What would they think of her agreement? She snorted softly. They’d be all for it.

Her email notification dinged again. This time it was from Jules. Her heart began to beat like crazy in her chest and her palms grew damp. She licked her dry lips and then clicked on the email.


I happened to see some pictures of you and Sebastian Romanov at dinner. The two of you look great together. Happy, even.

It’s led me to believe that what you and I need is a real relationship, with real people. As much as I enjoy talking to you, darling, this isn’t ever going to work. My schedule, etc. makes it impossible for me to come to the States, and let’s face it, you don’t have the finances to come here for an extended amount of time.

“Who are you and what have you done to my Jules?” she whispered brokenly.

So let’s not gently tug at the Band-Aid. Let’s just rip it off, and each go our own way. It’s for the best.

I love you too much for you not to live in the real world.



“No,” she cried at the screen and reached for her phone. She texted Jules. She called Jules. She left message after message, begging and pleading with him to call her back.

“Please, Jules,” she sobbed, as her heart broke into a million pieces. This was worse than her breakup with Glen. This was worse than anything she’d ever felt except for her mother’s death. Or maybe it was worse, because Jules was out there living his life, while she had to stay here. Alone.

“Please, please, please. I need you. Don’t leave me like this. Who else can I talk to? Who else will listen to me? It’s not fair you made this decision without me. DAMMIT JULES, call me back.”

There was only one person who was responsible for this entire mess, and only one person that could fix it—Sebastian Romanov.

Come tomorrow, he’d explain everything to Jules.

Or else.


“I swear to God, Sebastian, if you pull out a handkerchief to wipe off anything, I’ll beat your arse,” Christian threatened as they walked inside the local pub.

Dropping the silk material while easing his hand out of his pocket, Sebastian smirked. “I was merely ascertaining where to best keep my wallet so it doesn’t get nicked.”

Christian rolled his eyes. “Could you stop with the Masterpiece Theater talk? You’re twenty-seven.”

“What does my age have to do with the perpetual lowering of the standards of elocution?” There was nothing in the world he liked doing more than goad his twin, especially when he was in a foul mood. Breaking up with Daisy had put him in said foul mood.


Nodding, Sebastian put his hands behind his back and tried to look as though he was having fun. But he wasn’t and they’d just arrived. He was miserable as hell over the email he’d sent, and the first of her texts and voice mails had only begun to show up.

“Oh my giddy aunt,” Christian groaned. “Stay here and I’ll get us a couple of pints.” He headed to the bar.

Sebastian shifted to his right, stepping in something sticky and most likely vile. He grimaced and took in the place. Country music blared on an old jukebox. A band set up their instruments on the stage. Bras and jock straps hung from the ceiling.

His foot tapped to the beat of the music. The band was quite good and the pub was crowded. It seemed as though the entire population of Holland Spring’s over-eighteen crowd was in attendance. Except her. He couldn’t stop thinking about Daisy.

“Here, and remember what I said about the hanky.” Christian thrust a bottle at him, the cap off.

“This where you get up to regularly?” Sebastian surreptitiously wiped the top off on his coat and followed his brother to an empty table. No one seemed to care that a world-famous actor was among them. Perhaps that’s why Christian loved living in Holland Springs so much, aside from his wife.

Setting his beer down, Christian studied him. “I’m surprised you didn’t have something sarcastic to say along the lines of Zoe allowing me out of the house.”

Sebastian gave his brother a look. “Hardly.”

“Good to hear—”

“Romanov men aren’t allowed to do anything. We just do,” Sebastian said in all seriousness. And the thing he would do tomorrow—make Daisy his fiancée so that they could get to know one another in the real world by putting that damned ring on her finger.

“Just when I thought there was hope.” Christian grabbed his beer and raised it. “Cheers.”

Sebastian copied him, and then asked, “Is this the only pub around?”

With a heavy sigh, Christian set the bottle down and nodded at someone behind Sebastian. “Yes, and I’m sorry it doesn’t meet your high standards.”

His brother knew nothing of his standards. Sure, this place wouldn’t be his first choice, but Sebastian’s favorite pub wasn’t exactly a five-star dining establishment.

For the next ten minutes, neither did anything other than drink and look around the bar.

This wasn’t awkward at all, Sebastian thought grimly. He held up his bottle of beer. “What is this?” It was surprisingly good. Actually, it was better than good. He’d like to take home a keg of it.

“Homebrew. Company’s called Two Bugs Brewing.” His brother grinned. “The blokes that make it want to start up a micro-brewery, and I’m thinking of investing. They’ve already a massive following.”

Finally, a topic that interested him and one he could contribute to, even help out his brother. “You’ll need a copy of their profit margin, marketing campaign, distribution—”

“Thank you.”

Sebastian took another drink and set the bottle down. Undeterred by his brother’s thank you, he started again, “A background check is needed as well as a look into their finances. One can’t be too careful these days.”

“Is there ever a time you can talk about anything other than business?” His brother shook his head. “Your conversations with Daisy must be scintillating, poor girl. ‘What’s the profit margin of your catering business? Have you considered this brand of flour instead of brand x? There’s a two percent savings with that one.’”

No, his conversations with Daisy were anything but business. “Why did you bring me here, Christian?”

“To help you out with your little problem, of course.” His brother’s eyebrows rose. “Should there be another reason?”

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