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|Before Jamaica Lane(On Dublin Street #3)(3) by Samantha Young|
I had no idea what Jo could possibly be up to by dragging us there.
Suddenly she broke out into a massive grin as she stopped on a corner facing a bar. ‘We’re here.’
We all looked at the bar and then shared puzzled expressions. There was nothing particularly glamorous about the bar. It was … just a bar.
‘Where’s here?’ Cam asked quietly, his mouth twitching with amusement.
‘Here.’ She gestured upward and we followed her motion to the street sign drilled into the brickwork above the bar entrance.
I burst out laughing as it all began to make sense.
‘You dragged us to Stirling for a street sign?’ Nate asked her incredulously.
Looking unsure, Jo nodded. ‘It’s not just any street sign. It’s Cameron’s birthday. He deserves to have a birthday drink in his very own place.’
The guys, with the exception of Cam, looked a little nonplussed by her thinking. Her fiancé, however, pulled her close and stared into her eyes in a way that made my chest compress with emotion. ‘I love it, baby.’ He kissed her softly. ‘Thank you.’
A mixture of happiness and envy rooted me to the spot for a second. I adored the fact that Jo had someone in her life who worshipped the ground she walked on, but I often wondered to myself if there would ever come a day when a guy would look into my eyes as if there were nothing else in the world worth looking at.
Ripped from my musings by the group’s teasing of Jo, I laughed with them all as we wandered into the warm bar together. We were perhaps dressed too formally for the casual atmosphere, but since we were a pretty laid-back bunch, not one of us was really put out by Jo’s little adventure. In fact, I think even the guys secretly thought it was cute of her.
It was definitely cute of her. She was a sweetheart, so when she did stuff that was unbelievably cute – like hauling our asses to a different county just so Cam could have a drink on a street with his name on it – I was never surprised.
My dad had spoken of her since the moment I’d met him. At first I’d been resentful of this little kid who’d had my dad for the first thirteen years of her life while I’d grown up with just the specter of him. My mom had never said a bad word against Dad, and being a somewhat precocious kid growing up with friends whose divorced parents were acidic around each other, it struck me as kind of odd that Mom wasn’t mad at the guy who hadn’t stuck around when I’d come along. I’d begun an investigation, wearing down my mom for months until finally she broke.
I remember how incredibly angry I was at her that she had never even told my father that I existed.
After she met Dad while she was studying abroad at the University of Glasgow, they’d begun an intense affair that Mom abruptly ended by going back to Phoenix at the end of her program. It wasn’t until she got back to the States that she discovered she was pregnant with me. She wouldn’t confess until many years later that the reason she didn’t get in touch with my dad was because she loved him so much, and she didn’t want him coming into her life out of obligation. I loved my mom, but she wasn’t infallible. She was young and she made a selfish decision. At thirteen I couldn’t see past that for a while. It took us time to get back to a good place.
Time I would later regret ever wasting.
The fact that Dad dropped his entire life in Scotland to come and be a father to a little girl he didn’t even know he had until I reached out to him was a testament to the kind of man he was. He uprooted his whole life to become a part of mine. But in doing so he left Jo behind.
When Cam first contacted my dad about getting back in touch with Jo, I thought about how much my actions had changed her life. With a father in prison and an alcoholic mother, my dad, who was a longtime friend of Jo’s dad, had been the only stable parental figure she and her brother, Cole, had in their lives. Of course, Dad didn’t know until we returned to Edinburgh that Jo’s mom, Fiona, had become such a severe alcoholic, leaving Jo to raise her kid brother on her own. Dad and I were carrying around our own little weights of guilt because of that.
However, the guilt was eased whenever I spent time in Jo and Cam’s company. After everything she’d gone through, Jo had finally found a guy who saw how incredible she was and treated her with the respect and love she deserved.
As I sipped the pint of lager Nate had bought me, I looked around at my friends. Here I was, surrounded by people who had been through hell and come out the other side to find the person they wanted to spend the rest of their life with.
Besides Jo and Cam, there was Joss, my fellow half American, half Scot, who fled to Edinburgh to escape an empty life back in Virginia. When I thought about all that Joss had lost, I honestly didn’t know how she’d kept going. I knew how it felt to lose my mom when I was twenty-one, but I couldn’t imagine what it must have been like for Joss to lose her entire family when she was only fourteen years old. From all accounts she was still pretty messed up about it when she moved in with Ellie and met Ellie’s brother, Braden. Apparently they’d had their ups and downs because of Joss’s issues, but had finally gotten through it all. They were getting married in three weeks.
Then, of course, there were Ellie and Adam. I was pretty close to Ellie because we shared a similar romantic idealism, and she’d told me the entire story of her and Adam. She’d been in love with her brother’s best friend for years, but he hadn’t noticed her until her eighteenth birthday, and he didn’t make a move on her until a few years after that, and even when he did he said it was a mistake. Apparently he didn’t want to ruin his friendships with her and Braden. There was a lot of back and forth until Ellie was ready to walk away from him for good, but when my beautiful and strong friend was diagnosed with a brain tumor, Adam finally stepped up to be with her. Luckily for us all, Ellie’s tumor turned out to be benign, and luckily for Adam, he’d come to his senses just in time to win Ellie over for good. They’d been engaged for a while but had only recently told us, now that she had an engagement ring sparkling on her left hand.
I was surrounded by love, and not some cheesy, overbearing, faux in-your-face kind of love, but real, intimate, I-know-all-your-quirks-and-habits-and-still-love-you kind of love.
‘You’ve got your final dress fitting on Monday, Joss,’ Ellie suddenly said, taking a sip of her mojito.