Before jamaica lane, p.12
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       Before Jamaica Lane, p.12

         Part #3 of On Dublin Street series by Samantha Young
 
Page 12

  ‘A little. Not in a way that would cause permanent damage. Why?’

  ‘I’m just trying to work out why you’re so afraid to put yourself out there. ’

  I rolled my eyes. ‘Is this a therapy session now?’

  ‘Does it need to be?’

  ‘Nate’ – my voice was stern so he’d get it – ‘there is no dramatic story here. I wish there was. Really. It would make me feel less of an idiot. I was teased at school like most kids are, but nothing major. My mom always made me feel special, and when my dad came into my life he worked his ass off to make sure I felt extraordinary. ’ I gave him a small smile, feeling the emotion choke me a little. ‘I was shy. That was it. And with my mom’s cancer, and minimal opportunities, sex and romance just passed me by. The older I’ve gotten, the more of a complex I’ve gotten about it, and I guess I’ve just lost any confidence in my sexuality that I might have had. That’s it. That’s all there is to know. ’

  He sighed heavily, running a hand through his messy dark hair. ‘Sorry, Liv. I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. I really want you to get past this. I want you to see how gorgeous you are. ’

  I grinned at him. ‘You keep saying sweet shit like that, and I might have to promote you to premier best friend. ’

  Grinning back at me, Nate rounded the kitchen counter and headed for the couch. When he sat down he patted the seat beside him. ‘Come sit beside me. ’

  Curious, I did as he asked.

  His smile was teasing now. ‘Closer. ’

  I didn’t want to get closer. He smelled good – something that I was always vaguely aware of, but now I was extremely conscious of the fact that I was really, really aware of how good he smelled. ‘Why? I thought you were going to teach me to flirt. ’

  ‘I am. Part of flirting is body language. If you sit three feet from a guy, he’s going to assume you either farted or you think he did. ’ I laughed and he continued. ‘If you’re interested in a guy, start off by getting close. However, don’t get in his face – in case he’s not interested. ’

  Feeling stricken and probably looking it, I asked, wide-eyed and panicked, ‘How will I know if he’s not interested?’

  ‘He’ll make it clear. ’

  ‘But I don’t know anything. What if I don’t pick up on his signals?’ The telltale sign of Nate’s lips twitching made me growl with irritation. ‘Don’t you dare laugh. I’m being serious!’

  ‘Okay. ’ He laughed anyway, holding his hands up. ‘Calm down. I’ll show you exactly what I mean. First, I’ll get you to flirt with me and I’ll react. You tell me if I’m interested or not. ’

  My pulse had started to race, and my palms were already sweaty at the mere mention of flirting. ‘Yeah, but how do I flirt?’

  I think he heard the trembling in my voice because he stopped grinning and gave me a small, reassuring smile. ‘Babe, we’ll ease into it. Sit close to me. Start talking to me in a way that tells me you’re interested in me. ’

  ‘But –’

  ‘Liv, just do it. ’

  Sucking in a huge breath, I slid closer to Nate, deciding that my thigh almost touching his was a good place to stop. I looked up into his placid expression and …

  I burst out laughing.

  Shaking his head, Nate gave a huff of amusement. ‘Whatever you do, don’t do that to a guy. ’

  Then I started rapidly flapping my hand in front of my face in hopes that cool air would calm me and the idiotic laughing down. ‘I’m sorry,’ I apologized around a hard swallow of giggles. ‘I’ll try again. ’ With a couple more deep breaths I grew more composed.

  ‘Ready?’

  Throwing my shoulders back, I said, ‘Yes. ’

  ‘Okay, go for it. ’

  Taking a moment, I built the fantasy up in my head. I wasn’t at home in my apartment with Nate anymore. I was in a bar with a guy I’d never met before, and he looked an awful lot like Benjamin Livingston. ‘Hi, I’m Liv. ’

  His gaze flickered over me quickly before moving off across the room. ‘Nate. ’

  Hmm, that seemed cold, but Nate could just be testing me.

  ‘Is that short for Nathaniel?’ Really? That’s the best you’ve got?

  Nate just nodded, not looking at me.

  ‘That means you’re not interested, right?’ I winced, forgetting this was a lesson and taking it a little too personally.

  As if he sensed that, Nate chuckled. ‘I told you that you’d be able to pick up on it. Guys make it fairly easy. ’

  ‘Jesus, that would be embarrassing in real life. ’

  He dipped his head toward me. ‘Babe, a guy responds like that to you, he’s not worth shit, okay? You pick yourself up and go find a guy who’s not a complete arse. ’

  Smiling gratefully, I asked. ‘Okay. So what now?’

  He smiled, wicked and seductive. ‘Now I’m going to flirt back. It gives you something to bounce off, so you’ll find it easier this time around. ’

  ‘You optimistic person, you. ’

  Giving me another smile, he nudged me with his knee. ‘Start again. ’

  Thinking I should have practiced how to smile seductively – there was probably a ‘how to’ tutorial on YouTube – before Nate arrived, I quickly attempted to assemble that kind of expression on my lips. I had a feeling it came off weird, but Nate just went with it. ‘Hi, I’m Liv. ’

  The smile he gave me almost melted me into the couch. Through lowered lashes, Nate’s divine black-magic eyes traveled from my legs upward, lingering for more than a few seconds on my breasts, then migrating up to my face. He stared into my eyes, seeming transfixed, and I was pretty sure if he threw me back against the couch and took me wildly he’d find me unbelievably ready for him. ‘Hi, Liv. I’m Nate. ’

  Somehow through the tingling and the sexual fog he’d cast over me I managed to smile back. I gestured to his soda and asked, ‘You drinking alone tonight?’

  ‘Have a drink with me and I won’t be. ’

  ‘Ooh, that was nice. ’

  ‘Don’t break character. ’

  I straightened my spine, chastened. ‘Sorry. ’

  ‘Don’t be sorry, just keep going. ’

  Scrambling to think of a reply, I decided it was too much to try to imagine Nate as Benjamin, so I let that go, reminding myself that this was just me and Nate. We hung out all the time. Relaxing a little, I said, ‘I’ll have a drink with you if you can guess my favorite drink. ’

  ‘Good. Playful. ’ He grinned again, going back into character. ‘Let me think. ’ His eyes roved over me. ‘American. Casual. Laid-back … I’m thinking a beer. ’

  I shook my head, trying not to smile, since beer was what I drank in reality. But that was too easy for him.

  ‘Whisky?’

  ‘Nope. ’

  He told me with his eyes that he knew what I was doing, but he patiently asked, ‘What, then?’

  ‘Rum and Coke,’ I lied.

  ‘Guess my people-reading skills aren’t quite up to scratch after all. ’

  ‘No, I think it just means you’re not psychic. For instance …’ I gave him a little smile and shuffled closer so my leg was now pressed against his. Nate’s cologne hit all my senses and my heart started to beat a little faster as I continued. ‘What are your people-reading skills telling you now?’

  Nate’s eyes dipped to where our legs were pressed together, and suddenly my palms were sweating again. Was I starting off too aggressively? Was this all wrong?

  Oh, crap, I was never going to be good at this.

  When his gaze rose to meet mine again, I was surprised for a moment to see how much heat was in his eyes. However, when he answered, ‘That I should buy you that rum and Coke,’ I remembered he was just acting.

  I relaxed and let my eyes glitter as I got into it too. ‘It seems your people-reading skills are intact. ’

  The right corner of his mouth tilted up in sexy amu
sement. ‘They’re not my only skills, you know. I’ve been told I work wonders with my hands … as well as other parts of my body. ’

  The blatant sexual innuendo caused a visible flush to spread across my cheeks. Nate groaned loudly, flopping back against the couch. ‘You were doing so well. ’

  I tried to cool my cheeks with the power of my mind. ‘Sorry. I just didn’t expect you to jump right into the sex stuff. ’

  ‘I don’t get it. ’ He rolled his head to look at me. ‘We watch crude comedies together, we all crack sex jokes – you laugh, you join in. No blushing involved. ’

  ‘But those aren’t directed at me,’ I argued.

  ‘So even the thought of shagging a guy turns you shy?’

  ‘One, haven’t we been over that? And two, don’t say “shagging,” Nate. ’

  ‘I have to say naughty words if we’re going to get you past this. ’

  ‘And don’t be condescending. I’m not a prude. I just don’t like the word “shagging. ” I prefer “fucking. ” ’

  As soon as I said it Nate’s eyes sparkled with humor. I could see the corners of his mouth tilting toward what I knew would be a massive grin. ‘Don’t even …’ I hit him with a cushion as he started to laugh really hard at me. ‘Stop being immature. ’

  After what felt like at least five minutes of straight-out belly-laughing at me, Nate finally pulled himself together, wiping tears from the corners of his eyes. ‘We need to work on dirty talking,’ he said, still a little hoarse from all that amusement at my expense. ‘Some guys are subtle, but some guys will tell you what they want to do to you. ’

  I will not blush, I will not blush. ‘Like you. ’

  ‘I’m not exactly a subtle guy. ’

  ‘What if I don’t like that kind of talk?’

  ‘If you don’t, then he’s not the guy for you. You just bow out of the conversation and find a guy who does subtle. ’ Nate leaned into me, his eyes questioning. ‘But how do you know you don’t like it? After all, it’s just foreplay. ’

  I will not blush, I will not blush.

  Damn, I’m blushing.

  Nate smirked at me again.

  ‘Look, maybe we can just get me past blushing at innuendo before we see if I can handle dirty talking. ’

  He contemplated me a moment. ‘Okay. It’s your call. ’

  I gave him a determined nod and then just sat there.

  Nate raised an eyebrow at me.

  ‘Should we go back to that part where you said you were good with your hands?’

  He was laughing at me again, but this time only with his eyes. ‘Sounds like a good place to start. ’

  8

  After three hours of innuendo I finally reached a point where I wasn’t blushing. I was even able to provide a fairly saucy rejoinder. This didn’t convince me that I’d be able to approach Benjamin and start flirting with him. It only convinced me that I was so comfortable with Nate that my insecurities were taking a swan dive off the Mountain of Low Self-Esteem one by one while I was around him. Still, I felt better than I had in a long time – not only because Nate had begun to chip away at the weight of my physical insecurities, but because I felt like I was grabbing life by the balls and doing something about a part of my life that I was unhappy with.

  Nate was nonstop busy on Friday since he had three photo shoots booked for the paper, one being an awards ceremony that had him working right up until midnight. As for me, I was having my usual weekly dinner with Dad, Jo, Cam, and Cole.

  This meant no lessons.

  Saturday was out too, considering that Nate, Cam, and Cole had judo class in the afternoon and usually hung out together afterward. However, I still got to see Nate.

 
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