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|Before Jamaica Lane(On Dublin Street #3)(55) by Samantha Young|
‘I don’t understand.’
‘You don’t need to, Dad. Just know that I’m better than I have been in a really long time.’
He studied me for a moment. ‘Okay. I’m glad, sweetheart.’
My phone rang, interrupting our heart-to-heart. Seeing Jo’s face on my screen, I reached for the phone hurriedly, as I realized she was probably calling about Joss. ‘Hey.’
‘Ellie just called,’ she said without preamble.
‘Joss is pregnant.’
I froze, frowning as I looked over at Dad. ‘Isn’t that good news?’
Jo sighed heavily. ‘I think it’s stirred up some ghosts, Liv.’
Understanding, I squeezed my eyes closed in empathy. ‘Her family?’
‘Aye.’ Jo’s exhalation was shaky. ‘Ellie says Braden’s pretty upset by Joss’s reaction. It’s supposed to be one of the happiest days of his life.’
I felt terrible for them. ‘They just got married. This whole time is supposed to be amazing for them.’
‘Yeah. Anyway, I knew you were worried, so I thought I’d let you know.’
‘Thanks, Jo. We’ll talk later.’
After we hung up, I turned to my waiting father. ‘Joss is pregnant.’
Dad looked just as confused as I’d felt at first. ‘That’s not a good thing?’
‘From the sounds of it, it’s opened some old, very painful wounds … about her family.’
‘Sometimes that happens. It’s just … something … triggers it. And you’re feeling everything all over again.’
I guess we understood that too. ‘I just hope she can get through it.’
‘She will.’ Dad sounded certain. ‘Braden’s her family. She’ll fight through it for him.’
I could only hope my optimistic father was right, because if anyone deserved happiness it was Joss and Braden Carmichael.
The trip to Longniddry could not have come at a better time. For Joss it meant she had a valid excuse to be antisocial, since more than half of her social crew had gone out of the city for the weekend, and for me it meant the hope of some much-needed clarity.
Spending time with Nate’s family, in an entirely different environment, would allow me to see him in a different light too. It also meant we would have to spend time without any shenanigans, and honestly I thought I was in need of a breather from it. Not because I wanted a breather, but because I was hoping that being free of his sexual spell would give me the courage to end what we’d started.
I really needed to end it.
Since Peetie had a car, he and Lyn drove there together, while Nate rented a car for him, me, Cam, Jo, and Cole to share. We’d all gotten the Friday off work and Cole had permission to take a day off school. Just after noon we set out, with Nate driving, Cam in the passenger seat, and Jo crowded in between Cole and me. By the time we drove through the main street of Longniddry with its cottages and flowers and traditional pub, I was dying to get out of the car. I’d rolled my window down and I could smell the sea air.
We pulled into a well-maintained housing estate and Nate drove up to a whitewashed house with a red roof. Peetie’s car was already parked on the drive. According to Nate, the house we were renting was only a few streets behind Cam’s parents’ home.
‘Nate did not consider the size of my ass when he hired this … whatever it is.’ I winced as I climbed out, the right side of my thigh and butt aching from having been squashed against the door.
Nate got out the driver’s side and grinned at me. ‘It’s a Nissan, because we’re on a budget.’
I raised an eyebrow. ‘A budget? My ass says there’s budget and then there’s just cheap.’ I rubbed my sore backside.
‘It wasn’t your arse that was the problem,’ Cole grumbled, rubbing his left side. ‘It was the bag that wouldn’t fit in the boot.’
We all stared at Jo as she fumbled around in the backseat, then hauled out a massive duffel bag. She glanced over her shoulder at us. ‘What? I didn’t know what the weather would be like, so I had to bring clothing choices.’
‘Tell that to my ass.’
Nate snorted at me and guided me to the trunk of the car. ‘Did I mention I appreciate how light you pack?’ He grinned at me as he lifted my backpack out of the car.
‘It’s two nights.’ I leaned around the car to see Cam helping Jo with her bag. ‘Did you hear that? Two nights.’
She scowled at me. ‘Look, Uncle Mick increased my wages and I may have gone a wee bit nuts buying some new clothes. I got a little overexcited about what to bring.’ She eyed Cam a little apologetically. ‘Sorry.’
He kissed the apology right off her lips. ‘Don’t apologize to me, baby. I could give a shit. Bring what you want.’ He grinned teasingly at me. ‘I’m not the one crammed in the back of the car with you.’
‘Shotgun!’ I shouted, perhaps more loudly than I needed to.
They all gazed at me like I was crazy.
‘Shotgun,’ I reiterated. ‘On the drive home, I call shotgun.’ When I got no answer, I huffed, ‘The rule is, the first person to say “shotgun” gets to ride in the front passenger seat.’
Cam frowned. ‘Oh, that rule doesn’t translate here. Sorry.’
I narrowed my eyes at him. ‘But apparently some misogynistic silent rule that the eldest men in the group get to ride in front does?’
Cam slanted a teasing look at Jo. ‘You had to make friends with a feminist?’
Jo grunted. ‘You’re the one who tracked her down on Facebook.’
‘Nice. I’m feeling the love, guys, I’m feeling the love.’ I brushed past them and shoved at Cam. ‘I’m riding shotgun.’
‘No. You are not.’
‘Oh, yeah?’ I stopped and turned back to look at Nate, who had gotten all the bags out of the trunk and was locking up. ‘Nate?’
He glanced up at me casually but stilled at the smug little smirk on my lips. ‘Yes?’ he asked warily.
‘Who is riding shotgun with you on the trip home? Cam … or me?’ If you don’t say me I will forget you even have a penis.
He got the message and threw Cam an apologetic look as he walked past us toward the house. ‘Sorry, mate. She called shotgun.’