Here she was tanned, her hair was longer, loose and she was wearing only a singlet top and shorts. She looked light and bright and confident.
OK, so she’d been shocked to see him. The moment of recognition had written it all over her face. Not a pleasant surprise. But she was smiling again now. Eyes veiled for sure. But still a smile—an incredible smile, actually.
‘I wanted to see you. I wanted to…’ He hesitated. It had ended badly. Less than a week after the wedding there’d been a hell of a row and she’d walked. It had been his fault. And at the time he’d been a bit relieved—sanity had started to return. But then he’d started to wonder. ‘I wanted to make sure you’re OK.’
It had been a relief to finally hear from her—but just getting the divorce papers wasn’t enough. He couldn’t just sign them and forget. He had to see her for himself. To be sure. There weren’t many things in his life he regretted. But he regretted that week more than anything.
‘Well—’ her smile didn’t falter ‘—as you can see, I’m fine, Sebastian.’
That hint of challenge in her voice slipped into his blood like a needle shot of deadly virus. His body reacted on the spot. Could it fight it—finally build some defence—or would it succumb to the disease—again?
‘Yeah.’ He nodded, despite himself. ‘You are.’
She was more than fine. The ripple in his body told him that, the rise of temperature, of awareness. He might be looking at her face, but every cell absorbed her slender curves and incredibly long limbs that were so on show in those short, short shorts.
Memories stirred. Memories he’d buried. The scent, the laughter, the sparkle in her eyes and the satin of her skin. And her heat.
He was stifling hot now—it was Africa though, wasn’t it?—not because of her. It was the dry, inescapable heat of a continent almost always in drought.
Well, not quite. Because not only was he hot. He was hard. He suppressed the unexpected flare of desire. Surely not. Not going there again. He looked back on that week and it was like this blurred rush of events that had knocked the breath from his lungs and the sense from his head. Even now he couldn’t work out how it had happened. How he’d come to commit such folly.
Then he refocused on her. Felt the tightening deep within. And knew. Sexual drive, physical compatibility, instant lust. Whatever you wanted to call it, they’d had it—by the oversized shipping-container load. But they hadn’t had anything else. They hadn’t had time for anything else—and no interest either. He never had interest in more.
He felt a vague stirring of panic. So he’d seen her. She was fine—clearly absolutely, completely, utterly fine. But now he was stuck on a truck with her for another week. Not well planned, Seb. He wanted to call out to the driver, to get off again, but they were out of the town now and heading towards some national park wilderness. OK. He sat a little further away from her. He could handle this, couldn’t he? He could control his more insane animal urges. Hadn’t he spent the last year discovering the meaning of discipline?
Ana looked out of the side of the truck and blinked. Trying to stop the fog from clouding her head. She’d forgotten. She’d totally forgotten. OK, so she’d made herself forget. It had been the only way to get through the heartache, by blanking out the electricity that had arced between them. But here it was back again. Like a flash, before she’d even realised it was him—making her body want to bend towards him.
As he was almost six foot five people couldn’t help but notice Sebastian—and that was just the height thing. While she knew all about that, that was where their commonality ended. When you added the rest of Seb’s body, the smile and the ice-blue eyes, you had an awesome package—something that definitely couldn’t be said for her. She was just overly tall, overly angular, overly shy. And there was something more about Seb. Something that transcended the physical. Something that made not just women sit up, but men too. That unspoken authority, his confidence.
A man in control—the man in control.
That was Seb. The one everyone said yes to. But she wasn’t going to let him take control of them again as he had that week. There was no them.
Confidence rippled through her. Yes. She was no longer the pushover he’d met back then. In fact the strength she now had was partly a result of his attention. There might have been nothing else, but that extreme passion had been something for her to cling to. No one had ever wanted her—or indeed had her—the way Sebastian had in that week. And for someone to have wanted her like that—even for just a short time—had been a huge boost to her self-esteem. For the first time in her life she’d felt beautiful. Such a shame, then, wasn’t it, that what had then happened had happened? But she’d learned from it—moved on and become determined to make something more of herself. Really she ought to thank him for giving her the fuel, the firepower to finally take charge of her life. ‘So you’re joining the truck?’