Read Been Loving You Too Long Online

Authors: Seraphina Donavan

Tags: #Romance

Been Loving You Too Long (4 page)

BOOK: Been Loving You Too Long
2.15Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Tears welled in her eyes.
 
Vincent wanted her, but what he was offering her was not the fairy tale.
 
It wasn’t love or anything remotely close to it, and she knew him well enough and for long enough to know that love wasn’t something he’d ever made room for in his life.
 

Other than his family, she could count on one hand the people he was close to, and that was including herself and her grandmother.
 
There was a deep loneliness in Vincent, she’d known it for years, but in that moment, she realized that it was self imposed.
  
She couldn’t be his anesthesia.
 
“I’m not really a
tonight
kind of girl, Vincent.
 
You have to know that about me.”

“Rules are made to be broken.”

“Rules are made for reasons,” she countered.
 
“And I’m sticking to this one, because I can’t afford to let you break my heart.”

That gave him pause.
 
He was being a selfish ass, thinking only of what he wanted.
 
He’d been so consumed with his need for her, that he hadn’t stopped to think about what she needed.
 
It sure as hell wasn’t someone as broken as him, who, in the long run, could only give her misery.
 
That was the last thing in the world he wanted.
 
“I don’t ever want to do that.”

“Then go home, and let’s pretend none of this happened.”
 

Vincent leaned in, but didn’t kiss her lips.
 
Instead, he pressed a soft and innocent kiss to her forehead.
 
It was a tender gesture, and he didn’t even understand why he made it, only that he needed some sort of connection with her in that moment.
 
“Good night, Ophelia.”

She watched him go, watched him disappear through the doorway and then locked it behind him.
 
Leaning back against the scarred wood for a moment, she tried to catch her breath.
 
It felt as if the world had tilted on its axis that night, as if nothing would ever be the same again.

 
 

CHAPTER TWO

 
 

The following morning, Ophelia climbed from her bed with bleary eyes and the remnants of wonderful dreams floating in her consciousness.
 
It wasn’t the first time she’d had erotic dreams about Vincent, but it was the first time she’d had them when she could still taste his kiss.

Thinking about his hot, wicked mouth was not helping matters any.
 
Shrugging into her robe, she opened her bedroom door and stepped out into the living room.
 
Even though it was her day off, she still planned to go see Thomas later, just to check in on him. First, she had a million things to do.
 

Brenna McGhee, her roommate of more than three years, was asleep on the couch.
 
An empty wine bottle sat on the coffee table with a pair of false eyelashes stuck to it.

Smiling, Ophelia nudged the other woman’s ankle, still covered in black, sparkly fishnet.

Brenna came awake with a start, blinking in confusion.
 

“Rough night?” Ophelia asked.
 

“You’re one to talk...You look like hell.”

Ophelia couldn’t argue with that.
 
Having gotten a glimpse of her reflection as she left her bedroom, she knew it was the truth.
 
“I didn’t sleep very well. How was the show?”

Brenna rolled her eyes and then winced with pain.
 
“It was bad. The club wasn’t exactly what we were expecting.
 
We’ve done shows in strip clubs before and that’s fine, but this club had some ‘special’ acts.”

“Oh.
 
One of those.
 
Wow.”

“Yeah.
 
Needless to say, they don’t want to book us ever again, and we don’t want to be booked there ever again. Burlesque is not exactly family friendly, but damned if we didn’t look like a Disney attraction in comparison. So, why couldn’t you sleep?
 
More lusty dreams about the hot but unattainable billionaire?” Brenna asked.

Ophelia blushed from the tips of her toes to the roots of her hair.
 
She could actually feel the heat of it.
 
“I just didn’t sleep very well,” she lied.
 

“Uh-huh.
 
You tell me right now— Oh, I know!
 
It was an even hotter dream about him and his sexy brother.
 
I would totally be the lunchmeat in that sandwich.”

“You’re disgusting,” Ophelia retorted.
 
“What you just said is gross, and oh my God, Justin!
 
Blech
!”

“Justin DuChamps is a hottie.
 
Although, he seems too damned distracted to notice. Every time I’ve ever seen him, he looks like he’s a million miles away.”

“He’s an artist, and he’s also very shy,” Ophelia defended.
 
“You came at him with that dyed red hair and breasts that deserve their own zip code.
 
It probably scared him half to death.”

Brenna laughed.
 
“They’re mostly prosthetic.
 
It’s always bad when I meet someone for the first time when I’m in costume—but don’t think you can change the subject that easily!
 
What’s making you blush like that, Ophelia?”

Ophelia plopped down onto the couch cushion recently vacated by Brenna’s feet.
 
“Vincent kissed me last night. I’m not even sure how it happened.
 
I cut my finger and he was bandaging it and the next thing I know, he’s got me pressed up against the kitchen island and, oh sweet lord, that man can kiss.
 
I swear to God, Brenna, I felt it in my toes.”

Brenna gaped at her and squealed, and then immediately clutched her head while wearing an expression of agony.
 
“Oh, God!
 
Don’t let me do that again!
 
I drank that whole bottle of wine and my head is fucking pounding—but Jesus!
 
I can’t believe he finally did it!
 
So, what now?”

“Nothing,” Ophelia sighed.
 
“Vincent isn’t looking for a relationship with me.
 
He’s not looking for one with anybody.
 
He just wanted something to make him forget everything else for a while.
 
You know how I feel about him, Bren—I don’t want to get my heart broken, and there’s no other way for it to go.”

Brenna patted her knee like she was someone’s eighty year old grandmother.
 
“Sweetie, sometimes you have to take the risk.”

“I don’t do risk. Remember me?
 
Half the time, I’m so well behaved I can’t even stand myself.”

“You need to let your inner bitch out,” Brenna advised.
 
“First person I’d unleash her on would be Kaitlyn DuChamps.
 
I can’t stand her!”

It was true.
 
Brenna and Kaitlyn had met on a few occasions and they’d taken an instant dislike to one another.
 

Of course, there weren’t many people that Kaitlyn did like as far as Ophelia knew.
 
“She wasn’t always like that. I’m not sure what happened to Kaitlyn, but at some point, I think she just became a very unhappy person.” She’d no sooner completed the statement than a pillow smacked her squarely in the face. Sputtering, she demanded, “What was that for?”

“For being too damned nice!
 
Go.
 
Get out of here.
 
Do something fun today for a change. Buy naughty underwear, or a vibrator so you can stop dreaming about orgasms and actually have one!”

“I’ve had orgasms before,” Ophelia protested.
 
It had been far longer than she cared to think about since she’d had one, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t capable of it.
 

“Whatever.
 
Just go out and be Ophelia...Not Ophelia the personal assistant, or Nana Ruby’s
good little
Ophelia.
 
Be yourself, have fun and do something you want to instead of something you should!”

Ophelia tossed the pillow back at Brenna. “You’ll be singing a different tune when I blow the rent money on slutty panties!”

“As long as you plan to use those slutty panties to earn it back, I don’t care!”

Still smiling, Ophelia went to the tiny bathroom that they shared and climbed into the shower.
 
She did need some fun, she thought.
 
It had been ages since she’d done anything just for herself.
 
After quickly washing her hair and shaving her legs, Ophelia emerged to find that Brenna had retreated to her bedroom.
 
She’d probably sleep until the early afternoon.
 

Dressing in a pair of denim capris and a flowing shirt, she slipped her feet into a pair of ballet flats.
 
She braided her hair for ease, and a pair of cat eye glasses completed the look.
 
It was her day off and casual was the theme for the day.
  

Heading out into the already substantial heat, Ophelia breathed in the scents of the city.
 
They weren’t always pleasant, but they were home to her. Deciding to play tourist, she headed for the French Quarter.

Some shopping would make her feel better and if nothing else, there was a bakery there with the most amazing beignets she’d ever tasted.
 
Since she couldn’t have what she really wanted, pastries would have to do.
 

 

~~****~~

 
 

Vincent stared out the window, deep in thought.
 
It should’ve been the renovations on the hotel that pressed on his mind, but instead it was Ophelia.

His actions had been disastrous and he knew it.
 
He couldn’t get her out of his mind. It wasn’t the first time he’d been haunted by dreams of her, and it wasn’t the first time that she’d inspired long, cold showers for him.
 
With a muttered curse, he turned around, only to immediately regret the decision.
 

Claude stood in his doorway, beaming at him, Melina Tate on his arm. “Vincent!
 
Look who I found just wandering around in the Quarter today!”

Melina scoffed at Claude’s introduction.
 
“Don’t mind him.
 
I wasn’t just wandering around.
 
I came here with a purpose today, Vincent.
 
Mama has put me in charge of rounding up eligible bachelors for the charity auction at the country club, and you are the most eligible bachelor in Nola.”

Vincent smiled coolly in response, making no move to close the considerable distance between them.
 
“Thank you, Melina, but I’m afraid I have to decline.”
 
He could feel the tension creeping into his shoulders as her pretty lips turned down in a childish pout.
 
That kind of drama was the last thing in the world he wanted.

“Now, Vincent, you surely don’t intend to send me home disappointed?”

“Yes, Melina, I’m afraid that I do.
 
Given Thomas’ present health and the renovations on the hotel at this time, I simply don’t have the time.”

“Is that why you haven’t called me?”

The hopeful note in her voice was not lost on him, neither was the hint of desperation.
 
He could have murdered Claude in that moment.

Courting the Tate dynasty had been Claude’s ploy all along, and he didn’t doubt for a minute that Melina’s coincidental appearance was anything but.
 
“Excuse us, Melina, but I need to speak to Claude privately for a moment.. business.”
  

“Of course!
 
Claude, don’t you forget about your Sunday tee time with Daddy,” she chirped.
 
“Vincent, I’ll see you later?”

“I’ll be in touch.” The blandness of his tone was unmistakable.
 

After Melina exited the office, the door closing quietly behind her, Claude whirled on him.
 
“What the hell are you doing, Vincent?
 
That girl’s family could be the saving grace of this company!”

“The company doesn’t need saving, Claude.
 
Our cash flow is tied up in the renovations right now, but the properties are all sound.
 
We don’t need Tate Textiles cheapening the DuChamps brand.”

Claude’s face purpled with rage.
 
“You sound just like Thomas!
 
People don’t want to pay for real luxury now, Vincent!
 
They want a discounted rack rate and the illusion of grandeur!
 
As long as the pictures look good when they post them on Tweeter or what the hell ever it is, they don’t care!”

“I care! DuChamp Hotels might be a small chain in comparison, but we have an impeccable reputation and I’m not going to see it tarnished by plummeting to the lowest common denominator!
 
And stop throwing Melina Tate at me. I have no interest in her romantically or financially!”

“I was wrong—you’re not just like Thomas.
 
You’re just like your father.
 
Cold as ice!”

The fury hit him so quickly that he couldn’t contain it.
 
His fist was drawn back and only the fear that crept into Claude’s face in those last seconds stopped him.
 
“Get out of my office, Claude and don’t ever interfere with the way I run DuChamps Hotels again.
 
If you want out, I’ll find some way to purchase your shares and then you can go into business with whoever the hell you want.”

Claude left, muttering something under his breath that sounded like ‘hotheaded asshole’.

After a few moments pacing, which did nothing to alleviate the tension that coiled inside him, Vincent barked at his secretary.
 
“Ramona, I’m out for the day. Let the foreman know I’ll be checking in at the Royale later to see how things are going.”

BOOK: Been Loving You Too Long
2.15Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Sequela by Cleland Smith
Friday's Child by Georgette Heyer
Hearts by Hilma Wolitzer
Jury Town by Stephen Frey
The Spacetime Pool by Catherine Asaro
88 Days to Kandahar: A CIA Diary by Grenier, Robert L.
The Door Into Fire by Diane Duane
Talons of the Falcon by Rebecca York