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“How in the hell did that happen?” The worst possible situations flashed through Sebastian’s mind. She’d left him, without a note of goodbye. Someone had kidnapped her and he’d soon get a note asking for money. A member of his family had kidnapped her and he’d soon receive a package with her finger or hand in it, if he didn’t come back into the family fold.

Grabbing his phone and shoving it into his pocket, he strode to a large picture on the far wall and swung it open. The safe had been installed the day after he closed on it. He punched in the code, opened it, and reached inside to pull out a Glock similar to the one Ivan carried.

He examined it. All three safety features remained activated, until he pulled the trigger. Smiling grimly, he shoved it in the waistband of his jeans and pulled his t-shirt over it.

Starting for the door, he pivoted and headed to the bathroom. Without hesitation, he barged inside, read the instructions she’d left on the counter, and then studied the sticks.

His heart careened wildly for a moment, relief palpable at finally having an answer.

“Mr. Romanov?” Ivan called from the back.

Sebastian left the bathroom, determined strides matching his mood. “Let’s go.”

They exited the house through the French doors. The wet grass was slick beneath his boots as the sun sank below the horizon. Fog had begun to roll in—naturally. “Tell Boris to bring flashlights.”

Ivan followed. “I’ve secured the perimeter around Hawkfell Hall. No Romanovs, besides your brother and mother, have been spotted in the area.”

Of course his mother had been there. She’d probably been doing her weekly dancing on Vladimir’s grave routine.

He and Ivan walked the property for an hour, finding no sign of her. No amount of texts or voice mails made her return his calls. He could only hope she was still too mad and hurt to answer him.

“Security cameras show her dashing off in the direction of the lake,” Ivan said as he hung up his phone.

“Shit.” Pulling out his phone, he texted Daisy one last time. Where are you?

She didn’t answer him and his body became cold. Numb. He’d never forgive himself if something had happened to her, whether by accident or on purpose.

He ran for the lake.

Fifteen minutes later, he stood at the edge of the water and shielded his eyes with his hand.

He found Daisy, sitting at the boat launch with her feet in the water.

Relief shot through him so quickly that his knees went weak. She was safe. She’d been safe the entire time. Relief gave way to righteous anger.

He handed Ivan his gun. “Give us some privacy.”

Chapter Twenty-Two

Small fish nibbled at her feet, tickling her, but Daisy didn’t have the strength to smile or laugh.

When she’d first found this spot a couple of hours ago, she’d still been mad. Still had been hurt and unwilling to think Sebastian was anything but heartless. Was anything but a man worth knowing.

But the longer she sat, the more she began to think that she could have been wrong to have let her temper fly so hot. She could have been a little hasty in writing him off. After all, he was still Jules. He was still the man who’d been there for her through the never-ending bills, through her breakup with Glen, through selling her house…everything.

He was also the man who’d used his knowledge of her to do nothing but good things. Thoughtful things, like showing up when she needed someone. Buying her cupcakes for outrageous sums of money. Telling off Glen and Nina. Remembering everything she liked and didn’t, had offered to pay for her bills by purchasing a billion cupcakes…and a whole host of things that people who cared about each other did.

But he’d lied to her.

Only—what made her so pure and good?

She’d been willing to lie for him for money. He lied to her for no other reason than to get to know her, to let her get to know him. The side, he’d confessed, that he was terrified to share with anyone else.

“Why in the hell haven’t you answered my calls?”

Turning, she was stunned to see Sebastian standing beside her, his face harsh and his blue eyes like hot flames.

Her heart stuttered.

Despite everything he still made her heart beat fast, he still made her sigh, and…he was still her Jules. He was still her Sebastian, and had become everything to her.

“Did you actually fly to my house the night Glen broke up with me?”

“Yes.”

So her mind hadn’t been playing tricks on her. “And when you sent me the celebrity look-alike picture?”

“It was actually me at a bachelor party for Prince Damien. Christian has the exact same suit.”

All along, he’d been giving her clues but she hadn’t bothered to investigate them, mostly because it seemed outrageous. Heck, becoming his fiancée was outrageous, yet she had done it anyway.

“Does your time still belong to me, Jules?” she asked softly, not moving. Sebastian looked dark, dangerous, like he’d pounce on her at any moment if she breathed too deeply.

His face softened, just a little, and then he held out his hand. “Come with me, love.”

Time seemed to stand still.

Slowly, she got to her feet and put her hand in his. He jerked her to him, his fingers going to her hair and taking out the chopsticks. They fell on the cement dock with a small thud.

“I’ll buy you more.” He started in the direction of The Hall, his long legs eating up the distance. She had to jog to keep up with him.

“Well, I did want the private tour,” she said as they entered the family entrance.

Sebastian came to a sudden halt, backing her into a nearby corner. “Don’t. I’m barely holding on by a thread. The things I want to do to you right now aren’t civilized.”

Desire arched between them. She ran a finger down the front of his shirt, and then slipped her hand underneath. His stomach contracted and he drew in a sharp breath.

“What name should I scream when you’re inside of me—Jules or Bastian?”

He was on her in an instant, fingers digging into her shoulders. “Don’t care as long as you know it’s me. As long as you know I’m the one making you scream in the first place.” Then his mouth came down on hers, his tongue breaching her lips easily.

“Which you—Jules or Bastian?” she asked as his teeth caught the lobe of her ear. She gasped in pleasure. His hand found its way under her skirt and ripped off her panties.

“Spread your legs.”

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