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|Echoes of Scotland Street(On Dublin Street #5)(53) by Samantha Young|
His body shook with gentle laughter. “Good guess.”
I realized then that yes, Cole might have more confidence in us as a couple, in our ability to pursue a relationship, but that didn’t mean he was taking control from me. If anything we were both at the mercy of each other. That, I could deal with. I think I could deal with anything as long as we were always on equal footing.
“Y our next appointment has arrived.”
Cole looked up from the folios on his desk. He smiled at the sight of me clinging to the doorframe. “Don’t run off.” He gestured for me to come inside.
“What is it?” My eyes were drawn to his artwork as I strode into his workroom.
“I want to ask you something.” He startled me by hauling me into his arms.
I gripped at his biceps and laughed in surprise. “What are you doing?”
Cole’s green eyes glittered. “Kissing you.” And then he was.
Reluctantly I pulled back. “We can’t do that here,” I admonished. “You have a very busy schedule, Cole Walker.”
His answer was to run his nose along my jaw and squeeze my waist. “I know,” he groaned. “But I can’t get the taste of you off my tongue. It’s driving me nuts.”
I giggled and pushed him away. “Then stop kissing me.”
With a wolfish grin Cole shook his head. “Not a fucking chance.”
Pleased, I smiled. “Then at least have some willpower. Come on, your client awaits.”
I had to stifle my laughter as he followed me with a comical, petulant twist to his lips. Out in the studio I led him to the waiting area where a tall, slender brunette with lip and eyebrow piercings was waiting for him. She lit up at the sight of Cole and I determinedly squashed my annoyance at her hungry eyes.
“This is Renee. Renee, this is Cole.”
“Hi, Renee.” Cole held out his hand congenially as the young woman stood up to shake it.
“Well, hello there,” she flirted.
At this point I’d usually return to behind my desk and let Cole get on with it, but I was too busy being nosy as well as trying to lock down my possessiveness.
Cole ignored her flirtation, keeping his face perfectly blank. “Do you have any idea what you’re after or would you like to look through my portfolio?”
Renee pulled out a folded-up piece of paper and handed it to him. I craned my neck to have a look as Cole unfolded it. A flamingo. Renee shrugged at Cole’s curious look. “My friend drew it for me. I’ve got a thing for Alice in Wonderland and I thought this was a subtle way to go.” She took a step closer and slid a hand provocatively over her stomach and hipbone. “I want it on my hip. Right here.”
Oh, great. So she’d have her trousers half off.
Cole slanted me a look out of the corner of my eye, and he must have caught wind of my annoyance, because his lips twitched as though he thought this was funny.
I turned away in a huff and busied myself behind the reception desk, ignoring them as Cole led her into his room.
I rolled my eyes when I heard her very loud exclamation, “Oh, that’s the biggest gun I’ve ever seen.”
Was she kidding with that crap?
Infuriated, I could barely concentrate on my work. This was something I knew I needed to get used to. Cole was good-looking. Women were going to come on to him. I had to learn to deal with it.
“Are you sure you’re okay? You look a bit queasy,” I heard Simon say as he entered the studio.
I glanced up to see him leading a young woman toward me and she did indeed look very pale. She’d gotten her belly button pierced. Disappearing into the closet behind me where we’d put in a counter with a new coffeemaker we all could operate along with a fridge, I opened the latter and pulled out a piece of chocolate from my stash.
“Shannon, Jen here is ready to pay up.”
I smiled at her and handed her some chocolate. “That might help.”
Her fingers trembled as she took it from me. “Thanks.”
After she paid I watched as Simon, ever the gentleman, walked her to the door. He offered to let her sit in our waiting area until she felt better, but she seemed adamant to get gone. Once the door shut behind her he turned to me with a sigh. “That reaction seemed to come out of nowhere. She’s got her nose and ears pierced and never had a problem with it.”
“She’ll be fine.”
Simon leaned over my desk. “Any chance I could nick a bit of chocolate?”
Grinning at the boyish look he gave me, I retrieved chocolate for both of us. Simon finished eating his piece, watching me as I chewed on mine. Finally he said, “So, any chance you and Cole will be coming out from the lovers’ nest to join the rest of the world again? Tony misses you both.”
It was true for the last two weeks Cole and I had been a little preoccupied with each other. We’d moved into a new stage in our relationship, though, and admittedly we were both a little addicted. At least, I assumed Cole was as addicted as I was.
I frowned, thinking about the flirty, cocky brunette he was right now putting his ink on. “Drinks this Friday?”
“Not if it’s a cause for annoyance.” Simon gestured to my frown.
“Oh no, that’s not why.” I heaved a sigh and lowered my voice. “Cole’s customer might as well have stripped naked on the couch and offered herself to him. She’s getting a tattoo on her hip.”
Simon grimaced. “He gets that sometimes.”
“Why are some women so blatant? They don’t even think that he might have a girlfriend.”
Now my friend was grinning. “And does he . . . I mean are you officially his girlfriend?”
“You know, for someone so alpha you really are a gossip queen.”
“Don’t avoid the question.”
I hadn’t actually admitted to anyone other than Cole that we were in fact in a relationship. Announcing it to the world made it seem more real. It would be so much harder to deal with the repercussions if we fell apart knowing that there would be witnesses to my stupidity if I ever turned out to be wrong about Cole.
But I wasn’t wrong.
“Yes, I’m his girlfriend. Happy?”
Simon chuckled. “I’m sure Cole is.”
We were silent a moment, Simon scrutinizing me as I chewed my lip in thought. “Simon?”