Read Been Loving You Too Long Online

Authors: Seraphina Donavan

Tags: #Romance

Been Loving You Too Long (3 page)

BOOK: Been Loving You Too Long
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Kaitlyn rolled her heavily lined eyes.
 
She was thirty two years old, but she was still struggling for an identity, playing the bad girl socialite.

Perhaps that was the source of animosity between them, he thought.
 
Even though Ophelia was the younger of the two, there was a confidence in her that Kaitlyn never had.
 
Ophelia never tried to hide or change who she was.
 
She was far more grounded than Kaitlyn and had always been so.
  

“Are you seriously going to lay down the law to me over a glorified maid?” Kaitlyn demanded.

“If one of you is staying the night, I’ll go,” Ophelia offered, attempting to ease the tension in the room.
 

“Since Kaitlyn is the one who objected so strongly to your doing so, she can stay,” Vincent said.
 
“If you’ll get your things, I’ll drive you home.
 
It’s too late for you to take the bus. Kaitlyn, I need to speak with you privately.”
 
He didn’t wait to see if she followed, simply walked into the living room and listened to her footsteps as she stomped down the hall toward him.
 

“I guess I’m going to get a nice stern talking to now, aren’t I?” Kaitlyn’s voice all but dripped sarcasm.

Vincent didn’t immediately respond.
 
It wasn’t Ophelia that he wished to discuss with her, or even her behavior.
 
It was something else, and it took him a moment to gather the courage to say it.
 

“What?” she demanded.
 
“Look, I know I was rude, but she’s just so damned goody two shoes it gets on my last nerve!
 
I’m sick of being compared to her and coming out on the shitty end!”

“This isn’t about Ophelia, Kaitie, or your atrocious behavior.
 
It’s about Thomas.
 
You haven’t been here in a while,” he snapped tersely.

“I was busy,” she defended.
 
“I don’t need a guilt trip from you!”

“I’m not trying to guilt you.
 
He doesn’t have much time left.
 
Things are progressing more quickly now.
 
If you wait another month to come by, it will be too late.
 
If you wait another week, it might be too late.”

Kaitlyn’s face paled and her lower lip quivered as she fought back tears.
 
In that moment, even under the heavy makeup and designer clothes, she looked like the same little girl he’d comforted on the night their parents died.
 

More gently, he added, “I’m sorry, Kaitlyn, but we’re just going to have to put other things on hold for a little while.
 
Family needs to come first, right now.”

“I was supposed to be going to Milan for fashion week, but I’ll cancel.
 
You’re right.
 
I need to be here now.”

“Do me a favor, will you?
 
Lay off that bullshit you pulled in the kitchen.
 
That isn’t who you really are.”
 

“What about you?” she asked.
 
“Are you really the high society lothario who puts the moves on the maid?”

Vincent prayed for patience.
 
Kaitlyn was always one to lash out.
 
He knew precisely where she’d learned to fight so dirty.
 
“You should mind your own business.”

“Whether I like her or not, she’s not in your league.
 
Ophelia might be a pain in the ass to me, but she’s not one of your disposable bimbos.
 
You always play the game with women who know the score and we both know that she doesn’t,” Kaitlyn chastised mildly.
 

“I’ll say it again, Kaitlyn.
 
Mind your own damned business.”

He didn’t wait for a response, but headed for the kitchen and the woman who had left him shell-shocked.
  
Stepping once again into the bright, white room, he saw that Ophelia had gathered her purse and had a sweater draped over her shoulders.
 

She looked prim and ladylike, a far cry from the passionate creature he’d nearly taken against the kitchen counter only moments earlier.

Were it not for the telltale flush that still stained her lovely cheeks and her kiss swollen lips, he might have believed it had been nothing more than a fantasy.
 
“We’ll take Thomas’ car.
 
I feel like driving the Morgan tonight...a little speed and some cool night air would probably do us both a world of good.”

 

~~****~~

 
 

Ophelia just nodded in response, though her blush deepened.
 
She was utterly humiliated.
 
It was bad enough to have shown absolutely no restraint, but to be caught almost in flagrante delicto by Kaitlyn of all people was kind of mortifying.
 

Guarding her feelings for Vincent had become second nature, as had the daily reminders of why nothing could ever come of them.
 

He was a sought after, eligible bachelor with every high society debutante in New Orleans angling for him.
 
While his playboy reputation had become less over the years, it was glaringly apparent that he enjoyed the company of women, but never for very long.
 

She was the housekeeper’s granddaughter and employed by his great uncle.
 
To say that their worlds were different would have been to say that night and day were slightly dissimilar.
 

Allowing him to see her home would illustrate that like nothing else.
 
Even though Thomas paid her generously, with the financial help she’d been providing to her grandmother, there was little left, meaning that her apartment was a dump, and that was being kind.
 

Walking out the back door and into the detached garage that had once been a carriage house, she eyed the low slung sports car that looked both elegant and mean.
 
Vincent held the door for her and she climbed inside.
 

The minute she sat down, she couldn’t stop the whimper that escaped her.
 
God, but it had been a long day.
 
She wanted to take her shoes off and rub her aching feet, but she’d only have to put the offending shoes on again, to climb the stairs to her small apartment, as broken glass seemed to appear on those steps routinely.
 
So, she left them on and tried vainly to wiggle her toes inside the torture devices.
 

“Why the hell you women wear shoes like that is something I’ll never understand,” he commented, as he turned the key and the engine roared to life.
 

“Because they look good,” she responded simply.

His only response was a Gallic shrug.
 

Ophelia leaned back in the seat.

He didn’t put the top down, but he did lower the windows.

The cool, night air blew in, fanning the loose tendrils of hair at her neck.
 
They tickled and she swiped at them.
  
She was acutely aware of him sitting next to her.

In the small car, his powerful thighs were barely more than a breath from touching hers.
 
His massive shoulders filled the space and she could still smell his cologne.
  
It was too arousing, too dangerous.

Her emotions, all of them, were still too raw and too close to the surface.
 
Opening her eyes, she forced herself to stare out at the passing houses and at least pretend to ignore the presence of the powerful and impossibly virile man beside her.
 

When they reached her apartment, there were three men congregating on the small stoop next to her apartment building.
 

“I’ll walk you up,” he offered.
 

She wanted to protest that it wasn’t necessary, but she wasn’t a fool.
 
It probably was.
 
“Thank you.” She wished fervently in that moment that Brenna was home.
 
A little support and a chaperone would have made life much easier.
 

 

~~****~~

 
 

Vincent parked the car on the street and walked around to open the door for her. He held it open and offered her the other hand to help her step up and out of the low slung vehicle.
 

Given that she was practically on stilts, she managed it very gracefully, but then he’d never known Ophelia to be anything less.
 

Closing the door, he locked the vehicle and activated the alarm.
 
When they passed the group of men, he placed his hand at the small of her back and ushered her up the stairs ahead of him.

He could hear her rummaging in her small bag for her keys.
 
The raucous laughter behind him heightened his awareness of their surroundings. He loved New Orleans, it was his home.
 
But he wasn’t blind to the dangers of the city.
 
It worried him that Ophelia lived in a neighborhood that was so unsafe.
 
“Why do you take the bus when you have a car?”

“It’s in the shop—again.”
  

He listened to her struggling with the lock, then heard a muffled curse.
 
“Let me do that,” he said, and took the keys from her.
 
When the door swung open, she stepped inside and he followed, ignoring her raised eyebrows.
 
“Where’s your roommate?”

“She’s working tonight.
 
The burlesque troupe she’s in has managed to book a gig at a club on Bourbon Street,” Ophelia answered.
 

“We need to talk about what happened in the kitchen, Ophelia.”

“No, we don’t.
 
It was a mistake and it won’t—it can’t—happen again.”
 

“Do you really think that’s possible?”
 

“Vincent, I can’t do this with you. We’ve known each other for so long, and everything is bound to get tangled up and complicated.
 
I don’t want that.”

He couldn’t argue with her logic.
 
Those were the very reasons he’d avoided her for so long.
 
But having tasted her lips, having felt the heat of her pressed against him, he couldn’t go back.
 
“Things can’t always be easy.
 
Sometimes, they get complicated and even a little messy, but you tell me right now that I didn’t make you burn, and I’ll walk away.”

“I won’t lie to you—I couldn’t even if I wanted to.
 
I’m horrible at it,” she admitted.
 
“But it isn’t about the physical feelings.
 
Yes, I wanted you.
 
More than I care to admit, but that doesn’t mean we should give in to it.

He walked towards her, stalked more accurately, she thought.
 
He didn’t stop advancing until they were nose to nose.
 
He was close enough that she could see his eyes weren’t black at all but different shades of brown and gold, and she could feel the heat of his skin.
 

“Kiss me again and if you still want me to go, I will.”

“I’m too weak for that. If I kiss you again I won’t be able to ask you—to leave,” she confessed, her breath shuddering out of her.
 
Having him so near, knowing that she could reach out and touch him that if she allowed it, he would take her right there was too tempting.
 

“That should tell you something, Ophelia.
 
Some things are inevitable. I’ve wanted you for a long time.
 
For longer than I ought to admit.
 
I’ve avoided you, I’ve reminded myself of all the reasons why I shouldn’t, but all it took was standing this close to you and reason just went out the window.
 
I won’t make you promises I have no intention of keeping.
 
I’m not looking for love here.
 
But for tonight, we could both forget everything else.”

BOOK: Been Loving You Too Long
13.73Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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