn’t.” There was a pause. “Is she okay?”

Julia swiped her phone off the nightstand. “She’s doing well. You didn’t tell me how you knew she was here.”

“I heard some rumors a week or so ago,” he said as he lifted a hand to Madeline. He didn’t touch her. Just held it out toward her. “I have a friend who works at the hospital Dr. Flores runs. They said they saw someone who looked so much like Madeline that they’d swore it was her.”

Julia sat on the edge of the bed and quickly unlocked her phone. Glancing down she thumbed thru the contacts, stopping when she saw the name. She clicked on it.

“But they brushed it off. You know? Everyone thought she was dead,” he continued. “Except me. I didn’t.”

Her fingers froze when she saw Madeline had pulled her left hand out of her pocket. Julia’s lips parted as the woman offered her hand to Daniel. Holy crap. If she wasn’t sitting, she’d have fallen down.

Daniel curled his palm around Madeline’s and his smile was full of relief. “You’re painting?” he asked, voice hoarse.

Madeline stared at her cousin, but her lips didn’t move. There was no verbal response, but Daniel squeezed his eyes shut nonetheless.

Julia had no idea what was happening, but she fired the quick text to Lucian and then held on tight to the phone as she rose, moving so she was close to Madeline in case . . . well, in case anything happened.

“She . . . just started painting today,” Julia said, feeling like she had to say something.

Daniel lifted her hand, pressing it against his forehead. “Madeline loved to paint. Could sit for days and do it if you left her alone.” He lowered their hands. “Damn. It’s a relief to see you.”

Julia felt the phone vibrate in her hand and resisted the urge to check it. Lucian was calling.

“You’re going to be okay,” he said, and it sounded like he was telling himself that. He let go of her hand and rose, slipping his hands into the pockets of his shorts. He glanced at Julia. “Has she said anything about where she’s been?”

Julia shook her head.

He gazed down at Madeline, who was now back to staring at her painting. “I know you’ve texted one of them.” Daniel let out a hoarse chuckle.

Her heart squeezed. No point in lying. “I did. It’s my job.”

“I understand,” he said almost wearily as he stepped back. “I better get out of here before they kick my ass out of here.”

Julia’s eyes widened.

“You look surprised? You shouldn’t be. Those brothers . . .” He trailed off with another rough laugh. “I just wanted to see if it was possible. That Madeline was here. That’s all.” He bit down on his lip, reminding her of Lucian. “Can I leave you my number? In case . . . well, in case something happens? You could let me know? I’d be eternally grateful if so.”

Julia agreed, taking his number even though she had no intentions of actually using it.

“Thank you,” he said, nodding in her direction before he started toward the door. “I really am sorry for the way I acted before and for scaring you. Truly.”

She forced a smile as her phone started buzzing in her hand again. “It’s okay.”

“I’ll see myself out.” He started through the door, then stopped, looking back at Madeline. She’d picked up the brush once more and was moving it along the canvas. “Look, I feel like I need to say this to you.”

“What?” she asked.

“Be careful with them—the brothers.” Daniel’s gaze met hers. “They’re not . . . they’re not good guys, okay? You don’t know me at all, but believe it when I say that all of them are dangerous and they shouldn’t be trusted. Madeline knew that, and look at what happened to her.”

Chapter 15

As Lucian stood on the porch outside of Maddie’s room, he almost felt like he’d stepped into an alternate universe sometime after leaving the house earlier.

“So let me get this straight.” His hands were resting on the railing, his back slightly bowed. “Madeline actually responded to the whole painting thing. She’s actually in there painting right now. I just saw that with my own two eyes. I have no idea what in the hell she’s painting, but she is?” Pausing, he looked over at Julia. “Right?”

Tags: Jennifer L. Armentrout de Vincent Romance