Because the best predictor of future behaviour was past behaviour, and neither of them had a very good track record at playing nice for extended periods.

Then why did she feel so settled, living in Seb’s house, living with Seb? Was a part of her yearning for the stability of living in one place with one man? At twenty-eight was her biological clock starting to tick? Was it just being in Seb’s home, waking up in Seb’s arms, that had her wanting to believe that she could be happy with the picket fence and the two point four kids and the Labrador and...?

You’re being ridiculous, she told herself. The grass always looks greener on the other side. She knew this—heck, she knew this well.

Before coming home she had never had a serious thought about settling down, about relationships and children and suburbia. Okay, that was a lie—of course she had—but only little, non-serious thoughts. Even she knew she was capable of being seduced by the idea of what-if, of thinking that a wonderful experience could translate into a wonderful life in that place. Hadn’t she gone through something similar in Bali, where she’d thought she’d buy a little house and stay for ever? And when she’d first seen the Teton mountain range, and that gorgeous little cake shop that had been for sale in the Cotswolds? She’d imagined herself living and working in all those places, but the urge to move on had always come—as it would here as well.

‘Rowan? You lost in there?’

Seb’s voice pulled her out of her reverie.

‘Coming.’ Rowan pulled on her clothes, stepped out of the room and handed the assistant the dress. ‘Thanks, but we’ll keep looking.’

The assistant looked at Seb, eyebrows raised, as she slipped the dress into an expensive cover.

‘I’ve already paid for it. Shoes too.’ Seb took the covered dress, slung it over his shoulder and grabbed the bag holding her shoes. ‘Can we please get a beer now?’

‘You paid for it?’ Rowan asked in a icy voice. ‘What on earth...?’

‘You said it fitted beautifully, it’s your colour, and I could see that you love it,’ Seb replied, puzzled. ‘I’m not seeing the problem here.’

‘The problem is that it costs a fortune!’ Rowan grabbed the bag and peered inside at the shoe box. ‘And the shoes are designer!’

‘Geez, you’re boring when you rattle on and on about money.’ Seb yawned. ‘You agreed that I could buy you a dress and shoes. I’ve bought you a dress and shoes. Can we move on to the next subject for the love of God? Please?’

Rowan sent him a dirty look, turned on her heel and stomped out of the shop. Outplayed and outmanoeuvred, she thought, and she didn’t like it.

Yes, he was on-fire hot, and he was really good company, but she had to remember that Seb could be sneaky sharp when he wanted to be.

‘Beer... Food...’ Seb breathed in her ear, before grabbing her hand, tugging her around and pushing her in the opposite direction. ‘The food court is this way.’

NINE

Seb snagged an outside table belonging to a funky-looking bistro, draped Rowan’s dress on the third chair and grinned at her sulky face. She still wasn’t happy about the dress... No, she loved the dress, but she didn’t like the idea of him buying it for her.

She took independence to stupid heights, he thought. So the dress was expensive? So were his computers and the technology he loved to spend money on.

His last computer had cost him three times what he’d paid for the dress...

‘Stop sulking and order a drink,’ he told her, and grinned as her pert nose lifted in the air. He smiled up at the redheaded waitress, placed their orders and leaned back in his chair.

‘Thank you for the dress,’ she said primly, politeness on a knife-edge. ‘And the shoes.’

‘I can’t wait to get you out of it,’ he said, just to rattle her cage.

‘Your chances of doing so are diminishing rapidly,’ Rowan retorted, but her lips twitched with humour. ‘Do you really like the dress or did you just want to stop shopping?’

‘Both,’ Seb admitted, funeral-director-mournful. ‘The things you make me do, Brat.’

‘Talking of that...’ Rowan gestured to the huge electronic advertising board to the left of them. ‘I saw a sign advertising an antiques fair and night market in Scarborough tonight. We could go take a look when we’re finished eating.’

‘Yeah...no. I’d rather eat jellyfish. Besides, I have a houseful of antiques and you’re broke.’ Seb took the beer the waitress had placed on the table and drained half the glass in one swallow.

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