|Home > Samantha Young > On Dublin Street Series > Echoes of Scotland Street (Page 42)|
|Echoes of Scotland Street(On Dublin Street #5)(42) by Samantha Young|
“I want to rub myself up against a scratching post,” I complained to Cole as we entered his flat later that evening with Chinese takeout in hand.
He smirked as I followed him into the kitchen. “Please don’t. You’ll ruin all my hard work.”
“I won’t. I just want to.”
“It’s healing. The itchiness will go away. You just need to persevere.” He lifted up his kettle. “Coffee?”
As he walked over to the sink I noticed he was a little stiff. He grimaced and pulled his shoulders back on a groan.
“Are you okay?”
He glanced over his shoulder at me. “Hunching over for a five-hour tattoo always pisses my back off.”
It occurred to me I hadn’t even thought about how physically uncomfortable Cole’s job could be. Feeling like a shitty nongirlfriend that I hadn’t considered this, I immediately thought of a way I could help. “I could give you a massage if you want. Years ago I had this friend Caro and when she was training to be a masseuse I was her guinea pig. I picked up a few things.”
“You don’t have to do that.” He threw me a tired smile as he walked back to put the kettle on.
“I want to.” I put the unopened takeout on the table. “Dinner can wait.” I left the kitchen, glad to hear his footsteps following behind me. Once in his bedroom, I pulled down the duvet and pointed to the mattress. “Shirt off. Lie on your stomach.” As Cole did as I said I went looking for moisturizer in the bathroom.
Finding it among other girlie stuff in the back of his bathroom cabinet, I felt a burn inside me that I could have likened to jealousy if I wasn’t so sure Cole and I weren’t ever going to be serious.
In the bedroom, Cole lay on his stomach, head on his arms. The sight of his broad shoulders and muscular back caused a little flip in my lower belly. Kicking off my shoes, I climbed onto the bed and straddled him.
“I like this already,” Cole murmured.
I tapped some moisturizer onto my palms and rubbed them together. “Did you live here with a woman?”
I felt him tense beneath me. “Yes. Why?”
“There’s still some girlie toiletries in your bathroom cabinet.”
“There is? I’ll get rid of them if it bothers you.”
“No. I was just curious.” I began to work gently at the muscles in his neck and shoulders first. The low groan he emitted shot straight between my legs and I squeezed my eyes closed. This was not a sexy massage. Cole was in real discomfort. I was helping him. Dirty thoughts back into the gutter, please.
“Her name was Elena.” He sighed, his whole body relaxing under my touch. “We split up eight months ago.”
Ignoring the sharp object that seemed to have lodged itself in my chest, I went for a casual tone. “What happened?” Shannon, you are clearly a glutton for punishment.
“We dated for nine months, lived together for three of those. First time I’ve ever lived with a girlfriend. It was a disaster.”
“Why?” I held my breath, hoping despite higher reasoning that Cole had no lingering feelings for this Elena person. Rae had not told me about an Elena person, and that, in itself, caused me concern. Had she broken Cole’s heart so badly no one talked about it? Crap.
“We weren’t really compatible. You really get to know someone—” He groaned again as I found the knot that was bothering him. I began to gently work it out. “Feels good, Shortcake.” His eyelashes fluttered closed and I almost growled in frustration.
“You were saying,” I prompted, trying to sound casual.
“Mmm? Oh yeah, Elena. Yeah, you get to know someone when you live with her. She discovered that she couldn’t deal with someone as laid-back as I am—apparently it means I don’t care enough—and I discovered she was a bitch. She talked about her friends behind their backs and was always making negative remarks about people, even strangers on the street. It was when she started in on Hannah that I’d had enough.”
I couldn’t imagine anyone being mean to Hannah. She was so lovely. “Why would she start on Hannah?”
Cole grinned. “You like Hannah, don’t you?”
“Eh, yeah. She’s a pregnant superwoman. She’s a teacher, she’s a mum, she’s a stepmum, she’s a wife, and she’s smart and organized and caring and somehow manages to be all those things while looking absolutely amazing. I kind of want to be Hannah.”
He chuckled. “As nice as that it is, I like you just the way you are.”
I grew quiet at the compliment and stopped to put more moisturizer on my hands.
“Anyway,” Cole continued, “all of my girlfriends have had an issue with my friendship with Hannah. Elena never seemed bothered by it until one day . . . she just was. She started making underhand comments about Hannah, and then accusing me of being in love with her, until I couldn’t take it anymore. We broke up.”
I started massaging him again. I was relieved, but I really wished I didn’t feel that way. Relief suggested real feelings were involved here. I shrugged the relief off. “It might have seemed out of the blue to you, but these things rarely are. Someone probably made a comment and she twisted it into something irrational. I’d take a guess it was one of her friends.”
“Yeah.” I curled my lip in annoyance. “Girls are idiots. Especially when it comes to attractive women. One of her friends probably got a look at Hannah and how gorgeous she is and then said something about you two until it made Elena paranoid about your friendship.”
“Fuck. You’re probably right,” he grumbled. “Why do women do that?”
“Pfft, don’t ask me. They confuse the heck out of me most of the time too.”
“Makes them interesting, though.”
I laughed. “If you say so.”
“You confuse the hell out of me,” he said. “But I’m enjoying it so far.”
“Cole Walker, the patience of a saint.”
“Is that what they’ll put on my gravestone?”
“That and ‘tattooist by day and time-traveling immortal highlander by night,’” I teased.
His body shook with amusement beneath mine. “You never did dye your hair pink.”
“Ach, it has sentimental value. It’s the only thing I have in common with my mum.” I quirked an eyebrow. “On second thought, maybe I should dye it.”