“Where are we going?” she asked.
“It’s a surprise,” Gabe reminded her, tugging her along.
A nervous flutter began in the pit of her stomach. “I don’t know if I like surprises.”
Lucian’s hand brushed her back. “You’re going to like this one.”
Julia wasn’t so sure about that, especially when Gabe rounded a corner and then pushed open the doors that clearly read EMPLOYEES ONLY. “Are we allowed back here?”
Lucian chuckled from behind her. “Of course.”
Passing several waiters and cooks who glanced in their direction but said nothing. The aroma of grilling steaks and roasting chicken was everywhere, and she dimly noted how incredibly clean the kitchen was. Wow.
Perhaps she’d had too much to drink.
“So, there are a lot of hidden gems in the city,” Gabe explained, squeezing her hand as he pulled her around the loaded sinks and past another door. They entered a dark hall. “Places where only a few people know about.”
“Hidden bars and restaurants,” Lucian added as they came upon a single elevator. “Libraries and cigar shops, clubs and whatnot hidden away from the public.”
“Really?” She swallowed, glancing behind them.
“Yep.” Lucian pulled out his wallet, and appeared to hold some sort of card in his hand. He swiped it over the side panel of the elevator. “You have to know the city to know where they are.”
The elevator door slid open.
“And you need to know people.” Gabe pulled her forward.
Julia stepped in, and immediately realized that the elevator was small, like almost claustrophobic once Lucian joined them, hitting a button on the wall. The only button. The door eased shut, and then it was just the three of them, standing so close that Julia thought she might hyperventilate. Gabe was in front of her and Lucian was directly behind her. There was only about an inch separating each of them.
“This is . . . this is a small elevator,” she said, slipping her hand free from Gabe’s. She inhaled, catching the scent of either Lucian’s or Gabe’s cologne.
“It is.” Lucian’s breath stirred the hair at her temple. “You probably don’t want to know how old it is.”
She turned sideways, halting when her hip brushed against Gabe and her arm got really close to a certain part of Lucian she was well familiar with. “If this thing breaks down, I might freak out.”
“Are you scared of being trapped in elevators?” Gabe asked.
She was more scared of being trapped with them, but she didn’t answer. Her heart simply pounded in her chest as she felt Lucian’s hand on her upper arm. Her gaze flicked to Gabe, and her heart leapt into her throat when he reached over and caught a strand of hair that had fallen across her cheek.
A faint smile pulled at Gabe’s lips as he tucked the errant piece of hair behind her ear. Their gazes connected as Lucian slid his hand down her arm. She felt dizzy, like she wasn’t getting enough air into her lungs to make a difference. A fine tremor started in her hands and traveled up her arms. Her mind went back to the woman downstairs, and her breath caught.
They were brothers.
In that moment, she might’ve figured out another reason why one was called Lucifer and the other Demon.
They truly were that bad.
She wrenched her gaze away, focusing on the door. This had to be the longest elevator ride known to man.
Lucian’s hand made another long sweep, and she thought Gabe might’ve moved closer. She wasn’t sure and she wasn’t looking, but what she was sure of was the fact that she hadn’t told either of them to back off. Not once did she even truly have the desire to do so. It hadn’t even crossed her mind. Her skin was tingling, though, her nerves stretched too tight.
What in the world was wrong with her?
Julia knew damn well she couldn’t blame the wine.
The elevator jerked to a halt, causing her to bounce back into Lucian. He steadied her as the door slid open, and blissfully cool air rushed into the suddenly stifling elevator.
It took a moment for her to realize they were on a rooftop. Gabe stepped out first, and then Lucian took that hand that his brother had held earlier.
“What is this?” She was shocked by the huskiness in her voice.
Lucian’s grasp on her hand tightened. “Come on.”
Feeling like she was in some kind of dream, she left the elevator. Her wide-eyed gaze swung around the rooftop. She’d lost sight of Gabe. White canopies billowed softly in the wind, covering what appeared to be large chaise lounges. Tall potted plants dotted the rooftop, providing privacy and she imagined shade during the day. She smelled chlorine as they crossed the rooftop, so she believed there was a pool nearby. Stars blanketed the cloudless sky and silvery moonlight cast just enough light to see your way.
“Wow,” she breathed. “This is . . . wow.”
Lucian tugged her close. “You haven’t seen anything yet.”
He was right.
He’d guided her over to a low wall. “Look.”
They were up high, several stories, overlooking the teeming city down below. Slipping free, she placed her hands on the wall and look out over the city. Struck speechless at the splendor, she took in all the dazzling lights of cars and buildings.
“This is beautiful, Lucian.” She glanced up at him. “Seriously.”
His gaze tracked over her upturned face. “Yeah, it is. You can see more during the day, but I don’t think it compares to how it looks at night.”
Biting down on her lip, she turned back to the city. She let out a shaky laugh. “Thank you.”
Lucian didn’t respond.
She peeked over at him as she slid her palms over the rough surface of the ledge. “A . . . a month ago, I would’ve never dreamed that I’d be standing here, overlooking the French Quarter or even New Orleans. So, this is pretty amazing to me.”
“You’re pretty amazing to me.”
Julia rolled her eyes. “I’m being serious.”
“So am I.”
Shaking her head, she watched the blinking lights for several moments. “Where’s your brother?”
“Around.” Lucian pushed away from the wall. Catching several strands of her hair, he brushed them over her shoulder as he walked behind her. “I believe he’s giving us some space.”
A shiver hit her. “And . . . why would he be doing that?”
“You know why.”
Julia’s hand stilled on the ledge. He was right. She knew why.
One hand curved over her shoulder. “Would you rather he not? Because I know he would be over here in a second if I called.”
Her mouth dried as her pulse skyrocketed. “Is that what tonight is about?”
“You’re going to have get detailed with that statement, Ms. Hughes.”
She felt her cheeks warm. “Do you . . . do you and your brother share women? Like the guys at the table. Is that what you do?”
He didn’t respond for a long moment. “I don’t share when it counts.”
Her head tipped back. “That really doesn’t answer the question.”
Half his face was shadowed. “It does. You just don’t want to see that yet.”
She studied the hard line of his jaw. “I . . . I’ve never done anything like that.”
His other hand landed on her hip. “I didn’t think you had.” He lowered his head, stopping short of his mouth touching her cheek. “I bet there are a lot of things you haven’t done.”
He was right.
She also didn’t feel the need to confirm it.
Lucian’s lips touched her cheek then. “Would you?”
Her stomach dipped. She knew what he was asking. “I . . . I don’t think I could.” She closed her eyes, unable to believe she was actually talking about this. “I’m not judging anyone who does. I just don’t think—”
“I understand. Honestly, that’s what I wanted to hear.”
That was what he wanted to hear? Julia was confused as hell and oddly relieved.
His lips now brushed over her temple. “Cold?”
Julia shivered again, but not because of the chilled breeze, but because of how he made her feel.