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|Before Jamaica Lane(On Dublin Street #3)(6) by Samantha Young|
She pointed to room three.
Drawing in a breath I marched forward, gripped the handle, and thrust the door open, only just refraining from squeezing my eyes closed.
A girl squealed as a guy growled, ‘What the …’
I watched with my arms crossed over my chest as he quickly pulled up his zipper and she righted her dress. She slid off the desk, clinging to the guy, her eyes bright with laughter.
‘This is not a hotel room,’ I told them calmly. ‘And the library is not a rendezvous point. Capice?’
‘What are you, Al Capone?’ The boy laughed, gently pushing the girl toward me and the door.
I sighed heavily. ‘Just have a little consideration for the general public, okay?’ My eyes quickly looked him over as I raised an unimpressed eyebrow. ‘No one wants to see that.’
The girl giggled while the guy laughed me off, brushing past me.
That would make it the fifth time since I’d started working at the university that I’d thrown someone out of one of those rooms for inappropriate behavior.
And they say a library is a boring place to work.
I’d returned from my tour of duty at the help desk to work in the reserve section. Tidying up and keeping an eye on the help desk, I was thinking about what to cook tonight for me and Nate, since he was coming over to work at my flat, when Benjamin Livingston showed up.
Trying to act cool, I slipped past the bookshelves and hurried behind the desk in case he required some assistance. A huge part of me hoped that he did, while the other part was terrified that he would.
The guy was beautiful – and not like Nate’s obvious man beauty, but in this rugged, outdoorsy, I-can-chop-wood-with-my-bare-hands kind of beautiful.
I’d helped Benjamin out a few times. Of course, I hadn’t managed to speak more than a few words to him, and they had been muttered under my breath in case they came out in the wrong order, which my words tended to do around a guy I was attracted to. From what I could tell by the resources Benjamin borrowed, he was a postgrad student in history. I usually saw him a few times a week, and lately I’d begun to really look forward to seeing him.
At six four, Benjamin Livingston was all broad shoulders, crooked smile, and light green eyes I could swim in. The last time I’d seen him, I’d fantasized about screwing him behind the book stacks. It occurred to me after he left that I may have developed a bit of a crush on him. I was trying to work through my shyness, in hopes of having an actual conversation with him.
I don’t know where my inadequacy with the male species originated. Because Mom was sick for a good portion of my adolescence, I didn’t have the same free time as other kids, since I tended to mother my own mom quite a lot. Plus, I was shy with boys at school. I had two dates in high school and only one of them ended in a makeout session that was memorable only for its sheer awkwardness
College was pretty much the same until after my sophomore year. I stupidly decided to get rid of my virginity by getting tipsy and sleeping with a senior I barely knew. It was awful. It hurt, it was awkward, and once he was done he rolled off me and left. I couldn’t remember a time when I’d felt more humiliated, more empty, or more inconsequential, and I took a severe hit to my confidence. Really, I’d just been so afraid to try again after that, that I didn’t. And then in my junior year it became clear that Mom wasn’t getting better, so I left to take care of her.
By the time I went back to college I was so conscious of my inexperience with men that it just made me morph from an outgoing woman into a preadolescent with a speech impairment. Moreover, the fact that I was so body conscious played a huge role in my lack of seduction skills too.
My eyes widened a little as Benjamin approached the desk, shuffling his backpack up, his biceps flexing nicely under his blue shirt as he did so.
He smiled at me, that adorable lopsided grin. ‘It looks like I’ve got a fine to pay.’ He passed resource material over to me and I took it while I stared into his eyes.
You can do this.
To function I was going to have to look away. It was like staring into the sun for too long.
Fingers trembling, I scanned the material and then flinched at the fine that appeared on the screen.
‘Ouch. That bad, eh?’
Did I mention he had this divine Scottish accent that made me want to lick him?
I took a deep breath, shoving that thought aside. ‘It’s overdue by three days, so that’s eighty-four pounds.’
He winced. ‘Won’t be doing that again. What kind of rate are you guys charging?’
It’s not my fault! It’s the library gods! ‘Two pence a minute,’ I replied quietly.
‘Ah, okay.’ He smiled reassuringly at me as he handed me his bank card. ‘My own fault for ignoring the reserve section rules.’
It took less than a minute to pay his fine, but that forty seconds was forty seconds during which I could have asked him anything. Instead I worked mutely and couldn’t even meet his eyes when I handed him back his receipt and card.
My eyes were trained on his chin as I shrugged. Shrugged? What the …
My own chin lifted slightly in acknowledgment.
And then he was gone.
So much for that whole conversation thing.
Turning around with a deep groan, I slowly bumped my head off the wall, back and forth, back and forth.
‘Uh, Liv, you okay?’ Angus’s voice spoke behind me.
My cheeks flushed at having been caught, and I jerked around to face my boss. ‘Just checking building stability. It’s all good.’
Angus raised an eyebrow at me. ‘How about your mental stability?’
‘That’s definitely next on the agenda.’
Every week my dad, Jo, Cam, Cole, and I tried to meet up for a dinner together, and that night we were at my favorite Italian restaurant, D’Alessandro’s, on India Street, right around the corner from my flat. Cam and Dad often fought over the bill, but Dad had height and age over Cam, so he usually won.
I loved these dinners. Not just because I loved the food at D’Alessandro’s, but because Jo, Cam, and Cole had really become family for me and Dad, and us for them. Especially Cole. From everything I’d learned about his life before Cam, Cole really had only Jo. Now he had this makeshift family. A family he deserved. Jo had said Cole’s instant camaraderie with me was a rare thing indeed, a camaraderie we all knew had turned into a bit of a crush. Cole was too cool to ever make the crush awkward, and I always pretended to be completely unaware of it. To the outside observer Cole could have passed for eighteen. He’d grown another few inches these past nine months, taking him to six feet at fifteen years old. His broad shoulders had filled out from training with Cam and Nate at judo, and his upbringing had given him this air of maturity that most kids his age didn’t have. However, to me, and I knew to Jo, because we’d talked about it, he was just this little kid we adored. That could drive him crazy sometimes, since most people treated him like the young adult he appeared to be.