Before jamaica lane, p.15
Before Jamaica Lane, p.15Part #3 of On Dublin Street series by Samantha Young
I swallowed past the massive lump in my throat, the pain inside me expanding for Nate. ‘You loved her. ’
Tears shimmered in his eyes, making the breath catch in my throat. ‘Aye. She was my best friend. ’
He was silent a moment and then his eyes caught mine, and our connection only intensified as he replied, ‘Cancer. Lymphoma. She was just about to turn seventeen. ’ He glanced away and his arm tightened around me again. ‘I stayed with her through every stage. Every dashed hope, every failed treatment. And I really believed that we’d beat it. That if I just kept breathing for her she’d make it. ’ I heard the catch in his throat and tensed against him. ‘She was special, Liv. Pure. In the end the only thing that got me through was the belief that she was just too good for this place. When she died two days after her eighteenth birthday that was all that got me through. She was just too good for this place. ’
‘Oh, God, Nate. ’ I dropped my forehead to his chest and wrapped my hand tight around his arm. ‘I’m sorry. ’
‘I’m sorry too, babe. ’
We lay there in silence for a while until finally I drew the courage to say something I really didn’t want to. ‘I’ll get up. Let you go. ’
I felt his lips in my hair and then he said quietly, ‘If it’s okay with you, I’m quite comfortable here for the night. ’
I relaxed instantly. ‘I’m good with that. ’
We’d passed Dad’s flat on Heriot Row and turned down Howe Street. We were less than a minute from my apartment and the entire walk home had been filled with comfortable silence born of the deeper connection we’d made last Thanksgiving. Still, there was a weight in Nate’s silence that made me uneasy.
Finally, as we stopped outside my building, he spoke. ‘I’ve got a couple of deadlines this week, so I might not be able to drop around until after judo class on Wednesday night. ’
Shaking off the weird sensation that felt an awful lot like disappointment, I said, ‘No problem. ’ I gave him a cocky smile that I didn’t really feel. ‘I’ll practice flirting with my mirror. ’
I was gratified at the low chuckle he emitted, a warm glow spreading through my chest as some of the darkness lifted from his eyes.
He pressed a kiss to my cheek. ‘See you soon, babe. Sweet dreams. ’
‘ ’Night. ’ I let myself into the building and gave him one last smile over my shoulder before I shut the door and headed up the concrete stairs. Though I understood exactly where he was coming from, a heaviness grew in my gut as I changed into my pajamas. I knew that tonight Nate wasn’t going to need to look in the mirror at his tattoo as a reminder to think of Alana.
No. She was inside him tonight; there was a haunted look in his eyes that I’d never seen before. Something was bothering him, and I was afraid that if I pushed too hard, I’d become just like every other woman in his life and he’d shut me out completely.
My worry for Nate gnawed at me for hours until I drifted off, my body finally too exhausted to wait my brain out. Worrying was never fun, especially when a solution seemed so impossible, which meant I was grateful for the Nicholses’ Sunday lunch the next day.
Joss and Braden, honeymooning in Hawaii, were absent, of course, but I didn’t get a chance to really feel that absence because of the drama. By ‘drama’ I mean Ellie was giddy, and all because Hannah had gone on a date the night before.
While Dad, Cam, Adam, Cole, and Dec hung out downstairs, Elodie worked away in the kitchen with help from Clark, and I leaned against Hannah’s dressing table watching her grimace at Ellie’s excitement, often looking to Jo for help.
‘I don’t understand. ’ Ellie threw her hands up in bafflement. ‘I remember being absolutely thrilled about my first date. Granted, Braden and Adam ruined it and I came home crying, but surely your first date went better than mine. ’
I was too busy smirking at Ellie and wondering what the hell Braden and Adam had done to ruin her first date to notice that Hannah was growing increasingly uncomfortable.
‘Ellie, can you just drop it?’ Her plaintive tone brought my head around and I frowned at her morose expression.
Oh, God. Had something happened? Had he … ‘I don’t know about you, Els, but I’m beginning to worry. ’
Hearing the seriousness of my tone, Ellie stiffened, her wide blue gaze flying back to Hannah. ‘Hannah, did that boy do something to you?’
‘Oh, for goodness’ sake. ’ Jo crossed her arms over her chest and gave Hannah an impatient look. ‘Just tell them. ’
‘Jo. ’ Hannah glowered at her. ‘No. ’
Jo looked at Ellie, seemingly ready to ignore Hannah’s annoyance. ‘She’s got this strange belief that if more people know about him it’ll somehow jinx it. But, sweetheart’ – she turned back to Hannah – ‘after last night, I don’t think that’s a problem now. ’
Ellie crossed her arms over her chest, frowning. ‘What’s Jo talking about?’
We waited patiently – or at least Jo and I did – for Hannah to finally let us in on whatever secret she was harboring. ‘Just … don’t tell Mum. ’
‘Why not? Are you doing something illegal?’ Ellie huffed. ‘I’m starting to get really concerned. ’
I knew Hannah well enough to know she was only just refraining from rolling her eyes. ‘It’s nothing like that. I just don’t want everyone to know. It’s too depressing. ’
‘Fine, I won’t tell Mum. Now spill. ’
Exhaling heavily, Hannah leaned back against her pillows and stared up at the poster on her ceiling. It was a sexy black-and-white shot of the front man of one of the world’s most famous rock bands. ‘Two years ago I met this guy. Marco. He’s a few years older than me. He helped me out when a couple of boys at school were bullying me anytime I missed the bus. Anyway, I kissed him one day. ’ She rolled her eyes at herself. ‘I thought he was kissing me back, but he pushed me off him and avoided me for a while. Then he started talking to me again, but he pretended like nothing had happened. He graduated last year. ’ She turned her head on her pillow now to glance between Ellie and me. ‘We’ve stayed in contact. Texting. Facebook. Sometimes meeting up just to hang out and talk. Nothing has ever happened between us, although I think I’ve made it clear I like him. ’ A pained expression, a deep hurt that caught me by surprise, entered Hannah’s eyes, and I suddenly knew that this wasn’t some silly little high school girl crush. She liked this boy. Really liked him. ‘I know there’s been other girls, I’m not stupid. But it’s different when you actually see it for yourself. ’
‘What happened?’ Ellie reached out to take her hand.
Hannah’s lip trembled, her throat working as she fought to control her emotions. ‘A few weeks ago I saw him kissing this girl outside the cinema. Like, really, really kissing her. ’
Ellie sighed, a deep-seated understanding in her expression, and from everything Ellie had told me about her past with Adam, she really understood. ‘So you finally decided to move on and accepted a date. This is like déjà vu,’ she muttered, squeezing her little sister’s hand.
‘Scott’ – Hannah flicked her gaze to me – ‘the date from last night. He’s a nice guy. He’s in the year above me. A lot of girls like him. So I said yes. ’
‘Wait for it,’ Jo murmured, her mouth twisted in annoyance. ‘It’s bloody typical. Men,’ she huffed.
‘Marco moved here from Chicago. He’s living with his aunt and uncle. They own D’Alessandro’s. ’
‘Oh, my God, I love that place. ’
‘Liv –’ Ellie bugged her eyes out at me. ‘Stick to the program. ’
‘Oh. Sorry. ’ I winced. ‘Continue. ’
‘Marco works for his uncle at the restaurant, something he never actually told me. ’ She seemed perplexed by this. ‘He goes to Telford College. He’s studying to become a carpenter. I didn’t know he was working too. ’
She was silent a moment as she got lost in her own thoughts.
‘Hannah. ’ Ellie shoved gently at her leg. ‘The rest of the story?’
‘Scott took me to D’Alessandro’s. ’
We all sucked in a breath, suddenly realizing where this was going.
‘Marco was bussing tables. He saw us together and he looked …’ She shrugged, seeming lost. ‘He looked furious. When Scott went to the toilet, I tried to talk to him, but he just … he barely looked at me and then stormed off. Disappeared. ’
We were all silent for a moment and then I offered unhelpfully, ‘Sounds complicated. ’
‘Sounds epic. ’ Ellie smiled at her little sister.
‘This is why I didn’t say anything. ’ Hannah glowered up at Jo while gesturing to her sister.
‘Hey,’ Ellie snapped, not something she did a lot, considering she was a pretty sunny person. ‘Stop treating me like some fluffy romantic. I can be useful, you know. In fact, I’m an expert on guys who push you away for inexplicable reasons when it’s obvious they fancy you. ’
Her sister eyed her carefully. ‘That is true. ’
‘I say let him hang. ’ Ellie shrugged. ‘When I shut Adam out, that pushed him to make his move. ’
‘Wasn’t that your tumor?’
Els glared at her. ‘The tumor was a catalyst, but believe me I was wearing him down with my absence before all that. ’
Hannah bit her lip at Ellie’s tone. ‘Sorry. I didn’t mean to sound cavalier about your tumor. ’
‘Forgiven. ’ Ellie blew air out between her lips. ‘So? What are we going to do? About Marco, that is?’
For a little while we sat around debating the best move, all of us considering it seriously, since it was plain as day that this was no ordinary crush for Hannah. This mysterious Marco guy, whoever he was, meant something to her, and I wanted a description so I could go into D’Alessandro’s and check him out. Hannah did not seem interested in playing games with him and was leaning more toward Jo’s advice to try and get him to talk to her. As the girls left the room ahead of me at Elodie’s call upstairs, I was suddenly hit with a realization.
Hannah, a girl who was yet to turn seventeen, had more of a love life than I did.
‘And isn’t that just depressing,’ I muttered, as I walked downstairs.
I turned at the sight of Cole coming out of the toilet, his eyebrows raised in question.
‘Tortoises,’ I answered immediately, lying because the truth was just embarrassing and way too complicated to explain to a fifteen-year-old boy. ‘They’re so grumpy-looking. ’
Cole eyed me like I was nuts, which I might just be. ‘You’re a little weird, Liv. You know that, right?’
I nodded in resignation and started walking toward the dining room.
‘But you’re wrong about tortoises. ’
Affection rushed through me, and I turned to him with a questioning smile. ‘I am?’
‘They’re not grumpy. They’re just contemplating things. That’s why they take their time getting places. They’re constantly thinking things through. ’
My grin widened and he smiled back at me. ‘It’s official. You are just as big a geek as I am, Cole Walker. ’
He grunted at me. ‘Aye, if cooler than ice is now being mistaken for geek. ’
Laughing, I followed him in to dinner. ‘You’re spending too much time around Nate. His cockiness is wearing off on you. ’
‘I don’t suppose you’re reshelving history books, are you?’
Before Jamaica Lane by Samantha Young / Young Adult / Romance & Love have rating 5.3 out of 5 / Based on37 votes