Before jamaica lane, p.17
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       Before Jamaica Lane, p.17

         Part #3 of On Dublin Street series by Samantha Young
 
Page 17

  I searched his eyes for any clue as to how he was reacting to what had just happened, but if he had any thoughts on the matter he was hiding them well. I gave him a little halfhearted wave, barely listening to my dad tell me about this television he’d seen on sale that would be better than the secondhand one I currently owned, as I watched Nate walk out of my apartment.

  There was no way I could concentrate after that. I tried watching another movie and eating the snacks Nate had left behind, but my body was still taut from being left high and dry, and my emotions were all over the place. Mostly, however, I was just worried that I’d done damage to my friendship with Nate.

  Finally, I caved and sent him a text as I got into bed.

  Did shit get weird?

  I was staring at the ceiling in the dark when the Lumineers started ‘hey-ho-ing’ at me again, and I lifted my cell to see that Nate was calling. Relief mingled with fear as I picked it up.

  Nate was laughing on the other end of the line. ‘A little,’ he answered my text with no preamble. ‘But it doesn’t need to be. Especially if it helped?’

  My whole body relaxed into my mattress at Nate’s reply. Despite still feeling a little anxious about the whole thing, I decided he was right. It was only weird if we let it be weird, so I snorted instead and answered, ‘I’m not worried I can’t kiss, if that’s what you’re asking. ’

  ‘Oh, babe. ’ His deep voice rumbled in my ear and I was pretty sure my pupils dilated as the tingling started up between my legs again. ‘You can kiss. Believe me. ’

  ‘Well, I certainly believe your dick. ’

  His burst of shocked laughter did nothing to quell my suddenly burning cheeks. Did I actually say that out loud?

  Soda Pop, you’re not in Kansas anymore.

  ‘Were you blushing when you said that?’ Nate asked, and I could hear his wide grin in his words.

  ‘Maybe,’ I mumbled, pressing a cool hand to my inflamed cheek.

  His response was another hot, low chuckle that did funny things to my insides. As I lay there listening to him breathe, I couldn’t believe how much my mood had been transformed from earlier that day. I’d felt out of touch with life. I’d felt lonely, pathetic, and inexperienced. I’d felt defeated.

  Tonight I felt turned on, I felt alive, I felt a stirring of power inside me, and I didn’t want that to go away. The only way I knew how to feel it again … was to ask Nate to help me. But that was really crossing a line, and I didn’t know if he’d do it, and I didn’t know if I was willing to risk our friendship just so I could feel sexually empowered.

  ‘Liv?’

  ‘Yeah?’

  ‘What’s going through your mind? I can almost hear it down the end of this line. ’

  I closed my eyes, my heartbeat escalating as I readied myself to ask him.

  ‘Liv?

  ‘Um …’ The phone actually shook in my hand. ‘Um … I was wondering …’

  ‘Aye?’

  ‘I was wondering …’ I slumped as bravery deserted me. ‘What happens next?’

  ‘Well, I was thinking you could practice flirting in a real situation. ’

  Alert now, I asked quietly, ‘What does that mean?’

  ‘We’re going out for drinks with everyone on Saturday night, right?’

  ‘Yeah? So?’ I didn’t know if I liked the sound of where he was going with this.

  ‘Saturday morning before my judo class, we’re going shopping for a dress. You’re going to dress in something sexy, so you feel sexy, and then when we’re out at night, you’re going to prove to yourself you are sexy by flirting with a guy and getting his number. ’

  I was silent as I took this in, already feeling the butterflies in my stomach.

  ‘Olivia?’

  ‘Mm-hmm?’

  ‘Babe, you have nothing to worry about. I promise. ’

  Trying to be brave again, I put my faith in him. ‘Okay. I trust you. ’

  10

  Yawning, I shook my head when Nate held up a clingy red number.

  His jaw clenched as he put it back on the rack. ‘Is there anything you like? And can you please bloody wake up?’

  We were standing in the middle of a high street designer shop just off Princes Street, trying to find something sexy for me to wear that night. We’d been attempting this for two and a half hours and although I was deliberately delaying it to torture him, I was unfortunately torturing myself in the process. I threw my hands on my hips. ‘You woke me up at seven thirty in the morning on a Saturday. I’m tired. I’m bored. I hate shopping. I’m one of those women that actually can’t stand changing rooms, and mannequins freak me out. I own a T-shirt that says ONLINE SHOPPING IS MY SAVIOR. Comprende?’

  Nate folded his arms over his chest, bracing his legs apart. He was wearing dark blue jeans, black boots, a slim-cut white T-shirt, a black blazer, and a beanie. He looked gorgeous and awake and everywhere we went women surreptitiously gazed at him, their eyes filled with longing … until they turned their focus to me – and the longing changed to envy as they assumed we were together.

  I had to admit that part of the shopping trip was kind of fun.

  ‘Do you think I want to be here?’ Nate asked, irritation clipping his words. ‘I fucking hate shopping. ’

  I grinned teasingly as I playfully punched his arm. ‘Then let’s blow this joint, baby!’

  A dimple appeared and I knew he was trying not to laugh and thus ruin his beleaguered countenance. He held it together. ‘Liv, we need to get this done. ’

  Pouting, I clasped my hands together. ‘Please, let’s just go. ’

  His eyes dropped to my mouth for a moment before he lifted them to search my face. ‘Do you want to feel sexy tonight?’

  Slumping at his question, I exhaled, gazed around me, and answered in the affirmative.

  ‘And do you own anything that makes you feel marginally sexy?’

  ‘Just underwear,’ I admitted with a shrug.

  He was quiet at my answer, so I looked back at him. He was smiling. ‘That’s good to know. However, I don’t think you were planning on it going that far, so let’s find you an outfit. I have class in a couple of hours. ’

  ‘Excuse me. ’ A young sales assistant approached, her smiling eyes eating Nate up, who was at least ten years her senior. ‘Can I help at all?’

  Nate quirked an eyebrow at me and I answered with a long-suffering sigh before turning to the girl. ‘I’m looking for a dress. Nothing clingy,’ I said pointedly, my eyes on my friend. ‘Belly pouch,’ I reminded him and then turned back to the girl. ‘Do you have any peplum dresses?’

  ‘Eh …’ She shook her head. ‘We have peplum tops but no dresses. ’

  ‘Do you have matching pencil skirts?’

  ‘Oh, yes. This way. ’ She turned on her heel and started striding away from us.

  Nate was looking at me suspiciously. ‘Peplum tops? Pencil skirts?’

  ‘What? I said I hated shopping. I didn’t say I didn’t know how to dress. ’

  ‘I’m going to kill you,’ he muttered in my ear as we followed the girl. ‘You’ve been dragging your feet for two and a half hours. ’

  I stopped and grabbed his arm to halt him. ‘Honey, you woke me up at seven thirty. On a Saturday. ’

  ‘Are you saying the past few hours have been payback?’

  I shrugged nonchalantly. ‘I didn’t say anything of the sort. ’

  ‘Here we are. ’ The girl called to us and I hurried toward her to escape Nate’s frustrated growl. I felt the heat of him at my back as I stopped in front of the clothes rail where she stood. ‘We’ve got three different styles of peplum tops and there are a few pencil skirts here that would work with each. ’

  ‘Perfect. ’ Nate slapped my ass heartily – so hard, in fact, that the noise of it ricocheted off the walls of the store. And it stung. Like, really stung. ‘My baby will look gorgeous in these. ’


  The girl blinked in as much surprise as I did before murmuring her excuses to leave us to it. Once she was out of earshot, I slowly turned my head to look him in the eye. ‘What. The. Hell. Was. That?’

  He patted the sore spot soothingly. ‘Payback for the payback,’ he murmured with an unapologetic smile. Without another word he grabbed a few tops in my size along with skirts and shoved them at me. ‘Try them on. ’

  Snatching the clothes from him with one hand while I rubbed my sore backside with the other, I hissed at him, ‘You’ll pay for that. ’

  I spent the next twenty minutes stonily trying on outfits for his approval. Finally we decided on a low-cut black peplum top with a sweetheart neckline and a sapphire blue leather belt that looped around the waist, a skintight black pencil skirt that came to just below my knees and had a pretty pleat in the back, and a pair of blue suede stilettos and matching clutch. Nate was very happy with the outfit. I, on the other hand, was too busy planning my revenge for the ass slapping to really pay much attention.

  It wasn’t until we were at the counter and the girl gave me the total cost that I turned to Nate and sweetly asked, ‘Honey?’

  He raised an eyebrow at me. ‘What?’

  ‘I forgot my wallet. ’

  His eyes narrowed. ‘No, you didn’t. ’ He gestured to the purse hanging from my shoulder. ‘It’s right there. ’

  ‘That’s my purse. It’s not got my wallet in it,’ I lied.

  ‘I saw you put your wallet in there this morning, sweetheart,’ he reminded me through clenched teeth.

  ‘Well, now I don’t have it, sweetheart,’ I replied through my own clenched teeth.

  We glared at each other for a while. Until I won.

  Glowering at me the entire time, he took out his own wallet and pulled out his credit card. As the girl was putting my items into the shopping bag, I rested a hand against Nate’s chest and pressed a soft kiss to his cheek, then brushed my mouth along his ear. ‘Payback,’ I murmured, leaning away as he turned his head to meet my eyes. His own smoldered hotly, and for a moment I lost my breath. Ignoring the thrill of desire that pooled between my legs at his expression, I whispered, ‘My ass cheek is throbbing. ’

  A smile cracked his taut demeanor. ‘Fair enough. We’ll just call this an early birthday present. ’ He grabbed the bags and wrapped my hand around them.

  ‘No. ’ I shook my head, following him out of the store. ‘It’s payback. ’

  ‘Birthday present,’ he called over his shoulder.

  ‘Payback,’ I insisted adamantly, almost tripping over my own feet as I hurried to catch up with him out on the street. ‘Dude, that is one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. You are not taking it away with some nonsense about a birthday present. It is payback. ’ I lifted the bags to emphasize my point.

  Nate shook his head as he grinned. ‘Babe, it was the coolest thing you’d ever done until you admitted it was the coolest thing you’ve ever done. ’ He laughed at my mulish expression. ‘Fine,’ he conceded. ‘It was payback. ’

  As we headed down Princes Street we were quiet in the slowly thickening crowds of pedestrians, until finally my good manners got the better of me and I said softly, ‘Thank you for my early birthday present. ’

  A lot of women turned their heads to watch Nate Sawyer laugh hard at me before throwing his arm around my shoulders to cuddle me into his side.

  I had to admit … it was a pretty good place to be.

  The bouncer at Club 39 drank me in from head to foot and then murmured a flirtatious ‘Evenin’, darlin’ ’ as he moved aside to let me through the door. I did my best not to flush at the appreciative gleam in his eyes. Instead my legs shook as my heels clacked against the stone floor of the entrance. I was such a nervous wreck about tonight I’d ended up running late and had to text Jo to let her know I’d just meet her, Ellie, and the guys at the bar. It was the bar that both Jo and Joss used to work in, and we often went there socially because they still knew most of the staff and we could almost always get a table.

 
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