‘Jeez, Dad. Why don’t you just let it rip, huh?’
‘I’m trying. Get Rowan back, Seb, or get a grip! Just, for all our sakes, stop moping!’
And that was his dad’s verbal boot up the ass, Seb thought. He took a deep breath and ran his hand over his head. ‘I don’t know where she is. I presume she is still in London.’
Patch rolled his eyes. ‘You’ve been tracking Laura since you were sixteen and you’re telling me you don’t know where Rowan is? That you can’t find out where she is going? What do you do every day, Seb? Get on that bloody machine and found out!’
Seb grinned, jumped to his feet and headed for the computer across the room. Within minutes he’d plugged in the necessary code and the result flashed up on the screen.
Holy hell... Were his eyes playing cruel tricks on him?
He felt Patch at his elbow. ‘What? What’s the problem?’
Seb pointed to a line on the screen. ‘Do you believe this? Am I seeing things?’
Patch’s hand gripped his shaking shoulder to steady him. ‘No, bud, I don’t think that you are.’
* * *
Rowan cleared Customs and Immigration and stood in the middle of the arrivals hall, staring at the mobile in her hand. Seb Hollis, it said. Seb Hollis. Dial me, dial me. Just push the green button.
She’d thought that asking him for a favour all those weeks ago would be hard, but it was nothing—nothing!—compared to the terror she felt now.
Please love me. Please keep me.
Yeah, as if she was going to come right out and say that! No, she’d figured this all out. She was going to be rational and unemotional; she’d say that they had something worth exploring, that she would stay if he wanted her to, give them time to work it out.
She would not be the gibberish-spewing, sobbing, crazy, wildly-in-love person she knew herself to be. She would be sensible if it killed her—which it probably would, if the terror didn’t get her first.
What if he refused to come and get her? What if she had to bang down his door to see him? What if...?
She was driving herself over the edge. Just dial the damn number!
Seb took five rings to answer. ‘Seb? It’s me.’
Rowan heard the tension in his voice and felt her stomach swoop to her toes. Oh, this was much, much harder than anything she’d ever done before. Courage, Dunn. This is your do-over, your second chance. You’re going to regret not doing this, so do it! ‘I need a favour.’
‘It’s the last one, I promise.’
Before her vocal cords seized up she forced her words out. ‘Can you come pick me up? I’m back and I’m at the airport. And I need to talk to you.’
‘Yeah. Okay. Stay where you are. Sexy jeans, by the way,’ he said, before abruptly disconnecting.
What the...? She was taking the biggest chance of her life and he was commentating on her jeans? How would he know what she was wearing anyway? How could he know...?
‘Really sexy jeans. I like the way they hug your butt.’
Rowan spun around and there he was...large, solid, there...right in front of her. Dear Lord, he was there. Rowan lifted her fist to her mouth and bit her knuckle hard. The pain reassured her that he wasn’t a figment of her imagination, that he was real.
So damn real. As real as the hand that now covered the side of her face.
Tears that she’d sworn weren’t going to fall ran down her face. ‘You’re here.’
‘I’ll always be here, if you let me,’ Seb told her, his eyes radiating emotion.
‘How did you know...? How? My flight? I only decided yesterday to come back...to come home.’ Ro gripped his shirt and hung on. As long as she held him he couldn’t disappear on her. ‘How?’
‘I keep telling you that I could track you on the moon if I wanted to. When are you going to believe me?’ Seb placed his hand on her hip and pulled her closer. ‘Come here. I need to touch you—all of you.’
Rowan burrowed her face into his neck, inhaling his scent, trying to climb inside him. One strong hand held her head there, another wrapped around her lower back, pulling her as close as possible. They stood there for many minutes, just holding on.
Maybe, just maybe, he’d missed her as much as she’d missed him.
‘Can I come home, Seb? Can I come back?’ Rowan asked when she eventually lifted her head, forcing herself to meet his eyes.
Seb placed a gentle kiss on her mouth before pushing a curl behind her ear. He stroked the pad of his thumb across her cheekbone before dropping his hand back to her hip.
‘You are home. You are back,’ Seb replied. ‘And, frankly, it’s about bloody time.’