Man, it was hot—since the second the sun had started to rise its power had been extreme. It didn’t help that Seb was now sitting in the seat next to the aisle and Ana’s long tanned legs were swinging down beside him from where she was perched back up on the crossbars that supported the tarpaulin covering. The drive through the night had nearly been the death of him. While he’d enjoyed how they’d talked, he wished like hell they’d been alone—or were alone now. Then he’d tug on that delectably fine-boned ankle and pull her down, kiss her as he’d been dreaming of kissing her for days. Watching her rest on the bagged tents in the wee small hours, he’d fantasised about the kind of mattress they’d make if only they were alone. If only she’d say yes. If only they weren’t bloody married and had enough mess between them already.
The frustration was driving him crazy. There had been no one since her. And now he realised he wanted no one but her. But it would be beyond stupid. They’d muddied their lives enough with what they’d done the last time they’d given into temptation. They wanted different things—she wanted the whole happy-ever-after commitment bit and he just wanted fun and carefree. Problem was he only wanted to do fun with her.
Dar es Salaam came into view. Finally. Big and busy and when would the damn boat arrive to take them to Zanzibar? Seb was over the whole budget tourist thing. Of course he could stop here—ditch the truck and its passengers and go on his own road. But he couldn’t bring himself to. Not now the fire had been lit in him once more. He’d remain a slave to temptation—bitten by the bug. He was enjoying her company too much to walk away just yet. And there was that hint of hope, wasn’t there? He could see that look in her eye. So he couldn’t leave.
It felt like for ever but finally Ana got off the boat and onto the island of Zanzibar. She needed to rest. The lack of sleep she’d had last night was messing with her reason and she was thinking things she really shouldn’t.
Tempting things. Wicked things.
Ever since he’d told her to stay away she’d felt the desire to do the exact opposite. So she climbed into the waiting Jeep, moved along so he could sit beside her and they were taken away from the bustling Stone Town to one of the beaches on the far side of Zanzibar.
There were four bandas—huts—in a row and then another four behind those. The rest of the budget resort consisted of a large open-air bar/restaurant and an open-top toilet and shower facility. Basic at best. But so incredibly beautiful.
She walked into the banda that had been assigned to her and Seb. An A-frame made of wood and palm, its only furniture four built-in cot-like beds—bare wooden frames with canvas stretching over them—hard and only a fraction wider than single beds. There was no floor, just soft sand underfoot. And a door made of the same mass of woven-together leaves.
She turned and found he was standing in the doorway behind her. The weather gods had smiled upon her and he’d been in the mosquito net under the stars outside her tent every night since that first. But their tents and nets were back on the truck in Dar es Salaam and now there was just this dim, spacious hut.
‘I don’t think we should share,’ he said, arms folded across his chest. ‘I’ll see if there’s room in anoth—’
‘It’s OK.’ She avoided looking at him. They were adults. They could handle it.
Besides, there was no way they could both squash up on those cots. Not without being on top of each other. But, oh, didn’t she want just that?
She stepped back at the same time as he and they avoided each other all afternoon as if by tacit agreement. As the evening progressed they sat on opposite sides of the bar and joined in the conversation with the others. Ana didn’t drink. Nor, she noted, did he. Too dangerous. Any hint of intoxication would see her will sliding from her. Temptation would be impossible to resist.
So she played it safer still, loitering in the bar until it was late, changed into her sleepwear in the bathroom facility. Left it long enough to be sure he’d be already tucked safely away.
She didn’t look at him as she slid inside her thin silk sleeping bag.
‘Goodnight, Ana.’ He flicked the torch off.
The narrow cot creaked as she wriggled on it, bunching up her fleece jumper again, trying to push it into more of a comfy pillow. Seb muttered about the length of the hard little beds. Then silence.
Minutes that felt like hours later she knew he was still awake. Could feel the awareness swirling between them in the room. She counted sheep, thought happy thoughts, closed her eyes and consciously tried to relax all her muscles.