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Page 44 of Just Desserts (Holland Springs 4)

Oh no.

Daisy had texted him at every opportunity, usually with a picture attached. His favorite was of The Tower, her standing beside it and holding a sign that read, Vacancy. Earls Only.

God love her.

A grin kicked up the corners of his mouth as he made his way down the hall to his room. Perhaps he could find a way to have breakfast with her in the morning.

The soft glow of light from one of his guestroom caught his attention and he strode to the door. Knocking softly, it swung open.

“Daisy?” he called out, then stepped inside and found her asleep in bed, arms and legs sprawled. Black lashes fanned her cheeks and all her gorgeous hair confined in a fat braid, bright colors weaving in and out.

An odd pang hit him. He’d missed her, he realized. He’d truly missed spending the day with her. Tomorrow evening he would make it up to her, and then spend the rest of her stay making it up to her.

Only he had to get through these negotiations first. He rubbed the back of his neck. There was always something interfering with his best-laid plans. He flicked his gaze to her sleeping form, highlighted by moonlight. Or by someone.

Leaning down, he pulled the covers up to her shoulders, turned off the bedside lamp, and tucked an errant curl behind her ear. “Good night,” he whispered.

Daisy made a small noise, her eyes blinking sleepily. “Sebastian?”

Now was his chance. He could apologize properly. “I’m sorry for being such an arse to you. You didn’t deserve it and I hope you’ll find a way to forgive me,” he murmured.

“Hmpf. You only want my cupcakes. Off with your head,” she said with a frown on her full lips.

He bit the inside of his cheek to stop himself from laughing. “I’ll try again later, my queen of hearts.”

She turned over with a huff, presenting him with the back of her head. Though he wanted to kiss her, he refrained. Instead he stood and shoved his hands in his pockets. With a great sigh, he left her room.

***

“You’re who again?” Daisy asked, unable not to stare at the woman she’d been summoned to meet in the first floor reception room.

Sweeping off her hat, the tall woman with hair the color of coffee beans smiled. “I’m Kate von Lichtenstein, a close friend of the Romanovs, and I’ve come to take you shopping.”

Dear God, she’d been right. Every woman in England had been named Kate.

“Sebastian sent you to help me pick out a new wardrobe?” Daisy asked. Was she supposed to start dressing like this chick? Not that she would mind, really. Kate’s dress was gorgeous and…Daisy peered more closely at her. Kate looked really familiar.

Unfortunately, Daisy’s mind blanked when she tried to place her face. Mostly because she’d just woken up thirty minutes ago, after a restless night of sleep, and hadn’t eaten breakfast yet. She hadn’t seen Sebastian this morning either. Guess he wasn’t ready to apologize to her again when she wasn’t half-asleep, or explain himself.

Earlier, Ivan had informed her that Mr. Romanov had come home at midnight, then left again at five. His normal hours. There was nothing normal about working a body to death. And for the first time since they’d arrived, a big part of her had felt sorry for him. Romanov Industries was all he had left of his family.

“Not precisely.” Kate’s gaze skittered and her smile fell away.

Now this was interesting. “Would Sebastian be happy if I went with you?”

Kate’s shoulders dropped a little. “Not precisely.”

Even more interesting. Maybe Kate could give her some tips about what to wear to dinner tonight. And right now, the last thing she wanted to do was to make Sebastian happy. Although she wasn’t setting out to make him unhappy. Heck, she wasn’t even that mad at him anymore. He’d apologized and this was his life. She was only his fake fiancée.

“Perhaps this wasn’t such a great idea, after all,” Kate said.

Grabbing Kate’s hand, she gave it a little squeeze. “We’re totally going shopping. Right after I eat breakfast.”

Daisy and Kate made their way down High Street, window shopping, until Kate found the perfect shop and pulled Daisy inside.

“Champagne, please,” Kate called out to the sales clerk, and then she turned to Daisy “Let me see your ring.”

“It’s a pink and chocolate diamond,” Daisy said, not really knowing how much she should share about her engagement, as she held it out for Kate’s inspection. “Sebastian said he thought I’d like it, because the diamonds around the middle looked like bits of frosting.”

Kate’s assessing gaze found hers. “Did he now?”

“Yes.”

“Lovely.”

Daisy let her hand fall. She adjusted one of her chopsticks and looked around the shop. She blinked, twice. “Kate,” she loudly whispered. “Where are the price tags?”

“The future Countess of Spenserfield has no need to concern herself with price tags,” Kate informed her. She passed her a glass of champagne and held up her glass. “Cheers.”

Belatedly remembering the black American Express card Sebastian had left for her, Daisy smashed her lips together. Yep, she was fitting right in.

Awesome.

Lifting her glass to Kate, she copied her, and then drank the entire thing.

“Would you like another?” Kate asked, jade-colored eyes wide.

Daisy hiccupped. “No.”

“Why do you call him Sebastian instead of his nickname?”

“You get right to the point, don’t you?” Daisy smiled. “Sebastian must love having you for a friend.”

Kate seemed to flinch when Daisy had said love, but she wasn’t really sure. “Bastian loves many things, but none of them include me.” She grabbed a dress off the rack and held it up to Daisy. “This would be perfect for your first dinner out together.”

“You think I should wear this tonight?” Daisy wasn’t sure. The dress was a little old fashioned, the pattern heavy and not at all her style. The most it had going for it was that it looked elegant, but she didn’t want to embarrass Sebastian or herself.

“Bastian would love it on you.”

“Are you sure? I don’t want to wear the wrong thing, but this dress is—”

Kate made a noise of dismissal. “Trust me.” Smiling, she took a sip of champagne. “Now, tell me all about how the two of you met.”

Daisy panicked. She and Sebastian hadn’t really been over this. Why hadn’t they been over this? “We met Christmas before last, when he came to town to see Rose Holland.”

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