Seb smiled. ‘She’ll find out. She always does. None of us have ever been able to sneak anything past her.’

‘I’ll be out of the country by then,’ Rowan replied, relieved.

‘You poor, naïve, deluded child. You think that matters? If I could harness her powers I could rule the world.’

‘I’ll change my name and she won’t find me. Anyway, if I do more parties I’ll use this woman again.’

‘More parties? You want to do it again?’

‘Strangely, I enjoyed it.’ Rowan lowered her cup. ‘And it’s really good money, Seb. Two of today’s mummies said that they’d call me because they have parties they need to arrange. If they want them done in the next two weeks or so I’ll do it.’ Rowan forced herself to meet his eyes. ‘Will you let me have them here?’

Seb stared down at the cake in his hand for the longest time. ‘I’d like to say no, but I know that won’t stop you. You’ll just find another venue. So I’ll say yes—with certain conditions attached.’

Rowan bit the inside of her lip and waited for his words.

‘Do the parties, Ro, but with help. There is no way that you can keep an eye on thirty kids by yourself. And that blonde who was hanging around was as much help as a corkscrew in a bottle-free desert. I mean proper help. Someone who can lift chairs and move tables and carry stuff, run after the kids if necessary,’ Seb said, his tone serious. ‘No help, no party. Deal?’

‘But where would I find someone to help?’ Rowan demanded.

‘There are lots of kids in the area looking for casual work,’ Seb replied, breaking off another piece of cake. ‘Or me.’

Rowan hooted with laughter. ‘You’d help?’

‘If you needed me. It wouldn’t be my first choice on how to spend my time, but if you needed my help I’d give it.’

And he would—of course he would. ‘Okay, thanks. If I get another party and if I need help I’ll ask for it.’

‘Good.’ Seb’s face softened as he handed her a piece of cake. ‘Eat.’

Rowan placed it on her saucer and shook her head. ‘Yank down your track pants.’

‘I thought we discussed this? We were going to be friends...’

‘Stop being a jerk and let me see your injury,’ Rowan stated patiently. ‘Anyway, I’ve seen all you have, so it’s a bit late for modesty.’

‘Why?’

‘Because you’re in pain and I want to see what is causing it.’

‘And congratulate it?’ Seb grumbled.

‘Of course. I live to see you hurting!’ Rowan replied, her voice chock-full of sarcasm. ‘Seb, you know how stubborn I can be, and I’m going to nag you until I get to see it.’

She was stubborn and she would nag.

Seb tipped his head back in frustration, thinking about the foot-and-a-half-long graze that ran from his buttock to his knee. His elbow also displayed the results of connecting with the ground at speed. After fifteen years of doing trail runs and triathlons he should know better than to hurtle down a mountainous track with his mind somewhere else—like in bed with Rowan.

It also burned that he’d been lying fourth at the time, feeling strong, with a good chance of catching the front runners. If he had seen that loose gravel right in front of his nose he would have finished the race—except that he’d broken the front joint on his bike as he’d tipped head over heels and had to retire. He hated not finishing a race almost as much as he hated not doing well.

He made the mistake of looking at Rowan, who was watching him...and waiting. For the love of God...

He pushed his track pants over his hips, stepped out of them and pulled up the back of his running shorts. He knew it looked bad when Rowan said nothing for a long time.

‘It needs to be cleaned, and you can’t reach to do it properly. Where’s the first aid kit?’

Seb shook his head. ‘If you think I’m going to let you come within a mile of me with a bottle of peroxide, you’re mad.’

‘First aid kit?’

‘Ro, you’re a better baker than you are a nurse!’

Rowan just folded her arms and tapped her foot and waited. Then she waited some more. Stubborn, obstinate and wilful; she gave a deeper meaning to those three words.

Giving in, with very bad grace, he stomped to the cupboard and lifted the first aid box from the top shelf. Banging it onto the kitchen table, he scowled at Rowan. ‘Try not to kill me, Nurse Ratched.’

Rowan pulled her tongue at him before ordering him to lie with his chest on the table and his legs stretched out. Doing as he was told, he felt like an idiot.

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