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|Echoes of Scotland Street(On Dublin Street #5)(68) by Samantha Young|
“My sister is here.” I grimaced. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t know. And she won’t leave until she meets you.”
Cole’s features hardened. “I’ll be out when I’m finished with this tat. She can park her arse in the waiting area.”
I nodded and moved to hurry out when he called my name.
“Yeah?” I asked over my shoulder.
“Don’t offer her coffee, water, anything. She’s not welcome here, and the only reason I’m not throwing her out on her arse is you and your brother.”
Uneasiness moved through me, but I gave him a quick jerk of my chin in agreement and hurried out. I had a feeling this meeting wasn’t going to go too well.
* * *
Amanda made a face as I introduced Cole. I’d taken her into his room for some privacy. Cole hadn’t offered her his hand. He’d just given her a nod of his head and pulled me protectively into his side.
I scowled. “Amanda, you two haven’t even exchanged a word yet.”
“Look at him.” She waved her hand at me. “Like he’s going to stick around you for long.”
“What the fuck is that supposed to mean?” Cole snapped.
Amanda snorted and shot me a pointed look. “Charming.”
Impatience sizzled in my blood. I stepped forward. “Amanda, quit it. You’re supposed to give him a fair chance.”
“I don’t need to. Look at him. I think your first instincts were right on this one, Shannon.”
Realization hit me. “You were never going to give him a chance. You like this. You like me being the black sheep.”
She rolled her eyes at me again. “You did that to yourself. You pick these losers. These big nothings—”
I shot toward her so fast she stumbled back in fright. “Don’t you ever call him that,” I hissed, fists clenched at my sides.
“Shannon,” Cole murmured, but I ignored the placation in his tone.
“You don’t know anything about him or me. Why?” I pleaded. “Why are you being like this? I’m trying to fix things because Logan wants his family back, and you’re playing your petty games.”
“I’m not playing. This is serious. This doesn’t look like trying to me.”
I shook my head, feeling immensely sad all of a sudden. “You said you love me, but I’m not sure I believe that. You and me . . . we’ve never gotten along and I still don’t know why you’ve always had it out for me—”
“Oh, for God’s sake! If only you’d been this paranoid about your boyfriends, maybe Logan wouldn’t be in prison.”
I felt Cole’s heat at my back and I pressed a hand out behind me to stop him from saying or doing anything in retaliation. “Cole does not need to prove himself to you or to anyone. Now, you’ve insulted him enough. I want you to leave.”
Face red, eyes suddenly filled with a surprising amount of emotion, Amanda whispered, “I don’t know what you think or why you think it, but I do care about you. I just don’t trust you and I’m trying to save you from making another huge mistake. I’ll never forget what you did to Logan, but I was willing to try to forgive. Please, Shannon. You let me walk out that door, then you’re cut off from this family.”
As I was almost paralyzed by her words, it was only the touch of Cole’s hands on my hips that reached me. Fear of disappointing Logan again kept me from saying anything.
Amanda took my silence as rejection and with wounded eyes and a disapproving grimace she hurried out of the studio before I could figure out how to make it all work.
I felt sick.
Logan wanted one thing from me, one thing, and I’d already mucked it up.
I spent the next few hours trying to push past my emotions and think rationally. I needed to come up with some way of making this situation work out for everyone.
I just didn’t know how.
“Are you going to speak ever again?” Cole said.
He sat across from me at Rae’s kitchen table. Rae was out. After having heard the commotion at work, she’d decided we probably wouldn’t be great company that night. Why she couldn’t just say she was giving us some space, I didn’t know, but that was Rae’s way. You would think being thoughtful was something to be ashamed of the way she tried so hard to hide her considerate side.
“I’m sorry.” I pushed my plate of egg noodles and red Thai chicken away. “I just keep thinking things over and over and I still don’t know what to do.” I bit my lip and then suggested softly, “Perhaps we should take a step back.”
Cole froze for a second before his fork clattered to his plate. “Excuse me?”
I continued thinking out loud. “Just until I breach the distance with my parents. You know . . . ease myself back into the fold, show them I’m trying, and then when they see that, you and I can pick up speed again and they’ll see for themselves what a good guy you are.”
The air in the room turned arctic. I knew immediately I’d made a huge error in judgment by thinking out loud. Anger, incredulity . . . and hurt blazed in Cole’s eyes as he shoved back from the table to tower over it and me. His voice was almost a whisper, it was so choked with emotion. “After everything, after the way they’ve treated you, neglected you, you want to put us on hold to appease them?”
I slid back from my chair, desperately trying to think of a way to calm the situation, to articulate this correctly, because clearly I was messing it up. “No! I mean, just temporarily.”
Wrong thing to say! My eyes widened as his whole being seemed to expand with anger. “You cannot be serious?” he said.
“Cole, please. Try to see it from my perspective. This is my family. And yes, they’re not a great one, but they’re still my family. They’re hurt and scared and I’ve been running from them, it all, for too long. It’s time to fix things. It’s what Logan wants and what I think I need.” I took a step toward him, placation in my eyes. He flinched back from me. I was royally screwing this explanation up. “Cole . . . you of all people have to understand. Your mum was a crap mum, but you never abandoned her. Not completely.”
A muscle flexed in his jaw as he nodded with teeth gritted. Finally he expelled his breath in a hoarse voice. “But I would never have chosen her over you.”