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|Before Jamaica Lane(On Dublin Street #3)(20) by Samantha Young|
Ronan snorted as I reminded him what she’d said to me. ‘You’ve got to give her points for getting the word “provincial” into the sentence.’
‘Oh, you know she meant “American.” Elitist …’
‘Nothing,’ I mumbled, dipping my head to my e-reader again. ‘My mom always said if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.’
‘My mum always said if you can’t say something nice, say something memorable.’
I laughed. ‘I might steal that.’
The door to the staff room flew open and our colleague Wendy strolled in. She was grinning huge. ‘I just got asked out again by another student. This place is brilliant for my self-esteem. I can’t believe I didn’t think to come here sooner.’ She shrugged as she got a plastic cup of water from the water dispenser. ‘Of course, the fact that it’s the third time I’ve been hit on by a woman is a little puzzling.’
Sneaking a look at Ronan I saw him struggling not to laugh, which of course set me off. Once I lost control, he started laughing too. Wendy was a thirty-three-year-old wife and mother of two. She was attractive, friendly, funny, and just plain old nice. And apparently a hit with the ladies.
She watched us chuckle with a good-natured smile on her face. ‘What? Do you think I’m doing something to encourage it?’
I shook my head. ‘I don’t know. Just take it as the compliment it is.’
‘You should know.’ Ronan smirked at me. ‘You’re always getting hit on.’
My eyebrows puckered together. ‘By barely out-of-their-adolescence boys who will screw anything as long as it has boobs and a vagina attached to it.’
‘We’re using the word “vagina” at work now?’ Angus’s voice jerked my head around from Ronan. My boss was leaning against the doorway, regarding us with cool amusement.
I smiled sheepishly. ‘We’re talking about medical journals?’
Angus ignored that and wandered toward the coffee machine. ‘I met Michael here, you know,’ he suddenly offered up, which told us he’d been standing at the door for a while and knew exactly what we’d been talking about. ‘Fraternizing with the students isn’t encouraged, but I was twenty-three and he was a twenty-five-year-old postgrad.’ He grinned at me over his shoulder. ‘Sometimes when you click you just click – you can’t help who it’s with. Have you never had that with anyone, Liv? A student, perhaps?’
My pulse throbbed in my neck at his pointed question. Oh, my God … did Angus know about my crush on Benjamin? I shook my head quickly. ‘No.’
‘Hmm.’ He smirked at me, leaning against the counter. ‘Well, I’ve noticed a postgrad or two checking you out … in the reserve section.’
Was he saying he’d noticed Benjamin checking me out?
‘Really?’ I squeaked.
Laughing, Angus replied, ‘You’re quite possibly the most oblivious person I’ve ever met in my life.’
‘Checking me out?’ I asked for clarification.
‘Yes. You.’ He frowned at me. ‘Why do you ask that like it’s impossible?’
‘Um …’ Uh-oh. I didn’t want my colleagues knowing that any self-esteem I had was clinging to my personality with a death grip.
Angus gave me a look that suggested he thought me more than a little nutty (he gave me that look a lot), grabbed his coffee, and strode toward the exit. ‘Try not to use the word “vagina” outside of the staff room.’
Ronan and Wendy laughed, but I was barely listening, diving inside my own head.
If you were just some woman in a bar, I’d pick you out from all the others, take you home, and f**k you so hard you wouldn’t be able to walk straight in the morning.
Nate’s delicious voice was echoing in my brain again, along with Angus’s comments. Maybe Nate really was being one hundred percent honest with me. It was possible that men, actual men, not adolescent boys and young college boys, might find me attractive – might actually be okay with a woman who was a little overweight, had curves and an ass on her.
And here I’d thought Sir Mix-A-Lot wrote ‘I Like Big Butts’ just because it was catchy.
‘What?’ Ronan’s eyebrows rose in question.
‘Nothing,’ I muttered. ‘I’m just having a possibly life-altering epiphany over here.’
‘Want to share?’
I shook my head with a smile and got to my feet. ‘Better get back to work.’ I cleaned up the small mess I’d made, rinsed out my mug, and headed toward the door, unconsciously singing out loud.
Just before the door shut behind me, I heard Ronan sigh heavily. ‘Great, now I’ve got Sir Mix-A-Lot stuck in my head.’
As Nate leaned against my kitchen counter, drinking soda, I allowed myself to really look at him in a way I hadn’t looked at him since cementing a close friendship with him. It was Thursday night and he’d just arrived to continue our lessons. Wearing a plain black T-shirt, black jeans, black boots, and a sports watch, he was glamorous without even trying. I knew he’d hate it if he knew I was thinking that word, but it just fit Nate. At any given minute he looked ready to walk the red carpet or pose for the paparazzi. When he’d been dressed up in his three-piece suit for Joss and Braden’s wedding, he’d been absolutely beautiful. He could put Hollywood actors to shame.
And Nate wasn’t just beautiful on the outside. Underneath the playboy was a guy more loyal than most, earthy, compassionate, and – let’s face it – giving. Here he was, taking time out of his life to help me with a pretty embarrassing situation. So far, he’d tried his best to make sure the experience wasn’t excruciating for me. How many guys were that kind and patient?
He was beautiful all the way through, and it was only now sinking in that a man that beautiful had said he found me attractive.
‘So did anything stick with you?’ Nate asked carefully after taking his first sip of Coke.
‘I’ve been singing “I Like Big Butts” for the past twenty-four hours.’
His laughter filled my tiny apartment and it hit me in my belly in a way that it hadn’t in a long time. Stubbornly I squashed that feeling and continued. ‘Honestly, it has sunk in a little. At least it’s put me in a good mood, and has made me think that maybe I do have a slightly skewed perception of my physical appearance. However, it’s not going to make me confident overnight. The thought of flirting with Benjamin, doing anything with Benjamin, makes me nervous as all hell.’