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|Before Jamaica Lane(On Dublin Street #3)(10) by Samantha Young|
His eyes were bright with mischief. ‘Don’t stop leaving your red, wet underwear around the flat when you have a man around. We like that. Just helping a bud out, you know.’
My eyes bugged out in horror as I turned to look around my apartment. Red caught my eye and mortification sank in. My lacy bra and panties were draped over the radiator, drying.
How did I not notice this?
‘Kill me, kill me now,’ I moaned, my cheeks blazing with embarrassment as I winced at the sound of Nate’s laughter echoing down the stairwell.
After I’d locked my front door I started to clean up, sporadically shooting lethal glares at the drying underwear, as if somehow it was the underwear’s fault I was stewing over the fact that Nate now knew I had a taste for sexy lingerie.
Finally I rolled my eyes and told myself to buy a sense of humor.
As I undressed in my room, pulling my gray jersey pajamas out of the dresser, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I was wearing my favorite emerald green satin lingerie set today. In the bottom of my dresser and in a wicker box in my closet, there was plenty more where it came from. I liked nice underwear, but I didn’t like looking at myself in it. I just liked the feel of it.
Frozen, I took in my wide-eyed expression as I indulged in a long look in the mirror. What I saw made me want to hunch my shoulders over. What I saw stole away the good mood Nate had put me in, and it reminded me why I would never end up with a guy like Benjamin Livingston.
It’s not that I was ugly – I knew that. It was just that when I looked in the mirror I didn’t see anything particularly special. I saw a plain face, with the exception of the high cheekbones Mom gave me and my dad’s unusual golden eyes. I saw flabby arms. I hated those flabby arms of mine. At five seven I wasn’t short, but I wasn’t tall enough for my height to carry my ever-widening hips, pretty huge ass, and little rounded stomach. Thankfully I didn’t have a thick waist, but you couldn’t tell that to the little pouch on my lower belly that refused to be flat.
After losing my mother to cancer, I knew and I believed that having a healthy body was far more important than having a skinny, fashion-friendly one. I knew that.
I knew that.
Yet somehow I still didn’t feel sexy or attractive. It was more than frustrating – it was painful – to know what was right but feel what was wrong.
Saddened that I, a smart, semi-funny, nutty, loyal, good woman, could feel so negative about myself under all the smiling and humor, I felt the sting of tears in my eyes. The way I felt about my physical appearance was bad. Really freakin’ bad.
My fists clenched at my sides as I stared at my average figure.
I was so taking up Pilates in the morning.
The smell of dinner wafting into the room was causing overproduction of saliva under my tongue. After three days of cutting out food that was bad for me and painfully enduring a Pilates instructional DVD, I was more than ready to chow down on Elodie Nichols’s hearty Sunday roast.
‘I swear to God I’m going to gnaw off a finger,’ I muttered, examining my hand.
‘Pardon?’ Ellie asked absentmindedly as she looked at photographs of the flower arrangements Braden and Joss had chosen for their wedding. The arrangements had been selected months ago, as was everything else. After a disastrous start with Ellie as wedding planner (not because she couldn’t do it, but because she and Joss had such different tastes), Braden had taken over organizing the wedding and Joss had helped with the decision making.
‘Why are you staring at those photos? Again?’
‘I would have gone with roses.’
‘Well, I went with lilies,’ Joss butted in from across the room where she was sitting on the arm of the chair where Braden was relaxing. He was talking about something with Adam. Clark was in the other armchair by the television, somehow managing to grade papers among all our chatter. His son, Declan, a twelve-and-a-half-year-old computer geek, was huddled on the floor with Cole, playing a Nintendo DS, while Mick and Cam sat on the other end of the sofa that Ellie and I were on. Jo had disappeared upstairs with Ellie’s sixteen-year-old half sister, Hannah. They were really close and tended to disappear to Hannah’s room for a chat before dinner.
Ellie smiled at Joss. ‘They’re still really pretty. I’ll just go with roses in my wedding.’
‘Do you like roses, Adam?’ Joss asked, grinning mischievously at Ellie.
Adam blinked as he was drawn out of his discussion with Braden. ‘Sorry?’
‘Roses? For your wedding? Ellie wants them.’
‘Ellie can have what she wants.’
Looking a little nonplussed, Joss asked, ‘You don’t have a say in it?’
He frowned. ‘Nope. My only job is to turn up and say “I do.” ’
Joss made a face at Braden, who looked as though he was trying really hard not to laugh. ‘How come Adam gets the job I wanted in our wedding?’
Braden’s mouth twitched. ‘You could have had that job. I did offer to do everything myself.’
‘But …’ She glanced from him to Ellie to Adam. ‘There was definite emotional manipulation involved. Ellie’s not doing that to Adam.’
Now Braden was laughing. ‘What emotional manipulation? I do believe I said something along the lines of “Well, I’ll plan the wedding, then.” Nothing more. You were the one who got all mushy and grateful and decided to help out.’
Joss’s eyebrows hit her hairline. ‘Mushy?’
‘Uh-oh,’ Ellie muttered under her breath.
I smirked and impishly added fuel to the fire. ‘Joss, you can be a little mushy. You try hard to hide it, but it slips out sometimes.’
‘Uh-oh,’ Ellie muttered. ‘Silly Olivia.’
I shrugged, smiling, as I awaited Joss’s reaction, which was almost always guaranteed to be funny.
Instead she just stared at me, seeming unable to come up with a response. Finally she slumped back against the arm Braden had wrapped around her waist. ‘I don’t do mushy,’ she murmured. ‘I do tender. There’s a difference.’
‘Tender?’ Adam raised an eyebrow in disbelief.
Now she definitely looked affronted. ‘I can do tender. Braden, tell him.’
Her fiancé grinned, and my chest did that achy, flippy thing again when he leaned over to press a loving kiss on her shoulder. God, I wanted what they had.