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Page 15 of Just Desserts (Holland Springs 4)

Jules: I’d love to, but I’m still not fit for company. In fact, I won’t be around for a month or two, if not longer.

Daisy: What are you up to, Jules? I’m worried for you.

Jules: Very bad things. Don’t worry. It’s hard to kill a monster.

Daisy: You’re not a monster. Stop beating yourself up.

Jules: I think it’s best if we don’t talk for a while.

Daisy: Although that’s not what I want, I’ll respect your wishes. Please find someone to talk to. I think you’re having a harder time with your dad’s death than you think.

Jules: Good-bye, Daisy.

Sebastian strolled down a dark street in West End, without his bodyguards in tow. Not the smartest idea he’d ever had.

Lately, however, whatever had seemed smart was immediately discarded in favor of really bad ideas. Or in this case, really bad parts of the city. On a foggy (what else?) night.

Honestly, he didn’t care. He’d been living life like his twin used to live: carelessly and selfishly. His affairs were public, his partying endless, and his behavior extremely rude.

So much so, that his closest friends had stopped going out with him. Hell, all but Liam had stopped answering his calls. Even Kate avoided him, and she’d known him for as long as Liam had. Though he was sure their very public breakup had something to do with it.

Not that he cared anymore. He didn’t care about anyone or anything. Well, that wasn’t entirely true.

Try as he might, he could not put one woman out of his mind. Daisy filled his waking hours, sober or not. She filled his dreams. Her name was constantly on his lips, no matter whose lips were on him.

This, of course, made him the worst sort of ass. It made him a user. It made him his father.

Pausing in front of a darkened shop, he exhaled and wondered for the first time if what he was doing made any sense. How was being this way getting back at Vladimir if he was becoming exactly like him? Or at the very least, a pale imitation of the man.

There were some things Vladimir had done that Sebastian would never lower himself to do. Some things he would never use his power, position, or strength to do to another human being.

All at once, he heard a smack and then a woman screamed. His first instinct was to call 999 for help, and stay firmly put in order help the police. His second instinct was to take matters into his own hands.

Another scream and he took off, running as fast as he could. He just could make out the blurred shapes of two people, one noticeably bigger than the other. The fog cleared and Sebastian was practically on top of them.

The woman shoved at the man. “Get off.”

“Change your mind yet?” The man raised his arm, one hand a beefy fist ready to strike.

Without thinking, Sebastian stepped forward, grabbed the man’s wrist, and spun him around. He jerked the man’s arm up and pressed it against his back. “Better keep your hands to yourself.”

“This doesn’t concern you.”

Sebastian shook his head. “Ah, but it does. It concerns every man when a woman’s being abused.”

“She hit me first,” the man whined. “And she owes me money.”

Cold fury rose inside of Sebastian. Vladimir used to make the same excuse whenever he would lay a hand on Sebastian and Christian’s mother. She made me do it. She hit me first. Always, his father blamed the victim. They had it coming.

“That’s a lie,” the woman spat. She turned pleading eyes on Sebastian. “He sold me to one of his mates. I can’t go through that again, but I’ve a little one at home, and she needs to eat.”

“You were willing enough, until this guy showed up,” the man said.

Sebastian tightened his grip and turned the man’s hand at a rather painful angle—something Sebastian knew from firsthand experience. The man let out a scream when the wrist bone on the right cracked. “Okay, okay. I’ll stay away from her. Just let me go.”

“You’re lying,” Sebastian said coldly and then turned to the woman standing beside him. Her face was battered and bruised, her clothes torn on her skinny body, and her hair stringy, but she didn’t have the look of a junkie, not that it mattered to him. He would help her and her child (if she really had one), regardless.

The man struggled against him, landing a blow to the side of Sebastian head. His ear rung and his vision blurred, but he’d had suffered worse. Far worse. These were like love taps compared to what his father and his father’s former bodyguards had done to him.

Sebastian smiled. “Hit me again.” Or else wasn’t said or unsaid. The statement was there.

“What?”

“Hit me again,” he repeated.

The man’s eyes widened. “You’re insane. Who the hell smiles after getting punched in the head?”

“I do.” Sebastian turned his attention to the woman, still standing there. Trembling in fear and cold. “What’s your name, love?” he asked softly. He didn’t want to scare her.

“Molly B—”

“Don’t need a surname.” Sebastian smiled gently. “Now, would you’d be so kind as to grab my mobile from my left coat pocket, go to my contacts, and call Ivan?”

Molly hesitated. “You’d trust me to not run off with it?”

No, he didn’t. “Let me help you, Molly. Call Ivan and he’ll come round with a car. We’ll go pick up your little one and take you both to a very safe place where no one can hurt you.”

Molly stretched out her hand. It shook. “How do I know you won’t hurt me more than Frank has?”

“You don’t.” He looked at Frank, who stared back at him like he was the very Devil. “Whatever you decide, I’ll take care of this one. Won’t I, big boy?” Then he applied more pressure and finished breaking the rest of Frank’s wrist bones.

Two days later, Sebastian stood outside the back entrance of the safe house, with the director. She was a no-nonsense woman who he had complete confidence in and used the money he sent every month wisely. The former mansion could house up to thirty women and children. It wasn’t the only one he supported. There were twenty more like it throughout Scotland, Ireland, and England.

Helping these women and their children wasn’t something he bragged about, and not because he was a humble man either. He wasn’t. It was shameful that these houses had to exist in the first place, but they were needed. And so, he had provided them.

“Molly’s fitting in very nicely here, Mr. Romanov. Her little one’s already playing with the others.”

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