Maggie's Marriage (The Cloverleaf Series Book 2)(8)

By: Gloria Herrmann

“Sweetie, we’re here.” Maggie had opened Melanie’s door and was unbuckling her daughter’s seat belt.

The only light besides the moon that reflected off the small lake behind the cabin was a dim porch lamp. The yellow light guided Maggie up the walkway as she carried a groggy Melanie. She knocked softly on the door, readjusting the weight of her daughter on her hips. She waited patiently for her brother to open the door. She could hear the weight of his footsteps as he approached and opened the solid wood door.

“Maggie?” said a sleepy-eyed, confused Liam.

“Surprise!” Maggie announced.

Liam moved to aside to let Maggie in. “Yeah, it is.”

Maggie worked her way to Liam’s living room and deposited her sleeping child on the overly large, plaid couch that sat across from an enormous river rock lined fireplace. The comfortable, warm feel of Liam’s home instantly made Maggie feel at ease.

“Want me to start some coffee, or maybe some tea?” Liam offered, rubbing the sleep from his face.

“That would be great.” Maggie followed her brother into the kitchen.

Liam wore flannel pajama bottoms and had no shirt on, his bare feet padding on the wood floor. His shaggy, light brown hair was messy, and dark stubble covered his jaw. His emerald green eyes, which matched all of the O’Brien children, were sleepy and confused but far from judgmental.

“Aren’t you going to ask why I’m here?” Maggie asked as she heard something behind her.

Liam’s head turned. Maggie followed his stare and found Rachel standing by the doorway.

Her blonde pixie hair stood up at all ends, and her brilliant blue eyes shone with embarrassment. “Hi, Maggie,” Rachel said.

At first Maggie had been a little unsure about the tan, petite blonde, but found herself connecting with her on many different levels and had started forming a new friendship with her. Rachel had moved up from Newport Beach, California, and had taken over as principal at the only elementary school in Birch Valley, the same one where Liam was a fourth grade teacher. The first time she met Rachel was during a cooking lesson at her mother’s house. They hit it off right away, and she could see the chemistry between Rachel and Liam, though both continued to deny any attraction. The family went on their annual moose watching expedition, and her mother, Mary, had invited Rachel to join the family. Maggie found herself getting closer with Rachel; she was easy to talk to, and an overall sweet person. They had kept in contact with an occasional text or email, and made promises to hang out the next time Maggie was in town. She couldn’t deny that she was a little surprised and taken off guard that Rachel was there at her brother’s home. A part of her was happy for her brother. Rachel blended in so well with the family, and Maggie couldn’t help but hope to have her as a sister-in-law someday.

“Rachel.” Maggie hurried toward her and gave her a hug. She didn’t really know what else to do, she was genuinely glad to see the other woman, but it was kind of awkward.

Rachel smiled and squeezed Maggie in a tight embrace as she looked questioningly up at Liam. Rachel released Maggie and began fussing with her short hair.

“I’m going to head home, but Maggie, maybe you want to get some coffee or come over and visit while you’re here?” Rachel asked nervously, tugging at the flannel shirt that covered her thin body—Liam’s flannel.

Maggie nodded, realizing how uncomfortable Rachel must have felt. Rachel scurried down the hall, leaving the two siblings alone in the kitchen.

Once Maggie was sure the other woman was out of earshot, she swatted at her brother. “Wow, Liam.”

Liam smiled. “I know, crazy, huh?”

“I’m happy for you. I really like Rachel,” Maggie said as she heard Rachel making her way back toward them.

The petite blonde was now dressed in an over-sized gray sweater and jeans. She raised up on her toes and gave Liam a kiss on the cheek.

She moved to Maggie and gave her another hug. “I’m so glad to see you.”

Maggie watched as Rachel carefully peeked over the plaid couch and gingerly patted Melanie’s sleeping head. The small token of affection made Maggie’s heart squeeze.

Maggie followed Liam’s eyes, and she could plainly see that her brother was in love with the woman who just left.

Liam quickly turned back to the coffee. He grabbed two mugs out of the hickory cabinets and sat them on the granite countertop. He looked back at his sister and waited for her to make the first move.

Maggie cleared her throat and started to speak. “You are probably wondering why I’m here.”

“Just glad to see you, though it’s a little early. You want sugar or cream?” Liam asked as he poured the dark liquid from the French press. The aroma swam to Maggie’s nose. She inhaled the rich flavor, and her stomach clenched, a reminder from the life inside her.