“I’m not some fickle creature who falls in and out of love easily. In fact I’ve never been in love. I’ve been close though. I don’t throw my whole heart into the relationship before really getting to know the guy, and by the time I’d gotten to know my past boyfriends they proved themselves not up to the task of loving me the way I wanted them to. And vice versa.”

Craig chuckled. “Are you trying to tell me you’re high maintenance, Rain?”

“Yes,” I answered honestly. “Not with general life stuff or daily living. I don’t nag about tidying up or having the boys around for boxing night or video game night every weekend . . . but emotionally I know I’m high maintenance.” I bit my lip at the confession, surprised I’d given away so much. What was it about him that made me feel so comfortable that I started blurting out these terribly personal pieces of information?

“There must be a reason. Perhaps the reason is in Inverness,” he hedged with a shocking amount of perceptiveness.

Something in my expression must have given me away because Craig’s own gaze softened and he leaned across the table toward me until all I could see was his gorgeous face. “You know when I lost my dad it made me cling hard to the family I had left—my mum and my sisters. It made me really overprotective of them. Like you with Darcy.”

He’d guessed then that I’d lost family. “My parents.” I nodded, unable to look away from his eyes. “I was six. Darcy was four. It was a boating accident. We went to live with my aunt. She was a drunk.”

“Fuck,” Craig breathed. He reached for my hand and secured it between both of his. “I take it things were not good at home.”

I stared at my hand held so tightly in his. My hand looked right in his hold. It felt even more right. I immediately wanted to tug it back, but the warmth, the comfort of his gesture stopped me. “No. Things weren’t good at home.”

“You left Darcy. That’s why you feel guilty.”

“I couldn’t take her with me. My aunt wouldn’t let me and I had no legal right to her. I just had to bide my time . . . but the truth is . . . I could have stuck around. I could have stayed anyway. I was selfish. I was a selfish, self-involved teenager and my sister was left to that woman’s cruelty because of it.”

“You were just a kid.”


Unsettled by his kindness, I released my hand from his grasp and lowered my gaze. “Well, anyway, it’s the reason you should probably turn tail and run.”

“And why’s that?”

I looked up again and put all the sincerity in the world into my eyes and words. “Because other than Darcy, I didn’t receive a lot of affection for most of my childhood. Now I’m greedy for it. I’m someone who’s emotionally high maintenance in a relationship and I’m told it’s exhausting. So there. I’m not who you think I am.”

Craig studied me thoughtfully. “Who do you think I think you are?”

“I don’t know really. I just know that I’m complicated. I’m super independent in life, and in business, to the point where it drove my exes crazy. And then when it came to romance I’ve been told I’m too needy. I’m a messy paradox of a woman and it’s going to take a certain guy who can deal with all that. Not a one-night-stander. I need certainty in the future. I’ve been hurt before and I need to know going in that a guy is the right guy, that we’ll last, and that he won’t hurt me.”

His study of me continued in silence for a moment and then finally he said, “I should probably be running for the door right now.”

“Yes, you should.”

His slow, wicked smile made my insides quiver. “Strangely I don’t want to. I want to be your friend, Rain.”

To my annoyance, disappointment rammed into me gut. Of course he would change his tune after hearing about my emotional dysfunction. And that’s what I wanted, right?



I realized then that I didn’t want to be just friends with Craig but I also didn’t want to be in a relationship with someone who could hurt me, and that meant that I didn’t want him in my life at all.

“I don’t think we should be friends.”

He chuckled. “You know you have a habit of bruising my ego.”

I winced. “I don’t mean to.”

“I know. And yet still you do. But no matter.” He grinned boyishly. “I have every intention of changing your mind.”


Craig’s eyes were glued to Rain’s fantastic arse as she walked away from him and into the ladies’ toilets. He found himself smiling at what she was wearing. A short-sleeved black shirt that was buttoned all the way up to its little collar at her neck. The shirt was tight-fitting and tucked into a high-waist pencil skirt that followed the curve of her hips. Its hemline was modest and tight around her calves, forcing her to sashay in her high-heeled dark green shoes.

She had hardly any skin on show and yet it was the sexiest fucking outfit he’d ever seen in his life. Her feminine 1940s’ bombshell style was starting to become one of his favorite things about her.

And there were lots of favorite things to choose from.

A member of the coffeehouse staff came over to clear their table. “Can we have another Americano and . . .” He peered at Rain’s cup trying to work out what she’d been drinking.

“Green tea,” the guy supplied.

Craig eyed him. “Good memory.”

“She’s kind of memorable.” He shot him a grin.

Craig scowled at him.

Rain doesn’t have to worry about any lack of possessiveness on my part.

It wasn’t the first time he’d been pissed off about another guy thinking of Rain in a sexual way. Of course men would think of her sexually. She was beautiful. But Craig didn’t want to see it. Last weekend at the bar, when she was flirting with that arsehole, and that arsehole was touching her, Craig felt like he was going to come out of his skin. He’d never felt such an overwhelming urge to lay claim to a woman, to metaphorically piss around her so no other bastard would come near her.

She’s mine.

That fierce thought had entered his mind last Saturday as he’d watched her flirt with Angus, scorching his blood with their intrinsic sense of rightness. That’s why he’d followed her to the restrooms. He couldn’t stop himself. He’d never been so pissed off at a woman in his life before, and yet so desperate to have her in his arms.

Finally, Craig understood from experience why Braden Carmichael had looked at him like he wanted to deck him for the first few months of his relationship with Joss. If Craig had had to watch Rain kiss Angus like Braden had had to watch him kiss Joss . . .

For the first time ever he felt a little guilty about the whole incident with Joss.

Not that he’d ever admit that to Braden of course.

Strangely he found himself in a similar situation to Braden—wanting a woman who stubbornly refused to let him in.

And even after Rain’s attempt to scare him off (and he bloody well knew that it was an attempt to scare him off), Craig had no intention of going anywhere.

Honestly . . . aye, her warning about her craving for affection at once worried him and motivated him. Right now he was absolutely sure he was up to the challenge of showering Rain Alexander with affection.

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