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Page 9 of Just Desserts (Holland Springs 4)

“Thanks for fixing me breakfast.” She leaned over and kissed him. No matter what, she’d choke down the bacon, and she could swallow the eggs whole, without actually having to taste them.

“I know last night happened a bit fast for us, but it’s not like we don’t know each other.

“Yeah” she said noncommittally. “Very true.”

“The timing’s perfect though, with my lease running out.”

She blinked at him. “Your lease?”

“Yep. So, when do you want me to move in, roomie?” Glen asked as she took her first bite of eggs.

Daisy gave him a faint smile, chewing slowly and carefully. If she thought really hard, she could vaguely remember a conversation about his lease being up and needing a place to stay.

“Take your time. I don’t have to be out of my apartment until tomorrow.”

This time she dropped her fork.

*** *** ***

Flowers. He could send flowers.

Sebastian shook his head. “Too overdone.”

He clicked on the Bulgari website, searching their inventory of bracelets, rings and—ah, ha!—chopsticks. They were made of jade, decorated with platinum filigree and diamond accents. Perfect for her hair. The green would contrast nicely against the bright orange.

“Exclusively made for Bulgari by Sam Max. One pair only. Call for details.” He twisted his lips. “Don’t mind if I do.” Just as he picked up the phone to call, the door to his study opened and his cousin walked in.

“Bad time?” Alexander Romanov asked. As usual, his clothes were the very latest trend. At times Sebastian thought it a little much, but his version of being trendy was wearing a plaid tie instead of a striped one.

Closing his laptop and setting his phone down, Sebastian blew out an annoyed breath. “Yes.”

“Fantastic.” Alexander sat down in the nearest club chair and crossed a leg over his ankle. “We need to talk.”

“What could we possibly have to talk about?”

“No idea,” Alexander said cheerfully. “Rose was the one to tell me to come here in the first place.”

Sebastian leaned back in his office chair, steepling his hands together. “And you did as you were bid.”

Alexander shrugged. “I rather fancy having Rose and our daughter in my life.”

Trust Alexander not to be put out in the least by his insult. Very few things could ruffle the man, and try as he might, Sebastian wasn’t one of them. However, that didn’t mean he wouldn’t stop trying to get under his cousin’s skin. “Obviously you’ve come to thank me.”

“There is that.” A smile played on Alexander’s lips. “Thank you. I’m grateful for the lie you told to get her here.”

“I didn’t tell a lie.”

“You let her to believe you were Christian.”

“I thought it was the only way,” Sebastian said lightly. I’m not a monster. The words echoed in his mind. All lies, he’d told Daisy. Truth be told—he would have kidnapped the woman and her daughter, in order to bring them here. But he’d made a promise to a certain baker, and despite the monster that lived inside of him, his word was everything.

Alexander gave him a skeptical look. “It would have been easier for you to have sent someone to Rose’s place, and encouraged her to come here.”

They both knew what encouraged meant, and it wasn’t the definition one would see in Webster’s Dictionary. “Perhaps I’ve decided to turn over a new leaf.”

“Perhaps the Queen will step aside and let Prince Charles rule.”

Sebastian forced his hands to his lap. No need to let his cousin see him agitated. The man wouldn’t stop if he did. “You’re welcome.”

His cousin rose to his feet, seemed to think the better of it, and sat down again. “Out with it.”

Sebastian pressed the tips of his fingers against mouth. Maybe Alexander could give him a little insider knowledge about Daisy, without Sebastian ever having to admit who he needed insider information about.

“There’s this woman,” Sebastian began.

A smile kicked up the corners of Alexander’s mouth. “Isn’t there always?”

Sebastian flattened his lips. “If you don’t mind…”

Alexander waved a hand. “Go on, go on.”

“This woman…let’s call her Petunia.”

“You can’t be serious. That’s a dreadful name. Might as well name the woman Shrub.”

Suppressing an eye roll, Sebastian continued, “Anyway, Petunia lives in Holland Springs, and I should like to send her something. Flowers are out of the question—”

“Obviously,” Alexander snorted.

“And I’m afraid jewelry might be a little too much, too soon.” He’d buy the chopsticks anyway and save them for later. “Maybe chocolates or the like…wasn’t there some confectionary shop that you couldn’t stop going on about when you were moping over Rose?”

His cousin’s green eyes fixed on him, and Sebastian knew a moment of dread. “The Sweet Spot. Daisy Barnes owns it. Why?”

“Thought it best to shop local, of course.”

“And you thought it best to know about the owner.”

“One can’t do business with just anyone,” Sebastian agreed. This would be easier than he thought.

“Especially when you’re attracted to said owner.”

“Exactly.”

Alexander smirked and raised his brows.

Dammit. “No. I…ah.” Sebastian clamped his mouth shut. No way around it. He’d been caught.

His cousin leaned forward. “Let me help you out, mate. You met the beauteous Daisy, and yes, I noticed—I am a man—and it was like lightning struck the poor sod otherwise known as Sebastian Romanov. The earth moved and yet, your Daisy felt nothing. You responded in the usual way, with arrogant comebacks and demands, completely ruining any chance of ever wooing said lady.”

Sebastian stared at him in horror. “How did you—”

“You’re not the only one with spies,” Alexander said, smirk still firmly in place. “Or the ability to remotely activate mobile phones whenever the mood strikes and listen in. Never know what one might hear. And you’re you, for God’s sake.”

“Fine. I want to know more about Daisy Barnes.”

“Very good, Sebastian,” Alexander crooned, as if he were talking to his daughter and not a grown man of twenty-six. “Now the rest, or I can’t help you.”

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