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|On Dublin Street(On Dublin Street #1)(55) by Samantha Young|
I fell limpid against him. “Good morning.”
His mouth smiled against my skin. “Morning.”
“If you wake me up like that at least once a week, I will be a very happy girl.”
“Good to know.” He eased out of me gently and I turned around to face him, my hand reaching to cup his cheek so I could pull him down for a deliciously soft kiss.
When Braden pulled back, he was frowning. “No more stalling. Today we do this.”
I swallowed but nodded. We’d arrived in Richmond two and a half days ago and I’d not been able to leave the hotel room, insisting on ha**ng s*x constantly with my boyfriend. Now this was difficult for Braden because he really, really didn’t mind the constant sex, but was worried that I kept putting what we were here to do off.
Obviously, my time was up.
The self-storage facility was just over twenty minutes out from the hotel on a street not too far from Three Lakes Park. I saw Braden taking in the city as we got a cab out—we’d rent a car for the drive to my hometown later—to the facility, but I wasn’t really in the mood to reminisce about the State I’d grown up in. I was about to do plenty of that, and I was pretty scared if I was being honest with myself.
The guy was friendly at the storage place. I gave him my I.D. and storage number and he took us around what looked like normal car garages with bright red doors. He stopped in front of one of them abruptly. “Here you go.” He smiled and left us to it.
Braden rubbed my shoulder sensing my hesitation. “You can do this.”
I can do this. I keyed in the code on the keypad next to the door and the metal doors started to rise. When they’d finally rotated up along the ceiling, I let my eyes take in the sight before me. There were boxes and boxes of stuff. Suitcases. A jewelry box. Trembling, I took a step inside and tried to calm my heart before it rocketed me into a panic attack.
I felt Braden’s cool, large hand slip into mine and he squeezed. “Breathe, babe. Just breathe.”
I smiled up at him, a wobbly kind of smile.
I could definitely do this.
Edinburgh, Dublin Street
Two Years Later…
At the sound of a throat clearing I glanced up into the mirror and saw Braden leaning against the doorjamb of our room. I whirled around, my hands immediately going to my hips. “What are you doing here? You’re not supposed to be here.”
Braden smiled softly, his eyes drinking me in, and the look in them made me feel all mushy. Damn him. “You look beautiful, babe.”
I glanced down at the dress and sighed. “I can’t believe you managed to talk me into this.”
“I can be very persuasive when I want to be.” He was grinning smugly now.
“Persuasive is one thing. This… this is a miracle.” I eyed him carefully. “Wait, is that why you’re here? To make sure I leave?” That bothered me. A lot. I actually felt my heart stop.
Braden grimaced. “No. I have every faith that you’re going to walk out that door.”
“Then why are you here?”
“Because I haven’t seen you in a few days and I missed you.”
“You’re about to see me in half an hour. You couldn’t wait?”
“There will be other people there though.” He made a step towards me, giving me that look.
Oh no. No!
“That can wait.” I held up a hand, holding him off. “Now, you got me into this. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it, but you got all persuasive, and then you got me all into it. And I want it to be kind of perfect—as in… done right. So get your ass out of here, mister.”
He was grinning broadly now as he backed up. “Okay, you’re the boss.” I snorted at that one. “I’ll see you in half-an-hour.”
“Braden!” Ellie fell into the doorway in a champagne, silk floor-length gown. “It’s bad luck to see the bride before the wedding. Get out!” She pushed him up the hallway out of sight.
“See you soon, babe!” he called back, laughing.
I shook my head, trying to calm the nerves and the warring giddiness as I looked into the cheval mirror. I was almost unrecognizable in my ivory wedding dress.
“Ready, Joss?” Ellie asked, out of breath from beating her brother out of the apartment.
Rhian appeared at her side, wearing a teasing grin, the same champagne dress Ellie had on, and a gold wedding band beside the diamond engagement ring James had given her. They’d been married for eight months. “Yeah, you ready, Joss?”
We were standing in the master bedroom, what used to be Ellie’s room but was now mine and Braden’s. In Virginia I’d found some things—my mom’s jewelry, Beth’s favorite teddy bear, Ted, a few photo albums and a painting—that I’d wanted to keep. Everything else we gave away or threw out. It took us a couple of days, and a lot of tissues for me, but we did it, and then we took off to say goodbye to them at their graves. That was hard. I couldn’t stop the panic attack on that one and for a while Braden just sat in the grass with me and held me as I tried to apologize to my mom, dad and Beth for eight years of trying not to remember them.
Going through that with me just made Braden and I closer. When we got back to Scotland, we were pretty much inseparable, and since Ellie and Adam were inseparable, there was too much awkwardness with the four of us living together with Ellie and Braden being brother and sister. Neither of them wanted to hear the sex stuff. So Ellie had moved into Adam’s place a few months after her surgery, and Braden had put his apartment up for rent and moved into Dublin Street with me. A year later he’d actually pre-arranged it with a cab driver, and proposed to me in a cab outside the Bruntsfield Evangelical Church, in reminiscence of how and where we first met. Fast forward to now. After the wedding we’d be flying off to Hawaii for our honeymoon, and when we came back it would be to Dublin Street as Mr. and Mrs. Carmichael. My chest squeezed and I took a deep breath.
Braden had been talking about having kids lately. Kids. Oh wow. I glanced at my completed manuscript lying on my desk. After twenty rejection letters I’d gotten a call from a literary agent who wanted to read the rest of it. I’d just mailed the full manuscript out two days ago. For two years that manuscript had been like a kid to me, and I’d had plenty of freak outs about publishing my parent’s story. Real kids? I’d freaked out when Braden first mentioned it, but he’d just sat there sipping his beer while I silently spiraled out. Ten minutes later he’d looked back at me and said, “Are you done?”
He was used to my freak outs now.
I shot a look at the photograph I had of my parent’s on my desk. Like me and Braden, mom and dad had been passionate about each other, argued a lot, had their issues, but always got through it because of how deeply they felt for one another. They were everything they couldn’t be without the other. Sure it could get rough sometimes, but life wasn’t a Hollywood movie. Shit happened. You fought, you screamed, and somehow you worked like hell to get out the other side still intact.
Just like me and Braden.
I nodded at Ellie and Rhian.
Sometimes the clouds weren’t weightless. Sometimes their bellies got dark and full. It was life. It happened. It didn’t mean it wasn’t scary, or that I wasn’t still afraid, but now I knew that as long as I was standing under it with Braden beside me when those clouds broke, I’d be alright. We’d get rained on together. Knowing Braden he’d have a big ass umbrella to shelter us from the worst of it.
That there was an uncertain future I could handle.
“Yeah. I’m ready.”