|Home > Samantha Young > On Dublin Street Series > Before Jamaica Lane (Page 69)|
|Before Jamaica Lane(On Dublin Street #3)(69) by Samantha Young|
The walk passed quickly as we talked about school and movies and books. He was a kid who was kind of taciturn with most people, and it was nice to be counted among the circle of friends and family he was willing to open up to.
Arriving at Jo and Cam’s flat, Cole shoved the door open. ‘I’m home!’
‘We’re in the kitchen!’ Jo called back.
Cole grimaced. ‘I’m not going in there,’ he whispered. ‘Sometimes when they think they’re alone they’re all … affectionate.’
I chuckled under my breath and followed him into the sitting room. He stopped abruptly and I had to sidestep his tall frame to see past him.
If a bus had driven through the wall and slammed into me, it wouldn’t have had any less of an impact than when I saw Nate sitting there. Our eyes collided and Nate slowly stood up from the couch. After a moment of helpless staring, my gaze drifted over him. Sporting a short beard and dark circles under his eyes, he looked exhausted and unkempt. It was so not like him.
‘Sorry, Liv,’ Cole apologized quietly. ‘I didn’t know he’d be here.’
‘How?’ Nate took a step toward me and I automatically took a step back. He stopped, swallowing hard as his eyes took me in, almost hungrily. ‘How are you?’
Before I could muster up some kind of reply to that stupid-ass question, the loud clack of heels in the hall grew in crescendo as they came toward us, and I turned, my eyes narrowing, as a tall redhead in a low-cut tank top and skinny jeans sashayed into the room in five-inch sandals. ‘That bathroom is gorgeous.’ She smiled politely at me before sidling up to Nate. Her toned arm slid around his waist and she pressed her br**sts against him. ‘Your friends have a really nice flat.’
Heat unlike anything I’d ever felt before flooded me. A fire blazed in my chest, the flames licking my throat and forestalling any words. Instead I just stood there glaring at them in impotent jealousy and heartbreak.
‘Liv?’ I turned at Jo’s voice and found her standing in the doorway, her features slack with surprise. ‘What are you –’
‘Just leaving.’ I cut her off and pushed past her hurriedly, ignoring her calling my name in concern as I slammed out of the apartment and raced for the stairs. I heard the door opening behind me, but I just kept moving, desperate to get somewhere quiet where I could brood and rail and curse Nate Sawyer to hell.
‘Olivia, stop,’ Nate growled behind me. Close. Too close.
His hand clamped around my arm and I found myself hauled to a stop and turned about to face him.
He stood, a few steps up from me, breathing heavily, his expression panicked. ‘Liv, don’t go.’
I wrenched my arm out of his grip, and immediately felt the phantom of his fingers wrapped around it. ‘Go back inside, Nate.’ My expression was pure disdain. ‘I should have known nothing would keep you down for long.’
To my surprise, his eyes hardened with what I would almost call indignation.
What the hell did he have to be indignant about?
‘Pot calling kettle,’ he bit out, taking a step down, bringing him closer to me. ‘I heard you got your library boy.’ He raked his eyes over me. ‘I assume you f**ked him well and he’s enjoying the benefits of my lessons.’
A punch to the gut would have been just as effective. And probably would have hurt a whole lot less.
He flinched at my expression and ran a hand through his too long hair, his fingers turning into a fist. ‘Shit, Liv, I’m sorry,’ he whispered hoarsely. ‘I didn’t mean that.’
I turned to leave and promptly found myself caught in his hold again. ‘Let me go,’ I hissed.
Instead he pulled me toward him. The familiar smell and feel of him made me ache. ‘Just tell me you’re okay.’
I relaxed, in the hope that it would make him release me. ‘I’m fine,’ I answered quietly. ‘Go back to your girl, Nate.’
Nate’s grip tightened. ‘She’s not my girl.’
I shook my head. ‘I wasn’t talking about the redhead. I was talking about the ghost tattooed across your heart.’
My words loosened his grip.
Lowering my lashes so I didn’t have to see the haunted expression on his face, I turned and descended the stairs, back out of his life.
Seeing Nate again was like straining a recent injury. When I left him I had to start packing ice on it again.
That’s why when Ben called the next week while I was having dinner with Dad and Dee, I was glad of the distraction.
‘I know we don’t know each other that well, but I’m going to selfishly pretend that’s not true in order to ask a massive favor.’
Amused, I leaned my elbow on my dad’s counter and relaxed into the conversation. ‘What kind of favor?’
‘My sister has somehow managed to rope me into babysitting my niece, Zoe, on Saturday. Now I love my niece, but she’s eight years old, a total girly girl, and when I asked her what she wanted to do, she replied that she wanted me to take her to see some Disney pop princess musical movie at the cinema. Zoe is used to getting what she wants, so this is going to happen. I was hoping you’d do me a favor by coming with me so I don’t appear to be some creepy guy at a Disney movie, but –’
‘One-half of parental obligation?’
I laughed. ‘It sounds like you’ll be owing me majorly.’
‘So you’ll come with us?’
‘Sure. As a favor. Not a date.’
‘Not a date. I completely agree. Nothing kills romance more than a teenybopper musical.’
After a minute of confirming details of when and where, I hung up. My dad stared at me curiously.
‘Are you sure that’s a good idea?’
‘We’re just friends,’ I assured him.
‘I’ve heard that before.’
‘Mick,’ Dee admonished, scowling at him on my behalf.
Dad grimaced. ‘I’m sorry, sweetheart, but it’s the look on your face right now that tells me that going on a date with some other man is not a good idea. And you know’ – he pushed his fork around on his plate as he avoided my eyes – ‘Jo told me Nate is not doing well at all. She says he looks like hell. And apparently he’s been trying to contact you.’