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|Down London Road(On Dublin Street #2)(35) by Samantha Young|
My little saviour shot to her feet. ‘I have to show Jo something. Alone,’ she said pointedly, giving her sister a look that allowed no room for argument. She got that look from Elodie.
We were already out of the room before Ellie could say a second word.
Trying to muffle our giggles, we fell into Hannah’s room. ‘You are the best person in the whole world.’ I grinned at her.
Hannah smiled in response as she flopped down on her bed. ‘You know you’re going to have to face the inquisition soon though, right?’
‘I know. I’d just rather face it later than sooner.’
Suddenly Hannah’s cheeks flushed a little red. ‘He’s really hot.’
Laughing, I moved to sit beside her, feeling my own cheeks heat as I remembered this morning and last night. ‘He is that.’
‘I won’t ask about Malcolm or anything, but … I heard Ellie speaking with Joss and they said Cam’s not really your usual type. I guess that doesn’t matter if you’re happy.’
I loved this kid. Truly and deeply. ‘I’m happy today. Scared. But happy. Cam has convinced me to do something just for me, rather than for me and Cole.’ I remembered all the security that had walked away with Malcolm last night and I felt a stab of fear and anxiety. In an effort to ignore it, I nudged Hannah with my shoulder. ‘So how is Marco?’
Heaving a massive sigh, Hannah fell back on the mattress and stared at the ceiling, avoiding my eyes. ‘He’s talking to me again.’
‘Why aren’t you more excited about that?’
‘Because the tool is acting like nothing happened. Like we’re just friends. Not to mention there is this girl in the year above me who’s been telling everyone she hooked up with him at a party last weekend. She’s really pretty.’
‘Well, considering you’re beautiful, I think you have one over on her.’ Hannah made a noise of disbelief and I patted her knee. ‘One day you’re going to look in the mirror and see what I see.’
‘A geek who needs an attitude readjustment?’
I made a face. ‘What?’
‘I got in trouble this week. Mum and Dad aren’t happy.’
My painfully shy Hannah had got in trouble? ‘What?’ I repeated in disbelief.
‘My PE teacher had a go at me because I refused to get into an all-girls team against an all-boys team at basketball. I told him that it’s scientifically proven that boys are stronger and faster than girls and that to put all girls against all boys was setting the girls’ team up for failure. He said that I was being unfair to my own sex. I said I was being realistic and that I thought he was deliberately favouring the boys over the girls. He reported me and, while our head teacher told him that all basketball teams during classes should be mixed from now on, the head teacher also called Mum and told her I needed an attitude readjustment.’
Choking down my amusement as I caught the twinkle of bedevilment in her eyes, I shook my head at her. ‘What happened to the crippling shyness?’
She somehow managed to shrug lying down. ‘I just feel like being shy is getting in my way.’
‘Is this because of Marco?’
‘No, not just that. Although I’m getting the impression I’m not really “cool” enough for him –’
‘Then he’s an idiot.’
‘– It’s more that I missed out on joining the debating team because I was too shy to speak up. And I know I’d be really good at debating.’
‘I think we all know that.’
She threw a cushion at me and continued as if I hadn’t spoken. ‘And I missed out on the Christmas dance this year because my friends and I felt too self-conscious going alone together. And I wrote this poem that really means a lot to me and I wanted to enter it into this regional competition but I didn’t because –’
‘You were too shy.’ I patted her knee again. ‘So you what? Just woke up one day and decided not to be?’
Hannah sat up, her eyes filled with wisdom beyond her years. ‘No. I kissed a boy I really like and he rejected me. If I can handle that, I’m pretty sure I can handle opening my mouth in front of people I’ve gone to school with for years and saying what I want to say.’
I nodded slowly and then gave her a reassuring smile. ‘For what it’s worth, you are the coolest person I know.’
‘Even cooler than Cam?’
Cam was that smart, geek-like, hot guy who marched to the beat of his own drum. Yeah. He was so cool I could die from his coolness, but I wasn’t going to admit to that like a besotted teenager. I snorted, getting up off the bed. ‘Oh, please, he only thinks he’s cool.’
‘He’s really cool, isn’t he?’ Hannah grinned at me over her shoulder as she opened her bedroom door.
I followed her out, all fake superiority gone. ‘Yeah. Just don’t tell him I said so.’
‘Tell who?’ Ellie was suddenly in my face as if she’d appeared out of nowhere. Within seconds, Hannah and I had been herded back into her bedroom by Ellie and Joss.
Joss gave me a sympathetic smile. ‘I tried to stop her.’
I sucked in a breath, waiting.
And then Ellie began peppering me with her rapid-fire questions.
Lunch actually couldn’t have gone any better. Cam was well-mannered, gracious, intelligent, interesting – all the things I knew he was and could be, but I was glad to see that the Nicholses and Joss and Braden could see that too. I also loved that they noticed how close he was to Cole already. They sat together at the table and whenever conversation wasn’t directed at either one of them, they had their heads together, talking quietly about the book Cole was listening to. Apparently Cam had recommended it.
Since Cam shared Braden and Adam’s dry sense of humour, I had no worries that the three guys wouldn’t get on. Braden kept shooting me these teasing smiles that somehow translated into ‘I’m happy for you.’ That was nice. It really was. However, it just amplified the little ghost of anxiety floating around me, groaning at me about what would happen if this ‘thing’ with Cam fell apart.
I’d never received that awful pity and sympathy other people did when they broke up with someone, because no one had ever really taken my feelings for my boyfriends seriously – whether they were serious or not – yet I knew that in this situation there would be agonizing sympathy if Cam walked away, and I wasn’t sure I could handle that.
There I was, already imagining the demise of our relationship.
I needed my head checked.
With Cam’s strong, slightly callused hand in mine, his body close, his voice full of warmth and affection as we strolled down London Road with Cole, I knew I needed my head checked. This was good. We’d only just started and it was good. I wasn’t going to let my mistrust poison this. I wasn’t.
I squeezed Cam’s hand as we walked into our building, his deep voice echoing up the stairwell as he told me about a couple of jobs he’d seen advertised in the paper.
‘You should definitely apply for them,’ I responded, frowning at Cole, who walked upstairs ahead of us, his shoelace flapping against the concrete. He was going to get himself killed. ‘Cole, tie your shoe.’
‘We’re nearly at the flat,’ he argued.
‘Tie your shoe.’
We all stopped and waited for him to follow my instruction.
‘Happy?’ he grunted, continuing upward.
‘When you speak to me like that, baby boy, how can I not be?’
I could hear Cam choke on his laughter behind me, so when we turned on to his landing I was looking back at him. That’s why I slammed into Cole.
‘What the …’ My voice trailed off as I turned sharply to see what the problem was.
The problem was Becca, standing in front of Cam’s door with a carrier bag in her hand.
‘I want my stuff back.’ She thrust the bag out at Cam, who stepped in front of us to approach her. ‘Here’s your shit. You were always careful not to leave much with me, so there’s only a book and your MP3 player.’ Ouch. The hallway fairly echoed with her bitterness.
Guilt immediately assailed me and I pressed close to Cole, who leaned back into me, his stance almost protective. He’d met Becca only once, but he knew who she was and what this situation meant.
Cam calmly took the bag from her. ‘What stuff did you leave?’
She sneered at him. ‘You don’t even care, do you? You broke up with me and then you went home with her.’ She pointed at me like I was trash. ‘Yeah, Malcolm filled me in.’ Her eyes glittered now as she turned to face me. ‘Don’t worry, slut. Malcolm and I made each other feel better last night. Hope that lessens the guilt.’
‘Enough,’ Cam snapped, stepping into Becca’s space. He bristled with anger and Becca was smart enough to slam her mouth closed. ‘Don’t ever speak to her like that again. Understood?’
Her eyes narrowed. ‘Just get me my stuff.’
‘I’ll look around the flat and whatever I find of yours I’ll send to you.’
‘I’ll send it, Becca. We’re done here.’
It was cold of him, but I understood his reaction. I imagined he didn’t want a scene in the hallway where our neighbours could hear and, worse, where Cole could hear. Intimidating her into leaving seemed like the safest option. I moved out of her way as she passed me, but she stopped as she reached me.
‘Are you going to f**k every man I f**k?’
I flinched. ‘Watch your language.’
Becca looked at me as if I had just crawled out from under a rock. ‘You’re an idiot for walking away from Malcolm Hendry for him. Everyone knows Cameron MacCabe only f**ks around with a girl for a couple of weeks before moving on. You downgraded big time. But that’s your mistake.’ She shot Cam a snide smile that I knew merely covered her hurt. It had always been clear that Becca was more into Cam than he was into her. ‘I think I’ll upgrade.’ Her nasty smile was just for me as she leaned in to whisper, ‘I might give Malcolm a call.’