|Home > Samantha Young > On Dublin Street Series > Before Jamaica Lane (Page 77)|
|Before Jamaica Lane(On Dublin Street #3)(77) by Samantha Young|
Tenderly, I caressed his neck, sweeping my hand around and across his jaw, before brushing my thumb over his lower lip. Once my breathing began to even out, I lifted my eyes from his mouth to meet his burning gaze. The tears were back and he became a blur as I whispered, ‘Stop waiting, Nate. I forgive you, okay. I get it, and I’m not angry at you. Not really. Because it’s not your fault. I’m just kind of mad at the situation and I’ve been taking it out on you.’
Nate’s brow creased with confusion. ‘Liv, I don’t …’ He shook his head, squeezing my waist in question.
So I explained.
‘I want a love like what my dad had with my mom. I want what Joss and Braden have. Jo and Cam. Ellie and Adam.’ The tears flowed freely before I could stop them. ‘You already had that with Alana.’
As if I’d shot him, Nate jerked back from me.
‘This may sound selfish and childish, but it’s how I feel. I want to be the love of someone’s life. I can’t be second best. And I definitely can’t be second best for you.’ I reached behind me, turning the door handle. ‘I’m sorry, Nate. I really am. But I can’t spend the rest of my life loving a man who can’t love me back in the same way.’ I opened the door, trying to block out the pain in his eyes. ‘So stop. For the both of us. Please.’
I didn’t give him a chance to speak because I was a coward and I didn’t want to hear the transference of pain in his eyes to his voice. So I left – hurrying down the stairs and out of the house before anyone could stop my retreat.
Later that night I let my dad into my apartment, shooting daggers at him the whole time. His eyes washed over my face, taking in my swollen eyes and puffy nose, and I saw a flicker of guilt pass over them.
‘I thought I was doing a good thing,’ he said quietly and immediately engulfed me in a mammoth hug.
I clung on for dear life. My dad did good hugs. ‘I know,’ I said, sniffling against his wide chest.
He squeezed me tight and kissed the top of my head. ‘Nate didn’t look so good when he came back downstairs.’
Tensing, I squeezed him back. ‘Dad, don’t.’
‘I just want to make sure you’re not throwing away something good out of stubbornness.’
‘You sound just like him.’
‘Maybe he has a point.’
Pulling back, I looked up into Dad’s face with a calm I wasn’t sure I felt. ‘He can’t love me the way I want him to. It would be disastrous for the both of us.’
Dad’s expression softened. ‘Baby girl, you’re not even giving him a chance to prove you wrong.’
‘You don’t know how he talks about Alana. You don’t know,’ I whispered fiercely.
At that, Dad said no more. He gave me one last squeeze and then proceeded to potter about my kitchen, throwing together hot cocoa and a late-night snack.
He stayed until I fell asleep, and the next morning I woke up tucked safe and tight in my bed.
My pillow was damp with tears.
Determined to convince everyone I was okay, I spent the next ten days going through the motions. I got up, I got dressed, I went to work, I smiled when I was supposed to, laughed when it was required, was serious when seriousness was appropriate, and hoped to God that my pretense was working. The truth was I felt as lost as ever without Nate, and I was scared and angry with myself. I was terrified that I was never going to find my way back to who I used to be. I felt like I’d lost a limb and hadn’t quite come to terms with it and how different my life would be from now on.
So in pretending otherwise, I felt less of a whiny coward.
Maybe things would have been easier if Nate had given up like I’d asked him to.
But he insisted on calling.
I ignored him, and along with him I ignored Jo. Kind of. I talked on the phone with her, as I did with all my friends and family, but after they’d set me up (and I knew that they’d all been involved in getting me and Nate alone that day) I didn’t trust them not to try it again. So I was avoiding spending any actual time with them.
Four days after the party I’d turned the corner onto Jamaica Lane and spied Nate sitting on my stoop, his head bent as he stared at the ground. I’d fled before he saw me, going to my dad’s, the one person I trusted not to try to set me up again.
Under the pretense of indifference I felt my anger begin to build again. Why couldn’t Nate just leave well enough alone? He’d heard what I had to say and he couldn’t argue with it.
Thankfully, by the seventh day of avoidance Nate seemed to get the picture and the calls stopped. All was quiet for a few days, while I attempted to get my head together. I buried myself in work, doing overtime since the library was chock-full of students preparing for their exams. Ben came into the reserve section and we talked amiably, but I didn’t let on that I hadn’t chosen Nate. I didn’t let on because not choosing Nate didn’t mean I was choosing Ben.
I was choosing me.
And me needed some peace and quiet, away from any potential added heartbreak.
As I stood at the quiet help desk, sorting mail while I wasn’t busy, my brain was determinedly ignoring any Nate-like thoughts. I had a whole life outside of Nate. Concentrating on that should be a cakewalk.
Or so you’d think.
‘Olivia’ – Angus hurried toward me, a stack of files in his hand – ‘can you do me a favor?’
‘Anything,’ I said a little desperately, eager for distraction.
He gave me a concerned look but didn’t comment. ‘There’s a … situation in one of the accessible rooms. Room five. Can you handle it, please? I’m snowed under.’ He raised the files in explanation.
I wrinkled my nose. ‘Another situation.’ I shook my head, rounding the help desk. ‘Why can’t they just keep it in their pants?’
Angus grunted and shuffled past me.
Bracing myself, I threw back my shoulders and hurried up the stairs, brushing past the busy throng until I got to the first floor. You would think during exam period these kids would have more pressing things on their minds, but oh no, sex was never off the table.
Literally, in this case.
Sucking in my breath, I threw open room five and charged in.
I hit an invisible wall, my body tensing at the sight of Nate leaning against the table, his arms crossed over his chest, his ankles crossed casually.