Habit had him turning his head, expecting to see his lover’s head on the other pillow. Relief pumped through him when he remembered that Jenna had left for a year-long contract in Dubai and that he was officially single again. He didn’t have to explain the nightmare, see her hurt face when he wouldn’t talk about the soaked sheets or his pumping breath. Like most women, and despite her corporate career, Jenna had a need to nurture.

He’d never been nurtured and he had no need to be fussed over. It wasn’t who he was, what he needed.

Besides, discussing his dreams—emotions, thoughts, desires—would be amusing in the same way an electric shock to his gonads would be nice. Not going to happen. Ever.

Intimacy hadn’t been part of the deal with Jenna.

Intimacy would never be part of the deal with anyone.

Seb swung his legs off the side of the large bed, reached for the pair of running shorts on the chair next to the bed and yanked them on. He walked over to the French doors that opened onto the balcony. Pushing them open, he sucked in the briny air of the late summer, early autumn air. Tinges of the new morning peeked through the trees that bordered the side and back edges of his property: Awelfor.

He could live anywhere in the world, but he loved living a stone’s throw from Cape Town, loved living at the tip of the continent in a place nestled between the mountains and the sea. In the distance, behind those great rolling waves that characterised this part of the west coast, the massive green-grey icy Atlantic lay: sulky, turbulent, volatile. Or maybe he was just projecting his crappy mood on the still sleepy sea.

Jenna. Was she what his crazy dreams were about? Was he dreaming about commitment because he’d been so relieved to wave her goodbye? To get out of a relationship that he’d known was going nowhere but she had hoped was? He’d told her, as often and as nicely as he could, that he wouldn’t commit, but he knew that she’d hoped he’d change his mind, really hoped that he’d ask her to stay in the country.

It hadn’t seemed to matter that they’d agreed to a no-strings affair, that she’d said she understood when he’d explained that he didn’t do love and commitment.

Women. Sheez. Sometimes they just heard what they wanted to hear.

Seb cocked his head when the early-morning silence was shattered by the distinctive deep-throated roar of a Jag turning into the driveway to Awelfor. Here we go again, he thought. The engine was cut, a car door slammed and within minutes he saw his father walking the path to the cottage that stood to the left of the main house.

It was small consolation that he wasn’t the only Hollis man with woman troubles. At least his were only in his head. Single again, he reminded himself. Bonus.

‘Another one bites the dust?’ he called, and his father snapped his head up.

Patch Hollis dropped his leather bag to the path and slapped his hands on his hips.

‘When am I going to learn?’

‘Beats me.’ Seb rested his forearms on the balcony rail. ‘What’s the problem with this one?’

‘She wants a baby,’ Patch said, miserable. ‘I’m sixty years old; why would I want a child now?’

‘She’s twenty-eight, dude. Of course she’s going to want a kid. Have you told her you’ve had a vasectomy?’

Patch gestured to the bag. ‘Hence the reason I’m back in the cottage. She went bat-crap ballistic.’

‘Uh...why do you always leave? It’s your house and you’re not married.’ Seb narrowed his eyes as a horrible thought occurred to him. ‘You didn’t slink off and marry her, did you?’

Patch didn’t meet his eyes. ‘No, but it was close.’

Seb rubbed his hand over his hair, which he kept short to keep the curls under control, and muttered an expletive.

‘Don’t swear at me. You had your own little gold-digger you nearly married,’ Patch shot back, and Seb acknowledged the hit.

He’d been blindsided when he’d raised the issue of marriage contracts and his fiancée Bronwyn wouldn’t consider signing a pre-nup. Like most things he did, he’d approached the problem of the marriage contracts intellectually, rationally. He had the company and the house and the cash, and pretty much everything of monetary value, so he’d be the one to hand over half of everything if they divorced.

Bronwyn had not seen his point of view. If he loved her, she’d screamed, he’d share everything with her. He had loved Bronwyn—sorta...kinda—but not enough to risk sharing his company with her or paying her out for half the value of the house that had been in his family for four generations in the event of a divorce.

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