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|Fall From India Place(On Dublin Street #4)(18) by Samantha Young|
“Begging Cole for a date?” Declan grunted at me from across the table. The boy had supernatural powers of hearing. “That’s a little pathetic, Hannah.”
“Are we in a pissy mood because you had to surgically remove your hip from Penny’s?” I gibed in return. “Tell me, Dec, how does it feel to be whipped at eighteen?” What can I say? My little brother brought out my mature side.
He glowered at me. “She’s at her nana’s today.”
“With her whip?”
“Ha ha, you’re so funny.”
I could hear Cole laughing beside me, which pissed my brother off even more.
“Seriously?” Dec smirked. “When was the last time anyone wanted to date you? If you need some pointers, I’m happy to help. Let’s start with your face. You might want to do something about that. Plastic surgery maybe?”
“Oh.” I flinched as if I’d tasted something sour. “If we’re going to mock one another let’s keep it smart. I refuse to go into a battle of wits with the witless. It’s too easy. And rather insulting.”
“Children,” Mum called over to us, tsking. “Don’t make me remind you that one of you is an eighteen-year-old and the other is a twenty-two-year-old high school English teacher.”
“Elodie, don’t spoil the fun,” Cam complained. “These two are my weekend entertainment.”
“I’m thinking about filming them and creating a weekly blog,” Joss agreed.
Before I could think up a clever retort, we heard my mother tsk again loudly. “Beth, eat your greens. They’re good for you. Come on, eat your peas.”
“I don’t want to,” she whined, and we turned to watch her push her plate back. “They’re little f**kers.”
The room stilled, my mother’s gasp the only sound.
The laughter built up inside me and promptly exploded as Cole gave a bark of laughter. I collapsed against him, my face in his shoulder, and laughed until my belly hurt.
I could hear everyone’s laughter, and looked across the table at Joss to see that she was the only one mortified.
Wiping tears from my eyes, I asked, “How?” hoping she understood the question.
“I said it once,” she lamented. “Now she won’t stop saying it.”
“Mummy?” Beth asked, confused by our reaction.
“I still don’t understand.” Mum pinched her mouth together in affront.
Joss sighed. “I dropped a jar of peas and I thought I got ’em all, but I found some renegades later on and forgot Beth was there when I did.”
“Little f**kers,” Beth said promptly, obviously remembering the moment when Joss encountered the renegade peas.
That set us off again.
I had tears streaming down my cheeks.
“Baby, I told you, you can’t say that word,” Joss told her softly, ignoring the rest of us. “It’s not a nice word and Mommy was wrong to use it.”
Beth gave Joss a hilariously sly look that suggested she was intrigued rather than cautioned.
We were off again, Braden’s laughter louder than anyone’s. “Christ, next she’ll be repeating it in school.” He rubbed his eyes, his expression smoothing out from hilarity. “If she does, I’m leaving you to explain it.”
“What happened to being in this together?” Joss grumbled.
“She gets it from you, so you’re best equipped to deal with it.”
The look Joss cut him was not one of amusement.
“She’s definitely your daughter,” I said, picking my fork back up.
“Jocelyn’s?” Braden asked as Joss asked, “Braden’s?”
The next week flew in with work and volunteering, the gym and my book club. By the time Saturday rolled around I was looking forward to taking some time off, spending the night with Cole surrounded by people we didn’t know, cracking jokes and making up life stories for the strangers we’d be sharing a reception hall with.
When I got into the cab he’d hired to drive us to the reception just outside the city center, my eyes roved over Cole in approval. He’d gone conservative for me this evening, wearing a three-piece suit that covered most of his tattoos. He gave a nod to his own personal taste with the chain that dangled from the front of his waistband, looping down and up to the back of it.
“You look great,” I said with a grin.
“You look stunning,” he murmured, giving me a quick kiss on the cheek.
I was wearing a black dress, molded to my figure, and bright blue pumps with platform heels. “Was Stephanie okay about you escorting me tonight?”
Cole quirked an eyebrow at the mention of his girlfriend, appearing annoyed. “Nope.”
I winced. “Sorry.”
“Don’t be. She’s been acting crazy jealous lately. Not just about you, but girls at uni, even clients at the studio. I don’t think it’s going to work out.”
“Cole, I’m really sorry.” I cuddled into his side as the cab drove out of town. “Wouldn’t it be so much easier if we were attracted to each other?”
“So much easier,” he agreed. “But alas, you are immune to my charms.”
“As you are to mine.” I sighed dramatically.
Cole chuckled and put his arm around me. “One day you’ll meet someone you can stand to commit to, and I’ll meet someone who isn’t batshit crazy.”
“Oh, you dreamer you.”
The wedding reception was in full swing when we got there. Someone I didn’t know directed me to the table where all the wedding presents were and I put my gift there before tagging Cole by the hand and leading him into the main hall. Tables and chairs had been pushed to the edges of the room and the lights had been dimmed. Guests danced on the floor to the DJ’s playlist, while others mingled at the tables and at the bar at the far end of the room. I spotted the bride easily and we made our way over to her.
“Oh, my gosh!” Nish cried out happily upon seeing me. “You look amazing.”
I laughed. “I say that to you. And you do. You look beautiful.” I gestured to Cole. “This is Cole.”
“The famous Cole.” Nish hugged him, sharing her joy. Cole patted her back awkwardly and politely tried to disengage. “Oh, my word.” She grinned into his face. “You are even more gorgeous in real life.” She frowned at me. “What is wrong with you? Just friends. Pfft. Anyhoo” – she flung herself around – “Andrew!”