Her phone vibrated and she grabbed it, thankful for the interruption.
“Text from the earl,” Daisy said.
Sorry, I’m running late –S
Oh, I hadn’t noticed. ~D
Good. He didn’t need to know that she’d checked the entrance to the restaurant at least a thousand times since she’d arrived, or that her heart had sped up each time she thought he was the one opening the door.
Isabella tilted her head, her nose scrunching up on one side. “I go out of town for two days and suddenly you’re in love?”
“Y-yes.” The blush that heated her cheeks most likely gave credence to her words. Daisy grabbed the nearest roll from the breadbasket, turning in over and over in her hands. “I, we…he—”
“That’s the best news ever,” Isabella squealed, making Daisy drop the poor roll she’d been tearing apart.
“It is?” Daisy asked, nonplussed by her friend’s reaction. She’d thought Isabella would call her out on it.
“Gosh, yes.” Her best friend took a quick sip of water. “The only man you talk to is virtual, and who knows if he’s anything like you say he is.”
“I haven’t talked to Jules since yesterday. He’s acting a little strange.”
“Girl, who cares? You have a real live man that wants to be with you.”
“Well, I care, for one. I don’t—”
Isabella waved a hand in the air, effectively cutting Daisy off. “I’m going to be honest with you, okay? The whole Jules thing is a little sketchy. I mean, I’m sure he’s a really nice person and all, but you’ve never seen him, never talked to him in person… What if he’s really some teenager or a fifty-year-old perv who got a hold of a woman while she was vulnerable?”
All of that and more had occurred to Daisy, but Jules was Jules. He didn’t talk like a teenager and she hoped like hell he wasn’t a fifty-year-old perv. But wouldn’t a perv ask her about what she was wearing? He never did that. “I’m not stupid, Bella.”
“No, but you’re like me, inclined to believe the good about people. Then when Glen broke up with you, you were vulnerable. Who says he didn’t take advantage of that?”
Daisy shook her head. “You know, it would have been really nice for you to have told me all of that nine months ago.”
Isabella grabbed her hand. “I’m sorry, honey, and you’re probably right, but I thought Jules was what you needed at the time. And now…”
“Now I don’t need him because there’s a real live man who’s interested in me,” Daisy mumbled.
“Exactly.” Isabelle beamed, giving Daisy’s hand a little squeeze before she let go. “I’m freaking thrilled for you.”
“As am I,” Sebastian said as he slipped in the booth to sit beside Daisy. He caught her hand and turned it to kiss her palm. “Missed you, darling.”
Of course he took the opportunity to kiss her. She hadn’t told him no and, per their deal, she wasn’t supposed to tell him no, because they had to look like a couple in love. Gah! But he hadn’t said that she could do her darndest to trip him up.
Too bad Haven was out of town this week, having gone to a wedding in Alaska, of all places. The town she would be staying in still had dial-up internet and no cell phone towers, only satellite connection or something like that
“What did you miss about me the most, sweetheart?” She batted her lashes at him and raised her wine glass to her lips, taking a sip.
“Listening to you hum whilst you bake.”
Daisy almost spit the wine all over his fancy suit. Instead, she forced the liquid down and smiled. How in the heck did he know that about her?
Isabella’s eyes widened and she smacked the table. “Isn’t it crazy how she always does that? And if it’s something she really likes she breaks into—”
“Song,” he finished.
God, she was really going to have a talk with her cousin.
Shaking her head, Isabella laughed. “But the words are so, so wrong.”
“At least she’s in tune.”
“Lucky you,” Isabella said with a wry smile, and then she turned to Daisy. “Have you shown him your Harry Potter collection?”
Daisy shot Isabella a look. Was nothing sacred? “Not yet.” Slicing Sebastian a glance, she tipped up her chin, daring him to make fun of her.
He rubbed his chin. “So that was Hedwig on your desk.”
Daisy blinked. He knew who Hedwig was? “Um, yes.”
“You’re totally outed, sweetie.” Isabella laughed. “One time she made me drive two hours just to get a limited edition—who was it again—Hagar?”
“Hagrid.” Not that her best friend actually listened. Oh no.
“Assertive and persuasive, eh?” Sebastian chuckled. “Tell me more about this trip.”
Frowning at the two of them as they shared stories about her, Daisy pulled her hand from his grasp. Great.
Sebastian’s smile turned from nice to positively sinful. Of course, Isabella noticed. Her cheeks got all red and she did that little hair flippy thing that men liked.
Jealousy, that evil bitch, tried to nudge Daisy into throwing the bread basket at her best friend. Wait, she didn’t give a rat’s tail about Sebastian’s flirting. He could flirt with everyone that caught his eyes and it didn’t matter to her. What mattered was finding out why Jules had blown her off.
Giving herself a mental shake, she took several breaths, and then dug into her pasta. Let Sebastian convince Isabella he was in love, without her help, because it didn’t seem like he needed it. She’d just sit here and watch the—
Sebastian turned to her, his eyes blue as the summer sky instead of their usual frosty lake. So blue, they were, and growing darker by the second. His gaze dipped lower, to her br**sts. Her ni**les responded, tightening to hard points.
“Isn’t that right, love?”
At that moment, she’d agree to anything he said. “Uh-huh.”
He turned away, breaking the spell she’d been under. Oh God, she’d just said he was right. She was so going to have a talk with her libido.
“If you’ll excuse me, I have an important call to make.” He kissed her cheek and, despite everything, her body got all happy and tingly from it. “Although I don’t know how I’ll survive without you near me.” Sliding his gaze to Isabella, he grinned. “I’ve become quite used to having her at my side.”