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|On Dublin Street(On Dublin Street #1)(5) by Samantha Young|
What was he doing here? In my house? STALKER!
My mouth hung open as I tried to work out what the hell was going on; it took me a moment to realize his eyes weren’t on my face. They were running all over my very na**d body.
With a garbled noise of distress I clamped an arm over my br**sts and a hand in front of my vajajay. Pale blue eyes met my horrified grey gaze. “What are you doing in my apartment?” I glanced hurriedly around for a weapon. Umbrella? It had a metal point… that might work.
Another choking noise snapped my eyes back to his, and a flush of unwanted and totally inappropriate heat hit me between the legs. He had ‘that look’ again. That dark, sexually avarice look. I hated that my body responded so instantly to ‘that look’ considering the guy might be a serial killer.
“Turn around!” I yelled, trying to cover up how vulnerable I felt.
Immediately, the Suit held up his hands in surrender and he spun slowly around, his back to me. My eyes narrowed at the sight of his shaking shoulders. The bastard was laughing at me.
Heart racing, I moved to rush towards my room to grab some clothes – and possibly a baseball bat – when my eyes snagged on a photo on Ellie’s memo board. It was a picture of Ellie… and the Suit.
What the hell?
Why had I not noticed this? Oh yeah. Because I didn’t like to ask questions. Disgruntled at my own crap observational skills, I threw a quick look over my shoulder. I was gratified to find the Suit wasn’t peeking. Skittering off to my room, his deep voice followed me, rumbling down the hall to my ears. “I’m Braden Carmichael. Ellie’s brother.”
Of course he was, I thought grumpily, patting myself dry with a towel before shoving my angry limbs through a pair of shorts and a tank top.
With my dark blonde, brownish hair piled in a wet mess atop my head, I stormed back out into the hall to face him.
Braden had turned around, his lips quirked up at the corner now as he ran his eyes over me. The fact that I was dressed didn’t matter. He was still seeing me na**d. I could tell.
My hands flew to my h*ps in belligerent humiliation. “And you just walk in here without knocking?”
A dark eyebrow rose at my tone. “It is my flat.”
“It’s common courtesy to freaking knock,” I argued.
His reply consisted of him shrugging and then jamming his hands casually into his suit pants. He’d taken his jacket off somewhere and his white shirt sleeves were rolled up to the elbow, revealing tan, masculine forearms.
A knot of need tightened in my gut at the sight of those sexy forearms.
Fuckity, shit, f**k.
I flushed inwardly. “Aren’t you going to apologize?”
Braden gifted me a roguish smile. “I never apologize unless I mean it. And I’m not apologizing for this. It’s been the highlight of my week. Possibly my year.” His grin was so easy-going–coaxing me to smile back at him. I wouldn’t.
Braden was Ellie’s brother. He had a girlfriend.
And I was way too attracted to this stranger for it to be healthy.
“Wow, what a boring life you must lead,” I replied haughtily and weakly as I walked by him. You try being witty after flashing your girl pieces to some guy you barely know. I couldn’t really give him much of a wide berth and had to ignore the flutter of butterflies in my stomach as I caught a whiff of the delicious cologne he was wearing.
Grunting at my observation, Braden followed me. I could feel the heat of him at my back as I entered the sitting room.
His jacket was tossed across an armchair and a near empty mug of coffee was sitting beside an open newspaper on the coffee table. He’d just made himself at home while I was soaking in the tub, completely oblivious.
Annoyed, I shot him a dirty look over my shoulder.
His boyish grin hit me in the chest and I looked away quickly, perching on the arm of the couch as Braden sank casually into the armchair. The grin was gone now. He stared up at me with just a small smile playing on his lips, like he was thinking of a private joke. Or me na**d.
Despite my resistance to him, I didn’t want him to think that my na**dness was funny.
“So, you’re Jocelyn Butler.”
“Joss,” I corrected automatically.
He nodded and relaxed into his seat, his arm sliding along the back of the chair. He had gorgeous hands. Elegant, but masculine. Large. Strong. An image of that hand sliding up my inner thigh crossed my mind before I could stop it.
I unglued my eyes from them to him. He appeared comfortable and yet totally authoritative. It suddenly occurred to me that this was the Braden with all the money and responsibilities, a vainglorious girlfriend, and a little sister he was undoubtedly overprotective of.
“Ellie likes you.”
Ellie doesn’t know me. “I like Ellie. I’m not so sure about her brother. He seems kind of rude.”
Braden flashed me those white, slightly crooked teeth. “He’s not sure of you either.”
That’s not what your eyes are saying. “Oh?”
“I’m not sure how I feel about my wee sister living with an exhibitionist.”
I made a face at him, only just resisting sticking my tongue out at him. He really brought out my mature side. “Exhibitionists get na**d in public. As far as I was aware, there was no one else in the apartment and I’d forgotten a towel.”
“Thank God for small mercies.”
He was doing it again. Looking at me that way. Did he know he was so blatant about it?
“Seriously,” he continued, his eyes falling to my chest before snapping back up to my face. “You should walk around na**d all the time.”
The compliment got to me. I couldn’t help it. The touch of a smile curled the corner of my lips and I shook my head at him like he was a naughty school boy.
Pleased, Braden laughed softly. A weird, unexpected fullness formed in my chest and I knew I had to break whatever weird instant attraction thing was going on between us. This had never happened to me before, so I was going to have to wing it.
I rolled my eyes. “You’re an ass.”
Braden sat up with a snort. “Usually a woman calls me that after I’ve f**ked her and called her a taxi.”
I blinked rapidly at his blunt language. Really? We were using that word already in our short acquaintance?
He noticed. “Don’t tell me you hate that word?”
No. I imagine that word can be a total turn on in the right moment. “No. I just don’t think we should be talking about f**king when we’ve just met.”
Okay. That came out all wrong.
Braden’s eyes brightened with silent laughter. “I didn’t know that’s what we were doing.”
Abruptly, I changed the subject. “If you’re here for Ellie, she’s tutoring.”
“I came to meet you, actually. Only, I didn’t know I was meeting you. Quite the coincidence. I’ve thought about you quite a bit since last week in the taxi.”
“Was that while you were out having dinner with your girlfriend?” I asked snidely, feeling like I was swimming against the tide with this guy. I wanted us out of this flirty, sexual place we’d landed in and into a normal, ‘he’s just my roommate’s brother’ kind of place.
“Holly is down south visiting her parents this week. She’s from Southampton.”
Like I give a crap. “I see. Well…” I stood up, hoping the gesture would usher him out. “I would say it was nice to meet you, but I was na**d so… it wasn’t. I have a lot to do. I’ll tell Ellie you dropped by.”
Laughing, Braden shook his head and stood up to pull on his suit jacket. “You’re a hard nut to crack.”
Okay, clearly I had to lay it out clear and simple for this guy. “Hey, there will be no cracking of this nut. Now or ever.”
He was choking on laughter now as he stepped towards me, making me back into the couch. “Really, Jocelyn… Why do you have to make everything sound so dirty?”
My mouth fell open in outrage as he turned and left… with the last word.
I hated him.
I really did.
Pity my body did not.
Club 39 was less of a club and more of a bar with a small square dance floor beyond the alcove at the back. On the basement level on George street, the ceilings were low, the circular sofas and square cubes that acted as seats were low, and the bar area was actually built a few levels lower, meaning drunken people had to walk down three steps to get to us. Whoever added that little design to the architects draft had clearly been smoking something.
Thursday nights usually found the low-lit bar crowded with students but with the semester over and the Scottish summer upon us, the night was quiet and the music was turned down since there was no one on the ‘dance floor’.
I handed the guy standing across the bar his drinks and he gave me a ten pound note. “Keep the change.” He winked at me.
I ignored the wink but stuck the tip in the tips jar. We divided it at the end of the night even though Jo argued that she and I pulled the most tips in because of the low-cut white tank top we wore as a ‘uniform’ with black skinny jeans. The tank had Club 39 scrawled across the right breast in black French script. Simple, but effective. Especially when you were as blessed in the boob department as I was.
Craig was on break so Jo and I were dealing with the small crowd of customers at the bar, a crowd dwindling by the minute. Bored, I glanced down to the other end of the bar to see if Jo needed my help.
Just not in a bartending kind of way.
Reaching out to hand the customer she was serving his change, the guy grabbed Jo’s wrist and tugged her over the bar so she was inches from his face. Frowning, and biding my time to see how Jo would react, her pale skin grew flush and she wrenched on her arm to break his hold. His friends stood behind him laughing. Nice.
“Let me go, please,” Jo said between gritted teeth, pulling harder.
With no Craig around and Jo’s wrist so skinny it might break, it was left up to me. I headed down the bar towards them, pressing the button under the bar for the security guys at the door.