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|Before Jamaica Lane(On Dublin Street #3)(17) by Samantha Young|
He grinned and straightened to his full height. ‘Sexy. But no. Be ready, though.’ He winked at me as he grabbed his jacket and readied to leave. ‘Lessons start tomorrow.’
My mind was whirring with the turn the conversation had taken, so it wasn’t until he was almost walking out the door that I realized I hadn’t acknowledged what he was offering.
He stopped, his hand on the door handle. ‘Aye?’
My smile was slow but filled with appreciation. ‘Thanks.’
Nate grinned and yanked the door open. ‘Anything for you, babe.’
All throughout work I’d been a jittery mess, playing off my absentminded clumsiness as a result of day two of my epic hangover. Angus was sympathetic and let me spend most of the day in the back office doing quiet admin work, but that still didn’t stop me from messing up, and sooner rather than later, his sympathy waned. When adding html to the library Web site, I’d advertised our new student pods incorrectly. We already had pods on the first floor where large groups could sit in a booth and use the computer for working together on projects and tutorials. Additional pods had been set up on the second floor, and these accommodated fewer people. This was explained in the main text, and then there was a picture of the pod and a little tagline that should have read, ‘Maximum use: six.’ Instead of ‘six,’ I wrote ‘sex.’
We didn’t know until Janey, a young colleague of mine who was obsessed with checking out the Facebook page ‘Spotted: Edinburgh Uni Library’ – a page used primarily for students to ask out students they’d seen in the library, but also a page for them to post about students who’d pissed them off in the library, or done one of a million disgusting things noted online – discovered it on the student page. It had greatly amused our student body. It had not greatly amused my boss.
He sent me home early, where I downed about six cups of tea in hopes of finding whatever harmony it was that British people thought tea provided. No harmony to be found.
Nate was coming over to start our lessons and I was ready to upchuck what little I’d eaten all over him.
About twenty minutes before the time he was set to arrive, my dad called me. He was over at Dee’s and they were inviting me to dinner.
‘I’d love to, Dad, but I can’t. Nate’s coming over.’
‘Nate’s always over,’ Dad replied, not sounding happy about that.
‘Nate’s my friend.’
‘He’s a player.’
‘We’re just friends,’ I promised, although my skin was tingling with the anticipation of the possibilities for tonight. What on earth was he really going to be able to teach me? And how would he do it? I was going to die of embarrassment. I just knew it. Nate was all sex and charisma. He probably had a mouth on him. No, I knew he had a mouth on him. Would he expect me to talk to guys the way he talked to girls?
My eyes bugged out at the thought.
‘Liv, you there?’
‘Dee’s asking if you’d like to come over for dinner on Wednesday night instead?’
‘Sounds great. I’ll be there.’
‘How are you feeling today? Still hungover? You were pretty smashed at the wedding.’
I nervously ran my fingers through my hair as I tried to think back to the reception. ‘Did I, uh, say anything embarrassing?’
Dad laughed. ‘No. You were a funny drunk, sweetheart. Who took you home, by the way? You never said when I texted you yesterday.’
‘Nate took me home. He’s decent like that,’ I pointedly reminded him.
‘If you say so.’
My buzzer sounded and I flinched. ‘Got to go, Dad. Nate is here.’
We said good-bye quickly and I hung up as I hurried to the door to let Nate in. I was standing tapping my foot impatiently as I waited for him. The sounds of his footsteps in the concrete stairwell seemed to match the rhythm of my heartbeat, and by the time he appeared in my doorway I was just about ready for passing out.
Nate reared back at the sight of me. ‘Christ, you look as though you’re about to faint.’
I gulped. Loudly. ‘Nervous over here.’
He shut the door behind him, grimacing. ‘What the hell for? It’s just me.’
I glared at him.
‘Okay. Be nervous.’ He strode past me, shrugging out of his jacket. He threw it on the couch and then walked into the kitchen to take two beers out of the fridge. I caught the one that he tossed to me. Uncapping his beer, he gestured to me with the bottle. ‘To calm your nerves.’
When he didn’t say anything for five minutes – five very long minutes – I sat down on the arm of my couch and took a sip of beer.
‘Okay, talk me through it.’ Nate suddenly spoke up and I almost coughed on my beer at the seeming loudness of his voice in my little flat. ‘What happens exactly when a guy you’re attracted to speaks to you?’
Trying not to be any more of a dork than I already was, I fought back the blush that was determined to stain my cheeks. ‘I get tongue-tied.’
‘I’m very tempted to insert a sarcastic reply here, but I’ll just go with a simple shrug.’ I shrugged.
‘Don’t give me that “I don’t know, and if I did, I wouldn’t need you” bullshit. Why do you get tongue-tied?’
I was really attempting not to get pissed at him. That wouldn’t be a good start. Clenching my teeth, I answered as if it was obvious – which it so was – ‘I don’t have a lot of confidence.’
Nate considered me a moment. ‘In yourself? In your looks? In your sexual experience? What?’
‘Do you know how mortifying this is?’ I scowled at him.
Clearly annoyed, Nate narrowed his eyes at me. ‘I’m not here to make fun of you. I’m here to help you.’
We were quiet again as I gathered together the confidence to be honest. After taking a shaky sip of my beer, I looked at the floor and told him quietly, ‘You already know I lack confidence because of my minimal sexual experience, but … I also just don’t … don’t feel sexually attractive.’
His silence drew my gaze to him. He was looking at me incredulously again.