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|Echoes of Scotland Street(On Dublin Street #5)(48) by Samantha Young|
I snorted and lay back down. “That’s Rae and Mike.”
The look of horror on his sleepy face was so comical I burst out laughing.
The grunting and squealing immediately stopped. Something pounded against the wall between Rae’s and my room. “Shut the fuck up!” her muffled shout echoed through.
That set us both off. I snuggled into Cole, burying my giggles in his throat as he shook with his own choked laughter.
And just like that, my nightmare and worries were temporarily forgotten.
A t the press of a gentle touch on my lower back, I found myself inhaling the scent of Cole’s cologne.
“I thought you could come over to my place tonight once I finish up at judo,” he murmured in my ear.
I moved away from him, bending my head closer to the file I was working on. I’d almost completed the digitization of Stu’s filing system. If I didn’t have to endure too many distractions, I would be finished in a week or so. Cole didn’t take my “I’m busy. I don’t want you touching me” hint. The studio was quiet, and there was no one around to witness him crowding me against the reception desk.
“Shannon,” he said, his voice a warning as his fingers gripped my hips.
I ignored the flush of arousal I felt at his touch. In fact, I was trying to ignore everything about him these days.
True to his word, Cole contacted a tutor at the College of Art inquiring about my chances of being accepted into a BA degree course for painting. She was kind enough to send me information on the kind of portfolio I’d need to put together for submission into the program as well as information on the student loan system. I was going to miss the deadline for that year, but after discussing it with Cole and being infected by his enthusiasm, I decided I was going to work on a portfolio over the next nine months that I would use, along with my high school qualifications, to apply for admission into next year’s program.
Cole also outed me to Rae and Simon, and Rae insisted I use the sitting room to work in since there was more space and we had the view from the balcony. I was blown away by all their support, but mostly by Cole, who seemed more than determined to erase all the negativity Ollie had left me with.
His seeming dedication to making me happy scared the utter crap out of me. That was why when most girlfriends—not that I was his girlfriend—would be lavishing gratitude and affection on him, I grew distant. It wasn’t even intentional. The need to protect myself was instinctual. At first I didn’t even realize I was doing it.
It started with little things . . . like not meeting his eyes when we were talking at work and finding ways to let go of his hand whenever he reached for mine. Then I began to make excuses not to go home with him, and for him not to come home with me. Two nights a week he went to judo, and another two he went to kickboxing. In the past I’d meet him at his place after he’d finished up, but now I was using the classes as an excuse for us to spend the nights apart.
Cole had been patient.
I didn’t know how long that was going to last. There was a possibility that his patience had just snapped.
“I’m working on the Royal Mile piece right now.” I hurried to excuse myself from his company that evening. “Another time.”
“Rae says you’ve finished it.”
“Well . . . I’m tired because of it. I think I’ll just have a quiet night in tonight.” I tensed, waiting for his reaction.
His reaction was to hug me and kiss my temple. “Okay. But you’ve got the day off on Sunday. Simon’s covering for me so I can take you to lunch at Elodie and Clark’s.”
Like he sensed my imminent refusal, he continued. “I’ve already told Elodie you’re coming, so she’s planned accordingly. She’s also told everyone else. Hannah is really looking forward to seeing you, and Joss was hoping you would beta-read a few chapters in her new book while we’re there.”
I turned around in his arms and found him trying to quell a smirk. He’d completely outplayed me and he knew it. Cole grinned at my scowl and edged closer to me. My breathing stuttered at the feel of his hand on my thigh. He slid it up under my skirt, his fingertips caressing the soft skin of my inner thigh as his hand traveled higher.
“Cole,” I gasped, and reached for his hand only for him to grab it with his other and press my palm against his chest.
He bent his head, bringing our bodies closer and his hand even higher up my skirt as he kissed my neck. I shivered as those kisses were scattered upward until his teeth were nibbling at my ear. “About tonight . . . ,” he whispered, and his fingers dipped beneath my underwear. “Are you sure you’re too tired?”
My hips jerked in surprise at the touch of his cool thumb on my clit. Heat and shock held me against him as he played with me in broad daylight in the studio. “Cole,” I panted, my fingers curling around his shirt. My whole body was flushed and my thighs were trembling as I pressed my hips into his touch.
His lips brushed against mine, teasing me. “I’ll take that as a ‘no, I’m not too tired.’”
Senseless with want, I wrapped my hands behind his head and tugged him back down for a real kiss as my climax grew nearer.
I came with a breathless moan against his lips, my lower body jerking against him.
Cole groaned, slipping his hand out from beneath my skirt to smooth it back down. He kissed me again, his hands soothing and comforting as they glided down my waist and around my back.
Finally I came back to myself. I stiffened. I’d just let him bring me to orgasm in a public place and I hadn’t done anything to stop him. Honestly I’d been mindless to have him.
So much for distancing myself from him. Or making up my mind about what I wanted.
I was such a mess.
* * *
Settling the last page on the small pile of chapters, I looked up at Joss, who was sitting at a dressing table in the corner. We were in the nursery at Elodie and Clark Nichols’s house and Joss had been waiting impatiently as I read through the first three chapters of her latest manuscript.
“I know it’s different from anything I’ve ever done before.”
“Yes.” I nodded seriously. Then I grinned. “But I love it.”
Joss stood up, her gray eyes hard to read. “Really?”
“Definitely.” I handed her the chapters. “It’s still got your signature style—the dark humor, the earthiness, the somehow unsentimental sentiment. But you’ve added action and mystery and grit and intrigue. I love it. I can’t wait to read the rest.”