She drew her leg up and inched closer. Holy crap, she really couldn’t believe all of this. His family truly was . . . a wreck. Like a TV show. Each time she talked to Lucian, she learned something else, something that made her rethink everything she knew about his family—about him.
God, she really was lucky when it came to the whole family department.
“Is that why you drank so much today?” she asked.
“Drinking because of him?” He laughed, but the sound was without humor. “No, I just got some unexpected news about Gabe.”
She stilled, knowing that he was in Baton Rouge. “Is he okay?”
“Yes. No.” He closed his eyes and exhaled heavily. “He’s going to be okay. He just got . . . he just got some fucked-up news, Julia.”
Everything about her was focused on him. “From his ex or about her?”
“About her. She was in a bad accident. Not expected to survive. That right there’s gonna kill him. He . . . yeah, he loved her. Hard-core.” Lucian’s chest rose with a heavy breath. “She . . . she kept something big from him. God. Something huge.”
For a long moment, she didn’t think he would answer, but then he did. “She has a kid. He’s pretty sure it’s his.”
Her hand flew to her mouth. “Oh my God, and he didn’t know?”
“No.” Lifting a hand, he dragged his palm down his face and then dropped it to his stomach. “How do you keep someone away from their child? How do you do that?”
Julia didn’t have an answer. It was obvious how much this knowledge hurt Lucian. The way he cared for his brothers and sister was a real thing. The man who raised him may not have showed him what loyalty and love was, but obviously their mother did . . . or it was just ingrained in him.
“I don’t know,” she said quietly, and she really didn’t know how someone kept that a secret. There had to be a big story there.
A couple of moments passed and Julia leaned over, noting his chest was now falling and rising more deeply and evenly. Was he . . . ?
Lucian was passed out. Just like that. Dead to the world and drunk, and he still managed to look like a sleeping god. She smoothed her hand along his jaw, smiling when he turned his cheek into her palm.
On the surface, this man and this family had it all, but Julia realized that inside him, inside all of them, it wasn’t what it seemed. He could have the world, but it didn’t mean the world was kind in return.
Because she was silly, because there was a good chance she was slipping further and further into this world of his, getting far too involved, she kissed his forehead. She kissed his cheek and then she curled up next to him, staying with him because she knew he needed that.
He needed her.
Two days had passed since he’d drunkenly found his way to Julia’s bedroom. The hangover the next day had been a real bitch, but waking up in the middle of the night, still half drunk and finding Julia curled up against him? Well, that made the steel-fucking-drums in his head worth it.
Lucian couldn’t believe she actually didn’t kick him out of the bed. He also couldn’t believe that he’d told her about Gabe. Shit, he should’ve kept his mouth shut about that. He hadn’t even talked to Dev. It was Gabe’s business, but Lucian . . . he’d found himself in Julia’s room and even though he had been drunk, he was sober enough to know that he wanted to talk to her.
That he trusted her enough to open up about Gabe and the big family secret. As far as he knew, not even Sabrina knew the truth. Hell, if Dev hadn’t told her about their father’s death, he doubted they talked about the family history.
Lucian seriously doubted they did much talking.
Not like Julia and him.
Despite what was happening with Gabe and his sister, things had been almost normal in the house. Lucian spent the better part of the day finding new ways to seek Julia out while she was working with his sister and commandeer her free time. And when night came, he either retrieved her from her room and brought her to his, or he took over her living space.
Not since the first night they were together had they slept apart, which was seriously a first for him. A lot of things with Julia were a first.
Lucian found himself thinking about Elise. What did his great-grandmother say? That when the de Vincent men fell in love, they did so fast and hard and without reason? The craziest thought happened. Maybe he’d been wrong. Maybe it wasn’t lust.
Maybe it was something more.
Christ, listen to him? A girl puts up with his drunk-ass ramblings and he was wondering if he was catching feelings? He should really just punch himself in the nuts at this point.
That didn’t stop him from looking for her.
Lucian found Julia in her room, sitting cross-legged in the center of the bed and staring down at her phone. “Are you stalking me on social media? I don’t have any accounts, in case you are.”
Laughing softly, she glanced up as she placed the phone screen down on the bed. “Not everything I do is about you.”
He walked across the room and dropped down on the bed beside her. “I don’t like the sound of that to be honest.”
“Big surprise there.”
Lucian grinned as he stretched out on his side in front of her. “What were you doing?”
“Nothing really.” She lifted a shoulder. “Just checking the news.”
“You going to join us for dinner tonight?”
“With you and . . . ?”
“Gabe should be back, but it would be later or tomorrow.” He only knew that from a text he’d gotten earlier in the day. Other than that, he wasn’t sure what was going on.
Sympathy crossed her face. “I wish there was something I could do for him.”
“You and me both,” he replied, curling his fingers around hers. Right now, he didn’t want to think about what was going on with Gabe. There’d be time to process all of that since it was most likely going to change their lives. “What do you think?”
“Let me tell you what I think first.” He drew her hand to his mouth and kissed her palm as he stared up at her. “I think you should have dinner with us and then spend a little time with us instead of staying holed up in your room.”
She didn’t try to pull her hand away. “I don’t know if that’s a good idea.”
“Why not?” He flicked his tongue along the center of her hand, pleased when he heard her suck in air.
“Because . . .” Her lashes lowered.
He lowered their joined hands to the bed. “Because what?”
“I just don’t know if it’s right.”
“Well, things that are fun are rarely right.”
She sighed. “Why am I not surprised that’s how you responded.”
Lucian chuckled and then he moved. Swiftly rising up, he shifted onto his knees as he grabbed her by her shoulders. She let out a little shriek that turned into a laugh as he brought her down to the bed, flat on her back with him hovering over, a knee on either side of her hips.
“That surprised you,” he said, kissing her.
Julia laughed into the kiss and then pulled away. “It did.” She loosely looped her arms around his neck.
“I think I need to explain something to you.” He smoothed his hand over her cheek, down her throat.
“Can’t wait to hear this,” she said, tone dry.
One side of his lips kicked up as he dragged his hand down the center of her top, stopping between her breasts. “If I’m going to be fucking someone more than once, I’ve decided that I’m not going to hide them. That may sound crude, but it’s the truth.”
Her eyes widened. “Wow. Do you normally hide the women you sleep with?”
“As you know, I normally don’t sleep with the same woman more than once—”
“That still sounds as bad as the first time you said it.”
He shrugged as he slid his hand down her belly. “But I never hide the fact that I’ve been with them. Just like I don’t plan to hide the fact that I’m with you.” His gaze lifted to hers. “And I’m with you, Ms. Hughes. I’m going to keep being with you.”