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|Before Jamaica Lane(On Dublin Street #3)(29) by Samantha Young|
It was official. I was a loser.
And Nate was totally wasting his time.
For the next few days I avoided having to listen to my own thoughts. At work that was pretty easy because I kept myself busy, and was constantly in Angus’s face asking him for more tasks. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he thought I’d started a diet that consisted only of Red Bull … or crack. Considering he hadn’t done a random locker check, though, I was guessing he was erring on the side of Red Bull. Or, you know … just plain crazy.
That night I had dinner with Dad and Dee and didn’t go home until I was so tired I practically collapsed on my bed as soon as I got inside the apartment. Tuesday night I did a little shopping after work and bought a bunch of comedies on DVD. I didn’t want depressing, maudlin, or angsty. I wanted my mind off anything that could possibly take me back to that one minute of absolute loserdom in the reserve section with Benjamin.
By the time Nate arrived for our lesson on Wednesday night just after eight o’ clock, I was ready to quit.
So much for grabbing life by the balls.
Knowing Nate could eat an entire supermarket after judo class, I’d laid out a bunch of snacks on the coffee table and had a Steve Carell movie playing in the background. When he walked in, his hair still wet from the shower he’d obviously quickly taken before coming over, I studied his confident swagger as he entered my apartment. Nate didn’t just walk; he prowled. This was a man confident in his body and he knew how to use it.
God, I envied him.
‘Babe.’ He grinned at the food I’d laid out for him and quickly sat down on the sofa to be nearer to it.
I brought him the beer and flopped down beside him.
Nate instantly raised a questioning eyebrow, unsurprisingly reaching for a mini chocolate donut first. He had a bit of a sweet tooth. ‘What’s with you?’
Watching him munch on the donut, I debated whether to tell him or not. Before he’d walked in I’d been ready to hold my hands up, apologize, and explain it had all been a waste of his time. Now that he was here, however, I started to wonder if he’d be disappointed in me. It didn’t say much about me if I gave up on myself so quickly, especially when Nate was refusing to do so.
‘Benjamin came into the library on Monday.’
He gestured for me to go on as he took a swig of beer.
‘It was a car wreck, Nate. He asked for a book called Sex Crimes, Honour, and the Law in Early Modern Spain and I blushed from the tips of my toes to the roots of my hair.’
‘He tried to speak to me, and I was so mortified that I’d blushed I just kept looking at my feet like a five-year-old crushing on her ten-year-old neighbor.’
‘Crap, what is it with this guy?’ Nate asked, settling back against the couch.
‘I don’t know.’ I shrugged. ‘I think it’s a mental block.’
‘A mental block?’
A mental block indeed. It wasn’t that hard to understand why I couldn’t flirt with Benjamin. The reason why was the reason I’d been avoiding thinking about the whole thing for the past few days. It was just too depressing. ‘A mental block,’ I repeated. ‘It’s the bit that comes after the flirting that is causing my mental block.’ I lowered my gaze, nervously twisting my fingers. ‘If the flirting worked and I somehow managed to get a date with Benjamin … I’d be terrified.’
‘It’s the no-experience thing, Nate. It makes me feel inadequate, unsexy. It doesn’t matter how much you tell me that I’m attractive, or how much we work on silly flirting, that inexperience is always there, taunting me. It’s stopping me from doing anything.’ Feeling my cheeks burn, I prepared myself to explain to him just how bad the situation was. ‘I’ve kissed two guys, Nate. Two nights of kissing. That’s it. And one of those nights I was spectacularly drunk and I lost my virginity. Two guys in my entire twenty-six years on this planet. I don’t even know if I’m a good kisser or not.’
The apartment was silent except for the murmur of the movie. I’d turned the volume down when Nate buzzed up, and now it was just an annoyance in a tense moment.
He shifted a little closer, studying me carefully. ‘It’s easy enough to find out.’
‘What do you mean?’
I jerked back. ‘What? No!’
He smirked. ‘I’ll try not to take that personally.’
‘No.’ I hurried to reassure him. ‘It’s not that you’re not kissable, you know you are, you handsome bastard, it’s just that you’re Nate. We’re friends. It might get weird.’
He grinned at my answer. ‘Liv, we’re grown-ups. I think we can handle an experimental make-out without freaking out and gabbing to all our friends about it.’
I made a face at him. ‘Funny.’
‘Well.’ He gave me a ‘what are you waiting for’ look. ‘Kiss me.’
The pulse in my neck began to throb. ‘You’re serious?’
My eyes dropped to his mouth. He had a great mouth. Kind of a perfect mouth, actually. ‘Now?’
Trembling, I shimmied across the sofa so our knees were touching. ‘Just kiss you?’
I saw a dimple flash but ignored the fact that he was laughing at me. I was too busy hyperventilating over whether or not I was about to give Nate Sawyer the worst kiss of his life.
My chest began to rise and fall quickly as I scrambled to catch a proper breath.
‘Calm,’ Nate murmured.
At his advice, I sucked in a huge breath and with it the fruity scent of Nate’s shampoo. He wasn’t wearing his usual heady cologne, and instead smelled fresh, clean.
For some reason it made me think of him naked.
Oh, boy, Nate naked.
Feeling my skin warm, I saw the question in Nate’s eyes – as if he knew I’d had an indecent thought and wanted to know what exactly it had been.
To shut out his question, I leaned up and pressed my quivering lips to his.
His body tensed for a moment, seeming to want me to take the lead.
His lips were warm and soft as I brushed my own tentatively against them. Realizing he wasn’t going to make a move until I really kissed him, I leaned closer, my br**sts brushing his chest, and I pressed my mouth harder against his, my tongue running gently across the seam of his closed lips.