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|Echoes of Scotland Street(On Dublin Street #5)(56) by Samantha Young|
“He’s saving the best until last.” She guffawed. “Do you really think a guy like Cole will end up with a short, scrawny, talentless redhead whose sole ambition in life is to be a great receptionist? No, sweetie. You’re nothing. He’ll fuck you until he’s had his fill and then he’ll dump you.”
Just like that my uncertainty faded away. I laughed. This woman was deluded. She clearly didn’t know Cole at all.
It rang in my head, but it didn’t hurt. Now I looked at her with clarity. I had what Tamara wanted and I knew after the bile that had just spilled out of her that she would never have it.
“Yes.” I smiled and shook my head at her. “Cole’s not saving the best until last, Tamara. He doesn’t want you, because he knows class when he sees it, and you obviously have none.”
Anger glinted in her dark eyes and she had just opened her mouth to retort when loud clapping from the back of the studio drew both our gazes. Stu was leaning against the doorway there, watching us. He stopped clapping and approached us slowly, his blue eyes fixated on Tamara.
I’d never seen Stu with an unfriendly expression on his face before.
He was beyond intimidating.
“I’ve never had the patience for bitches. Get out of my studio.”
Tamara flushed. “Stu—”
There was almost a gust of wind upon Tamara’s departure, she moved so fast.
I stared up at Stu wide-eyed. “What was that all about? I felt like I was stuck in some bad fairy tale.”
He chuckled and relaxed against the counter. “Tamara has been sniffing after Cole for years. He’s told her more than once that nothing was going to happen between them, and I think he thought she understood that.” He glanced at the door where she’d just left. “You were right, sweetheart. Cole knows class.” He smiled at me now. “You’re it. She’s not.”
I smiled gratefully. “After watching her strut in and then run out of here on the longest legs I’ve ever seen, I really needed to hear that. Thank you.”
Stu threw his head back in deep, bellowing laughter, startling his next customer as she walked in the door.
* * *
I was sitting out on the balcony of my flat, my feet up on a stool, my sketch pad balanced on my knees, and I was using charcoals to draw the street below me. In my usual style, I utilized colors that reflected the way I saw the street and its energy, rather than the colors visible to my eyes.
It was close to the back of eight o’clock and I knew I’d be losing the light in an hour or so. I wanted to finish it tonight because I’d be hanging out with Cole tomorrow upon his return from Germany.
The sound of the front door to the flat slamming made me frown. Rae had told me she was hanging out with Simon and Tony tonight.
“Did you forget something?” I yelled, looking into the sitting room, awaiting her appearance.
I nearly fell off my seat when Cole walked into the room.
Delighted to see him, I forgot all about my drawing. I dumped it on the stool and hurried inside to greet him. “You’re early.” I grinned and launched myself at him.
Cole wrapped his arms around me and I inhaled him, ridiculously glad to see him even though he’d only been gone for two nights.
I was surprised then when he suddenly stopped hugging me, gripped me by the elbows, and pushed me back. My stomach flipped at the sight of his scowl.
“Was there something you forgot to tell me on the phone last night?”
Confused, I shook my head.
This pissed him off more than he already was. “Think,” he bit out.
“I’m thinking,” I snapped back, jerking my arms from his grip. “Hello to you too!”
“Don’t,” he warned. “I had to find out from Stu that my so-called friend accosted my girlfriend, rather than hearing that shit from the person who should have told me . . . aka my girlfriend.”
“Dammit,” I huffed, cursing Stu for telling Cole about Tamara. I hadn’t wanted to make a big deal out of it, because in the end it wasn’t a big deal. “Cole, it was nothing.”
Cole crossed his arms over his chest and I watched his biceps flex. My stomach flipped again—and this flip was much nicer than the previous one. “She verbally attacked you and got in your face about our relationship. Something that has absolutely fuck all to do with her. Something she’s now very aware of since I called her half an hour ago and told her to stay out of my life permanently. No one does that to you, especially when I’m not there to protect you.”
“Good.” I was relieved. More than that I was gratified Cole was taking our relationship so seriously. “Thank you.”
“You don’t get it.”
Why he was still angry with me? “Clearly not.”
Suddenly I was pulled into his body as he wrapped his arms around my waist and held me tight to him. He looked down at me, surprisingly intense. “It hasn’t been easy to get you to this point, Shannon. I don’t need someone coming in and messing with your head and filling it with nonsense about me all over again. And the fact that you hid it from me . . . Well, that tells me you let her get to you. You’re letting her mess with your head. You’re shutting me out again.”
I grinned and then laughed at the immediate annoyance and confusion that sparked in Cole’s expressive eyes. His hold loosened and I fisted my hands in his shirt to stop him from stepping away from me. “You’re wrong. I didn’t tell you because it really was no big deal. Don’t get me wrong. At first what with her being all hot and leggy, I was a little worried she might be right. However, that thought was fleeting. She doesn’t know either of us well enough to form an opinion. I’m starting to realize my own worth again, Cole. And you’re an honest guy. If you wanted to be with Tamara, you would be.” I bit my lip, smiling suggestively as I pressed my hips into his body. “Fortunately for me you have a blind spot when it comes to a short redhead with plenty of attitude and an insatiable libido.”
Cole’s lips twitched. “An insatiable libido?”
“You have no idea.” I smoothed my hands over his hard chest, feeling the tingling sensation grow between my legs. “And fortunately for you I have a blind spot when it comes to a tall, hot tattooist who jumps to conclusions.”