Sure—after I’ve sorted out climate change and negotiated world peace. ‘Not a chance.’

Rowan tapped an irritated finger on the table and tried to stare him down. Seb folded his arms and kept his face blank.

Eventually her shoulders dropped in defeat. ‘My mobile battery is dead, I have less than two hundred pounds to my name, my best friend is out of the country, my parents are away and their house is occupied. I’m in your hands.’

In his hands? He wished... Their eyes met and sexual attraction arced between them. Hot, hard... Man! Where was this coming from?

Pink stained Rowan’s cheekbones. ‘I mean, I’m at your mercy...’

That sounded even better.

‘What is the matter with me?’

Or at least that was what he thought he heard her say, but since she was muttering to the floor he couldn’t be sure.

What was cranking their sexual buzzers to a howl? Dial it down, dude; time to start acting as an adult. He dashed the rest of what was left in the tiny bottle of wine into her glass and tossed it back.

Think with your big head. It didn’t matter that she looked hot, or that he wanted to taste that very sexy mouth, this was Rowan. AKA trouble.

Seb put his hands into the back pockets of his jeans. ‘You ready to go?’

‘Where to? Where am I sleeping tonight?’


Awelfor... It meant sea breeze in Welsh, and was one of the few small holdings situated between the seaside villages of Scarborough and Misty Cliffs, practically on the doorstep of Table Mountain National Park. Her second home, Rowan thought.

The house had originally been an old school building, added to over the generations. The oldest part was made from timber and redbrick, and she could still feel the cool warmth of the Oregon pine floors beneath her bare feet. Nearly every room had a fireplace and a view of the Atlantic, with its huge rolling waves and its white beaches peppered by black-backed gulls.

She’d been raised next door, in the house that had been built by a Hollis forefather for—rumour had it—a favourite mistress. It had been sold off in the forties to her grandfather and separated from the Hollis house by a huge oak and a high, thick Eugenia hedge.

She knew Awelfor as well as she knew her own home: which floorboard creaked if you stood on it the middle of the night, that the drainpipe that ran past Callie’s window was strong enough to hold their combined weight, that Yasmeen the housekeeper hid her cigarettes in the flour canister at the back of the pantry. For most of her life she’d had two homes and then she’d had none; now she bounced from bed to bed in different accommodation establishments, depending on her cash flow. Once or twice she’d slept on beaches and on benches in railway stations, she remembered, even standing up.

Dots appeared behind her eyes. tired.

Rowan blinked furiously as the dots grew bigger and brighter and her vision started to blur. She reached out in Seb’s direction and cool and firm fingers clasped her clammy hand.

‘What’s the matter?’ Seb demanded as she abruptly sat down again.

‘Dizzy,’ Rowan muttered as she shoved her head between her knees. ‘Stood up too fast.’

Rowan opened her eyes and the floor rose and fell, so she closed them again.

‘Easy, Ro.’

Seb bent down in front of her and held up three fingers. ‘How many?’

‘Six thousand and fifty-two.’

Seb narrowed his eyes and Rowan gnawed the inside of her lip, ignored the squirming sensation down below and tried to act like a mature adult.

‘Sorry, I’m fine. Tired. I haven’t really eaten properly. Shouldn’t have had that wine.’ Rowan rubbed her eyes. ‘It’s just been a horrible couple of days.’

Seb let go of the hand he’d been holding and stood up, looking away from those slim thighs in old jeans, that mad hair and those deep, deep eyes. She had always been gorgeous—hadn’t all his friends told him that?—but for the first time in his life he saw her as something other than his sister’s friend.

That felt uncomfortable and...weird.

His eyes dropped lower. Full breasts under that white cotton shirt, long fingers that were made to stroke a man’s skin, long legs that could wrap around a man’s hips...

This was Rowan, he reminded himself harshly. She was not somebody he should find attractive. He’d known her for far too long and far too well. Seb frowned, irritated that he couldn’t break their eye contact. Her eyes had the impact of a fist slamming into his stomach. Those eyes—the marvellous deep dark of midnight—had amused, irritated and enthralled him. When he’d first met her he’d been a young, typical boy, and babies were deeply uncool but her eyes had captivated him. He remembered thinking they were the only redeeming feature of a demanding, squawking sprat.