He never in a million years could’ve imagined that night would’ve gone the way it did. If he hadn’t been drinking, he would’ve had the damn common sense to realize that night was going to be different.
Gabe should’ve seen it coming.
As the time for her to leave for college grew closer and closer, she’d been attached to his hip like Velcro. Her stares had become longer, more daring, and he swore those damn bathing suits of hers had continued to shrink in size.
And he’d done everything under the damn sun not to notice the fact those fucking bathing suits barely covered anything, because even though he and his brothers treated her like a sister, Nic wasn’t their kin.
Their actual sister turned out to be a lying, murderous psychopath that would make Nic’s crimes seem like a walk in the damn park.
And Nic . . . she’d messed up big that night and it could’ve been far worse, but she had been eighteen. God knows he’d done a metric shit ton of stupid shit when he was eighteen.
Then again, even with all the stupid shit he did, he still somehow managed not to sleep with someone who was drunk off their ass.
I didn’t think you were that drunk.
Her softly spoken words echoed in his dark thoughts. It was very possible that she hadn’t realized, and again, he wasn’t being completely honest with himself.
Wasn’t like he hadn’t known who was in his room that night and ended up in his lap and then in his fucking bed.
He’d been sober enough to know exactly whose body was crawling all over his.
He’d just been too drunk to care.
And there was a football field’s difference between being too drunk to care about consequences and too drunk to know what he was doing.
What did that say about him?
Most considered him the good brother. The decent one. The kind one. The one who acted right. And here he was, practically the most fucked-up of them all.
What did those damn gossip magazines nickname him while he was in college? Demon. If they only knew how right they’d been.
“Fuck,” he muttered, turning from the doors as he reached out, wrapping his hands around the vine-covered railing. The damn shit covered every part of the outside of the house except for the porch floors. He figured it was only a matter of time before they smothered the floorboards.
His lips twisted into a smirk as he remembered all the years his father tried to get rid of the vines. No matter how many times he’d cut it down, the ivy came back. Always.
But now his so-called father was dead and no one was going to try to cut the stuff down again. The vines won in the end.
Pushing off the railing, he headed back into his main room. His stomach rumbled as he reached for the bottle of scotch. That chicken smelled amazing.
No way in hell was he going down there, though. There was not one, but two females down there he’d die happy never seeing again.
Nikki couldn’t wait to go home.
She’d only been on the job for one day and she was five seconds from dumping what remained of the bottle of champagne on Sabrina Harrington’s head.
Sabrina was everything Nikki would never be.
Extraordinarily thin, elegantly beautiful, well-mannered and manicured, extremely wealthy, and marrying a de Vincent brother.
Sabrina was also a grade-A bitch.
And Nikki didn’t use that word lightly. Usually, she hated it because it was a word often used to demean women, but Sabrina? She was the epitome of everything wrong with rich people.
Standing outside the smaller dining room, because the de Vincents actually had two, she clutched the bottle instead of placing it back in the ice like she knew was expected.
She could give two shits if the champagne was the temperature of her hands. All she wanted was for them to finish their damn meal, so she could clean up, go home, and bury her head in the bed in the same damn bedroom she grew up in.
Nikki wanted to forget today.
Forget the awkward-as-hell conversation with Devlin.
And definitely, most definitely, forget the long-overdue confrontation with Gabe.
I don’t want anything to do with you and I want you to stay the hell away from me.
She couldn’t blame him for wanting that, but it still stung like she’d kicked a hornets’ nest.
It had taken so long for her to move past what she’d done and to start to act like a normal girl at college. Sex had been all twisted up in her head after that night. She’d felt . . . dirty after what had happened. For a long time it hadn’t mattered that she honestly hadn’t known Gabe had been three sheets to the wind. It wasn’t until her junior year of college that she’d even been in a place to be in a relationship and have sex without being reminded of that night.
And even then, she had little experience and even less when it came to relationships, but she’d gotten better. She’d managed to stop thinking about that night at least once a day. She’d even gotten to a point where she stopped thinking about Gabe.
So, she’d thought she could handle this.
“Excuse me? Nikki,” Sabrina called out.
Closing her eyes, Nikki strung together an impressive list of F-bombs and then started back into the room with the round table, the one designed for more intimate gatherings.
And yet, Devlin and Sabrina sat opposite each other at the table.
“Yes?” she asked, stopping beside her.
Sabrina lifted a slender flute. “I know that you’re not naturally skilled at this task or had the proper training, but you should never let a glass go empty.”
Biting the inside of her cheek, she said nothing as she poured the champagne. Apparently, Sabrina’s legs didn’t function while eating and therefore she could not get up and refill her own damn glass.
The slender, icy blonde smiled up at her, but it was too sweet, too sugary. “That is the hallmark of a great servant.”
Nikki’s gaze flicked to Devlin, but he was staring down at his phone. She was sure he was completely unaware of the fact that he wasn’t alone. She hadn’t even heard them exchange more than five sentences. So romantic.
Stepping back, she was about to go back to her hidey-hole when Sabrina gasped. Her French-manicured hand fluttered to her throat. “The Pérignon is warm.” She said this like that was equivalent to murdering a nun. “Nikki, are you not putting the bottle back in the ice? With or without experience, I am sure you would know that.”
She figured the truth would be unacceptable, so she started to turn away without answering, but then she saw it—the transformation that overcame Sabrina was ah-mazing. Sabrina lost the ice princess smile and her entire face warmed like her own personal sun had just arrived.
Nikki followed Sabrina’s gaze.
Her stomach dropped.
Gabe strolled into the room, and he wasn’t empty-handed either. In his right hand was a glass of amber-colored liquid. Scotch. Nikki could practically smell it.
“Devlin, dear. Look who has joined us!” Her entire tone even changed, so much so that Nikki actually looked back at her. Was this woman for real?
The elder de Vincent lifted his gaze as Gabe dropped into an arrogant sprawl in the chair beside him. Devlin raised a brow. “Good evening.”
Gabe gave him a chin nod as he placed his scotch on the cream linen. He didn’t look at Sabrina, but he turned his head directly to where Nikki stood . . . still clutching the bottle of champagne that cost as much as a used car.
What was he doing down here?
“Nikki, get Gabe a plate of food.” Sabrina’s laugh sounded like wind chimes. “Goodness.”
Well, obviously he was down here getting food.
“I don’t quite remember her being so dense,” Sabrina said with a shake of her head, grinning at Gabe like he’d be in agreement.
And the longer she stood there, he probably was.
Snapping out of it, Nikki pivoted on her heel and hurried into the kitchen, all but dropping the champagne into its ice bucket. Her mind was blank as she started filling his plate with food. He was probably hungry, so she placed a chicken breast and a thigh on his plate and added a mound of potatoes. Then she created her own version of an endless salad bowl. With her hands full, she made her way back.
“So,” Sabrina was saying. “What have you been working on recently, Gabe?”