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|Before Jamaica Lane(On Dublin Street #3)(56) by Samantha Young|
Triumphant, I followed Nate to the house and as he let the two of us in he whispered in my ear, ‘Sexual manipulation … pick that up on your own time, did you?’
I gave him a wide-eyed look of mock innocence as I wandered inside. ‘I have no idea what you’re talking about.’
He slapped my ass playfully and I turned, giggling up into his face as he grinned down into mine. A throat clearing pulled us up short and we glanced sharply over my shoulder to see Peetie and Lyn standing in the doorway to the sitting room. Lyn’s curious gaze shifted between me and Nate, while Peetie’s stone-faced expression was focused solely on his best friend.
Cursing myself to hell for not being more circumspect, I pretended the intimate moment between me and Nate was nothing and hurried forward to give Peetie and Lyn a hug.
Cole, Jo, and Cam followed us inside the house, and the ‘incident’ was thankfully forgotten as we looked around the cozy rental and chose our rooms. There were four bedrooms, so Jo and Cam, Lyn and Peetie each took a double room, Nate and Cole took the double twin room, and I took the small twin room. Cole disappeared into their room to dump his bag while Nate pointedly looked between their room and mine and pouted comically.
‘No sex for you,’ I mouthed.
‘Aye, well, that means no sex for you either.’ He did not mouth it; he just said it out loud.
My eyes bugged out as he laughed and darted into his room to escape my wrath.
Was he trying to get us caught?
The pub on the main street of Longniddry was typical – exposed brickwork, massive open central fireplace, solid wood tables that had seen many a year, matching chairs, and wooden benches trimmed in red fabric hugging the perimeter of the room. Seated around one of the larger tables, with a Tudor-style window behind us, I found myself happily situated between Nate and Cole on a bench. At the head of the table was Nate’s dad, Nathan. Nathan was an older version of Nate – same thick, unruly hair, once dark, now salt and pepper, same twinkling dark eyes, same olive skin, same dimples, same build. Same overall charm and masculine beauty. Across the table from Nate sat his mother, Sylvie. I could tell Sylvie must have been a knockout when she was my age because she was still very pretty. She had dark hair that she kept long, bright blue eyes, and soft features. She was small in stature and slender.
Nate’s behavior with his parents somehow surprised me. When we walked into the pub and they stood up to greet us, Nate threw his arms around his mom and lifted her off her feet. Once he was done with her, he and his dad hugged each other hard, grinning happily into each other’s face as they pulled back. Nate introduced us, and Cam introduced us to his parents, Helena and Anderson, before Peetie introduced us to his aunt and uncle, Rose and Jim – they’d raised him when their too young niece had decided to give him over in adoption.
Once we were seated, it became clear to me that Nate was incredibly close to his parents. This was something I hadn’t known. I knew he loved them. I knew there were no problems there, but considering he rarely went home to see them … well, I didn’t know what I thought. I just didn’t think they were best friends. Clearly I was wrong.
The two of them were especially kind to me, asking me lots of questions. His dad in particular was possibly even more charming than Nate. There were so many of us at the table it was hard to carry on just one conversation, so we’d split into separate conversations. I, for one, was happy to get a little more insight into Nate.
‘He used to have this toothbrush he took everywhere,’ Nathan divulged as Sylvie laughed.
Nate groaned. ‘I can’t believe you’re telling her the toothbrush story.’
Nathan ignored him, grinning devilishly and so much like Nate that I was mesmerized. ‘You know, with most kids it’s a blanket or a teddy bear. With Nate it was a toothbrush. And not the toothbrush he used. Just a toothbrush he cried and begged his mum to get him from the supermarket.’
I was choking on my laughter now. ‘A toothbrush?’ I repeated, shooting a look at Nate, who was now pretending not to listen. I wondered how it was possible a man could be so sexy and yet so adorable all at the same time.
‘It had a yellow handle with a smiley face on it,’ Nathan continued. ‘He took it everywhere with him. He even took it to bed with him. He’d fall asleep with it clutched in his wee hand. We have photographic evidence.’
I laughed and Nate turned to me, shaking his head. ‘He thinks he has photographic evidence.’
Sylvie gasped. ‘You better not have done anything with those photos, Nathaniel Sawyer, or you’ve had it.’
Nathan saved his son by turning to me. ‘Nate told me your dad is Scottish.’
‘Yup. He’s originally from Paisley.’
‘Has he shown you much of Scotland?’
‘Some. We visited a few years ago and he took me north, I think past Inverness. Since we moved here we’ve been to a couple of places. The western highlands. Oh, and I wanted to see where Robert Burns was from, so he took me south to Alloway, and then we drove right to the border, to Gretna Green. I read a lot, so I’d read about it being the place where abducted heiresses and young English couples forbidden to marry would flee because the marriage laws in Scotland allowed them to marry without parental consent. I wanted to see it. It sounded pretty cool.’
‘You’re a librarian, right?’ Sylvie asked with a smile.
The food arrived at that point, so it wasn’t until my hearty fish and chips – that would do nothing for my belly pouch but add a little more cushion – had been served that I answered her. ‘Yeah, at the university.’
‘Do you have a boyfriend then, Olivia?’ Nathan asked, a glint of mischief in his eyes.
Trying not to squirm at the question or the feel of Nate’s leg tensing against mine, I shook my head quickly and took another bite of food so I would have an excuse not to answer.
‘You’re a beautiful girl.’ Nathan frowned, seeming flummoxed. ‘There’s no one?’
‘She’s choosy.’ Nate saved me. ‘As well she should be.’
‘Well, there’s no such thing as perfect. Sometimes you just have to take what’s there. Isn’t that right, sweetheart?’ Sylvie winked at her husband teasingly, and suddenly I knew where Nate had gotten the ability to make a wink look cool.