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|Before Jamaica Lane(On Dublin Street #3)(63) by Samantha Young|
‘Don’t,’ he snapped at me. ‘Don’t give me those wounded eyes and that hurt tone. We agreed that this was just sex. And you promised.’ His eyes softened now, almost pleading. ‘You promised it wouldn’t ruin us.’
‘You want me to hold to that promise? Nate, don’t lie to yourself! For the past six weeks we’ve been in a relationship, and I’m sick of pretending it isn’t. You’re here most nights and it’s not just sex. It’s friendship and affection and tenderness.’ I didn’t want to cry, but I could feel the tears burning behind my eyes. ‘We make each other laugh and we get each other. What’s so wrong with that?’
‘I can’t believe you,’ Nate whispered hoarsely, sounding and looking betrayed.
Ice slivered over my heated skin, making me shiver in a cold sweat.
‘I’ve told you over and over that I don’t want that and you sat there and murmured your understanding and gave me your f**king assurances and all the time you were manipulating me!’ He ended on a roar that made me flinch.
He was shaking.
I’d never seen him like this.
When I didn’t say anything he turned to leave.
That’s when I found my voice. ‘I wasn’t the one who asked you to sleep over after sex. You did that. I didn’t ask you to be here almost every night. You did that. I didn’t cuddle you on the couch. You did that. I didn’t ask you to come home and meet my parents. You did that.’
Nate stopped, his jaw locked, glaring at my carpet.
The realization that I was about to lose him forever hit me.
I couldn’t breathe as invisible hands ripped me open.
Blinded by tears, I told him softly on shallow breaths, ‘Looking back, I think you knew that there was more here. There were moments when I felt you pull away and I thought that was it – this, between us, was over. But then you’d come back. Why?’
This time when his eyes met mine I knew I recognized fear in his.
‘Don’t? Don’t, why?’
‘Because …’ He bit the word out, his tone ugly. ‘If you say any more I’ll be forced to say things I don’t want to.’
I curled my lip in disdain. ‘Just say them. Come on. Just say it! I’m a big girl.’
‘Don’t make this ugly.’
‘You’ve already made this ugly with your goddamn mixed signals, so just say it!’
‘Fine. I don’t love you. I can’t and I won’t and you knew that, so don’t stand there like some victim.’
I laughed harshly through the agony of his words, hating him so much in that moment. ‘Last week I thought you might just be the best person I ever met in my life. Last week I loved you like I’ve never loved anyone.’ It was a bitter relief to finally admit it to the both of us. ‘You taught me to be brave again, Nate.’ I swiped at the tears, my heart catching painfully as his eyes seared into mine. ‘How can such a coward teach someone to be brave?’
‘You know what else you taught me?’
He didn’t answer.
‘You taught me to believe in myself all the way through. You taught me that I’m worth more than what I see in the mirror. So today, as you try to teach me the opposite lesson, I say f**k you.’ I smiled humorlessly, licking the salty tears off my lips. ‘I deserve to be loved. All or nothing.’
As if he realized where I was going with this, a flicker of unease entered Nate’s expression. He took a step toward me. ‘Liv, I never made you any promises, you know that.’
‘Stop playing dumb. You’ve been in this with me for the last six weeks! This wasn’t just a casual f**k, Nate. It’s me!’
‘You promised …’
Exhausted, I stumbled back from him. ‘You’re right, I did. I didn’t expect you to blur the lines, though. We blurred the lines. At least I can admit it. But if you admit it, you have to admit what a selfish bastard you’ve been, and I don’t think you’re going to do that.’
‘You’re wrong,’ he growled. ‘I admit it. I thought we could be best friends and have sex. It didn’t work. And I kept coming back and making it worse because I didn’t want to lose your friendship. I’m sorry. But you know me. You know I don’t do relationships. You know that. Don’t hold it against me. Just be … my bloody friend.’
I looked at him incredulously. ‘I just told you that I’ve fallen in love with you.’
I started to cry harder as he flinched again.
‘You expect me to be able to be around you now?’
‘Liv, don’t do this.’
‘I have to. I’m sorry. For the sake of my sanity I have to. You walk out that door, Nate … if you walk out that door … don’t ever come back.’
The muscle in his jaw ticked. ‘You don’t mean that.’
‘Oh, come on,’ I replied sadly. ‘You just told me you don’t love me and you never will. I doubt you’ll even miss me.’
There was so much pain in his voice when he whispered his plea. ‘Olivia, don’t.’
That obvious pain stopped me in my tracks. The hope being that beneath all the confusion and anger and uncertainty, Nate really cared … and he was just frightened. So I gave him one last shot to be brave.
‘I love you, Nate. Do you love me?’
I knew it was over when tears glimmered in his eyes. ‘I never meant to hurt you, babe.’ His voice was thick with emotion.
My own tears spilled quicker. ‘I guess that was good-bye.’
I found myself in a staring match with the bird outside my window again. I didn’t know what it was, but it was tiny. Some kind of tit probably. He or she had brown feathers, a white neck, and this really cool jet-black Mohawk. We’d been staring at each other on and off for the last few days.
I’d decided it was a ‘he’ and named him Bob.
‘Hey, Bob,’ I whispered, my chin resting on the back of my couch. He was sitting on my window ledge, his neck moving in tight little jerks from me to the world outside. ‘It still hurts today.’
He stilled, cocking his head at me.
‘Yeah. Are you sick of me yet?’
His head cocked to the other side.