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|Before Jamaica Lane(On Dublin Street #3)(65) by Samantha Young|
Ellie smirked at Joss. ‘Didn’t Braden have a similar plan?’
Joss rolled her eyes. ‘Yes.’
‘And did it work?’ Jo asked.
‘Well … yeah … but –’
‘But Joss is right,’ I whispered. ‘Nate might miss me at first but not for long. He cared about me. He didn’t love me. He told me he didn’t love me.’
‘So …’ Jo’s eyes dimmed with disappointment.
I shrugged, the tears threatening to fall again. ‘I guess I better buy a giant-ass bandage to wrap up my insides … I’ve got to find a way to move on.’
Musical therapy. My first attempt at moving on.
Creating a playlist on my iPod Nano, I decided that the independent musical roars of Kelly Clarkson, Pink, Aretha Franklin, and other ladies who refused to be broken by an ill-fated love affair might just be the best way forward.
At work that Monday I went all out with my hair and makeup, wearing my favorite skinny jeans and purple silk blouse. It was part of the therapy. If I wanted to feel good on the inside, I had to start with the outside.
Since I was splitting my morning between the office and reshelving the reserve section, I approached Angus to ask a favor.
He looked down at my iPod with a frown. ‘You want to what?’
‘It’s just in the morning. When I’m working front of house in the afternoon I’ll of course take the earbuds out.’
Angus searched my face before taking the iPod none too gently out of my hands. ‘What are you listening to?’ His thumb moved over the screen quickly and as he scrolled through my playlist his features softened with understanding. When he looked up at me his blue eyes were concerned. He handed the iPod back to me. ‘Okay. Just for this morning.’
‘Thank you. I appreciate it.’
I turned and started to put the buds in my ears when Angus said my name. I looked back at him as he asked, ‘Was it anyone I know?’
My heart turned over in my chest. ‘It was Nate.’
And since Angus knew how close I was to Nate, I wasn’t surprised when he blanched and whispered, ‘I’m sorry, honey.’
I smiled sadly back at him. ‘You’re a great boss. You know that, right?’
‘Best ever,’ he agreed softly.
A while later, with Pink singing ‘So What’ in my ears, I was tucked in the back of the reserve section shelving new articles and taking out ones that were no longer being used. While I concentrated on doing my job and letting the female vocalists’ words of wisdom seep into me, I tried my hardest not to sing out loud.
That’s probably why I didn’t catch his approach out of my peripheral and why when I felt a hand clamp down on my shoulder I got such a fright that my knees gave out. I caught the end of my shriek as I yanked my earbuds out in midfall.
Ass on the floor, I gazed up at my frightener.
Ben stood over me, struggling not to laugh. ‘Olivia’ – he reached out a hand, his shoulders shaking with mirth – ‘I’m so sorry. Let me help you.’
So far beyond the point of being mortified at this kind of thing now, I let him pull me to my feet. ‘It’s okay.’ I beat at the dust on my jeans. ‘We’re not usually allowed to listen to music and now I know why.’
He grinned. ‘I am sorry.’
I gave him a tired smile. ‘No, you’re not, but I wouldn’t be either. It was funny.’
Still smiling, beautiful green eyes twinkling, Ben shifted the strap of his backpack as he stared at me. Not too long ago, being the focus of his attention would have put butterflies in my belly, so it was to my chagrin that I discovered … nothing. I felt absolutely nothing when I stared at him.
My shoulders slumped.
‘I went to that bar on Saturday, but I didn’t see you or your friend there.’
‘I’m sorry. I was sick.’
‘Oh.’ His brows drew together. ‘I hope you’re feeling better.’
He was so nice. So, so nice. And so cute.
‘I am, thank you.’
He glanced nervously over his shoulder, and then turned back, taking a step closer to me. ‘Look, I would really like to have dinner sometime. With you.’ He smiled, all rugged and handsome. ‘Can I have your number?’
It was impossible. I’d broken up with Nate only a week ago … if you could call it breaking up. My heart was in tatters. Clearly all my sexual feelings had fled when Nate had. And … you know … I’d only just begun musical therapy. I needed to give it some time to kick in and start working.
I couldn’t go on a date.
I just couldn’t.
‘Yes,’ I answered, nodding and smiling as he pulled out his phone so I could recite my number to him.
A smaller version of myself slapped me upside the head. What is the matter with you? she yelled, but I ignored her, gazing up into Ben’s face and praying that in time the butterflies I used to feel for him would come back.
Musical therapy did not work.
Like I didn’t know that was coming.
I blamed it all on my apartment.
After work on Monday I opened the door to my place and just stood there, gazing around the room. Every part of it reminded me of him. The couch where we’d hung out for hours over the last year. We’d had really great sex – God, no, out-of-body-experience sex on it too. More than once. More than a handful of times actually. Then there was the kitchen, where we’d eaten dinner and chatted. And yes … we’d christened the counter. The wall by the door. The wall by the window. The shower. My bedroom.
It was all him. Everywhere.
I ached. I ached so much that even my gums and teeth ached for want of him. I kicked my door shut and slumped against it. The only hope was that this feeling would pass. Eventually I had to start functioning like a normal human being again. Right?
Either that or I needed to start looking for a new apartment. Yet the thought of leaving the place where all my memories of him were …
I needed to see him.
I pulled my phone out of my bag with trembling hands and held it up, my thumb brushing over the screen. I’d deliberately avoided doing this since the breakup.
My breath left me as I opened the picture gallery on my cell and started flicking through it. The last picture I’d taken of Nate was him smiling as he drove the rental toward his parents’ house before things got weird that day. The next was of us both. Nate was giving the camera this sexy, low-lidded smirk as I held it over us while we were lying in bed. My head rested on his shoulder as I smiled happily. The next one was worse because we were kissing in it.