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Sugar Plum Isabella Starling, Jenika Snow 2022/8/5 16:59:15

I might be her father’s best friend. I might even be much older than she was. But I didn’t care.

I loved her and she loved me, and that’s all that mattered.

Damn the consequences.

“Good morning, sugar plum.”

My eyes fluttered open. I didn’t recognize the room I was in, and I sat up, rubbing the sleep from my eyes as my gaze zeroed in on my surroundings.

I was in a bedroom. Bastian was sitting next to me, wearing a blue robe. I was wearing his shirt.

The events of the previous night hit me hard, making my stomach twist.

I’d done it. I’d slept with him.

Guilt threatened to swallow me up as my eyes found Bastian’s. He looked so happy. So content with everything that happened. I allowed myself to smile shakily, and he leaned over, pressing a kiss against my cheek as he pointed to the spot on the bed between us. “I thought you might be hungry, so I whipped up some breakfast.”

My eyes followed his to the tray he’d set up with sunny-side-up eggs, buttered toast, and freshly squeezed orange juice—with pulp, just the way I liked it. “This is so thoughtful, Bastian.”

“You deserve it all.” His fingers wrapped around my arm and he gently pulled me in, whispering the next words against my lips that were still plump and sore from his fervent kisses.

Heart pounding with the knowledge of what we’d done, I reached out for the glass with shaky fingers and took a long gulp of the cold liquid. I was going to have to say something. There was no way Bastian wouldn’t notice what was going through my mind.

His brows knitted together with worry as if on cue, and he asked, “Everything okay?”

“I…” I swallowed thickly, unsure how to get the words out. “I feel guilty.”

“Because of what we’ve done. We slept together, Bastian.”

“There’s nothing wrong with that,” he told me firmly. “I love you, sugar plum. We were meant to be together.” I remained quiet, and his gaze on me was heavy as he came to a realization. “Are you regretting what happened?”

“No,” I answered, and it was the truth. “Of course not, I could never. But…”

“But my dad,” I whispered. “I can’t do this to him. He trusts you. He trusts me. This would tear him apart.”

Bastian remained quiet, not saying a word as I slid my legs out of the bed and pulled on the panties I’d discarded on the floor last night. Just then, there was the sound of a doorbell.

“I’ll get that,” Bastian muttered. I didn’t respond, and he didn’t look at me, just headed to get the door. I got dressed in a hurry then followed him down. I heard a familiar voice in the hallway.

“I was so worried. I’m just so glad you were there to help her.”

I walked around the corner, my cheeks blushing deep as I came face-to-face with my father. “Dad?”

“Oh, honey, there you are!” He rushed to me, arms wrapping around me as he pulled me in for a bear hug. “I was so worried about you, Holly. You never came home last night, and you haven’t been answering my calls.”

As he hugged me, my eyes went to Bastian, standing behind Daddy with a stony expression. “Well, I called Bastian, Daddy. I didn’t want to wake you, so I just asked him to come pick me up. I had a little too much to drink last night.”

“Oh, Holly.” He smoothed down my hair. “You know you can always rely on me. But I’m glad you called Bastian. There’s no one else I’d rather have taking care of my little girl than my best friend.”

My stomach tied into painful knots at his words. If only he’d known how I wanted Bastian to take care of me…

“I’m glad you’re here now, Dad,” I told him. “And I’m so sorry I didn’t let you know where I’d be. Can I come home with you?”

“Of course. I’ll wait for you at the elevator. And Bastian… thank you for always having my little girl’s back.” Dad patted Bastian on the back, and the two men exchanged smiles. Dad left then, allowing me to collect my things, and I snuck into Bastian’s bedroom to get my purse. Bastian was hot on my trail but didn’t say a word as I grabbed my phone and stashed it in my handbag.

“Thanks for letting me stay over,” I muttered, not quite meeting his eyes as I put my purse up on my shoulder. “And thank you for taking care of me.”

“Of course, sugar plum.” He was looking at me, and I could tell how much he wanted me to lock eyes with his. There were so many words left unspoken between us, but I was too afraid to say any of them. What we’d done… it should have felt wrong, but it didn’t. Still, my guilt was eating me alive. “If you need anything else, you only need to call me. Whenever, wherever you are.”