Before jamaica lane, p.19
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       Before Jamaica Lane, p.19
 

         Part #3 of On Dublin Street series by Samantha Young
Page 19

  And as it turned out that was pretty much the way to a guy’s heart. Or at least to Will’s. For the next thirty minutes I asked about him, his interests, his work, his hobbies, all the while smiling and giving him the impression that everything he said was fascinating.

  I had him eating out of my hand.

  However, if it hadn’t been a test I’d have given up ten minutes before then. I kept waiting for Will to ask me questions about myself, but for the most part he seemed happy to revel in my attention.

  Getting bored, I shrugged with mock reluctance. ‘I really should get back to my friends … but …’ Be brave, Soda Pop. ‘Can … can I have your number?’

  Will grinned and held out his hand. ‘Give me your phone. ’

  Opening my clutch, I pulled out my cell and felt the relief swamp me as Will typed his number into it. When he handed it back to me, he curled his hand around mine and gently tugged me forward, holding me to him as his head descended.

  I stood frozen as he pressed his mouth to mine.

  Then Nate and his blonde popped into my head and I angrily let my lips part.

  Will kissed me, his tongue lightly touching mine.

  It wasn’t a bad kiss. In fact, technically he was a good kisser.

  But I felt nothing.

  Pulling back, I smiled a little shyly, which he seemed to like, and I said, ‘I’ll call you. ’

  Once he let me go, I ignored the grins his friends threw me and turned on my heel to head back to my table.

  Nate, no longer with the blonde, was watching me with an unfathomable expression on his face. My eyes quickly darted over him to the others. Cam and Adam were grinning boyishly at me, Ellie was biting her lip to stem her own immature little smile, and Jo looked confused.

  ‘What was that?’ she asked, looking at my phone.

  I waved it, and filled my voice with amusement and nonchalance as I replied, ‘I got myself a number. ’ My eyes flicked to Nate and he gave a chin lift, silently beckoning me to him.

  I sat down next to him and waited, but he didn’t say anything until the others started talking among themselves. ‘Enjoy yourself?’ he asked quietly, his eyes searching mine.

  I shrugged. ‘I passed your little test. ’

  His dark eyes flicked back to the bar, where Will was still standing with his friends. I waited for some kind of reaction, but his expression was blank when he turned back to me. ‘I didn’t say you had to kiss a stranger. ’

  ‘No. But I did. ’

  ‘Seems I’ve got an overachiever on my hands. ’

  I shrugged.

  We were quiet for the rest of the night, I think mostly because I was lost in my own thoughts. When it was time to head home, as usual Nate insisted on walking me. I hugged the girls good-bye and said good night to the guys, then followed Nate down George Street in the gorgeous heels that were starting to pinch.

  ‘So …’ I tried for breezy. ‘It looked like you got a number tonight. ’

  ‘The blonde. ’

  I snorted. ‘Is that her name?’

  He slanted me ‘a look. ’ ‘It’s the only name I need to know. ’

  In that moment I really had to try to remember why he was the way he was so I didn’t call him on his asshattery. Tonight he would drop me off at my flat and then he’d call up the blonde girl, go meet her wherever, screw her, leave her, and then delete her number from his phone.

  It was not a good way to live, but it was the way he chose to live, and I had to respect his decisions. If he was just your regular old player I’d give him a lecture until his ears bled, but every time I thought of it now, I thought of the tattoo he had inscribed across his chest.

  The closer we got to my flat, however, the more uneasy I grew, and as I remembered the hurt and fury that had ripped through me at the sight of him flirting with the blonde, it occurred to me that maybe it wasn’t that I was uneasy at his choices, but at the thought of him leaving me to go screw some stranger.

  I didn’t even want to analyze that.

  Yet, as we came to a stop outside my building, I found myself saying his name quietly.

  ‘Aye?’ he asked, shoving his hands in his pants pockets.

  Staring into his handsome face, I reached somewhere deep within me for the courage I needed to ask him the question that had been burning inside me since we’d kissed. I led with, ‘When we kissed it helped. ’

  He gazed back at me, waiting silently for me to make my point.

  I cleared my throat, taking a mental bat to the swarm of butterflies that had erupted in my belly. ‘I felt better,’ I said, attempting to explain. ‘I felt … more confident. ’

  ‘What are you trying to say, Liv?’

  Where was another whisky when I needed it?

  ‘Um. ’ I wet my suddenly dry lips. ‘I want you … I want you to teach me how to be … good at sex. ’

  Nate’s focus sharpened and he asked with a surprising calmness, ‘In theory or in practice?’

  ‘Practice. ’

  The silence between us stretched so long that my butterflies were now multiplying at an unbelievable rate. Mortification and regret mingled as I began to feel awful for even asking, for putting him in that position. ‘Nate –’

  ‘How much have you had to drink?’

  A little affronted at the insinuation, I shook my head quickly. ‘I’ve only had a few whiskies. I’m not drunk. ’ I took an apologetic step toward him. ‘Look, I’m sorry if I’ve made you uncomfortable. I didn’t mean to. We can –’

  Nate pressed a silencing finger against my lips and I abruptly shut up. ‘You are one of my closest friends. I don’t want to do anything that might ruin that. ’

  Ignoring certain feelings – and by ‘ignoring’ I mean shoving them into the deep, dark depths of me – I concentrated purely on the thought of my own chrysalis as I hurried to assure him. ‘If I promised it wouldn’t, would you think about it? I just … I want to feel like I know what I’m doing. If I do, I feel like I’d be able to approach Benjamin with confidence, knowing that if he said yes to a date and afterward, if the date went there, it wouldn’t be this traumatic, nerve-racking thing for me. I trust you, Nate. And it wouldn’t exactly be a hardship,’ I added with a small smile, which he returned with one of his own.

  ‘So, let’s get this straight. You want me to fuck you in order to teach you how to fuck another guy?’

  ‘You make it sound so sordid. ’

  With a sigh, he leaned forward and pressed a sweet kiss to my forehead. ‘Go to bed, babe. If you still feel the same way in the morning, ask me again. ’

  ‘It was hard enough asking you the first time,’ I muttered under my breath as I turned to unlock the door to my building.

  Nate heard and I felt his strong hand on my hip, his heat at my back as his breath whispered over my ear. ‘It was brave, Liv. ’

  I looked back at him, a small grateful smile on my lips.

  ‘Dutch courage or real courage, I guess we’ll find out tomorrow,’ Nate said.

  And then he was gone, and the cold wind rushed over my skin as he left me unprotected at the door. I hurried inside, my heart fluttering as though a thousand of the butterflies in my stomach had escaped into my chest to cause havoc there too.

  Those butterflies kept me company the whole damn time I struggled to fall asleep that night.

  11

  I did drift off to sleep, waking up a little after noon, just in time to shower, get dressed, and wait for Dad to stop by the apartment and walk with me to Elodie and Clark’s for Sunday lunch.

  In the hours before sleep, though, I had time to really think, as Nate suggested.

  I came to one conclusion: I wanted to see this through. I even felt I had to. But … what I hadn’t considered when I blurted out my request to Nate was our friends. We were a pretty tight group, and although I was sure Nate and I could contain it, I was a little worried about any
impact that this would have on the dynamics of our group. I was also more than a little worried that I was overly confident in my belief that Nate and I should jump into this deal and it would all be okay.

  But I really wanted to see this through. The truth was I didn’t believe I was ever meant to be an insecure person, and that was because for the most part I wasn’t. I believed in my own intelligence; I believed in my own common sense; I believed that my personality, albeit quirky, was a good one; I believed that I was capable; I believed that I could do whatever I set my mind to. I wanted to believe that if someone didn’t like me, then that someone wasn’t worthy of my time.

  I believed in me.

  I believed in all the things written within me, I’d just somehow along the way stopped believing in my book jacket. I don’t know why. But I don’t think that was ever meant to happen. I don’t think I was ever meant to be the kind of person who questions her own adequacy; who allows anyone to make her think she’s lacking in some way.

  But there I was. That’s how I felt.

  And I was tired of moaning and whining and complaining about it to myself. I’d watched my beautiful young mother battle through cancer and lose that fight. Life was short. Too short to spend it hating a part of yourself, and not doing something to get your confidence back. Too short to not be living it.

  Sex was a massive part of life and living. I felt unqualified in it and there was someone who could give me a little practical experience to build my confidence and take me closer to that woman I believed I was always meant to be.

  So, after lunch, I had every intention of calling Nate and asking him my question again. There was no fire from the whisky to keep my courage ablaze. There was just me and my determination to become a woman who liked herself … all the way through.

  Turns out, I didn’t need to wait until after lunch to ask my question.

  Not only did Elodie have an extra person to feed in Dee, but Nate had dropped by Cam’s earlier that day to hang out, and he ended up with an invitation to Sunday roast as well. Not that Elodie cared. With the Nichols family it was always ‘the more, the merrier. ’

  It did mean, however, that I found myself standing outside on Elodie and Clark’s tiny terrace at the back of their house, enjoying a warm spring day with Jo while the others were inside.

  I was waiting for Nate, and my nerves were jumping all over the place. Thinking of the moment when I’d have to repeat my request to him, I nervously chugged an entire glass of water.

  ‘Are you okay, Liv?’

  I glanced, wide-eyed, at Jo. She was watching me, appearing concerned.

  ‘You seem wired. ’

  Taking in her expectant expression, I suddenly wanted to tell her everything. The words crawled up my throat and got stuck as my heart pounded hard.

  ‘Liv?’

  For all my determination, I grew very unsure as I gazed at my friend. What if Nate and I starting this thing really was a bad idea for us all? ‘I have this friend,’ I blurted out. ‘From work. He laid this dilemma on me and you know what I’m like, I like to have the right answer. ’

  Jo grew thoughtful. ‘Okay. What’s the dilemma?’

  ‘He has this group of friends. They’re all close, but there’s a girl in that group that he likes and they both want each other, but with their histories they don’t know where something between them could lead. They’re also worried how it’ll affect their group. ’

  I tensed when I finished talking, attempting to pretend that Jo didn’t look as if she didn’t believe for one second the dilemma was the dilemma of a colleague. I waited for her to call me out.

  ‘Well’ – she heaved a sigh – ‘I think if your friend likes this girl he should go for it. ’

  Relief flooded me and I felt myself relax. Jo wasn’t going to out me.

  Great.

  ‘You think?’

  A reassuring little smile played on her lips. ‘If he really wants to go there and it feels right for him, then he should. No one knows where a relationship is ever going to lead. We go into these things blind and as it progresses, as you get to know each other, the light starts streaming in. As for the group of friends … well, if they’re as close as you say they are, then they’ll understand. They’ll go with it and they’ll handle it, whatever happens. ’

 
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