“I don’t,” his brother agreed. “You know Dev’s going to want to step in.”

“Your brother has no sense of boundaries.” Troy scratched at the label on his bottle.

Gabe snorted. “Don’t we know.” He crossed his ankles. “I don’t care what Dev’s opinion is on the matter. I told him to stay out of it, and if he knows what’s smart for him, he will. This isn’t his life.”

“Dev will back off,” Lucian said. “But not for long. You know what he’ll do.”

Setting the bottle aside, Gabe folded his arms. He knew exactly what Dev was capable of. So did Lucian, and Gabe knew Troy had his suspicions, especially about what really went down with their fucking cousin Daniel—ones Troy wouldn’t vocalize, because once he did, he’d have to act on them. Troy was like a brother to them, but he was a cop, one who took his job seriously.

Gabe just hoped Troy’s duty to the badge never came between them.

“So.” Lucian drew the word out as he ran a hand through his blond hair. If it weren’t for the de Vincent eyes, people wouldn’t even think they were brothers. The fact that Lucian and his twin looked so different from Gabe and Dev had always been a red flag to them. Except, as it turned out, he and Dev had it backward. The whole damn family had. Only Lucian and Madeline were the children of Lawrence. Gabe and Dev had no idea who their father was.

“I learned something else when I got caught up with Dev,” Lucian said. “Heard your long-lost love was back.”

Everything about Gabe stiffened.

Everything.

“Fuck, Dev.” Gabe uncrossed his ankles, widening his stance. “Don’t say that.”

Confusion crept in Troy’s features. “Long-lost love?”

Lucian grinned. “Yep.”

“Do I even want to know who this is about?” Troy asked, lowering his beer.

Lucian chuckled at Gabe’s dark look and then he turned to Troy. “Remember Nikki? Livie and Richard’s daughter?”

Their friend’s eyes widened. “Yeah. She’s at college. Alabama, right?”

“Not anymore.” Lucian pushed away from the bench. “She’s filling in for her mom at the house.”

“I’m going to ask again,” Troy said. “Do I want to know why you’re calling her Gabe’s long-lost love? Because seriously.”

Completely unrepentant, Lucian laughed again. “When she was younger, she had it bad for Gabe. Used to follow him around the house and somehow connived him into swimming lessons.”

Nic hadn’t connived Gabe into those lessons. Like a dumbass, he offered after she almost killed herself in the pool. “Shut up, Lucian.”

Lucian wasn’t shutting up, because of course not. “Gabe just can’t help it. Women just get obsessed with him. I think it’s the hair.” He reached toward Gabe’s head.

Gabe leaned out of the way.

“Women? As in plural?” Troy asked.

Lucian nodded. “Yeah, you don’t know about Sabrina?”

“Dev’s fiancée?”

Gabe was about five seconds away from punching Lucian.

“Yep. One and the same. Did you know that Sabrina actually met Gabe in college? Met him first.” Lucian’s eyes glimmered with amusement. “Ever since then, she’s been chasing after Gabe’s dick like it’s the last one left in the world.”

Troy’s mouth dropped open. “But it ain’t the last dick. It ain’t even the last de Vincent dick.”

“Can you all stop talking about my dick?” Gabe grumbled.

They ignored him.

“Well, this dick didn’t want anything to do with her, rightfully so, because that woman is a bitch. Hate using that word, but it’s true. Anyways, she went for the next best dick. Dev.”

“No shit,” muttered Troy, shaking his head. “Does Dev know this?”

Lucian shrugged. “Not sure how he can’t. Don’t think he cares, though.”

“Dev doesn’t know she was on my ass all through college. She’s annoying, but she’s harmless,” Gabe said, lip curling in disgust. “And I’d honestly rather forget about all that. Sabrina’s marrying Dev. God help him, but she’s not my problem.”

“Except for when she hunts you down every time you’re home,” Lucian pointed out slyly.

Yeah, and that was another reason getting a place in Baton Rouge was at the top of his priority list. He was not going to live in the same house as Sabrina. Hell no.

“Okay.” Troy arched a brow. “So, let’s backtrack. What’s this shit about Nikki?”

Lucian was about as happy as a damn pig rolling in shit at this point. “The thing is, when Nikki was younger, no big deal. Right? Then Nikki started growing up, and well, I made it my life’s mission to remind Gabe that she may not have looked it at the time, but she was just a teenager.”

His gaze connected with his brother’s. Lucian quirked a brow, and irritation flared deep inside Gabe. People who didn’t know Lucian didn’t give him enough credit. The younger de Vincent missed nothing.

Troy’s gaze narrowed on Gabe. “Did you need reminding?”

“Fuck no,” he shot back. Despite what happened before Nic left for college, he hadn’t needed a reminder of her age. No matter how beautiful she was becoming back then, it was hands off and eyes off. “And stop calling her a teenager. Jesus. She’s fucking twenty-two now.”

Thank fuck.

“Well, I am reassured to hear that. Age of consent might be seventeen here to avoid a statutory charge, but that little piece of law ain’t going to stop a bullet in the back of the head.” Troy took a drink of his beer.

“Damn, bro. You’re a cop,” Lucian said with a laugh.

He raised a shoulder. “Hell. Richard may be all calm and shit, but I’ve looked into that man’s eyes. He’d straight up kill a motherfucker who messed with his daughter.”

Yeah, he would.

It wouldn’t have mattered to Richard that Nic had been eighteen. Shit, still wouldn’t matter now. Gabe twisted at the waist, picking up his beer. Why in the hell was he even thinking about a now?

Probably because the three times he jerked off this week alone, her fucking face appeared in the middle of it.

But there was a now.

Lucian grinned as he watched Gabe. “Well, she might be twenty-two now, but she’ll always be Little Nikki to me.”

“Christ,” Gabe muttered, rubbing at his chest. A moment passed. “Found Parker sniffing around her last week.”

“Fuck Parker,” muttered Troy.

Gabe nodded as guilt stirred in his gut. He was man enough to admit that he’d handled Nic wrong when it came to Parker. He’d been caught off guard when he’d seen her with him—that bastard all in her space and her laughing. He’d also been knocked off his game by his reaction to seeing them together.

He’d wanted to rip Parker’s throat out.

And he had no right to that feeling or to say anything to Nic about it. She’d been correct when she threw that in his face, and he was also man enough to know he owed her a damn apology for that . . . and for how he talked to her Thursday, in the gym.

What happened to you? She’d asked that and what had he said? You.

Jesus, he’d been a dick and that wasn’t him. He wasn’t that guy. Or at least he hadn’t been, but that was the guy he was turning into. That shit didn’t sit well with him. But he knew one damn thing. What had happened between them four years ago was no excuse. Neither was how his head was still twisted up over the shit with Emma a good enough excuse for how he talked to her.

For how he knew he made her feel.

“What was Parker doing at the house?” Lucian asked, the easy grin gone from his face.

“Supposedly visiting Dev.” Gabe finished off his beer and tossed it into a nearby trashcan. “Richard was out of the house, so Parker was just roaming around.”

A muscle ticked in Lucian’s jaw. “What was he doing with Nikki?”

Gabe lifted a shoulder. “Talking.”

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