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|On Dublin Street(On Dublin Street #1)(2) by Samantha Young|
“Good.” He pulled the door open. “I’m heading in that direction, and since I’m already running late, might I suggest we share the taxi instead of wasting ten minutes deciding who needs it more.”
A warm hand touched my lower back and pressed me gently forward. Dazed, I somehow let myself be manhandled into the cab, sliding across the seat and buckling up as I silently questioned whether I’d nodded my agreement to this. I didn’t think I had.
Hearing the Suit clip out Dublin Street as the destination to the cab driver, I frowned and muttered, “Thanks. I guess.”
“You’re an American?”
At the soft question, I finally looked over at the passenger beside me. Oh okay.
The Suit wasn’t classically handsome, but there was a twinkle in his eye and curl to the corner of his sensual mouth that, together with the rest of the package, oozed sex appeal. Perhaps in his late twenties or early thirties, I could tell from the lines of the extremely well-tailored, expensive silver-grey suit that he wore, that the Suit worked out. He sat with the ease of a fit guy, his stomach iron flat under the waistcoat and white shirt. His pale blue eyes seemed bemused beneath their long lashes, and for the life of me I couldn’t get over the fact that he had dark hair.
I preferred blondes. Always had.
Yet none of them had ever made my lower belly squeeze with lust at first sight of them. A strong, masculine face stared into mine—sharp jaw-line, a cleft chin, wide cheekbones, and a roman nose. Dark stubble shadowed his cheeks, and his hair was kind of messy. Altogether, his rugged unkemptness seemed at odds with the stylish designer suit.
The Suit raised an eyebrow at my blatant perusal and the lust I was feeling quadrupled, taking me completely by surprise. I never felt instant attraction to men. And since my wild years as a teen, I hadn’t even contemplated taking a guy up on a sexual offer.
Although, I’m not sure I could walk away from an offer from him.
As soon as the thought flashed through my head I stiffened, surprised and unnerved. My defenses immediately rose and I cleared my expression into blank politeness.
“Yeah,” I answered, finally remembering the Suit had asked me a question. I looked away from his knowing smirk, pretending boredom and thanking the heavens that my olive skin kept the blushing internal.
“Just visiting?” he murmured.
As irritated as I was by my reaction to the Suit, I decided the less conversation between us the better. Who knew what idiotic thing I might do or say? “Nope.”
“Then you’re a student.”
I took issue with the tone. Then you’re a student. It was said with a metaphorical eye-roll. Like students were bottom-feeding bums with no real purpose in life. I snapped my head around to give him a scathing set-down, only to catch him eyeing my bare legs with interest. This time, I raised my eyebrow at him and waited for him to unglue those gorgeous eyes of his from my bare skin. Sensing my gaze, the Suit looked up into my face and noted my expression. I expected him to pretend he hadn’t been ogling me, or to look quickly away or something. I didn’t expect him to just shrug and then offer me the slowest, wickedest, sexiest smile that had ever been bestowed upon me.
I rolled me eyes, fighting the flush of heat between my legs. “I was a student,” I answered, with just a touch of snark. “I live here. Dual citizenship.” Why was I explaining myself?
“You’re part Scottish?”
I barely nodded, secretly loving the way he said ‘Scottish’ with his hard ‘t’s.
“What do you do now that you’ve graduated?”
Why did he want to know? I shot him a look out of the corner of my eye. The cost of the three-piece suit he was wearing could have fed me and Rhian on crappy student food for our entire four years of college. “What do you do? I mean, when you’re not manhandling women into cabs?”
His small smirk was his only reaction to my jibe. “What do you think I do?”
“I’m thinking lawyer. Answering questions with questions, manhandling, smirking…”
He laughed a rich, deep rumble of a laugh that vibrated through my chest. His eyes glittered at me. “I’m not a lawyer. But you could be. I seem to recall a question answered with a question. And that,” he gestured to my mouth, his eyes turning a shade darker as they visually caressed the curve of my lips. “That’s a definite smirk,” his voice had grown huskier.
My pulse took off as our eyes locked, our gazes holding for far longer than two polite strangers’ should. My cheeks felt warm… as well as other places. I was growing more and more turned on by him and the silent conversation between our bodies. When my ni**les tightened beneath my t-shirt bra, I was shocked enough to be plunged back into reality. Pulling my eyes from his, I glanced out at the passing traffic and prayed for this cab ride to be over yesterday.
As we approached Princes Street and another diversion caused by the tram project the council was heading up, I began to wonder if I was going to escape the cab without having to talk to him again.
“Are you shy?” The Suit asked, blowing my hopes to smithereens.
I couldn’t help it. His question made me turn to him with a confused smile. “Excuse me?”
He tilted his head, peering down at me through the narrowed slits of his eyes. He looked like a lazy tiger, eyeing me carefully as if deciding whether or not I was a meal worth chasing. I shivered as he repeated, “Are you shy?”
Was I shy? No. Not shy. Just, usually blissfully indifferent. I liked it that way. It was safer. “Why would you think that?” I didn’t give off shy vibes, right? I grimaced at the thought.
The Suit shrugged again. “Most women would be taking advantage of my imprisonment in the taxi with them—chew my ear off, shove their phone number in my face… as well as other things.” His eyes flicked down to my chest before quickly returning to my face. I swear to God, I was tomato-red on the inside and I couldn’t remember the last time someone had managed to embarrass me. Unaccustomed to feeling intimidated, I attempted to mentally shrug it off.
Amazed by his overconfidence, I grinned at him, surprised by the pleasure that rippled over me when his eyes widened slightly at the sight of my smile. “Wow, you really think a lot of yourself.”
He grinned back at me, his teeth white but imperfect and his crooked smile sent an unfamiliar shot of feeling across my chest. “I’m just speaking from experience.”
“Well, I’m not the kind of girl who hands out her number to a guy she just met.”
“Ahh.” He nodded as if coming to some kind of realization about me, his smile slipping, his features seeming to tighten and close off from me. “You’re a ‘no sex until the third date, marriage, and babies’ kind of woman.”
I made a face at his snap judgment. “No, no, and no.” Marriage and babies? I shuddered at the thought, the fears that lived riding my shoulders day in and day out, slipping around to squeeze my chest too tight.
The Suit looked back at me now, and whatever he had caught in my face made him relax. “Interesting,” he murmured.
No. Not interesting. I didn’t want to be interesting to this guy. “I’m not giving you my number.”
He grinned again. “I didn’t ask for it. And even if I wanted it, I wouldn’t ask for it. I have a girlfriend.”
I ignored the disappointed flip of my stomach and apparently the filter between my brain and my mouth. “Then stop looking at me like that.”
The Suit seemed amused. “I have a girlfriend but I’m not blind. Just because I can’t do anything doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to look.”
I was not excited by this guy’s attention. I am a strong, independent woman. Glancing out of the window, I noted with relief that we were at Queen Street Gardens. Dublin Street was right around the corner.
“Here’s good, thanks,” I called to the cab.
“Whereabouts?” the cab driver called back to me.
“Here,” I replied a little more sharply than I meant to but breathed a sigh of relief when the cab driver’s turn signal started ticking and the car pulled over to a stop. Without another look or word to the Suit, I handed the driver some money and slid a hand along the door handle.
I froze and shot the Suit a wary look over my shoulder. “What?”
“Do you have a name?”
I smiled, feeling relief now that I was getting away from him and the bizarre attraction between us. “Actually, I have two.”
I jumped out of the cab, ignoring the traitorous thrill of pleasure that cascaded over me at the sound of his answering chuckle.
As soon as the door swung open and I took in my first sight of Ellie Carmichael, I knew I was probably going to like her. The tall blonde was wearing a trendy play suit, a blue trilby hat, a monocle, and a fake mustache.
She blinked at me with wide, pale blue eyes.
Bemused, I had to ask, “Is this… a bad time?”
Ellie stared at me a moment as if confused by my very reasonable question considering her outfit. As if it suddenly occurred to her that she was in possession of a fake mustache, she pointed at it. “You’re early. I was tidying up.”
Tidying up a trilby, monocle and a mustache? I glanced behind her into a bright, airy reception hall. A bike with no front wheel was propped against the far wall, photographs and an assortment of post cards and other random clippings were attached to a board braced against a walnut cabinet. Two pairs of boots and a pair of black pumps were scattered haphazardly under a row of pegs overflowing with jackets and coats. The floors were hardwood. Very nice.
I looked back at Ellie with a huge grin on my face, feeling good about the entire situation. “Are you on the run from the mafia?”
“Oh.” She laughed and stepped back from the door, gesturing me into the apartment. “No, no. I had friends over last night and we had a little bit too much to drink. All my old Halloween costumes were dragged out.”