Moonlight Sins (de Vincent 1) - Page 40

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A look of sympathy crossed Julia’s face. “It’s a lot to handle. I was seeing it happen and I still couldn’t believe it.”

“And not only that, my cousin Daniel found out a way to get into the house, scare the crap out of you, and he managed to get my sister to respond to him? She placed her hand in his?”

Julia nodded. “That’s . . . what it looked like to me.”

“Damn,” he muttered, lifting a hand off the railing and rubbing it across his chest. He was happy to hear that Madeline had responded to someone. Seriously, but damn if that didn’t sting like a bitch. He was her brother—her twin. And when he was around her, she didn’t even seem to know he was there.

Dropping his hand, he let out a ragged breath as he glanced over at her again. “Should’ve warned you about Daniel. I just didn’t think he’d find out about Maddie.”

Julia had told him what Daniel had said about someone at the hospital thinking they saw Maddie. All of them should’ve been better prepared for the chance that rumors would’ve gotten out and made their way back to Daniel and to others.

“He startled me, but it’s . . . it’s okay.” Julia folded her arms around her waist. “He didn’t try to hurt me or Madeline. He just really caught me off guard.”

He shook his head. “No. No, it’s not okay. He knows he’s not supposed to be here.”

“How did he even get in the house?”

Lucian frowned as he stared out over the land. “That’s a good question. I know he didn’t come through the front door.”

“Is there any other way to get in?”

“Daniel knows this house well enough to travel it blindfolded at night, so if there was one window unlocked, he would’ve found it.” That was something he already had Richard checking on.

“I didn’t tell him anything other than Madeline not being very responsive and that she just started painting.” A faint, warm breeze lifted the stray hairs around her face. “He actually didn’t ask a lot of questions. I don’t think he had a chance. He realized pretty quickly that I’d texted you and he left after that.”

“I didn’t think you would’ve told him anything we wouldn’t want out.” He curled his fingers around the railing, crushing the vines under his palm. The last thing Maddie needed right now was the kind of bullshit that followed Daniel around. Turning back to the land below, he eased his fingers off the railing. “I’m not worried about that at all.”

Even though he wasn’t looking at her, he sensed her inching closer. A moment passed and she asked, “I know it’s not my place to ask, but why is Daniel not allowed to be here? I mean, she did respond to him. That’s a really good thing.”

Lucian pushed off the railing, facing her. “First off, it is your place to ask. You’re living here. You’re taking care of Maddie. And you managed to get her to do something other than sit and stare at a wall, so you’ve earned that right.”

The set of her shoulders relaxed. “Okay.”

He cocked a hip against the railing, loosely folding his arms. “The reason Daniel isn’t allowed here is a long story.”

“We have time,” she insisted. “Madeline’s had her dinner and we can see her from where we are.” She gestured at the door with her chin. Maddie was sitting in front of the easel.

Lucian stared at his sister through the door for a moment, still shocked to see her painting. Since she’d returned, he feared that nothing would change for her. That her life would consist of having someone assisting her with nearly every basic need. Seeing her doing something, anything, on her own almost brought him to his knees with relief.

And as terrible as it sounded, he was glad he now had a reason to have Julia’s undivided attention. He was discovering that was extremely hard to do, something he’d never had experienced before.

Normally he always had women’s one hundred percent attention.

So, this was a humbling experience for him.

Lucian tore his gaze from Julia, focusing on the doors. “Growing up, Maddie and I were close. It was Dev and Gabe and then Maddie and me, but because I was a boy, Maddie got left out a lot whenever my brothers and I would want to do something. None of us did it on purpose.”

“Of course not,” Julia agreed. “You were children.”

He nodded. “I think that’s why she and Daniel got close. His father was my mom’s brother. So, they were over here a lot and Daniel was an only kid. His mother died of cancer when he was young and his father—my uncle—never remarried. When I would run off with Dev and Gabe, tagging after them really . . .” He stopped, laughing under his breath. “Maddie was always left behind with Daniel since he’s about a year younger than us.”

Julia moved to one of the wicker chairs by the door and sat. The fading sunlight glanced over her cheekbones as she tilted her head back, watching him.

He drew in a deep breath. “Anyway, they were always getting into trouble. Breaking stuff. Roaming off without telling anyone. Those kinds of things. A couple of times they ran off together and had everyone panicked.” Idly rubbing his jaw, he easily recalled those times when he and his brothers would spend hours searching the two down. “Some of that continued when we were teens. Our father didn’t care about any of it, but our mother really began to have a problem with it.”

Her brows puckered. “But why? It sounds like it was just normal kids’ stuff.”

“It was, for the most part it was. I mean, believe it or not, it wasn’t me who handed Maddie her first beer or joint. Wasn’t even her friends. It was Daniel. So, of course, Mom would get pissed over that.” A faint smile tugged at his mouth. “But it was when, hell, about six months before Maddie disappeared and Mom . . . well, you know what happened to her, that Daniel was banned from the house. He and Maddie ran off again, and Maddie missed a shit ton of school. Somehow the two of them made it all the way to Florida.”

Lucian shook his head. “I can’t even remember why they did it, but things weren’t very . . . warm here. By that time, Dev and Gabe were at college and it was just Maddie and me.” Lowering his chin, he closed his eyes. “Dev and Gabe made distracting our father a freaking art form and with them gone, there really was nothing standing between him and us. Not even our mother.”

“You all didn’t go to a private school?” she asked.

“We did, but it was local. We were home every evening and on the weekends. We didn’t board there like the rest of the students did.”

Julia was quiet, and when he opened his eyes and looked at her, he found her watching him. Their gazes connected, and he found that he couldn’t look away. Really didn’t want to.

God, she was beautiful. Did she realize that? Sitting there wearing those plain blue scrubs and hair twisted up in a knot, she was more stunning than any number of the fancy-dressed women who prowled the Red Stallion.

Thick lashes lowered, breaking their gaze. She cleared her throat. “So, I guess Daniel was seen as a bad influence?”

“Yeah. When Maddie disappeared after our mother died, we all thought she couldn’t deal and ran off with him. He denied it of course, and I might’ve . . . been a little rough when I didn’t believe him.”

“Really?” she replied dryly.

Lips pursed, he dipped his chin as he rubbed at his jaw. “It’s just that . . . even when we were younger and Daniel was around, Maddie and I still were close, but once we hit the teens, there was this gap between us that just wasn’t there before. I don’t know. All of that is probably normal.” He dropped his hand. “Anyway, Daniel hasn’t been the greatest influence.”

“But if he can help Madeline get better, it may be best to let go of how they behaved when they were teens?” she suggested. “It might really help her.”

Maybe it would. What did he know at this point? The only thing he’d succeeded at was getting Maddie to sit up on her own.

Julia leaned forward, resting her elbows on her knees. “There’s something else Daniel said to me. I don’t even know if I should tell you this, because I do think that he can help Maddie, but I feel like I need to, because, well, I just do.” She drew in a shallow breath. “Daniel—”

Tags: Jennifer L. Armentrout de Vincent Romance