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|Echoes of Scotland Street(On Dublin Street #5)(71) by Samantha Young|
To my growing annoyance, Dad still looked unconvinced.
“Why did you come here if you weren’t going to hear me out?”
“I came here in the hopes that you’d hear me out.” He stood up and threw money on the table to cover his coffee. “We’ll be there for you, sweetheart, as long as you leave the baggage behind. Come home and start over again. Not just for us, but for yourself.”
* * *
“I’m guessing from that look on your face the meeting with dear old Dad didn’t go well.” Rae kicked off her shoes, only to pull on her boots. “So much for the packed bags, huh?”
I glowered at her, confused by her comment, but too focused on one thing to question it. “I just tried calling Cole again. Did you tell him I’ve been trying to contact him?”
“We were kind of busy at work today. He was getting back into the swing of things after his week off.”
Chest aching, I couldn’t hold back my tears. “I didn’t mean to hurt him. Why won’t he let me explain?”
Her eyes flared with anger. “Because after everything, you chose your family over him. You chose people who turned their backs on a daughter who’d just been sexually assaulted and hospitalized. What the fuck does it say about how you feel about Cole that you’d choose them?”
Horror shot through me. “Is that what he thinks? That I chose them? I didn’t choose them. I was trying to come up with a way to appease them. I never had any intention of giving Cole up. I just thought we could take some time—”
“A break,” she interrupted. “A break from him. The guy can barely to stand to be away from you for a few days and you were willing to go home to Glasgow for God knows how long. And he was what . . . just supposed to sit around and wait for your call for however long it would take for your parents to approve of him? And again, parents who gave a crap about you when Cole would move the heavens to protect you.” She stood up and grabbed her purse. “What was a silly argument to you was a huge deal for him. For reasons I get and reasons I don’t. But I’m guessing you do. I’m guessing he’s told you everything about himself. And I’m guessing you know that even suggesting taking a break from him cut him deeply for a reason, and you know exactly what that reason is.”
She turned to leave.
“Wait.” I shot up from my chair. “I need to see him, Rae. Are you going to meet him?”
“No. I don’t know where he is tonight.”
I narrowed my eyes on her back as she walked out. Rae was lying. She never lied.
Grabbing my own purse and keys, I hurried after her at a discreet distance. I followed her and felt nervous anticipation when I saw her head inside the Walk. Cole was there. I’d bet everything I had on it.
The pub was pretty crowded. It always was on a Saturday evening. I pushed past people standing around the bar near the door and craned my neck as I struggled out of the small crowd to the main floor. Every table was filled.
I caught sight of Rae winding her way through the tables, and my gaze zeroed past her.
That sick feeling in my stomach intensified.
Cole was sitting with the twins and Karen, a pint of lager in hand. He had other company too. A pretty blond woman was sitting with her thigh pressed against his, and Cole had his head bent so she could whisper in his ear.
My cheeks grew hot, my skin prickling.
Letting the burn of jealousy rush through me and flare out, I took a deep breath. Cole would never cheat. I knew that. I knew that the picture in front of me was innocent.
But I’d spent the whole week agonizing over our relationship and feeling guilty, and he’d spent the whole week avoiding me. Now he was allowing some woman to chat him up.
I felt the prickle of tears in my eyes.
I couldn’t handle this. Not with everything else that was going on. I needed coolheaded Cole back, because hurt, hotheaded Cole was tapping in to all the insecurities I’d been fighting the last few months.
On that thought I whirled around and started pushing back through the crowds. I was almost at the door when something stopped me.
This wasn’t like Cole.
This wasn’t like him at all.
Hadn’t that been my mantra this whole week?
I sucked in a breath and spun around.
There was something more going on here that I didn’t understand.
Praying I wasn’t acting like a too-trusting lovesick fool, I forced my way back through a now-annoyed crowd. The blonde remained, but Cole’s attention was on Rae. He was frowning at whatever she had to say.
That was when he seemed to feel my gaze.
Ignoring the raging swarm of angry nerves in my stomach, I wound my way through the tables while Cole broodily watched me approach. When I came to a stop the twins and Karen said hello. I gave them a distracted nod.
Cole and I stared at each other and the longer we did, the deeper I felt the wound of his avoidance. I’d missed him so much. A whole week without him had felt like forever. It had been painful and frankly unnecessary. I was mad at him as much as he was mad at me and I couldn’t hide it. I flicked a hand to the blonde. “Why?”
He frowned. “We’re just talking.”
“But why are you talking to her and not to me? Why haven’t you answered my calls? Why did you leave? Why can’t we be grown-ups and discuss last Saturday?”
“Not here,” Cole said softly.
“I don’t care,” I snapped, and I didn’t care if we had an audience. “This isn’t you. I came in here, after one of the most awful weeks of my life, and I could have just walked back out again . . . but this isn’t you. I don’t understand what’s going on with you.”
The stark hurt in his eyes made me gasp. “You don’t understand?” He stood up abruptly, slamming his pint on the table. “You don’t understand I’m upset you’re packing your shit and taking off for Glasgow to be with that fucking family—choosing them over us? You don’t understand that might upset me?”
The people around us stopped talking.
I didn’t care. I was too confused to care. “What the heck are you talking about?”
“Rae told me.” He raked his eyes over me, seeming to flinch in pain at the sight of me. “Just go, Shannon. All these months trying to get you to trust me . . . what a waste of my time.”