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|Before Jamaica Lane(On Dublin Street #3)(49) by Samantha Young|
It was his turn to stare, and I recognized the moment when he crumbled under the gaze of her wide velvet brown eyes. He shook his head as if he couldn’t believe he was giving in to her. ‘I’m off Tuesday night. We could hang out then.’
‘Okay. Do –’
‘Eavesdropping is rude, you know,’ a familiar voice told me quietly.
Surprise, and I wasn’t sure if it was good surprise or bad surprise, spun me around and I gazed up, probably looking a little stupefied, into Benjamin’s face. ‘Benjamin,’ I wheezed, my heart taking its time to slide down my throat and back into the chest where it belonged.
His gorgeous eyes brightened as if he was pleased I knew his name. ‘Hi again,’ he said with a grin, jamming his hands in his pockets.
‘Uh, hi.’ I quickly glanced back at Hannah to see that she was walking to our table, looking over her shoulder with a frown line between her eyebrows. It appeared as though a tall, good-looking Italian man was quietly chastising Marco. ‘Uh’ – I turned back to Benjamin – ‘I know her.’ I gestured to Hannah. ‘Hannah. I was just making sure she was okay.’ I shrugged sheepishly. ‘And maybe eavesdropping a little.’
To my relief he laughed and it suddenly occurred to me that I’d spoken to him without fumbling up the words. It made me smile, and my smile made Benjamin’s eyes drop to my mouth.
After swallowing hard at the interested gleam I saw there, I said wryly, ‘I take it you like D’Alessandro’s.’
‘My favorite Italian restaurant in the city.’
‘Mine too,’ I agreed and then glanced past him, trying to see into the other dining room. ‘Are you with your family?’
Just like that, Benjamin appeared uncomfortable. ‘Um, no. A first date. I saw you and thought I’d come over and say hello.’
Admittedly, I’d felt a little disheartened at the words ‘first date,’ but knowing he’d left that date to come talk to me obliterated most of the disappointment. ‘The date must be going well.’
He leaned into me and whispered in mock horror, ‘She ordered salad.’
I gaped back in actual horror. ‘In D’Alessandro’s?’
‘A salad and water. It’s painful to watch.’
A rush of giggles bubbled out. ‘I’ll bet.’
Benjamin chuckled too now, his eyes roaming my face in a way that was nice but also that suggested he was taken aback by me. That wasn’t so surprising. It was the first time he’d gotten a conversation out of me. ‘Well,’ he said, seeming reluctant, ‘I better go back. I told her I was going to the loo.’
‘Okay.’ I smiled giddily. ‘I’ll probably see you at the library then.’
‘Definitely,’ he murmured sexily and I grinned wider watching him walk away.
As soon as he was out of sight, I made my way back to the table, feeling warm flutterings in my chest. That had gone well. Really well. My lessons with Nate were paying off!
I frowned suddenly as the warm flutterings disappeared and I landed heavily in my chair.
‘Who was that?’ Jo asked.
They were all staring eagerly at me.
‘A guy from the library.’
Dad tilted his head to the side, a curious look in his eye. ‘A colleague?’
‘No, a postgrad. He’s nice.’
‘Postgrad,’ Dad repeated, thinking this over. ‘Smart fella, then.’ He grinned cheekily at me. ‘He’s definitely interested in you, sweetheart. Do you like him?’
Something unpleasant squeezed my stomach as I considered my dad’s observations. Benjamin had indeed seemed interested. He’d left his date to come talk to me. Did that mean … if I saw him again … what would happen?
And … Jesus effing Christ …
… what did I want to happen?
I shrugged again, struggling to breathe through the sudden tightness in my chest. ‘I don’t really know him.’
My legs felt heavy as I walked up the concrete stairs to my door. Luckily I’d gotten through dinner by pestering Hannah with questions and laughing while she held her own against Cole’s teasing.
However, as soon as I was on my own, walking toward my apartment, the headache that had been dying to make itself known sprang to life between my eyes. I rubbed my sinuses, wishing my brain wasn’t all mushy and messed up right now.
Lines were being blurred, and other lines were actually being crossed. There were a whole lot of lines and none of them were of a solid consistency.
With a huge sigh I let myself into my apartment and came to an abrupt halt at the sight of Nate leaning against my couch, his arms crossed over his chest, his legs crossed at the ankles.
God, he was beautiful.
He didn’t even have to say a word and my heart was pounding.
I shut the door behind me, leaned against it, and turned the lock. Our eyes met across the room and clung. ‘New lesson?’ The words came out all husky and needful.
Nate straightened up to his full height. ‘Tonight’s lesson: Use your initiative.’
Without saying a word I shrugged out of my jacket and began to undress.
Nate’s eyes smoldered as he prowled toward me. ‘Good initiative.’
The Lumineers were singing to me. Usually that was a good thing, but the previous evening had been pretty physical and I wanted my Saturday lie-in.
Nate’s warm body was pressed against my side as I lay on my stomach, my face buried in my pillow. I felt him shift against me as my ringtone woke him up.
‘Babe,’ he said, rubbing my back lightly, ‘your phone.’
I mumbled incoherently into my pillow.
The delicious heat of him up my left side disappeared and I grumbled a little more. He rolled back into me, kissed my shoulder, and deposited the phone on the pillow near my ear. Wincing at how loud it was, I lifted my head and fumbled for it. ‘Hey,’ I answered sleepily, not even checking the caller ID.
Joss’s husky voice replied, ‘Hey, you. How’s it going?’
More alert now, I leaned up on my elbow, enjoying the feel of Nate’s fingers stroking my spine. ‘Joss, it’s good to hear from you. How are you? How was the honeymoon?’
‘It was great. You know Braden.’ She gave a low, intimate laugh. ‘It was fun.’