“Don’t,” Dev warned, nostrils flaring.
Troy’s eyes narrowed.
Lucian intervened before the conversation escalated, like most conversations did with Dev. Except the escalation was always one-sided. “How can it not be what it looks like it?”
His friend shot him a knowing look. “Where were you?”
“I was at the Red Stallion. Came home a little after two I think.” He left out the info about his guest. Didn’t need to drag her into this. “I came downstairs when Dev called me.”
“Gabe?” Troy took in the room. “Where’d he go?”
“He left to put some clothes on,” he answered, resting his elbows on his knees as he leaned forward. “He should be back down in a few, but I’m telling you, man, that’s how we found him.”
Troy glanced down at the phone hooked to his belt and then refocused. “Look, you know you can trust me. When the ME gets here, they’re not going to just take him down and bag him. They’re going to check him over.”
“I know.” Dev’s tone was flat. “Father was . . . he was having some issues lately, especially with everything that is happening with our uncle. He had a hard time dealing with it. You know how he was about his image.”
Lucian’s gaze flicked to his brother. Yeah, their uncle, the illustrious senator, was embroiled in one nasty scandal that involved a missing intern . . . or two, but their father hadn’t appeared all that worked up about it. Now, his father had gotten all kinds of bent out of shape over who was on the third floor, but that made sense.
“Did you guys review the security tapes?” Troy asked.
“The outside ones didn’t show anything suspicious. No one coming or going with the exception of Lucian coming home,” Dev explained. “The inside cameras stopped working ages ago.”
Troy raised his brows. “Well, that sounds a little suspect.”
“It’s true,” Lucian chimed in. “No matter how many times we had someone out here to look at the system, it goes down. Some kind of interference. Happens if anyone tries to use a regular camera in here. Only thing that seems to work is a damn camera phone.”
Troy frowned, looking like he wanted to point out how crazy that sounded, but Lucian wasn’t bullshitting him. Damn video feed was constantly interrupted and not a single tech could find a reason why. Of course, the staff found reasons—preternatural reasons. It was one of the many reasons some of the staff became uncomfortable in the home.
“Your father cared more about what people thought of his family than he did for his family,” Troy said after a few moments, and Dev couldn’t say shit about that, because it was the truth. “There’s going to be questions, Dev. How much are the oil refineries, the real estate, and Vincent Industries all worth? Billions? Who just inherited all that?”
“Gabe and I,” Dev answered without hesitation. “That was in our father’s will. I doubt it has changed.”
Troy jerked his chin at Lucian. “What about you?”
Lucian chuckled at the question. “I was cut out of the family business a long time ago, but don’t worry about me. I’m doing more than okay for myself.”
“Great. Now I can sleep at night knowing that.” He refocused on Dev. “The point I’m getting at is that people are going to ask questions. This is going to get out.”
“Of course it is.” Dev arched a brow. “And what will get out is that he died of natural causes.”
Troy choked out a laugh as his eyes widened. “Are you shitting me?”
“Does he look like he’s shitting you?” Lucian replied dryly.
“Yeah, I can pull some strings, but that’s a real big string that would unravel as quick as fuck.” Troy shook his head. “Coroner isn’t going to list a suicide as a natural cause of death.”
Dev arched a brow. “You’d be surprised by what people will do.”
The dumbfounded look seeped off Troy’s face as he stared at Dev like he was a second from slapping him upside the head. “Actually, I’m not surprised by much, Devlin.”
“We understand you’ve got a job to do,” Lucian cut in, ignoring the sudden sharp look of warning settling into his brother’s features. “And we don’t want you jeopardizing it whatsoever. We can deal with . . . with whatever people are going to say or think.”
“Good to hear since some of us aren’t about to inherit a billion-dollar business.” Troy’s response was dry as he pinned Dev with a look. “Lucky you.”
Dev did something rare in that moment, something Lucian hadn’t seen in a while.
The devil smiled.
Dawn was fighting back the shadows while Lucian waited in the living room. Those milling in and out of his father’s study were quiet, and the ones who did speak did so in hushed tones. There were no flashing red-and-blue lights outside. There were minimal questions asked of them. Dev was still with Troy, most likely making damn sure the story he wanted to be told was the one that got heard.
He looked up from where he was staring at the stone fireplace as the crew appeared. The words MEDICAL EXAMINER were scrawled across the black polo of one of the men who was rolling in the gurney.
It reminded him of a different night with a similar ending.
It actually reminded him of a lot of nights.
A woman cried out. Lucian rose and turned to the entryway. Mrs. Besson stood there, clutching her husband’s arm. Both were pale. “What is going on?”
Striding forward, he took Richard by the shoulder and guided both into one of the many unused sitting rooms, far away from the living room and the study.
“Lucian, what has happened?” Richard asked, his brown eyes searching his.
Rolling his shoulders, he wasn’t sure how to tell them. Wasn’t like they would grieve the death of Lawrence, but he was still their employer, still a major part of their lives. “There’s been an incident.”
Richard curled an arm around his wife’s waist as her hand fluttered to where her silver hair was smoothed back into a knot. “Son, I have a feeling that’s a pretty large understatement.”
“Yeah, you could say that.” Lucian glanced at the doorway as he squeezed Richard’s shoulders. Livie was their housekeeper, keeping track of the staff that came in and out throughout the day and all other needs. Her husband was a bit of a butler and jack-of-all-trades. The couple had been with them as long as Lucian could remember and he knew both were of strong stock despite some of the views they held on the house and land. After all, they had to be to work for the de Vincents and were a part of this family, being there for his brothers more than their parents were. Hell, Livie and Richard’s daughter used to run these very halls as a girl, becoming a second sister to all of them, but Lucian hadn’t seen Nicolette in years, not since she left for college.
“Lawrence hung himself in the study,” he said.
Fine lines appeared around Livie’s eyes as she squeezed them shut and murmured what sounded like a prayer under her breath, but her husband simply stared at Lucian and asked, “Is that right?”
“Appears to be.” There was no mistaking what the look on Richard’s face meant. It was the same on Troy’s. It was what all of them, deep down, were thinking. Suddenly exhausted, he dragged a hand through his hair.
“Lucian,” Gabe called from the hallway, his jaw set in a hard line. “We need to talk to you.”
He stepped around the couple. “If you guys need to take some time—”
“No,” Livie said, her brown eyes sharp. “We’re fine. We’re here for you boys.”
A tired smile pulled at his lips. “Thank you,” he said, meaning it. “I would just stay away from father’s study for the time being.”
Richard nodded. “You still leaving tomorrow?”
“I need to.”
“I know.” Richard clapped him on the shoulder and gave him a grim smile. “I’ll hold down the fort as long as I can.”
Clasping the older man’s hand, he squeezed gently, and then Lucian left them, making his way to his brother. As he approached Gabe, he saw that Troy was waiting for them out in the hall. He didn’t see Dev. “Do I even want to know what you guys have to say?”