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

“Thanks, Holly. But what about you? What happened after you took me home?”

“I…” I bit my bottom lip nervously, getting up to close my bedroom door. “I went home with him.”

“You did?” Holly screeched. “I can’t believe it! Did something happen?”

“Okay, you have to tell me everything. I want details. I want the full story.”

“I don’t think I should,” I whispered, feeling the burn of tears in the back of my eyes. “I shouldn’t have done it. I really messed up, Rosie.”

“Messed up?” she repeated. “Messed up how? You only did what you’ve been wanting to do for years, acted on your natural instincts. There’s nothing wrong with that, babe.”

“But my dad,” I managed. “He’d be so upset if he knew what I’ve done.”

“Why do you think so?”

“Because,” I went on. “Bastian is his best friend, and he’s so much older than me. I just know he wouldn’t approve.”

“I think you’re judging your dad too much,” Rosie said firmly. “I don’t think he’d hold it against you at all. But if you aren’t ready to tell him, you should wait to see how your feelings develop, until you’re ready to tell him. Bastian isn’t going anywhere.”

“You don’t think he is?” I chewed my bottom lip.

“Girl, are you kidding?” Rosie laughed on the other end of the line. “He’s totally head-over-heels for you. There’s no way he’s going to give up on you, especially after last night. You just take some time to figure things out for yourself, and I’m sure he’ll be waiting when you realize he’s the one for you.”

“Is he the one for me?” I whispered, even though I already knew the answer.

“Only you can answer that question,” Rosie replied cryptically. “I have to run, but I’ll text you later tonight. Love ya, babe!”

I cut the call, sitting on my bed with the phone in my hands and with Rosie’s questioning ringing in my head. Was Bastian the one for me? I’d never had doubts about it. Now, I was more worried about circumstances not allowing us to be together. But there was no question about whether we were meant to be together.

The answer had always been a resounding yes.

Before I knew it, it was New Year’s Eve. Despite my insistence to avoid Bastian as much as I possibly could, I found myself getting ready with Rosie that evening. We’d arranged for Sean to pick us up at my father’s house, and Rosie was rifling through my closet to find shoes to match the dress we’d bought.

“You’re going to look incredible,” she told me time and time again. “He’s going to eat his heart out.”

I groaned, lying on my back on the bed. “What’s the point? We can never be together.”

“If only you weren’t so stubborn.” Rosie clicked her tongue and tossed a black lacy thong at me. “Put that on and the dress on top.”

I straightened up. “What about a bra?”

“You can’t wear a bra with that dress,” she insisted. “Plus, it allows for easy access.”

“What?” She stuck her tongue out at me. “You might need it—you never know.”

“You’re so bad.” I had a wistful grin on my face as I collected the clothes and disappeared into the bedroom. I removed my lounge clothes and put on the dress along with the thong. A look in the mirror revealed what I feared most—I looked good. Good enough to make Bastian want me, and I couldn’t let that happen. We had an obligation to Dad, and I couldn’t break his trust like that.

I left the bathroom to the sound of Rosie gasping. She sat me down in my room and spent half an hour doing my makeup before curling my long, brown hair into beautiful, rich waves. She spent so much time on me she only had twenty minutes to get ready herself, but by the time we were done, there was no doubt about it; we both looked like knockouts.

The doorbell rang a few minutes later, and we headed downstairs giggling. Dad was already waiting by the door, frowning at Sean as he waited for us to exchange greetings.

“Remember, be safe,” he muttered in my ear, eyeing Rosie suspiciously. “Be good.”

“Of course.” I nodded. He was already upset about Sean. How on earth would he react if he knew about Bastian? “I’ll see you tomorrow, Dad.”

“You’re not coming home?”

“Sleeping over at Rosie’s.” I nudged my friend, and she tore her eyes from Sean, smiling at my dad.

“What? Oh yeah. We’re having a girls’ night after the event.”

“Can I join?” Sean joked, but the ice-cold stare from my dad shut him up fast. “Err, sorry, just a bad joke.”

“I should hope so.” Dad pressed a kiss against my cheek while I swallowed another groan. Then, we were on our way.

The party was just as glitzy and glamorous as I’d imagined.