Before jamaica lane, p.16
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       Before Jamaica Lane, p.16
 

         Part #3 of On Dublin Street series by Samantha Young
Page 16

  The familiar smooth voice surprised the heck out of me, and as I jerked my head back to stare up at Benjamin I felt my tongue immediately twist itself into a knot.

  It was Monday afternoon and I’d taken a moment away from the quiet help desk in the reserve section to reshelve returned books. Benjamin had crept up on me as I sat on my haunches, putting a few books back on the bottom shelf of the last book stack in the room.

  His green eyes were friendly and inquiring. ‘I’m looking for a book in this section. ’

  Taking a deep breath, I tried to remember everything Nate and I had gone over, and yet sitting at this guy’s feet I still felt incredibly inadequate. This was supposed to be my moment. I was supposed to start flirting and begin the first day of the rest of my life.

  Instead I managed to unknot my tongue as I stood up, my hand reaching for the trolley of books and articles as though it would prop me up. ‘What are you looking for?’

  He glanced down at a piece of paper in his hands and then gazed directly into my eyes. ‘Sex Crimes, Honour, and the Law in Early Modern Spain. ’

  As soon as the word ‘sex’ fell from his mouth, my cheeks blazed.

  His lips quirked up at my prudish reaction, and I ducked my head over the books on my trolley in humiliation and started searching through them. ‘Um’ – my hands were shaking from the horror that I was still as socially awkward as I had been two weeks ago – ‘here it is. ’ I grabbed the leather-bound book and quickly held it out to him, unable to meet his eyes.

  ‘Thank you. ’ He exhaled. ‘I thought I wasn’t going to get my hands on it. ’

  I didn’t say anything, just nodded.

  ‘Okay. Well, thanks. ’

  I nodded again and waited for his shadow to move away. As soon as his footsteps faded I lifted my head and stared at the space where he’d been.

  It was official. I was a loser.

  And Nate was totally wasting his time.

  For the next few days I avoided having to listen to my own thoughts. At work that was pretty easy because I kept myself busy, and was constantly in Angus’s face asking him for more tasks. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he thought I’d started a diet that consisted only of Red Bull … or crack. Considering he hadn’t done a random locker check, though, I was guessing he was erring on the side of Red Bull. Or, you know … just plain crazy.

  That night I had dinner with Dad and Dee and didn’t go home until I was so tired I practically collapsed on my bed as soon as I got inside the apartment. Tuesday night I did a little shopping after work and bought a bunch of comedies on DVD. I didn’t want depressing, maudlin, or angsty. I wanted my mind off anything that could possibly take me back to that one minute of absolute loserdom in the reserve section with Benjamin.

  By the time Nate arrived for our lesson on Wednesday night just after eight o’ clock, I was ready to quit.

  So much for grabbing life by the balls.

  Knowing Nate could eat an entire supermarket after judo class, I’d laid out a bunch of snacks on the coffee table and had a Steve Carell movie playing in the background. When he walked in, his hair still wet from the shower he’d obviously quickly taken before coming over, I studied his confident swagger as he entered my apartment. Nate didn’t just walk; he prowled. This was a man confident in his body and he knew how to use it.

  God, I envied him.

  ‘Babe. ’ He grinned at the food I’d laid out for him and quickly sat down on the sofa to be nearer to it.

  ‘Beer?’

  ‘Please. ’

  I brought him the beer and flopped down beside him.

  Nate instantly raised a questioning eyebrow, unsurprisingly reaching for a mini chocolate donut first. He had a bit of a sweet tooth. ‘What’s with you?’

  Watching him munch on the donut, I debated whether to tell him or not. Before he’d walked in I’d been ready to hold my hands up, apologize, and explain it had all been a waste of his time. Now that he was here, however, I started to wonder if he’d be disappointed in me. It didn’t say much about me if I gave up on myself so quickly, especially when Nate was refusing to do so.

  ‘Benjamin came into the library on Monday. ’

  He gestured for me to go on as he took a swig of beer.

  ‘It was a car wreck, Nate. He asked for a book called Sex Crimes, Honour, and the Law in Early Modern Spain and I blushed from the tips of my toes to the roots of my hair. ’

  Nate winced.

  ‘He tried to speak to me, and I was so mortified that I’d blushed I just kept looking at my feet like a five-year-old crushing on her ten-year-old neighbor. ’

  ‘Crap, what is it with this guy?’ Nate asked, settling back against the couch.

  ‘I don’t know. ’ I shrugged. ‘I think it’s a mental block. ’

  ‘A mental block?’

  A mental block indeed. It wasn’t that hard to understand why I couldn’t flirt with Benjamin. The reason why was the reason I’d been avoiding thinking about the whole thing for the past few days. It was just too depressing. ‘A mental block,’ I repeated. ‘It’s the bit that comes after the flirting that is causing my mental block. ’ I lowered my gaze, nervously twisting my fingers. ‘If the flirting worked and I somehow managed to get a date with Benjamin … I’d be terrified. ’

  ‘Terrified?’

  ‘It’s the no-experience thing, Nate. It makes me feel inadequate, unsexy. It doesn’t matter how much you tell me that I’m attractive, or how much we work on silly flirting, that inexperience is always there, taunting me. It’s stopping me from doing anything. ’ Feeling my cheeks burn, I prepared myself to explain to him just how bad the situation was. ‘I’ve kissed two guys, Nate. Two nights of kissing. That’s it. And one of those nights I was spectacularly drunk and I lost my virginity. Two guys in my entire twenty-six years on this planet. I don’t even know if I’m a good kisser or not. ’

  The apartment was silent except for the murmur of the movie. I’d turned the volume down when Nate buzzed up, and now it was just an annoyance in a tense moment.

  ‘Nate?’

  He shifted a little closer, studying me carefully. ‘It’s easy enough to find out. ’

  ‘What do you mean?’

  ‘Kiss me. ’

  I jerked back. ‘What? No!’

  He smirked. ‘I’ll try not to take that personally. ’

  ‘No. ’ I hurried to reassure him. ‘It’s not that you’re not kissable, you know you are, you handsome bastard, it’s just that you’re Nate. We’re friends. It might get weird. ’

  He grinned at my answer. ‘Liv, we’re grown-ups. I think we can handle an experimental make-out without freaking out and gabbing to all our friends about it. ’

  I made a face at him. ‘Funny. ’

  ‘Well. ’ He gave me a ‘what are you waiting for’ look. ‘Kiss me. ’

  The pulse in my neck began to throb. ‘You’re serious?’

  ‘Completely. ’

  My eyes dropped to his mouth. He had a great mouth. Kind of a perfect mouth, actually. ‘Now?’

  ‘Now. ’

  Trembling, I shimmied across the sofa so our knees were touching. ‘Just kiss you?’

  I saw a dimple flash but ignored the fact that he was laughing at me. I was too busy hyperventilating over whether or not I was about to give Nate Sawyer the worst kiss of his life.

  My chest began to rise and fall quickly as I scrambled to catch a proper breath.

  ‘Calm,’ Nate murmured.

  At his advice, I sucked in a huge breath and with it the fruity scent of Nate’s shampoo. He wasn’t wearing his usual heady cologne, and instead smelled fresh, clean.

  For some reason it made me think of him naked.

  Oh, boy, Nate naked.

  Feeling my skin warm, I saw the question in Nate’s eyes – as if he knew I’d had an indecent thought and wanted to know what exactly it had been.

&
nbsp; To shut out his question, I leaned up and pressed my quivering lips to his.

  His body tensed for a moment, seeming to want me to take the lead.

  His lips were warm and soft as I brushed my own tentatively against them. Realizing he wasn’t going to make a move until I really kissed him, I leaned closer, my breasts brushing his chest, and I pressed my mouth harder against his, my tongue running gently across the seam of his closed lips.

  His mouth parted, letting me in. I flicked my tongue against his, and suddenly I wasn’t in it alone. He moved his lips against mine, gently licked at my tongue until all I could taste was sugar and beer and Nate. Our kiss deepened.

  Goose bumps rose all over my arms, and my breasts swelled against him.

  He groaned, the sound vibrating in my mouth.

  My fingers tightened in his hair. I couldn’t even remember putting them there.

  My chest was pressed against his. I couldn’t remember him putting his arm around me to haul me close.

  God, he could kiss.

  And his tongue. Wow. He could use his tongue. The thought of him using his tongue on other parts of me added fuel to the already quickly-growing-out-of-control fire inside of me. My skin was ablaze. I felt like I was going to burst out of it any second, and I just couldn’t care. All I cared about was the taste of Nate.

  The pressure built between my legs, and frustration grew along with it. I needed more. More somehow. Clasping my hand around his neck I pressed my knee between his to bring me that little bit closer. Wanting a deeper taste, I sucked on his tongue.

  A growl rose from the back of Nate’s throat and suddenly I was pushed away from him. The absence of his mouth was almost painful. It took me a minute to come out of the fog of desire to realize Nate was staring at me wide-eyed, panting.

  Reality settled around me.

  For a moment I’d forgotten why we were kissing in the first place.

  I clenched my hands into fists to stem the trembling in my fingers. ‘Was … was that okay?’ I asked, my voice low and raspy.

  Nate’s expression changed, as his eyebrows lifted in disbelief. That I’d asked the question? Without saying a word, he reached for my hand, uncurled my fist, and then placed it on his thigh. Caught in his dark gaze, my heart still pounding from arousal, I pliantly let him graze my hand up his leg. I froze in shock when he slid my palm over the erection straining against the zipper of his jeans. ‘What do you think?’ he asked, his own voice gravelly with arousal.

  My eyebrows hit my hairline.

  Feeling him hard beneath my hand and knowing that I’d got him into such a state sent a rush throughout my whole body. Not only was I completely turned on, I felt somewhat liberated to know that I could kiss. That my kiss could in fact make a guy as wonderful and as experienced as Nate Sawyer hard for want of me.

  Reflexively I ground my palm against him and his eyes grew lidded, his breath stuttered. I felt that telltale flip deep in my lower belly. I wanted his hand on me. I wanted –

  I BELONG WITH YOU. YOU BELONG WITH ME …

  ‘Shit!’ I gasped as the Lumineers blared through the room from my phone and brought me crashing back to reality. Wrenching my hand from Nate’s lap, I couldn’t meet his gaze as I knocked over the box of mini donuts trying to get to my cell. ‘It’s my dad,’ I muttered, and lifted the phone to my ear.

  I didn’t have to answer, but Dad always worried when I didn’t – and honestly, right now I needed an escape. ‘Hey,’ I answered, sounding out of breath, which I kind of was. My cheeks burned even hotter at the thought of talking to Dad after having been feeling up Nate.

  ‘You okay? You sound out of puff,’ Dad asked, concern in his voice.

  I scrambled for a lie. ‘You caught me in the middle of Pilates. ’

  A tap on my knee brought my eyes reluctantly back to Nate. He gestured to the door and stood up. ‘I’m going to go,’ he mouthed.

 
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