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|Down London Road(On Dublin Street #2)(44) by Samantha Young|
It was the most bizarre day. I walked by Mick’s mammoth side and for the first time in my adult life I felt physically small. He kept close to me, but I could see his eyes drinking everything in as we strolled all the way to Leith Walk and continued on to Princes Street. Uncle Mick stared at the Balmoral Hotel across the road from us as we passed it.
‘I missed this place. Edinburgh wasn’t even my city and I missed it. I missed everything here.’
‘I can’t imagine anywhere more different from Scotland than Arizona.’
‘Yeah. Ain’t that the truth.’
‘You were happy, though?’
I felt his eyes return to my face as we dodged the busy foot traffic. As soon as we were side by side again he began to speak. ‘When I had Yvonne and Olivia, aye, I was happy. But there wasn’t a day that I didn’t think about you, Cole and Fiona. I have two regrets in life, Jo. One is missing out on the first thirteen years of Olivia’s life, and the second is not being there for you when you needed me. Especially now that I know what you’ve been going through.’
‘Did Cam tell you everything, then?’
‘He told me about Fiona. How hard you’ve had to work. He told me you’ve raised Cole and that he’s a good kid. Things have been tough, but I’m glad you’ve found someone who cares about you, baby girl.’
Remembering my earlier freak-out at Cam, I felt another rainfall of guilt begin to drop on my head. I had to make it up to him.
‘I would like to see Fiona.’
‘I don’t know if that’s a good idea.’
‘I need to see for myself. She was never the easiest person, but she was my friend.’
I sighed, wondering what kind of drama Mick’s appearance would kick off in my tiny flat. However, the man had flown thousands of miles to see us. I couldn’t say no. ‘All right.’
‘And I’d like to meet Cole.’
‘I don’t how long we’re going to be here, but I’d like to spend as much time as possible with you.’
I threw him a wry but worried grin. ‘That shouldn’t be a problem, since I quit my job today.’
Curled up in Cam’s lap on his couch, I stared at his television in silence.
Uncle Mick and Olivia had left as soon as we returned to Cam’s, and not long after that Cole had arrived home and I’d had to explain everything to him.
Cam had insisted we have dinner with him and when I’d got up to leave so Cole could shower and do his homework, Cam had insisted even harder that we stay. Since I still wasn’t happy leaving Cole alone in the flat with Mum for any length of time, I’d agreed to stay as long as Cole took his shower at Cam’s.
‘You’ve hardly said a word.’ Cam suddenly spoke up, his fingers trailing a lazy caress down my arm. ‘Earlier you said you were happy I contacted them. Are you still happy?’
‘Aye,’ I assured him. ‘I feel a kind of peace knowing that he’s okay. And Olivia seems nice.’ I twisted my neck to look into his eyes. ‘Thank you.’
He shrugged and looked back at the telly. ‘I just want to make you happy.’
My stomach rolled out another somersault. ‘You do.’
‘Really? The earlier drama was definitely just an emotional … female … thing … ?’
I wanted to laugh, but in the end the crap I’d pulled out in the hall wasn’t funny. ‘I’m sorry for doing that. It wasn’t nice. I was pissed off at Meikle and at myself and I twisted it all in my head so I could blame someone else. Someone more accessible to my rage.’
Cam grunted. ‘So naturally that someone is me?’
I stroked his chest affectionately. ‘Sorry.’
He looked down at me carefully. ‘Would this be a bad time to tell you I got a job?’
Taken aback, I pushed up off of him. ‘In graphic design?’
Delight for him surged through me and I found myself grinning like an idiot. ‘Where?’
‘Here. I got my old job back. Their restructuring hasn’t gone over well and they realized they’d left themselves a man short. They can’t handle the workload without another designer. My boss put in a good word for me.’ He shrugged. ‘It’s a gamble to go back with them, but it pays well and I’d be doing what I love to do.’
I leaned into him, placing a soft kiss on his mouth. ‘Cam, I’m so pleased for you. When do you go back?’
‘Monday.’ His arm tightened around me. ‘Su’s unhappy with me for not giving two weeks’ notice, but I can’t risk losing this offer.’
‘Su will manage. I’ll probably take on more shifts.’ My mouth turned down at the thought of working more backshifts.
‘You know, if you took Braden up on his offer this wouldn’t even be a problem.’
‘I said no. I’ll find something. Don’t worry.’
He shifted under me, tensing. ‘You’re so bloody stubborn. You’re always all concerned about Cole and providing for him and making sure he’s going to be okay. I bet half of what happened out in the hall this afternoon was because of him and you feeling like you’d let him down. If you’re so concerned about him, then take a bloody job when it’s offered to you.’
I pulled out of his embrace, my cheeks burning at being spoken down to like that. I stretched out on the other side of the couch and reached over for the television remote, bumping up the volume of the sci-fi programme we were watching. Not only was I annoyed by his tone, but I was annoyed that he was absolutely right.
His weary sigh filled the living room.
‘Fine,’ I grumbled. ‘I’ll call Braden tomorrow.’
Silence greeted me, so I shot him a quick look before focusing back on the television. The overbearing bastard was trying not to smile. ‘Good. I’m glad to hear it.’
‘Are you deliberately trying to be a smug bugger?’
He snorted. ‘How did I go from being the guy who brought your family back together to being a smug bugger? How did we go from cuddling to you sitting as far from me as possible?’ He grabbed my calf. ‘Come back.’
I kicked out at him. ‘Stop it.’
‘Fine, I’ll come to you.’
I squealed as he launched himself over me, pinning me to the sofa. ‘Get off!’ I laughed as he buried his nose in my neck, his fingers tickling my waist.
‘Will you be nice?’ he muttered against my skin.
I pouted. ‘I’m always nice.’
Cam lifted his head and kissed the pout right off my mouth and what had started as playful quickly gained heat. I held him to me, his chest pressing against my sensitive br**sts as he deepened our kiss.
When his h*ps began to thrust gently against me, his hard-on nudging between my legs, I tore my mouth away from his, feeling as if my whole body was going to burst into flames. ‘Don’t,’ I breathed, gripping his h*ps to still his erotic motion. ‘We can’t do anything and I’m horny as hell. Don’t torture me.’
‘Yeah?’ Cam’s grin was wicked as his hand coasted up my waist to cup my breast. He squeezed it, setting off a weird mixture of painful tenderness and a bolt of lust to my sex.
‘My eyes!’ Cole yelled.
Cam and I jerked apart, and I twisted my head to see my brother standing in the doorway in his pyjamas, his hair falling in wet locks across his forehead. His forearm covered his eyes. ‘I’m f**king blind,’ he growled and turned around, bumping into the wall before remembering to drop his arm. After that he stomped out of the flat, the door slamming in his wake.
Horrified, I looked up into Cam’s face, my eyes wide. ‘I think I should let him get away with using the “f” word on this occasion.’
Cam snorted, laughter spluttering as he dropped his head to my chest, his whole body shaking with amusement.
I felt an irrepressible giggle escape me despite my mortification for myself and Cole. ‘It’s not funny. We’ve scarred him. I better check on him.’
Cam shook his head, his eyes bright with mirth. ‘You’re the last person he wants to see right now.’
‘But he’s upstairs with Mum.’
‘I’m sure he’s barricaded himself in his room and is doing anything he can to burn the image of me dry-humping his sister out of his mind.’
‘Why do you have to be right about everything? It’s exceptionally annoying.’
He just smiled.
‘No, I mean it. Either you’re going to have to stop or you’re constantly going to find yourself on the wrong end of the couch.’
‘Good.’ He flashed that heated smile at me again. ‘I like the making-up part.’
I abruptly kissed him hard, liking that answer and too love-fogged to care that he now knew just how much his cockiness could turn me on. When I finally let him up for breath, I brushed my thumb across his mouth, hoping I got to keep that sexy curl of his lip forever and ever. ‘I am grateful for today. For everything. For handling me with care and for going out of your way to bring Uncle Mick to me.’
His eyes lit with affection and sweet tenderness as he searched my face slowly, seeming to memorize each feature. ‘Anytime, baby.’
I cuddled him close and we lay in silence for a few moments. Brushing his hair through my fingers, I asked tentatively, ‘Cam?’
‘I know you said you gave up on the idea of looking for your birth parents, but after seeing what happened today with Mick … are you sure?’
‘That was different.’ His breath whispered across my collarbone. ‘You and Mick had a relationship. I don’t know the people who gave me up. Honestly, I no longer need to know them. I have everything I could ever want for in Anderson and Helena MacCabe. I don’t need reasons or excuses because … well … no matter how good they are, it’s never going to change the fact that I came second to those excuses. They abandoned me. Doesn’t matter if their reasons are logical, practical … it will never change how I felt when I found out the truth. So what’s the point?’