‘I shouldn’t have any more.’ Lisa made a feeble attempt to cover her glass with her hand. ‘Especially as I have just disgraced myself in front of your parents.’

‘You haven’t disgraced yourself at all, and you’ve got just cause to be upset,’ Jack interjected, sitting down next to her.

‘Just one more glass and, if you pass out, Jack will carry you up to bed.’

Adele had been joking, but by the time they got to track five, Lisa was asleep. Jack, without any prompting, got to his feet. Adele watched as he gently picked up her oldest, but totally out of it, friend and cradled her in his arms. She noticed the intent, caring look in her brother’s eyes, a look she had never seen before. I wonder? Sparks can fly at unexpected times… but I suppose both people need to be conscious at the same time.

She scolded herself for getting carried away, but she liked the idea of having Lisa as a sister-in-law, but Elizabeth had jaundiced Lisa’s ideas about marriage. Marriage apart, if Lisa was to start a relationship with anyone, she would need to take down the self-imposed barricade she had built around her heart.

Jack put Lisa down gently on the spare bed in his sister’s room that she had used since she was a child, before kneeling down to study her face.  She looked so vulnerable.  Transfixed, he watched her chest rise and fall as the beat of his heart accelerated, which took him by surprise. The urge to lie down next to her and hold her in his arms was overwhelming. He hadn’t fully realised before, but she was beautiful.  He had always been fond of her, but at that moment, he realised he was feeling something else.  Something much more profound, a warm, fuzzy feeling his academic brain was struggling to assimilate. He gently picked up her hand and held it against his cheek, dipping his head a little further, for a closer view of her face.

He inhaled.  Paco Rabanne.  He remembered when she bought her first bottle of that perfume while holidaying with his family in France.  She had randomly chosen it off the shelf, blowing half her spending money.

‘Sod the money, I smell wonderfully French!’  She said, dabbing her perfumed-soaked fingers against her neck.

‘Paco Rabanne is Spanish!’ Adele quipped.

‘French, Spanish, who cares… I smell exotically European.’

He remembered he had bent his head towards Lisa’s neck to inhale the perfume and saying, ‘It really suits you…’

Five years on and watching her sleep, he felt if he lost her, the bottom would fall out of his world. How blind he had been.  He was about to lean forward and kiss her on the lips when his sister walked into the room.

‘It makes you wonder what life will throw at her next.’ she whispered, putting her hands on her brother’s shoulders. ‘She’s been so happy since she got the job at Stellar and now this.  Her bloody mother has got a lot to answer for.’

Jack looked up at his sister and smiled. ‘I’m happy that she has us,’ he said, getting to his feet and giving his sister a hug before silently slipping out of the room.