‘Stop looking at me like that or you’ll be back on that bed so fast your head will spin,’ Seb said as he placed the tray on the cushions next to her.
‘Promises, promises,’ Rowan replied, and frowned when she looked down at the tray. A bottle of champagne she could understand, and the two glasses, but the set of keys that looked like a carbon copy of his house set and a keyless car remote had her puzzled. There was also a red jewellery box on the tray...
A jewellery box? Oh, dear God...
‘You’re not proposing, are you?’ she asked, in a very high, very nervous voice.
Seb laughed. ‘Not today.’
‘Then what’s all this?’ Rowan asked as Seb sat down, keeping the tray between them.
‘We’ll get to the box eventually, but first...it’s time to work it out, Ro,’ Seb said, popping the cork on the champagne and pouring her a glass.
He handed it over and poured his own glass.
‘Why did you come home?’ he asked her bluntly.
Rowan licked her lips. ‘I missed you.’
‘I missed you too. And...?’
Rowan stared at the bubbles in her glass. If she said these next words she could never take them back. They would be out there for ever...and she was okay with that.
‘I love you. I do... I never expected to, never wanted to, but I do. So I thought I’d come home, tell you that and see how you feel about it.’
Seb just looked at her, his glass halfway to his mouth.
The moisture in Rowan’s mouth dried up and she swirled some champagne around her tongue to get it to work. ‘Feel free to give me a reaction, here, Hollis.’
‘I feel pretty good about it. I thought I’d have to drag those words out of you with pliers but you’ve astounded me again.’ Seb reached across the tray, kissed her gently and ran his thumb across her trembling bottom lip. ‘I love you too, by the way. In every way possible and in lot of ways I thought were impossible.’
Ah... Aaaahhhhh! Rowan’s shoulders fell down from her ears and her cheeks deepened. Relief, hot and strong, pulsed through her.
‘Good to know... My mum says that we will destroy each other. That we are too different, diametrically opposed.’ Rowan thought it was important to tell him that her mother rated their chances as less than nil.
‘Your mother talks a lot of crap,’ Seb said mildly, playing with her fingers as he sipped his champagne. ‘We’ll be fine. Yes, you’ll turn my life upside down, but as long as you leave the War Room and my hackers alone you can do whatever you want. And if you go too crazy I’ll pull you back in. In the same way, if I get too stuck in my head, you’ll bully me out of it. We’re good for each other precisely because we are so different.’
‘I’ve been independent for so long and I’m worried that I’ll get restless, feel hemmed-in.’ Rowan also felt it was important to warn him. Maybe staying in one place would be enough for her, being with him would be enough, but there might come a day that she needed to fly, just to know that she could...
‘I know.’ Seb gestured to the tray. ‘I’ve thought about that. So, first things first.’ He held up the set of keys. ‘Keys to your house—this house. I don’t want to hear any more of this “your bedroom” and “your house” rubbish. This house is as much yours as it is mine. Replace the furniture, paint the walls—do whatever you want; just treat it as yours, okay?’
‘It’s not mine.’
‘Rowan...!’ Seb warned.
‘Or yours, or Patch’s. It’s Yas’s, as we all know. And whatever I do I’ll have to put up with Yas yapping on about it, so I’ll think long and hard before I go mad. You might not care, but she will.’ Rowan took the keys and bounced them in her hand.
Seb grinned. ‘All true, but I’ll back you if comes down to a fight.’ He lifted up the credit-card-type key. ‘Keyless car key. We’ll share the Quattro until I get you something else to drive.’
‘You can’t buy me a car!’ Rowan squeaked. ‘I have money. I can buy my own car. I sold the netsukes.’
‘Thanks for mine, by the way. I love it. It’s kept me from going insane these past couple of weeks.’ Seb tossed the key card into her lap. ‘Are we going to argue about money and stuff for the rest of our lives?’
‘Are you going to love me that long?’ Rowan asked, her hands on his knees.
‘Planning on it.’
Seb picked up the jewellery box and tossed it from hand to hand. Rowan saw fear flash in his eyes.
‘Giving you this is hard for me, but I know that it’s necessary.’