“Let’s go to your place and talk,” Sebastian said softly.
“No,” she said with a shake of her head. “I promised I’d be here to help raise money for the bookmobiles.”
“Look at me before everyone gets the wrong impression.” Slowly, she met his furious gaze and swallowed. He smiled, a baring of teeth that made her stomach drop. She’d really made him mad, and it was all her fault. “Are you allowed to sit?
“Yes,” she breathed.
He walked away, tugging her along. She almost ran to keep up with his long strides, sitting beside him in the second row. He let go of her fingers, only to place a possessive hand on her thigh.
Sebastian kept a neutral, if not bored, expression on his face, but inside he seethed. Promises. She had a bloody promise to keep to the damn library? What about to him? He’d taken up her challenge and convinced her best friend that he was a man in love, that he thought her to be adorable and fun to be around.
Things he thought constantly about her. Until now.
“Sebastian, let go of my leg,” Daisy said in his ear, lips brushing against the lobe and sending waves of torturous pleasure down his neck. “I need to give a speech.”
He allowed his hand to fall away, but he could still feel the firm shape of her thigh under his palm. Daisy scooted by, the scent of honey and vanilla hitting him.
How pretty she looked, all soft and feminine, in her usual cardigan and swingy skirt. She wore her long hair in a loose bun, but the chopsticks holding it in place were a vibrant blue instead of this morning’s black.
She walked to the front of the room and began to speak, telling the audience why she valued the bookmobiles’ services so much. She spoke of her mother’s battle with cancer and how books had helped them both get through the not-so-good days. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room (except for his) by the time she finished.
His anger flowed out of him, like a ship sailing on the tide. Of course, this actually meant something to her. It served a greater purpose than his position on the board or even her insurance bills. She was truly one of those people that cared about others and tried to make the smallest of differences.
With a smile, she gestured to her table. “So tonight, I hope you’ll be generous when you bid on a year’s supply of cupcakes, personally baked and delivered by me once a month.”
“Two million,” he called out.
“I’m sorry, but you’ll have to—”
“Like you got three million dollars sitting in the bank, Noah,” someone called out and the crowd laughed.
Craning his neck, Sebastian found the arse who dared to bid against him. Some dark-haired bloke wearing a navy shirt who’d crossed his arms over his chest and smirked.
In that moment, Sebastian didn’t care if the man had any money or not. “Four,” he said as faced the front once more. He wasn’t about to let some other man eat her cupcakes.
“All yours, Romanov,” the man said with a low laugh. “Must be some damn good cupcakes.”
A murmur rippled through the crowd.
Daisy’s hazel eyes narrowed, her hands fisting on her hips. “It’s supposed to be silent, you two.”
“Quite so, darling.” Pulling out his phone, Sebastian texted Daisy his offer and winked when he was done.
She glanced down, and then held her phone out for the other woman to read. The tall redhead didn’t waste any time as she yelled, “Sold.”
The town’s online reporter took Sebastian’s picture, and then gave him a thumbs-up. Brilliant. The Board would be pleased once they got wind of it, and he knew without a doubt they were keeping tabs on him.
“Let’s have a round of applause for the Earl of Spenserfield’s generous donation.”
“What can I say, except, I adore her cupcakes.” Rising to his feet, he collected a stunned Daisy and headed out the door. “Darling, a word.”
“I can’t leave. I have things to do. Hors d'oeuvres to replenish.” Once outside and away from nosy stares, she tried to pull out of his embrace, but he wouldn’t let her. “My purse and coat—”
He kissed her protesting mouth, his hands cupping her shoulders.
She melted against him, her arms winding around his neck as she pressed closer. The feel of her curvaceous body against his threatened to break through his armor of self-control. Every intention of not initiating their next kiss completely flew out the window. Hell, those intentions flew so hard and swift that they shattered the glass.
“Say no. Tell me to stop, and I will.” He dug his fingers into her skin and she whimpered, then slipped her tongue inside of his mouth. Their tongue slid against each other, hot and wet.
“I can’t say no,” she whispered against his lips. “I can’t tell you to stop.”
Some cruel part of him had to ask, “What about Jules?”
Leaning back in his arms, she shivered, hazel eyes glazed with passion. For him. “What did you say?”
“Jules, the man you sworn to be saving your kisses for,” he said, cursing himself for even bringing Jules up. But here he was again—jealous.
“Screw you, Sebastian Romanov,” she spat, her eyes blazing as she shoved him away from her.
The cold March wind brushed the exposed skin of his neck, but he was too damn heated from their kiss. She shivered again, and he felt like an ass for not doing something about it the first time. Hell, he was an ass for everything he’d just said to her.
“I’m sorry.” Taking off his coat, he draped it around her. “If you will excuse me, I’ll be on my way back to England.” He turned to walk away.
“Wait,” she cried out and he stopped. “Why did you pay so much for my cupcakes?”
Examining his motives or even explaining them to anyone was unthinkable, but this was Daisy. She deserved the truth, or at least as much as he could give her, and now that he’d messed everything up, he’d go back to being Jules Westmoreland, apologize for being an ass, and love her from afar while making excuse after excuse about why he couldn’t ever meet her in person.
“I bid on the blasted cupcakes, because this event was important to you.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “Because you were crying and talking about your mum.”
Her pretty eyes searched his face. “Really?”
“I’ll do it.”