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|Before Jamaica Lane(On Dublin Street #3)(36) by Samantha Young|
‘He has this group of friends. They’re all close, but there’s a girl in that group that he likes and they both want each other, but with their histories they don’t know where something between them could lead. They’re also worried how it’ll affect their group.’
I tensed when I finished talking, attempting to pretend that Jo didn’t look as if she didn’t believe for one second the dilemma was the dilemma of a colleague. I waited for her to call me out.
‘Well’ – she heaved a sigh – ‘I think if your friend likes this girl he should go for it.’
Relief flooded me and I felt myself relax. Jo wasn’t going to out me.
A reassuring little smile played on her lips. ‘If he really wants to go there and it feels right for him, then he should. No one knows where a relationship is ever going to lead. We go into these things blind and as it progresses, as you get to know each other, the light starts streaming in. As for the group of friends … well, if they’re as close as you say they are, then they’ll understand. They’ll go with it and they’ll handle it, whatever happens.’
I drew in my breath as Jo reached for my hand. Her eyes told me she saw through my subterfuge, and the comforting squeeze she gave me told me she had my back.
I sort of, kind of, loved the heck out of her in that moment.
‘There you are,’ Cam said as he slid open the French doors and stepped out onto the patio, followed by Nate.
I smiled in greeting, my nerves starting up again at the sight of Nate, and I let him, Jo, and Cam carry the conversation as they sipped chilled glasses of Coke.
‘Peetie and I were talking about visiting home for a long weekend in a few weeks’ time,’ Cam said to Nate. ‘We thought all of us’ – he gestured to everyone – ‘could go. We could rent a house, split it six ways.’
‘Six?’ Nate frowned.
‘Well, me, Jo, you, Liv, Peetie, and Lyn. Of course Cole will be with us, too.’
Nate turned to me. ‘What do you think? Fancy meeting my folks?’
Inside my head there was a small version of me jumping up and down with glee and excitement at the prospect of meeting Nate’s parents, seeing where he came from, and delving further into the history that had created the man I’d come to know. On the outside I gave a nonchalant nod and an agreeable smile. ‘Sounds good.’
‘Great.’ Jo reached for the sliding doors. ‘I’ll start looking into finding us somewhere to rent.’
She and Cam moved inside to the empty dining room, Cam holding the door open for us. Nate shook his head. ‘We’ll be in soon.’
That meant he wanted to speak to me alone.
I sucked in a breath as Jo and Cam disappeared.
Nate didn’t say a thing.
A minute passed.
Finally I huffed, ‘Are you going to make me say it?’
‘Depends.’ He smirked at me, but I noticed there was something careful in his eyes, something a little like apprehension. ‘What is it you’re going to say?’
Glancing back at the door, I made sure we were definitely alone before I spoke. ‘I wasn’t drunk last night.’
There was no hint of humor on Nate’s face as he replied, ‘You trust me to do this with you, but I’ve got to trust that you won’t try to make this into anything more than a friend helping out another friend.’
Okay, so deep down in that dark place where I’d shoved it last night there was a little thing called jealousy that had reared its ugly head when Nate took that girl’s number. But that was just a blip and I could get a handle on it. I was attracted to Nate, yes, and yes, I cared about him, but I had a big old crush on Benjamin, not Nate, and Benjamin was the goal here.
Trying to bring a little levity to the conversation, I said, ‘I’m sure I’ll somehow manage not to fall for you.’
His left dimple flashed in and out. ‘I’m sure that’ll be easy for you.’
‘I’d like to point out something.’
‘I know you’re used to getting laid. But I’m offering a chance here for completely hassle-free sex. It can’t be too much of a hardship.’
‘No.’ He smiled suggestively. ‘Not a hardship at all.’ For a moment he was silent as he contemplated my proposition. He looked back at the door, making certain we were still alone. ‘Well, if we’re doing this, I’ll get myself checked out and I promise not to f**k around with anyone else during … our lessons.’ I knew I didn’t keep my surprise at his offer off my face because he scowled immediately. ‘Babe, if you’re going to start up a sex life, be smart about it. I get checked every three months, and when the time comes for you and this Benjamin guy, make sure he’s clean before you start anything up. I’m not due for a checkup for a few weeks, but I’ll move it up for you. Maybe you should think about going on the pill.’
Now that we were discussing particulars my heart had joined in the conversation and it was loud. It thumped, thumped, thumped behind my rib cage, determined to let me know that it was freakin’ out slightly. I willed it to chill. ‘I’m already on it. It regulates my … you know.’ I couldn’t control the blushing.
Nate closed the gap between us so his chest grazed mine. ‘Not rethinking your proposition already, are you?’
‘No.’ I forced my courage back to the fore. ‘I just want to clarify that you understand what you’re getting into. I mean, I know I was being all cocky about you getting regular sex and it not being a hardship, but the truth is this isn’t a casual sex arrangement. This is you … teaching me … stuff.’
Nate’s eyes instantly brightened with mirth and he repeated quietly, ‘Stuff?’
My cheeks burned. ‘Stuff.’
I looked around us, watching for listening ears. Finding none, I looked back into his eyes, ignoring the awareness that tingled across my body as our chests brushed. ‘How to … how to please you,’ I muttered under my breath.
A glitter of heat entered his eyes as they dipped to my mouth. The air around us changed. I felt my br**sts swell, and that all-too-familiar arousal between my legs.
My breathing hitched.