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|Before Jamaica Lane(On Dublin Street #3)(71) by Samantha Young|
More and more he proved to me that he was funny and charming, and that I’d be a complete idiot not to give him a shot.
‘Can I get you another drink?’ he asked, nudging my nearly empty champagne glass.
Ruefully, I shook my head. ‘The last wedding I was at I got shamefully drunk and ended up saying things I now regret.’
He smiled mischievously. ‘Now I definitely want to get you drunk.’
I laughed. ‘No, you don’t.’
‘So … what was it you said that you regret?’
‘It’s not really what I said, it’s what saying it led to.’
‘And what was that?’
‘A broken heart.’ I winced as soon as I said it. ‘God, Ben, I’m sorry. I’m the worst wedding date in history.’
He gave me a sympathetic smile. ‘You know what might make it up to me?’
‘Tell me about him. Nate.’ He guessed correctly. ‘What happened? It might help.’
I shook my head. ‘You don’t want to listen to that.’
‘What if I go first?’
Of course my curiosity got the better of me. I wanted to know about Ben’s big heartbreak. Just as I was about to agree, my cell rang. With an apologetic smile, I reached for my clutch and pulled out the phone.
I got goose bumps all over when I saw the caller ID.
Did he know I was on a date? Was that why he was calling? Angry that he kept interrupting my life, I shoved the phone back in my purse.
Ben gestured to it. ‘Was that him?’
‘How did you guess?’
‘Because I’m fairly certain I get that look in my eye anytime my ex tries to contact me.’
‘That “if-I-could-tear-you-to-shreds-with-my-incisors-I-would-why-won’t-you-get-out-of-my-life-you-crazy-bitch” or in his case “crazy bastard” look.’
I laughed humorlessly. ‘Close. It’s more like … I keep trying to get back to who I was before this happened, and every time someone says his name or he calls, it reminds me that I probably won’t ever get back to that person because … he was a part of who I was then.’
We sat in silence for a moment.
Finally Ben took my hand and rubbed his thumb over my knuckles. ‘One day you’ll wake up and he won’t be the first thing you think about.’
My cell rang again, jarring the sweet atmosphere between us. Growling in frustration, I reached for my purse, ready to switch off the damn phone, but then I saw it was Jo calling this time.
For some reason I felt an unpleasant dip in my belly.
‘I’m sorry,’ I told Ben. ‘It’s my friend. I should answer her.’
‘Jo?’ I asked as I put the phone to my ear.
‘Liv’ – she sounded out of breath – ‘Liv, Nate tried to call you. Something’s happened.’
‘What is it?’ I asked, instantly panicked. ‘Is he okay?’
‘He’s … His dad’s been rushed to hospital.’
I got a taxi from the wedding as quickly as possible, but it took me almost an hour from the time Jo called to get to the hospital. The whole time I was begging and pleading with whatever divine being might exist in this world to help Nathan. Jo said they thought he’d suffered a heart attack.
I practically threw the cab fare at my driver and dashed out of the car, hurrying inside the main entrance of the hospital.
Please, please, let Nathan be okay. Please.
He was such a good man.
And Nate cannot take more loss.
As I hurried toward the main reception to ask after Nathan, his son’s voice called my name and I stopped, my eyes following it. Nate stood in the middle of the crowded waiting room, looking pale and haggard.
I moved toward him, drinking him in. The beard was gone, but the eyes were still dark, and now his mouth was pinched with worry. Sitting behind him were Sylvie, Cam, Cole, and Jo. Sylvie was tearing a Kleenex into pieces. She reminded me of a frightened animal, the way she kept staring round-eyed at the doors beyond.
‘Nate –’ I stopped hesitantly before him, not sure if I should hug him but wanting to. ‘Is there any word?’
He shook his head, his eyes bleak. ‘They took him into surgery. No one’s come out yet.’
Breaking, I took one last step toward him and wrapped my arms around him.
Nate instantly sank into my embrace, his strong arms locking around my waist as his head bowed into my neck.
We stayed that way for a while.
‘Nathaniel Sawyer’s family?’ a doctor called.
Nate and his mother quickly stood up from their chairs and hurried to him. I glanced around at Jo, Cam, and Cole before looking over at Peetie and Lyn, who had arrived a little while after I had. We’d been waiting for hours and hours, and now all of our expressions were the same.
At the sounds of Sylvie’s sobs my lungs ceased to work and I watched in horror as Nate pulled her into his arms. Cam, his eyes hollow with grief, moved toward his friend. He rested a hand on Nate’s shoulder and Nate gave him a small smile, shaking his head.
Cam’s body slumped, as if with relief, and my lungs started working again. He strode back to us, running a shaky hand through his hair. ‘Nathan made it through the surgery. He’s stable.’
‘Knock, knock.’ I leaned around the hospital door, wearing a huge grin.
I’d left Nate to be with his mom and dad for the last few days, but on Monday I cut out of work to make visiting hours.
Nathan was alone in his room, watching television. He blinked in surprise at the sight of me and then smiled widely as I walked in. Having dealt with a very sick person, I was a master at schooling my reaction to the physical toll sickness could take. Nathan’s frame looked so much smaller as he lay in the hospital bed. His cheeks were drawn and there were a few more wrinkles around his mouth than there had been when I’d last seen him.
‘To what do I owe this pleasure?’ he asked, sitting up, careful of the wires connecting him to monitors hooked up by his bed.
Laying the flowers I’d brought with me on the bedside table, I pulled up a chair. ‘I was worried.’
‘Pfft.’ He waved me off. ‘What’s a little coronary disease?’