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|Before Jamaica Lane(On Dublin Street #3)(8) by Samantha Young|
When she nodded, I grinned and turned back to my companions.
They were all staring at me. I flinched at their appraisal. ‘What?’
‘Mick’s right.’ Cam raised a speculative eyebrow. ‘You’re weirder than usual.’
I looked at Cole for help, but he just shrugged, and I took that to mean he agreed with them. Not wanting anyone ever to find out about my hopeless crush on Library Guy, I searched for an explanation. Finally I chose the creatively lacking ‘I had three Red Bulls today.’
Creatively lacking it might have been, but it worked, and soon conversation was diverted from me and my absurdness.
To my chagrin, before dessert arrived disaster struck.
I needed to pee and I needed to pee badly.
Unfortunately, the toilets were down the corridor and opposite the other dining room, putting me in the possible path of Benjamin.
When my bladder couldn’t take it anymore, however, I had to throw off my concerns and bolt for relief.
By the time I reached the restroom I wondered what I’d been freaking out about. I was moving so fast to get to the toilet in time that I was a blur. Benjamin would never recognize my bursting-bladder-induced blur. Hmm, say that five times fast.
Despite my growing calm, I had every intention of becoming a blur on my trip back to my table. Regrettably, I didn’t factor in a collision with a wall as I came out of the restroom.
I stumbled back, blinking fast, as my eyes took in the dark blue wall. My brain very quickly processed that it wasn’t in fact a wall … but a chest. A man’s wide chest.
My heart began to thud in my own chest as my eyes drifted upward, my heartbeat escalating, sweat prickling my palms as the familiar and masculine beauty of Benjamin Livingston dwarfed my world.
I was pretty sure my mouth was hanging open unattractively as he grinned, his eyes alight with recognition.
‘You work at the university library, right?’
Swallowing, I rehearsed my answer in my head. Then I managed a nod. ‘Assistant desk help.’ No, that wasn’t right. ‘I mean help desk assistant.’
So much for rehearsal.
His smile widened and he stepped a little closer, shutting off the oxygen supply to my already gasping brain. ‘Well, you’re always very helpful.’
And then somehow Maggie Smith possessed me. ‘It’s what I do,’ I answered solemnly with a Scottish accent.
A freakin’ Scottish accent.
Thankfully a pretty good one.
But that wasn’t the point.
My cheeks burned with embarrassment as Benjamin chuckled softly. ‘Right.’
I had to get out of there. I had to get out of there now! ‘Well, my table is waiting for me at the family.’
Giving him a tight smile and ignoring his lip-twitching amusement, I shot past him, down the corridor, and into the other dining room. Plates and glasses tinkled as I collapsed gracelessly in my chair and announced loudly, ‘I think we should take dessert to go and hang out at my place. Like right now.’ I nodded encouragingly. ‘Yes?’
I was frustrated.
It was a few days later and I still hadn’t quite recovered from my mortification. The object of my crush had made an appearance at the library, and as soon as I saw his blond head bobbing through the main reception area, I scurried into the admin office and persuaded my colleague Rachel that, yes, I would, in fact, prefer updating the Web site html and answering e-mail complaints instead of hanging out at the fun help desk.
Suffice it to say I was not in a great mood when I finished work that day, but as I turned the corner onto Jamaica Lane and saw a familiar figure leaning against the door to my building, my step lightened along with my mood.
Nate grinned, his dimples appearing as he lifted a white plastic carrier bag. ‘Chinese food and an alien invasion flick with some pretty-boy actor who will probably make me want to stick a pen in my eye.’
I smiled at him in confusion, the smell of the takeout causing the greedy little growlers in my stomach to wake up. ‘Didn’t you have a date tonight?’ I asked as I shoved my key in the lock and led us into the dark, dank stairwell.
‘She phoned me this afternoon to ask if I’d be okay with us going to her sister’s engagement party instead of dinner. Apparently the party was “impromptu.” ’ His unimpressed expression told me he didn’t believe it for a second. So did the air quotes.
‘A family event on the first date?’ I gasped in mock horror. ‘How dare she?’
‘I know.’ I flashed him a quick grin and let us into my tiny one-bedroom flat. Tiny though it was, I loved it.
The kitchen and living room were one room. The kitchen was shaped like an L and took up most of the room, leaving space for a couch, an armchair, and a television. Fortunately, the bedroom was a good size and I could fit in a couple of bookshelves, but most of my books were scattered around the apartment. Also, I didn’t have a bathroom. I had a toilet/shower room.
It worked for me.
It was cozy.
Shrugging out of my coat, I watched as Nate sauntered into the kitchen and began getting plates out and arranging our dinner for us. ‘Got you orange chicken, babe. That okay?’
He called me ‘babe’ in that rumbly, rich voice of his all the time. I tried not to shiver each time. I failed. A lot.
‘My favorite,’ I called to him as I headed into my bedroom to dump my coat and kick off my shoes. ‘There’s beer in the fridge if you want one.’
‘Got it. Do you want one or will I pour you a glass of wine?’
‘I picked you up a tub of Rocky Road too for later. I’ll just stick it in the freezer.’
Seriously, I could marry this guy. Strolling back out into the main room, I smiled gratefully at him. ‘I’m promoting you to best friend.’
He frowned as he poured me a glass of Rosé. ‘I thought I got that promotion ages ago.’
‘You were promoted to best friend with equal friend status to Ellie and Joss. You’ve just graduated to Jo’s level.’
‘Which is higher?’
Nate seemed to consider this. ‘Are there perks to this promotion?’
I answered gravely. ‘Yes. You get to bring me Chinese food and Rocky Road ice cream all the time.’
He looked at me blankly.