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|Echoes of Scotland Street(On Dublin Street #5)(37) by Samantha Young|
“It looks wonderful.” Tony nodded his approval. “Very sexy.”
“Agreed.” Simon smiled.
“Thanks.” I smiled weakly. Already needing some distance from Cole, whose ludicrously delicious aftershave was driving me nuts, I asked if anyone wanted a drink. Rae, however, stole my getaway by insisting on buying the round.
“So, I’m meeting Tony’s mother for the first time,” Simon announced. “Please tell me one of you is getting married, having life-threatening surgery, a baby, or some big-ass event on June twentieth?”
Tony scowled. “You are not getting out of this, Sy. Mama is very traditional and she needs to know that her darling child is being taken care of by a man.” He frowned. “I’ve spent two years telling her you’re all man and now you’re acting like a little girl. Where are your bloody balls?”
Simon shrugged. “They jumped up inside me at the mention of in-laws.”
Cole and I burst out laughing, sitting quietly, entertained by Simon and Tony as they argued. When Rae returned she regaled Tony with less than helpful stories of her encounters with Mike’s straitlaced mother. The whole time I sat there in silence, aware every time Cole reached for his pint or shifted infinitesimally closer to me.
I kept glancing out of the corner of my eye, my gaze roaming his tattooed forearm, before fixating on the chunky Indian silver ring on his big hand.
Not only was I hyperaware of Cole’s body; I was painfully aware of my own. My lips, my tongue, my breasts, the insistent throb between my legs . . .
It was ridiculous. And it had never happened to me before, so I didn’t know how to deal with it. Finally I got an excuse to move away from Cole when it was my turn to buy a round of drinks. Walking over to the bar, I took a deep breath and attempted to mentally coax myself out of the desirous stupor I was in.
I’d only been standing at the bar a few seconds when a bartender freed up and took my drinks order. I was in the middle of trying to think of ways to resist the attraction to Cole when I felt eyes on me. I turned my head to the right and found two guys around my age, maybe a little older, smiling at me. Although I glanced away quickly, my noticing them seemed to invite their attention.
They slid their drinks down the bar and came to a stop at my side. I very deliberately ignored them. It didn’t deter them.
“Having a nice night?” the one closest to me said.
“I’m Gordon. This is my mate Barry. What’s your name?”
I didn’t answer because I didn’t want to encourage them. As it was I could feel their eyes crawling all over me. I was wearing jeans and my olive green cami and matching cardy. My makeup was subtle, and I was wearing flat-heeled boots. There was nothing about my appearance that screamed I was out on the town. I had no idea why I’d attracted their attention, and frankly I didn’t care. There was nothing that turned me off more than guys who sat at bars and constantly hit on anything that moved. There was a desperation about it, a soullessness, that the romantic in me revolted against.
“Oh, come on, we’re harmless, sweetheart,” the other one said.
I frowned. “I’m not interested.”
The one farther away shrugged and began to retreat, but his friend actually moved closer to me. “Sounds like you’re having a bad day. I’m a really good listener.”
Eh . . . apparently not.
I snorted. “All evidence to the contrary.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means I’m not interested.”
He laughed, like I’d said something funny. My eyebrows drew together in confusion.
“You look like that actress,” he said, shifting even closer. “That Australian actress. You look like her when she was younger. I had the biggest hard-on for her.”
Before I could follow up my look of disgust with a verbal “get lost,” a sudden heat engulfed me and a shadow fell over me. Two strong, tattooed arms caged me in as they came to rest on the bar at either side of mine, and a hard chest pressed against my back
I relaxed immediately and glanced up over my shoulder at Cole’s handsome face. Currently it was turned away from me as he glowered at the persistent barfly.
Although the friend instantly backed up even farther than he already had done, the “good listener” just stared dumbly at Cole.
Cole raised an eyebrow at him. “Which part of this doesn’t say ‘fuck off’ to you?”
The idiot studied Cole for a moment as if he was considering ignoring him, and then his brain finally seemed to compute what his eyes were telling him. Cole was bigger and much, much scarier than he was. He lowered his gaze. “Sorry, mate. Didn’t know she was taken.”
He shuffled off down the bar, already searching the pub for a new target.
Cole bent his head, his lips brushing my ear. “You okay?”
Unable to form a coherent sentence with him pressed up against me, I nodded.
Seeming to sense that, Cole hesitated a second. “Am I making you uncomfortable?”
My pulse raced with that feeling of anticipation I’d had earlier. “Yes. But not like you think.”
I heard his sharp intake of breath and braced myself.
His lips were at my ear again. “Do you want me, Shannon?”
My legs began to tremble. “Yes.”
Cole exhaled, as though he was relieved, and to my surprise he buried his nose in the crook of my neck, relaxing into me. The scratch of the bristle on his cheeks against my skin caused tingling in all my feminine places. He breathed me in and lifted his head just as the bartender served up the drinks.
It broke the moment between us.
Cole stepped away from me and I shivered at the loss of his heat.
To my confusion Cole didn’t say another word as I paid for the drinks and we returned to the table.
He sat next to me, drinking his pint like nothing had happened. I stewed in uncertainty, ignoring our friends’ questioning looks (they’d obviously seen our interaction at the bar) and sipping my drink. Tony didn’t take long to dispel the awkwardness by launching into a story about a biker bar he once went to in Glasgow.
I tried to pay attention, laughing at all the right bits, but it was difficult.
After I finished the last sip of my rum and Coke, I put my empty glass on the table and wondered how rude it would be to leave early.