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|On Dublin Street(On Dublin Street #1)(46) by Samantha Young|
Ellie and I sat at the kitchen table eating the tasty scrambled eggs and toast while Braden stood leaning against the counter sipping coffee. Ellie didn’t notice the quiet between us at first because she was stuck inside her own head, and silence at this point didn’t seem unusual.
I’ll tell you how unselfish that girl is: with everything she was going through she noticed what was going on with her brother and me. And a lot sooner than I’d expected her to. It was our fault—we weren’t exactly subtle about it. I got up to put my plate and mug in the sink and Braden moved to the other side of the room. I then moved to the other side of the room to get some orange juice out of the fridge and Braden moved back to the sink. I moved near the sink to get a glass out of the cupboard and Braden moved back to the fridge. I moved to the fridge to put the juice back and he moved back to the sink.
“What’s going on?” Ellie asked softly, her brows drawn together as she watched us.
We mumbled a couple of ‘nothings’ back at her.
“Guys?” Ellie looked paralyzed. “Did the doctor call?”
Our heads jerked over to her and immediate remorse settled over us. “No.” Braden shook his head. “No, Els. We’ve got the appointment with Dr. Dunham later this afternoon, just as planned.”
“Then why are you two acting strangely?”
We stared at her impassively, but one of us gave something away, something big, because after a minute of searching our faces, Ellie’s fell. “You broke up.”
Braden ignored her. “Els, you should get in the shower, brighten yourself up a bit. You’ll feel better.”
“Because of me?” Ellie stood up, her eyes round. “You broke up because of me.”
I chanced a look at Braden but he was staring solemnly at Ellie. Like me, he hadn’t wanted to add any more weight to her shoulders. I turned back to her. “No, Ellie. Not because of you. This had nothing to do with you and it’s done. We’re okay. Don’t worry about us. We’re getting you through this minus drama.”
Her expression hardened, her chin jutting out mulishly. “You’re clearly not talking to each other, though. What happened?”
Braden sighed. “She doesn’t love me and I think she’s an untrustworthy, cold bitch. Now get in the shower.”
Since he wasn’t facing me I didn’t bother to mask the pain I felt at his words. Untrustworthy cold bitch. Untrustworthy. Cold. Bitch. Cold. Bitch. Bitch. BITCH.
I also forgot that Ellie could see me and her eyes turned dark with sympathy.
“Braden,” she whispered, soft admonishment in it.
Her eyes came back to me, worried. I couldn’t believe she was worried about me at a time like this. “Ellie, shower.”
“You’re worse than my parents,” she murmured humorlessly, but deciding she’d rather not face off with two of the most tenacious people she knew, she headed out of the kitchen leaving us alone in a thick, awful silence.
Finally Braden spoke, “You left some of your shit at my place. I’ll drop it off this week.”
He had stuff in my room too. “I’ll get your things together for you.”
It should be noted that at this point we were leaning against opposite ends of the kitchen counter, talking to the wall in front of us and not at each other.
Braden cleared his throat, “You came back for her?” Was that hope in his voice?
“Well, sometimes untrustworthy, cold bitches keep their word,” I answered stiffly, taking a sip of my juice.
Braden grunted and slammed his mug down on the counter. “She doesn’t need your charity or your f**king guilt.”
Shit, f**kity, shit, f**k.
Clearly Braden had taken the night to let his anger simmer and boil over. I braced myself, trying to be understanding and not hurt him any more than I already had. “She doesn’t have my charity or my guilt.”
“Oh so I was right last night then.” Braden nodded. “Unlike me, she has your love.”
“Braden…” I choked out. I’d expected him to be like he always was. Braden was stoic, intimidating, immoveable and cool. Not vulnerable and bitter and angry. Basically a dick at a really inappropriate time. Then again, I’d dumped him hours after he learned his little sister might have cancer so, who was the bigger dick? “You don’t love me either, Braden.”
His eyes flashed at that before casting down my body and back up again, in a cold perusal that sent horrible shivers through me. His gaze came back up to mine and it was pale as ice. “You’re right. I don’t love you. I’m just annoyed I have to look for a new arrangement, especially when the old one wasn’t half bad in bed.”
I’d say I was a pretty good actor, but any more of his verbal assault and I was going to crumble under the pain. I turned away quickly, so he wouldn’t see what his words did to me. “I’d hoped that we could still be friends, but clearly you don’t want that. So can we just agree to not talk to one another unless we have to for Ellie’s sake?”
“If it were up to me, for Ellie’s sake, I’d kick your arse out and tell you never to darken our doorstep again. But Ellie doesn’t need that right now.”
Shock drew my head up and I gazed at him incredulously. “Are you kidding?”
He crossed his powerful arms over his chest and shook his head. “No. I can’t trust you. You’re f**ked up. I don’t think Ellie needs that.”
“Last night you wanted me here for Ellie.”
“I’ve had time to think about it. If I could, I’d get rid of you. But that would just cause Ellie more pain. She doesn’t need that right now.”
“You could do that?” I was almost wheezing. “Just throw me out of your life?”
“Why not? You did it to me last night.”
“No. I broke up with you. I didn’t throw you out of my life.” I glared at him. “But if I had known how little I really did mean to you, I probably should have.”
Oh.” Braden nodded. “That’s right. You don’t love me, but you care about me.” He shrugged. “Well I could give a shit about you.”
I locked my jaw, trying so hard to hold in the tears.
“As a matter of fact, I f**ked someone else last night.”
You ever had a shotgun bullet blast through your stomach? No? Me neither. But I have a feeling what I felt when Braden said that would be similar to being blasted by a shotgun. And really, not even the best actress in the world can mask that kind of pain.
I physically flinched at his words, my body jerking back, my knees almost giving out, my eyes wide, and my mouth open in horror. And then the worst happened. I began to cry.
Through my tears I saw Braden’s lips pinch together and he took two steps towards me, his whole body bristling. “I f**king knew it,” he hissed, still coming toward me.
“Don’t touch me!” I yelled, not able to bear the thought of him near me now.
“Don’t touch you?” He snarled, his eyes sparking violently. “I’m going to kill you!”
“Me?” I turned around and grabbed a plate off the dish rack and spun around, letting it fly at his head. He ducked and it smashed against the wall. “I’m not the one that f**ked someone two seconds after we broke up!”
I reached for a glass to throw, but Braden was on me, his strong hands pinning my wrists to my side, his body pinning mine against the counter. I struggled viciously but he was too strong. “Let me go!” I sobbed. “Just let me go. I hate you. I hate you!”
“Ssh. Ssh, Jocelyn,” he soothed, bending his head into my neck. “Ssh, don’t say that,” he begged against my skin. “Don’t say that. I didn’t mean it. I lied. I was angry. I’m a f**king idiot. I lied. I was with Elodie all night. You can call her and ask, but she’ll tell you the truth. You know I would never do to you what was done to me.”
His words penetrated my hysteria and I stopped struggling. And started trembling. “What?”
Braden pulled back to give me a pair of pale blue and very sincere eyes. “I lied. I wasn’t with anyone else. There hasn’t been anyone else since we got together.”
My nose was all choked up from crying so much, so I sounded like a five-year old when I murmured, “I don’t understand.”
“Babe,” his voice rumbled, the tenderness back, although I could still see the annoyance in his eyes. “I was pissed off last night when you broke up with me, and so I just walked away. I went to Elodie’s because I knew she’d be awake worrying about Ellie and I wanted to see if she was okay. She knew something was wrong with me as soon as she let me in. I told her what had happened and she told me what she said to you at the wedding, and she also told me that when she said that to you, you looked like you’d been slapped. And after, when we were dancing, she realized she was wrong about you.” He let go of my wrists to slide his hands into my hair, tilting my head back so I couldn’t look away. “I spent last night going over and over the last six months in my head and I know that you’re lying to me. I know you love me, Jocelyn, because there’s no f**king way I can be this much in love with you, and not have you feel the same way. It’s not possible.”
Heart pounding, fear clawing at my throat, I tried to swallow it down. “So what the hell was this morning?”
He squeezed my nape and bent his head closer to mine, his eyes definitely still dark with anger. “You’re not untrustworthy, you’re not cold and you’re not a bitch. You have… issues. I get that. We all have issues. But once I realized you were lying to me, I began to understand why. You think you never gave yourself away with me. You think you have time to backpedal and pretend nothing happened between us, because that way if anything ever happens to me, you can tell yourself you don’t care, and you don’t feel the pain.”
Oh my God, he was a goddamn psychic now.