Before jamaica lane, p.31
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       Before Jamaica Lane, p.31
 

         Part #3 of On Dublin Street series by Samantha Young
Page 31

  The two of them were especially kind to me, asking me lots of questions. His dad in particular was possibly even more charming than Nate. There were so many of us at the table it was hard to carry on just one conversation, so we’d split into separate conversations. I, for one, was happy to get a little more insight into Nate.

  ‘He used to have this toothbrush he took everywhere,’ Nathan divulged as Sylvie laughed.

  ‘A toothbrush?’

  Nate groaned. ‘I can’t believe you’re telling her the toothbrush story. ’

  Nathan ignored him, grinning devilishly and so much like Nate that I was mesmerized. ‘You know, with most kids it’s a blanket or a teddy bear. With Nate it was a toothbrush. And not the toothbrush he used. Just a toothbrush he cried and begged his mum to get him from the supermarket. ’

  I was choking on my laughter now. ‘A toothbrush?’ I repeated, shooting a look at Nate, who was now pretending not to listen. I wondered how it was possible a man could be so sexy and yet so adorable all at the same time.

  ‘It had a yellow handle with a smiley face on it,’ Nathan continued. ‘He took it everywhere with him. He even took it to bed with him. He’d fall asleep with it clutched in his wee hand. We have photographic evidence. ’

  I laughed and Nate turned to me, shaking his head. ‘He thinks he has photographic evidence. ’

  Sylvie gasped. ‘You better not have done anything with those photos, Nathaniel Sawyer, or you’ve had it. ’

  Nathan saved his son by turning to me. ‘Nate told me your dad is Scottish. ’

  ‘Yup. He’s originally from Paisley. ’

  ‘Has he shown you much of Scotland?’

  ‘Some. We visited a few years ago and he took me north, I think past Inverness. Since we moved here we’ve been to a couple of places. The western highlands. Oh, and I wanted to see where Robert Burns was from, so he took me south to Alloway, and then we drove right to the border, to Gretna Green. I read a lot, so I’d read about it being the place where abducted heiresses and young English couples forbidden to marry would flee because the marriage laws in Scotland allowed them to marry without parental consent. I wanted to see it. It sounded pretty cool. ’

  ‘You’re a librarian, right?’ Sylvie asked with a smile.

  The food arrived at that point, so it wasn’t until my hearty fish and chips – that would do nothing for my belly pouch but add a little more cushion – had been served that I answered her. ‘Yeah, at the university. ’

  ‘Do you have a boyfriend then, Olivia?’ Nathan asked, a glint of mischief in his eyes.

  Trying not to squirm at the question or the feel of Nate’s leg tensing against mine, I shook my head quickly and took another bite of food so I would have an excuse not to answer.

  ‘You’re a beautiful girl. ’ Nathan frowned, seeming flummoxed. ‘There’s no one?’

  ‘She’s choosy. ’ Nate saved me. ‘As well she should be. ’

  ‘Well, there’s no such thing as perfect. Sometimes you just have to take what’s there. Isn’t that right, sweetheart?’ Sylvie winked at her husband teasingly, and suddenly I knew where Nate had gotten the ability to make a wink look cool.

  Nathan gave her a droll look and turned back to me. ‘Sylvie’s right. You’ll end up living a lonely life if you’re waiting around for perfect. ’

  I was about to laugh at the well-meaning but overly personal interest they’d taken in my love life within thirty minutes of meeting me when Nate said quietly, ‘Liv’s perfect. She’s deserves perfect. She won’t be settling for anything less. ’

  It could have been funny. Sweet. Teasing. But there was an intensity about the way he said it that drew the three of us up short. Nathan and Sylvie studied their son with curiosity before turning that attention to me. I dipped my head, my cheeks burning, wondering if we were going to get through this weekend without Nate giving us away.

  I was angry with him. And not about his little slips here and there.

  I was angry because what he’d just said was utterly beautiful. Looking at him caused a dart of pleasure-pain to hit me in the chest. My blood heated, my fingers curling into little fists. He was making me fall for him.

  That wasn’t supposed to be part of the deal.

  In an effort to slow my descent, I turned to Cole and started chatting with him and thus found myself in conversation with Cam’s dad, Andy. Andy was a quiet, reserved man who got along really well with Jo’s little brother. As soon as I showed interest in local history, Andy opened up, a veritable fount of information. I was glad for it, glad for the distraction.

  The meal wore on, and as conversations collided and beer kicked in, we got louder and louder. It soon became clear to me that Nate, Cam, Peetie, and their families were all very close. There were bonds here that I’d already witnessed from spending time with the guys, but seeing them with their parents made it clear that those bonds were solid. They were forever. I didn’t know if the fact that the guys didn’t have siblings factored into that somehow. It certainly factored into their friendships with each other.

  I’d never had anything like that. I’d had my mom, and she had a few close friends. Then Dad came along and all I needed was him and Mom. For some reason or other I’d never had a best friend the way the guys had each other. There weren’t any family get-togethers, although there had always been someone coming in and out of the house because Mom was always helping someone and Dad was always doing a favor for someone else.

  Still, I’d never thought I needed anything like this until I moved to Edinburgh and was enfolded into the lives of these warm, down-to-earth people. They’d done the same for Joss, and Joss had done the same for me, even going so far as to make me a bridesmaid in her wedding.

  I decided then as Nathan, Andy, and Jim split the bill that when I got back from Longniddry I was going to pay Joss a visit. She’d been there for me. I needed to be there for her too.

  Overall, the meal had left me feeling strangely melancholy, so I was relieved that the guys were in such high spirits. They’d had a few pints with dinner, and after saying good night to their families, they’d walked us back to the house, where they immediately pulled beers out of the fridge.

  Two hours later they were still enjoying their freedom from the usual responsibilities and were a little drunk. After Peetie proclaimed that there was no way either Cam or Nate could take him down using a judo move, the two of them had looked up at their massive rugby-playing friend and taken on the challenge. I should have stopped them. Someone was going to get hurt, but since Jo and Lyn were sitting laughing in the corner and not doing anything about their men, I decided I wasn’t going to intervene on Nate’s behalf either.

  I wandered into the kitchen and found Cole putting out some snacks.

  ‘Hey. ’ I nudged him as I sidled up next to him. ‘Have they made you one of the catering staff now?’

  Cole smirked. ‘I thought I better get out of Dodge. ’

  ‘Smart kid. ’ I picked up some peanuts. ‘I’m surprised you haven’t asked one of us to sneak you a beer yet. ’

  As soon as I said it, his face got all pinched and I cursed myself for being such an idiot.

  ‘I’m not really that interested in the stuff, to be honest. ’

  Of course he wasn’t. He had an alcoholic parent.

  Way to go, Olivia.

  ‘Sorr –’

  ‘While Cam is pounding Peetie’s face into the rug I would like some food. ’ Nate wandered in, his eyes a little brighter from the beer, his cheeks flushed. His eyes dropped from me to the snacks, and he skirted the table, pressing against my side as he reached for a bowl of chips. With his other hand he caressed my bottom.

  I tensed, my eyes darting to Cole, whose own gaze was fixed on my ass. He glanced up at me, caught my look, and immediately scowled.

  Shit.

  Nate grinned at us both, completely unaware that he’d been caught. He sauntered
out of the kitchen without a care in the world, leaving me and Cole in a staring match.

  I suddenly felt like the teenager in the situation.

  Exhausted, I lowered my gaze and sighed heavily. ‘I’m going to bed. ’

  Lying in bed that night I stared at the ceiling, listening to the laughter filtering up from downstairs. The noise, plus my stressing, was a kind of hindrance, and it took me a long time to fall asleep. Eventually, I assured myself that Cole wouldn’t tell anyone what he saw. The caress wasn’t evidence of anything but Nate’s inability to not flirt with an available woman.

  Right?

  19

  The sun was shining brightly the next day, a lure for Cam, Jo, and Cole, who had decided to meet up with Cam’s parents and their dog for a picnic on the beach. That sounded like heaven to me. However, while Peetie and Lyn were spending the day with Peetie’s aunt and uncle, Nate wanted me to spend the day with him, Nathan, and Sylvie.

  It was a tough choice. Spend the day frolicking on a beach or learn more about Nate.

  Okay, so it wasn’t really a tough choice, but for the sake of pride I’m going to pretend I mused over it for more than ten seconds.

  I also really wanted to get away from Cole’s eagle eyes. The whole morning, while we all ate breakfast together, he watched me and Nate closely for, I imagine, any signs that we were up to no good.

  It was to my relief that I soon found myself out on the back deck of Nate’s parents’ home. The day started well. Nate complimented me on my body-skimming maxi dress, something I would never have felt comfortable wearing before our lessons, and when we were stopped at traffic lights he kissed me softly for the first time in what felt like forever. In actuality it had been only a few days since our last mouth-to-mouth. We’d taken the car, since Nate’s parents lived on the other side of the village, and Sylvie and Nathan had come out to greet us as we pulled up to their beautiful cottage. Nate had certainly grown up in a lovely place.

  Sipping lemonade, I laughed as Nate and his father teased each other. I shared smiles with Sylvie and felt very at home there.

  ‘I saw a picture of you with a dog,’ I said to Nate, smiling quizzically. I’d passed the photo of him as a child with a Lab puppy as we walked through their entrance hall. ‘You didn’t tell me you had a dog. ’

  Nathan immediately snorted as Nate groaned.

  I grinned. ‘What am I missing?’

  ‘The dog’ – Nathan laughed and then composed himself so he could continue – ‘was called Duke and we only had him for about fourteen months, until my son decided that Duke had more value in trade than as a family pet. ’

  ‘Oh, God. ’ Nate groaned again and shot me a dirty look. ‘You had to ask about the dog. ’

  Sylvie was almost crying with tears of laughter.

  My intrigue grew. I giggled. ‘What did you do?’

  ‘Do?’ Nathan leaned back, shaking his head at his son. ‘Well, he’d been bugging his mum and me for a surfboard for months, and we kept saying no because we both weren’t comfortable with him being out in the water without someone experienced with him. So when he went with Cam and his parents to the beach, we let him take Duke. He was out of Lena and Andy’s sight for a few minutes and he decided to make things happen for himself. ’

  Nate’s expression was pained.

  ‘He came across some surfers and started chatting to them. Eventually he asked them if they’d consider trading one of their boards. ’

  My eyes widened in horror. ‘Nate, you didn’t. ’

  He grimaced. ‘I was eleven years old. ’

  ‘Aye, meaning you knew exactly what you were doing. ’ Sylvie wiped her eyes.

  ‘As you’ve surmised,’ Nathan continued, ‘the guy said he’d trade his surfboard for Duke. ’

  ‘You gave them Duke? Did you get him back?’

 
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