Moonlight Sins (de Vincent 1) - Page 53

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It was a strange sensation for him.

But he . . . welcomed it.

“We can take another car, if you want.” He placed his fingers under her chin, guiding her gaze to his. “If you want to order pizza, we can.”

“Order pizza?” She laughed.

“If that’s what you want,” he said, and he meant it. He’d do whatever she wanted. “You tell me.”

Julia looked away after a few moments, his fingers slipping off her chin. She drew in a deep breath. “No. I’m just being dumb. Let’s do this.”

“You’re not being dumb.”

She pressed those pretty pink lips together. “You sure about that? Most people would be jumping up and down with excitement to get to ride in a limo.”

“I don’t care about most people.” And he meant that.

“It’s okay. I’m ready.”

“You sure about that? I can hold your hand if you want.”

Julia rolled her eyes.

With his hand on her lower back, he leaned over and spoke into her ear. “If you take my hand, Ms. Hughes, I may not let go. Just letting you know.”

He felt her shiver as he slid his hand to her hip. “And I’m letting you know that it will be my choice if I took your hand.” She paused, looking at him. “Or anyone else’s hand.”

“I don’t think you’ll notice anyone else,” he said to her, and then straightened as Gabe opened the limo door.

Julia stepped forward, shooting him a tight smile as she offered her hand to Gabe. She arched a brow and then faced Gabe. His brother helped her into the backseat.

Tilting his head back, he laughed deeply. Damn, she was fun. And she was . . . she was something else entirely.

Gabe winked at him and he slid into the limo. Lucian got his ass moving, coming down the front steps. Climbing in, he was relieved to see Gabe had planted himself in the seat across from Julia. At least, he wasn’t going to have to physically remove his brother.

Of course, Lucian sat right next to Julia.

“We’re ready, Denny,” Gabe said through the window. “Sorry about the delay.”

“No problem,” came the response.

Lucian glanced over at Julia. With wide eyes, she was currently scanning every inch of the roomy interior, from the stocked bar to the leather seats. When the dividing window slid shut, she looked like she wanted to laugh.

“Is this the first time you’ve been in a limo?” Gabe asked.

Julia blinked as she folded her hands in her lap, over the small purse she carried with her. “I’ve been in one before, but nothing like this.” She paused. “Is that real wood?”

“Yeah,” Gabe answered, grinning. “I actually did the woodwork myself. Would you like something to drink?”

“Um . . .” She nodded and then said, “Sure.”

Gabe moved over to the bar. A bottle of whiskey came out.

“Let’s start with something lighter,” Lucian told his brother. “How does champagne sound? I think we have some Krug.”

“That we do.” Gabe dug out the bottle and quickly popped the top, causing Julia to jump. Grinning, Gabe filled up three flutes and handed them out.

Lucian extended his arm along the back of the seat. She peeked over at him, but didn’t move. “He’s big with the whole working with his hands things.”

“So are you,” Gabe replied, stretching out his legs. His shoes were now next to Julia’s.

“Do you work with the wood, too?” she asked, sipping the champagne.

He chuckled. “No. No, way.”

“You don’t know?” Gabe knocked his feet off Julia’s, gaining her attention.

“Know what?” she asked.

His gaze slid Lucian. “You haven’t told her?”

He raised one shoulder.

“I have no idea what you two are talking about.” Her gaze bounced between the two.

“Little brother is very talented.” A smile played across Gabe’s mouth as he eyed Lucian. “You see, Madeline is not the only artist in the family.”

She looked over at him. “You paint?”

Catching a strand of her hair with his fingers, he nodded. “I’ve been known to dabble a time or two.”

“Dabble?” Gabe laughed. “Are you actually being modest?”

“Would I be anything else?”

His brother smirked as he refocused on her. “Lucian has made a fortune on his paintings. They’re hung all over the world, in private homes and in museums.”

“What?” Julia stared at him like she was surprised he knew how to color between the lines.

“Are you that shocked?” He tugged lightly on her hair. “My career of debauchery does allow me a lot of free time.”

Her lips twitched as she reached around, freeing her hair from his grasp. “Why haven’t you said anything?”

“Why would I? Pretty sure I talk about myself enough.”

Gabe laughed.

“Are there any of your paintings in the house?”

“A few.” He found another piece of hair. “We can play a game later. You guess which ones are mine.”

“That sounds like a stimulating game.” Gabe eyed them over his glass. “Can I play?”

“No,” Lucian said. “Because that wouldn’t be fair to Ms. Hughes, now would it?”

“For some reason, I don’t think any of you play any games fairly,” Julia commented dryly.

Gabe lifted his brows. “Wow. She’s already onto us.”

That she was, Lucian thought as he threaded the strand of her hair around his finger. As they grew closer to the city, Gabe lowered the blackout on the windows so she could see the glittering lights. From that point she was plastered to the window, the nearly empty glass dangled forgotten from her fingers.

Traffic slowed them down as they hit Canal Street. The sound of music and shouts, of horns blowing and laughter mingled with the varying scents of the city that rolled in through the open windows. Lucian forgot all about his brother. His entire being was focused on Julia.

She was practically humming with excitement as she took in the magic of the city, whipping around toward them when she spotted the sign for Bourbon Street.

“We’re going to skip Bourbon,” Gabe told her, his mouth setting in a fond smile. “But this is the scenic route to where we’re going. We’ll drive through a part of the Quarter here in a few moments.”

“Are we not eating in the French Quarter?”

“No.” Lucian’s gaze traveled down the length of one curvy leg. “We leave the Quarter for the tourists, but I think you’ll enjoy where we’re heading.”

Firestone’s was several blocks down Canal, off of Gravier Street, and over near the business district, in one of the recently reimagined warehouses. Denny gave her the scenic route, though, cutting down Royal and then coming back up on Decatur so Julia could see some of the older hotels with the wrought iron-balconies and older buildings.

Navigating the streets was an operation of restraint. Crowds of people spilled out from the bars, following the narrow sidewalks and streets. They were seriously going to need to give Denny an extraordinary tip for this trip. The kind of patience it required to drive these streets on a Saturday night was something only the few, the proud, and the brave could handle.

But it was worth it to see Julia’s face light up.

“We’re here,” Gabe announced as Denny pulled the limo up to the curb.

Julia pulled herself away from the window and looked down at her glass.

“Just put it on the bar,” Lucian said while Gabe opened the door and climbed out. “It’ll be taken care of.”

She did that and then leaned forward, saying thank you to Denny through the window.

Lucian stepped out of the car and turned as Gabe waited on the curb, under the rippling red awning, watching them. Lucian extended his hand as Julia scooted across the seat. She reached the open door, her wide brown eyes moving from his face to his hand as she lifted her chin.

Julia obviously remembered what he’d said before they’d left the house.

“Ms. Hughes?” he said quietly.

Tags: Jennifer L. Armentrout de Vincent Romance