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Page 32 of Be Mine (Holland Springs 6)

Smiling tightly, she hoisted her purse over her shoulder and wrapped her arms tightly around herself. She had no idea what the name of the hotel they were staying at was called, since Liam had wanted that to be a surprise, too.

This wasn’t like her. She didn’t run away from her problems anymore. She faced them head on and with guidance from those she loved. Only this time, the one she loved was the problem. Well, he wasn’t a problem, but his lack of feelings for her were. He didn’t love her. Right now, he barely liked her. That much she could read on his face.

A little parade of children carrying ribbons and flowers cut in front of her to cross the street, and she stopped to watch them.

She hadn’t meant to say those three words, not right in the middle of sex. But his choice not to acknowledge what she’d said had taken every beautiful, sexy, and loving feeling out of her.

Stupidly, in that moment of them joined together, their hearts beating as one, she had felt overwhelmed with emotion. Foolishly, she had thought there was no way he couldn’t feel the same way.

Stupid and foolish, two very accurate words to describe her. Two very accurate words to describe her choice to lash out at him. She’d thrown everything that he prided himself on back in his face.

Instead of being kind, patient, and understanding, she had rejoiced in pointing out his flaws. She’d reveled in showing him his hypocritical ways. Then again, wasn’t she being the ultimate hypocrite? She knew better than to lash out in anger.

Yet, she’d been selfish, and she had allowed the hurt at his rejection to guide her words. She hadn’t thought of his past, or how betrayed he’d felt when Verity left him.

Because of all that, he wanted her to go, and stay away. So, she would go… somewhere.

It had been pure luck, or divine intervention, that Bella had caught the last train of the afternoon. She really didn’t care where it was going, as long as it would take her away.

However, it was headed for Berwick-upon-Tweed. From there, she would go stay at Giana and Reggie’s cottage. They were currently abroad, visiting Reggie’s family. Giana had practically ordered Bella to stay as long as she liked, something that wasn’t surprising.

Bella had first met Giana, four years earlier, while on a mission trip to El Salvador. The two had become close friends. Though they hadn’t spoken in months due to… life, Bella knew she could count on Giana’s unwavering support.

Her stomach growled, and she placed a hand over it. “Hold on. Food’s coming.”

After eating her fill, she stretched out in the bunk and let her eyes drift close. In what seemed like seconds later, the sound of a whistle blowing jolted her awake. The train was slowing down, and since she knew there were no other stops, they had to be in Berwick.

Several minutes later, she hailed a cab and gave the man the address to the cottage. The landlady met her at the entrance when she arrived, with a key in one hand and a cup of brandy in the other. Bella had taken the key, but politely declined the brandy, saying that she was overtired from traveling.

Now, she sat in Giana and Reggie’s living room, by a crackling fire she’d made on her second attempt. Their house was pretty, homey, and made Bella miss home like nothing else had.

Pulling out her phone, she debated on calling her parents, Daisy, Haven, and even Gabriel.

“I won’t complain,” she said to the empty room, and chucked the phone onto the sofa. “But I will tell Liam where I am.”

Sighing, she retrieved her phone and texted him.

I’m staying with friends in Berwick.

Liam: Will they be driving you to the airport?

No. I’ll take a cab.

Liam: Text me when you arrive in that place.

Okay.

She waited and waited for a last response from Liam, but after an hour, she gave up and went to bed.

Chapter Twenty

The next morning, Bella’s phone rang, and she almost choked on a piece of toast. Taking a gulp of juice to wash it down, she grabbed her phone and answered it without looking at the screen.

“Liam,” she said, breathless.

“Why are you answering your phone on your honeymoon?” Daisy lectured in her teasing way.

“I’m not,” Bella said.

“Yes, you are. We’re talking, right now, silly.”

Bella looked around the breakfast room. “I meant that I’m not on my honeymoon.”

“You’re back at Wintersea?”

“No.”

“Bella.” Daisy sighed.

“I’m in England, near the border. Do you remember meeting Giana? I’m staying at her house.”

“That butthead. I will kick his—”

“You won’t be kicking anything, darling,” Sebastian said.

Daisy hmpfd. “You do it, then.”

“No.”

“Then I’ll get Ivan to do it,” her best friend said sweetly, and Bella was torn between crying and laughing.

“Absolutely not. He’s here to protect you.”

“I’ve always considered Bella to be my twinsie, so if Ivan did kick Liam’s butt, then it would be for me, too. Because, twins.”

“Your logic terrifies me.”

“Only thing in the world that can make the big bad Sebastian Romanov quake in his boots,” Daisy cooed.

“I do not wear boots.”

“Sorry. Quake in his very expensive, custom-made suit.”

“Much better. And I don’t quake.”

“Is that a challenge?” Daisy asked and then lowered her voice, giving it a seductive quality that Bella had never heard before. “I bet I could make you quiver all over.”

Sebastian cleared his throat. “Ah, yes, well…”

Bella exhaled. “I’m still here, guys.”

“Oh!” Daisy let out a giggle. “Sorry. Ugh. I’m a horrible friend.”

“You are not a horrible friend. Sure, I need to pretend that part of our conversation never happened, but I can’t be unhappy for you,” Bella said softly.

“I’ll leave the two of you alone,” Sebastian said.

“He wasn’t on the other line. I had you on speaker,” Daisy said by way of explanation. “I’ll take you off.”

“I left him,” Bella blurted.

“What did he do?”

Bella traced the edge of her plate. “He told me to go.”

“Why?” Daisy asked, clearly bewildered. “You just got married.”

“I don’t want to rehash the conversation, but I will admit to you that I let my pride get in the way. I tested him, to see what he would say, and it totally backfired on me.”

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