Seb rested his elbows on the stair above, took a long sip of his beer and picked up a shovel to dig his own grave. ‘So, where are you going? And who are you going with?’

‘I’m going to a bar.’

‘A bar?’

‘You make it sound as if I am about to do a deal with the local meth supplier! I feel like I’ve been catapulted back to my teenage years with my over-protective parents. I’m not sixteen any more, Seb. What is your problem?’ Rowan demanded when he just looked past her in stony silence. ‘Why are you acting like this?’

Fair question.

‘I didn’t expect to come home to...’ Seb rubbed his temple ‘...this.’

‘This?’ Rowan felt the bubbles of her temper rise to the surface and pop. ‘“This” being jeans and a tee?’

‘“This” being you dressed up and looking hot.’

‘I did my hair and put on some make-up...this is pretty normal!’

‘Nothing about you is normal!’ Seb sprang up, his eyes tired and sparking. ‘Do you know how sexy you look? You’ll have every male tongue dropping to the floor in that bar. You were mine last night and the thought of you going out and being someone else’s is making me want to punch something.’

As soon as the words left his mouth and their meaning sank in Seb knew that he’d made a crucial mistake—that he’d been a total tool. Her eyes shimmered with hurt and she bit her lip to keep it from wobbling. He never spoke without thinking, but those words had just bubbled up, over and out...

Seb swore at himself and ran an agitated hand through his hair.

‘Excuse me?’

Oh, crap. She’d kicked ‘hurt’ into the back seat and now she was seriously ticked. Wonderful. And could he blame her?

Seb twisted his lips and thought he’d attempt to explain. ‘Okay, look, that came out wrong...’

‘You think I am so easy that I could jump from your bed to someone else’s?’ Rowan laughed and the sound didn’t hold a teaspoonful of mirth. She held up a hand. ‘No, don’t answer that, because I’m very close to smacking you silly! What a joke!’

If it was, he failed to see it.

Rowan shook her head, snapped a set of car keys off the hall table and picked up the bag that she’d hung on the coat stand. She walked towards the door.

Seb was thinking of how to keep her in the room when she turned around abruptly and looked at him with blazing eyes. ‘No, I’m not going to do this again.’

‘Do what?’

‘Leave you to your assumptions. I think that’s a mistake I keep making over and over with you and my family. I allow you to jump to these crazy assumptions about me because...because of habit, maybe. Pride, maybe. But this—you thinking that I treat sex casually just because we had a great time in the sack—I can’t let this ride. The reason we had great sex is because we obviously—who knows why?—have amazing chemistry. Why we have this chemistry when I think you have the personality and charm of a horse’s ass is a mystery for another day.’


‘My turn.’ Rowan cut him off with a sharp wave of her hand. ‘As for my sexual history—do you know how hard it is, as a female travelling on her own, to get laid?’

She looked as if she was waiting for a response so Seb thought it was safe to say: ‘’

Rowan looked momentarily triumphant. ‘Hah! Of course you don’t. You just assume that it’s what we travellers do.’ Her chest rose and fell with temper. ‘Every man I meet—all the time—is a stranger. I don’t know him. I’m not given the time to know him. I can think he’s cute, but psychos come cute as well. Now, say I decide to take a chance... I have to get into a room with him—because, you know, I like a bit of privacy with my sex. That means I put myself in danger every time. And do you want to know how many times I’ve done that?’

Seb, now feeling like a first-prize fool, shrugged.

‘None, Seb. I’ve never done it. I’ve had a couple of relationships over the years with guys I’ve known for a long time. I don’t do hook-ups. It’s a dangerous and stupid thing to do when you don’t have any friends or family to rescue you if something goes horribly wrong.’

Seb scrubbed his face with his hands, feeling equally relieved and foolish.

‘And, just so that I’m very clear about this, we rocked it because you have a heck of a bod and you are a good kisser and I haven’t had any for a while.’

Okay, how deep was that hole he’d dug for himself and when could he throw himself into it?