Or had she?
She froze in her tracks. Maybe that’s exactly what she should do. She could call Sasha’s cousin, Christian, and ask him. Then go online, get some tickets and find a hotel. Her body trembled with excitement and she started for her store.
She turned, unease racing down her spine as she found Christian Romanov standing in front of her, his famous smile nowhere to be found and his pale eyes serious.
Gasping, she clutched his hand. “Has something happened to Sasha? To his momma?”
Christian nodded. “We buried Phoebe a month ago.”
She stood on the balls of her feet, looking over Christian’s shoulder for some sign of Sasha. “Is he okay?”
“Alexander’s not…himself.” Christian rocked back on his heels.
“Take me to him,” she said without hesitation. Fate was smiling down on her today. Excitement zipped through her, making her knees wobbly. She steadied them and smiled.
“Brilliant.” Christian clapped his hands and rubbed them together, a gesture so familiar that it made her body ache. “Let’s go.”
A black Mercedes with sleek lines idled by the curb, its driver waiting by the back passenger side door. Rose let Christian guide her by the elbow.
“Where are we going?” She didn’t know why she bothered to ask. Nothing matter but getting to Sasha.
Ivy waved her arms at Christian, making happy noises.
“To merry old England.” He grinned and tweaked Ivy’s nose.
Reality crashed over her, making her shoulders droop. “But I don’t have a passport and neither does Ivy.”
Christian ushered her into a waiting car, the warmth of the heater a welcome changed from the frigid winter air. “It’s all been taken care of.” He sat down on the seat across from her and handed her two thin, blue booklets.
“But what about tickets?”
“Taken care of.”
The limo driver turned the Mercedes onto a private airfield, a white jet with the words Romanov Industries painted on the tail waiting at the edge of the runway.
“Why didn’t I think of that?” she mumbled and pressed a kiss to Ivy’s head.
Not until they were halfway across the Atlantic did she start to panic. “We don’t have any clothes, or a car seat…or extra bottles. I only have the stuff in my diaper bag. And who will feed Blackbeard?”
Christian played on his phone, not bothering to look up. “It’s been taken care of.”
“’Course it has.” Dazed, she settled back in the leather seat. “How did you know I’d say yes?”
“Call it a man’s intuition,” Christian said and she rolled her eyes.
With only three hours until Heathrow, Rose made herself take a nap with Ivy in one of the bedrooms on the plane. A circle of pillows corralled the baby on all sides.
The next thing she knew, the sun was shining through her window and a flight attendant was knocking on her door while saying, “We’re about to land, Ms. Holland.”
Ivy stirred. Rose quickly changed the baby’s diaper before finding her seat. Christian still sat in his, his head lolling to one side. He mumbled something about angry birds and thieving pigs in his sleep.
The first bounce woke Christian.
The second had her clutching Ivy to her chest, until they disembarked the plane.
“Happy Christmas Eve.” Christian guided her to yet another waiting Mercedes. There was a car seat for Ivy. Hot chocolate steamed in the cup holder by the window.
“What exactly is going on with Sasha?” She buckled Ivy in and adjusted the straps, then passed the baby her stuffed rabbit.
Christian gave her an enigmatic look. “You’ll be able to see for yourself.”
“Are you taking me to him, or are we meeting him somewhere?”
“I’m certainly not taking you home with me.” He pulled out his cell, ran his forefinger over the keypad and put it back in his coat pocket. “Won’t be long now.” Then he promptly fell back asleep.
Rose hid a smile behind the mug of hot chocolate.
The car wove in and out of traffic, sights flying by faster than she could catch a decent glimpse. She wanted to wake Christian up to ask him what part of London were they in, but he obviously needed his beauty sleep.
She sipped at the warm drink, the rich chocolate warming her insides, but it did nothing to bolster her nerves. Maybe he wouldn’t be happy to see her, or even want her help. Her love. Maybe he’d settled into his new life and didn’t need anyone, least of all the woman who’d rejected him. The cup trembled in her hands and she had to set it down before it slipped out of her damp palms.
Glancing at Ivy, she found the rabbit in the baby’s mouth, her eyes slowly opening and closing. “Sleepy girl,” Rose whispered.
Another left turn and the limo stopped in front of a light-colored wall made from ancient-looking stones. The gates opened and the limo drove down a pebbly path, halting beside an elaborately carved water fountain. The driver opened the door, a gust of icy air gnawing at the warmth and waking Christian.
Before she knew it, he’d helped her out of the car, handed off Ivy and deposited four suitcases and a trunk with the initials LV at the bottom of a huge set of doors. Her head swam at the sight of luggage that cost more than what she made in a month.
“Good luck.” He rapped on the door.
Her eyes rounded. “He doesn’t know I’m here, does he?”
“Intelligent women—how would we get on without them?” He winked and slid back inside the car.
“Ma’am.” The driver tipped his hat to her and shut the door.
All she could do was stare as he drove away.
“Can I help you?”
Rose jumped and whirled around, finding a man in a starched gray suit who looked to be at least a hundred years old—if that young. “Uh, I…I’m Rose Holland and this is Ivy.”
“Pemberly, ma’am. Right this way.” He motioned for her to follow him inside.
Two men rushed outside to grab her suitcases, trunk and Ivy’s car seat.
“Take those to the Yellow Room,” Pemberly ordered as they walked inside with her things.
The doors closed behind her, sealing her fate.
Taking a deep breath, she said, “Where’s Sasha, I mean, Mr. Romanov?”
“He’ll be along shortly.”
The doors banged open and Rose backed up, hiding in the shadows.
“Balmy weather, my arse,” Sasha grumbled as he unbuttoned his jacket.