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|Down London Road(On Dublin Street #2)(18) by Samantha Young|
I wanted to avoid Cam’s reaction to my opinion, but the heat of his gaze drew mine and when our eyes met they held. And locked. I felt my breathing grow shallow at his soft smile, his warm, inquisitive eyes. ‘Joss says your brother draws and writes his own.’
The thought of Cole loosened my lips into a more relaxed smile. ‘He’s very talented.’
‘I’d love to take a look at them sometime.’
‘I think Cole would like that.’ I didn’t know why I said that. I didn’t want Cam anywhere near Cole or my flat. It was the way he was looking at me. Like he saw something he liked and it had nothing to do with my pretty face, long legs or perky boobs. Words that had tumbled out of my mouth had pleased him and I was basking in his good opinion.
I was such an idiot.
My gaze was ripped from Cam’s at the voice.
No. I tensed. It can’t be.
I shifted around in my seat and looked up into the eyes of someone very familiar. An unexpected ache flared in my chest as a rush of memories exploded over me.
Oh, God. Was someone just being particularly cruel today? I mean, how many coincidences could a person deal with in one day?
‘Callum?’ My eyes searched my ex-boyfriend’s handsome face. I hadn’t seen him for about a year. We’d bumped into each other a number of times since breaking up three years ago but never somewhere where we could talk.
I noted a couple of lines around his eyes that hadn’t been there when we’d dated, but they only added to his attractiveness. Not a strand of his silky dark hair was out of place, and his suit was cut exquisitely for his perfect physique. The short brunette at his side was a fresh-faced beauty about my age.
‘Jo, it’s good to see you.’ He took a step away from his date and I thought I saw a momentary flicker in his eyes. I stood up from the table and was immediately enveloped in his hug. He hadn’t changed his cologne and it sparked sensual memories. Sex with Callum had been the best I’d ever had – nothing kinky or exceptionally adventurous, but earthy and satisfying. Sadly, I wondered if that was what had kept us together so long.
Callum’s hands had slid familiarly around my body as he drew me into the hug and now one of them was pressed low on my back and the other just touching my ass. ‘I’ve missed you,’ he murmured, giving me a squeeze.
I laughed nervously, pulling out of his embrace. ‘I’ve missed you too.’
A throat cleared and I twisted my head to see Malcolm staring up at us, his eyebrows elevated to his hairline.
‘Oh, Malcolm, this is Callum Forsyth. Callum, this is my boyfriend, Malcolm Hendry.’
Malcolm half stood so he could lean over and shake Callum’s hand. Callum eyed him carefully, murmuring a polite ‘Hello’ before sliding his gaze back to me.
‘You look amazing.’
‘Thank you.’ I flicked a look at his date, wondering if he was going to introduce her. Following my gaze, Callum seemed to suddenly realize she was there. ‘Oh, this is Meaghan. My fiancée.’
Wow, what a way to greet an ex-girlfriend in front of his fiancée. I almost sent him a chiding look. ‘Nice to meet you.’
‘You too,’ she answered politely, smiling sweetly up at Callum.
If I was her I’d have been pissed off if my fiancé had just had his hand on another woman’s ass. If I was her I’d be –
Rubbish, Jo. I chastised myself. You’re talking absolute rubbish. If it had been you, you would have pretended you hadn’t seen anything so it wouldn’t cause an argument and upset him.
As I stared at my ex-boyfriend and his new fiancée I saw that nothing had changed. She might be short and brunette, but she was likely just another version of me. That look of longing in Callum’s eyes perhaps attested to our great sex life and nothing more, because … he hadn’t known me.
I was the perfect girlfriend. Thinking back, I couldn’t remember a time we’d ever got into a fight. Why? Because I never argued. I always agreed with him or curbed my tongue. I didn’t care what we did as long as it made him happy. I was the epitome of congenial blandness. And when I finally hadn’t catered to his every whim, when I’d put my family’s needs over his, he’d kicked me to the kerb.
A shudder rippled through me and I took a step back from Callum, all those warm memories evaporating. Did Cam see that when he looked at me with Malcolm? Was I like that with Malcolm? We never argued. I always agreed … but that was the way to keep him, right? I shot a look down at him and saw he was frowning at me. I wanted this man to propose one day, right? It didn’t matter whether he was proposing to the real me or not.
My gut churned.
It didn’t matter.
I looked back at Callum with a tight smile. ‘I’d better get back to dinner. It was nice seeing you after all this time, and nice meeting you, Meaghan.’ I nodded at them and slipped back into my chair.
I knew they were gone when Malcolm’s gaze returned to me. ‘Are you okay?’
‘Who was that?’
Becca choked on a giggle. ‘A handsy ex-boyfriend.’
‘Too handsy,’ Cam muttered, and I looked up, only for our eyes to clash. I couldn’t tell what was going on behind his. Was he angry?
‘Yes, well,’ Malcolm replied tightly now. ‘He certainly didn’t care that his fiancée was standing right next to him.’
Did you care? Malcolm, did you care? I shot him a look and almost swore at the way he was looking at Cam. Not Callum. Cam. I frowned, totally confused. ‘Are you angry?’
With that careful look at Cam, Malcolm smiled at me and slid his arm around the back of my chair. ‘It’s my bed you end up in at the end of the night, sweetheart. I’ve got nothing to be mad about.’
I smiled weakly at him, taken aback by his uncharacteristic comment, and then chanced another look at Cam. His plate seemed to hold a great deal of interest for him, and since I couldn’t read his eyes, I read his body. His jaw was locked tight, his fist was curled around his fork until his knuckles were white, and his shoulders had tensed.
Cam was mad now?
Jesus, what were we playing at with each other?
‘Where are you going?’ Malcolm slid his arm around my waist and halted my progress out of his bed.
I grew still, confused. This was the part at the end of the night when I always left.
‘Stay. Stay with me tonight.’
Dinner had been a strange affair after Callum’s appearance. Malcolm seemed off, his behaviour taking a surprising turn as he acted both cocky and proprietary towards me, and Becca’s mood had soured along with Cam’s. I was grateful when Malcolm called it quits, taking me home to his flat. However, as soon as we were in the door, he was on me, his kisses hard and demanding, his need immediate and intense.
We ended up ha**ng s*x on his living-room couch. It was the first time we’d had sex outside of his bed.
I wanted to find it exciting, but it hadn’t been. It had felt like a claiming, and with my mind all over the place, it was not a claiming I’d been into. After months of praying for this moment, I couldn’t believe I was questioning whether I wanted it or not.
Malcolm had carried to me to his bed after the couch sex, where he’d made love to me tenderly, sweetly … but no matter how much I tried, I couldn’t switch my brain off, my thoughts buzzing around in my head like too many trolleys in one supermarket aisle – they were relevant, but they weren’t going anywhere that made sense.
‘I feel like you’re someplace else tonight.’ Malcolm tugged on my waist, pulling me closer. ‘I’d feel better if you stayed, but only if you want to.’
I took a deep breath, trying to remind myself that this was exactly what I wanted. So Malcolm didn’t know me as well as he thought he did. That was a good thing. And anyway, Cole was staying at Jamie’s. The only one I had to worry about was Mum, and really that was just a case of hoping she didn’t burn down the flat.
I relaxed, cuddling into Malcolm. ‘Okay.’
He wrapped his arms tighter around me, stroking my arm soothingly. ‘I wish you’d tell me what’s wrong.’
I tensed. ‘Nothing is wrong.’
‘You keep saying that, but I don’t believe you.’
I scrambled around for some excuse. ‘Things are just difficult with Mum at the moment.’
‘You could let me help.’
At his kindness, I melted against him, pressing a tender kiss to his throat. ‘You are helping. Being with you helps.’
He kissed my hair. ‘You weren’t with me tonight. Not the first time or the second time. And altogether that would be the third time.’
Oh, God. He knew I hadn’t come again. If sex with me was terrible, would Malcolm dump me? I tensed.
‘I’m not criticizing. I’m worried.’ He pulled away from me and tipped my chin up so he could look into my eyes. ‘I care about you, Jo. I hope you care about me.’
I nodded quickly, sincerely. ‘I do care about you. It’s just been a difficult few weeks, but I promise it’s going to get better.’
He pressed a soft kiss to my lips and snuggled us down under his duvet. ‘Let’s start with getting you a proper sleep. You work too hard.’
I held on to him, letting his patience and kindness act as a balm to my harried nerves. I was just drifting off when he said quietly, ‘You seem to get on okay with Cam?’
My eyes popped open at the question. ‘Not really.’
‘Hmm.’ His hand slid down to cup my hip, pulling my body into his. ‘I’m not sure about him. I don’t like the way he looks at you. And I don’t like that he’s living in such close proximity to you.’
My body wanted to grow tense at the suspicion in Malcolm’s voice, and it took everything I had to remain relaxed. His behaviour tonight had been so strange. ‘You were a little off tonight. I thought it was because of Callum’s appearance …’