Before jamaica lane, p.18
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       Before Jamaica Lane, p.18

         Part #3 of On Dublin Street series by Samantha Young
 
Page 18

  Honestly, it wasn’t my favorite place to hang out. It was dark and crowded, and because it was a basement bar it was a little claustrophobic. The furniture was sparse and uncomfortably modern, and the dance floor was the size of my tiny kitchen. There was a hint of pretention to Club 39 that turned me off, and frankly I was worried I wouldn’t be able to find someone here that I actually wanted to flirt with badly enough to pass Nate’s latest test and win myself a phone number.

  If the thought of this evening’s goal wasn’t enough to make me want to upchuck, what I was wearing and the admiring looks I was getting from guys definitely did.

  Nate was right. I did feel sexy in this outfit. I had a goodly amount of cleavage on show, my waist looked tiny, and my hips über curvy. The top and skirt accentuated all the positive aspects of my figure and hid the negative. I’d also spent a lot longer on my makeup than usual, highlighting my pale eyes with smoky eye shadow and plumping my lips with dewy lip gloss. My hair was easy because I actually had good hair. It fell down my back in sultry dark waves that were perfect for the outfit.

  Altogether I was feeling very Marilyn Monroe in it. That didn’t mean I knew how to handle going from conservative to super vixen.

  I ignored the attention my outfit was getting – something Nate would be pissed at, considering I was supposed to be throwing flirty smiles around – and my hand tightened on my new clutch as I searched the bar for my friends.

  I found them in the corner, already sitting on the strange leather cuboid that was supposed to be a couch. Ellie was her usual sophisticated chic in a pale pink shift and silver stilettos, and Jo was her usual sexy glamour in a figure-hugging electric blue dress and matching high-heeled sandals. They were sitting with their fiancés, laughing at something Nate was saying as he leaned his elbows on his knees, cradling a beer in his hands. Adam was wearing a designer suit that fit him perfectly, while Cam wore dark jeans and a Ramones T-shirt. Nate was wearing a blue dress shirt and black slacks.

  All three of them were droolworthy.

  As I approached the table I kept expecting them to look up and smile and welcome me. Instead, Ellie, Jo, and Cam looked up, stared right through me, and glanced away before sharply turning back to me with sudden recognition. Adam’s and Nate’s eyes soon followed.

  Jo’s stunning face broke into a massive grin. ‘Oh, my God, Olivia, you look … amazing. ’

  I fidgeted, completely uncomfortable under their perusal. ‘Uh, thanks. Moving on. ’ I grinned goofily and was about to make my way to Ellie’s side to sit down when Nate grabbed my hand and maneuvered me beside him. I smiled at him and then instantly shivered at the way he was checking me out. Finally our eyes met.

  ‘You look insanely fuckable. ’

  I laughed, trying not to flush. ‘As always, I’m charmed by you, Nathaniel. ’

  ‘You have such a way with words, Nate,’ Ellie agreed dryly.

  Adam grunted. ‘He’s worse than Braden. ’

  Nate shrugged and took a swig of beer before replying lazily, ‘I say it how I see it. ’

  Attempting to let Nate’s blunt compliment bolster my nerves, I began to search the bar for my victim.

  Target?

  Okay, that didn’t sound any better.

  I need a drink.

  I gestured to their glasses. ‘Another round?’

  Adam immediately stood up and edged past the small table we were crowded around. ‘I’m buying. Corona and lime?’

  Usually that was my drink, but tonight I decided I needed something a wee bit stronger. ‘Talisker and ginger ale. On the rocks. ’

  He set off to the bar, and I felt Jo’s eyes on me.

  ‘You okay?’ I asked.

  ‘Aye. Are you? Whisky?’

  ‘I just feel like something a little different tonight. ’ I looked away again, searching. There had to be a guy who elicited some kind of visceral reaction in me. Enough of one anyway that I’d want to strike up a flirtation with him.

  The smell of Nate’s cologne drifted over me as he leaned in to murmur in my ear, ‘See anything you like?’

  It took a lot of self-control to stop myself from turning to him, raking my eyes over him pointedly, and purring back, ‘Definitely, baby. ’

  However, I wasn’t ballsy enough or cool enough to do that. Maybe later, with a few fingers of whisky in my bloodstream, I’d be ballsier.

  ‘I’m looking,’ I told him quietly. ‘I feel like I’m going to throw up all over my new shoes. ’

  ‘Please don’t. I know how much they cost. ’

  I grinned, my eyes roaming the bar. ‘I’ll try not to, for your sake. ’

  ‘Appreciated. ’

  For the life of me I couldn’t see anyone, but I wasn’t actually concentrating too greatly. With Nate’s thigh pressed alongside mine, and his cologne lingering in the air around me, I found myself distracted by how aware I was of him. Of course, I was always aware of him, but now I was aware of him in a way I was always aware of someone I was attracted to.

  I stiffened at the sudden realization.

  Oh, boy.

  ‘What?’ Nate’s fingers curled around my wrist, drawing my gaze to his face again. He was so close I could probably count every single long thick eyelash that framed those seductive eyes of his.

  I scrambled for a reason to explain the sudden tension in my body, my eyes flying back to the bar. They stopped on a tall blond guy who bore a mild resemblance to Benjamin. ‘I found him. ’ I jerked my head in the guy’s direction. He was standing just away from the bar, drinking a pint of lager and laughing with two of his friends as they checked out the girls around them. He wasn’t amazingly gorgeous, but he had an attractive smile and nice broad shoulders.

  ‘Good. Now, go up to the bar to retrieve your drink from Adam, and start flirting with the guy you’ve picked out. ’

  Out of the corner of my eye I saw Jo studying the two of us carefully as Ellie and Cam chatted loudly over the music. Feeling the blood heat in my cheeks at the thought of Jo, or anyone, discovering what we were up to, instead of asking Nate for advice on how to start up a flirtation like I really wanted to, I just nodded mutely and stood up.

  I smiled at the girls as I passed them, ignoring their inquiring eyes. I threaded my way through the crowd, trying to put a swing in my hips like Jo did when she was wearing heels. My heart was pounding so hard that the blood whooshed in my ears, and I was pretty sure if I said one word it would come out in a trembling garble. On shaking legs, I approached Adam, who was standing near the end of the bar and near my target.

  ‘Hey. ’ I slipped in at his side and spotted my glass of whisky on the bar. ‘Mine?’

  ‘Yeah, I was bringing it over. ’

  ‘No need. ’ I grabbed it and tipped its contents down my throat, my eyes watering with the burn. I patted my chest and gave a little cough. ‘Woo!’ The burn began to dissipate, leaving a nice heat that rose in my chest. Leaning over the bar and ignoring Adam, who was staring at me like he’d never seen me before, I tapped Alistair, Jo and Joss’s ex-colleague, on the shoulder. He turned from pouring a pint and smiled in recognition.

  ‘Olivia, what can I get for you?’

  ‘Another Talisker and ginger ale on the rocks. ’ I slapped the money on the counter. ‘Keep the change. ’

  He took the money with one hand while he slid the pint to his customer.

  ‘Eh, are you okay?’ Adam frowned at me.

  I nodded rapidly. ‘Never better. ’ I cut a look at my target out of the corner of my eye to make sure he was still there.

  Yup.

  Okay.

  I sucked in a deep breath, trying to tamp down the riot of nerves in my belly.

  Turning my head as if I were casually checking out the club, I let my eyes pass over him and then come back. He caught the movement and looked at me, a spark of interest in his eyes.

  That was good.

  I
smiled and he smiled back.

  That was better.

  Leaning around the bar so my cleavage became a bit of a focal point, I asked, ‘I’ve seen you around the library, right?’

  The blond stepped closer to me and away from his friends, still smiling as he checked me out. His gaze dropped to my chest for a few seconds longer than was polite and then came back to my face. ‘Library?’

  ‘The university. I’m a librarian there. You’re a postgrad, right?’

  His grin widened. ‘No, but now I wish I was. I don’t remember librarians like you when I was at university. ’ He had a sexy English accent and definitely seemed interested.

  I might actually pass the test.

  ‘Here you go, Olivia. ’ Alistair slid my drink toward me and as he did I met Adam’s eyes. He was looking between me and the guy as if unsure of whether I’d invited the attention or not. To reassure him I smiled, gave a flirty shrug, and deliberately turned back to my target.

  ‘So it’s Olivia?’ He’d braced an elbow on the bar, bringing our bodies closer. So close that even in heels I was tipping my head back to look into his eyes.

  ‘Yeah. And you are?’

  ‘Will. ’ He held out a hand for me to shake, which I did, quite liking the feel of his strong hand wrapped around mine.

  Yeah, I could definitely do this.

  ‘Is that an American accent?’ His eyes searched my face with interest.

  ‘Yeah. I was raised in the States, but my dad’s Scottish, so we moved back recently. ’

  ‘How do you like it?’

  I grinned and answered honestly, ‘It’s been great so far. ’

  Will dipped his head, his blue eyes glittering with sexual intent that surprised me. It shouldn’t have, since that’s what I was hoping for, but still … I didn’t feel that comfortable if I was honest with myself. I didn’t know this guy and I didn’t know how he’d react to harmless flirting. For some people there was a fine line between feeling flirted with and feeling like you were being sexually led on. Especially if you were in fact just an experiment … and were indeed being led on. ‘This is going to sound really forward and cheesy, but has anyone ever told you that you have the most amazing eyes?’

  Yes. Nate Sawyer did. And it sounded a lot better coming from him.

  I looked down and then glanced back up at him from under my lashes. ‘Thank you,’ I murmured and then casually twisted my head to look back over at my friends.

  Nate was standing near the table, but a short, slender and well-formed blonde was practically pressed up against him, and he dipped his head to her ear to be heard over the music, his lips brushing her skin.

  I shivered, feeling cold, and the nerves in my stomach turned to ash.

  He wasn’t even aware that I was doing well on his test. There was a pretty blonde girl with slim hips and a gorgeous face pressing her body against his, so why would he be aware of anything I was doing? Heat, and this time I was pretty sure it was the heat of hurt and anger, burned under my skin, and I looked away, only to catch Jo’s eye. She stared at me for a second and then glanced back at Nate. When she returned her attention to me, I could see the concern in her expression, so I smiled at her like I hadn’t a care in the world and turned back to Will.

  He was frowning.

  Great.

  ‘Is that your boyfriend?’ he asked, tipping his chin in Nate’s direction.

  ‘No. ’ I rushed to assure him. ‘They’re all just my friends. ’

  Relaxing, he said, ‘So you are single?’

  ‘I’m single. ’ So single it wasn’t funny. ‘You are, right?’

  ‘Hard to believe it, but yeah. ’ He gave a little self-deprecating laugh, and I relaxed too, liking his answer.

  ‘So, what is it you do, Will?’

  ‘I’m an engineer. ’

  Intrigued, I took a sip of my whisky, nursing it now that I felt more calm. ‘Tell me about that. ’

 
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