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|Echoes of Scotland Street(On Dublin Street #5)(67) by Samantha Young|
“Look.” I drew her annoyed gaze from Dad to me. “I explained about me and Cole. I was just as suspicious and wary of him as anyone who has been through what I’ve been through would be. But he’s a good guy. He’s the one that’s believed in me. He’s gotten me here. He’s gotten me to face Logan.”
The panic gripping my chest was unbearable. I wanted to run from the house—and from that feeling—but I couldn’t because I’d bloody well promised. So I had to face my family’s response and I had to convince them I wasn’t making a mistake in dating Cole.
“I want to meet him.” Amanda glared at me. “I can come to Edinburgh and I’ll decide.”
“You’ll decide what?”
“If he’s a decent guy or another one of your losers.”
“And what the hell would you know about a decent guy, Amanda? You’re twenty-eight years old and you’ve never been in a serious relationship.”
She sucked in her breath, hurt flaring in her eyes.
“Shannon,” Mum warned. “If you want us to start over we need to know you aren’t going to bring a whole new load of trouble into your life and, subsequently, ours. We’re not going through this again. Your brother hasn’t finished dealing with the consequences of your last disastrous romance.”
“It’s not up to you to judge Cole,” I continued to argue, hating the idea of anyone believing he somehow had to prove himself. “He deserves better than that.”
Amanda grunted. “No offense, but you’re not exactly known for being able to distinguish a good guy from a loser. You want us to mend fences. Then you’ll introduce us.”
* * *
Reconnecting with Logan ended up burning out something inside me that I’d gotten so used to I hadn’t even realized it shouldn’t be there. Until it was gone.
It was this emptiness in my gut. A horrible space that couldn’t be filled no matter how happy Cole and my new life in Edinburgh made me. It was a feeling that had grown to become a part of me, so much so I’d grown resigned to the idea of it always being there.
It had disappeared. With such sweet, sweet relief, that emptiness was gone.
The remorse was a different story. That might never go away and it certainly wouldn’t be going anywhere anytime soon. Not as long as my brother was in prison. Maybe once he got out I’d have a fighting chance at battling that guilt, but for now it was a part of me, and yes, I was reconciled to that no matter my brother or anyone else’s reassurances.
After talking round in circles with my family, I’d left them with my contact details and told them that we could talk once we’d all slept on it. Then I went straight to Cole and cried in his arms until I fell asleep.
The next day I told him everything that had gone down and he listened without interruption. But I could feel the tension mounting around him.
He was pissed off at my family.
“You don’t have to deal with that shit,” he had said. “Not after the way they’ve treated you.”
“But I do,” I’d insisted. “I have to do this for Logan.”
For now we were agreeing to disagree. As were Rae and I. I’d told her everything too and she was of the same mind as Cole. And although Cole did agree to meet Logan (I’d already arranged for us to go in a couple of weeks on our day off), I discovered upon my arrival at work that not only was Cole being a little distant, but Rae was too.
“This is going to be a fun day,” I muttered after having had the coffee I’d handed each of them snatched out of my hands without even a thank-you. With Cole I knew it was because he’d gone inside his own head to brood over the matter. With Rae it was because she was just really annoyed at me.
Thankfully, as always, we were busy on a Saturday and I could pretend Cole’s quietness was due to his professionalism.
However, I knew with sinking dread in my stomach that all the pretending was about to fly out of the shop door when my sister opened it and stepped inside.
Frozen to the spot in surprise, I watched as her eyes roamed the tattoo studio, her upper lip curled in distaste. Amanda was pretty much my opposite. She hated tattoos, piercings, hair dye, or anything that modified your body from its natural state. She didn’t have a creative bone in her body and she’d never felt the need to enhance or change anything about herself or express who she was through her appearance.
She equated body modification with a deficiency of character.
Amanda finally caught sight of me standing behind the reception desk, and, ignoring the people sitting in the waiting area, she strode over to me with her eyebrow quirked. “This is the famous INKarnate?”
Feeling defensive, I stiffened. “Yes.”
She rolled her eyes. “Only you would think working at a place like this was cool.”
“No, actually hundreds of people would. It’s well respected for its art and it pays well because it gets a lot of business.”
She harrumphed and waved my comment away. “Look, I’m here because we all agree we want you back in our lives. You may have it in your silly little noggin that we could give a shit, but that’s not true, Shannon. We love you. We just . . . We know what you’re like. You have bad judgment. I’m here to make you see some sense.”
I’d gone from being amazed that she’d said the L-word to being indignant at her condescension. “I told you we’d discuss this. You can’t just walk in here, expecting to pass judgment on Cole. One, you just can’t. And two, he’s working. It’s a Saturday. We’re really busy.”
“I just want to meet him. I’m not going anywhere until I do.” She smirked. “Or don’t you want to make good on that promise to Logan?”
I gritted my teeth in frustration. Sometimes my sister was just pure evil. “Wait there.”
I hurried into the back, knocking on Cole’s door.
“Come in,” he called over the buzz of the needle.
I opened the door to find him tattooing a very detailed Minotaur onto a wannabe biker chick’s arm. Her name was Vik and she was a regular. She’d come in for a tattoo way back when I first started working at the studio, and she’d been three other times since then.
Cole looked up at me and stilled at the sight of my expression. “What’s wrong?”