It had got worse, huh?
‘I left home as soon as I could.’
‘What about you? You have brothers and sisters?’
Seb hesitated. Where to begin on any of that nightmare? Yeah, he knew how hard it was to try to get along with other kids you had nothing in common with but that you had to live with because of the adults in your life. In his case it was because of the marriages—and remarriages—of his parents. But that was too big a can of worms and he went for the easy option. ‘No.’ He looked at her, waited for her to look at him. ‘Jeez, we really didn’t know each other at all, did we?’
She held his gaze for a moment. Then laughed and turned away. ‘I don’t think we wanted to. I think we were both too happy in our own la-la lands.’
He laughed at that. It was true. It had been such madness. ‘But it was good, wasn’t it?’ He couldn’t resist pointing it out. ‘What we did have.’
There was a slight rise of her shoulders—and a total avoidance of answer. As a result he was compelled by the need to press her for more. ‘So why did you come to Africa? Did you send the divorce papers and then run away?’ That was a talent of hers, wasn’t it—running away?
‘I didn’t run away. I wanted an adventure. One that I was in control of.’
As opposed to the adventure they’d had together? The one in which neither of them had been in control? ‘Were you going to see me when you got back?’
She’d sent him the divorce papers, a brief note outlining her plans and asking for the paperwork to be sent to her new lawyer. She hadn’t wanted to see him; she’d hoped he’d simply sign and send it all away. ‘You’re a coward, Ana.’
She was silent for a moment. Then he saw her chin go up. ‘I was. For a long time I was,’ she agreed quietly. ‘But I’m not any more.’
Ana spent the late afternoon reading in the shade and ignoring the football game Seb had organised amongst the lads. She didn’t need reminding of how fit he was. She was already spending far too much time thinking of his incredible sex drive.
But at dinner he sat beside her and made her converse—asked her about other highlights of the Africa trip, about what she’d seen and done. Safe topics. And yet not safe—because it was so easy to smile, to laugh, to relax. And as darkness swooped the conversation lengthened, deepened until she lost track of time.
She didn’t sleep much through the night—conscious of him lying only yards away outside. She woke early, hot and bothered, and sat inside the tent to control her hormones and fast-beating heart. It wasn’t just his physical proximity, it was the talking-with-him thing too. It made him all the more attractive. What she needed was some confidence. Some ‘don’t think you can mess with me’ attitude. She delved deep into the bottom of her pack and resolutely strapped on the ridiculous shoes she’d lugged round for weeks. She couldn’t believe she’d brought them with her, nor that she was actually going to wear them now. But it was a desperate situation. Something about Seb made her want to have the guts to wear them and get away with it. He thought she wasn’t too tall? She’d show him.
He noticed them right away. ‘Oh, they’re so appropriate, aren’t they? High heels on safari.’
‘Yes, they are.’ She took up the challenge. ‘You don’t like how tall they make me?’
He shrugged, arrogantly uncaring. ‘I’m still taller than you.’
Her eyes narrowed. ‘One day I’ll find a pair that’ll make me taller than you.’
‘Try the circus—they have stilts there.’
‘You’re not afraid of looking up to me?’
‘Your height doesn’t intimidate me.’ He grinned. ‘It’s actually quite interesting.’ He leaned and dropped his voice to seduction volume. ‘A good fit where it counts. No need for me to be a contortionist.’
Oh, now there was a thought. It was too easy to go over the line with him. And she went one further, provocatively leaning closer, a mere millimetre from contact, registering with pleasure the widening of his eyes. ‘Want to know the best thing about these shoes?’
His mouth opened but no sound emerged.
She smiled. ‘The heels are really good for treading on toes when someone gets too close.’ She pulled back and flicked a cool look at him.
His eyes narrowed. ‘I consider myself warned.’
‘Great.’ She turned and positively strutted away, hiding the grin of victory.
They climbed back into the Jeeps and drove down the rocky road into the crater—one of the world’s natural heritage sites. It was a trip she’d been looking forward to for ages and despite only a few hours’ broken sleep she was determined to make the most of it—damned if she was going to let her chaotic hormones ruin it.