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|Before Jamaica Lane(On Dublin Street #3)(11) by Samantha Young|
Joss turned to look over her shoulder at him. ‘Was that an affirmative?’
Braden laughed softly and looked up at Adam pointedly. ‘Jocelyn has her own brand of tender.’
The way he said it was filled with innuendo and she rolled her eyes and straightened away from him. ‘Now you’re just being annoying.’ She gave us an indignant stare and insisted, ‘I can do tender.’
‘I believe you,’ I replied, trying not to laugh.
Adam quickly turned the conversation back to whatever it was he was discussing with Braden while Joss pretended to ignore them by pulling out her phone and checking her e-mails.
I nudged Ellie. ‘So what do you think Hannah and Jo are talking about upstairs?’
Ellie glanced up at the ceiling and blew air out between her lips. ‘Hannah’s been quiet lately – I suspect a boy is in the picture. She looks the way she looks and is absolutely hilarious and yet she’s not been out on a date yet?’ Els looked incredulous. ‘That just doesn’t seem right. I think she’s hiding a romance from us.’
‘You must be dying to know for sure.’
‘Oh, I am.’ Ellie’s pretty pale blue eyes were wide with curiosity. ‘But the most important thing is that she has someone to talk to, even if it’s not me.’
I frowned in thought. ‘Why isn’t it you?’
‘I think she thinks I’d get caught up in it and fail to give her real advice. Hannah is more of a realist than I am. I think if it’s a boy issue she’ll feel more comfortable discussing it with Jo. Jo has a more practical outlook on these things, whereas I might get a little overenthused about it all. I mean, my wee sister’s first romance – that’s huge.’
‘You are so dying to know what is going on with her.’
‘Eh ye-uh, it’s killing me.’
‘Dinner!’ Elodie called from the dining room, and we all shot up as though we’d been starving for days.
We crammed into the dining room, inhaling the aroma of good food. Only three months ago Elodie and Clark had invested in a larger dining table because her Sunday dinners had rapidly grown in size since Joss’s arrival into their lives.
‘Work going okay?’ Dad asked me as we settled into our chairs next to each other.
‘Mm-hmm,’ I answered absentmindedly, handling the hot bowl of mashed potatoes as if they were made of pure gold.
Dad snorted. ‘You’ve got a wee bit of drool on the corner of your mouth.’
‘No, I don’t.’ I slapped the mash on my plate gleefully and passed the bowl to him, then immediately reached for the gravy.
‘What’s with the cartoon hungry eyes? You not been eating right?’
‘I’m on a stupid diet,’ I muttered.
I felt my dad tense next to me. ‘What the hell for?’
‘To torture myself. I’m a masochist now.’
‘Liv, you know I don’t like those fads. There’s nothing wrong with you.’
Oh, no. My confession had probably just bought me one of my dad’s famous food-shopping trips. When I was at college, he’d turn up at the dorm every once in a while with brown paper bags loaded with food even though I had nowhere to put it. ‘I have a full fridge at home, Dad. Don’t even think about it.’
‘Hmm, we’ll see.’
I took a forkful of buttery mash and closed my eyes in sweet relief and said, ‘So good, I don’t even care,’ except I said it around a mouthful of potatoes, so it came out more like ‘Mu muu, u mmu mmm mmm.’
‘Mick, is Dee going to the wedding with you?’ Elodie asked from the opposite end of the table. ‘Last time we spoke you said she wasn’t sure.’
I glanced at my dad, wanting to know the answer to that question too. I had to admit, even though I was a grown-ass woman of twenty-six, it was still weird seeing my dad with someone who wasn’t Mom.
About four months ago, Dad started dating Dee, an attractive artist in her late thirties. Dad had reopened his painting and decorating company in Edinburgh, M. Holloway’s, and hired Jo. He’d already built up a great reputation and had recently hired two more guys to join their team. Back when it was just him and Jo, they took a job for this wealthy young couple in Morningside who’d bought their first home. It was a fixer-upper. There they met Dee, a friend of the couple who had been commissioned to paint a fairy-tale mural in the nursery. Dad and Dee hit it off. She was the first woman he’d dated seriously since Mom died.
I was very much aware that I should be grateful to Dee. Since her appearance, Dad had less time to worry over me, which he did. A lot. When we decided to settle in Edinburgh, I made a point of getting my own apartment. We’d been in each other’s pockets for a long time, and I really needed my space – I loved my dad to pieces, but sometimes his concern made me feel like there really was something wrong with me. The addition of Dee was at once confusing and a relief. I guessed I should get to know her a little better, because all I knew at the moment was that she was nothing like Mom. My mother was a dark-haired beauty with sharp cheekbones that hinted at the Native American heritage in her blood. Her fantastic bone structure and her dark hair were the only interesting physical attributes she gave me. Somehow a merciless God had not deigned to bestow upon me my mother’s beauty. It was her beauty that caught my dad’s eye, and then it was her dry, often twisted sense of humor – which I did inherit – and then it was the calm around her. Mom could soothe any room just by being in it. She was this incredibly peaceful, relaxing person, and it emanated from her to every one around her. It was a gift.
Despite her faults – her inconsiderate choices as a young girl – Mom was unfailingly kind, compassionate, and patient, which was why she’d made a great nurse. She’d handled her illness with a grace that always brought a lump to my throat whenever I let myself remember. She was a pretty reserved person, not overly confident, but not insecure or shy. Just quiet. Innately cool. You can’t teach that kind of cool. I should know because I’m pretty sure she tried to teach it to me and it clearly didn’t stick. I had no intention of trying to browbeat my inner geek for the chance to be cool. No, thank you. Me and my inner geek were loyal to each other. We had been ever since I was eight years old and my mother told me it was okay to be whoever I chose to be.