| 28 | A Lesson in Seduction||
He tossed the pen down and cradled his head in his hands. What did the infernal woman want? He swore she thought she was his mother. Devlin had been spending most of his day trying to plan something for Lacey since she returned from her meeting in Atlantic City. He wasn’t sure why the hell he would try to do something like that. It wasn’t his thing; it was her thing. He had no fucking clue what he was doing.
There was a brief knock then the door flew open. Frannie met him with frantic eyes. “There’s a thing eating up all our rich, whipped chocolate candies. The really expensive ones.”
“A thing?” Devlin already knew the culprit, but it was entertaining watching the woman fret over it.
“I would have tossed him right out on his rather nice, toned ass, but he said he was your relation.”
“Please, send him back to my office.” Yep, he called in his brother, but he couldn’t tell the man that he needed help with something. He had no idea how he would actually transition into the topic he wanted to broach.
She nodded. “Yes, boss.” She always said the last part with deep sarcasm that any other man would have found disrespectful.
Moments later, Lucas strolled into the office with a half-eaten box of chocolates in his hand. “This is a nice place.” He sat in the chair across from Devlin. “I mean, this office is shit, but the chocolate shop, a nice touch. Wouldn’t have pegged you for a place this elegant.” He gestured to Devlin’s shirt. “I see you don’t rock the leather here.”
“I haven’t seen you in your jacket since you got it a couple weeks ago.”
“You’re right. It’s not really my style.”
Which was true. Unlike Devlin, the whole dress shirt, dress pants thing was something that Lucas did regularly because he liked the custom designed pieces that were tailored to fit his slender form like a glove. Jeans and a t-shirt, preferably clean, was all Devlin really needed.
“Besides, how am I supposed to do my super-secret recon, spy infiltration if I’m screaming which team I’m playing on?”
Devlin grumbled. “What exactly does loyalty mean to you?”
“I’m loyal like a cat, not a dog.”
“So you’re a pussy.” Devlin watched the man’s face frown up.
“I was thinking more like a lion, but call me whatever you want, just don’t forget to feed me.” He set the empty chocolate carton on Devlin’s desk.
“You’re paying for that, bitch.”
“I already have.” He set back in the chair. “With knowledge. I spoke to my DEA contact. Well, spoke is being used loosely in this situation.” The man smirked. “At any rate, her superior was more interested in bringing in the Hyann family than crushing our little spit in the pond operation.”
He crossed his ankle over his knee. “Oh, come on, Prez.” He overemphasized Devlin’s title. “It’s the truth, and the truth is our little fish status will do well for us.” He stood up and wandered over to the window. “The other truth is, there can only be so many big fish in the Lake.” He leaned on the window sill and faced his brother. “As long as they stand, there’s no way we’re going to grow. BUT! Lucky for you, I’m on board.”
“Oh yeah, so lucky. Got a two-bit thief, magician on my team.”
“Come on, I did one show in Vegas; my mom was a showgirl. I was raised in the life. Besides, you need my skills and you know it.”
Devlin ignored the bate. “What about Miss Mary Mac?”
Luke shrugged. “What about her?”
“No additional information from her?”
“One at a time, brother. I’m good, but I still need time. We’ll have all we need.”
“We have less than a week before the drop.”
“You put me in charge of this, so let me work. Loyalty and trust go both ways.”
The air filled with silence and tension as it seemed thoughts were floating in the air. Devlin frowned and focused on his brother’s profile at the window. He seemed to be tossing around something that he wanted to say.
“Well go ahead and say what’s on your mind. Can’t say I ever knew you to need permission.
Lucas met his brother’s eyes and his eyebrows twisted up before he looked out the window again.
Devlin frowned concerned and curious. He didn’t know the man to bite his tongue.
“I-I don’t think you know this, but I met your mother.”
Devlin paused in his thoughts and looked up at his brother. He thought he might find some kind of humor, but instead, he saw an openness that he’d not seen on the man’s youthful face.
Devlin leaned back in his chair. Seems like the longer the woman is dead the more he finds out new things about her.
“She asked for me, according to dad. This was a few weeks before she got really sick. I was shocked, my mom was skeptical, but Luscious worked his magic on her. We rode all the way from Vegas up here.” Lucas adjusted his lean on the window, gazing out, seeming to be drawn back to that place in time. “I remember it so clear.” He closed his eyes and inhaled. “A berry pie baking in the oven, the flowers outside blooming. Gave off this scent that I’ll always associate with her. I didn’t know what I was walking into. I didn’t know what to expect.” He took a deep breath. “When she laid eyes on me, her eyes started to well up. I thought, you know because of what I represented, but then she said, ‘God, Luscious. He looks just like Lily.’ She walked over to me and touched my cheek almost to make sure I was real or something; ‘A spitting image of her.’ The woman frowned. ‘Why didn’t you ever bring him around before?’ Then dad said, ‘You didn’t want to know him because of her.’
‘No, that was you. He’s Devlin and Kat’s brother.
She waved him off, disgusted. ‘What do you want? Things to be with them how it is it with your brother?’ Father trailed after her like a lost puppy. I’d never seen him submissive. That was the first time I heard about Connor Duprey. Well, the full story, anyway.”
“Where the hell was I?”
Luke shrugged. “Off riding. Kat was in L.A. as usual. I spent the entire weekend with Emelia and dad. She made me forget the truth of things. She treated me so well. She like really wanted to know me. And she could cook.” His eyes glistened with delight at the memory. “My mom didn’t cook, which I was thankful for because―” He shivered. “She knew her limitations. Anyway, that’s when I decided to move up here.”
There was a long bout of silence before Devlin spoke. “Why the hell did you tell me that story?”
He shrugged. “Guess I just don’t want us to be fucked up for no reason. If you hate me, fine, but it should be because of our shit, not theirs.” He pushed off the window. “Guess I’m done here. I’ve got a Mary to seduce, unless there’s something else.”
Devlin frowned. “W-why would there be something else?”
“The loud-mouthed lady at the front desk said you let her insult you without a rebuttal.”
Devlin grumbled. “She can’t keep her damn thoughts to herself that one.”
Luke laughed. “So, what’s got you all up in arms? Anything I can do to help?” The man’s slick, taunting tone made Devlin wince and regret.
He cleared his throat. “Assuming you’re capable of a real connection, what kind of flowers would you get a woman?”
“Well, her favorite, of course.”
Devlin cringed at the humor in the other man’s voice.
“And if you didn’t know, necessarily?” He scratched his chin.
“Depends on the message you’re trying to send her.”
Devlin grumbled. This shit was too fucking complicated. Or maybe his brother was just being a dick. Either option was possible or a combination of both.
“I haven’t met the lady, which really hurts my sensitive heart that my own brother would keep someone so important away from me.” The man laughed. “But, if she’s the one that hosted that rather flamboyant Valentine’s Day party, then I would go with Pink Charm Daffodils and off-white roses.”
Devlin scratched his head. “Why those?”
Luke shook his read. “They were at her party, dumbass.”
“How the hell do you know that?”
“Because I fucking pay attention, and so does she.” Luke made his way over to Devlin’s desk with mischief in his eyes. “You really must care about this girl, huh?” He picked up a pen off the desk, eliciting a grumble from Devlin. “Do you want to know exactly how to do this date right or what?” Lucas strolled around the office and grazed his long, slender pointer finger over several items that were displayed on a bookcase.
Devlin rubbed his hand down his face. He wasn’t in the mood for his brother’s shit, but he was desperate. “Are you going to help or not?” He snapped irritated.
Lucas looked over his shoulder at his brother, a smile tweaked the corner of his lips. “Yeah, yeah I’ll do it. I just can’t imagine you caring about anybody, I mean except the scruffy degenerates that sit around that old wooden table back at the clubhouse.”
Devlin stood, suddenly hating the vulnerability. “Never mind. Get out.”
“Oh, come on Dev, you’re too fucking sensitive. You remind me of father.” He said, before he was distracted by a cigar case that was propped open, the Cuban cigars on display.
“Funny,” Devlin countered. “You don’t remind me of father at all.”
The man laughed. “Good. He was a prick.”
Lucas met his brother’s eyes, a cigar in his hand. He ran the log under his nose and sniffed. His eyes closed in ecstasy. “Come now, is this how all of our exchanges are going to go? You dick me around. I insult you. You brood, but eventually, I agree to be the good little brother when the wind is blowing to the northeast.”
“You’re a dickhead, Lucas. Get the fuck out.”
A bright smile pulled up the corner of Lucas’s face. “Now that’s something we have in common! Two big brother dicks singing Kumbai in harmony.” He spread his arms out in a theatrical manner then strolled over to Devlin’s desk and leaned there. “I can tell you that women, especially yours, like the play, the mystery of love. As much as she likes to be in control and take the lead, she also would like you to. The key is, taking the lead in a way that she can relate to.” A mischievous smile spread across Lucas’s face, making him look like a demented Cheshire cat. “You’re worried.”
Devlin grumbled, regretting letting the man in.
“You should start with a text.”
“And say what?”
“Just type: Red or white.”
Devlin frowned. “Why the hell? I don’t even know―”
“Don’t question your sensei. Type.”
Devlin mumbled what he really wanted to say to the man under his breath, but did what he was told.
A few minutes later, he received a message from Lacey.
LACEY: Regarding what?
Devlin frowned. “Why not just say that in the first place?”
“You’re questioning and not doing.”
Devlin grumbled but did what he was told.
A few excruciating minutes later, he received a text from Lacey.
LACEY: Reeeeed. What are you up to?
Devlin smirked. Just bring your appetite. He messaged back.
His attention went to his brother who was clapping. “It’s called flirting, my dear caveman.” He turned and headed to the door. “Now, plan the entire dinner off a nice rich red wine.”
“Where the fuck you going with my cigar?”
Luke smirked over his shoulder. “Payment for this little favor. Nothing in this world is free, brother. Every real man knows that.”
Devlin shouted as the door closed behind his brother. “It’s not a favor if you pay for it, dumb ass.”