Before jamaica lane, p.40
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       Before Jamaica Lane, p.40
 

         Part #3 of On Dublin Street series by Samantha Young
Page 40

  Nate had stood up as soon as I walked in, and now he was prowling toward me with this playful look in his eyes. The way his dimples played peekaboo had my face scrunching up like a five-year-old preparing for a tantrum. I did not need him to be gorgeous and charming right now! I definitely did not need the dimples.

  ‘I swallowed the key. ’

  ‘You didn’t swallow it. If you’d swallowed it I’d have come home to a corpse. ’

  Nate stopped with one eyebrow raised. ‘Should I be worried by how not upset you are at that prospect?’

  My nostrils flared. I knew it. He was here to be charming.

  I had to get him out!

  ‘Give me my key. ’

  Nate shrugged. ‘I can’t do that. ’

  ‘You have to,’ I huffed indignantly. ‘It’s my key. ’

  ‘Why are we still talking about the key?’

  ‘We’ve barely even started talking about the key. ’ My right foot moved back as Nate moved forward, his lids lowering sexily over his eyes. It was his hunting look. ‘Nate –’

  ‘I love you. ’

  I froze, almost gasping from the words, words that were fists punching gaping holes in my chest.

  While I was in shock Nate took advantage. He stopped, inches before me, not touching me but not really needing to. The heat from his body licked my skin.

  ‘My life has been hell without you,’ he confessed, his voice rough, his expression morose. ‘I thought I could do it. I thought I could lie to the both of us. But seeing you on the street last week with that guy and the little girl … It was a glimpse into the future. It didn’t hit me until right in that moment that walking away from you, from us, meant having to watch you be with someone else, have kids with someone else. ’ He closed his eyes as if in pain. ‘It cut me to the quick to see you playing happy family with that guy. Christ, Liv, I couldn’t breathe. ’

  And I couldn’t do this. It wasn’t enough.

  Shaking my head, I stepped to the side so he couldn’t back me into the corner. ‘Nate, you have to leave. ’

  Instead he studied me carefully. ‘You’re not ready to hear this yet,’ he concluded. ‘But I do need you to know that I’m going to fight for you. I’m not making the mistake of walking away from you again. The only man in your future is me, Liv. The only kids in your future are mine. ’ Nate opened my front door, dug into his pocket and produced my key. He held it out to me and I took it tentatively, confused by the action. ‘I don’t need to break into your life. You’ve put up a locked door between us and I understand why. But I’m going to stand outside it, bugging the absolute shit out of you. ’ He smiled wryly. ‘Until you let me back in. ’ His expression changed like a black cloud rolling in unexpectedly. ‘I’ll warn you, though – you let that Ben guy in the door … I’ll start fighting dirty. ’

  Before I could respond, Nate slipped out, leaving me split in two.

  Part of me was desperate to call him back, to savor those three little words that spilled from his lips. Savor them over and over again.

  The bigger part of me, however, knew it wasn’t enough. Maybe it was selfish, but I didn’t just want Nate to love me. I wanted him to love me the way I loved him. The kind of love that’s so big it would last beyond a lifetime.

  The kind of love he had for Alana.

  I don’t know what I expected. Nate always had such a laid-back approach to life that I wasn’t sure if he would really fight for me. Honestly, I was kind of hoping he wouldn’t because it would make it easier for me to keep saying no.

  The day after his little visit to my apartment, however, a basket of chocolates from my favorite chocolate boutique in the city was delivered to my work with a note from Nate:

  We have a date with melted chocolate waiting in our future … I’m going to paint you with it and lick my fill until you … Well, what is it the French call it? La petite mort. I love you.

  Nate

  Not only had he had no qualms about writing something like that on a gift card that the delivery person could see, but I also had to deal with my colleagues, who’d ripped the card out of my hands before I could stop them.

  Angus grinned as he handed it back to me. ‘He used a French phrase for orgasm. That’s classy. I say he’s a keeper. ’

  ‘He wrote about orgasms on an apology gift,’ I said, pointing out the obvious. ‘That’s classy?’

  ‘No, but it’s bloody hot,’ Jill chimed in, frowning at me. ‘Get back with him, you silly cow. Do you know how many men do stuff like this?’ She poked at the gorgeously wrapped basket of goodies. ‘Not many. ’

  I spent the rest of the day scowling at my basket of chocolates.

  The next day a large gift-wrapped box arrived at work and I took it into the staff room to open in private. Of course as soon as Jill saw the box, she told Angus and Angus told Ronan and all privacy was obliterated. They’d stood behind me as I pulled off the black satin ribbon and opened the pale pink box. Under layers of tissue I found a beautiful and very expensive black lace and satin bustier, matching high-cut panties, and silk stockings. They came with a card:

  Beautiful, sexy, sensual. The underwear is nice too. I hope one day you’ll wear it for me, but if you don’t, I hope at least when you put it on you’ll see what I see in you when you look in the mirror. I love you. Nate.

  I’d ended up crying in the bathroom after that, cursing Nate Sawyer to hell and hoping that tomorrow wouldn’t bring another gift that would push me closer to opening that goddamn door. In a stupid effort to somehow outmaneuver him I called Benjamin that night and arranged to meet him for coffee after work the next day at his favorite café, not far from the library. The hope being that his presence would remind me that life didn’t begin and end with Nate and I could move on. I could, I could, I could, I could.

  The day after, I was manning the help desk when security came over with another package for me. This time it was a small parcel with an envelope attached. My heart thumping, I ignored Wendy, who was working beside me, and opened it.

  A Blu-Ray disc of The Wizard of Oz.

  Tears pricked my eyes and I felt strangely nervous as I fumbled for the envelope. Taking a deep breath, I began to read the handwritten letter from Nate.

  Dear Liv,

  It’s time we upgraded your favorite movie to this century, even if it is The Wizard of Oz.

  And just so you know: If you were a movie you’d be The Godfather – I could watch you over and over and over and over again because … well, you’re my favorite.

  I miss you.

  I miss our Would You Rather conversations and your hilarious answers. I miss your laugh. I miss the way I feel when I make you laugh. Like I just won something really important. I miss just sitting with you in perfect, silent understanding. I miss the way you never judge anyone. It’s such a rare find, Liv. And I miss watching how kind you are with everyone. I miss being able to call you and talk to you about random shit and important shit.

  I miss my best friend.

  I miss you.

  I love you.

  Nate

  Shaking, I pulled my cell out of my pocket, hoping Angus would understand that I needed to make a personal call and make it pronto.

  Jo picked up, sounding out of breath. ‘Hey, Liv, can I call you back? I’m in the middle of pasting wallpaper and I need to get it up on the wall quite quickly. ’

  ‘Well, I’ll be quick. Tell Nate to stop sending me gifts. We’re over. ’

  She was silent a moment. ‘Can’t you tell him yourself?’

  ‘No, he’s … I can’t be around him. Please tell him to just back off. Please. ’

  ‘Liv, the reason you don’t want to see him is because you care about him and being around him makes you less hurt and more susceptible to giving him a shot. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing. ’

  ‘You’re wrong,’ I told her haughtily. ‘I’ve moved on. I’m meeting Ben
for coffee after work at Black Medicine. ’

  ‘The one on Nicolson Street?’ Jo asked sharply.

  ‘Yes. I think I might even suggest we take things to the next level. ’

  ‘Well, I hope for Ben’s sake you’re not just trying to piss Nate off. Because he actually sounds like a nice guy and he doesn’t deserve to be messed around. ’ Jo sighed. ‘I’ve got to go. ’

  She hung up, clearly annoyed, and that only made me feel like shit.

  I’d feel less bad about the fact that I’d disappointed her roughly five hours later …

  ‘What the hell are you doing here?’ I hissed up at Nate.

  He stood between me and Ben with his hand on the back of my chair and I saw the hardness in his eyes before he shook it out to turn to my friend with a congenial smile. He held out his hand to Ben. ‘I’m Nate. We met briefly before. ’

  Tucked in the back of Black Medicine, this quirky, gorgeous little café with naturally cut wooden furniture that wouldn’t be amiss on the set of a Lord of the Rings movie, I’d been in the middle of telling Ben about my Nate woes when the handsome bastard had suddenly appeared as if conjured.

  But I knew he wasn’t conjured.

  Jo had given up my location.

  I was going to kill her.

  Ben blinked, clearly as surprised as I was to see Nate there. He took in Nate’s offered hand and slowly reached forward to clasp it with his own. ‘Good to meet you,’ Ben answered quietly, his expression assessing.

  ‘So –’ Nate made a tsk sound with his teeth ‘I’m going to have to ask you to leave. I need to talk to Liv. ’

  My mouth fell open at his audacity. ‘Are you out of your mind?’

  When his gaze slid back to me, the hardness was in it again and I realized quickly that it was annoyance. He was annoyed with me? Was he kidding me? ‘You and I have unfinished business,’ he replied softly. ‘I don’t think it’s fair to drag Benny boy here into it. ’

  Ben cleared his throat. ‘With the exception of the condescending nickname, he has a point. ’ Ben shifted, pulling his wallet out. I stared in horror as he put a five-pound note on the table to cover his coffee.

  ‘You’re actually leaving?’ I hissed.

  His lips curled up in beleaguered acceptance. ‘You’ve just spent the last fifteen minutes telling me about all the ways this guy has spent the past week trying to convince you that he’s in love with you. I think you need to talk it out with him instead of me. ’ He smiled kindly before shooting Nate a warning look. His green eyes flicked back to me. ‘Call me later to let me know you’re okay. ’

  My eyes narrowed on him. ‘I don’t talk to traitors. ’

  Ben snorted, shaking his head at me. ‘Just call me. ’ And with that he left me.

  Nate didn’t bother to watch him leave. He just slid into the chair Ben had vacated and shuffled it so close to mine that our legs were touching. I pushed my chair back, readying to leave. Nate’s arm shot out, his hand taking hold of my wrist. ‘Liv, please. ’

  Our eyes clashed in a war of wills, and unfortunately my will was severely dented by the pleading warmth of his gaze. Sighing, I tugged my hand gently out of his grasp and shifted back toward the table, but made sure that we were no longer touching. ‘You have five minutes. ’

  His eyes searched my face for a moment, like he was cataloguing every feature, and there was something so vulnerable and open about his expression that my heart immediately began to pound. Nate leaned forward, his voice low as he said, ‘That night at Cam’s … the redhead. ’

  I flinched, my expression shuttering.

  I didn’t really want to talk about the fact that while my heart was breaking Nate was out there getting over me by getting other women under him.

  ‘I didn’t sleep with her,’ he hurried to assure me, his words almost desperate. ‘Liv, I haven’t been with another woman since you. ’

 
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