Maybe it wasn’t enough.
“Don’t you dare,” she admonished. “You’re a grown man. I’m not cutting into your life.”
“You’re my mum. It’s not exactly cutting into my life.”
She gave him a sly smile. “What if I were to tell you I’d joined a dating site?”
Craig jerked a little, completely taken aback. His mum hadn’t been on a date for ten years, and it wasn’t because she wasn’t a good-looking woman. She didn’t look her fifty-five years, with her trim figure and smooth skin. But she’d spent the past ten years caring for her children and missing her late husband.
It would be nice for her to have company . . . but the thought of her dating . . . Craig scowled. “Dating sites can be dangerous.”
She laughed. “I thought you’d take it well.”
“You’re being serious, then?”
She shrugged. “I need a life, Craig. It’s time.”
He mused quietly over this as he drank his coffee. He didn’t like the idea of her using dating sites. He wasn’t sure he liked the idea of her dating at all. A heavy feeling sat in his gut—a feeling of concern and powerlessness. He hated it. It warred with the part of him that knew his mother deserved to find happiness again.
Finally he stood up. “If you make a date with someone, tell me about it. I want to know when and where—” He raised a hand to cut off her coming protest. “It’s for your safety, alright? You can’t be too sure these days.”
Sighing, his mum nodded. “Okay, darlin’.” Her eyes filled with tenderness. “Don’t work too hard.”
He gave her a small smile, rinsed out his mug, and kissed her on the cheek. “Love you,” he said gruffly.
Her whole face lit up like it always did when he told her he loved her. That’s why he did it as often as he could. “I love you too, son.”
* * *
“Okay, you haven’t flirted with one customer or Jo this evening, so I have to ask . . . what is going on with you?” an American voice said from behind him.
Craig shot his colleague, fellow bartender, and friend, Joss Butler, a wry look over his shoulder. “I remember getting my head bitten off the last time I asked you that. There might have been a finger involved, and not in a good way.”
She rolled her eyes at his teasing. “Forget I asked.”
“Well I want to know.” Jo sidled up to them.
It was a Friday evening, and they were having a weirdly quiet lull.
“Plus”—Jo shot Joss a teasing smile—“if Joss is using this time to talk to us instead of canoodling with Carmichael then she really must be worried about you.”
Joss glowered at Jo and they laughed.
Across the bar, sitting in their usual seats were Joss’s boyfriend, Braden Carmichael, and his sister, Ellie, and her boyfriend, Adam. Sometimes they visited the bar on nights Joss was working. Craig had never seen a man as smitten as Braden, although it could be said his best friend, Adam, was a close contender.
Craig didn’t blame them. Although he wasn’t really a relationship-type guy, he could see the attraction. Ellie was a tall, very pretty, and very sweet blonde. And Joss . . . Well, Joss was another matter entirely. She was sexy as hell.
He didn’t know if it was the fact that she was gorgeous as fuck with her seductive gray cat eyes and the best pair of tits he’d ever seen, or if it was more than that. Craig had known her a good few years now, and yet he felt like he hardly knew anything about her.
He compared her to his other colleague. Jo was tall, built like a supermodel, and was probably technically the most beautiful woman he’d ever met, and ever slept with. But he knew all he needed to know about Jo. She was a nice enough girl, but he couldn’t fully respect a woman who would open her legs for the richest fucker who came along just so she had a few nice pairs of shoes in her wardrobe. The only reason she slept with him was because they were drunk and she’d just been dumped by the latest wealthy asshole.
However, Joss . . . Joss was a mystery. She was sharp, quick-witted, and rarely gave anything away about her life. She intrigued him. Maybe it was because he hadn’t had her, but he’d always fancied her and saw her as the ultimate challenge. She had the kind of charisma that was rare—it made her stand out to him, made her that wee bit more special than most of the women he’d known. Craig reckoned she was the kind of woman who might have changed his one-night-stand ways . . . But they’d never know because there was one thing he did know about Joss:
She was completely in love with Braden Carmichael.
The lucky fuck.
Craig smirked at the thought. The only reason he wasn’t put out by this fact was because Braden felt the same way about Joss, and . . . honestly, Craig wasn’t exactly unhappy in his pursuit of women. He had it free and easy. Life was good.
Except for one thing.
“My mum joined an Internet dating site.” He saw Joss’s mouth twitch with amusement and rolled his eyes. “Why do I bother?”
“No, I’m sorry.” She held up her hands in placation. “I’m not going to laugh. I swear.”
He shot a look at Jo, who was also trying to contain her amusement.
“Why did Alistair have to be sick tonight?” he groaned and leaned on the bar, lowering his head into his hands, referring to their other colleague who Jo was covering for.
“Are they torturing you, Craig?” Braden’s familiar voice drew his head back up.
Braden leaned against the bar, staring at Joss in amusement.