Hoo, boy. Was that a hint of ink she saw on the bicep of his right arm under his T-shirt? No way! Conservative Seb? Geeky Seb?
Except that geeky Seb had been replaced by hunky Seb, who made her think of cool sheets and hot male skin under her hands... This Seb made her think of passion-filled nights and naughty afternoon sex. Of lust, heat and attraction.
Thoughts at the speed of light dashed through her head as she looked for an explanation for her extreme reaction. She was obviously orgasm-deprived, she decided. She hadn’t had sex for....oh, way too long. Right! If that was the problem—and she was sure it was—there was, she remembered, a very discreet little shop close to home that could take care of it.
Except that she was broke... Rowan scowled at her shoes. Broke and horny...what a miserable combination. Yet it was the only explanation that made a smidgeon of sense.
Seb stopped in front of her and jammed his hands into the pockets of very nicely fitting jeans.
His voice rumbled over her, prickling her skin.
Yep, there was the snotty devil she remembered. Under that luscious masculine body that looked and—oh, my—smelled so good. It was in those deep eyes, in the vibration of his voice. The shallow dimple in his right cheek. The grown-up version of the studious, serious boy who had either tolerated, tormented or loathed her at different stages of her life. Always irritating.
‘I have a name, Seb.’
He had the audacity to grin at her. ‘Yeah, but you know I prefer mine.’ He looked over at Mr Good-looking and his smile was shark-sharp. ‘Lucky escape for you, bro’. She’s trouble written in six-foot neon.’
* * *
As rugby-boy turned away with a disappointed sigh, inside his head Seb placed his hands on his thighs and pulled in deep, cleansing, calming breaths of pure oxygen. He felt as if his heart wanted to bungee-jump from his chest without a cord. His stomach and spleen were going along for the ride.
Well, wasn’t this a kick in the head?
This was Rowan? What had happened to the skinny kid with a silver ring through her brow and a stud in her nose? The clothes that she had called ‘boho chic’ but which had looked as if she’d been shopping in Tramp’s Alley? Skirts that had been little more than strips of cloth around her hips, knee-high combat boots, Goth make-up...
Now leather boots peeked out from under the hem of nicely fitting blue jeans. She wore a plain white button-down shirt with the bottom buttons open to show a broad leather belt, and a funky leather and blue bead necklace lay between the wilted collar of the shirt. Her hair was still the blue-black of a starling’s wing, tumbling in natural curls down her back, and her eyes, black as the deepest African night, were faintly shadowed in blue. Her face was free of make-up and those incredible eyes—framed by dark lashes and brows—brimmed with an emotion he couldn’t immediately identify.
Resignation? Trepidation and fear? Then she tossed her head and he saw pride flash in her eyes.
And there was the Rowan he remembered. He dismissed the feeling that his life was about to be impacted by this tiny dark-haired sprite with amazing eyes and a wide, mobile mouth that begged to be kissed.
He’d said goodbye to a kid, but this Rowan was all woman. A woman, if she were anyone but Rowan, he would be thinking about getting into bed. Immediately. As in grabbing her hand, finding the closest room and throwing her onto the bed, chair, floor...whatever was closer.
His inner cave man was thumping his chest. Look here, honey! I’m a sex god! He felt embarrassed on his own behalf. Get a grip, dude!
He hoped his face was devoid of all expression, but in his mind Seb tipped his head back and directed a stream of silent curses at the universe. When I asked what else could go wrong, I meant it as a figure of speech—not as a challenge to hit me with your best shot.
Rowan broke the uncomfortable silence. ‘So...it’s been a long time. You look...good.’
Good? Try sensational!
‘Where did you fly in from?’ he asked. Politeness? Good grief, they’d never been civil and he wondered how long it would last.
‘Sydney. Nightmare flight, I had a screaming baby behind me and an ADD toddler in front of me. And the man in the seat next to me sniffed the entire time.’
‘Two words. Business class.’
Rowan grimaced. ‘One word. Broke.’
She shoved a hand into her hair, lifted and pushed a couple of loose curls off her face.
‘Would you consider changing your mind about loaning me the money to get back to London?’
Rowan threw her demand into the silence between them.
Thirty seconds from polite to miffed. It had to be a record.
‘Well? Will you?’