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Sugar Plum Isabella Starling, Jenika Snow 2022/8/5 16:59:11

I glanced at the notebook, swallowing the lump that formed in my throat.

Masquerade party—New Year’s Eve, in that skyscraper on Baker Street at 7 p.m. A ticket is a grand! It all goes to charity. Do you have any savings?

I looked over at her, silently shaking my head. She started scribbling again.

We’ll find a way to sneak you in!

I nodded at her, and she leaned in to whisper, “Don’t worry. We’ll find a way to make this work.”

“And what might be so important to disturb my lesson?” a booming voice spoke up above us, and I swallowed thickly before looking up into the eyes of our professor.

“It’s nothing, Mr. Sullivan,” I muttered.

“It doesn’t look like nothing.” He raised an eyebrow at me before grabbing the notebook off my desk. “Masquerade party on the thirty-first? You are aware we have a class on the day, aren’t you, Miss Halliday?”

“Yes, professor,” I managed. I was painfully aware, along with the rest of the class, that Professor Sullivan was the only one who’d scheduled a lesson on the last day of the year in the evening. Not to mention, he acted like we were high schoolers instead of college students. I paid for this class, so whether I attended or not was on me.

But then again, I was too timid to actually say that to him. He was far too intimidating.

“I will hold you accountable if you do not show up for that lesson, Miss Halliday,” he spoke in a strict tone. “And I mean it. I want you here December thirty-first. Is that clear?”

“Yes, Professor.” I sighed, giving Rosie a defeated look, although the truth was, I wasn’t going to listen to him like he was my father. He had a stick up his ass the size of an old oak tree.

He retreated, seemingly pleased with what he’d achieved, and I groaned in frustration. My classmates were staring, my cheeks were burning up, and we hadn’t even started the lesson. I remained flushed and upset for the entirety of Mr. Sullivan’s lesson.

Once we were finally dismissed, Rosie did her best to make me feel better for my humiliation, but I was inconsolable.

I was just putting away my books when someone touched my forearm, firm fingers wrapping around me. “Hey.”

I looked up, eyes widening when I came face-to-face with one of my classmates. I hadn’t spoken to him before, but I knew who he was well enough, since every girl in the lecture hall, including Rosie, had a crush on the guy. His name was Sean, his family was loaded, he knew his status, and it made him cocky as hell.

Which the latter was extremely unattractive to me.

“Hey,” I muttered, glancing at his fingers on my arm. “How can I help you?” I pulled my arm free.

“Well, I couldn’t help overhearing your conversation with our darling professor,” Sean smirked. “Looks like you’re in quite the pickle.”

“And this is your business how?” I questioned him with a playful smile on my lips.

“It just so happens my mother is the event planner for that party. It’s all she’s talked about for months. I hear it’s the event of the season.”

“I see,” Rosie cut in, putting her hand on her hip. “It looks like you could help out my friend then.”

He grinned. “You want a ticket?” Sean asked me, feigning innocence and like he wasn’t looking for something in return. He knew damn well I did. I couldn’t afford it all by myself, not if I was trying to be stealthy about this.

“What do I have to do for it?” I asked, suspicious.

“Wear a sexy little outfit, and put your hair up so I can see more of your pretty face,” he told me with a smirk. “And be my arm candy for the night, of course.”

And there it was. His price. “I don’t think—”

“We’ll think about it,” Rosie inserted, giving me a stern look. “And we’ll let you know.”

“And you’re what, her manager?” He laughed.

“You could say that.” Rosie winked at him. “See you later, Sean.”

He nodded, winking at me before slinging his backpack over his shoulder and making his way out of the lecture hall. Once we were alone, Rosie instantly started gushing. But I couldn’t bring myself to get excited.

“This is perfect! I told you things were going to work out!”

“There’s one very important thing you’re forgetting,” I reminded her. “How am I going to make a move on Bastian if I go to the party with Sean?”

She looked deep in thought for a second. “I have an idea.”

“Don’t you always?” I giggled. “Okay. Explain this grand plan to me and I’ll see if I can make it work.”

Rosie planned a shopping trip for us that Friday. We didn’t have any classes that day, so we showed up to the Meadow Lake Mall bright and early with a purpose. I might not have enough money to buy a party ticket, but I had enough to get a decent dress. Hopefully.