He sighed and then moved across the bed toward me. He wrapped his strong arms around me, pulling my back against his chest. His warm lips touched my cheek. “Liar,” he breathed, his teeth nipping at my earlobe. “But I’ll let you keep your secrets. For now.”

Before I could respond his phone started ringing. Closest to it, I grabbed it from the table and handed it to him. Still holding on to me, he read the screen and smiled. “Maggie,” he said.

His sister. The one at university.

“Hiya, darlin’,” he answered. I could hear the faint murmuring of her answer. “Why did you not tell me you were coming?” Then more murmuring. “Aye, of course. I’m bringing Rain though.” I raised an eyebrow, wondering what I was being brought to. Craig laughed. “Well it had to happen some time.” More murmuring. “You’ll find out today . . . Okay. See you then.” He hung up and edged around the bed to face me, grinning. “That was Maggie.”

I smiled. “So I gathered.”

“She’s home with Mum for a few days. Wants to catch up. I thought you might like to come meet her.”

“Today?” I frowned. “I’d like to . . . but I can’t stay for long. I have work to do.”

“Just for lunch, then?” He slid an arm around me, hauling me up against his chest. “You’re two of my favorite people. I really want you to meet each other.”

That was nice. More than nice actually. I found myself melting. Damn willpower. “Okay. I can do lunch.”

* * *

“Jesus Christ, how did you score her?” were the first words I heard out of Maggie Lanaghan’s mouth. She slapped her brother on the chest and grinned. “She’s way out of your league.”


Craig gave a long-suffering sigh as we stood in front of the Italian restaurant, D’Alessandro’s. “Rain, this is my annoying wee sister, Maggie. Maggie, this is Rain, my girlfriend.”

Like always, a little thrill ran through me at those words. “Nice to meet you.” I stuck my hand out to her.

“Och none of that.” She stepped into my space, wrapping her arms around me for a hug. I could do nothing but laugh and hug her back. “We’re practically sisters now.” She winked mischievously and then laughed when she saw Craig scowling.

“You trying to scare her off?”

Maggie raised an eyebrow. “Actually I was teasing you, but it looks like . . .” She shook her head in amazement and turned back to me. She raised her hands and bowed liked I was some kind of deity.

I laughed.

“Maggie, for fuc—”

“Seriously. Miracle maker.” Maggie cut Craig off. “Finally a woman has done the impossible and snared my whorish big brother. I don’t know which one of you I’m most proud of.”

Craig wrapped his arm around her neck, drawing her into his side and scrubbing the top of her hair in irritated affection. “Nice to see you, Mags. Now do you want to shut the fuck up?”

I laughed as he led her inside the restaurant in a headlock.

Maggie was everything I had been expecting and more. From the pictures I’d seen in Craig’s flat, she looked like her mother, a tall brunette with pretty features and gorgeous bone structure. She wore her long hair in a messy half-bun half-ponytail. Her skinny jeans were old and faded at the knees, and she wore a University of Aberdeen hoodie that was two sizes too big. Even grungy she looked gorgeous. However, according to Craig her personality couldn’t have been more different from their mother’s. He said where Karen was reserved and had a quiet, quick humor, Maggie was clearly the opposite—loud, cheeky, and mischievous. And it was pretty apparent that Craig adored her.

Once we were seated at a table for lunch Maggie stared at me a long moment.

“Is there something wrong?” I said, touching my styled hair.

“No, you’re just seriously fucking beautiful.” She looked at Craig. “You said she was gorgeous but she’s seriously fucking beautiful.”

Craig laughed, that laughter deepening when he saw me squirm uncomfortably in my chair. “Aye. But you might want to lower your voice. You’re embarrassing Rain.”

“Sorry.” She shrugged and I had to wonder if she really was sorry. “It’s just I assumed when my brother finally got tagged by a bird it would be some cheap, plastic, orange-tanned Barbie with no personality. Not some 1940s pin-up.” Her eyes washed over me and she looked back at Craig. “I think I have a girl crush on your girlfriend.”

He rolled his eyes at her antics. “Right. We’ve got it. You approve. Now stop embarrassing Rain. I mean it.”

Maggie grinned at him and then looked at me. “I’m sorry. Honest, I am. I’m just excited! This is freaking cool!” She smacked Craig on the arm. “My big bro all loved up.”

“And are you?” I asked her, hoping to change the subject.

This elicited a snort from Craig’s sister. “Me? I’m always loved up. I’m a bigger manwhore than my brother.”

“Oh no,” Craig groaned and rubbed a hand over his eyes. “Subject change. Now.”

I shared a secret smile with her. “How’s uni going?”

“Great! Except I’m skint all the time.” She pouted comically. “Not so good. But! I love coming home because big bro always takes me out to eat. It’s a nice break from noodles and beans on toast.”

The waiter arrived to take our order, stopping us mid-conversation. Once he was gone, Craig narrowed his gaze on his sister. “I told you to phone me if you need money. I’ll not have you starving up there.”

“I’m fine.” She waved him off, giving his hand a reassuring squeeze. “I promise.”

He squeezed her hand back and I added another thing I adored about him to my list: He really, really loved his sister. His whole family, in fact.

While we talked about Maggie’s roommates at uni, a family at the next table became hard to ignore. Really it was their son who became hard to ignore. He looked about four or five and he was being very loud. Extremely loud. And he was using his food as missiles.

“Toby, sweetheart, please stop. Sit nice and be quiet,” his desperately mortified-looking mother urged.

Maggie, who kept stopping to glower at the boy, eyed Toby as he said, “No. Fuck off!”

His mother drew in a breath, looking ready to cry.

“Toby, is it?” Maggie suddenly leaned away from our table to theirs.

The mother went beetroot at the attention. Craig murmured at Maggie to sit back and was defiantly ignored.

“Yeah!” Toby replied, crossing his arms over his chest as if to say, “What’s it to you?”

“Have you ever heard of The Bed Brute, Toby?”

Toby shook his head. “What’s that?”

“It’s not a that. It’s a who.” Maggie said. “A monster, to be exact.”

“A monster?” Toby leaned toward her now, sounding intrigued.

“Yup.” She nodded, her expression deadpan. “The Bed Brute has a problem with children who are rude to their parents. He doesn’t like it, Toby.”

Toby’s expression fell.

“He especially doesn’t like children who say bad words to their parents. And if a child is rude a lot and says bad words a lot, The Bed Brute finds out. And do you know what he does, Toby?”

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