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|Down London Road(On Dublin Street #2)(38) by Samantha Young|
Blowing air out between my lips in boredom, I eyed my eBay pile. I’d sold a few things but I still had to take photographs of a couple of items and post them on the site. The profits were paying for Cole’s judo lessons, so it needed to be done. I had to crack on. Next up, a pair of Jimmy Choos. Staring at them, I realized I was going to need one of the boys to help me with this. The gorgeous six-inch heels were made up of a lot of spaghetti ties. Off the feet, they didn’t look like much. On the feet, they looked sexy as all hell. I’d have to be wearing them in the photographs, which meant I’d need someone to take photographs for me.
Bundling them into my arms, I left Cole’s room and stopped outside Mum’s door. Loud snoring from within assured me everything was normal with her, and I headed out of the flat and downstairs to Cam’s. Cam and Cole had texted me after their judo class to let me know they were going to Cam’s to work on the graphic novel.
From the sounds of machine-gun fire coming from Cam’s flat I realized I’d been bullshitted. They were playing Call of Duty.
I walked in without knocking and slipped quietly into the sitting room. Cam, Cole and Nate were sitting on the couch, Nate and Cole holding the controllers. Peetie was in the armchair directly facing me. I’d met Nate and Peetie a couple of times since Cam had moved in, but I still hadn’t really spent that much time with them, mostly because when they were over they played video games, only really interacting with me when I took the time to feed them snacks.
Peetie saw me and waved, drawing Cam’s attention. He turned and flashed me a welcoming smile that hit me in the gut, waking up all those annoying little butterflies fluttering around in there. ‘Hi, baby.’
I raised an eyebrow at his flatscreen. ‘This is working on a graphic novel?’
‘Nate and Peetie came over with us after class.’ As if that explained everything.
‘Hi, Jo!’ Nate called over the sounds of gunfire, his eyes flicking to me briefly. ‘Did you bring sandwiches by any chance?’
That was me. Sandwich lady. ‘No.’ I held my shoes up to an inquisitive Cam. ‘I need you to take a picture of me wearing these.’
Cameron eyed them and then raised his eyebrows. ‘Whoa.’ He held up his hands, gesturing to his friends. ‘Not in front of the boys.’
I narrowed my eyes on him. ‘Not that kind of picture, you sex-craved pervert.’
‘Eh, before anyone says anything else,’ Cole interjected loudly, ‘remember her wee brother is in the room.’
Cam grinned and stood up. ‘Is this for eBay?’
Handing him my camera, I nodded, and then began taking off my shoes and strapping on the Jimmy Choos. Once they were on, I lifted my leg to eye them, turning my ankle to the side, feeling their loss already.
‘Baby, if you love them that much, keep them.’
I pouted. ‘I can’t. They cost a ridiculous amount of money. It would be stupid to keep them.’
‘Fuck, man,’ Nate breathed, his attention suddenly on the shoes and my legs. ‘Don’t let her sell those.’ His heated eyes devoured me. ‘Those are shit hot.’
‘I will seriously hit you,’ Cam warned him darkly.
Nate shrugged, threw me a cheeky grin, and turned back to the television screen. ‘Not my fault your girlfriend is so bloody f**kable.’
Cole slammed his shoulder into Nate before Cam could retaliate. ‘Dude, that’s my sister.’
‘And, dude, watch your language.’ I tried not to blush. Ignoring Nate’s unrepentant smile, I turned my feet so Cam could get a good shot of the shoes. My eyes fell on Peetie, who was texting someone. From what Cam had told me, I figured it was probably his fiancée, Lyn. Peetie was wrapped around her little finger, apparently. He seemed like a nice guy. A balance to Nate’s unpredictable, blunt, Jack-the-lad persona. Nate was gorgeous – not rugged sexy like Cam, or rough-around-the-edges hot like Braden. He was movie-star stunning, with his thick black hair and even blacker eyes, and he knew it.
My gaze moved to Cole, who was starting to look more and more like our father every day. My dad may have been a brute and an a**hole, but he’d been a good-looking one. Once Cole realized he was a good-looking kid, it would depend on the influences in his life as to how he would react to it and to girls.
I did not want him to become a Nate.
‘I hope you three aren’t corrupting my brother.’
Nate huffed. ‘You kidding? If anyone’s doing the corrupting, it’s him.’
Cole grinned at that and I felt a weird mixture of happiness and worry. Over the last few weeks I’d noticed a difference in him. He still grunted and shrugged a lot and was definitely destined to be broody, but he’d actually begun to converse with people other than Cam and me, and I took that as a good sign. Hanging around Nate, however, might turn him cocky. Or, hey, hanging around Cam might turn him cocky.
‘Done.’ Cam handed me my camera with a quick peck to the lips.
‘Thank you.’ I had just bent to unhook the strap at my ankle, when Cam’s mouth brushed my ear.
‘Be here tonight, waiting for me in nothing but those shoes.’
My skin flushed hot at the thought and I quickly glanced over at Cole and the boys to make sure they hadn’t heard. They were completely oblivious. My eyes met Cam’s dark gaze and I nodded in agreement.
A phone buzzed and we reluctantly broke eye contact.
Cole held up his phone. ‘Me. I’ve got to go. Guys are waiting for me at the cinema.’
‘We’re not finished,’ Nate complained.
Peetie chuckled. ‘Nate, mate, when you try to convince a teenager to spend time with you playing video games, it’s time to re-evaluate your life.’
We laughed, earning us the middle finger from Nate.
‘I’ll be home in a few hours,’ Cole informed me with a small smile before he left the flat. That smile warmed me up better than a mug of hot chocolate.
‘Actually, you guys should go too.’ Cam moved towards them, making a shooing gesture.
Peetie stood up with a knowing grin. ‘Sure, no problem. Lyn wants me to meet her on Princes Street anyway.’
Grumbling, Nate switched off the console and telly. ‘You’re both whipped.’
‘Did you see the shoes?’ Cam asked smugly, making me blush. If I didn’t know he had plans to screw me imminently, I did now. And so did his friends.
Nate did some more grumbling, making me blush harder with a ‘Lucky bastard’.
‘See you soon, Jo.’ Peetie nodded at me as he passed us.
Punching Cam on the arm, Nate advised, ‘Watch those heels on your back. Those f**kers can hurt.’
I groaned in mortification as Cam laughed.
‘Wear protection.’ Nate winked at me. ‘And have fun, kiddies.’
As soon as the door shut behind them I glowered at Cam. ‘We’re not ha**ng s*x.’
His mouth fell open. ‘Why not? I threw them out. We have a couple of hours of uninterrupted sex time.’
‘Yeah, but now they know that’s what we’re doing.’
‘And what difference does that make?’
‘I don’t know. But it makes some kind of difference.’
Cam cocked his head to the side. ‘Female logic. It needs its own decipher code.’
‘We should invite Peetie and Lyn out for dinner with us.’
‘Okay, maybe it’s just Jo logic.’ Cam chuckled at me jumping topics on him.
I shrugged, heading towards the fireplace to pick up a photo frame Cam had on the mantel. It held a photo of him, Nate and Peetie dressed up as superheroes for Halloween. Cam was Batman. Of course he was. ‘I just thought it would be nice to get to know your friends better. They are like your brothers.’
‘Okay, that sounds good. I’ll talk to him about it.’
‘I’d say we should invite Nate, but bringing a girl to dinner with his friends might be the kind of signal he wants to avoid sending out to one of his … companions.’
Cam grunted. ‘And you’d be right.’
Studying the photo of Nate dressed as Iron Man, I frowned. He really was incredibly good-looking. And there was something about him. Behind all the bluster there was something else. It was in his eyes. They were kind. ‘Is he completely against all relationships? It’s a shame if so.’ I turned to smile softly at Cam. ‘He really does seem like a nice guy.’
‘He is.’ Cam nodded, seeming very serious all of sudden. ‘But … he lost someone.’
An ache pierced my chest as I processed what Cam wasn’t saying. ‘A girl?’
Looking away, I could see that whatever it was that had happened had also affected Cam. ‘It was a while ago, but it changed him.’
Stunned, I shook my head, looking back at the grinning Nate in the photo. ‘You just never know what hurts people are living with, do you? We’re all so good at hiding them.’
‘You’re the master.’
Yeah, I wasn’t going to disagree with that.
Lost for a moment, staring at the photo, feeling a deep sympathy for Nate and for the love that had been taken from him, I didn’t hear Cam move until he was standing right behind me. The heat of him, the smell of him, drew me out of my melancholy thoughts and my fingers fell from the picture frame, my body growing hot in anticipation of him.
His hands rested on my h*ps for a moment and that was all I needed to feel a quiver of excitement low in my belly. Strong fingers curled into the hem of my jumper and slowly he began to pull it up. The movement demanded that I raise my arms above my head and I did so, the room silent except for our soft breathing and the rustle of clothing. Darkness descended over me for a second as he tugged the jumper up over my head, cool air whispering across my skin, kissing it into goose bumps.
I shivered, letting my arms fall slowly as my jumper hit the floor.
Cam’s warm hand grazed my back gently, sweeping my hair over my shoulder. Tenderly, his fingertips brushed my skin, following the strap of my bra down my shoulder and along my upper back.