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|Before Jamaica Lane(On Dublin Street #3)(7) by Samantha Young|
‘Have you read any new books I might like?’ the object of my musings asked as I took a sip of wine.
‘Yes, I have actually. Angus recommended this sci-fi novel about this dystopian underground society. You’ll love it.’
‘Cool. Can I get it in e-book?’
‘Yup. I’ll send you the link.’
‘Okay, cheers. By the way I finished War of the Worlds.’
I raised an eyebrow. ‘Elaborate? What did you think?’
He shrugged. ‘I thought it was quite realistic for what it was and when it was written. It was pretty bleak. I liked it.’
Catching my eye across the table, Cam smiled at Cole’s review. ‘Keep coming with the bleak.’
I put two fingers to my forehead and saluted him. ‘Gotcha.’
Cole rolled his eyes at us. ‘It’s not an emo thing or anything. Books with unhappy or grim endings just … make you … I don’t know. Feel more, or something …’
He seemed embarrassed to have admitted that he had feelings (the horror!), and I felt the need to reassure him. ‘I understand. Unhappy and bittersweet endings have a tendency to stay with you, affect you long after you’ve finished the story.’
‘Ellie might argue with you on that,’ Jo murmured, exchanging a cheeky grin with Dad.
‘No might about it,’ I cracked. ‘Still, I’d have to stand my ground on it. Although I love a good romance with a happy ending, I have to admit that unhappy endings have more of an impact on me.’
I felt my dad’s stare and turned to find him frowning at me.
‘Put that away.’ I scowled, gesturing to the furrow between his brows. ‘I am perfectly okay.’
‘You prefer unhappy endings to happy endings,’ he argued.
‘In literature. Not life. Lit-er-a-ture.’
Dad leaned across the table to me. ‘You’d tell me if there was something the matter.’
‘Oh, my God.’ I shot a pleading look Jo’s way.
‘Of course she’s okay,’ Jo said, rescuing me. ‘She’s successful, she’s gorgeous, she has her own flat, lots of friends, and an overbearing dad who loves her. Now leave her alone.’
Dad was glowering as Jo teased him. After a few seconds he appeared to process her words and his shoulders relaxed. He turned to me. ‘I worry about you in that flat all by yourself, that’s all.’
‘I’m rarely in it alone. Nate relocated his office there.’
For some reason this made my dad scowl. That was immediately followed by Jo choking on laughter. I turned a swift glare on her and she choked harder.
Honestly, I didn’t know what it would take to make her realize that Nate and I were completely platonic. When we’d first met, we’d hit it off. Sometimes you meet people who you’re just comfortable with, and Nate was one of those people. We both felt free to be who we were around each other, and we’d bonded over two things. One was our sense of humor. We were both a little nutty. Second was our inner geek. We both embraced our inner geek.
Nate was a freelance photojournalist, but he made a nice second income as a film and video game reviewer for an international film and entertainment magazine. Whereas a lot of people would look at him and think movie star, in actuality he was closer to my species – geek. He’d started a blog when he was nineteen, reviewing movies, books, and video games. This blog grew so big over the years that by the time he turned twenty-five he had thousands of followers. This and his intelligent, funny, personality-infused reviews caught the eye of the magazine and they offered him a job. Luckily for me he’d taken to bringing the movies over to my flat to watch, and he could be pretty hilarious. I was known to have my moments too. Some of my commentary had even made its way into his reviews.
‘So, Olivia, any funny library stories this week?’ Cam asked, changing the subject for me.
I smiled gratefully. ‘I had to kick another couple of lovebirds out of the accessible rooms.’
‘Jesus, they really …’
But I didn’t hear the rest of what Cam had to say because the door to D’Alessandro’s opened and the world faded around me as he walked in.
My breath caught as he walked to the host’s podium with an older couple beside him. His parents maybe?
I didn’t know. Frankly, I didn’t care. All I cared about was that he was there and he might see me. If he saw me, he might recognize me and try to talk to me. Then again he might see me and not recognize me. I didn’t know which was worse. All I did know was that I did not want my family and friends to witness the horrifying meltdown of Olivia Holloway Bumping into Handsome Man.
‘Liv, are you really okay?’ Jo asked, pulling my gaze from Benjamin to her. Her beautiful green eyes were wide with concern. ‘You look … buzzed.’
‘I’m sorry, Cam.’ I apologized quickly for blanking on him, my gaze flicking back over to Benjamin.
Shit! The hostess was taking him past our table.
‘I must have –’ I deliberately swiped my elbow across the table, knocking my dessert spoon onto the floor. ‘Oops. Excuse me.’ I pushed my chair back and dropped heavily to the floor, ducking my head under the tablecloth. Heart pounding in my chest, I stayed there, watching familiar walking boots stride past the table.
He was out of range. Or, more precisely, I was.
The tablecloth lifted and my dad’s rugged face appeared in front of me. ‘Have you been smoking the wacky-backy?’
I pressed my lips tight to stop myself from bursting out laughing. Shaking my head, I reached out a trembling hand for my dessert spoon. I was going to need a replacement, since there was no way I wasn’t having dessert. The tiramisu at D’Alessandro’s was to die for. Of course I might die of embarrassment before I got the chance to charge to my death for dessert. ‘Just retrieving fallen cutlery.’
‘You’re acting stranger than usual.’
I huffed and the movement caused me to bump my head against the table. ‘Can we not have this conversation under here?’
His head disappeared and I quickly scrambled out after him, craning my neck to look for Benjamin. There was no sign of him as I pulled myself back onto my seat, and I slumped with relief as I realized the hostess had taken them into the other dining room.
I settled quite happily now that he was gone, smiling as I raised my spoon to a passing waitress. ‘Can I have a clean spoon, please?’