She couldn’t be like that... She felt everything. Twice.

‘Oh, hey...I’ve been meaning to ask you. Do you want to come with me to a cocktail party tomorrow night? It would be nice to go with someone.’

Rowan blinked at the change of subject, thought for a moment, and then said, ‘I’d love to, but I don’t have anything that could even vaguely pass as a cocktail dress.’ She held up her hand to stop Seb from talking. ‘And, no, you are not going to buy me a dress and shoes for one evening! What a waste! So, sorry—no can do.’

‘Oh, come on, Ro. It’s just money.’ Seb rolled out of bed and walked over to her, his sleeping shorts riding low on his hips. He bent down, brushed his lips across hers and pulled her to her feet.

‘It’s money I would have to pay you back. I’m already in debt to you for the airfare from Jo’burg to here, for the airfare when I leave—though maybe I might be able to pay for some of that...’

‘Then get your ass onto a computer and do something about your netsukes,’ Seb complained, his hands loose on her hips. He looked down at her, assessing her. ‘I have a feeling that you don’t want to sell them.’

Rowan wrinkled her nose, thought about denying it and shrugged. ‘I really don’t want to sell the Laughing Buddha. But I have to sell the others. I can’t afford a twelve-thousand-pound indulgence—especially when I owe you money.’

Seb rested his forehead against hers. ‘I can understand why you want to keep it. It’s stunning. As for owing me money...it’s not important.’

Rowan stroked the side of his neck. ‘It’s important to me. I can’t take your money, Seb.’

‘You could give lessons in stubborn to mules, Brat,’ Seb muttered.

‘I know...’ Rowan dug her fingers into the light smattering of his chest hair. ‘Listen, are those massive chests still up in the attic?’

‘As far as I know.’ Seb sat back, looking puzzled at her change of subject. ‘Why?’

‘Callie and I used to play dress-up with your grandmother’s dresses. If I remember right she was quite a socialite in her day.’

Seb—smart guy—immediately made the connection.

‘Ro, you cannot possibly wear a sixty, seventy-year-old dress! Fish moths! Dust!’

‘Dry cleaners! And Yas banished fish moths a hundred years ago. Haven’t you ever heard of vintage dresses? I think there were shoes up there too.’

‘You’re nuts.’

Rowan raised an eyebrow. ‘Do you want me to go with you or not?’

‘Oh, okay. We’ll take a look. If we don’t find anything, then I’ll buy you a dress and no arguments—okay?’

‘Maybe.’

Seb kissed her nose. ‘So, plan of action for the day... Sex, breakfast, a quick visit to the War Room for me, a tour of your old place for both of us and then up to the attic. Then sex again. And then sex later.’

‘And maybe sex for pudding,’ Rowan said dryly.

Seb laughed. ‘You catch on quick.’

Limited time, maximum pleasure, Rowan thought as he swept her into a kiss that had her toes curling. And, yeah, saying goodbye to him was going to sting.

EIGHT

Seb, not finding Rowan in any of the rooms downstairs, jogged up the stairs to the main floor. Instead of turning left, as he usually did, he took the second flight set of stairs, passing the closed doors to the smaller rooms that hadn’t been used since his grandparents’ day—such a waste of space—and heading for the narrow stairs that led up to the attic.

He wondered when last he’d been up here. Fifteen, twenty years? Callie and Rowan had used to play up here all the time when he’d been glued to his computer.

Some things never changed, he thought sourly. He’d planned to spend most of this day with Ro, but his staff had run into sophisticated firewalls on a site they needed to crack—today—and it had taken all their combined strategy skills to climb over, under and around them. As a result he’d spent most of the day in the War Room and hadn’t seen Ro since breakfast.

He wondered if she’d gone next door, but doubted it.

Seb poked his head into the attic and looked around. Instead of being dark and poky the attic was filled with natural light, courtesy of the skylights in the roof. The usual detritus filled the space directly in front of him—boxes that were labelled ‘Christmas decorations’, old computers, a set of water skis, and a pile of life jackets lay on top of more stacked cardboard boxes.

He really needed to toss some of this rubbish out.

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