9 - You Put the Rome in Romance (part 1)

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Lana woke up to the smell of coffee and eagerly climbed out of bed, wrapping her robe tight before exiting the bedroom. Sebastian had apparently ordered room service, and a small table was set by the window with coffee and what looked a lot like croissants. The balcony door was open to let the morning sun and sound of cascading water in. Sebastian himself was nowhere to be seen, and Lana was relieved to not have to face him before she’d had her morning coffee.

Lana sat down and poured herself a cup of coffee. By the door, she could see several packages, neatly wrapped, and she assumed their clothes had been delivered. She finished her coffee and walked over to check the packages. They did indeed contain their clothes, and Lana found an outfit fit for walking around Rome – or riding a scooter if need be – a pair of Capri denims and a loose fitted iridescent top.

She ducked into the bathroom and got herself in order before checking the time. 7:57 AM. Daniel should be here any minute. Giddy with excitement, Lana scribbled down a message on the hotel’s stationery, telling Izzy – and Sebastian – she’d gone out with Daniel and that she had her phone with her if they needed to get in touch with her.

She knew Izzy would understand, and Sebastian… well, she was just too angry with him to care what he thought. She snuck out of the room and headed downstairs.

Sebastian heard a door close and figured Lana had gone out for breakfast. He’d ordered room service and let them in, but then he’d gone back to his room and tried to sleep. He could hear Lana moving around outside his door, but he knew she needed space and he wasn’t going to crowd her. He’d messed up, taking her phone, but he was really only trying to look out for her. Like he always had.

“I got a call from the dean at Duke, Sebastian,” Gerald Stanton said one morning over breakfast. They had far too big a table for just the two of them, but it served its purpose – two people co-existing without having to interact more than necessary.

“Yeah?” Sebastian mumbled, taking another spoonful of cereal.

“He’s an old friend of mine and he was kind enough to let me know there’s a spot waiting for you. I told him you’d take it.”

“Dad!” Sebastian exclaimed and dropped his spoon, making a clattering sound that echoed in the dark paneled dining room. “I’m not even sure I’m going to college.”

“Of course you are,” Gerald Stanton said arrogantly, “what kind of nonsense talk is that?”

“I promised Lana we’d go to college together, and if she’s not going, I’m not either.”

“Lana? The Davies’ girl?” Gerald frowned. “You’re not giving up your future for some girl, Sebastian!”

“She’s not ‘some girl’, dad. She’s my best friend.”

“Whatever may be the case, college is non-negotiable,” Gerald said firmly.

“I know why you demoted Lana’s dad, father,” Sebastian said coldly.

“Harold Davies was a sub-standard manager,” Gerald said tersely.

“I found the letters, dad. From Lana’s mom. I know she chose him over you and you never got over it, did you?”

“Now, see here…” Gerald thundered, his face turning red.

“Mason Falls Gazette would love this kind of juicy gossip, don’t you think?” Sebastian said smugly.

“Son… I’m warning you…”

“Mason Books have a history of philanthropy,” Sebastian continued. “No-one will think twice about them offering two scholarships instead of one this year.”

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