Jules: I changed clothes. Are you quite sure you don’t need me?
Daisy: I did need you and you were there for me. You even kept me from chewing a hole in my cheek. It’s a bad habit of mine.
Jules: I’d say so. You really need to work on not doing that when you’re upset.
Daisy: I’ll do my best. ? Now I really need to sleep. Thank you, Jules, for everything. Talk to you tomorrow?
Jules: Of course. My time belongs to you. Night, love.
Daisy: Night. ?
She closed her laptop and let her head fall to her pillow.
Later that afternoon, she opened the front door and a bouquet of flowers, in every color imaginable, awaited her. Beside it was a large cooler. She opened it and found containers of food, along with a handwritten note.
I hope you enjoy this traditional English breakfast, and the flowers. Any time you need me, say the word and I’ll be there—virtually or in real life.
PS: This cost a lot more to have delivered than a single cupcake, and it was no hardship. So stop feeling guilty.
PPS: Glen’s a wanker.
PPPS: Talk to you tomorrow—I need sleep!
PPPPS: You can text me anytime. I’ll be able to answer you more quickly.
He’d given her his number. She clutched the note to her chest and smiled dreamily, while wondering if she’d ever get to meet him.
“You’re mad, you know that, right?” the voice on the phone barked.
Sebastian hit send on the email he’d just finished composing, and replied, “If by mad, you mean genius, then yes.” He ended the call just as his other phone buzzed and smiled.
Daisy: My date sucked last night.
Jules: But you went on one and that’s the first step to getting back in the game, as the kids say.
Daisy: Ugh. I’d rather be on the sidelines. He was all handsy and committed too many fouls.
Sebastian fought the rising tide of jealous, and lost. He didn’t want another man’s hands on her, another man’s mouth kissing her, or worse, another man’s arms around her, comforting her or encouraging her while knowing all the very mundane things about her that Sebastian would give away his entire inheritance to be privy to.
Jules: Shall I take care of this miscreant?
Daisy: lol. No, I took care of him. How are things going with Kate?
Jules: They’re not.
The door to his office burst open, and Liam Stewart strode in, his dark eyes narrowing. Liam was Sebastian’s oldest friend. They’d met their first year at Eton, and there was no one else he trusted more.
“It’s wrong and you know it. Hanging up on me won’t change the fact that the deal you made with Javenesky is so incredibly wrong and shady. He’s a rumored arms’ dealer.” The door closed with a slam behind him. “Put down the damn mobile phone, Sebastian, and listen to me,” he snapped, stopping just short of the massive desk that sat in front of a wall of windows.
“My last name is Romanov. Everything my family does is wrong and shady,” Sebastian pointed out. By making a deal with some even shadier underworld types, he would seal the fate of Romanov Industries. Once the public knew, his father would be humiliated and then the business would have to be sold, piece by piece, and he would be done. He would have peace. “And I’ll put down my mobile when I’m bloody well ready.”
Daisy: Breaking up with her? That’s so sad.
He was a little sad but he’d tried, because Daisy had been the one to encourage him to date in the first place. Perhaps he hadn’t tried as hard as he could have, with Daisy constantly on his mind and in his computer and phone, but he’d tried to be a good boyfriend to Kate, only being one required time he didn’t have. Romanov Industries came first—as did Daisy. They were in a dead heat.
The best thing he could say he’d done for Kate was not to have slept with her. If he had, their breakup would have been more disastrous than it already was. He knew Kate was in love with him and would have been willing, but he couldn’t take advantage of that love to satisfy his base needs.
Daisy: But I bet it will be less confusing for you.
Daisy: Every woman in England is named Kate. What do you do when you can’t find each other out in public? If you yell Kate, a million women answer you. ;)
He made a noise, a cross between a snort and a grunt.
Jules: Don’t quit your day job, darling.
Daisy: I am funny. You said so last night.
Liam exhaled. “This scheme of yours will get you fired.”
“Perhaps that’s what I want to happen,” Sebastian muttered as his fingers flew over the keys.
Jules: I was drunk.
Daisy: Tea makes you drunk? What in the world did you add, besides honey and lemon?
He inwardly grinned. She knew exactly how he took his tea, and that he liked to drink it right before bed.
Jules: Fine. You were uproariously hilarious.
Daisy: Knew it. ?
“Perhaps when it does, you’ll get yourself sorted out,” Liam murmured and Sebastian stopped typing.
“What are you implying?”
Leaning against Sebastian’s desk, his best friend ran a hand through his dark hair and worked at his tie. “Ordinarily, I classify you as not in the “he’s not a tosser group”, but this… It’s going to hurt the wrong people.”
“The only person it will hurt is Vladimir, and since he’s off in Morocco with his latest mistress, I’ll try not to get all—”
The door to his office swung open, and Ivan, his head of security walked in, grimmer than usual. “It’s been reported that your father’s yacht has exploded.”
Sebastian wasn’t surprised, not with the enemies Vladimir had made over the years. “I’m sure he’ll purchase a new one straightaway.”
Ivan shook his head, and Sebastian suddenly felt queasy.
“Nyet. Mr. Romanov and his friend were on it at the time.”
Sebastian’s vision blurred and there was a foreign pressure on his shoulder, squeezing him tight. He couldn’t breathe. There wasn’t enough air in the room and his tie was strangling him. He shot to his feet, his desk chair toppling to the floor with a loud bang against the marble, and clawed at the collar of his shirt.
“Bastian,” he heard Liam say.
An image of his father lifting him and Christian high in the air came to mind. The day was cold and sunny. Their mother had suggested an outing at the park. Vladimir had smiled at the three of them, his eyes bright blue and kind, as they ate their lunch. Contentment had flowed through his little body as they ran, trying to hoist a kite made of construction paper and straws into the sky.