Twin Consequences

The nightclub was dark, sweaty, and throbbing with a drunken lack of inhibition. Claire was glad she’d checked Megan’s leather biker jacket at the door. She wished she could have checked her boots at the same time. The air was stifling, and it smelled faintly of dry ice. Bodies pressed together, jostling for space. The heat was almost unendurable. At least the T-shirt her client had given her was baggy, letting the air flow and keeping her cool.

The music changed beat, making the dancers shift their rhythms to match. The wave of movement swept everyone up with it and carried them away in the new song’s direction. Claire beamed at the strangers around her as she waved her hands in the air and moved her hips to the beat. It’d been far too long since she’d been dancing—an oversight she’d ensure her husband was aware of as soon as she got home.

And back to her own life.

Although, playing at being Megan-Super-Spy for a day had been more fun than she’d thought it would be. Vaguely, she wondered if her sister had enjoyed her day quite as much. Two songs later, and thirst drove her towards the bar where her own personal bodyguard perched on a stool, glaring at anyone who got too close.

Claire noted that there were no other stools anywhere near the bar and wondered how Violet managed to get one. It was probably better not to ask. Violet Lee had a mean streak.

“Come dance,” Claire called over the thumping music.

“No,” came the terse reply.

Claire tossed her long blonde, and somewhat ratty, hair over her shoulder as she flashed the diminutive ex-cop her best disappointed look. “Why insist on coming with me if you aren’t going to dance?”

The cold, dark look in Violet’s eyes spoke volumes, but she still replied. “Because you’re playing with fire and I don’t want to get burned. You pulled me into this mess and now I’m stuck with the consequences. It’s bad enough thinking what might happen if Lake Benson finds out you’ve been pretending to work for him. But if your Hulk of a husband even thinks some guy flirted with you, he’ll smash everything near him. I don’t want to be flattened in the chaos. Which means I have to play babysitter until you get whatever this is out of your system.” She leaned forward and stared into Claire’s eyes. “Hurry. up.”

“Don’t be so melodramatic.” Claire waved a hand at the bartender and mouthed ‘water’ when they looked her way. “I can handle my husband.”

“Aye, you can. Which means you’re the only one who’s safe in this scenario. The rest of us are fair game.”

Claire really didn’t get the wariness people felt around Grunt. He was a giant teddy bear of a man. “You can leave. I won’t tell him you were here. I won’t even tell him I was here! That’s the whole point of this twin swap. It’s a secret.”

“He’ll know.” Violet growled low in her throat as some poor guy dared get too close. He paled and hurried away.

“Look,” Claire tried again. “I appreciate you coming out to help me today when I accidentally Tasered my client, but I’m fine now, so you can go home.” She cocked her head. “Or go hang upside down under a bridge or something.” Yep, Violet definitely gave off vampire bat vibes. “I’ll be fine. I’m just going to dance until the place shuts, then grab some food before I drive back to Invertary.”

“Before Grunt and Dimitri get back from the conference in Belgium,” Violet said unnecessarily.

Claire took the bottle of ice cold water that the bartender handed her with a grateful smile. “Of course before they get back. What part of ‘secret life swap’ is hard to understand? Are you sure there’s only coke in that glass?”

“Oh, I don’t want alcohol in my system for this,” Violet said, her eyes on the space behind Claire.

“For wha—” Claire froze as hands wrapped around her shoulders and a large, hot, body stepped in close.

“Miss me?” a deep American voice asked before pressing his lips to the curve of her neck.

Her awareness of her surroundings became heightened. She was desperately aware of each nerve ending in her body as they processed the man at her back. And even through the sweat, alcohol and dry ice, she was sure she could smell the sandalwood aftershave she’d helped Megan choose last Christmas.




Panicked, her eyes shot to Violet’s face, which had gone suspiciously blank.

No help there then.

“Miss me, baby?” Dimitri drawled into her ear.

What to do? What to do? What to do?

Did she keep up the ruse of being Megan or come clean and deal with the consequences? What would get her in the least amount of trouble?

“Of course I missed you,” she said. Obviously, her mouth had decided for her—before her brain had caught up.

“Glad to hear it.” He stepped closer. “This place has a balcony. How about we head up there and have some…alone time….”


Please don’t let that mean what she thought it meant! She’d always known that her sister’s penchant for sex in public places would get Megan in trouble. She just hadn’t realized it would get her in trouble too.

Hurriedly, she stepped away from him, turning and pressing her back against the bar. She attempted to wedge herself as far behind Violet as she could get without being obvious about it. It wasn’t successful. Violet was just too tiny and very uncooperative.

“Maybe another time,” she said. “Headache. Dehydration. Need water.” She unscrewed the top of the bottle and chugged it back.

“Okay,” Violet said. “I can see I’m no longer needed here.”

She moved to get off the stool, but Claire grabbed the back of her shirt and held on tight. “No. Stay. We want you to stay. Don’t we Dimitri?”

“Sure,” he drawled, looking amused. “Why don’t I take you both out for an early breakfast before we hit the road?”

“To Invertary,” Claire added quickly.

Dimitri gave her a quizzical look. “To London. We have a job starting, remember?”

“I remember. Of course, I remember.” She laughed. It was slightly hysterical. “I just need to go to lnvertary. I have to see my sister before we head home.” And swap lives with her.

A horrible thought occurred to Claire—what is she was trapped in Megan’s life forever? The room wobbled as all the blood in her body plummeted to her feet. With utter panic, she cast a desperate look at Violet, silently begging her to do something.

Violet narrowed her eyes before sighing. She turned to Dimitri. “Sorry, but Megan here promised me a lift back to Invertary tonight.”

Claire nodded enthusiastically. “Its only a few hours out of our way, and I really need to talk to my sister.”

“Guess we’re going to Invertary then.” Dimitri grinned. “But breakfast first. I’m starving.” He gestured towards the exit.

“I bet you’re hungry too, aren’t you, Violet?” Claire shoved the woman between her and her brother-in-law.

Violet growled low in her throat. It was menacing and probably would have terrified anyone who hadn’t dealt with hundreds of feral preschoolers over the years. All it did to Claire was make her want to give Violet some quiet time in the naughty corner.

The cool night air was a smack to the face after the warm, sweaty interior of the club. Even though it was barely two a.m. the streets were bustling with revellers, heading home after a night on the town. Women in mini skirts, that barely covered their backsides, staggered along the pavement in heels high enough to be stilts. Make up was uniformly thick, with lots of contouring that made them all look eerily similar. And familiar. It took Claire a minute to figure out where she’d seen them all before—they were Kim Kardashian clones.

“When did I get old?” she muttered as she watched three barely dressed women totter into the nearest kebab shop.

“Round about kid four,” Violet said under her breath.

Oh, Violet Lee definitely needed a time out.

“Where are we going?” Claire asked as they turned off Sauchiehall street and away from McDonalds, which is where she thought they were going.

Dimitri cocked an eyebrow at her. “You don’t remember Doug’s cafe? I thought you loved that place.”

“Oh, yay, Doug’s cafe.” Claire had no idea what he was talking about.

They turned another corner and there it was, an old-fashioned cafe set in the ground floor of a corner tenement building. The neon sign above the door had lost one of its letters and now read Dog’s Cafe. The window beside the door had been filled with posters, advertising everything from the local mum and toddler group to the latest indie band, making it harder to see inside.

They crossed the road and Dimitri held the door open for them, letting the mouthwatering smell of bacon and eggs waft out into the night. As Claire stepped inside, she noted the old glass counter to the left, displaying an assortment of sandwiches, cakes, and sweets. The board on the wall behind it listed every fried food known to man—there was even the tourist favourite of deep fried Mars bars. To her right was a row of worn yellow topped formica tables, with bench seats upholstered in cracked red leather. It was like stepping into the seventies and, on any other visit, Claire would have loved it.

But not this visit.

Because sitting in a booth at the back of the room was her sister, Megan.

Worse still, Claire’s husband, Grunt, sat opposite her.

And he was not happy.


 “Surprise,” Dimitri said as he put his hand on the small of her back and propelled her toward her doom.

“I’m done,” Violet announced before turning and walking out of the cafe.

Claire watched her go, much the same as someone might watch a life raft float out of reach. So much for her back up.

“Guess she changed her mind about that lift to Invertary.” Dimitri grinned at Claire.

She didn’t reply. She was too busy staring at her sister to see if the jig was up. Megan just sat glaring at Grunt, who was opposite her.

Claire swallowed hard, as a montage of her bad life choices played in front of her eyes.

“Claire,” she said with strained cheer. “What a lovely surprise. We were going to come to Invertary to see you.”

Megan rolled her eyes. “Don’t bother. Grunt took one look at me and knew I wasn’t you. The game is over.”

“Good. Because I had no clue how to play this.” Claire heaved a sigh of relief. She was not cut out for subterfuge. She flopped onto the bench beside her sister as Dimitri sat beside Grunt.

The two men stared at the sisters, seemingly in no hurry to talk.

Claire shrugged. They weren’t the boss of either twin, so they could stare all they liked. She angled in her seat to face Megan. “How did it go? Are the kids still alive? Who’s with them now?”

“Your five demons are very much alive and are currently running rings around our brother.”

Claire’s stomach lurched. “So Matt knows about the swap?”

“It’s not like he can arrest us,” Megan said. “We’re adults and we haven’t done anything wrong.” The last words were addressed to Grunt, who seemed unmoved.

Claire winced, pretty sure that Tasering someone, and knocking out someone else, could count as something wrong. Although, nobody but Violet knew about that little mishap, and Claire had made her pinky swear to keep it a secret.

“So.” Dimitri sat back in his seat, looking totally relaxed. Unlike Grunt, who looked like he might snap the table in two. “You thought Lake Benson wouldn’t mind that there was an untrained, unqualified person on a job for his firm. That’s an interesting take on things.”

Megan let out a sigh. “It was barely a job. All she had to do was babysit a pop singer for one concert. The diva already had her own security team anyway. A monkey could have done the job.”

“Thanks,” Claire said with offence.

“There was never any danger,” Megan continued. “To Claire or the reputation of Benson Security.”

As her sister was talking, Claire tried to appear as innocent as possible. But she was tired, and the effort was just too much. Instead, she stared at the table and hoped no one would notice her.

“Funny,” Dimitri said. “I heard they’d cancelled the concert. Guess they didn’t need a Benson Security babysitter after all.”

All eyes turned to Claire, who studied the menu on the wall. “Scrambled eggs sounds great. Anyone else want some?”

“Have you just been having fun all day?” Megan demanded. “While I was looking after your kids?”

“Hey! You were the one who wanted to see what motherhood is like.”

“Motherhood?” Dimitri perked up. “Megan?”

They ignored him.

Megan continued to glare at Claire. “Yeah, but it was a swap. You were supposed to do stuff for me too.”

“I did do stuff for you. I took another job. I even got a T-shirt out of it.” She opened the leather jacket to show off her shirt. It had a huge picture of a garden gnome with the words: Gnome is where the heart is. It was a great shirt. She was proud of it.

Unfortunately, she appeared to be the only one.

Megan smacked her on the arm. “What did you do?”

“That hurt.” Claire rubbed the spot. Her sister didn’t know her own strength. “I told you, I took another job. It wasn’t a big deal. I just helped an antiques dealer deliver a rare gnome to a buyer.”

“Spoke to Jeremy in the office,” Grunt spoke for the first time. “He wanted me to tell Megan that everything was okay. Both client and buyer don’t plan on pressing charges.”

“Charges?” Megan screeched, making the other diners look their way.

“It was an accident,” Claire protested. “I meant to Taser the guy who was trying to rip off my client and I Tasered the client instead.” She paused and took a deep breath before continuing. “Then when the bad guy laughed, my Taser was out of juice, so I hit him with it. I didn’t mean to knock him out. I think he had a glass jaw. That’s the right phrase, isn’t it?”

Dimitri groaned and looked up at the ceiling while Grunt looked like he wanted to punch someone. Knowing him, probably the guy who’d laughed at her.

Megan, meanwhile, looked like a kettle about to blow. “You Tasered a client? In my name? And knocked out another guy? That’s what you were doing? What did I tell you? Wasn’t I clear about not getting into trouble? Now I have to explain all of this to Callum, or worse, Lake. I don’t even use a bloody Taser. I can’t believe you made me look like I didn’t know what I was doing. Callum will never let me out in the field again. I could strangle you!”

Oh, Claire had heard that before. Unlike normal people, Megan wasn’t being metaphorical.

Claire shot out of her seat and pointed at Dimitri. “Swap. Now.”

He swapped, and Claire snuggled in beside Grunt, who wrapped an arm around her.

“You could have been hurt,” he said.

Even though there wasn’t much on his face or in his tone to give away how distressed he was, Claire knew him too well not to see it.

“I really thought it would be fine, and I didn’t want to worry you by telling you about the swap. I’m sorry, honey. I won’t do it again.”

“Bloody right, you won’t,” Megan snapped.

“It’s okay,” Grunt said to Claire, before pressing a gentle, loving kiss to her lips. “But next time you want to go out in the field, you come with me. That way, I can keep you safe.”

“I promise.” Claire snuggled in closer, delighting in his warmth and strength.

“That’s it?” Megan demanded. “You’re a partner in Benson Security and all you’re going to do about her screwing up is tell her you were worried?”

Grunt scowled at his sister-in-law. “Who exactly will deal with the fallout if I make a big deal about this?”

“Oh.” Megan deflated. “I’m screwed. If I tell everyone it was my sister who messed up instead of me, I’ll get fired. If I don’t tell them, then my bosses will think I’m crap at my job. This sucks.”

“Maybe you should have thought about that before you decided to swap lives,” Grunt said.

“So.” Dimitri stretched his arm out across the bench behind Megan. “Let’s get back to this being a mother thing. I didn’t even know you were thinking about it. In case you were wondering, my swimmers are champions. I can knock you up in record time.” He looked smug.

“No,” Megan said. “I wasn’t wondering.”

“How was it anyway?” Dimitri played with her ponytail.

“Crap.” Megan groaned. “All you do is feed them, wash them and clothe them. It’s a never-ending cycle. You take your eyes off them for five seconds and they’re covered in mud. And they pee soooooooo much. Is that normal?” she said to claire. “It felt like they were going to the toilet every five minutes. And what’s with the shoes? Why can’t your kids find their shoes? What are they doing with them?” She hunched over and rested her forehead on the table. “I am so tired.” She sat back up and glared at Grunt. “That’s your fault. You didn’t have to wake me in the middle of the night and order me to take you to your wife. You could have waited until morning. Or better yet, stayed in Belgium until the conference ended.”

“Why did you come home early?” Claire asked.

“Because I knew you weren’t you, and I wanted to know what was going on.”

Claire blinked at him. “When did you know?”

“First call.”

Claire melted into him. Right from the start, Grunt had always been able to tell the twins apart. He never confused her with Megan. She should have known this time wouldn’t be any different.

“I love you,” she said as she stared into his gorgeous dark eyes.

“I love you, baby,” he growled back.

“I hate both of you,” Megan said. “I’m exhausted. My career is ruined. And there’s jam in my hair. I don’t know why there’s jam in my hair because nobody ate jam today!”

“Does this mean we’re not having kids?” Dimitri said.

He held up his hands in surrender when he saw the look on her face.

Megan took a deep breath. “I have a question for you, husband dear. When did you know Claire was pretending to be me?”

Dimitri shifted in his seat. “Right at the start,” he said, looking anywhere but his wife.

“Liar.” Megan turned to Grunt. “When did he know?”

“When I told him and booked us flights to come home.”

“Asshole,” Dimitri said.

Grunt shrugged. “Not my fault you don’t recognise your own wife.”

Dimitri pointed at him. “I’m telling Lake it was your idea to skip out on the conference.”

Claire gasped at the betrayal of her wonderful husband. It was time to even the score. “Dimitri kissed my neck in the nightclub and suggested we have sex on the balcony.”

Grunt stilled as Dimitri rushed to speak. “I didn’t suggest sex on the balcony. That was just Claire’s mind filling in the blanks. And the kiss wasn’t real, it was pretend.”

Grunt made a little rumbling sound deep in his chest.

Dimitri held out his hands. “Come on, man, you know we were going to play them until we got them together.”

“Grunt told me straight away that he knew I was Megan,” Megan said helpfully.

“Who’s side are you on?” Dimitri demanded.

“Mine.” Megan folded her arms. “Always mine.”

An aged, and clearly tired, waitress came over to their table. “Are you going to order something or did you just come in here to chat?”

“I want to go home,” Claire said to Grunt.

He looked at Megan and Dimitri before answering. “We’re leaving.” He pulled out some money and put it on the table. “For the use of the space.”

The woman nodded, slipped the money into her apron pocket and moved onto the next table.

Once they were out in the street, Megan turned to Claire. “Where’s my bike?”

“I left it at the Hydro centre.”

“Seriously?” Megan looked like she was going to lose her mind. “It’s probably stripped clean by now.”

Dimitri wrapped an arm around her shoulders. “I have the truck. We’ll throw it in the back and fix whatever needs fixing when we get it home.”

“Whatever.” Megan scowled at Claire. “I want my jacket. And my boots.”

With a roll of her eyes, Claire took the jacket off and handed it over. “I was fed up being biker Barbie anyway.” She unlaced the boots before putting on the tennis shoes Megan had worn. That felt better.

Grunt immediately removed his denim jacket and held it out for her to put on. It dwarfed her, but it was warm and smelled of home, so she wrapped it tight around herself. “Swaps aren’t as much fun as they were when we were kids.”

“No kidding,” Megan said as she bumped Claire with her shoulder. “Your little demons are cute, though.”

“Did they figure out you weren’t their mother?”

“In about ten seconds, which is a whole lot faster than it took Dimitri.” Megan shot him a look of disgust.

“So, did it put you off having your own?” Claire had to ask.

Megan looked thoughtful. “It put me off having five of them.”

Claire laughed as she hooked her arm with her sister. “You’ll be great when they’re your own. And, if it makes you feel any better, I got my client to write a letter of recommendation for you, explaining that you took the necessary actions to ensure he wasn’t duped out of thousands of pounds. He was really impressed with you and wasn’t even that bothered about getting Tasered. He said it was a good story for the pub.”

“Thanks.” Megan smiled at her. “I fed your kids way too much sugar, I’m sorry.”

“That’s okay, Grunt can watch them while I sleep.”

They laughed together.

“Come on,” Grunt said, pulling her toward him. “We’re parked this way.”

Claire gave her sister a tight hug before releasing her. “No more twin swaps. I’m getting too old.”

“Deal.” Megan said.

“One more thing,” Grunt said.

His fist flew out like lightning, hitting Dimitri in the face.

“What the hell?” Dimitri staggered back. “What was that for?”

“That was a pretend punch for the pretend kiss you gave my wife.” He held out his hand for Claire and she happily took it.

“Why do I feel like those two got the better end of your deal?” Dimitri asked Megan.

“Come on,” she grabbed his arm. “lets go see if my bike still has wheels.”

Claire watched as her sister and brother-in-law disappeared down the street. With a sigh, she turned to her husband. “Baby, I think I really need my own Taser,” she said.

Grunt just grunted.