Read Been Loving You Too Long Online

Authors: Seraphina Donavan

Tags: #Romance

Been Loving You Too Long (5 page)

BOOK: Been Loving You Too Long
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Ramona just nodded and gave him a thumbs up.
She wasn’t a traditional secretary.
He’d inherited her, and all of her quirks, from Thomas.
What she lacked in social skills she made up for in sheer efficiency.
She didn’t talk much because she viewed it as a waste of good air.

Shaking his head, Vincent headed for the elevators and a long walk to clear his head.
After exiting the building, he strode down Canal Street and then turned onto Esplanade.
He’d work his way towards the Royale and enjoy a little bit of the French Quarter along the way.

There was something soothing for him about the sounds and scents of the city.
The distant wail of a saxophone could be heard over the din of traffic.
He focused on that, moving toward it.

Vincent hadn’t walked more than two blocks when he stopped dead in his tracks and watched the woman peering into a shop window only a few yards away from him.

It was rare to see Ophelia not wearing one of her retro styled dresses.
With her hair in a thick braid and those ridiculous glasses perched on her nose, she looked so much like she had as a teenager that he couldn’t help but smile. “I thought for a minute I had traveled through time. Or did the fifteen year old Ophelia Broulliard come forward?”

Ophelia gasped and turned towards him.
“Oh, my God!
What are you doing here?”

“Walking,” he replied, moving closer to her.
Looking at the shop window, it was easy to see what had caught her eye.

There was a necklace on display, a ladylike confection of diamonds and pearls that looked like it should have graced the neck of Elizabeth Taylor during her heyday.

“Thou shall not covet, Ophelia. But it would look amazing on you.”

“It’s stunning, but I could never afford it. I could sell everything I own, including both kidneys, and never afford it.”

“Then, let’s not spend any more time thinking about things we can’t have,” he offered.
It was as close to an acknowledgement of the previous night’s mistakes as he wanted to get, at least until he knew where things stood with them.

“Wisdom from an unlikely source,” she shot back, though her tone was teasing.

“Walk with me? It’s been one of those days, and I just don’t want to be in the office anymore. I’ll buy you beignets and chocolate milk.”

She laughed and fell in step beside him.
“I’m not twelve, Vincent.
I’ve finally developed a taste for coffee. But I’ll pass on the pastries.”

“You already had them, didn’t you?”

Ophelia blushed. “Okay.
I’m guilty.
Happy now?”

“Not really, but I’m feeling better than I was a few minutes ago.
I almost punched Claude today,” he confessed.

A low whistle escaped her.
“I can’t say that I blame you.
Claude can be a bit difficult at times. But, I’ve never known you to lose your temper.
In fact, I wasn’t even sure you had one.”

“Oh, it runs in the family.”
He never wanted Ophelia to witness his temper.
He worked hard to control it, to keep it in check, but there were times when the sheer level of anger in him left him shaken.

Ophelia glanced at him sharply, seemingly startled by the bitterness of his tone.
She seemed to note the tension in him, the tightly clenched jaw, and the strain that was visible around in his eyes.

Vincent was struggling—with Thomas, with the business and probably with everything that had happened between them the night before.

“But you didn’t,” she protested. “You managed to rein it in, when most people would have probably knocked him flat on his behind.”

He chuckled again, in spite of himself.
“Do you ever curse, Ophelia?
Do you ever just let loose and stop being the proper lady?”

“What good would it do? I know Kaitlyn thinks I’m this goody two shoes, but I’m not.
I have fun, I get drunk from time to time, and yes, once in a while, I do curse when I have a reason to.”

They strolled on together for a few minutes, walking in companionable silence.

Vincent was surprised that he’d settled so quickly into being at ease with her, and she with him.

There was a kind of tension there, an awareness that hadn’t existed before, and the fire simmered below the surface for them both, but he still enjoyed her company.

The sound of her voice, the way she smiled at the people they passed on the street, her delight in the street performers. Ophelia was uncomplicated, she enjoyed life, and he felt more relaxed simply being around her.

Entering Jackson Square, he motioned to a small bench that was empty.
“I’ll get us something to drink.”

“Thank you.”

Returning after a few moments with bottled water, he sat down beside her and broached the uncomfortable topic.
“I was out of line last night—I shouldn’t have. God, there’s just no way to say it.”

“Kissed me?” she clarified.
“Made out with me like we were a couple of horny teenagers?”

“Yes,” he admitted ruefully.
“I want you to know that I would never take advantage of the fact that you work for the family.
That was an aberration and it won’t be repeated.”

She rolled her eyes.
“Gee, thanks!”

“You know I didn’t mean it like that. I told you the truth.
I’d wanted to do that for a long time.
But I’m not the kind of man you’d want to bet on for the long haul.”

It’s fine.
I know you’re not the relationship kind, and I know that it would be weird beyond description for us to just have some fling, and then try to act like everything was normal again...I’m not really a fling kind of girl.
But we’re friends, right?
You’ve been walking on eggshells with me for a while.
I knew it, I just didn’t know why.
Besides, I miss that cool older dude, I used to follow around as a kid.”

“Older dude?

She laughed.
“Older than me anyway. Let’s do something fun.
Since you’re sort of playing hooky, you have to do something you wouldn’t normally do.”

“Doing things I wouldn’t normally do is why I’m having to give you awkward apologies today.”

Ignoring that statement, she spied the small tables set up on the perimeter of the square.
“I know!
You should get your palm read!”

“Why don’t I just give someone fifty dollars and ask them to lie to my face?” he drawled.

“It’s entertainment!” she protested.
“Don’t be such a stick in the mud.
You need a little fun.”

He relented. “Fine.
Which one of the many psychics present should I choose?
Or do I just sit here and wait for them to telepathically receive the message?”

“I’m starting to regret telling you I missed you!
Go to that lady over there...the one with the pink hair.
She read mine last week and she’s good!”

He was stunned.
“Are you serious?
You come here to get your palm read?”

“Not usually.
She works in a shop over on Ursulines, too.”

“It was more about the palm reading itself, Ophelia, than the location,” he scolded.
“You know this stuff is just bullshit, right?”

“It’s entertainment! Now go and be entertained,”

Sighing, Vincent stood and headed towards the table draped with purple satin and gold tassels.
It looked like it belonged inside a lamp on ‘I Dream of Jeannie’.

Folding his tall frame into the metal chair, he faced the psychic with the shock of bright pink hair and facial piercings that he couldn’t name.
“My friend insisted that I come here and get my fortune told.” His skepticism was evident in his tone.

“Your friend,” she observed.
“You have a very loose definition of friendship.”

Vincent didn’t even flinch.
It was very possible that she’d seen them walking together, possibly even overheard parts of their conversation.
The tension between himself and Ophelia wouldn’t have been hard to pick up on.
“How much?”

“Fifty for me to lie to your face.
Seventy five if you want truth.”

She’d definitely been eavesdropping, he thought, but he gave her points for theatricality.
Pulling a hundred from his wallet, he passed it to her.
“Give me a good story to share with my friend and we’ll call it even.”
He watched her pocket the money and then tensed as she reached for his hand.
She turned it over in hers, and he kept his gaze focused intently on her face.

Her fingers traced every line of his palm.
“You have a very dark past. Lots of anger, violence—and pain.
You lost someone very close to you.”

“I thought this was supposed to be fun?”

She glanced up at him and her eyes were surprisingly kind.
“You had to watch someone you loved die horribly, with pain and fear—and betrayal.
Now you’re losing someone else, and you’re unsteady.
The waters keep getting muddied with other things. Problems with your work, with someone who covets what you have.”

Vincent’s gaze narrowed, a muscle in his jaw ticking, as he listened to her.
“I’m impressed, but so far, all you’ve gotten are some vague coincidences and pretty basic deductive reasoning.”

“I wasn’t trying to impress you. Just letting you know what I see. You’re siblings have journeys of their own coming, but your journey might be the greatest of all.
I see marriage in your future, even though you do not.”

He raised an eyebrow. “And now you’re losing me.”

“Only because I’m telling you about what will be, rather than what has already passed...or what you want to hear.
You aren’t like him.
This dark man from your past. You’re more like the other one.”

“The other one?” he demanded, feeling more than a little unsettled by her.

“The one who’s sick now.
He’ll be gone very soon, and then everything else will be set in motion,” she said cryptically.
“You need to open yourself to the possibilities.
Let go of the fear and embrace the idea that you can have what you want the most.”

Vincent rose.
He’d heard enough.
It was all well scripted mumbo jumbo.
The fact that she’d hit a few things had been nothing but coincidence, he decided.
“Thanks for the advice. I’ll keep it in mind.”

“No you won’t.
You’ll put it as far from your thoughts as possible, but it will all creep back in when it needs to,” she said with a smile.
“Thank you for the tip.
I can go home early now.”

BOOK: Been Loving You Too Long
2.16Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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