Moonlight Sins (de Vincent 1) - Page 50

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Shock rooted him to the floor as he stared at her. She meant that. He could sense it. Something, maybe his damn heart, squeezed in his chest.

And though he knew he needed to give her time and space, he was a greedy bastard. Before she could sense what he was up to, he dipped his head and pressed a quick, too-chaste kiss on the corner of her lips. Her soft inhale ricocheted through him.

“Thank you,” he murmured against her lips, and then he drew back, letting his gaze roam over that sweet face of hers; he smiled and then pivoted around, leaving her standing in the hallway.

Gabe lingered by the door to Madeline’s room, leaning against the frame of the door with his arms folded. He didn’t come in, but he watched his sister at the easel. When it became apparent the Gabe wasn’t going to actually enter the room, Julia walked over to him. “Do you want some time with her?”

Not taking his eyes off the painting, he shook his head. “That’s okay. I actually have a client I need to get in contact with.” His head tilted to the side as his eyes narrowed. “Do you know what she’s working on?”

She shook her head. “I have no clue.”

“Me neither,” he murmured, crossing one ankle over the other. “So, about tomorrow night.” He looked over at her, lashes lowered. “I’m excited about our dinner.”

His gaze, much like his brother’s, snagged hers. At least Lucian wasn’t lying when he said the dinner included Gabe, but her stomach dipped strangely nonetheless. “Really?”

“Yes.” A half smile appeared. “I’m excited to show you New Orleans.”

Her gaze shot to his. The way he said that . . .

“Well, I need to get going.” He straightened, pushing away from the door. “Have a nice night, Julia.”

“You, too,” she murmured.

Gabe left and the afternoon turned into early evening. By the time it came to call up Richard to help move Madeline to her bed, Julia was exhausted. She’d spent the better part of the day cursing herself out for last night and then for agreeing to go out to dinner with the two brothers.

Which oddly felt like she’d agreed to a date . . . with two guys . . . at the same time.

As she paced the room while she waited for Richard, she wished she could call Anna and get her advice, but how could she do that without telling her who she was working for? She trusted Anna, but . . .

Either way, she was done berating herself. Julia got real with herself. She wouldn’t have done what she did last night if she hadn’t wanted to. She wouldn’t have agreed to dinner if she hadn’t wanted to. What she didn’t want to face, what terrified her to be honest, was that she did want to.

She wanted Lucian.

Smoothing a shaky hand over her hair, she stopped in front of the doors. Thick and heavy clouds were rolling in, casting the entire grounds into shadows. Off in the distance, thunder rolled.

She really wanted him.

Just thinking that caused her heart to jump around in her chest. What would it do if she said it aloud? What would happen if she allowed herself? He was obviously into her even though she still had no idea why he’d stopped the night at her apartment, but what would happen if she . . . she just let go?

Julia closed her eyes as she bit down on her lower lip. Her employment wasn’t at risk, but she was pretty sure her agency would really frown on the whole extracurricular activities of the fun and naughty kind.

She hadn’t really even allowed herself to think about the bonus she’d receive upon completion. She couldn’t process that yet, what that would mean for her long-term.

So what was holding her back? If she’d called Anna, that’s the question she’d ask. And that was an answer Julia didn’t want to delve into.

Truth was, she was scared of letting herself feel—to feel anything that truly went deeper than a passing interest. It had been that way ever since she’d left Adam. That relationship had been one giant mess, and maybe . . . maybe she was afraid of repeating that. And anything with Lucian would be a mess.

Because he had a way of getting under her skin. He was charming and smart. He was seductive and reckless, leaving her feeling completely out of control. He was unbelievably handsome and playful. Lucian de Vincent was American Royalty.

How could she not get in over her head with him?

Getting involved with him could lead to her feeling something more than lust, and did she really want that to happen? Because a relationship with Lucian would lead nowhere. She would leave here eventually and she wanted to do that with her heart intact.

A crack of thunder jolted her from her thoughts, forcing her eyes open. Seconds later, bright lightning cut across the sky, intense and blinding. Another loud boom of thunder followed as wind picked up, whipping around the porch.

Julia stepped back from the doors, a little unnerved by how close the lightning was. “Wow.”

“We’re in for a pretty rough storm.”

Gasping, Julia whirled around and saw Richard standing inside the doorway. Was everyone in this house skilled at being ninja-stealth? Jesus. “How do you all move so quietly? Are you even human?”

Richard chuckled. “Mr. de Vincent—Lawrence—did not like unnecessary noise. Most of us learned to move as quietly as possible.”

Footsteps were unnecessary noise? What was bizarre to Julia was that everyone could move silently throughout the house except at night, where phantom footsteps roamed loudly and aimlessly. “All righty then.”

“You’re ready to move her to the bed?” he asked.

Nodding, Julia turned to where Madeline was resting, half asleep in her comfy chair. Richard walked over and stopped, eyeing the painting she had been working on most of Friday. A strange look crossed his face as he stared at the painting.

“Do you know what she’s working on?” she asked. To her it was all very abstract.

Face smoothing out, he shook his head. “You ready?”

Together they helped Madeline stand. The process was quicker when Lucian was around, because he simply picked his sister up and carried her. Between her and Richard, they had to get her to shuffle one foot in front of the other while they supported her weight.

Once they had her in bed, a thought occurred to Julia as she carefully tucked Madeline’s legs under the blanket. “How long have you worked for the de Vincents?”

“Oh, well, since before the boys and Madeline were born.” He eased a pillow under Madeline’s head. “My father worked for Lawrence’s father. Grew up alongside Lawrence. Was natural to end up working for him.”

“That’s—wow, a really long time.” She remembered the young man who had picked her up at the airport. He’d said something similar.

Richard moved back from the bed, standing next to the dresser and small stand. “These kids are like my own.” He glanced over at Julia. “Livie and I didn’t want any of our own, so we took joy in spoiling the boys and Madeline whenever we could get away with it.”

Julia glanced over at him, wondering if she was stepping out of line by asking the next question. “It wasn’t easy for them as kids, was it?”

A sad sort of smile crossed his face. “Lawrence was very hard on them. He expected a lot, just like his father had of him.” He stared at Madeline for several moments. “You never had the chance to meet Lawrence. He could be very hard, but . . . he had his reasons. I didn’t always agree with them, but he had them.”

Julia wondered what kind of reasons could he have had to be so terrible to his children.

“Is there anything else you need?”

“Nope. That’s it.”

He nodded and headed for the door, where he stopped. “Will you be joining the boys for dinner tonight?”

She almost laughed. “No, I’m just going to relax.”

“Of course. Would you like a plate of dinner sent to your room?”

Her mouth opened, but it took a moment to find the words. “That’s not necessary. I have what Livie was kind enough to pick up.”

“It is no trouble at all.” The skin around his eyes crinkled as he smiled. “It’s butter and herb roasted prime rib. It’s amazing.”

Roasted prime rib? Her stomach grumbled in response. “How could I turn that down?”

Tags: Jennifer L. Armentrout de Vincent Romance