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|Echoes of Scotland Street(On Dublin Street #5)(64) by Samantha Young|
I heard the amusement in his voice. “And what’s that?”
“You give the best hugs in the world.”
He squeezed me tighter and chuckled. “What’s number one and two?”
“Two is your ability to bring me to orgasm every single time we do it.”
Cole laughed outright at that, and I heard the masculine pleasure in his voice. “And one?”
I shook my head. “One is too cheesy. Just know it’s a good one.” I pulled out of his embrace and sighed. “I’ll visit my brother this Thursday.” I pressed my hand to my stomach and blew air out between my lips on a shaky exhale. “Oh hell, I feel like upchucking just at the thought of it.”
Cole took my hand and began leading me back to Hannah’s room. “Upchuck if you need to. Just give me some warning first.”
We were about to enter the room when Cole halted me with a look. I lifted a hand to stop him from saying what I knew he was about to say. “I’ll tell you number one when I’m drunk. I’m mushy when I’m drunk.”
He grinned and nudged me inside. “Good to know.”
* * *
Cole and I were lying in bed. He’d just made love to me in that slow, tender way of his that melted all my insides. Afterward he’d curled me into his side, my head resting on his chest, our legs tangled together. Cole didn’t like to sleep without some part of me touching him.
I knew he was close to drifting off, because the rhythm of his breathing had changed, but I didn’t think I could hold it in until morning.
Butterflies flurried in my stomach. “I contacted my brother.”
Just like that, Cole was instantly alert, his body tensing against mine. “And?”
“He’s only allowed four visits a month. He was supposed to be catching up with a friend, but he said I can come instead.”
“You spoke to him?”
“Not him directly. It’s all arranged. Visiting hours on Thursday at quarter to three.”
He caressed my arm gently, making soothing circles on my skin with his fingertips. “How do you feel?”
“Like I want to cry every five seconds.”
“Then cry, Shortcake.”
Instead of letting go of the tears, I whispered, “I’ve decided I don’t need to be drunk to tell you what number one is.”
He waited silently.
“It’s your ability to make me a better me. I want to be the person you see in me.”
“Shortcake,” he breathed, pulling me closer.
“You should also know I’ll never be able to look at shortcake the same way again.”
I felt his body shake with laughter—and for a little while the anxiety over seeing my brother was diminished.
* * *
I stared at the redbrick visitor center.
I was close to losing my breakfast.
Cole had made me shove down some toast and eggs this morning, but I’d refused to eat lunch. Good thing too or I think I’d definitely be losing it outside the prison.
My supportive and anxious boyfriend had really wanted to join me in Glasgow. He was going to wait outside in the car park while I visited with Logan, but I’d declined his offer. It wasn’t that I didn’t want him there, but I needed to do this myself.
There was a huge possibility I was going to walk into that visitor room and have the only other person on the whole planet that I adored tell me he hated me and he’d never forgive me. I’d been running from that fear, that consequence, since the judge passed down his sentence. It was time to be brave and face it, even if it meant losing my big brother forever.
However, it was much, much harder than even I’d anticipated.
I knew I had Cole waiting back in Edinburgh for me and with him the promise of this beautiful family who were there for one another like families should be. Yet that promise, no matter how much it wanted to offer itself to me as a balm against the possibility of losing Logan, was never going to do that. Gaining them didn’t mean losing Logan wouldn’t break my heart.
I had so many cracks in my heart . . . I wasn’t sure it would handle another without shattering into a million unglueable pieces.
A child’s laughter jerked me out of my maudlin thoughts, and I watched as a young mother carried her happy child inside the building.
It was time to suck it up.
“And you have no more than ten pounds in cash on you?” the prison officer asked me at security check-in.
I pulled out my purse, my hands shaking. “Uh, yes.”
“I’ll need to take your purse along with your phone.” He took it and gave me a ticket to retrieve my things when I was leaving.
Before I stepped into the visitor room, I had to pause. The chaotic fluttering in my stomach swarmed into a panic in my chest and I felt a rush of breathless dizziness. I braced my hands on my knees and bowed my head, taking in air through my nose and releasing it slowly through my mouth.
“Miss, are you okay?”
I glanced up through my hair at the prison officer standing at the entrance of the room. I straightened and smoothed trembling fingers over my dry lips. I let out another puff of air. “Yeah. I’ll be fine.”
His look of concern told me he wasn’t convinced, so I threw back my shoulders with more determination and assurance than I felt and took those first steps into the large room.
There were about forty tables and a small play area near the entrance where kids were supervised. Three seats were placed in front of each table, and only one opposite them for the prisoner.
My eyes swept the room, coming to a stop along with my heart at the sight of my brother. He stared across the room, his expression hard.
Somehow my jellified limbs took me over to him and I slipped into the seat opposite him, just staring at him, drinking everything in.
He looked different.
His dark hair, which had always been wavy like mine, was shorn close to his head, accentuating the sharp cheekbones and cut jawline he’d inherited from Dad. Once clean-shaven, he now looked rugged and older with the short beard he’d grown. Violet eyes, just like mine, pierced into me beneath his dark lashes. Although he’d always been fit, I could see in the breadth of his shoulders and chest that he’d packed on quite a bit of muscle since he went inside.
He looked tired; he looked grim.
He looked hardened.
I couldn’t even begin to imagine the things he’d seen and the people he’d been forced to be around.