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|Before Jamaica Lane(On Dublin Street #3)(61) by Samantha Young|
The tension between them was obvious. The apartment was thick with it. ‘Joss,’ I whispered. ‘Girl, what are you doing?’
So I shut up, not sure what to say, or how to help. A few minutes later Braden walked past the door, calling out, ‘I’ve got a late meeting with Adam.’ The front door shut behind him.
Joss flinched and I saw her throat working as she tried not to cry.
‘Oh, honey.’ I moved to get up to hug her, but she held up a hand, warding me off.
Tears glimmered in her eyes. ‘You hug me and I won’t stop crying. And I need to not cry.’
I stayed where I was.
‘It’s not me,’ she promised. ‘I haven’t shut him out. I’m just having a really hard time right now and I ruined it. I ruined this for him.’
‘He’s the one not talking to you?’
‘He talks,’ she answered dryly. ‘But it’s … it’s like he can barely stand to be in the same room as me. He hasn’t asked me how I feel about it now that the shock has worn off. He doesn’t want to know. He doesn’t want me to touch him …’
‘I’m sorry, Joss.’
‘He’s never been like that. I think I’ve f**ked up.’ She laughed hysterically and immediately burst into hard, shaking sobs.
There was no way I wasn’t hugging her.
Cradling her against me, I held her until she cried herself out.
When her body stopped shuddering, I heard the soft whimper of her breathing and realized that she’d fallen asleep on me. I couldn’t move. I daren’t.
Fifteen minutes later, the front door opened and Braden came striding back into the sitting room, looking like a man who meant business. Clearly, he’d decided not to meet Adam. I don’t know what his purpose was in coming back – whether it was to shout at Joss or try to bridge the distance between them – but I instantly glared him into silence.
‘She cried herself to sleep,’ I whispered.
The muscle in his jaw ticked as he looked down at her. ‘She doesn’t cry a lot,’ he answered me quietly.
For some reason that made me want to cry. The pain my friend was feeling seemed to seep from her into me. ‘You have to forgive her.’
‘It’s not about that,’ he replied hoarsely, his eyes trained on her sleeping face. ‘I’m not angry. I’m just disappointed.’
He ran a hand through his hair. ‘This is our kid, Liv. Problems with us I can handle. But this is our kid. She should be happy.’
‘You know it’s not that easy. You also don’t know what’s going on in her head, because you won’t give her the time of day,’ I hissed, knowing I shouldn’t get angry at him but still shaken from Joss’s meltdown.
Braden gave me a look that would have cowed a lesser woman. Okay, who was I kidding? I was cowed. ‘Are you done?’
I didn’t answer, thinking a smart-ass comment wouldn’t go over so well right now.
Without another word, Braden approached me and I tensed, wondering what he was going to do. Carefully he leaned down and scooped Joss up into his arms as if she weighed nothing. Joss roused long enough to wrap her arms around his neck and snuggle into his chest.
My throat closed as I looked up at them. They had to work this out. They were that couple. If they couldn’t work out their problems, what chance did the rest of us have?
I got up quickly, giving Braden’s arm a squeeze of affection before I left. I hoped to God when Joss woke up the two of them would start communicating.
Being around them had done nothing to lessen my own heartache, and so, not wanting to be alone, I went to my dad’s. Like old times, he cooked me dinner and we hung out, watching TV, just keeping each other company. He knew something was wrong, but for once he didn’t ask questions. He was just there for me, like always.
I didn’t go home. If Nate used my key I wouldn’t know about it.
Avoiding Benjamin had become a challenge these last few weeks. I locked myself in the staff toilets the first time, I hid behind book stacks – moving from one to the other as Benjamin moved around them – the second time, and I’d even hidden in a coat stand. There was a coat stand behind the help desk and it was the first hiding place I seized upon when Benjamin came through the front entrance of the library.
Praying that the coast was clear, I’d stepped out of the coats to four curious gazes.
‘What the hell was that?’ Angus had asked.
I’d blinked, not sure there was any explanation on earth that would work. ‘Bee?’
He had stared at me for a moment and then abruptly strode off into the back office without another word.
The day after my visit to Joss and Braden’s, my pattern of avoiding Benjamin changed. Whether it changed out of circumstance or because of the weirdness between me and Nate, I wasn’t sure.
I was standing at the help desk, flicking through a book in between assisting customers, when a shadow fell over me. I looked up to find Ellie smiling at me.
‘Did you have a nice weekend away?’ she asked brightly.
‘Hey.’ I grinned and then turned to Jill. ‘Can I take five?’
‘Sure.’ She smiled at me and then at Ellie. ‘Hey, Miss Carmichael. I heard it’ll be Dr Carmichael soon.’
Ellie flushed as I walked around the counter toward her. ‘Soon, yes. It’ll be strange, though.’
‘It’s awesome.’ I pulled her into a hug before leading her toward an empty couch near the main staircase. ‘What are you doing here?’
‘I came to thank you.’ She turned to me, her eyes bright. ‘I heard you popped around Joss and Braden’s last night.’
Ellie shook her head. ‘The last few days have been awful. I couldn’t bear to be in the same room with them and I didn’t know which one of them to be angry at, so I just decided to be sad for the both of them, which was really no help.’ She smiled sheepishly. ‘I’ll stop babbling and get to the point. I don’t know what you did or what you said, but it helped. Adam just called me to tell me Braden is in a much better mood. I called Joss and she sounds good too. I’m heading to see her next.’
‘I’m glad.’ Relief whooshed through me. ‘But I didn’t do anything.’