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Sugar Plum Isabella Starling, Jenika Snow 2022/8/5 16:59:17

“Want to borrow my toothbrush?” he asked.

“No.” He grinned. “What’s mine is yours, sugar plum.” He handed me the toothbrush and I swooned over him. How much more perfect could he be? I was the luckiest girl alive.

Moments later, I slid off his counter and crawled between the sheets on his bed. He got in beside me and pulled me close, breathing in my hair.

“I know this is tough, but tomorrow we’re going to talk to your dad. Okay?”

“O-Okay,” I muttered.

“We have to do it, sugar plum,” he went on. “I owe it to him.”

“Okay.” I turned around to face him. “But just in case he… doesn’t approve… maybe we can spend tonight like a real couple.”

“Yeah?” I laughed nervously. “Sorry, it’s just a little fantasy.”

“No, Holly.” He kissed my hands. “It’s real. Because we are a real couple.”

“Really?” My heart pounded as he nodded. “So, it’s official?”

“For me, it has been since you turned eighteen,” he admitted. “Like I told you, I haven’t been able to get you off my mind since.”

“Oh, Bastian.” I covered his lips in kisses. “I love you so much.”

“I love you too. Now sleep right here in my arms, sugar plum. Let me have what I’ve been waiting for forever.”

“God, I’m so freaking nervous.”

“Don’t stress, sugar plum. We’re almost there.” Bastian held my hand this time as well, fingers intertwined with mine and holding on as he drove through the city to my father’s house. I’d already stopped thinking of it as home, because it wasn’t where Bastian was, so it wasn’t home anymore. “Here we go.”

He pulled up in front of my father’s house, and my heart swelled in my chest as he opened the passenger door for me. I followed him to the front door, anticipating a huge argument.

Bastian rang the doorbell, and I stood uselessly to the side. I didn’t dare touch Bastian so Daddy wouldn’t guess what was up right away. I had a feeling he had no idea about the feelings we had for each other. He was in for a big surprise.

Finally, the front door flew open and Dad stood on the doorstep, grinning widely at us.

“Bastian! And Holly. You’re back from Rosie’s?”

“I, ummm…” I grimaced. “Yeah. Can we come in, Dad?”

“Of course.” He laughed. “You live here after all, darling.”

Bastian and I exchanged guilty glances as we followed him down the hallway and into the living room. Dad brought out some egg nog and enthusiastically poured us a mug each. I relished the hot, foamy drink and waited for Bastian to begin.

“You like it?” Dad asked, pointing to our cups.

“Delicious,” I chirped.

“Perfect.” Bastian set his mug down and took my hand in his. I started trembling, feeling the pressure of the moment as Daddy stared us down. “We wanted to talk to you about something, Aston.”

“Oh?” Dad’s brows shot up, and he looked at our clasped hands before raising his eyes to ours.

“We… We’re in love,” Bastian said, looking him right in the eyes. “I assure you, this is serious, and I have every intention of marrying Holly if I get your blessing.”

“My…” Dad cleared his throat. “My blessing?”

“Yes,” Bastian went on firmly. “I love her, and I’ve loved her since her eighteenth birthday.”

“And you, Holly?” Dad turned to face me. “How do you feel? Do you love him too?”

“Well,” Dad exhaled. “Well.”

“I know this is a lot,” Bastian continues. “But we want you to know we both respect and care for you, and we want to do right by you. Whatever it takes. But I will not stop seeing her—unless she doesn’t want to be with me anymore, of course. Other than that, you’re both pretty much stuck with me.”

Daddy laughed nervously, and I gave him a hopeful smile. “Daddy, I know it’s a bit out of the blue, but… I haven’t been this happy since… since—”

“I know, darling,” Dad said, his voice choked up. “I know what you mean. Oh, how I do. And I’m happy for you. It’s just a lot to take in.”

I nodded, looking at Bastian for help as Dad stood up, clearing his throat.

“We can talk about her,” I said suddenly, making them both turn toward me. “Mom. We can talk about her. I know she’s gone, but we don’t have to pretend like she never existed.”

“Sometimes it’s easier to forget,” Dad muttered.

“But I don’t want to forget her,” I insisted. “I want to remember her and celebrate the years we had together. She’d want you to be happy, Daddy. It’s been years now. You can’t stay miserable just because she isn’t here.”

“You’re right,” Dad said softly. “Of course, you always are.”

“We’re here for you, Daddy.” I stood up and walked up to him with Bastian behind me. “We all went through that loss, and the only way we can make it through it is if we stick together. Okay?”