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|Before Jamaica Lane(On Dublin Street #3)(64) by Samantha Young|
‘I’ll take that as a yes. Don’t worry.’ I heaved a sigh, feeling my lips tremble. ‘I’m sick of me too.’
That awful night Nate had walked out of my apartment for the last time, I’d been somewhat hysterical. I couldn’t stop crying, and no matter how hard I attempted to squeeze my arms around myself I couldn’t numb the pain.
It was a singular kind of pain. A pain I already knew well.
Somehow, somewhere, maybe even long before we started a physical relationship, Nate had crept inside me until he flowed in my blood and rested in my breath. He’d become integral to a life that I looked forward to living each day, and the knowledge that I would no longer hear him laugh, or feel his lips on mine, or feel complete when I looked in his eyes, was insufferable to my body. It reacted as if someone had ripped off a limb or removed a vital organ. I’d felt something similar upon losing Mom, but with Nate it was different in that he chose to leave me. That added a different hurt to the pain – a sting, like a paper cut across the heart.
‘Does it sound melodramatic to you, Bob?’ I whispered, dry-eyed from having cried an ocean’s worth of tears in the last few days.
Bob looked away as if he was bored.
‘Yeah, that’s because you’ve never been in love. Don’t do it. You might as well put yourself through a meat grinder.’
The crying jag that first night was so bad I had to call in sick to work the next day. I managed to pull myself together enough to go in on Thursday, but my colleagues knew right away that something was majorly up. I was quiet – not sullen, but just trying to keep the pain in lockdown. As soon as I got out of there I headed straight home, ignoring texts from Jo and a call from Joss. When Dad called, I answered. I didn’t convince him I was okay, but I convinced him to let me have space. Friday was much the same. Saturday I stayed home all day, only taking time to answer Ellie’s text about going to the bar that night. I was in no state of mind to go anyway, but the knowledge that Ben might be there put me in full panic mode. I told her I was sick and couldn’t make it.
Jo called. I ignored her. Finally she sent me a text.
If you don’t answer i’m
coming around. Cam spoke
to nate. Cam thinks you
guys had a fight. Are you
I sucked in a teary breath and texted her back.
I’ll explain later. I’m not
feeling well. I’m in bed.
Okay. Let me know if you
need anything. xoxo
I didn’t do that.
Instead I wallowed on my couch for the rest of the night and well into Sunday morning.
When Dad called again to ask me if I was attending Sunday lunch with the Nicholses, I made my excuses. He started to get a little more concerned.
I wouldn’t know how concerned until my attention was ripped from Bob the bird at the sound of a key turning in my lock.
My heart jumped in my throat. For one second the fleeting hope that it was Nate absolutely paralyzed me.
The sight of Jo’s worried face was like a big-ass rusty nail popping my balloon.
‘What –’ I cut off as Jo walked in, followed by Ellie and Joss.
Jo waved a key in her hand. ‘Uncle Mick called and told me he was worried about you. He gave me his spare key.’
‘Aren’t you supposed to be at lunch?’ I pulled my nightie over my knees while smoothing my other hand through my ratted hair. I was a mess. My apartment was a mess. There were empty food packets all over the kitchen counter, dirty plates on my coffee table, crumbs on my hardwood floors, and a musty smell that could only be the result of a human inhabiting one space for too long.
Shrugging out of their jackets, the three of them stared around at my place and then at me, little matching furrows appearing between their brows.
‘Okay, first things first.’ Jo quickly began tidying up my mess while I watched, blinking stupidly as Ellie helped and Joss wandered into my kitchen to switch on the kettle.
Five minutes later the place looked marginally better, although it still needed cleaning. Jo sat down on the couch next to me as Ellie kicked off her shoes and curled up beside her. Joss put a tray of tea, coffee, and biscuits on the table and settled into my armchair.
They all stared at me, waiting.
I immediately burst into tears.
So maybe I wasn’t completely dried out.
Tears shimmered in Jo’s eyes and she gently pushed my legs aside so she could pull me into her arms for a hug. ‘I totally smell,’ I sobbed. ‘I’m so sorry!’
‘Ssh.’ She shushed me and rubbed my back soothingly.
After a while my tears subsided to sniffles and Jo eased me back, tenderly tucking strands of my unwashed hair behind my ears.
‘Do you want to tell us what’s going on?’
I lowered my gaze. ‘I think you know.’
She sighed. ‘Nate.’
I looked up at her, my gaze flickering to a concerned Ellie and Joss. ‘It started as a favor …’
Tuckered out from telling them the whole story, I slumped back on the couch and stared at the ceiling. ‘I feel like if I move, all my insides are going to fall out. I hate it. I hate him for making me feel this way.’
‘Liv’ – Joss leaned forward, elbows on her knees – ‘I want to be able to tell you that he’ll come around, because it sounds like he’s going through what I went through. But I can’t tell you that. I don’t know how he feels about you or what it was like between you. I do know that if I didn’t love Braden so goddamn much I wouldn’t have come around. I just wouldn’t have. So without the one hundred percent certainty that Nate is as crazy about you as I am about Braden, my advice is to move on. I know you probably want to punch me for saying it, but I can’t help but feel it’s the best advice.’
Ellie’s eyes filled with sincerity and sympathy. ‘I agree, sweetie. I think as much as it hurts, you’re going to have to start moving on.’
I looked at Jo, but she wasn’t looking at me. She was sipping her tea quietly.
‘Jo? What do you think?’
‘The girls have a point,’ she replied.
Sighing heavily, Jo met my eyes. ‘Cam and I have been suspicious of the two of you for weeks. I saw how you are together. It was … it’s special.’ She gave me an almost apologetic smile. ‘I’d like to believe that there’s a chance for the two of you. I don’t know … maybe you should just give him time to miss you.’