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|Before Jamaica Lane(On Dublin Street #3)(28) by Samantha Young|
‘Scott’ – Hannah flicked her gaze to me – ‘the date from last night. He’s a nice guy. He’s in the year above me. A lot of girls like him. So I said yes.’
‘Wait for it,’ Jo murmured, her mouth twisted in annoyance. ‘It’s bloody typical. Men,’ she huffed.
‘Marco moved here from Chicago. He’s living with his aunt and uncle. They own D’Alessandro’s.’
‘Oh, my God, I love that place.’
‘Liv –’ Ellie bugged her eyes out at me. ‘Stick to the program.’
‘Oh. Sorry.’ I winced. ‘Continue.’
‘Marco works for his uncle at the restaurant, something he never actually told me.’ She seemed perplexed by this. ‘He goes to Telford College. He’s studying to become a carpenter. I didn’t know he was working too.’
She was silent a moment as she got lost in her own thoughts.
‘Hannah.’ Ellie shoved gently at her leg. ‘The rest of the story?’
‘Scott took me to D’Alessandro’s.’
We all sucked in a breath, suddenly realizing where this was going.
‘Marco was bussing tables. He saw us together and he looked …’ She shrugged, seeming lost. ‘He looked furious. When Scott went to the toilet, I tried to talk to him, but he just … he barely looked at me and then stormed off. Disappeared.’
We were all silent for a moment and then I offered unhelpfully, ‘Sounds complicated.’
‘Sounds epic.’ Ellie smiled at her little sister.
‘This is why I didn’t say anything.’ Hannah glowered up at Jo while gesturing to her sister.
‘Hey,’ Ellie snapped, not something she did a lot, considering she was a pretty sunny person. ‘Stop treating me like some fluffy romantic. I can be useful, you know. In fact, I’m an expert on guys who push you away for inexplicable reasons when it’s obvious they fancy you.’
Her sister eyed her carefully. ‘That is true.’
‘I say let him hang.’ Ellie shrugged. ‘When I shut Adam out, that pushed him to make his move.’
‘Wasn’t that your tumor?’
Els glared at her. ‘The tumor was a catalyst, but believe me I was wearing him down with my absence before all that.’
Hannah bit her lip at Ellie’s tone. ‘Sorry. I didn’t mean to sound cavalier about your tumor.’
‘Forgiven.’ Ellie blew air out between her lips. ‘So? What are we going to do? About Marco, that is?’
For a little while we sat around debating the best move, all of us considering it seriously, since it was plain as day that this was no ordinary crush for Hannah. This mysterious Marco guy, whoever he was, meant something to her, and I wanted a description so I could go into D’Alessandro’s and check him out. Hannah did not seem interested in playing games with him and was leaning more toward Jo’s advice to try and get him to talk to her. As the girls left the room ahead of me at Elodie’s call upstairs, I was suddenly hit with a realization.
Hannah, a girl who was yet to turn seventeen, had more of a love life than I did.
‘And isn’t that just depressing,’ I muttered, as I walked downstairs.
I turned at the sight of Cole coming out of the toilet, his eyebrows raised in question.
‘Tortoises,’ I answered immediately, lying because the truth was just embarrassing and way too complicated to explain to a fifteen-year-old boy. ‘They’re so grumpy-looking.’
Cole eyed me like I was nuts, which I might just be. ‘You’re a little weird, Liv. You know that, right?’
I nodded in resignation and started walking toward the dining room.
‘But you’re wrong about tortoises.’
Affection rushed through me, and I turned to him with a questioning smile. ‘I am?’
‘They’re not grumpy. They’re just contemplating things. That’s why they take their time getting places. They’re constantly thinking things through.’
My grin widened and he smiled back at me. ‘It’s official. You are just as big a geek as I am, Cole Walker.’
He grunted at me. ‘Aye, if cooler than ice is now being mistaken for geek.’
Laughing, I followed him in to dinner. ‘You’re spending too much time around Nate. His cockiness is wearing off on you.’
‘I don’t suppose you’re reshelving history books, are you?’
The familiar smooth voice surprised the heck out of me, and as I jerked my head back to stare up at Benjamin I felt my tongue immediately twist itself into a knot.
It was Monday afternoon and I’d taken a moment away from the quiet help desk in the reserve section to reshelve returned books. Benjamin had crept up on me as I sat on my haunches, putting a few books back on the bottom shelf of the last book stack in the room.
His green eyes were friendly and inquiring. ‘I’m looking for a book in this section.’
Taking a deep breath, I tried to remember everything Nate and I had gone over, and yet sitting at this guy’s feet I still felt incredibly inadequate. This was supposed to be my moment. I was supposed to start flirting and begin the first day of the rest of my life.
Instead I managed to unknot my tongue as I stood up, my hand reaching for the trolley of books and articles as though it would prop me up. ‘What are you looking for?’
He glanced down at a piece of paper in his hands and then gazed directly into my eyes. ‘Sex Crimes, Honour, and the Law in Early Modern Spain.’
As soon as the word ‘sex’ fell from his mouth, my cheeks blazed.
His lips quirked up at my prudish reaction, and I ducked my head over the books on my trolley in humiliation and started searching through them. ‘Um’ – my hands were shaking from the horror that I was still as socially awkward as I had been two weeks ago – ‘here it is.’ I grabbed the leather-bound book and quickly held it out to him, unable to meet his eyes.
‘Thank you.’ He exhaled. ‘I thought I wasn’t going to get my hands on it.’
I didn’t say anything, just nodded.
‘Okay. Well, thanks.’
I nodded again and waited for his shadow to move away. As soon as his footsteps faded I lifted my head and stared at the space where he’d been.