Megan the Mummy

“Let’s swap lives for a bit. It’ll give me a chance to see what being a mother’s like and give you a change of pace. What do you say?”

Megan blamed the wine. That and stupidity for her suggestion to her identical twin. What the hell had she been thinking? She wasn’t mother material. She should just have told her husband that, then seduced him every time the topic came up. That plan would have been a win-win for everyone. But no, instead of being sensible, she’d gotten tipsy and proposed a twin swap. And, of course, Claire had jumped at the idea because it meant she got to wear sexy biker gear and spend a weekend playing bodyguard to a pop princess in Glasgow. Meanwhile, Megan got five kids under six to deal with.

Make no mistake: she loved her nieces and nephews—in small doses. She liked sailing in as the awesome aunt, spoiling them rotten, and then leaving the cleanup for their parents. Or turning up with Dimitri in tow and letting him do all the icky bits. It was the perfect way to have kids in your life. All of the fun, none of the work.

Yet, here she was, creeping down Claire’s hallway at six in the morning to comfort Claire’s baby while hoping that the noise didn’t wake up Claire’s two sets of twins.

It was the dumbest idea she’d had in a long time.

And that was saying something.

“Shh, baby,” Megan cooed as she entered Joseph’s room. It had no effect. The wailing got louder.

Megan hurried to the crib, gathered the world’s biggest baby into her arms, and shushed him again. “You’re okay. You’re fine. Let’s not wake the demons, okay? Are you hungry? Is your nappy dirty?”

What else was there?

She looked around the room, hoping there was a handbook somewhere. She remembered Claire constantly reading baby books before her first set of twins. Surely, she’d kept one. But the only books Megan spotted were the fabric kind that Joseph could gnaw on.

Handling Joseph as she might a grenade, Megan placed him on top of the changing table and unsnapped his cotton onesie. The smell hit her like a punch to the face, making her reel back, bend over, and gag.

This was worse than that time she’d had to hide behind a dumpster in a London alley.

Way worse.

She glanced up to find Joseph making a bid for freedom and dove to catch him before he toppled off the table. Unfortunately, catching the mini escape artist also sent his nappy flying. It smeared across the baby, the top of the changing table, her hand, and her arm before plopping to the floor—poop side down.

Joseph giggled and gazed up at Megan with oversized blue eyes.

“Now you stop crying?”

He flashed her a toothy grin.

Megan eyed the mess with utter disgust. “What the hell is your mother feeding you?”

Joseph just kept grinning.

There was luminous yellow poop, the consistency of toothpaste, everywhere, and the stench in the room was overwhelming. She couldn’t breathe. She was going to vomit. Where was a gas mask when you needed it? Keeping one hand on the baby’s belly, she reached for the nearby window and threw it open. A cold breeze blew the smell back into her face, making her retch.

“Mummy?” a little voice said from the doorway, and Megan turned to find one of her six-year-old nieces standing bleary-eyed, staring at her. She was dressed in a tiger onesie, minus its tail.

“Go back to bed…” Damn, which twin wore the tiger? “Everything’s fine. It’s too early to be up. I’ll get you in a few hours.”

“I’m awake now,” she said, eyeing the poop.

Why wasn’t she puking? Couldn’t she smell it? Maybe kids couldn’t smell their own poop. That would explain why Joseph was smiling.

“You’ll fall back to sleep easily enough.” Megan tried to smile encouragingly when her hand was covered in toxic waste, and she was about to pass out from the smell. “I’ll tuck you in as soon as I’ve cleaned up here, okay, Maisie?”

Little eyes, too smart for the cherubic face that contained them, narrowed at her. “I’m Molly, Aunty Megan.


“I’m not Aunty Megan,” she tried. “I’m your mother. You’re just tired.”

The kid rolled her eyes and stepped farther into the room. It was clear the little predator had scented blood in the water. “I know you’re Aunty Megan because Mummy ties Joseph to the table.” She glanced down. “And she never gets poo on the carpet. Where’s my mummy? Why are you pretending to be her?”

“Okay, fine. I’m Aunty Megan.” The kid had the makings of a world-class detective. Must be from having a security specialist for a father. For all Megan knew, Grunt’s idea of kids’ games involved hunting pretend terrorists through the Highlands. “Your mummy’s gone away for the day, and I’m taking her place. But it’s a secret. You can’t tell your dad. Okay?”

“What about other people?”

“I’m not too worried about knowing.” As soon as the words were out, she knew she’d given too much away.

Far too intelligent eyes narrowed at her. “It’ll cost you.”

“You have got to be kidding me.”

“No.” Her niece shook her head solemnly. “I’ll keep your secret… but I want stuff.”

“Stuff? Seriously? You’re blackmailing me?” Megan wasn’t sure whether to be impressed or worried.

“What’s blackmailing?”

“What you’re doing, kid. Exacting a price for doing what I ask.”

“Okay.” Molly nodded as she folded her arms over her onesie. “I want pancakes for breakfast and ice cream after rugby.”

Megan narrowed her own eyes this time. “That it?”

The kid’s stubborn little chin went up. “I want fish and chips for dinner. And a Nerf gun—with lots of bullets. A pink one. And I want to watch Mummy’s favorite film because she won’t let us see it.”

“Your mum said you aren’t allowed guns, and I’m pretty sure that six isn’t old enough to watch Pretty Woman.”

She frowned. It was adorable. “I know Daddy’s phone number.”

“You little reprobate.”

“I can call Daddy and tell him you don’t know how to change a nappy, and Mummy is missing.”

The kid had the makings of an evil mastermind. “Fine. You get what you want, but you need to help me keep my secret from everybody else.” She didn’t need anyone calling Grunt. “And I need help with the baby.”

“I’m not touching poo!”

“Then what good are you?” Honestly, wasn’t the whole point of having more kids that it meant you had minions to do the crap work? “You hold the baby while I go disinfect my arm.”

“Why didn’t you fasten the belt?” Molly pointed to a strap hanging from the table.

Megan lifted it, and sure enough, there was a clip at the end. Further investigation revealed a matching strap on the other side of the table. She clipped them together over the baby’s middle and tightened them. Joseph gurgled appreciatively.

“I’m going to get washed. Watch the baby. Don’t let him throw poop anywhere.”

Molly snorted. “Monkeys throw poo, not babies.”

Megan eyed the baby, who was rolling in the mess on top of the plastic-covered mat. “I’m not so sure that’s true.”

With her hand held out at her side, she went straight to Claire’s master bathroom, instead of the family bathroom. After wiping down her hand and arm with toilet paper, then spraying them with disinfectant, she used her sister’s expensive rose soap to wash up. After that, she headed downstairs, donned a surgical mask from the family supply, put on an apron and rubber gloves, and grabbed a roll of paper towel before heading back upstairs.

Molly burst out laughing when she saw her. “Mummy doesn’t wear that to clean up poo.”

“She should.” Hell, if there’d been a hazmat suit available, Megan would have worn it. “How often does he poop a day?” She picked up the nappy and placed it in the special scented nappy garbage bag. Like lavender would cover that stink!

Molly shrugged. “All the time.”

“Great,” Megan muttered, wondering if there was a way to reduce the amount. Bananas could cause constipation. Not that she wanted the kid to suffer constipation. But surely a banana or two might slow things down and maybe help make the poop more solid. It was a thought…

As she tried to wipe the smear from the top of the changing table, Molly headed for the door, obviously deciding her work was done. “Don’t forget my breakfast pancakes, Aunty Megan,” she called.

Mummy. I’m in disguise, remember?” There was no removing the smeared poop. The paper towel just spread it instead of lifting it. How the hell did you clean this stuff up?

“Right,” Molly said. “Mummy.” Then she disappeared.

“So much for helping with the baby,” Megan muttered as she spotted a pack of baby wipes. “If they work on bums, they must work on changing mats.”

Using them, she cleaned up the table, the baby, and most of the stain on the floor. The mat was still slightly discolored, but the carpet had a huge yellow circle on it that baby wipes just wouldn’t remove. After she’d put a fresh nappy on Joseph, dressed him in another onesie, and left him in his crib with a bottle of toddler formula, Megan searched the house for toilet cleaner. That stuff was designed to deal with poop. She used it to wipe down the mat and watched as it came up white.

“I’m a genius,” she told Joseph, who was falling asleep again.

When she turned her attention to the floor, the toilet cleaner not only got rid of the yellow stain but also the blue of the carpet. It was then that she read the bottle’s label: Contains Bleach.

“This is why a person shouldn’t be dealing with stuff in the middle of the night,” she muttered.

With a sigh, she dragged the giraffe rug over to cover the white patch. Hopefully, she’d be back in London before Claire noticed the rug had moved.


Turned out Megan was just as good at making pancakes as she was at changing nappies. Much to Molly’s disgust. To make matters worse, the little extortionist told her twin sister about Megan’s deception, so she was now on the hook for two pink Nerf guns. When this was all over, she planned to have a serious talk with Claire about her kids’ ethics.

Their younger brothers were, thankfully, less aware of what was going on. Megan wasn’t sure if it was a good or bad thing that the boys couldn’t tell her apart from their mother, but then Claire had insisted that Megan didn’t actually pretend to be her. As far as Megan was concerned, half the family knew she was their aunt, and half thought she was their mother, so both she and Claire should be satisfied.


“Look!” Sam threw his pancake at the tiled floor. “It bounces!”

Mum made rubber pancakes!” Molly said, throwing hers at the floor too.

Liam laughed and followed suit while Joseph clapped enthusiastically from his highchair—where he was eating mashed banana.

Six-year-old Maisie just watched her twin and brothers with bewilderment before going back to eating her breakfast. At least the family had one normalish kid. Maisie picked up the tomato sauce and squirted it all over her pancake. Megan gagged. Scratch that. All her nieces and nephews were seriously disturbed.

“Enough!” she shouted, and the pancake bouncing stopped.

Joseph stared at her with wide eyes, as though waiting to see what her mood was so he could react appropriately. She smiled at him, and he relaxed.

“Stop bouncing your food and go get ready for rugby.”

“Yay!” With cries of delight, they ran from the room, leaving her to clean up the mess.

“Claire needs a maid,” Megan told the baby, who shouted approvingly. “And a nanny. Possibly a chef too. This parenting thing isn’t for the poor.”

He slapped his palms on the tray in front of him, which Megan took as agreement.


Apparently, getting a bunch of kids ready took a bit more effort than ordering them to make it so.

After finally getting everybody dressed—in clothes, not things like swim caps and ski gloves, which is what Sam wanted to wear—she made the mistake of turning her back on them for five whole minutes. In that time, Liam had stripped down to his underpants because his clothes itched, Maisie was now wearing a princess dress over her rugby kit, Molly had accessorized hers with a bag stuffed with soft toys, and Joseph was covered in something sticky with no source of the stickiness in sight.

Back they went to their bedrooms. She managed to negotiate Molly down to one toy, find Liam something to wear that didn’t scratch, and get Joseph washed up—again. She gave in on the princess dress, as Maisie just folded her arms and shook her head at everything Megan said. If nothing else, working for Benson Security had taught Megan to pick her fights.

Then it was time to put on shoes. A simple task, right? No. Except for the girls’ rugby boots, which were cleaned and shelved in the laundry, the rest of their shoes were missing.

“How can all of your shoes disappear?” Megan demanded as she balanced Joseph on her hip.

Four little faces stared up at her, all wide-eyed and innocent. The boys shrugged as Molly said, “I don’t know,” and Maisie said, “Maybe the fairies took them.”

Molly turned on her sister. “Fairies don’t take shoes. They take teeth.”

“And shoes,” Maisie said stubbornly.

Before an argument broke out about what fairies did or did not do, Megan held up a hand. “Everybody, go look for your shoes and bring them back here.”

As the kids ran off in different directions, Megan sat at the bottom of the stairs in the hallway, aware that time was passing and they had to get to the rugby field before kickoff. If that was even possible.

The kids returned as quickly as they’d run off. Each of them held a shoe. Not a pair. One shoe. Each. And Maisie now had bare feet.

“What the hell?” Megan said.

There were gasps of horror as Sam pointed straight at her, arm outstretched. “You said a bad word.”

“Hell isn’t a bad word. It’s a destination.” Man, her head was beginning to ache. Joseph helped by grabbing a fistful of her hair and waving his arm. She held his hand and slowly extracted her hair from his fingers.

“You did so say a bad word,” Liam accused.

“Aye, Mummy,” Molly drawled. “And you don’t like bad words.”

“Fine.” Damn Claire and her Pollyanna ways. “Hell is a bad word. Mummy misspoke. I won’t do it again. Now, please go get the other half of the pair of shoes you’re holding.”

Heads began to shake, and Megan’s stomach sank.

“The other shoe is all gone,” Maisie said solemnly. “The fairies only left the bad shoes.”

Megan ground her teeth. “Okay, go get your rugby boots and bring them down here to put on, otherwise the studs will trash the carpet.”

“They feel icky,” she protested.

“I don’t care if they feel like two cactuses strapped to your feet. Put. Them. On.”

“Not fair,” she grumbled as, shoulders hunched, she dragged herself back up the stairs as slowly as possible.

“The rest of you sit down. Here. Right now.”

The kids sat on the hall carpet.

“Now, nobody move. Not even an inch. You hear me?”

They nodded.

Not trusting them with the baby, Megan kept him on her hip as she stalked off in search of shoes.

Thankfully, she found their gumboots. Who knew what happened to the rest of their shoes.

She was busy helping Sam with his when Liam appeared at her side, his hair artfully styled in spikes all over his head.

“How did that happen?” Megan demanded. She’d only taken her eyes off him for a minute.

Sam and Molly laughed hard and pointed at him while Maisie looked confused. Megan was with Maisie on this one.

“I look cool,” Liam said, in a tone that defied anyone to disagree.

Megan was pretty sure he’d styled his hair with PVA glue instead of gel, but she was past caring. Instead, she loaded everyone into Megan’s mum van, hoping that she could make the twenty-minute drive to the rugby field in ten. Otherwise, they’d be late.

She’d just backed out of the drive when Sam piped up. “I need to go toilet.”

“Me too,” Liam said.

Megan closed her eyes as she clenched the steering wheel. No way in hell was she taking them back inside. Not if she could avoid it. “If it’s just to pee, open the door and pee out of the van.”

The boys were out of their booster seats in record time. The sliding door went back, and they aimed for the grass.

“This is gross,” Molly wailed.

As the boys giggled and jostled one another, Megan glanced out of the driver’s window—to find Mrs. Shaw, the neighbor, staring at them in horror, her mouth hanging open.

“Boys,” Megan said to them as she wound down her window, “zip it up and get back in your seats.” She smiled at Mrs. Shaw. “I know you think they’re peeing out of the side of the van, but that’s only what it looks like.”

Mrs. Shaw’s eyebrows shot up into her curly gray hair as her mouth snapped closed. Megan waved merrily, put the car in reverse, and zoomed away.

Twenty minutes later, and fifteen minutes late, they arrived at the rugby field—only to discover the game had been canceled due to the pitch being waterlogged.

“Didn’t you get the email?” the guy in the rugby association office, a shed next to the field, asked when she’d stormed in to demand why there was no one there.

“Obviously not.” Megan clenched her teeth and told herself to count to ten. Then told herself that wouldn’t help. But punching the rugby guy might. For the first time since donning her Claire mask, she understood why her sister had banned her gun. She glanced at the kids. The girls were taking in everything, and that many witnesses was not a good thing. Violence was definitely out. No matter how satisfying it might have been.

“You should check your emails,” the guy said, obviously unaware of how close he was to death.

Megan growled, and he paled, shoving his chair back from his desk to get farther away from her.

Now that was more like it.

“What am I supposed to do with the kids now?” she asked him. Rugby should have filled at least two hours. Now the endless day loomed before her like the certainty of the electric chair for someone waiting on death row.

The guy shrugged. “You’re their mother.” He pointed out the window. “Looks like they’re entertaining themselves anyway.”

Megan’s stomach dropped when she saw what he meant. The boys had snuck out and were now using the muddy field like a water slide. They ran and threw themselves onto their stomachs, then slid across the saturated grass.

“That isn’t good for the grounds,” the guy said. “You need to get them to stop.”

“It’s a rugby pitch.” Megan glared at him, really wishing she still had her gun. “Rugby players slide over it all the time.”

The man clearly didn’t like her tone because he got up and stood behind his chair, using it as a shield. “Maybe you should go get your kids.”

With one last growl, she left the shed and stalked to the edge of the field. As she did so, the girls ran past and, with loud squeals of joy, slid over to their brothers. What happened next could only be described as a muddy battle between the sexes as each fought dirty to win.

Megan looked down at the baby in her arms, noting that Joseph was watching his brothers and sisters with intense fascination. “You want to be out there too, don’t you?”

The baby squealed with delight and clapped his hands.

Megan sighed, walked over to the shed, uncurled the hose, and turned it on. “Get off the grass,” she shouted at her charges. “Everybody in the car park now!”

Grumbling, the kids obeyed. While still holding the baby, who’d become fused to her hip, she hosed them down. Better water in the car than mud. Right?

“Grab the towels out of the back and dry off as best you can before getting in. Got it?”

They ran off, screaming and whooping like this was the most fun they’d had in years. Megan sighed. It was time to go back to the house.



After showers, clean clothes, and the now-familiar routine of hunting down shoes, Megan loaded them all back into the car—seated on towels to keep their new clothes dry—and headed into town for lunch.

“Don’t forget our guns,” Molly reminded her as she parked behind the Scottie Dog pub, restaurant, and hotel.

“I want a gun,” Sam shouted.

“I don’t want a gun anymore. I want a shark,” Maisie said, making everyone stare at her.

“Well, I want a nap,” Megan said. “We can’t all get what we want, can we?”

“Ew,” Molly shouted. “Liam wiped snotters on me.”

“Did not,” Liam yelled back.

“Did too,” Molly retorted. “They’re everywhere.”

“Nobody’s covered in snot,” Megan said firmly. “You don’t have enough in all of your noses put together to cover a person.”

There was a moment’s silence while the kids seemed to contemplate that.

Megan held up a hand. “Nobody picks their nose. Nose picking is banned. Am I clear?”

“Yes,” they all said, sounding deflated.

“Everybody out, but stay right beside the car, or you won’t get any chips. If I can’t see you, you don’t eat.” She was learning fast that she had to be very specific with her instructions and threats.

“Yes, Mummy,” came the chorus. Although the girls rolled their eyes as they said it.

While the kids stood beside the big, ugly people carrier, Megan unstrapped the baby from his car seat, grabbed the nappy bag, then pointed everyone to the restaurant door.

They ran.

“No running,” she shouted.

They started skipping.

“No skipping either.”

“Can we hop?” Maisie asked.

She considered that. “Sure.”

They hopped.

Megan glanced at her watch. It was almost one o’clock. She’d been up since six, and all she’d managed to do was get the kids dressed and out of the house. Sure, she’d done it twice now, but that was it. She had nothing to show for an exhausting morning other than five dressed kids, a couple of changed nappies, and a car full of damp upholstery.

“I really need a nap,” she muttered, then perked up. “Molly, when’s nap time?”

Molly looked bewildered. “We’re too big for naps.”

Megan took a deep breath, reminding herself that her niece was only six, then asked, “Do the boys still nap?”

“Naps are for babies,” Sam said in disgust.

“Please tell me Joseph still naps?” One out of five was better than nothing, surely?

“Yep.” Molly nodded. “He naps all the time.”

“Thanks, that’s very helpful.” Megan eyed the wide-awake baby. “Do you know when he naps?”

The girls shared a considering look. “During the day,” Molly said decisively.

“Thanks. That clears that up,” Megan drawled, but they missed the sarcasm and beamed with pride.

The pub restaurant was packed, it being Saturday lunchtime, and Megan wished desperately that she could pull up a stool at the bar and order a beer with her chips. Unfortunately, women with kids didn’t get to do that kind of thing. So instead, she headed for the corner in the back of the pub where all the playthings for little people had been stashed.

Obviously, mothers were banished from the normal population.


In an area fenced off to prevent escape was a load of soft toys, puzzles, and games. Over beside the window was a small climbing frame with a tiny slide, where two other kids were arguing over whose turn it was next. Megan opened the gate and herded her mob inside. All except the baby, who sat in the high chair beside her, chomping on a teething ring.

She eyed the kid compound. If only there were a lock on the outside. And higher fencing. And a roof to stop them from climbing out. A cage. A big cage. That’s what she needed. She vaguely recalled seeing a photo from bygone days of babies in cages outside apartment windows to ensure they got fresh air. Did people still do that? She had a horrible suspicion the answer was no.

As the kids excitedly investigated the unfamiliar toys, Megan surveyed the people sitting nearby. All of them had the same weary look on their faces that she imagined was on hers. Every now and then, one of them would look over to the adult side of the restaurant or into the bar area with wistful longing. They might as well have been inside the cage with their kids.

“I don’t think motherhood’s for me,” Megan muttered to herself.

“Don’t be silly,” an older woman at the next table said.

Clearly, Megan hadn’t muttered softly enough. “Sorry, I was talking to myself.”

“I raised three girls. I know how hard it can be. We all doubt ourselves at times.” She leaned over and patted Megan’s hand. “But you’re doing fine.”

“I’m knackered,” Megan found herself confessing. “All I’ve done today is get them out of the house, and that took hours. How do people do this?”

“Surely you can answer that? With five children, you must be a dab hand by now.”

Megan leaned closer. “They aren’t mine. I’m their aunt. My sister makes this look easy, but it’s mind-numbing and exhausting.”

“I know what you mean. I’m here with my granddaughter, and I’m already worn out.” The woman laughed. “It’s easier when the children are yours.”

Megan winced. “That’s something people with kids say to people who don’t have them to con them into having them, isn’t it?”

The woman beamed at her. “You get into a rhythm when they’re your own, and you know them well, which makes it easier to predict what they’ll get up to. You’re doing fine. Your sister’s lucky to have you to help.”

“She might not think so when she discovers I cleaned poop out of her carpet with toilet bleach.”

The woman was laughing when Dougal, the pub owner, wandered over with her meal. He placed it in front of her while eyeing Megan.

For a second, Megan held her breath, certain that the man, who’d known her all her life, would realize she wasn’t Claire. And then, he’d be on the phone to her police officer brother in a second. The whole of Invertary thought Matt Donaldson should know every little thing his sisters did. It was a real pain in the arse.

“Claire,” Dougal said, making her swallow a sigh of relief. “Good to see you. I can take your order to save you going up to the bar. What will it be?”

“Fish and chips!” Molly and Maisie shouted, proving that they’d been listening the whole time.

“Fish and chips, please, Dougal,” Megan said. “Times five.”

His bushy white eyebrows shot up. “You aren’t feeding it to the baby too, are you?”

“No,” she said patiently. “I’m the fifth person.”

“Oh, right.” His already ruddy cheeks reddened even further, making him look more like Santa than usual. “And to drink?”

“We have Coke,” Molly said, looking far too innocent.

Megan frowned at her. “I’m pretty sure you don’t.” That didn’t sound like something Claire would allow, especially as Coke contained caffeine and sugar.

The twin girls nodded solemnly. “Yes, we really do, Mummy.

Their heavy emphasis on the word Mummy made Megan sigh. The little farts had her over a barrel, and they knew it. The last thing she needed was someone calling their father. Grunt and Dimitri would jump on the first flight home from Brussels just to see what Megan and her sister were up to. If silence could be bought with the price of a Coke, so be it. “Five Cokes then too, please, Dougal.”

“Anything else?” He tugged his luminous tartan waistcoat down over his ample belly.

It was on the tip of her tongue to ask for some hard liquor, but she didn’t.

“Cake!” Molly shouted.

“We’ll see if you finish your food before ordering any cake,” Megan said and watched the little blonde pout. It was the exact same look Claire used when trying to get around her husband.

“That’s all for us, thanks,” Megan told Dougal, who hurried off, calling out to everyone he knew as he went.

As he left, the phone Claire had given her buzzed, and she tugged it out of the nappy bag.

It was a text from Grunt.

Not now!

It said: 12 hours.

What the hell was that supposed to mean?

Frantically, Megan trawled back through some of Claire’s very X-rated texts to her husband, searching for a clue. There was nothing.

The phone buzzed again. This time, his message was: ?

It made Megan glad she’d married a man who used full sentences when communicating. Having no idea what he was talking about or how to reply, Megan sent a series of random emojis she thought might be flirty:

His reply came quickly: ????

Well, that hadn’t worked as intended. So she sent:

Why the hell didn’t her sister communicate like a normal person?

Her phone buzzed again: On my way home.


Megan typed quickly. Sorry. Kid had phone. No need to come home. Have fun. See you tomorrow. She stopped as the meaning of his first text hit her, then she added: In twelve hours.  Got to go! Xx

She switched off the phone and tossed it back in the nappy bag as fast as she could. This was bad. Really bad. Who knew what the emojis meant? Claire. Only Claire. There was no way Grunt believed Megan was her sister. No way. They’d be lucky if he stayed at the conference and didn’t come straight home. He could be thinking all kinds of things.

Oh no! She knew exactly what he was thinking.

Megan dug the phone out of the bag to record a short video. “Don’t worry,” she said into the camera. “I haven’t been kidnapped. I’m just having lunch at the pub with the kids. Miss you!” She turned the camera toward the kids and encouraged them to wave.

Once she was done, she sent the video, then turned off the phone again.

This wasn’t good. Not at all.

An hour later, it got worse.

Apparently, there was a reason the kids didn’t drink Coke. And that reason was currently all over Sam’s clothes, the table, and part of the floor.

“I’m so sorry,” Megan told Dougal again as his staff cleaned up the puke. “He must have a stomach bug.”

“Aye, right.” Dougal didn’t try to hide his skepticism.

Megan apologized to the people around her, who were understandably offended by the sight and smell, while trying to gather up the kids. Molly and Liam were running around the tables like mice on speed. Maisie, meanwhile, had found a toy xylophone and was banging away at it with the leg off a doll.

“We need to go,” Megan barked at them. “Now.”

That didn’t work.

It took three members of staff to help her grab the kids and get them in the car. One of the waitstaff had to chase Liam until he caught him. Joseph slept through the whole thing.

Once they were all in the car and Megan had apologized to the whole of Invertary, they drove home. While the girls and Liam ran up and down the garden, Megan made Sam shower again. There was no way they were leaving the house ever again, so she dressed him in a donkey onesie and called it good. Then she made herself a cup of coffee and sat on the back step, watching the kids run wildly for the next hour.

“Note to self, don’t give little kids caffeine and sugar,” she muttered.

Beside her, Joseph stirred in his carrier, so Megan took him out and put him on the lawn to crawl around. He immediately grabbed a handful of grass and stuffed it in his mouth.

“No!” Megan lunged for him and spent the next few minutes fishing it out of his mouth. When she was done, she gave him a teething biscuit instead but kept him on her lap while he ate.

In the short time that she’d been focused on Joseph, Sam, Liam, and Molly had stripped naked and were rolling on the grass. Maisie, meanwhile, was putting on their clothes on top of her own.

“I am never having kids,” Megan told the heavens.


Bedtime couldn’t come fast enough. Thankfully, little kids went to sleep early. It was the one perk Megan could see in the whole motherhood thing. She got them all fed (again), cleaned (again), and dressed (again). Once they were all in their jammies and tucked safe in bed, Megan tiptoed along the hallway to her sister’s room.

The whole evening lay ahead of her, and there was a half-finished bottle of wine in the fridge. All she needed was a tiny little nap first. Without even bothering to get undressed, Megan kicked off her shoes and slid under the Californian king-sized duvet.

She was out cold within seconds.

A while later, she stirred when a couple of little people snuggled in beside her. She didn’t need the smell of baby powder to know who they were; the boys giggled quietly as they wedged up against her. Their little bodies were like tiny furnaces, and she tugged them in closer.

“Playing Mummy was a good game,” one of them whispered.

“Good night, Aunty Megan,” the other said before pressing a soft kiss to Megan’s cheek.

Megan’s heart melted, and a sense of contentment settled over her.

Not long after that, another two small bodies slid under the duvet. One of whom had cold feet. Despite that, she tugged them in close too.

“You don’t need to buy us Nerf guns,” Molly whispered. “Mum would be angry.”

“Don’t worry. You weren’t getting them anyway, kid,” Megan whispered back.

“Can we still watch Mummy’s favorite movie?” Molly asked, pushing her luck.

“Heck no,” Megan mumbled as she drifted back to sleep.

When the bed dipped again, much later that night, Megan barely stirred. She was in the middle of a tangle of tiny arms and legs.

“Megan,” a deep voice rumbled. “You wanna tell me where my wife is?”

Megan’s eyes shot open as the kids went from fast asleep to wide awake in an instant.

“Daddy!” they squealed as they launched themselves at Grunt.

Megan, meanwhile, closed her eyes tight and hoped it was all a bad dream.


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