Rowan chuckled. ‘It’s what we woman do. You’re smart enough not to fall for it.’

‘Brat.’

‘Let me try something else.’ Rowan batted her eyelashes at him. ‘If you take me I’ll let you charm me out of that dress.’

Seb looked her up and down and slowly grinned. ‘I’m going to charm you out of that dress anyway, so no deal.’

Rowan twisted her lips to hide her grin. ‘I can resist you, you know.’

Laughter chased the shadows out of Seb’s eyes. ‘No, you can’t. I can’t resist you either. Eat—you’re going to need the energy.’

‘Is that a threat?’ Rowan asked silkily.

Seb picked up her hand, turned it over and placed an open-mouthed kiss into the palm of her hand. Rowan shuddered and lust ran up and down her spine when he touched the tip of his tongue to her palm.

‘Absolutely it’s a threat,’ Seb said, before attacking his burger.

* * *

Seb cast another look at Rowan as they walked down the steps to his car, parked by the front door earlier, and thought about walking into that cocktail party with her hand in his. Her dress would be enough to have the older men choking on their drinks, their wives raising an over-plucked eyebrow and any man below sixty sending approving looks at her stunning legs, from thigh to the two-inch silver heels she had absolutely no problem rocking.

She was gorgeous, with her wild hair pulled back into a casual roll, minimal make-up and a coral lipstick that perfectly matched the red of her dress. She looked fresh and sexy and he was already anticipating the end of the evening, when he could strip it off her as he’d promised. Which was insane, since they’d made love just over an hour ago and again this morning. And twice last night after they’d got back from visiting that antiques market, where Rowan had tried to persuade him to buy a silver cigarette case he didn’t like and certainly didn’t need.

‘It’s old and it’s valuable. You could double your money,’ he remembered her insisting.

‘It might be old but it’s ugly,’ he’d replied, not telling her that he earned more money in fifteen minutes than he’d make on the hideous case.

He’d offended Rowan’s horse-trader instincts for about a minute—until another pretty object had caught her attention and their brief argument had been totally forgotten as she’d engaged stallholder after stallholder in conversation.

It had taken them for ever to visit every stall—which she’d had to do. She was so charming, easily drawing people into conversation and melting the sternest or shyest heart there. She had a natural warmth that just pulled people to her, he thought as he drove down the driveway.

‘You look...God...amazing, Ro,’ he said, turning left into the road.

‘Thanks. You don’t look too shabby yourself. I like that suit.’

Rowan placed her hand on his thigh and he could feel her warmth through the fabric of his black suit. He’d teamed it with a white shirt—no-brainer—but Rowan had swapped the tie he’d chosen—black—for a deep blue one he’d never worn in his life which, according to his sexy date, deepened the blue in his eyes.

He’d liked her choosing his tie... Seb sighed and reminded himself yet again to get a grip, catch a clue.

She. Was. Leaving.

As in bye-bye, birdy.

Next week.

And he was getting goofy because she was picking out his ties.

Get over yourself, already, Hollis.

Rowan’s fingers dug into his thigh. ‘Seb, stop!’

He slammed on the brakes. ‘What? Jeez!’ He looked past Rowan, down her parents’ driveway, and saw Heidi and Stan standing in the driveway, pulling bags out of their sedate sedan.

‘Oh, crap. Your parents are back.’

‘Looks like it.’ Rowan bit her lip and lifted her hand as her parents swivelled around to see who was idling at the bottom of their driveway. She turned and looked at Seb, her heart in her eyes. ‘It would be so much easier if you just drove on.’

Seb touched her cheek with his thumb. ‘I’m right behind you, babe.’

‘Well, at least I’m looking my best,’ Rowan quipped in a small voice as he turned off the engine.

‘You look fantastic,’ Seb said as he left the car, walked around and opened the passenger door for Rowan.

Heidi and Stan walked down the driveway to greet them.

‘Seb, hello!’ Heidi called as Seb took Rowan’s icy hand in his. ‘We’re back—as you can see.’

‘Stan...Heidi.’ He placed his hand on Rowan’s back and pushed her forward. ‘So is Rowan.’

‘Mum...hi, Dad.’ Rowan stepped closer, reached up and brushed her father’s cheek with her lips, leaned in for a small hug and then turned to her mum. Seb clenched his fist when Heidi pulled back and Rowan’s lips brushed the air about two inches from her cheek. She couldn’t even kiss her, hold her, after nine years apart?

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