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Authors: Seraphina Donavan

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Been Loving You Too Long

BOOK: Been Loving You Too Long
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Been Loving You Too Long

 

By

 

Seraphina Donavan

 
 
 

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

 
 

This is a work of fiction. All characters, places, businesses, and incidents are from the author’s imagination, or they are used fictitiously and are definitely fictionalized. Any trademarks or pictures herein are not authorized by the trademark owners and do not in any way mean the work is sponsored by or associated with the trademark owners. Any trademarks or pictures used are specifically in a descriptive capacity.

Edited by

Leanore Elliott

Cover Art By

Wicked Muse Covers

©June, 2013, Seraphina Donavon

No portion of this book may be reproduced in any form (electronic or print) without permission from the author. Except for excerpts embodied in reviews.

 

CHAPTER ONE

 
 

Vincent DuChamps was tired.
 
He couldn’t remember the last time he’d been so exhausted.
 
It had probably been at some point in his early twenties and had involved copious amounts of liquor in a Bourbon Street strip club, he thought grimly.
 
The partying had been fun for a while, but like most things, it had eventually gotten old.

Still, there wasn’t much he wouldn’t give to have that energy again.
 
He’d partied all night, studied, worked for Thomas at the corporate office and never lacked for female attention.
 
Exhaustion had been a concept he was totally unfamiliar with at that stage in his life.
 
It had been so long since he’d been with a woman, he wasn’t sure he actually remembered what it felt like.

For a split second, he considered heading back out into the night, going to a bar and finding someone to ease the ache, but the urge passed.
 
Those days were done.
 
He’d become more boardroom than backroom over the past few years and it was too damned late and he was too damned tired to go chasing down glory days that were probably not as great as he remembered.
 
It scared the hell out of him that somehow, when he hadn’t been paying attention, adulthood had crept in and taken over his life.
 

With his current situation, there was no escaping adulthood and all the ugliness and responsibilities that came with it.
 
The glaring realities of it were staring him in the face in the form of a frail and sickly man.
 

Thomas DuChamps had taken him and his younger siblings in after the implosion of their lives following their parents’ deaths.
 
Thomas had been a robust man in his late forties then, the youngest sibling of their late grandfather.
  
He’d been handsome, hale and hearty; bigger than life and always the life of the party would have been an apt description.
 

Women had flocked to him but he’d enjoyed the role of
 
the unattainable bachelor, or so it had always seemed.
 
The man lying in the large canopied bed, propped on a mound of pillows, his once tanned skin as pale as the sheets tucked around him, bore little resemblance to Vincent’s memories.
 
But he knew that when Thomas opened his eyes, they would still be the same.
 
Razor sharp and never missing a beat.

Walking into the room, Vincent waved the nurse away and took a seat at the side of the bed.
 
As Thomas had gotten worse, his visits had become more frequent.
 
He’d never been comfortable talking about his feelings, but when it came to his family, he tried to always show them.

“Is the harpy gone?” The question was asked in a thin and raspy voice.
 
Weak as it was, it still held a fair amount of sarcasm and attitude.

Vincent chuckled in spite of himself.
 
“She’s an excellent nurse and she takes very good care of you.”
 
He’d made it a point to hire the best nurses he could find.

Thomas was the only parent he and his siblings ever had.
 
Even before their parents’ deaths, they’d been so wrapped up in the drama of one another, they’d barely noticed the three children they’d somehow managed to bring into the world.
 

Until Thomas, Vincent hadn’t known what it felt like to have another human being invested him.
 
Thomas hadn’t been easy.
 
His expectations had been high and the consequences swift but fair.
 
They had all thrived with him, in spite of their baggage.
 
Thinking of it, of what might have been had Thomas not been willing to put his life on hold to raise three traumatized children, Vincent felt renewed appreciation for the man in front of him.
 
It was accompanied by a well of grief and it took him longer than he liked to tamp that down.
 

“She’s a battle axe.
 
This is my punishment... A man of my standing should be catered to by beautiful blondes with breasts that are still being financed,” Thomas groused.
 
It was a good natured complaint.
 
For the most part, Thomas had been nothing but good natured since being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
 

Vincent knew that if the positions had been reversed, he would not have fared so well.
 
He cocked an eyebrow in response.
 
“Has it slipped your mind that you’re gay?”

“If I’d suggested some young stud named Sven you might get all hopeful that I’m recovering.
 
Besides, I still like to look at pretty girls even if I don’t want to do anything else with them...
 
Now that Nurse Ratchet is gone, go get the bourbon.”

“That isn’t a good idea,” Vincent replied gently.
 

“I have cancer and I’m at death’s door!
 
Why the hell not?”

Vincent couldn’t come up with a suitable response.
 
If Thomas wanted bourbon who the hell was he to stop him?
 
Rising from his chair, he crossed the room to the bureau where he knew Thomas had always kept a bottle stashed.
 
Pouring a small amount of the amber liquor into two glasses, Vincent returned to his uncle’s bedside.
 

“That’s the stuff,” Thomas said, accepting the glass in a skeletal hand.
 
“Dying is not for the weak, Vincent, and neither is the living.”

Vincent didn’t reply, just watched as Thomas took a small sip of the sweet, fiery liquid.
 
He took a drink of his own and recalled that he’d been eighteen when Thomas had introduced him to quality bourbon.
 
He’d taught him how to appreciate the sweet and complex flavor, how to drink like a man rather than a raucous frat boy.
 

There had been a hundred lessons like that over the years.
 
How to hit a baseball, how to talk to women, how not to talk to women, how to take a punch and how to throw one.
 

Thomas had surprised almost everyone when he had revealed his sexual orientation, as if being gay meant he couldn’t be masculine.
 
He’d jokingly said he was going to change his name to Butch.
 
“How are the renovations going?” he asked, referring to the remodeling of their most recent acquisition.
 

The old hotel in the French Quarter was in a prime location, but it had needed a serious overhaul.
 
It was a project that had been in the works for more than a decade.
 
They’d fought the city, then they’d fought the aftermath of Katrina.
 
Finally, New Orleans would be able to sustain another luxury hotel.
 

“We’re on track, but just barely.
 
It should be up and running by Mardi Gras.
 
The budget is going to be tight though... I’ve been battling with Claude about it,” Vincent confessed.
 
He hated to bother Thomas with business matters, but he needed the guidance.
 

Claude was his first cousin, the youngest son of Thomas’ oldest brother.
 
He felt that he was entitled to run DuChamps Hotels because of his father’s position as the eldest son of the previous generation, not taking into account that it was Thomas who had salvaged the hotel chain from the ruin Claude’s father had almost created.
 

Thomas nodded sagely.
 
“Claude understands money, but he doesn’t understand business.
 
DuChamps Hotels aren’t simply a place to stay... We sell luxury and fantasy.
 
People stay in our hotels because they match the elegance of their own homes, or they scrimp and save to stay in our hotels so that for a brief moment, they get to live the kind of life they dream about.”

Vincent took another sip of the bourbon, feeling the heat as it settled in his gut.
 
“He’s making it difficult.
 
Fighting me at every turn.
 
I need your support on this, Thomas.”

“You have it, for what it’s worth.
  
I don’t have a lot of time left. At this point, I’m thinking a week at the most,” Thomas continued.
 
“There are things in my will that you won’t like, but you need to know that everything I’ve done has been because I think it’s best for you.”

Vincent took another sip of his bourbon before asking the dreaded question.
 
“Is there something I should know?”

“The business is sound and I haven’t blown through the family fortunes, if that’s what you’re asking.
 
But I’ve been easier on the lot of you than I should have.
 
My last act as the shitty father figure I’ve been is to give you all some hoops to jump through,” Thomas explained.

Vincent sighed.
 
“You were never a shitty father figure and we’ll deal with the hoops.
 
Justin and I will at any rate.
 
Kaitlyn will probably be another matter.”

Thomas smiled.
 
“My sweet, fiery Kaitlyn!
 
I have something special for her.
 
Go home Vincent.
 
Or better yet, get laid.”

“We made a deal once, old man.
 
You don’t comment on my sex life and I don’t comment on yours.”

Thomas snorted.
 
“That implies one of us is having a sex life... When’s the last time you went on a date?”

“I had dinner with Melina Tate last weekend,” he answered.
 
It had been horrid.
 
She’d clung to every word he said while smiling vapidly and batting her eyelashes.
 
If there had been a single genuine thought in her head, she hadn’t bothered to express it.
 

“That wasn’t a date!
 
Her mother has been trying to put the two of you together for years now, but I promise you it’s all Marvin’s idea.
 
That girl’s daddy has it in his head that getting the two of you together would give him the in to supply linens to all of DuChamp Hotels.”

Not a chance in hell, Vincent thought.
 
The Tates’ were wealthy enough to move in their circles, but the bottom line was that their fortune had been gained through providing cheap textiles to discount stores.
 
There wasn’t anything wrong with that, but DuChamp Hotels were about luxury, not bargain bin linens.
 
“I bought her dinner and she made it very apparent that she was willing to let me do so again.” That he had no intention of doing so was implied.

Thomas looked at Vincent sharply, his shrewd eyes missing nothing.
 
“Has there ever been a woman you couldn’t just walk away from?
 
Surely, a man your age has managed to meet just one woman who keeps his nuts in a vice?”

Vincent finished the bourbon and placed the glasses back on the bureau.
 
There were some topics he didn’t intend to discuss with anyone, especially Thomas.
 
“I’ll see you tomorrow.”
 
He didn’t tell Thomas that he loved him.
 
He wanted to say it, but those words stuck, dammed up by the tears he refused to shed.
 

For Vincent, the words meant little.
 
His parents had said them daily, sometimes hourly, but it hadn’t stopped the fighting and it hadn’t done either of them a damn bit of good in the end.
 
No.
 
He preferred to show his love rather than just tell it.
 

That was why he’d taken over DuChamps Hotels instead of going to New York and Wall Street as he’d originally planned.
 
That was also why he spent every evening sitting in Thomas‘room, discussing everyday topics as if they had all the time in the world.
 
It was taking its toll on both of them, though.
   

Heading down the grand staircase of the stately home that would become his far sooner than he liked, he headed towards the kitchen and the back door, hoping to make his escape.
 
The room with its white tiled walls and aged hard wood floors hadn’t changed much in the almost thirty years since he’d first come there, but the woman standing inside it had.
 

BOOK: Been Loving You Too Long
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