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Page 21 of Just Desserts (Holland Springs 4)

An annoyed-as-hell simmer replaced the hot flash. What was wrong with him and what was wrong with her? The last time they’d been in the same room, things had been easy. They’d been sweet and vulnerable. Now all she wanted to do was kick him.

“You can hang it there.” She pointed at the coat rack hanging on the wall behind him. “Sorry, it’s the servants’ day off, Your Majesty.”

“Yanks and their obsession with royalty,” he complained as he hung up his coat and strode back to her. “Fifteen minutes ago, the bride’s mother curtsied and addressed me as ‘Your Grace’.”

“Is that supposed to impress me, Your Lordship?” she snapped. Horrified at her tone, she turned around and faced the window. Normally, she wasn’t this snappy, mean, or downright ugly. Sure, she liked to tease and had teased him before, but now she sounded like a harpy and he sounded like a jerk.

His footsteps echoed lightly as he walked around her apartment. “Most people would be entirely impressed,” he said, his voice in her ear and she shivered. “But not you. And that impresses me.”

Daisy didn’t want to impress him. She wanted the other Sebastian back, the one she’d met at Christmas. Lifting her chin, she whirled around.

Eyes the color of a winter sky threaded with drops of blue greeted her. His face was handsome as ever. Hollywood to die for handsome with sexy, full lips that made a woman sigh. Those perfectly sexy lips had made her sigh the first time he had come into her place and eaten cupcakes. Well, actually it had been the kiss he’d given her that had made her sigh.

Heat crept up her neck and she forced her thoughts back to business. “Are you ready to sample the menu?” she asked.

“In a moment.” Stepping back, he glanced around her office/bakery/apartment. “Do you live here?”

“Yes.” The studio apartment had been a godsend when she had to sell the house she’d grown up in last year. The kitchen could be bigger, but it suited her needs for the time being. “Until the renovations downstairs are finished, I conduct business and cook in my apartment.”

He glanced up at the ceiling. “Nice lighting.” Four skylights broke up the monotony of the very white drywall. “Very nice lighting.” He nodded at the queen-sized bed along the far wall. “Shall I sit there and let you serve me?”

An image formed in her mind. One of her walking across the hardwood floors with a tray of desserts. Only when she reached him and offered her goodies, he threw the tray across the room and tackled her to the bed.

Oh my mercy. She had to stop. “So….” She scooted around him and moved to the island in her kitchen. “What do you want to sample first?”

He didn’t answer her. Instead he circled her desk, reminding her of a Great White she’d seen on Shark Week. “Is this the final bill?”

Her mouth fell open as he picked up the letters from the insurance company and her lawyer. “That’s none of your business.”

“Give me a minute.” He read over the documents and then set them down. “Your lawyer’s wrong.”

“And you got your law degree where?”

“Don’t have to be a solicitor to know this won’t be in your favor, love,” he said casually, as if he called women love all the time. As he’d called her in the past. “The business will have to be sold. Insurance companies don’t work for free.”

Bristling at his know-it-all attitude, she picked up a sponge and began cleaning the already spotless countertop of the island. “I didn’t say they did.”

Joining her, he selected a shrimp and avocado roll and ate it. “From which culinary school did you learn your craft?”

“I don’t need a fancy diploma to know what tastes good.” Shaking her head, she took a deep breath and tossed the sponge back into the sink.

She’d walked right into that one. Before her mother had succumbed to stomach cancer, Daisy had dreamed of going to culinary school. But money had been tight and being an only child, she couldn’t just leave her mother, not even with all the help and support she’d received from her dad’s side of the family.

“Of course you don’t.”

Instead of responding, she popped an avocado roll in her mouth and chewed until even the rice was pulverized. He snagged another piece of sushi, and then another, finishing off her lunch.

Now what was she supposed to eat? Now what was she supposed to say? Everything both of them said came out wrong. Well, at least for her it came out wrong. Who knew what he thought.

Crossing her arms, she frowned while he just looked at her.

And looked.

Sebastian was gobsmacked.

There was no other explanation for why he’d stood for so long in the entrance of Daisy’s apartment, simply drinking her in and saying nothing at all.

It was why he still stared at her.

“Are you okay?” she asked, petal-pink lips moving in the most fascinating of ways.

Do you have any inkling at all who you are to me? Do you know I’m dying inside to touch you, to kiss you, and to assure you I’ll do everything in my power to make sure you never have to sell anything ever again just to get by? He wanted to say all of that, and much more, but he couldn’t, else he’d forfeit his right to ever talk to her again, even as Jules.

His gaze settled on her hair and he blinked. “What happened to the bright orange?” And why hadn’t she told Jules? Perhaps it was because he was a man, he reminded himself.

“Got tired of it,” she said with a smile, and then her smile turned into a grin. “You didn’t recognize me, huh? That’s why you stood there with your mouth hanging open.”

Damn, he’d become rather fond of the orange. He’d dreamed of her with orange hair. Of it sliding over his skin as she kissed him. “You fancy this color better?”

Tentatively, she brushed a strand of hair behind a delicate ear. It reminded him of a seashell, perfectly formed. Although, he had never wanted to nibble on seashells. “This is my real color, well mostly.”

“Mostly?”

“At the bottom, it’s all different colors,” she said, her hazel eyes never leaving his. There was a connection between them, she had to feel it. He felt it; it had never left. “Pink, purple, green, and blue, but I’m a brunette.”

And how gorgeous you are, no matter the color.

“Darling,” he began without thinking.

“My name is Daisy,” she said, firmly. “Use it.”

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