Relief, more relief than he’d ever expected to feel, rushed through him. “Does that mean you’ll take that stroll with me?”
She finished her tea, grabbed her purse from the back of her chair, and stood up. “Where are we strolling?”
* * *
They walked at a leisurely pace toward the Royal Mile and wandered along it, talking and stopping occasionally to look at street art and a couple of stalls set up for the tourists. While they walked, they talked, and they pretty much covered everything from food to music to politics to business to family and so on.
They’d strolled up along George IV Bridge and toward the university, which they were now bypassing as they headed toward The Meadows.
“I can’t believe you actually think The Clash are rubbish.” Craig stared at her aghast.
“I can’t believe you think that’s music.” She huffed.
“And Dinah Shore is music?”
“Yes,” she said adamantly. “Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Glenn Miller, Nat King Cole, Evelyn Knight. That’s music.”
“Do you like anything outside of the 1940s?” he teased.
“Yes.” She mock scowled at him. “The Beatles. Amy Winehouse. Oasis. Adele. The Killers. Lana Del Rey.”
“That’s all I can think of right now.”
“So what’s wrong with The Clash?”
Rain wrinkled her nose, making him want to kiss it. “It’s not just The Clash. It’s all British punk rock. It makes my ears bleed.” She shot him a speculative look. “I never would have taken you for a punk rock fan.”
He smiled. “You think you have me all figured out but you don’t.”
“I’m starting to realize that.”
Sounds of children’s laughter met their ears as they wandered into the heart of The Meadows. They followed the sound to the children’s play park and Craig noted Rain smile.
“Do you want kids?”
She looked startled by the question. “Now?”
He laughed. ‘No.”
“Oh. In that case, yes. Eventually. When I’ve seen a bit more of the world, when I feel a little more grown-up. You?”
“Aye, eventually,” he admitted, realizing then that he did. It wasn’t something he’d thought a lot on, but he’d always known that when he finally found the right woman, children would naturally follow.
“Another surprise,” she murmured. “This is turning into an interesting walk.”
His gaze fell to her feet. “You’re sure you’re alright doing all this walking in those heels?”
Rain gave him a soft smile that might as well have been a giant thump on the chest. “I’m fine. But thank you for asking.”
In that moment he really wanted to take her hand in his, but he restrained himself. This was going well and he didn’t want to ruin it by pushing her.
“This was one of the first places I brought Darcy when she finally agreed to come live with me in Edinburgh.”
“Yeah. We had a picnic over by those trees.” She pointed off in the distance. “Things were still a bit strained between us and I was probably trying too hard. We were sitting in awkward silence munching on these gourmet sandwiches I’d bought—not homemade as I have absolutely no culinary skills whatsoever—when these two cute guys playing football near us sent the ball crashing into our picnic. They came over to apologize and ended up chatting with us a while. They left with our numbers.” She grinned happily at the memory. “Darcy looked at me like I’d just worked a miracle and she said ‘I love it here.’ It was silly and they were just two cute guys who never lasted beyond two dates, but they took us outside of the only thing that we had in common at the time—my aunt and the hurt she’d caused us. We needed the reminder that there was more connecting us than just that. And here we found it.”
Craig’s heart had started to pound as soon as she mentioned her aunt and the abuse she’d caused them. A fierce wave of protectiveness rushed over him and he found himself mentally promising not to let anything happen to this woman.
His feelings for her were growing intense too fast. He knew that. But it was also a fucking rush, a thrill he hadn’t expected from life.
“Do you still live with your sister?” He managed to speak normally despite the deep thoughts and emotions he was experiencing.
“Yeah. We actually live in Morningside. We moved there three months ago when the business picked up. It’s a nice flat.”
“Why don’t I walk you to it?”
Rain bit her lip in thought and Craig wanted to bite it for her instead. “Just walking me to my flat?”
“No funny business.” He reiterated his promise from a few weeks ago.
They were passing a bakery in Bruntsfield when Rain made a moaning noise that caused his blood to heat.
“Oh, I love this place.” She gestured to the bakery window. “They have these delicious little cupcakes but they’re so expensive. I treat myself to a box every few months.”
She went to pass the place but Craig wrapped his hand around her waist and tugged her gently toward the shop door.
“What are you doing?”
He didn’t answer. Instead he led her inside, smiling at the girl behind the counter before dropping his gaze to the cakes. He spotted the cupcakes. According to the signs there were chocolate and caramel, pecan and maple, raspberry ripple, lemon drizzle, and vanilla and strawberry.