Moonlight Sins (de Vincent 1) - Page 76

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Words slipped away, dying in the silence between them as she stared at the items before her. Two certified checks. One was the bonus Lucian had promised her. She’d never seen so many zeroes after a number in her life. The other had to be her pay, but it was so much more than what she’d been hired at.

Heart thumping, she brushed the checks aside and gasped. A first-class ticket back to Harrisburg, scheduled for tomorrow morning was staring back at her.

She blinked and then shook her head. Foolish gesture, because the items didn’t disappear. They were there, and even though her brain was screaming at her, telling her what they meant, her heart didn’t want to listen or believe.

Slowly she lifted her gaze to him. “What is this about?”

“You know what those things are.”

Julia flinched at the biting coldness in his voice. Closing the file, she gripped it in one hand as she rose. “Yes, I know what they are. I’m not stupid. What I don’t understand is why.”

His chin lowered as he lifted a hand, running it over his hair. “You also know why, Julia.”

She drew in a shaky breath as her stomach dipped in a way that made her feel like the floor was moving under her feet even though she was standing still. “You want me to leave? To go home and . . . ?”

“We threw in extra,” he said flatly, keeping his back to her. “For your pain and suffering—”

“And for me to keep my mouth shut?”

The muscles along his back stiffened. “I didn’t say that. I know you wouldn’t tell anyone what you saw here—what happened here. You’re a good person.”

Her fingers dug into the folder as pressure clamped down on her chest. “I’m a good person, but you’re paying me off—”

“I don’t want you to see it like that,” he said in that same damn voice. Emotionless. Flat. “But if you do, that is your choice.”

“My choice? Are you fucking kidding me? None of this is my choice. You are making these choices for me.”

Lucian dropped his hand to his side.

She forced herself to take a slow, even breath even though she felt like screaming. “I know you’ve been through a lot, Lucian. I know you need time to deal with this, but pushing me away—”

“I’m not pushing you away, Julia.” His hands closed into fists. “I’m ending this.”

Her mouth opened, but there were no words for what felt like an eternity. Her chest cracked. Splintered like it was a dry twig. “I—”

“Richard and Livie have your belongings packed. They’ve already been loaded up,” he said, silencing her. “You can take your time getting ready. When you are, Richard will take you to one of the hotels near the airport for the night.”

Julia stumbled back a step as she stared at him. A raw, bitter ball rose in her throat. The words came out before she could stop them, but the moment she said them, she knew they were true. “I love you, Lucian. I’ve fallen in love with you.”

His spine stiffened and pulled straight, but he said nothing.

He said not a damn thing.

Tears blurred her vision. She looked away—her gaze fell to the bed, to where they’d just made love a handful of hours ago. Now that was like a lifetime ago, and he was ending this.

Anger built beneath the barbed wire squeezing around her heart and slicing through her insides. “You can’t even look at me when you’re saying this?”

Nothing.

No response.

The anger blew, exploding like a volcano. “Look at me!” she shouted. “Look at me and say you want me to leave!”

There was silence and then Lucian slowly turned around. Those beautiful sea-green eyes met hers. “I need you to take the money and leave.”

“You don’t mean that.”

His jaw clenched. “You don’t belong here, Julia.”

As if she’d been smacked in the face, she took a step back. Her hand lifted to her mouth. Those tears dampened her lashes. Her lips trembled against her palm as the anger and sorrow ripped through her. She wanted to rage at him, but she knew if she stayed a moment longer, she would lose it. The shouting would give way to more tears.

He just broke her heart, smashed it to pieces in a way she knew she would probably never fully recover from, but he wouldn’t destroy her pride. She wasn’t going to stand here and beg, to plead with him after he said that.

Julia did what he asked.

She left him.

Lucian had no idea how much time had passed from the moment Julia walked out of the room. He hadn’t moved, but he knew it had been a while. He couldn’t erase seeing the look of betrayal on Julia’s face. If he blinked, it was there in the dark. If he opened his eyes, he saw her pale, drawn face and the bruises that stood out in stark relief. He saw the tears in her eyes.

Over the uneven pounding of his heart, the heartbreak and then the anger in her voice echoed in his head. He wanted her to be angry, because that was easier to deal with. The hurt, though? It carved right through tissue and bone.

Telling her to leave wasn’t what he wanted to do.

It was what he needed to do.

Lucian knew he’d done the right thing. It wasn’t a whiskey-fueled decision, though he’d probably drunk his weight in that shit. Even though there was a logical part of him that didn’t believe in curses, it didn’t matter in the end. He wasn’t good for Julia. Not him. Not his fucked-up family. The curse may be a crock of shit or it may be real; nonetheless, he and his family would ruin her.

All of them had blood on their hands.

And because he did love her—he was in love with her, he knew she deserved better than the mess that was his family—his legacy.

His broken shards and pieces were now poisoned.

Just like his father—fuck, that man had been his father. Bile climbed up his throat.

In a daze, Lucian found himself standing in her room. He didn’t even remember walking there, but there he was. The bed was made, and all the little parts of Julia, of what made this room a living and breathing entity, were gone.

It was just another room that would be locked up and forgotten. Another cold space where love should’ve grown, but somehow had gone barren or had become sick and twisted.

Lucian closed his eyes and stumbled, his bare back hitting the wall. His hands clapped down over his eyes, palms pressing in. His throat burned. Everything burned.

He dug his palms into his eyes, but he still saw Julia. He could still hear her, and he could still feel her warmth and softness under him. No matter how much time passed, he wouldn’t be able to shake her.

Didn’t even want to try.

“Fuck,” he rasped, dropping his hands. Kicking his head back, he looked around the room. Something at the head of the bed caught his attention. Stalking over to the stacked pillows, he cursed under his breath and snatched up the thin piece of paper. It fell apart.

It was the check.

The bonus check he’d promised to get her to stay.

Enough money to ensure that her future would be more than comfortable.

She’d ripped it up.

Chapter 34

Everything was wrong.

Sunglasses shielded Julia’s eyes as she sat in the back of the car Richard was driving her in. The trees and buildings off in the distance were nothing but a blur to her.

Julia felt . . . numb. Like her entire body, inside and out, had been doused in lidocaine. She didn’t even really remember putting her clothes on or where she found Richard. Julia hadn’t wasted time. She just had to get out, get away before she had a complete breakdown. She barely remembered hugging Livie goodbye. The woman had said something to her, but Julia hadn’t heard her.

All she could hear was Lucian telling her to leave.

All she could focus on was the heartache and anger as she’d torn up the check and left it on the bed. One day she would probably regret doing that, but she couldn’t take that money. It felt tainted and wrong somehow. The money had been used to keep her here in the beginning and now it was being used to send her away.

Everything was so wrong.

Pain sliced through her, causing her to suck in a sharp breath as she stared blindly out of the window.

You don’t belong here.


Tags: Jennifer L. Armentrout de Vincent Romance
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