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|Before Jamaica Lane(On Dublin Street #3)(73) by Samantha Young|
Apparently Nate didn’t take it to mean that at all.
I shouldn’t have been surprised really to find him waiting for me in my apartment when I got home from work that night. I slammed the door behind me and held out my palm. ‘I want my key back.’
Nate had stood up as soon as I walked in, and now he was prowling toward me with this playful look in his eyes. The way his dimples played peekaboo had my face scrunching up like a five-year-old preparing for a tantrum. I did not need him to be gorgeous and charming right now! I definitely did not need the dimples.
‘I swallowed the key.’
‘You didn’t swallow it. If you’d swallowed it I’d have come home to a corpse.’
Nate stopped with one eyebrow raised. ‘Should I be worried by how not upset you are at that prospect?’
My nostrils flared. I knew it. He was here to be charming.
I had to get him out!
‘Give me my key.’
Nate shrugged. ‘I can’t do that.’
‘You have to,’ I huffed indignantly. ‘It’s my key.’
‘Why are we still talking about the key?’
‘We’ve barely even started talking about the key.’ My right foot moved back as Nate moved forward, his lids lowering sexily over his eyes. It was his hunting look. ‘Nate –’
‘I love you.’
I froze, almost gasping from the words, words that were fists punching gaping holes in my chest.
While I was in shock Nate took advantage. He stopped, inches before me, not touching me but not really needing to. The heat from his body licked my skin.
‘My life has been hell without you,’ he confessed, his voice rough, his expression morose. ‘I thought I could do it. I thought I could lie to the both of us. But seeing you on the street last week with that guy and the little girl … It was a glimpse into the future. It didn’t hit me until right in that moment that walking away from you, from us, meant having to watch you be with someone else, have kids with someone else.’ He closed his eyes as if in pain. ‘It cut me to the quick to see you playing happy family with that guy. Christ, Liv, I couldn’t breathe.’
And I couldn’t do this. It wasn’t enough.
Shaking my head, I stepped to the side so he couldn’t back me into the corner. ‘Nate, you have to leave.’
Instead he studied me carefully. ‘You’re not ready to hear this yet,’ he concluded. ‘But I do need you to know that I’m going to fight for you. I’m not making the mistake of walking away from you again. The only man in your future is me, Liv. The only kids in your future are mine.’ Nate opened my front door, dug into his pocket and produced my key. He held it out to me and I took it tentatively, confused by the action. ‘I don’t need to break into your life. You’ve put up a locked door between us and I understand why. But I’m going to stand outside it, bugging the absolute shit out of you.’ He smiled wryly. ‘Until you let me back in.’ His expression changed like a black cloud rolling in unexpectedly. ‘I’ll warn you, though – you let that Ben guy in the door … I’ll start fighting dirty.’
Before I could respond, Nate slipped out, leaving me split in two.
Part of me was desperate to call him back, to savor those three little words that spilled from his lips. Savor them over and over again.
The bigger part of me, however, knew it wasn’t enough. Maybe it was selfish, but I didn’t just want Nate to love me. I wanted him to love me the way I loved him. The kind of love that’s so big it would last beyond a lifetime.
The kind of love he had for Alana.
I don’t know what I expected. Nate always had such a laid-back approach to life that I wasn’t sure if he would really fight for me. Honestly, I was kind of hoping he wouldn’t because it would make it easier for me to keep saying no.
The day after his little visit to my apartment, however, a basket of chocolates from my favorite chocolate boutique in the city was delivered to my work with a note from Nate:
We have a date with melted chocolate waiting in our future … I’m going to paint you with it and lick my fill until you … Well, what is it the French call it? La petite mort. I love you.
Not only had he had no qualms about writing something like that on a gift card that the delivery person could see, but I also had to deal with my colleagues, who’d ripped the card out of my hands before I could stop them.
Angus grinned as he handed it back to me. ‘He used a French phrase for orgasm. That’s classy. I say he’s a keeper.’
‘He wrote about orgasms on an apology gift,’ I said, pointing out the obvious. ‘That’s classy?’
‘No, but it’s bloody hot,’ Jill chimed in, frowning at me. ‘Get back with him, you silly cow. Do you know how many men do stuff like this?’ She poked at the gorgeously wrapped basket of goodies. ‘Not many.’
I spent the rest of the day scowling at my basket of chocolates.
The next day a large gift-wrapped box arrived at work and I took it into the staff room to open in private. Of course as soon as Jill saw the box, she told Angus and Angus told Ronan and all privacy was obliterated. They’d stood behind me as I pulled off the black satin ribbon and opened the pale pink box. Under layers of tissue I found a beautiful and very expensive black lace and satin bustier, matching high-cut panties, and silk stockings. They came with a card:
Beautiful, sexy, sensual. The underwear is nice too. I hope one day you’ll wear it for me, but if you don’t, I hope at least when you put it on you’ll see what I see in you when you look in the mirror. I love you. Nate.
I’d ended up crying in the bathroom after that, cursing Nate Sawyer to hell and hoping that tomorrow wouldn’t bring another gift that would push me closer to opening that goddamn door. In a stupid effort to somehow outmaneuver him I called Benjamin that night and arranged to meet him for coffee after work the next day at his favorite café, not far from the library. The hope being that his presence would remind me that life didn’t begin and end with Nate and I could move on. I could, I could, I could, I could.
The day after, I was manning the help desk when security came over with another package for me. This time it was a small parcel with an envelope attached. My heart thumping, I ignored Wendy, who was working beside me, and opened it.